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    Albert Einstein 'think!' Cupcake

    albert einstein 'think!' cupcake

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    "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand."

    Albert Einstein

    Ahhhh, love Albert Einstein and he is the perfect cupcake topper for my single coffee mug gift. Try your hand at a making a figure topper of your favourite sportsman, actor, loved one or scientist by starting with photos.

    For Albert Einstein, I started with a Google image search and printed out a few for my inspiration board. 

    Then using pre made white fondant with a little CMC powder added, I coloured and rolled the balls I needed to make up the figure.

    Here are the balls for the hair, eyebrows and mustache plus the balls for the head, eyelids, eyes, ears and nose

    partially made Einstein, plastic wrap balls are are used to support drying pieces.

    From here I attach the pieces with a little water and with the aid of my inspiration photos start to build the figure. I used a toothpick to mark out his wrinkles and hair details. I made off centre clothing the same way.

    Black food marker was used to mark the hair, moustache and eyes.... and coloured petal dusts with the aid of a small artists brush were added for shading.

    That's about it... do give it a try with your own photos of choice as your inspiration. 

    Ohh, and trying to "think" of gift ideas? It is the time of year for the single "coffee mug" gift, my best friend Jacinta and I have fallen in love with UK designer Keith Brymer Jones Word range of bucket mugs, cups and bowls. Loads of different "words" are available in the range such as "love", "caffeine", "teatime" etc. 

    We got ours in Australia from Victoria's Basement and Peters of Kensington . Amazon UK has them too and Amazon US has a huge range..... Keith Brymer Jones Word Mugs and Bowls

    Happy Baking :)


    The Walking Gingerbread Men (Zombie Apocalypse Cupcake)

    The Walking Gingerbread Men (Zombie Apocalypse Cupcake)

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    Zombies, Zombies, Zombies; I've read 'World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War', I've run from the zombies with the 'Zombies, Run!' app and can't stop watching 'The Walking Dead' on cable (can you?).

    And I'll tell you now... not since grade three when I was chosen last for the tunnel ball team have I been more disappointed to learn that everyone I know is not taking me with them if a zombie apocalypse strikes.... well, that's not including the few that said "you could be useful as bait". 

    Darn that fibromyalgia, just because I can be a bit slow and limpy... I bet I speed up and eat (their) brains when I'm a ZOMBIE! 

    Back to 'The Walking Dead' (not a neat segue, but I'm distressed!!), where there is so few humans left I'd be watching out for those gingerbread men this Christmas!!! 

    Happy Halloween :) 

    Oh, and if you want to make these toppers you will need, a gingerbread man mini cutter, some gingerbread coloured fondant or modelling chocolate, a black food marker, a little white fondant.... plus frosted or fondant covered cupcakes and I added a few fresh gingerbread "crumbs". 


    Adriano Zumbo Packet Mix Macaron and Brownie Review

    Adriano Zumbo Salted Caramel and Passionfruit Macaron mixes, plus chocolate brownie mix

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    We love Adriano Zumbo here in Australia, the Sydney based patissier has been proclaimed the king of macarons by those far and wide that have tasted his perfectly pretty, often exciting macarons and pastry creations. 

    Now we can have a little bit of Zumbo at home with the release of Adriano Zumbo packet baking mixes. 

    I usually bake from scratch and I don't have that much experience using packet mixes so I called in a "non baking friend" to try out the macaron mixes.

    First a look at in what's in the box:


    In the Salted Caramel Macaron box (pictured) there is Caramel meringue mix, Almond meal mix, and Caramel filling sachet. Two piping bags are included, one for the macaron and one for the filling. Ditto the Passionfruit but passionfruit flavoured and the brownies contain the batter mix and choc chunks.

    There is a template ring so you can mark out your circles on your baking paper. You can also go to the website and download a template sheet if you, ummm "can't find a pencil??" Seriously, a lot of thought and time has gone into developing these products, from the funky packaging to video web links to help you along the way and as for the macarons lets see what a self professed non-baker can do.

