31 Jan 2011

Treasured Possessions


It's no secret that I'm a huge Harry Potter fan.  I have all of the films, books (including the limited edition comic relief school books) and even a full Hogwarts costume consisting of cloak, scarf, tie and wand.  Out of my full collection, this book is my favorite, the limited edition copy of Beedle the Bard.  I just love the huge, antique style tome hiding this wonderfully Gothic copy of the book.  

Funnily enough, most of my treasured items are in fact books. Big beautiful hardbacks of my favorite classics, something I can pass down to my children.

What are some of your most treasured possessions? 

27 Jan 2011

Disney Tangled Cupcakes!

Tonight, as with most Thursday evenings, I'm home alone.  Normally I hate being alone during the darker hours but tonight is different.  Yesterday I received an order from Pet Lamb for a dozen cupcakes for a princess party, after a little digging I discovered that the group of little ladies are off to see the brand new Disney film, Tangled.  So, I waved Kris off at the door and set to making some adorable Tangled themed cupcake toppers.



Don't they look cute?!  I'm not very experienced with sugarcraft but I can see my skills improving with every little character I create.  Plus, I just love sitting with a big pile of fondant, sculpting it into something whimsical.  Reminds me of my childhood favorite toy, Play Doh!

Next on my to make list is this adorable little unicorn featured on The Art of Being Perfect.  If you haven't already subscribed to this amazing blog, you're missing out on something fabulous!  Astral is a constant inspiration and I find myself blown away with every post! Check it out, I insist!

22 Jan 2011

Cameo Cupcakes

Yes, that's right, more cupcakes!  But forgive me please, as I just couldn't wait to show you these beautiful cameo cupcakes I created late yesterday evening.  While on a supply trip to my local sugar craft shops I spotted these amazing cameo moulds and simply couldn't resist!  I snapped it straight up and rushed home to try it out.  I can't get over how pretty they are, so delicate and feminine, I can see me getting a lot of use out of this purchase.  And maybe even rushing out to buy the collection.


I love how they look when paired with my teacup cupcake cases.  Just perfect for afternoon tea with the girls.
While I'm here I thought I'd also show you some wedding cupcakes I was asked to make this week.  I know they're the same old designs I posted earlier this month but I think the ivory and black colour combination gives the cupcakes such an eye catching effect.  Simply stunning, just right for a wedding.

17 Jan 2011

What ever shall I do with these old bananas?!

I have such good intentions when it comes to buying fruit and veg.  I get so excited and become so seduced by those big bags of goodies that I just throw them in the trolley and think about what to do with them later.  But I never do. Yes some peppers will get transformed into fajitas and I can munch my way through a bag of oranges no problem, but by the time you get around to using up the stragglers, they're dead. Sitting rotting in the crisper, no use to anyone or anything.  So as part of my new year new me routine I'm looking at ways to use up these sad old blighters rather than binning them.  Love Food Hate Waste and all that jazz :)

One food I never waste is bananas.  If I'm being totally honest, I often buy bananas and leave them to go bad just so I can transform them into something delicious.  A few weeks ago, while in the supermarket, I asked Kris to fetch a bunch of bananas.  He came back with the biggest bag of 'ripen at home' green bananas.  Rolling my eyes hiding my secret excitement, I stuck them through the check out knowing they'd never be good for anything but baking.  Low and behold, I was right.  They went from bright green to black, completely missing out the yellow stage.  That's what we get for buying cheap bananas.

My mission was set, I had to turn these bananas into yummy treats before they were too bad for even banana bread.  So, if you ever find yourself in my shoes, staring at a big bunch of black bananas, here's some fun things you can do with the sugary buggers.


Banana Bread:

125g butter, 175g soft brown sugar, 2 eggs, 280g plain flour, 1tsp bicarbonate of soda, Pinch of salt, 125ml milk, 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed, 1tsp vanilla extract, 75g walnuts, chopped (optional)

Heat oven to 180C/Gas mark 4. Lightly oil a 25cm x 11cm (10in x 4½in) loaf tin. Cream butter and sugar together in a food processor or with electric beaters, until smooth. Add one egg and beat well, add the second and continue to beat well. Sift in half the flour with the bicarbonate of soda and salt, and mix well. Mix in the milk, then the remaining flour.  Mash the bananas and then fold them in to the mixture with the vanilla extract and walnuts. Then tip the mixture into the loaf tin and level the top with a spatula.  Bake for around one hour until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean and not sticky. Cover the top with foil if it starts to brown too quickly.  Allow to cool in the tin for at least 20 minutes before turning out. To serve, cut into thick slices and serve warm or at room temperature.


