Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween - Chocolate modelling paste cake pops


Happy Halloween! What better gift for your trick or treaters than cake pops. I was recently given the idea of covering cake pops in chocolate modelling paste from Kevin at Chocolate Earth. Which for me was one of those "why didn't I think of that?" moments. It's quick, easy, fun, and more suited to making cake pops with children, than the traditional method of dipping in melted chocolate


My fun ghost uses white and black chocolate modelling paste. Simply roll out an uneven shape of chocolate modelling paste (aprx 2-3mm thick) so when it's draped over your cake pop it falls just below the level of where your cake joins your stick. Roll two tiny balls of black, squish between your fingers to make 2 ovals. The chocolate modelling paste will stick to itself easily. The sticks I've used can be found here (while they look like paper straws, they aren't, the walls of these sticks are at least twice as thick as a paper straw). I used the cupcake pop mould from here. The chocolate modelling paste drape for a ghost works better over this shape than it does over a round ball.



For this orange & black pumpkin cake pop, you need to work with a chilled cake pop on a stick. I used the ball shape pop mould from here. Roll out your chocolate modelling paste to aprx 3-4mm thick. Use an 8cm round cutter to cut a circle of paste that will be wrapped around your ball. Drape this circle over your ball bringing all of the edges together at the stick. The warmth of your hands will smooth out any creases.


To create the lobes of your pumpkin, take a lollipop stick and press it in 5 equal spaces around your orange ball. Use your finger sliding it up and down the creases to widen and soften your indentations.
For the leaf, I freehand cut a teardrop shape and created the veins using a kitchen knife. The little tendril I created by rolling a long fine sausage of chocolate modelling paste which I then coiled around a paintbrush handle (this gives it a nice taper). If your spiral doesn't immediately release from the paintbrush handle, leave it for a minute or two and then it should slide right off. The heat from your hands causes chocolate modelling paste to become soft & sticky, with the tendril being so fine, it can often need a moment to cool down.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cheeseymite scrolls - child's play for children


My daughter has always enjoyed cooking and is driven to bake and often wants to make dinner herself. Recently she came home from school with a story of having made Cheesey-mite scrolls and wanted to recreate them at home. I suggested she teach her younger brother to make them.


They had great fun and whilst they weren't perfectly round in their presentation, they tasted delicious and the children were happy they'd made them without any help from me. The scrolls are a favourite with both adults & children. They are great for lunchboxes.


Ingredients
3 Cups Self raising flour
pinch slat
50g butter - cold
marmite
200g grated cheese
milk

Preheat oven to 190C. 
Sift together flour & salt. Rub in butter. Stir in milk slowly to make a dough. Knead gently on a floured surface. Roll out to form a thin rectangle. 
Spread surface with marmite and sprinkle with 3/4 of the grated cheese. Roll from the long side, to enclose cheese forming a long roll. Cut roll in to slices. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake 15 minutes aprx until golden brown and cheese is bubbling.
Makes 16

Monday, October 28, 2013

Meringue Bones for Halloween - from our friends at Chelsea



Meringues really aren't as tricky as they seem, I encourage you to give these a try. This same recipe can be used for other occasions and piped in a variety of shapes. You can even add gel paste food colouring, to colour them. If you don't have a piping back, a zip lock bag with the corner cut off will make a suitable replacement. The recipe comes to us, from our good friends over at Chelsea (check out their Halloween and many other recipes here)



Ingredients

Meringues
3 egg whites
½ cup (115g) Chelsea Caster Sugar
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup (60g) Chelsea Icing Sugar, sifted

Raspberry dipping sauce
125g punnet fresh raspberries or frozen raspberries (defrosted)
4 teaspoons Chelsea Icing Sugar

