Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!! I know I said I was taking a baking break but I just couldn't help myself. The lure of glitter was just too strong so I made some sparkly cookies.
My New Years Eve plans are currently a vague idea including some pina coladas and firework watching. Oh and these cookies, sounds perfect right!
I hope you all enjoy your New Years plans whatever they may be and I look forward to spending the new year with you. I can promise you tonnes of new cookies, cupcakes, cakes and sweets enough to make Honeydukes proud.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas All Wrapped Up

Just a quick post to check in and say heya. Heya!!

I hope you all had a lovely holiday. I had a wonderful time with friends and family and of course enough food to make anyone not want to eat for another month. Miss kitty didn't miss out, Santa left her some sweet gifts and she loved playing with all the ribbons.
After a busy December of baking I'm having a little break this week, but here is a little summary of this years Christmas sweets and treats.
Gingerbread House Part One and Part Two
Letters to Santa Cookies
Mint Chocolate Rocky Road

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mini Christmas Cookies

Have you written your letter to Santa yet? If yes, high fives! If no, what are you waiting for Christmas is less than a week away! If your Letter to Santa is running very late, maybe sending it in cookie form will sweeten the deal, because we all know Santa loves his cookies!

Maybe some cute mini cookies thrown in could help too.
I wish I had some better pictures of these tiny cookies because I'm so very happy with them. It might have something to do with the teensy size or perhaps the glitter but they are my favorite cookies yet.
I made more than 100 of these bite sized cookies to package up for Christmas gifts, I ended up with a blister from my squeezy bottles.

Have a lovely pre-Christmas week!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gingerbread House (Part 2- Decorating and Building)

Ok so here it is part two of the gingerbread house post, a quick how-to on being a builder.

For the Royal Icing
1 kg icing sugar
5 tablespoons meringue powder
1/2 cup water (approximately)

To make the Royal Icing- Beat the icing sugar, meringue powder and water with an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix for about 7 minutes on low speed until the icing is smooth. If the icing is a bit too thick add a little more water one teaspoon at a time. If it is too thin add a bit more icing sugar one tablespoon at a time, beat again until smooth.
I spent weeks looking for different kinds of candy to decorate my gingerbread house, but ended up not using any of it. Instead of covering my house with candy like I intended I kept things simple and pretty in pink, using only royal icing, pink candy canes and some sprinkles.
To pipe on the details onto the walls of the house I used a fine tipped squeezy bottle filled with royal icing. For the larger details on the roof I used a squeezy bottle but trimmed the end to give a larger opening.I added a bit of extra sparkle to the snow details on the roof, chimney and above the windows, sprinkling on white sugar while the royal icing was still wet.
To build the gingerbread house- Firstly find something big enough to build it on, I used my big white cake stand and it only just fit.

Starting with one of the wall pieces, pipe a line of royal icing along one edge and along the bottom of the gingerbread. Position the wall on the base. Use something square like a cake tin to hold it up while you prepare the next piece.

Pipe a line of icing along the bottom of the back wall piece of the house and adhere to the pre-iced edge of the side wall. Allow to set.
Attach the second side wall with a line of icing along the bottom and on the connecting edge and leave set. Once set pipe royal icing along the front edges of both of the walls and a line along the base where the front of the house will sit.
Press on the front of the house and allow the royal icing to set hard before attaching the roof.
Pipe royal icing along the top edge of one of the walls and the edges of the roof.
Press on one half of the roof and hold until stable, it wont take too long.
Repeat with the icing and the other side of the roof. Allow all of the royal icing to set.
Pipe a decorative line along each edge to hide the joins in the gingerbread. Lastly glue the chimney to the roof with a little more royal icing.
There were trees and people to go with the house, but it turned out a whole lot bigger than I imagined and they wouldn't fit and got eating in the process.

All eaten! Um nom nom.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gingerbread House (Part One- Making and Baking)

Guess what? My oven is back! Well actually it is a completely different one but it works so I'm super happy, just in time for some serious Christmas baking. I didn't waste any time testing it out with something I've been dying to make for ages, my very first gingerbread house. I love ginger bread and pretty gingerbread houses but have always been worried about building one myself. I was convinced it would fall down for sure. Turns out my house building skills aren't too bad, not only did it not collapse it looked pretty too.

Because this is a pretty large post I decided to divide it in two. This half for making the gingerbread and cutting and baking the pieces and the next post will have the decorating and the construction of the house.
The smell of the gingerbread while it was baking was so so amazing, pure Christmas!

For the Gingerbread-
100 grams butter (chopped)
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup golden syrup
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
4 cups sifted plain flour (4 - 4 1/2 cups as needed)
1 cup sifted self raising flour
3 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon bicarb (baking) soda
To make the gingerbread- add the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup into a small saucepan.

Stir over a low heat until all melted together and smooth. Once cool add sugar mixture and eggs into a large bowl.
Add the flours, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and baking soda to the wet ingredients.
Mix all together until well combined. If mixture is too wet add up to another 1/2 cup of plain flour as needed.
Give the dough a light knead and divide it into quarters. Flatten each portion of dough into a disk and wrap in cling-wrap. Chill the disks of dough in the fridge for at least one hour before rolling out. (I made my dough the night before and used it the next morning)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c.
Roll the dough directly onto the baking paper you will bake the gingerbread pieces on. Working with one dough portion at a time roll out to 5mm thick.
Lay the template onto the rolled out dough and cut out using a large knife. Cut out two of each template, re-rolling the dough when needed.
Cut a door and a window out of the front gingerbread piece. I used a heart and rectangle cookie cutter.
Transfer the baking paper and gingerbread cutouts onto flat baking trays.
Bake the gingerbread pieces for about 12 minutes, until they are golden.
Repeat with all the pieces and allow to cool completely on cooling racks.
Come back tomorrow to see it all get put together.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Puppy Dog Cake

Happy Birthday Stevie!
A Boo inspired chocolate mud cake, frosted with dark chocolate ganache and covered with fondant.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mint-Chocolate Rocky Road

Dear Girl at supermarket checkout, I just wanted to say a big fat sarcastic thanks a lot for coughing all over me the other day, that was really awesome of you, I've been sick all week!

While I haven't felt up to getting off the couch (or out of my pajamas) all week it did give me a chance to sort out all my photos and get some new posts organized.
My second rocky road experiment this year was another success, with three of the four ingredients containing mint it sure lives up to its name. If you a fan of mint and chocolate you should totally make this and eat it. Or you could gift it to someone you know who loves mint chocolate and they will probably give you a hug in return.
For the Rocky Road

150 grams mini mint slice cookies
200 grams white marshmallows
300 grams mint chip chocolate
200 grams mint leaves

To make the Rocky Road- Line a small brownie pan with non stick paper. Cut the marshmallows, mint slice and mint leaves in half.
Break the mint chip chocolate up into a microwave safe bowl.
Microwave the chocolate in short bursts until it is all melted, keep an eye on the chocolate and take care not to burn it.
Throw the mint leaves, marshmallows and mint slice cookie bits into a large bowl and give them a bit of a mix. Pour in the melted chocolate and stir until everthing is coated.
Pour the rocky road mixture into the prepared pan and smooth over with a spatula. Stick it in the fridge to set.
Once set cut the rocky road into squares and enjoy.