This week I asked a friend to send me a recipe for Valentines. And I am super glad I did! My kitchen still smells a mix of brown sugar, honey, cinnamon and cloves since Tuesday. Those are just the base ingredients for honey bread or pão de mel. Now add to it a creamy dulce de leche filling and cover everything with a rich and airy chocolate ganache. Sincerely, I can’t think of a sexier Valentine.
The person behind this recipe is Ariana Pazzini, so thank her, not me. I couldn’t remember the last time I made or ate honey bread, so I wish I could give her a big hug for giving me the idea and bringing this treat back to my life.
Acording to Ariana, it was the first cake she made to her husband and is still his favorite. And they know what they are talking about. Shortly after they got married, both decided to follow a common dream and go to a culinary school. That’s when things changed; they started a blog to share their experiences and got their first foot into the virtual world.
Today she runs an online business, A Casa Encantada, selling her goodies all over the country. And I would say she has a good touch for marketing too. I can’t tell you how many times I got myself tempted by all sorts of goodies she keeps posting on Facebook.
After a year of success they took a break and are promising to come back until the end of February with a reformulated menu. People in Brazil, stay tuned!!
Honey bread, very common in Brazil, is a kind of a little cake with European roots, super aromatic and flavorful. It is usually dipped in chocolate and looks a lot like an Argentinean alfajor. But it requires special molds and some work. When she said I could adapt and make it as a cupcake, I had no doubt. Makes our life much easier.
The cake starts with sugar syrup that can be made in advance. Place sugar and water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil for about 15 minutes. Syrup must stay liquid when hot and become as thick as maple syrup when cold. Pour in a big bowl and let it chill completely.
Meanwhile, line up 30 muffin cups with paper and preheat oven to 350˚ F.
Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, set aside.
Whisk together flour, cinnamon and ground cloves in a medium bowl and set aside.
Mix together sugar syrup, egg yolks, honey and baking powder dissolved in milk. Add cocoa powder and flour and mix well. Add beaten egg whites, gently.
Fill prepared muffin cups with about 2/3 cup batter. Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes.
Let cupcakes cool in tins, about 5 minutes, then turn them out onto wire racks. Let cool completely.
Place dulce the leche in a pastry bag with a plain round tip attached.
Insert the tip into the cupcake and pipe in a small amount of filling.
I found this ganache super practical and quick, a good option for a last minute frosting. Ariana said the secret is the use of cold whipped cream that accelerates the process.
Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and melt it in a microwave, in medium power, stirring each 30 seconds (or just check instructions on the pack, it can vary depending on the brand of chocolate you are using).
Add heavy cream and mix until everything is well incorporated. Place the bowl inside of a cold water bath (just cold, there’s no need to use ice cubes here) and, with a hand mixer, beat ganache for a few minutes or until it starts to thick and get lighter in color. Be careful to not overmix.
Spread each cupcake with a thick layer of frosting ganache.
To decorate, cut of a heart shape hole in a small piece of parchment paper to be used as a stencil. No artistic abilities required, I swear!
Place stencil on top of cup cake without pressing. Dust the top of the cupcake with cocoa powder using a small strainer or sifter.
Voila, you are ready to show off your love!
And in case of leftovers, keep them in a covered plastic container at room temperature for up to two days.