GBBO inspired showstoppers: Ultra-glam chocolate sponges with fresh raspberry buttercream
Invite your friends around and wow them with some homemade showstoppers, with these tasty recipes as featured in the current series of The Great British Bake Off
LITTLE PINK ROSE CAKES
These tiny, ultra-glamorous chocolate sponges are made from a rich truffle cake mixture, so they match up with the deeply flavoured, fresh raspberry buttercream and hold up well when split and filled. The same cakes (as unsandwiched layers) can also be served as petits fours or as part of a buffet table.
Makes 12 (or 24 petits fours)
You will need
1 x 12-cup loose-based mini sandwich tin or non-stick muffin/cupcake tray, greased with butter
a piping bag fitted with a medium star nozzle
Ingredients For the chocolate sponges:
100g dark chocolate (about 70pc cocoa solids), broken up
100g unsalted butter, diced
2 medium eggs, at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
150g caster sugar
90g self-raising flour
good pinch of fine sea salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
For the raspberry purée: 200g fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons water
For the raspberry buttercream:
125g caster sugar
6 tablespoons water
3 medium egg yolks, at room temperature
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature, diced
To finish and decorate:
24 pink rose petals
1 medium egg white
1 tablespoon cold water
4-5 tablespoons white caster sugar
24 fresh raspberries
1. The sugared rose petals are best made at least a day ahead so they have time to dry. First use a fine pastry brush to carefully remove any dust or pollen from each petal. Beat the egg white with the water in a small bowl until frothy. Gently paint the egg mix on to both sides of each petal and shake off the excess, then dip the petal in the sugar to coat evenly, again shaking off excess. Leave to dry overnight on a sheet of baking paper set on a wire rack in a cool, dry spot. (Once dry the petals can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.)
2. Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Before you make the sponge mixture, be sure your eggs are at room temperature - if they are cold the chocolate mixture will set in lumps as it is added. Gently melt the chocolate with the butter, then set aside to cool. Put the eggs and vanilla into a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a free-standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk for a few seconds until frothy using a hand-held electric whisk, or the whisk attachment, then add the sugar and whisk on full speed until the mixture is very thick and pale, and has reached the ribbon stage.
3. Whisk the just-warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture on low speed, then scrape down the side of the bowl and whisk for another few seconds. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and cocoa powder into the bowl and carefully fold in using a large metal spoon or plastic spatula.
4. Spoon the mixture into the cups in the mini-sandwich tin or muffin tray, making sure they all have an equal amount (the cups will be half-full). Using a teaspoon, carefully level the surface of each little cake. Bake in the heated oven for 13-15 minutes until the sponges are just firm to the touch and have started to shrink away from the sides of the cups. Carefully unmould on to a wire rack and leave until cold.
5. Meanwhile, make the raspberry purée to flavour the buttercream. Tip the raspberries into a medium pan, add the sugar and water, and set over low heat. Stir gently until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes until the mixture is very thick. Tip into a sieve set over a heatproof bowl and push the raspberries through the sieve to make a thick seedless purée. Leave to cool.
6. To make the buttercream, put the sugar and water into a small pan and heat gently, without boiling, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Bring the sugar syrup to the boil and boil for about 5 minutes until it reaches 110°C/225°F on a sugar thermometer. While the syrup is boiling put the yolks into a heatproof bowl set on a damp cloth (to prevent wobbling) and beat briefly with a hand-held electric whisk. As soon as the syrup has reached the correct temperature, slowly pour it on to the yolks in a thin, steady stream while whisking at full speed. Continue whisking until the mixture is thick and pale, and has reached the ribbon stage. Whisk for a few minutes more until the mixture has cooled to room temperature (if it is warm the butter will quickly melt, turning the buttercream heavy and greasy).
7. Now gradually whisk in the butter, a few pieces at a time - don't add too much at once or the mixture will curdle (rather like with mayonnaise) - to make a thick, creamy icing. Whisk in about 8 tablespoons of the cold raspberry purée, a tablespoon at a time - stop as soon as you have the colour and flavour you want. Cover the bowl and chill for about 20 minutes until the buttercream is firm enough to pipe easily.
8. When you are ready to assemble the cakes, cut each little sponge in half horizontally. Transfer the buttercream to the piping bag fitted with the star nozzle. Pipe a ring of buttercream around the edge of each sponge bottom half and a small star in the centre. Set a raspberry on top of the star. Pipe a buttercream rosette in the middle of each top half.