Serve banana bread toasted and slathered in Nutella for an indulgent and delicious breakfast.  I insist!


Caramel Banana Blondies:
  
250g golden caster sugar, 100g butter, 100g caramel , from a jar or tin plus 2 tbsp for the top, 100g white chocolate, 2 eggs, 200g self-raising flour, 2 ripe bananas, sliced or mashed
  
Heat the oven 180C/fan 170C/gas 4. Melt the sugar, butter, caramel and chocolate together until smooth. Cool a little, then add the eggs and fold in the flour and banana.  Pour into a lined 20cm square tin and add a few blobs of caramel to the top, bake for 45-50 minutes or until risen and set. 


Chocolate, Banana and Peanut Butter Milkshakes:

6 pieces of frozen banana, 2tbsp peanut butter, 125 chilled milk, 1tbsp cocoa powder, honey to taste
  
Put the bananas into a blender.  Add the peanut butter, cocoa powder and milk and blend until smooth. Add honey to taste.  Blend again for a further 5-10 seconds.


13 Jan 2011

Bow Cupcake Tutorial


Since posting my valentines cupcakes I've received several requests for a tutorial on how to make little fondant bow toppers for your cupcake creations.  So, without further ado, I am pleased to present my tutorial: 
How To Make Fondant Bows.


First of all take a small ball of your favorite coloured fondant and roll it out to around 3mm thick.  I find it easier to roll my fondant out between two sheets of clingfilm.  Keeps your surfaces tidy and it means less cleaning up later ;)

Take a sharp knife and cut out two rectangles. One short and fat, remember the width of this rectangle will be the size of your bow, and one long and thin.


Put the thin strip of fondant to one side while you work on your bow.  Taking the fat strip of fondant fold each end of the strip into the centre press the join gently to secure it then flip it over, hiding the seam.


With your thumb and index finger pinch the middle of the folded fondant so it resembles a bow shape.  Cut a short length of fondant from your thin strip.


Wrap the small strip of fondant around the middle of your bow and pinch to secure the join.  


Now retrieve your thin section of fondant and cut it in half.  These will be your ribbons so cut them down if you feel they're a little too long.


Taking a sharp knife, carefully cut out two tiny v shapes from one end of each of your ribbons and discard the triangles of fondant.


Take a prettily iced cupcake and gently press your ribbons onto the top of the frosting, the join will be covered by the bow.


Press your finished bow into the top of the frosting, covering the join of the ribbons.


Dust liberally with edible glitter, stand back and admire your beautiful creation.

I really do hope you found this helpful.  If you find yourself having a go, please comment with a link to your blog post, I'd love to see what you come up with.

9 Jan 2011

Valentines Cupcakes




Today my Sunday has consisted of lounging in my pyjamas, discovering a new found love of tea with soy milk and mocking up some lovely little Valentines cupcakes for Pet Lamb. 

How's your Sunday going?

7 Jan 2011

Vanilla Marshmallows

It's snowing again! Just when the sludge had melted and the roads were finally clear its all began again. I wish I could be among those pick cheeked snow lovers, willing blizzards to blanket their street in white fluffy loveliness.  I wish I could frolic in the garden, building snowmen and starting snowball fights with the neighbors.  Unfortunately, snow is the coldsore on the face of business ownership!  I find myself grimacing out the window, hoping it sods off in time for the busy weekend ahead.  So, everyone, join me in crossing your fingers and wishing for rain. Just this once!

But, I might as well make the best of it.  I mean, it looks pretty falling from the clouds and I much prefer the cold to the sun.  I guess today is the day I finally get around to trying my hand at home made marshmallows.  Boy am I looking forward to my first cup of hot chocolate, studded with little fluffy icebergs of vanilla filled goodness.



