Tuesday, 22 December 2009

And some more gingerbread

The baking marathon continues......I made some more gingerbread hearts and mini men today as a Christmas gift for some friends. I took the opportunity to practice my piping skills by decorating the cookies with piped lines, dots and simple designs. Here's how they turned out...

I had a lot of fun staging a Christmas scene with the mini gingerbread men around my little Christmas tree.......they are just so cute :)

Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Gingerbread House

Yesterday I made my first gingerbread house. I found some great templates on Gingerbread House Heaven for castles and victorian mansion gingerbread constructions but decided to stick with a simple elf house this time. After assembling the house with royal icing, I decorated it with a selection of lollies and gingerbread biscuits I made. Finally, I put a Lindt chocolate santa at the entrance. I was pretty happy with the way it turned out....

Thursday, 17 December 2009

More Gingerbread

I've been on a gingerbread baking spree over the past few days. Here are some simple cookies I made for my work colleagues. I used snowflake, reindeer and heart cookie cutters, then decorated the cookies with piped royal icing.

If you want to make some, here is the recipe. They are really simple to make!

Gingerbread (makes about 24 cookies)

  • 125g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (~110g)
  • 2 1/2 cups of plain flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 cup golden syrup


Preheat the oven to 160C (fan forced). Beat butter, dark brown sugar and egg yolk in a bowl with an electric hand mixer until smooth and all ingredients are well combined. Stir in golden syrup, sifted flour, biocarbonate of soda, ginger and mixed spice in two batches to ensure all ingredients are mixed together properly. If the dough is slightly crumbly, add a little more golden syrup.

Knead the dough on a floured surface then roll it out to approximately 5mm in thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes, then transfer cookies to lined baking trays. The cookies do not spread too much during baking, however it is best to ensure the cookies are evenly spaced on the tray. Bake thems for about 15 minutes until they are light brown in colour, before placing them on wire racks to cool. Cookies will harden once cool and can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Decorate with royal icing if desired.

Happy baking x

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Gingerbread Wreath

I love gingerbread - it's possibly my favourite food and over the next few weeks I plan to make a ton of it for Christmas. Here's a Christmas wreath I made by joining gingerbread men in a ring. To make your own, join the hands and feet of the gingerbread men together with water before baking.

Stay tuned for more gingerbread creations!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Christmas Pudding Cake Balls

I made a chocolate cake recently which didn't rise properly, so I decided to turn it into cake balls. They are a great way of turning a potential disaster into something lovely. To make a cake ball, crumble up a cake, then mix buttercream or your choice of frosting through the cake crumbs to help them stick together. Roll little balls of cake then leave them to set in the fridge on a lined baking tray. You can dip them in melted chocolate, or roll them in sprinkles, whatever takes your fancy.

I dipped mine in white and dark chocolate to make little christmas puddings then decorated them with holly sprinkles. Yum!

And here's one on a stick - a pudding pop!

Happy baking!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Ironcupcake London - December Entry

Tonight was the last round of Ironcupcake London for the year. The theme for this month was 'Christmas' and there were 46 amazing entries - the largest number of entries to date. Everyone went to so much effort - the flavours and decorations were all superb. Here are some photos I took of the night:

So many cupcakes to try!!!

My entry was Spiced Eggnog Cupcakes with Bourbon Buttercream

Here's how to make them:


  • 2 large eggs (separated)
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 100ml bourbon
  • 200ml full cream milk
  • 150ml whipping cream
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg


  • 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 115g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3/4 cup eggnog
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 2 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp all spice
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Bourbon Buttercream

  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 2 tbs whipping cream
  • 1 tbs unsalted butter
  • pinch salt
  • 3 tbs bourbon
  • 250g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 500g icing sugar


Start by making the eggnog. Whisk egg yolks and caster sugar with an electric beater until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Whisk in boubon gradually and then add the milk. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then fold it into the egg yolk mixture. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form then fold it into the mixture. Stir the nutmeg through the mixture then leave in the fridge until needed.

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 175C. Beat caster sugar and butter together until light and fluffy using an electic mixer. Then beat in the eggs until well combined. In a separate bowl, mix eggnog, boubon and vanilla together. In another bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, all spice and nutmeg. Alternate adding dry ingredients and wet ingredients into the egg mixture until the all combined. Spoon mixture into lined cupcake tins (only fill about 1/2 of the cup) and bake for 20-25 mins. Once cooked, leave the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the bourbon buttercream, whisk brown sugar, cream, 1 tbs unsalted butter and salt in a saucepan over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Pour in bourbon and stir to combine, then remove sauce from heat and allow to cool. Using an electric mixer beat 250g unsalted butter until soft and fluffy then gradually add icing sugar, ensuring it is mixed in well after each addition. Stir through bourbon caramel sauce.

Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost them with the buttercream and decorate as desired. I used edible silver balls and sugarpaste snowflakes I made in advance.

Enjoy xx

Sunday, 6 December 2009

National Cookie Challenge - November Entry

The theme for the November round of the National Cookie Network Baking Challenge was cranberries, so I attempted to turn my favourite cocktail - Vodka, Cranberry and Lime - into a cookie. Although the cookies may not look as exciting as a cocktail, they taste delicious, and are super easy to make.

Here's the recipe if you want to have a go at making them:

Vodka, Cranberry and Lime Cookies

Ingredients (makes 20 large or 35 small cookies)
  • 265g softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup icing sugar (sifted)
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 175g dried cranberries
  • zest and juice from 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup vodka


Preheat oven to 175C. Pour vodka into a bowl and add cranberries. Allow them to soak until all the vodka has been absorbed. In the meantime, using an electric mixer, beat butter and icing sugar together until smooth and fluffy. Add flour and continue mixing until the dough is formed. Sitr in zest and juice of lime and vodka soaked cranberries. Place small balls of mixture onto lined baking trays, then bake for about 10 mins until they are just start to turn golden. Cool on wire racks (cookies harden when cool), and store in an airtight container to retain freshness.

Happy Baking x

Friday, 4 December 2009

Baby Shower

On Saturday I attended a friend's babyshower and put together a cupcake tower for the celebration. I made a selection of 24 large and 48 small vanilla cupcakes and frosted them with rosewater buttercream. I kept the decorations relatively simple, using pink glitter, and handmade sugarpaste flowers, rattles, bottles, dummies and 'S' monographs. The top of the tower had a 6" cake complete with a handmade mini version of the pregnant guest of honour sitting on the edge of the cake. This is the first time I've modelled with sugarpaste before and I was quite pleased with the way it all turned out.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Ironcupcake Earth - Apple Challenge

The second round of ironcupcake earth is on now and this month the theme was 'Apple'. My colleague generously gave me some baking apples which I used for this recipe however I have to admit I was initially skeptical about using them because they looked quite strange and felt really firm....

I didn't realise that apples can either be for 'baking' or 'eating' - these ones are clearly for baking, but they have a beautifully strong apple taste which blended well with the spices I added to the mixture for warmth.

I ended up coming up with Caramelised Apple and Cranberry Cupcakes topped with Dark Brown Sugar Frosting and a handmade sugarpaste apple.

If you want to recreate these cupcakes, here's the recipe:

Caramelised Apple and Cranberry Cupcakes

  • 250g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 6 large green baking apples (peeled and finely grated)
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 4 large eggs
  • 150g dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup apple cider
  • 2 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 cups plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Dark Brown Sugar Frosting

  • 250g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • Eggwhites from 2 large eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 175C. Melt 50g butter in a nonstick pan over a medium heat and add vanilla essence. Cook for 1-2 mins until the butter is lightly browned then stir in grated apples, cider and 1 cup of caster sugar. Reduce to a low heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the apples are golden and translucent and most of the liquid has evaporated, remove pan from heat and allow apples to cool.

Stir flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a bowl to combine. In a separate bowl, beat 200g butter, 1 1/2 cups of caster sugar and the dark brown sugar on a high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, then reduce the speed and add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the sour cream. Lastly fold in the caramelised apples and cranberries.

Divide mixture between 24 holes in a lined cupcake tray, remembering to only fill cups about 3/4 full. Bake cupcakes for about 25 minutes until the tops are golden brown then remove them from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.

In the meantime, prepare the dark brown sugar frosting by whisking egg whites, dark brown sugar and salt in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water for about 5 minutes. Next transfer the mixture to an electric mixer and beat on a high speed for 5 minutes or until soft peaks form. Reduce the speed and gradually add the butter until it is well combined and the frosting is smooth and glossy.

Once the cupcakes are cool, spread the frosting onto the cupcakes and decorate as desired. Store them in an airtight container to retain freshness.

Voting will be held from 27th November - noon on the 3rd December at http://www.ironcupcakemilwaukee.com/. Be sure to stop by at the website and check out all of the great entries and vote for your favourites! We're all competing to win some fantastic prizes, including:

Thanks for your support!!!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Christmas Inspirations

On the weekend, I finished making a small sugarpaste flower arrangement of ivy, holly, rosehips and christmas roses. This is the second flower arrangement I have completed now and I must admit, it's very satisfying once all the pieces have been made and the final arrangement is tied together.

