Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Chocolate Icecream Cake - Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Dairy Free!

Missing out on normal chocolate and other edible Christmas naughtiness wasn't an exciting prospect for me in the lead up to Christmas. I usually love to have Santa chocolates or cashews or plum pudding-icecream, but because of my special diet for my immune system (ugh, see here if you have no idea what I'm harping on about) I had to cut all that out. So, to console myself I attempted to make a buche noel using agave (a sugar alternative) and coconut-milk icecream (dairy free). But we all know that gluten free cakes aren't the most pliable and that means they not so easy to roll.  So my buche noel turned into a bit of a rectangle layer cake. Surprisingly, it was delicious and looked lovely! It definitely brought some edible Christmas cheer back into my Christmas dinner.  In fact, I'll probably make it again for New Years Eve.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with lots of yumminess and fun with your family or friends! I know I did!

Ingredients for Sheet Cake
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup agave syrup
100g gluten free flour, plain or self raising
90-100g gluten free cocoa

Method for Sheet Cake
In a bowl, beat the eggs lightly to disperse the yolk (by hand or with mixer if needed).  Add the agave and continue to whisk/electric mix the egg and sugar until mixture is slightly thicker.  At this stage, gradually fold in the cocoa and flour.  Spread mixture on a tray lined with baking paper.  Bake at 180 degrees (fan-forced) until just firm; perhaps 15 minutes.  The sponge should spring back when cooked properly.  Remove sponge from oven and allow to cool. Then cut the sheet cake into 3 sections.

Ingredients for Filling
Dairy Free, sugar free, icecream such as CocoLuscious Coconut (or Vanilla) Icecream

Allow icecream to sit on bench for a little while until it is slightly softer. Use a knife to spread the icecream evenly (you can see in my photo that mine wasn't spread evenly on each layer) onto each layer of the sheet cake. Stack. Return to freezer for 20 minutes so the icecream sets. Remove from freezer and spread another layer over each 2 layers of icecream so it's quite thick. This will give the cake some height and a nicer, sweeter taste. Return to freezer.

Ingredients for Topping/Icing

100-120g agave-sweetened chocolate, such as Conscious Chocolate
50g copha (made on coconut oil)
2 tsp dairy free margarine, such as Nuttlex

Place a saucepan half filled with water ontop of the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl on top of the saucepan. In this bowl, place the ingredients for the topping in there and wait until they melt. Mix with a metal spoon and pour evenly over the cake.  Return to freezer for 1 hour before serving.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Here's another version of my French snowmen made out of white chocolate profiteroles! I think I actually like this version better...and I've added coconut to make it look like it's snowing! After all this snowman cooking (see here and here), I've realized that I love snowman! Perhaps because I don't actually get to experience a white Christmas or see real snowmen? I just have decided they're adorable and totally festive. Be sure to make your own this year, whether its made out of snow or sugar!

This snowmen involved the same recipe and method as my previous French snowmen (see here) however you need 3 profiteroles and instead of stacking them with a skewer, you simply lay out 3 profiteroles on a plate.  Spread coconut around the plate for a snowfall effect.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gingerbread House Gift Box

As soon as I saw these Christmas gift boxes on Kara's beautiful blog called Butter Hearts Sugar I knew I had to make them myself. They're way too adorable to pass up! I departed ever so slightly from Kara's gift box, by adding a Christmas tree instead of a gingerbread man, and of course using my own colours and glitter cardboard. But whatever you do creatively, these will definitely be a beautiful addition to the presents under your tree.  Fill them up with edible treats, or a little present; and wait for the reciever to be awed!

You will find a detailed tutorial on Kara's blog post here.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

French Snowmen

I am so excited to share these French Snowmen with you - partly because I came up with the idea myself, and partly because I love the idea of combining my French theme with a Christmas theme! These snowmen are made up of French profiteroles..yes that's right, delicious choux pastry! You can fill them with Christmas brandy custard, or leave them empty like I did. The funnest part, like always, is coming up with different looks for your snowmen. I made a red and green snowman, and a baby pink girl snowman.  What would you try out? 

Ingredients for Profiteroles
200ml water
2g caster sugar
1g sea salt
100g unsalted butter
175g 00 [bakers] flour, or alternatively plain flour
4-5 eggs [approx 60-70g)

Method for Pastry
Place cold water, salt and sugar in a pot; bring to a gentle boil. Meanwhile cut the butter into 1cm dice cubes and add to pot so butter just melts as water approaches gentle boil (should be around 98 degrees). At that point add all of the sifted flour. Mix immediately over low heat with wooden spoon. Dough will come away from sides of pot and develop a gloss; cook in order to bind for about 2-3 minutes. You will know roughly when it is glossy, bound and steam is coming off mixture. Remove from heat, keep stirring for 2 minutes off the heat to let it cool slightly. A trick to test if it's cool enough is to touch with your fingers and if they don't hurt/burn then it's fine. This is important otherwise the eggs, which are now to be added, will simply scramble. Add 1 of the eggs, and incoroporate thoroughly. Then add another, and incorporate. Keep going until all eggs are in and the mixture is not to dry or stiff. A trick to testing if the choux pastry is going okay is to see if it slowly falls off the spoon when held up in the air over the bowl. The paste should ultimately be a piping consistency ie. hold up on the tray.   Line a tray, pop the paste in a piping bag and start piping into round cone like piles (see tutorial here if confused).  Be aware that to make a snowman, you need a larger profiterole on the bottom, and a smaller on the top. You will want to pipe 2 slightly different sizes.  Avoid having a very triangle-cone shape. Use a 8-10mm straight nozzle in the piping bag and water to smooth any mishapen shapes. Bake at 190 degrees in moist oven until fully risen, 8 or so minutes. When I say moist - spray your oven with some water from a bottle before poping the tray in. Alternatively pop a small stainless steel bowl full of water at the bottom tray of your oven. Now you need a dry oven to colour the pastry for another 6 minutes or until golden in colour then drop temperature to 140-150 degrees to dry out inside of pastry, another 10-15 minutes necessary baking time. Remove and place on cooling rack.  

