Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow cake pops for Saint Patricks Day

I was in the service station waiting to pay for petrol last year and I saw little bags of bubble gum 'nuggets of gold'.

Which I thought were pretty cute, so straight away my sweet obsessed mind started thinking about what I could make with them..........and then I remembered gum + kids = disaster. Shoot that shot down that idea I popped the gum back on the counter.

So I had already thought up these cake pops and I couldn't get the idea out of my mind and I really wanted that gold nugget gum and then luckily the next day I realised that candy nerds would work just as well if not better.

Such a win win situation cause then when I went to pick up the nerds I saw green ones and I realised that they would make great witch cauldron pops (which I posted here last year).

The actual dipping technique for the pops is one I came up with while writing my kids treat decorating book.
I know lots of people, kids especially, have trouble dipping the pops and getting a smooth finish so these ones are great.

Its the upside down method which is really easy and the chocolate pooling makes its own little cauldron shape. How great is that!

If the whole rainbow fondant think is a bit daunting just leave it off and you can still have awesome little pots of gold on a stick.

Pot 'o 'gold Rainbow cake pops
I recommend using the actual candy melt/ coating type of 'chocolate' for this pop (like Wilton) as it really does set much faster than regular chocolate and makes adhering the rainbows much easier.

1 batch cake or cookie pop mixture
Candy Coating (like Wilton candy melts) and copha or paramount crystals
Fondant (in rainbow colors)
sharp knife
cornflour/ cornstarch
small rolling pin
water and brush
lollipop sticks
Yellow nerds
*remember fondant dries very fast. Work quickly and when you are not using it make sure you keep it in air tight containers.

At least one day prior to making pops make the fondant rainbows.Dust a bench lightly with cornflour/ cornstarch roll out some purple fondant and using a sharpe knife (or cutter if you have one) cut out the shape of a rainbow half arc.

Roll out the remaining rainbow colors and cut into thin strips. Attach one strip of each color to the purple arc using a very small amount of water brushed on and then using the rolling pin gently press the colored fondant strips onto the base. Use a sharp knife to trim off any excess colored pieces to make a neat rainbow arc.

Make up a batch of cake pop mixture (that is mush up any cake with some buttercream frosting until moist but still firm). Yellow cake is a great choice for this pop and you may even like to add extra colour.

Line a tray with parchment paper. Roll the mixture between the palms of your hands. I like to weigh my mixture to make sure it is the same size but you can use a small icecream of melon scooper of around 3 tsp. Place each ball onto the parchment paper lined tray and pop into the fridge to chill for at least half an hour.

Melt up a bag of dark chocolate chocolate melts/ candy coating (or black melts if you want). Mix in quite a bit of copha or paramount crystals - now is not the time to be delicate you need a stack - look at the picture about a ratio of 1:7 for the wilton brand to give an example (1 being the copha and 7 being the chocolate/candy melts)

I melt my chocolate in the microwave on medium low, medium is too hot and high is way too hot. If you heat your chocolate at too high a temperature it will burn and not be salvageable for dipping .Remember medium/low for short bursts of 60 to 90 seconds.
Grab a bunch of lollipop sticks. Holding one end of the stick dip the other end into the melted chocolate/candy coating and insert it into the cake ball so the stick is upright like the picture. Pop into the fridge to chill for 10 minutes or so until the sticks are secure.

Make sure the chocolate/candy coating is still melted. Holding the end of the stick dip the whole cake ball into the melted chocolate/candy coating lift it to allow a little to fall off so the edges are smooth and round and then push just the top back into the chocolate/candy coating and quickly put the pop with the stick still upright onto parchment paper lined tray.

Continue with the remaining pops and when you are finished carefully peel off the paper to leave the cauldron shaped pops.

Then using the back of a spoon or a knife, spread on a little bit more melted chocolate/candy coating onto the top/flat section of the cake pop and sprinkle yellow nerds onto the still wet chocolate/candy coating and place a rainbow on top (see picture for placement). You will need to hold the rainbow for 10 - 20 seconds until it is secure and can stand up on it's own.

For more great pop ideas check out my book Sweets on a Stick it has more than 150 kid friendly ideas for decorating and serving sweets on a stick and available online here:

Or here at fishpond (Aus/NZ)

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How to get a book published - Bubble and Sweet I did it my way eventually

So I wasn't sure if you all would be interested in the story about how I ended up writing a cookbook.

This isn't going to be a how to get a cookbook published post, because to be honest I can't help you with that. But what I can tell you is a little bit about my story, my love for baking and where it led me.

I started off this blog because I was boring my family and friends senseless with my interest in cute and yummy food. Sure they were all more than happy to eat it all, but talk about, not so much.

