They had been sending their contributions to the uber-package for the past couple of months; yarn, knitted items, tea, buttons, books, we collected a big box of things for her. And because she's known for making and sending the fudgiest, most deliciously chocolate brownies, it only seemed to make sense that I should bake something for her as well.
Deciding on what to make was tough precisely because she is a baker herself. I obviously wasn't going to do brownies, because they wouldn't be better than hers, and if she wanted them she would make them for herself. What could I make that would be delicious, special, and travel well in the car for five hours?
The answer is Jaffa Cakes. A sponge cake/cookie base with a jelly center and covered in chocolate. Traditionally, that jelly is orange. But if you're going to make something at home, you might as well take the opportunity to change things up, right? Plus, I knew from some of her posts that she liked cranberry. So once again I played to the season and went with an autumnal flavor. I also added some orange notes to the cakes and the chocolate because she liked that combination.
What I'm most excited to pass along to you all are the tricks I came up with to make creating these a little easier. Notably, the use of cupcake and mini cupcake pans, tablespoons and teaspoons, to create some uniformity in the size and shape of the cake and jelly. And take my advice on freezing them before coating in chocolate. It gives you just that little bit of a head start in not ending up with oozing jelly chocolate mess.
This is one of the more involved recipes I've done, which is one of the reasons I wanted to make it. It's the kind of treat that most people, even bakers, wouldn't necessarily make for themselves. But it's so satisfying to get to the end of the process and look at a tray full of your very own, homemade Jaffa Cakes. And then even more satisfying to give them to someone who loves them.
Cranberry Jaffa Cakes
Adapted from BBC Food Recipes: Homemade jaffa cakes
Makes a dozen
For the jelly:
- 1 3-ounce box of Cranberry Jell-O
- 125 mL boiling water (just over 1/2 cup)
For the cakes:
- 2 eggs
- 50 grams sugar
- 50 grams flour
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 bag semisweet chocolate chips (you won't need the whole bag)
- up to 1 teaspoon shortening
- up to 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
Make the jelly:
- In a bowl, mix the Jell-O packet with the boiling water, making sure the powder dissolves completely.
- Pour a teaspoon of the mixture into each well of a mini cupcake pan. The pan should either be non-stick or sprayed to avoid sticking.
- Place the pan in the fridge and leave to set. This will take a few hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Prepare a double boiler on the stovetop, with water simmering.
- Add eggs and sugar to the bowl suspended over the water, and beat for about four minutes, until they are pale and fluffy. Continuing to beat, add in flour and zest. Mix until combined.
- Pour a tablespoon of batter into each well of a cupcake pan. The pan should either be non-stick or sprayed to avoid sticking.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes. When done, remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- When the cakes are cool and the jelly has set, place a 'coin' of jelly in the center of each cake.
- To make covering the cakes in chocolate easier, place the jellied cakes on a tray lined with parchment paper and place in the fridge or freezer for a while again to make sure they are as cool as possible.
- Using the double boiler again, melt the chocolate, using about a cup at a time. Mix in the extract. Add a little shortening to make it easier to work with. You can add more chips, shortening, and extract as needed as you coat the cakes.
- When the chocolate is ready, remove the cakes from the fridge or freezer. Working quickly, coat the tops of the cakes with melted chocolate. The key is to completely seal in the jelly before it is melted by the heat of the chocolate. Place coated cakes back onto the tray.
- When all of the cakes have been coated, place in the fridge to set the chocolate. These should be served at room temperature, but you don't want them to get too warm while you are transporting them.