Method

Preheat oven to 150°C conventional (130°C fan forced). Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form; add cream of tartar and gradually beat in caster sugar until thick and glossy. Fold in icing sugar until well combined.
Spoon meringue mix into a piping bag with a 1cm plain nozzle. Pipe in a continuous motion. Pipe a small figure 8, then a straight 9cm line, then another figure 8 to create bone shapes. Repeat.
Reduce the oven to 100°C conventional (80°C fan forced). Bake for 45–55 minutes. Cool in oven.
Enjoy with raspberry dipping sauce.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Butter toffee crunch bake off


For many years I've been a huge fan of Makana "Macadamia Butter Toffee Crunch". I brought some on a recent trip to Kerikeri. So when I took the box in to Kiwicakes to share with the girls (as a defense against me eating the whole box) I was thrilled to hear Jenny had a recipe she'd been wanting to try for "butter crunch toffee". 


The original recipe states to use almonds, roasted and then chopped in food processor afterwards. But here in Whangarei I can buy both raw and roasted ground macadamia at my local growers market, so I used this instead, saving me a lot of time. 


The photo above is of my Macadamia butter toffee. I let the girls at Kiwicakes sample my recipe, I was a little apprehensive, as I preferred the Makana version. The votes came in at 3 to 1, with my toffee winning the bake off. The 3 votes for my version came from my staff (no, I didn't pay them to vote for me). The single vote was mine. In comparing mine in taste to Makana's version it's my guess that they use white sugar instead of brown sugar, which I used in my version. This is only a hunch, based on the different taste and colour. 

Almond or macadamia buttercrunch toffee
2 C blanched slivered or sliced almonds, or macadamia pieces
1 1/4 C firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp water
115 grams butter

and mixed together reserved for later
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking soda

175g dark chocolate pieces

Preheat oven to 160C and roast slivered almonds or macadamia pieces until golden brown on a baking sheet. Allow to cool

Once nuts are cool chop finely in a food processor. Place one half of the nuts on a cookie sheet lined with a baking sheet. Reserve the other nuts for sprinkling on the finished coated toffee.

In a medium sized heavy saucepan combine the brown sugar, water, corn syrup & butter. Have the baking soda & vanilla mixed together to the side of your stove top. Place a candy thermometer in your pot, taking care to make sure it does not touch the bottom. On medium heat bring this mixture to the boil. Do not stir. Allow to reach soft crack stage 145C/285F - remove from heat immediately. Stir in vanilla and baking soda mixture.

Immediately pour toffee over nuts on a baking sheet. Carefully place chocolate pieces over surface of toffee. The heat from the toffee will melt the chocolate. After a few minutes you will be able to spread the chocolate flat using an offset spatula. Sprinkle the nuts over the melted chocolate and allow to cool at room temperature (do not refrigerate). Once cool, break into pieces.

Store in an airtight container.

Tips for making toffee and avoiding mistakes
* Ensure your pan is heavy. A lightweight pan will cause it to burn before it reaches the correct temperature
* Use a candy thermometer that has a clip on the side, you have to work quickly so you cannot hold it yourself. 
* Use a wooden or silicone spoon, as toffee will not stick to it, like it will to metal
* Place your candy thermometer in the toffee mixture before it begins to boil. Placing a cold thermometer into boiling sugar can cause it to shatter.
* The taste of this toffee improved greatly overnight. When tasting it as soon as it had cooled, it was very chewy. 6 hours later, it had taken on the texture of the original I was trying to replicate.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Teddy Racing Cars - from Kiwicakes test kitchen


Whip up these simple yet effective teddy treats for your next kids party - or even better, delegate this easy job!

You will need:

- mini chocolate bars (I used mini Moro Gold from a share pack)
- pebbles for wheels
- handful of chocolate chips to melt
- teddy bear cupcake candy for the drivers


Assembly is simple, as you can see. It's just a matter of sticking the components together with a little melted chocolate and letting them set. 

For such a small quantity of chocolate I just rolled a baking paper triangle into a piping cone, poured in my chocolate and snipped off the end. The warmth of your hand will keep the melted chocolate at a piping consistency.