A little off topic I was a bit of a True Blood fan and about this time had been reading Fanfiction online and was amazed at the authors willingness to share their artistic souls for free on that forum for little more than feedback and reviews (SeaStarr and Missus T were a couple of my favorites). It was refreshing and inspiring, I wanted to do something similar.

I had a look around at a few baking blogs I was interested in, had a name brainstorming session with my 2 sisters-in-law over a coffee and jumped right in.

My first post was a recipe copied from Martha Stewart, I thought that perhaps it might encourage people to look if they found it while searching for recipes, it was not really inspiring and did not take the blogging world by storm, I had little understanding of search engines and the irony that this type of post would be more likely to be lost in the multitude of similar ones. But I was not deterred and  my second post was something original I had thought up all by myself, marshmallow fondant covered lollipop cookies, the execution was not the best but I did have some lovely photo's that my sister in law had taken of my girls eating the cookies. As I sat loading up the pictures I can remember my husband saying, 'Are you at the computer again typing out recipes that no one is ever going to read?'

Once again the post was not an instant hit but something amazing happened I got a comment on my blog and not just any comment. It was from Not Quite Nigella a very well know Australian Food Blogger. Ha - Don't think I didn't rub that in my husbands face straight away. Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella followed up her lovely comment with her own interpretation of my cookies and a link to my page and it was a huge boost to my confidence.

My love of sweets on sticks was born and although there were quite a few more lackluster posts of copied recipes I branched out and started including some of my own original recipes and many decorating ideas that I came up with myself.

I joined some online baking forums and made some lovely blogging friends. Around this time I created a recipe for Tim Tam Cookie pops which were a huge hit, there were recipes around already but I came up with my own which I am going to be completely biased about and say are perfect. Once again I was making my mark with treats on sticks.

Another turning point was my daughter's birthday party. I never knew how popular kids parties were and the online community surrounding it. Lilli's 6th birthday pink fairy high tea party was featured on a number of US party sites and was quite popular it still receives thousands of visits a week. Then I worked on a project with a couple of inspiring women I knew Elizabeth Murphy and Naomi Vassington to create a photo shoot tea party in the woods. Both of these women had inspired me all through early blogging when I received little feedback, just by doing what they loved with such passion and it was an amazingly fun shoot which once again was featured on other blogs.

I was doing what I loved with a bunch of fun people. I was not selling to the public so I didn't have restrictions on what I could make. I was lucky to be involved in some further photo shoots and my treats were featured in magazines.

and it seemed I loved putting my treats on sticks, cause you know it always makes stuff more fun and cute and the treats I was making were mostly inspired by and for my children.

 They inspire every sweet thing I do............

Ok so fast forward a little bit to earlier last year and I was contacted by a Publisher in the US.

For Real that's what happened, they contacted me and asked me to write Sweets on a Stick..

They thought there was a hole in the market for sweets on a stick that were kid friendly to make. We all know there are a stack of books out there where you have to perfectly double dip a gazillion pieces of candy and then pop them onto your treats with tweezers to make a magical and beautiful masterpiece, but they were looking for someone more down to earth and simple....yup you know that's me.

So there you have it - that's a kinda condensed version of my story which is a long way of saying I was just doing what I loved, inspired by my family and a great group of friends. I learnt to be myself and not copy everyone else.

Collage of recipes included in sweets on a stick taken during recipe testing
 pictures not included in actual book

Anyhoo the result of all of this Sweets on a Stick was released in December and is published by Adams Media. It is a US release so it contains US measurements and ingredients and has a conversion chart for metric in the back. It is a collection of fun and easy to make recipes and ideas that are kid friendly and includes decorated cake pops, decorated cookies, baked cookies, pies, candies, cupcakes, muffins, fruit plus more that you can make with your kids. And they're all on a stick, ever single one.

Hello - it's me Linda nice to meet y'all

Or here at fishpond (Aus/NZ)

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

Sweets on a Stick photos by Terri Vandermeer or Linda Vandermeer
Family photo's by Naomi V Photography

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A sweet surprise party for Caketopia styled by Sweet Art

 I have made some lovely friends over the years through my blog.

Many of them are overseas or interstate, like old fashioned pen pals but with new fangled high speed internet chat.

But sometimes they are closer than I know,  one day on my way to drop the kids at their classroom one of the other mums asked me if my name was Linda, and to my surprise I found out that she was a super talented cake decorator the owner of Caketopia that I 'knew' from a cake forum.

Yup right there at the school drop off carpark. Since then we have become great friends as we chat about cakey - and not so cakey related stuff on the long walk up the hill to pick up our young children.

So when Sweet Art Cakes contacted me to ask if I would like to come along to a surprise party celebrating the opening of Caketopia's new kitchen and studio of course I had to come.