Vanilla Marshmallows
(Adapted from BBC Good Food)

Ingredients:
50g icing sugar
50g cornflour
9 leaves of gelatin
450g granulated sugar
1 tbsp liquid glucose (find it in the baking aisle)
2 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract (or any other flavour you desire) 
Pink food colouring (optional)

Method:
In a bowl, mix the icing sugar with the cornflour and set aside. Dissolve the gelatin in 150ml hot water in a heatproof jug. Line a 20cm x 30cm tin with baking parchment and dust with some of the icing sugar mix. Put the granulated sugar and liquid glucose in a heavy-bottomed pan with 200ml water. Cook over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved completely, turn up the heat and boil until the mixture reaches firm ball stage on a sugar thermometer (125C/256F) - around 10-15 mins. If you don't have a thermometer, drop a little of the mix into a glass of very cold water - if it sets into a squidgy ball, it's ready. While the sugar is boiling, use an electric whisk to beat the egg whites until stiff. When the syrup reaches the right stage, pour it into the jug with the gelatin water; be careful as it will be very hot and may bubble up. 

Continue whisking the egg whites while pouring on the syrup in a steady stream, then adding the vanilla extract - the mixture will go shiny and start to thicken. Continue whisking for about 10 mins until very stiff. Pour the egg white mixture into the tin and leave somewhere cool and dry to set for at least 2 hrs until firm. 

Lay a large sheet of baking parchment on a chopping board and sprinkle on the remaining icing sugar mix. Turn the marshmallows out and cut into squares, rolling them in the sugar mix. Keep in an airtight container but best eaten on the day.

5 Jan 2011

Peanut Butter Krispie Bars

Today was supposed to be my first day back to work, the end of the holidays, back to the grind.  Alas, I was cruelly struck down with a vicious cold thus forced to bid farewell to my fiancee and stay home.  The truth is, I'd rather be at work than stuck indoors all day with a raging fever and pounding head.  The only thing I could do to quell my boredom and illness was to drag my sorry self into the kitchen and make some peanut butter krispie bars.  Not only did it relieve a little of my cabin fever (see what I did there, bored but ill..oh never mind) but it won't half earn me some brownie points when the boy gets home!


This recipe is from Baked - New Frontiers in Baking and is the first installment of my New Years Resolution.  I've resurrected last years resolution of making something from each of my cookbooks and blogging the results. Stay tuned to see how I do in cooking Katies books!

Peanut Butter Krispy Bars

Ingredients

For the krispie layer:
1 3/4 cups of rice krispies
1/4 cup sugar
3tbsp golden syrup
3tbsp butter, melted

For the chocolate peanut butter layer:
5 ounces milk chocolate (I used dark, therefore I had no colour difference between the layers)
1 cup smooth peanut butter

For the chocolate icing:
3 ounces dark chocolate
1/2tsb golden syrup
4tbsp butter

Method:
Grease the bottom and sides of an 8" square baking pan.  Pour the rice krispies into a bowl and set aside.

Pour 1/4 cup of water into a small saucepan, add the sugar and the syrup being careful not to get any on the sides of the pan.  Stir gently to combine and set over a medium heat.  Cook the caramel until a candy thermometer reaches 235C or soft ball stage.

Remove from the head and pour over the rice krispies.  Working quickly, stir the cereal thoroughly until evenly coated in the caramel.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press the mixture into an even layer using your hands.  Let the crust cool to room temperature while you make the next layer.

In a small saucepan over a medium heat melt together the peanut butter and chocolate until smooth.  Remove from the heat and continue to stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly.  Pour the mixture over the prepared crust and place into the fridge for one hour or until the top layer hardens.

Once cool make the chocolate icing.  In a large glass bowl combine the chocolate, butter and syrup.  Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, ensuring that the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water.  Stir the chocolate and butter until melted and smooth, remove from the heat and pour over the peanut butter layer.  Shake the tin gently to allow the chocolate to spread evenly.  Place the tin into the fridge for one hour or until hard.

Cut into 9 squares before serving.  These bars will keep for up to 4 days tightly wrapped in the fridge.

2 Jan 2011

Here's to 2011

Happy New Year my lovelies!  Good friends, good food and good gin all helped to make the dawn of 2011 the best yet. Hope you all had an amazing night and here's to 2011!




Just a few of the nibbles I served up. Funny how much ten people can eat :)

Certainly wasn't on a Champagne buzz at this point. No sir!