Again I know not baking related but I am super proud of these. I got a make your own Christmas cracker kit from Spotlight and made they for my little brother and my partner!
Sunday, December 23, 2012
I made these to take into work; chocolate chip cookies (they are Santa’s favourite) and peppermint macarons with white chocolate ganache filling.
The cookie recipe I got from The Joy of Baking. This is my go to recipe and the macaron recipes I got from Cristina Valencia and the ganache recpie I got from Inspired by Michelle Cake Designs and nicely packaged in a box thanks to Ikea!
These gorgeous cupcake papers were a Christmas present from my partners’ sister. They look great with the vanilla cupcakes.
Aren’t they beautiful!
Instead of having all the same cupcakes the same I did different toppers in lots of three. "The Ho Ho Ho’s” were two pieces of fondant in complementary colours or in this case Christmas colours that were layered. On the top layer I cut out the letters so the bottom colour would come through.
As for "the Santa Hats” I moulded them out of fondant and pipped frosting to look like hair and attached them on. Just a tip if you are going to be colouring your own fondant us a gel or powder colour. The colours are a lot more vibrant and you don’t make the huge mess that I did with the liquid colour. Also just for a bit more whimsy I dusted the white with lustre dust.
For “the presents” I had square silicone moulds that I drizzled with green chocolate first and then filled in with milk chocolate. When it had set I pipped on a little bow on each. To make sure they stayed I dipped the whole cupcake in red vanilla frosting and popped on the topper straight away.
I had some fondant texture mats which I got with my cake decorating magazines, which I thought, would be great as baubles toppers. I rolled out white fondant and pressed the mat on until it imprinted. Then I cut out the fondant into a circle that would cover the top of the cupcake and attached it with royal icing. The swirl print ones I dusted with lustre dust and the diamond one I placed a silver cachous on the corners.
Aother thing I got in my cake decorating magazines was this one stencil that looked like I snowflake. With very thick royal icing I stencilled on the snowflake on rolled out fondant. After it had dried I cut the right size circles out and put them on top of the cupcake using royal icing to hold it down. By this stage the fondant will harden so it wont mould to the cupcake but that’s ok, It still looks pretty.
Lastly “the star atop the tree”, I used the same impression mat as the baubles but this time cut out little stars. Green royal icing made the top of the tree (just a simple star tip swirl will do) and when it was about half dry I put the stars on.
Friday, December 21, 2012
These tarts were another “see what you can find in the fridge” creation. I had tart pastry left over from the lemon tarts, don’t worry it was still usable, as well as strawberries and cream cheese from the weekend before. Add a little help from Martha and we're cooking.
This recipe I used I fumbled upon while looking for strawberry tarts that only used what I already had. Obviously I used my pastry so I can’t comment on the pastry she recommends but mine had more of a crunch to it and I think it complemented the soft light centre well.
Since the pastry had been sitting in the freezer it was a little dry when I was kneading it so I added a little milk until it was nice and doughy again. Also I was just a little short on cream cheese so I used Tofutti to make up the difference and no one was the wiser! As usual I made it in the tartlet tray and they came out perfect and because the pastry was chocolate I drizzled a little white chocolate on the finished product just coz’ it Christmas.
And just cos’ its Christmas I shaped it into a tree!
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Yes I know Halloween was over a month ago and I may or may not have forgotten to blog this (oops) but better late then never right? Anyhow I am sorry and here they are, my very late Halloween cupcakes.
See these were made under huge time constraint and so I went with the “look at what’s already in your cupboard and decorate” method and all completed in two hours flat!
First up, "BOO!" Since I made smaller cupcakes than usual all three letters wouldn’t fit on one so I split them up. I have always liked the fondant finish on cupcakes and even though it was my first go these were super easy to make and turned out really neat. Frost the cupcake lightly and then attach the fondant cut out. I also suggest cutting out the fondant at the very last second so the fondant does'nt start to harden.
Now if it is cooler this will be enough to make it stick but since Melbourne is temperamental I found out later on that frosting does not appreciate spikes in temperature so if in doubt use something firmer like royal icing. I attached the letters with a little bit of water and held it there for a bit to make sure it stayed.
For the classic "spider web" cupcake I didn’t have enough time to make an edible spiders to go with it but I think it’s still very effective. I coloured white frosting green, for a more menacing look, and warmed it a little so I could dip the cupcake right in instead of fiddling with a specular. The dipping gives it a cleaner look when it dries. However once you’ve dipped you have to be quick, draw a spiral with black writing icing and with a toothpick drag away from the centre. Here you have it:
Nothing says Halloween like creepy crawlies especially when they taste this good. For the “worms in the mud” cupcakes I frosted the cupcakes with chocolate frosting, sprinkled Oreo crumbs, halved gummy worms and stuck them in the cupcake. It was literally that easy!
