Chocolate Eggs and Dinosaurs

At this point, if you are on social media, you will have seen Marks and Spencer’s chocolate dinosaur in their easter egg range. It is that wonderful time of year when there are beautiful eggs everywhere, and some really creative chocolate work. I decided to join in and do some of my own – the end results are pretty good, and very tasty!

Apparently you can’t buy a chocolate dinosaur mould bigger than a bite sized version, so I was having thoughts about trying to make my own before I found this one in Lakeland. it is actually for making cake, but I figured it was worth trying for chocolate too. So mould ready, and a big bowl of chocolate, and some baking paper to try to save on the clean up (and it worked!).

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I tempered the chocolate, coated the moulds, and left upside down to harden.

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Now you can see the value of covering the work surface! Unfortunately, the turning out didn’t work so well…

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I think some bits were just too thin, some too detailed, and maybe the temper was not quite right. So, on to the next plan – making solid chocolate dinosaurs! With them setting I made some marshmallow krispie, and left that to set in easter egg moulds.

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I then filled the egg moulds with chocolate, and put the rice krispies in while they set up. Everything popped out nicely, and chocolate and krispie makes a good combination.

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I will need to make some more chocolate dinosaurs, as lessons have been learnt on making them a bit more hollow – but I will give the cake version a try too. In the mean time, there is a lot of chocolate to be eaten!

 

A Cake with Ruffles

I had been wanting to make a ruffle cake for a while, and then the February demonstration at the sugracraft guild was ruffles. there is no time like the present to do something after a demonstration, before all the information floats out your head.

I started with a 6 inch chocolate cake, with salted caramel icing, sugarpasted in pink. For the cake getting its ruffles, I used an 8 inch dummy cake.

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The ruffles are a 50/50 mix of sugarpaste and flowerpaste. You should try to do it in one piece round the cake – I managed the 8 inch ok, any bigger might be terrifying, a two person job! I had 4 shades of pink, 3 rows of each, and used about 200g of paste total, with some left over. Roll out a long thin strip of icing, and then ruffle it with, in my case, the end of a paint brush (there are proper tools available too). I used water to stick mine on.

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I did three layers of each colour.

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It took a few hours, but I can see it becoming quicker with practice! i topped it off witht he 6 inch cake, and a ribbon and bow made of icing.

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The finishing touch for this one was a little birdie!

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Christmas Pudding Cookies

Although the holidays are passing quickly, there is still plenty of time to make a batch of christmas pudding cookies. I saw this idea on Pintrest and had to have a go as well. Simply start off by making a batch of your favourite chocolate chip cookies. I think a sugar cookie style recipe might work a bit better as they will stay thicker during baking, but you cant really go wrong. Dark chocolate chips will look more like the raisins, and usign a chocolate cookie makes it look more puddingy as well.

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The roundest ones did make the prettiest puddings, but the odd shapes end up with more chocolate, which isnt bad either. Melt your white chocolate – 100g will do about 20 cookies. put the white chocolate almost half way down, with a wavy line – so it looks like icing running down the pudding.

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You will want some small holly cutters for the next bit (now found in many sales!) or else a lot of patience to cut out holly leaves your self. I used green sugarpaste to make the leaves, and some glace icing to stick them on, but you could just use some left over chocolate.

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Red sugarpaste was rolled in to tiny balls to make a berry for each cookie. You could use a dot of red glace icing or writing icing if you have it though.

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And hey presto, christmas pudding cookies perfect to enjoy at home or as a gift if you still have visits to make over new years.

 

Pinata Pookies

Pinata cookies have been on my radar for a while, popping up on many lists of cookies you need to make, or the best party food. So when a family birthday presented its self to me, with out the time to make a cake, cookies were the answer. They keep longer that a regular cake will, and stay just as tasty when travelling.

I used my usual recipe from The Biscuiteers, and using  a set of star cutters, made the biscuits Рremembering to cut out the middle of a third of the batch.

naked biscuits

I stuck the middle one on to the base with some chocolate round the edge.

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Then I filled in the middle with lots of mini smarties!

Smartie filling

Then used a bit more chocolate to stick on the top cookie.

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I wanted to make them look very pretty, since I had avoided the usual brightly coloured dough. I coated the base in some chocolate, and let it set up on a chocolate transfer sheet.

Transfer sheet

Hey presto, lovely grown up pinata cookies.

Pinata cookies

Which you can even stick a candle in too!

Pinata cookies

A Mario and Zelda Themed Wedding Cake

There is no denying that this was a very exciting cake to be asked to do – a wedding cake themed around Mario and Zelda. And all in chocolate, with ganache, the best icing to work with. And for an extra step, a separate gluten free cake, to be as much a part of the wedding as the main cake. It is safe to say this took a lot of time, consisting of the research before hand (including playing the Wii U a lot), the time spent making the topper and decorations, as well as the time them spent making the actual cake – but the reactions made it completely worthwhile, as ever!

