Thursday, June 28, 2012

Macaron Cake Pops - Bite sized Best of Both


Hello there Mr Macaron, that's mighty handy you found your way up onto that cake pop.

'Cause sometimes I just can't decide.

Cake pop or Macaron.....Macaron or Cake pop. Certain people might think it's not polite to take both.

Why you sweet little thing. You've solved all my problems and you come on a handy stick as well.

A bite sized best of both worlds. An insy tasty cake macpop....hmmm that name doesn't sound right, it might need a little work..

But you my little capopoon don't need any work at all.

Macaron Cake pops were made using the Strawberry cake recipe from Sweets on a Stick by Linda Vandermeer (yes that is me). But you can use which ever cake pop recipe you like.

Sweets on a Stick is available from most online book stores including Amazon:

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!

Macaron recipe can be found by clicking HERE from the Bubble and Sweet Blog. I made them pink, small and filled with raspberry flavored ganache.

For the chocolate coating you can buy ready colored Wilton type candy Melts but for these ones in the pictures I colored my own Nestle White Chocolate Melts using gel food color and flo-coat. You MUST use flo-coat or a similar product if you are using water based food color otherwise the chocolate will become thick and you will not be able to dip properly or achieve pretty smooth pops. I mixed a ratio of 1 part food color to 5 parts flo-coat, mixed together and then added to the already melted chocolate. Note that oil based food color that is suitable for coloring chocolate does not need any flo-coat.

I always add copha to my nestle white chocolate melts at a ratio of approx 1:10 (1 part copha to 10 parts chocolate) when I use Wilton candy melts I use a ratio of 1:7 (1 part copha or paramount crystal to 7 parts candy melts).

To assemble pops roll cake pop mixture into balls. Melt chocolate, insert sticks, chill, dip whole pop into chocolate, pop into a stand to set upright and before the chocolate has a chance to set attach the macaron holding in place until it is secure.

Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ant picnic in the park cake and cookies and a little secret

This fun ant picnic cake was for a friend's picnic in the park party for her son's birthday.

Shh don't tell everyone but I'm going to share a secret.......although the bottom cake is super delicious chocolate buttercake covered with butter cream frosting the top 6" cake is actually a styro foam (fake) covered with fondant and then topped with hand made ant picnic figurines and decorations.

Sometimes I do that with the cakes and make a fake cake for the top tier.....although it's pretty much just as much work (well apart from making the cake and frosting) you don't end up with all that left over cake and you can make it a little bit in advance. It's a neat trick if you know you'll be a little rushed for time before the party.

When Daneve from Ah-Tissue mentioned she was throwing together this super fun filled party, I offered to help out with the cake, so she kindly directed me to her pintrest inspiration board.

and I totally did not spend hours looking at perfect white kitchens, fabulous shoes and hairstyles that I could never actually do, let alone wear.

Ok maybe I did just for a little bit :) Afterwards I had a peek at Daneve's party inspiration board, and noticed a bit of red gingham and quite a few ants......

Anyway so ants.....I'm not a huge fan of ants on food so I thought I would try a kinda cute cartoonish ant look for the treats, in the hope the kids would like them and so that it wouldn't completely freak me out.

To match the cake I made these square cookies with hand cut details for the ants, fondant red gingham and ant track drawn on with edible black pen.

and a plate piled with red macarons with filled with white chocolate raspberry ganache finished off my contribution.

Seriously Bubble and Sweet are having a totally awesome time
I'm not quite sure what's going on with the pose in this photo ???

WOW the actual party was so fun, with little picnic blankets, kids meal packs, and a great selection of sandwiches and salads to make your own picnic lunch.

As mentioned above Daneve from Ah-Tissue styled the party with a cute gingham theme. And I think quite a few of the party table pieces were from Creatively Bespoke Weddings & Events.

I truly loved all the little food packs it was such a great idea, and the suitcase of park friendly toys like frisbees and balls was a great touch.

 Make your own ice-cream stand - YES please

It was a fabulous fun filled morning.


 The Birthday Boy - awe he was such a sweet little host (photo by Darren Frankish)

Head on over to the Ah-Tissue blog if you want to see more photo's of the super cute picnic in the park party.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mermaid Party Dresses

I have been getting quite a lot of emails lately about the mermaid dresses that the girls wore to Lilli's birthday party last year.

 So I thought I would do a quick post sharing some more photo's of the dresses and the details of where I picked them up.

The dresses are handmade from a mix of new and vintage fabrics and materials. Both of the girls dresses had a sheer overlay of material, a lining and hand stitched detail on the front bodice.Of course there was a pretty swishy swirly tail area which had shell and pearl details. I just gave instructions on the colors I was looking for and the dressmaker sourced the material and made the dresses up to order. They are not off the rack so they take a while to make and there may be a waiting time.

