Friday, 26 February 2010
I first saw these beautiful rings last year in Paris, I had just fallen in love with the macaron at the famous Ladurée. Ladurée macarons are a time-honoured Parisian pleasure so it is no wonder jeweller Boucheron decided to immortalised them in their stunning Gaieté Parisienne collection.
The rings come in white gold with tsavorites, multicoloured sapphires, amethysts or garnets and adorably look like they've already been bitten into.
I think the amethyst ring is my favourite, if you order a viennese coffee at the Martinez Hotel in Cannes, it is served with two beautiful little macarons, one purple and one pink. They are so melt in your mouth delicious and filled with the most wonderful jams, every time I see this ring it takes me straight back there.
I found this great chocolate eclair recipe in the March issue of Good Food Magazine, the recipe is by Sarah Cook, the pictures looked so delicious I couldn't wait to try it.
It a great recipe, everything came out really well particularly the creme patisserie (or vanilla custard), which was brilliant. The instructions are great and everything has been broken down and thought of, so despite the fact that this recipe is a bit time consuming I would definitely recommend it to a beginner as well as a seasoned baker.
Homemade eclairs are a labour of love, but the reward will be a decadent mouthful of crisp pastry oozing creamy vanilla custard.
140g plain flour
pinch of sugar
FOR THE CUSTARD FILLING
50g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tsp each plain flour and cornflour
300ml double cream
Start by making the custard filling. Heat the milk until almost boiling in a saucepan. Meanwhile, mix together the sugar, egg yolks and vanilla in a bowl, then stir in the flours, a couple of tsp at a time, to a smooth paste. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, pour everything back into the saucepan and cook over a high heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 mins until thick - it will go alarmingly lumpy but don't worry, just keep stirring it vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth. Lay a sheet of cling film directly on the custard surface, then cool and chill until you're ready to fill the buns.
To make the choux buns, heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Sift the flour with the sugar and a pinch of salt into a small bowl. Put the milk and butter into a medium saucepan with 125ml water and gently heat so the butter melts but the liquid doesn't bubble. Once the butter has completely melted, increase the heat until the liquid comes to a fast rolling boil. Immediately turn off the heat, tip in the sifted flour and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until you a have a smooth dough that comes away from the sides of the pan. Spread over a large dinner plate to cool to hand temperature.
Once the dough mix has cooled, scrape it back into your pan. Using your wooden spoon, beat in each egg, one by one, until you have a smooth, shiny mixture.
Cut 2 large sheets of baking parchment. On each one draw 2 sets of 'track' lines with a 10cm gap - these will be your guidelines so your eclairs will all be roughly the same size. Use the paper to line 2 large baking sheets - penside down. Spoon your choux mixture into a piping bag with a 1cm wide nozzle, or into a disposable piping bag with a similar-size hole snipped off for piping. Pipe 2 rows of well-spaced, squashed 'S' shapes on each sheet between the guidelines. Bake, one tray at a time, on a high-ish shelf for 25 mins, reducing temperature to 200C/180C fan/ gas 6 as soon as they go in the oven.
After 25 mins, poke a hole in the end of each bun, or using a small serrated knife, split down the middle and return to the oven, upside-down, to dry out for 5 mins until crisp and golden. Set aside to cool.
While the buns are cooling, finish your filling. Whisk the cream until thick, then use your electric whisk to beat the cooled, set custard until just smooth again. Fold in the cream. Spoon your filling into a piping bag - use a small nozzle if you're filling the buns through the holes you've pierced, or a large nozzle if you've split the buns in half. Carefully pipe the custard into each cooled bun - they should feel heavy once full. Arrange the buns on a wire rack and spread each with a little of your chosen icing. If you can't decide, it's really easy to split your batch of choux buns, halve icing quantities, and make a selection to keep everyone happy.
Classic chocolate eclairs
Melt 100g plain chocolate and 25g butter together in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Once melted, remove from the heat and stir in 75ml double cream and 1 tbsp sifted icing sugar. Once cooled a little, spread over the tops of the buns and leave to cool.
