Sunday, 15 April 2018

Pumpkin and Carrot Muffins

What's better than carrot muffins? Try carrot and pumpkin muffins -yes,  yum!
I am a big fan of orange vegetables: pumpkin, butternut and orange sweet potato ❲not so much carrots, unless they're cooked or baked❳...
In fact, I ate butternut so regularly at one stage, that I turned a light shade of orange. 
Really. True story! 

That was back in the day when I was a little ...um... obsessive about what I ate. 

I'm a lot more balanced now. 
And a normal shade of peach. 




But don't let talk of carotenemia put you off these double-veg muffins! 
You don't really taste the carrots or the pumpkin; they add a lovely, subtle background flavour, and contribute a lot of moistness to the final product. 

I've included ground almonds in the recipe because these muffins are destined for school lunch-boxes, and I wanted to up their protein-content. You could replace it with normal cake flour, if you don't have almond flour.



Pumpkin and Carrot Muffins
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

Preheat the oven to 180'C
Prepare 2x 12 hole muffin trays with cupcake cases

Ingredients 
320g cake flour
50g almond flour / ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp salt
50g pumpkin seeds

250g brown sugar
250ml canola oil
4 large eggs

250g finely grated carrots
150g mashed / pureed roast pumpkin


Sift together the dry ingredients ❲excl the sugar❳. Add in the pumpkin seeds.
In another bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs and oil together.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients, followed by the pumpkin and carrots. Mix until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin trays. Sprinkle the tops with a few extra pumpkin seeds, if desired.

Bake at 180'C for approx. 20min, or until the top of the muffin springs back when lightly pressed.

Remove from the muffin trays and cool on a wire rack.
Once cool, store in an airtight container.




I usually freeze half the batch, and thaw a couple at a time as needed for school lunches.

Happy baking!

xxM


Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Kitchen Tea Bouquet Cookies

I remember sketching wedding gowns as a child - they always had sweetheart necklines, huge puffy sleeves and flamboyant skirts ❲I was a child during the 80's; watching Princess Diana walk down the aisle when I was 6 made a lasting impression! ❳ 

There's still a little girl in me that loves designing wedding dresses, and wedding cakes too - but I'll  stick to making the cookie kind, thank you!



These cookies were part of a special kitchen tea class we did in March.
The colours were ivory, pink, dark green and taupe; with lots of roses - wet-on-wet ones, and also pre-made, dried royal icing roses ❲simple swirls, ribbon roses, and blooms piped with a petal tip❳.


The beauty of making dozens of little icing roses in advance, is that they can easily be added to any cookie and add a pretty extra dimension to your design. 






         Bouquet Cookie:
  • Flood the cookie with ivory royal icing
  • Decorate with wet-on-wet roses. These take a little bit of practice - but are quite forgiving in this cookie because they're part of the background. 
  • Pipe on some stems. 
  • Now leave the icing to set. 
  • Arrange a selection of dried royal icing roses onto your bouquet. 
  • When you are happy with the arrangement, pipe a dot of royal icing behind each and secure in place. 
  • Pipe on a few more stems, leaves, gypsophila dots, and the bow. 

And if you need a little help with your roses, three of my favourite cookie decorators can help you -  
  • View Sweetambs tutorial on wet-on-wet roses here
  • Sweet Sugarbelle's tutorial on simple swirl roses here;
  • The Bearfoot Baker's tutorial on piping royal icing roses here





Practice makes pretty 😊

Happy decorating!

xxM

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Easter Plaque Cookies

So these were the Easter cookies that didn't make it to the finals. 
Looking at them now, I'm not sure what I was so dis-satisfied with...

The colours were bothering me, I wanted something fresher. 
And the designs seemed too fussy. 



But my dissatisfaction probably had more to do with my headspace on the day that I was making them, than the cookies themselves.
I mean, just look at that bunny peeping over the edge of the cookie - he's totally huggable, isn't he⁈ And eminently edible.... 😋



Probably the biggest reason why they didn't cut it though, was because there was a fair amount of trimming involved in the cookie-baking process:
the mini egg cut out of the egg; the trimmed-off bottom of the large bunny face; and the plaque cookie ⦗bunny holding plaque, pic above, and lamb with plaque, pic below⦘.
For those I used a normal plaque cutter, and cut off one end using a small heart, to create that scalloped bottom.


Not so fussy, really, but just a little too much to take on as bulk-baking for busy classes. 


They weren't discarded, though  - instead of being class demo's these cookies went to school cake-sale, and all found loving homes 😉

Perhaps I'll give them a try again next year. What do you think?




I hope you've had a lovely Easter!

xxM


Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Easter Cookies - Little Lamb


I made a whole set of demo cookies for our Easter cookie classes using a completely different colour palette. Hated Felt dissatisfied with them; took to Instagram and got just the inspiration I needed from Genevieve, creator of Olly Polly Kids  and Motley

I really love the decor trend of simple monochrome colour schemes and minimalist looks. 
So, Gen's suggestion of yellow, pale pink, and mint was the springboard; add black and white, and I couldn't wait to get Easter-cookie-decorating... again!



It's different to what we've done before, but very much in keeping with my desire to keep things simple this year in the cookie classes. 
The colour scheme was conducive to lots of wet-on-wet patterns - including those sheep/clouds (inspired by ChuraCookie) and woolly little lamb. 


