a m y m c c r a c k e n

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Cupcakes

Velvety Chocolate Cupcakes

Miss Emma left the Shock crew at the start of the month so for her last day I made her some cupcakes & decided to make my first attempt at tweaking the Nigella Red Velvet Cupcake recipe where i swapped the red food colouring for some dark chocolate chips. I also made more mixture than I did the first time so there would be more to go around (below recipe is 1 ½ times my previous post).

ingredients

  • 375g plain flour
  • ¾ cup dark chocolate chips
  • 3 x 15ml T cocoa powder, sifted
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 150g soft unsalted butter
  • 300g castor sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 260ml buttermilk
  • 1 ½ tsp cider vinegar or other vinegar

method

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C and line two muffin trays with paper cases
  2. Combine the flour, chocolate chips, cocoa, baking powder and bicarb in a bowl
  3. In another bowl, cream the butter, and sugar until light and fluffy
  4. Beat in the vanilla extract
  5. While still beating, add one spoonful of dried ingredients, then one egg, followed by some more dried ingredients, then the other egg, followed by the rest of the dried ingredients
  6. Beat together the buttermilk and vinegar
  7. Fold into creamed mixture
  8. Spoon the batter evenly into the cases
  9. Bake for 20 mins or until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched
  10. Transfer to a wire tack to cool down completely before decorating

* because I had extra mixture, I made one tray of standard muffin sized cupcakes, then one tray of mini cupcakes. To bake the mini cupcakes, I reduced the temperature down to 160°C and baked them for about 10-15 mins.

buttery cream cheese icing

ingredients

  • 400g icing sugar, sifted
  • 125g cream cheese
  • 125g soft unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar or lemon juice

 Beat all of the above ingredients together until smooth then pipe onto the cupcakes.

RSPCA Cupcakes

 I made up about 4 dozen cupcakes for the RSPCA cupcake day this year. Please vote for my creations so I can win a baking pack for my efforts:

http://www.rspcacupcakeday.com.au/competitions/creative-cupcake/entry/?cupcake=88

 

I made three different types:

Hello Kitty cupcakes – Vanilla flavour with hint of apple & cinnamon decorated with blue icing and a fondant Hello Kitty and dusted with edible glitter

Rainbow Vanilla Cupcakes – rainbow cupcake (purple, pink, orange) topped with rainbow (yellow, green, blue) buttercream icing and sprinkled with edible glitter

Red Velvet Cupcakes – topped with buttery cream cheese icing, with a sprinkle of red edible glitter and decorated with black cats

Hello Kitty cupcakes

For the Hello Kitty cupcakes, I made the standard cupcake recipe that I use from the Edmonds cookbook and threw in some additional flavours:

ingredients

  • 190g butter, softened
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp apple essence
  • 1 C caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ C plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ C milk

method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C
  2. Cream butter, cinnamon, essences and sugar until light and fluffy
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition
  4. Sift flour and baking powder together
  5. Fold into creamed mixture
  6. Stir in milk
  7. Spoon mixture evenly into the prepared mini cupcake pan that has been lined with paper cases
  8. Bake for 20 mins or until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched
  9. Transfer to a wire tack to cool down before decorating

butter icing

ingredients

  • 250g butter
  • 400g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ tsp apple essence
  • ½ tsp food colouring

 

Beat all of the above ingredients together until smooth. Divide into thirds and colour each batch as desired

decoration

For decoration I created fondant Hello Kitty’s. I made a stencil out of cardboard, rolled the fondant out to about 5mm thick then cut out shapes using a craft knife.

For the features (nose & eyes) I cut out coloured bits from a liquorice allsort using a round piping tip (Steve helped out too), and for the whiskers I chopped up fruit sticks into small strips.

To make the features stick to the fondant I wet the cut out with water then pressed them on. Once dried (by the heater to speed up the drying process) I painted the eyes with black food colouring. Then, when the eyes dried out, I brushed white edible glitter over the kitty. To assemble, I piped the blue icing onto each cupcake then sprinkled with silver edible glitter, then popped on the kitty decoration.

