Olive Oil Chocolate Cake with Salted Tahini Chocolate Frosting

Olive oil chocolate cake with salted tahini chocolate frosting. 

  It’s been two months since I last sat down and wrote out a blog post. I’ve slowly been finding my way out of the dark cave that is known as creativity burnout. It always gets ahold of me for a few weeks in the winter time, but this is the first time it prolonged into months. So, I just took it easy. I stopped trying to think of something to post every week and focused on photographing other things instead of food. Then finally, I had an idea the end of December which, at that time, looked a lot different from this cake- but soon enough turned into it. 

 While my favorite aspect is the salted tahini chocolate frosting, but the cake itself is pretty good as well. It’s rich, moist, and has a strong chocolate flavor thanks to the addition of boiling hot coffee. While I love my butter cakes, a good olive oil cake is difficult to pass up. It gives the entire cake a certain smoothness. For some reason, that smoothness is a bit difficult to describe in words; you just have to taste it to find out what I mean!

Now, back to that frosting for a bit. You might be wondering why there’s maple syrup. I really wanted this thick but smooth, fudge-like consistency to the frosting and maple syrup does the job rather well. Without it, it isn’t as smooth and fudge-like. It also adds more to the sweetness, which is nice because too much powdered sugar can be overpowering in flavor sometimes, especially in chocolate frostings.

Olive Oil Chocolate Cake with Salted Tahini Chocolate Frosting


ingredients:

  cake:

210 grams ( 1. 3/4c) unbleached, all-purpose flour

288 grams (1. 1/2c) raw cane sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

60 grams (3/4c) cocoa powder{dutch-process}

1 cup strong, hot coffee

180 mL (3/4c) olive oil 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/3c cashew milk

1 large egg

  frosting:

2/3 cups cocoa powder{dutch-process}

2/3 cups cashew milk

2 tablespoons tahini

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

8-ounces bittersweet chocolate{60% cacao}, melted and cooled

8-ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup pure maple syrup, room temperature

1 teaspoon sea salt

method:

  for the olive oil chocolate cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C. Prepare two, 6-inch square cake pans with grease and line the bottom(s)with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, sift the cocoa powder. Pour the hot coffee into the sifted cocoa and stir until combined. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes. After five minutes, add the olive oil, vanilla, and cashew milk to the cocoa mixture and stir until mostly combined. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar; whisk until fully combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, then use an electric hand mixer set to medium speed to mix the ingredients until just combined. Add the egg and beat on medium-high for 20 seconds. The mixture should be smooth with no lumps.
  4. Pour the batter equally amongst the two pans and bake for 40-43 minutes. Check for doneness at 40 minutes; a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. If not, bake for 2-3 more minutes. Remove from oven and let the cakes rest in their pans for 10 minutes, then invert them onto wire racks to cool completely. To avoid a hard top crust on this cake after it cools completely, wrap each cake layer in plastic saran wrap when they’re still just slightly warm and let them sit overnight. The warmth trapped inside will moisten the outside of the cake. 

  for the salted tahini chocolate frosting:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the cashew milk, tahini, and vanilla. Heat over low heat until very hot. Sift the cocoa powder into a small mixing bowl, then pour the hot cashew milk over it. Stir until fully combined(the mixture will be very thick before and after it cools). Cool the mixture until it’s cool to the touch.
  2. Chop the bittersweet chocolate and melt it in a bowl set over a simmering pot of water(don’t let the bowl touch the water). Remove bowl from the heat and let the chocolate cool until it is no longer warm, just don’t let it harden again! 
  3. Once the chocolate(s) have cooled, beat -with an electric hand mixer, the softened butter, powdered sugar, and sea salt until smooth. Add the cocoa powder mixture and beat until combined. Use a spatula to scrape down the bottoms and sides of the bowl, then add the cooled, melted chocolate, beat until combined. Scrape down the bowl once more, then add the maple syrup. Beat the mixture until it’s considerably paler in color and feels light, smooth, and fluffy when you run your finger through it- about 4-5 minutes of beating on high-speed.

  to assemble the cake:

  1. Using a cake leveler(if you don’t have one, use a sharp knife and be very careful!), level off any domes that may have formed on the tops of the cake during baking. Place the first layer on your cake board/stand/plate/ and add about 1 1/2 cups of frosting and spread it around the layer evenly with a frosting spatula. Add the second layer on top of the first, with the bottom facing up. Add the remaining frosting on the top and around the sides of the cake. Decorate with fresh flowers and flaked sea salt if desired.

