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    Wednesday
    Dec282011

    No cupcakes today

    Life is strange, my husband that I love more than anything in world asked for a divorce today and has left me for another woman also named "jenny" there is something funny it that is there not? I loved and honoured him for nineteen years. I don't know what to say, except I wish him no malice and I hope he finds happiness. To my step son Daniel who I love more than my life.... I'm sorry this shame, dishonour was brought into you life. I love you Mark and I'm sorry that I couldn't be what you wanted, sorry too that you couldn't find it in yourself to treat me with the respect I deserved. But it's over now, lets make it as amicalable as possible... for Dan's sake and for us moving forward. I keep thinking you won't see your corn grow and what should I do with the the decades of hallmark ornaments. Love you, take care and be happy xx Thinking of my mum now and how much she believed in you... sad that you didn't realise I always believed in you too... sad }:

    Saturday
    Dec242011

    White Chocolate Cranberry and Pistachio Rocky Road

    Join me on facebook... 2012 is going to be a great year!!

    Busy, busy, busy in the lead up to Christmas? I know I have, with barely the time to bake it's time for a super quick idea!! This rocky road recipe is easily doubled... and if you need more make seperate batches. There is a splash of liqueur in it, but if making for the kids just leave it out. 

    White Chocolate Cranberry and Pistachio Rocky Road with Grand Marnier 

    makes 12 to 16 pieces

    Ingredients

    300g (10oz) white chocolate 

    25g (0.90oz) unsalted butter

    100g (3.5oz) pistachios

    100g (3.5oz) dried cranberries 

    50g (1.75oz) pink and white marshmallows cut in half with oiled scissors

    1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier (optional) 

    Method

    Line a brownie or slice tin with plastic wrap or non stick baking paper. If using Grand Marnier, mix the Grand Marnier and dried cranberries in a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave on medium low 10 seconds at a time until cranberries begin to plump. Set aside.

    In a mixing bowl melt chocolate and butter over a pan of simmering water until just melted. Be careful not to overheat. Stir in pistachios, marshmallows and cranberries. Pour into lined tin and smooth top with spatula. Chill for 2 hours in the fridge. Turn out and cut into squares. Package in cellophane treat bags.

    Merry Christmas!!!

    Back second week of the New Year, safe and happy festive season to everyone... and happy baking :)

    Thursday
    Dec152011

    Christmas Rush Raspberry Tuiles 

    Two ingredients (rasberries and sugar) Rasberry Tuile Topped mini cupcake

    Good griefl, I swear I had black and silver cases in "medium", but all I find was mini's. This left me with toppers that were far too large and since I'd already applied silver leaf to black choc candy coated balls I had to come up with a different topper. 

    Two ingredient 'Raspberry Tuiles' have a long oven drying time, but other than that were simple and quick to make fitting in perfectly with "Christmas rush" mode that I'm well and truly in!! 

    Now I did burn the first batch, second batch I reduced the cooking time by 20 minutes and they worked perfectly. I used a metal ruler and a sharp knife to cut strips; I then bent the strips and pinched ends whilst still warm.

    The strips dry quickly to produce a crispy tuile that is intense in flavour, colour and is also vegan and gluten free. They are best made close to serving and perfect to top a range of desserts.

    You just need raspberries and sugar for these... do give it a try and watch chef *David Carmichael the Executive Pastry Chef at The New York Palace demonstrate how the make the tuiles (recipe included).

    *Note: chef Carmichael uses 4 pints (8 cups) of raspberries, I halved the recipe.

     if you use a silpat you will end up with a waffle pattern on the shiny side.

    Happy Baking :) and Christmas preparations!!  

    Monday
    Dec122011

    A Spun Sugar Purple Christmas


    spun sugar purple christmas tree mini cupcake

    Goodness me, I must admit I haven't enthusiastically embraced my husbands choice of "purple" as a Christmas theme but I thought I should make an attempt and produced a batch of fondanted cupcakes... I stood back and they looked far too "menopause mauve". 

    Instead I'll go with purple spun sugar Christmas tree toppers for my mini cupcakes. Watch out for tea light holders in your chosen theme, they make for fab mini cupcake stands like the one I've used today. 

    cream horn form

    To make the spun sugar tree you will need cream horn forms and follow the instructions for one of my earlier posts; blue sugar springs. Instead of using a spoon to create a spring use a kitchen fork to produce threads to wrap around the form. Start of third of the way up and scroll to the top. 

    I used an empty egg carton to hold the cream horns whilst sugar is drying. Sprinkled on edible lilac disco glitter and star sprinkles. 

