Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Princess Macarons with Mini edible tiaras or how to eat a tiara 2


Ok these are my new favorite toppers.

Mini edible tiaras, seriously what's not to love, and with the right cutter you can whip up a stack of them and have them ready to pop onto pretty much anything to give it a bit of royal treatment.

Macarons.......check. Marshmallows........yup. Stacked cookies.....ah-huh.


They are really quite tiny, pretty much they just fit around my thumb. The cutter set I used (link here: Crowns Patchwork Cutters ) has a larger size tiara as well which is perfect for the top of a cake so you could make a whole princess (or prince/king) party.


Now I have made a video on how to make the tiara but as I was silly enough to start upgrading my other computer with the video on it and I think it will be another few days before I have access to it. In the meantime I have written out the instructions below.

How to make an edible tiara
You can use any cutter or hand cut the shape yourself, however I have included links to the cutter I used. If you scroll to the bottom of the post I have also included a recipe for small batch mexican paste which should make up a few dozen of these mini tiaras.

Ingredients

Mexican paste colored light orange or ivory (buy premix or see small batch recipe below)
tiara cutter (available here: Crowns Patchwork Cutters )
crisco or similar solid but soft white fat
2 X small white rolling pin - one for rolling the other (2cm or 3/4" for setting the tiaras onto to dry)
toothpick
edible gold dust*, rose spirits  and paint brush
or edible gold paint/spray

*make sure the dust or paint is edible, saying non toxic does not necessarily mean edible and many glitters and dusts sold in cake decorating stores are for decorative purposes only. The links below are edible.



Rub a little crisco onto the small tiara/crown cutter.

Using a small rolling pin roll out the mexican paste very thin (like really really thin) and press the tiara/crown cutter into the paste to cut out the shape. I like to do this on a piece of plastic wrap which is a little fiddly but I know the paste can not stick to the counter.

If necessary use the toothpick to gently remove the mexican paste shape from the cutter. Use the toothpick to remove any excess paste from the shape and the small heart at the front if desired (see the you tube tutorial for more detail).

Place onto a small rolling pin to shape the tiaras. The one I used is around 2cm or 3/4" wide or around the same size as a permanent marker tube. You can use anything that is clean and food safe you have sitting around for this.

Paint the tiaras with the edible gold paint, either by using a premixed paint or mixing edible gold luster dust with rose spirits. Don't worry they may not look very sparkly while wet.

Allow to dry. Once dry you may wish to give them an extra coat or brush a little extra gold luster dust onto the tiaras to add extra shine.

Store in an airtight container until required. You can make these weeks in advance.

Adhere to tops of macarons, marshmallows or cookies with a little royal icing.


Small batch Mexican Paste

75g pure icing sugar (2 5/8 powdered sugar)
1 tsp gum tragacanth or tylose powder

Knead together well. Store wrapped in plastic in an airtight container at room temperature. Knead again well before use. Can be colored as required.



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.

Affiliate links may earn me money and contribute to supporting this blog.

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


Monday, April 20, 2015

Macarons and other things I love


I know y'all love my macaron recipe and for the first time ever it's available in print with the latest issue of Tickle the Imagination magazine.

Tickle the Imagination magazine celebrates all things handmade and  creative in Australia and you can purchase a hard copy or online download HERE.

And I know I have been a bit quiet lately, we've been having some family time. I'n contrast to the fleeting love of a macaron Mr Sweet and I recently celebrated our lasting love with our 22nd wedding anniversary and had some photo's taken by Naomi V Photography:


Happy 22nd Wedding Anniversary to us! Photo by Naomi V Photography


This is our Happily Ever After girls dresses by Mischka Aoki photo by Naomi V Photography

Thanks to Jordan from @Honey and Gold for writing our sign.
Xx


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.

Affiliate links may earn me money and contribute to supporting this blog.

Photography copyrighted do not reuse without permission. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Chocolate Hot Cross Bun Recipe


I love baking, love it. But for some reason when it comes to hot cross buns I usually buy them from the bakery or supermarket.

But this weekend we had a bit of free time so I whipped up some myself taking an old traditional hot cross bun recipe and modifying to add chocolate chips, removing all that unnecessary dried fruit and changing the bun into a chocolate bread with a lightly fragrant cinnamon base.

