Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Hello bloggers! Happy Easter! I hope you are all having a nice holiday weekend. Matt's dad and Karen invited us over for dinner for Easter and as luck would have it, I found this amazing cake on My Little Expat Kitchen, a great blog by a Greek woman named Magda who lives in the Netherlands. I won't even dare compare my cake to hers because hers was about 500 times more beautiful than mine...

However, I didn't let my inexperience stop me from trying! I started with her recipe but changed it a lot as well. She had the eggs made of ganache, while I used the recipe for the Buckeyes I made awhile back, and substituted white chocolate for dark chocolate (NOTE: I could have used way more white chocolate, as I only really was able to coat about half of the buckeyes...the white chocolate was much more difficult to manage than the dark chocolate--thicker and stickier! so I ended up wasting a lot of it trying to figure out the best way to coat the eggs).

In addition, I did not make the cake from scratch *cue gasp*!  I know, I know, I should have done it from scratch but it's finals and I have been dying to try this "all natural" cake mix that they sell at Fresh Market by "Naturally Nora." However, the eggs, their coating, the ganache, the icing, and the nest were all made by moi!

Okay so here is how I will break it down for you...I used cake mix, but you can use any recipe for any chocolate cake you wish, I'm pretty sure any chocolate cake would taste incredible with this. I will give you her recipe for the ganache eggs, if you would prefer to make ganache eggs instead of peanut butter.  Note: her ingredients are provided in grams, milliliters etc.  If you wish to do them with peanut butter the way I did, make the buckeyes and instead of shaping them into 1 Tbsp balls, make them more oval shape (and slightly bigger, like a heaping tablespoon) and use white chocolate instead of dark chocolate.

For the ganache frosting
1/2 cup good quality dark 55% chocolate, roughly chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream

For the chocolate glaze
1/2 cup good quality dark 55% chocolate, roughly chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp mild-flavored runny honey** (I substituted agave nectar for the honey because I already had agave nectar and honey was like $5 at Fresh Market and I'm on a budget)

For decorating the cake
1 1/2 cup good quality milk chocolate
Chocolate truffle or peanut butter eggs (see recipe below)
First step: make your cake (whichever cake recipe you are using...or if you are short on time, a simple boxed cake)

Make the ganache frosting:
While the cake is cooling, make your ganache.

Place dark chocolate and cream in a pan over barely simmering water. Do not let the bottom of the pan touch the water. Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, until smooth.

Transfer the ganache into a mixing bowl and place it in the fridge for 40 minutes, taking it out every 10 minutes to stir with a rubber spatula. Take ganache out of the fridge and whisk vigorously until smooth and fluffy (totally missed this step when doing this...I was watching Julie & Julia at the same time...sorry I'm not sorry, it still turned out delicious...but yes, this probably would have made the consistency better).

Coat the cake layers with the whipped ganache:
Level the cake layers so that they are flat. If the cake layers are not flat, they will crack and break (although will undoubtedly still be yummy).

Use a good serrated blade to level the cake
Place one cake cut side up and measure ½ cup of the whipped ganache frosting and spread it over the top of the cake, smoothing it out with an offset spatula (if you don't have one, they are like $10 and will change your life). Place the second cake on top of the first, lining it up as well as possible (cut side down). Pour the rest of the ganache on top and then smooth it on the top and sides using the offset spatula.

Place cake in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.

Make the chocolate glaze:
Place dark chocolate, cream and honey (or agave nectar) in a pan over barely simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the pan does not touch the water. Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove the pan and let cool for 5 minutes. 

Let the glaze drip down the sides before spreading
Take the cake out of the fridge and pour the glaze over it. Use the offset spatula to spread the glaze around and let it drip down the sides of the cake. I did this in parts: pouring a little bit of the glaze on at a time and letting the glaze kind of slide in whatever direction it wanted. Smooth it out and put cake back in the fridge so the glaze can set, for about 20 minutes. At this point I took a small paper towel and wiped the glaze from around the plate so that the chocolate wasn't all over the serving dish.

Decorate and serve the cake:
In the meantime, make milk chocolate shavings or curls by using a knife and scrapping the back side of the chocolate bar. You will need approximately 1 ½ cups of chocolate curls and shavings to make the nest on top of the cake. Place curls in the fridge until ready to use. This was so hard for me. I did this in shifts, whenever I wasn't when the ganache was chilling or the cake was chilling. The problem was that the kitchen and probably my hands as well were too warm, so the chocolate would get soft and difficult to "shave" so I would basically just keep putting it back in the fridge to try to let it harden again and then try again. My shavings ended up being quite small compared to Magda's but that's okay...different birds make different nests :)

Take the cake out of the fridge and form a nest using the chocolate shavings (not all the way out to the edge of the cake and not in the middle). Place 3-4 small eggs in the middle (I did 4 because I wanted a bunch of different colors but I think 3 probably looks better from a food photography standpoint).

I kept the cake in the fridge until we were ready to leave for dinner.

Truffled Eggs:
According to Magda, the secret to making thumbprint-free truffle eggs is to use toothpicks or small wooden skewers to hold the truffles and dip them into the melted chocolate.
Again, if you wish to make the peanut butter eggs, use this recipe.
230 g good quality dark 55% chocolate, roughly chopped
90 ml heavy cream
115 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
700 g good quality white chocolate, roughly chopped
Food coloring

Special equipment: 1 packet strong toothpicks

Melt the dark chocolate using the same method as above, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove the bowl from over the pan and add the butter. Stir until it melts.

Empty the ganache in a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it is very cold and set but still pliable, for about 2 hours.

Peanut butter eggs
Using a tablespoon as a measure, scoop balls of ganache, placing each one on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Put them in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up. 
chopped white chocolate
Meanwhile, melt white chocolate using the same method as above.

To color the white chocolate, divide it among bowls and then use food coloring to make different shades. To make the speckled blue eggs, don't stir the coloring in with a spoon but rather, just swirl it around with a toothpick.

Take the eggs out of the freezer and stick a toothpick in one end of each egg. Holding the eggs by the toothpicks, dip them one by one into the colored chocolate. Coat the eggs well and let the excess chocolate drip off back into the bowl. Place eggs back on the parchment paper and once you're done with all of them, place them in the fridge to set. Remove toothpicks from eggs.
Use the eggs to decorate the cake. Decorate the rest however you wish! Sprinkles, chocolate gems, the works!
Keep the rest of the eggs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.  You will inevitably have can just make them into cute little chicks or me, they will still get eaten...and if not, send them to our place because Matt loves anything containing peanut butter.


  1. Happy Easter Lynn and congratulations! Your cake looks very pretty. Great idea about the peanut butter eggs.
    I loved the "different birds make different nests" part ;)

  2. Thank you Magda!!! I'm glad you approved of the cake and Happy Easter to you as well!!