    Storage: like all sugar pieces trees are best made on day of serving. Sugar work breaks down quickly in a humid enviroment. 

     Have fun, happy baking :) and Merry Christmas!!

    Not enough purple for you? Try purple butterflies.

    Saturday
    Dec102011

    Basil Syrup - A tiny taste of Summer

                                             a tiny taste of summer cupcake

    Chefs and baking professionals love a stock syrup, once you start using them you will too! 

    Stock syrups are also known as sugar syrup, simple syrup, light or heavy syrup depending where you are from. Cakes are syruped to seal the cake preserving freshness, moisten the cake and can also flavour the cake. 

    With a jar of stock syrup in the fridge you can quickly poach fruit, add to salad dressings, syrup your cupcakes, act as glaze, whip up a sorbet, make fruit sauces/coulis, cocktails, and a plethora of dessert applications.

    Stock syrup is often infused with herbs, spices, citrus, ginger, vanilla, liqueurs, teas and flowers. 

    Basic Stock Syrup 

    Ingredients

    2 cups of water

    2 cups of white sugar

    Method

    Combine the water and sugar in a medium heavy based saucepan. Over medium heat bring mixture to boil, stirring once or twice along the way. 

    Cook 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool. 

    Basil syrup

    one cup of stock syrup

    strawberries

    small fresh basil leaves

    Put one cup of syrup in a small saucepan, pour remaining syrup into a screw top jar and refrigerate for up to three weeks.

    Bring the syrup in the saucepan almost to the boil, add three basil leaves and cover... allow to steep for 20 minutes. Remove basil leaves and allow syrup to cool.

    The basil after steeping ready to be removed. Whole spices, vanilla beans, and citrus peel may be left longer if desired. The syrup will pick up the colour of citrus peel with prolonged standing.

    Brush cupcake tops with basil syrup, top with either marscarpone or cream cheese frosting. Toss chopped strawberries in the left over syrup and pile onto your cupcakes. Add small basil leaves for decoration.

    Other flavoured syrups are created in the same way, try rosemary, thyme and mint. Vanilla made with a whole split bean, store the vanilla bean in the syrup for a stronger flavour. A bruised piece of fresh ginger makes a lovely syrup to use on fruit salads, so does split and bruised lemon grass... or how about a combo of the two "ginger and lemon grass". Tea bags, herbal, green or black make for flavourful infused syrup as does roasted coffee/cocoa nibs.

    Allow one tablespoon of liqueur or rum/brandy/whisky per cup of syrup, this is a great cake syrup or even in your cup of coffee (though probably best not to have it with your brekkie cup). Zest strips from lemon, lime, orange, remove after 20 minutes for a slight citrus tang, leave overnight for a stronger flavour. 

    Whole spices such as cinnamon or star anise can also be left in the syrup if a stronger flavour is desired. If using flowers keep the quantity of petals/buds small, a little goes a long way. 

    *notes; cupcake pictured today is larger than real life version, the actual cupcake and subsequent basil leaves are small. To make a heavier/thicker syrup 3 cups sugar to 1 cup water, to make a lighter syrup 3 parts water to one part sugar.

    That's it for today, hope you are all having a great weekend.

    Happy Baking :)

    Friday
    Dec092011

    Emma's Whoopie Pies Review

    Harriet and Emma

    Meet Emma the 14 year old daughter of my best friend Jacinta. Emma is a fabulous baker and has kindly stepped in tonight as guest reviewer in a packet mix vs homemade challenge. Take it away Emma.....

    Betty Crocker Vanilla Sprinkle Whoopie Pies

    I don’t normally use a packet mix, but I love whoopie pies and thought I’d give the packet Betty Crocker Vanilla Sprinkle Whoopie Pies Mix a go.

    straight from the oven

    While the recipe and the whoopie pies themselves were easy to make and follow, the overall taste was very disappointing (such a shame because they looked very delicious).

    making vanilla cream filling mix

    finished Betty Crocker Whoopie Pies

    They just had that artificial taste that you often get with a packet mix.

    I then decided to compare the packet ones with some whoopie pies made from scratch. I got the recipe from the “Whoopie Pies” book by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell, given to us by The Lone Baker.

    I used the Classic Chocolate Whoopie Pies sandwiched together by a cream cheese filling.

    classic chocolate whoopie pies

    cream cheese filling

    The homemade ones were far superior to the packet ones (they were just as easy to make as well). My family preferred the homemade ones over the packet ones.

     We soon devoured them all!!! 

