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quick tips

carrotcake

Fun with Strawberries

Uncategorized December 17, 2010

It’s fun getting a bit more into the cake decorating side of things.

As usual I love finding simple but effective techniques to use.

As you may have seen before, one of my fave techniques is using strawberries to jazz up a cake. It adds a lot of lovely colour to plain coloured cakes and frostings without much actual effort at all.

Here is a cake I made for my boyfriend’s brother’s birthday (pfew, that’s a lot of B’s.)

The cake stats: Carrot cake with a vanilla bean cream cheese frosting and decorated with strawberries. I can’t remember exactly which recipe I used for the cake, sorry, but I can’t really comment on the taste much anyway since I didn’t actually eat any of it 😛 I will try and post on another carrot cake sometime in the future though.. i loooove me some carrot cake.

The frosting was pretty easy – just butter, cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla beans. Yuuuum. Cannot go wrong with that combination.

Directions for decorating:

1. Bake cake, then allow to cool completely. (Unfortunately due to time restraints I wasn’t able to let it cool totally which is why the icing was the tiniest tiniest bit runny as you may be able to see above in the pics. This shouldn’t happen if you have a decent frosting and a completely cool cake.

2. Ice a crumb-coat layer of icing onto the cake (a thin amount of icing that will absorb all the crumbs) and refrigerate until set.

3. Apply a thicker layer of icing around the sides and top of the cake.

4. Slice strawberries into thirds and use the outer side of the strawberries for the sides of the cake. They should stick easily to the frosting. Keep the slice with the leaves intact for the top of the cake. Reserve one strawberry for the top of the cake.

5. Pipe stars around the top around the edge of the cake.

6. Decorate with the remaining strawberries in a circle pattern and place one whole strawberry with the top cut off in the centre.

7. Place in the fridge until ready to serve.

This is best served as soon as possible after decorating with the strawberries, otherwise they tend to release a runny juice and fall off the cake/ruin the frosting).

Enjoy! 🙂

Another time I employed a similar technique –>

🙂 Have a great weekend!!

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freezeforlater

Quick Tips: Cookie Dough

Uncategorized September 6, 2010

The Joys of Freezing

I love chocolate chip cookies. I would probably make them more often if I didn’t know how much sugar and butter and chocolate went into them. Another deterrent is getting all the ingredients – butter (usually one of the first ingredients to go in my boyfriend’s household and at home. i just loove my butter. Chocolate chips are also annoyingly expensive. I’ve found that in the past that there’s almost no point in buying the Coles No Brand cooking chocolate chips. They are AWFUL. So I always spring for the good brands, but they’re something like $4-5 AUD per CUP of chocolate chips. It seems so wrong, since you can buy good quality blocks of eating chocolate for about half the price. Something is wrong here, people. I seriously need to find a baking/chocolate warehouse and stock up somewhere cos these prices are killing me, man! Nothing will keep me from my chocolate chips… Anyway, moving on.

One of my fave tips for cookies is freezing half the dough I make from a batch of cookie dough. I roll it into a long roll and then wrap it in clingfilm and freeze. Whenever you want cookies, simply slice and bake. It’s so awesomely easy, it’s like buying the Aunty Kath brand from Coles. Except cheaper. and A Million Times Better.


Cookie dough at your service, sir.

One problem I used to have with my chocolate chip cookies, years ago, was a minor presentation problem. I love cookies, but I love pretty cookies. Everyone knows that the best choc chip cookies dazzle you with the little chips twinkling prettily through the cookie dough, like this. My cookies always turned out a bit like this, with the cookie part covering the chips completely. Sure, they still tasted good, but I wanted perfection, dammit. Cookies never look like that when you buy them, or on the front packet of cake mixes. Almost all cookie recipes instruct you to fold all the chocolate chips into the dough. I started reserving half the chips to dot over the top of the cookies…. and success. Pretty cookies! yay!

Naked cookie dough. Oh noes! Cover us with delicious chips, mister!

Ahh, that’s much better.

Yay! Cookies. OMOMOMOM.

THE END

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minis-4-1

Quick Tips: Sweet n Small

Recipes June 29, 2010

Mmmm. Miniature desserts. I love the novelty of making desserts smaller, it seems to add about.. 10% extra cute factor.

It’s also useful when you have the kind of dessert that is a little bit messy to cut up and serve up when everyone can just eat their own little version.. No cutting up involved. This is handy when you have that lemon curd which maybe didn’t thicken properly or that cheesecake mix that seems a teensy bit runny (horrible word to use, I know.) Nonetheless these mixes still taste delicious! But they’re just not going to set in a mix. Solution? Stick them in a small ramekin with some crushed biscuits as a base. Easy.

This post is also handy if you have that little bit of extra mixture left over and you’re not sure what to do with it. Stick it in a ramekin, I says.

Today I’m posting about mini cheesecakes and mini lemon tarts – two easy no bake desserts that are great for a dinner party, or any excuse, really…

This tip is not just handy for no-bake desserts though. The ramekin is your friend! Stick excess mix from brownies, cake mix, hell, even cookie dough into a greased ramekin and you’re sure to produce adorable miniature desserts. Other mini-desserts to stick in a ramekin that I love include:
* Apple crumbles (dump in apples, lemon juice, sugar & cinnamon in ramekin, cover with a mixture of oats/flour/butter/brown sugar/extra cinnamon and bake away. serve with cream or a scoop of ice-cream. a great winter warmer!)
* Berry crumbles same principle as above, only with berries
* Miniature pies (any other sweet fruit mixture into ramekin, cover with circle of pasty that fits the ramekin top. bake. this can also be used for savoury miniature pies.)

