Friday, 28 October 2011

Halloween Treats: Zombie Marshmallows

Who knew Marshmallows could be so awesome!

Zombie Marshmallows make a brilliantly simple Halloween treat, all you need is a bag of your favourite marshmallows and either edible food pens or edible food colouring pastes and a paint brush.

I used food colouring paste in black and red and a very small paintbrush to create my little zombies. The marshmallows I used are the seriously squidgy kind, I much prefer these but they are slightly harder to draw/paint on so you may prefer to use the smoother kind.

They are honestly ridiculously fun to make and I am no word of a lie actually seriously excited about Zombie Marshmallows in my Hot Chocolate! 

x x x

Buttercream Bakery Mini Halloween Cupcakes

Halloween weekend is finally upon us & Buttercream Bakery is in full scary cupcake mode. 

I thought I would start the Halloween weekend off with something quite tame, it's probably best to start you of gently as the horror that is to come may well leave you shaken to the very core.

Ah yes, nothing says Halloween like a mini Zombie cupcake.

Zombies aren't so scary, they move far to slowly to be a real concern and if you ask me these Zombie cupcakes are actually bloomin' adorable!

As part of the same order we also made these gruesomely gorgeous mini blood splattered cupcakes.

I am rather partial to a bit of yummy sugary blood which is lucky because I have been playing with a lot of it in recent weeks.

I have a big soft spot for Halloween, my Mum made a big thing of it when I was little, she would get us all out the house for the day and when we returned the door would be smeared with blood, the house would be dark, various evil family friends would hide in the dark spraying my siblings and I with water pistols and shuffling about, grabbing at you through the blackness.  There was always a petrifying sound track and lots of screaming from us.

My mum also invents the best horror stories, absolutely terrifying! 'The Babysitter In The Fridge' will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I won't be doing much but baking cupcakes this Halloween, it is probably for the best, I actually hate being scared these days.  I blame my mum, all that terror must have had some sort of lasting effect.

 I have managed to avoid watching a horror movie for about six years now, I absolutely hate them! As I explained to Mr. P. the other night (for the hundredth time I might add), I won't sleep for a week, I will more than likely cry, embarrassing I know and I will point blank refuse to enter any room alone for at least a month.  Just not worth it.

The last scary movie I watched was one of the early Saw films, it was awful, just awful, never again! 

Mr. P. and I both agree Texas Chainsaw Massacre is by far the scariest movie ever, what do you think?

What ever you are up to this Halloween have an amazing time and I will be back next week with a full run down of all the crazy Halloween cupcakes I have made over the holiday.

x x x

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Pistachio Macaron Recipe

It is highly possible that heaven is indeed a pistachio macaron.

I honestly struggle to find words to explain how I feel about pistachio macarons, they are certainly among my favourite sweet treats and I absolutely adore this recipe.  The macarons themselves are honestly breathtakingly delicious and the buttercream....oh my....

I adapted the amazing buttercream recipe form I Love Macarons by Hisako Ogita, which is a brilliant French Buttercream recipe. 

 This seems like a great time for a little buttercream study session....

All About Buttercream

American Buttercream (probably the most commonly used Buttercream) is made by creaming together butter and confectioners' sugar and beating to the desired consistency and lightness.

Italian Meringue Buttercream  is prepared by adding sugar syrup to egg whites whipped to soft peaks. The syrup and egg white mixture is then whipped until it has cooled to around 100 °F.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream is made by cooking the egg whites and sugar together in a bowl placed on a pot of boiling water.

French Meringue Buttercream is prepared by whipping egg whites, cream of tartar, and caster sugar until stiff, glossy peaks are formed.

Finally French Buttercream (the Buttercream I am using here) is made in the same way as Italian meringue-based buttercream, except with egg yolks or whole eggs instead of egg whites-- hot sugar syrup, which has been heated to soft-ball stage is beaten into the egg yolks or whole eggs which have been beaten until they are thick and pale yellow.

Anyway back to the macarons....

You will more than likely have to make your own ground pistachios, this is very easy and I use my food processor.  Sieve them twice and weigh them once ground.

I used Sugarflair food colouring paste in Mint Green to colour my macarons.