Ingredients and tools for Decorating Snowmen
300g white chocolate melts
50g copha
Zappo sour string lollies, or fondant strips (for scarves and hat)
1 fresh carrot, cut into small triangles (for noses)
black fondant, rolled into small little dots (for eyes)
edible glitter (for decoration)
+ scissors, for cutting
+ long wooden skewer, for holding the snowmen together
+ teaspoon, for spreading chocolate
+ tray lined with baking paper
+ tweezers, for placing small bits of fondant (such as the eyes, or pom pom on the hat)

Once the profiteroles are cooled, you can start decorating them. Place all the profiteroles on the paper lined baking tray.  Place a small pot of water on the stove, and place a bowl on top of the saucepan.  Inside the bowl, melt together the copha and white chocolate.  Now take 1 profiterole and completely dip it in white chocolate.  Return it to the tray and, working quickly, dip the rest of the profiteroles in the chocolate. Place the tray in the freezer. Once the chocolate is set, you can dip all of the profiteroles in the white chocolate again.  This is necessary to make the profiteroles really white. If you only dip them once, you will still be able to see some of the choux pastry.  Return to freezer.  Once completely set, take 2 profiteroles out.  Choose the best fit profiteroles (ie. you want a larger one on the bottom, and a smaller on the top).  Take the long wooden skewer and gently pierce the smaller profiterole in the top vertically.  Pierce it through the bottom and then into the top of the 2nd profiterole so you have a little stack that is held together tightly with the skewer.   Stick the black round fondant eyes on to the smaller profiterole (the head).  You can use left over melted white chocolate as glue, if necessary.  You will definitely need some white chocolate-glue to stick the carrot nose on.  The carrot nose also goes on the smaller profiterole (the head).  Now wrap 2 zappo sour lollies around the neck of the snowman.  Glue it with the melted white chocolate.  Cut the ends of the zappo lollies to create a scarf look.  Now take another zappo lolly (the length of mine was about 10cm) and wrap it around the top of the smaller profiterole to create a hat.  Stick it with white chocolate. It will wrap around the skewer slightly for support.  Cut off any excess zappo not needed to make the hat shape. Now cut a small round circle from the zappo lolly, dip it in white chocolate, dip it in edible glitter and stick it to the top of the hat to create a pom pom on top of the hat (it will need some skewer for support too).  
Use the teaspoon or tweezers to help you spread the glue-chocolate and place the pom pom.  You have now created a Christmas hat.  Finish off the christmas hat by cutting a thin strip of zappo, dipping it in white chocolate, dipping it in glitter and sticking it to the base of your zappo-lolly-hat.  Using fondant or zappo lollies, cut 2 more small round circles and dip them both in white chocolate and glitter.  Stick them below the scarf (on the belly of the snowman) to create buttons.  Leave in freezer for 20 minutes to set before very, very carefully cutting the excess skewer off.   Continue to decorate the rest of the snowmen in this process, but take your own creative license to decide if you want buttons, or pom poms on your hat, or what colour you want, or if you want to add a smile etc etc.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

3D Christmas Tree

Christmas is coming closer each day which means I really need to hurry up with my Christmas baking! I love my Christmas tree, and we only just put it up a few days ago. What's a better way to celebrate than making an edible version?! I used a pack of star cookie cutters (ranging from big to small) and stacked them with buttercream.  Decorate whatever colour you want!

350g unsalted butter, soft
400g caster sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
800g plain flour, preferably Italian 00
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced).  Cream the butter and sugar until pale and moving towards moussiness, then beat in eggs and vanilla.  In another bowl, combine flour, powder and salt.  Add dry ingredients to butter and eggs, and mix gently but surely.  If you think mixture is too sticky to be rolled out, add more flour, but do so sparingly as this makes the dough tougher.  Halve the dough, form into fat discs, wrap each in clingwrap and rest in fridge for at least 1 hour.  Sprinkle some flour on board, place 1 disc of dough on board (leave other in fridge) and roll out to about 1/2cm thickness.  Cut star shapes (you will need 20 or so) and place them a little apart on baking trays.  Bake for 8-12 minutes, by which time they will be lightly golden around the edges.  Cool on rack and continue with the rest of the dough.  When they're all fully cooled, you can get on with the icing.  

250g unsalted butter, softened
3 cups icing sugar
+ green food colouring

Beat butter until smooth.  Gradually add icing sugar until smooth. Add food colour and pipe onto stacked start cookies. Use a leaf tip.  I added edible glitter and edible baubles for my festive look.

Monday, November 28, 2011

2 Year Blog Anniversary!

Sunday marked the 2nd anniversary of my blog! I am so thrilled to be blogging for this long, and I hope for more years to come. I am very very grateful to my readers and I still love reading and commenting on your incredible posts too. You guys are wonderful supporters and friends too.  Thank you so much! Here is to another 2 more years of baking, sweets and creativity!

For this cake I baked 2 Vanilla cakes (recipe here) and stacked them. I then used 3 batches of buttercream icing (recipe here) which were dyed 3 different shades of pink.  I love the girly look that the piping gives. It reminds me of a 1960's ruffled chiffon ball gown for some reason! Perfect for a celebration.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Christmas Snowmen Cupcakes

I am a huge fan of Christmas and believe that it's not complete without an abundance of Christmas-themed sweets. These little melting snowmen are perfect for you bloggers in the Northen Hemisphere who luckily get to experience a perfect white Christmas! It's like living in a snowglobe, right? I'm jealous!


white fondant
black fondant
fresh carrot (or orange/red fondant)
mini M&m's
Zappo sour string lollies
12 cupcakes of any flavor (lightly iced in buttercream so the fondant can stick) I used fruit cake 

Roll white fondant out about 3cm-5cm thick. Consider rolling the edges of the fondant out thinner to look like the snowman is really melting away.  Cut out circle shape and place on top of the lightly-iced cupcakes.  Now roll white fondant into little balls for the snowman's head.  Once it is the right shape (not too big because the stringy lolly needs to wrap around his head) stick it top of the fondant-covered cupcake.  You can use royal icing or buttercream to help you, but I didn't need it.  Stick his head slightly off center because you will need room for the scarf and buttons.  Now cut the stringy lolly to your desired thickness.  Using scissors, snip the ends of the stringy lolly to create a scarf effect.  Wrap the lolly scarf around the snowman's head.  Place 2 mini M&M's under the scarf. You can use an icing to help you stick, but again, I didn't require any.  Serve!