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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gingerbread house from our friends at Chelsea Sugar



My children adore making gingerbread houses. Each year they make one for their teacher at school. This fabulous recipe from the good folks at Chelsea is simple to make and creates a lovely flat gingerbread perfect for decorating. For best results I chill the dough for 15 minutes prior to baking, which helps prevent spreading. You can view more great recipes on Chelsea's website here. And I've more good news. The lovely folks at Chelsea have given us a ton of recipe cards to give away, look for them in your Kiwicakes order coming soon - or call in store at Kiwicakes to get some.



Ingredients
7 cups plain flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp cardamom
250gms butter
1 cup Chelsea Golden Syrup
2 cups Chelsea White Sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 eggs, beaten

Royal Icing
1 egg white
2 ½ - 3 cups Chelsea icing sugar
1- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
Mixed lollies for decoration

Method

Pre-heat oven to 170°C. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. In a large saucepan heat butter, golden syrup and sugar over a medium heat stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool 15 minutes then beat in lemon juice and beaten eggs. Pour sugar mixture into dry ingredients and work into soft pliable dough - (add a few tablespoons of warm water if needed).
Divide mixture into four or five pieces and roll out each piece of dough between 2 sheets of baking paper to a thickness of 2mm, remove top layer of paper. Using the paper template cut out 2 sides, 2 ends, 2 roof panels and 1 base. Note: lay the paper template over the top layer of baking paper and cut around or transfer template to baking paper as normal paper will stick to the warm mixture.
Bake pieces for 10-12 minutes or until golden and set. Let cool and harden.

For icing: Beat egg white in a bowl until fluffy, add icing sugar and lemon juice whisking to a thick white paste. Transfer to a piping bag.

To assemble: First pipe windows, doors, and roof decoration onto gingerbread pieces. Assemble the house on the base using icing to attach the sides and ends,
finishing with the roof. Hold each piece for a few minutes until dry and set in place. Use the remaining icing to decorate and attach lollies to the house. Sprinkle with icing sugar snow.

CLICK BELOW FOR PRINTABLE TEMPLATE:
Gingerbread House template

Tip: When cutting out the gingerbread it is easiest to remove the surrounding excess dough and leave the cut out template piece on the baking paper and cook it rather than move them onto another sheet.
There will be plenty of mixture left over (enough for 2 dozen gingerbread men) so you can make gingerbread biscuits and extra decorations.
If you don’t have a piping bag use a zip lock bag and snip the corner off.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Awards night - Woman Of The Year awards for Rachel Jenkinson


Recently I attended the NEXT "Woman Of The Year" awards in Auckland with Rachel Jenkinson (left) from Operation Sugar. Rachel was a nominee in the community category.


Rachel hadn't been to Auckland before, so it was a pleasure to be her chauffeur and guide for her whirlwind trip. I collected Rachel and her sister Tracey from Auckland airport just before noon and we headed straight to Little & Friday in Newmarket for lunch, where we'd arranged to meet some of the Auckland based Operation Sugar bakers that Rachel is in regular contact with. It's funny how I only thought to photograph our dessert at lunchtime, but we did eat mains I promise and they were really tasty. I've only ever had great food at Little & Friday.


We had a military tight schedule during Rachel's stay, before we knew it lunch was over and I was whisking Rachel off to get checked in at the Stamford Plaza, where NEXT had arranged accommodation for the out of town nominees. From there Rachel and I walked around the corner to the hair salon Vivo where we were looked after exceptionally well and got the chance to catch our breath, have a glass of wine and get our hair made over for the evening ahead.


NEXT sent taxis to the Stamford Plaza to transport us to the Orakei Bay function centre where the awards were held. When we arrived we were greeted with Bollinger champagne (one of the sponsors for the evening) and photos were taken by NEXT's official photographers (you can see them here on NEXT magazines facebook page). Thankfully NEXT had produced the brochure above, so we were able to double check the other nominees names and their nomination categories as when presented with a room full of women, it was hard to keep everyone straight.


