Thursday, December 28, 2017

Fantastic Post-Christmas Chocolate Find: Peppermint Dark Chocolate Truffles

Did you find nearly no treats in your stocking this year? This happens sometimes. You get socks, books, scarves, gloves, but no sweet treats. This particularly happens to me because my friends and family don't know what kind of chocolate to buy a chocolatier-slash-chocolate maker for Christmas. And the kind of chocolate that I like (bean-to-bar, craft chocolate) is not made or sold by anyone other than me in Northern Ontario. But if you are like me, and still appreciate a good store-bought truffle, or meltaway, and you LOVE peppermint and natural ingredients, then you will like this fantastic find I discovered at Bulk Barn yesterday: Peppermint Dark Chocolate Truffles by Splendid Chocolate.

There are eight 'truffles' (technically they are 'meltaways' since the truffles are made with coconut oil rather than fresh cream, like a Lindor Truffle) in the box and only a few ingredients, including semi-sweet dark chocolate (sugar, chocolate liquor/cocoa beans, cocoa butter, soy lecithin and vanilla extract), coconut oil and natural peppermint flavour.  It was only $3.99!  I assume this was a sale price after Christmas, because with a price that low regularly, I'd soon be put out of business.

The chocolates are made by Splendid Chocolates Ltd. in Montreal. Learn more about the maker at: You can buy them at Bulk Barn. For more information on this retailer, visit

Happy treat eating!


Note: I didn't get paid or receive anything to write the above post. I just really enjoyed those truffles and wanted to tell you about them!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Decorating a Chocolate Cake for Christmas, and a Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe!

I rarely take cake orders these days, not because I don't like making cakes, but mainly because I love making chocolate and confections, which has squeezed out any time for cakes. But every now and then I let someone talk me into it, especially when they say things like "I want it to taste chocolaty, to look chocolaty, and a little bit Christmas-y." Well, that is my kind of chocolate cake lover, and that I can do.

Last week, I made just this kind of wedding cake for a customer.  It included layers of moist chocolate cake, using a recipe I haven't used in a while, from a photocopy of a cook-book I don't remember, but certainly was still delicious. I modified the recipe over the years in several ways, once by accidentally leaving out half the flour, and the result was a much moister cake. I have included the modified recipe below so you can make one too.  The icing was a rich buttercream with raspberries mushed and swirled into it. And the topping was a thick semi-sweet mouth-watering chocolate ganache. The overall pairing of the raspberries and the dark chocolate, with layers of cake is quite yummy.

If you want to make a similar cake, first make the chocolate cake in layers. TIP: It is easier to pour just a little cake batter in the bottom of a cake pan and bake for only 10 minutes, which you repeat a few times, rather than pouring all the batter in and baking for 25 or 35 minutes and then having to slice the cake in layers and cut off the rounded top.
Beat thawed and mushed - or fresh and mashed - raspberries into your favourite vanilla buttercream recipe, then layer between the cake layers. Cover the whole thing in dark chocolate ganache. Make sure you double everything to get enough, or you'll be making second batches of icing and ganache.
Find some Christmas tree moulds at a local cake decorating or baking supply store, and half sphere chocolate truffle moulds. Also, buy some edible glitter (I have copper and bronze). Use a small, dry paint brush to brush it on your chocolate spheres. You can either paint the mould first before filling it with melted, tempered chocolate, or after the sphere is made. Check online shops like Golda's Kitchen for moulds.
Make additional ganache and let set at room temperature for 6 hours, or on the counter overnight. You can pipe it through a cake decorating bag with a tip for rosebuds to decorate the sides or top of your cake.  The chocolate ribbon seen in the pictures here is a secret recipe of mine, but chocolate rolled fondant, which you can also buy at a local baking supply store, would enable you to make ribbon for your cake. Or you can just pipe chocolate ganache onto the cake around the base and second tier, or in any way you like.

You can also paint your chocolate Christmas tree with a bronze or gold edible glitter. In the case of the tree, it is best to sprinkle the glitter or gold dust into the mould before pouring in your melted and tempered chocolate.
Enjoy your chocolate raspberry cake creation! Below you will find the recipe for the chocolate cake. 
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! :-)
Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe
You need:
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup organic muscovado brown sugar (this is real brown sugar, where the molasses has not been processed out of it and added back in, like the standard grocery store stuff).
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sour cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ยบ F. 
  2. Prepare three 8" cake pans with rounds of parchment paper (if you only have one or two, just cut the extra round of parchment and set aside to bake the additional layers after you have popped your baked cake layers out of the pans you have). Butter under the parchment to stick it down to the bottom of the pan, then on top of the parchment and up the sides of the pan with melted butter (or lard or coconut oil).
  3. Place the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and baking soda in a bowl. Stir well until combined. Add the eggs and oil and beat in with a whisk or beater for a few seconds until just combined (no longer). Gently stir in the sour cream.
  4. Pour one-third of the batter into your prepared cake pan (or one-third into each pan if you have three). Spread around with a spoon to cover the entire pan.
  5. Bake 10 minutes. If a knife inserted into the centre does not come out clean, and the cake is not puffed in the middle, bake another 2 minutes until cooked.  Run a knife around the edge and after 10 minutes of cooling time, place a serving plate or waxed paper over the pan and flip over onto the counter or a cooling rack. Let cool to room temperature before icing the cake. Scrape the parchment, grease your pan and bake a second layer if you don't have enough cake pans for three layers.
Tips for perfecting a crowd-pleasing cake:
  • Ice between the layers with milk or dark chocolate ganache (see below for recipe), whipped chocolate ganache (cool your ganache to room temperature then beat it with a hand-held beater), buttercream icing or no-bake cheesecake batter.
  • Ice the outside of the cake by pouring warm chocolate ganache over the centre of the layered cake and let drip over the sides. Let cool a few seconds then spread around the sides with an offset spatula. This takes a little practice to get it right, but you'll quickly learn how long to let cool before you can manipulate the ganache to make the cake look how you want.
  • If your sides are not smooth, press chocolate shavings into them. This adds an extra-chocolaty kick! (and an extra expense, so keep that in mind).
  • Double, triple or quadruple this recipe as needed depending on the size of your cake (i.e. 12" pans will need it to be doubled at least, quadrupled if you want a tall six-layer showpiece cake).
Dark Chocolate Ganache Recipe:
Place 2/3 cup whipping cream in a microwave safe bowl with 8 ounces of dark chocolate (chopped into 1/2" to 1" pieces). Microwave for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir until smooth. If there are still chunks of chocolate, microwave for 10 more seconds, then stir until smooth. Add a tablespoon of agave, honey or corn syrup for shine and stir in. Pour over cake immediately, or let set for 6 hours on the counter, then spread in between cake layers (may need to double the recipe if you are doing a three-layer cake) or whip for added volume. You can also use the set ganache to pipe rosettes onto the cake for decoration.
This is another example of a chocolaty-looking cake that I made on Friday.
The raspberries are beaten into the buttercream for the pink colour and raspberry taste,
which was then applied on top of the chocolate glaze/ganache. There is a raspberry pie
baked in the centre (in this cake, half the cake batter was poured in the bottom
of the pan, the pre-made and pre-baked raspberry pie is placed on top of the batter
(inside the cake pan) and the remaining batter is poured on top.
Then the cake is baked for at least one hour.
For more info and recipes for Piecakens go to