I am sharing these on Sweet as Sugar Cookie's Sweet for a Saturday #45 link up. Share your treats there too!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chocolate cupcakes - gluten free, dairy free, nut free and cane sugar free!

Wow, it's been another big break from this blog. I've had a huge health change which has really impacted my relationship with cooking, baking and food. About two weeks after my birthday I was diagnosed with a chronic auto-immune disease which means I now really have to change my diet. For the next few months, I'm avoiding gluten, dairy, cane-sugar, nuts, preservatives, colourings, dried fruit and the list goes on. At first you can imagine how this put me off baking. But I've finally gotten back to feeling positive and found a delicious chocolate cupcake recipe to satisfy my sweet tooth.  They're sweetened with natural agave (look for it in health food stores) and contain no gluten or dairy.   The good thing is they actually taste perfectly normal! I was dreading tasting them, but honestly they taste just as yummy as regular cupcakes!

Please note, that from now on I will be more consistent with blogging. I will also be posting regular recipes too because my family still loves their buttercream, chocolate, nuts and general deliciousness..

Ingredients (which you can find at grocery stores and health food stores)
5 tablespoons dairy free butter (ie. margarine, nuttlex)
2/3 cup light organic agave syrup
30g unsweetened vegan chocolate (or chocolate sweetened with agave)
2 organic eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (ensure it doesn't contain sucrose)
1/2 cup gluten free self-raising flour
1/2 cup organic unsweetened gluten-free cocoa

Preheat oven to 170 degrees (fan-forced).  Prepare 12 hole muffin tray.  In a saucepan on low heat, melt the butter and chocolate together.  Remove from heat and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and cocoa together.  Add agave to the melted butter mixture, followed by the eggs which you can whisk in; then add to the dry ingredients.  Mix together well and spoon into muffin tray.  Bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Once cool, spread some unsweetened organic chocolate on top cupcakes for icing.

What chocolate do I use?
For general eating, I love the chocolate from an Australia company called "Conscious Chocolate."  Even though it's incredibly expensive, the texture and taste makes it worth it! I also used their chocolate for the icing on these cupcakes.  For baking, however, I use the chocolate from "Loving Earth"   simply because it's cheaper and the texture is better for baking.  

What is agave and where can I find it? What brand do you use? 
Agave is a nectar from an agave plant.  It doesn't have a strong, identifiable taste in baking unlike honey or syrup.  Whilst it is a natural product and from a plant, it still has calories and does affect your blood sugar levels. I bought it at an organic/health shop.  Look for your closest one via the internet.  I use light agave syrup from "Loving Earth" .  

What gluten-free flour do you use?
I use a shop-bought flour from the "Gluten Free Company" which contains potato starch, white rice flour, and some raising agent.

Will you post more gluten-free, dairy free, cane-sugar free, organic recipes?
Yes I am required to eat like this for the next 3 months or more.  If you want me to find a recipe suitable for your allergy/health, simply leave a comment below.

Will you still post regular recipes like before?
Yes! My family loves regular recipes which contain normal flour, cane sugar, nuts, cream etc etc! Also I will be able to eat these ingredients again one day.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Flower Cookies

On Thursday it was my 18th birthday! It has been a wonderful week filled with lots off different celebrations.  On Tuesday I went to the beach with family friends, on Wednesday my family and I went to a French restaurant, and on Thursday I went clubbing for the first time with my friends! I recieved a lot of Paris themed presents and cooking themed presents; which is so lovely and I'm really grateful for.  Among them, was this new cookie tray my mother bought me.  It was a tray with 12 flower-shaped indents. I was really intriguied to see if the flower shape would work well. So today, I've taken a slow day of baking and resting (in light of last nights adventure) in order to test out this tray.  In the end, the cookies turned out really beautiful and the details showed up well.  I used a vanilla butter biscuit recipe (found here) and covered them with a glaze; the recipe for which is below.

Ingredients for Glaze
half of 1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1-2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place icing sugar in bowl.  Add liquid ingredients.  Using a whisk, stir together until smooth.  Place a cooling rack over your sink.  Dip cookies in the glaze and them put them on the tray.  I like to put it over the sink as it's less messy.  Chill in fridge before serving.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chicken Pilaf

This is one of my favourite dinner recipes.  It's so quick, and so healthy, and oh so delicious because of the variety of spices used.  I was lucky enough to have this cooked for me at a friend's house, and I simply had to have the recipe because it was so good.  I love the hint of cinnamon and cumin, among other spices, in this dish. I like to imagine it as a waffling sent from the far corners of Morocco..

olive oil
600g chicken breast, diced
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 red capsicum, sliced and diced
1 onion
2 -3 cups sliced mushrooms
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground corriander
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
800mL chicken stock, hot
300mL lite coconut milk
2 zucchinis, diced
700g pumpkin, cubed
1 small floret cauliflower, chopped relatively finely
+ fresh corriander, chopped

Heat olive oil in a large fry pan on medium-high.  Cook chicken in pan until it has lost its pink rawness; and is just starting to turn slightly golden or brown.  Add onion, garlic, red capiscum and stir until soft.  Add mushrooms and stir for 1-2 minutes.  Now add all the spices along with the rice and stir through well.  Once evenly distributed, pour in the hot stock and the coconut milk.  Bring to the boil, then cover, and reduce heat to allow everything to simmer for 10 - 15 minutes; or until rice is cooked and majority of liquid is absorbed.  Stir occassionally.  Meanwhile, I like to steam all of the other veggies in the microwave.  I do it in batches of course - the pumpkin first which usually requires more cooking time, then the cauliflower, then the zucchini.  Ensure they are completely cooked before adding them to the pilaf which should now be ready (ie. the rice cooked).  Stir the veggies through, along with the fresh chopped corriander.  Serve!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Oops!...and some Whoopies!

Okay, time for a big apology! Oops! In fact, major oops! I have totally abadonned my blog for the past 8 weeks! But, I have a decent excuse.  I have started back at University.  And I have changed my uni course.  I am now studying a Bachelor of Arts majoring in French and majoring in Religious Studies, as well as a Bachelor of Secondary Education.  All that will allow me, in 4 years time, to become a high school teacher! But, don't think that for the next 4 years I will be off-and-on this blog.  I am totally renewing my committment here. 