    I was surprised how quickly my friend was able to use an electric hand mixer make the meringue (with cold water), sift/fold and pulse in the almond meal and then piped perfect macaron circles (I did ask about their piping technique and they said "I do watch MasterChef") and baked the following...

    Goodness, how perfect are these shells!!

    Here they are Passionfruit complete with filling and the caramel....

    I know you will be tempted to eat them straight away (and they do taste great), but do try saving them overnight to end up with the squidgy authentic macaron experience.

    Still not feeling confident baking macs... you always scan the side of the macaron mix box to watch videos.

    Alternatively head over to Zumbo Baking where you will find helpful videos to assist you in your baking.

    More of a chocolate fan? The Adriano Zumbo range includes, chocolate brownie and choc mud mirror cake (couldn't get this one for the review). 

    A quick look at the brownies... you will have this mix together in a couple of minutes... hand mix with a spoon, pour into a lined tray and viola see what you get! Served warm with ice-cream for your next family get together.

    Dark and delicious chocolate brownies from the Adriano Zumbo Chocolate Brownie Mix

    Happy Baking :) 

    You might also be interested in liquorice ice-cream

    or Bundy Banana cupcakes with toffee toppers


    Butterscotch Brittle Recipe

                                  salted butterscotch brittle

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    Have you tried your hand at making your own confectionary? It would have been my Mum's birthday today, and as Mum loved all forms of caramels including hard butterscotch lollies I thought we could look at making candies/lollies starting with cooking sugar to the 'hard crack' stage. 

    'Hard crack' lollies include; candy canes, lollipops, brittles, praline, lollies categorised as "boiled lollies" like fruit/acid/sour drops and hard caramels. 'Hard crack' is reached at 150C (300F), we are taking it a little further today to produce caramel.

    Glucose syrup is another form of sugar and like fructose often added to granulated sugar when making candy. The glucose syrup helps prevent the sugar crystallising. In Australia you can buy glucose syrup in any supermarket, you might have to seek it out in other parts of the world.

    Butterscotch Brittle

    Buttery and carmelly (ok, that's not a word... but it should be!) with a touch of sea salt, today's hard lollies are meant to be sucked, add peanuts, pecans or macadamia for nut brittle. Whether packaged in cello bags complete with a small hammer to crack off pieces, or neatly moulded; butterscotch brittle makes for a lovely homemade gift. 

    lightly oil a 18cm x 28cm tin (7in by 11in sheet pan)


    2 cups white sugar (granulated white) 

    1/3 cup water

    *2/3 cup glucose syrup

    2 tsp of pure vanilla extract/essence

    125g butter, cubed (4oz)

    pinch or two of salt

    flaked sea salt if desired for topping


    In a medium saucepan combine, sugar, water and glucose syrup. Stir together over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved.

    Bring to boil, wash down any sugar crystals around the edge of sugar mixture with a damp pastry brush.

    a damp pastry brush is used to wash down any sugar crystals

    Reduce heat to low, (mixture should still be boiling) and boil without stirring for 7 to 10 minutes or until it reaches 170C (338F) on a candy thermometer. The mixture should be an amber colour.

    a inexpensive candy thermometer is the easiest way to ensure accurate setting points. 

    Remove saucepan from heat and with a wooden spoon stir in butter, vanilla and two pinches of salt (if your using salt on top reduce pinch of salt to one pinch).

    Pour into oiled pan, make sure you do this in one pour... if you scrape the pan onto what you have poured it will leave marks/discoloration on the finished candy.

     Whilst the mixture is still fairly hot, score lines and sprinkle with sea salt. Scoring the lines allows for fairly neat breaks in the finished candy, however to get "perfect" pieces you have to score very deeply or use a candy mould with shapes of choice.

    Allow to totally cool. Pop out of tin and package as desired. 

    *glucose syrup is thick and very sticky, oil the measuring cup for ease of pouring.

    * stir in 1 to 2 cups of dry roasted peanuts when adding the butter for butterscotch peanut brittle. 

    Happy Baking :)

    you might also be interested in liquid syrups 

    you might also be interested in honey comb/sponge candy


    New release Cake, Cookie and Baking Books

    Yes, it's that time of year for a sneak peak at the new and upcoming baking book releases.