Classic Carrot Cake with Vanilla Bean Rum Frosting

classic carrot cake with vanilla bean rum frosting

  For many, carrot cake is a must-have on the dessert table after enjoying a fattening dinner on Easter Sunday. In my own family, it was actually quite rare. My Grandmother always made a banana pudding trifle or a layered coconut cake for Easter. I only recall eating carrot cake as a spring dessert served at church events or family get-togethers; but though it was scarcely served in my home, it has always been a family favorite when we had the pleasure of eating it.

  This recipe wasn’t specifically meant for Easter, though. I’ve been meaning to post a cake for the past week but they just haven’t worked out, so I decided on this classic carrot cake with vanilla bean rum frosting and well, it happens Easter is this weekend. The recipe for this cake was given to my mother by my Grandmother which she acquired from a friend (my, what a mouthful!) twenty-something years ago. It has always been a family favorite. Of course, I did adapt it slightly. Typically, walnuts or pecans are used, but instead, I used almonds.

 It’s a delicious, dense, and very moist cake. It uses a total four cups of carrots! The frosting has a very light and fluffy mouthfeel, with a slight rum flavor and vanilla bean speckled all about.

 

CLASSIC CARROT CAKE WITH VANILLA BEAN RUM FROSTING


 cake:

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda 

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups raw cane sugar

4 large eggs, room temp.

seeds from (1) vanilla bean pod

1 1/4 cup organic canola oil

1/3 cup buttermilk, room temp.

4 cups grated carrots

3/4 cups coarsely chopped almonds

   frosting:

seeds from (2) vanilla bean pods

1/4 cup dark rum

8 ounces cream cheese, room temp.

8 ounces butter, room temp.

4 cups confectioners sugar

pinch of sea salt

 method:

Before starting anything, split open two vanilla pods, scrape out the seeds and place the seeds and the pods in a small jar with a lid. Add the 1/4 cup of dark rum and close the jar. Let the ingredients sit for an hour or more. When ready to use, scrape remaining seeds from the bean and discard the pieces. 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease three, 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices- set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, and vanilla bean seeds. Beat the ingredients with an electric hand mixer until pale and fluffy; once they reach this stage, begin streaming in the oil. Add the buttermilk and then the flour in three batches, beating each addition until just combined. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the grated carrots and chopped almonds until combined. Divide the batter amongst the three prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes. They’re done when the cake springs back up after being touched lightly, or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then use a knife to loosen the cake from around the edges of the pans. Invert onto wire racks to cool completely before frosting.

 for the frosting:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened butter and cream cheese. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Scrape the bowl down with a spatula and add the powdered sugar and vanilla-infused rum. Beat on medium-high until the mixture is smooth and fluffy about3 minutes.

 assemble the cake:

 Place the first cake layer on a cake board/plate/stand and spoon about 3/4 cups of frosting on and spread around with an offset spatula. Repeat this with the second and then the third. Use any remaining frosting to frost around the edges. Or, you can use all the frosting on the first, second, and top layers and leave the sides naked. Decorate with fresh or edible flowers.

Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Cake with Ganache

  December, despite being born in this month, there’s not much I really look forward to in it except for my birthday, Christmas, and the closing of another year and the beginning of another year alive.  It can be a depressing month, mainly due to the scenery and the weather.  It gets quite windy where I am located and the house is surrounded by a forest of trees so everything becomes quite dull and lifeless looking blowing in the wind.  The grass turns brittle and the trees gray and spiritless without their coat of leaves.  Winter reminds me just how quickly the other seasons fade, as it always seems the longest.  It also makes me appreciate the other seasons a lot more.

