Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lollipop and Candy Christmas Tree Cake tutorial


Willy Wonka was one of my favorite movies growing up.

Oh how I wished to win a golden ticket and be transported to a place where everything was made of chocolate and candy.

OK I guess I'm not surprising anyone with that little revelation, and I doubt I was alone in my wish, but it might go a little ways to explaining why I am the way I am.


I think this Christmas cake is a little bit Wonka and a little bit Dr Suess. In fact originally I was going to make each of the layers a bit topsy turvy......but then I got a bit lazy. Well not lazy so much as I needed to do some other stuff.

'Cause oh my goodness it's nearly Christmas.

Anyhoo back to the cake - the inside cake is a cranberry, almond and hazelnut gluten free cake I created which was quite delicious and moist.


Decorations are handmade fondant lollipop and lime green sixlets* (little chocolates coated with a hard candy shell).


If you wanted to you could use a real lollipop in place of the fondant decoration. I chose not to as I find that they become a little tacky and sticky when left out unwrapped in our humid weather.

*Sixlets are available from Spotlight in Australia, in the US you can get them at Walmart and Target, if you can't find target just replace with another type of sweet.


Lollipop and Candy Christmas Tree Cake
NOTE - the first couple of pictures are from last years pretty ruffled tree cake and are green follow the written directions and use white fondant.

4 x 16cm (around 6") cakes - brown edges, tops and bottoms trimmed, ensure that the cakes are level
Cake board (16cm or around 6")
White chocolate ganache set at room temperature (make the day before assembling the cake)
large knife
offset spatula
White Ready Roll Fondant (I used Bakels brand)
Red Ready Roll Fondant (I used Satin Ice brand)
a small amount of green fondant (I colored white fondant with Americolor Electric Green)
large rolling pin
small sharp knife
small rolling pin
cornflour/ cornstarch
small brush and water
skewer
green sixlets

* Fondant dries out very fast. You must work quickly and keep in an airtight container when not in use. Knead well before use.

Using a small amount of ganache adhere one of the cakes to the cake board, spread a generous amount of ganache evenly on the top of the cake and then place a second cake on top of the first cake layer. Place into the fridge to set. Once set remove from the fridge and spread on an even layer of ganache on top of the second layer. Place the 3rd cake on top and pop the cake into the fridge for the ganache to set.

Remove from fridge spread an even layer of ganache onto the third cake layer and pop the 4th layer on the top, quickly pop a skewer or dowel in the center of the cake pushing it thru all 4 layers and return the cake to the fridge to set.

Once the ganache is set securely, use a sharp knife to shape the layers of cake into a cone. (I actually used some of the off cuts to make another layer which you can try if you feel confident with your carving)

Picture of last years tree cake.  This years cake was gluten free cranberry, 
sorry I didn't take any construction photo's this year.

Reserve any offcuts of the cake to make cake pops :)

Using an offset spatula spread the remaining ganache on the sides of the cake cone, making the sides as smooth as possible. I popped the cake into the fridge for the ganache to set and then smoothed on a final layer.
Smooth ganache all around the sides of the cake

Dust the workbench with cornflour (cornstarch) and using the large rolling pin roll out the WHITE fondant large enough to cover your fondant cone. I shaped my fondant into a rectangle which was tall enough in width to cover the cone from the bottom to the tip of the cone and wide enough to wrap around the base of the cone.

Picture of last years tree cake.  This years cake was white fondant, 
sorry I didn't take any construction photo's this year.
 
Pick the fondant up and wrap it around the cake cone (I'm using a fake styro one for these pictures), smooth the fondant down along the whole edge opposite where the seam will meet (that would be the middle of your large piece of fondant). Work quickly and carefully  working the fondant onto your cake until you get to the seam at the back, wrap one layer over the top of the other and using a sharp knife cut a straight seam down the back through both layers. You can then easily remove the top layer of overhang from one side. Then pull back the fondant to get to the underlayer of overhang and remove that. Push the seams together as neatly as possible.

Picture of last years tree cake.  This years cake was white fondant, 
sorry I didn't take any construction photo's.

Neatly trim any fondant overhand from the bottom of the cake using the sharp knife.



Roll out some of the red fondant until about 4mm thick and cut along rectangle strip (I made myself up a little cardboard template around 8cm X 2cm (3" X 3/4"), cut that strip in half longways and then do the same for the white.