    Emma 

    text and photography by Emma Darlison

    The Lone Baker back tomorrow with two ingredient tuile... topping a cupcake of course :) 

    Friday
    Dec022011

    Snow Cherries

                                             snow cherry cupcake

    Join me on Facebook... I'd love to see you there.

    A quick little fresh cherry decoration today, that I think is so pretty... hope you do too.

    It's summer in Australia and fresh cherries are in season. "Snow cherries" are a lovely decoration for your cupcakes, cakes and plated desserts for all your Christmas occasions. 

    You'll need...

    room temperature cherries with unbroken skins

    white fondant

    white disco glitter

    small dry artists paintbrush

    small piece of dampened new foam

    Thinly roll out your white fondant, cut small sections and shape. Dampen one side of your fondant shapes with the foam. Pop a cherry in the centre of each piece of fondant and fold up to  attach. Using the dampened foam again, dampen the outside of the fondant and sprinkle with edible disco glitter. Brush off excess glitter that falls on the cherries with the dry brush. Allow to dry.

    Cherries will keep at room temperature for 6 hours (though I have held them as long as overnight). 

    Happy Baking :)

    or what about making mini choc pudding cupcakes?

    you might also be interested in...

    Ode to Bounty Bars Coconut Chocolate Cupcakes

    Wednesday
    Nov302011

    Teddy Trouble Tia Maria Tim Tam Treat

           Teddy Trouble TiaMaria Tim Tam Treat with fondant teddy bear

    "The weekend started with hedgehogs, but finished with Teddy Bears"

    Join me on facebook today!! 

    Hedgehog slices are popular in my home state of Victoria. Hedgehogs are a chocolate unbaked refrigerator slice (bar), mainly comprised of crushed biscuits (cookies). Usually store bought biscuits are used and it's a quick and easy way to use up leftover cookies from the Christmas season.

    I was working on delveloping a hedgehog recipe on the weekend that did not contain raw egg; we are "thrill seekers" here in Oz and do eat raw egg in our hedgehogs that tends to cause "dread" in some other countries. 

    My thoughts then went to Tim Tams. Australia's national biscuit is the ANZAC, but it's the 'Tim Tam' that is the iconic Aussie biscuit. My very own teddy bear, namely my husband Mark was in trouble this weekend when he offered to drop off eggs and Tim Tam Treats to my best friends house... Mark took the eggs and having second thoughts tucked away the Tim Tam Treats unbeknownst to me back in fridge. Goodness, that's what I like to see at Christmas... no sharing of treats and keeping them for yourself!! 

    classic original Tim Tams and dark chocolate Tim Tams

    Tim Tams sandwich light chocolate cream, inbetween chocolate malty biscuits that are enrobed in chocolate. They are what I use in today's recipe, but if you can't get Tim Tams go for the biscuit/cookie you think is closest to it. 

    inside Tim Tams

    Tia Maria Tim Tam Treats

    18 standard cupcake cases or 36 mini cases, mixture can alternatively be pressed into a brownie tin.

    *note on "raisins" that are used in the recipe... 

    Raisins in Australia are larger and stickier than sultanas, if you can't get them chopped dates are a suitable substitute. 

    on the right, raisins are larger and stickier than the sultanas on the left. 

    Ingredients

    150 grams of raisins or chopped dates

    3 tablespoons of Tia Maria

    400 grams 2 packs (14 oz) Tim Tams or equivalent

    300 grams (8.8 oz) dark eating chocolate

    150 grams (5.3 oz) butter

    150 grams (5.3 oz) roasted walnut or pecan pieces

    2 tablespoons sour cream

    Method

    Put the raisins along with the Tia Maria in a small microwave safe bowl, microwave on medium low in 30 seconds increments until Tia Maria starts to be absorbed into the fruit. Set aside.

    Roughly crush Tim Tams in transfer to a mixing bowl.

    you want pieces of the biscuits still to be visible

    Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat, stir gently until chocolate is melted. Set aside.

    Add walnuts to the Tim Tams in mixing bowl, add sour cream, melted chocolate mixture and Tia Maria soaked fruit. Stir vigourously with a wooden spoon.

    Divide mixture between paper cupcake case and press down firmly with the back of a spoon.

    *Refrigerate overnight. 

    the inside of the Tim Tam treats looks like this

    Before serving top the Tim Tam treats top the treats with chocolate icing, melted chocolate or chocolate ganache if desired. 

    *the refrigerating overnight step cannot be skipped, the biscuit pieces swell and the treats will be the correct chocolately fudgey consistency. 

