Friday, 26 February 2010

Mint Choc Brownie Balls!

I've been following the amazing cake pops and balls that bakerella started for a while now! and I'm ashamed to admit I haven't made any yet..but have definitely been planning on it! I've also been seeing alot of brownie balls too so decided I would get in on the action.

I baked some brownies, well betty crocker did for me. I figured since I was going to be demolishing it later I didn't want to spend ages baking some from scratch! Then I mixed it with about 2 spoonfuls of vanilla frosting..brownie is moist enough on it's own really. I refrigerated them overnight and then this afternoon when I got in from work I melted some mint aero and dipped the balls in that. I decorated with sugar hearts and peppermint shrapnel. I froze them for about an hour.

I couldn't wait to eat them! they were delish! I was a little disappointed with the pool of choc that collected under the brownie balls but otherwise I think they were a success..any tips on how to prevent this?

Monday, 22 February 2010

Another fun cupcake hunt...

I went to London on Sat to visit my family...and we did what we do best - hunt for cupcakes!
The first stop was CC's cafe in Queen's Park which is just around the corner from where my sister lives. It had a really cool feel inside and I liked the way they baked everything right in front of you. I couldn't find a website for them but you can read a foodie review here. I ordered a chocolate cupcake decorated with an oreo on top. I was really impressed, the cake could have been slightly more moist but the frosting was delicious! It was so chocolately..and was somewhere in between ganache and buttercream! delish. Their selection of cupcakes are limited to vanilla or chocolate but they have lots of other yummy treats on offer like brownies and banana bread too.

After that we headed to the national wedding fair where my sister's company The English Cheesecake Company had a stall. As well as their delicious cheesecakes they had on show a cupcake cheesecake wedding tower!

I was pretty excited about seeing lots of cupcake stalls and trying samples! but it wasn't too fruitful, there were only 2 cupcake stalls there. They didn't have any samples and they wouldn't let me take photos! but I did find a random stall which was giving away free crumbs and doilies cupcakes which I was pretty excited about! so here I am with a lovely orchid tree and my mini cupcake!

We braved the traffic to make it to the new Hummingbird Bakery on Wardour St.

It was really snazzy inside and the decor was great. I was excited about the cakes because the Hummingbird Bakery was probably the first bakery I ever had a gourmet cupcake at! but that was about 6 years ago and I'm not sure I've had one since! so I had completely forgotten what they tasted like and they're so talked about that I was sure they were going to be amazing. However I ordered a red velvet and Mara had a chocolate malt and we ate half each. The red velvet cake was nice but the frosting wasn't great at all, it was far too sour and needed more sugar to get the right balance. The choc malt was just far too rich and I couldn't even finish it! so a rather disappointing end to our cupcake hunt. I have to say my CC's cupcake was far superior to the ones I tasted at Hummingbird!

Snickers Rocky Road Delight

My friend is moving to London so on friday night we had a farewell dinner for her. I said I'd provide the treats and since I'd spent the Thursday baking cupcakes I decided to go for something different. I made my snickers rocky road and decided to drizzle some of my much loved swiss white choc on the top which added some extra yumminess!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Experimenting with banoffee...

What a busy afternoon of cupcaking it's been! I was considering making a banoffee cupcake for Iron Cupcake seen as how the March theme is 'a perfect pair' and should be a combination of two flavours. I wasn't sure whether there should be toffee in the cake, toffee on top of the cake, toffee in the icing..there were too many options! So I decided to just bake some banana cupcakes and play around with everything here's what happened:

I used a banana cupcake recipe from my gorgeous cakes recipe book. To be honest I wasn't that impressed with it, considering all the mushy goodness of the bananas that went in I was expecting it to be more moist than it was and also a bit more bananary (if that's a word)! so if I decide I do want to make these for Iron cupcake I think I'll try a different recipe. I decided to cut some in half, after being inspired by my Australian Women's Weekly decorating cupcakes book, and fill them with caramel and banana and then top with cream.

These were the 3 I experimented with after that. The one at the front is probably my fave.

This one was filled with caramel, topped with cream and a few banana slices and a dollop of more caramel and then a chocolate dipped banana chip with sprinkles on for decoration.

My fave was filled with a dollop of whipped cream, and then topped with caramel cream cheese frosting, and a chocolate and hobnob coated banana chip for decoration.