Quite a number of people contributed to the dessert table for the party, which was honestly one of the prettiest I have seen. Kellie from Sweet Art Cakes styled the table and I just adored so many of the touches, including the hand painted 'cake shop window' and the gorgeous light boxes she created which each had an internal light and held a single cupcake (which by the way were little works of art deserving of the treatment).

Kellie's table and the other contributors treats were so lovely that the party was a guest feature on Amy Atlas

I made raspberry gelee macarons in pink and aqua - Click here for the recipe

A wonderful time was had by all.

Sweet Surprise Party for the opening of Caketopia
Table Design: Sweet Art Cakes
Cake, cookies, mousse and tarts: Sweet Art Cakes
Cupcakes: Crumbs of Comfort Cake Design
Macarons: Bubble & Sweet
Cakepops & Chocolate Pretzel Rods: Megan’s Cakes by Design
Mini Chocolates and Tags: Cupcakes by Haley 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

If this is wrong I don't want to be right chocolate peanut butter baked cheesecakes

Peanut Butter. Chocolate. Cheesecake. Oreo.

It sounds so wrong, but it tastes sooooo right.

I'm continuing on with my mini Cheesecake love with a super rich version which is based on one of my favorite flavor combinations....peanut butter and chocolate.

At first I thought I might just pop a whole Peanut Butter Cup into the cheesecake on top of the Oreo, y'know make it super easy, and if you look carefully at the picture below you can see that is exactly what I did to the one on the left side - see the little layer of chocolate in between the peanut and cheesecake. But for my tastes I found that section of the cheesecake a little crumbly and dry, don't get me wrong it was good, but not quite what I was hoping for. So I did a google search around and found this cheat recipe and decided to modify it a bit for use in the cheesecake.

Not only is the filling creamier - it's more cost effective plus I could make it a bit smaller than the shop bought one so I got a little bit more cheesecake in.

Soooooo Right.

(.......also just in case you missed my previous post I would like to clarify mostly for Mr Sweet's sake that the statement in the photo is not true - I pretty much always want to be right.)

Peanut Butter Baked Cheesecake
makes 14 large Texas muffin sized cheesecakes. For the pictures I poured over some melted chocolate peanut ganache and added chopped mini Reece's Peanut Butter Cups.

Peanut Butter Filling
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup icing sugar (powdered sugar) sifted
2tbsp + 1 tsp unsalted butter or 45g (3 US Tbsp or 1 1/2 oz)
pinch salt

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined. If it's a very hot day you may like to place the 7oz that will be used in the cheesecakes in the fridge to make it easier to handle.


14 Oreo Cookies
7oz of the Peanut Butter Filling (see recipe above)
625g (21oz) cream cheese at room temperature
1 tin condensed milk
3 large eggs at room temperature
14 large muffin papers (I bought these ones from woolies)

Preheat oven to 140C (280 F)

Line the muffin tins with the muffin/cupcake papers. Place one single oreo in the bottom of each paper.

Top each Oreo with 3 tsp (1 US Tbsp) of peanut butter mixture and press down onto the top of the Oreo cookie.

In a large bowl beat the cream cheese using a mixer at medium speed until just smooth, add the condensed milk and mix until combined. Reduce speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just combined.

Spoon the mixture into the large muffin papers dividing mixture evenly between the papers using a scant 1/3 cup to each to make 14.

Place the tray into the oven and bake until the mixture is just setting in the center, around 16- 20 mins

Allow to cool in the trays for 10-15min and then pop in an airtight container in the fridge until chilled.

Top each cheesecake with a swirl of Peanut Chocolate Ganache (recipe follows).

Peanut Chocolate Ganache

4oz Dark or Semi Sweet Chocolate 
1 oz cream
4 oz Peanut Butter Filling
20g (3/4 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature

Chop the chocolate into fine pieces. Place in a microwave safe bowl with the cream and heat in the microwave at medium low heat for 1 minute bursts until melted. Make sure you do not overheat the chocolate. 

Cover and allow to set at room temperature until firm.

Beat the chocolate mixture on high for a couple of minutes until it lightens in color. Add the Peanut Butter Filling and mix well at medium speed, add the butter and continue to beat at medium speed until the mixture comes together, do not over mix.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Blue Ruffle Ombre Macaron

This is just a quick post, maybe to counter balance the time it takes to make these blue ruffle ombre macarons.

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

To make your own, mix up a batch of macaron mixture (CLICK HERE for Recipe) and after mixing in the almond meal/sugar/egg white divide into half. Color one half light blue and the other half dark blue and then mix until the correct consistency has been achieved, then continue to follow the recipe.

Make up a batch of filling and mix in food colour until a shade which is inbetween your 2 different blues is achieved, I used buttercream however you could use white chocolate ganache which is always a favorite for taste.

