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Who doesn’t love an entire mini cake to themselves? There’s something about getting a fun dessert like this that just makes you smile. The chocolate ganache is easier than regular frosting and if you are pressed for time, you could even use a small plastic spider. So have some Halloween baking fun, because the only thing frightening about these little cakes is how fast your family and guests will gobble these up.
Note: This recipe makes a 9×13 sheet cake, which will then be cut to make individual chocolatines. The cake base is adapted from a recipe by Rebecca Rather.
Preheat to oven to 350ºF. Prepare a 9×13 cake pan by lining it in parchment paper and greasing and flouring the sides.
In a heavy saucepan, combine butter, water and canola oil and set over medium heat until butter is just melted. Meanwhile, in the large bowl of your mixer, add sugar, cocoa and flour. Pour in the butter mixture and beat until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by the buttermilk. Finally, add baking soda, salt and vanilla all at once and mix one final time.
Pour cake batter into prepared pan and bake for approximately 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Once cake has cooled, remove from the pan and place on a flat smooth surface. I cut my individual cakes using a wide-mouthed glass. My glass had a 3 1/2 inch diameter, but you could use a jar, glass or cookie cutter of roughly a similar size. I found it helped to lightly spray the inside of the glass and edges with butter-flavored cooking spray. Once I pressed the glass down to cut out the cake, I lifted the glass up and put my hand underneath it to catch the cake as it slid slowly out of the glass. I used the same technique to cut out all of the small round cakes.
In a small sauce pan over medium low heat, heat chopped semi sweet chocolate and butter. Cutting the chocolate into smaller chunks helps it melt evenly. Meanwhile, heat cream in the microwave until it is warm (I microwaved mine for 40 seconds). Keep an eye on your chocolate. Give it an occasional stir as it melts, and as soon as it does, pull pan off heat and slowly pour in warm cream while stirring the chocolate mixture. Stir until chocolate and cream come together and you get a glossy-looking mixture.
While the ganache is still warm, spoon a small amount on each cake and spread evenly using an offset spatula or butter knife. While your chocolate ganache is still warm, heat white chocolate in a microwavable bowl—I heated mine for 30 seconds and then stirred it and then heated it for another 20 seconds. You want the chocolate to melt but you want to make sure it does not burn.
Take a plastic pastry bag (they are easy to find at any craft store) and fill it with the melted white chocolate. The trick I use is to put my pastry bag inside a tall narrow glass and then fold the plastic edges of the pastry bag down. The glass will hold the pastry bag and make it easy for you to pour in your white chocolate.
Cut a small hole at the very tip of the bag and you are ready to pipe the spider webs. To make the web, pipe a white chocolate spiral on each cake. While it is still warm, take a toothpick and lightly drag it from the center out to form a web. I had a paper towel nearby and cleaned the toothpick end after each time.
Next comes the fun part for my girls, because making things out of fondant is like playing with play-dough. Roll 6 little balls of black fondant, which you can buy pre-colored and ready to go from your local craft store. Then roll out some long thin snake-like pieces. To make spider legs, cut 4 even pieces of rolled snakes using scissors or a knife. Then make a bow-tie-like middle by pinching the legs together so you have 8 legs with four on each side. Put the little balls on top on each set of spider legs. I had some colored sprinkles we used to make stripes on our spiders and I used some white dragees to make eyes. If you are running short on time, just get some small plastic spiders. Place a spider on each cake.
You will need to keep these cakes in the fridge until you are ready to serve them.
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