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    Saturday
    Aug102013

    Once Upon a Time cupcake or Cinderella and the Brothers Grimm. 

                                       once upon at time cupcake

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    But she could not get her big toe into it, and the shoe was too small for her. Then her mother gave her a knife and said, "Cut the toe off; when thou art Queen thou wilt have no more need to go on foot." The maiden cut the toe off, forced the foot into the shoe, swallowed the pain, and went out to the King's son.

    Cinderella Brothers Grimm

    Missed career... I would have loved to have been a "folklorist"... I do love a good story and what better than the Brother's Grimm. 

    The story of Cinderella gained popularity when a version was penned by French author Charles Perrault in 1697, popularity of the tale continued when the Grimm brothers included a version in there first volume of fairy tales in 1812. Of course we all know the 1950 Disney movie, but it's a Grimm brothers retelling that inspired today's cupcake. 

    making a fondant toe

    Having trouble shaping fingers and toes for you fondant figurines? Start taking photos of fingers and toes, yours, the kids, great Uncle Charlie and pop them a hands/feet folder in your computer for reference. Toes like fingers are rarely straight, ok this seems like stating the obvious but it is the common mistake that you see in fondant figures... super straight fingers and toes. 

    Once I made my toe shape it was just a matter of adding the details, no pedi's in those days so I aimed for a "rough toe", a bit dirty with chipped nail. Colouring was done with a small artists brush and blending white, brown, red and yellow petals dusts. A toothpick was inserted in the base of toe to attach it to the cake.

    making casual roses

    Small casual roses are easy to make for your cupcake toppers. Make tiny balls of fondant, to start the rose roll one the balls into a cylinder shape. Roll/squash the other balls into tear drop shapes.

    putting roses together

    Start to attach the tear drop shapes to the cylinder with a little water, build up the the rows by slightly overlapping the petals each time you go around. Oh, and make sure each row of petals is higher than the last row. Use your fingers to shape the petals as desired. You can make these roses very quickly once you get the hang of it. To finish, cut or pinch off the rear of the rose to neaten your work and adhere to cupcake with a little water or cake glue. 

    Red cake gel makes for great blood that stays in place. 

    Happy Baking :) and don't forget if you have a question or just want to say "hi" Facebook is your best bet for a fast result.  

    The Lone Baker Facebook

    Want to read Cinderella fairy tale in it's entirety? Here it is.... 

    The wife of a rich man fell sick, and as she felt that her end was drawing near, she called her only daughter to her bedside and said, "Dear child, be good and pious, and then the good God will always protect thee, and I will look down on thee from heaven and be near thee." Thereupon she closed her eyes and departed. Every day the maiden went out to her mother's grave, and wept, and she remained pious and good. When winter came the snow spread a white sheet over the grave, and when the spring sun had drawn it off again, the man had taken another wife.

    The woman had brought two daughters into the house with her, who were beautiful and fair of face, but vile and black of heart. Now began a bad time for the poor step-child. "Is the stupid goose to sit in the parlour with us?" said they. "He who wants to eat bread must earn it; out with the kitchen-wench." They took her pretty clothes away from her, put an old grey bedgown on her, and gave her wooden shoes. "Just look at the proud princess, how decked out she is!" they cried, and laughed, and led her into the kitchen. There she had to do hard work from morning till night, get up before daybreak, carry water, light fires, cook and wash. Besides this, the sisters did her every imaginable injury -- they mocked her and emptied her peas and lentils into the ashes, so that she was forced to sit and pick them out again. In the evening when she had worked till she was weary she had no bed to go to, but had to sleep by the fireside in the ashes. And as on that account she always looked dusty and dirty, they called her Cinderella. It happened that the father was once going to the fair, and he asked his two step-daughters what he should bring back for them. "Beautiful dresses," said one, "Pearls and jewels," said the second. "And thou, Cinderella," said he, "what wilt thou have?" "Father, break off for me the first branch which knocks against your hat on your way home." So he bought beautiful dresses, pearls and jewels for his two step-daughters, and on his way home, as he was riding through a green thicket, a hazel twig brushed against him and knocked off his hat. Then he broke off the branch and took it with him. When he reached home he gave his step-daughters the things which they had wished for, and to Cinderella he gave the branch from the hazel-bush. Cinderella thanked him, went to her mother's grave and planted the branch on it, and wept so much that the tears fell down on it and watered it. And it grew, however, and became a handsome tree. Thrice a day Cinderella went and sat beneath it, and wept and prayed, and a little white bird always came on the tree, and if Cinderella expressed a wish, the bird threw down to her what she had wished for.

    It happened, however, that the King appointed a festival which was to last three days, and to which all the beautiful young girls in the country were invited, in order that his son might choose himself a bride. When the two step-sisters heard that they too were to appear among the number, they were delighted, called Cinderella and said, "Comb our hair for us, brush our shoes and fasten our buckles, for we are going to the festival at the King's palace." Cinderella obeyed, but wept, because she too would have liked to go with them to the dance, and begged her step-mother to allow her to do so. "Thou go, Cinderella!" said she; "Thou art dusty and dirty and wouldst go to the festival? Thou hast no clothes and shoes, and yet wouldst dance!" As, however, Cinderella went on asking, the step-mother at last said, "I have emptied a dish of lentils into the ashes for thee, if thou hast picked them out again in two hours, thou shalt go with us." The maiden went through the back-door into the garden, and called, "You tame pigeons, you turtle-doves, and all you birds beneath the sky, come and help me to pick

    "The good into the pot,
    The bad into the crop."

    Then two white pigeons came in by the kitchen-window, and afterwards the turtle-doves, and at last all the birds beneath the sky, came whirring and crowding in, and alighted amongst the ashes. And the pigeons nodded with their heads and began pick, pick, pick, pick, and the rest began also pick, pick, pick, pick, and gathered all the good grains into the dish. Hardly had one hour passed before they had finished, and all flew out again. Then the girl took the dish to her step-mother, and was glad, and believed that now she would be allowed to go with them to the festival. But the step-mother said, "No, Cinderella, thou hast no clothes and thou canst not dance; thou wouldst only be laughed at." And as Cinderella wept at this, the step-mother said, "If thou canst pick two dishes of lentils out of the ashes for me in one hour, thou shalt go with us." And she thought to herself, "That she most certainly cannot do." When the step-mother had emptied the two dishes of lentils amongst the ashes, the maiden went through the back-door into the garden and cried, You tame pigeons, you turtle-doves, and all you birds under heaven, come and help me to pick

    "The good into the pot,
    The bad into the crop."

    Then two white pigeons came in by the kitchen-window, and afterwards the turtle-doves, and at length all the birds beneath the sky, came whirring and crowding in, and alighted amongst the ashes. And the doves nodded with their heads and began pick, pick, pick, pick, and the others began also pick, pick, pick, pick, and gathered all the good seeds into the dishes, and before half an hour was over they had already finished, and all flew out again. Then the maiden carried the dishes to the step-mother and was delighted, and believed that she might now go with them to the festival. But the step-mother said, "All this will not help thee; thou goest not with us, for thou hast no clothes and canst not dance; we should be ashamed of thee!" On this she turned her back on Cinderella, and hurried away with her two proud daughters.

    As no one was now at home, Cinderella went to her mother's grave beneath the hazel-tree, and cried,

    "Shiver and quiver, little tree,
    Silver and gold throw down over me."

    Then the bird threw a gold and silver dress down to her, and slippers embroidered with silk and silver. She put on the dress with all speed, and went to the festival. Her step-sisters and the step-mother however did not know her, and thought she must be a foreign princess, for she looked so beautiful in the golden dress. They never once thought of Cinderella, and believed that she was sitting at home in the dirt, picking lentils out of the ashes. The prince went to meet her, took her by the hand and danced with her. He would dance with no other maiden, and never left loose of her hand, and if any one else came to invite her, he said, "This is my partner."

    She danced till it was evening, and then she wanted to go home. But the King's son said, "I will go with thee and bear thee company," for he wished to see to whom the beautiful maiden belonged. She escaped from him, however, and sprang into the pigeon-house. The King's son waited until her father came, and then he told him that the stranger maiden had leapt into the pigeon-house. The old man thought, "Can it be Cinderella?" and they had to bring him an axe and a pickaxe that he might hew the pigeon-house to pieces, but no one was inside it. And when they got home Cinderella lay in her dirty clothes among the ashes, and a dim little oil-lamp was burning on the mantle-piece, for Cinderella had jumped quickly down from the back of the pigeon-house and had run to the little hazel-tree, and there she had taken off her beautiful clothes and laid them on the grave, and the bird had taken them away again, and then she had placed herself in the kitchen amongst the ashes in her grey gown.