There are billions (i’m sure) of other ways you can utilise your ramekins, sweet & savoury to make those regular-sized pies and desserts into cute individual servings.

Ok, let’s get to the actual cheesecake and lemon tart. (Here’s one I prepared earlier!… lol.)

Ramekin Lemon tarts are so incredibly easy, it’s criminal.

Spoon about 1-2 tablespoons of crushed biscuit/butter mixture into the bottom of your ramekins.

Then fill ramekins up with lemon curd. This stuff is easy enough to whip up (a quick mix of butter, eggs, lemon juice and sugar). OR if you’re feeling super lazy (don’t worry, I won’t judge), you can buy this stuff in a jar from Coles or Woolies. For the general recipe that I used, click here. I did actually write a super long post with pix on lemon tarts but unfortunately Firefox erased it all, leaving me with a crushing sense of failure… Hopefully i’ll get the motivation to use up another 2-3 hours to rewrite it again sometime soon! For the meantime..

Easy. Delicious. Fun times!

Make this one today! ^^

Next up we have the lemon cheesecakes. This one is marginally more time consuming, but pretty much just as easy. We’re going for the no-bake version in this recipe.

Cheesecake mix is so, so, so easy. It’s basically a mixture of cream cheese (I use Philadelphia), 1 can of condensed milk and lemon juice. Seriously. That’s it!

Click here for the exact recipe I used. I highly recommend the Exclusively Food blog. It’s very well written with a lot of classic Aussie recipes – which are well explained with pretty photography. 🙂

Most cheesecake recipes tell you to use an electric mixer. Pfft. I just used a wooden spoon and it turned out perfect. (Plus, saved on the washing up.) Anything to save Mother Nature’s precious water resources…. Also anything to avoid washing up!

I only made 1 small variation to the recipe: I added a teensy bit of agar agar (seaweed based thickener, basically a vegan replacement for gelatine) to ensure that it would thicken up, which it did. The exclusively food blog noted that the lemon juice should be enough of a thickener, but I noticed some of the comments noting that their mix did not thicken enough – a problem I’ve had in the past, so I thought add to my chances with the agar agar. But its up to you – it’s all about experimentation. My mix however, did turn out perfectly – it set quite well.

So. Instead of ramekins, I was at a friend’s place in Japan, he did not have ramekins… long story short – we used small tin foil cake tins, which I think are adorable. I don’t think I’ve seen them in Australia before, but hopefully I can find them again! Either way, you can definitely replace the foil tins with the ramekins.

Same as with the lemon tarts, begin with lining your tarts with tasty biscuit mix.

Start pouring in your dreamy-creamy-delicious cream cheese/condensed milk/lemon juice filling.

Continue pouring in all your filling until you have used up all your ramekins/filling…whichever comes first.

Until you’re all done!

Yay! Finished. Now stick them all in the fridge for an hour or two, or until completely set (test it for firmness by giving it a bit of a nudge.)

Obviously nothing is finished without my scientifically acclaimed ‘test bite’.

Yum! Super simple and totally tasty. Give these ones a try today!

xoxo

Christine

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img_6651

Quick Tips: Cake Decorating & Rice Shapin’

Recipes June 28, 2010

Every once in awhile, I’m hoping to post up quick tips to help you guys around in the kitchen.

This post is the first of it’s kind in the Quick Tips segment.

On today’s quick tips segment, we have ………Cake decorating tips and our fabulous rice-shaping technique, guaranteed to make your rice look well, as pretty as a picture. Remember those Sunrice ads when we were little – the rice used to shape itself into all kinds of magical shapes? Well.. this is sorta like this… but not as cool. Sorry.

Ok starting off with cake-decorating tip of the day. This isn’t anything special or complicated. In fact, it only involves 1 decorating tool – strawberries.

I made this cake for my boyfriend’s mother’s birthday. I did *attempt* to try and make swirly patterns in the icing, but it wasn’t the right consistency, so it kinda fell out. You can kiiiinda see them in there. That’s a lesson for another day, folks.

Ok, so after you ice your cake, wash and halve strawberries. You can remove the leaf part at the top if you like, but I think the green and red go together very prettily and its easy enough to just pick off. Then place your strawberries, leaf side up on the cake in a pattern around the cake until you have reached the other side of the cake. If you have some spare strawberries, you can arrange them in the centre, as I have done. If not, it still looks equally impressive. Super-super easy. This goes just as well over a cheesecake or any other cake of your choosing – but I think it goes quite well with a chocolate cake. The best thing is how easy it is and it seriously makes the cake look way better than just plain (or my usual decoration of……sprinkles. lol.)

Next up is our rice shapin’. This one is in the shape of a heart. I was lucky enough to get these adorable heart-shaped Maxwell & Williams bowls for Christmas from my boyfriend’s grand-parents. I love them. They come in three different sizes and I use them all the time. They’re handy for dips and snacks when we have people over, but I also like to use them for this.

(Sorry this photo is a little dark. I took a couple with the flash but it overexposed and you couldn’t see the outline of the rice as well, boo.)

Anyway, getting back to the post…

Making this rice-heart shape is so incredibly easy. You don’t have to use a heart shaped bowl either. My mum uses small round Chinese bowls to shape the rice to a perfect round bowl-shape, like they do at some Chinese restaurants. Just pack the rice into the smaller bowl that you are using (you can use a the rice paddle or just a metal spoon) until it is quite compressed. Then place the bowl gently down on your plate and bam, pretty rice. It’s important to pack the rice into the bowl so you don’t get stray grains going everywhere. You could also make shapes with fried rice, which also looks quite good.

Hope these tips have helped! What kind of handy or special tips do you have in the kitchen? I’d love to hear about it in the comments 🙂

xoxo

Christine

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