Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Baking hack Marshmallow Booster for domed cakes



Some times I make mistakes.

OK, OK I know I make mistakes all the time. But sometimes I make mistakes that require me to come up with a solution that ends up being kinda cool and worth sharing with everyone.

Like last Sunday, when I baked a packet mix cake and did not follow the instructions properly because I used a smaller tin, split the mix into 2 cakes and was lazy and did not line the tin as directed.



In my mind I was thinking that if I used two 6 inch tins I would end up with a lovely tall cake instead of a regular 8 inch flat cake. But at least 2 of those things I did wrong can result in the cake cooking quicker than usual which can mean overly domed (peaked) cakes.

And that is what happened, it was my fault - I know it - no use getting upset over it.

But I didn't want to cut off the tops to level the cakes, it was just too much to lose and it was too big a space to just fill with plain ganache, so I came up with this marshmallow booster cake hack idea.
 

I placed the cake flat side down on my cake stand, put a thin layer of chocolate ganache over the domed top of the cake and then stuck a ring of marshmallows around the edge of the cake. Then I filled in the rest with ganache* and squished them together with the other cake flat side on the top. I chilled the cake for a bit and then covered the sides and top with the remaining ganache using a kitchen knife.

*to make ganache melt 2 parts chocolate to 1 part cream (so for example 200g (8oz) chocolate to 100g (4oz) cream) in the microwave at high heat for a minute leave to rest and then whisk until smooth. Heat another minute or 2 if the mixture is not smooth and then whisk again.


I decorated the top with some raspberries but you can do what ever you like.

It was a pretty good save if I do say so myself, the marshmallows are more economical than chocolate and not as heavy and dense, plus to the kids it seemed like I was doing something exciting.

Hope you enjoyed my cake fail. We all did :)


Linda Vandermeer is a blogger, baker, maker and author of the cookbook ' Sweets on a Stick': More than 150 kid friendly recipes for cakes, candies, cookies and pies on the go!. Published in the US the book is available at most online book stores.

Original Ideas, photography and recipes by Linda Vandermeer unless otherwise stated do not reuse without permission. 


Sunday, August 3, 2014

All that glitters party straws - DIY budget party craft


Bubble's birthday party was last weekend. It was a fun budget birthday organised in under 2 weeks which I will be sharing as soon as I sort out the photo's.

In the meantime here is a quick bit of diy decorating that I did for her party. It's so pretty you could even use it for a grown up party.


I made up a bunch of gold glitter straw flags for the party which looked pretty fabulous considering they cost a few dollars for the whole lot.



Yup $2 for a pack of those cute chevron straws and $1* for a roll of gold glitter tape. Plus next to no time.
 
*I had a quick check online and the gold glitter tape I found was more expensive that the one I picked up at the discount store, so shop around or happily pay a little more and support local businesses your choice :)



Gold Glitter flag instructions

So pretty much all you do is cut a short length of tape, fold it in half to make a crease, take off the plastic backing, place it around the straw so that the fold you have made aligns along the straw to make sure it is even and then press the sticky sides together. You can leave the flag with a flat even edge, or if you like take a sharp pair of scissors and cut a little V away as shown in the picture. So easy peasy I know I didn't even need to put the written how to but it makes me feel like I'm doing something ;)


I'm not the first person to do this, my SIL did this glitter tape at my niece's birthday party plus last year I did pretty much the same thing but used floral tape instead of glitter. But it is soooo pretty I had to share the pictures.

Shopping notes:

Gold Glitter tape in pack of 4 from Big W discount department store Australia (pack of 4 glitter tape $4)
Pink Chevron Girl straws Shmick CLICK HERE
Pink polkadot and floral fabic tape from Choice discount stores Australia
Pink twine Greengate
Scissors - similar available on Ebay



Linda Vandermeer is a blogger, baker, maker and author of the cookbook ' Sweets on a Stick': More than 150 kid friendly recipes for cakes, candies, cookies and pies on the go!. Published in the US the book is available at most online book stores.

