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    Entries in strawberry (3)


    Strawberry agar agar jelly pearls

    strawberries and cream cupcake topped with strawberry agar agar jelly pearls

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    Goodness, I had a fabulous finish to 2010 when I was invited in December to give an interview on the gorgeous blog Haniela's, then on Christmas Eve I was featured on my all time favourite cupcake blog Cupcakes Take The Cake which caused me to burn the turkey I'm sure as I was so distracted and happy!! 

    On to the first cupcake of 2011, which ties into answering the first email of year (ok, technically this a December 2010 mail but you know I'm always running behind) which comes from Issy in Auckland NZ and read.....

    hi love your blog and I wanted to know if you can make fruit pearls without the chemicals. I'm a vegetarian so gelatine isn't an option. i wanted fruit pearls to go on cupcakes. 

    Thanks for the mail Issy. The chemicals Issy is referring to are from an earlier post I did on making fruit caviar/pearls with the molecular gastronomy method favoured by many chefs. 

    Ok, Issy you can make fruit pearls or caviar with just agar agar, however you have to use them immediately if you are using them for cupcake toppers as they shrink dramatically when exposed to air. They do taste exactly of the juice you use & are easy to handle. Unlike the molecular gastronomy version that are a gel "case" with fluid inside the agar agar version are a solid soft gel. 

    Making Strawberry Agar Agar Pearls

    you will need accurate scales and a plastic syringe


    100 ml (3.4 fluid oz) of strawberry juice or juice of choice

    1 gram (0.035 oz) of agar agar powder

    1 cup of flavourless vegetable oil

    Apple juice for storing the pearls in. 


    In a small saucepan whisk together the juice and the agar agar powder. Over medium heat, whisking constantly bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the agar agar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let the mixture stand for 4 to 5 minutes.

    Fill your syringe with the juice mixture and add to the oil... drop by drop.

    Strain the pearls from the oil and transfer to apple juice until ready to use. The apple juice washes away the oil residue and the leftover cup of oil can be reused for baking.


    Now you will have perfect small fruit pearls ready to top your cupcakes.

    And here comes the "but"... these guys shrink dramatically when exposed to air.

    On the left is one of the fruit pearls after being exposed to air for 3 hours, on the right is a nonpareil (a hundred and thousand sprinkle). 

    As you can see the shrinkage is extreme, but if you're serving them straight away they are pretty, taste great and easy to make. 

    Hope that helped Issy, let me know if you decide to  make them. 

    Happy Baking :)

    Related posts...

    Plum fruit caviar/pearls the molecular gastronomy method

    A hybrid gel that moulds easily and is extremely stable, made from gelatine/agar agar is used to create gel shapes for topping peanut butter frosting.


    Sexy Rhubarb Cupcake

    Two radio food critics were talking about Rhubarb, saying there is nothing sexy about rhubarb... it's always going to be Grannies & chintz whatever you do. 

    I disagreed!! So here is my sexy rhubarb cupcake. Light vanilla sponge, topped with whipped cream, rhubarb pieces gently poached in sugared strawberry puree with shards of real strawberry sugar toffee.

    I did try raspberry first but the rhubarb needed a sweet partner (don't we all!) to balance the sharpness. I sacrificed the clarity of the sugar work to include the real fruit puree.

    When cooking with rhubarb; poach gently to keep the shape of the pieces, barely covered in sugar syrup & if you cook it and it is falling into stringy bits follow the advice of the Grand Dame of Australian cooking Stephanie Alexander; puree the rhubarb and use the puree in your dessert recipes. Totally agree with Stephanie Alexander, it's horrible to be served a bowl of stringy rhubarb floating in water... yuk! Cooked correctly it's wonderful, even "sexy" ;)


    Rognures = Pie Cupcakes

    French for puff pastry scraps or trimmings

    Spent the day making puff pastry or sourced a good butter puff and don't want to waste your scraps? You could make cookies, but how about "pie cupcakes?" Crisp, buttery, sugared pastry tops fruit filling in your favourite cupcake base. 

    American as Apple Pie cupcake Vanilla buttermilk cupcake, cinnamon apple filling, whipped cream and crisp sugared pastry triangle. 

    Strawberry Pie cupcake Yellow butter cupcake, fresh strawberry jam & sugared puff pastry heart cut outs. 

    Blueberry Pie cupcake Sponge cake base, blueberry pie filling, topped with star cut out patterned pastry top.