I also thing these caramel and coffee eclairs sound delicious, I definitely making a mixed batch next time.
Caramel crunch eclairs
Melt 100g golden caster sugar in a pan with 2 tbsp golden syrup and 2 tbsp water. Once melted, increase the heat, bubble until caramel coloured, then remove from the heat and stir in 4 tbsp toasted flaked almonds. Carefully dip the top of each bun into the hot caramel, spooning over a little extra to cover if you wish. Cool on a wire rack.
Coffee & walnut eclairs
Once you've beaten the eggs into your choux mixture, stir in 85g finely chopped walnuts. Add 2 tbsp strong coffee to the custard filling, and make an icing by mixing 140g icing sugar with enough strong coffee to get a thick but runny consistency for drizzling over filled buns.
Wheels & Dollbaby
Clothes To Snare a Millionaire
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Brand ambassadors include, Dita Von Teese, Deborah Harry, Pearl & Daisy Lowe and Katy Perry.
Wheels and Dollbaby always utilizes vintage inspired and sourced fabrics.
Customers wear clothes to snare a millionaire with pride, knowing each piece exudes confidence, individuality, playfulness and above all else femininity.
Wheels & Dollbaby is an international cult brand that indulges rock, luxury, decadence of luxurious fabrics against playful construction, individuality and above all else; a brand that cuts through trends the world over.
Thursday, 25 February 2010
When it comes to shoes I'm all heels, all the way and high ones at that. At just about 5ft tall (or short depending on how you look at it) heels are my best friends. So the higher the better I say and if you can't walk, then get a taxi darling!
The heels bellow are from the D&G autumn/winter 09/10 collection, I have longed for these for almost an entire season!
I bought these in a local Brighton shop called Vitas, unfortunately they do not have a website but I did manage to find these leopard print ones online. They are as far as I can tell exactly the same as mine, the stud detail is gorgeous!
This illustration is gorgeous! Combining my two favourite things, shoes and cupcakes!
The swirled icing detail is brilliant! You can find loads of amazing hand drawn illustrations, prints and postcards at Goddamn Gorgeous. Better yet go straight to the Goddamn Shoe Factory for plenty Manolo's and Jimmy Choos.
Monday, 22 February 2010
I think I prefer apple crumble to apple pie, it warming, nostalgic and so quintessentially British.
This recipe is so simple but really does make the perfect crumble. I made this the other day and Baby Love officially awarded it title of best crumble ever. The great thing is you can vary the ingredients in so many ways you are bound to find a crumble perfect for you.
Sorry I didn't get a picture, I totally forgot and one second the crumble was there and the next it was gone!
Please don't let that put you off, this recipe literally takes 10 minutes to put together and has never ever gone wrong.
3 medium cooking apples
6oz / 180g granulated sugar
4oz / 120g butter
5oz / 150g self-raising flour
1/2 cup oats
3/4 tsp cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 5.
Start by making the crumble mixture. I prefer to use my hands for this but you could use a fork or electric blender. Rub the butter into the flour using your finger tips until you have a texture like fine breadcrumbs. This will take about three minutes. (At this stage you can add 1/2 cup of oats to the mixture if desired).
Add 4 (not all 6) ounces of sugar to the breadcrumb mixture and mix together well. This will make the mixture look even more like breadcrumbs.
Set your crumble mixture aside and peel your apples. Cut each one into quarters and then cut out the core from these sections. Slice the apple quarters - not too thinly, about six slices per section.
Put the apple slices into a casserole dish. (You can add a sprinkling of cinnamon now if desired).
Sprinkle the remaining 2 ounces of sugar evenly over the apples and then evenly spread the crumble mixture over the sugared apples.
Put the dish into the centre of your preheated oven for 40 minutes.
When the crumble is cooked you can place under a hot grill for a minute to further brown the top.
Beware the crumble will stay boiling hot for an hour or so.
Serve hot of cold with ice cream or custard.
