My life is quite a rollercoaster at the moment, but a fun one! September has always been an exciting month: it’s my birthday, the end of summer (I love autumn) and the start of a new school year. But after having spent my whole life in education, it came as quite a shock that this circle of annual renewal was suddenly over.
Don’t you find it hard to break with that new beginning routine once you have a job? September becomes just another month, without the novelty of new stuff to learn, new teachers and new people. Well, I’ve decided to take action! I’ve signed up for classes again! I found a little place that teaches interesting cookery classes and I got all excited when I found out they were offering cake decorating classes and Japanese cookery lessons. Hell, sign me up!
Those who know me are aware of the fact that I have an obsession with all things Japanese, and those who read my blog – well – you probably have gathered by now that cakes are my best friends. So, these classes are damn well perfect for me!
Now, whilst I know that my cakes always look pretty yummy, I am well aware of the fact that they’re pretty plain. I don’t do intricate marzipan flowers, crazy icings or colourful rainbow creations.
I actually don’t want to change that. I’m a purist when it comes to cakes – no sparkling glitter, crazy sugar shapes or marzipan kitsch will ever make it onto my cakes (unless it’s a client order. Client? No clients yet – so no need to worry about that).
So why take that cake decorating course? Because I want to learn the skills. I’m fascinated by discovering professional culinary techniques, finding out how things work and unveiling the mysteries that surround food. Call me nuts, but I’d much rather spend a day watching over the shoulder of a chef than attending a music festival.
Anyway, enough ramblings, here’s this week’s recipe. A childhood favourite of mine: a “Marmerkuch” (in Luxembourgish) or “Marble Cake”. It gets its funky pattern by layering a chocolate and a vanilla dough, then giving it a minor stir and you get the mable effect. I’ve added chocolate chips and almond shavings to the separate doughs, so that there’s a bit of a texture play at work. I hope you like them. They sure look very pretty.
Happy September and may you all enjoy your new start of the new ‘school’ year! ★
Marble Vanilla Chocolate Cupcakes
50g shaved almonds (or chopped if you can’t find any thin ones)
1 + 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
75g dark chocolate
50ml semi-skimmed milk
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 + 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
150g milk or dark chocolate couverture (if you can’t find that normal chocolate will do)
round chocolate sprinkles (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180°.
Melt the butter and let it cool down. Meanwhile roughly chop the dark chocolate.
In a bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until it becomes frothy. Add the melted butter and keep beating. Gradually add the flour, salt and baking powder.
Now split the dough into two parts. Add the vanilla essence and shaved almonds to one part. For the chocolate dough, mix the cocoa powder with the milk until dissolved. Then add to the dough and incorporate well. Add the chocolate chunks.
Line your muffin tin with cupcake cases or grease them so the dough doesn’t stick. Put two tablespoons of the chocolate dough into each mould, then add two tablespoons of vanilla dough and finish off with more chocolate and vanilla. Once all the dough is used up, take a small spoon and ‘cut’ through each cupcake, or make a cross if you prefer it more mixed. This will create the marble pattern.
Bake the cakes for 35 minutes. They will rise quite a bit so stick a wooden skewer into one cupcake to check they’re fully baked (this will be the case if the skewer comes out clean, without dough sticking on it).
Take the cupcakes out of their moulds, and let them cool down.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate couverture in a bain marie – this is a hot water bath. Basically, you take one big saucepan and fill it with very hot (but not boiling) water. Then you take a smaller saucepan into which you put your chocolate. Dip this saucepan into the water saucepan (without water spilling into the chocolate pan) and gently melt the chocolate. This prevents the chocolate from burning or caramelizing.
Once melted, drizzle the chocolate over the cool marble cakes and decorate with chocolate sprinkles.