Sunday, July 31, 2011

Milk and Cookies cake pops made from white tim tam truffles

Who doesn't love milk and cookies. Also cake pops, I know we all love them. So really these milk and cookie cake pops were just destined to happen.

I came up with this idea ages ago while I was making some scrap inspired bird cookies.....see this pic here. I loved my little 'Scrappy Bird' but no one else was quite as taken with him.

Poor Scrappy Bird - is this a cookie only the creator (me) could love........

Anyhoo, while I was making Scrappy Birdy I trimmed off some fondant 'twine' and it looked like insy little striped paper straws. So I started wondered what I could do with a stack of teensy little fondant straws and then I thought of course..... milk and cookie cake pops.

These pops are made from my white chocolate tim tam pop recipe, because that's what I had around, but afterwards I realised it was a great idea as now there are cookies inside AND outside of my milk and cookie cake pops.

Dont'ya just love it when stuff like that works out without even really thinking about it.

Milk and Cookie Pop tutorial

So these are pretty simple,  be sure to make the straws a couple of days prior to assembling the pops so they have had a chance to set.

small amount of fondant half colored red, half white
batch of cake or cookie truffle pops (I used Tim Tam cookie pops click here for recipe)
white candy coating/melts (or white chocolate melts) I am going to call it candy coating for the rest of the tutorial.
copha/or paramount crystals/or crisco for melting.
mini store bought cookies (I used mini chips ahoy)
lollipop sticks
styrofoam block for resting the pops in

Take some red and some white fondant and roll them (seperately) into a thin log using your fingertips and the workbench until they are quite thin. Twist the 2 them around each other like a rope and once again using your fingertips roll the combined, twined fondant back and forth gently on the workbench. Make sure to use really really gentle pressure or you might end up with the fondant twine being uneven. ( Although I guess it will not be such a big problem if your cutting it into small mini straw pieces). Once you have made the twine cut it into pieces about 1.5cm (1 1/2 inch) in length and leave on some parchment paper to set for a day or so.

Make the cake or cookie truffle pops and shape into a milk glass shape by making a cyclinder that tapers up slightly. Chilli n the fridge until set.

Melt the white candy coating in the microwave at bursts of 60 to 90 seconds at medium low. Do not overheat the chocolate. If you want your finished pop to have a really smooth finish you need to add some type of shortening to make the candy coating more fluid. I recommend copha if you are in Australia at a ratio of around 55g to every 400g candy coating, or paramount crystals in the US at a ratio of around 2oz to every 14oz candy bag. If you can not get paramount crystals in the US try crisco but it's not quite as good and you may need to work on the ratios.

Once the candy coating is melted dip the end of a lollipop stick into it and insert into the bottom (thinner tapered end) of the milk shaped pop. Place onto parchment lined trays and chill for 10 minutes.

Ensure candy coating is still fluid and if not remelt at medium low heat. Remove pops from fridge and holding the end of the lollipop stick completely submerge into the melted candy coating. Lift out and hold over the bowl gently tapping to remove excess candy coating. Take a bit of time with this step otherwise your finish may not be as smooth as you might like.

Place the pop upright into the styrofoam block and using a toothpick make a hole in the top of the milk glass pop and push the premade fondant straw in. Take one of the mini cookies and hold it onto the front of the pop until it sets a little and is secure.

 So there you have it, my quick how I made milk and cookie pops. Obviously you can make the straws any color you like and change up the cookies (I think mini oreos with blue and white straws would look great).

Also I have been wondering if those jumbo candy cane sprinkles you can get at Christmas time might work as straws if you cut off the rounded end....but seeings as I don't have any and making the fondant straws is kinda easy I'm just gonna keep on wondering.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Preorder my book Sweets on a Stick: 150 kid friendly recipes for cakes,candies, cookies and Pies on the Go!

Yay! Someone told me yesterday they saw my book for preorder (Thanks Miss M)on one of the big sites so I popped in to have a look and they were right.

So as though I had nothing better to do I popped into all the online book sites and guess what nearly all of them had it listed........

Here it is at Amazon

and for those in Australia and New Zealand who like to buy from Fishpond.....

Sweets on a Stick: 150 Kid-Friendly Recipes for Cakes, Candies, Cookies, and Pies on the Go!

and I also spied it over at book depository, borders and a stack of other places.

Then I spent time on the phone with my mum giggling about the little author blurb which is all true but just funny to read on Amazon about yourself.

Remember if your outside of the US this book is a US release with weights and measurements accordingly, although there is a conversion table in the back.

OK today I promise to spend my time better and get some photo's of the cutest new cake pops I made.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Kinda Famous S'more Whoopie Pies

 I love whoopie pies. They are the perfect combination of cookie and cake with a big ole' dollop of sweet filling in between.

Every now and then I still see a post professing that they are the new cupcake, or macarons, which you know considering how long they have been around is kinda funny. In fact I know I did one myself a while back.
Just had to pop in a pic with these cute tags I picked up from Luminoso blu

It doesn't really matter to me if they're popular or not, just that they're yummy. I find them comforting. Pretty much they are one of the few things that I can not stop eating until I can't possibly fit in another one in. It is not unusual for me to eat 3 or 4 a day when I have baked a batch.

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting around thinking I didn't have much on so I grabbed out my copy of my trustee Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell  and thought I'd whip up a batch of their S'more whoopies.......

No such luck, I didn't have any graham flour, not a bit to be found or the ingredients to make it up myself so I decided to modify their recipe to see how it worked out.

It worked out pretty well, they were pretty yummy, I would recommend eating them within a couple of days for the best results as they became a little denser with age, unlike the chocolate chip whoopies I usually make.

Oh and I feel like these whoopies are famous now. They were included in a cookie bar at a super amazing Western Party by Sharnel Dollar designs and featured on Amy Atlas.

S'moreWhoopie Pies adapted from Whoopie pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups wheat germ
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
115g (1/2 stick or 4oz) unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar lightly packed
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp bicarb (baking soda)
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 190C (375F ) and line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and whisk in the wheat germ.

At high speed beat the sugar and brown sugar until light and creamy. Reduce speed to med low and add the eggs one at a time beating until combined and then the buttermilk and vanilla, mix well.

Combine the milk, baking soda and vinegar in a bowl.

Add half the flour mixture to the butter/egg mix and mix on low until combined. Mix in the milk mixture and then the remaining flour mix and continue to mix until well combined.

Using a spoon drop Tablespoons of batter onto the lined baking trays leaving lots of room for the mixture to spread (around 7cm or 2 inches) and bake for 10 minutes or until the cakes begin to brown.

Cool on trays for 5 minutes and gently remove to wire rack to cool.

Sandwich these cakes together with marshmallow creme filling and chocolate ganache. I made a dam of chocolate ganache around the edge of the bottom pie and then filled it with marshmallow creme. When joined together the marshmallow oozed nicely over the top of the ganache. I would probably add another dollop of ganache into the middle of the pie in future for added chocolate yumminess.

Click here for the marshmallow creme recipe

Chocolate ganache, in a microwave on med low setting melt together 225 grams chocolate with 1/2 cup cream for 90 second bursts, stirring between each interval until melted. Leave on a bench to cool and set until firm enough to pipe or spread.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Snowflake flurry cookie bites - cute mini square Christmas cookies

I feel like the supermarkets dragging out the the Christmas decorations half way through the year, but I do have a valid reason.

One of my friends is hosting a Christmas in July celebration and asked me to make some of my white snowflake cookies and snowflake cake pops.

Anyhoo to cut a long story short I had just spied some super cute square cookies here and here I was really feeling the square cookie love.

So I decided to try out some incy wincy little square snowflake cookies in a few simple designs and colours.

I'm a bit of a fan of bite sized cookies. I would rather have 2 or 3 tiny cookies than a large one any day so these are perfect for me.

Equipment and Ingredients

24 mini square chocolate cookies
Ready Rolled Fondant (I used Bakels) or marshmallow fondant
mini square cookie cutter (mine was a plastic one from a d.line set which is straight on one side and ruffled on the other)
ball tool
edible silver balls
non toxic glitter or preferably edible glitter
Edible glue (I made mine up with water and Tylose powder)
Snowflake plunger set

Each set was 12 cookies made using a 3.5cm (1 3/8 inch) square cutter then I covered each cookie with ready rolled fondant rolled out on a benchtop dusted with cornflour (cornstarch) to a couple of mm (1/8inch) thick and adhered to the cookie using a little water and pressing on with the rolling pin.

For the single snowflakes I pressed out a snowflake using the smallest cutter from a snowflake plunger set and adhered it to the fondant covered cookie with a teeny amount of water. Using the small end of a ball tool I made an indent into each corner, brushed the indent with a little edible glue and pressed in an edible silver ball.

For the cropped double snowflakes I cut out two snowflakes using the smallest cutter from the snowflake plunger set for each cookie arranged them like I wanted them to sit on the cookie and using the same square cutter I used for the cookies I pressed down to remove the excess edges, using a sharp knife I evened up the edges and adhered the snowflakes to the fondant covered cookie.

For the large cropped snowflake I used the medium snowflake cutter from the plunger set and using the same technique described above cropped the snowflake. In the opposite corner to the snowflake I used the small end of a ball tool to make an indent, brushed the indent with a little edible glue and pressed in an edible silver ball. I then used a ziplock bag filled with royal icing to pipe 5 dots in a curved around the snowflake.

For the random line cookies I piped 2 lines close together at the bottom, a line at an angle crossing the double lines, a single line near the middle of the cookie and another further up near the top. For the white cookie I sprinkled a little non toxic glitter onto the bottom lines to add some interest.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A tale of two cocoas - are big brands worth the big bucks

I've never really been one to discuss brands, I generally think its a personal choice. You know...... use what you prefer, what you can afford and what suits your lifestyle.

Just because I like the taste of something, doesn't mean that you with your personal childhood memories and other influencing factors will agree, so I have tended to stay out of it.

But something happened while I was testing recipes for my cookbook which made me realise that sometimes it does make a difference. I ran out of cocoa and sent Mr Sweet off to the supermarket to pick up some supplies one of them being cocoa and I realised that if you are shopping at the supermarket you might be getting way different results when making my chocolate sugar cookies than I do.

Look at the difference in colour between these 2 cookies, both baked with the same amount of cocoa, just different brands (I checked the labels and there is no alkali in the ingredients). The lighter one on the left is a very well known Australian Supermarket NAME brand of cocoa. The one on the right is made with Woolworths savings black and white NO NAME brand

and the Woolworths no name is soooo much better in this instance. It imparts a better colour and chocolatey taste to the cookie.

I normally use a pretty reasonable quality cocoa for my baking, it's Callebaut brand. I like it. It works for me and the place I pick up my almond meal and other stuff carries it.

So here is another interesting picture, can you tell which one is Callebaut and which one is the Woolworths brand?

Well they look a teeny bit different in the photo but I think it's the lighting, in real life I didn't know which was which. Just for interests sake, the one on the top is the Woolworth's brand.

Anyway I'm going to finish this post by saying that that the cookies made with the other name brand cocoa still tasted good, just in my opinion not quite as good. Also for other purposes like drinking it may be a better option, I'm not sure.

So to wrap up, buy what you like and what makes you happy, I'm just imparting a little bit of info I found interesting.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sweets on a Stick Bubble and Sweet Cookbook being released soon

I know I have been a bit slow with posting on the blog lately, but I have a really, really great excuse........

I wrote a cookbook.

Yes a real live cookbook to be published in the US by a real publishing house and due for release this coming holiday season.

I'm a little bit excited.

It's focused on making sweet treats on a stick with your kids and there are a stack of new ideas and recipes that I think everyone will love, as well as some of my favorites from the blog modified for kids.

Some of the pictures inside are soooo cute if I do say so myself and I can't wait to share more information with you.

and while I'm on the self promotion here is a picture of me taken by Naomi V Photography who is totally amazing. As well as headshots like this, Naomi is available for weddings, commercial work, family portraits and newborn shots.

You might remember her she took the photo's at the Magical Forrest Tea Party and Ava's Tea Party last year.

OK.......I'm always a bit embarrassed about promoting myself so now that I'm blushing a bit I'm off to bake a batch of Christmas in July cookies for a friend.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Fancy Smancy Pink Mask sugar cookies

Pretty pink mask sugar cookies I cooked up for a bunch of pretty little girls.

Think I might call them Harlequin Heart (white and pink),  Diva (pink and gold) and Swirling Heart mask (pink and red).

I'll be doing up a tutorial for one of these and would love to know which one you would prefer the tutorial for?

Let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tahlin's Safari party, Safari Cupcakes and making black fondant

One of the best things about doing what I do is some of the amazing people I have met.

I have been really lucky through my work to meet a bunch of other party and sweet minded people who I have worked with on various projects and I can honestly say that to date I have yet to meet anyone I didn't like and quite a few of them have become friends I've worked with many times.

Like Daneve from Ah-Tissue who is genuinely lovely, and oh my goodness so super talented and inspirational.
A little while back I made some cookies and cupcakes for her son's Safari party. The designs were created by Daneve and her partner to work in with the theme.

The whole party was totally amazing! If you haven't seen it yet you should pop on over to her blog to see all the shots.

Here is the link to Tahlin's party on the Ah Tissue Blog.

and the photo's used in this blog post (apart from the one in the cupcake instruction section) are by Katie takes a picture.

How I made the cupcakes

The cupcakes were inspired by the beautiful invitations and were giraffe and zebra print disks of ready made fondant.

As you want them to be firm enough to hold their shape, plan to make these a few days before the party. In ideal conditions they will firm up in a day but with humidity or rain you might need a little bit longer.

Knead the fondant until pliable and add any colours then place them in a airtight container. For my safari toppers I used white background with black stripes and the giraffe was a mixture of ivory and light brown background and brown spots. Dark colours need to be made a day or so before to allow the colors to settle. (see end for black and brown fondant).

Dust your workbench with a little cornflour(cornstarch) and using a small plastic rolling pin roll out the fondant until it is a few mm thick (1/8 inch). Cut out a round shape in the size you would like the cupcake toppers to be, mine were around 6.5cm (2.6"). If you don't have a suitable round cutter you can always use the rim of a glass or cup.

Place the round cut shapes onto a parchment paper lined tray.

Now roll out the black fondant and cut out another round shape and using a sharp knife hand cut stripes. Make them messy not just straight up and down. If you are working along the circle the stripes should kinda fit into each other like mine do. When you have enough to cover the white circle (you will not use the whole black circle) arrange them onto the white disk, if needed use a really tiny amount of water* and then roll on with the plastic rolling pin very gently so you do not ruin the circle, although if you do you could just reuse your circle cutter to even it up. Cut any excess black overhang off with a knife.

*I dip my clean, for fondant use only paintbrush in the water and then dry most of it off with a paper/absorbent towel. especially when using black, red or other strong colors that easily bleed.

 (this photo by Darren Frankish - thanks Darren)

For the Giraffe print toppers, cut out a round of the ivory colored fondant, place it flat onto the parchment paper. Cut out the round of brown fondant and hand cut the spots, make them uneven and work in together. If you do not mind if the sides are not so sharply defined you could just pinch off pieces of the brown fondant and shape them into the spot shapes with your fingers which is much much faster.Adhere the spots with a small amount of water and gently press on using a plastic rolling pin.

Yup really that's how I made them and it does take a long long time. Alternately you could paint on the stripes with edible black paint or food colour.

Then I made up a batch of vanilla cupcakes and baked them in brown paper cases and topped them with vanilla buttercream piped in a swirl with a 1M tip. It was a flat swirl starting in the middle and working out to the edge. Toppers can be pushed carefully onto the top just before serving.

Colouring Fondant Black

I'm going to share a little trick with you on how I colour my ready made fondant black.

Start with chocolate fondant, yup they make chocolate fondant which I think tastes great (I use the Bakels brand), knead until pliable and then add Americolor superblack food colour until you reach the desired color. Store at least overnight to allow the colors to set.

I like this method for 2 reasons. Well technically one reason which has 2 benefits.

You use less colour which means:
1. the fondant will not get sticky (if it does get sticky you may need to add a little cornflour to the mixture and knead it in); and
2. There is less risk of a bitter food color taste.

Don't get me wrong it's still a messy process but you will use way less color and I think the fondant tastes waaaay better.

Here are a couple of places you can buy the Bakels chocolate fondant in Australia online:

Baking Pleasures

Cakes around town

and in the US I noticed that Michaels sells Wilton chocolate fondant and you can get Chocolate Satin Ice online from Sugarcraft

Oh and you know if your totally sensible and your using a lot of fondant you could just buy ready made black cause they sell that as well........but then it wouldn't taste like chocolate.