Claire’s miniature chocolate and cherry cakes

In case you’re curious, here’s a breakdown of how many recipes I have left:

  • Biscuits and traybakes: 3
  • Bread: 4
  • Cake: 4
  • Sweet pastry and patisserie: 2
  • Savoury: 3
  • Puddings and desserts: 3

Throughout this baking adventure, I’ve been trying to keep them more or less even so I’m not left with, say, all savoury bakes.

(Can you tell savoury are my least favourite?)

I was going to do a bread on Saturday, but it required saffron and that requires going to a special store and I didn’t feel like it. So instead I chose to adapt this recipe so my mom and I could enjoy it.

My social bubble is obviously tiny and isn’t growing any time soon, so I have to put some thought into who can eat what, how to make recipes smaller, and how I can time my baking so the food shared is fresh.

I visit my mom once a week and as I’ve mentioned, she’s gluten-free, so I decided to do my baking at her house with her flour.

I’ve had my eye on this recipe for a little while, but since it’s (a) a showstopper and (b) requires mini cake tins that I do not have, I have been putting it off.

It’s supposed to make 16 mini cakes that are 6.5 cm wide and deep. That may just be a cupcake tin? But they look perfectly cylindrical in the picture.

I have mini springform tins that are 10 cm wide, so I kind of figured that if I halved the recipe, that would make us each a little-larger-than-mini cake.

I was supposed to brush the tins with melted butter and dust them with flour, but I recently used these tins to make myself mini cornbreads and the melted butter leaked through the springform and directly onto my oven element and almost set off my smoke alarm, so I rubbed butter instead. I also had slightly more cocoa than was needed in a halved recipe, so I used the remainder for the dusting instead of flour. (You can never have too much chocolate.)

Then I prepped the cherries.

I don’t think canned cherries are as common in Canada as they are in the UK. I was in the grocery store and looked by the canned fruit and then by the canned vegetables, and then asked a worker and she said if they had it, it’d be by the canned fruit, and I found one brand called “M’Lord Bing Cherries” (there’s a Chandler Bing joke in there somewhere) tucked beside the canned peaches and pineapple.

The recipe says, “Thoroughly drain the cherries, reserving the syrup for later. Quarter 24 of the cherries (you won’t need the rest).”

Thanks for giving me zero tips on what to do with the rest of the cherries, Claire.

With that set aside, I could start melting the chocolate.

And also get the butter started with both granulated (caster) sugar and brown sugar. (Confession: I did have some brown sugar, but when I went to scoop it out, it had partly turned white and I thought that wasn’t a great sign, so instead of brown, I used golden.)

I didn’t want to use up my mom’s ingredients, so I pre-measured all of the ingredients (minus the gluten-free flour and later sprinkles) and brought them to her house in a bunch of containers. I felt a little like I was on a cooking show but instead of cute ramekins they were plastic Ziploc containers (sorry, environment) that I continue to reuse (you’re welcome, environment).

While the chocolate was melting and the butter and sugar were becoming creamy and light, I decided to sift the gluten-free flour.

I have done this before because my mom once made a gluten-free angel food cake that was shockingly fluffy and she had sifted the flour about eight times. I did four or five for this recipe.

Then when the butter and sugars were light and creamy, I added the eggs one at a time.

And when that was done, I used the sifter once more for the flour, cocoa and baking powder.

Then the folding began.

I started with one spatula, but the mixture was quite tough, so I had to spatula-up and get a sturdier one.

When I added the melted chocolate, it got a little easier.

And when I added the “buttermilk,” it got even easier.

A quick word about the “buttermilk.” (I think I’ve said this before but I forget when, so bear with.) Buttermilk is a fairly common ingredient but not so common that you’d use up a full litre before it expired, unless you purposefully sought out cake- and bread-adjacent recipes. You can’t really use it for anything other than that so buying buttermilk from the store always seems wasteful. I much prefer the lemon juice trick. Normally I’d add it to regular milk, but since I don’t use regular milk that much and often opt for un-whipped whipping cream in my morning coffee, I added a touch of lemon juice to the halved amount of whipping cream, and then added a touch more just to be safe.