I am really loving university.  I love my subjects and also my campus is just gorgeous.  They have a bookstore there! I joined their discount club straight away because I just knew that I would be going there during my study breaks to browse the cookbook section.  In fact, it was just this week that I bought my first book from there.  Wanna know what I got? A Whoopie book.  That's right, I've finally sucumb to the whoopie cooking craze.  It's just getting popular here in Australia. I've sighted a few cafés (around uni) that are selling whoopies.  Although, there are still many of my friends that don't know what a whoopie is.  For anyone who doesn't know, it's a cross between a cake and a cookie.  Really delicious! If you haven't tried this American craze, then go do it now! Start with this basic recipe below. For those of you whoopie experts, please recommend me your favourite whoopie flavour or recipe! Much appreciated!

90g unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup self raising flour
1/4 cup milk

Ingredients for Buttercream
125g unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
+ sprinkles


Preheat oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced) and line 2 baking trays.  Beat together butter and sugar until pale and creamy.  Add egg and vanilla and beat well. With mixer on low speed, add flour and milk alternatively in 2 batches each.  Beat on low speed for roughly 2 minutes or until well combined.  Use 2cm plain nozzle to pipe 3cm by 2.5cm rounds on the trays.  Leave 5cm space between each mound (allow for spreading in oven).  Bake for 8 minutes, swapping trays around after 6 minutes; or until light golden and just firm to touch.  Cool on trays.  Meanwhile beat together the soft butter for buttercream with the icing sugar.  Use a plain nozzle to pipe onto a cooled- whoopie.  Sandwich with another whoopie. Shake sprinkles, over a bowl, around the edge of the whoopie; aiming for the buttercream-filled slit.  Serve.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Harry Potter Cake!

Inspired by Bakergirl's Harry Potter post, I have decided to share with you an image of my Harry Potter themed cake.  I made it last year for my Harry Potter party; and in celebration of the "Dealthy Hallows Part II" being released I simply had to show you all!  It's made out of 2 square vanilla cakes that have been cut and shaped into my interpretation of Hagrid's hut.
I hope you all enjoy the final movie of Harry Potter! The movie was amazing; and made me realize how sad I am to now say goodbye to the magic story that JK Rowling so cleverly penned.

Ingredients for Hut
2 square vanilla cakes
2 batches of chocolate buttercream
1/2 batch of vanilla buttercream, dyed green for grass
green musk sticks for pumpkin stems
chocolate flakes to cover cabin roof and chimney
gold writing icing to draw doors and windows
+ cardboard cut outs of Hogwarts castle, and other desired characters

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tips for 3 Tiered Cake

Hello my blogging friends! The last fornight has been a whirlwind of travel, festivities and baking.  I was initially absent because I changed my blog URL which lost many of you in cyberspace!  Then, I left on my trip to Hong Kong which was then followed by celebrations for my Mother's 50th Birthday. I organized a surprise 50th party for her and had to cook many appetizers as well as this 3 tiered cake for her! Phew! I'm tired just thinking about it!

So, this post is just to say that I am definitely still here blogging and I'm sorry about my little pause. Please note that my URL is now http://www.dreamsofabaker.blogspot.com.  You may need to update your following situation for the new URL to register on your dashboards.  I look forward to hearing from you, and following your posts of course, as time goes on!

Now, I'd like to just share a few tips about icing and assembling a 3 tiered cake.  I used the following chocolate cake recipe which is enough batter for 2 cakes (click here); and the top layer of my cake was made out of this Donna Hay Vanilla Cake recipe (click here).

2 x chocolate cake
1 x vanilla cake
3 batches chocolate buttercream
1 x vanilla buttercream, dyed to your desired colour

1 metal spatula
1 bowl of very hot water
1 tea towel
1 large icing bag (dyed vanilla buttercream inside) fitted with wide star nozzle
+ flowers for decoration

General Method and Tips

Place largest chocolate cake on icing board.  Dip metal spatula into bowl of hot water, wipe off water on tea towel, and then scoop up some chocolate buttercream to ice chocolate cake.  Try to use more buttercream than you need and then smooth off the excess.  The heat from the hot water will help you to create a smooth appearance.  Ice all of the cakes separately before stacking them.  Using the piping bag, pipe star shape all around the edges of each layer.  This will cover up any slightly imperfections around the bases of the cakes.  Place flowers (from garden, or edible but don't use live flowers with lots of pollen) on each layer of cake for decoration.  Chill in fridge so buttercream sets, but bring to room temperature to serve.

Design Tips
Choose a simple piping design if you are not yet confident with intricate piping.  Not only with this save you time, but will ensure that your cake looks neater and elegant.  Simple can sometimes be key.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Strawberry Kiss Cupcakes

One of my best friends is celebrating her 18th birthday this weekend; and of course, I wanted to make birthday cupcakes for her! Among her favourite ingredients are strawberries and cream, so I combined the two to create this decadent and girly cupcake.  Inside is a subtly sweet filling called Strawberries and Cream.  And these cupcakes are topped with her favourite vanilla buttercream and a pretty strawberry for decoration.  Happy Birthday Isabella!

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup self raising flour
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 160 degrees (fan-forced) and prepare enough muffin trays and liners for 15 cupcakes.  Lightly beat the eggs together in a bowl, then add to the butter and sugar.  Beat together, with electric mixers, the butter, sugar and eggs until combined and creamy.  Sift the flour and pour the milk and vanilla over the top of this mixture; beat until smooth and combined.  Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Ingredients for Strawberry and Cream Filling
8 strawberries, hulled and washed and diced finely
200mL thickened cream
1 tbsp icing sugar


Whip the thickened cream until thicker and stiff.  Incorporate icing sugar until smooth.  Fold through diced strawberries. 

Method to Fill Cupcakes
Cut round circles rougly 5cm deep into the top of the cupcakes (hollow them out).  Fill in this hole with the Stawberry and Cream filling

Ingredients for Vanilla Buttercream
125g unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
2 tsp milk
1 drop pink food colouring
+ 12 strawberry halves, leaves intact

Beat the butter until smooth.  Beat in icing sugar gradually until smooth.  Beat in milk and food colouring until buttercream is smooth and spreadable and colour is even.  Place buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a wide star nozzle.  Pipe onto cakes.  Place 1 half of a strawberry on top for decoration

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Travel Break

Hello all!
I'm off to Hong Kong for a week or so.  When I return I will share with you all my photos of food and travel!
Until then Happy Baking!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Apple and Sour Cream Slice

 I had a few spare ingredients floating around the fridge, like sour cream and a tin of apples, and I immediately thought of what a good combination they would be together.  After a little search on the internet, I came across various recipes using similar ingredients.  So, I made up my own version based on those recipes for a Apple and Sour Cream Slice.  I absolutely loved it.  It was like biting into layer after layer of yumminess.  First, was the buttery short-bread like base.  Then, a layer of those classic pie apples.  And then the silky smooth sour cream topping.  I'll definitely be making this one again.