I also made a batch of russian doll cookies using a template I created. I am still working on the designs of the dolls, but as a practice run this is what I came up with:

I hope to do a lot more baking over the next few weeks for Christmas, so stay tuned for more updates soon!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Garrett Frills

I recently learnt how to use a garrett frill cutter to add decorative touches to cakes. This tool is really easy to use and creates lovely frills or ruffles - perfect decorations for wedding or christening cakes. Here's what the cutter looks like:

This particular cutter is from Orchard Products and has 3 interchangeable centres to help you make wider or narrower frills.

To use the cutter, roll out 50/50 paste thinly on a non-stick surface and then press the cutter firmly into the paste. Lift up the cutter, then remove the circle of paste from the centre, so you are left with a scalloped ring.

Use a cocktail stick or a modelling tool to frill the edge of the paste. Continue this process until all edges are done.

Next cut a slit in the ring, then gently open the circle and trim frill to the size you want. Attach the frill to a cake covered in sugarpaste by dampening the unruffled edge of the frill with water before sticking it in place. After placing all the frills on the cake, you can add bows or roses to connect the frills together if desired.

Here's an example of how I used garrett frills to decorate this christening cake.

Hope you have fun making frills!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Iron Cupcake - November Entry

Last night was the november round for Ironcupcake London. The theme for this month was 'spice', and there were 33 fantastic entries - the largest number of entries so far! Here a a few pics from the night....so many delicious cupcakes.....

I used 7 spices to create Chai Latte and Honey Cupcakes

These cupcakes are super easy to make, and are really delicious. Here's how to make them:


1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons honey
2 black tea bags
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground star of anise
2 1/4 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
225g unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla essence

Spiced Frosting
250g unsalted butter (softened)
4 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Pre-heat oven to 175°C. Combine boiling water, honey and tea bags in a bowl and let it stand for approximately 10 minutes. Remove bags and squeeze out liquid. Place spices, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix well before setting it aside. Next, cream the softened butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla essence. Beat until light and fluffy. Alternate adding the flour mixture and 3/4 cup of tea blend; beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix after each addition until just combined. Mix cake batter until smooth after final addition of flour. Divide batter into 12 lined cup cake tins. Bake for approximately 25 minutes before allowing the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the frosting beat butter and icing sugar with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Stir in remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Pipe generous swirls of frosting on the cooled cupcakes and decorate as desired. I added a piece of chocolate coated honeycomb.

Happy baking!

Cookie Challenge - October Entry

This month, the secret ingredient for the National Cookie Baking Network Challenge was squash, or pumpkin, as I'm used to calling it. Here's what I came up with:

Dark Chocolate, Squash and Cranberry Cookies


· 125g unsalted butter, softened
· 200g caster sugar
· 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
· 1 egg
· 2 cups of butternut squash (pureed)
· 300g plain flour
· 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
· 2 teaspoons baking powder
· 1 teaspoon baking soda
· Pinch of salt
· 150g dark chocolate (roughly chopped)
· 2 handfuls of dried cranberries
· 75g roughly chopped walnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting
· 250g light cream cheese
· 1 cup of icing sugar (sifted)
· 3 teaspoons of lemon juice


Roughly chop half a butternut squash (skin off) and place in covered bowl with 4 tablespoons of water and microwave on a high setting for 10 minutes or until squash is soft. Allow squash to cool, drain any excess water then mash with a fork. (Alternatively you can puree it in a food processer).

Preheat oven to 190 C. Mix butter and caster sugar together in a large bowl with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract, egg and butternut squash. Sift in flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and baking soda, and stir well to combine. Stir in cranberries, walnuts and dark chocolate pieces. Place spoonfuls of mixture onto lined baking trays, and bake for 15 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on tray for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.

To make the frosting, whisk cream cheese, lemon juice and icing sugar together in a bowl until smooth. To achieve a runnier consistency (if desired) add more lemon juice, a little bit at a time. Drizzle the frosting over the cookies once they are cool, then decorate by sprinkling on some extra dried cranberries and chopped walnuts.

The cookies are especially delicious when served warm. Yum!

Happy baking x

Friday, 30 October 2009

Ironcupcake Earth - Voting Now Open

Ironcupcake Earth Voting is now open until 5th November - vote for me (icing bliss) or for the other amazing entries at No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner.