You can also use things like Greek yogurt or sour cream, but again I rarely have those in my kitchen. I always have whipping cream on hand.

Anyway, enough about my coffee habits.

With all that folded in, I added some of the cherry syrup from the tin.

The folding got much easier with all that liquid added. A little heads-up would’ve been nice, Claire.

(I’m really being a little snarky to Claire. Sorry, Claire! This was actually a great recipe and was delicious!)

The final touch was folding in the quartered cherries.

At this point, Claire instructed me to put the mixture into a large piping bag and pipe the mixture into the tins until about three-quarters full.

As previously discussed, I did not have these tins, so I filled up the two buttered and cocoa’d tins and still had some left, so I filled up as many cupcake liners as I could.

Then I popped them in the oven and checked, many, many, many times how quickly they’d be done, knowing they’d be baking at different rates.

Thankfully, I actually read the next step instead of making an assumption and putting my feet up, so I got started on the cherry syrup.

The recipe calls for caster sugar and cherry brandy. I did not have cherry brandy nor would I go out to buy a bottle of cherry brandy, so what I did instead was use some of the cherry syrup from the tin plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of brandy extract.

Then I put that on the stove and brought it to a boil.

Then I started to poke the cakes.

The cupcakes were done, and after a little while one of the tiny cakes was done, but the other was not, as you can see here:

Eventually I got impatient and decided that the toothpick didn’t need to come out totally clean, it just needed to come out with what looked like cooked batter, not raw batter.

I went and put my feet up as they cooled, and then I remembered what I was supposed to do with the syrup and ran to the kitchen.

While still warm, inject the syrup into them using the syringe (inject in several spots and use just 2 teaspoons per cake).”

Firstly, they were not still warm. Secondly, I did not have a food syringe. (Another thing I won’t buy for the one time I’d need it.)

So what I did instead was left them in the tins, poked a bunch of holes in the two mini cakes (not the cupcakes) with a giant serving fork my mom normally uses for turkey dinner twice a year, and poured the sauce over top.

I didn’t bother with the cupcakes. I figured they were bonus cakes and didn’t need to be soaked too.

Then I put a tea towel over all the cakes to keep my mom’s cat from getting too curious while we took advantage of a rainless afternoon and went for a walk.

*a couple hours later*

While my mom boiled potatoes to go along with the roast she was slow cooking (I forgot to mention the smell of chocolate cherry cake mixed with the smell of pot roast somehow totally works), I heated up the whipping cream to pour over the chocolate to make the ganache.

I wanted to give it enough time to set before we enjoyed a cake each.

As much as I mixed it, there were still chunks of chocolate so I put it into a glass liquid measuring cup and popped it in the microwave for 10 second blasts.

Then I poured it over each of the cakes and each of the cupcakes, completely disobeying Claire.

“To finish, spread the ganache evenly over the top and side of each cake, then roll in sugar sprinkles to coast. Leave on the wire rack in a cool spot until set before adding sugar paste shapes that have been dusted with edible gold dust.”

Sorry, Claire. I’m not trying to make a showstopper. I’m just trying to complete a recipe that is somewhat delicious. So I left the cake in the tins and cupcake liners, poured ganache just on the top and then put them in a bowl to cover with sprinkles (without getting sprinkles everywhere).

I didn’t bother with sugar paste or edible gold dust. I figured this was good enough for two people in lockdown:

After a delicious dinner (that I tried not to eat too much of lest I lost the necessary room for cake), I made us a pot of wild berry tea and we each had a 10 cm cake to ourselves.

It was gone before the tea was finished.

Claire, I’m sorry for giving you a hard time. I will probably make this recipe again because it was so good. Maybe I’ll even find edible gold dust and cherry brandy to do it right. (Although, let’s be honest, that’s unlikely. It’s clear to everyone that I’m a lazy baker.)

Eighteen recipes left!

  • Biscuits and traybakes: 3
  • Bread: 4
  • Cake: 3
  • Sweet pastry and patisserie: 2
  • Savoury: 3
  • Puddings and desserts: 3

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