Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Easy Easter Egg Cookies

Those of you who live in Australia are likely familiar with the Darrel Lea range of easter eggs and can probably guess which particular egg inspried these cookies. They make an egg that is so completely covered in hundreds and thousands that not even the tiniest bit of chocolate peaks through. I have never been lucky enough to receive a sprinkle egg from the Easter Bunny, so I've taken matters into my own hands and made them in cookie form.
These colourful eggs are a great time saving alternative to decorated sugar cookies, there's no need to be fussy about the icing, just pile on a heap of sprinkles and any imperfections disappear. I added a few fondant details for extra decoration, but feel free to leave it off they look just as fun and festive without them.

The simplicity and ease of decorating these cookies makes them a fun Easter baking option with children, even I had a great time experimenting with different sprinkles. Arm them with some squeezy bottles of royal icing and an array of sprinkles and I can guarantee fun for all. Just one little tip though maybe set up outside to avoid getting hundreds and thousands all over the floor as I did.

Vanilla Sugar Cookies

225 grams unsalted butter (softened)
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

To make the Cookies- Cream together the butter and icing sugar with an electic mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, continue beating until well combine.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a separate bowl. Gradually add the sifted dry ingredients to the butter mixture beating until it forms a dough.

Preheat oven to 190 degrees c. and line baking trays with baking paper.

Working with a 1/4 of the dough at a time, place between 2 sheets of baking paper and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness.

Cut out eggs and bunnies with cookie cutters, remove the off-cuts and continue using until all the dough is used up.

Transfer the cut cookie shapes to the lined baking tray (1 inch apart) using a knife or spatula. If the cookies are too soft to move place them in the freezer for a minute until they are just firm enough to transfer.

Bake the cookies until just they are just lighty golden, 7-10 minutes. The time will vary oven to oven so keep an eye on the first tray to see how long they take. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool completely on trays.
For the Royal Icing

500 grams icing sugar
15 grams meringue powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
90 mls water

To make the Royal Icing- Add the icing sugar, meringue powder, vanilla and water to a large mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment if possible beat on low until the ingredients come together, increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes until the icing is a smooth toothpaste consistency.
To ice these cookies I used the same consistency of icing for both the lining and the flooding. Thin the icing a little by mixing in a few drops of water at a time until it is just pourable. Fill a squeezy bottle with the icing.

Pipe an outline around the edge of the cookie, wait half a minute before flooding the rest of the cookie with the royal icing. Don't worry if the outline is kind of wonky or if there are air bubbles in the icing like mine, the great part of these cookies is the sprinkles hide everything.
While the icing is still wet place the cookie in a bowl or container to avoid mess and cover with sprinkles.
Tap off excess sprinkles and allow icing to set.
The sprinkle cookies are pretty cute just as they are but if you want that little more detail add some fondant bows.

Roll fondant out thinly, cut two 1cm strips long enough to fit across the egg cookies. Brush a tiny bit of water across the middle of the iced cookie and gently press on the strip of fondant, trim off any excess.
Take each end of the other fondant strip and bring them into the center to make a bow shape.
Cut a small rectangle to cover the middle of the bow, stick on with a tiny bit of water and fold over the top and bottom edges. Cut out 2 pieces of fondant to make the ribbon tails.
Attach the bow and ribbons to the cookie with a little brush of water.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Xbox Cake

Just checking in with a couple of pictures of the Xbox cake I made a couple of weeks ago For boyfriend's brother's Birthday. Happy Birthday Mike! To any Xbox lovers I'm sorry I know there are a couple inaccuracies, I should have picked them up straight away considering how many hours I've spent playing the Harry Potter Lego games but please don't hold it against me, it was late at night!
I have been so busy making and baking lately that I have been neglecting this blog and feel terrible about it. I have a stack of recipes piling up, some more cakes to show and a bit of fun news that I'll get around to sharing shortly. Until then happy baking!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Awesome Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake

A few weeks ago some friends asked if I could do a birthday cake and some cookies for for their two little boys, with both boys being named after places in Texas the theme was easily decided. I was imagining the cake to be something cute and cowboyish, but Tracy had much better ideas and suggested a Texas sheet cake. After a little mouthwatering research I came to understand why, It seems this particular chocolate cake has a home at most barbecues, birthdays and any other events in need of a dessert capable of feeding a crowd.
There have been a number of occasions when I have used the phase 'best ever' about treats I have posted, there were those recipes and then there is this one. Those older recipes are great they always work out and I love them, but this Texas sheet cake gives a whole new meaning to best ever. Sure its possible that the amazing chocolaty richness is clouding my brain, but if that's the case it has a whole lot of other people hoodwinked too. Every single person I have shared this chocolate sheet cake with swears its the best thing they have ever tasted.
The cake suited the homely themed party perfectly, from the rustic decoartions to the amazing drool-worthy smoked BBQ. In keeping with the spirit people didn't even bother with the cake sever instead opting to serve their own generous size portions with their spoons or forks. I think my favorite part was watching birthday boy Austin removing the candles from the cake, taking care he didn't miss licking the frosting off a single one.
This quick and easy recipe produces a amazingly rich chocolate cake, with a good helping of butter making it lovely and moist while buttermilk ensures it stays nicely fluffy. The fudgey layer formed between the hot cake and the shiny frosting is heavenly, you'll see. The only change I made was to the icing, I adjusted the recipe slightly as the icing was almost a little too runny possibly due to the humidity here at the moment.

