Sunday, April 4, 2010

Denise's Easter Birthday

This afternoon, we celebrated Easter and my sister's birthday at my parent's place with a great dinner of ham, scalloped potatoes, and asparagus in hollandaise - shared with my Aunt Mary & Uncle Rod, Cousins Nick & Renee, Renee's husband Mike, and their two kids Ava & Ashton. It was great to see them after so many years (over a decade, I think!) and fun to share memories and catch up over a excellent meal.

I contributed dessert, and after talking with my sister the other day, decided on a chocolate angel food cake. Problem was, I don't own an angel food cake pan (yet). Unlike other cakes, angel food really requires a specific pan to be successful. After reading over some recipes and understanding a bit of the science, I decided I would try making a cupcake version of the recipe in Baking for All Occasions.

A standard angel food cake pan has a pipe up the center, smooth walls, and prongs off the top. The center pipe allows the batter to climb up the sides and become even fluffier, the prongs allow the cake to be cooled upside down, and the smooth walls help you get the cake out once cooled (since you can't grease the pan, as that would cause it to fall out when cooling upside down).

I decided that the small size of cupcakes would eliminate the need for the center pipe, the smooth angled walls would make getting them out fairly easy, and I could figure out some way to prop them up to cool them. Since you use over a dozen eggs for this recipe, the leftover egg carts became the perfect solution - giving me four little stands to put under the inverted cupcake tins.

I topped these with whipped cream and decorated some with either strawberries, Cadbury chocolate eggs, or chocolate mousse peeps.

Chocolate Angel Food Cupcakes
2 cups egg whites (from about 14-16 eggs)
100g unsweetened cocoa powder
65g cake flour
200g + 250g sugar (divided)
1/4 tspn salt
1 1/2 tspn cream of tartar
1 1/2 tspn vanilla extract

While they're cold, separate eggs until you have 2 cups, then let them sit out for 1 hour. Adjust your oven racks for two cupcake pans and preheat to 325 degrees F. Wash two cupcake pans in hot water and set aside. DO NOT line the pan with cupcake liners. Prepare an area for the cupcakes to cool in the pans - upside down. I recommend cutting up your egg carton to create four stands that can suspend the pans above the counter. By cooling them upside down, the cake will remain light & fluffy, not collapse and become dense and chewy.

Measure all ingredients. Sift together cocoa, flour, 200g sugar and salt in a bowl, and set aside. Add the eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Begin whisking on medium speed until the egg whites become foamy. Then add cream of tartar and increase the speed by one notch - whipping until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 250g sugar, a spoonful at a time, and whip until soft, but droopy peaks form. Add vanilla and whisk just to combine. Under whipping is preferable to over whipping. Shake 1/3 of the cocoa flour mixture over the top of the egg whites, and fold in gently just until combined, then repeat twice to incorporate all the cocoa.

Divide batter between the cupcake pans, and place in the oven for 20 minutes - until the tops are no longer glossy and bounce back if pressed. Remove and set upside down on the egg carton stands, and let cool for 2-3 hours.

Using a sharp, clean knife, cut around each cupcake to release it from the pan. It can be helpful to have a glass of warm water and a washcloth handy, to keep the knife clean and slightly wet.

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