Posts Tagged ‘Regional Recipes’

Black Pearl Cupcakes

Before I go on and on about the glory of these cupcakes, I have to mention how excited I am that CSN Stores has asked me to review a product from one of their websites. They have over 200 online stores where you can find everything from nesting tables to fitness equipment to cookware (personally, I’m all for the cookware). I can’t wait to show you what I do with my new apple peeler/corer/transformer. Look for the post soon!

And now for the cupcakes.

This past weekend celebrated my birthday, first dinner with friends on Saturday and then dim-sum with family on Sunday (my actual birthday). Since I always make birthday cakes for my friends and somehow never for myself, I decided this was the year.

So, as you all know, I looked around and asked you all for help and I ended up with two front-runners. Both of which looked delicious. Both of which came with good references. Both of which I had to make at some point in time except I wanted both of them NOW.

So that’s what I did.

I made one full recipe for my birthday dinner and one half recipe transformed into cupcake version for after dim-sum food coma. (PS Is my family the only family who eats themselves into coma at dim-sum?)

I had been staying in NYC for an elective month when I came across this recipe for Black Pearl Cake on epicurious. The inspiration for it is a Vosges Haut-Chocolat bar and as I read up on the recipe I realized I had just picked up a bar by the same company at the Whole Foods I happened to live next door to at the time. So what did I do? I ran right over to Whole Foods again and looked for the Black Pearl bar in question. And what do you know?


What’s in this elusive Black Pearl bar/cake?

Chocolate. Lots of it.



Black sesame seeds.

I know it sounds strange but it’s actually a wonderful combination of flavors. The spices are subtle and yet very much present. Anyone who tastes it can’t identify what makes the chocolate taste so rich and delicious but if you tell them what it is they’re able to suddenly taste every ingredient and it becomes even more delectable with every bite.

If you’re looking for a cake to wow a crowd, this is it. It’s a bit involved with multiple components but worth every bit of effort. Also, I was afraid as I made and tasted the ganache that it would be too much flavor and/or “kick” because I took the advice of other users and used wasabi paste and doubled the amount. However, a little bit of it with a lot of cake created the perfect balance. I may have forgotten to use the ginger syrup to coat the cakes for added moisture. I think this could help as the cake is a tad bit dry but it isn’t necessary. It’s up to you. I do, however, definitely recommend using the whole amount of ground ginger for the whipped topping suggested in the recipe as I turned mine down a bit and the flavor was barely there in the end.

Coincidentally the theme for Regional Recipes this month is Japan so this recipe is perfect for it! Yay!

Black Pearl Cupcakes
adapted from epicurious

Makes 12-16 cupcakes. Double recipe for a 3-layer cake.

For ganache:
  • 3 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 6 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp wasabi paste
  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp butter, room temperature
For ginger syrup:
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into matchstick-size strips
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
For cake:
  • 1 c boiling water
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 c + 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c + 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
For whipped topping:
  • 1 c chilled heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • black sesame seeds for garnish
*Make ganache 1 day in advance so it can set overnight.

For ganache, place chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring cream, ginger, and wasabi to a boil in a small pot and the pour mixture over the chocolate. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes then whisk together until smooth. In the meantime, mix sesame seeds and corn syrup in a small bowl to coat. When chocolate is ready, stir into chocolate and allow to cool to lukewarm. Stir in butter. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight.

For ginger syrup, combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, stirring over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 2 minutes, remove from heat, and allow to stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Strain syrup (which can be used later on to coat finished cake for added moisture) and chop ginger. If making this the day before as well, refrigerate ginger and syrup separately until ready to use.
For cake, preheat oven to 350F and prepare baking pans either with cupcake papers or lining 3 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper (must also double recipe).

Whisk together boiling water, cocoa powder, and reserved ginger from the ginger syrup in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Using an electric mixer, cream sugar and butter together until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat just until incorporated. Add in vanilla and mix until combined. Alternating, add flour mixture in 3 additions and cocoa mixture in 2 additions. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake in the preheated oven for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. If making cakes, bake approximately 30 minutes. Allow to cool. If making 1 day ahead of time, wrap with plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

For assembly, make whipped cream topping by beating cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, vanilla, and ginger and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Cut out a cone from the top of each cupcake and fill each cupcake with about a teaspoon for the set ganache. Replace top. Here is where you can coat the top of the cupcake with the ginger syrup if desired (but I forgot). Spread whipped cream topping and garnish with black sesame seeds. The recipe then says to refrigerate until the ganache is set followed by allowing to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.. but we just ate them and had zero complaints.

Lookout for my other birthday cake to be posted soon. Happy noshing!

Honey Walnut Cake

I saved a life today.

The patient was a 28-year-old male who arrived by ambulance after a motor vehicle accident. Upon arrival, his heart went into a dangerous arrhythmia known as ventricular tachycardia or v-tach as we say in the biz and had no pulse. I proceeded to run the code, ordering several rounds of epinephrine and vasopressin, multiple defibrillation shocks, as well as amiodarone (an antiarrhythmic) and lidocaine. I ordered a fellow student to conduct CPR and I quickly intubated the patient for airway management.

He eventually went into a normal sinus rhythm with strong pulses.

We all cheered and I congratulated my team on a job well done.

My patient?

At the end of the day he was packed up into a suitcase of sorts and stored in the closet with all the other mannequins.

I took my ACLS (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support) class today. 10 hours. Part two is tomorrow. Another 10 hours. Yayyyyyyyyyy!

Pardon me, I’m a bit delirious.

But I’m sane enough to know a good cake when I eat one and this is it. I made this cake yesterday for a little end-of-the-year party a couple friends threw. Sorry for the lack of pictures but, you know, PARTY with DRINKS so.. blogging was on the backburner.

Anyway, delicious cake.

AND! For the first time, I’m submitting something to Regional Recipes! Hollerrrrrrrrr.

I really did save a life today.


Honey Walnut Cake
adapted from epicurious

Makes one 9″ cake.

3/4 c sugar
1 tbsp orange zest
1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 c buttermilk
1/2 c chopped walnuts (or any nut combo of your choice)

For honey syrup:
1/2 c honey
1/2 c water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest

Optional garnish:
fresh fruit (I used strawberries and blueberries)
sweetened whipped cream

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a 9″ round cake pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves together. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, rub orange zest into sugar. Cream butter and orange-rubbed sugar together. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly in between. Alternating, mix the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2 additions, finishing with the dry ingredients. Fold in the walnuts. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan.

While the cake is baking, combine the honey, water, lemon juice, and zest in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

After the cake has cooled in the pan for 10-20 minutes, pour the syrup over the cake, cover, and allow to sit for several hours before serving so the syrup can soak in properly.

Bon appetito!

– Sharlene