Original photography by Linda Vandermeer do not reuse without permission.  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sweet Strawberry Cookies


My niece had an adorable Strawberry themed birthday party on the weekend and I made up some cookies to go onto the party table.

Strawberries are so yummy and cute, I don't even know why I haven't had my own Strawberry party yet. Did I mention it was adorable? A-dor-able!


Plus there are so many cute things you can pick up for a bargain to match a strawberry theme. Hello red polka dots or pink and lime gingham. Plus ready made strawberry piñata's for decoration, oh my goodness it's a strawberry theme party decorators dream at the discount stores.

Anyway, like I said I was making the cookies plus some macarons, so about 10 days before the party I rang up my Sister in law (SIL) and said 'Hey I think I'll make the cookies this weekend because they keep really well and then I can just make the macarons the Friday before'.

Y'all know because macarons are best when they have sat in the fridge for at least a day so I was thinking I had it all planned.


So I heard a moments silence, and then my SIL let me know the party was actually in 3 days time, and that my own daughter's birthday party was the one in 10 days time (yup forgot my own daughter's party date...... more on that revelation in another post).

Eeeek! Anyhoo people that know me are probably not very surprised with this story.

So I started making cookies as soon as I hung up the phone and came up with this cute set to match the rest of the party.


Luckily I was able to quickly get some edible frosting sheets from Caketopia in pink and lime gingham which pretty much made decorating so much faster, and easier, and did I say faster 'cause that was really important.

Seriously people edible frosting sheets - try it, the ones I got from Caketopia were so easy to use.

The bigger plaque cookies were not exactly what I wanted, I was hoping to do pink and white royal icing stripes, but seeings as I was working on a new super short timeframe I was pretty happy with how they ended up.


Scroll down below for the step by step instructions on how to make your own strawberry cookies.
Plus if you like my strawberry cookies you might like these from some of the blogs I follow:

3D Strawberry Sugar Cookies - by Munchkin Munchies
Pretty summer Strawberry Cookies (on a square cookie) by Sugarbelle
How to make simple Strawberry Shortcake cookies by Sugarbelle (includes cookie cutter hack)
Shortbread Strawberries (with Kawaii faces) by Butter Hearts Sugar
Simple Strawberry Cookies by Bake at 350

I've also popped up a free video tutorial of me making the strawberries cookies here:



Sweet Strawberry Decorated Cookie
The cookie dough recipe made up at batch of over 30 cookies. If you like you can add raspberry flavour to your red fondant to improve the taste - I did.

Strawberry shaped cookie (CLICK HERE for my favourite vanilla cut out cookie dough)
Strawberry shaped cookie cutter
Fondant (Red, green, white and yellow) either buy already coloured or buy white and colour with gel food colours^
cornflour (cornstarch)
clean brushes and water
sharp knife
small plastic rolling pin
small blossom cutter - mine is an ejector cutter
small fondant ball tool
dresden tool
non stick foam

^fondant dries out quickly, when not in use store in an airtight container or ziplock bag. To use fondant knead until pliable and smooth and roll out on a workbench dusted with cornflour (cornstarch). 


Knead the red fondant until smooth and pliable. Dust workbench with cornflour (corn starch) and using the small plastic rolling pin roll out fondant until quite thin then using the strawberry cutter cut out a fondant shape.


Use the sharp knife to cut off the top section which resembles the leaves/stalk.

Brush a small amount of water onto the cookie and adhere the red fondant shape to the cookie, use the rolling pin to roll/push the fondant into shape if it is a little smaller than your cookie.

Knead the green fondant, dust the workbench and roll out the fondant. Cut out another strawberry shape, you only need the top third of the shape so you only need to cut that much out.


Using the sharp knife cut the stalk and leaves of the strawberry as shown in the picture.

Brush a little water onto the top of the cookie and a very small amount onto the very top of the red fondant and adhere the green stalk and leaves to the cookie.

