Sunday, 9 May 2010

Hi-diddle-dee-dee, it's Pleasure Isle for me!

Disney Classic # 2 - Pinocchio

I initially had a little trouble coming up with an idea for a Pinocchio themed cake – for some reason I didn't quite fancy a cake made out of wood, or garnished with crickets... so I started to think about whether any food or drink featured in the film. This cake is based on the scene when Pinocchio and Lampwick are in the billiard room at Pleasure Island, drinking beers and smoking cigars.

I made the beer cake and chocolate cigars based on recipes I found here, here and here. Again I made some slight changes to the recipes to better suit my needs – the major change however was a switch-over between the two chocolate mixtures! Originally I was going to use the chocolate truffle recipe for the cigars, and the chocolate frosting to ice the cake. However, when it came down to it, the smooth creamy consistency of the truffle/ganache was much more appropriate for icing the cake, and the thick pliable chocolate frosting was much more suited to the cigars. The recipes and the technique I used are posted below

Chocolate Cigars:

115g icing sugar
120g dark cooking chocolate
60g butter
small bag of white chocolate buttons
2 tbsp white granulated sugar
drop of black food colouring

Prep time: 30 mins         
Cook time: no cook, but does need at least 2-3 hours in the fridge to set
Makes 14-16 cigars

  1. Line a baking tray with cling film or greaseproof paper, and make some space for it in the fridge.
  2. Break the dark cooking chocolate into pieces in heatproof glass bowl and melt the chocolate. (This can be done either in the microwave by microwaving for 30 seconds on medium, stirring and continuing in 10 second bursts until fully melted, or if you prefer by melting over a pan of bowling water).
  3. Chop the butter into small cubes and mix into the melted chocolate until the butter is also melted. Leave the mixture to cool for 10 minutes before sifting in the icing sugar. Beat until combined.
  4. With very clean hands, scoop out a bit of the mixture and mould it into a cigar shape and place it onto the prepare baking tray. Repeat until all of the mixture has been used and then place the tray in the fridge to set for at least 2-hours. The cigars (truffles) should be solid and firm to touch.
  5. Meanwhile, put the sugar into a plastic food bag and add the black food colouring. Seal the bag and then rub the sugar between your hands until the sugar has absorbed the food colouring and is various shades of gray. (Don't worry if the colour is not even, I found that it looked more like ash having some granules darker than others!) Place the coloured sugar into a bowl.
  6. Once the truffles are set, melt the white chocolate buttons. Dip each truffle about 1cm into the chocolate at one end, and then immediately dip this into the grey sugar. Place back on the baking tray to set.
  7. Wrap a small piece of paper around the truffle and secure into place with some white chocolate. You can choose to fashion the paper to match any brand of cigar – just remember to tell people not to eat that part!

Beer Cake: 

For the cake:
200ml Guinness beer
170g plain flour 
2 medium eggs, beaten
290g soft brown sugar
60g cocoa powder
100g dark chocolate chips
115g margarine
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda 
¼ tsp baking powder
For the chocolate ganache covering:
300g dark chocolate
250ml double or whipping cream

For the cream cheese frosting:
125g cream cheese
250g icing sugar
90g unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp lemon curd

Prep time: around 2 hours 
Cook time: 1.5 hours 
Serves: 14

  1. Start by preparing the chocolate ganache, as this will need time to cool and set. Break the chocolate into small pieces into a large mixing bowl. Bring the cream to the boil in a small saucepan over a medium heat, then immediately pour over the chocolate. Mix until all of the chocolate has melted then put the bowl to one side and leave to set, uncovered, for 2 hours at room temperature. Whilst the ganache is setting, make the cake.
  2. Preheat the oven to gas mark and grease and line a 4 inch cake pan
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix the butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy, then gradually beat in the eggs until combined.
  4. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into a second bowl, and in a third bowl, mix the cocoa and the Guinness.
  5. Fold a small amount of the Guinness mixture into the butter and sugar, followed by an equal amount of the flour mixture. Repeat this process until all three mixture are well combined (careful not to over beat as you don't want to loose the air!) Fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Place ¼ of the mixture into the baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. When the cake is done, place this on a wire wrack to cool. Repeat until all the cake mixture has been used, and you have 4 layers.
  7. Whilst the cake is cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Note: The recipe I based this on said to put all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Not that I'm questioning Mr. Worrall-Thompson's authority on frosting, but clearly his food processor is far superior to mine, as whenever I try this I end up with tiny lumps of butter in a mixture that is anything but smooth. Therefore, the technique below is to make the frosting by hand. However, if you would prefer to try the professionals way, then pop all the ingredients into your food processor and blend until smooth ^_^
  8. Chop the butter into small cubes and place in a large mixing bowl. Beat until soft. Add the cream cheese, vanilla essence and lemon curd and mix until combined, then sift in the icing sugar and mix well. Keep in the fridge until you need to use it.
  9. Once the cakes are cool, begin to layer them, using the chocolate ganache between the layers. Tip: if your cake start to tilt then place a skewer straight down the middle as a support – just remember to remove this before serving!
  10. Use the remaining chocolate ganache to completely cover the sides of the cake.
  11. Roll up some greaseproof paper, and shape this into a handle, poking the ends into the chocolate ganache to secure it into place.
  12. Spoon half of the cream cheese frosting into the centre of the top of the cake. Allow this to run naturally to the edges. Save the other half of the cream cheese in the fridge for serving.

And there you have your very own Beer cake and chocolate cigars!! Now the beer cake is pretty tall, so to serve this I cut it in half to make two two layer cakes, and used the rest of the cream cheese frosting to top the cake which didn't have any, before cutting into slices.

Next week: Fantasia – and I'm planning some magic musical cupcakes ^_^