Deliciously perfect just baked Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

I don't know why it took me so long, look at that picture, delicious just baked softly fragrant buns and oh my goodness the house smells even better than those buns look.

Plus it cost me way less than the bakery ones, so economical as well.

They were super easy as I used my stand mixer's dough hook attachment and saved about 10 minutes time of hand kneading, although don't worry, the recipe will work out just fine hand kneading if you don't have a dough hook/stand mixer.


I find the key things for successful baking with yeast is to not overheat and to prove the yeast prior to mixing into the other ingredients. Oh and time, you can't really rush it, I made the ones in the picture in about 2 1/2 hours including rising and baking time but I would normally set aside at least 3 hours.

Chocolate Hot Cross Bun Recipe makes 12 large hot cross buns
I use premix royal icing mixed with water to a piping consistency.

2 X 7g packets yeast 14g total (1/2 oz total)
1 tsp caster sugar
3/4 cup milk (6 fl oz)
50 g unsalted butter (1 3/4oz) melted/softened
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk (4 fl oz) extra
525 g plain (18 1/2 oz all purpose flour)
70 g caster sugar (2 1/2 oz)
25 g cocoa (7/8 oz)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
230 grams chocolate chips (8 oz)  # the baking kind that hold shape.
1/2 cup royal icing mixed with  1/2 tsp cocoa and 1/4 tsp cinnamon.

Put milk in microwave safe jug and heat in microwave for around 15- 20 seconds at high so that it is warm to touch (not hot). Using a fork whisk in yeast and 1 tsp sugar and allow to sit around 10 mins until needed.

The yeast should froth up like this

Sift the flour, cocoa, remaining caster sugar, cinnamon and salt together and set aside until required.

In the bowl a large stand mixer with a scraper beater attachment or regular beater, place the butter, egg and 1/2 cup milk and mix for 30 seconds at low speed. Add the yeast mixture and mix another 10 seconds, then add the sifted flour mixture and beat at low speed until all the dry mixture has been incorporated. The mix will be quite sticky.

Switch to a dough hook and mix at medium low speed for a couple of minutes until the mixture is smooth and elastic.* If you do not have a stand mix and dough hook you can knead by hand for around 10 minutes.

Spray a large bowl with oil, place the dough into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and pop in a warm place to rest for around 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the mixture has doubled in size. I use my oven and turn it up to 50C for a few minutes then turn it off before placing the bowl into the oven, if required I turn the oven light on. It should be just warm not hot.

Once the dough has risen remove from bowl, punch it down and mix in the chocolate chips quickly. I used baking chips which do not melt very quickly, the higher quality chocolate will melt and become a sticky mess.

Dough should be smooth and flexible

Lightly spray a baking tray around 20cm X 30 cm with oil. Shape the dough into 12 even rolls and place into the tray. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest/rise for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 190 C (fan forced). Remove the plastic wrap from baking tray and pop the buns in the oven for 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 160 C and cook for a further 20 minutes.

Allow to cool a little. Pop the royal icing into a zip lock bag, cut a small hole in the corner and pipe crossed onto the top of the buns.

Best served immediately although still good next day. Store in airtight container at room temperature.


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.

Affiliate links may earn me money and contribute to supporting this blog.

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

Cute dress from Target Australia

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Woodland party cake


I can not believe how long it has taken me to share all these pictures of the sweet woodlands party cake. I made it almost a year ago for my niece's 10th birthday. It is approx 6" by 6" high.

At the time I was playing around with some freeze dried fruit powder and I painted the cake with a mix of powdered raspberry mixed with rose spirits, lemon powder and some gel food colours.

I love the textured look that I achieved by rubbing in extra powder after hand brushing the cake.


I decided to apply the colour in quite a rough organic way, see below for example, and then my design was guided a little by the underlying colours, like a natural landscape.


The design centered on the mason jar party light idea I had so I started by drawing on my string with an edible pen (AmeriColor 2 Pack Gourmet Food Writer Set, Black Marker ) then I cut out pink and blue fondant by hand and a little grey for the lids and drew on a little line at the corner and popped the jars on the cake. Later on I used a little royal icing to pipe a little line of white on the side to look like reflected light.

I rolled out some chocolate flavored fondant to make the poles and shaped the birdies. Then I used some cloud cutters to make the white clouds, mine are from Cakes by Bien (see below for details).  To get them looking fluffy I rolled out the white fondant quite thick and then popped some plastic food wrap over the top then pressed the cutter down, see in the picture how it makes the edges look a bit rounded instead of being sharp and defined.

