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    Entries in green (25)

    Tuesday
    Oct222013

    Catrin Day of the Dead Cupcake

    catrin day of the dead cupcake

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    Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. November 2nd is the official date for Day of the Dead, it is celebrated between October 31st and November 2nd.

    In 2013 Day of the Dead celebrations begin November 1st and finish November 2nd. 

    I've made a Cartrin this year, because a lady needs a dance partner. 

    Made in the same way as the Catrina skull last year, you start with a white egg shaped piece of fondant or modelling paste.

    Roll small sausage shapes and add to the skull to build up features. Use your finger tips and modelling tools to blend and shape the skull. Use a toothpick to mark out cracks and scratches on the skull.

    Start the body with a torso shaped piece of fondant or puffed rice treat. If using puffed rice treat, cover with a base layer of fondant first. Cut a vest and apply with damp brush, I had imprinted the rolled fondant so I dusted with green lustre dust at this stage to bring out the pattern and add depth of colour. Small balls of fondant were marked with a toothpick and attached as the buttons.

    Make white collar for the shirt, attach. Proceed to make the jacket, again attaching with a brush barely dampened with water.

    Bow tie is made with two rectangles, the larger one is pinched in the middle and shaped. The smaller one is wrapped around the center of the large one.

    Make pocket handkerchiefs with small triangles, attach to jacket and then attach false pocket flap to the top.

    For the hat I used puffed rice treat to reduce the weight, I know he is a skeleton and all but I didn't want to squoosh his head. Squeeze and shape the puffed rice treat into a top hat, cover with fondant. Make a band and brim with fondant.

    For the buttonaire see Catrina Cupcake  

    Leave the pieces to dry, supported where necessary to keep the shapes. Once dry use dusts to shade the piece and insert either a strand of dry spaghetti or a small wooden through the whole piece and attach to your cupcake.

    Happy Baking :)  

    Amazon has a range of day of the dead figures... click on the Senorita to visit Amazon :) 

    You might also be interested in a recipe for quick and easy Chocolate Peanut Spiders for the kids and young at heart.

    Saturday
    Sep142013

    Frankenstein's Monsters Cupcake

                                 Frankenstein's Monsters Cupcake; topper made from modelling chocolate and fondant

    “I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel...” Mary Shelley

    Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel written by Mary Shelley about eccentric scientist Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. Wikipedia

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    Goodness, I'm late, I'm late, I'm always running late but instead of making a white rabbit/Alice in Wonderland cupcake I had a slight panic moment when I saw Martha Stewart's Halloween issue is out already... it must be time to work out this years Halloween baking theme. Shall it be classic monsters? Yet, I've never done Hitchcock before.

    Mad scientists appeal to me. I think I can make something with a bowl of green goo (green coloured peanut butter turned into powder perhaps?) or pop rocks/space candy, I love pop rocks, I could fill test-tubes with those and give them out to sprinkle of top of frosted cupcakes or bake them into the cases of chocolate chilli tarts.

    Hmmm, what to do? What will you do? 

     

    Also out now the first edition of Taste.com.au magazine. Definitely worth a look, with  Zumbo, Manu and Matt Preston writing stories/recipes plus a plethora of other aussie food journalists. Paper copy from Woolies, digital copy from itunes. 

    I'm off now to read Martha Stewarts Halloween :) Happy Baking. 

    Monday
    Sep242012

    Attack of the Swamp Zombie cupcake

                                attack of the swamp Zombie cupcake

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    The dietician on talk back radio was saying "don't deny your chocolate cravings just buy a Freddo Frog instead of a whole block of chocolate"... first thing I thought... hope that includes cream frogs! 

    Some might consider 1950's sci fi and horror films schlock; I prefer to think of them as little gems, their black and white film reels disguised with bright and lurid poster art.

    1950's poster art

    Besides they are so much fun and a great inspiration for Halloween cupcakes. Today's cupcake relies on "a hand", it can be a zombie, a sea creature or perhaps an alien hand. Make your hands with fondant or modelling paste the night before you need them, insert a tooth pick or a piece of dry spaghetti amd the leave to dry. Next day pop them in your fondant, iced or frosted cupcakes and they are ready to hold your treat of choice.

    I used Cadbury Cream Freddo's, they come in Strawberry or Peppermint. 

    Just before serving I broke the Peppermint filled Freddo Frogs to allow for the right amount of Halloween goo. 

    Happy Baking :)

    Thursday
    May312012

    Fondant Masquerade Masks

                       green with envy fondant masquerade mask

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    You are invited to the ball, the Masquerade ball... 

    Special post today on getting more use out of your silicone moulds. Hmmm, doesn't sound that "special" does it? But what you make will be!!

