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Cadbury Chocolate Fingers Birthday Cake!

Cadbury fingers make the best kind of birthday cake!

40th Birthday Cadbury Fingers Cake

 

A friend asked me to make a cake for her friend’s 40th birthday and after some discussion we decided on a cake covered with cadbury fingers. Naturally I was super excited to make it because I LOVE cadbury fingers. She also asked for it to be elegant, and what’s more elegant than roses am I right?! So with the party’s colour scheme in mind I set about creating this cake! It was actually a lot of fun to make and I’m really pleased with how it turned out

40th Birthday Cadbury Fingers Cake

That cake itself is vanilla, filled with fresh whipped cream and strawberry jam. It’s then covered with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream, surrounded by the all important cadbury fingers and decorated with fondant roses and flowers! I am sure you’ve seen similar designs many times before, it’s still one of my favourite ways to decorate a cake though! As soon as I can get my hands on a marble slab somehow, I will definitely make a similar cake with chocolate cigarellos. Cigarellos are no match to cadbury fingers in taste, but they definitely have a more dainty, elegant look!

40th Birthday Cupcakes

I also made 60 cupcakes to match, Nasa obviously has a lot more friends than I do! They were all vanilla cake with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream, then decorated to match the colour theme of course. The cupcake toppers were definitely a labour of lover, but they were fun to make and they turned out pretty much how I wanted them too which is always a bonus!

40th Birthday Cupcakes

40th Birthday Cadbury Fingers Cake

40th Birthday Cupcakes

As you may have noticed, this is another post without a recipe attached. I am sorry, I will get up the recipe for the ferrero rocher cupcakes soon, I just wanted to share this cake with you while I don’t have time to write up a recipe or do any baking (“don’t have time” in Michelle language normally translates to “don’t have the energy/am too sick”). I do have plans to bake some chocolate pudding cookies and macarons so maybe I’ll get those up soon too! In the meantime I do hope you enjoy these cakes even if the photos aren’t great!

 

 

Have a fab week y’all

Welcome to the World, Thing 1 and Thing 2

In the early hours of this morning my sister gave birth to twins! So I baked some cupcakes to celebrate (naturally).

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And how could I bake anything other than Dr Seuss Thing 1 and Thing 2 cupcakes? I had the idea for these a while ago after seeing something similar on the internet and I’ve just been counting down the days until I could do it!

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I had a bit of a struggle with these as I either needed red cake or red cases. And since I couldn’t find red cases for love nor money, it had to be red cake, which naturally means red velvet, my fave! The problem here being that I also didn’t have any red food colouring! For those of you experienced with red velvet you’ll know that the original red colour comes from the reaction between the cocoa powder and acidic ingredient (usually white vinegar of some kind), but to get a garishly bright red that most of us are used to when it comes to red velvet, you also need a ton of red food colouring. I somehow managed to get a nice good red colour from just the cocoa and vinegar plus some ruby sugarflair gel colouring (which is a dark pink) and a very tiny amount blue food colouring (thanks to my colour theory expert of a best friend for that tip!). While organising my cake decorating supplies later today I discovered I did have red food colouring after all, I guess that’s what I get for not organising that stuff sooner!

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I’m not gonna give you the red velvet recipe today as I was on a bit of an improvisation with this one, I also made my own buttermilk, this was a strictly “only use what I already have in the house” project!. When I finally write up a red velvet recipe (and I will, it’s my favourite cake) I’ll let you know how to make your own buttermilk too, a quick google will help you out there in the meantime though.

But what is red velvet without cream cheese frosting, right? And that’s the recipe I’m going to give you today. I’m a huge fan of cream cheese frosting, it’s my absolute favourite and I pretty much love it however it comes. But sometimes I find it can be a bit heavy with too much sweetness and not enough tangyness (totally a word), which is why I love this recipe. It’s really light and creamy and the small amount of sugar really lets the cream cheese shine through! Plus it’s still stiff enough to pipe.

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So, this one’s for you T1 and T2. This is your Aunty Michelle’s way of welcoming you into this crazy world

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[recipe title=”Cream Cheese Frosting” servings=”” time=”15 mins”]

Ingredients

  • 230g full fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 60g icing sugar, sifted
  • 160ml cold double cream*

Method

  • Beat the cream cheese until smooth
  • Add vanilla and sugar and beat until combined and smooth
  • Using a whisk attachment, add the cream a little at a time and whip until frosting is thick and ready to pipe
  • Add more sugar or cream to adjust consistency if necessary

*Note – make sure you use a double cream with at least 35% fat content and one that you know whips well. If you’re not using a good whipping cream then your frosting will not thicken up properly.

[/recipe]

 

Quick and Easy Chocolate Mousse

What do you when you have 15 egg yolks laying around? Make chocolate mousse of course!