Ah and then there were the “fangs”. My love affair with vampires began thanks to Ann Rice and so naturally vampire fangs had to be on my cupcakes. Again I went with the fondant finish on the cupcake, white offcourse, and then got some teeth candy and sniped the last teeth into points. To add that little bit more I coloured some frosting red and dipped the teeth in and placed it on the cupcake.
All the “mummies” required were two MnM’s as eyes and a piping tip with a smooth flat side. I used a basketweave tip and making sure that the flat side was on top pipe on the bandages. The beauty is that with the mummy the piping doesn’t have to be particularly tidy or symmetrical because hey it’s a mummy! Just make sure to go over the eyes so they stay on.
The “pumpkin patch” took the longest just because I made the pumpkin topper. For the grass I used green frosting and a large star tip. Again it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to look like grass. For the pumpkin I rolled an orange ball of fondant, flattened the bottom so it wouldn’t roll and with a skewer poked a hole on the top and indented the sides to make it a bit more realistic. With a little green fondant I made a few vines and Voila!
Sunday, November 4, 2012
This one wasn’t hard as such just fiddly. As usual I rolled the balls in to circles but to make it a bit more realistic I indented the bottom with my thumb.
Four bags of marshmallows later my sage advice about the bottoms of the mushrooms? Use gluten free marshmallows! They are firmer and therefore don’t deform when you pop them on a stick. Also dusting the stick with powered sugar helps it slide into position. And its keeps getting tricker; attach the cake pop, dip but don’t attach the marshmallow straight away. Let the chocolate dry for a bit and when you think its safe (deep breath) slide the marshmallow down and hold it against the cake pop. By letting the chocolate dry a bit first you ensure that the chocolate doesn’t drip all over the marshmallow. I do warn you though, it is messy and almost impossible, on the first go anyway, not to taint your pretty white mellows with chocolate.
Repeat with different colours and ta da! I settled on 1UP(green with white dots), Super (Red with white dots) and Life (Red with yellow stars). Because I pre-cut the shapes the hardened a little when I put them on. I suggest waiting until all the pops are dry and cutting out the shapes as you so they mould to the cake pop and don’t stick out as much.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Cake Decorating, the magazine. Yeah I am that person but in my defence they come with freebies! So far I have the first three, the first came with butterfly cutters and pink glitter, the second with piping bags and tips and the third with letter embossers. Apparently October is the month for birthdays so I thought the best way to say a blanket “Happy Birthday” to multiple friends (and really the only way I know how) was with double chocolate cupcakes.
Once the fondant is done I suggest refrigerating it for a bit so its firm enough to work with. For the butterfly toppers to look 3D the butterfly cut outs need to dry in the form. You can buy fondant forms/shapers but you can also make it yourself. To make the form take a large sheet of foil and fold accordion length wise.
Once the butterflies are completely dry, if you’re unsure leave to dry overnight, you can decorate. I used a little bit of water to paint on the glitter and attach the cachous.
You can attach the butterflies once the glitter has dried. The thing I learnt a couple of hours later was that frosting doesn’t dry hard like butter cream and the moisture from frosting causes the butterflies to wilt a bit. My suggestion, use butter cream frosting or add the toppers just before you serve.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
So my partner plays Magic The Gathering every Friday like clockwork and being the good girlfriend that I am I decided to bake him themed cookies. This particular Friday they had an event on and I didn’t want anyone to loose out so Thursday night I set out to make a hundred sugar cookies from scratch!
I honestly did think that this would be easy, time consuming but easy. Boy did I have another thing coming! The sugar cookies were easy enough. I’ve made sugar cookies before from Joy of Baking. Joy of Baking is my first choice for recipes because most of the recipes are tested so I know it’ll turn out perfect and mine turned out amazing! I doubled the recipe to get the hundred cookies and I would suggest only baking them for only 10-12 minutes depending on size. Because they are chocolate sugar cookies you cant see them going brown so be very careful not to burn them.
Cookies done and now for the icing; again I used the recipe from The Joy of Baking. I used royal icing because it dries had and therefore easier to transport. I’ve used this recipe before but it was a very long time and never in on such a large scale. First things first, you want the icing at piping consistency. Anything thicker and you’ll need to spatular it on and anything runnier and it’ll just roll off. The best way I found to put the icing on was to pipe on a circle outline and then fill in the circle. If you don’t want the layer of icing to be too thick then put a little bit on spread it with a toothpick. Also remember that the type of food colouring you use will affect the consistency so if you want really vibrant colours I would suggest using gel or powder food colouring.