Infusing sugar is so easy and I can't explain how much I love my Vanilla Sugar. I have tried some of the supermarket varieties and they are were pretty good to be fair but nothing compares to opening a jar of homemade vanilla sugar and letting the sweet scent fill the kitchen.
I use my vanilla sugar in place of normal sugar in cakes, biscuits and cookies, pies and of course in my morning coffee. I honestly don't think I could live with out it now.
I have taken this recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson but I often just play around with it until I have perfectly flavoured sugar. If you can get hold of extra strong vanilla pods then all the better.
You will need:
750g Caster Sugar
2 Vanilla Pods
1 x Vacuum seal-able glass jar.
Fill a vacuum - salable glass jar with the caster sugar and the vanilla pods, each cut into three; after a week you will have sugar infused with the sort of domestically heady fragrance that seems as if it could only have come from the most well-stocked and well-ordered of Victorian larders.
Since making my vanilla sugar I have become a little infusing crazy and now have both cinnamon and lemon sugar. Same process but using cinnamon sticks and dried lemon peel respectively. Cinnamon sugar I use most at Christmas and is great for cookies, hot chocolate and coffee. My lemon sugar smells phenomenal! I use this mostly for lemon cakes, it tends to clump a bit and requires sifting but its totally worth it.
Nigella also suggests scenting sugars with unsprayed rose petals, dried tangerine peel and rosemary. ◦
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
I placed an order with Squires Kitchen last week and it arrived today! I could not have been more excited by my goodies, all of which I will tell you about in due course. One of my items was an amazing Heart Shaped Chocolate Box Mould. I had to try it out immediately. The box itself was a little difficult to un-mould but in the end it came out perfectly.
I really wish I had had this in time for valentines day, next time I am going to place it on top of a cake, filled with either sugar roses or sweeties!
Monday, 15 February 2010
Friday, 12 February 2010
My first Blog Award for The Art of Being Perfect! Thanks so much to French Mademoiselle who gave me this uber-sunny Sunshine Award!
With this award I have to:
♥ Post the award on my blog.
♥ Link the person I received the award from.
♥ Pass the award on to 12 of my favourite blogs and share the link to their blogs.
♥ Let the bloggers know I have awarded them the award.
So without further ado I give the award to.....
1.The Countess of Brighton and Hackney - for making me laugh till I cry.
2.Kandee the Makeup Artist - for the best make up tutorials.
3.Clumbsy Cookie - because yum!
4.Cinnamon Trail - great for dinner as well as dessert
5.Sweet Treats Baking Blog - for sweetening my day
6.Belle of the bakery - for beautiful baking
7.How to eat a cupcake - for vital life instruction
8.A Slice of Concentrated Love - for a slice of concentrated sunshine
9.Frou Frou Fashionista - for the sexier side of things
10.Bakerette - for all my baking needs
11.Bake it Pretty - for more of my baking needs
12. Use Real Butter - - great for menu planning ◦
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Professional Hollywood Make up Tutorials by Kandee Johnson - Marilyn Monroe, Betty Page Paige, Dita Von Teese & Audrey Hepburn
Kandee Johnson is perfect! Kandee is a professional, real life, proper Hollywood celebrity make up artist and her tutorials are brilliant! I have posted my favourite three tutorials here but she has hundreds on her blog Kandee the Makeup Artist. Kandee covers everything from day looks, night-time looks, retro and pin up make up, Kat Von D, Sophia Loren and tonnes more.
Marilyn Monroe Pin-Up Make-Up by Kandee Johnson
Posted by Astral de la Mare at Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Saturday, 6 February 2010
Jessie Steele makes the best aprons, they are like no other, influenced by the romantic visions of a bygone era, and designed in vibrant colors, flirty patterns and figure flattering shapes, these fine quality, retro-chic cooking aprons make the perfect fashion accessory.
This is my one and I love it, although mine is never this clean as it is constantly getting splattered with chocolate and buttercream.
You can see all Jessie Steele's stunning aprons, children's aprons (unbelievably adorable) and coordinating mitts and tea towels here.
Double chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream swirls and handmade chocolate heart shaped toppers.
