Wednesday, November 24, 2010

'Tis the Season!

It's been quite hard to keep up with this blog the past few months, mainly because of a lack of internet when I first began this little endeavor!  I've just been taking some time to organize recipes, pictures and posts.  I'm back home now, so more yummy posts will be coming up! 

It's that time of the year when all those holidays come in right after each other.  You have Thanksgiving (American one) coming up tomorrow, Christmas right after, New Years Eve and Valentines Day a month later!  SO as these wonderful excuses to stuff your face with food and dessert come up, I'll be posting my favourite recipes for each occasion!  If there isn't an occasion, I'll make one up! (any excuse for chocolate!)

COMING SOON (to a kitchen near you): Chocolate caramel filled cupcakes with chocolate icing! Mmm I had so much fun making these, and even more fun eating them! Can you say DELICIOUS!  Stay tuned my dessert loving friends!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

World's Largest Chocolate Bar

Anyone craving a chocolate bar? Twix?  Kit Kat?  Mars bar maybe? How about a 4, 410 Kg (approx. 5 tonnes) chocolate bar?  Well if that is what you're looking for, head down to Armenia for a bit of the world's largest chocolate bar, certified by the Guinness Book of World Records.  The massive piece of chocolate is 70 percent cocoa mass and was made from all natural ingredients using cocoa beans from Ghana.  It is more than 5.5 meters long, 2.7 meters wide and 25 centimeters thick, made by the Grand Candy factory. (Check out their super cute website!)   The previous record was for a 3,587-kilogram chocolate bar made by Elah Dufour-Novi in Alessandria, Piemonte, Italy, in October 2007.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Birthday Cake!

It was my birthday last month, and usually I'm in Lebanon during that time.  Birthdays here are a big deal, so ofcourse this calls for the biggest cake possible.  If you don't have the right cake, then your judged to no end!  Best cake from the best cake maker and no less.  My cousins surprised me with the yummiest moistest chocolate cake I've had in a LONG time from La Cigale.  Personally, I think he's the best shop in Beirut.  I forgot how amazing Lebanese cake shops could be (chocolate shops and patisseries too!)  It was a nice reminder as I took my first bite from that cake.  It was a three layer cake, the first layer was a chocolate ganache, the second a delicious hazelnut cream and the final layer a moist chocolate cake.  There were beautifully crafted chocolate flowers placed on top and a small sugar square with "Happy Birthday LouLou" written on it.  This is such a traditional style here in Lebanon, the sugar square.  Theres ALWAYS one on a birthday cake!  

Unfortunately as they were bring it back home, Max, the dog, stepped over the cake box and a small part of it was ruined, as you can see.  This is Max.  He's crazy!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The C4 - Cherry and Cream filled Chocolate Cupcakes

First post, first yummy adventure! I've been playing around with the blog for a few days now, and frankly all this html-ing and figuring out corresponding colours and fonts is getting a bit daunting now.  I'm happy with how it is for now, I'll be updating the site as I go!  I want to get to the good stuff so I decided its more about content than the look, so here we go, my first post!

I'm currently in Saudi Arabia visiting my dad, and the other day I decided I wanted to make cupcakes! Well, easier said than done.  I looked around the kitchen, opening drawers and cabinets but no cupcake pans were to be found.  No cocoa powder *GASP*, no chocolate *double gasp*, no vanilla beans or extract, no cream, NOTHING.  I had to sit my dad down for a talk about that one, because frankly this is unacceptable!

After I got over the initial shock of not being able to find anything of use in my father's kitchen, we went out for a drive to the local supermarket.  I walked in with all the happiness of a person who has already imagined eating the cupcake.  Having swiped a bit of chocolate off the top with my finger (you know you do it too), and bitten into that soft, fluffy chocolate-y goodness.  Well let's just say my fantasy was cut short. Again.  As I walked through the aisles, I couldn't find the right kind of chocolate I usually use, nor any cocoa powder! How the hell am I supposed to make my chocolate cupcakes without cocoa?!  I had to settle for a ready made cake mix from Betty Crocker.  I'm cringing just thinking about it.  I love making things from scratch, so this was hard for me ok?  I also couldn't find the right type of cherries, yes there are cherries in these cupcakes, so keep reading for the recipe.  Well, I had to settle, and this is what came of my little experiment of baking in Saudi Arabia.  

The original recipe was inspired by one of Martha Stewart's, but I've made a few adjustments every time I bake this, so you can choose to try either.  I call it the C4, because its a small burst of heaven in every bite! 

