Someone once asked me, "Why would you let your parents waste their money on a college degree if you were just going to be baking cookies for the rest of your life? Why didn't you just go to culinary school?"
Now while most people would just shrug this off - I was pretty upset. I was about to graduate from college, and for the first time in my life I was not going to be a student. It was time to enter the real world, and that was pretty freaking terrifying. And on top of that, I had recently decided to take my life in a little different direction that most of my classmates. While everyone else was gearing up to start their careers in politics or business - I was getting ready to move to NYC to give the whole "baking and photography thing" a shot. People thought I was crazy. So I was already a little self conscious about my life choices, when this man rolled around a totally crushed my confidence. I was in a full on panic.
What if this was the wrong choice? What if I did need to go to culinary school to be successful in baking? What if I really had wasted my parents time and money by making them put me through four years of college? But, even with all this self-doubt, I just decided to go for it. Something in my gut was telling me that I needed to see this through. And in the end, I am glad I did, because here I am two and a half years later doing something I absolutely love every single day! And not many of my other classmates can say that.
I still get asked about culinary school a lot. People are constantly asking me if I went to culinary school or if I plan on going in the future. And the answer is always the same. Culinary school is just not for me. I think culinary school is great for some people, but I have always felt I could learn everything I needed to know through books, the Internet, and/or work experience. And so far, it has worked out pretty well. I mean, don't get me wrong, there have been a lot of failures to come out of my kitchen - not everything turns out great the first time. But like anything you do in life, it takes practice and patience to get good at something.
So anyway, back to the important stuff - these Chocolate Raspeberry Mini Cakes are pretty awesome. Made with a dark chocolate cake and a raspberry swiss meringue buttercream, these mini cakes are perfect for entertaining. They are small and adorable and delicious. What more could you ask for?
Chocolate Raspberry Mini Cakes
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup strong black coffee
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 egg whites
- 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into cubes
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 oz. raspberries (plus extra for garnish)
- Pink food coloring (optional)
- 2" circle cookie cutter
- Pipping bag
- Wilton tip 18
for the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a half sheet pan with pam and parchment.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix on low until dry ingredients are thoroughly combined.
- Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla.
- Beat on medium speed for about two minutes; the batter will be thin. Pour batter into prepared pan.
- Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Place on a wire rack and let cool completely.
for the buttercream:
- Combine egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water.
- Whisk constantly with a whisk until sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.
- Put mixture in a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until stiff speaks form. The mixture should be fluffy and glossy, and completely cool. (About 10 minutes)
- Put the mixer on low-medium speed, and add butter a little at a time. Once all the butter has been added, add vanilla extract and increase the speed of the mixer to high. Let mix for 3-5 minutes.
- Purée 4 oz. of raspberries in a blender. Press the raspberry purée through a fine mesh strainer to get rid of all the seeds. Discard the seeds.
- Add purée to buttercream and beat until the frosting is smooth - and if you want, add a little bit of pink food coloring as well.
1. Once the cake is completely cool, use the 2" cutter to cut out circles of cake.
2. Using a knife, cut the circle in half (horizontally) and separate the two layers.
3. Fill a piping bag with a star tip with raspberry buttercream and pipe a circle on the bottom layer.
4. Place the top layer back on top and pipe a circle on the top layer.
5. Top each one with a fresh raspberry.