    Next day when the festival began afresh, and her parents and the step-sisters had gone once more, Cinderella went to the hazel-tree and said --

    "Shiver and quiver, my little tree,
    Silver and gold throw down over me."

    Then the bird threw down a much more beautiful dress than on the preceding day. And when Cinderella appeared at the festival in this dress, every one was astonished at her beauty. The King's son had waited until she came, and instantly took her by the hand and danced with no one but her. When others came and invited her, he said, "She is my partner." When evening came she wished to leave, and the King's son followed her and wanted to see into which house she went. But she sprang away from him, and into the garden behind the house. Therein stood a beautiful tall tree on which hung the most magnificent pears. She clambered so nimbly between the branches like a squirrel that the King's son did not know where she was gone. He waited until her father came, and said to him, "The stranger-maiden has escaped from me, and I believe she has climbed up the pear-tree." The father thought, "Can it be Cinderella?" and had an axe brought and cut the tree down, but no one was on it. And when they got into the kitchen, Cinderella lay there amongst the ashes, as usual, for she had jumped down on the other side of the tree, had taken the beautiful dress to the bird on the little hazel-tree, and put on her grey gown.

    On the third day, when the parents and sisters had gone away, Cinderella went once more to her mother's grave and said to the little tree --

    "Shiver and quiver, my little tree,
    Silver and gold throw down over me."

    And now the bird threw down to her a dress which was more splendid and magnificent than any she had yet had, and the slippers were golden. And when she went to the festival in the dress, no one knew how to speak for astonishment. The King's son danced with her only, and if any one invited her to dance, he said, "She is my partner."

    When evening came, Cinderella wished to leave, and the King's son was anxious to go with her, but she escaped from him so quickly that he could not follow her. The King's son had, however, used a strategem, and had caused the whole staircase to be smeared with pitch, and there, when she ran down, had the maiden's left slipper remained sticking. The King's son picked it up, and it was small and dainty, and all golden. Next morning, he went with it to the father, and said to him, "No one shall be my wife but she whose foot this golden slipper fits." Then were the two sisters glad, for they had pretty feet. The eldest went with the shoe into her room and wanted to try it on, and her mother stood by. But she could not get her big toe into it, and the shoe was too small for her. Then her mother gave her a knife and said, "Cut the toe off; when thou art Queen thou wilt have no more need to go on foot." The maiden cut the toe off, forced the foot into the shoe, swallowed the pain, and went out to the King's son. Then he took her on his his horse as his bride and rode away with her. They were, however, obliged to pass the grave, and there, on the hazel-tree, sat the two pigeons and cried,

    "Turn and peep, turn and peep,
    There's blood within the shoe,
    The shoe it is too small for her,
    The true bride waits for you."

    Then he looked at her foot and saw how the blood was streaming from it. He turned his horse round and took the false bride home again, and said she was not the true one, and that the other sister was to put the shoe on. Then this one went into her chamber and got her toes safely into the shoe, but her heel was too large. So her mother gave her a knife and said, "Cut a bit off thy heel; when thou art Queen thou wilt have no more need to go on foot." The maiden cut a bit off her heel, forced her foot into the shoe, swallowed the pain, and went out to the King's son. He took her on his horse as his bride, and rode away with her, but when they passed by the hazel-tree, two little pigeons sat on it and cried,

    "Turn and peep, turn and peep,
    There's blood within the shoe
    The shoe it is too small for her,
    The true bride waits for you."

