Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cookie Monster Cupcakes

Me and my niece, Cleo, decided to decorate cupcakes for a fun activity as part of our exciting hanging out together day. We decided on Cookie Monster Cupcakes to match our Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavoured cupcakes. So I got all the stuff we needed ready and got decorating with her.

Here's a little tutorial of how to make a Cookie Monster cupcake. You can also use coconut to make Cookie's fur, like these awesome ones, but not everyone LOVES coconut and it won't always go with the cupcake flavour (like mine)

Cookie Monster Cupcakes
Cookie Monster Cupcakes

What you will need:
Cupcakes to decorate (recipe here)
Buttercream Icing (recipe below)
Blue Colouring (I used Wilton's Royal Blue, and used a lot!)
Piping Bag
Tip Number 233 (Grass tip)
White Chocolate Buttons (or marshmallows or fondant) for the eyes
Black Fondant (or black icing or chocolate chips) for the black dots on the eyes
Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Making Icing for Cupcakes
Cleo Mixing the Buttercream

Buttercream Icing
140g Unsalted Butter (softened)
2 C Icing Sugar
1 t Vanilla Essence
Blue Food Colouring
1 - 2 T Water

1) Cream butter until light and fluffy.
2) Add icing sugar and vanilla.
3) Add blue food colouring, if you use a gel be aware that the colour will develop over time, I used a LOT of blue gel to get this colour and left it for about half an hour to get it to this shade.
4) Add water to get the consistency you like (not too soft as it softens up in your hands while you pipe it out)

Decorating Cupcakes
Cleo Piping the Cookie Monster Hair

Piping Cookie Monster's Fur
1) Fill piping bag about half full with tip 233 (grass tip) attached.
2) Starting on the outer edge of the cupcake, gently squeeze piping bag and attach to cupcake, pull back while still slightly squeezing then release, this takes a bit of practice, it took me two cupcakes until I got the hang of it.
3) Continue piping "fur" around in circles from the outer edge into the middle.
4) Fill in any gaps you see along the way.

Decorating Cookie Monster's Face
1) Roll black fondant into tiny balls and attach to the flat side of white chocolate buttons. You can make lots of funny expressions for Cookie Monster with the eyes, cross eyed, eyes in different directions, big eyes, it's up to you!
2) Break mini cookies in half.
3) Gently press the eyes and cookie into the blue furry cupcake, you can be as creative as you like with this.

Cookie Monster Cupcake
Cookie Monster Cupcakes

Cookie Monster Cupcakes
Cookie Monster Cupcakes

Now, Eat! "Nom nom nom, ME LOVE COOKIE!"

Cookie Monster Cupcake
Cleo Enjoying a Cookie Monster Cupcake

Oh and...clean up the kitchen!

Messy Kitchen
My Messy Kitchen

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cookie Dough Cupcakes

I feel like I hardly ever get to spend time with my nine year old niece, Cleo, with just the two of us. So I planned a whole day to spend with her filled with stuff we like doing.

We read Moshi Monsters magazines, played Wii, watched Gnomeo & Juliet and made cupcakes.

Cookie Dough Cupcakes

We decided to make a fun flavour cupcake for something a little different, cookie dough cupcakes.

The recipe is in three parts, the batter, the filling and the icing, all of which were ridiculously yummy!

The filling is an eggless cookie dough which you stuff inside after you bake the cupcakes and makes for a yummy surprise when you bite into it!

After we made the cookie dough cupcakes we thought it only right to decorate some of them like Cookie Monster, check out our cute Cookie Monster Cupcakes!

Cookie Dough CupcakesCookie Dough Cupcakes

Cookie Dough Cupcakes
Makes 24 

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
340g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups brown sugar, packed
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 cup chocolate chips

Cookie Dough Filling:
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tsp. brown sugar, packed
1 cup flour
200g sweetened condensed milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup chocolate chips

Buttercream:
300g unsalted butter, at room temperature
3-4 cups icing sugar
2 tsp. vanilla essence
3 tbsp. milk

24 mini chocolate chip cookies

Cupcakes:
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and line two muffin tins with cupcake cases.
  • Beat the butter until light in colour then add the brown sugar; beat until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Add vanilla and beat until combined.
  • Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
  • Add dry ingredients and milk in three batches, starting and finishing with the dry ingredients, mix until just combined.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips and spoon into cupcake cases.
  • Bake for 18 - 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Leave cupcakes to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before placing on a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Using a small sharp knife, cut a hole in the centre of each cupcake and discard the tops (that means eat them).

Cookie Dough Filling:
  • Beat the butter until light in colour then add the brown sugar; beat until light and fluffy.
  • Add flour, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and chocolate chips, beat until smooth, the mixture gets quite tough so an electric beater is necessary!
  • Refrigerate until mixture is firm, approx. 1 hour in fridge or 20 minutes in freezer.
  • Once chilled, roll small balls of cookie dough and place inside cupcakes.