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    Starting with a book that is not strictly "baking", but you know it will include baking as we are talking about much anticipated first book by the brilliant blogger Deb Perelman, yes it's the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. The 336 page book has over 100 mostly new recipes, (with some of your favourites in there too) and hundreds of colour photos.

    Oh my goodness don't know Deb's work, then rush over to her blog  ...hang on a sec, stay around and read my blog post first :P 

    UK or Australian, our release date is next year. Can't wait? Amazon (US) has the book for preorder now for a October 30 release date  The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook 

    This next book makes me smile just thinging about it. Bakerella the queen of cake pops, has a holiday book coming out October 17 aptly named 'Cake Pops Holidays' this title contains more than 40 holiday mini treats. How cute are those polar bears on the cover!! Watch Bakerella herself intro Cake Pops Holidays...

    'Decorating Cookies 60+ designs for holidays, celebrations and everyday' was released this week. Not only do you get the expertise of author/blogger Bridget Edwards of Bake at 350the book also includes guest appearances by five guest-star baker-bloggers each share a special decorating technique: Amanda Rettke of i am baker, Marian Poirer of Sweetopia, Gail Dosik of One Tough Cookie, Meaghan Mountford of The Decorated Cookie, and Callye Alvarado of The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle. A must have book for the cookie inclined. 

    Jeanne Sauvage of Art of Gluten-Free Baking  is releasing her book 'Gluten-free Baking for the Holidays' this month. The 168 page book makes for a perfect gift for gluten intolerant baker on your Christmas list, but I want it to whip up gluten-free holiday treats for friends. 

    Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays: 60 Recipes for Traditional Festive Treats

    Moving away from bloggers and onto celebrity cupcakey ladies with your favourite sister act from DC Cupcakes. Yes, Katherine and Sophie have a new book for the holiday season... would make a lovely Christmas gift for a fan or if you are unfamiliar with the girls there is a very good preview of this book on Amazon's 'look inside' feature, you can read the index, see samples of recipes and their signature frosting swirl.  Sweet Celebrations: Our Favorite Cupcake Recipes, Memories, and Decorating Secrets That Add Sparkle to Any Occasion


    Didn't think I needed another Peggy Porschen book and then she goes and writes one where the emphasis is more on afternoon tea. There is a chapter on sweet treats, one on cupcakes and many more delicious sounding baked goods. *Hint, hint loved ones... I want this book! This book has already been released in the UK market and is well reviewed on UK Amazon Due for release in the US November 29th... note the different cover pic for the US market.


    Adore. Adore Thomas Keller. From the 'French Laundry Cookbook' to 'Ad Hoc at Home', Thomas Keller is a rare combination of a fine chef and a fine writer. That's why the 'Bouchon Bakery' being released October 23rd is my one must have this year!


    Not from the UK? You may not know who Paul Hollywood is, unless you have caught the "The Great British Bake Off" on cable. This silver fox is strict, a touch arrogant, charming and one fabulous baker. This book is well reviewed and includes a good "look inside" feature on Amazon UK.

    Also available on Amazon US How to Bake  Watch Paul intro his book and make flatbread....

     I must admit I'm a bit of a sucker for single subject cookbooks and even though I have no idea who 'Miss Madeleine' is; the promise of these little tea cakes, plain ones, dipped ones, gluten-free ones, vegan ones and chocolate ones was too much for me and I have ordered a copy.  We Love Madeleines Amazon US

    Another single subject book in the 'Secrets of Eclairs'. I saw a friends copy of this book during the week, nice. Clear instructions on baking eclair shells, lots of tips, flavours, variations of fillings and toppings. Though, some ingredients such as liquid fondant may not be easily available in some places. This book would suit a more adventurous baker. Amazon UK.

    available from secondary sellers Amazon US Secrets of Eclairs

    An Australian books rounds out the list; the 'Sweet Studio' by Darren Purchese. Australians would know Darren from his appearance on MasterChef. Watch Darren and have a sneak peak at the gorgeous Chapel st Bakery.

