Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Flour-less (Gluten-free) Chocolate Torte

This is a very simple, single layer, easy to make torte (no separating of eggs, or folding in meringue) that I put together for a lunch party we were having with friends who need to avoid gluten.

 The almond flour gives it a dense, fudgy texture, which is beautifully complemented by the light  whipped cream and fresh strawberries topping.

But warning! Gluten free does not = carbohydrate free. (Sadly!)
Apologies to all the Banting and Paleo followers: thus cake contains S-U-G-A-R!
(Could it be made with Xylitol? P-R-O-B-A-B-L-Y.... But I'm no xylitol expert. So if you do try that out, let me know in the comments below!)
I'm sure it is relatively low GI, though. So if that's the eating plan that you follow (and for the rest of us that just wing it!) ... Guilt-free desert ahead  ;o)



Flour-less Chocolate Torte with Strawberries and Cream
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Preheat the oven to 180'C
Grease and line a 20cm cake pan.

Ingredients:
100g butter
200g caster sugar
2 eggs
120g melted dark chocolate
200g almond flour
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract


Cream together the sugar and butter.
Add the eggs, 1 at a time. Beat well between additions. Scrape the mixing bowl down, if necessary.

Pour in the melted chocolate.  Add the vanilla. Mix well.

Sift in the almond flour and cocoa powder. Beat briefly on low speed.

Pour into the prepared cake pan.
Bake for approx 45 min, or until a cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.

Cool in the cake pan before turning out onto a cooling rack.

Top with whipped cream and fresh strawberries and a dusting of icing sugar.



Whipped Cream

250 ml whipping cream
2 TBS sifted icing sugar 

Place both ingredients into a mixing bowl that has been chilled in the freezer for 15 minutes. 
Whip on high speed until stiff.  

 



Enjoy!

xxM 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Lalaloopsy Doll



This post should be  subtitled - "An Ode to Vodka".
No, it's not what you're thinking! I actually don't drink the stuff. And by saying "the stuff" you might think I sound a little judgmental of those that do. No, not at all (unless of course you're walking around swigging it from the bottle in a brown paper bag and you haven't washed your hair in two weeks and the cat has moved next door to be fed.... Then I might be just a teeny bit judgmental....sorry!)
What I'm talking about is it's miraculous powers to clear up little mishaps....



This is how I make a Lalaloopsy: I start with the head. Put on the eyes. (A little fiddly, those button eyes!) Then the cheeks. Then I leave it for oh, a decade or so. Because I'm so convinced that I'm going to mess it up when it comes to painting on the mouth.
And I did mess it up this time. But that's when the bottle of vodka gets pulled out.
Soak a little cotton wool in vodka and erase the damage. That's it. Very un-dramatic, but that's the point: no drama! No tears, no throwing a tantrum (or a Lalaloopsy head across the room). Just a little vodka on some cotton wool - replace with clean cotton wool once it's soaked up some of the paint. Ta-daaa!



Happy decorating!

xxM

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Character Cupcakes - Dusty the Plane

Well, it wasn't the first time this year that I sat down to decorate the demo cupcakes for a class and thought what was I thinking?! This time, though, it wasn't because I needed inspiration, but because there were just too many choices.
Where to start, but more tricky - where to stop with Character Cupcakes?!


I had in mind doing only the characters that could be covered by a predominantly red, black and white colour scheme. And maybe some yellow. Well, a lot of yellow and some blue. Um, perhaps a bit more blue that that...



And then, I put it out there and said that the class attendees should suggest any that they'd like to do...





So, it was quite a collection of characters in the end. But I thoroughly enjoyed making them!


Anyway, here are a few tips on making Dusty, the plane cupcake:



He is a pretty simple construction of a few basic shapes and strips of fondant.
(All paste used is a mixture of coloured fondant and modelling chocolate).






After creating a buttercream dome on the cupcake, cover with white fondant. Use a dresden tool and flatten out symmetrical areas on the sides of the cupcake in anticipation of placing the wings.
                                                     




Make the wings first, as they need time to harden.
Start with a square of paste; cut it into 2 at a slight angle.
 Flip one of the pieces over so that they are a mirror image of each other.
Stick on the orange strips.
Paint on the 7. The circle is stamped on with a small circle cutter dipped into the edible paint (black gel colour mixed with clear alcohol).

Allow to dry before attaching to the cupcake.