    He looked down at her foot and saw how the blood was running out of her shoe, and how it had stained her white stocking. Then he turned his horse and took the false bride home again. "This also is not the right one," said he, "have you no other daughter?" "No," said the man, "There is still a little stunted kitchen-wench which my late wife left behind her, but she cannot possibly be the bride." The King's son said he was to send her up to him; but the mother answered, "Oh, no, she is much too dirty, she cannot show herself!" He absolutely insisted on it, and Cinderella had to be called. She first washed her hands and face clean, and then went and bowed down before the King's son, who gave her the golden shoe. Then she seated herself on a stool, drew her foot out of the heavy wooden shoe, and put it into the slipper, which fitted like a glove. And when she rose up and the King's son looked at her face he recognized the beautiful maiden who had danced with him and cried, "That is the true bride!" The step-mother and the two sisters were terrified and became pale with rage; he, however, took Cinderella on his horse and rode away with her. As they passed by the hazel-tree, the two white doves cried --

    "Turn and peep, turn and peep,
    No blood is in the shoe,
    The shoe is not too small for her,
    The true bride rides with you,"

    and when they had cried that, the two came flying down and placed themselves on Cinderella's shoulders, one on the right, the other on the left, and remained sitting there.

    When the wedding with the King's son had to be celebrated, the two false sisters came and wanted to get into favour with Cinderella and share her good fortune. When the betrothed couple went to church, the elder was at the right side and the younger at the left, and the pigeons pecked out one eye of each of them. Afterwards as they came back, the elder was at the left, and the younger at the right, and then the pigeons pecked out the other eye of each. And thus, for their wickedness and falsehood, they were punished with blindness as long as they lived.

    ###


    "Cinderella". Brothers Grimm, transl. Margaret Hunt, Grimm's Household Tales, Vol. 1, 1884.

     

    you might also be interested in.... White Chocolate Plastique (Modelling Chocolate)

    or how about making your roses from fruit chews? Starburst flowers cupcake

    Monday
    Jul082013

    A quick look at the Game of Thrones Official Cookbook

                                                                                          Turkish flat bread with black sesame.

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    Fan or Fandom cookbooks is that what you call them? I was attempting to block out all the bad fan cookbooks from my mind and think of the happy "Wookiee Cookies" memories... truly in the past we had the most fan fun cooking from the 'Wookiee Cookies: A Star Wars Cookbook'. 

    On picking up my stepson Daniels copy of A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook I was surprised and delighted to see a "real actual cookbook" between the covers.

    The contents are broken into the following categories; stocking your Medieval Kitchen, The Basics, Recipes by Region plus tips for putting together your feast and even dressing the table.

    I like that there is an old version of a recipe, followed by a modern day version of a recipe, honeyfingers anyone?

    Tryoshi Honeyfingers page 202-203

    Modern Honeyfingers page 204-205

    If you're a fan of George R. R. Martin's bestselling fantasy saga 'A Song of Fire and Ice', HBO's Game of Thrones or both... you'll whipping up a Westeros inspired dinner party in no time. Which is what Daniel had in mind when he said "I've bookmarked recipes for you to make".

    The Surprise:

    Hmmm, silly of me but I actually thought my stepson had read the recipes before he asked me to make them. Daniel requested Medieval Cheese-and-Onion Pie (page 143-144)

    I loyally (this is in my voice, Daniels version might differ slightly) went fourth to whip up a batch of *medieval pastry dough (page 9) and baked a pie worthy of Kings Landing. 

    Here comes the surprise bit... Daniel looks at finished pie and says "whoa what are the black bits?"

    I replied "dried currants".

    Daniel "I think I said leave the currants out".

    Me "no you didn't".

    Dan "yes I did".

    I win the dispute because I boiled onions for pie and anyone that stands in the kitchen to boil onions wins.

     cheese-and-onion pie ... I was going for a rustic edge, but think it just looks like I forgot it trim it.

    So the pie filled with onions, eggs, cheese, currants with basil and just a bit of saffron was served. Ok, this probably isn't sounding great, but you know what? The real surprise was that it was delicious, Daniel and lovely Lauren had two servings. This pie would make a great picnic pie served at room temperature. The combination of sweet and savoury sparked discussion which is always good and although most loved the pie a couple of people at the table didn't like the sweetness paired with what is essentially an early form of quiche. 

    I also baked a loaves of traditional flat bread (page 175-176), which was easy and "it's fresh warm bread", enough said. 

    All in all in the book is lots of fun to bake from and I will be baking the old version of lemon cakes and the new version of honey cakes for Daniel when he returns from overseas.

    Authors Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer run the succesful blog Inn at the Crossroads. Lots of interesting recipes and ideas there so pop over and a have a look. 

    *the medieval pastry recipe is wonderful, easy to work with, sturdy but not tough. The pie recipe did not include blind baking the crust, however I would blind bake next time. Blind baking instructions are included at the beginning of the book. 