  When it comes to my creativity, it usually relies on the mood of the day.  I’m somewhat one with the weather, all it takes is a cold, cloudy day to bring me into the depths of despair.  For photography, especially food, December light can be difficult to work with.  By the time I’m back from work and done test baking, the light is practically gone and I hadn’t even decided what backdrop to use.. and it’s only four o’clock in the afternoon.

  Anyway, I could honestly go on about the depressing things about December and just the season of winter in general, but let’s skip that because I’m sure you probably share the same if you’re not a winter person; if you happen to be a winter person, well, good for you!  I won’t understand why, but that’s okay.  I once was, but I honestly don’t know why I enjoyed it.  I think it was because I was a child, born and raised without knowing what cold actually felt like.  Up until I moved to Virginia, wearing a sundress and flip flops to my Grandmother’s Christmas dinner was normal.  Now, I actually have to wear pants.

  Now, let’s talk chocolate cake.  My birthday was just last week and I decided to bake my own cake for the occasion for the very first time.  I think it’s a tradition I should start doing every year.  My youngest sister insisted I wasn’t allowed to do such a thing, but by who’s authority, I persisted!  I did most everything the night before to save time, but really, I don’t think I saved much time at all.  I still found myself with this cake four hours later while the rest of the family anxiously awaited its arrival onto the kitchen counter top so they could eat it.

  A little while ago I began adding a fruit jam to my cakes.  It adds an exceptionally moist and tender crumb when you do so!  The frosting includes chocolate pudding, then once it is on the cake, more chocolate in the form of ganache.  As you probably know if you take a brisk scroll through my blog, I am chocolate obsessed.  I also happen to love cake, so I have quite a few chocolate cake variations on this site.  I’ve learned so much about baking cake in the year that has passed since I’ve started this blog journey- so much so, that I look back to a few of the cakes I’ve made and think to myself, “why the heck did I make it that way?”.  You live and you learn, as C.S. Lewis so truthfully wrote, 

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”

DARK CHOCOLATE POMEGRANATE CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE GANACHE


cake:

100 grams dark cocoa powder ( 1 1/4 cups )

1 cup boiling water

175g unsalted butter, room temp.

500g granulated sugar 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

4 large eggs, room temp.

250g cake flour ( 2 cups + 2 tablespoons )

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

300g milk, room temp.

pomegranate jam

pomegranate jam

1 pomegranate

1/2 cup sugar

1/4  teaspoon lemon juice

Chocolate frosting and Ganache:

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

3 egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup cocoa powdered 

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup heavy cream

salt

 

method:

for the jam:

  1. Scrape the seeds out from the pomegranate and place them in a small saucepan along with the 1/2 cup sugar and the lemon juice.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring the mixer often, until the sugar dissolves; reduce to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes until the fruit is soft and has broken down some.  Remove from heat and press the jam through a fine mesh sieve with a bowl underneath.  Discard the seeds from the sieve and bring the jam to room temperature.
  2. In a medium-sized, heat-proof bowl, add the cocoa powder; pour the boiling water over the cocoa and let it sit for 10 minutes, then stir until smooth; set aside and bring to room temperature. 

 Once all the ingredients have reached room temperature, begin on the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare three, 8-inch round cake pans in the usual way:  grease, parchment paper, then a light coat of grease over the paper. 
  2. Using an electric standing mixer with whisks attached, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy- about 7-8 minutes on medium-high speed.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder, set aside.  Once the butter and sugar have been creamed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium-low speed after each addition as well as scraping down the sides of the bowl and beaters with a spatula.
  3. Add the cooled cocoa mixture, pomegranate jam, a third of the flour, and a third of the milk to the butter mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.  Scrape down the bowl and add the remaining flour on medium speed while streaming in the rest of the milk, beat until combined.  Pour batter equally amongst the three prepared pans and evenly spread around.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops of the cakes quickly spring back up when lightly touched.
  4. Cool the cakes 10 minutes in their pans then gently use a knife to loosen the cakes from around the edges of the pan and invert onto cooling racks to cool completely for about 1-2 hours. 

for the frosting and ganache:

  1. Place a medium-sized heatproof bowl in the freezer so it will be chilled for later use.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the milk, vanilla, and cocoa powder to a simmer over medium-low heat then turn off the heat.
  3. Heat a double boiler over medium heat and add the egg yolks and sugar.  Stir with a whisk until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is pale yellow.  Continue to whisk the mixture and slowly stream in the milk.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir constantly until thickened.  Once, thickened, remove from heat and immediately pour the pudding into the chilled bowl and whisk briskly till the pudding is cool to the touch.  
  4. Now, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cooled pudding(be sure it doesn’t have the slightest warmth to it or else the butter will melt) on medium speed until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of extra cocoa powder and a pinch of salt; beat on medium-high speed till the mixture is fluffy and becomes slightly pale in color(about 4 minutes or so).  
  5. For the ganache:  finely chop the bittersweet chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl.  Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in the microwave or on the stovetop.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for five minutes undisturbed then stir until smooth.  Let the mixture cool so it can reach a spreadable consistency.

Assemble the cake:

  Place the first layer on a cake board/cake stand/plate and spoon about 3/4 cup of frosting onto the top.  Evenly spread around then place the second layer, top-side down onto the first layer.  Spread another 3/4 cup of frosting and place the third and final layer on top, again, top-side of the layer facing down onto the previous layer.  Add the remaining frosting to the top and sides of the cake.  Place the cake in the fridge for 10 minutes so the frosting can firm up some.  Once the frosting is somewhat firm to the touch, add the ganache and spread around the top and sides of the cake.  Decorate with edible flowers and greenery(optional).

GINGER SPICE LAYER CAKE WITH APPLE BUTTER MASCARPONE FROSTING

  The Barley and sorghum fields have been harvested and the {once} green, rolling hills of Northern Virginia are now brown and withered; meanwhile the bronze, red, and yellow hues from the hickory, beech, and red maple trees are scattered about the mountainside and valleys, creating a fiery picturesque scene.  Dotting the sides of the road are small farm stands selling freshly picked apples by the bushel, locally made ciders by the jug, mason jars filled with jelly of all kinds, and honey.  The air is crisp with the pleasant scent of burning wood and chimney smoke here and there- Oh, there are hundreds of things I could write about this beautiful time of the year, as well as the scenes and feelings felt within it.  It’s already passing by so quickly.  Soon all the trees will be bare and it will be brutally cold once again.

  But to every season there is always a downside, to me that downside is the withering of all the lovely flowers.  Flowers are a very crucial part of my blogging as they are practically the only ‘props’ that I use.  Just when I was saddened by not having any flowers to decorate with, I went on a walk around my neighbor’s farm and found a lone pink rose in one of the garden beds.  It was laden with rain droplets and was perfect in every way; alongside the rose were the prettiest purple mums.  In the end, I ended up smiling as it worked out.  But, pretty soon I won’t be so lucky.

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  As you can see if you scroll through my recent posts I’ve been doing a lot of baking with apples.  I don’t think I’ll ever tire of baking with them and I’ll be saddened when the season ends.  Usually I would make my own products using apples as that’s something I like doing instead of buying it pre-made from a supermarket, but I was really anxious to bake this cake that’s been on my mind for quite some time(and was unable to bake as I was away from my kitchen); so, once I got home I made my way to one of the many farm stands in my area that was selling their locally made apple products.  I found the most delicious apple butter and it happened to be made by the local Lions Club members.  Every year they go out and pick apples from the orchards nearby and dedicate an entire day of their time in the kitchen of a community cannery making the apple butter.  They can a thousand or so jars of it and sell it around the county!  Even though I didn’t have time to make my own apple butter, I still got to use it fresh(with local apples, too).

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  My absolute favorite part about this cake?  Well, that would have to be the frosting.  I really wanted something delicious that wasn’t your mundane American buttercream, so I played with it a bit and added mascarpone cheese and a custard that was flavored with that delicious apple butter I bought.  It’s like a hybrid of American and German buttercream(and it’s oh so good).  It’s smooth to the palate when eaten and it spreads beautifully!  In the layers are the spices of fall(as I call them), a hint of vanilla, and for that tender and moist crumb:  more apple butter.

