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!

 

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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 😛

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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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plumcupcakes

One of the reasons I started this blog was to enter the Iron Cupcake: Earth Challenge. The theme for December is “Chocolate with a Twist” and when I first found out, I thought… oh boy this is going to be a challenge. What could I come up with that hadn’t already been done before? I thought about it for quite a while until one day I was eating one of my little brother’s chocolate custard desserts.

It suddenly occurred to me that I could somehow incorporate chocolate custard into my cupcake entry. So I decided to make a yummy white chocolate custard. I just needed to pair it with something that would compliment it perfectly.
It all started to come together when I thought about using plums. Then I had the perfect combination; it would be like a Christmas plum pudding with custard… but in a cupcake! That was when I knew I had to add brandy into the custard. I am so happy with the way this turned out. The flavours work really well together and they were eaten very quickly…

Making them mini-sized was actually an accident. I ran out of regular cupcake cases at the last minute and had to use smaller ones. I don’t mind at all though because they are just perfect bite-sized. I think I will definitely have to make these again next Christmas.

I have included the recipes for both the custard and the cupcakes. The custard should be made the day before as it will thicken considerably when it has been in the fridge overnight, making it really easy to pipe.
The cupcakes were really easy to make; I just made it up as I went along and threw in whatever I thought would taste really nice and thankfully, it worked!

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Plum Cupcakes with White Chocolate and Brandy Custard
Makes 48 mini cupcakes

2 cups self-raising flour
3/4 cups caster sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
125g butter melted, cooled
2 eggs
3/4 cups orange juice
250g prunes, chopped

Custard:
600ml single cream
60g white chocolate, chopped
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tbs cornflour
1/4 cup brandy

To make the custard, combine the chocolate and cream in a saucepan over a low heat and stir until the chocolate has melted. Bring to the boil and then set aside.
Combine the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour into a bowl and whisk until combined.
Pour the cream mixture over the egg, whisking well.
Return to the saucepan and add the brandy. Stir over a low heat until the custard thickens. When cool, place in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 160C

To make the cupcakes, combine the prunes and the orange juice in a bowl and let them sit for about 10 minutes.
Sift the flour into a bowl and combine with the sugar and spice. Make a well in the center.
Add the eggs, butter, prunes and the juice and fold into the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
Spoon the batter into prepared cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let them cool down and carefully peal the cases off. Spoon the thick custard into a piping bag and carefully pipe onto the cupcakes. Serve immediately!

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If you like what you see, vote for me here at No one puts cupcake in a corner.
Voting begins on December 29 until January 2nd.

Banana Smoothie Muffins

December 7, 2008

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After baking the Pear and Banana Loaf the other night I was still left with a very ripe banana. I decided to make “Banana Smoothie Muffins” for my brother; recipe by yours truly. So what makes a smoothie muffin? Besides mashed banana they also have strawberry yoghurt and honey. The end result is a very moist and fluffy muffin that actually tastes like a smoothie! The yoghurt makes it a heavier muffin than most; so don’t worry too much that they don’t rise a great deal.

For this recipe you can substitute any flavour yoghurt you like. I also used an organic honey from a friend’s farm which made it taste just that little bit extra. Try different fruits too; experiment and create all different kinds of “smoothie” flavours. I just put in whatever I happened to have at home.
These muffins are great to have in packed lunches, and especially for kids. They taste great warm or cold.

Banana Smoothie Muffins
Makes about 28 cupcake sized muffins

1 3/4 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup yoghurt (I used strawberry)
1 egg
1 tbs honey
2/3 cup oil
1 large mashed banana

Preheat the oven to 180C

Sift the flour and combine in a bowl with the sugar.
In a seperate bowl combine the yoghurt, egg, honey and oil. Fold into the flour mixture and gently stir until mixed well. Stir in the mashed banana.

Spoon into a prepared muffin pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy!

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Raspberry and Coconut Slice

November 29, 2008

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My friend Emily and I often have movie days and for today I asked her if she wanted me to bake her anything. She requested “Raspberry and Coconut Slice”.
This is an old fashioned favourite and very easy to put together. It consists of a sweet biscuit-like base, a layer of raspberry jam and finished with a sweet coconut topping.

To be perfectly honest, this is a slice that has apparently eluded me for my entire life! I had never had it before today and it was really nice. I am already thinking of some variations; blueberry jam instead of raspberry served with whipped cream. Yum.

So here is the recipe for you to try:

Raspberry and Coconut Slice
Makes about 20 pieces

2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup castor sugar
90g unsalted butter
1 egg
1 cup raspberry jam

Topping
2 cups desiccated coconut
1/4 cup castor sugar
3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 200C
Combine flour, sugar and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. I actually used my hands for this, as our food processor isn’t quite big enough. Add the egg and combine until the mixture forms a ball.

Line a 3cm deep 18 x 28cm slab pan with baking paper. Press the base mixture into the pan and bake for 10 minutes or until it begins to brown.
Remove from the oven and turn the oven down to 170C

To make the topping; whisk together the coconut, sugar and eggs until well combined.

Spread the jam onto the warm base, microwave for a few seconds to make it easier to spread. Next spoon on the topping and using the back of the spoon gently press making sure it is all even.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden and the base is cooked.

Free-form Peach Pie

November 23, 2008

Last night when I made my own shortcrust pastry I said I was in the mood for some pie. Today was the perfect weather! A cold, wet and dreary Sunday great for a freshly baked fruit pie.

I decided to bake a free-form peach pie. Free-form means that it doesn’t use a baking tin, rather the edges are folded over to keep the filling in. I think the end result looks simple, yet really tasty and inviting. So here’s how to make your own, subsitiute the peaches for anything you fancy.

Rolling out the pastry

Rolling out the pastry

Roll out the pastry until it is about as big as a dinner plate; making sure it’s all even. If you want a perfect circle you can use a plate to cut one out.

Apricot conserve and brown sugar

Apricot conserve and brown sugar

Melt some apricot jam (or conserve in my case) in the microwave carefully, and spread onto the pastry leaving a border around the edge. Then sprinkle on some brown sugar.

Arranging the peaches

Arranging the peaches

Layer the peaches onto the pastry, I attempted to make it look fancy…

Ready to bake!

Ready to bake!

Sprinkle the peaches with more brown sugar and carefully fold the edges of the pastry to partially enclose the filling. Now it’s ready to be baked!

Fresh out of the oven.

Fresh out of the oven.

Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve! The smell is divine; warm stewed peaches, I couldn’t wait to eat it.

It was really tasty!

It was really tasty!

Serve a slice with some double cream and try not to eat the whole pie! I am so incredibly proud of this dessert; it’s the first time I have ever made my own shortcrust pastry and it turned out light and crispy just as I hoped. And here is the recipe!

Free-form Peach Pie
Serves 4

1 quantity of shortcrust pastry
2 tbs apricot jam (or conserve)
2 tbs brown sugar
415g can sliced peaches
Icing sugar to dust
Cream, ice cream, custard etc to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C

Roll out the pastry into a rough circle shape as big as a dinner plate.
Melt the apricot jam in either a saucepan or the microwave. Spread onto the pastry leaving a 2cm border around the edge. Sprinkle with 1tbs of the brown sugar.

Arrange the peaches on the pastry. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and carefully fold the edges of the pastry partially enclosing the filling.

Place the pie on a baking paper lined tray and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Let it cool slightly and serve!

Enjoy!