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    Entries in red (49)

    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!!  

    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
    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

    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 

    Friday
    Nov042011

    An Australian Kind of Christmas Cupcake

                    an Australian kind of Christmas cupcake

    Without a large showing for Halloween and no Thanksgiving, Australians go into "Christmas mode" very early. Christmas work parties are on, shopping centres are crowded and puddings are being boiled. 

    Blue skies promise a hot and sunny Christmas and your not Australian if you haven't sat outside perspiring on a 40 Celsius (104 F) Christmas day, swatting away flies and eating a steaming hot bowl of your Aunt's special Christmas Pudding. 

    Regardless of the hot weather we hold onto our British heritage, so along with the BBQ prawns and couscous salad there will be a hot roast turkey dinner or two, puddings, shortbreads, fruit mince pies and national dishes from the many different nationalities that make up Australia. 

    It can all make for a hodge podge type of meal, but I love it and it's "us"... we have hot roast turkey and duck fat roasted potatoes and all the trimmings plus we have cold seafood and salads. Chocolate peppermint ice-cream pudding for dessert, with left overs and hot puddings to be served on Boxing Day. 

    Today's Koala holding onto a Christmas pudding cupcake is topped partly with fondant and part fondant/modelling chocolate. The 50/50 fondant modelling chocolate is easy to work with when making figures, I do like white fondant for the white details. Happy Baking :)

    The modelling chocolate recipe I used is here

    Hubby Mark is 41 and still hasn't seen snow... but he does love Frosty the snowman.

    Wednesday
    Oct262011

    Mars Attack!! No bake Mars Bar "planets". 

    mars attacks!!! push pops

    Have you entered the cake push pop container competition yet??  I have sample packs of six push pop cake containers to give away to six lucky people.   All you have to do is leave a comment here or on facebook explaining in 25 words of less "your idea" for pops... could be for the cake part or perhaps an event idea. Hubby Mark and Step son Dan will choose two winners each and I'll choose two winners. Competition drawn the last weekend of October. 

    Last minute non-scary Halloween treats for the little ones, fun no-bake Mars Bars Planet push pops.  A versatile quick and easy mix that can be pressed into cupcake cases, roll in balls to make "planets" and either pop two in each push pop cake container or insert a lollipop stick for planet pops. 

    Give the kids assorted coloured fondant to make simple aliens, a food marker can be used to draw the eyes, mouth or nose if desired. Encourage simple shapes and supply a small paint brush and a glass of water so arms and legs can be attached. 

    simple shapes, easy for little hands to manage

    Mars Bar Planet Balls

    adapted from no-bake chocolate cakes Australian Women's Weekly 'Cupcakes' 

    Ingredients 

    265 grams  ( 9.34 oz) Mars Bars....  (5 bars)

    60 grams (2.11 oz) butter 

    3/12 cups Cocoa Pops (Cocoa Krispies) 

    Topping

    200 grams (7oz)  milk or dark eating chocolate (melted)

    Assorted small lollies/candies ... I used choc rocks

    Method 

    Slice Mars Bars and place them in a medium saucepan with the butter. Melt over low heat, stirring until smooth.

     Stir in Cocoa Pops until well combined and roll firmly into 24 balls (about 2 heaped teaspoons per ball).

    Top each ball with a little melted chocolate and a few lollies. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until set.

    Top with fondant aliens and package in cake push pop containers or in cellophane bags. 

    Other Ideas; Mars Bar mixture can also be used to replace LCM's (Rice Krispie Treats) as structural elements in your cake decorating. Easy to carve, shape and it's not as sticky as the marshmallow mixtures.

    Edible ice-cream bowls can be made by turning smalls bowls upside down, cover each bowl with plastic wrap and spray with oil in a can. Press Mars Bar mixture over the bowls to cover, trim edges if necessary and refridgerate for 30 minutes. Ease off the bowl moulds, peel away plastic wrap and you have "edible ice-cream bowls".

    Happy Halloween and Happy Baking :) 

    Thursday
    Sep222011

    Cupcake Cases, Liners, Papers & Wrappers 

    Cupcake liners can match your theme, just be pretty or act as an inspiration like these two gorgeous cupcake case entries featured today. 

    I'm now on facebook too!

    Ok, these are super cute aren't they? Going dotty with polka dot free-standing cases. These cases can be used for small desserts, ice-cream to hold lollies, nuts or for baking cupcakes. They do have a plastic film interior coating and are made in a wide range of colours to match your theme. 

    Available from The Party Studio (AU) and Bake it Pretty (US) 

    In case you missed these on facebook... gorgeous SK butterfly cupcake cases.

    Available in a range of colours from Squires Kitchen (UK)

    I have a new "good luck' baking charm in the form of a Momiji doll :)

    Momiji (pronounced mom-ee-jee) are collectible hand painted resin message dolls. The adorable dolls are given as small gifts to show friendship and love, each one has a place in the bottom for a hidden message.

    My Momiji 'Pixie' came packaged in a noodle box and is available from Tesora (AU)  

    and Amazon (US)  

    Happy Baking :)

    you might also be interested in...

    vestli house cupcake cases

    or brights

    Saturday
    Nov272010

    Mini Chocolate Cake Christmas Puddings

      quick and easy mini Tia Maria chocolate cake Christmas puddings cupcake toppers

    Join me on Facebook 

    It started yesterday with a "pucker", not a Jamie Oliver pucker but rather puckering cupcake liners after I baked chocolate sour cream cupcakes. 