This one was filled with caramel and then topped with whipped cream. It wasn't thick enough to pipe. Although I would never choose to have cream replace frosting (since I'm not the biggest cream fan anyway) due to the sweetness of the caramel in the middle of the cupcake this worked quite nicely to balance it out.

I've cut through the middle of them so you can see the difference in fillings.

Once I picked my fave: cream filled with caramel frosting, I decorated my mini ones accordingly to take to a meeting later.

This is my favourite new way of transporting mini cupcakes! You could decorate the top with scrapbooking paper and tie with a giant chiffon bow and they'd make the perfect easter gift!
However you'd need to fill it with regularly iced cupcakes as opposed to the sky high icing I like to do so I transferred them to a new cupcake box my mom sent me in the post this week.

Isn't it cute! I love the way it says yum yum all over it!

So I think after a whole afternoon of baking I'm undecided about the whole banoffee thing and think I might give it some more thought!

but... one thing I did find out is that baking cupcakes accompanied by the Kings of Leon on full blast takes cupcaking to a whole new level!

Monday, 15 February 2010

Valentine's Banoffee Pie

If I had it my way I would have been making Valentine's cupcakes but since Valentine's day is all about the one you love he really prefers puddings to cupcakes and Banoffe pie is his fave so that is what I made for our special Valentine's Meal.
This time I watched my KitchenAid closely to ensure my cream was whipped and not clotted and I decided to pipe my melted chocolate in a heart shape in keeping with the theme of the day. I then crushed up some flake and sprinkled it over the top. It was pretty tasty and the good news is there's still lots left in the fridge to be enjoyed for days to come!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Midnight Madagascan Baking! Raspberry & White Chocolate Cupcakes with Swiss White Chocolate Frosting

You want to know the secret to these white chocolate and raspberry cupcakes? It's all about this....

Swiss white chocolate: smooth and delicate creamy chocolate made with swiss milk and Madagascan natural vanilla...and the good news is it comes from Tesco and was only £1.01 when I purchased it earlier! bargain! and I happened to buy some Green & Black's organic white choc earlier in the week just because my purchase had to be over £5 at a newsagents to use my card and it was the nearest chocolate to me..and wow was I disappointed, I couldn't even finish it and that's just not like me and chocolate!! To be honest I've never really been a white chocolate lover but oh wow does this chocolate change my mind!

So it's the secret ingredient to make my cupcakes de-lish! I use regular white choc chips in the batter and then for the frosting I whipped up some Hummingbird vanilla buttercream, melted the swiss choc and added it to that and it makes for really dreamy icing! combined with a fruity moist raspberry to top it up and you've got one tasty cupcake!

Almost too good to share..but I promised the staff at School this week I'd bake some more cupcakes so these will be shared around!

P.s Check out my new background in the pic this's some amazing cupcake wrapping paper, that wait for it, only cost 85p! I couldn't believe fact that was what I purchased at the newsagents and so I found £4.15 worth or random stuff I didn't want or need just so I could buy this cupcake delight!

White Chocolate & Raspberry Cupcakes:
Makes 12 regular or 24 mini

175g butter
175g caster sugar
3 beaten eggs
175g self raising flour
75g fresh raspberries
75g white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
Add the eggs one at a time
Mix in the flour
Fold in the raspberries and chocolate chips
Spoon into cases and bake in the oven for 20 mins or until they are a golden brown colour

Swiss White Chocolate Frosting:

250g sifted icing sugar
80g unsalted butter (at room temp)
25ml whole milk
a couple of drops of vanilla extract
White chocolate (I'm not sure how much I used...Maybe half the bar above)

Beat icing sugar and butter together in a mixer on medium-slow speed until it comes together
Combine milk and vanilla in separate bowl and add to the butter mix a couple of tblspoons at a time
Melt some white chocolate in the microwave, in short 15 second bursts.  Add it to the butter mix according to how much of a white chocolatey taste you are after!
Turn mixer up to high speed and continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 mins.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Vancouver Ventures!

