Category Archives: 2013

december: lisa’s christmas cupcakes

Merry Christmas everyone!!! Who doesn’t love this time of year? Festive decorations, presents, and the perfect excuse to indulge in some special foods and sweets.

This month, I thought that instead of sharing a specific recipe, I would share some Christmas cupcakes that are sure to bring a smile to whoever spies them. Perfect as gifts, or to take to parties or get togethers, you can use your own favourite cupcake recipe and turn them into Christmas treasures.

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At first glance, they might look complicated and difficult, but truly, all you need are a few basic tools (rolling pin, pizza cutter, ruler and a selection of cookie cutters) some fondant (rolled icing), food colouring and some store bought embellishments (eg. cachous). The rest is up to your imagination!

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The simplest designs are the holly and Christmas tree. For the Christmas tree, all you need is some green coloured buttercream – pipe it using a large circular tip, cut a star out of the rolled fondant, then pop a few cachous around the icing for your baubles. Simple yet effective.

For the holly, use a leaf shaped cutter to cut 3 leaves per cupcake. Use a serrated butter knife to “vein” the leaves, and then roll little berries using red coloured fondant. Arrange on top of your frosted cupcake and boom, there you go.

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Other easy do designs are the bauble and gift cupcakes. For the bauble, first ganache the cupcakes so you have a smooth and even finish to the cakes. Cut a round piece of fondant to cover the entire cupcake, then shape a triangular piece for the top. Then pipe your favourite design using ganache or store bought decorating icing. If you are having friends over, how about having the cupcakes already covered with ganache and fondant, and then letting them design their own bauble cupcake. They’ll love it!

For the gift cupcake, ganache and cover the cupcake with fondant, similar to the bauble. Then using another colour, cut strips to cross over the cake. Then make a bow and fix to the top. This can be a little more fiddly, but you can first make the bows, then “stick” them on top of the cakes once you’ve covered them and put the two strips on.

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You can also create a show-stopping table centrepiece using a cupcake tower, and dressing it like a tree. Here I’ve used some tinsel to cover the centre of the perspex tower, covered it with some simple mini-cupcakes topped with stars, added in some bauble cupcakes, and gift cupcakes under the tree. Once you’ve made your cupcakes, it won’t take long to assemble, but it creates a great effect.

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This Christmas, why not create a gift that money can’t buy, and is individual to you. Happy creating, and I wish all our readers a safe and happy holiday season. See you in 2014!!!

 

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december: jasmine’s mango cream sponge

IMG_5578It is our second Xmas with little A. Little A is 15 months old now! Well and truly into the toddler stage! This year Xmas was a lot more exciting for us! We have been going to Xmas parties on the weekend, we visited an amusement park, attempted a photo with Santa (baby A and Santa were both traumatized by the event) and have been out and about checking out the Xmas trees and Xmas decor in shopping centres. Seeing Xmas through the eyes of a young child is truly amazing.

We hosted a Xmas lunch last Sunday for some of our new friends who we met through little A’s playdates. To embrace the summer ambiance of Xmas in Australia, I made a very summery dessert for our Xmas party. The fruits at this time of year are AMAZING, but the mangoes caught my eye at the shops on the weekend. I made a simple sponge cake topped with whip cream and fresh sliced mangoes. This dessert would work with any fruit really, but mangoes are such a treat in the summer I couldn’t resist :)

Unfortunately, little A is allergic to almost everything (eggs, dairy, soy, wheat, etc)….so no dessert for little A instead she had apple slices…not quite the same huh?

Have a safe and happy Christmas :)

december: kerri’s chocolate cherry layer cake

I love Christmas. The carols, the festivities, the colours… and the food! And aside from the turkey, the baking and desserts are what really excites me.