9. To make 12 small cakes, re-assemble the sponges and decorate the top of each with a raspberry and 1 or 2 sugared rose petals. To make 24 petits fours, set the half-cakes on a serving platter and decorate with the rose petals and remaining raspberries. Once assembled serve the same day. If you want to serve them the next day, keep the sponges in a covered container in a cool spot (not the fridge), but add the raspberry and rose petal decoration at the last minute.
GINGERED PLUM KUCHEN
A German-style fruit-topped dessert cake you can make all year round: as good with custard in winter, as it is with whipped cream in summer. The base, which is deeply flavoured with a combination of honey and glacé ginger, is firm enough to absorb the sweet juices from the topping of fresh plums. After baking the kuchen is bathed in a honey syrup and served hot, or just warm.
Cuts into 8
1 x 23cm springclip tin, greased with butter and base-lined
125g unsalted butter, softened
90g light muscovado sugar
grated zest of 1 medium unwaxed lemon
80g clear honey
3 medium eggs, at room temperature, beaten to mix
200g white spelt flour
65g ready-chopped glacé ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
6–8 just-ripe plums
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons clear honey
3 tablespoons caster sugar
Vanilla egg custard or vanilla
1. Heat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas 3. Put the butter into a mixing bowl, or the bowl of a free-standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat with a wooden spoon or hand-held electric whisk, or the whisk attachment, until creamy and mayonnaise-like. Add the sugar (make sure it is lump-free) and beat thoroughly until the mixture is very light and fluffy.
2. Add the lemon zest and honey and beat in. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then gradually add the eggs, a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition and adding a tablespoon of the weighed flour with the last addition of egg. Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time so all the mixture is amalgamated.
3. Add the chopped glacé ginger to the bowl and fold in with a plastic spatula or large metal spoon until thoroughly combined. Sift the remaining flour, the baking powder and ground ginger into the bowl and carefully fold in. Spoon into the prepared tin and spread evenly.
4. Rinse the plums, then cut each in half vertically, twist and gently pull apart. Remove the stones. Arrange the halves, cut side up, on top of the ginger sponge mixture, setting them closely together — the number of plums needed depends on their size.
5. Bake in the heated oven for 50–60 minutes until a good golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and run a round-bladed knife around the inside of the tin to loosen the kuchen. Unclip the tin and set the kuchen on a large, rimmed heatproof platter.
6. Combine the lemon juice, honey and sugar in a small pan and stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Let the syrup foam up, then remove the pan from the heat. Quickly spoon the syrup over the hot kuchen. Serve hot or warm, with custard or ice-cream. Eat any leftovers at room temperature — like a cake — the next day.
PISTACHIO AND WHITE CHOCOLATE CHURROS
A very pretty Spanish-style dessert made from deep-fried sweet choux dough filled with a rich pistachio and white chocolate custard. The light, crisp, finger-like churros are decorated with melted white chocolate and chopped pistachios, and served with a dark chocolate dipping sauce.
You will need
3 baking sheets, lined with baking paper
a large piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle
a medium piping bag fitted with a 3mm plain round nozzle
For the pistachio custard filling:
250g unsalted pistachio nuts (shelled)
60g icing sugar, sifted
125ml full-fat/whole milk
5 medium egg yolks, at room temperature
30g salted butter, at room temperature, diced
50g white chocolate (about 30pc cocoa solids), finely chopped
few drops of almond extract
few drops of edible green food colouring (paste or gel — optional)
For the churros:
25g granulated sugar
165g salted butter
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
225g plain flour, sifted
4 medium eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g vanilla caster sugar
sunflower oil, for deep frying
60g white chocolate, chopped
For the chocolate sauce:
150g dark chocolate (about 70pc cocoa solids), chopped
150ml single cream
2 tablespoons amaretto, or to taste
1. Make the custard filling first so it has time to firm up. Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Weigh the pistachios into a medium pan, add cold water to cover and bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 seconds. Drain in a sieve, then tip on to several sheets of kitchen paper. Pat dry and rub the nuts with the paper to slip off the papery brown skins. Transfer the skinned nuts to a baking dish or tin, spread out and toast in the heated oven for 5 minutes to dry them and add a little colour. Leave to cool (you can turn off the oven).
2. Set aside 100g of the pistachios for the decoration. Tip the remaining nuts into a food processor, add the icing sugar and blitz (scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally) to make a fine powder. Warm the milk in a non-stick medium pan. Add the egg yolks to the processor bowl and run the machine until thoroughly combined with the nut powder. Then, with the machine running, slowly pour in the warm milk through the feed tube. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then run for a few more seconds.