Ingredients for Base

1 x vanilla cake packet mix
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup desicated coconut
125g unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients for Filling
1 x 440g tin pie apples
300mL lite sour cream
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and grease and line a 30cm x 20cm loaf tin.  In a bowl, combine the vanilla cake packet mix, cinnamon and coconut; stir until well combined.  Then pour melted butter into bowl and stir until base forms.  Press base evenly into loaf tin and bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Remove from oven and place apples evenly over the warm base.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, vanilla and eggs until smooth.  Pour this sour cream mixture over the apple-covered base.  Return to oven for 15 - 20 minutes or until sour cream looks set.  A slight wobble in the centre is fine.  Leave in tin for 15 minutes to allow slice to set. Serve warm or refridgerate before serving. Store slice in fridge for 2-3 days.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Blog Change

Bonjour à tous!
I have had a blog makeover! I was in need of a change.  You may notice I have a different URL: http://www.dreamsofabaker.blogspot.com but I am still the same name "Les Rêves d'une boulangère." I wanted title of my blog and URL to match; complete with a girly new background for my new change.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Dense Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

These cupcakes are inspired by a tin of Bacio dark chocolates which I found on my kitchen bench yesterday.  I immediately remembered a recipe using dark chocolate and almond meal from my Crabapple Bakery Cookbook.  I modified it slightly to come up with this. And wow...it turned out to be one of the best chocolate cupcakes I've ever tasted.  (And boy, have I sampled a lot of cupcakes). These cupcakes are so moist, and dense - but not dense in a 'weigh-me-down' sort of way - in fact, I could far too easily polish off a handful of these cupcakes in one go. The cake itself has such a hit chocolate intensity, which is balanced perfectly with a good swirl of two-tone buttercream icing.  If there's one recipe you try from this site, this cupcake has got to be it.  Makes rougly 15


175g unsalted butter, softened
200g good quality eating dark chocolate
1 cup caster sugar
1 1/4 cup almond meal
1 cup cocoa
5 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 150 degrees (fan-forced).  Line 12-hole muffin trays. Combine butter, chocolate and sugar in a saucepan over low heat.  Mix continuously with a metal spoon until melted and smooth.  Place almond meal and cocoa in a separate bowl.  Pour melted chocolate mixture in this almond-cocoa mixture bowl and beat for 1 min on low speed.  The mixture should be thorougly combined.  Add 2 eggs at a time, beating after each addition until mixture is smooth. Do not over-beat or too much air will be incorporated and cupcakes will crack during baking.  Add vanilla extrat and fold through well.  Divide mixture evenly between cupcake cases.  Bake for 30 min or until cupcakes spring back slightly when touched.  Remove cupcakes from oven and cool in trays before frosting.

Ingredients for Plain Buttercream

125g butter, softened
1 tsp milk
1 1/2 cup icing sugar

Beat butter until smooth.  Add half of icing sugar and beat until smooth.  Add milk and beat again.  Add rest of icing sugar and beat until mixture is spreadable.  Scoop this plain buttercream into a large piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle (eg. 1 inch wide)

Ingredients for Blue Buttercream
125g butter, softened
1 tsp milk
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
+ 2 drops royal blue food gel colouring

Beat butter until smooth.  Add half of icing sugar and beat until smooth.  Add milk and beat again.  Add rest of icing sugar, along with food gel colouring, and beat until mixture is spreadable.  Add more food colouring if you'd like a darker blue.  Scoop this blue buttercream into the same piping bag which should be filled with plain buttercream.  Squeeze this down to reduce air bubbles.  Pipe, in a circular motion, onto cooled cupcakes.  Now top with a Bacio chocolate.  Bite in an savour the taste! Store in an air-tight container for 2-3 days

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Orange and Lemon Madeleines

Madeleines are among my favourite French sweets.  They are traditionally made with lemon zest; however, today I felt like combining the sweetness of orange zest and balancing it with the tang of lemon zest.  It created a beautiful smell in the oven; and an even lovelier light taste in the mouth.  I love the lightness of a madeleine sponge, and hope you will too.  Serve them with orange icing if you have a real sweet tooth; the recipe for which is written below.

2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
generous pinch of salt
1/3 cup of caster sugar
1/2 cup plain flour, sifted
1/4 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 tbsp orange zest
65g butter, unsalted

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees (fan-forced). Melt butter and cool to room temperature. In a bowl beat eggs, vanilla and salt at high speed until light. Beating constantly, gradually add sugar; continue beating at high speed until mixture is thick and pale and ribbons form in the bowl when beaters are lifted (eg. 5 minutes). Sift flour into egg mixture 1/3 at a time, gently folding after each addition. Add lemon rind and orange rind and pour melted butter around edge of batter. Quickly but gently fold butter into batter. Spoon batter into prepared tray; batter will mound slightly above the tops. Bake for 14 to 17 minutes or until golden. These cook quickly so keep a close eye on them. Use a knife to loosen from the tray, but let cool for around 10 minutes beforehand. 

Ingredients for Icing
30g butter, softened
1 tbsp orange juice
1 cup icing mixture

Beat butter and juice together until smooth.  Gradually add icing sugar; continue to beat until smooth and spreadable.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New York Cheesecake

Last night, we had a dinner party at my house.  Naturally, I planned and cooked the menu; but the difficulty was that the guests aren't fans of big sweets which ruled out a lot of puddings, chocolate conncoctions, iced cakes and so on. 
I did know that they loved cheesecakes and lemony desserts; so this New York Cheesecake fit the bill perfectly.  I was so impressed with the way this cheesecake turned out; smooth, dense and silky.  Despite the fact I used low fat ingredients, there were no cracks or issues.  It was a perfect, smoothly chic cheesecake. We served it with strawberries and orange on the side.

