Christmas Truffle Tree

December 19, 2010

 

I love Christmas time! Not for any religious reasons, but the fact that it’s so wonderfully festive and colourful and people come together and all the nifty cute projects people get up to are so wonderful. I went to an early Christmas dinner and I decided to bring a fancy dessert. I wanted to do something spectacular and not just a cheesecake or a pavlova. So looking through the interwebs the truffle-tree sounded like a great idea! And so I decided to make truffles with fruit cake (inspired by the cake bites/pop craze) but I didn’t add frosting – just brandy and it made the mixture pliable enough to roll into balls.

Anyway this project is super easy, just a bit time consuming. Very fun though! I had a ball… hah

I didn’t make my own cake, I bought a dark fruit cake to save time and normally I don’t do that, but the cakes around this time are actually quite delicious. Feel free to make your own cake though!

 

Christmas Truffle Tree

Makes a 25cm (9″) high tree

800g dark fruit cake (or make your own 8″ cake)

1/2 cup brandy

500g good quality white chocolate

Chocolate sprinkles, blue sugar, coconut etc

Ferrero Rochers, Lindt balls etc

25cm polystyrene cone (9″)

Toothpicks

Decorative ribbon

Fondant (to make a star for the top, or you can use chocolate etc)

 

To make the christmas cake truffles – process the fruit cake into crumbs and slowly add 1/2 cup of brandy and mix well. The mixture should be nice and sticky. Put into the fridge to firm up for about 1/2 hour.

Line a tray with baking paper and roll 1 tsp of mixture into a ball. This stage can get quite messy and you will need to wash your hands and start again at various points. It’s fun though! When you have finished rolling into balls, place in the fridge for about an hour so the balls firm up.

Melt the white chocolate and fill some small bowls with sprinkles of your chosen colour, coconut that has been left white or tinted and any other decoration to coat your truffles with. I  wanted to use white chocolate for mine but I ran out and didn’t realise so I stuck with chocolate sprinkles and blue sugar.

Carefully coat the balls in the white chocolate then quickly roll them in your chosen coating or leave them plain. Take your cone and starting from the bottom, insert a toothpick on a 45 degree angle and attach your truffle to it. Working your way around the cone, keep adding in rows until the cone is covered. It is a good idea to have your cone resting on something, I used a 10″ silver cake board (just a thin one) that I spread with a bit of melted chocolate first then stuck the cone on that.

I also used some Ferrero Rochers and left some truffles uncoated with chocolate for texture and colour; I love the look of all the different varieties. You could use all sorts of pre-bought chocolates for this project like Lindt balls, and it gives guests a non-alcoholic option too. When you have finished building your tree, decorate it with ribbon and I made a star from fondant that I inserted into the top with a toothpick.

Enjoy!

 

My First Wedding Cake

November 27, 2010

Wow. What a ride. Many months ago a lovely girl at work asked me if I could make her wedding cake. Initially, she heard about me because of my cupcakes but after chatting she said she rather liked the idea of a tiered cake instead, and asked if I could do it. I said yes, never having made a wedding cake before mind you. I’m glad I did it’s been an incredibly busy and stressful and messy two days but it was so rewarding when I stepped into the marquee with all the tables beautifully set up and placed the cake down and took a photo.

It’s not perfect – I had a few problems (damn oven bakes wonky cakes!) but in it’s imperfection, I thought it was quite lovely. I would have it as my own wedding cake definitely.

It’s red velvet (coolest bride ever for requesting that) and I covered the cakes in white fondant initially but OMG I suck at it so bad, I don’t know what it is… but there were little cracks and things so I whipped up some royal icing. Now, royal icing spreads easily but it dries lumpy… and looks like an oil painting. I looked at the end result and freaked out a little, seeing as it didn’t have a nice smooth finish anymore but a little… rustic. But once I put the spray of roses on the top it suddenly transformed it and I really love it!

Anyway – new goal for 2011 – take some cake deco classes! There’s only so far you can go being self taught

Now to go clean the epic mess…

Not perfect, but it will definitely be delicious.

NOTE: I will post more photos, especially of the inside when I get some from the photographer post wedding.

Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

July 15, 2010

When I first heard someone say “chai tea” I sort of cocked my eyebrow and thought to my self; “wait, what?”. Suddenly this phenomena of chai burst out of nowhere and at first I thought it was pretty funny. Technically ‘chai tea’ is a misnomer. In Hindi and a lot of other languages the word chai means tea. It’s not a type of tea, it’s the word for tea. So when someone says “chai tea” I hear “tea tea”. It’s kinda like when someone says “ATM machine” hehe

Then, I discovered the chai latte. And I fell in love. My favourite cafe serves these wonderful vanilla chai lattes sprinkled with cinnamon. I love the flavours immensely.

They remind me a lot of Indian desserts with cardamom and cinnamon, things my Mother makes. So I decided to try and replicate those flavours purely by taste. I have no idea how to make a chai latte, but I do recognise those spices. Today I experimented with a recipe I wrote up last night and amazingly it worked. The batter was incredible and the aroma when they came out of the oven! Amazing. I will share the recipe because it’s something that should be shared in my opinion. I think lovers of that “chai” flavour will love these.

Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

(Makes 12)


100g butter

1 cup caster sugar

½ tsp vanilla bean paste

2 eggs

½ quantity chai spice mix (recipe follows)

1 ¼ cups plain flour, sifted

½ cup buttermilk

½ tsp bicarb soda

½ tsp apple cider vinegar (white vinegar is fine)

Chai Spice Mix

1 ½ tsp ground cardamom

1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Mix spices together in a small bowl.

Vanilla Chai Buttercream

125g butter

½ tsp vanilla bean paste

3 cups icing sugar, sifted

½ quantity chai spice mix

1-2 tbs cold milk

Preheat the oven to 160C

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and beat in one egg at a time. Stir in half the quantity of chai spice mix. Fold in the flour and buttermilk alternately and stir until combined, don’t overmix. Mix together the bicarb soda and vinegar and mix into the batter.

Spoon into prepared cupcake cases and bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

To make the buttercream, beat the butter until it is creamy and very pale in colour. Stir in the vanilla and the rest of the chai spice mix. Slowly beat in the icing sugar about ½ cup at a time. If the buttercream is too thick add 1-2 tbs of cold milk until the desired consistency is reached.

Pipe onto cooled cupcakes, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and serve!

It has been well over a year since my last post, but I’ve been so busy! I’m in the middle of starting my own little cupcake/cake business. I have two wedding cakes to bake at the end of the year.

Anyway, one of my favourite cakes of all time is red velvet. Here in Australia it is relatively unknown so when I bake it for my friends, they just can’t get enough. I use a variation of the recipe from here: http://tastedbytwo.com/2009/06/23/recipe-magnolia-red-velvet-cupcakes/ but I use buttermilk rather than whole milk. I also use my own recipe for cream cheese icing.

So on the weekend my friend ask me to bake red velvet cupcakes for her baby shower. She’s having a little girl so I thought pink blossoms would go very well with the rich velvety red. I think they look too pretty to eat!

Deviled Eggs

May 10, 2009

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I love deviled eggs… they are just the easiest thing to make in the world and they look amazing.
There are so many recipes for deviled eggs online, but I’ve noticed a strange trend… they seem to all be lacking curry powder. I have always thought deviled eggs had curry powder, how else are they ‘deviled’? Ah who knows, but I love this recipe and they are eaten so quickly. I made some for a work morning tea a few weeks ago and one particular woman just kept coming back for more.
I noticed they are more popular with women, I asked one of the male workers if he was going to try one and he said they looked “too delicate”. Haha I suppose they do.

The curry powder I use is Keen’s. Deviled eggs is probably the only recipe that I would actually use curry powder in – never EVER for an actual curry; that is blasphemy in our house. It’s the perfect flavour for these though, it seems to stir childhood memories of curried egg sandwiches which I think is the reason why they are so popular.

I pipe my filling back into the eggs, but you can always spoon it in too. They are so easy to make! And they taste so good. I always end up with extra filling so I put it into a sandwich. Nom nom.

