I'm a huge fan of celebrity chefs specially pastry chefs.
Yes...I know I got sucked in by all that Food Network chefs the glamor, book deals and awesome show. I'm so into those, their marketing people sure do know how to work their stuff.
Most of the time I don't buy locally published baking book written by local chefs, not for the reason that you probably think. It's not about being snobbish or anything it's just that I found it lacking in the instructions department and most of the time the book itself is poorly constructed the paper used is bad or there are so few pictures that I have no idea what the outcome should look like. And if the quality of the book itself improves, it cost a lot just like imported books, probably because it was not published locally. Which I think is weird being that we have printing press here in Manila, so why source it out? Right??? Any way, that's another story.
After years and years of waiting for a good baking book, I thought the day finally came when one of my favorite "celebrity" pastry chef Aileen Anastacio came out with a Coffee/Baking cookbook titled Home Cafe. Chef Aileen has a regular Sunday program in QTV called True Confections I actually got hooked on it when it started, I even have some episodes recorded in my VCR. But lately not so much anymore, now I found it a bit silly having so much blatant advertisements from local bakeshops, local baking product manufacturer you name it they got it. I mean, if I want to watch advertisements I would just watch the commercials. I wanted a baking show where they actually teach something which is baking from scratch, that's how they started and now, they are lost. Oh...those were the days.
Oh! I'm ranting? So sorry back to the topic on hand which is the book.
First off, for a local book it cost Php 795 which is around $16 to $17, a little expensive but bearable. But hey I like to patronize our own, so against my better judgement I grabbed a copy and took it home.
First off, I love the cover and the art design of the book, it has a nice homey feel to it. There are a lot of pictures on it which is a great plus for me, being a very visual person. Though personally for me, the book should have open with the dessert part first and the coffee concoctions second. I guess I'm such a bias for saying that but who doesn't love a good dessert. Another thing they should have put is a suggestion of what coffee creation would be better paired with what dessert, that would be specially helpful for people like me who is not a regular coffee drinker.
The first thing I tried in this book is the Chocolate Cupcake. I've seen tons of recipes for chocolate cupcakes before but this is the first time I saw one where it doesn't call for any butter but it uses oil instead. Which is pretty neat since once again I found myself running short on butter. As I was gathering all the ingredients I noticed that it called for cocoa powder, it didn't say natural or dutched? I opted for dutched processed since I love the dark color and the taste is awesome. Everything was going smoothly up until I added the hot water. Uh oh....the batter became watery like a chocolate soup! Darn it! What happened? I consulted the recipe and yes my measurements are correct. So I kept going. As I was pouring the watery batter on the cupcake liners, a small drop of batter dropped on my hand so naturally I would lick it right? (I know you're thinking Ewww.... but in my defense it's chocolate!) Well... it's actually a blessing in disguised because when I licked the batter off, I realized that I didn't put sugar! Oh man! what's going on? I think I lost my baking mojo or something. I quickly returned everything back on the bowl of batter and added the sugar. Mixing gently and praying that I don't develop the gluten on these babies. Off to the oven they went.
8 minutes later....
They came out perfect! Dark and moist cupcakes. Yummy! Definitely a must try. For the frosting though the book suggested a chocolate buttercream frosting, however, after all that uncertainty I tired me out and I just made a glossy ganache topping. It's messy to eat but of so satisfying.
Adapted from Aileen Anastacio, Home Cafe
For the cupcakes:
- 1 cup cocoa powder (I used Dutched Processed)
- 2 cups All Purpose Flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 3/4 cup Oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
For the Ganache:
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 8 oz chopped dark chocolate
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line two 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases.
- In a bowl, whisk together the milk. oil, eggs and vanilla.
- In another bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.
- Using an electric mixer, gradually add the liquid to the dry ingredients. Beating on medium speed until combined.
- Add boiling water and mix for another minute.
- Fill the lined pans with batter about 3/4 full. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until the cake tester comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and set on the wire rack to cool and frost with the ganache.
- To make the ganache, heat the whipping cream until almost up to boil.
- Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate. Let it stand for 5 minutes and gradually stir in the melted chocolate. Set aside. It will thicken as it cools.
- Smear a generous dollop of ganche on each cupcakes and store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.