The topper was different to the usual bride and groom, in that they were in karts from Mario Kart. This also meant working on a smaller scale too. I have a work tray for doing modelling work, so set that up with the tools and pastes needed, and then got busy.

Here is a slightly disturbing shot of a headless bride and groom:

Headless couple

Followed by a much better looking completed couple:

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And a ‘Just Married’ sign to go over them:

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It was a pretty wonderful day when it was finished, and looked as I had imagined!

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Here are some of the limited pictures of the making of the other bits that went on to the cake – apologies that some of them are from screen shots of Snapchats.

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There were a few other pre made bits, which missed having their pictures taken, sunch as the Rainbow Road fences, and Moo Moo Meadows grass. Having them made in advance meant that putting it all together did not take too long.

That cake its self was all chocolate sponge,the different tiers filled with coffee, caramel and chocolate buttercream. In a trial run, i used a jar of caramel sauce (Tescos Finest) added to my usual buttercream, which was very tasty. However, then I could not find a new jar when I needed it, so used this recipe instead from John Whaite. This is up there as a contender for the tastiest thing I have ever made, so I suggest everyone goes forth and tries it too – especially if you missed out at the wedding.

Figuring out the road running up the side of the cake took some time, and then once it came time to make the cake, I did it completely differently too. Each cake had a rice crispy add-on to the side to make the road up to the next tier. All the cakes were covered in ganache, then sugarpasted. The bottom tier was also air brushed, where as the top two were covered with green sugarpaste.

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Here it is in location, at The Golden Lion hotel in Stirling.

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A gluten free wedding cake was also part of the order, to be shaped as a Tetris brick. Again, this was covered in ganache (having been filled half with chocolate buttercream, and half with white chocolate buttercream) then sugarpaste.

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It was airbrushed red, and the board covered with more sugarpaste Tetris bricks.

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Now I will bombard you with some more photos, in part because some of the details are easy to miss, especially the Zelda ones. I have no idea what an Ocarina is, but apparently it was important in the games (it’s the blue thing!).

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It was great to make a cake that reflected the couples interests so well, and having completed the massive tidy up of the kitchen (the downside of working with chocolate), I find my self in a bit of a post wedding cake slump. However, this will be lifted very soon by the making of a birthday cake, of which I will hopefully remember to take more making of pictures.

 

A Class with Mademoiselle Macaron

In April I found my self in full cake swing again, after an illness and tonsilectomy filled start to the year.  Thankfully, someone else was doing the planning, and tidying, when I went to a class with Mademoiselle Macaron. The class takes place at her little shop, and it is a lovely place. We did get a coffee break half way through, so we had a chance to enjoy the cafe part, not just the kitchen part Рwhich was also fun, being filled with decorations, flavouring and gadgets that I could covet.

Macaron display

With a brief history of the macaron, and how her shop came into being, we got started. She demonstrated making the rose flavoured ones, then we got on with making our own. Working in pairs (with just 8 people in total), we had our own work station – and mine was the pistachio flavoured one. It’s unfortunate I don’t actually like pistachios, but everyone made a different flavour, then you got a mixed box at the end so it didn’t matter too much.

After a lot of beating of egg whites and debating how much green was enough, we had two trays ready to sit and skin over, before baking. You can see the other flavours too – vanilla, orange and chocolate.

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After a demonstration on making ganache, we then made our pistachio filling, which had a lot of ground up pistachios in it.

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It was then coffee time – I had a tasty hot chocolate, but we also had some oreo mouse pie, and a kouign amann (familiar from the Great British Bake Off), which were both super delicious.

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When we went back through, the macarons were all ready and cooled – and thankfully, pretty impressive looking. They were also a good even size, so putting them into pairs went pretty well too.

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They were then carefully filled, and that was them. The key word is carefully – squeeze them, and they do not fare well!

Filled macaron

With the macarons finished, we filled our gift boxes, and headed for home. Sadly not to eat them, as you are supposed to leave them 24 hours before eating, so the filling can kind of merge with the shell. I did at least manage to leave them til lunch time the next day, and they were lovely – although the chocolate was my favourite, unsurprisingly.

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A Pig Birthday Cake

I have awanted to make a pig cake for years now, mainly as they are just so cute, but also pretty simple to make. I used a bowl to bake a chocolate chip sponge, before covering it with vanilla buttercream.

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I covered it with the pink sugarpaste, and the board with chocolate glace icing as the mud.

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The trotters and snout were just shaped balls of sugarpaste, with a little sausage rolled up for the tail.

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At this point I was confused as to why it did not look cute, or particuarly pig like, before remembering that aside from needing eyes, it also needed ears!

Pig cake

The pig needed to be a bit muddy as well, so had some blobs of glace icing added to his trotters and arround his sides. And hey presto, he was cute!

Cute pig cake

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