Friday, 25 November 2016

Kokeshi Figurines

If I'd thought ahead, I could have thrown myself a Kokeshi-themed birthday party this year: a garden full of paper lanterns; platters of sushi; these cookies, and these fondant figurines on a cake  - wouldn't it have been great?!

 But I didn't.
I should at least have made a cake, though. Maybe then my birthday wouldn't have been the non-event that it was!

Let me tell you about it (this was yesterday) - the morning was spent ferrying my son and some of his classmates to their end-of-year school outing; and the afternoon in the Xray dept. Not for my son, but for my daughter who'd fallen badly (with a little help from her brother), and cracked her collarbone.
It was a "special" day, but not for the right reasons! I was very grumpy. Not very Zen!

Today's been better. I've realised that spending the day with my children (despite the challenges and injuries) was a great privilege. So, there - my Zen is back. And besides - after 30 you only need to celebrate the decades, right?!
Kokeshi party 2024...

 Happy decorating!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Kokeshi Cookies

I've really loved the cookie classes we've done over the past few months. So many of them have been themes that I've been meaning to do for a while, and I finally scheduled them ... all of them, it seems!

Now I have to go back to the drawing board and think of what to do next year. Maybe it's time to go back and re-visit some of the early themes.
Re-visit, re-do, and re-move those old photos from the archives... pretend they never happened!

 I cringe when I go back and look at some of the cookies things  I decorated that I was so proud of 4 years ago! And I starting teaching classes while I was still learning myself! (I'm thinking of this kind of cookie... No, no - don't go and look!) Shudder!
 In my defense, there was no-one else around in this area doing it - so I was still offering an interesting experience! Anyway - we learn and grow.Thankfully!

This is the latest set:  Japanese Inspired Cookies. 
Sweetsugarbelle has a great post on how to decorate Kokeshi Dolls here; and for some inspiration on wet-on-wet cherry blossoms (as on the blue fan), watch Haniela's video here.  

Happy decorating!


Sunday, 13 November 2016

Black and White Ganache Birthday Cake.

So, what do you do when you've got to make a cake for your niece who is turning 18, and the weather is absolutely dismal - 99% relentless humidity. 99% impossible to work with sugar.
(I know...  I talk moan about the weather a lot in spring. And truly, I am grateful for the rain after the drought. But really - this mist could just contain itself a little, you know?!)

Anyway... Chloe's cake.
She's a lovely, easy-going young woman who had requested something yellow, black and white. "But really - whatever, I don't mind".

You'd think that an open invitation like that would make the creative juices flow, but really - it's impossible in this weather! 

So, I settled on a simple ganache'd cake, with yellow flowers and a drip element. (Hoping that the drip would not include the decorations slowly melting away down the sides of the cake!)

The C would never have set by itself (yes... the weather), so it's wired for support:

The flowers dried and then wilted and then dried again - left for a few hours in a room with the aircon on high.

The black ganache is made by adding black food colouring (powdered) to dark chocolate ganache.

The cake itself is layers of alternating dark chocolate and sour cream vanilla, sandwiched together with cookies and cream icing.
I was going to take a picture of a slice, but the monkeys got in and destroyed everything that was left over. Another spring problem... Oh, the joys!

Happy (spring) baking!


Sunday, 6 November 2016

Chocolate Cupcakes with Amarula Ganache Centres

One day I'll write an Ode to Ganache, like there's an Ode to a Grecian Urn.
Ok, so maybe not.
But ganache is always going to be one of my top choices for cakes and cupcakes.
Yes, because of the taste, (and we could just stop there because that would be enough, right?)  but also because it's just so simple to make.
I don't ever whip it though, I bear too many ganache-separating-on-me scars to go there again; besides I'm happy enough with what it does in spread-able form.

So, these cupcakes are not decked with whipped ganache. The ganache here is hidden inside. And also added to the frosting (which happens to be another top favourite - chocolate cream cheese icing)

Amarula ganache
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

180g white chocolate, broken up into small even-sized pieces.
60g Amarula**

**Yes - grams. Just weigh your chocolate, and pour the Amarula on top and keep pouring until you reach 60g.... or 1/3rd the weight of the chocolate.
It's a simple 3:1 ratio of white chocolate to Amarula, just like normal white chocolate ganache.

Microwave for 30 seconds.
Stir until smooth.
If some of the chocolate has not melted, microwave again for a few seconds only.
Allow to cool down and set slightly.
Stir occasionally to prevent a skin forming on the surface.

This is enough ganache for 12 cupcakes and some to spare, because you want to (you do, you do!) add any leftover Amarula ganache to the chocolate cream cheese icing.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing:
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

100g butter
80g sifted icing sugar
250g cream cheese (use a dense cream cheese, like Philadelphia, Lancewood or the Woolworths brand)
50g sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream together the butter and icing sugar.
Beat in the cream cheese, followed by the cocoa powder and vanilla.
Mix until smooth.

How to assemble Amarula Ganache / Chocolate Cupcakes:

Bake your favourite chocolate cupcakes (this is a great recipe here, or here).

Allow them to cool, then use a piping bag fitted with a long plain round icing nozzle to squeeze the ganache into the centre of the cupcakes.

Follow with a swirl of Amarula ganache fortified chocolate cream cheese icing. What a (delicious!) mouthful!

If you like the combination of Amarula and chocolate here's another recipe -
and another one
and let's not forget this Amarula Mascarpone Icing! 

Happy baking!