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I love most things meringue based, so while all these egg whites are living full and delicious (yet short) lives, the egg yolks are left to wallow in their unfulfilled destinies.

So if you’re anything like me you often have a lot of egg yolks laying around and nothing to do with them. There are plenty of things you make with egg yolks; crème pâtissière, custard, crème brûlée, mayonnaise, hollandaise etc. I wanted something nice and easy that could be eaten by itself (and wouldn’t require a chef’s torch!), and that’s where the mousse came in.

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I used a Martha Stewart recipe for this, but slightly adapted as I didn’t have as much cream as I thought I did and I had less chocolate (I was also going for a recipe that I didn’t have to buy anything for, it was 9pm after all). Despite the lack of cream and less chocolate it was still the richest chocolate mousse I have ever eaten, I could only eat a few spoonfuls!

Ingredients:

  • 4  egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 300ml double cream
  • 170g dark chocolate (min 60% cocoa solids), melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk the egg yolks, 2 tablespoons sugar and 150 double cream in a medium saucepan. Heat over a medium/low heat, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes, do not boil. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl. Whisk in melted chocolate and vanilla. You’ll end up with a custardy consistency. Chill until cooled.

With an electric mixer, beat remaining cream and sugar together until stiff peaks form. Stir 1/3 of the whipped cream into the cool custard mixture, and then every gently fold in the rest of the the cream with a rubber spatula.

Spoon into serving dishes, cover and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

And voila! Your egg yolks have new meaning and can die satisfied!

Black Forest Pavlovas

Yummy single serving meringue desserts from down under!Image

Happy New Year everybody! I hope this year is your best one yet, I know it’s going to be mine! My first post of 2014 is going to be the dessert I made for Christmas day. It wasn’t actually eaten on Christmas day because I had work and then there were presents and dinner so by the time I finished baking it was 10:30pm! But they were enjoyed on Boxing Day.

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Pavlova actually originated in Australia (or possibly New Zealand, I think they still argue over that). There are three good things to come out of Australia, they are: Heath Ledger, Chris Hemsworth and Pavlova. Since Heath Ledger is dead (sad face) and Chris Hemsworth is married, I’ll have to settle for eating pavlova!  I actually only discovered that pavlova was Australian fairly recently, it’s always been a very British dessert in my head, probably because we eat it a lot and Eton Mess is basically a smashed up pavlova! This favourite dessert of mine consists of three main ingredients; meringue, fruit and cream. And it is open to so many different variations, you could never get bored with it!

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Black Forest, on the other hand, is German. It started with a dessert called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in Black Forest, Germany and eventually worked it’s way into my heart as my favourite ever cake! It consists of chocolate, cherries, cream and kirsch (a cherry liquor) and it is divine. If you’re European you no doubt grew up eating it, if you’re not European then you may never have even tried it. If that’s the case, get down to your nearest quality bakery and get something that’s black forest flavoured, you can thank me later!

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While Black Forest cake is my favourite cake, pavlova is my favourite dessert. So I have no idea why it took me so long to mix the two together, perhaps I was afraid of too much pleasure at once! Either way, it was a great Christmas present to myself I must say! This is a slightly sobered version of true Black Forest though as I could not find Kirsch for the life of me. I also could not find black cherries (I swear there’s a cherry embargo on me, whenever I try to buy them in any form I can’t), I did managed to find black cherry pie filling though and it actually worked really well even if it was a bit of a cheat!

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[recipe title=”Black Forest Single Serving Pavlovas” servings=”12″ time=”Approx 3 hours”]

Ingredients

For the meringue:

  • 8 egg whites
  • 400g granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • 500m double cream
  • 2 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
  • 1 can black cherry pie filling
  • Dark chocolate curls*
  • Dark chocolate shavings**

* To make chocolate curls, run a clean potato cleaner peeler down the edge of a bar of chocolate.

** To make chocolate shavings, use a microplane or fine grater

To make the meringue

Preheat oven to 220C/430F/Gas 7. Line baking sheets with baking paper.

Separate your eggs and make sure you don’t get any yolk in your egg whites as it will prevent them from foaming up properly. You also need to make sure your equipment is grease free.

Beat your egg whites until stiff. Then slowly add sugar one tablespoon at a time and add the vanilla, keep beating at a medium speed until it forms stiff peaks. If you want to test they are stiff enough, turn the bowl upside down, if they stay you’re good! Obviously be careful as you do this in case they’re not stiff enough! Sift the cocoa powder into the raw meringue and gently fold in. You don’t want to fully incorporate the cocoa powder, you want to leave streaks (or not, it’s your life man).