The cloud cutters were quite handy as I also used them for the trees and bushes.

I also hand cut the deer (as someone else was using my little Cakes by Bien Deer Aimee cutter which would have been perfect).


Okay instead of explaining every step I pretty much I hand cut everything without a template except the flowers and cloud cutters. Any of the white detail is piped royal icing (except the clouds and flowers) and the black is edible pen.

Tip. when applying the flowers, cut them out, keeping them in the plunger cutter, apply a little water or edible glue on the spot you want them and then push them out onto the cake using the plunger center to gently adhere them to the cake.

Inside the cake was strawberry cake with vanilla Italian Meringue Buttercream.


I prefer Americolor food writer pens. I used Bakels chocolate and white fondant and Satin Ice red fondant and Queens premix royal icing.



 Cloud cutters - used for clouds, trees and bushes - Cakes by Bien


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.

Affiliate links may earn me money and contribute to supporting this blog.

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


Monday, February 23, 2015

Egg Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Thumbprint Cookies


I live in a household of people who like to lick the bowl.

Except me, I'm the odd one out. 'Wait,' I cry 'That has raw egg in it!'

Everyone around me looks at me like I am some kind of crazy 'cause y'know they just wanna eat raw dough.


As I compromise I came up with this egg free chocolate chip cookie dough a while back and last week I thought I would give the kids a treat and pop it onto thumbprint cookies.

Of course they loved them, in fact Sweet loved them most of all and after finding extra left over raw cookie dough in the bowl she was in dough heaven.

I on the other hand was not completely smitten, they tasted OK but I think my brain was convinced that I should not be eating the raw dough.

Anyhoo enough about my issues. The point of this intro is that if you like raw cookie dough you'll love these cookies. Yup just like I thought, pretty much everyone that is not me can now scroll on down to the recipe.


Egg free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Thumbprint Cookies

225g (8oz) unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
2 cups plain flour (all purpose)
1/3 cup cocoa
1 cup sifted icing sugar (powdered sugar)
pinch salt
2 tsp vanilla extract

Line 2 baking trays with baking paper (parchment paper) and preheat oven to 160 C (325 F).

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until combined.

Roll tablespoons (US approx 1 1/2 Tbsp) of mixture into a ball, flatten, place onto prepared trays with enough space around to spread a little.

Use your thump to press an indent into the middle of each cookie.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the cookies are firm to touch.

Allow to cool on tray for 5 minutes and then remove to wire tray to cool completely.

Once cooled place 2 teaspoons of chocolate chip cookie dough mixture (recipe below) on top of each cookie. If you like sprinkle extra mini chocolate chip cookies on top of each cookie.

Store in an airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days.


Egg Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

1 cup plain (All purpose) flour
75 grams (3oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp (2 US Tbsp) Milk
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Sift the flour and set aside.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer at high speed cream (mix together) the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to medium low, add the milk and vanilla and mix until combined. Then reduce speed to low and mix in the flour until completely combined. Add the chocolate chips and mix in by hand.



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.

Affiliate links may earn me money and contribute to supporting this blog.

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


Monday, February 2, 2015

Deer Heart and Linzer Love Cookies


I love linzer cookies, The delicate buttery cookie sandwiched together with preserves is such a dainty treat and as you can see they are pretty as a picture.

Love is all you need Bowl and Mug from Mollegaarden (Krasilnikoff)

Although it is usual to decorate simply with the cut out shape showing the filling and maybe a dusting of sugar, I have decided to embellish each cookie with simple dots of royal icing adding an ornate touch without overwhelming the treat.

I have also modified my recipe to use hazelnut instead of the original almond lending a warmer, nuttier taste to the cookie which perfectly pairs with the raspberry filling.


The idea for the Deer Heart cookies has been in my head since last Valentines Day, as in truth the Deer Aimee cutter from Cakes by Bien is one of my favorite cutter ever. But I did find cutting the buttery soft linzer cookie dough a little tougher than when I use my regular vanilla sugar cookie or gingerbread cookie recipe and in the end I made half a simple circle cookie with a heart cut out. I'm not saying it can't be done, but it is a little bit of work removing the dough around the neck section and I can be a little bit lazy sometimes.