Pistachio Macarons
(Makes around 25 -30 Macarons)

160g icing sugar
100g ground almonds
60g ground pistachios
4 medium egg whites, separated into two equal batches -
160g caster sugar
green food colouring paste

For the Pistachio Buttercream

Recipe adapted from I Love Macarons by Hisako Ogita

100g unsalted butter, very soft
3 tbsp water
3 tbsp vanilla sugar (or caster sugar)
1 egg
50g ground pistachios

Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sieve together the icing sugar, ground almonds and ground pistachios into a large mixing bowl. Add the first batch of egg whites (unbeaten) and the food colouring paste to the almond mix to form a thick paste. Make the mixture darker than you would like at this point, as the addition of the beaten egg whites later on will significantly lighten the colour. Set aside.

Tip the second batch of egg whites into a heatproof bowl and have an electric whisk at the ready. Place 50ml water and the caster sugar into a small saucepan on a medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the syrup registers 110C, using a sugar thermometer, at which time start beating the egg whites on a high speed. Once the syrup has reached 118C pour it in a thin stream into the mixing bowl, avoiding the whisk. Continue to whisk on high until the mixture has cooled slightly and you have a shiny peaked meringue mixture - the bowl should no longer be hot to the touch, but still warm.

Tip the meringue onto the almond mixture and gently fold together. It is important not to over-mix the batter - it should fall in a thick ribbon from the spatula. The ribbon should fade back into the batter within about 30 seconds - if it does not, fold a few more times.

Heat the oven to 170C/150C Fan/ gas 3-4. Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle. Pipe rounds onto the prepared baking sheets, leave to rest for 30 minutes on the kitchen counter, or until the macarons have developed a skin.

Bake the macarons for 14 minutes. Once out of the oven immediately slide the parchment onto a work surface and cool for a few minutes before gently peeling off the paper.

Pair up your macaron shells.

To make the Pistachio Buttercream:

In the bowl of an electric mixer or using a handheld mixer beat the butter until very soft, about 3 minutes.

Place the egg into the clean bowl of your mixer ready to beat.

Place the water and sugar into a small saucepan and place over a medium heat.

After a minute or two start beating the egg.

 The syrup is ready when it reaches soft ball stage. To check for soft ball stage scoop some of the syrup out of the pan with a spoon and drop into a small amount of cold water, then try and scoop it out of the water and squish it into a ball using your fingers.  If you can do this the syrup is ready.

Pour the syrup in a thin stream into the beaten egg, avoid the whisk and the sides of the bowl. Continue to beat the meringue mixture until the bottom of the bowl is no longer hot and the mixture becomes white and heavy.

Add the butter prepared earlier in three parts to the meringue mixture, beating after each addition.  While beating the butter and meringue mixture it may appear to separate .  It will look curdled and you will definitely think you have made a mistake, even though I am saying this you will still think you have made a mistake.  I promise you haven't just continue beating on a high speed until the mixture becomes creamy.  Add the pistachios and mix well.

Fill a piping bag, fitted with a plain round nozzle, with Pistachio French Buttercream and pipe onto the flat side of one macaron in each pair, sandwich the macarons pairs together and devour. 

Next week Halloween baking will be in full effect and I can't wait, I also have some glorious Autumnal cakes coming up. 

I'm also really excited because my amazing friend is back home, she has been away studying but is back for half term and I cannot wait to see her!  I'm going to take her some macarons, a little reward for working so hard.

x x x

Monday, 17 October 2011

Halloween Baking: Meringue Ghosts Recipe

I love it when all the Halloween bakes come out.

I remember when I was little how excited I would get to see how our local bakery had decorated their gingerbread that week. It was always Santa at Christmas, love hearts on Valentines, even football strips during the world cup and of course bats, pumpkins and even skeletons for Halloween.

These days I love holiday baking even more than I did back then and the fact that I can now join in with all the fun just makes each holiday better and better.

Meringue ghosts are not a new thing and I have seen them all over the place for years but I have never really had the urge to make any.  That was until I saw them on Bake For Happy Kids.

 Zoe's meringue ghost had something special, I can't quite put my finger on what it was or why but they spoke to me and I just had to have a go.

I love all the different faces Zoe gave her ghosts and I followed suit, painting on the faces was in fact particularly enjoyable and I love all their different expressions.  I decided to use edible black paint but you could also use black food colouring paste or an edible black pen.  You can also push chocolate chips, small sweets or sprinkles into the meringues before baking to create eyes if you prefer.

Meringue Ghosts

(Meringue recipe adapted from Rachel Allen's Bake)

Makes around 20 meringue ghosts

4 egg whites
1 pinches salt
300 g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

You will also need either:

 Edible black paint and a paintbrush, black food colouring paste and a paintbrush, or an edible black pen.