Using your fingers roll out a long thin strip of green fondant to make a vine, I like mine to taper at the end, place it onto the cookie twisting it until it resembles a curly vine and press into place, if the fondant  has not dried it should stay in place, if the fondant is a little dry use a tiny amount of water in one or two spots to stick the fondant in place. Remember when you press the blossoms in at the next step they will also help secure the vine. Cut any excess off where the vine meets the leaves at the top with the sharp knife.


Make the small 'strawberry' blossoms. Dust the workbench and roll out the white fondant, use the ejector cutter to cut out 2 small blossoms. Place the blossoms onto the non stick foam pad and press the ball tool onto each of the petals to make the petals thinner and cupped in shape. Pop the 'strawberry' blossoms onto the cookie on the fondant vine as shown in the picture, one at the top and one half way along and press into place. *Roll a small amount of yellow fondant into a ball and press into the center of the blossom.

(I actually have a whole tutorial on making simple sugar flowers CLICK HERE)

Using the knife or a fondant tool, press indents into the red fondant where you would like to place strawberry seeds. *Roll tiny pieces of yellow fondant into seeds and press into place with a fondant tool.

*Note the blossom centers and seeds can also be made by piping yellow royal icing.

Decorated cookies can be made a week in advance and stored in airtight containers.


Linda Vandermeer is a blogger, baker, maker and author of the cookbook ' Sweets on a Stick': More than 150 kid friendly recipes for cakes, candies, cookies and pies on the go!. Published in the US the book is available at most online book stores.

Original Ideas, photography and recipes by Linda Vandermeer unless otherwise stated do not reuse without permission. 


Monday, July 14, 2014

Orange is the new Chocolate Cookies


O'range you glad you saw this recipe. Well maybe not yet but if you bake up a batch of these cookies I'm pretty sure you will be.

That is if you like chocolate and orange together which we most certainly do in this household.

This month you won't be finding any of those plain ole' vanilla chocolate chip cookies in our jar. Nope Orange is the new chocolate around here.


These cookies are flavored with  a combination of juice, extract and zest which results in a lovely fragrant slightly chewy cookie.


They are perfect for an afternoon snack and if you manage not to eat them all at once I think the orange flavor becomes a little improved by the next day.

Or maybe it's just when they are warm with the chocolate chips still melted I just focus on the melty chocolate yumminess. I'm not that sure, pretty much my opinion is easily swayed like that when sweets are involved.

Anyhoo the recipe for these orange chocolate cookies is below, but if you like chocolate chip cookies like I like chocolate chip cookies try out these other recipes on this blog, recipe links below picture:


Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes approx 24 cookies depending on cookie size)

1 1/2 cups plain flour (all purpose flour)
1/4 tsp bi-carb soda (baking soda)
1/4 tsp salt
115g (4 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup caster sugar (superfine use regular white sugar if superfine not available)
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 large egg at room temperature
1 Tbsp orange juice
1 tsp grated orange zest
1/4 tsp orange essence
1 cup chocolate chips (any type)

Preheat oven to 160 C. Line 2 trays with baking paper (parchment paper).

Sift together the flour, bicarb soda (baking soda) and salt.

In a large bowl cream together the butter and both sugars at high speed for a few minutes.

Scrape down sides of bowl, reduce the speed to medium low and mix in the egg, then add the orange juice, zest and essence and mix until combined.

Add the sifted flour mixture and mix at low speed until the mixture has just combined.

Using a spatula or large spoon mix chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

Spoon dough onto the prepared trays about 1 1/2 Tbsp (2 US Tbsp) in size and flatten slightly.

Bake for around 12 to 15 minutes until the cookies start to turn golden, the middles of the cookies will look set and no longer be shiny. Remove from oven allow to rest on trays for around 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for at least 3 days. 


Linda Vandermeer is a blogger, baker, maker and author of the cookbook ' Sweets on a Stick': More than 150 kid friendly recipes for cakes, candies, cookies and pies on the go!. Published in the US the book is available at most online book stores.

