Monday, 27 December 2010

Happy Christmas!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and it was filled with as many cupcake related prezzies as mine was! and filled with tasty treats! We had a rather unusual Christmas day and spent it at the beach...which was definitely a first! (note the sandballs instead of snowballs that we would have been playing with had we been back in the U.K)

As promised, here's a little snippet of some of our festive baking we've been upto!

These are a few of the 100 cupcakes we made for a church carol service on the Island.  
I know I know...candy canes and gingerbread you've seen it all before! but they really are such yummy festive flavours that they can't be beaten! 

Chocolate brownie cupcakes topped with peppermint buttercream and crushed candy canes.

Gingerbread cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting, a little gingerbread cookie star, and my favourite part was the gingerbread crumb! thanks to my sister for that idea...I will sure miss my baking partner when she goes back to England on Tuesday! boooo

We rolled these larger gingerbread cupcakes in gingerbread crumb and topped with 3 stars.

These cuppies got flat frosted with some fun cookies as toppers.

These were chocolate brownie cupcakes topped with chocolate frosting, a mini marshmallow and a dusting of icing sugar - a basic version of hot chocolate cupcakes.  

On Christmas eve, we made these delicious cookies courtesy of our Martha Stewart holiday cookies magazine.

They were chocolate and peppermint cookies, dipped in melted white chocolate and then sprinkled with crushed candy cane.  We wrapped them in cellophane and gave them to our friends here as gifts.

We even made a few star shaped ones and Christmas tree ones too...just for fun! and oh my I just remembered we still have cake balls in the freezer too that haven't even made it to the photographing stage yet...which is probably for the best, I'm not the most attentive cake ball maker! which leads to some pretty messy looking cake balls! 

Finally for the 'Pièce de résistance' we made a Buche de Noel for our Christmas Day feast.  Man that thing was hard work! We slaved away at it for hours! We used a total of 17 eggs altogether to make that...17 eggs! it was crazy! There were two types of buttercream, a rich chocolate buttercream and a malted chocolate buttercream.  We got the recipe out of a snazzy baking magazine that Mara brought with her, the method is 2 pages long so I'm not even going to bother typing all that out! Whilst we were pleased with the end result appearance wise, it actually looks pretty identical to the picture straight out of the magazine! the overall taste left something to be desired, all the chocolate used in the recipe called for 70% cocoa solids and I'm not the biggest dark chocolate fan, so in the end it was a little too rich for our taste buds but it made a nice centre piece! Check out my gorgeous new cake stand that Byron got me! Happy blogging more using the ugly plates from our rented apartment here! 

Friday, 24 December 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

The Sandies with our festively sprayed conch shells!

Today has been a crazy busy baking day! I baked and frosted 100 cupcakes for a church's carol service on the Island that's happening tonight.  I had some left over frosting and some leftover cake in the freezer so I am in the middle of making a few festive cake pops, and our chocolate peppermint cookies have just come out the oven and are waiting to be dipped with white chocolate.  We also still have a yule log to make too which will be our Christmas day pudding! so we are baking up a storm!

Here's a pic of some Sandies that Mara made yesterday morning while I went out to do some last minute gift shopping! They were taken from Martha Stewart's Holiday Cookies magazine.  The recipe was originally for Pecan Sandies but since Mara knows I'm not a nut fan she omitted them and replaced them with some festive red and green M&M's instead...which was a good move!

I've never had Sandies before...or even heard of them for that matter, apparently they are closely related to shortbread but they have a crumblier texture inside similar to particles of sand hence the name! and I was pleasantly surprised, they were delicious!  Mara topped them with some sanding sugar and little mini Hershey's festive colours of course.

If you want to make some here's our altered recipe:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain flour (all purpose)
1 cup red and green M&M's

To decorate:
Red and green sanding sugar
Red and green hershey's kissables

1. Preheat oven to 350degrees f.  Beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium high speed until fluffy, 3-4 minutes.  Beat in vanilla and salt.  Reduce speed to low, and gradually add flour, beating just until combined.  Fold in M&M's.

2. Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, and place on parchment lined baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart.  With the dampened bottom of a glass, lightly flatten each ball.

3. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are golden brown, 15-17 minutes.  Let cookies cool completely on wire racks, they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.  

Now onto a baking sister Mel's scrapbooking blog is having their blogiversary and two great prizes are up for grabs, there is one scrapbooking prize for those of you crafters out there and for all you bakers there is also an awesome gingerbread man related prize! So head on over to her post to enter. You have until the 28th, and it is open to all bloggers, no matter where you live! Hooray...I love international giveaways! 

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Chocolate Mint all kinds of festive ways!

So I'm officially all cupcaked out for the week! My fridge can't currently keep up with the amount of baking we're doing at the moment so I have a back log of goodies...which is never a bad thing!

On Friday night and yesterday morning Mara and I baked over 150 mini cupcakes! 24 were for a holiday gift sale in a local gallery to lure in potential customers! and the rest were for our church Christmas party in the evening.