    Don't you love those cake decorating silicone moulds, press in a bit of fondant or modelling paste and hey presto you have a modelled shape in no time. But, but, but, what happens when you have used your mould a few times and you're bored with the shape? Does it end up in the draw with all those other moulds that you just "had to have"? Why don't you try extending the shape, you'll have the time saving aspect of using a mould combined with your own decorating ideas. 

    measuring a tiny 4.5 cm (less that two inches) across the  jewel mask uses the same mould as the green with envy mask in cake one.

    The masquerade masks on cake one and two today are make with the same mould. Cake three adds a mask to the mask mould and cake four gets it's pizzazz from a side extension. All cakes displayed in fondant covered mini cupcakes today.

    For the gold and diamond mask I've added a "mask onto the mask"

    Pretty in pink mask has a simple side extension added.

    Extensions to your masks can as simple as rolling a thin snake of fondant, from there you twist, twirl and roll to create trims and ribbon.

    Create extension pieces by matching the base with mask depth, thinning out from there as required. I use small pieces of plastic wrap to create shapes in the fondant before and after they have been attached to figures. When adding fondant feathers and the like, make sure they are rolled as thinly as possible as you don't want to add too much weight to your pieces.

    Use a tootpick/cocktail stick to create twirls.

    I used Americolour food spray paint sheen colours undiluted to paint the masks. Try mixing two colours together for a unique finish. A small brush like the type used to paint toy models is ideal for painting trims and details.

     first of two coats on mask, orange food pen circles eyes before painting to change colour of painted finish.

    All bits and bobs attached with water with the exception of the isomalt gems I attached those with a dab of melted isomalt. Some of the fondant I marbled by twisting several colours of fondant together, I like how that adds a textured element to the feathers. Americolor gel paste was used to colour fondant. Ummm, what else... oh, ok if you want to put your masks on toothpicks make sure you make a hole with toothpick in the unmoulded piece before it hardens.

    Have fun getting more from moulds and happy baking :)

    Stockists: Full face mask moulds from Cakes Around Town (Australia) Masquerade Masks mould from Baking Pleasures (Australia) and Windsor Cake Crafts (UK)

    Baking Pleasures has the airbrush sheen colours in Australia (*note we are paying a lot more than the US price)

    Amazon (US)  

    Want more fondant? How about Eric the Valentine Emu

    or go gold with a fondant gold fish

    Sunday
    May272012

    Little Bo Peep Cupcake - Steaming Fondant

                           little Bo Peep cupcake with steamed fondant finish

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    Been watching 'Cake Boss'? Always wanted to try steaming your fondant but worried your flowers will droop, your bows flop and your bits fall off? It's easier than you think, trays of fondanted cupcakes to your giant tiered creation literally take seconds to steam to that shiny finish you have always desired.

    A quick look at steaming today...

    my portable steamer for cakes... and my clothes when the fibromyalgia prevents me from ironing!

    Firstly, the steamer unit; we are talking "clothing steamers" here, the type you would use to get the wrinkles out of a business shirt or your work jacket. Clothes steamers are either freestanding (like the ones Buddy uses on Cake Boss) or portable like the one I use.

    I use a small portable steamer unit.

    Make sure your steamer head is clear from any blockage.

    All the steamers work in pretty much the same way; you put water in the tank and turn it on. Make sure your hose isn't tangled and your steamer head is clear from any blockage and you are ready to steam!! You will know it's ready to use when you see steam coming from the head.

    Steam: Not standing too close to your cake and using light sweeping movements, (similar to if you are spraying painting) move your steamer head over your fondanted cake. This only take seconds. You will now have a shiny cake.

    Troubleshoot: 

    You don't want to melt your cake so don't linger on any one spot with the steamer... light sweeping movements only. As you can see on the quick demo cupcake I made, even the finest modelling paste pieces like the bow and crook won't collapse and your lashes/eyes and bit and bobs won't fall off when light steaming has taken place.

    Avoid any risk of water spotting by making sure your hose is not kinked, a kinked hose will lead to a build up of steam and water droplets that will stain your cake. Ditto with the steaming head; blockages lead to water droplets. 

    Practice!! Practice steaming on dummy fondanted cupcakes/cake if it's your first time, it's the best way to get  to know your particular steamer and will save you any heartbreak down the track. 

    Colors intensify/change with steaming. If you are matching a clients fabric sample for example you will need to check the steamed colour change. 

    I've used the cute little boiled lollies on the demo Little Bo Peep Cupcake today to remind you of what the surface of your steamed cake will feel like after steaming; a little bit sticky/tacky. Your cake will fingerprint easily, dust etc will attach to the surface, something to keep in mind if you will be transporting your cake. 

    Isomalt gems, sugar work, boiled lollies and candies are not meant to be steamed, but if your steaming at the venue, the cake is about to be devoured then of course you can steam.

    That about covers it, steamed fondant finishes can look fabulous whether it's shiny, shiny, primary colours or a gentle sheen on ivory.

