Summary

Give me cake or give me death cookies.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Gingerbread House 2013: Merry Christmas!

Last year I made a modest, cute little gingerbread house. This year I initially wanted to do the same... but ended up with Gingerbread Manor.

christmasgingerbread house


 In total there were 19 windows, lots of M&Ms, hundreds and thousands and, quite literally, hundreds of sugar pearls.


I hand-placed each and every sugar pearl on each and every window. I never want to see another one again. At least, not until next year.

I started making the gingerbread 'architecture' at 8pm last night and finished at around midnight. I started decorating today at 12:30, and finished at 5pm. Here is the 'making of'!

Just until the royal icing sets...
(View from the back)


And just so you get a feel for the scale:


Happy holidays everyone!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Unicorn Poop Cookies (Rainbow Cookies): Photo Blog

It's seriously about time I made these.


I used a basic butter cookie recipe, modified a little from the original recipe I found on the net to help ensure the cookies didn't flatten and lose their shape while baking. The recipe is as follows:

-12oz unsalted butter
-2 cups sugar
-4 eggs
-5 1/2 cups plain flour
-2tsp vanilla
-1tsp salt
-1 level tsp baking powder

And then to decorate:

-Wilton Sparkle Gel (white)
-Star sprinkles
-Edible irridescent glitter

To make the dough, cream the butter and sugar together, whisk in the eggs, salt and vanilla, and carefully stir in the flour and baking powder. Then divide it into equal sections (six, in my case), and colour with food colouring- gel is best so it doesn't get watered down.

Looks and feels like Playdoh!
Then you parcel up your coloured lumps of dough and chill in the fridge for two hours or more to firm up.

Then you take them back out of the fridge, fire up the oven to 190 degrees C, line and grease some baking sheets, and divide each of your colours evenly up into eight pieces (at least, that's what the original instructions say- I ended up dividing them up into smaller portions to make less gargantuan cookies. And they were still pretty big).


Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cookies are set and before they go brown.

Once cool. brush with sparkle gel, stick on your sugar sprinkles and dust over some glitter. Then package up all pretty to give as gifts!


















Yes, I made the packaging too (although I sourced the actual picture of the rainbow-farting unicorn itself from the interwebs).

As for how to shape the cookies... better I show rather than tell.

Let's go!

This is what the baked cookie looks like from the inside. It's pretty tasty, not too sweet- kind of like shortbread.


All bagged up and ready to go!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars- Recipe

I found some pre-made refrigerated cookie dough in the supermarket the other day, and bought it on impulse.


However once I got home I realised that I had no intention of making chocolate chip cookies from a tube- I was feeling creative. A quick search on the internet on how to use pre-made cookie dough, and I found a few recipes for chocolate chip cheesecake bars. Cookies and cheesecake? Awesome!

As I was getting my ingredients ready in the kitchen, I unearthed a can of pumpkin pureé, and remembered that I've been meaning to try making a pumpkin pie cheesecake-type thing.

Ding.

Ingredients:

-1 lot of pre-made chocolate chip cookie dough
-4oz cream cheese (about half of a regular pack)
-Half a can of pumpkin pureé
-1/4 cup sugar
-1 egg
-1tsp vanilla
-1/2tsp each of cinnamon and nutmeg

Method:

1) Preheat the oven to 180 degreees C, line an 8" square baking tray with foil and lightly oil or butter it.


2) Take 2/3 of your cookie dough and spread it evenly on the bottom of the tin (I wetted the back of a spoon with water to make spreading it around easier.


3) Lightly whisk together all of the other ingredients together in a bowl (I used a balloon whisk- I thought using an electric one would beat in too much air and ruin the smooth texture I wanted).

 

4) Pour the pumpkin cheesecake mixture over your cookie dough base.


5) Break off bits of your remaining cookie dough and scatter it over the top of the cheesecake (a bit like a cobbler).


6) Bake for about 35 minutes, take out of the oven and cool.


7) Chill for at least 3 hours, cut into squares, serve and enjoy!


Sunday, 1 December 2013

Rugelach for Chanukkah

Rugelach are rich, rolled-up cream cheese cookies, either in a spiral shape or mini croissant shape, and filled with anything from fruit to chocolate chips. Mine here have raisins, chopped pecans and cinnamon sugar.


Friday, 29 November 2013

Silver and Black Cupcakes for a 30th

Another request. My brief was simple: 30 vanilla cupcakes, something silver and black, and featuring the number '30'. Here is what I came up with.


I was pretty proud of myself because I did these after coming home from my Mandarin evening class. I was up until 1:30am making them: dedication!

The black butterflies were made out of rice paper, and are completely edible. The '30's are also edible, made out of grey buttercream and sprayed with edible silver lustre.





Friday, 22 November 2013

Gluten Free Football Cupcakes

Happy birthday to Daniel, who turns 10 today!