We made half with my amazing Martha Stewart Brownie Cupcake recipe topped with peppermint buttercream from the Primrose Bakery, and half were the gingerbread cupcakes topped with gingerbread cookies after the ones we made the other day were such a success...but I didn't bother taking pictures of those since you saw them in the last post!

The cupcakes for the holiday sale got a sprinkling of red sanding sugar and broken up candy canes:

After that we did some flat frosting, and covered those in green and red sanding sugar...

and then we couldn't resist adding a tasty little festive mint m&m to finish them off:

We piped these with a cute star nozzle:

and topped some with festive sprinkles...

and the rest with peppermint oreo crumb...yummy!

If you want to make your own delicious festive cupcakes here is the recipe we used:

For the cupcakes:
(Makes approx 30 mini cupcakes)

1 1/2 cups plain chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 cup caster sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 cup sifted cocoa powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (Fahrenheit).  Place chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Stir occasionally until just melted, about 4-5 mins.
2. Remove bowl from heat.  Whisk in sugar and salt until mixture is smooth, whisk in eggs to combine.  Gently whisk in flour and cocoa just until smooth (do not overmix).
3. Fill cupcake cases until 3/4 full.  Bake, rotating tin halfway through, until a cake tester inserted halfway in centres, comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, about 15-20 mins (for mini cupcakes, 25-30mins for regular size cupcakes)

For the frosting:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
60ml semi-skimmed milk
1/2 teaspoon good quality peppermint extract
4 cups icing sugar, sifted

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, milk, peppermint extract and half the icing sugar until smooth. 2. Gradually add the remainder of the icing sugar and beat again until the buttercream is smooth and creamy.
3. Taste the icing at this stage to see if you want to add any more peppermint
4. Pipe on and decorate!

Friday, 17 December 2010

The festive baking continues....Gingerbread Man Cupcakes

So I now realise the importance of always listing your recipes along with your blog posts! Last Christmas I made some delicious Gingerbread Man Cupcakes with a random recipe I had found off google.  I have it written down but it is currently in England somewhere in my parents attic! There was no way I was going to remember which site it came from so this time round I went with a different one and it wasn't quite as delicious...still good, but if I'd have posted that recipe how much easier things would have been! 

We began by making gingerbread cookies to be the toppers for our cupcakes.  I had said let's make the cookies first and then while the cupcakes are cooking we can decorate the cookies...but no, our recipe produced an enormous amount of dough that seemed to be everlasting so for 4 hours straight on Tuesday night we made cookies...batch after batch after batch!

Then came the decorating!!! 

Mara was taking it very seriously! 
This was my first ever time 'flooding' a cookie, I was quite nervous but was pleased with how easy it turned out to be!

We had quite alot of Christmas sprinkles to use, and I was really happy with this cute little Christmas tree cutter I ordered off a baking website in England that Mara brought over for me.

Mara decorated her Christmas tree with individual green sprinkles around the edge which I thought was a good effect:

These were our cute teeny Gingerbread Men for our toppers, you might not be able to tell but the one on the left has a little red heart too - a tip we picked up from all The Martha Stewart Show's we have been watching on American T.V! 

Since we had so much cookie dough left over, we made quite alot of stars too! and went to town on the decorating, I love the one with the Candy Cane Kisses on top! 

At about 1am we decided to call it a night on the baking we resumed the following morning to make the cupcakes and finish our idea! 

The batter of the recipe we used produced was very light and fluffy.
While they were in the oven, I whipped up my cream cheese frosting with some trepidation.  The last 4 times I have made cream cheese frosting out here it has been a flop, literally.  I think because of the humidity and because the butter is always so soft to begin with, you take it out the fridge for like 10 minutes to soften and it's practically liquid by the time you're ready to put it in! 

Well...this is my super happy face! because hurrah! making cream cheese frosting in Turks and Caicos finally worked for me! The temperature has cooled down alot since we first arrived and so I wonder if that helped things! I'm pretty sure it was the best batch of cream cheese frosting I've made...ever! The American butter here is not as yellow as our butter in England so it made the frosting lovely and white and very glossy too! Here is the recipe I followed for the frosting:

Cream Cheese Frosting:

300g icing sugar
50g unsalted butter
125g cream cheese

1. Beat the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer on low speed
2. Beat the cream cheese in on medium-high speed, turn up and beat until the frosting is fluffy (be sure not to overbeat, as cream cheese will go runny).

I got to work piping, you can't really see but the mini cupcakes are even in gingerbread man cases...I ordered them from Wilton but they aren't greaseproof and are not the best cases I've ever used, but they look fun! 

Hmm look at all the frosting! and check the Christmas cupcake wrapping paper in the background! All of my presents under the tree are currently wrapped in stuff!

Here are the finished cupcakes, I was so pleased with the way they turned out! 

Gingerbread Cupcakes:
Makes 12 cupcakes

1/2 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
90g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp golden syrup

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees c.
Sieve the flours, soda, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients. Using an electric mixer, beat for 2 minutes (until mixture has lightened in colour) and all ingredients are combined.