Buttercream:
  • Beat butter until light and fluffy.
  • Add vanilla and beat until combined.
  • Sift icing sugar into a large bowl, add to butter one cup at a time and mix until combined.
  • When icing starts to get lumpy add a tablespoon of milk until you reach a smooth piping consistency.
  • Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1M or large star tip half way with buttercream.
  • Pipe large swirls starting from the outside and working your way inwards and upwards.
  • Place half a mini chocolate chip cookie on top and sprinkle with shaved chocolate or chocolate chips. Only add the cookies just before you want to eat the cupcakes or they will go soft!

Recipe source: Annie's Eats

Cookie Dough CupcakesCookie Dough Cupcakes Cookie Dough Cupcakes Cookie Dough CupcakesCookie Dough Cupcakes

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Princess Cake

Have you ever had everything go wrong with a project you're working on? Well, I have.

First there was the white chocolate cake disaster. Last week I tried making a white chocolate cake for a princess cake I had coming up for the weekend. It turned out HORRIBLE. I don't know if it was me (probably was) or the white chocolate I used (also, probably was) or the recipe (Planet Cakes book) but it turned out rock solid.

Cakes
Chocolate Cake and Failed White Chocolate Cake

Then there was the other cakes, the replacement cakes. I decided on a Vanilla Bean Cake recipe I found online for the bottom tier to replace the white chocolate cake. This turned out to be WAY too sweet and tasted a bit funny because I put in a little extra vanilla paste. Also, these cakes were TINY, they hardly rose at all so I ended up having to buy a packet cake mix, noooo! Luckily my trusty Chocolate Cake Recipe worked out perfectly, as usual!

Cake
EW! Packet Cake!

Then there was the dodgy crown. I wanted to make a princess crown to go on top of the cake. I found a tutorial online but by the time I had found it I didn't have as much time as what they suggested (about a week I think) so I made two crowns out of gumpaste and fondant, one was a crappy back up crown, the other was loosely based on the tutorial I followed. Once I took the crown off the glass mould I have it sitting on, it came apart at the seam and one of the spikes fell off!

Gumpaste Crown
Gumpaste Crown and Back up Crown

Then there was my rusty cake decorating skills. I hadn't decorated a cake in about three months and gotten so rusty, I even forgot how to cover a cake board in fondant!

LUCKILY, it all got easier once the cakes were levelled, iced and covered in fondant. I had a bit of trouble getting the criss cross pattern on the top tier but it looked okay from the front. I piped Royal Icing around the purple diamonds on the crown and attached silver cachous to create a royal jewel look.

Princess Cake
The Finished Product

Princess Cake
Princess Cake with Fondant Star Decorations

In the end I was VERY happy with the result. VERY VERY happy, considering the pain it took to get there! The cake was for my friends four year old daughter (the princess) Charlotte. When I arrived she was so excited about the cake and even helped me put the fondant star decorations on. She looked every bit the part, especially with her face painted (by the incredibly talented, Sarah at Fab Faces) what a magical day!

Princess Face Paint
Birthday Princess

Princess Cake
Birthday Girl with her Princess Cake

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Harry Potter Cookies!

I'm going to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 tomorrow and I. CAN'T. WAIT!
We were going to dress up properly as we're going with friends to the midnight screening and seeing part 1 first at 9pm. But now it's here we don't have costumes! So we're going to wear the Potter glasses and wands again. I'm so excited!!


Last year I made Harry Potter Cupcakes for part one. This year I decided on cookies and tried to make them using Bake at 350's tutorial.


DSC06412
Hermione, Harry & Ron Cookies

DSC06414
Weasley Twins Cookies

DSC06415
Weasley Gang: Twins, Ginny & Ron

DSC06421
Voldemort & Snape Cookies

DSC06422
Hermione & Ron in LuuUUurve!

DSC06425
Ginny & Harry in LuuUUurve!

DSC06418
Harry Potter Cookies

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mars Bar Brownies

Have you ever been stuck for ideas for a dessert when hosting dinner at your place?

I have.

In fact this happens to me pretty much every time we have a guest over, great planning, I know!

With so little time and pre-bought ingredients it can be hard to think of a dessert that will work.

To that I say, brownies are the answer!

Mars Bar BrowniesMars Bar Brownies
Mars Bar Brownies

I'm not a pro at brownies, by any account. I feel like there is a brownie club that I don't belong to because everyone seems to have that recipe. The recipe they've made 500 times and know off by heart. I'm not like that.

For me this one is just simple, it's a little on the cakey side (as opposed to the fudgey type) but the best thing about it is that it contains ingredients you are bound to have in the pantry.

