Friday, 12 August 2016

Cherry Chocolate Fairy Cakes

Whether it's black forest gateau, liqueur chocolates, covered berries, chocolate bars, or biscuits and cakes, chocolate and cherries belong together. Forever, and always.

I've done the black forest thing a few times, but this time I thought I'd try something a little bit different. In the traditional gateau, it's chocolate cake, fresh cream, and fresh cherries and cherry jam, whereas this time I thought I would try mix the cherry and the cream together, in a cherry butter cream.

However, here in Ireland, cherries are incredibly expensive. Because they have to be imported from southeastern England or the continent, they can be up to €13 ($14.50, £11.30) per kilogram. Also, there's no such thing as cherry essence in the shops. So, I had to improvise.

Here, we can buy cherry juice drink. It's generally in the fruit juice and juice drink section of the supermarket. The one I buy is 25% cherry juice. Of course, you can't add cherry juice directly to the buttercream, otherwise it'll be too runny, but if you reduce it to a syrup it works just as well.

If you have access to cherry essence or flavour oil, you can just use that instead.

☑ Soya (check for soya lecithin)
☑ Yeast
☑ Wheat
☑ Nuts

☒ Eggs
☒ Dairy (dairy substitutes can be found in italics)
☒ Gluten
☒ Refined sugar products


For 12 standard fairy cakes
  • 3 ounces (85 grammes) white spelt flour
  • 1 ounce (30 grammes) cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon (3 millilitres) baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 4 ounces (115 grammes) caster sugar
  • 2 ounce (55 grammes) sunflower oil
  • 2 fluid ounces (30 millilitres) warm water
  • 1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) vanilla essence

For the icing:
  • 3 ounces (85 grammes) butter, softened or margarine
  • 3 ounces (85 grammes) block vegetable fat, softened
  • 12 ounces (340 grammes) icing sugar, sifted
  • 4 fluid ounces (120 millilitres) cherry juice drink, at least 25% fruit juice content, like this one
  • 1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) vanilla essence
  • Red and blue food colouring

To make the chocolate coated cherries,
  • 12 glacé cherries (choose the roundest, prettiest ones from the tub)
  • 1 ounces (30 grammes) dark chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) sunflower oil


First off, make the chocolate cherries,
  • Wash and dry the glacé cherries to remove all the excess syrup.
  • To make the coating, melt the chocolate and oil together in a cup or small bowl, either in the microwave in 30 second increments, or over a pan of simmering water.
  • Line a small tray or chopping board with a sheet of non-stick baking paper.
  • Using a cocktail stick, pick each cherry up through the hole in the top and dip in the chocolate. Slide each cherry off onto the paper lined tray. Refrigerate for about an hour.

Then, prepare the syrup for the icing,
  • In a small saucepan, boil the cherry juice until reduced by half. It should be slightly syrupy.
  • Leave the syrup aside to cool completely

Then, make the cakes,
  • Make the cake mixture according to this recipe, using a 12 hole muffin tin lined with pink cake liners (or white, if you can't get green). Divide the mixture between all the cases, and bake at 180ºC (350ºF/Gas Mk. 4) for about 20 minutes. Once cooked, transfer the cakes to a wire rack and cool completely.

Now, assemble the masterpieces,
  • To make the icing, beat the butter and fat together with an electric beater, or with a wooden spoon and a lot of elbow grease, until light and fluffy and well combined.
  • Add in the vanilla essence, and about 3 tablespoons (45 millilitres) of the cooled cherry syrup and half the icing sugar and beat again until fully combined.
  • Add the rest of the icing and continue to beat until you get a nice smooth and creamy icing. If you think the icing is too stiff, add cherry syrup until it's the right conistency.
  • Add the red colouring a drop at a time until it's a deep pink colour, then add a drop or two of blue colouring to give it a slightly darker, more cherry like shade.
  • Fit a piping bag with a medium or large star nozzle, and pipe swirls on top of each cake. I start in the centre of the cake, swirl around the edge, then continue to swirl upwards to have two layers and a peak on top.
  • Pop a chocolate glacé cherry on the top of each cake. You could add some sprinkles if you like, too.

The cherry taste in the buttercream is nice and subtle, and a lot more natural than the intense -- almost synthetic -- taste of a flavour oil or essence. And the chocolate coated glacé cherries are a nice touch, and I think I'll be repeating that in the future.

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