Joh and the Chocolate Factory

No baking class for me this weekend due to recovering from a day out at the Blue Jays game and then opting to partake in a chocolate making class Sunday afternoon instead.

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Jays lost despite a home run from my brother from another mother Jose, and an attempted comeback in the ninth inning.  No matter, I always have fun at Jays games and everything is better with a few beers and some bar grub after with a  bunch of Peeps.

A few months back, I came across a Groupon deal for a chocolate making workshop held by a company called Chocolate Tales:

http://www.chocolatetales.ca

Chocolate Tales offers workshops around the city on basic chocolate works, truffles and sweet and savoury treats.  I decided to try the sweet and savoury treats workshop along with my Peep M.  Off to The Mad Bean. IMG_7676

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The tables all set up for us.

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In front of us we had truffle shells, pretzels, tasting cups and since various spices – salt, ginger, cumin, cayenne, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg – which we paired with our chocolate.IMG_7682

Our workshop leader “Cocoa” Janelle, an energetic and outgoing soul with blue hair, began with a spirited history of chocolate.  Where it was discovered (South America), where it comes from (Cacao Tree) and what are its health benefits (flavonoids, theobromine, lessens cravings for sweets, magnesium).  IMG_7688

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She paired chocolate with the various spices above and provided us tasters so we could see how they worked together.  I especially liked the chocolate paired with nutmeg, ginger and cayenne.  She then walked us through some simple truffle making.  We filled our truffles with chocolate infused with balsamic vinegar and white chocolate with lemon oil as well as the good old standards of milk and dark chocolate.  We used our spices to change-up flavours and then proceeded to dip our pretzels in chocolate and dip in cocoa.  I never realized how nicely white chocolate and lemon oil worked together.   It gave me an idea to try for a cake I’m making in a few weeks (stay tuned).

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In the end I was in a chocolate coma, but happy to take home my creations in cute little yellow boxes.  It was an informative, messy, yummy and creative few hours in chocolate heaven. =)

“A Good Laugh and a Long Sleep are the Two Best Cures” – Irish Proverb

Birthday Cake Bonanza

Birthday celebrations have made a reappearance at work after a bit of a hiatus.  This also lends to boosting office morale and is a nice thing to do.  I accepted the chance to bake up the birthday treats with a decision that maybe this time cakes were more desirable versus the usual mini cupcakes.  Of course, I never turn down a chance to flex my baking and creative skills.

If you saw my previous post:

https://sweetspellbaking.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/wilton-bake-even-strips/

you know that I tried out a new baking tool that is made to help prevent domed cake and promote even baking.  Let’s see the results.

The Wilton Bake-Even Strips have to be soaked first.  Don’t want them to burn and catch fire in the oven! I just left them to soak in the water overnight.  From my experience now with them, they can never be wet enough.  When the cake is done baking, I guarantee that the strips will be bone dry and even browned a little.

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Straight from the soak, I wrapped the strips around the pan, filled the pan with the cake batter and into the oven. IMG_7406

I baked six cakes and they all came out fairly level.  No major doming or cracking in the middle.  The strips helped to keep the edges from over baking and drying out. I like this simple tool.  If you don’t want to go out to buy these, you can achieve the same effect by cutting up an old towel or dish rag long enough to tie around your pan, soak it and bake.

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In the end I ended up with two chocolate layer cakes and two vanilla layer cakes.  I had a filling of strawberries and strawberry puree in between the layers and then proceeded to pipe them with buttercream.

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Peeps went to town on the cakes.

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It was a long week of cake work.  So tiring doing this on top of a full-time job.  But when I see looks of amazement and I hear people tell me my cakes are beautiful AND taste great, when I see them going home with slices in their Tupperware and when I have people tell me “I don’t like eating sweets, but I’m taking home the cake in this box cause I can’t believe how good it is.”  I can’t help but smile and know all my hard work was worth it.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
― Confucius

Fudgey Chocolate Cake Pops

While out shopping with a friend a couple of weeks ago, I impulsively purchased one of these: IMG_7120

This would be a cake pop pan.  I’m a sucker and perhaps this will be a novelty pan that sits in the dark recesses of my cupboards, rarely to ever feel the searing heat of the oven.  But, I have to be able to say I used it at least once.  So here is me using this pan at least once.

Those who know me and care for me the best, know what March 3rd is.  I don’t need to explain it.  But in honour of March 3rd, I made use of my cake pop pan and made these: IMG_7247

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Milk chocolate and dark chocolate fudgey cake pops draped in milk chocolate and nuts and drizzled with some yellow chocolate couverture.  Pure experimentation.  They taste pretty yummy and I like the rustic chocolate designs that have no rhyme or reason.  All bagged and tagged ready to be shared with people this week.  =)

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“I had a vision I could turn you right. A stupid mission and a lethal fight. I should have seen it when my hope was new. My heart is black and my body is blue.
And I’m losing my favourite game,  you’re losing your mind again.  I’m losing my favourite game.  I’ve tried but you’re still the same. I’m losing my baby. You’re losing a saviour and a saint” ~ The Cardigans – My Favourite Game