For the propeller - cut out a circle of paste.
Impress a smaller circle into the centre to act as a guide - to limit your cuts.

Cut out the wedges.

Then allow to dry.

Stick onto the front of the cupcake, and place another button of paste onto the centre.


 Shape the cockpit by hand.
Tap it on your work surface to flatten the sides.

Use a small palette knife to demarcate the windscreen.












Construct a tail out of a small rectangle and a wedge of paste.





Add the central strip of orange and blue paste and start putting it all together.














The eyes are small squares, cut at a slight angle on the top, layered with a small blue circle and black pupil.









You may need to add support underneath the wings - dry spaghetti or toothpicks.
If you use toothpicks, they must be removed before the cupcakes are served.









Happy decorating!

xxM




Saturday, 1 November 2014

Walnut and Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Mascarpone

  I meant to post this yesterday as a gourdish (rather than ghoulish) halloween offering. My plan was to write it up while the kids were out trick-or-treating with my husband. But he got called to theatre, and so I huffed and puffed, donned my scary outfit* and went out prowling the neighbourhood.
I landed up fretfully dragging my 4-year old around while I tried to keep up with my 6-year old and the older children. I didn't want to loose track of a black-clad child in the descending darkness. Frightful!

*a poncho raincoat. But by the end of it, thanks to the persistent drizzle, bedraggled hair and smeared mascara, no-one would have guessed that it wasn't a genuine dress-up costume ; )

Walnut and Pumpkin Cupcakes with Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Mascarpone Icing





Walnut and Pumpkin Cupcakes
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Preheat the oven to 180'C
Line 2 x12-hole muffin trays with cupcake cases.

500ml (2cups) pumpkin purée**
275g brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
375g flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp salt
100g roasted walnuts, roughly chopped.

**roast the pumpkin with a little butter and brown sugar; puree once cooked. 




In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the oil, sugar and pumpkin purée
Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well between additions.

Sift the dry ingredients together, and add to the pumpkin mixture.
 Mix until just incorporated.
Fold in the chopped roasted walnuts.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake cases and bake at 180'C for approx 20min, or until a cake-tester comes out clean.

Remove from the cupcake trays to cool.



Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Mascarpone Icing

250g mascarpone
250ml (1 cup) whipping cream
100g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Chill the mixing bowl and whipping attachment for 30 minutes before proceeding.

Place all the ingredients into the chilled mixing bowl and beat until a stiff, piping consistency is reached.


 Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.


Happy...um...November!

xxM

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Blueberry Cheesecake


Well, it's been a pretty chillaxed week. 
(I've decided it's ok to use that word if you're 40, just as long as it's not in the same sentence as like and dude...)
No classes this week, no major projects. So I've been in holiday mode. (Mom-holiday, not school-holiday, because that's not relaxing with a 4 and 6 year old!) 
I wondered through a couple of shopping centres, suppressed the panic-tinged thought that I should start Christmas shopping, and basically did very little. 
Then, I woke up Friday morning and realized next week is going to be a humdinger and what-the-heck had I been thinking! I need to start prep-work!

But Monday will be here soon enough, so let's chillax a little longer this weekend with some cheesecake. 
Is that... like ok, dude? 
;o) 






Blueberry Cheesecake
Recipe by Tea Cake and Create

Base:
240g vanilla biscuit crumbs
100g butter melted
1 tsp lemon zest (optional)

Combine all ingredients together and press into the base of a greased springform pan.
Cover with cling wrap and chill in the freezer for 30min.


Filling:

Preheat the oven to 150'C

2x 250g tubs cream cheese at room temp.
160g caster sugar
250ml sour cream
4 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
120g fresh blueberries

Beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth.
Add the sour cream and beat on med-high speed.
Turn the mixer to low speed and add the eggs and vanilla.
Beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes.
Fold in the blueberries.

Pour into the prepared base.

Bake in a water bath* at 150'C for approx 70 minutes, or until just the centre of the cheesecake jiggles when gently shaken.
 Leave to cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar for another hour. 

For the water bath, use a roasting pan at least 4-5 cm larger than the springform pan with enough boiling water in it to come a couple of centimetres up the side of the springform pan.



Topping: 

1/2 jar blueberry jam (I use Bon Mamam Blueberry Preserves).

Heat the jam on the stove until it reaches a more liquid consistency.
Pour over the top of the cheesecake and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.