Texas Sheet Cake (Original recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks)

For the Cake
2 cups plain flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 heaped tablespoons cocoa (the cocoa I used is very dark in colour)
226 grams butter (2 sticks)
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs (lighty beaten)
1 teaspoon vanilla

To make the cake- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees c. (350 degrees f.) and grease a 9-13 inch sheet pan (I used my regular lamington pan). Add the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large bowl, give the dry ingredients a little whisk to combine.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan , stir in the cocoa powder and then the boiling water. Allow the cocoa mixture to boil for 30 seconds before setting aside to cool slightly.
Combine the buttermilk eggs and vanilla in a small bowl or jug. Stir the egg mixture into the cooled chocolate mixture.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until smooth. Pour the mixture into the greased pan and place in the oven.
Bake the cake for 20 minutes. While the cake is baking prepare the frosting. Pour the frosting over the top of the hot cake after taking it out of the oven, spread out if necessary.
For the Frosting
170 grams butter (1 1/2 sticks) original recipe uses 198 grams (1 3/4 sticks)
4 heaped tablespoons cocoa
4 tablespoons milk -original recipe uses 6 tablespoons
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 350 grams (1 pound icing sugar less 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup pecans (chopped)

To make the frosting- Finely chop up the pecans.
In a medium saucepan melt the butter then stir in the cocoa powder. Tun off the heat and add the milk, vanilla and icing sugar, stir until smooth. Mix through the chopped pecans and pour over hot cake.
Grab yourself a cold glass of milk and enjoy! You'll love it I promise!

Thanks Tracy for letting me use some of your amazing party photos. For more about the party and the yummiest BBQ I've had check out Tracy's Blog Itty Bitty Bites.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pretty Teal Ombre Cake

While I have done a number of rainbow cakes I have been dying to do a tall ombre Cake for a long time. When I was asked to do a teal ombre cake for a birthday recently I was over the moon, especially because teal is one of my favorite colours.
I couldn't be happier with the way the colours turned out, starting with one drop of Americolour turquoise colouring for the first layer and adding 2 extra drops to each following cake layer I was able to get a great colour gradation.
I used the same vanilla cake from my Lamington Cake back in January, double the mixture was a prefect amount to make five decent sized layers and took very well to the colouring. The cake was filled and frosted with white chocolate buttercream in light to dark teal mirroring the inside of the cake.
The beautiful setup was another from the talented girls at Enchanted Empire, a very big thanks to them for letting me use some of their photos.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Gumball Machine Cake

Happy Birthday Ebony!
I've been so lucky lately getting to do so many fun cakes. I think of all of them this might be my favorite, probably because I'd love to have a cake like it myself. I was very fortunate when making this the weather had taken a cooler turn and without the humidity I wasn't fighting with sticky fondant. I've been terrible at not getting step by step pictures recently, so just imagine a fluffy pink strawberry cake on the inside layered and covered with white chocolate ganache. It was surprisingly easy to construct, I used two six inch cakes cut in half to give four layers and just trimmed it slightly so it tapered toward the top. To support the weight of the glass bowl and gumballs, I inserted three dowels a little out from the center of the cake. The top of the gumball machine was made of rice krispies (LCMs) on a small cake board to form a cap and avoid adding extra weight on the cake. The coin purse is also made form rice krispies covered in fondant.
Just a minute ago I said imagine the cake inside don't worry about doing that because here it is, pretty layers of pink. I may have been forgetful with my picture taking but the birthday girl wasn't, thanks Ebony for letting me use this picture.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts

Lemon Meringue Pie is one of boyfriends favorite sweets, these were a special request from him. I think he was expecting a big pie all to himself so was probably a bit disappointed at the miniature size of these little tarts, but they were yummy all the same. Personally I loved the smaller size of these mini lemon meringue tarts, I really enjoyed the higher crust to filling ratio and to be honest am a sucker for anything in miniature.
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/4 cup caster sugar
125 grams cold butter (roughly chopped)
1 egg yolk

Lemon Filling
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour
2/3 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoon lemon zest (finely grated)
75 grams butter (roughly chopped)
2 egg yolks

2 egg whites
1/2 cup caster sugar

To make the pastry- add the flour, sugar, butter and egg yolk in the bowl of a food pocessor, process until all the ingredients are combine and the dough comes together slightly.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly flowered surface and give it a bit of a knead until sooth. Wrap the dough in clingwrap and place in the fridge for half and hour before using.
To make the tarts- lightly grease a 12 hole cupcake/muffin pan with butter and preheat oven to 200 degrees c. Roll out the chilled pastry dough between two sheets of baking paper to about 5mm thick .
Cut out 12 8cm circles from the dough, re-rolling as needed. Press the pastry rounds into the cupcake pan and prick the base and sides with a fork.

Place the tart bases in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans. While the bases are cooling make the filling.
To make the Filling- add the sugar and cornflour to a small saucepan, stir in the lemon juice and the water.
Continue stirring over a medium heat until the mixture boils and gets thicker, turn the heat down to low and continue stiring the simmering mixture for a minute. Take the pan off the heat and quickly stir in the egg yolks, butter and lemon zest. Set the lemon filling aside for 10 minutes to cool.
Spoon the lemon filling evenly between the cooled pastry cases then place in the fridge to set for about one hour.
To make the Meringue- preheat the oven to 240 degrees c. With an electric mixer beat the egg whites in a clean bowl until they form soft peaks. Gradually add the in the sugar, continue beating until all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture forms firm peaks. Spoon the meringue gently into a large piping bag fitted with a large star tip.
Roughen the surface of the filling on each tart with a fork, pipe a swirl of meringue onto the top of each tart. Bake the tarts for about 3 minutes, until the meringue is lightly golden.
Enjoy them, they're delicious!!