Ingredients for Base
250g plain sweet biscuits
125g butter, unsalted, melted

Ingredients for Filling
750g cream cheese, softened
2 tsp finely grated orange rind
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
1 cup caster sugar
 3 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup lemon juice

Ingredients for Topping
1 cup sour cream
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp lemon juice

Process biscuits until fine; transfer to a bowl.  Pour melted butter into bowl with biscuits; stir until well combined.  Press mixture over base and side of a 24cm springform round tin.  Place tin in fridge; leave for 30 to 40 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan-forced).  Make filling by beating cheese, rinds and sugar in a meidum bowl with electric mixer until smooth.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Beat in sour cream and juice.  Pour filling into tin; bake for 1 1/4 hours.  Turn off oven and leave cheesecake in there to cool for 15 minutes; ensuring the door is ajar.  Meanwhile, make sour cream topping by combining ingredients in a small bowl. Spread topping gently on top of cheesecake.  Turn oven back on to previous heat (160).  Bake cheesecake for 20 minutes; cool in oven with door ajar.  Refridgerate cheesecake overnight before serving.  Serve plain, or with fruits on the side.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Two-tone Icing Tutorial

Two-tone icing is something I've wanted to attempt for a while, but fear of a messy coloured cupcake stopped me.  To combat mess, I've come up with an idea outlined below! I've taken some step-by-step pictures to make it easier to understand.  The extra few steps (instead of just shoving pink and white icing freely in a piping bag) is totally worth the time.  It creates such a pretty style of icing; which really reminds me of a rose for some reason!

Ingredients for Buttercream
250g unsalted butter, softened
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
3 tsp water
+ 1 drop of desired food dye
+ 12 un-iced cupcakes

Method for Buttercream
In one bowl, place 125g of the butter.  Beat in electric mixer until butter is smooth and creamy.  Add 1 cup of the icing sugar, and beat until smooth.  Add 1 1/2 tsp of water and beat again.  Now add 1/2 cup icing sugar and beat until smooth and spreadable.  Set this plain bowl of buttercream aside.
In a separate bowl, place 125g of butter and beat in electric mixer until smooth and creamy.  Add 1 cup of icing sugar, and beat until smooth.  Add 1 1/2 tsp of water and beat again.  Now add 1/2 cup icing sugar and beat until smooth.  Add 1-2 drops of desired food dye.  Beat until combined.  Set this bowl of pink buttercream aside.

Method for Two-Tone Icing
Lay out a 30cm x 20cm rectangle piece of cling film on a bench.  Scoop all of plain buttercream onto this cling film; spreading into a sausage shape.  Roll up into a sausage shape; ensuring one end is completely closed and the opposite end is open for the icing to be squeezed out later.  Repeat this process for the pink buttercream.  You should now have 2 cling film sausage shapes filled with plain buttercream, and the other with pink buttercream (refer to picture 1 below)

Picture 1: Separate icing sausages

Now slide those two cling film icing sausages (pictured above) into 1 large piping bag.  Ensure they are placed evenly in the bag as in Picture 2 (eg. both icing sausage openings are evenly near the piping bag's nozzle).  If you adjust the height of one of the icing sausages (eg. pink buttercream higher than white buttercream) you will create a different colour ratio (eg. 80% white and 20% pink).  If they are evenly placed, you will have an even two-tone effect (eg. roughly 50% white and roughly 50% pink). 

Picture 2: Both icing sausages evenly placed in 1 large piping bag
Now squeeze icing out of piping bag in a circle motion and onto a plain cupcake.  You should now have a two-tone icing ontop of your cupcake.  Adjust the height of one of the icing sausages to experiment with different colour ratios.

Even colour ratio due to evenly placed icing sausages
Uneven colour ratio due to unevenly placed icing sausages

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Two Minute Tiramisu

I whipped this dessert up in a surprisingly short time as we had unexpected guests for dinner.  I was impressed with not only the ease, but the luxurious taste of this creamy tiramisu dessert.  The cream and mascarpone create such a silky texture which work perfectly with the coffee soaked fingers.  I would make this over and over again!

1 generous tbsp instant coffee granules
1 tsp mocha granules or drinking chocolate (optional)
1/2 cup boiling water
125g savoiardi sponge finger biscuits
3/4 cup thickened cream, full fat
1/3 cup icing sugar
500g mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup marsala wine
2 tsp drinking chocolate, to sprinkle


Stir coffee, water and mocha granules/drinking chocolate in a small bowl until combined.  Cut biscuits in half and set aside.  Beat cream, icing sugar, and cheese with electric mixer until soft peaks form; then slowly beat marsala through. Dip half of biscuits in coffee mixture; divide among four 11/2 cup glasses.  Divide half of mascarpone mixture among glasses. Dip remaining biscuits in coffee mixture; divide among glasses, top with remaining mascarpone mixture,  Serve dusted with 2 tsp drinking chocolate.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lamb and Spinach Korma

This was a easy and healthy weeknight meal which is now a new family favourite.  You could bulk it up with more vegetables or serve it along other curry recipes such as these here, or here.  Of course, it was very gratifying to make this curry with a homemade korma paste, recipe here, but the bottled paste is just fine too.

800g lamb fillet, diced
2 brown onions, chopped and diced
1/3 cup korma curry paste
1L chicken stock
150g baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup greek style natural yoghurt

Heat oil in a large frying pan over high heat and cook half of the lamb, stirring for 4-5 miin or until browned.  Transfer to a plate.  Repeat with remaining lamb.  Reduce heat to medium and cook onion, stirring, for 6-10 min or until soft but not coloured.  Add lamb and curry paste.  Cook, stirring, for 1 min or until aromatic.  Stir in stock and bring to gentle simmer.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, half covered, stirring now and then for 1 hr or until lamb is tender.  Stir in spinach and simmer for 1-2 min or until spinach wilts.  Remove from heat and stir in yoghurt until well combined.  Dive korma amongst 4 bowls.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chocolate and Custard Tartlettes

Some of my favourite foods when it comes to baking are custard, and chocolate.  And I'm sure you all know that I love French tarts.  So what if we combined them all? This is something I have considered baking for a long time.  A custard tart with a hidden layer of cold chocolate at the bottom.  I have this thing though, that the chocolate has to make a crack when you bite into it.  I just love that texture contrast between hard chocolate and soft, creamy custard.  So, these tartlets for me are a real dream because they truly fulfil all of my critera.  Makes 4 tartlets

Ingredients for Shortcrust Pastry
1 cup plain flour
2 tbsp icing sugar
90g unsalted butter, cubed
1 -2 tbsp iced water

Sift the flour into a bowl and stir in the sugar. Using your fingertips, rub the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre and water. Mix to a dough with a flat-bladed knife, using a cutting action. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather into a ball. Press together until smooth, then roll out and cut to fit 1 tart dish. Regridgerate for 20 minutes; preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced). Line the dishes with baking paper and spread some baking weights at the bottom. Bake for 20 minutes, remove the paper and then continue to bake for a further 10-15 minutes. Set aside to cool before filling.

