Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Best of the Best 2009

I thought I would join the ranks of everyone contributing their lists of the best of 2009 and share with you all my highlights for 2009. Thanks for visiting. I look for to 2010. As already I have some exciting projects planned.

My best cake decorating event: Debbie Browns visit Sept 2009
My best cake decorating glitter: Stardust Grape
Top selling glitter for 2009: Hologram white
My Best lustre dust: Metallic Moroccan velvet
Top selling tool for Christmas 2009: PME snowflake ejector cutters (incidentally 2008 was a Christmas tree shaped cookie cutter)
Favourite new tool for 2009: dusting powder pump brush
Favourite old tool: angled spatula or turntable
My favourite overseas blog:
My favourite NZ blog:
My favourite online cake forum:

Friday, December 25, 2009

It's Christmas - December 25th

Well I've done it! 25 days of sweet treats. Thanks to everyone that checked in each day. Merry Christmas to you all! . And thanks for your kind comments. Special thanks first & foremost to Lisa from The Whole Cake & Caboodle, who helped out with some of the posts. And to Mum - aka Grandma Kiwicakes, without whom I would not have made it through this year. She is my right hand lady, sounding board, babysitter, stress reliever and at times lunch maker. And last but not least, love & kisses to my long suffering husband Vaughan who unselfishly gives me time every weekend to myself to get things done.

This dessert is a Christmas day dessert favourite for me. They are very simple to make. Despite the appearance of their sheer size, there isn't a lot in them. Great when you're stuffed full - and want something small. And strawberries always seem to be at their best, at Christmas time in NZ.

To make:
Melt some white chocolate buttons in a double boiler (use melting chocolate from the bakery aisle) add red powder colouring, it looks equally good with brown chocolate. I get asked many times a week "how do you make chocolate/icing red?". The answer is simple..... use lots of colouring. After all red + white = pink, you have to proceed beyond that. If you keep adding it in, it will go red. This dessert uses about 6 good sized strawberries per tower, some whipped cream and only a small amount of chocolate. 1 bag of chocolate will easily make up to 2 dozen desserts.

Fill a disposable piping bag with your chocolate. (if you don't have any disposable bags, fit a round piping nozzle no larger than a no#2 to a regular piping bag). Snip end off disposable bag, to make a small opening.
I like to pipe my chocolate with a random squiggle and wiggle to the piped line - just because I like the look.

Chop up your strawberries, it doesn't matter what size the pieces are, along as they are all a similar size. If children are absent from the dessert table, you can steep the Strawberries in champagne for a few hours first if you wish.

I put my whipped cream in a cream whipper - this is not necessary, but I like the precise nature of piping the cream, rather than trying to spoon it on. I also have a crazy sentimental attachment to my cream whipping machine. I have vivid memories of a trip to David Jones kitchen department in Sydney when I was 9 years old, with my Mum to buy one. It was horrendously expensive at the time. It has been used every Christmas for 25 years (yes I'm that old!) and hasn't failed us yet. I was lucky enough that Mum gave it to me some years back. Mum definitely sowed the seeds for my kitchen gadget addiction very early on.

Place your first chocolate lattice on to a festive plate, pipe cream in to the centre, add chopped strawberries, a wee touch more cream, then top with another chocolate lattice. Repeat this process until you have completed the layers, to a height you're satisfied with. Top with one large strawberry.

This dessert is one that draws oohs and aahs, yet takes no more than 5 minutes to assemble. The chocolate lattices can be made weeks ahead and simply stacked in a container, between sheets of baking paper. Take care when handling them, they are somewhat fragile.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

On the 24th day of Christmas - Eve preparations

On the 24th day of Christmas....... Feta & pesto tarts

On Christmas eve I like to prepare ahead of time what I can for dinner the following evening, so I'm not stuck in the kitchen for too long on Christmas day. This is one hors d'oeuvre that is at every family gathering without fail. It originated with my sister in law Vanessa. During the year I make them in a mini muffin pan. But at Christmas I can't resist being festive and using my mini Christmas tree pan. When placed on the table, they vanish within minutes. It is a recipe (such as it is - it is so simple, it can hardly be called a recipe) that I am asked for every time I take these somewhere. You can make them the day before and simply bring the tray out of the fridge and in to the oven 15 minutes before you need them.
The instructions are the same whether you use a mini muffin pan, or a shaped pan.

Using a cutter that is larger diameter than the size of the pan cavity, cut circles from sheets of ready made "savoury short pastry" (in the freezer section at the supermarket). Push each piece of pastry down in to cavity. For the round mini muffin pan, the circle should form a perfect round tart shell, with a slightly frilled edge. For the trees. use an off set spatula and using the rim of the pan, slice of any pieces of pastry that are uneven, to trim in line with the top of the pan..