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream, I usually put in a whole cup, to make it extra moist
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (if you don't have any buttermilk on hand just take some milk and add the smallest touch of vinegar, this is what makes buttermilk.  If this doesn't appeal to you, you can use regular milk

OR do what I had to, and buy ready made chocolate cake mix and follow the instructions on the box


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush standard muffin tins with a generous amount of butter; dust with flour or cocoa powder depending on preference and tap out any extra clour/cocoa.  If you don't want to waste time buttering and flouring each tin, you can just use standard paper cups.  However, when you want to cut them open later, its easier if they have been baked in the tray rather than in paper cups.

2. In a bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy. Then add the brown sugar, and beat until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well incorporated.  Mix in sour cream while reducing the mixer speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk, in two batches.  This allows the ingredients to mix well and you don't get flour flying all over the place.

4. Divide batter evenly among floured trays or in prepared cups if you prefer, filling each three-quarters full. Place them in the oven on the second rack and bake, rotating the tins halfway through.  To check if they are done, take a tooth pick and place it in the center, if it comes out clean they are done. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.
In the meantime, while the cupcakes are baking and cooling you can start on the ganache, cream and  cherry filling.  If you find custard too heavy with the chocolate and cherries, you can substitute a whipped cream which is a tad bit lighter.

Cherry Filling Ingredients:

1 jar or can of preserved cherries in light syrup (if in season, you can use fresh cherries and cook them in a sugar and water reduction to create the syrup)  You may also put in the fruit of your choice, I've used canned mixed fruits as well as fresh strawberries.

2 tablespoons or raspberry or cherry vodka (the original recipe called for kirsch, but sometimes I have to improvise if a certain ingredient isn't available)

Zest of one orange

1. Empty the cherry filling into a bowl and add the orange zest and a dash of your preferred alcohol, in this case raspberry vodka and mix so it is evenly distributed. (I had to cut out the alcohol here since its banned in Saudi Arabia.  For you non drinkers, you don't have to add it, it just gives the cherry filling a little extra umph)

Arranging Cupcakes:

1. When the chocolate ganache and custard are completed, half the cupcakes and spread a layer of custard on the bottom half, followed by about 3 cherries on top with a bit of the syrup.
2. Next dip the top half into the ganache so the top is completely covered and place it over the bottom, and there you go!  Cherry and cream filled chocolate cupcakes!

This time around I had to substitute the cupcake recipe for a Betty Crocker ready mix, which is fine if you want to speed things up.  I also used regular pie cherry filling, so the syrup was more of a loose jelly.  Instead of custard I made some whip cream, which worked just fine.  You don't have to follow the recipe to the "T", play around, add your own touches and ingredients!  I definitely learned a few new things this time around.  Normally they look a little cleaner and the chocolate coats smoother, but you work with what you have!  No matter how they look, they are to die for!

Pastry Cream

Pastry cream isn't necessarily chocolate, but it works with it in unimaginable ways.  I love this cream with my cupcakes.


2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

You can double the amounts if you want more cream, but trust me this is more than enough

1. Whisk the egg yolks until smooth in a large bowl.
2. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan, over a medium heat. Stirring constantly, gradually add milk, and cook until mixture thickens and begins to bubble (about 5 minutes)

3. Whisking constantly, slowly pour one third of the milk mixture into egg yolks (this step is called tempering, which keeps the yolks from curdling).

4. Pour mixture into remaining milk mixture in saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly (this is very important, you HAVE TO WHISK CONSTANTLY) until mixture comes to a boil

5. Remove it from the heat and add in the vanilla

6. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a container or bowl. Cover it with parchment paper or plastic wrap, but you have to press it directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming while it cools.

7. Refrigerate until chilled and firm, at least 2 hours

Chocolate Ganache

If there is something I use often it is chocolate ganache.  I love topping my cupcakes with it!  It just adds that extra je ne said quoi.  Its really quite simple and you can always make extra and store it for later use, although fresh ganache is always best!  You can make this recipe a ganache or more a glaze, usually I do a glaze as it just makes a nice thin layer on the cupcake.


About 100 grams of your preferred chocolate, the original recipe calls for approx. 170, but I found it made way too much for the amount of cupcakes I had.

Heavy cream

1 tbsp of corn syrup


1.  Prep a heatproof bowl over some boiling water and place the chocolate into it.
2. As the chocolate melts, add the corn syrup while stirring with a spatula or whisk.  Add cream as you go to get the desired thickness.  If you want a ganache, use less cream to keep it thick, more cream for a glaze.
3. Be sure to watch the heat as you don't want to over heat the chocolate or it will form bubbles.

You can always prep this a few days in advance and reheat it in a similar manner when you need it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Hello everyone!  Welcome to ChocoLou!  I'm still developing the site(layout, banner, fonts/colours), fixing a few things here and there ( The "History" and "Chocoholic's Paradise" sections and still under construction! ), so please check back soon for the first recipe/post!  It will definitely be worth it!