Ingredients for Chocolate Layer
100g chocolate
30g copha

Combine ingredients in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water on the stove.  Allow to melt and stir with a spoon until smooth and combined.  Distribute into 4 tarts.  Put in fridge for 1-2 hours, or until set.

Ingredients for Custard Filling
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour
1 cups milk (I used skim milk)
1 tsp vanilla essence
+ 20g chocolate, for decoration

Once chocolate layer it set, make the custard filling.  To make the filling, put the yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl and whisk until pale. Heat the milk in a saucepan until almost boiling, then remove from the heat and add gradually to the egg mixture; beating constantly. Strain back into the pan. Stir constantly over low heat for 4 minutes, or until the mixture boils and thickens. Do not over cook. Remove from the heat, and add the vanilla and stir through well. Immediately pour the custard filling into the cool pastry shell over the chocolate layer.  Allow custard to cool before using the 20g of chocolate.  With a hand held grater, curl chocolate shavings over the top of the custard tarts for decoration.  Chill in fridge for 1hr, or so, before serving.

Hidden layer of chocolate under the custard!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Homemade Korma Curry Paste

This is one of my best recent recipe finds! I am so thrilled to now be able to make my own curry paste from home. The smell and taste was identical, if not better, than store bought; and my version is free from preservatives, hidden fats and sugars.  And of course, it was very gratifying to smell, and see, the aromatic spices blending in my own kitchen.  Makes 1 cup

1 tbs cumin seeds
1/3 raw cashews, unsalted
1/4 cup tomato purée
1/4 cup fresh coriander, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crused
2 tbsp dessicated coconut
2 tbsp garam masala
3 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground paprika
2 tbsp ground turmeric
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and roast cashews, on a tray, in oven for 8 - 10 minutes before blending.  Place cumin seeds in a frying pan over medium heat and cook them, stirring, for 1 - 2 minutes or until aromatic.  Blend cumin seeds, toasted cashews, tomato puree, fresh coriander, garlic, coconut, garam masalada, ginger, ground coriander, paprika, and tumeric in a blender until combined and chopped.  Add oil and blend, scraping down sides of blender occasionally until smooth paste forms.

Look at the vibrancy of all those spices!
It's too easy - just click blend - and in seconds you'll have your own paste.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Caramel Choc Almond Slice

Even from the photo you can see that this layered brownie-like slice is seriously moist and dense.  The bottom layer is made of a rather simple chocolate base and then it is topped with a caramel nutty sauce.  The result is one very addictive slice..

Ingredients for Chocolate Base
250g plain chocolate biscuits
1 tbsp drinking chocolate
1 1/2 cup almonds or pecans
110g unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients for Caramel Topping
1/2 cup lightly packed soft brown sugar
60g unsalted butter
400g tin sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 180 degres and lightly grease and line a 28 x 1cm shallow baking tin.  Finely crush biscuits, drinking chocolate and third of the nuts in a food processor.  Transfer to a bowl and add melted butter.  Mix well and press firmly into prepared tin.  Press rest of nuts gently over the top of this base.  To make caramel topping, place brown sugar and butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Stir until butter melts and sugar clumps dissolve.  Add condensed milk and cook, stirring, until thicker and combined.  (Do not allow to burn or curdle or taste will be terrible! This happens very quickly so keep an eye on it!) Pour over biscuit base.  Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until caramel is firm and golden - edges will bubble and darken.  Cool, then refridgerate for at least 3 hrs.  Cut into squares once cooled.  Dust with drinking chocolate before serving, if desired. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lumberjack Cake

Hello everyone, I'm back from my trip to China! It was such an incredible experience and you can look at the pictures of my Chinese foodie eats in my "Food and Travel" section here!  

When I returned back to my parents and sister in Australia, they demanded that I bake a cake the next day! I was still quite tired so I settled on some museli bars that I had made many times before.  But today, I finally felt up to trying out a new recipe.  This is called a Lumberjack cake and is densely packed with dates and grated green apples. The milky coconut topping takes this classic to a new level. It is definitely a new favourite. 

Ingredients for Cake
200g dried dates, pitted and chopped
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar, minus 1 good tbsp
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 green apples, peeled and grated
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup self raising flour

Ingredients for Milky Coconut Topping

75g unsalted butter
1/3 cup soft brown sugar, lightly packed
1/3 cup  milk
1 1/3 cup shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and prepare a round 20cm tin by lining and greasing it.  Put the dates in a saucepan with 250mL water and bring to boil.  Stir in bicarb of soda, then remove from heat.  Then, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.  Stir in date mixture and grated apple.  Then fold the flours through this mixture until smooth.  Spoon batter into tin and bake for 40 minutes.  Meanwhile, put all the topping ingredients in a saucepan and stir over low heat until butter is melted and ingredients are combined.  Remove cake from oven and carefully spread topping over cake.  Bake for futher 25 - 30 minutes.  Put silver baking foil over cake if coconut starts to burn.  Expect a dense and moist cake but ensure it springs back slightly when touched before you remove it from oven.  Remove from oven and allow cake to cool completely. Cake will keep for 3 days in airtight container.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Simnel Cake

Today is Easter Sunday and I am jetsetting, by myself, to China! There, I am meeting my boss and staying with her Chinese family for 11 days.  So, I will be having a little blog break but when I return I will tell you about my travel and foodie eats! Before I leave, I wanted to post my last Easter recipe: a Simnel cake.  This is basically just a fruit cake (my recipe, click here) traditionally covered in marzipan.  I decided to cover mine in Royal icing and top it with Easter eggs and flowers for a Springtime feel. 