Some of you might remember I made a large gluten free football birthday cake last year for my colleague's son last year, who has coeliac. The cake was a success, and I was only too happy to make more gluten free goodies this year. Of course, whenever I make cakes for my colleague's family, I always make them GF, to make sure Daniel can have some too.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

A Trifling Experiment: Part 3 (Matcha Strawberry Trifle)

I did say I'd try green tea and red bean, but as much as I love the combination, I felt like a trifle isn't a real trifle without some form of fruit- and so it became a matcha strawberry trifle.


I love matcha green tea. For so long it was only really popular in the Far East and South East Asia, while remaining obscure here in the West. Thankfully, not unlike the phenomenon of bubble tea, it's gaining popularity here- and fast.


The components of this trifle were:

-Home made matcha sponge cake
-Fresh strawberries
-Thinned strawberry jam
-Home made custard
-Whipped cream

It was wonderfully light and fresh, with the smooth slight bitterness of the green tea softening the sweetness of the strawberries. A definite contender.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Chocolate Orange Cake- Recipe

A chocolate sponge cake with chocolate orange buttercream. Sounds fancy, but it's really just once magic ingredient that turns this otherwise regular (and delicious) chocolatey cake into a chocolate orange cake: orange extract. A teaspoon of this stuff in the chocolate buttercream makes it taste just like a certain branded orange-shaped chocolate.



Ingredients for Cake:

-6oz (170g) softened unsalted butter
-6oz (170g) caster sugar
-4oz (110g) self raising flour
-2oz (60g) cocoa powder
-3 eggs
-5tbsp milk
-A pinch of salt

Ingredients for Buttercream:

-175g softened unsalted butter
-650g icing sugar
-125g cocoa powder
-150ml milk
-1tsp orange oil

Method:

1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and grease/ line two 8" round baking pans.

2) Cream the sugar and butter together until fluffy and light, and then beat in the eggs until smooth.

3) Sift in half of the dry ingredients together and whisk in. Beat in the wet ingredients, and then incorporate the rest of the dry stuff.

4) Evenly distribute between the two pans, level out with the back of a spoon or spatula, tap each pan on the counter to get rid of air bubbles and bake in the oven for about 25mins (or until a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean, or if you poke the sponge with your finger it bounces back).

5) Cool on wire racks until completely cold.

6) To make the buttercream, beat the butter by itself in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. As you did with the sponge, alternate between dry and wet ingredients, first sifting in and then whisking up half of the dry stuff with the butter, whisking in the wet stuff and then adding in the rest of the dry.

7) Sandwich your cooled cake rounds with a bit of the buttercream, and spread the rest over. Eat with gusto!

Decoration Tips

I made up a tiny amount of plain orange buttercream (made the same way as above only without the cocoa powder), and coloured it green and orange to decorate the cake. As you can see, I also de-constructed an actual Terry's chocolate orange to add the finishing touches, too.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

A Trifling Experiment- Part 2

Blueberry banana cheesecake trifle.


Oh my. This trifle was delicious, but so, so heavy. A definite no for ending a dinner party, where everyone will already be stuffed by the end. Last week's blueberry strawberry and peach trifle is still in the lead!

The components of this one were:

-Vanilla sponge
-Whipping cream
-No-bake cheesecake filling (made with low fat cream cheese, vanilla pudding mix, whipped cream and condensed milk)
-Sliced fresh bananas
-Fresh blueberries
-Blueberry compote

It's also not as attractive as last week's contestant, either. Ah, well. Like I said, delicious- but heavy. Much better to end a dinner party with something lighter.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

A Trifling Experiment: Part 1

Blueberry, strawberry and peach trifle.

blueberry, strawberry and peach trifle

My house is going to invite a couple of relatives around for Christmas this year, and I'm in charge of dessert (surprised?) Trifle seems to be a popular request amongst family members, so I'm going to be test-running a few ideas for trifle in the run up to the get-together- making them in small individual portions for now so my house doesn't get fat before the actual party. Starting... now.

The components of this one were:

-Vanilla sponge
-Vanilla bean custard
-Whipped cream
-Blueberry compote and fresh blueberries
-Strawberry jam (thinned with a little water) and fresh strawberries
-Peach purée and sliced peaches

Everything was home-made, apart from the strawberry jam (I considered making strawberry compote too, but I felt like good old strawberry jam is more fun).

Oh, and I topped them with gold star sprinkles and sprayed the top lightly with edible gold spray, to try and get into a Christmassy mood (it didn't work, I only felt a little grumpy since it's only October- but it did look cute).


I'm thinking once I've done a few I'll do a final family vote to decide on which one to make for the dinner party. It might be a tough call- this one already got rave reviews, and it's only my first attempt.

Some (but not all) ideas I'm going to try:

-Banana blueberry cheesecake trifle
-Crystal traffic light jelly trifle
-Pumpkin and gingerbread trifle
-Strawberry chocolate trifle
-Green tea red bean trifle

Can't wait!