Divide the mixture evenly between cases and bake for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

It IS peppermint...and deliciously tasty!

Oh yeah! day 1 of Festive fun baking began yesterday and it was a major success! And don't worry I know we're starting out a little late in the game, but I'm off work now until Christmas and my baking obsessed sister Mara (of The English Cheesecake Company) arrived on Friday armed with tons of Martha mags and so we're ready to get busy and bake bake bake!

Not only did Mara come armed with magazines but she also brought us TONS of English and European chocolate which we were super excited about! You can read about the rest of her exciting arrival here

So that led to a perfect union between English chocolate and American chocolate in our Candy Cane Kiss Peppermint Brownies. I know, I know, I've made it perfectly clear I'm not a fan of American chocolate but these Candy Cane Kisses are actually pretty tasty!

...and if you're American and have never had Mint Aero before you need to try some now! Look how good that minty bubbly tastiness looks...

We whipped up our brownies using this recipe. We adapted it slightly and when it came time to add a layer of broken up chocolate chunks in the middle of the brownie, in stepped the Mint Aero.

The recipe also contains peppermint extract, and when they are fresh out the oven you sprinkle a layer of chopped up Candy Cane Kisses over the top and they melt perfectly into the crispy top. So all in all that makes them triple mint brownies which is okay with me because mint is one of my favorite flavor combinations ever...and I'm on a bit of a candy cane streak right now so expect lots more pepperminty recipes in the coming weeks.

They were taste tested today by a couple of our friends, the verdict? The best brownie they have EVER eaten, now that's the kind of compliment I like!

Monday, 6 December 2010

It's not peppermint, but it's still pretty tasty!

Tonight I had high hopes for the start of my festive baking! Byron was requesting a layer cake of the chocolate variety.  I had some left over candy canes from church that were just calling out to be crushed up all over a chocolate mint cake, and so I got baking.  I have a slight candy cane/peppermint obsession right now! It was all going so well...until I realised my recipe called for 500ml of milk and we only had a few drops left! Disaster...I called on a neighbour to try and help me out of every baker's worst nightmare but they weren't available! Then I remembered I had coconut milk in the unfortunately my peppermint and chocolate layer cake had to turn into a coconut and chocolate layer cake! 

It was sad times...I was seriously excited about the peppermint cake I had been planning in my head! that will have to wait for another day! This cake did turn out rather delicious, so I wasn't sad for long! I used the chocolate layer cake recipe from The Primrose Bakery cookbook (my one cupcake book I was allowed to bring to Turks and Caicos!all the rest got 'borrowed' by my sisters while I am away...I hope I see them again!) but converting from grams to cups was a little annoying - why would I not have packed my electronic scales to bring with me? it would make my baking life so much easier! 

The cake was deliciously moist with a lovely cream coconut flavour due to the coconut milk substitution.  The frosting was the chocolate frosting from the same book.  It didn't taste quite as delicious as it does when I make it back in the U.K, I really haven't sorted out this U.S baking chocolate problem yet! but it wasn't half bad considering I had a peppermint fix that needed satisfied and this seemed to do the job instead! 

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

A.D.I.D.A.B....Mint Oreo Ice Cream Pie!

All day I dream about's true! I'm always thinking up the next greatest flavour pairing in cupcakes or the next tastiest creation I can make.  I even have actual dreams at nights that revolve around cupcakes like the one I had recently where I woke up in a panic because I was in NYC with 3 hours 'til I had to be at the airport to return home and I realised I hadn't been to visit any Cupcakeries - shocking I know! 

It's been a busy weekend...I made close to 90 cupcakes on Saturday night for a friend's 'Sweet Sixteen' party.  They were Mint Oreo and Coconut & White Chocolate, and can you believe I didn't take one single picture! It's pretty ridiculous but we were so busy baking them up in the short time we had, due to spending the day at The Annual Conch Fest, and so pictures just slipped my mind! As a thank you present for making the cupcakes, I got the gift of some Mint Oreo's from the States!! It was super exciting! and Milah, who gave them to me, gave me the best idea for how to use my Oreo pie crust she had seen in my fridge.  She told me to fill it with mint ice cream, and I had the idea to add my crushed Oreo's on top to make it super minty and delicious!

I almost feel bad posting it on my blog, it doesn't exactly take much skill to create this dish but oh man it was so tasty that I just had to share!! Here's the step by step:

Get an Oreo crust and fill it with Mint Choc Chip Ice could fill it with any flavour but I am a mint fiend! 

Get some super yummy Mint Oreo's and chop them up into small pieces

Sprinkle the pieces over the top of your ice cream

Get a handful of Nestle Tollhouse Mint and Dark Chocolate chips (these were also a gift from The States!) Melt them in the microwave for about 40 seconds

Pour the melted chocolate into a Ziploc bag, snip off the edge and drizzle over your pie

Put in the freezer for about an hour to set

Get it out the freezer and cut yourself a generous slice....Enjoy!


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