Original Ideas, photography and recipes by Linda Vandermeer do not reuse without permission. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Best gender reveal baby shower cookie idea


Oh yes this has to pretty much be the easiest gender reveal cookie idea for a baby shower ever.

Secret gender reveal cookies with a sugar sprinkle baked in the back. You can decorate your cookies any way you like and the gender reveal is hidden on the other side.

So just in case you don't know. Gender reveal is when the mum to be has not yet announced whether a boy or girl is on the way. There is usually something at the party which reveals to the guests using the old pink or blue standby. 

He or She,
What will baby be?
Turn over the cookie,
and you will see.

These cookies do all the work for you, just pop a sprinkle into the back of each cookie before baking and let each guest find out in their own sweet way.


I've had this idea for a while and when my friend had a pastel rainbow themed baby sprinkle (second baby shower) it was the perfect opportunity to try it out.


I didn't end up making a big deal of it, I just popped those sprinkles in and in fact I'm not even sure if anyone noticed. They all knew a baby girl was on the cards, they didn't need to be told via cookie message. It was like my sweet little secret.

If you were going to make a big deal of it all, maybe having a little sign next to the cookies with the above poem would let everyone know to check the cookie before they all get eaten.


So like many of the best ideas it is as easy as it sounds. Just buy a container of sprinkle shapes or quins in the colour you would like to use and press them onto the back of the cookie before baking.

Then you just bake as you normally would.

I have made up a super quick video of me making them here, it's less than 2 minutes:



I found pink heart sprinkles very easy to find at the supermarket, cake stores, online and pretty much everywhere. The blue star sprinkles were not everywhere but are easy to pick up on ebay and you will find them online at specialty cake decorating stores.

Now, I did make my own star sprinkles for the photo as I did not have any handy and plus I was just taking some photo's and I was being cheap. Make sure you do not use home made fondant sprinkles to bake in your cookies as they will melt during baking. I also recommend not using any super hard type decoration, sugar quins or sprinkles will work out best.


These cookies were part of a lovely pastel rainbow baby sprinkle CLICK HERE if you would like to see more pictures of the baby shower.


Here is my sugar cookie recipe


460 grams plain flour (16 1/4 oz all purpose flour)
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
230 grams unsalted butter (8 1/8oz)room temperature
220 grams caster sugar (7 3/4 oz superfine sugar)#
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
#use regular white sugar if you do not have caster/ superfine sugar

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to medium low, add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low and mix in the sifted flour mixture until combined. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill in fridge for 30 minutes or so.

Line a few baking trays with parchment/ baking paper.

Dust workbench with plain flour and using a large rolling pin roll out the dough until around 1/2 cm (1/4") in thickness. If the dough is to hard you may need to work/knead it a bit until you can roll it out.

Cut out cookies shapes and place the cookies on the prepared trays. (Knead and reroll dough as necessary, if it becomes to soft you can pop it back in the fridge.)

Pop the cut cookie dough trays into the fridge to chill again for around 30 minutes until firm (or in the freezer for 10 minutes).

Preheat oven to 160 C (320 F) and cook the cookies until they just start to turn golden, around 15 minutes (less or more depending on cookie size).

Cool on trays for 5 minutes and then carefully lift onto a wire rack to cool completely prior to decorating.

- Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for 1 week.



Linda Vandermeer is a blogger, baker, maker and author of the cookbook ' Sweets on a Stick': More than 150 kid friendly recipes for cakes, candies, cookies and pies on the go!. Published in the US the book is available at most online book stores.

Original Ideas, photography and recipes by Linda Vandermeer unless otherwise stated do not reuse without permission. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Sweet Pastel Baby Sprinkle


My friend Daneve from Ah-Tissue is having a baby and we helped celebrate with a baby sprinkle.

Yup a sprinkle, 'cause after the first baby is showered with gifts the parents really only need a 'sprinkle' of help.