Fill each cavity with aprx 1/2 to 1tsp of pesto. I've used basil and sun dried tomato pesto here. then place a small cube of feta in to each cavity. Bake until pastry is golden aprx 15 mins at 180C. Just a word of warning, don't be tempted to use flaky pastry, I tried it once, the pastry puffed up so much, it dumped the pesto and feta out of the cavity and all through the oven and over the baking tray.

My favourite feta EVER comes from Kamai Cheeses - check out their website by clicking here it's not easy to find in the supermarkets yet. But it's starting to pop up in a few more places. Now that I've tried it, nothing else compares.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

On the 23rd day of Christmas - Mincemeat tarts

On the 23rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me....................Mincemeat tarts!

Christmas never went by without mincemeat tarts at home when I was a child. Initially as a small child I hated them, then I thought they were OK. Somewhere along the line, I grew up and about the same time I came to appreciate Christmas cake, I came to like mincemeat tarts. However along the way, regardless of whether I ate them, I always liked making them with Mum. Here I've given them a little facelift, with "lush lime" rainbow dust glitter applied to the star, which I first brushed with a sugar syrup, to allow the glitter to adhere easily. These tarts were made in a mini muffin tin, to make bite size tarts, they work equally well in a standard muffin tin.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On the 22nd day of Christmas - Nut baskets

On the 22nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me...................... Nut baskets.

These super cute little baskets, take just minutes to make and look super cute. Mixed nuts always featured in my home as a child at Christmas. This little basket was made using 1 foil cupcake paper, around which was wrapped 1 romantic lace cupcake wrapper. I used scalloped edge scissors, on regular white paper to create a handle, which I adhered in place using a small piece of sellotape. These would look lovely on your main Christmas table, as place setting name tags. Or on snack tables, simply to be eaten straight from. They certainly make an inexpesive gift, as each costs less than $1 to fill.

Monday, December 21, 2009

On the 21st day of Christmas - kiwifruit candy Pavlovas

On the 21st day of Christmas my true love gave to me..................... Kiwifruit candy Pavlovas.
What could be more Kiwi Christmas than Pavolova, with kiwifruit & strawberries? I wanted to do something just a little different so I used these Kiwifruit candy, which are produced by Altair in New Zealand. The Pavs are little single serve size, each topped with whipped cream and a kiwifruit candy. I still like the freshness of fruit with my pavolova, so I added sliced strawberry on the plates.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Awesome new edible imaging in stock

I've just taken delivery last week, of some awesome new edible cake & cupcake images. 12 cupcake images are $12.50 and the 25x19cm cake images are also $12.50. I've still got lots of new designs to arrive - and also to get loaded to the Kiwicakes website. I found time to get some listed today. My most favourite of the new designs in paua for cupcakes and Kina shells. I am looking forward to some time in the new year to have a play with some and actually make something, instead of just drooling over them.

Kiwicakes made Saturday's newspaper!

The Kiwicakes blog and the advent calendar made it to the Saturday edition of the Advocate newspaper here in Northland. As with any newspaper article, I managed to be misquoted - but never mind, at least the photographer didn't give me a double chin.

On the 20th day of Christmas - Cheescake pops

On the 20th day of Christmas my true love gave to me........... Cheescake pops

These were so much fun to make, inspired by cheescake pops from

I couldn't resist stirring the Christmas sprinkles through the cheescake as well, the colours held without bleeding through the mix.

Step one was to take balls of cheescake mixture, insert a lollipop stick and sit in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Once chilled I dipped each in melted chocolate and sprinkled with Christmas themed sprinkles.

As mine were going to be served on a plate, I allowed them to set with sticks in the air - if you wish to serve them the other way up, use a block of polystyrene to poke sticks in to, to allow chocolate to set. As the cheescake is cold, the chocolate sets quickly, so have your sprinkles close at hand, you'll have to work fast.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

12 days of Christmas cupcakes from Kiwicakes member

I received a lovely email from Rochelle, to say the Kiwicakes blog had inspired her to create cupcakes of the "12 days of Christmas - a Pukeko in a ponga tree" for a cake decorating competition at her work. I just love getting emails such as this. Look at the great job she did.

On the 19th day of Christmas - Fairy bread

On the 19th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...................... Christmas fairy bread

These are a staple in our household at Christmas time for pre-Christmas and end of year parties that include children. I've taken them to kindy & primary school parties, they never fail to get gobbled up. The children love the festive shapes, not to mention the SPRINKLES!

The Wilton comfort grip cookie cutters are just sized perfectly for this. The shapes fit perfectly within a square slice of bread, meaning there's little waste (candy canes will cut two per slice) The rubberised grips and large shapes make these cutters easy for children to use.

Friday, December 18, 2009

On the 18th day of Christmas - cookie cutter tree ornaments

On the 18th day of Christmas my true love gave to me................ cookie cutter tree ornaments.