As it turns out the simple heart ones were the perfect little bite size, adorable and so much fun to decorate with the little dots of royal icing.


Hazelnut Linzer Cookie Recipe makes around 24 double filled deer cookies or 40 small circle.
Deer Aimee cookie cutter from Cakes by Bien. Circle cutter approx 4cm (1 1/2")

225 g (8oz) unsalted butter room temperature
100g (3 1/2oz) or 1/2 cup sugar * I used caster (superfine) sugar
1 large egg yolk
300g (10 1/2 oz) or 2 cups plain (all purpose) flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
80g (2 3/4oz) hazelnut meal (ground hazelnut)
Deer Cookie cutter and small plastic heart plunger or circle cookie cutter and medium heart cutter.

Filling - 1/2 cup raspberry jam (jelly)

Decoration - Royal Icing

In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together the sugar and butter at high speed for a couple of minutes until light and creamy. Reduce the speed to medium low and mix in the egg yolk, scraping down the sides as required. Add the flour, hazelnut meal, cinnamon and salt and mix at low speed until combined.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours until the mixture is firm.

Dust the workbench with flour and generously flour a rolling pin, then roll# out the dough and cut out shapes as desired.

# If you have difficulty rolling out this dough you can roll it out between sheets of baking paper.

To make the Deer Heart cookies, cut out the deer shape and then use a small heart plunger cutter to cut out a heart shape on the back of half the cookies.

To make Linzer Love cookies cut out circle shapes and use a heart fondant cutter to cut out hearts in the middle of half the cookies.

Place the cut cookie dough on baking trays covered in baking paper and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F) and bake the cookies until golden (around 12 - 15 minutes).


Allow the cookies to cool on tray.

Place the raspberry jam (jelly) in a microwave safe bowl and heat at high for 20 - 30 seconds until it starts to bubble. Stir until smooth.

To fill deer cookies place jam (jelly) in a disposable piping bag and pipe onto half of the cookies (the ones without the heart cut outs). Gently press the remaining cookies onto the top using the jam (jelly) to stick the cookie into place.

To fill the heart cookies you can just spoon the jam (jelly) onto the top of half the cookies (without the heart cut outs) and press the other cookies gently onto the top.

To pipe decoration mix up pre-mix royal icing to piping consistency and fill a piping bag with a small round tip (I used 1.5 PME).

Pipe an eye and ear onto the deer cookies and a few small dots around the back/tail area.

With the heart cookies, pipe decorative dots around the heart cut out and edge of cookies.

Optional - To pipe decorative drop swags around the edge of the cookie, press the tip to the edge of the cookie and gently apply pressure to allow a length of icing to fall/drop down, carefully pull the tip around to the point on the cookie you wish the swag to reach whilst still applying the light pressure and press the tip to the cookie so the royal icing attaches to the edge of the cookie. Continue around the cookie until you have completed a full circle. Fill in dots between the swags around the edge of the cookie and then pipe a second smaller circle of dots on the top of the cookie.


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.

Affiliate links may earn me money and contribute to supporting this blog.

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


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Chocolate peanut layer extravaganza cake


I'm dreaming all about deeply satisfying rich tastes and at the moment I love the pairing of chocolate with creamy peanut butter. As though you can't tell from my previous post :)

To try and quell my desire I created this chocolate peanut layer extravaganza cake. Now I know what y'all are thinking, surly that Oreo Chocolate Cheesecake you just posted put a dent in my cravings, but the problem was I shared it all out. To remedy it I kept this one mostly to myself.

Which is quite an accomplishment as it's a reasonably tall cake.  With the additional height of the chocolate shards it makes quite an impressive cake suitable to serve at any gathering.  

The addition of salted peanuts sprinkled on top and the chocolate shards with added sea salt flakes adds a lovely contrast both in it's crunchy texture and the salty taste which is a welcome foil to the sweet frosting.


During the winter months the cake should hold up quite well, however in warmer months or in warm climates you may need to chill the cake in the refrigerator during assemble the next layer of cake has been pressed in place.

Finally if your tastes tend towards the delectably indulgent but you don't quite have my stamina you can quarter the recipe, bake in a 15 cm round baking tin for around 20- 15 minutes less and have a cake that is still extravagant in taste but a little more moderate in serving size.