     

     puckering of the liner caused by a higher fat recipe, is this case sour cream

    Hmmm, what to do? Why crumble the cakes and make mini puds of course! Small faux Christmas puddings are popular in Australia, although usually made from crumbled fruit cake I thought a chocolate version would placate all those that gag at the thought of dried fruit. Besides, they have Tia Maria in them so you know they are going to be good!

    Whilst there is no hard and fast recipe for these, I'm giving an example recipe made from six crumbled cupcakes... it will all depend on what cake you have on hand, store bought or homemade; chocolate mud cake, choc sour cream cake, chocolate pound cake or any moist dense chocolate cake would be good.

    Makes 18 mini puddings for mini cupcake toppers or 12 mini puddings to serve in chocolate cases.

    Ingredients

    6 crumbled moist chocolate cupcakes

    150g (5.3oz) melted dark eating chocolate

    3 tablespoons of *Tia Maria

    1/4 cup of cold black coffee sweetened to taste

    For decorating you will need melted white chocolate and any of the following... green and red sprinkles, edible glitter, chopped green and red glace cherries, chopped green and red jelly lollies or do what I did and make fondant leaves and a "cherry". 

    Method

    I started with 6 chocolate cupcakes and crumbled them into a mixing bowl.

    Stir in your melted chocolate and Tia Maria. Scoop up a little of mixture and squeeze it in your hand, if it feels moist and stays together it's ready, if it feels dry add a little of the coffee repeating the squeeze test until you have a truffle like consistency. Roll a practice ball, it should be smooth with no "cracking", add more coffee if necessary. 

    Moist mixture stays together and can easily rolled into balls

    Roll your pudding balls and top with a small amount of *melted white chocolate and top with sprinkles of choice.

    I used mine to top 12 mini ganache topped cupcakes. Just so cute they would make a perfect chocolate lovers gift this holiday season.

    Happy Baking :)

    *for orange choc mini puddings replace the Tia Maria and Coffee with Grand Marnier and orange juice.

    *for an alcohol free version replace the Tia Maria and Coffee with orange juice and also add 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest

    Mini cupcake liners from Martha Stewart Crafts ... note postage to Australia is slow, about 4 weeks.

    Tuesday
    Nov232010

    Gold Chinese Dragon Cupcake and Gold cupcake wrappers

     

                                                Enter the Dragon cupcake

    Chinese Dragon; this mythological symbol dates back to 3000 BC and stands for happiness, immortality, procreation, fertility and activity. Chinese Dragons were believed to ward off evil spirits. Take a look at a Chinese city and you will see dragons decorating ancient monuments and buildings, sometimes playing with a pearl or thunder-ball.

    Boy, the old Mac computer doesn't like the heat & has been constantly crashing today... I'm a bit behind schedule because of it, but I just had to show you my new cupcake cases!

    Love these free standing gold crown cupcake wrappers that come with removable white cupcake liners to bake in. Fabulous for potted plant cupcakes, Christmas tree pots or do as I did and swap the white case for another colour. The cakes sit at a slight angle in the square wrappers, but are still stable enough to transport.

    Available in square or round, I got mine from Bake it pretty (US)

    The Chinese dragon hand modelled from leftover white/grey modelling paste I had on hand. 

    Partially made dragon, cornflour (corn starch) dusted cardboard supports are in place for the drying process.

    After leaving to dry overnight I gave the dragon a coat of antique gold food paint & finished it off with a dusting of red & antique gold dust. 

    Happy Baking :) 

    Sunday
    Oct312010

    True Blood Cupcakes, Blood Sauce & Vampire Paper Dolls

                                          true blood cupcake

    You'll need a great tasting "blood" dessert sauce for your Halloween and horror themed parties. The following sauce is based on what we call in Australia 'heavy syrup', the addition of fresh raspberries not only gives you a great flavour but also cuts down or eliminates the need for red food colourings. 

    Unless you have an extremely sweet tooth there will be leftover heavy syrup, but you can refrigerate the leftover syrup in an airtight jar where it will keep indefinitely and be used to sweeten your fruit desserts, baking & cocktails. 

    Raspberry "Blood" Sauce

    2 cups of sugar

    2 cups of water

    1 cup of raspberries pureed and sieved 

    Raspberry liqueur (optional)

    Red food colour (optional)

    Combine the sugar and the water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, washing down any extra sugar crystals from the side with a wet pastry brush; cook until sugar is completely dissolved, keep an eye on it you don't want to end up with caramel, but rather a clear thick syrup. Allow to cool completely.

    To make the blood sauce; in bowl combine the pureed raspberries with syrup to taste, add a dash of raspberry liqueur and a few drops of red colouring if desired. Chill until ready to use.

    For 'True Blood' dessert cupcakes, pipe a circle of white frosting onto your cupcake making sure you have a "hole" in the centre to hold your sauce. When it's time to serve pop your cupcakes on serving plates and fill the hole with blood sauce. 

    Vampire Paper Dolls


    I LOVE THESE!! Vampire paper dolls by Tom Tierney contains a plethora of vampire characters from ancient Egypt up to.... yes, Edward and Bella!! There is The Vampire Cat of Nebeshima from Japan, Queen Akasha from The Queen of the Damned, Dracula and Vampira to name a few. 

    You get one "form" paper doll to dress but it's easy enough to use that as a template to cut out plain card forms. Imagine your vampire themed dinner party where each guest has a vampire doll with a matching cupcake... loads of fun :)

    HAPPY HALLOWEEN!! 

    Vampire paper dolls available from Amazon