I hope all of you have a wonderful Easter and I look forward to blogging again in May.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Carrot Cupcakes

I know these have been done before in the blogosphere, but I just loved the idea of making mini fondant carrots.  Plus, this cupcake recipe is really moist and filled with yummy things like nuts, pinneapple and carrot.  When you make your own little fondant carrots, make sure to create realistic little indents on the carrot!

Ingredients for Cupcake
2/3 cup plain flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup well-drained pieces pineapple, roughly diced
2 tbsp pinneapple juice

Preheat oven to180 degrees.  Line a muffin pan with 12 cases.  Stir flour, sugar, bicarb soda, cinnamon and nuts together in a bowl until well combined.  In a separate bowl, stir toghether the oil, egg, vanilla, carrot, pinneapple and pineapple juice until well combined.  Add this wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir together well with a wooden spoon.  Divide mixture into 12 cases.  Bake for roughly 20 - 25 minutes or until cooked through.  Allow cupcakes to cool before icing.

Ingredients for Icing
250g cream cheese

1/2 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Beat all ingredients together and then spread with a spoon onto the cooled cupcakes.  Now make the fondant carrots.

Ingredients for Carrots
150g white fondant
orange food dye
12 small pieces of rocket leaves

Roll the white fondant out.  Add a few drops of orange food dye and knead until orange is completely spread through and dark enough.  Now cut a small piece of orange fondant to make 1 individual carrot, roughly 6cm wide square shape.  Roll this piece around in the palm of your hand.  Make a sausage shape, but squeeze the end so it is slightly sharper than the top.  Push the top down slightly with your thumb to make it slightly more 'square' shape than the pointed shape.  Now insert a skewer into the top of the carrot so you can stick 1 small rocket leaf inside (see picture below).  With your skewer lying horizontally, press it very lightly into the carrot to create realistic indent marks.  Gently place fondant carrot onto iced cupcake.  Serve.
Making the fondant carrot

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Easter Chicken Cookies

I couldn't resist making my own little Easter chickens after seeing all of your beautiful Easter creations.  To me, these are the eptiome of Easter cuteness, even if I do say so myself! I loved making their unique facial expressions and drawing on their little feet.  As you can see, some of my chickens are stuck in their shells, some of them have just burst out with their feet and some of them are just sleeping until Easter arrives!

Recipes and Ingredients

Butter Biscuit recipe click here
Royal Icing recipe click here
250g white fondant, rolled
Yellow, orange, black food dye

Cut raw butter biscuits into an egg/oval shape.  Bake and cool as normal.  Make royal icing recipe as normal and split un-dyed icing into 4 separate bowls, with the last portion being less than 1/4 cup worth.  Leave the smallest batch plain (white), dye the next smallest black (for the eyes), dye the largest yellow (for the chicken feathers) and the second largest orange (for the feet and beak). 
Take a cooked and cooled oval cookie and paint it with yellow royal icing.  Ensure the icing is smooth.  You may want to use the flooding technique.  Allow to dry.  Meanwhile, cut cracked egg shapes from the fondant.  I did this free hand but my main method was: use cookie as a rough template, cut round shape first, then free-hand zig-zag shape for the cracked egg.  Once you've cut the egg fondant, place it at the bottom of the yellow cookie.  Smooth out the fondant and tuck any extra hanging bits around the side of the cookie.  Now paint the orange beak in a triangle shape and orange feet if desired over the white fondant.  Also paint black eyes on the cookie in any shape you desire.  You may use the white in conjuction with the black to create eyes.  Continue until all cookies are decorated!
I've shared this at Mom's Crazy Cooking Link Party.  Check out everyone's Easter Creations here

Tweet! Tweet!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Salt and Pepper Tofu with Asian Salad

I love tofu dishes and have long wanted to make salt and pepper from my Women's Weekly cookbook.  So tonight I finally made it because my boss gave me all the ingredients! You see I work casual shifts at a Chinese restaurant but my boss left to China with her family today so she gave me all her left over ingredients.  In fact, I am going to join her in China in a few weeks which I am very excited for.  But back to this recipe...it is so flavourful and easy to make.  I love the crunch of the deep-fried tofu and then the silk interior.  Also, I actually cooked my vegetables but the recipe calls for uncooked vegetables to create a salad.

1 x 300g packet fresh firm tofu
1 small red capiscum, sliced thinly
100g snowpeas, sliced thinly
1 cup bean sprouts
1 small carrot sliced thinly
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh coriander leaves
3/4 tbsp black pepper
3/4 tbsp salt
good pinch of curry powder
1/3 cup plain flour

Ingredients for Dressing
2 tbsp peanut oil
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
+ oil for deepfrying

Cut tofu block into 16 pieces.  Lay them out on absorbent papper and stand them for 15 minutes to allow excess water to seep out.  Meanwhile, combine capsicum, snow pea, sprouts and coriander in a bowl.  Combine pepper, salt, curry powder and flour in a separate bowl; coat tofu pieces in this powdery mixture.  Heat oil in a wok/or fry pan, once hot carefully place the covered tofu pieces into the wok and cook, turning now and then, until golden-brown.   Drain on absorbent paper.  Serve salad topped with tofu.  Serve with dressing on the side.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bird Nest Cupcakes

I've been sick this week with a virus, hence my lack of postings! But I'm finally feeling better and have the need to bake like mad.  And with Easter impending, I'm sure all of us are baking like mad and trying out new chocolate-filled recipes.  So, I'd like to share with you a cute way of decorating cupcakes for Easter.  The nest on top of the cupcake is made out of flakes and the eggs inside are either mini easter eggs or sugar-coated chocolate eggs.  If you want to make it even cuter, build your flake-nest and pop a little chicken inside.

24 chocolate cupcakes, iced
1 bag of mini flakes
Variety of mini chocolate easter eggs (eg. sugar coated, wrapped, caramel filled)
Easter chickens, if desired

To assemble the bird nest cupcake, line your cupcakes in a row.  Unwrap the flakes and chop them slightly to create a log-like appearance for the nests.  Try making some thin and some thick.  Arrange these chopped flakes around the outside of the iced cupcake, leave a whole in the middle.  Fill the whole with a wrapped mini egg or a few small sugar coated eggs; alternatively fill the whole with an easter chicken.  Serve.
I'm sharing this at Sweets for Saturday #12

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