Thanks for your support!!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Cupcake Cookie Jar

I recently received this cupcake cookie jar and just had to post a pic. It is so adorable. I absolutely love it! It's oversized (23 x 26cm) so can be used to store other things like fruit, or just simply placed on a table as a gorgeous centrepiece. If you want one too you can buy it online at Debenhams.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Iron Cupcake Earth

The first challenge of the year for Iron Cupcake Earth is music. I had a lot of fun trying to come up with song titles that I could bake as a cupcake....not an easy task.......but luckily I had some great suggestions from friends to help me! In the end I decided to make 'Raspberry Beret' cupcakes....rasberry and white chocolate cheese cake topped with white chocolate cream cheese frosting and a rasberry sugarpaste beret.

Voting will be held from 30th October - noon on the 5th November at http://www.ironcupcakemilwaukee.com/. Be sure to stop by at the website and check out all of the great entries and vote for your favourites!

We're all competing to win some fantastic prizes, including:
The Demy™ by Key Ingredient
Hello, Cupcake by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson
Bella Cupcake Couture
Cupcake Stackers by Gourmac
The Cake Mix Doctor Returns! by Anne Byrne

If you want to recreate these cupcakes, here's the recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups of white sugar
  • 750g light cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 500g raspberries (thawed if using frozen berries)
  • 120g organic white chocolate (chopped into small pieces)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 250g light cream cheese
  • 80g organic white chocolate
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 100g sifted icing sugar
  • 70g unsalted butter (softened)

Preheat the oven to 175C. Blend sugar, cream cheese and vanilla essence in a bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, ensuring that you mix them in well after each addition. Fill ~18 holes in a lined cupcake tray about 3/4 full with the cake mixture. Divide the chopped white chocolate pieces and the rasberries evenly between the 18 cupcakes and gently push them into the mixture. Bake cupcakes for about 25 minutes, then turn the heat up to 230C and bake for a final 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from the oven and let them cool for a while before putting them in the fridge and letting them set for at least an hour.

In the meantime, prepare the cream cheese frosting by mixing butter, vanilla essence and cream cheese with an electric beater until smooth. Gradually add icing sugar, mixing well. Stir in melted white chocolate, then refrigerate frosting until it is needed.

Once the cupcakes are cool, pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge. These cupcakes are so delicious and are also gluten free.

Happy baking x

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Spooky Cupcakes

As a kick-start to Halloween, I made a batch of cupcakes today after getting inspiration from Martha Stewart's Halloween page. There are heaps of great ideas on her website but I couldn't resist making some ghost cupcakes. Here's a quick demonstration on how I put them together:

1. Make a batch of mini cupcakes (I made chocolate ones) and cover with an icing of your choice

2. Stick 2 marshmallows together with icing and then place on top of cupcake

3. Drape thinly-rolled white sugarpaste over the top of the cupcake

4. Add eyes and a mouth (I used sugarpaste and chocolate sprinkles) or any other features you want to include

5. Enjoy your cupcakes!

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, 15 October 2009


The winner of the National Cookie Network Baking Challenge for September has just been posted and I am so thrilled to announce that my mascarpone cookies filled with strawberry ganache won. There were so many amazing entries this month for the 'strawberry' theme. The other bakers have all shared their recipes so I'm going to have lots of fun trying them out over the next few weeks.

Stay tuned for my entry for the October cookie challenge. I'll be posting it on the 1st of November!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Marzipan Figures

On Monday, I created a small Japanese scene using marzipan. This is the first time I've used marzipan for modelling, and I have to admit, I think it might be my new favourite medium. Marizpan, which is made from finely ground almonds, can be stuck to itself without edible glue or any other agent. It can also be easily coloured with foodgrade coloured pastes, making it a highly versatile product for creating figures as cake toppers.

Here's a quick tutorial on how I made Japanese geisha dolls using Renshaw marzipan:

1. Stick a flesh coloured ball for the head onto a pear shaped body.

2. Add an inverted triangle onto the front of the body (v-neck of kimono) and 2 triangles of marizpan on either side of the v-neck, as lapels.

3. Make a patterned sash for the kimono. as an example, I rolled black flowers into red maripan.

4. Wrap the sash around the waist of the body, then create a bow at the back to cover the join.

5. Add the arms, by creating two crescents and wrapping them around the side of the body to the front.

6. Create little hands using flesh coloured marzipan

7. Add the hair by creating a black circle of marizpan and draping it over the head. Cut to size and add a fringe and texture using a dresden tool

8. Add a top knot and ribbons, bows, flowers etc as decoration if desired

9. Add features to the face, such as eyes, nose and mouth to complete the doll.

I created 2 dolls and a little table of sushi to complete the scene.

Have fun with marzipan!

