Sunday, 31 August 2014

Black Forest Cupcakes

Not that anyone is counting (well, I'm not - are you?), but I realise that it has been a while since I posted a new cupcake recipe. I got seduced away by the glamour of big cakes.
 But then I began to miss the elegant simplicity of The Cupcake.
I often struggle to photograph slices of cake. Cupcakes are simpler. It's easier to find perfection in their compact composition. Cupcake. Icing. Sprinkles.

But after all that talk about simplicity, here I am with a relatively complex creation:
Black Forest Cupcakes. Complex but not complicated.
There are several steps involved. Each one adds a layer of deliciousness to the creation. Don't skip a step. Savour each one. I especially like the jam. I should have photographed the jam. I didn't. You can see some of it peeking out under the cream, though. It's good jam ; )  

Black Forest Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from Australian Woman's Weekly

Preheat the oven to 170'C
Line a muffin tray with 12 cupcake cases.

425g can good quality pitted black cherries in syrup
165g butter
150g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
185g caster sugar
60 ml Kirsch (cherry brandy) / sherry
1 large egg
175g cake flour
20g cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Drain cherries, reserve the syrup.
In a food processor, purée 120 g cherries with 125ml (1/2 cup) syrup.
Reserve the remaining syrup and cherries four the jam.

Place the purée in a small sauce saucepan, together with the chocolate, sugar, butter and sherry.
Heat gently until the chocolate has melted. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Leave to cool for 15min.
Whisk in the egg.
Sift in the dry ingredients and mix briefly until incorporated.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake cases.
Bake at 170'C for approx 25 minutes.

Cherry "Jam"

Remaining cherries - roughly chopped
Remaining syrup
2 tbs water
1 1/2 tbs corn flour
100g caster sugar
2 tbs Kirsch /sherry

Roughly chop the remaining cherries.
Mix the water and cornstarch together. Mix this together with the sugar, syrup and sherry and heat in a small saucepan. Stir continuously until the mixture thickens.
Add the cherries and simmer for a few minutes.
Allow to cool. Spoon onto the top of the cupcakes.

Whipped cream

250ml (1 cup) whipping cream
2 tbs icing sugar

Chill the mixing bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Sift the icing sugar into the cream and beat on high speed with the whisk attachment until stiff.

Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.

Chocolate shards

Use a vegetable peeler to shave shards of chocolate off a slab of dark chocolate.
Sprinkle over the whipped cream-topped cupcake.

Cupcake. Icing. Sprinkles. Enjoy. 


Sunday, 24 August 2014

Raindrops and Rainbow Cookies

When I scheduled the "Raindrops and Rainbows" cookie classes, I thought I'd jumped the gun: it didn't look like the winter drought was anywhere near releasing it's hold on us. But on the very day of the first class, the spring rains arrived. What a co-incidence, huh?! On the one hand I was relieved that my theme wasn't completely seasonally in-appropriate (because these things matter to me!),  on the other it heralds the start of the challenges that spring brings. But at least there will be rainbows!

I knew from months before, that there had to be ducks in the cookie round-up. I couldn't quite connect the dots, though. Ducks and rainy days? It's the puddles, right?

So, to tie up the loose ends, I felt compelled to make a duck-in-a-puddle cookie. 
This is how: 

(And one with the cloud flipped over, because I thought that may be a more pleasing shape...

                                                                                                        ... which do you think is better?)

 For the cookie recipe I use go here;
and for the royal icing recipe and tips on icing techniques go here.   

Happy baking and decorating! 


Saturday, 16 August 2014

Choc-Cherry Brownies

Chocolate can be a real brat! (Another B word would also be appropriate here).
Talk about moody and temperamental.
Just the other day, we'd been getting along fine - and then it decided to have a major sulk, and sat in a huff in the bottom of the bowl, oozing disdain.

So, what to do with sulking chocolate? Brownies.
Brownies are always happy. Brownies make the world a better place.

Just take the seized chocolate (because, yes - that's what I'm anthropomorphizing here!)
and ignore the fact that is all huffy; continue as normal....

Choc-Cherry Brownies
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Preheat the oven to 180'C 
Grease and line a brownie baking pan. 

400g chocolate - broken into small even-sized pieces 
50g butter
80g flour
100g glace' cherries, roughly chopped
100g flaked almonds
100g caster sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp vanilla extract

Melt chocolate and butter together (use a double boiler or the microwave on low power.)
Set aside to cool. 