We were seated at large tables of 10 that were beautifully decorated. Shown here in the background is NEXT editor Sarah Henry and judge Theresa Gattung.


Former NEXT Woman of the Year winner 2012 Julie Bartlett from StarJam gave a lovely speech.


We were treated to a lovely meal. And lovely wines from Kim Crawford with champagne from Bollinger.


Seated at our table (amongst others) were Debra Chantry (far right - business nominee) and Juliette Haigh (centre left - Sports nominee) with her husband Mahe Drysdale.


Debra was seated next to me throughout the evening. We had a real blast, I'm glad I had such a fun dinner companion.


The tables were decorated with these lovely Ecoya candles which were a gift for us to take home.


As we were leaving we were given a goody bag bursting with beauty products, vouchers and other goodies.



As well as a copy of the latest NEXT magazine showing Julie Chapman from KidsCan who was the supreme winner.


Each NEXT nominee received a silver Pandora charm bracelet as they arrived. Knowing this, I had arranged  two special charms for Rachel a cupcake and a panda bear (the panda is Operation Sugars mascot/logo). I had the great pleasure of presenting Rachel with these two charms and a card with messages from many Operation Sugar bakers who'd wanted to show their support for all that Rachel does. It was terribly sweet, poor Rachel was just about in tears.


I managed to steal Rachel's bracelet for just a minute to take a photo - the Royal crown charm was presented to each nominee along with the bracelet.


We had an awesome evening and although Rachel didn't win, she told me she felt like a winner simply being a nominee.


The following day Rachel and I went along to Chelsea's sugar factory in Birkenhead to meet with their product manager Sam. Chelsea is also a sponsor of Operation Sugar. 

Chelsea is an amazing company that is approaching 130 years in business in New Zealand. It was apparent to me after my visit just how well Chelsea looks after not only their staff but their community as well.


Chelsea's factory is set in amazing park like grounds, which are open to the public for walking. You can pick up a free sugar cube map at reception that points out many of the highlights in the area. Whilst we were there, we saw people kayaking, walking their dogs and enjoying the views.



We were treated to some Chelsea goodness before we left (to see what I made with my pink berry icing sugar click here)


I adore this photo of Rachel and Sam next to a giant sugar bag. I wonder how many cakes could be made with this? Sam has very kindly given me a ton of Chelsea recipe cards, many of which I'll be sharing with you online and in your Kiwicakes orders over the coming months.

Rachel was back on a plane to Balclutha on the second day, but not before we made a whistle stop at Delish Cupcakes and Petal Cupcakes so Rachel could take home some Auckland sweetness for her family.

Auckland misses you Rachel and Tracey - come back soon! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Quick and easy sherbet for Halloween



This quick and easy sherbet is perfect for Halloween. It's so easy I wouldn't even go as far as calling it a recipe. I was inspired to make this sherbet after being given a bag of Pink Berry flavoured icing sugar when I visited the Chelsea sugar factory last week. As a child I recall making sherbet that required either jelly crystals or fruit drink powder. The pink berry flavour in this icing sugar negates the need for either of those two ingredients and in the process makes it more like the sherbet bags we used to buy as children (which I believe are still available).


There's just two ingredients: 1x 375g bag Pink Berry icing sugar mixed together with 1 Tbsp of citric acid. Mix well in a bowl. Taste to ensure you've reached a level of zing to suit you.


I scooped it into food safe paper bags. They have a flat bottom, which allows them to stand up. For my Halloween themed bags, I used these lollipop sticks as straws. Here at Kiwicakes we have a wide range of retro paper straws to allow you to coordinate any colour theme. Now I just have to hope some trick or treaters come knocking on my door for Halloween.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lemon Cupcakes with lemon chocolate transfer garnish


Recently my daughter Poppy had to make a large batch of cupcakes for a fundraising bake sale for school camp.