A lovely gift for the baker in your life, a touching and thoughtful gift for the person with everything. Cookie cutters make great photo frames and stunning Christmas tree ornaments. Fun to make with children, grandchildren, nieces & nephews.

The options are endless for customising these cutter ornaments, ideas include

* including a recipe on reverse of picture for your favourite cookie.
* gifting one per year, to children from birth, with a cutter to match the stages in their life
* hang on your tree at Christmas time and then remove insert for use during the year.
So simple to make:
Choose patterned papers or colour-photocopy pictures onto card stock.
Trace cutter on top; cut out. Dab white craft glue along cookie cutter's edge.
Press paper in place; let dry.
Thread narrow ribbon through needle; poke between paper and cutter, and wrap ribbon around top of cutter.
Slip a bead over ribbon's ends; knot. (if hanging on your Christmas tree)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

On the 17th day of Christmas - NZ map brownies

On the 17th day of Christmas my true love gave to me.......... NZ map brownies

I baked a batch of my favourite chocolate brownies and used my NZ map cookie cutter to cut out shapes. I liked the way the crackled surface of the brownie gave the topographical look of a map. I used three colours of cachous (gold silver and golden ivory) to represent three branches of my family and their geographical positions in NZ. I attached them to the brownie with edible sparkle gel.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On the 16th day of Christmas - Royal icing bauble ornaments

On the 16th day of Christmas my true gave to me.................. Royal icing Christmas ornaments

Full credit for the idea for these royal icing ornaments, goes to Dorothy White who is our club secretary at the Whangarei cake decorators guild. She demonstrated them one club night last year. I didn't write down her instructions at the time, so the method used, is what I did.

These lovely ornaments have a myriad of uses for Christmas cakes, but also make great balloons on a childs cake. Teh royal icing can be coloured if you wish or left white as I've done.

To make these neat little ornaments, blow up tiny water bombs with air to make tiny balloons (they are around $2 per pack of 100 and can be found easily at many stores). I used a balloon pump as they are difficult to blow up without. I blew up more than I needed in case of any disasters, they have a tendency to fly about, so I popped them under a cake dome.

Grease your balloon with a fine layer of oil/shortening. (I tested what happens when you don't grease your balloon - the icing breaks in some places as the balloon deflates)

I used instant royal icing mix to create these baubles. I always have a packet in the cupboard. I find as I use only a little royal icing at a time, it is more economic for me, than making it from scratch. I piped a version of cornelli all over the balloon (I say version, as true cornelli doesn't touch or crossover - but as this shape has to hold once the balloon is removed, the design needs to touch in some places for the shape to be sturdy)

Be sure to leave room at the very top for the deflated balloon to be removed - once you have piped your design all over the balloon hang it up to dry. I used paper clips to make hangers - as I don't have a drying rack, I used a shelf in my pantry. I let them dry overnight. To deflate the balloon make a very small cut or prick in the balloon. Don't pop the balloon, the shock is too much for the icing and it shatters. Keep hold of the top of the balloon as it deflates, as you don't want the balloon to drop inside your bauble.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

On the 15th day of Christmas - paua cookies

On the 15th day of Christmas my true love gave to me........... Paua shell cookies

I have a dear friend named Joy, every Christmas we make sure we give her a Christmas gift with "joy" in it. It might be a Christmas card, a "Joy" brooch, a box full of "Joy" cookies (or all three). Each year I think it will be hard to out-do last years attempt - but each year, so far, I have managed to find just the right thing, in the nick of time.

These cookies sure were fun to make, I baked an almond sugar cookie, then using edible paua icing sheet I used the Kiwi cookie cutter and placed it down on the sheet of icing. Using a sharp knife, I ran around gently and marked the icing using a sharp knife. I then cut out the shape with scissors. I adhered it to the cookie, with a thin layer of piping gel, you can also use corn syrup.

Monday, December 14, 2009

On the 14th day of Christmas - Baileys Irish cream pebbly beach cupcakes

On the 14th day of Christmas my true love gave to me........ Rocky seashore cupcakes

I am a huge fan of Bennetts of Mangawhai chocolates. They ooze Christmas & summer for me, this is because every Christmas holidays for nearly 10 years, I would stay at my boyfriends - who became my fiance - who became my husband - who became the father of my children - familys' bach in Mangawhai. I ALWAYS indulged in Bennetts of Mangawhai chocolate whilst I was there. These days you can buy Bennetts of Mangawhai chocolates in many retail stores across NZ, or simply order direct from their website. These cupcakes feature Bennetts of Mangawhai pebbles & stones

I wanted the Baileys Irish cream icing to have a rocky/pebbly seashore feel. Whilst The Mangawhai estuary (across the road from the family bach) today has beautiful white sand along its length. In the late 1990s when I first went there, this was not the case. The beautiful white sand in place today, is the result of many years of restoration. What greeted me all those years ago, was a rocky pebble beach. My attempts at capturing this feeling is above. I felt the icing needed to have a chunky granular texture, to achieve this, I used the OH-SO YUMMY fudge from the NZ fudge farm here in Whangarei. I would have to say, this is the ONLY store bought fudge I like. The idea for this cupcake came from a wonderful ice cream that is made in store at the NZ Fudge Farm. They take Vanilla ice cream and blend it with your favourite fudge flavour, to create something, that is not unlike the appearance of the top of this cupcake.