I recommend making fondant decorations at least the day before you plan to use them so they can harden up in time.

rainbow cupcakes

For these I made the same recipe as my rainbow cupcakes post. This time round, instead of swirling the mixture before I baking, I evened it out so the cupcake colours stacked on top of each other rather than marbling.

red velvet cupcakes

For these I made Nigella’s red velvet cupcake recipe (see this post). To decorate I piped the icing on top of each cupcake, sprinkled on red glitter the placed on some black cat sprinkles.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I have recently discovered Nigella’s red velvet cupcake recipe and it’s SO good – and easy. I’m planning to use this (ex the red food colouring) for a basic cupcake mixture because it’s so moist and delicious.

ingredients

  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 x 15ml T cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g soft unsalted butter
  • 200g castor sugar
  • 1 heaped 15ml T red food colouring
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 175ml buttermilk
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar or other vinegar

method

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C and line two muffin trays with paper cases
  2. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarb in a bowl
  3. In another bowl, cream the butter, and sugar until light and fluffy
  4. Beat in the food colouring and the vanilla
  5. While still beating, add one spoonful of dried ingredients, then one egg, followed by some more dried ingredients, then the other egg, followed by the rest of the dried ingredients
  6. Beat together the buttermilk and vinegar
  7. Fold into creamed mixture
  8. Spoon the batter evenly into the cases
  9. Bake for 20 mins or until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched
  10. Transfer to a wire tack to cool down completely before decorating

 

buttery cream cheese icing

ingredients

  • 400g icing sugar, sifted
  • 125g cream cheese
  • 125g soft unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar or lemon juice

 

Beat all of the above ingredients together until smooth.

To decorate I piped the icing on top of each cupcake and sprinkled on red glitter.

Nigella’s tips:

-          The cupcakes can be baked 2 days ahead and stored, un-iced, layered with paper in airtight containers

-          Icing can be made 1 day ahead: cover with glad wrap and refrigerate; remove from fridge 1-2 hours before needed; beat briefly before using

-          You can use all butter rather than half-butter and half-cream cheese for this icing

Rainbow Cupcakes



For Briar’s birthday I wanted to make her something bright and vibrant – so rainbow cupcakes seemed like the perfect idea! I’ve seen this style of icing before in my google image searches for cupcake decoration ideas so now was the best excuse to try it out.

I made my standard vanilla cupcake recipe and dyed the mixiture and icing so that when you took a bite it was coloured pink-purple-blue-green-yellow!

cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 190g butter, softened
  • 2 T vanilla essence
  • 1 C caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ C plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ C milk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C
  2. Cream butter, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition
  4. Sift flour and baking powder together
  5. Fold into creamed mixture
  6. Stir in milk
  7. Divide mixture into thirds and colour as desired
  8. Spoon mixture evenly into the prepared mini cupcake pan that has been lined with paper cases
  9. When spooing the mixture in, evenly place in the colours as desired then gently swurl with a toothpick so the mixture marbles when baked
  10. Bake for 15 mins or until cakes spring back when lightly touched
  11. Transfer to a wire tack to cool down before decorating

 

butter icing

Ingredients

  • 100gbutter
  • 2 T vanilla essence
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 T hot water
  • ½ tsp food colouring
  • 2 C icing sugar, sifted

 

Beat all of the above ingredients together until smooth. Divide into thirds and colour each batch as desired, this website details how to get the different colours to blend when you pipe the icing on the top

http://www.bigredkitchen.com/2009/05/rainbow-cupcakes.html

It was actually REALLY easy to do! All you have to do is spoon different colours into the piping bag and it just mixes itself!

I sprinkled yellow and green edible glitter on the top when done just to give them a bit more pazaaz!

They were delicious!

Dinosaur Birthday Cake, Raaaaar!

For Michael’s (Steve’s Brothers) birthday I decided to make a cake around something he loves – dinosaurs! I didn’t want to make a shaped cake but instead little dinosaurs like the ones that I found on http://www.abakedcreation.com/2009/06/dinosaur-birthday-cupcakes.html.

To make these I used a packed of white icing / fondant from the supermarket. Broke it up into batches, then dyed them different colours for each type of dinosaur.

This was my first time making fondant models. I found that once I kneaded in the colours in it had softened way too much from the heat of my hands so I popped them back in the freezer for a few mins so they could harden up so they were more clay like to play with.

Here’s the t-rex…

dinosaur head mould

dinosaur mould parts

dinosaur model

Here’s the spikey dinosaur…

dinosaur mould body

dinosaur mould spikes

here’s the spotty dinosaur…

dinosaur spots model

& here they all are…

dinosaur fondant models

With the left over fondant I made some dinosaur eggs that also worked as candle holders – cute!

dinosaur egg candles

On top of making something that looks real cool, I still wanted to make something that tasted yum so I made the same cake I made for his dad last year – a Lemon Sour Cream Cake from the Edmond’s cook book. I’ve made this a few times now and I knew I wanted it to be bigger so I doubled the following recipe.

lemon sour cream cake

Ingredients

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 2 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 1 C sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ C sour cream

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C
  2. Cream butter, lemon rind, sugar and eggs until light and fluffy
  3. Sift flour and baking powder together
  4. Fold sifted mixture into egg mixture alternatively with sour cream, mixing until smooth
  5. Spoon mixture evenly into a greased and lined 20cm round cake tin
  6. Bake for 45 mins, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched
  7. Leave in tin for 5-10 mins then transfer to a wire tack to cool down before decorating

 

As I doubled the recipe I cooked the cake longer, it took approx. 1 hour and checked on it every 5 mins till ready. I think next time I’ll cook each batch separately and do this as a double layer cake as it wasn’t as light as it usually turns out – but in saying that it was still SO delicious.

