Sunday, 1 February 2015

Top Deck Cupcakes

No, I haven't misplaced my piping nozzles - I was going for the rustic look with these ones... which is surprisingly hard to do neatly. Funny that!
No, not really... I've been having some sense of humour issues... o_O

It's been one of those weeks:
Two failed recipes (still scraping the dregs of one of them off my cookie trays); chocolate with the sulks; humidity literally making sugar creations weep, and a virus (courtesy of the first week back at pre-school.)
Oh, the joys!
So, I wasn't expecting much from these cupcakes, especially the ganache - which I liked the sound of, but fully expected to separate at the addition of the cream cheese. But, it didn't. The week might be redeemed!

Here they are, courtesy of Yuppie Chef and Leigh who kind of insisted they be tea at Saturday's class ;o)

I'm an incorrigible fiddler when it comes to recipes. So if you want to see the original, find it here; but here's mine with some small changes:

Top Deck Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from Yuppie Chef

Chocolate Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 180'C
Line 2x muffin trays with cupcake cases

280g cake flour
2 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
15g unsweetened cocoa powder
200g brown sugar
2 XL eggs
200g dark chocolate, melted
180ml vegetable oil
250ml buttermilk
150ml sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt

Sift the cake flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda together in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Mix in the melted chocolate, followed by the oil, buttermilk, vanilla and sour cream. Mix well.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, and pour in the egg/ chocolate mixture.
Use a figure of eight motion to mix the batter.
Divide amongst the prepared cupcake cases.

Bake at 180'C for approx. 18minutes - remove from the oven when a cake tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.

Remove from the muffin trays to cool.

Cream Cheese Ganache

360g white chocolate
120ml cream (you can use sour cream)
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
250g cream cheese

Melt the chocolate together with the cream and vanilla pod in a double boiler.
Remove from the heat when all the chocolate has just about melted, and stir until smooth.
Scrape out the seeds from half the vanilla pod, and mix into the ganache.
Allow to cool and set slightly. Stir often to prevent a skin forming on the surface of the ganache.

Beat the cream cheese to soften it, then slowly beat in the ganache. Mix until smooth.
Spread onto the cooled cupcakes.

Like most chocolate cakes, the flavour is even better on day 2 - if you can resist them that long...



Sunday, 25 January 2015

White Stamping on Chalkboard Cookies

Stamping on cookies seems like a bit of a cheat - but it's so cute, effective and quick that I can't let the purist in me get the upper hand. I love stamping on cookies!
I've posted about it before (here) - a technique using a stamping pad, which produces a great clean effect.
But because I was using white "ink" this time, I painted it onto the stamps:

What you'll need:
Cookies flooded with black icing - that have dried for at least 24 hrs
Rubber stamps - used solely for food, they must not have come in contact with non-edible ink
White gel colour-  mixed 1:1 with clear alcohol
A firm, square-tipped paint brush
Royal icing - for additional details

(It's a good idea to have a few spare cookies to practice the technique on!) 

Paint the white gel mix onto the surface of the stamp - make sure that all the details are covered, but that there aren't any blobs obscuring fine details.

Press the stamp firmly onto the flooded cookie - apply extra pressure in the centre which is where there is often a slight dip of icing.

Allow to dry.

Add royal icing details.

(If you want the speckled effect that I've created on these cookies, dip the paintbrush in the white paint and run your finger over the bristles about 20cm above the cookies.)

Happy stamping!


Thursday, 22 January 2015

Back to School Cookies

Back to school this week - and I'll say it without an ounce of maternal guilt: at-friggin-last!
I love my children, but 6 weeks of having them at home has done my head in. I don't even mind having the morning rush again - because it means sanity will follow for a few hours!

So, I truly am celebrating "Back2School" with these cookies!

I need quiet and calm to be creative, so I want to tell you, it was no easy feat decorating these cookies during the holidays with constant calls to (mom) duty. But somehow I managed. I did not manage to take any work-in-progress pic's though, so my only offering is a something you probably already know and do; but here it is anyway:

Don't throw away your left over royal icing, freeze it until you need that colour, or alternatively mix it all together when you need black. Purples are especially easy to turn to black with the addition of a bit of super black gel. 

Make sure that the container you freeze the icing in is air-tight.
It takes about an hour to thaw.
And if it does develop a crust around the edge, just scoop out the soft icing from the centre, discard the rest.

That's my bit.
I have to go rest my head.

Happy decorating!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Apple and Cranberry Tea Cupcakes with Custard Cream Cheese Icing

Do you feel that when Christmas is over, it's over, and needs to stay that way until next December? That reminders of the merriment now past, and a whole 340 days away, are just too painful?
I kind of do, too.  But wait - please don't put this in your to-read-in-December-only folder!

I know this recipe sounds very Christmassy. There's an explanation for that. (Bear with me!)
  As part of their Christmas range, Woolworths was selling a really cute tin of apple and cranberry infused rooibos tea. I don't drink fruit teas (unless they're iced), but I really liked the tin.  Knowing that good things come to those who wait (at the post-Christmas sale!), I waited and snapped it up for 50% off.
Bargain ;o)
But I still have to make use of the tea to warrant the purchase.
It smells heavenly, and will make a great iced tea; and also... cupcakes...!
You don't have to use this particular infusion - although I have teabags to spare if you'd like some :o) - any fruit tea will do. (How exciting are all those possibilities!)
And if you're not a rooibos fan, no problem - you don't taste it in the cupcakes.