Chocolate peanut extravaganza cake makes 1 X 20 cm diameter by 15 cm high cake (excluding shard height)
I used an Ateco 868 piping tip and large disposable piping bag. Cake will serve 20 to 35 people depending on serving size. 
4 layers of chocolate cake (recipe follows)
Peanut Butter frosting (recipe follows)
100g dark chocolate
3 Tbsp salted peanuts
1/4 tsp salt flakes

Make the chocolate shards. 
Cover a flat tray with baking paper and melt the dark chocolate in the microwave at medium low heat and whisk until smooth. Spread the chocolate out onto the prepared tray, the chocolate should be a few mm's thick.

Chop 1 1/2 Tbsp of the peanuts roughly and sprinkle on top of the melted chocolate along with the 1/4 tsp of salt flakes. Allow to set.

Assemble the cake.
Place the first layer of chocolate cake onto a cake board or cake stand. Ensure this layer is completely flat, so it would be the bottom layer from one of the cakes you cut in half.

Place a large star piping tip into a piping bag and fill the bag with peanut frosting.

Starting on the outside edge of the cake, holding the piping bag upright 90 angle to the cake apply pressure for a short burst to pipe a star of frosting. Release the pressure on the bag and the pull the bag up away from the cake. Continue to pipe frosting around the edge of the cake and then pipe a second circle of frosting 'stars' just inside the first circle. Continue to pipe working to the center of the cake, you should have around 4 or 5 circles.


Take the next layer of cake, it should be the top layer to the cake you have placed on the bottom. If this cake has a rounded dome*, turn it over and gently press the domed edge into the frosting ensuring the cake is completely centered on the previous layer and that you have no cake overhanging. You should now have a flat top on the cake to work on.

Using the piping bag filled with peanut frosting cover the top of the cake with frosting as described in the steps above.

Take the next layer of cake. This layer should be the bottom layer of the remaining cake. Press it gently into place, make sure that the cake is centered with no overhang.

Using the piping bag filled with peanut frosting cover the top of the cake with frosting as described in the steps above.

Place the final layer of cake, if it has a domed top, once again push the top down gently into the frosting so you have a flat top on the cake to pipe onto.

Pipe the final layer of peanut frosting onto the top of the cake taking care that the stars are even and the same size.

Add final decorations.
Cut the dark chocolate covered in peanuts into large triangle shards using a sharp knife. Press the shards into the top of the cake with the points of the triangle facing upwards. 

Sprinkle the remaining peanuts onto the top of the cake.

Cake may be served immediately or stored for  in refrigerator until ready to serve, remove 20 minutes prior to serving. Left overs cake be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Chocolate layer cake

3 cups plain flour
2 tsp bicarb soda  
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup cool water
250 g unsalted butter room temperature cut into small squares
2 1/2 cup caster sugar 
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 160 C fan forced (325 F) and grease flour and line 2 X 20cm round tins with baking paper.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Mix the hot water and cocoa to make a paste then add the cool water mix until well combined, set aside.

In a large bowl of a stand mixer mix together butter and sugar at high speed until well creamed (about 2-3 mins).

Reduce speed to low and mix in eggs then vanilla mixing until well combined.

Add 1/3 of the flour, mix until just combined then add 1/2 the cocoa mixture, mix again until combined and scrape down sides. Add another 1/3rd of the flour, mix, add the remainder of the cocoa mix and scrape down sides then mix in the remaining flour.

Add the sour cream and continue to mix at low speed until completely combined.

Divide mixture evenly between the 2 X 20cm tins and bake for around 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool in tin for 5 minutes then carefully turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

When ready to use cut each cake in half horizontally to make 4 layers in total.

Peanut Butter Frosting

Ensure that all ingredients are at room temperature prior to mixing. In warm weather you will only require 1 Tbsp to achieve a smooth piping consistency. In cold weather you may need to add extra milk to achieve the desired consistency.

4 cups icing sugar mixture
2 cups smooth peanut butter
200 g unsalted butter room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk at room temperature
extra milk at room temperature extra if required

Place the sugar, peanut butter and butter in a large bowl and mix at high speed until light and fluffy, around 6 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add 1 Tbsp of milk and mix until well combined. Add extra milk as required to achieve a consistency which will is light and fluffy but will hold its shape when piped.


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.

Affiliate links may earn me money and contribute to supporting this blog.

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