If you ever want to use this recipe, instead of icing it, it’s really nice just squeeze some lemon juice over the top while it’s still warm. Then once cooled just sprinkle over a light dusting of icing sugar, mmmmmmm!!!! BUT for this time, I iced it with a lemon butter icing.

lemon butter icing

Ingredients

  • 100g butter
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 ½ C icing sugar
  • 2 T water

 

  1. Cream butter and lemon juice
  2. Add icing sugar and water and beat until you get the consistency that you desire

I dyed the lemon butter icing green so it was like ‘grass’ that the dinosaurs were walking around on. Before placing the dinosaurs on the cake i brushed them with edible glitter (it’s called rainbow dust) just to give them an extra touch – and because I just ordered a pack of the edible glitter and i REALLY wanted to use it.

So here it is, my (well Michael’s) dinosaur cake!! Rar!

I popped the candels by the ’28′ when it came time to serve…

Maree’s Mini Vanilla Cupcakes

Maree came down from Sydney and we caught up with her to celebrate her birthday at Madame Brussels (p.s. those jugs of espresso martini’s will keep you awake ALL night – seriously, I couldn’t sleep till 4am!!).

Athina and I decided to give her mini cupcakes so I went around to her house during the day – packed with my piping sets and sprinkles!! And Briar helped us bake and decorate too.

The great thing that I have found with having this website is that I have my recipes on hand wherever I go. We used the basic cupcake recipe from the Edmond’s cookbook that I used when I baked with my nephew’s.

mini vanilla cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ C caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ C milk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C
  2. Cream butter, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition
  4. Sift flour and baking powder together
  5. Fold into creamed mixture
  6. Stir in milk
  7. Spoon mixture evenly into the prepared mini cupcake pan that has been lined with paper cases
  8. Bake for 8 mins or until cakes spring back when lightly touched (note: bake for 15 mins for standard cupcakes)
  9. Transfer to a wire tack to cool down before decorating

While we were baking we decided to make them EXTRA vanillery (is that a word?.. is now) so we used more like a tablespoon (if not more) of vanilla essence.

butter icing

Ingredients

  • 1 T butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ tsp food colouring
  • ½ C icing sugar, sifted

 

Beat all of the above ingredients together until smooth. Like the cupcake batter, we decided to put a good splash more of the vanilla essence into the icing too. I was a little nervous that they were going too much with all the vanilla we put in - but it worked and they tasted SO good.

Because we used pink and yellow mini cupcake paper cases, we dyed the icing pink and yellow too. We swirled the icing on top and sprinkled silver balls over the top (I think more bounced off and went all over the floor haha).

We popped them in a gift box and ta da! Mini vanilla cupcakes

 

xx

Best Rocky Road EVER!

The best cooking magazine have come across to date is Super Food Ideas – It’s full of good recipes (and not like the Masterchef magazine that’s full of ads).  The March issue had a range of chocolate slices, one of which has now become a favourite in my office, Steves office and amongst our friends. Everyone that has tried it has called it the best rocky road ever.  It makes a great birthday treat!

I do tweak the original recipe slightly. It did suggest to use Turkish delight but I swap it with raspberry jellies or snakes and I add a bag of marshmallows. Sometimes I use all dark choc instead of a mix of dark & milk choc too.  

rocky road

Ingredients

  • 250g packet scotch finger biscuits
  • 180g packet raspberry jellies
  • 100g packet pistachio nut kernels
  • 100g packet marshmallows
  • 450g dark chocolate
  • 200g milk chocolate
  • ½ C golden syrup
  • 250g butter, chopped

Method

1. Line a 20cm x 30cm pan with baking paper

2. Roughly chop biscuits, raspberry jellies, pistachios and marshmallows (or use mini marshmallows)

3. Place chocolate, golden syrup and butter in a double boiler* and stir with a spatula until smooth

4. Pour melted chocolate mixture into biscuit mixture and stir gently till combine

 

5. Pour mixture into a prepared pan, pressing down with the back of a spooon to level

6. Cover with glad wrap an refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm before cutting into squares.

* A double boiler (aka bain Marie) is a saucepan filled partially with water. Place a bowl on top of the saucepan, ensuring the bowl is not touching the water – I use either a glass or metal bowl.