Match up a light and dark blue macaron half.and pipe filling into the center. If you are using buttercream you can pipe using a star tip for the ruffle look center.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Are you thinking what I'm thinking Love Bird Valentine Cookies

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

If your thinking these cookies are kinda cute then you totally are.

And if your thinking they will be easy to make - it's like you're some kind of mind reader.

However if your thinking more birds!!! What is with the birds, will she ever stop.......Where is that recipe for the peanut butter chocolate cheesecake that she posted the picture on facebook off - I need it now! Why is she toying with us. Then no we are not thinking the same thing at all, although if I was you I might be :) I am pretty sure I will have the cheesecake recipe fine tuned and typed up for next weekend.

 Disclaimer - the statement in the picture is not true - I pretty much always want to be right :)

Anyhoo back to the cookies, they didn't go quite to plan, I had originally wanted the hearts to come out of the birdies into one big heart in the middle but I just don't think it worked, it made the cookie look a bit weird and unbalanced so I kinda tipped the top idea over.

Yup I'm thinking it looks much better now.

So then I made some extra filler cookies with plain red hearts that look super sweet, and 'cause y'know waaaay less fiddly making plain hearts so you can double up your cookies for about a 10th of the time.

and then I wrapped them up with plain parchment (baking) paper, pink twine and press out hearts I made myself with a Martha Stewart heart cutter/punch.

I'm thinking it worked out pretty sweet in the end.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking Cookies

Square Sugar Cookies (around 6cm or 2 1/2 ") I used the recipe from my book details and link below or you can use this recipe here
Ready Roll Fondant *(or marshmallow fondant)
Blue, pink and red food color - gel type like Wilton or Americolor
Black edible pen - I like the Americolor Gourmet Writers
Square cookie cutter (around 6cm or 2 1/2 ")
tear shaped fondant cutter (around 3.2cm or 1 3/8")
3 different shaped fondant heart cutters/ ejectors (1.5 cm, 1cm & 0.7cm) or (9/16" 3/8" and 1/4")
brush and water
small rolling pin
Corn flour (corn starch for dusting)
* Fondant dries out fast, work quickly and when not in use pop it into a ziplock bag or air tight container. Knead before use to make more pliable before each use.

Color small amounts of the fondant light blue, light pink and red by kneading the fondant until pliable and then working in the gel color until evenly distributed. It is preferable to color the red fondant a day before use to allow time for the color to develop. Pop each color into a separate bag until needed.

Dust the workbench with a little cornflour, roll out the white fondant until around a couple of mm thin (1/16") and even and using the square cookie cutter cut out shapes. Brush the cookie lightly with a little water and using the small rolling pin adhere the fondant to the cookie pressing down lightly with the roller. If necessary I carfully roll the fondant to the edges of each cookie. Cover each cookie with white fondant.

Roll out the pink fondant on a lightly dusted workbench. Using the teardrop shaped cutter press out a shape for each cookie. Using your fingers pinch the pointed end of the teardrop and pull it up slightly upwards to make the 'tail' curve upwards (like in the pictures).

Place the tear shape onto the bottom of the square fondant covered cookie with the large rounded end pointing inwards to the center of the cookie and the pointed curved tails pointing outwards (don't stick it on yet). Make sure this shape is less than halfway across the cookie as you will need to pop another one on the other side. Lift the shape up and using an edible black pen draw 2 small lines in a V shape to make a beak (see picture for example) and some lines for the legs and then adhere the pink fondant shape to the cookie with a small amount of water. Repeat for all the cookies.

Roll out the blue fondant and follow the same steps as for the pink fondant but make sure when you are pinching the tail upwards that the tear drop shapes are reversed to the opposite direction so that the blue bird will be facing inwards.

Roll out the pink and blue colors again and cut out a small heart in each color for each cookie. Adhere the hearts to each tear shaped bird with the pointed edge facing inwards to represent wings.

(I actually just roll out both colors and working quickly cut out about 10 or so of each tear drop and heart shape I need, pinch them into shape and adhere them to the cookies. Once you have the hang of what you are doing and if you work quickly you should be able to do this without the fondant drying out.)

Dust the workbench with a little cornflour, roll out the red fondant until around a couple of mm thin (1/16") and even. Get the 3 different heart shaped cutters ready and cut 1 small heart, 2 medium hearts and 2 larger hearts. Starting in the top outside corners adhere one large heart into each corner. Make sure you only use a small amount of water to do this otherwise the color may bleed. Then adhere the one small heart directly above the middle of the pink and blue birds. Finally add the medium hearts spacing it evenly between the small and larger hearts so that they make a V shape (see picture for example.)

Finally finish by adding a dot to each of the birdies for an eye.

I used the vanilla sugar cookie recipe from my book Sweets on a Stick to make the square cookies.

I know I have said it before but the book is a US Release however there is a conversion chart in the back to the book for metric.

Or here at fishpond (Aus/NZ)

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