If you fancy making your own chocolate toppers you can find heart shaped moulds here:
or check out the whole collection here:
I have my eye on lots of chocolate moulds at the moment, I really want the bows, butterflies, spiders and teddy bears . These are really easy to use, literally melt chocolate, fill moulds and chill until set.◦
Friday, 5 February 2010
I can't wait for winter to be over! Is it just me or has it been freezing forever? I can't wait to finally wear gorgeous clothes again, I'm tired of wearing sixteen layers ever time I leave the house, I've started to waddle slightly when I walk......
So in desperate anticipation of sunshine I'm looking for a new summer wardrobe.
I'm going to have to start saving my pennies because the items I have posted here are just the tip of the iceberg, I want EVERYTHING on this website.
All these dresses are available here: Hollywood Fame
The Hollywood Dress by Dixiefried Clothing
The Red Niagra Dress by Dixiefried Clothing
Oh la la!
Red Lula by Stop Staring
Ladylike and Lovely
The Natalie Dress by Pin up Girl
Cheesecake pin up eat your heart out!
The Vogue Blush Dress by Stop Staring
Demure and Sophisticated in pale pink.
Day or night, pin up pretty and perfect x
I love these little cupcakes! The retro white mice and ice cream sweets are of course from Fizziwigg's sweet shop in Brighton. This is a really simple design to achieve but looks fantastic. I much prefer pastel coloured cupcakes to bright and bold colours and these little beauties make me feel all summery.
Love the pastel pink and green together and those little ice creams are adorable.◦
Thursday, 4 February 2010
The MaltEaster Bunny
I defy anyone not to fall in love with the adorable new Malteser bunny! He is not only delicious and chocolaty with a creamy malteser centre but he also looks delightfully modern.
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
This is one of my all time favourite baking books, its not the prettiest I own, there are very few pictures which bothers me in a cookbook as it is usually the picture that entices me. This book however is full of fantastic recipes, cakes, cookies, pies and bars. This book features many of the famed desserts from Magnolia Bakery in New York, it is difficult to choose a favourite recipe because they are all so good! Vanilla Cupcakes, Devils Food Cake, Lemon Layer Cake, Mocha Buttercream, this list just goes on and on. Best buy ever!
I love this book, it is so beautiful! The chapters are organised by colour which I think is fantastically childish, the book is full of beautiful photographs of Tessa Kiros and her sisters growing up as well as pictures of the authors own children. These are interspersed with memories and reminiscences of her childhood, so many of these memories reminded me of my sisters and I as children. The recipes are great, they range in difficulty from easy peasy to, a little taxing so this book has recipes suitable for almost any occasion. This is a really great family cookbook that will make you want to create lots of foodie memories of your own.
Such a great book! This book is packed full of gorgeous cupcakes, almost all the recipes have pictures and the cupcakes turn out exactly as they should every time. Although it is an Australian book, this really doesn't seem to make a difference and significant substitutes don't seem necessary.
What I love most about this cook is the Fillings and Icings section! OMG! Baileys cream filling, caramel sauce, strawberry and cream filling the recipes are not typical which is hard to find in a cupcake book these days. With books like this, I either buy it for the pictures and inspiration, or for the recipes this fantastic book is unique because it surprised me by serving both purposes.
If you loved Enid Blyton as a child this is the book for you, Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer features all the delicious foods in our favourite childhood books. Remember the secret seven meetings and the midnight feasts! The recipes in this book are really really good and I didn't expect them to be as it is somewhat of a novelty book. Ginger cake is amazing as is the fruitcake and cherry cake, the recipes are really simple, traditional, nostalgic and seriously yummy.
By far Nigella's best book! I love everything about this book, I love that Nigella wants everyone to feel like a domestic goddess and every time I use this book I do. The Lemon Drizzle Cake is the best I have tried, macrons, American pancakes, strawberry shortcakes, Madeira cake, chocolate raspberry tarts, snickers and peanut butter muffins, maple and pecan bread, I love all of these recipes and as I write this I'm thinking I should try some more.◦