I had a date on the weekend. Don't get too excited - it wasn't THAT kind of date; although Mindy-the-matchmaker is working on it (always!) No, I had a PLAY date with my big-girl nieces. (My little-girl nieces are just 1 and 2 years old, and not ready for sleepovers, but that will be super fun when it happens!) Sydney and Taylor, the awesome big girls that they are, came over on Saturday for one of our requisite hanging out sessions. I don't have kids, so spending time with the nieces and nephews (I have 7 in total!) is my adventure into Kidland. I find out about what they want to be when they grow up, and about their boyfriends (!!) and about how cool decimals are (oh grade 4 math!) Being an aunt is a role I cherish...I love being the confidante, and the one who lets them stay up late and drink too much chocolate milk. We watch the movies I watched when I was a kid, and I'll even sit and watch something Disney-ish too. I let them pick out a vintage tea cup and saucer from my cabinet, and we have tea parties....they the chocolate milk, and Auntie Renee has, ahem, something a wee bit stronger in hers. I make a sweet treat, and we sit back, cuddled on the couch, with our blankets and pillows and Sunny the cat curling up wherever he can. Nights like this I'm hoping they will remember always.
Red Velvet Cake has been intriguing me lately, and I know, everywhere you look there are recipes galore. I really wanted to try it, and I LOVE that there are beets in this recipe (don't be scared! You can't taste them!) I found a pretty good recipe in "Chatelaine" magazine, but I added melted butter instead of oil, because I wanted a richer flavour. The dipping in ganache was something I thought would be amazing (and it is!), while the raspberry cream cheese icing is just the perfect touch to an already incredible chocolate cupcake. Raspberry and chocolate is one of my favourite flavour combos in the whole world - they were simply born to be together! The cake really isn't that red. I have an aversion to food colouring, but if you wanted a redder looking cake, then by all means add a few drops.
Oh. The kids adored these cupcakes. As did their Auntie!
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache and Raspberry Cream Cheese Icing
1/4 cup frozen raspberries
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 398ml can beets, rinsed, drained, patted dry
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup melted butter (OR vegetable oil)
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 block light cream cheese (OR full fat), cubed
1/2 cup icing sugar
Leave the raspberries on the counter to thaw.
Preheat oven to 350*F
Line a 12 cup muffin tin with papers, or spray with oil. Stir together dry ingredients. Puree beets in a blender, or with the immersion blender. Beat the sugar and oil in a medium sized bowl, using an electric mixer, for about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, then the beets, and vanilla. Gradually beat in one-third of the flour mixture, just until blended, then half of the buttermilk. Scrape down the bowl, repeat additions, ending with the flour mixture. Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. I had batter left, as this recipe makes about 18 cupcakes. Bake in the centre of your oven for about 25 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 15 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely before dipping in ganache.
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
Place chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan until boiling. Pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth. Let sit for about 10 minutes before you dip your cupcakes. Plunge the tops in (I had taken the muffin papers off for a prettier look), and let rest on a cutting board or rack. Let sit for a few minutes and plunge again. Or just do a single dip, and that will still be amazing! Wait until the glaze is completely set, before piping on your raspberry cream cheese icing.
Raspberry Cream Cheese Icing
Strain your raspberries, reserving the liquid. In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until soft, add the icing sugar and the raspberry juice. Blend until super smooth. I had to add a bit more icing sugar until I got a thicker consistency. You can pipe a dollop on top of your chocolate ganache cupcake, or you can completely omit the ganache dunking and simply smooth the cupcake with this icing. The choice is yours! These are best eaten the day of, but will be fine if refrigerated in an air tight container, for a couple of days. And no one will know there are beets in their chocolate cake!