I decided to Use "Chocolate Supreme" and "Baileys" flavoured fudge in this cupcake, to get both a flavour & colour mix. Here's what it looked like, before I crushed it up. I can honestly say, this is the nicest tasting icing, I have ever made! (so far anyway)

The Fudge farm can be found in Whangarei's beautiful Town Basin - and the best bit is - they sell Bennetts of Mangawhai chocolates too!. We sure are spoilt for choice, when it comes to sweet treats, here in the north.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

On the 13th day of Christmas - Strawberry heart cheesecakes

On the 13th day of Christmas my true love gave to me............... Strawberry heart cheescakes

Strawberries are such a Christmas thing for me - it's when they are at their best. These were fun to make. I pressed my cheesecake base down in to the bottom of 12 foil cupcake papers (which I had placed in a muffin tray). Then I put the cheescake mixture down on top. (note to self, cheescake mixture is wet and difficult to spread in small areas piping it in would have kept the interior rim of my cupcake papers cleaner). I topped each with 1x dark Hersheys chocolate kiss.

The strawberry heart was cut from a slice of strawberry using the 2nd smallest heart cutter from the modern hearts cutter set I thought the flip of the hearts point, echoed the point of the Hersheys kiss nicely.

I could not decide whether I liked it best before or after the edible glitter stars went on. What do you think ?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Twelve piupius swinging - Kiwicakes advent calendar - day 12

On the Twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me.........Twelve piupius swinging.

I found the gorgeous little maori doll pegs, wearing their piupiu at the Whangarei $2 shop. When I saw them, I just had to have them. These little bags of jelly beans would look great strung up for an end of year Christmas garden party. I used red/black/white. I mixed 2 sizes of Jelly beans. I put them in size 1 cellophane bags

For my overseas readers
A piupiu is the grass skirt worn during kapa haka by females. It is crafted from flax (Harakeke)

Photo shows a young girl performing the poi with her group (Manutuke from Gisbourne, New Zealand). Taken at Hopuhopu (near Ngaruawahia, New Zealand) 2003 (courtesy of Wikipedia commons)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Eleven haka lessons - Kiwicakes advent calendar - day 11

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me.................Eleven Haka Lessons

The gingerbread men were made using a gingerbread man cookie cutter of course!. His arms were supported during baking. This was achieved by folding a piece of card, to give it a slight rise and propping it under each arm.
The faces are piped using coloured royal icing and his buttons arecandy stars
For my Overseas readers Wikipedia's (the free encyclopedia) definition of the haka (and use in popular culture)

The haka is a traditional Māori dance form. The use of haka in popular culture is a growing phenomenon, originally from New Zealand. Traditionally, haka were used only in Māori cultural contexts, but today haka are used in a wide range of public occasions to impart a sense of importance of the event.
For over 100 years the All Blacks have had a tradition of performing a haka before games (see Haka of the All Blacks). This has become the most widely known use of the haka, but several other New Zealand sports teams now perform the haka before commencing a game. These include rugby league (the Kiwis), Australian rules football (the Falcons), basketball (Tall Blacks) and wheelchair rugby (Wheel Blacks)teams.
In addition to this planned, formalised usage, teams and supporters now often perform impromptu haka as a celebration or encouragement.
Photo Shows All Black haka before a match against France, 18 November 2006. The All Blacks won the match 23-11. (courtesy Wikipedia commons)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ten juicy fish heads - Kiwicakes advent calendar - day 10

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me .................. ten juicy fish heads

I couldn't resist choosing schnapper or snapper (depending on where you're from) for my fish heads. I have fond memories of fishing for them with my late father. They are my favourite eating fish. Sometimes I still get lucky and my father inlaw Graeme will drop off some of his catch.
These cookies are chocolate layered with fondant icing the lustrous appearance of the fish scales are created using lustre dust in shades of silver, grey and orange/browns. The fondant is attached to the cookies using piping gel.

For my overseas readers (from Wikipedia - the free encycolpedia)

The Australasian snapper, "misha fish", Pagrus auratus is a species of porgie found in coastal waters of New Zealand and northern Australia. Although it is almost universally known in these countries as snapper it does not belong to the Lutjanidae family. It is highly prized as an eating fish.
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