30 Days of Cat Facts

I noticed everyone on facebook was doing some 30 day song challenge, I thought about doing it too but i changed the subject to CATS! So here are my 30 days of cat cats for you enjoy too…

Cat Fact 01:  Ailurophilia is the “love of cats.”

Cat Fact 02:  The nose pad of a cat is ridged in a pattern that is unique, just like the fingerprint of a human

Cat Fact 03:  A cat’s heart beats twice as fast as a human heart

Cat Fact 04:  Your cat is probably either a “righty” or a “lefty.”  Only 40% of cats are ambidextrous.

Cat Fact 05:  According to a myth in many cultures, cats have multiple lives. In many countries, they are believed to have nine lives, but in some Spanish-speaking regions they are said to have seven lives

Cat Fact 06:  According to National Geographic, cats can’t taste sugary foods due to a faulty sweet receptor gene. Scientists believe this is related to the cat’s diet being naturally high in protein, though it is unclear whether it is the cause or the result of it

Cat Fact 07:  A falling cat will always right itself in a precise order.  First the head will rotate, then the spine will twist and the rear legs will align, then the cat will arch its back to lessen the impact of the landing

Cat Fact 08:  The domestic cat is the only cat species able to hold its tail vertically while walking.  All wild cats hold their tails horizontally or tucked between their legs while walking.

Cat Fact 09: According to myth, a cat sleeping with all four paws tucked under means cold weather is coming.

Cat Fact 10: Sir Isaac Newton, discoverer of the principles of gravity, also invented the cat door.

Cat Fact 11:  During her productive life, one female cat could have more than 100 kittens. In 1952, a Texas Tabby named Dusty set the record by having more than 420 kittens before having her last litter at age 18

Cat Fact 12:  Cats have excellent night vision and can see at only one-sixth the light level required for human vision

Cat Fact 13:  Cats have 290 bones in their bodies, and 517 muscles

Cat Fact 14:  A group of kittens is called a “kindle” & a group of grown cats is called a “clowder.”

Cat Fact 15:  Egyptians shaved their eyebrows as a sign of mourning when they lost a beloved cat.

Cat Fact 16:  Cats are not quite colorblind but they see blue and green best of all.

Cat Fact 17:  A cat will amost never “meow” at another cat.  This sound is reserved for humans.

Cat Fact 18:  In English, cat is “cat.”   In French, cat is “Chat.”  In German, your cat is “katze.”   The Spanish word for cat is “gato,” and the Italian word is “gatto.”  Japanese prefer “neko” and Arabic countries call a cat a “kitte.”

Cat Fact 19:  The term cat nap refers to the cat’s ability to fall asleep (lightly) for a brief period and has entered the English vocabulary – someone who nods off for a few minutes is said to be “taking a cat nap”

Cat Fact 20:  Cats can purr while inhaling and exhaling. This is a technique that we simply cannot imitate. Cats purr when happy, but also when stressed, and often when dying.

Cat Fact 21:  The normal body temperature for a cat is 38-39° Celsius

Cat Fact 22:  If a cat is frightened, the hair stands up fairly evenly all over the body; when the cat is threatened or is ready to attack, the hair stands up only in a narrow band along the spine and tail.

Cat Fact 23:  Cats wag their tails when it is in a stage of conflict.  The cat wants to do two things at once, but each impulse blocks the other.  For example:   If your cat is in the doorway wanting to go outside, and you open the door to find it raining, the cat’s tail will wag because of internal conflict.  The cat wants to go outside, but doesn’t want to go into the rain.  Once the cat makes a decision and either returns to the house or leaves into the rain, the tail will immediately stop wagging.

Cat Fact 24:  Cats are the sleepiest of all mammals.   They spend 16 hours of each day sleeping.  With that in mind, a seven year old cat has only been awake for two years of its life!

Cat Fact 25:  Most cats are full grown at one year old, but there are some breeds that will continue to grow up until a year and a half years old.

Cat Fact 26:  Although cats love milk they should not have it, most cats are lactose intolerant and the calcium contributes to urinary tract problems. All cats need taurine in their diet to avoid blindness and cats must also have fat in their diet as they are unable to produce it on their own.