Layer them on top of each other, you may need to brush the teensiest amount of water on each layer to make them stick.

Cut the layered strip in half longways to make 2 striped long strips.


Using a small rolling pin. roll out the striped fondant strips until they are quite thing and long. Trim the edge and roll it up a few cm's (1 ").


Brush a little water onto the cake and then stick the fondant to the cake by resting the rolled up section of the fondant strip on your baseboard (I was working straight onto my cake stand) and pressing the striped thin strip section up onto the cake.


Make more of the fondant stripes and work your way around the base of the cake using the same steps and technique, allow to dry until the rolled stripe sections are quite firm to touch.

Fold up little pieces of cardboard to make support stands (see picture below for example). I made mine so that the lengths of striped 'candy' fondant were approx 1/4 the height of the cake so I ended up with 2 rows.)


Make more of the striped fondant stripes with the rolled base and then attach them to the cake. The rolled section should be about a quarter of the way up the cake and the cardboard support should sit on the bottom row with the support just resting under the next layer to hold it up).

Continue working around the cake until that layer is complete, allow to dry until the rolled sections are firm to touch.

Using the above instructions and techniques complete another 2 rows so that the whole cake is covered in striped fondant 'candy' type decoration.


Make a fondant lollipop by rolling out a bright green and a red log of fondant about 20cm (8") long. Place the fondant together hold the ends and then twirl each end in the opposite direction so the twisted fondant looks like a rope. Gently roll a little with the palms of your hands to smooth out the 'rope' and then swirl the 'rope' around to make a lollipop shape (see picture). Place a wooden skewer into the base of the lollipop and allow to dry until firm.

Once all the rolled fondant stripes are dry on the cake you can carefully remove all the cardboard support structures, be careful not to snap any of the rolls off the cake, but if you do you can take a little extra white fondant, press it together with a small amount of water until it makes a very thick plaster like past and use it to stick the rolls back in place.

Using more of the white fondant paste (fondant mixed with a little water) stick on the sixlets (of your choice of sweet) in random spots around the cake.

Take the fondant lollipop on the skewer and push it into the top of the cake.

As long as your cake and frosting are not perishable cake can be stored/ used as a decoration (not in an airtight container or fridge) for about 4 days safely. Mine lasted well for 1 week.



Linda Vandermeer is a mum, blogger and author of Sweets on a Stick: More than 150 Kid Friendly recipes for cakes, candies, cookies and pies on the go. You can pick it up at all good online book shops including these shops:



Or here at fishpond (Aus/NZ)

Sweets on a Stick: More Than 150 Kid-Friendly Recipes for Cakes, Candies, Cookies, and Pies on the Go!
I joined in the fun and added my link to:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sneak Peek - Lollipop and Candy Christmas Tree Cake


Introducing my Candy Inspired 3D Christmas Tree Cake.

I'm supposed to be baking delicious cookies for my demonstration class on Saturday........but I couldn't help but make time to whip up this Lollipop and candy inspired Christmas Tree when someone mentioned that there was only 6 weeks to go until Christmas day.

Is that true - Eeeek! Well I didn't check I just panicked and designed my Christmas cake for this year.


Anyhoo - the cake is a gluten free cranberry cake with candy inspired decoration made with fondant and then decorated with light green sixlets.

If you want the DIY instructions on how to make this cake make sure you subscribe (for free) to this blog by entering your details over there in the top right hand corner so you don't miss out when I post.......or y'know just keep checking back. It'll be soon, maybe Sunday night.


If this red candy inspired cake is not to your taste, you can always check out my Christmas Cake from last year - the ruffled Anti Fruit cake. If you are looking for the tutorial and instructions for last years ruffle cake CLICK HERE 



Oh well, now I have my Christmas cake sorted out for this year. I can focus on baking those cookies for the demonstration on Saturday, which by the way still has a couple of spots left I think.

It's on the 17th of November as part of Hands on Brisbane. I will be demonstration how I roll out the cookie dough, how I get an even finish and then decorate a range of cookies from elegant snowflakes to cute babushka snowmen and penguins. The demonstrations are very interactive and limited to 15 people so you can feel free to ask me as many questions about cookies or blogging that you would like. The sessions are on from 10:30am to 12:30 at the Bleeding Heart Cafe Brisbane and are $30. Tickets are available HERE. If you have difficulty booking pop me an email or facebook message me.