Our mutual friend the lovely Carol from Creatively Bespoke Weddings and Events pulled the whole thing together organising and decorating the venue and pretty much everything else. She arranged the backdrop and printables from Emma Smith Stationery and the pretty sequin tablecloth from Memories are Sweet for the table, plus those lovely mirrored white trays the cookies are sitting on are all hers.


Carol set up the drinks station, center table, pastel parasols hanging overhead, and many other gorgeous little details including the sweet bouquets of flowers from Angie's Floral Designs. If you pop over to her facebook page they have lots more photo's of the lovely details - Creatively Bespoke Weddings and Events facebook.

Daneve's of course made the pretty tissue pom poms and paper flower decorations and her friend Mel organised the crafty activities, music and savory foods :)


and I did what I do, the sweets for the table. We had a rainbow macaron stand, stacked cookie towers, decorated square cookies, pastel meringues, strawberry cake pops and a swirly butter cream rainbow cake.

Oh and these sweet parasol cookies as take home favours.


Although I was in love with the parasol cookies, I did have a soft spot for the stacked cinnamon buttercream cookies in soft pink and green.


Oh and the shabby chic type decorated cookies in rainbow hues. I guess we all know I do love cookies.


It was all so very pretty and a great afternoon for friends to catch up, chat and share our joy with the mother to be.

Credits

Event Styling Creatively Bespoke Weddings and Events
Paper pom poms and flowers - Ah Tissue
Sweets - Bubble and Sweet
Printables - Emma Smith Stationery
Tablecloth - Memories Are Sweet
Floral Arrangements - Angie's Floral Designs
Venue - The Carriage Room



Linda Vandermeer is a blogger, baker, maker and author of the cookbook ' Sweets on a Stick': More than 150 kid friendly recipes for cakes, candies, cookies and pies on the go!. Published in the US the book is available at most online book stores.

Original Ideas, photography and recipes by Linda Vandermeer unless otherwise stated do not reuse without permission. 



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lemon cream and macaron stuffed strawberries


Are these even a thing?  I'm not sure but they did taste really good. I guess they're a thing now.

Delicious strawberries stuffed with lemon cream and then topped with a mini macaron. 

If you don't have mini macarons on hand of course you can just stuff with the lemon cream and top with some sprinkles or chopped pistachios.

I've made these up with leftovers I had on hand, the recipe links to the macaron and lemon cream are in the instructions below.


Macaron Stuffed Strawberries
As mentioned above if you do not have macarons handy you can top with sprinkles or chopped pistachio, and I guess then they would be Lemon Cream Stuffed Strawberries and still delicious :)

Strawberries
Mini macarons (CLICK HERE for recipe, but make the macarons smaller)*
Lemon cream curd (CLICK HERE for recipe)^

Using a sharp knife hull the strawberries. If you would like to stand the strawberries upright, cut a little of the pointed rounded tip off as in the picture.

Place the lemon cream in a piping bag with a ruffle tip (eg Wilton #32 or #199) and pipe a small swirl of cream starting in the hulled hole and working your way around in one swirl.

Push a macaron into the top of each lemon cream filled strawberry sideways as shown in picture.

Best served within a few hours of making.

*When I am making a batch of regular macarons I often pipe half a tray of smaller ones for other decorations. You can wrap in plastic wrap, place in an airtight container and freeze, then defrost still enclosed in the airtight container and plastic wrap in the fridge when you are ready to use them. Wrapping them well as described minimizes the risk of condensation forming on the macaron.

^The lemon cream recipe in the link will make quite a big batch for strawberries, you can half the recipe.



Linda Vandermeer is a blogger, baker, maker and author of the cookbook ' Sweets on a Stick': More than 150 kid friendly recipes for cakes, candies, cookies and pies on the go!. Published in the US the book is available at most online book stores.

Original Ideas, photography and recipes by Linda Vandermeer do not reuse without permission.