Preheat the oven to 140C/gas 1. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.

 Put the egg whites into a large spotlessly clean bowl with a pinch of salt. Whisk until soft peaks form. Gradually add the caster sugar one tablespoon at a time, whisking between each addition, until it has all been added and the meringue is satiny and forms stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted from the mixture.

 Fold in the vanilla extract with a large metal spoon.

Using a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm plain round tip, pipe the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets into small swirls.

(Size is really up to you but my ghosts were around 7cm tall and 5cm wide)

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Test one by lifting and gently pressing on the base of a meringue – it should be crisp but give way with a bit of pressure – they will crisp more when cooling. Turn off the oven, and leave to cool in the oven with the oven door slightly ajar for best results. If possible, let them cool completely in the oven.

Once completely cool you can paint or draw on the faces, you should definitely visit Bake For Happy Kids for some extra inspiration.

 x x x

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Buttercream Bakery Adorable Baby Bottle Cake Topper Tutorial

The lovely Qing over at Coolest Baby Shower recently asked me to be a judge for the baby shower ideas contest they are currently running, asked if I would like to create a baby shower themed post to go up on the site.  I was of course happy to oblige.

Cupcakes are perfect for baby showers, adorable, bite size, wonderfully customisable and oh scrumptious they are perfect baby shower treats.

Today I thought I would show you how to create your very own beautiful little baby bottle cupcake toppers. They are sure to impress at your next baby shower and are much simpler to make then you may think.

To make each baby bottle cupcake topper you will need:

12g white sugar paste or gum paste per bottle
0.5g light brown sugar paste or gum paste per bottle
artists scalpel or small sharp knife
0.5g pink sugar paste, per bottle
Small paintbrush

To make your baby bottle:

Take a 12g ball of white sugar paste and shape into a cylinder. Lay the cylinder down and place your index finger in the centre, roll into an hourglass shape. Neaten up the edges, flattening the top and base and ensure the shape is even.

Take 2/3 of your light brown sugar paste and flatten into a plump disk.

Using the blade of a scalpel or a sharp knife, mark vertical indentations along the edges of the disk and affix to the centre of the top of your bottle with a damp finger or paintbrush.

Take the remaining light brown sugar paste and roll into a small cylinder. Roll a toothpick cross the centre of the cylinder, shaping it into an hourglass shape, just as you did with your finger to the body of the bottle.

Affix with a damp paintbrush to the centre of the light brown disk to create the bottles teat.

Your bottle is now finished!

You may now choose to customise your bottle, you can do this in a number of ways but I love adorable little bows, baby pink, baby blue and pale yellow are of course the colours of choice.

To make your bow take a small piece of baby pink sugar paste, around 0.5g and shape it into a small rectangle. Using a toothpick make an indent in the centre of both the longest edges of the rectangle. Take your scalpel or sharp knife and make two small vertical indents connecting the indents made with the toothpick to create the cinched part of your bow, be careful not to cut through the bow, press gently.

Finally to create the rouches of the bow, push the end of your toothpick gently into the sugar paste from the centre outwards, creating two or three indentations.

Affix the bow to the top of your bottle using a damp paintbrush and allow to dry.
Happy Cupcaking
x x x

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Lots of Scrumptious Cupcakes

First up I thought I would start with a bespoke batch, adorable baby shower cupcakes with bespoke baby girl bottles.

I have a tutorial for these adorable baby bottles on the way, they are my most popular baby shower cupcake topper and so simple to make.

Oh chocolate chips how I love thee....has there ever been a more glorious cupcake topping?

Ooh perhaps there has....

This colossal cupcake is topped with baby pink chocolate love hearts, straight from Paris and pink and white mini marshmallows, the dark chocolate glaze takes it to heavenly proportions.

Pistachios have been in abundance at the bakery, mainly because I ordered such a massive quantity but also because I adore the colour.

Pistachio cupcakes are nothing short of glorious.

More Oreos of course but on big cupcakes this time...

Everyone seems to be Oreo crazy and these are really popular, I crush a lot of Oreos.

 I'm crazy for this beautiful sprinkle mix....

I make it up myself in huge batches, I adore the combination of chocolate chips, pink love hearts and chocolate curls.  I'll replace the pink hearts with red come the Valentines season.

Last but by no means least we have a gloriously nutty chocolate pecan cupcake...

Simply delicious.

x x x