That effect is created by first piping on the face, letting that set; then flooding the body in white. 
 Before that icing dries completely, pipe on more flood-consistency white in little mounds - not too close together, because they will still want to merge, as flood-icing does. 
Once dry, it creates that lovely slightly puffy, woolly look. 

Here are a few more designs - 

Flowers; bunny cheeks and ears done wet-on-wet. 


My favourite pattern - some marbling with the black and mint:


 And "HOP"
... it's so much more forgiving writing on a cookie with thick wet-on-wet script if you have handwriting like mine!



Next post will feature the rejected cookies...

Happy decorating!

xxM 





Monday, 26 March 2018

Marshmallow Snail Cookies

You may have seen these adorable snail cookies cropping up on Pinterest and Instagram.
They have the prettiest swirls of icing or meringue on their backs.
Who wouldn't want to live in a meringue shell, I ask you?!

Except in late summer in Durban - those meringues would melt before midday!



I decided to make the shells out of marshmallow, instead.
The first batch of marshmallows I made using this corn syrup-free recipe -  which is gorgeously soft and gooey.
But because these cookies were being packaged and sent off to school, I opted for a slightly sturdier result, and used the recipe below.

A candy thermometer is required, unfortunately - it's not a recipe where you can guesstimate temperatures.




Marshmallow Swirls
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten

Prepare 2-3 large cookie trays with parchment paper or silicon baking sheets liberally dusted with the icing sugar/ corn flour mix.

Ingredients:

20g powdered gelatin
300g caster sugar
120ml + 120ml cold water
250ml liquid glucose (or corn syrup)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Gel food colour
1/4 cup icing sugar + 1/4 cup corn flour - for dusting

Method:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the gelatin with 120 ml cold water, and put aside.

Combine the sugar, liquid glucose, salt and remaining water in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar has all dissolved.
Raise the heat to medium-high and allow to boil undisturbed until the syrup reaches 114'C / 240'F on a candy thermometer.

Carefully pour the sugar mixture into the gelatin and beat with the whisk attachment on low speed.
Slowly increase the mixer speed.
Add the food colouring and vanilla extract. 
Continue to beat on high speed until the mixture cools down and becomes thick and fluffy.

Spoon the marshmallow into a piping bag prepared with a large closed star tip (e.g. an Ateco 852).
(It's a sticky job, and you don't want to try refill the piping bag, so make sure you use a bag large enough to hold all the marshmallow to begin with!)

Pipe swirls of marshmallow onto the prepared cookie trays. 

Allow the marshmallow to set overnight. 
Dust the tops with remaining icing sugar/ cornflour mixture to cover any surface stickiness. 

The rest of the cookies are very simple - Outlne and flood the snail body; allow to dry. 




 Draw or paint on the face. 
Use a little edible pink powder for the cheeks.  



Attach the marshmallow "shell"  to the cookie with royal icing. 





Cute little critters aren't they?

I'm not sure who first thought of a swirl-for-a-shell, but I was inspired by the cookies of @pryanichnaya_lavka, a very talented Russian artist - look her up on Instagram.


Happy decorating!

xxM

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Ice-Cream Cone Birthday Cake

And then there was the cake.

It's been a really busy week, but I had Thursday put aside to make Sabrina's birthday cake.

Then I got called to help out in theatre Thursday morning. So, ok - I still had Thursday afternoon free (with the party Friday afternoon).
But of course morning work in theatre, evolved into afternoon work in theatre.

Well, I still had Friday morning...
And of course I was called out to a caesarean on Friday morning. 🙈



So, a little rushed - it could have done with some finessing - but here's the cake as it turned out.


The  cone part  is vanilla cream cheese pound cake, covered in a modelling chocolate / fondant blend. 
The scoops of ice-cream are large cupcakes (rich chocolate, and red velvet) roughly covered in buttercream to look like ice-cream. The swirl of cream is also buttercream icing. 




The design was inspired by ice-cream cone cakes made by Shawna McGreevy and Darcey Oliver. 
Despite it being such a rush, it was really fun to make. And my daughter loved it - which is all that counts!

Happy decorating!

xxM 

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Ice-Cream Cone Cookies

To say that I was a little stressed this week about Sabrina's party is an understatement. 
An ice-cream themed party with a pool slide in late summer seemed like a great idea, but the one element that I couldn't control was the weather. 
Despite checking the forecasts  six times daily  regularly these past few days, not believing that the temperatures would actually shift downwards so rapidly on the day of the party, they did. 
Party day arrived misty and damp. 
Great ice-cream weather 🙈 

One thing I was on top of though, were the party-treats. Most of it was sorted with the hiring of a soft-serve machine, and purchase of lots of sprinkles and toppings. 

The rest I kept very simple, including these cookies:




Limited colour palette, outlining and flooding with the same consistency, 


and just a little airbrushing and use of royal-icing crumble to add dimension. 
                        


I don't have a double scoop cutter, so used an ice-cream sundae cutter instead, and trimmed it a little. 

 

The crumble is made using a tutorial by Clough'D 9 Cookies:




It's a thin layer of royal icing spread onto parchment with a palette knife, left to dry, then crumbled up. 

So clever, isn't it? 





So, that was the cookies sorted.

I'll tell you about the cake next time.

Until then, happy decorating!

xxM