UPDATE 04/2014 orders for this dress are no longer being taken.

and here is the party the dresses were made for from last year in case you missed it, CLICK HERE for the link.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pink rose and macaron shabby chic petit fours

Did you know Petit four translates in English to Little Oven.....well I didn't until I started typing this post. I always think of Petit fours as the tiny pretty little cakes, but it really means any tiny little treat including a macaron, biscuit or meringue.

So is it kinda weird calling these shabby chic looking treats - little oven? Plus perhaps these sweet little berry flavored cakes are a tad too big too be considered a petit four. But I'm hoping you won't hold that against me. I'm just gonna go with calling them petit four cause it makes me happy.

These are a very simple mini cake covered in a raspberry flavored ganache, filled with a raspberry and white chocolate butter cream and then decorated with butter cream and a mini raspberry macaron.

I didn't make a big fuss about covering them in marzipan and weighting them down to make perfectly even shapes. The sides look a little bit rough - I'm ok with that.

I wanted them to taste like cake.

I love these cakes just the way they are, deliciously simple and effortlessly pretty.

Alright although they are simple there are a lot of different components to them which could make them a little time consuming, so maybe effortlessly is a bit of a stretch. I think the correct word would be achievably pretty.

If you like a little less effort you could omit the butter cream filling and instead use a store bought raspberry preserve. Use a piece of fresh fruit such as a raspberry or strawberry in place of the macaron, and pop a swirl of cream onto the top to secure your fruit instead of piping the flowers. They would taste almost just as good and they would really be effortlessly pretty.

I served these cakes at the Enjo party I had, (you know the party plan for cleaning products) with cheese, fruit and chocolate macarons. 

Mmmm simply delicious.

Pink rose and macaron shabby chic petit fours

Strawberry cake ( recipe from Sweets on a Stick - although you can use a packet mix if you like)
300g (10 1/2 oz)white chocolate
100g (3 1/2 oz) cream
pink food color
raspberry flavor
raspberry butter cream (variation raspberry preserves)
1 cup piping consistency butter cream (colored pink, white, green and lavender) (CLICK HERE for recipe)
pink mini macarons (CLICK HERE for macaron recipe and make them 2cm)
silver cashous
102, 103, 66 and 32 tips, couplers and piping bags
Piping nail and flower lifter
round cutter 5cm (2")
sharp knife

Remove brown crusts from top and sides of cake. Cut out as many round shapes as you can using the round cutter. Spread a couple of teaspoons of raspberry butter cream or raspberry preserves on one round and press another on the top back and place on a wire rack.

*if your cake is high you may just need 1 round cut in half and filled with butter cream.

This recipe for this strawberry cake in the above picture is from Sweets on a Stick

Make the ganache.  Place the chocolate and cream in a microwave safe dish and heat at medium low heat for 2 minutes, leave for 1 minute and then use a whisk to mix until combined. If necessary heat again at medium low for 1 minute bursts until all the chocolate is melted. Add 1/2 tsp raspberry flavor and then a few drops of pink food color and carefully mix in until combined (do not over mix).

Place a plate or tray underneath the wire rack where the filled round cakes are sitting and then pour a couple of teaspoons of mixture over the top of each cake.

Then go back and spoon around the edges until the tops and sides are completely covered with the raspberry ganache. You can reuse the excess ganache that drips onto the plate underneath to cover the cakes.

Allow the ganache to set.

Fill four piping bags with each of the different colors of piping butter cream. Pop the 103 tip on the pink butter cream, the 102 on the white, the 66 on the green and the 32 on the lavender.

Pipe a butter cream rose using the pink butter cream onto the flower nail. Holding the piping bag in one hand and the flower nail in your other hand touch the larger side of the opening to the top of the flower nail holding the tip upright make a small tight cone shape swirl in the center by holding the tip still, applying light pressure to the piping bag and turning the nail around. Once you have turned around once release the pressure and remove the tip. Make the petals by touching the larger side of the opening to the base of the center swirl you have just made and tipping the smaller end of the tip away at around a 45% angle. Apply light pressure to the piping bag, turn the nail a very short distance and the release the pressure to the bag and lift the tip away. Repeat the process to make 5 petals around the center swirl. Then continue on and pipe another layer of 5 petals around the outside. Use the flower lifter to pick the rose up and move it to the top of the ganache covered cake.

OK this picture is not perfect but do you get the idea? 
If not do a you tube search on piping butter cream roses

Make white roses using the same technique explained above and using the flower nail lift onto the cake next to the larger pink flower.