But I  won't mind if you simply sprinkle the top with icing sugar. We're very chillaxed here, after all ;o)  


(I was using extremely rich free-range eggs in this cake - the yolks were particularly yellow, hence the colour of the cheesecake - just in case you were wondering!)


Enjoy!

xxM



Sunday, 19 October 2014

Modelling Chocolate Recipe

Yo, ho ho! Merry Christmas!
 Ok, not really (even though you may think so judging by the shop displays!!), but I've finally got around to posting the modelling chocolate recipe!
Why did it take so very long? Well, first I thought that I  should check with Dot Klerck that I could share it (and it took a while for me to put that thought into action.) She laughed and said it's actually Katrien van Zyl's recipe (what me name drop? Never!), and I was welcome to share it. So, that out of the way, I then had the bright idea of making a video of the process. And, um well ... clearly that wasn't going to happen in a hurry. Or at all, as it turns out.
I've have documented it photographically, though. (Yay, me!)


And so, finally... here it is:

Modelling Chocolate Recipe

300g white chocolate (Chocex works well)
60g liquid glucose
10ml water (may omit in high humidity months)



Melt the chocolate. do this in approx 3 x 30 second bursts in the microwave, stirring in between.
make sure that the chocolate is completely melted.



Microwave the glucose and water  for 10 seconds.  

Pour into the melted chocolate. 



With a gentle folding motion, stir the ingredients together until combined. 



As you continue to stir, the mixture will start to separate 



Use your spatula, and press the solid chocolate against the side of the bowl; pour off the cocoa butter. 


As the excess cocoa butter is removed, the paste will come together smoothly



Flatten the paste out and wrap in cling wrap or in a ziploc bag, and allow to rest for a few hours or overnight at room temperature. 

When ready to use, knead until soft (or microwave briefly - 7 seconds). 
If the paste becomes too soft, allow it to rest or refrigerate it until it firms up again. 

Paste may be coloured with gel or powder colouring. 

Use as is, or mix into fondant / plastic icing* 

(For dark chocolate paste, use 75g liquid glucose.) 


If not using immediately, store in cling wrap in a cool dark place.
Modelling paste may also be frozen. 





*These toppers were made with a 50:50 mix of modelling chocolate and fondant kneaded together. 

And, there you have it  :o)

Have a great week! 

xxM 





Friday, 10 October 2014

Paris Cookies - Ooh, La La!

Did I  tell you about our trip to Paris last year? Well, it was more like a trip through Paris; a brief sojourn between EuroDisney and the Alps.
After a hot morning of dragging baggage and babes through confusing Metro stations and up and down confounding stairs, we checked into a our pit-stop (a small but elegant hotel room). Then set off into the Paris of popular-imagery.
In one afternoon we managed the Eiffel Tower, a trip along the Seine, a walk and ice-cream in the Tuileries Gardens and dinner in a sidewalk café (served by a bow-tie wearing waiter, of course).
What more could you ask for? Um...well, visiting the Louvre and Notre Dame; shopping along the Champs Elysées,  sampling macarons from Pierre Hermé ... perhaps?
But there's only so much that you can do with kids-in-tow in a few hours, even if the sun only sets at 10pm. And so there are just more reasons to return there one day ;)

Any-hoo....
Here's a glimpse of my Paris-inspired cookies....
(inspired by Paris, but also cookie artists: Sweet Face Cookies, Sugar Bliss Cookies, Arty McGoo, and Cookie Crumbs).

And here are a few work-in-progress shots of one of the cookies, which for some reason I think of as  "Moulin Rouge":



Draw design onto cookie first (I use a graphite pencil, but you can use an edible marker if you prefer).
If you're battling to draw the swags, make a mark at the lowest point of the central swag - keep it in line with the central point of the cookie. Make marks at the highest point of each swag, and marks at the lowest points. Then join the dots : )

Make the cookie look symmetrical by keeping the central black stripe in line with the central point of the cookie (where the plaque peaks outwards).


Outline swags.
Outline stripes (done with outline consistency royal icing and an Ateco 00 nozzle)
 Flood with flooding consistency black icing.

Leave to dry, then flood white stripes.








Leave to dry, then flood pink swags.


Once again, leave to dry before adding finishing details:- white on black stripes, dots, and small fleur de lis flourishes.




I like that one, but I just can't get enough of the pink with black dots... and the black with pink dots...


Ooh, la la!




À bientôt!

xxM