Ironcupcake UK - October Challenge

On Monday I entered the 5th round of Ironcupcake UK. This month, the theme was "alcohol" and there were 19 entries from 14 bakers. There were so many great cupcakes this month, it was really tough choosing a favourite! I made a batch of mojito cupcakes, and ended up coming 2nd which was such a thrill. Here's my recipe for anyone who wants to try it out for themselves:

Mojito Cupcakes


Cupcakes (makes ~20 cupcakes)

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp. dark rum
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 225g unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs

Rum Syrup

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 55g unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • Zest and juice from 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint

Lime and Rum Buttercream

  • Zest from 3 limes
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 250g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 600g sifted icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark rum

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 175C. Combine butter and caster sugar in a bowl and mix on a medium-high setting with electric beaters until light and fluffy (about 5 mins). Reduce the mixer speed and add the eggs, one at a time, remembering to scrape the sides of the bowl after each addition.

In a separate bowl, sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside. Combine buttermilk, rum and vanilla extract in another bowl and also set aside.

Using the mixer on a low speed, add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix well. Next add half of the buttermilk mixture and mix well (about 2 mins). Add another third of the dry ingredients (on low speed) and mix well before adding the remainder of the buttermilk mixture and mixing. Add the remainder of the dry ingredients (on low speed) and mix for a few minutes, until the batter is smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure that all of the flour has been mixed in well.

Fill a 12-hole muffin/cupcake pan, lined with paper cases, with the batter and bake for approximately 20 mins. Before removing the cupcakes from the oven, test that they are cooked all the way through by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cupcakes. If it comes out clean, they’re done. If not, bake for another 5 mins. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes before poking holes in them with a skewer or toothpick. Immediately spoon the rum syrup over the warm cupcakes and let them soak it all up. Once they’ve cooled completely, you can ice them with the lime and rum buttercream.

To make the rum syrup, put butter, caster sugar and water in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often. Once the butter has completely melted and the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat. Carefully add the rum. The mixture will bubble so take care not to burn yourself. Once you’ve mixed in all the rum, add the lime zest and mint and let the syrup infuse for 5 minutes before spooning over the cupcakes.

For the lime and rum buttercream, beat sugar on high speed for about 5 mins until light and fluffy before gradually adding sifted icing sugar (about 200g at a time) on a low speed. Once all the icing sugar is incorporated into the mixture, increase the mixer speed to high again and mix for another 2-3mins. The buttercream should be light and fluffy. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the rum and the lime zest and mix on a medium speed until well incorporated. If you wish to colour your buttercream, you can also add a few drops of green food colouring to make it a lime colour. Add buttercream onto cupcakes once they are completely cool and the rum syrup has been soaked in. You can spread the buttercream on with a knife, or you can use a piping bag to pipe a swirly design.

For my cupcakes, I made lime pieces from green sugar paste to add as decoration. Here's the final result:

More pictures from the competition are on the ironcupcake website.

Next month, the theme is 'spice'. If anyone has any suggestions on spices I should try, I'd be happy to hear from you :)

Happy Baking!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

National Cookie Challenge - September Entry

Today I entered the National Cookie Network Baking Challenge, an online international cookie competition, where each month, competitors have to make a cookie based on a "secret ingredient", then post their recipe and a photo of their entry onto the national cookie network forum for judging. This month, the secret ingredient was "Strawberry". I had a lot of fun coming up with ideas for cookies, but settled on the following recipe as my entry:

Mascarpone Cookies Filled With Strawberry Ganache

115g butter (softened)
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Dash salt
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (room temp)
1 egg
2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup fresh strawberries
2 tsp. caster sugar
120g white chocolate

Preheat oven to 175C. Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 1 min in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add caster sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, baking soda and a salt. Continue beating the mixture until it is combined, scraping the side of bowl occasionally. Mix in mascarpone cheese, vanilla and almond extracts, and egg. Then beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Once it is too thick to use the beaters, use a wooden spoon to stir in any remaining flour. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour or until dough is easy to handle.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and use cookie cutters (I used 3-inch fluted circles) to cut out the dough. Use a smaller cutter (I used a small heart) to cut out the centre of half of the cookies. Place cookies on a line baking tray and bake until edges start to brown (5-7mins depending on oven). Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.

Puree the strawberries and mix in the caster sugar. Strain the puree through a sieve to remove seeds. Melt chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water, stirring continuously to prevent the chocolate from burning. Remove the chocolate from the heat and stir in the strawberry puree. Cover with plastic wrap and cool to room temperature.

To assemble the cookies, spread the flat side of each whole cookie with a teaspoon of the ganache. Top with a cutout cookie, and dust with icing sugar if desired. Cookies store well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Happy Baking x