On hard-boiling eggs; it’s quite easy. Carefully place the eggs into a saucepan of water and let it boil. Stir a few times so the yolks don’t settle right on the edge. Boil for about 10-15 minutes and they’re done.

So here’s the recipe. Perfect for your next dinner party or morning tea, or just because you can!

Deviled Eggs
Makes 12

6 eggs, hard-boiled
2 tbs mayonnaise
1 tsp curry powder (I use Keen’s)
1/4 tsp dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Paprika

Cut each hard-boiled egg in half and scoup the yolks out into a bowl. Mash the yolks with a fork and add the mayonnaise, curry powder, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir until smooth, add more mayonnaise if it looks a little dry.
Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe the mixture into each empty egg. Sprinkle with paprika.

Enjoy!

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These cupcakes are hands down my favourite. The icing is probably the best part which is why my second favourite cupcakes are red velvet (I will get around to making these eventually).

This recipe has taken me a little while to perfect – one day I decided to try the combination of vanilla, cinnamon and banana and it was amazing… the aroma that filled the house as they came out of the oven freshly baked was just incredible.

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I’ve been hesitant to post the recipe because I like it being a secret; but I realised that you can give the same recipe to a bunch of people and the end result will all be completely different. It’s amazing how it works, this recipe might work wonders for me because I created it but it might completely fail for someone else simply because of attitude. In the end though, what does it really matter? Recipes should be, like food shared amongst anybody who is interested.

So here you are, a dozen banana cupcakes just waiting to be baked. I know it’s all in metric but it shouldn’t be too hard to convert… one of these days I promise I will write both measurements in!

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Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing
Makes 12

125g butter, softened
3/4 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
100ml milk
Walnuts (optional)

Cream Cheese Icing

30g butter, softened
125g cream cheese, softened
2 cups icing sugar

Preheat oven to 160C

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and add the vanilla and cinnamon. Beat in the bananas. Sift the flour and gently fold into the mixture, alternating with the milk.

Spoon into 12 prepared cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes* until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

To make the icing: Beat the butter until fluffy and pale. Add the cream cheese and beat well, and slowly add the icing sugar until the icing is thick and creamy.
When the cupcakes are cool spoon or pipe a generous amount of icing onto each cupcake and top with a walnut.

Note: DO NOT refridgerate these cupcakes! They will dry out so eat them at room temperature. If you plan to eat them a day or two ahead, leave the icing to the last minute and keep the icing in the fridge.

*This is an estimated time; I don’t actually pay attention to how long they bake for I just look :-P

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peanutbutterpie4small

Wow it’s been like, two months since my last update. It has been incredibly crazy though I think I have over-committed myself. I decided to take up part time study so I have no time for anything! Haha oh well, it is worth it.

So today I bring you a dessert that is so incredibly easy because it requires NO baking. Just putting things in the fridge to set. It’s for a dinner party tonight and even though it’s technically Autumn, a cold dessert would be nice tonight.

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I deviated a little from “pie” because the chocolate biscuit base is actually supposed to come up the sides to make a “shell” but it still counts as a pie… right? It’s made in a pie dish! :)

Recipe time! It’s SO easy… you should try it… right now!

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Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pie
Serves 10-12

200g chocolate biscuits (with a cream centre), crushed
50g butter, melted
200g cream cheese
2/3 cup icing sugar
100g smooth peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
250ml single cream, whipped
2 tbs single cream, extra
15g butter, extra
50g dark chocolate, chopped
Peanuts, chopped

Combine the crushed biscuits and butter and press into a 25cm pie dish. You can press the mixture around the sides but I was lazy… Place in the fridge for 15 minutes or until firm.

Beat together the cream cheese and sifted icing sugar until smooth. Beat in the peanut butter and vanilla.
Spoon in a third of the whipped cream, gently stirring to combine. Fold in the rest of the cream.

Pour into the pie dish and place in the fridge to set for about 2 hours.

Place the extra cream and butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until the butter has melted and the cream is softy bubbling. Take off the heat and stir the chocolate through until it has melted completely and there are no lumps.

Drizzle the chocolate over the pie in a lattice pattern and place in the fridge for 2 hours or until set. Sprinkle with peanuts just before serving and enjoy!

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