Friday, 23 August 2013

Triple Chocolate Brownies

Did you know that the shiny, flaky layer on the top of brownies is actually meringue?
I didn't know either - I just Googled it : )
It develops in recipes where the eggs are subjected to a good and proper beating.
And honestly, something deserves to be punished for the fact that brownies are so wickedly delicious, right?!

How do you like your brownies?
In my book, they should be crusted and flaky on the surface, and moist and fudgy in the middle.
Oh, yum!

So, here's my recipe:

Triple Chocolate Brownies 
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

300g dark chocolate, cut/broken into small pieces
180g butter
180g caster sugar
3 eggs
30mls coffee liqueur **
70g cake flour
20g cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
120g chopped pecans
120g white chocolate, roughly chopped

** The liqueur is completely optional, but using it is a good excuse to keep the kids from licking the bowl and keeping that your prerogative.Wicked!
  ; )

Pre-heat the oven to 180'C
Grease and line a 23cm square baking tin.

Melt together the dark chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
Cool slightly.

Beat the eggs and sugar until pale and creamy (6 minutes on medium high speed).
Then, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the melted chocolate and liqueur into the egg mixture.

Sift in the flour, cocoa powder and salt.
Mix well to combine.
Add the pecan nuts and white chocolate. Mix briefly.

Pour the batter into the prepared brownie pan.

Bake at 180'C for 30-35 minutes.
A skewer inserted into the middle of the brownies should come out with sticky crumbs adhering to it.

Remove from tin once cool and cut into squares (it is completely justifiable to cut off any over crusted edges, and scoff them before serving the brownies to your guests!)

Dust with icing sugar and serve...quickly before there are none left : )


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Flower Fairy

My kitchen has been in a state of chaos again for the past couple of days. I wasn't supposed to mention the renovations again until it was all done, but man-oh-man, it is taking a long time getting there. Anyway - the past two days it has been in the hands of the cabinetmaker and the electricians again, and we are looking at the final stages. I can't quite believe it, to be honest!

So I haven't been able to do any baking (going to have to do some serious catch up in the next couple of days!), but I did find a quiet corner to make this little flower fairy.

She is made out of modelling paste. The flower she's sitting in and her wings are tylose paste.

Tylose powder is an edible chemical called carboxymethylcellulose - CMC. It is a modified form of cellulose which is found in plants. 

Here's the recipe for tylose paste, if you haven't seen it before.

Tylose Paste

1 egg white (large egg) 
Approx 2 cups sifted icing sugar
2 level tsps tylose powder (from baking supply stores)
Holsum (white veg fat - find it by the butter and margarine in the supermarket) 

In a small bowl, break up the egg white with a fork.
Add 1 cup sifted icing sugar. 
Mix well. The consistency will be runny.
Sprinkle the tylose on top of this, add 1/2 cup icing sugar. Mix well with a fork. Slowly add more icing sugar until the paste is too stiff to mix with the fork 
Turn onto a surface sprinkled with icing sugar.
Rub some Holsum onto your hands, and knead the paste until non-sticky, adding icing sugar as needed.
Knead until smooth, and non-sticky.
Divide it into 2 balls and store in small plastic bags, or cling-wrap. Then store these bags in an air-tight container. (Not in the fridge). 

Tylose paste dries quickly when exposed to air, so make sure to keep it wrapped. If it does develop a crusty edge, just cut that away - you can still work with the un-crusted paste. 

Colour it with gel or powdered food colouring. 
You can work with it immediately, not maturing time necessary. 
Decorations made with tylose paste take anything from an hour to a day to dry completely, depending on the humidity. 

You can make modelling paste by adding tylose powder to fondant/ plastic icing. The official figure is 1tsp / 250g of fondant - but I just do it by feel. You don't want to use too little, because then your figures suffer the effects of gravity a little harshly, and too much tylose powder will make your modelling paste too stiff and liable to crack. 

Happy creating!


Thursday, 15 August 2013

Frilled Fantasy Flower

I love cookie / fondant cutters that are sets of the same shape in a range of sizes. They're just so ... neat!
Beryl from Let's Party Knysna very kindly supplied me with a great set of blossom cutters - they veritably sing spring - that I'll be getting lots of use out of over the next few weeks.
There are so many great things that you can do with them.
 Here's one idea:

How to make a ombre ruffled flower -
It's a lovely decoration for a cake or cupcakes. And something that is so simple to make.

What you'll need:

Tylose paste or fondant with tylose powder added to it.
A small fondant roller
Gel colour
Tylose glue
Cutters - a set of blossom cutters in a range of sizes.
Paper towel
Cocktail stick / skewer

Colour half your paste in the colour of your choice. Keep the rest white.
(Remember to keep the paste sealed in a bag while you're not using it.)

Roll out the coloured paste.
Cut out the first layer of petals using the largest flower cutter.

Roll the cocktail stick firmly along the edge of the petals to create the ruffles/frills.

Place in a foil covered bowl to support the petals as they dry.

Mix some coloured paste with a little white paste.

Roll out, and repeat the process with a progressively smaller blossom cutters, adding a little more white paste to the mix as you go.

Use a little tylose glue in the centre of the flowers to stick them together.

If necessary use pieces of rolled up paper towel to hold up the ruffles of the flower as they dry.

For the centre of the flower, use white paste and cut out 3 of the smallest flowers.

Frill their edges as above, then carefully pinch them from beneath and gather. Bunch them together and glue in the centre of the blossom.

Allow to dry overnight before attaching to your cake. Use a small ball of fondant and tylose glue, or some royal icing to secure in place.