    the book is available for preorder from Fishpond (AU) and Amazon US Sweet Studio

    Have I missed you favourite new release? Let me know in the comments section or find me on Facebook

    Happy Baking :)


    Caramel Cashew White Chocolate Cookies

    caramel cashew white chocolate cookies

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    Mini cookies with a big caramel flavour today :) 

    I love the Christmas season; minimalists decide there is no such thing as too much tinsel, elegant women don flashing ruldolph pins (there might be Christmas cocktails involved in this), ditto with baking where your famous 85% chocolate fondant will be replaced with more than one can of sweetened condensed milk in some Christmassy treat.

    For me, I don't usually shop the commerical lollies isle... but at Christmas if it can be crushed, melted or thrown in whole it's included. 

    Today I utilised hard butter candies (Werther's Original) for their unmistakable caramel flavour and Nestle caramel bits, which are new to the Australian market. Oh, plus white chocolate and cashews "just because". 

    Nestle caramel bits and Werther's Original butter candies

    Caramel Cashew White Chocolate Mini Cookies 

    makes 4 to 5 dozen, plenty to pack up for Christmas gift giving

    1 cup of Nestle caramel bits (caramel choc chips)
    1 cup white eating chocolate chopped into small chunks
    2 Werther's Original 50gram (1.75oz) rolls of butter candy  *ground to a fine powder
    1 cup dry roasted unsalted cashew nuts, roughly chopped
    2 cups plain flour (all purpose)
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp baking powder
    250g well-softened unsalted butter (1 cup)
    2/3 cup light brown sugar
    1/4 cup dark brown sugar
    1/2 cup granulated white sugar
    1 tsp pure vanilla extract or essence
    2 tbsp water
    1 egg
    *I thought it would nice to include "bits" of candy, but as you can see from batch one... the candy melted/popped. Batch two; I ground the candies to a powder in the food processor to get the result I wanted. 



    Preheat the oven to 180C (360F).

    Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.·

    In a mixer, cream the butter and the three types of sugar. Add the vanilla extract, water and egg. Beat together until just incorporated.

    Beat in the flour mixture until just combined.

    Stir in the crushed/powdered candies, chocolate chunks, caramel bits, cashews. Drop small teaspoons of the mixture, well spaced, on to non-stick baking parchment.


    Three types of sugar used, dark brown, light brown and granulated white, you can replace dark with light if you can't find any at your local store.

    Bake for 6-8 minutes until golden around the edges. Cool on tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

    Happy Baking :) 

    You might also be interested in brown sugar and making your own 


    Dried Chicken Dog Treats

                                                           dried chicken treats

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    Oh my goodness, we have a naughty pug. A pug that grabs your mobile phone and runs like the wind, a pug that unrolls all the toilet paper, a pug that chews EVERYTHING.  According to the vet and the inhome dog trainer (yes, that's what stage we up to) it's the humans not Gallifrey the pug. And so we train Gallifrey, and train Gallifrey, and train Galifrey. 

    Gallifrey the naughty pug

    Pugs can quickly turn into piglets with too many treats, the vet suggested baking chicken treats and breaking them into small pieces for the times that we are training Gallifrey.... I bake a lot of these treats!!!

    If you have a dehydrator follow the manufacturers instructions, but those who don't (like me) here is how to bake them.

    Dried Chicken Dog Treats

    pre heat oven to 120c (250F)


    chicken breasts


    Partially freeze your chicken breasts to make slicing easier. Slice the chicken breasts lengthwise as thinly as possible. 

    thinly sliced chicken breast

    Lay the chicken breast pieces out on a baking tray lined with baking paper or on a non stick baking mat. 

    Bake chicken pieces for 45 minutes, turn the pieces over and continue to bake until deep golden brown.

    Cool on baking rack.

    Break into small pieces for training treats. 

    Store in an airtight container for up to one month.

    Happy Baking and may your doggie be well trained :)


    Hard Boiled Egg Moulds

    Bet you've always thought "If only my hard boiled egg was shaped like a bunny"... now you can! With the help of an egg press.