They're not right....must keep on practicing :)

Use the green butter cream to pipe leaves, practice on a piece of parchment paper first by touching the tip to the paper and the slowly lifting away and moving slightly up and down to make the little ruffles, keep applying a little bit of pressure as you pull the tip away to make a pointed tip to the leaf.  Note - If your tip is new you may need to use a thin knife to open up the four pronges in the tip otherwise they might cut through the butter cream too much.(You'll be able to see when you do your practice if you need to do this). Once you are happy with your leaf piping effect pipe 3 leaves onto the cake.

Take the lavender butter cream and pipe 2 ruffled dots onto the top of the cake next to each other by holding the piping bag straight up from the cake and applying a little pressure, releasing the pressure and lifting the tip away from the cake. Place a silver cashous onto one of the dots and a macaron on the other.

Cakes covered with ganache and butter cream can be kept in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge, remove from fridge before serving and allow to come to room temperature and then add the macarons.

The strawberry cake shown in the pictures is from Sweets on a Stick. but instead of crumbling it into cake pops I have baked it in a rectangle tray and used it for these petit fours, of course I did use the left overs to make cake pops.

Sweets on a Stick is available from most online book stores including:

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!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things Cheesecakes - Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes with Nutella

Sometimes in baking things don't work out exactly as you plan them.

These mini cheesecakes are one of those things.

The plan was pretty good as plans go Nutella, Cheesecake, Chocolate and Oreo's, combining a few of my favorite things had to work out well.

So I made up a recipe, mixed, baked, swirled on some topping, took some pictures, tasted them.......

......and not quite what I was hoping for, the chocolate overpowers the Nutella resulting in a finished treat that is deliciously chocolatey but lacks a strong hazelnut component.

But they were pretty yummy, so although they were not what I was expecting I think they are still worth sharing.

I'm back to the drawing board on my Nutella cheesecakes, but in the meantime at least I had these not quite nutella ones to console myself with.

Chocolate Mini Baked Cheesecakes made with Nutella makes 18 large muffin sized cheesecakes. If you are making smaller sized cakes you will need more Oreos

625g (21oz) cream cheese at room temperature
1 X 395g (14oz) tin sweetened condensed milk
3 large eggs at room temperature
300g (10 1/2 oz) nutella
1/4 cup cocoa
18 Oreos

Preheat oven to 140C (285 F)

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

In a small bowl mix the cocoa with about 1/4 cup of the nutella to make a smooth paste.

In a large bowl beat the cream cheese using an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. If the cream cheese is still lumpy it will show up later when you mix in the chocolate, so take the time now to make sure it is mixed well. Add the condensed milk and mix until well combined. Reduce speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just combined.

Add the Nutella and cocoa paste and continue to mix at low speed until combined.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin papers dividing mixture evenly between the papers.

Bake until the mixture is just setting in the center, around 15- 20 minutes. The center will stop looking wet and will no longer wobble when you gently shake the tray when ready.

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

Once chilled top with a swirl of the dark chocolate topping recipe below.

 Keep in airtight container up to 3 days in fridge.

Dark Chocolate Topping

200g (7 oz)Dark Chocolate
60g  (2oz) cream*
100 g (3 1/2 oz) Nutella
50 g (1 3/4 oz) Nutella extra
50g (1 3/4oz) unsalted butter *

In a microwave safe bowl melt the chocolate and cream at medium low heat at bursts of 60-90 seconds, mixing with a whisk in between bursts until just melted. Do not overheat the chocolate. Gently whisk in the 100 g Nutella without over mixing or the mixture may separate.

Cool to room temperature and place in a large bowl, mix at high speed for a couple of minutes until the mixture lightens a little in color. Add the extra 50g Nutella and room temperature butter and continue to mix until the mixture is smooth and light.

*If the weather is quite cold you may wish to increase the cream and butter ingredients to make the topping a little softer and easier to pipe.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

High Heel Shoe Cupcakes - high maintenance decorating

Once upon a time I was moderately fashionable, well as fashionable as you could get in Brisbane with regular shopping trips to Melbourne.

Oh the shoes that I had........

But now my shoes are made for walking, and running after toddlers and not having to worry about as I traipse through puddles with my 3 year old to get the other kids from school pick up.I never used to do puddles, but now I am reliving the joy of jumping in them.

I think I am a more balanced person overall now, but sadly my knowledge of what passes as fabulous footwear these days is limited to what I have seen recently on pintrest.

Originally I made up a batch of these to tie in with the fashion inspired dress cake and cookies for Naomi V Photography for the fun fashionista 10 year party styled by Putting on a Party.

a couple of people saw the photo's on facebook and asked if I could post a tutorial which is what I am doing.