Well I realise this is a bit premature but I can't help it because I'm ridunculously excited!! In about 18 Months we'll be moving to Vancouver..just for a year as part of Byron's uni course but still that's a whole year worth of root beer, lucky charms, ihop, taco bell and walmart so you can see why I'm excited!! Not to mention....THE CUPCAKES! I have been busy researching which cupcakeries I will be indulging in whilst I'm there and the prospects are looking pretty tasty!

First up is Tracycakes Bakery Cafe which is in Abbotsford, they have 40 varieties of cupcakes..I'll definitely be first in line for their root beer float cupcake and also death by chocolate: chocolate cake, chocolate buttercream, chocolate drizzle, topped with a piece of brownie, enough said - indeed!

Next up is Big City Cupcakes..Canada's fastest growing cupcake company and any cupcakery with giant cupcakes adorning the windows gets my vote!

Finally Coco Cake Cupcakes definitely looks worth the trip! They have really pretty looking cupcakes..unfortunately they don't seem to have a shop but they do sell them at Blim art market once in a while so I'll be checking that out for sure!

All I can say is Roll on Sep 2011!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

My not so mini Banoffee pie!

My mom sent me in the post this week these awesome little heart pastry tins. I was excited to use them and we had some people round for dinner last night and I had planned to make Banoffee Pie as Byron had been wanting some for ages! So I decided I would make individual heart Banoffee's for each guest. However this wasn't so easy in practice! Each time I baked the base in the oven they would just crumble and fall apart and it just wasn't going to happen so after the 4th try I gave in and just made a regular size pie instead. I used this recipe from BBC Good Food website and it was pretty tasty. You may spot that my whipped cream topping isn't looking so 'whippy' and that is cause for once in my life I wasn't loving my KitchenAid too much because it was SO efficient that I put the cream in, turned my back for 2 seconds to wipe down a counter and when I turned back it had already overwhipped so here we have a banoffee pie with more of a clotted cream topping! but it still tasted good and now I know for future that when using a KitchenAid you need to watch your cream closely!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Iron Cupcake!

Some of the entries from the pro category

Our cupcake sampler for the night!

Enjoying the tasting!!

So at long last we made it to Iron Cupcake! I have been following the challenge avidly via their website since it started last summer and hoping for the day when I might be able to join in! but since I live in Reading and bakers have to be in London by 6pm it's never been an easy option! but I managed to switch my working afternoons around and with alot of rushing around I made it!

My gingerbread couple cupcakes!

I had planned a while ago to make gingerbread cupcakes, I figured there would be alot of red velvet (actually there weren't as it happened!) and chocolate heart themed cakes since the challenge for the month was love so I thought gingerbread would be original! I used cream cheese frosting and then baked little gingerbread people and just before I popped them in the oven I joined their hands together so they were gingerbread couples! I put some pink heart buttons on the girls and blue on the boys using edible glue and voila I stacked them up in my cupcake courier ready to go! Mara was always going to come with me and she made some delicious chocolate oreo cupcakes with cheesecake frosting topped with little chocolate hearts she made and covered in gold lustre dust! and then oreo crumb to finish off! they really were a work of art! Sinead and Pip came too and Sinead baked some hummingbird cupcakes with a yummy marshmallow topping. When we arrived I was impressed at the array of cupcakes on offer and at the really was a sight to behold! I was feeling ours were pretty inferior to alot on show..however we moved onto the tasting and actually there were only 1 or 2 cupcakes I had which really tasted nice! so many of the ones that looked the best really didn't taste great at all so I was even more impressed with Mara's cupcakes at this point because they tasted scrummy so I wasn't at all surprised when she was announced the winner of the amateur category!! It was awesome, she won a giant cupcake cookie jar and a bag of cupcake goodies and even a rosette and everything! Here she is with her prize and certificate:

It was an awesome cupcake filled night and I will definitely be wanting to join in again!
Next month's theme is 'a perfect pair' so we'll have to get thinking up some original ideas and see if I can beg Byron to let me enter again!

Here are our entries below...excuse the terrible camera camera wasn't loving the light (or lack thereof) down at the cuban!

Sinead's marshmallow cupcakes

Gem's 'gingerly in love' cupcakes

Mara's winning oreo cheesecake cupcakes!

You can read the official write up of Iron cupcake here written by the person who runs the event. There are lots of better photos and if you scroll to the bottom of their post you will see what they have written about my gingerbread cupcakes!


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