3. Scrape the mixture back into the medium pan and set over low heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens to a custard that will just coat the back of the spoon — don’t let the custard get too hot or the eggs will scramble. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and then the chopped chocolate. When both have melted, add almond extract to taste. If necessary, add a tiny bit of green food colouring. Set a fine sieve over a heatproof bowl and push the custard through it. Discard the larger nut pieces left in the sieve (you need a smooth mixture that will pipe easily). Press a piece of clingfilm on to the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Leave to cool, then chill thoroughly — at least 2 hours but preferably 4.
4. To make the churros dough, put the sugar, butter, water and salt into a large pan and heat gently, stirring frequently, until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted. Bring to the boil, then tip in the flour, all in one go. Beat vigorously over low heat until the mixture forms a smooth, glossy ball of thick dough. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large heatproof bowl. Leave to cool until lukewarm, then, one at a time, add the eggs, beating well after each addition — you can do this with a wooden spoon but it is easier with a hand-held electric whisk. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
5. Transfer to the large piping bag fitted with the star nozzle. Pipe the churros dough on to 2 of the lined baking sheets: pipe into straight fingers exactly 10cm long, cutting off the dough with kitchen scissors to give a neat rounded end. Dust the third lined baking sheet with some of the vanilla sugar.
6. Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer or large, deep pan to 190°C/375°F. Carefully remove one piped finger from the baking sheet (the best way to do it is to set a large palette knife parallel to the finger and slide it underneath) and gently lower it into the hot oil. Fry, turning it frequently so it colours evenly, for about 6 minutes until a rich golden brown and cooked through. Lift out and drain on kitchen paper, then roll in the vanilla sugar to coat all over. Leave to cool on the baking sheet. This is your ‘test run’ — adjust the heat of the oil and frying time as necessary, then continue to fry the rest of the churros, in small batches so the fryer doesn’t become crowded. Drain each batch and roll in sugar; add more sugar to the baking sheet as needed.
7. When all the churros have been fried, make a small hole in one rounded end of each and gently push a bamboo skewer right down the length of the finger to make a tunnel (remove the skewer). Spoon the pistachio custard into the piping bag fitted with the small round nozzle and pipe into the churros through the small hole to fill the tunnel.
8. Finely chop the reserved pistachios and put into a small dish. Gently melt the white chocolate. To decorate the churros, dip one end first into the melted chocolate and then into the nuts. Arrange on a large platter and leave to set in a cool spot (not the fridge).
9. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a small pan until almost boiling, then pour over the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Stir in amaretto to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately with the churros.
A home-baked version of our much-loved classic teatime treat, the perfect combination of whisked sponge, ready-made orange jelly layer and melted dark chocolate.
Makes 12. Dairy-free.
You will need
1 shallow 30 x 20cm baking tin
a 12-hole shallow bun tin/mince pie tin, greased with butter
a 5cm plain round cutter
For the jelly:
1 x 135g pack orange jelly
150ml boiling water
finely grated zest of 1 small orange
For the sponge:
2 large eggs, at room temperature
50g caster sugar
50g self-raising flour, sifted
For the topping:
180g dark chocolate (about 46pc
cocoa solids), broken up
1. Break up the jelly into pieces and place in a small heatproof bowl. Pour over the boiling water and stir until the jelly has completely melted. Stir in the orange zest. Pour into the shallow tin and chill for about 1 hour until set.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. To make the sponge, whisk the eggs and sugar together for 4–5 minutes until pale and fluffy, then fold in the flour gently but thoroughly.
3. Spoon the sponge mixture into the bun tin to fill each hole three-quarters full (you will probably have some mixture left over). Bake in the heated oven for 7–9 minutes until the sponges are light golden and puffy, and they feel springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before carefully transferring the sponges to a wire rack to finish cooling.
4. When ready to assemble, gently melt the chocolate. Stir until smooth, then leave to cool and thicken slightly.
5. Turn the orange jelly out of the tin on to a sheet of baking paper. Cut out 12 discs from the jelly using the 5cm round cutter. Sit a jelly disc on top of each sponge.
6. Spoon the melted chocolate over the jelly discs — don’t worry if a little chocolate dribbles down the sides. Allow to set slightly, then use a fork to create a criss-cross pattern on top of the chocolate. Leave to set completely before serving.