    Have fun and happy steaming :) 

    Friday
    May112012

    Isomalt sugar drizzled decorations

    pink drizzle isomalt decoration tops a mini fondant covered cupcake

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    With a zillion (ok, not quite... but a lot!!) of dessert and cake decorating possibilities "isomalt drizzles" are quick and super easy to make when using precooked isomalt sticks. 

    I used CakePlay's clear isomalt sticks in all today's pieces. The sticks are available in a range of colours, but I prefer colouring the clear isomalt myself. 

    tools and black isomalt drizzles 

    The only tools you will need are: a spoon, a pair of scissors (oil the blades), a non stick baking mat and a small pyrex or equivalent microwave safe glass jug. 

    If you want to shape your pieces, silicone moulds or any food safe heat proof surface like a tin can, the back of a muffin tin etc can be used... though do oil the surface first, isomalt is mighty sticky! 

    Pieces of sticks are melted in a microwave safe container, a small pyrex jug is ideal. From there you can add a few drops of food colouring and flavouring if desired, move your spoon gently through the melted isomalt to incorporate colour. Concentrated gel paste colour work best, as you don't want to add to much moisture to the isomalt.

    Gently lift your spoon up and down in the melted isomalt until it thickens slightly and it looks like this....

    try red isomalt drizzles for all your romantic occassions

    Start drizzling!! Drizzle directly onto a non stick baking mat for flat pieces. Drizzle over your oiled mould of choice for shaped pieces or if using silicone you can drizzle directly on the surface. Shaped drizzles hold their shape and you can create baskets or cages with the same method.

    Scissors with oiled blades are used for cutting any errant threads of isomalt and can also be used for trimming/cutting the finished pieces into shapes if desired.

     

    Japanese Forest Cupcake; offset piping and green tea flavoured black sesame isomalt drizzle to complete the organic look. 

    Solid colour density is achieved by adding a drop or two of white food colouring simultaneously with your colour of choice. For the Japanese forest cupcake I made a slurry of green tea powder and water to add with a drop of white food colouring. Without the addition of "white" the colour is a murky/clear green. 

    If your isomalt hardens before you have finished your drizzles, reheat in 5 second increments in the microwave. Some food colouring shades alter on reheating, for that reason I prefer to work in small multiple batches. 

    To attach isomalt to fondant covered cakes, simply dip the base of your finished drizzle into melted isomalt and attach to your cake... isomalt will set almost instantly giving you a securely attached topper. 

    Isomalt or sugar work pieces are susceptible to moisture and are best used within a few hours. If storage is must, you can try and store the toppers single file in an airtight container with silica sachets... be warned in humid weather you still run the risk of the pieces becoming cloudy.

    Whether you are topping a cupcake or creating a serving basket for you your sorbet, hope you have fun creating isomalt drizzles.

    Happy Baking :)

     *isomalt and sugar and extremely hot when melted, please take extra care when working with either. Remove pets and young children from the room and have a bowl of iced water handy in case of burns. 

    *troubleshoot... "My spoon is in the jug and isomalt has set so I can't microwave"... pop your jug into a bowl, pour boiling water around the jug until isomalt has softened enough to lift out your spoon. 

    *keep your pieces small, thin and easily edible... you don't want broken crowns/dental work spoiling the moment.

    * isomalt sticks are available from cake decorating stores, in Australia I got mine from baking pleasures

       around $15 in Oz or $10 in US for 12 sticks. Also available from Amazon in bulk amounts or single packets 

     

    You might also be interested in toffee springs

    or perhaps flowers made from Starburst lollies for Mothers Day here

     

    Saturday
    Dec242011

    White Chocolate Cranberry and Pistachio Rocky Road

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    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 :)

    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
    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 

    Thursday
    Sep292011

    Menopause Fairy Cupcake

                                                     menopause fairy cupcake

     

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    Where are the middle aged fairies? All faires seems to be young, nubile and so perfectly pretty... then we jump to the elderly fairy godmother. What happens in between? One of my girlfriends suggested "perhaps they just aren't seen". Oh, that is a sad thought... so if you know a fairy or a woman between 45 and 55 make sure they are "seen" today!! 

    I've always loved the fairies that the fabulous cake decorator Dot Klerck of 'Eat Cake Party' makes; today's "Menopause Fairy Cupcake" is a spin on Dot's design. To see the talented Dot's fairies and the rest of her amazing cakes check out her flickr photostream.

    I used fresh lime leaves to create the fondant leaves

    Don't have leaf cutters or leaf veining moulds? In a pinch you can roll your fondant or modelling paste onto the back of a food safe, unsprayed leaf. Washed and dried mature leaves work best. Place a small ball of fondant on the back of the leave, roll lightly over it with a rolling pin. Peel off the fondant leaf, trim if necessary and drape over rolling pin or spoon to create shape, leave to dry.

    Happy Baking :)

    You might also like Eric the Emu