Monday, May 25, 2015

Cauldron Cakes

It has been a crazy, crazy couple of months. And not always the good kind. When I made the decision to focus on getting through my semester and spending time with family it meant putting the blog on the back burner. 

But the semester is over and I have decided to dedicate a large part of my summer to posting about food that makes me happy. Some of it is going to be really healthy because I love food that makes me feel good. But some of it is going to be full of butter and chocolate and sugar, because that kind of food can be full of joy. And this is one of those recipes. Not remotely healthy, but SO TOTALLY FULL OF JOY!



Last summer I decided to listen to all of the Harry Potter audiobooks. A fabulous decision for any fan. If you haven't done so yet, you should! (Check your local library!) Then I discovered Pottermore, where I learned that I am pretty solidly a Hufflepuff and that I absolutely love this magical world. And Hermione Granger.  And perhaps because this year has been particularly hard, escaping into J.K. Rowling's creation meant more to me than it ever has.

In early January, Paul and I booked a trip to Universal Orlando to celebrate the end of the school year. And yes, we got the Harry Potter Package. While I was neck deep in finals, I received a magical box that looked just like Harry's trunk and inside was Pigwidgeon, a welcome letter, and a stack of tickets for our trip.

I do not know the last time I felt so excited for anything, not even my wedding. The day we left I felt like I was five years old, it was Christmas Eve, and Santa was about to come down my chimney any second.

When I woke up in our hotel on the first morning, I blinked groggily, looking around trying to remember where I was. The realization hit me and I squealed at a still-sleeping Paul, jumped up and down on the bed and yelled at him to get ready. (I love that he chooses to be married to me.)

We entered the park early and headed to Hogsmeade for breakfast at The Three Broomsticks. My heart was pounding as we walked up to the entrance of the village...



And as we waited to indulge in a magical breakfast, I oggled the Honeydukes windows...


We finally entered The Three Broomsticks and it was absolute perfection. I stopped and stared and attempted a picture as the line backed up behind me. Paul was in heaven as he sat down to a real English breakfast...


I loved the Hogwarts Express, particularly the journey from Hogsmeade to Kings Cross. On our second day we made friends with a mom and her two daughters as we rode in the same compartment. We ended up going through Gringotts together and crossed paths again and again. Their excitement and joy added so much to ours.


Diagon Alley was just unreal.




And can we talk for a second about how amazing Celestina Warbeck and her Banshee's are? We caught the tail end of one show on our first day, realized how awesome it was and by the last day I was sitting on the ground, right in the very front, gawking up at the performers and clapping harder than the little kids sitting near me.




On our last day, we had breakfast at The Leaky Cauldron and tried to do EVERYTHING one last time. I had frozen Butterbeer and Butterbeer ice cream, Paul had Firewhiskey, and I bought candy, the greatest sweatshirt ever, and a Time Turner. We ended the night by playing a Creatures of Harry Potter matching game in our hotel room. 

I could probably spend pages and pages on this post talking about how much I loved every inch of both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, and how the attention to detail was out of this world, but we have cakes to get to. 

Somehow I managed to not eat the Cauldron Cake I bought at Honeydukes until I was home in Pennsylvania. My friend Carlyn and I dissected and devoured the cake and I became determined to re-create it.

I DID AND IT'S BETTER.

I can't take credit for how good the different parts are, but I'm telling you, this is the greatest cupcake ever. Unless you hate chocolate.



There are many stages to making these beauties, so in the interest of time and sanity, I chose to take some shortcuts. I used Duncan Hines Chocolate Devils' Food Cake Mix for the cupcakes and the same brand of chocolate fudgey frosting for the top of the cauldron.


You don't need any fancy equipment to make these, but you will need at least a handheld mixer to make the buttercream. A stand mixer might be easier, but it is not necessary. There are fancy do-dads out there to make holes in cupcakes, but my favorite method is small sharp knife and a spoon. Simply cut a circle in the bottom of the cake with the knife and then pop it out with the spoon. Bada-bing, bada-boom.


"But what about piping bags?" you say. NONSENSE! A good quart or gallon sized ziplock bag with a tiny bit of one corner cut off is all you need. 

Are you ready to make some magic in your kitchen? Lets go!!

Cauldron Cakes
by New to the Table
Yield: 20-24 cakes
Time: About 2 hours, give or take some freezing time.

Ingredients

  • Your favorite chocolate cupcake mix or recipe (I used Duncan Hines for mine)
  • The ingredients to complete said cupcakes (i.e. eggs, oil, water...)
  • 2 - 12 oz. bags of good semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 can store bought dark chocolate frosting
Equipment
  • cupcake pans
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • rubber spatulas
  • 3 gallon or quart sized ziplock-style storage bags
  • scissors
  • lots of wax paper
  • metal baking sheet
  • small glass or metal bowl that fits on top of...
  • a small sauce pan
  • small, sharp knife
  • spoon

Instructions

  • Prepare your cupcakes according to the box or your recipe. Do not use cupcake liners. Spray or grease your pans before baking.
  • Once the cupcakes have cooled, flip them over and cut a hole in the bottom and scoop out a bit of the middle. (You can always eat your cupcake holes with the buttercream later...)
  • To make the buttercream:
    • In a glass bowl, melt 1 cup of chocolate chips on half-power in the microwave or over a double-boiler on the stove. Stir until smooth and set aside.
    • Place your room temperature butter in a clean mixing bowl and beat with mixer until fluffy.
    • Scrape the sides, add 1 cup of powdered sugar, and beat to combine. 
    • Scrape sides again, add the remaining cup of powdered sugar, and beat until smooth.
    • Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and melted chocolate. Beat until fluffy and whippy.
    • (I love BareFeetInTheKitchen.com. This is her buttercream and it's completely divine. Check out her awesome site!)
  • Melt one cup of chocolate chips in a bowl over your double boiler. Stir until smooth. Gingerly dip one cupcake at a time in the chocolate and cover a little bit of the sides. Gently shake off excess chocolate before setting the cupcake, melty-chocolate side down, on a sheet of wax paper to cool completely. Repeat with all cakes, melting another cup of chips for dipping half way through. Let chocolate cool and harden completely.
  • Line a baking sheet with wax paper.
  • Melt the remaining chocolate chips over the double boiler.
  • Pour melted chocolate into a ziplock bag and seal, squeezing out the air. Let rest until cool enough to handle.
  • Cut off a tiny bit of one corner of the bag. Gently squeeze the chocolate onto the wax paper-lined-baking sheet to make your handle shape. Aim to make the handle as wide as the top of your cauldron cake, about 2 inches. Repeat until you have enough handles for your cakes. Place baking sheet in the freezer for the chocolate to harden for at least an hour.
  • Scoop the store-bought chocolate frosting into your remaining ziplock bag and seal it, squeezing the air out. Cut off a tiny bit of one corner. Squeezing gently, pipe the chocolate frosting around the top of each cauldron. Repeat on all cakes.
  • When the chocolate handles are hardened, remove from freezer and gently peel from the wax paper. Carefully push the handle ends into the top of the cauldron so that they stand on their own. 
SHARE THESE WITH EVERYBODY! I drove some over to my bestie Beth, to my grandma even though she was horrified at what is in buttercream, and to my parents neighbors who let us borrow their interactive wand for our trip. I may take some to work tomorrow because their siren song is calling me even now... 


I really hope that you love these and that they bring as much joy to you or your favorite Harry Potter fan as they do for me! Thank you so much for reading. I hope to see you again real soon...