I began to think of what our perfect summer vacation would consist of. We're not so much into the whole all-inclusive beach resort thing. Frankly, Mr. C and his red hair would probably burst into flames. Even with his SPF 7000. If money was no option, we'd love to take a page out of Anthony Bourdain's book - travel to the outskirts of the world and just eat. Give in to local customs and dishes, experiencing life as the country lives it. This isn't saying I'd turn my nose up at a trip to Disneyland or Las Vegas (god, I love Vegas) - traveling the world is a dream we plan on conquering slowly throughout our lifetimes. The first country on my list isn't France or Germany or Sweden - I'd want to visit Northern Africa.
More specifically, I want to visit Marrakech.
Morocco may not be high on many of your 'must-travel' lists, but I am drawn to it. The markets, the culture, the food. Especially in the summer. Yes, it's oppressively hot - probably a bit hotter as the temperature I got growing up in Ontario - but the smells and sights would be worth the pain. I've been told that, when you step into the city of Marrakech during the summer, you are overwhelmed by the distinct tang of orange blossoms in the air. I'd love to sit outside a café in the morning, take in the city and drink the country's famous freshly squeezed orange juice, flavoured with a bit of coconut or saffron.
Here lies my inspiration for this month's cupcake - I've overlooked the piña colada for a famous summer drink from Morocco. Our cake is something rich and deep in flavour - bittersweet chocolate and thick coconut milk. The frosting is a light orange zest buttercream, which balances out the cake. I hope that, when you take a bite out of these cupcakes, you'll dream of Marrakech as well.
I Dream of Marrakech
Bittersweet Chocolate Coconut Cake with a light Orange Buttercream
makes about 16 cupcakes
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup boiling water
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 3/4 cups cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk, full fat
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1) Set the temperature of your oven to 350C. Pour boiling water into a small bowl with the cocoa powder. Stir until combined and leave out until room temperature
2) Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl together. In a measuring cup, pour both the coconut milk and vanilla and whisk to combine.
3) In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar and 1/2 cups granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add only the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides so everything is well incorporated. Add cocoa mixture and beat just until blended. Slowly mix the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with coconut milk mixture in 2 additions. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.
4) Place egg whites in clean bowl. Using an electric mixer, whip whites on until foamy. Increase speed and gradually add remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Whip until meringue holds firm peaks. Using rubber spatula, gently fold meringue into the batter. Fold the shredded coconut in the batter as well.
5) Divide batter into cupcake liners and sprinkle the bittersweet chocolate on top. Bake at 350C for about 25 minutes, or until your cake tester comes out clean. Set out to cool.
Swiss Orange Buttercream
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, cut into small pieces
1 Tablespoon orange concentrate
the zest of one large navel orange
orange colouring gel, if desired
1) Place egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl over a pot of boiling water. Whisk lightly until all the granules of sugar have disintegrated.
2) Remove from heat and, using a electric mixer, whisk until stiff glossy peaks form. Reduce speed, and add the butter a bit at a time whisking well after each addition and mix very well. At one point, your frosting may look like it's beginning to curdle - don't worry! Just keep mixing! It will be ready when the frosting is silky smooth.
3) Whisking slowly, add the concentrate and zest. Add some juice of your navel orange if you wish for a sweeter flavour. Add colouring gel if desired. Use immediately on cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle shredded coconut on top as a garnish.
a real sweet taste of the Red City