As our small lemon tree is often over burdened with lemons, she decided lemon cupcakes were an obvious choice. We made over 4 dozen standard size and 4 dozen minis. It took us all afternoon in a normal oven, but the lovely lemony smell was heavenly in the kitchen. 

We decided on a simple cream cheese icing. When there's nearly 100 cupcakes to embellish, the decoration had to be simple. We settled on yellow sparkling sugar and a chocolate transfer on a dark chocolate background (click here for a tutorial on how to create chocolate squares with chocolate transfers).


A few cupcakes were harmed in the tasting, however I can confirm they were delicious.

Lemon Cupcakes
225 grams butter
2 C Sugar
4 eggs
3 C Flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 C milk
2 Tbsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp lemon juice

Lemon cream cheese icing
250g cream cheese
125g butter
4 C icing sugar
zest lemon
squeeze lemon juice

Preheat oven to 160C

In the bowl of an electric mixer cream butter and sugar together until the mixture is light & fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time.

Alternately add your dry ingredients with your milk on low speed, a little at a time until well mixed.

Add the lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix an additional minute, your mixture should be light & fluffy.

Spoon or pipe mixture in to your cupcake cases (1/2 to 2/3 full). Bake for 15-20 minutes. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.

To make icing, in an electric mixer cream together butter & cream cheese. Add icing sugar a little at a time, mixing well with each addition. Squeeze in your lemon juice to taste, mixing again to combine.

Our cupcakes have the cream cheese icing piped with a 1m Wilton piping nozzle. The chocolate transfer can be found here  and the sparkling sugar here


Monday, October 14, 2013

Conical Christmas Tree Cake Pops - from Kiwicakes' test kitchen

Today, I played around decorating mini christmas trees with a tropical mango cake centre.




My first job was to shape the mini cakes with the help of a conical mould (keep reading for the recipe below). Once they had firmed up in the refrigerator I was ready to go.




I popped a stick into the base of each, then I melted half a bag of green candy melts until nearly softened. I used a spatula to spread a layer of green chocolate underneath the tree and let it dry slightly to glue the stick in place.


Then I used my spatula again to create random tree texture with the  green chocolate. 


Next I made wee yellow stars out of the tiniest amount of yellow satin ice fondant, which had a pinch of tylose added to it for strength. I rolled it out a couple of millimetres thick and used  a star shaped plunger cutter to punch out perfect tree toppers. I brushed them with yellow stardust glitter for a sparkling effect.



Then using some royal icing I piped white decoration onto my cake pops. The royal icing holds the star in place as well as any cachous or sprinkles you add.





On this tree I brushed on a pearl crushed pine lustre dust to try and make it look snowy.



A great tool I found in our test kitchen (which helped immensely) was a sugar pearl tweezer. This nifty little guy is going to make my life a lot easier now that I know it exists!





It allows you to work quickly and get all the cachous onto your cake pop before your royal icing gets a skin on it and dries. These Christmas cachous pictured will be handy with the festive season approaching.

You can have fun creating with whatever edible decorations you have on hand, and you will end up with a bunch of christmas trees that have personality as well as a fruity punch in the centre!


Tropical Mango Cake Pop Mixture (makes 12)

100g traditional sour creme at room temperature 
250g vanilla cake crumbs 
10g freeze-dried mango powder
60g mango chunks, diced finely
2 Tbsp coconut

Mix the mango powder into the sour creme first and then incorporate the other three ingredients until you have a malleable mixture. Roll into conical teardrop shapes and then place into a conical cake pop mould to achieve consistent size teadrop shapes. Refrigerate until firm. Cover in chocolate and decorate as desired.




These conical shapes also make great Santa hats. The small ball on top can be made with a little ball of fondant icing. The trim can be piped in royal icing or white chocolate and then rolled in sparkling sugar.
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