Apple and Cranberry Tea Cupcakes with Custard Cream Cheese Icing
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Dried Apple 
(recipe adapted from Your Family Magazine)

2 apples, thinly sliced
30ml caster sugar
30ml boiling water.

Mix the sugar in the boiling water, until it is dissolved.
Brush both sides of the apple slices with the sugar syrup and place the slices onto a wire rack.
Dry out in the oven for approx.1 hour - the edges of the apple will start to curl, but they will still be soft enough to bend.
Remove from the oven, and pitch at the base to enhance the folds.
Cool in an egg tray to maintain the shape. (If you don't have a plastic egg tray, cover a egg carton with pieces of foil).

Apple and Cranberry Cupcakes
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Preheat the oven to 180'C
Line 2 x muffin pans with cupcake cases. Make 20-24 cupcakes.

250g butter
150g caster sugar
3 eggs
160ml apple and cranberry infused rooibos tea*
125ml buttermilk
320g flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
80g dried cranberries

*to make the tea, pour 160ml boiling water over a teabag, and steep for 20 minutes.

Cream together the butter and sugar.
Add the eggs, one at a time - scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions.
Beat until light and fluffy.
With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the dry ingredients with the buttermilk and tea. Begin and end with the dry ingredients.
Fold in the cranberries.
Spoon into the prepared cupcake cases.
Bake at 180'C for approx 20min, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Remove from the muffin pan to cool.

Custard Cream Cheese Icing
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

100g butter,  at room temperature
50g sifted icing sugar
250g cream cheese, chilled
180ml thick custard, chilled

Beat together the butter and icing sugar.
Beat in the cream cheese, followed by the custard.
Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.
Decorate with dried apple.



Friday, 9 January 2015

Sugarpaste Tiger Lily

Ok, so everyone has sworn off sugar - at least until Easter. (How's that working for you?!)
So, I'll spare you a new recipe and instead share a sugar flower I made recently - something exotic and tropical; fitting for these sticky summer days.

Making wired flowers is something I rarely do, and in fact I'd never made a tiger lily before; turns out it's not very complicated. And although we were taught the mantra "see one, do one, teach one" in med school - that applied to things like spinal taps and bone marrow biopsies; not technical stuff like making sugar flowers ;o)
So I'm not going to teach you how to make a tiger lily, I'll point you in the direction of some experienced artists instead :

Tutorials -

YouTube video -

Happy decorating!


Sunday, 4 January 2015

Chocolate and Ginger Cheesecake with Gold Chocolate Bark

Hello 2015!
Ok, that's not exactly new news, but I've been away: a couple of sumptuous days in Cape Town - sans family; catching up with old friends. I actually saw the new year in - something I haven't done in at least 6 years (which happens to be the age of my older child; not just a mere co-incidence, that!).

So, I don't have anything specifically new-yearsy to share, but this cheesecake that I made at Christmas, decadently rich and bedecked in gold as it is, is fittingly celebratory - I think it'll do...

Chocolate Ginger Cheesecake
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

240g ginger biscuits, finely crushed
80g butter melted

Mix both ingredients together and press into the base of a greased springform cake pan.
Chill in the freezer for 30min.

Preheat the oven to 150'C

300g dark chocolate, melted
2 x 250g tubs cream cheese (I use low fat)
120g caster sugar
250ml sour cream
3 large eggs
30g cocoa powder
1 tbs ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat the sugar and cream cheese together until smooth.
Sift in the cocoa powder and ground ginger, and mix in the vanilla extract.
Beat in the sour cream.
Add the eggs, 1 at a time. Scrape down the side of the bowl between additions, if necessary.
Pour in the cooled melted chocolate, and beat on low speed until the chocolate is mixed in.

Pour into the chilled base.

Place in  a water bath, and bake at 150'C for approx 90min, or until the surface of the cheesecake has just a slight jiggle.
Allow to cool for an hour in the oven with the door closed.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight before decorating with chocolate bark and serving.

Gold Chocolate Bark.

100g dark chocolate.
Gold luster dust

Melt the chocolate, then use a palette knife to spread it thinly over a sheet of baking parchment. Place another layer of baking parchment on top, and roll into a sausage. Allow to set.

Unroll the parchment and remove the shards of chocolate.

Use a large soft brush to dust on the gold luster.
Scatter bark onto the top of the cheesecake before serving.

Wishing you a super 2015 - I hope it's a solid gold year!


Thursday, 25 December 2014

Chocolate Dipped Ginger Biscuits

Well, I wasn’t planning on posting anything on Christmas Day. And I very nearly couldn’t (a recent storm took out our internet connection). But, I made a plan and here I am :o)

Actually – it’s not much of a post, but I loved the way the chocolate draped itself on these mini Xmas-tree biscuits, so I felt compelled to share before their relevance expired!

And when I say “draped itself ”, that’s exactly what I mean. 
I couldn’t have done that  intentionally if I tried – my artistry with chocolate being pretty limited.
I dipped the cookies into a bowl of relatively thick melted chocolate, and the edges of the trees created the folds of chocolate as I turned them over. Pretty, huh?!

Gingerbread cookie recipe here

Have a lovely Christmas!