Beat the eggs and sugar together until pale and creamy. 
Pour the cooled chocolate into the egg mixture. Add the vanilla extract. Beat on low speed until incorporated. 

Sift in the dry ingredients. Mix briefly. 
Fold in the cherries and flaked almonds. 

Pour the batter into the prepared brownie pan and bake at 180'C for approx 35 - 40min - a skewer inserted into the centre of the brownies should come out with sticky crumbs stuck to it. 

Allow to cool in the pan before removing and cutting into squares.

Chocolate seized? Celebrate with brownies!
; )


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Punk Rock Cupcakes

There is no such thing as "too many cutters". You need them. You need a lot. And you need mini cutters, too. Just saying :) 
And I'm not trying to justify the fact that I've got more than I can count. I need them! 

So, these were the Punk Rock Cupcakes we did last month. 
When I set the theme, I only had a vague idea of what I was going to do; I knew there'd be animal print, and painting on fondant, but beyond that it was all still a bit hazy. 
Thankfully my friend Lauri from Treat Boutique helped out with the mini electric guitar and skull-and-crossbones cutters, and the rest came together pretty punkishly : )

This is how an array of mini cutters came in handy:
The construction (or deconstruction!) of a skull-and-crossbones topper. 

Mini egg cutter
Mini fluted circle cutter
Heart plunger cutter
Skull-and-crossbones cutter

To make:

Punk Rock Cupcakes

Have a sweet week : )


Saturday, 9 August 2014

Dress-on-Mannequin Cake

 I don't make cakes that I have to carve as a rule. But sometimes rules just have to be broken!

I had the idea of this cake in mind for my sister's birthday, and I tried to convince myself to make the dress and mannequin as a topper instead, but couldn't let myself get away with the cop-out.
So, after a restless night filled with cake-dreams, I took the plunge.

There are no work-in-progress shots, because I didn't actually think I'd pull it off!

The mannequin is black fondant mixed with modelling chocolate. The cake is under the skirt.
I used my white chocolate cupcake recipe for the cake - it baked 4 x  5 inch (12.5cm) layers. Which I then whittled down to 10cm base. I carved the cake after it had been chilled, and it was a pleasantly pain-free process(apart from nicking my thumb with my new ultra-sharp serrated knife!)

The trickiest part was dressing the bust - next project sewing classes!

Happy Women's Day!


Friday, 8 August 2014

Chocolate Nests

These are so easy that I feel like it's a cheat posting the "recipe"; but it's a slow news week,  so here goes:

You'll need some Kellogg's All Bran Hi-Fibre (... maybe you should get a fresh box; not the open one that's been sitting untouched for months behind all the yummier cereal boxes in your pantry!)
You can use Rice Krispies instead of the Hi-Fibre, but it makes blobby nests, and for me anything that is brown and blobby is a big no-no. Do I have to explain? Seriously nooooo noooo!

Ugh, sorry! Let's take a break to get that image out our heads and come back and finish this later...

And we're back : )

Chocolate Nests

Line muffin trays with approx. 16 cupcake cases.

320g milk chocolate
160g Kellogg's All Bran Hi-Fibre cereal
40g shredded coconut
40g marshmallows

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler.
Add the marshmallows; stir until melted.
Mix in the shredded coconut and Hi-Fibre.

Press the mixture into the base and slightly up the sides of the cupcake cases.

Allow to set. Fill with speckled eggs.
 (May be stored at room temperature in cool conditions, but keep in the fridge in summer.)

Happy baking!


Saturday, 2 August 2014

Angry Birds Party

So, that's my kids parties done for the year.

I'm not sure how I feel about that. I really enjoy putting their parties together. But it's such a whirlwind. After all the planning and preparation, the details get dis-assembled in a couple of hours!
 And we're always too busy to take enough photos.
But, I'll share a few that I did take:
(I go a little theme-crazy, as you can see!)

Angry Birds Party - Kids desert table

"Foreman Pig's Moustaches" - orange wedges

Bad Piggy Cake Pops - chocolate and Nutella

Angry Bird Cookies

Red Bird Juice - grape and cranberry

Bad Piggy Macarons - choc mint ganache

Angry Birds Cupcakes - modelling chocolate toppers

And finally, Jack's Angry Birds cake:

Thanks for stopping by : )