    *there is meat and mulled wine and the like in the book too

    Stockists: A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbookvailable from all good bookstores... it's printed in Spanish as well.

    Happy Baking :) 

     you might also like rainbow serpent 

    Saturday
    Jul062013

    Dragon Egg Cupcake 

                                                dragon egg cupcake 

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    “Well, I don’t have any pet dragons – maybe they would come in handy from time to time– nobody has given me any dragon eggs and since she had to walk into fire in order to hatch them I am not sure I particularly want that bit of it.”           

    Prime Minster of Australia Julia Gillard 

    Guardian UK May 27th 2013 political editor Lenore Taylor discussing HBO's Game of Thrones with Prime Minster Glilard.

    Dang, maybe Prime Minster Julia Gillard should have risked that walk into fire because one month later on the June 27th the morning newspaper read... 

    Ok, it's an emotive headline... but hey Australia was having it's own "Game of Thrones" moment when Julia Gillard was replaced by Kevin Rudd who had been replaced by Julia Gillard three years earlier.

    Confused? here is a mini Australian leader explanation before we get onto the cupcake...

    Ok, it works like this a Prime Minister has a decline in his or her personal ratings, and a perceived loss of support amongst the MPs in their own party. Sometimes you might be directly challenged by an MP who thinks they can be a better leader and they have the numbers..  and at other times like with Prime Minster Gillard you are so sure of the support of your MP's you make the challenge to squash any rumors. But oh dear, then there is a spill, MP's "cross" and all of sudden you aren't Prime Minster anymore. Kevin Rudd is the new Prime Minister of Australia. 

    For the cupcake today I wanted a melted/worn... but pretty (ok, that last bit isn't too Game of Thronesish).

    I started with a simple fondant egg shape, narrowing a little more at the top to allow for layers of fondant scales.

    The scales are tiny triangles of fondant. Attach the scales with water (that is as in "dampen backs slightly" you don't want wet fondant), starting around the centre and working up and then down if you want to the whole egg. I gently pressed down on the scales with a downward movement to go with the melting/worn theme today.

    Using silicone cog moulds, I moulded fondant cogs and stretched and squeezed them lightly into "worn like" pieces. I attached the cogs using water around the edges of a red fondant covered cupcakes. Let everything dry at this point because once dry you are going get a out a small *paint brush and your metallic food paints and get painting. 

    For the wings cut some wing shapes from modelling paste. The wings must be rolled out as thinly as possible as to not add excess weight to your eggs. 

    Wing with base coat of metallic dust. Please forgive food coloured hand.

     Now for the fun part, paint your cupcake to your hearts desire. I used a small artists brush I dabbed various Americolor airbrush sheen colours on the top of the cakes. The cogs were painted with copper and bronze food paint from the same range. The dragons egg was swiped in downwards motion with blue and green sheens. For the wings I used petal dusts in jade, slate and white shimmer and blend, blend, blend until you happy with the result. Lastly a light dusting of jade dust on top of egg and white shimmer on the front. 

    Cut slits in each side of your eggs, flick out a few scales as your dragon is breaking out. Insert the wings that have a little cake glue applied on wide end. Prop your eggs to support the wings drying in position, this can take a few hours to overnight depending on the temperature where you are. 

    So, coming to close now and if you still wondering "where in the hell is Australia?" or "what is this thing called HBO's Game of Thrones?"... tune in later in next week for pulled sugar work or if you are a fan of the Iron Throne check back on the weekend for some Game of Thrones baking. 

    Happy Baking :)

    You might also be interested in Bubble Wrap Chocolate 

    or how about a candied beetroot topper?

    Wednesday
    Jun192013

    Squid Ink Cupcakes and Squid Ink Grissini 

                                         squid ink cupcake with fondant squid arm 

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    During my absence I bet you have wondered "should I or shouldn't I bake squid ink cupcakes?"

    Umm ok maybe not, but just in case next time you're savouring your squid ink risotto it crosses your mind "oh, black velvet cupcakes" you can scratch that idea out and have another glass of vino.