Linda Vandermeer is a mum, blogger and author of Sweets on a Stick: More than 150 Kid Friendly recipes for cakes, candies, cookies and pies on the go. You can pick it up at all good online book shops including these shops:



Or here at fishpond (Aus/NZ)

Sweets on a Stick: More Than 150 Kid-Friendly Recipes for Cakes, Candies, Cookies, and Pies on the Go!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Peppermint cookie fudge


I was chatting with some of the other mums while we were waiting for the kids to finish zumba.

While our kids danced away participating in the schools active health program we were discussing delicious types of fudge and I came up with the idea of a peppermint fudge topped with Mint Slice Biscuits (like Mint Oreo Fudge Creams)*.

And then I went home and made some.


And it was delicious.

There are lots of different ways to make fudge these days and everyone has a favorite. In fact melting and mixing together chocolate and condensed milk can have a pretty yummy end result. But this recipe is based on a (not so) plain chocolate one I have had and used for about 30 years. Yup I used to make it as a kid. It takes a little more time and effort than the microwave melt and mix but I kinda like that process of mixing over the stove just like I used to in my mum's kitchen.


Of course if you have any left over it makes a fabulous Christmas gift.

*Mint Slice biscuits are an Australian biscuit (cookie)- you can replace with Mint Oreo Fudge Creams, Mint Creme Oreo's or regular Oreos or pretty much any chocolate type cookie you like. 

LAST CHANCE CHRISTMAS COOKIE DEMONSTRATIONS IN BRISBANE


Don't forget that I have the final Christmas Cookie demonstrations on the 17th of November as part of Hands on Brisbane. I will be demonstration how I roll out the cookie dough, how I get an even finish and then decorate a range of cookies from elegant snowflakes to cute babushka snowmen and penguins. The demonstrations are very interactive and limited to 15 people so you can feel free to ask me as many questions about cookies or blogging that you would like. The sessions are on from 10:30am to 12:30 at the Bleeding Heart Cafe Brisbane and are $30. Tickets are available HERE. If you have difficulty booking pop me an email or facebook message me.


Peppermint cookie fudge makes 20 large pieces or 60ish small pieces - the ones in the picture are large

200g (7oz) white marshmallows
1 1/2 cup white sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk (not low fat)
1/4 tsp salt
250 g (9 oz ) white chocolate chopped into small pieces
170 g dark chocolate (6 oz semi sweet) chopped into small pieces
85 g milk chocolate (3 oz) chopped into small pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
few drops green food colour (I use gel food color)
6 to 8 mint slice biscuits (6 to 8 Oreo mint fudge creams or regular Oreos)

Line a 20cm X 20cm (8" X 8") square tin with foil.

Chop the mint slice biscuits roughly into small pieces.

Place the white chocolate into a largish bowl with 1/2 tsp peppermint extract and green food colour.

Combine the dark (semi sweet) and milk chocolates in a separate bowl and add the vanilla.

Pop marshmallows, sugar, evaporated milk and salt into a saucepan on medium low heat, stir until the marshmallows melt. Stir the mixture over the heat for another 5 to 7 minutes, do not allow it to boil.

Pour half the marshmallow mixture into the bowl with white chocolate and the other half into the bowl with the combined dark (semi sweet) and milk chocolates. Allow to sit for a minute or 2.

Using electric mixer beat the chocolate fudge mixture for a couple of minutes at low speed. All the chocolate should be melted.

 
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, leaving a couple of tablespoons in the bowl to decorate with.Use the back of the spoon to level the mixture until it looks pretty smooth

Using a spoon or whisk mix the white chocolate mixture until all the chocolate pieces have melted. Spoon carefully onto the darker chocolate mixture and using the back of a spoon level the mixture until smooth.

Take the reserved darker chocolate mixture and spoon a 3 or 4 horizontal lines across the fudge. Take a knife or the flat end of a spoon and starting at the top of the pan pull the knife slowly towards the bottom (ie where you are standing) then move the knife over and starting at the bottom push the knife slowly back towards the top of the tin. This should make a marbled swirl. Continue until the whole top of the fudge has been 'swirled'.


Press the chopped cookies into the top of the fudge and place in the fridge to set for a few hours.

When the mixture is set, turn upside down on a cutting board and peel off the foil. Using a sharp knife cut fudge into desired number of pieces.

Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.