Now for the chocolate toppers, I initially got the idea for these from Nerdy Nummies but I wasn’t about to make a hundred cupcakes by myself so I just used the chocolate toppers. In theory this looks easy; you get a template, trace it out with chocolate and leave it to dry. Not quite. This probably goes without saying but tape both the template and the wax paper that you are tracing on down. I melted the chocolate in the piping bag and then snipped a tiny hole. Because the hole needs to be relatively small make sure all the chocolate is melted otherwise it will block the opening. If I had opted for a basic shape maybe this part would have been easier but some of the symbols are tricky so this part took a lot longer than I thought. It also didn’t help that I don’t have a very steady hand so I ended up going to bed at about seven am! Here’s the end result.
Monday, September 17, 2012
I know I've posted about vegan cake pops with vegan chocolate but it's my gorgeous friend Sunya's birthday and nothing says Happy Birthday like chocolate and more chocolate. Now it's fair to say, I am a tad of an over achiever when it comes to baking especially when it come to making something for the first time. So with that mind set I decided on white chocolate, mint chocolate, fruit and nut and espresso! And as per usual there are certain things I learnt the hard way. I used my recipe from Gentle World, which I used last time, and the only recipe I could find for white chocolate from Bitter Sweet. Also I apologise in advance for not having photos of the making process; chocolate making is a tad tricky and there was no good time stop and document my chocolaty goodness.
Lets start with the white chocolate; super easy. I followed the instructions word for word and the only thing I can say is sift your sugar and soymilk well, I can’t stress this enough. For some reason the vegan confectionary sugar I bought was lumpy and I thought it would just dissolve in cacao butter but nope the mixture was lumpy and it took me twenty minutes to get it smooth. As the site says the end product is very sweet so I only put in a third of a cup of sugar and that seemed perfect.
I had bought seashell chocolate moulds earlier on that day not really knowing what exactly I wanted to do with them, I wanted to do something interesting. After about an hour of staring at them blankly my boyfriend chimes in with “why don’t you marble them like Guylian?” Genius! The white chocolate went on the bottom followed by the dark chocolate and gently swirled with a toothpick. After about six hours they popped out cleanly. Keep in mind that because the main component of the chocolate is butter the chocolate will feel a little greasy so leave it in there for a bit longer if you're unsure.
The fruit and nut was easy enough too. For these chocolates I used the same mini tart tin that I used for my mini lemon tarts. I chopped up almonds and sultanas popped it in the bottom of the pan and poured the chocolate on top.
The mint was a bit tricky. Since I couldn’t find any info about how much to put in and at what point of the making process I was pretty much flying blind. Because the coconut butter has quiet a strong aftertaste I put enough in until the mint overpowered the taste of the coconut butter. I would suggest adding the flavouring when you are thickening the chocolate so when its over cold water because I figure heating it might evaporate some of the flavour but don't quote me on this, just how my logic worked at the time. I did notice that this batch didn’t thicken as quickly which I think is due to the extra mint flavouring.
So I’ve made three batches and they’ve all turned out relatively well and I am feeling a bit overconfident and I think how hard could the espresso be? Well very! I decided to put the two recipes together because I thought the soymilk would complement the espresso well. So this is the recipe that I used:
¼ cup cacao butter½ cup coconut butter
1 Tsp. cocoa (sifted)
1 Tsp. instant coffee
¼ Cup Confectioner’s Sugar
½ Teaspoon Soymilk Powder
a pinch of sea salt
In theory this looks right, right? Practically it turns out I learnt nothing. I combined all the dry ingredients, melted the cacao butter with the coconut butter and this is where I went wrong. I forgot how hard it was to dissolve the sugar the first time around and the instant coffee followed suite. Silly me I was under the assumption that the coffee would magically dissolve but instead it just floated there looking gross. And it kept getting worse; the chocolate wouldn’t thicken at all and I ended up having to strain the solids out and refrigerating the mixture.
The fruit and nut, mint and espresso were all refrigerated over night. They all came out relatively cleanly (I greased the tins with a little bit of coconut butter) except the mint. To my horror the bottom of the mint didn’t set at all and was still liquid. I suspect it has something to do with the peppermint extract I added. Instead of wasting an entire batch I carefully took off the excess bits that hadn’t set and dusted it with coco powder, so now it’s slightly more like fudge but still good! So here's the mint before and after;
The Fruit and Nut;
Because of the nature of the chocolate I individually wrapped the chocolates in foil. For the round ones I cut out round circles about four time larger then the chocolate and folded inwards and as for the shells I put a large sheet of foil in between the two chocolate moulds which helps the foil to indent the shell shapes which makes it easier to wrap.
And then my inner Martha Stewart kicked in. The candy bar labels I found on Wedding Chicks; you can customise to your liking (download and print for free!) and I the labels inspired the entire theme of the present. Then I downloaded these cute place cards templates from the Martha Stewart site and used it as the template for the cutouts for the chocolate bags. I was going for a “fifties milk bar” look!
The different chocolates had individual bags and then to mixed bag just for fun!