    Guess I should mention the squid ink at this stage; squid ink is available in sachets, jars or by harvesting the ink sac from fresh squid. You can buy prepackaged squid ink from fish mongers, specialty food purveyors and online. Essential Ingredients online store has it if you are in Australia. Amazon has lots of different brands including Spanish Squid Ink Packets. Most of the prepackaged squid ink, such as the Spanish Cebesa brand I used have added salt so you will need to allow for that and reduce the salt in your recipes. 

    Baking squid ink cupcakes; technically you can do it, but do you want to? 

    I baked two batches of the squid ink cupcakes, batch one didn't rise, batch two with extra added baking powder had a better rise... but no doming. 

    Flavour wise; in a rich dark chocolate batter no taste testers picked up any squid ink or fishy flavour at all. 

    Five sachets of squid ink were needed to get a true black in a standard dozen chocolate cupcake batter. Overall, an expensive way to add colour. 

    But you could make a fondant squid arm or eight. Roll a piece of fondant into a squid arm shape, then roll small balls of fondant. Using the end of a small paint brush press the balls in pairs along the squid arm to form tentacles, dampen the base of the balls with water if need be. I frilled the larger suction cups. Leave the arm/s to dry before adding markings with a food marker and colour as desired with food paint and dusts. 

                                       squid ink grissini

    Baking squid ink bread dough; the addition of squid ink to your favourite dough recipe imparts a subtle seafood flavour and results in a stark black dough with no detriment to the finished bake.

    Perfect for your pizza bases, loaves or grissini pictured today. Make sure you play with  the contrast of colour... a black pizza base with the white of buffalo mozzarella and roasted cherry tomatoes or perhaps open sandwiches of crab, mayo and micro greens on a slice of black sour dough. The grissini are fun as part of dressing your table and pair well with seafood pasta, antipasto, tapas, or just to nibble with drinks.

    So grab your favourite bread dough recipe and make the following changes: 

     

    • Omit the salt entirely. 
    • Omit added parmasen, cheeses in recipes.
    • Omit herbs, you want the squid flavour to stand alone. 
    • For every three cups of flour in the recipe you will need approximately five of the 4gram squid ink sachets. 
    • Remove the equivalent liquids from the recipe. I usually hold back around one tablespoon to two tablespoons of the water or milk in the recipe. 
    • Instead of flouring your bench, oil your bench and oil your hands to work with your dough... you don't want white flour streaks on the finished dough. 

     

    Your dough will look a little lighter in colour after rising, but don't worry once it's shaped it's back to looking black. 

    There is no "golden brown"with the squid colour so rely on tapping/listening for a hollow sound if you're not sure your bread is done. 

    Squid ink is also great to use in your homemade pasta dough using the the same proportions as above, 5 sachets to 3 cups of flour. 

    That's it for today... any questions pop over to facebook for a faster reply. 

    Happy Baking :) 

    you might be in the mood now for eating some salt and pepper squid

    or something pretty... blossum cupcake toppers

    Monday
    Dec102012

    Cherry Eton Mess

    cherry eton mess

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    Tis the time for lots of macaron's that haven't quite "footed" and meringues that didn't quite, ummm "meringue?". What to do? Why make Eton Mess for dessert of course.

    Eton mess is a traditional English dessert consisting of a mixture of strawberries, pieces of meringue and cream, which is traditionally served at Eton College's annual cricket game against the students of Harrow School. wikipedia

    Oh my, I couldn't resist the boxes brimming with sweet dark cherries that fill the Australian fruit shops in December, plus I had macarons "oddments" and end of batch meringes from Christmas gift baking. So lets make a delightful mess... albeit a bit "girlie" today, I'm afraid I went too far with the 100's and 1000's (nonpareils).

    Cherry Eton Mess 

    (by all means go traditional and use strawberries instead if preferred) 

    Ingredients 

    *2 cups of chilled whipping cream

    2 tablespoons of sugar

    1 vanilla pod scraped of seeds (use vanilla extract to taste if you don't have pods)

    700 grams (25oz) of fresh cherries 

    leftover macaron shells, meringue pieces or buy a packet of meringue shells

    Method

    Pit most of the cherries, leaving a few whole ones for decoration. Place the pitted cherries and one tablespoon of the sugar in a small bowl and give the mixture a gentle squeeze to release a little of cherry juice, stir to combine. Refrigerate until serving time.

    Whip the cream, with the remaining one tablespoon of sugar and seeds from the vanilla pod until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until serving time.