Linda Vandermeer is a mum, blogger and author of Sweets on a Stick: More than 150 Kid Friendly recipes for cakes, candies, cookies and pies on the go. You can pick it up at any of these online book shops:



Or here at fishpond (Aus/NZ)

Sweets on a Stick: More Than 150 Kid-Friendly Recipes for Cakes, Candies, Cookies, and Pies on the Go!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Totally tastes better than thin s'more cheesecakes


So a while back I noticed the local supermarkets all stopped selling the chocolates I like to eat.

Like some type of chocolate deprivation conspiracy, they slowly started disappearing off the shelves.


I know y'all are saying with the amount of stuff I bake what are you even doing buying chocolates. But that is beside the point.

I told my friend expecting her to be full of sympathy. "I know" she said in a consoling voice, the shop I used to buy the chocolates I like from stopped selling them and now I have to buy them at a different supermarket and they cost a dollar more.


That is totally NOT the same, having to pay a dollar more compared to NEVER again having your favorite chocolate.....

Not even close to the same :)

Anyway......lacking consolation from my friend I turned to these s'more cheesecakes.


* In the interest of being honest and responsible lots of things taste better than thin, but in our household we mostly eat a healthy diet with lots of vegetables, fruit, dairy etc to balance out the sweet treats I make. The kids also have an active lifestyle with many activities including swimming, tennis, dancing and basketball.

They actually taste better than my favorite chocolates, but sadly they do not come individually wrapped already made.

In Australia S'mores are not really well known. Probably because we do not have graham crackers readily available which is one of many life mysteries I have never really understood.

Anyway luckily if you can not find graham crakers you can whip up your own pretty easily. CLICK HERE for a link to Martha Stewart's graham cracker recipe. I actually used my own recipe which is not listed below and cut them quite thin so they were like delicious little spoons.

Oh and there is a happy ending to the chocolate story, I found a shop not far from my house that sells the chocolates I love. I'm a regular shopper there now.


I picked my mini glass pot's up at Sharnel Dollar Designs, but they do not have them presently. Try Sweet Style CLICK HERE.

Tastes Better than Thin S'more Cheesecakes (makes 14 using small jar)
Imperial conversions approximate

625g (21oz) cream cheese at room temperature
1 x 395g (14oz) tin sweetened condensed milk
3 large eggs at room temperature
300g  (10 1/2 oz) milk chocolate melted and cooled to room temperature
100g (3 1/2 oz) dark chocolate
80g (2 7/8 oz) cream
4 egg whites
260g (9 oz)caster (superfine) sugar
Graham Crackers to serve

Preheat oven to 140C (285 F)

In a large bowl beat the cream cheese using an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. If the cream cheese is still lumpy it will show up later when you mix in the chocolate, so take the time now to make sure it is mixed well. Add the condensed milk and mix until well combined. Reduce speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just combined.



Add the chocolate and mix at low speed until combined.

Spoon or pipe mixture into jars.

I baked my cakes in a tin which I poured boiling water into. It results in the cheesecake texture being a bit creamier. You can either do as I did and use the hot water/baking tin method, or bake the cheesecake jars directly on a baking tray.



Alternatively you can bake the cheesecake mixture in muffin tins lined with paper cases.


Bake for around 15-17minutes.


Melt the dark chocolate with the cream in the microwave at medium low heat for bursts of 45 seconds until it is smooth.

Divide the mixture between the cheesecakes spooning into the top of the jars.

(If you are making the cheesecakes in muffin cases instead of jars just reserve the chocolate sauce to pour over cakes when serving)


Make the marshmallow frosting.


Pop the egg whites and sugar into a large clean metal bowl from a stand mixer and stir together until just mixed, the sugar will start to melt into the whites.

Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until the mixture reaches 60C ( 140F) making sure to stir frequently to stop the egg whites from cooking.

Place the bowl back on the mixer and beat on high speed until the meringue is thick and glossy and forms stiff peaks.



Spoon or pipe the marshmallow frosting onto the top of the cheesecakes and place into the grill to toast. Be careful to ensure the tips do not catch fire. It's a good idea to check where the heating elements are and make sure the frosting is not directly below them.

Of course if you have a little kitchen torch you can use that to toast all around the marshmallow frosting.


Serve with graham crackers.


Recipe by Linda Vandermeer

Linda Vandermeer is a mum, wife, blogger 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:




Or here at fishpond (Aus/NZ)

Sweets on a Stick: More Than 150 Kid-Friendly Recipes for Cakes, Candies, Cookies, and Pies on the Go!