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*Majority of measurements used is in metric units.


GINGER SPICE LAYER CAKE WITH APPLE BUTTER MASCARPONE FROSTING

cake

175 grams unsalted butter, room temperature

500 grams granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 large fresh eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup local apple butter

250 grams cake flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

312 grams milk, room temperature

 

frosting

2 large fresh egg yolks

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/3 cup + 3 tablespoons milk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/3 cup apple butter

8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

dash of ground cloves

pinch of salt

method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and line(with parchment) three, 8-inch cake pans.
  2. In an electric standing mixer with whisks attached, combine the sugar, butter, and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 7-8 minutes until light and fluffy.  Meanwhile in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, spices, baking powder, and baking soda until combined.  Set aside.  Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the eggs; beating one at a time until just combined(about 10 seconds each egg).  Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Add the apple butter and half of the flour mixture and half the milk.  Beat on medium until just combined; scrape down the bowl once more and add the remaining milk and flour, beat till just combined.  
  3. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 23-25 minutes.  Check for doneness at 23 minutes using a toothpick; if it comes out clean it’s done, if not, bake 2 more minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean.  Let the cakes rest in their pans for 10 minutes, then using a sharp knife, gently loosen the cakes from around the edges of the pan.  Invert onto wire racks to cool completely, about one hour.
  4.  Once cooled, assemble the cake.  Place the first layer flat side down on your cake board/plate/stand and add about 3/4 cups of the frosting.  Spread around with an offset spatula, then add the second layer, flat side facing up.  Add 3/4 more of the frosting, spread; then place the third layer, flat side facing up.  Add the remaining frosting to the top of the cake and around the sides(it’s a naked cake so there will be a very, very little frosting for the edges).

frosting:

  1. Place a small mixing bowl in the refrigerator for later use.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the milk and vanilla and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often so it doesn’t burn.  Remove from heat and stir in the apple butter, let it sit for five minutes(it will look very grainy, so don’t freak out!).  Using a fine mesh strainer/sieve, strain out the mixture over a bowl to catch the liquid.  Discard the pulpy stuff and set the liquid aside.
  3. Create a double boiler by filling a medium-sized pot with a few inches of water, then place a heatproof bowl large enough to fit on top of the pot without touching the water.  Bring the water to a slow simmer over medium-low heat then add the egg yolks and sugar to the bowl; stir with a whisk until the sugar dissolves and egg yolks look a bit pale.  Continue to whisk the eggs, then slowly stream in the milk mixture.  Whisk constantly till the mixture is thick, this may take a few minutes.  Once the mixture has thickened, immediately remove the bowl from atop the pot of water and pour the custard into the chilled bowl.  Again, whisk frivolously until the mixture is cool to the touch.  
  4. In an electric mixer with beaters/whisks attached, add the soft butter and mascarpone cheese.  Beat on medium speed until combined and smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, salt, and custard and beat on medium-high until the mixture is combined and has become light in color and quite volumized, about 2 minutes.

SPICED APPLE CUPCAKES WITH WHIPPED CHOCOLATE BOURBON GANACHE

  Ah, September, you came so quickly.  Where did summer go?  I find myself asking this almost every year.  Summer passes by quite swiftly as you grow older.  As a child, I felt as if summer would go on forever(in a good way), even after I moved away from a state where words such as “Fall” and “Winter” were practically non-existent and so were the seasons that matched them.  My favorite seasons have always been spring and summer.  I don’t mind autumn, except when it becomes winter.  This year is different, though; I’m taking the change of seasons quite nicely and actually looking forward to autumn.  At the same time, I can’t help but be a little heartbroken that summer has to end as well.  

  Though the month of September has just begun, I have already felt a change in the air and surroundings.  Most the trees and grass have faded into a different color green over August; they’ve lost their bright euphoria and are on the verge of putting on their autumnal display.  Just today I was able to open all the windows in the house as the weather was beautiful.  As I was standing looking out the kitchen door, a cool breeze swept through the house and outside displayed a shower of yellow leaves falling, like gold, from the black walnut trees surrounding our home.  Here in Northern Virginia, the walnut trees are the last to put on their summer foliage and the first to lose them once late August and September comes around.  It got me giddy about all things fall-ish I will say.