    Assembly

    When you're ready to serve, in no particular order, spoon cream, cherries, broken pieces of meringues and macaron's into serving glasses. 

    Top with whole cherries dipped in melted white chocolate if desired. 

    *variations; try adding plain yoghurt or creme fraiche to the whipping cream. I often use 1 1/2 cream to half yoghurt, it will lighten the mouth feel and is more refreshing in summer. 

    Macerate the cherries or strawberries with sugar and a juice or alcohol of choice before assembling, brandy, grand marnier or a favourite dessert wine are good choices.

    Have fun and happy baking :)

    Want to make your own meringues? Here is a recipe for 4 individual pavlova shells that you can break up for your Eton Mess... omit or change colour as desired. 

    More desserts in glasses? How about Peach Verrines in Minutes

    More cherries? A quick cherry cupcake decoration

                          Snow Cherries

    Friday
    Dec072012

    Chocolate Oreo Fudgy Peppermint Christmas Treats

    chocolate oreo fudgy peppermint treats

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    Melt, mix, pour, chill and eat.

    A quick, easy recipe for chocolate Christmas treats... they taste yummy and are perfect unadorned for gift giving or decorated with mini Oreo's for your Christmas get together.

    makes 36 to 40 squares

    23x23cm (9x9in) cake tin lined with non stick baking paper... as there is no baking involved don't worry if you don't have the exact matching tin size.

    Ingredients

    360g (11.5 oz) dark eating chocolate... just pick one you like the taste of and roughly chop. 

    1 can sweetened condensed milk

    30g (1oz) butter

    I pack Oreo's, lightly crushed

    1/3 cup crushed candy canes

    Optional decoration; more crushed candy canes, mini Oreo's and a dab of pure cream or ganache or frosting to hold the decorations on. 

    Method

    Place the roughly chopped chocolate, butter and sweetened condensed milk in a medium large saucepan. Stir over low heat until about 3/4 of the chocolate is melted, remove from heat and continue to stir until the *chocolate is fully melted. The mixture should be barely warm at this stage.

    Stir in your lightly crushed Oreo's and crushed candy canes. Pour into prepared tin and smooth top with a dampened spatula. 

    Refrigerate for 2-3 hours before cutting into squares. Decorate if desired. 

    Store in an airtight container for up to a week in the refrigerator.

    Happy Baking :) 

    *Note: I know it's tempting but do melt the mixture slowly, if you turn up the heat the chocolate risks overheating and becoming grainy and you want smooth and creamy :)

    adapted from Christmas 'AWW little Christmas treats' 'dark chocolate nougat fudge bars'

    Try your hand at making your own fruit mince

    star fruit mince pie pops 

    or how about traditional shortbread... wonderful crushed and added to melted chocolate too!

    Wednesday
    Nov282012

    Gingerbread Custard Ice-Cream 

                 you'll fall for gingerbread custard ice-cream

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    If you haven't been raised with packet custard (or at least the cartons of pre made custard in the supermarket dairy case) you'll wonder what I'm waffling on about... but, but, but, even though it's not in the least bit "cheffy" there is something about the flavour that satisfies your inner child.

    And that is what I'm going for today, by using a traditional custard ice-cream technique combined with packet custard and crumbled gingerbread men.

    *custard powder; is a sweetened flavoured cornflour product that when milk is added and heated to correct temperature it becomes a custard sauce. Also used in baking, particularly shortbread type biscuits (cookies).

    custard powder

    Gingerbread Custard ice-cream

    Ingredients
    2 cup (500ml) whole milk (one cup for the packet custard, one cup for the traditional custard)
    A pinch of salt
    3/4 cup (150g) sugar
    2 tablespoons of custard powder
    1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    1 cup (250ml) heavy cream
    4 large egg yolks
    1/4 to 1/3 cup of crushed up gingerbread men
    Method 
    1. Make the packet custard mixture by placing the custard powder into a small saucepan with a 1/4 cup of the milk to form a smooth paste. Gradually add 3/4 cup of milk and stirring constantly bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. It will be very thick.
    smooth paste stage; you can see from the colour why you end up with a yellow ice-cream!

