Saturday, 30 November 2013

In the Pink

If I were to catalogue things that are completely useless (and wouldn't that be a completely useless exercise?!) at the top of the list: the last 6 months on your passport.

So, yesterday while I should have been creating something delicious in my kitchen to share with you, I was at Home Affairs renewing my passport (which expires in July!) instead. Oh, well. At least it's now done for another ten 9.5 years!
But I'll have to share some colour theory with you instead of a new recipe. Ok?

These were the colours I was working with in the "Cake and Cupcakes" cookie class, and I absolutely loved the colour scheme  - but it took a bit of finessing to get it just right:
Pink, teal, white and brown.  

Here's Teal vs.Turquoise:
                                                                                                   (Americolor / Cake Flora gel colours).

Both are gorgeous colours; the teal is just a tinge more green.
But not the tinge of green I wanted. So, I created another teal using turquoise and a drop (yes, that small) of mint green.

And as for the pinks - 
Here's Deep Pink vs. Soft Pink:

Deep Pink on the left - cool (blue) undertone. Soft Pink on the right - warm (yellow) undertone.

It's really helpful to figure that out because - as a rule of thumb - sticking to colours with the same undertone (warm or cool, not both) in a project leads to a harmonious visual effect.
(And oh, how I love a harmonious visual effect!)

Boldly mixing cool and warm palettes can create an off-beat effect.

And using a predominance of one with contrasts of the other can create both interest and balance.

Just a little something to bear in mind if colour choices are stumping you : )

Happy Creating!


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Amarula Chocolate Torte

Ok, so I made my own birthday cake. Who else was going to do it? My husband's kitchen skills don't stretch to chocolate cakes. Or any cakes. Or anything much besides steak and washing dishes - both of which he does really well, though!! (Don't worry - he'll never read this).
So, buy a cake? Uh, no.
And you know what - it's my party, I can bake if I want to : )

{torte (tôrt, tôrt)          n. 
A rich cake made with many eggs and little flour. Usually containing chopped nuts.
[German. Perhaps from Italian torta, cake, tart, from Late Latin torta, a kind of bread.]}

Amarula Chocolate Torte.
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Preheat oven to 180'C
Grease and line 3x 6in (15cm) pans or 2x 8in pans.

400g dark chocolate discs or dark chocolate cut into small pieces
120ml Amarula
6 eggs separated
80g butter
80g + 1 tbs caster sugar
150g ground almonds
50g cake flour
50g cocoa

Melt the chocolate and Amarula together in a double boiler.
Allow to cool slightly.

Sift the dry ingredients together - flour, cocoa and ground almonds.

Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Sprinkle in 1tbs caster sugar, then whip until stiff.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and remaining caster sugar together. Add the egg yolks and beat until light and creamy.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the melted chocolate /Amarula; mix well.
Add the dry ingredients - mix until just incorporated.

Fold in one spoon of the egg whites, then gently fold in the rest.
Continue folding the batter until the whites are no longer visible.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.

Bake at 180'C for 35-40minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out with moist crumbs attached.

Allow to cool in the pans before turning out onto a cooling rack.

ChocolateMousse Icing
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

(This recipe produces enough icing to spread between the cake layers and to cover the outside of the cake. Halve the ingredients if you'll be leaving it - the cake! - naked.)

150g butter
2x 250g tubs cream cheese
100g icing sugar, sifted
50g cocoa powder, sifted
2-4 tbs fresh cream or milk
1 tsp vanilla extract.

Beat the butter until soft and creamy, add the sifted icing sugar. Mix well.
Add in the cream cheese. Mix until just combined.
Then add the vanilla and sifted cocoa. Mix until incorporated.
If the icing is too stiff to spread on a cake - add the fresh cream / milk until it is softer.

Spread icing onto the cake once it is completely cool.

Try to keep some cake for the next day - it gets even better with age. As good things should ; )


Friday, 22 November 2013

Blueberry Yoghurt Cupcakes

We have a (small) blue vs. purple issue in this family. I won't tell you who I think started it, but I will say that it has something to do with my husband saying that Tinky Winky is blue, while I believe he's purple. So now my son has blue/ purple confusion, and I'm second guessing myself and wondering if what I see is what you see … and is what I see purple... or is it blue?

And why are blueberries called blueberries when they're actually purple berries?
Aren't they??