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  I was so sad that I never made it to a peach orchard this year, then on the first of September, I stumbled across an orchard just South of me and about an hour’s drive away.  They had just announced that their gala apples were coming in nicely and were ready for picking, so I took the day off and went apple picking.  Though peaches are almost out of season here, there were still quite a few trees chalked with the delicious fruit.  Of course, I couldn’t leave without picking a few as there’s nothing like a peach straight from the tree.  Just from being there I had recipe ideas pouring out of each side of my brain, so you may be seeing more from my trip to the orchard next week!   

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  Now, let me talk a little about these cupcakes.  They’re a bit addictive!  I could eat them sans frosting because they’re just as good.  The addition of fresh applesauce made them really moist and tender and they pull away from the paper nicely as well.  My favorite part is the top of the cupcake, of course.  It’s chocolate ganache with bourbon, then whipped for a few short minutes with some cocoa powder.  As you’ll see in other places on my blog, I like to use bourbon when chocolate is involved.  That and rum(which you may be seeing soon in another recipe!) are two of my favorite alcohols to bake with.  The ganache piped exceptionally well, you just have to be careful not to have them somewhere hot and rather humid as it will start to soften and may even melt.  

  Can you believe this was my first time ever piping frosting onto a cupcake?  Out of sixteen, just these three made my photo-worthy list.  It really is harder  than it looks, depending on the style you want.  

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*Please read through the instruction and ingredients list thoroughly before you commence baking.  I recommend beginning with the ganache first to give it time to stiffen, which can take close to two hours sometimes; then the applesauce, and lastly the cupcakes.

SPICED APPLE CUPCAKES WITH WHIPPED CHOCOLATE BOURBON GANACHE

Makes 16 normal sized cupcakes

cupcakes:

95 grams unsalted butter, room temperature

185 grams granulated sugar

3 fresh eggs, room temperature

112 mL milk, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla

200 grams all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup fresh applesauce, room temperature (recipe below)

applesauce:

3 small to medium sized apples ( I used gala)

1 large cinnamon stick

1/4 cup water

whipped chocolate bourbon ganache:

16 ounces heavy cream

14 ounces bittersweet chocolate

3 tablespoons of good bourbon

pinch of salt

METHOD

for the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C.  Prepare two muffin/cupcake tins by adding sixteen paper baking cups.

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon.  Set aside.
  2. In an electric mixer with beaters attached, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 7 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the vanilla, half of the milk, and half of the flour.  Beat on medium speed till just combined, the beat in the remaining halves of milk and flour.  Gently stir in the applesauce with a spatula.  Spoon the batter into prepared muffin/cupcake tin(s) until 2/3 of the way full.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.  Check for doneness at 18 minutes with a toothpick, if it comes out clean it’s done; if not clean, bake two more minutes.  Once done, cool in pans for five minutes, then gently transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

for the applesauce:

  1. Peel, core, and cut apples into quarters.  Add to a medium-sized saucepan along with the cinnamon stick and water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low; cover and cook apples for 10 minutes until tender.  Once done, drain juices and then mash the apples till slightly chunky.  Spread out onto a plate and bring to room temperature (or put in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes for a quick cool).  Make the applesauce before cupcakes

for the whipped ganache:

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil over medium-high heat.  Meanwhile, chop the bittersweet chocolate into fine chunks and add to a large heatproof bowl.  Once the cream has reached boiling, pour over the chopped chocolate.  Let it sit 10 minutes, then stir till smooth.  Stir in the bourbon and pinch of salt.  Refrigerate until it has become thick(like a paste), but not completely hard.  Before whipping, I added about a tablespoon of cocoa powder for stability.  Using an electric hand beater, beat the ganache and cocoa powder till it becomes thick enough to pipe onto the cupcakes, about a minute or so.  Pipe the ganache onto cooled cupcakes and decorate with flaky sea salt (optional).