These high heel shoes toppers are made of fondant using a JEMS cutter set I picked up. The place I bought mine from no longer carries them but I did spy some on Amazon so have a look here or google them, they are the mini ones that are 3" long..

Or in Australia here on Fishpond
Plastic Cutter Set, 8pc, Lady's Miniature Shoe 

 Although I am showing you using the cutter set as that is how I made the shoes if you want you could make your own by just drawing up some templates on cardboard, hand cutting with a knife and hand rolling the heel.

Normally I don't mind hand cutting myself, but these shoes are fiddly. I did not love making them, these shoes are high maintenance decoration. Although I only had to make 13 cupcakes, I did sets of shoes for each cupcake so that was 26 shoes, which by the way are pretty easy to break if you don't handle them right, so in reality a few more than 26.

For the fashion party I made cupcakes with a plain fondant top to sit the shoes on, which is pretty much just a cupcake covered with a tiny amount of butter cream and a round of fondant pressed on the top. The plain fondant covered cupcake is a nice looking base for the shoes. But I prefer the taste of butter cream topped cupcakes so I thought I might try out so see how they worked.

Yup, they worked ok although I think it's a struggle to get a pair of shoes to sit on the butter cream swirl and look as neat as the fondant. But in truth I could live with that, really who is going to eat 2 fondant shoes after a whole cupcake plus WAHOO it halves the number of shoes you need to make.

High Heel Shoe Cupcake Topper Tutorial
If you like you can use a little tylose powder kneaded into the fondant to make it a bit stronger (like gumpaste), or I guess buy gumpaste :) Tylose powder can also be used to make the edible glue. I used Bakels white fondant and Satin Ice black and red. All other colors were the Bakels tinted with gel food color.

Ingredients and equipment
*optional tylose powder
Gel food color in your color of choice.
rolling pin
cornflour (corn starch)
Jems mini High Heel shoe cutter (3 inch)
toothpick or tool with pointed end
edible glue and brush
edible decorations for shoe

This is what you get in the JEMS cutter set

Color the fondant by adding drops of gel food color and kneading until well distributed. You may like to add a little tylose powder to the fondant to make it a bit stronger and easier to work with at this stage. I didn't but my shoes were pretty easy to break.

Make the heels. Roll a small ball of fondant and then shape into a cone.

Place the cone of fondant into one of the JEMS heel formers.

Press the other heel former carefully onto the first one so that the sides meet evenly. Excess fondant will squeeze out the sides, bottom and top, remove the excess with a knife and smooth the top of the heel where it will meet the sole.

If you can manage it a nice touch can be to add a touch of black to the base of the heel to look a little more realistic.

Carefully remove the heel formers taking care not to change the shape of the fondant heel. Place onto a piece of parchment paper with the large flat top of the heel facing downwards until required. If needed use a tool or your finger to smooth any join ridges that the heel former has heft on the heel.

Dust a workbench with cornflour (corn starch) and roll out fondant a couple of mm thick (1/16"). Holding the handle of the sole cutter, press the cutter into the fondant and cut out a sole.

OK decide if you want that impression to be on the top or the bottom - I didn't like the look of it on the top so it's the bottom of my sole although I have seen a number of pictures where it is the top. Your choice :)

Also if you would like a double sole so you can have for example a red base, just cut out 2 soles, brush some edible glue onto one and press them together.

Brush some glue onto the top of a heel and press the heel onto the sole as shown in picture example. Place a foam shoe former under the sole to help shape the shoe.

Roll out more fondant and cut out the shoe upper using the JEMS cutter. Attach a small amount of edible glue to the outer sides of the shape and using a toothpick or fondant tool press the shape onto the front of the sole, attaching one side, allowing the middle to arch up and then attaching the other side to the sole, as shown in the picture.

This process is quite fiddly and you may need some practice, plus you may knock the back heel section over and need to pick it up a number of times. Trust me it will get easier with practice.

You can cut out another of the shoe upper shapes to make a heel, using glue along the long length of the shape at attach it to the sole just above the heel. I did this with some of the shoes, although I also ended up making my own template for a back which was not so high.

There is also a strap cutter which comes with the set which can be used to make an ankle strap.

Once you are happy with the shoe shape add decorations to the shoe by making small ribbons, flowers, ruffles or 'brooches'. You can even hand paint on designs using food gel watered down with a  little rose spirits.

Other decorative touches can include adding sanding sugar or spraying luster spray.

I used the chocolate cupcake recipe from my book Sweets on a stick to make the cupcake bases for the pictures. It is actually a one bowl kid friendly recipe for 24 mini cupcakes, but in a pinch it can work for 10 regular cupcakes.

 Sweets on a Stick is available through most online book stores it is a US release aimed at getting kids involved in the kitchen. Here are the links to Amazon and Fishpond.

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!