    Happy baking :)

     You might also be interested in: 

    Toblerone dessert in 30 minutes

    or try a white chocolate plastique recipe

    Sunday
    Nov272011

    Jingle Bells cupcake pick

                                          jingle bells cupcake picks

              Jingle bells, jingle bells,

    Jingle all the way.

    Oh! what fun it is to ride

    In a one-horse open sleigh.

    Jingle bells, jingle bells,

    Jingle all the way

     Jingle Bells; written by James Lord Pierpont,  first published in 1857 as a Thanksgiving song.

    I've officially start my Christmas baking this week :) Usually I start *cough *splutter... Septemberish (though there was one June when I made puddings) but with the landscaping business running this year the schedule is a little tight.

    Yes, I am one of those annoying "organised" people and the presents are wrapped and ready to go. Though, I still like a handful of emergency quick things just in case and cupcake picks fit the bill.

    I do love a cupcake pick and I love SilverCrow Creations a online store full of all sorts of odd assortments and sundries like the "jingle bell bottle caps" I used today :)

    The *caps are pins that you can wear, (scoff now but after three of those cranberry cocktails and you'll be wearing light up reindeer ears!!) and double as a Christmas keepsake. 

    Whether you decide on a message bottle cap or another Christmas pin that takes you fancy, attach to a toothpick with a little ball of fondant. Let dry, dust or paint over the fondant piece with edible colour and voilà you have yourself a cupcake pick!! 

    Happy Baking :)

    *search "jingle bells" on SilverCrow Creations to find the bottle caps

    You might also be interested in Tia Maria mini pudding cupcakes

    Friday
    Nov252011

    A Zumbo Macaron

    clockwise front: raspberry caramel, lime and mint mojito, cola, lemon verbena, caramelised pumpkin seeds and milk chocolate, chilli and cinnamon.

    On a recent trip to Sydney my step son Daniel and his beautiful girlfriend Trish went macaron shopping at pastry chef extraordinaire Adriano Zumbo's Balmain store. Daniel returned to Melbourne laden with pastries and boxes of macarons. 

    Daniel and Trish

    Goodness all the macarons were incredibly good and the perfect example of what a macaron should be. With super thin crisp shells yielding to soft and chewy interiors and "oh, the fillings" well, lets have a look at the flavours.... 

    Raspberry Caramel; this reminded me of something from childhood, perhaps the caramelised jam at the bottom of jam pudding?  I, who doesn't like caramel usually loved this one. There is the traditional "burnt sugar" taste to these and the punch of raspberry from the not overly sweet jam like filling.

    Lime and Mint Mojito; Daniel and Trish's favourite flavour... and my husband was quiet taken with these too. The strongest colour and flavour of all macaron's we tasted, a clear burst of lime followed by a fresh mint flavour. Bit "sparkly" and pretty these ones :)

    Cola; Yes, it tasted like "cola". Nice colours, we all liked it with Daniel commenting he would have liked the cola flavour to be more pronounced. 

    Lemon Verbena; Who would have thought?? After 18 years of marriage my husband and I finally agreed on something!! We both voted the unassuming, pale leafy green macaron our "favourite". Beautifully balanced flavour and it is was refreshing and creamy at the same time.

    Caramelised Pumpkin Seeds; Voted "ok" by all of us. They weren't awful, but they weren't a "stand out" like some of the other flavours. 

    Milk Chocolate Chilli and Cinnamon; These were "yum", just the right amount of heat in these babies, contrasting with the creaminess of the milk chocolate filling. If I was only to buy one flavour to serve at a party/dinner these would it. Fun and delicious.  

    We also tried a few individual tarts, including 'Grandma's soap' a lavender concoction comprising of blueberry compote, fresh blueberries, lavender chantilly & almond cème. The classic passionfruit curd and and pâte sucrée and the fab 'Whizz Fizz'...

    Inside the Whizz Fizz tart with it's raspberry meringue, sherbet, raspberry compote, liquorice crème. This was "Wow!!". The pastry in all the tarts is so good and unlike any pâte sucrée I've tasted before, my goal for 2012 is to emulate, that taste, texture and flavour.

    Well, it's a big week for Adriano Zumbo with his new store opening at Star Casino. If your in Sydney you must go check it out. 

    Oh, don't forget it's Zumbo's MACARON day this Sunday... go with an empty belly and fill up on the plethora of fabulous flavours. Get all your updates for the day straight from Zumbo's website, browse the patisserie menu whilst there.  Zumbo 

    Happy Baking :) 

    I'll looking at the Zumbo cookbook in up coming weeks but for now you might be interested in; Daniel's review of Lindt's Chocolate Cafe  

    or a review of the Laurent Patisserie