I actually made this cake for a friend’s birthday, but added cherries to make it more festive. It is pretty much a non-alcoholic, very easy version of a black forest cake, with a little bit of extra chocolate to make it that little bit more decadent. Perfect for any occasion, including Christmas!

chocolate cherry layer cake whole

I added extra ganache to swirl through the cream on top, but you can add shaved chocolate curls or decorate the top with festive motives or cake toppers. Or leave the chocolate out of the cream altogether and top it with some fresh berries for a more white Christmas theme. It’s a very versatile recipe for you to change up where and when you need.

chocolate cherry layer cake

If your belly isn’t satisfied after your Christmas turkey, it surely will be after a slice of this! Enjoy! I’m off to do more Christmas baking :)

You can find the recipe here.

december: anna’s pistachio and tart cherry shortbread

Pistachio Tart Cherry Christmas ShortbreadDried tart cherries are a new favorite thing of mine! Unlike most dried fruit, which I find much to sweet, dried tart cherries, as the name implies, are slightly tart! They go really well in sweet treats and add a different dimension of flavor. You can use them in any recipe that calls for dried cranberries.

Shortbread is great for the holiday season! It makes a really nice homemade gift and is a must have for a cookie swap party! This particular shortbread, with green pistachios and red dried cherries, are very festive! You could drizzle or dip the cookies in chocolate to make them extra special.

This shortbread is really quick and easy to make. It takes about 10 minutes to mix the dough together and press it into shape. You can also make the dough in advance and bake the cookies just before you want to serve them. They tend to retain their freshness for a while, so are ideal for gifts.

Pistachio Cherry Shortbread Dough

Pistachip Cherry Shortbread Rolled

I found that using bread flour in this recipe instead of all purpose flour gave the shortbread a crispier texture, which is the way I like it. If you prefer softer shortbread, all purpose flour is the way to go. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet but I think that these would also be great dipped in hot chocolate or egg nog!

Happy Holidays to all our readers! See you in the New Year!

Pistachio Tart Cherry Shortbread

Find the recipe here

october: jasmine’s summer pudding

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Sorry for the late post! Even though the deadline was extended for 1 month, I still found myself stretched for time and running late! This is the life of a working mom. I am impressed with myself when I can walk out of the house with a clean outfit on, a neat appearance and on time! lol!

When the bread theme was announced, I turned to a page in one of my recipe books, which I had dog-eared years ago!  I have always been intrigued by summer pudding. A pudding with berries and made of white bread! What would it taste like? Would I actually like it? The concept of it was a bit strange to me at first.

However, working in an office with a lot of English people, I soon learned a lot about summer pudding and what berries to use, type of bread, quality of bread, what to serve it with.

I do not like my desserts too sweet, so I did not add a lot of sugar to the berries and kept them fairly tart. This pudding is really easy to make. No baking involved. The time it takes for it to be ready is really the time that it needs in the fridge (overnight), squashed under 1 kilo of apples!

I served this dessert with vanilla yogurt, but I know that it will also work well with custard, thickened cream and even ice cream!

I am going to keep this recipe on the top of mind over the summer season. Perfect simple dessert recipe when I have people over AND am stretched for time….which is ALWAYS!

november: anna’s pumpkin, cranberry and pecan quickbread

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I’m writing this post from an amazing house in the Catskills…check out the view!

Catskills Thanksgiving

This month, I definitely wanted to make something to celebrate the seasonal ingredients available at this time of year. This quickbread recipe from Amy’s Bread combining pumpkin, fresh cranberries and pecans was perfect.I have never used canned pumpkin puree before (it doesn’t even exist back home in Australia!) and couldn’t bring myself to do so, so I made my own by roasting and then pureeing butternut squash. I think it was worth the extra effort!
Roasted Butternut Squash Homemade Pumpkin Puree
Fresh cranberries are a treat when you can get them. Unlike the dried version, they are extremely tart and I thought they added a great freshness and pop to the quickbread.
Fresh Cranberries
I was really happy with the way the bread turned out. Not to sweet and perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee. I made this a day ahead so we could focus on preparing Thanksgiving lunch!
Find the recipe here