    Whether destined for your bento box to ward off the afternoon blues at the office or as a healthy snack for the kids on the weekend, these are fun to make and sooooo cute! 

    The only tricky bit is peeling a hot hard boiled egg, but once it's peeled put your egg in your bunny or bear mould; press down and clip. You then put the whole mould into a bowl of cold water in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Unclip your mould to your smiley bunny. Good for animal shaped sushi rice too.

    These make fabulous cake pop moulds as well, albeit they are on the large size but a single bear for a baby shower favour in a cello bag with complimentary ribbon would make a lovely take home treat.

    If your not a foodie what about using them to press bath bombs for Christmas gifts?

    Ideal inexpensive stocking fillers, pop one, two or three in with your next Amazon order ...  Kotobuki Plastic Egg Mold, Rabbit and Bear 

    Happy Baking :) 


    Fast Bubble Sugar Cupcake Decorations

                 mini cupcake topped with bubble sugar (isomalt) topper

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    Well, you know I love a bubble sugar decoration... today an even faster way to produce *isomalt bubble sugar toppers. 3 minute baking time, cool and taaa daaa you have bubble sugar toppers for your cupcakes and plated desserts.

    For this method use CakePlay isomalt sticks or left over cooked isomalt. Ideally two Silpat baking mats but two good quality silicone mats will do. 

    CakePlay sticks are precooked isomalt, available in clear and a range of colours. I used left over cooked isomalt that had already been coloured with americolor electric shades. 


    Pre heat oven to 180c (355 F)

    Grind a few sticks or left over isomalt in a mortar and pestle (or zip lock bag and a rolling pin) until you have a fine powder. Isomalt shatters quickly with little effort.

    Sift the crushed isomalt over your first Silpat. Reverse the second Silpat and place on top of the crushed isomalt to create a "sandwich". 

    Bake 3 to 4 minutes in preheated oven. Remove from oven and allow to cool without lifting the top Silpat.

    Once cool peel back the top Silpat and break bubble sugar into shards. Wearing gloves will protect the pieces from fingerprinting. Pieces are tissue paper thin, yet sturdy enough to handle. 

    Happy Baking :)

    Coca cola cupcake topped with traditional bubble sugar, where hot sugar is poured over a tilted alcohol covered tray.

    *Why Isomalt??: Bubble sugar made from sugar tends to be a thicker and we don't want to take out someone's crowns when they are eating your cupcake. The isomalt method is alcohol free. Isomalt holds up better than sugar work, that said it's always best to top your cakes/desserts just before serving.

    Got a question? Join me on Facebook for the fastest reply.

    You might also like to see another method of making bubble sugar with isomalt...

    Baking isomalt powder bubble sugar

    Or try your hand at toffee springs 


    Shark Nuggets

    panko crumbed shark nuggets

    Order 'Fish n' Chips' in my home state of Melbourne it's most likely going to include fillets of 'flake'; flake is a generic term used here for shark, usually gummy shark. Gummy shark is a popular eating fish for it's boneless plump white fillets and mild flavour. 

    Two flake and chips from our local fish and chip shop

    Mustelus antarcticus 'Gummy sharks'


    Gummy sharks are small variety of shark with a minimum catch size of 45cm (about 18 inches), making them a popular with weekend fisherman.

    Today I'm making panko crumbed shark nuggets. Served with a chilli lime mayo, you might prefer sweet chilli sauce or tomato sauce (ketchup) for the kids. 


    Cut the flake fillet (preferably Gummy) into bite sized pieces. 

    Dip pieces in seasoned plain flour (all purpose), shake off excess. Dip into beaten egg, allow excess to drip off. Roll in Panko or breadcrumb of choice. 

    Shallow fry in batches for 3 to 4 minutes depending on the size of the your pieces, allow a test piece to break open and check if it is cooked. Your looking for the fish to have changed colour and be white throughout and still juicy.

    Drain on paper towel.

    Serve with salad, as part of a Japanese meal or as an appetiser with drinks. 

    Happy Baking, or in this case frying :)