Blueberry Yoghurt Cupcakes
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Pre-heat the oven to 180'C
Line 2x 12 hole muffin pans with cupcake cases
(Makes 24, but ingredients for cupcakes and icing can be halved to produce a dozen iced cupcakes).

1 cup double thick greek yoghurt  (1 cup = 250ml)
2 cups flour
2 cups white sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
A few drops of lemon extract - optional
1 cup fresh blueberries, plus extra for garnish*

*frozen blueberries will do, but they don't quite have the same burst-in-your-mouth flavour as fresh ones do.

Beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy.
Mix in the oil and yoghurt (and lemon extract if you're using it).
Sift in the flour and baking powder. Mix until just combined.
Dust the blueberries with flour, then fold them into the batter.
Scoop batter evenly into prepared cupcake cases.

Bake at 180'C for approx 20minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out just-clean (do you know what I mean?!)

Mascarpone Cream Icing

2 x tubs / 2 x 250g mascarpone 
1 cup (250ml) whipping cream (35-40% fat content)
1/2 cup sifted icing sugar

Chill the mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 20 minutes. 
Place all ingredients into the chilled bowl, and whip until stiff. 

Pipe onto cooked cupcakes. 

Purple, right?!


PS. for another take on blueberry cupcakes - see here

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Moustache Cookies on a Stick

There's not much that you need to do to a moustache cookie to make it quirky. I mean, it's a moustache cookie, right - that's enough!

But moustache cookies on a stick - cool dude!

When I make lollipop cookies - AKA cookies on a stick - I do it in one of two ways.
See the one way here, but the other way is even simpler:
Roll out the cookie dough (a little thicker than normal helps), and slide the bamboo skewer 2/3 of the way up, into the dough.
That's it.

Happy Movember!
; {)


Monday, 18 November 2013

Peanut Butter and Syrup Chocolate Brownies

Some weeks just demand chocolate brownies.
It was one of those last week.
By Monday I was already thinking I'd never get on top of things, and then the middle of the week was punctuated (!!) with a fall off the monkey bars and a visit to the orthopaedic surgeon.
So by the time Friday arrived, chocolate brownies were overdue. Well overdue.

In fact, I stepped it up a notch and went for extreme comfort food: combing peanut butter and syrup into a chocolate brownie.

And, let me tell you, there isn't much that these can't fix.
Okay, maybe not a cracked elbow. But after one or two or 6 of these, well… there's not much to complain about any more.

Peanut Butter & Syrup Chocolate Brownies
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Preheat the oven to 170'C
Grease and line a 22cm square brownie pan.

160g butter
100g white chocolate
200g dark chocolate
70g flour
30g cocoa powder
1tsp vanilla extract
180g caster sugar
3 eggs

1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup golden syrup
1 egg, lightly beaten                   …. mix all three together

Melt together the butter and chocolate (white and dark) - use a double boiler, or do it slowly on low power in the microwave.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the 3 eggs and sugar together until light and creamy (approx 5-6 minutes on medium-high speed, i.e. 8 on a KitchenAid).

Slowly pour the melted chocolate and vanilla into the egg mixture, beating on low speed.

Sift in the flour, cocoa and salt. Mix until combined.

Pour mixture into brownie pan.
Place spoonfuls of the peanut butter mixture on top, and gently swirl with a knife to marble it into the brownie mixture.

Bake at 170'C for 40- 45 min, until a skewer inserted near the centre comes out with a few sticky crumbs attached.

Leave to cool completely before cutting into squares.

There, all better.
: )


Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Caramel Candy Cupcakes

When you hear the words cream and caramel together, you know it's going to be something good, right? So, how about cream, caramel and caramel creme candies?!
Hmmmn- mmn!

I had something completely different in mind for tea for the class on Saturday. But when I saw creme caramel candies in the aisle of temptation at Woolworths, they whispered sweet things to me, and this is the result : )

Caramel Candy Cupcakes
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Pre-heat the oven 175'C
Line muffin tins with cupcake cases (x15)


140g caster sugar
180g cake flour
60g butter, at room temp
1 cup (250ml) sour cream
2 XL eggs
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 8-10 drops of Vanilla Girl vanilla)
1 medium orange - zest only.
1 cup chopped caramel creme candies

Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl of a mixer.
Add the butter and orange zest, and beat on low speed until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and eggs.
Add this to the flour mixture, and mix until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake cases, then scatter a few chunks of caramel creme into each one.

Bake for 15-18minutes until a skewer comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.
Remove from the oven and the muffin trays, and allow to cool before icing.

