This cake is simple to make and the result is quite lovely. It was something of an experiment, and as an early attempt the results were not exactly as I had envisaged. Still, I think with practice (or if made by a more practiced cook) it has the potential to be quite beautiful. I have decided that this will be a keeper. Consequently, there may be wreath cakes sporadically gracing my family’s table throughout the year before next Christmas hehe.
You can make it with a whole ring cake or with cupcakes. Personally, I prefer using cupcakes and in this instance I used chocolate cupcakes. To make the cupcakes, you’ll need:
1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
100g milk chocolate
125g softened butter
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
I opted for cream cheese frosting and for this you’ll need:
125g softened butter
250g cream cheese, softened
4 cups sifted icing sugar
Green icing coloring
For the leaves and berries I used:
250g white chocolate
Several bunches of mint leaves.
Green food coloring
- Wash and dry the mint leaves.
- Melt the white chocolate and stir in the green coloring.
- Brush the white chocolate over the mint leaves or dip one side into the melted chocolate. Place on a tray lined with baking paper and allow the chocolate to set.
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celscius and grease muffin pans.
- Combine the water and milk chocolate over low heat, stirring until the chocolate has melted. Set aside and cool to room temperature.
- Beat the sugar and butter until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Sift the flours and cocoa together. Gradually add into the sugar, butter and egg mixture, stirring until just combined.
- Stir in the melted chocolate and spoon into the prepared muffin pans.
- Bake for about 20 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
- To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy. Stir in several drops of green coloring and mix well.
- Spoon the frosting into a pastry bag and pipe onto the cupcakes using a large star tip.
- Arrange the cupcakes to form a circle then place additional cupcakes to make a second, inner circle.
- Gently peel off the leaves from the hardened chocolate.
- Arrange the chocolate leaves and jaffas on top of the cupcakes
You can also place chocolate cake truffles in the center of the wreath if you prefer. To make the cake truffles:
- Process the unused cupcakes in a food processor until fine crumbs form.
- Pour the cake crumbs into a large mixing bowl and spoon several tablespoons of the remaining frosting until the mixture forms a dough.
- Roll the mixture into balls and then toss in cocoa powder or dip into melted chocolate. Place the balls in the center of the wreath.
Brazo de Mercedes is a traditional Filipino dessert consisting of a custard filled meringue roll. The name literally translates to “arm of Mercedes”. The origin of the dessert is unclear although the name indicates it stems from the era of Spanish colonization. I have to admit I find the name a little baffling. Why would someone name a dessert after a woman’s arm? At any rate it is a delicious dessert and one of my favorites. It’s also pretty straightforward to make. The difficulty is in applying the will power to stop eating it after one serve (well, okay…maybe after two)
10 large eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 C caster sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 C condensed milk
1 tsp white vinegar
1/3 C powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 175 degrees celsius.
- Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar then beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
- Gradually add the caster sugar then vinegar. Continue beating to a stiff peak.
- Place baking paper on top a cookie sheet and lightly grease the surface.
- Pour the meringue mixture onto the baking paper and even out the surface using a spatula.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until the meringue turns a light brown color.
- Combine the egg yolks, condensed milk and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the mixture, stirring continuously until it thickens.
- Remove from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.
- Remove the meringue from the oven and allow it to cool for a few minutes.
- Sprinkle powdered sugar over the meringue and place wax paper over it. Turn it out onto a similarly sized tray and slowly peel off the baking paper.
- Pour the cooled custard over the meringue and spread it evenly over the surface.
- Carefully roll the meringue using the wax paper.
- Transfer the finished roll onto a serving platter and enjoy!
Leche Flan is a Filipino type of custard flan. Literally translated it means milk flan. The flan however, is a dish stemming from the Roman times when innovative Roman cooks adopted Greek culinary principles to tackle the problem of how to preserve surplus eggs and came up with a custard-based dish. This little dish that could endured the transition of various eras and empires. During the Medieval ages, the flan developed into the two main forms that exist today. In England, the custard was poured into a pastry shell and mixed with fruits or nuts to create a tasty baked flan. Its enduring popularity is evidenced by the fact that it’s frequently mentioned in English literature. In Spain it was transformed into a sweet custard generally served with caramelized sugar. This type of flan became a world-wide hit following the voyages of notable Spanish explorers such as Columbus and Magellan who furthered not only Spain’s empire but the flan’s popularity. The leche flandeveloped from the second type of flan and much like its ancient Roman ancestor, it has displayed an enduring and prevailing quality, successfully surviving the turbulent history of the Philippines to maintain its triumphant place on the traditional Filipino table.
10 egg yolks
1 375 ml can condensed milk
1 375 ml can evaporated milk
1 Tbs vanilla essence
1/3 cup raw sugar
2/3 cup water
- Mix the yolks, vanilla and milk together with a wooden spoon. Set aside while you make the caramel
- Dissolve the sugar in the water and boil without stirring until the mixture achieves the consistency of syrup.
- Pour the caramel into a baking dish or into individual molding dishes.
- Using a strainer, pour the milk and egg mixture into another bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon but try not to create a lot of air bubbles (this will affect the texture of the baked custard).
- Pour the mixture into the baking dish or into individual molding dishes.
- Place the baking dish or molding dishes onto a larger tray. Add water to the tray until it’s about midway full.
- Bake for 45 minutes at 170 degrees celcius then increase to 175 for the last 20 minutes. The leche flan is cooked when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean