Sunday, May 30, 2010

♥ ♥ ♥ Heart cookie cupcake toppers ♥ ♥ ♥ - oh I ♥ them

Wheee look at these super gorgeous cupcake wrappers I got from The Cupcake Wrapper Co

Aren't they just the sweetest thing - Love Birds - Awwhhhhh.

Although I have another project planned with these super cute wrappers. I just had to do something with them straight away so I made these little heart cookie cupcake toppers with some cookie dough I had left in the freezer from the lollipop cookies (click here for cookie recipe)

 Turns out they were too delicious to resist.

"Help, no not me, eat my delicious friend next to me .... "

"Aaaargh no I'm too buttery, I'm no good for you, stop it."


I shaped the uncoloured dough into a long heart shaped log by rolling a log, squashing out a point for the bottom of the heart and using a knife to indent the top and then wrapped around the pink

Pop the dough back into the fridge to cool and after at least an hour take out and slice to make cute little cookies.

Pop a long food safe pick into the bottom of the cookie and bake at 165 C (330 F) for approx 10 mins or until cooked.

Heart cookie cupcake toppers, decorative and edible.

♥  ♥  ♥


Friday, May 28, 2010

and the winner is.......FROSTING!!!!!

Just a quick update posting.

A couple of weeks back we had a taste off between old fashioned frosting and Italian meringue buttercream and it seems like old fashioned frosting was the winner.

That's right, that simple go to recipe of sugar, butter, milk and vanilla won out over 40 minutes of boiling sugar syrups, mixing meringue and kitchenaid whipping.

Although it did only just win and most people said they would be happy with both. Some really disliked the frosting as too sweet, and others disliked the buttercream as too creamy. I guess as with most things its a matter of taste.

So if you like sweet and sugary go for the frosting. However if you like fluffy, creamy frosting which pipes beautifully I recommend the buttercream.(the roses on both cakes were buttercream as the frosting just would not hold up to piping)

BIG thank you to all the testers who tasted and got back to me.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

May 2010 Daring Bakers Challenge - Piece Montee or Croquembouche

For a few years I have noticed on a number of the food blogs I follow the Daring Bakers. They set a challenge each month and the members all make the same item, with significantly varing and wonderful results to post on their blogs.

How wonderful I thought to myself, this will make me grow as baker and challenge me to try things I would never think of. I am a Daring Baker I decided to myself, actually a long time ago and last month I finally signed up.

Except I was pretty busy this month and thought I signed up after the cutoff date and wouldn't have to start until next month........Eeeek I was wrong!!!

Oh well I guess it's called a challenge for a reason.

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

The recipe provided by Little Miss Cupcake was easy to follow and worked well, so the actual baking of the puffs and making of the cream was relatively easy.

So my first try I flavoured the cream with rosewater and it was a pretty delicious flavor combination.

I had just baked a batch of macarons and decided to try and include them in the decorations so here is my first attempt play around. I used chocolate instead of toffee as I had a 20 month old holding onto my legs during the construction stage and didn't feel comfortable with all that hot sugar flying around.

So here are a couple of variations on my first attempt.

See I made a funny little disk out of the choux pastry to help support it as I didn't want to use the toffee.

Then I decided to get serious and use toffee. Not a big fan of toffee these days, although as a kid I can remember my mum making it for fair sweet stalls at the school and I loved it then.

My dislike of the toffee might have something to do with the fact that I had croquembouche for my wedding cake and I still remember now trying to get one of those hard toffee balls out of the cake. 

I stuck the puffs together using just a little toffee on the bottom of each. I was making some sugar 'Halos' for another project which I posted a couple of days ago so I made some larger ones to pop over the top of this project. I also attempted spun sugar which actually worked but I thought it looked a bit messy when applied.

I took a couple of quick photos outside, it was still only 6ish in the morning and it's coming into winter here so still not much light. All was going pretty good. I planned to take the real photos after school drop off.

Then disaster in the form of my 21 month old son. He ate the top before I got any great shots

Oh well, he did really enjoy it.

Overall the project was a bit of fun, and something I wouldn't have chosen to do myself. The choux pastry and cream are reasonably easy to make and taste great on their own or with a chocolate sauce. I don't like toffee so I wouldn't go to the trouble to built a structure again unless it was for a specific reason, but it was a great challenge. Thanks Little Miss Cupcake :)

Vanilla Crème Patissiere 
 2 cup (450 ml.) whole milk
 4 Tbsp. cornstarch
200 g. sugar
2 large egg
 4 large egg yolks
 4 Tbsp. (60 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp Rosewater
Dissolve cornstarch in 1/2 cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.
Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.
Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.
Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla and rosewater.

Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.

Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly. Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.

As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.
Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.
Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.
When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

Toffee for Halos
Instructions for the toffee I used are in my Halo Cupcakes post click here for the link


Group the puffs and do a trial run at arranging them, use the larger puffs at the bottom. Once are happy with how you will be arranging the puffs, pop the bottoms into the toffee and working quickly stack the puffs. Decorate with spun toffee, halo's or ribbon and flowers.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Halo Effect Cupcakes - Inspired by MissusT fanfic

I have a dirrrty little secret that I'm about to share. I read fanfiction.

Ok, I don't just read Fanfic its a mild addiction. Not just any fanfic mind you it has be to be good, based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels and include Sookie and Eric.

What, you've never heard of Fanfic or Sookie Stackhouse. Well before Christmas neither had I and then my life was turned about. I watched TrueBlood, a HBO series based on 'The Southern Vampire Mysteries" and I loved it. I loved the show, I loved the books, I loved the characters (well maybe not Bill).

Then I found a link to Fanfiction and my life was changed. Instead of waiting a year for a new book to be released there were hundreds of stories that fans who are also really talented authors have written based on the characters in these books. It's free, it's sometimes a bit raunchy and I really enjoy it.

And just before I lose some of you I'll just say 'Twilight". That's right Bella and Edward updated on a regular basis and with story lines you could never imagine. Fanfic actually has stacks of different categories so your fav TV show no doubt has a stack of stories just waiting for you to read.

The very talented MissusT has written a fanfic called Halo Effect which features a food blogger as the main character. Which is something I have been thinking about doing for a number of years.

I thought it was inspiring how the writers on fanfic spend their time writing for the enjoyment of others for little more than the joy of knowing that other people have read and enjoyed their work enough to provide reviews. So this idea, along with a couple of other things that clicked together is the reason I am here typing my own blog.

Here is the link to MissusT's Halo effect, which will link you thru to the world of Fanfic. But I'm warning you it can be highly addictive.

Lemon Chiffon Halo Effect Cupcake
Moist lemon chiffon cupcake topped by a fluffy meringue, a sugary halo finished with a rich surprise filling

Lemon Chiffon cake
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup macadamia oil (use canola if macadamia not available)
4 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 cup less 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 160 C (325 F).

Sift cake flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt into large bowl. Make a well in the center and add oil, egg yolks, zest, juice, water and vanilla. Mix on medium speed about 3 mins or until mixture is smooth and thick. Scrape down sides as required.

In another large bowl with clean beaters mix egg whites and cream of tartar until whites are foamy and tartar dissolves, continue beating on high speed until the egg whites look shiny and smooth to approx soft peak stage. Slowly beat in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tbsp at a time until sugar is dissolved.

Stir around 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the yolk batter and then add the remaining egg white mixture carefully folding until no white streaks remain.

Transfer into a muffin tin with no liners, filling each hole to the top and bake 35 mins until the tops are golden and a tester inserted comes out dry.

Allow to cool completely and remove by using a small knife to loosen the edges and then using your fingers to gently rock them back and forth to release as required.

Seven minute frosting

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
3 large egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1tsp vanilla extract

Bring the bottom of a double boiler to simmer.
Put sugar, water, egg whites and cream of tartar in the top of a double boiler and beat with a mixer on high speed until white and foamy approx 1 min. Put double boiler on top of the simmering water and beat egg mixture at high speed for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in vanilla immediately.

Frosting must be used straight away.

Optional Chocolate filling

I used left over chocolate filling from my walnut cookies click here for recipe

Sugar Halo's
227 gram (1/2 pound) granulated sugar
116 ml (4 liquid oz) water
43gram (1 1/2 oz) glucose

Bring sugar and water to boil, add glucose and cook to a light caramel. Quickly plunge bottom of pan in cold water to stop cooking process. Spray metal cookie sheets lightly with oil.

Using a spoon, make halo shapes onto the metal cookie sheets.

Allow to cool, remove from sheets carefully just prior to using.

Place a small ball of chocolate filling into center of cupcake. Top with seven minute frosting, using a knife to make swirly peaks. Place halo on top of cupcake just before serving.

Verdict - this cake was really yummy,  there was a little to much frosting for my tastes, which is easily fixed. But the fluffy frosting worked well with the lemon cake. For an easier and just as delicious version leave out the choc filling and the halo's.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Walnut Cookies

I have a confession, I have an obsession with molds and shaped cake tins. My house is full of them, cute bear cake tins, rose bundt tins, cameo molds...... The list is endless, and even though I only use some of them once I just can not stop myself.

So this here story is about some walnut cookie molds I bought. How cute is it, really I had no choice I had to get it. They are from house on the hill who make the most amazing Springerle and Speculaas Cookie Molds as well as stacks of other baking tools. I go into the online store and I'm lost for hours, sigh.......

So anyway, when I bought the mold it came with some recipes including edible peanut and chocolate playdoh, yum. But today I am sharing a recipe inspired by Martha Stewart Living whom actually introduced me to house on the hill. Note the cookie is very dense as it has to be to hold the shape during baking, so I find it is best to pull the 2 halves apart when eating.

The molds are a bit fiddly and until you work out the technique to gently pull the dough out you will be cursing.

Walnut cookies (makes around 25 sandwich cookies)

Cookie dough
2 1/2 cups plain (all purpose) flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
170 gram (6 ounces or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
85 gram (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla

For mold - Icing (confectioners) sugar for dusting

1. Sift flour, salt and cinnamon into a bowl.

2. Beat butter, cream cheese and both sugars on medium until fluffy, about 2 mins. Beat in yolk and vanilla. Add flour mixture and beat until just combined. Form dough into disk (about 3cm / 1 inch thick) wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour.

3 Dust walnut mold generously with icing (confectioners) sugar. Cut a piece of dough about the size of the mold and press in carefully with fingers working from center.

Gently pull the dough out of the mold with your fingertips and pop onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Trim the edges of the walnut cookie with a knife if required. Repeat with remaining dough spacing cookies approx 3cm (i inch) apart. Clean mold as required during this process and add dust with more sugar. Freeze cookies at least 1 hour until very firm.

4. preheat over to 160 C (325 F) and bake until set around 25 - 30 mins. Cool on wire racks and sandwich together 2 cookies with approx 1 tsp filling.

Chocolate filling
180 gram dark chocolate (6 oz. bittersweet chocolate), coarsely chopped
60 gram (2 ounce - 1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave on medium low for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave in bursts of 30 seconds, stirring in between till chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside and cool, stirring occasionally, until cool and slightly thickened.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Goldilocks porridge - vegetable porridge that's just right

Please don't stop reading my blog after you see these pictures....

In winter we have this Goldilocks vegetable porridge at least once a week if not more and I start those days with the satisfaction of knowing that I don't really care who eats all their vegetables at dinner that night.

I came up with this idea one day while looking at a carrot cake recipe and it's been a hit in our household ever since.

Pretty much it's porridge made on skim milk with some carrot, zucchini and blueberries added. Nearly every food group covered all in one go. I let the kids add some maple syrup and cinnamon sugar (obviously we are not adverse to a bit of sugar in this household), but I still figure it's less than they are getting in the commercial cereals.

If you have super fussy children who won't eat green vegetables peel the green skin of the zucchini before grating so they cant see the green bits and probably hold the carrot and blueberries. 

Vegetable Porridge (Serves 2 or served me, a 5 year old, 3 year old and nearly 2 year old)

2/3 cup oats (not instant)

1 1/2 cups skim milk (can use water if you have allergies)
1/2 carrot finely grated
1/2 zucchini grated
1/2 cup approx frozen or fresh blueberries

In medium saucepan stir oats, milk, carrot and zucchini over medium heat until simmering and mixture is the consistency you require, generally should be quite thick. If using frozen blueberries add and stir for a minute until thawed, remove from heat and serve. If using fresh blueberries, remove from heat, ladle into dishes and sprinkle over blueberries.

Serve with maple syrup and cinnamon sugar.

If you mix in frozen blueberries it'll look like the blue string goo from Bridgette Jones diary but it will still taste good

Friday, May 21, 2010

If your serious about cupcakes you should seriously check this out

I heart my cupcake courier. Well I should say couriers plural because I have a few now, and have just added to my collection, couldn't help myself when my friend emailed me about the Modern Mum gift pack.

As you can see I use my couriers all the time. Best way ever to cart cupcakes around without squishing all your decorations. The couriers hold 36 cupcakes and have a handle at the top to make carrying easier.Also if you take out the inserts you can use it to easily and safely store or transport a decorated cake.
At the moment The Cupcake Courier's Modern Mum gift pack has a yellow courier plus 2 packs of cupcake wrappers and 2 packs of Marie Shion sugars for $40, plus postage.

I know....that's pretty great value, just had to share it with everyone.

Click here for the link   Cupcake Courier Modern Mum

While you are there you should check out the other stuff available, they have a great range of Jessie Steele Designer Aprons which come in adult and kids sizes.

and I couldn't help but pick myself up some Happeez Clipper Princess Trio reduced from $24.95 to $12.95. Huge range of designs to choose from.

 Seriously you should check it out while the sale lasts.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lollipop, lollipop, oh oh lollipop - More Lollipop Cookies

If you have been following this blog you might have seen the gorgeous Giant Lollipop cookies I made for my daughters a while back. They were huge and sugary and way too much to eat in one sitting although they certainly did try.

Click here to link to Giant Lollipop cookies

Now don't get me wrong they were perfect for the purpose of the photoshoot I made them for, and any kid would be delighted to receive them, but everyday eating they are not. So I thought I would try to come up with a midway compromise that both the kids and I could be happy with.

Here it is, a recipe and instructions for regular sized lollipop cookies without all the fondant icing.

Special Equipment Required - lollipop sticks which are suitable for baking.

Lollipop Cookie Dough

225 g (8 ounces or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup caster (superfine) sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp raspberry flavor (optional)
2 1/2 cups plain (all purpose flour)
1/2 tsp salt
red food colouring (I used Sugarflair Red Extra gel colour)

Cream butter and sugar, add egg and vanilla. Add and mix at low speed until well combined sifted flour and salt.

Remove half of dough to another bowl.  Add the remaining dough enough food colour to make the desired colour and the raspberry flavor and mix well.

On a board roll out a piece of the red dough into a long thin log and repeat until you have used all the red dough. Do the same with the white dough. Chill logs in fridge for 10 mins.

While dough is chilling preheat oven to 165 C (330 F). 

Carefully wrap the logs together and roll around like a snail shell.

Press down lightly to make a lollipop shape and insert a lollipop stick suitable for baking.

Arrange on baking trays covered with parchment paper and bake for 12 to 15 mins until just lightly coloured. Allow to cool for 5 mins and transfer to a wire rack.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Don't ya wish your cupcake was hot like me...

Let me introduce you to my Pussycat Doll cupcakes. Don't they look good.

Don't ya wish you could bite into it....

Now these cupcakes don't actually have hair extensions, spray tans and surgery but I always feel that they undergo the food equivalent of all that.

Underneath all that extra decorating they are just plain old cupcakes. Really good cupcakes mind you but with just a bit of extra time you can turn your vanilla cake into a MTV version.

So lets have a look at the evolution of a cupcake.........

Frosting/ Icing - don't just slap on your icing with the back of a knife. Your an artist, do a cute swirl with an offset palette, or swirl with a piping tip.

Decorations - Now you could just leave it at the frosting, but that's kind of like going out with your makeup done and your hair a mess. Pop a little something on the top. I have piped roses, you can buy these already made at the supermarket or cake specialty stores.

Cake Bling - now this is like adding the jewelry. A few sprinkles or silver balls add that extra something. Can you see it's all pulling together now.

Cupcake wrappers - Think of these as clothes for your cupcake. It's just naked without that final wrapping to finish off your perfect cupcake. These ones are from The Cupcake Wrapper Co they have a range of different colours and designs.

So there you have it underneath all that primping and preening it's just a good old fashioned yummy tasting cupcake.

But take it from the Pussycat Dolls, nice packaging sure doesn't hurt.