Cat Fact 27:  White cats are a symbol of good luck, while black cats are a sign of bad luck. It is believed that a white cat sitting on your doorstep just before your wedding is a sign of lasting happiness.

Cat Fact 28:  Cats are known for their cleanlines and spend 30% of their waking hours grooming themselves. They groom themselves by licking their fur. Backward-pointing spikes on a cat’s tongue aid in their grooming. The cat’s saliva is a powerful cleaning agent, but it can provoke allergic reactions in humans.

Cat Fact 29: It’s a well-known fact that cats often enjoy playing in boxes more than all those expensive cat toys we buy them.

Cat Fact 30:  A cat in a short sprint can travel around 50KMPH.

Chris’s Jacks

 

Chris’s birthday gave me a great excuse to make some creative cupcakes. I looked up heaps of images for ideas and sent them through to Athina (his wife who I made the owl cake pops for). She picked my first choice – Jack Skellington cupcakes which I was very excited about because (a) they looked AWESOME and (b) they needed fondant icing which I hadn’t used before.

The night before Chris’s birthday Athina and Briar came around. It was a very girly night of baking and watching the royal wedding (lame kiss by the way!).

We made batch of my double chocolate cupcakes. Athina had a genius idea of putting pieces of chocolate caramel in the middle from a cupcake that she had earlier in the week that had a caramel easter egg inside it,  YUM!

double chocolate cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ C self-raising flour, sifted
  • 3/4 C dark choc chips
  • ½ C cocoa powder
  • 3/4 C caster sugar
  • 3/4 C milk
  • 125g butter, melted, cooled
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 1 block Cadbury caramelo chocolate

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a muffin pan with paper cases
  2. Combine flour, cocoa powder, choc chips and caster sugar in a bowl. Make a well in the centre
  3. Add milk, butter, eggs and vanilla essence to flour mixture
  4. Using a large metal spoon, stir gently to combine
  5. Half fill each muffin case with mixture into the prepared muffin pan
  6. Place two pieces of caramelo chocolate in the centre of each muffin case
  7. Spoon remaining mixture into prepared muffin pan, ensuring to cover each piece of chocolate
  8. Bake for 15 minutes
  9. Stand in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool

decoration

Once the cupcakes cooled, we melted fondant on a double boiler (I used about half a packed / 1 cup). To assist in obtaining a smooth fondant that we could dip the cupcakes into I added some boiling water.

When at reached the desired consistency, dip the top of the now cooled cupcake into the fondant. Let the excess fondant drip off before turning back upright and placing onto the tray. We required two coats of fondant so once the first layer set, we dipped the cupcakes again.

 

See how smooth the fontant turned out – the cucpcakes acutally had a few cracks after baking but you couldn’t tell after the fondant went on.

Leave the fontant to set before painting on the Jack faces. We waited for about an hour. But next time I will leave these overnight and do the painting the following day – to avoid bleeding.

We googled images of different Jack faces. To paint we used black food colouring and a very fine paint brush. I did the first three or four until Athina and Briar were ready to give it a go (it was a bit nerve-wracking reaching this point and possibly stuffing it up!!).

They turned out amazing and Chris loved them (who wouldn’t??)

Double Layer Choc Peanut Butter Cake

For Steve’s Dads birthday I decided to make a cake version of the cupcakes I made on Steve’s birthday.

I doubled my basic chocolate cake recipe:

chocolate cake

Ingredients

  • 175g butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 ¾ C sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ C cocoa
  • 2 C plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 C milk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a muffin pan with paper cases.
  2. Combine flour, cocoa powder, choc chips and caster sugar in a bowl. Make a well in the centre.
  3. Add milk, butter, eggs and vanilla essence to flour mixture.
  4. Using a large metal spoon, stir gently to combine.
  5. Spoon mixture into prepared muffin pan.
  6. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  7. Stand in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

 

runny chocolate icing

  • 1 T butter
  • 2 T cocoa, sifted
  • 1 C icing sugar, sifted
  • Splash hot water

Mix the butter, cocoa and icing sugar together. Add hot water until you get a runny consistency

 

peanut butter icing

Ingredients

  • ½ C peanut butter
  • ½ C cream cheese
  • 1 ½ icing sugar

Cream the peanut butter and icing sugar together then sift in icing sugar to get the consistency that you like.

  

assembly

  • Cut the cake in half
  • Cover both the base and top of the cake with a thin layer of runny chocolate icing
  • Spread on half of the peanut butter icing on top over the base. I piped around the edge so that it had a nice finish.
  • Place the top of the cake over the iced base
  • Spread on the remaining icing on the top of the cake
  • Place chocolate covered peanuts around the edge