Caramel Cream Icing

40g icing sugar, sifted
100g butter
1 tub (250g) cream cheese*
1/2 cup (125ml) caramel
1 tsp vanilla extract

(*choose a "dense" kind of cream cheese, such as Lancewood or Woolworth's brand. I generally use low fat cream cheese, but the medium fat varieties are also a good option.)

Beat the butter until soft and pale.
Sift in the icing sugar. Beat together until smooth.
Mix in the caramel and vanilla, then lastly the cream cheese.
Beat until just mixed. (Don't over-mix.)

Pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Decorate with a drizzle of caramel, some more chunks of caramel candies and orange zest.

Go on - indulge yourself!
: )


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Dog Silhouette Cookies

So, are you are dog-person? Cat-person? Both? Neither?
Currently I'm a no-pet person. Not because I don't like them - we always had pets growing up (everything from the finned to the four-legged varieties), but now that I'm the grown-up, I just don't feel up to the task of cleaning cages or pooping scoop.
My poor children make pets out of rocks and sticks - and strangely a magnifying glass (called Orchin) - instead.
I actually have all the paraphernalia ready and waiting for a kitten. But getting the kitten is still on the to-do list. (And I'm planning on getting it from a rescue centre, so the daily guilt of not-having-done-it-yet is building up!)

Anyway, that's got nothing to do with making these cookies, except that they share the same subject matter.

When I first saw Rosey SugarArt's dog silhouette cookies, they were put on my to-do list.
And when I bought poodle, dachshund and schnauzer cookie cutters, they were also put on my to-do list.
Undone to-do lists make me uncomfortable, so I finally did:

Flood square cookies with brightly coloured royal icing.
Allow to dry completely. (24hrs)
Using the dog cookie cutters, outline their pedigreed shapes onto the cookies with an edible marker/ non-toxic graphite pencil.

Use black icing to outline and flood the dog-silhouette.

Couldn't be easier, right?

Obviously you could also just print templates for the dog shapes. But I'm sure I'll have a reason to use my dog cookie cutters again sometime. But for now they're off my to-do list.
 But the kitten is not *sigh*.


Saturday, 2 November 2013

Orange-Blossom-Honey Cupcakes

I follow so many bakers and decorators from the Northern Hemisphere that it's sometimes hard to dis-entangle my thought process from their seasonal influences.
My Facebook and Blogger feeds are currently abuzz with all sorts of delicious apple and pumpkin creations: hearty autumn (fall!) treats that are so tempting to try.
(In fact, I've already succumbed to temptation - you may remember my butterscotch apple cake from a couple of weeks ago.)

 But today's recipe is veritably vernal

  1. 1.
    of, in, or appropriate to spring.
    "the vernal freshness of the land"

: )

The inspiration came from a jar of orange blossom honey that I bought a few weeks ago, then promptly forgot about until my husband took it out the pantry to use on toast. What was he thinking?! It was destined for greater things!

So, this one's for us - Southern Hemisphere friends.
But you're welcome to try it in the Northern Hemisphere - just remember to stir the batter counter-clockwise ; )

Orange Blossom Honey  Cupcakes
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

Preheat the oven to 180'C
Line a 12 hole muffin pan with cupcakes cases.

125g butter
90g caster sugar
80ml orange blossom honey
1tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
120g flour
30g ground almonds
125ml sour cream
Zest of one medium orange
30ml fresh orange juice

Sift together the flour, ground almonds and baking powder.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream the sugar and butter. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time; scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
Mix in the honey, vanilla and orange zest.

Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then the orange juice. Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then the sour cream, followed by the last of the dry ingredients. Mix briefly.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cases and bake for 18-20minutes - until a skewer comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it.

The honey and orange flavours are so delicious and fresh that you don't want to overwhelm this cupcake with a too sweet, too heavy icing. So, swiss meringue buttercream is the perfect topping.

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

5 egg whites
1 cup white sugar
1tsp vanilla extract (or 8-10 drops of Vanilla Girl vanilla extract)
300g butter at room temp, cut into cubes.

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 just be simmering.

Whisk constantly, until the sugar granules have dissolved and the mixture is hot to 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 to touch, change over to the paddle attachment and add the butter one cube at a time, beating on low-medium speed.
It may curdle, but just keep whipping until it reaches a satiny smooth consistency and holds its shape. Add the vanilla extract.

(If you are having SMB issues, see this post by Sweetapolita)

Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Happy baking!