** if you are in KZN, you can get Let's Party Knysna cutters and other products from Tea, Cake and Create (that's us!), for the rest of SA - visit directly - say Hi to Beryl from me!


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Lemon and Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Lemon Cloud Icing

When I looked out my window yesterday, the sun was shining, the birds were singing and there were new green leaves sprouting in the garden. It felt like spring. Today of course, it's icy cold.

But I wanted to share this very fresh, "springy" recipe with you anyway : )

The title should really say "Lemon Curd Icing" but curd just doesn't come close to conjuring up the sublime, airy, lemon fluffiness of this frosting - so "cloud" it is!

To create it I used my standard recipe for Swiss meringue buttercream, and substituted half the butter with lemon curd. I had no idea if it would work, but I figured that there is enough butter in lemon curd for the swop to be reasonable, and - voila! it worked : )
I'm always a little stingy with the butter component of SMB, anyway - most recipes call for a brick of butter to 5 egg whites. I just can't do it! So I settle for the point when the buttercream firms up enough to be pipe-able, and stop adding butter then. It does mean that the icing is perhaps not as sturdy as it could be, but - especially on a cupcake that isn't traveling much farther than the distance between my kitchen and the dining room - I'm ok with that!

Lemon Cloud Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

5 egg whites
1 cup granulated white sugar
150g butter, at room temp, cut into cubes
150g lemon curd (find my recipe for lemon curd here).

Put the egg whites and sugar into a mixing bowl, and place that over a saucepan of simmering water. The bottom of the mixing bowl must not be in contact with the water, and the water should not be boiling.

Whisk constantly, until the sugar granules have dissolved and the mixture is hot to the touch.

Move off the stove, and to the mixer.
Using the whisk attachment, whip until it forms a thick and glossy meringue.

When the mixing bowl feels neutral (ie, no longer hot), start adding the butter one cube at a time, whipping it in with the mixer on low-medium speed. Then add the lemon curd - a spoonful at a time.
 It may curdle, but just keep whipping until it reaches a satiny smooth consistency and holds its shape.

(If you're having SMB problems, read this post from Rosie at Sweetapolita

Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Lemon and Poppy Seed Cupcakes
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

Preheat the oven to 180'C
Line a muffin tray with cupcake cases -15 to 18

1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
170g (2/3 cup) butter, at room temp
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
60 ml lemon juice
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Lemon extract - 1tsp, or 8-10 drops if using Vanilla Girl lemon extract
2 tbs poppy seeds

In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients, including the poppy seeds, but not the sugar. Whisk to combine.

With an electric mixer, cream the sugar and butter.
Add the zest and lemon extract.
Add the eggs, 1 at a time. Beat on low speed, and scrape down the bowl between additions.

With the mixer still on low speed, add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then the lemon juice, another third of the dry ingredients followed by the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour mix.
Beat until just combined.

Divide equally between the cupcake cases.

Bake for 18-20 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Remove from the muffin tray and place on cooling rack.
Allow to cool completely before icing.

Happy baking!


Thursday, 8 August 2013

Buttercream flower

Do you ever see something and then just have to try it out for yourself? (Or is it just me that has these obsessions?? Nah - you do too, right?)

Thankfully I had a reason to make a cake - my sister had requested a ganache'd cake for her birthday. I'd been wondering how to embellish it, when ta-da-daaa... (we've been watching "The Croods")
I spotted this technique on Pinterest. The original seems to belong to Amber's Cake Creations, shared via Cake Central.
(Here is the link:

And here is my version.

The technique is one that I shared here - just made into a flower. 
Tip: mark your outer circle before you begin to guide your placement of the petals. 

The recipe for this particular cake - Amarula (yes - again!) and orange, I will share with you soon. 

Happy decorating!


Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Amarula Mascarpone Icing Re-visited

Now, you know, I don't drink alcohol (yes, I have somehow managed to survive these early years of motherhood without it!) but I'm not opposed to lavishing it in my cooking or baking. The actual alcohol evaporates, after all ... doesn't it?!
Ok, maybe not if it's used in icing...which brings me to the point: have you tried Amarula mascarpone icing yet? No?? Well, find an excuse to make it!

I used it to decorate my malva pudding cupcakes recently, but I just had to try it again - so this time I've partnered it up with red velvet cupcakes. It's a happy marriage ; )

Amarula Mascarpone Icing
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

250g mascarpone - from fridge
125 ml (1/2 cup) whipping cream - from fridge
1/2 cup icing sugar
30 - 40 ml Amarula (depending on how boozy you want it!) 

Place all the ingredients into the bowl of a mixer**, beat with the whisk attachment until it reaches piping consistency. 

When making a  whipped cream-based icing it is important to use a chilled bowl and whisk. They should be placed in the freezer for at least 20minutes before using. 

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

Pre-heat oven to 180'C
Prepare 2x muffin trays with cupcake cases

1/2 cups flour 
1 TBS cocoa powder
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup oil
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 bottle (40ml) liquid food coloring
1/2 tsp bicarb
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 8-10 drops of Vanilla Girl vanilla) 

Using an electric mixer, beat together the oil and sugar, then adds the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract  
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, bicarb, salt, cinnamon. 

Mix the buttermilk and red colouring together.

Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk to the egg/oil/sugar mix.
 Begin and end with dry ingredients.  Mix until combined.

Divide the batter between the 24 cases. 

Bake at 180'C for 15-18 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. 
Remove from muffin tins.

Ice once completely cool. 

 Enjoy Cheers!