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Now you need to get your meringues formed on the baking sheet. Personally, I like to pipe them on, I find I can get them more evenly sized and better circles. Do it however feels easiest for you though. I piped 6 rounds per baking sheet (it makes 12 total), starting in the middle and circling out. Then I use the back of a spoon to create a well in the centre for all the filling to go in. I also use the back of the spoon to rough up the tops, you don’t want them to look piped, pavlova meringue is supposed to have a messy kind of look to it.

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Place meringues in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 120C/240F/Gas. Bake for 50 minutes or until meringues are starting to go slightly golden on edges (try not to open the oven if you can help it though). Turn the oven off and leave the meringues in there until the oven has cooled.

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To make the filling

Beat the cream with cocoa powder until stiff peaks form. Spoon scream into the middle of the cold meringues. Spoon over the cherry filling and top with the chocolate curls and shavings. Nice and simple.

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If you’d like to make your own cherry and sauce mix it’s pretty simple. You need a large jar of morello cherries or even black cherries in kirsch or syrup. Drain the cherries, saving the syrup/kirsch. Set aside the cherries. Heat the syrup in a pan over medium heat and reduce it down to a honey consistency (5-10 minutes). Stir in the cherries and heat for a couple more minutes. Spoon over the top of the cream and meringue. You can also do the the cherries and syrup separately but I prefer mine to be all kinda mushed together! If you’d like to add real kirsch, add it to the syrups are you’re heating it. If using black cherry pie filling, mix a couple tablespoons of kirsch in with it before you spoon it over the meringues.

Enjoy.
[/recipe]

This recipe was adapted from Tanya Zouev’s Black Forest Pavlova with Espresso Cream

 

Margarita Cupcakes

My favourite cocktail in a cupcake!

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If you know only one thing about me, let it be that I love tequila. I don’t drink it by itself anymore (I’ll leave that to my university days), but put in a cocktail and I’m there! Margaritas are my favourite, especially if they’re frozen. Living in the UK though I am horribly deprived of good margaritas, so I just stock up on them when I’m visiting Atlanta! Luckily, I have these yummy cupcakes to keep me happy while I’m at home!

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This recipe is not my own, I found it on the wonderful Sweet Revelations. I changed a few things around (like more tequila!), but at it’s core they’re the same. I didn’t use any lime curd and chose to garnish with a sugar, salt and lime mix. I also made mine full sized instead of mini (it makes about 14 full sized cupcakes)

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I loved these cupcakes so much I made them my banner image!

These cupcakes are flavoured with lime and tequila and topped with a lime and tequila swiss meringue buttercream. These cupcakes were the first time I had ever made SMBC and I was terrified, but it turned out perfect first try (what a great ego boost!) so if you’re feeling hesitant just go for it! I even made mine without a stand mixer (I wouldn’t recommend that though, it’s harsh on the arm muscles).

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Let’s get down to the important part shall we

Lime and Tequila Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2  tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs,
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • tequila (for brushing)

Preheat the oven to 175C/350F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners

Mix together flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar together on a medium high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one and at a time and beat until fully combined. Add the lime zest and juice and mix well.

On a low speed, add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Mix until just incorporated.

Spoon until cake cases, about 2/3 full. Bake for approx 18 mins, until cakes are spongey and a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and turn out on to wire rack to cool. Generously brush tequila over the cakes while they’re still warm. If you want the tequila to get right down in there, poke a few holes with a toothpick before brushing. Leave to cool completely.

Lime & Tequila Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 2 cups unsalted butter cubed, at room temperature
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp of caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tbsp tequila (or to taste)
  • 1.5 tbsp lime juice

Grab a saucepan that is large enough to fit your mixing bowl in a few inches, fill it with a few inches of water and bring to boil, reduce to simmer.

In your clean mixing bowl (you’ll want to use the same bowl throughout the process) hand whisk the egg whites and sugar until just combined. Place over the simmering pot and whisk for about 4-5 minutes until the egg whites are hot (150F), the sugar should all be dissolved by then too. Place the bowl back on your stand mixer and using the whisk attachment whisk on medium until the whites have increased in volume and and the outside of the bowl is slightly warm to touch. Be patient because this can take 10 minutes!

Change to the paddle attachment (if you don’t have a stand mixer the beaters on your hand mixer will work fine, it’s what i used my first time making it). Beat on a low speed until the mixture is completely cooled. Increase speed to medium and add butter pieces one at a time. Scrape down the side of the bowl and continue to beat the buttercream until it is smooth and glossy. Don’t worry if the mixture starts to separate, just keep beating and it’ll come back together! Add vanilla, tequila, a pinch of salt and lime and beat until just combined. Pipe onto cupcakes immediately.

Lime, Sugar and Salt Garnish

  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lime zest

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, sprinkle on top of freshly iced cupcakes! Finish it off with lime slices and peel!

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ooh look at those meringues in the background, watch this space for cupcakes involving those!