Anything extra you want to throw in, go for it! For instance...Mars Bars? Or any chocolate bar for that matter! Nuts? Yes! Crainsin? Why not! The choice is up to you. Plus if you leave it plain and dust with a little icing sugar it still tastes great with a strong cup of coffee by its side.

Mars Bar BrowniesMars Bar Brownies

Mars Bar Brownies
Recipe adapted from Robyn Brown Bakes

Ingredients
250g Butter, cut into chunks
1/2 C Cocoa
1 1/2 C Sugar
4 Eggs
1 C Flour
1 t Baking Powder
1 t Vanilla Essence
3 Mars Bars (chopped)
Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and line an 8" square cake tin or brownie tin with baking paper.
  • Heat butter in a large pan until melted.
  • Sift cocoa and add to the butter, stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
  • Remove from heat and add sugar, mixing until combined.
  • Beat eggs in a separate bowl, and add to the mixture one at a time, making sure to mix in thoroughly after each addition.
  • Sift in flour and baking powder into mixture.
  • Add vanilla and mix until well combined.
  • Pour brownie mixture into prepared tin and dot with Mars Bar pieces.
  • Using a spoon, gently press the Mars Bar pieces into the mixture until every piece is covered in batter.
  • Bake for approx. 30 minutes or until brownie springs back when touched and skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Leave to cool completely in tin.
  • Remove from tin and cut into large squares, sift icing sugar on top and enjoy!

Mars Bar Brownies
Mars Bar BrowniesMars Bar Brownies

So next time you're in a hurry and can't think of something for dessert try this one out. If you're the sort of person who always has ice cream in the freezer (I'm not) then your dessert is sorted!

Alternatively, you could just eat these brownies for morning tea...or lunch, or dinner?

I'll make any excuse to eat one!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Junk Food from Europe

I have this weird thing I'm obsessed with, please don't judge me (you're welcome to laugh though) I'm OBSESSED with foreign junk food. In fact, if I get to go into a supermarket while overseas it is VERY very exciting for me.

Junk Food Holland
Top Row: Juice Packs, Cherry Coke, Orangina, Fanta, Bolagnaise Chips
Bottom Row:  Muesli Bars, Coated Peanuts, Haribo Gummy Candy, Stroopwafels

While on our Euro Trip me and my (equally obsessed with junk food) Hubby ate as much junk as we felt like while we had the satisfaction of not feeling bad about the weight we put on, can't do that now though :-(

Holland Junk Food
Haribo Cherry Candy (YUM) Cranberry Apple Juice, Heart Breaker Chips 

Let me reminisce in those beautiful junk-food-filled days in Europe:

Holland & Amsterdam:
Supermarkets galore! EXCITING! We stocked up on salami meats, chips, soft drink and of course CANDY! In Amsterdam we found the great Febo, Febo is like a fast food vending machine, it's a wall of fried food where you put the money in and out comes a great tasting burger. I heart Febo!

Febo Amsterdam
Febo - Food in a wall

Dutch Cookies
Cookie mix I bought for my niece to make, they even have edible images inside!

Italy:
Three words - pizza, pasta and gelato! Mmmmm Gelato! Every day we were in Italy we promised our tour guide we would try a different Gelato. Melon, Nutella & Caramel were my picks, I miss Italian Gelato!

Italian Pizza
Italian Pizza (that's one person's serve)

France:
Eating a crepe under the Eiffel Tower while watching the light display, how could you not?! You also have to eat a fresh croissant and drink an ice cold Orangina - when in Rome...I mean Paris!

Crepe outside the Eiffel Tower
Me Eating a Crepe Outside the Eiffel Tower

Orangina & Croissant in Paris
Me Eating a Croissant & Orangina in Paris

Chips Galore:
There are SO many different brands and flavours of chips (crisps?) in Europe, some of my faves were Fonzies (Ayyyyye!) Nandos chips and Cheese burger flavoured -which actually tasted like a flame grilled Wopper from BK!

Nandos Chips
Nandos Peri Peri Chips

Lays Cheese Burger Chips
Cheese Burger Chips

I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream:
I found my favourite chocolate bar, Bounty Bar, in ice cream form! Yumyumyum! In Switzerland we were served a Swiss Flag ice cream and in London we spent three nights in a row trying Ben & Jerry's ice cream. We had Cookie Dough, Strawberry Cheesecake and Caramel Chew Chew.

Bounty Bar Ice Cream
Bounty Bar Ice Cream

Swiss Flag Ice Cream
Swiss Flag Ice Cream in Switzerland

Ben & Jerry's Cookie Dough Ice Cream
Ben & Jerry's Cookie Dough Ice Cream (YUM)



Now it is time I got up an exercised, gotta work off that European junk food somehow!

Gummy Candy on my Hand
Me Playing with my Candy on the Plane Ride home!