    2. Make the traditional custard by heating the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan until small bubbles appear around the side of the saucepan. Remove from heat, stir through vanilla extract. 
    3. To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Place the made up packet custard in the bowl and place a strainer over the bowl.
    4. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.
    5. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.
    6. Strain the custard into the prepared packet custard. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly.
    7. Freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Stir through crushed gingerbread and freeze in an airtight container overnight to allow the ice-cream to 'ripen' and flavours to fully develop. 
    Homemade ice-cream is firmer than store bought and can be difficult to scoop, remove ice-cream from freezer and place in refrigerator 20 minutes before serving to aid "scoopability".
    We served it here with a warm toffee sauce, I thought it would great with fresh poached or roasted peaches... try omitting the gingerbread and pairing the custard ice-cream with your favourite dessert.
    Happy Baking :)
    You may also be interested in Mini Chocolate Cake Christmas Puddings
    Tuesday
    Nov272012

    Raspberry Custard Melting Moments recipe

                                        raspberry custard melting moments 

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    Melting moments biscuits (cookies) are popular in Australian cafes and loved by home bakers.

    Yum, melting moments today; the soft textured shortbreads sandwiched with a sweet filling are perfect to serve with a cup of tea or favourite brewed beverage (I mean coffee, not beer... but hey I'm not one to judge). 

    popular brands of custard powder

    Now I've used 'custard powder' as part of the flour component of the recipe, it gives the biscuits a golden glow and a slight custard flavour. Custard powder is a commercial product that Aussies and Brits have been raised with, you can replace with an equal amount of cornflour if desired.

    Mine have a white chocolate raspberry ganache filling, but they can also be filled with butter cream or even a simple icing. 

    Raspberry Custard Melting Moments

    adapted from Donna Hay's 'modern classics book 2'

    Preheat oven to 160C (320F)

    line two baking trays with non stick paper

    makes 36 biscuits (18 sandwiched)

    ingredients

    175g unsalted butter, cubed and softened 

    1/4 cup pure icing sugar (confectioners sugar)

    1 tsp pure vanilla extract/essence 

    1 cup plain flour, (all purpose) sifted

    1/4 cup custard powder sifted 

    pinch of salt

    filling

    90 ml (3 fluid oz) pouring cream

    2 tablespoons of raspberry puree (squashed fresh or frozen raspberries pushed through a sieve)

    2 tablespoons of homemade or best quality raspberry jam

    1 piece of lemon zest (use a potato peeler)

    180 grams (6.34 oz) white eating chocolate finely chopped 

    method

    Place the cubed softened butter, icing sugar and vanilla in the bowl of electric mixer and beat on medium high speed until light and fluffy. 

    what light and fluffy looks like

    With a spatula or metal spoon stir through the sifted flour, custard powder and salt. You're just stirring until the ingredients are just combined, excess stirring with cause the gluten to develop and toughen the resulting cookies.

    Ok, if your mixture is too soft to roll into balls pop the whole bowl in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to firm up enough to roll teaspoons of the mixture into balls.

    Divide the balls between lined trays. Use a fork to press gently on top of each ball to make a indented pattern.

    Bake biscuits 15 to 17 minutes until lightly golden. 

    Set aside to cool.

    Make the filling by heating the cream, raspberry puree, raspberry jam and lemon zest stirring gently to incorporate until the cream "just" comes to the boil. Remove from heat, remove the lemon zest and pour hot mixture over the white chocolate, stir until smooth. Allow to cool until thick enough to spread.

    pipe the filling like I have with raspberry or plop on a little like I have with the *vanilla nutmeg

    Spread or pipe filling onto 18 cookie halves and sandwich with another cookie.

    Melted moments benefit from being stored overnight before eating... if you can wait!!

    Oh, I made up gift tins using small blank tins and printed labels on A4 paper. Clip art reindeer from Microsoft clip art.

    Goodness, this story is getting longer and longer I'll go before we hear the New Year countdown.

    Happy Baking :)

    *vanilla nutmeg filling; follow instructions for raspberry filling omitting the jam, raspberry puree and lemon. Once melted add one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. Allow to cool until thick enough to spread. Grate fresh nutmeg on filling before sandwiching cookie.

     

    You might also be interested in making you own raspberry jam

    Got leftover custard powder, why not give 'Mum's vanilla slices' a try?

    Saturday
    Nov172012

    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 :)

    Tuesday
    Oct302012

    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".