Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How to make sugar carrot cupcake decorations


The internet gods have not been kind to us this past week.  Apparently a static-y phone line can interfere with our ADSL connection, putting to bed any hopes I had to bring you this tutorial and Mr Di-licious completing an online test for his law course.  Sigh.

At least I had my iPhone - I was still connected to the world so to speak, even if in a limited, small screen kind of way.

But I digress.


As promised, here is a 'tutorial' to help you make the cute as a button sugar carrots for the carrot cupcakes I made last week.

They are embarrassingly easy to make.  Before you know it you'll have a carrot patch that's the envy of Don Burke (sorry, Aussie joke).

Tutorial: Making sugar carrot decorations



To make the sugar carrots, you will need:

  • orange fondant (I used Americolor Orange to colour)
  • green fondant (I used Americolor Avocado to colour)
  • a skewer or pointy modelling tool to make a dent in end of carrot
  • small, fine paintbrush
  • water
  • cling wrap (to wrap up your fondant while you're not using it)
  • tray lined with baking paper



Step 1
Break off a tiny bit of green fondant, and a large pinch of orange fondant.

Step 2
Roll the green fondant into a ball.  Roll the orange fondant into a log and rubbing your fingers together, shape the log into a carrot-like cone.

Step 3
Roll the green ball between your fingers to create a stubby cone. Using your pointy tool, pierce a hole in the flat end of the carrot.

Step 4
Dip your paintbrush in a little water and dab some water into the hole in the carrot.  Push in the green 'end'.  Repeat steps to make more carrots!

You could of course roll out all of your carrots, and then your green toppers and then attach them, but I just wanted to be as clear as possible!  Happy carrot making!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Olive's Carrot Cupcakes {Recipe}


"Mummy, I'm hungry. Hungry for something sweet."

Sound familiar?  If only it were "Mummy, I'm hungry for green vegetables!"

Sometimes getting kids to eat something healthy is a battle.  The harder you try, the more they resist.

We've been pretty lucky with Olive - she devours fruit.  And while she's adamant she'll never eat a tomato (too many Charlie and Lola bedtime stories), she will eat green beans, peas and corn (and sometimes raw broccoli!) without fuss.  The one veg she absolutely adores though are carrots.

A carrot stick is a great snack for a hungry preschooler but when they're pining for something sweet, why not make them something healthy and sweet and bake some mini carrot cupcakes?

These mini cupcakes are based on Stephanie Alexander's Simple Carrot Cake from The Cook's Companion. I like this recipe a lot because it uses olive oil which has lots of health benefits.

If you have a food processor, you could easily have these cupcakes ready to serve within half an hour from opening the pantry.

Originally written as a big cake recipe, I've halved it to make 24 mini cupcakes - perfect for morning tea at playgroup, work or to stash in the freezer for a healthy "hungry for something sweet" emergency.

The sugar carrots are a whimsical touch - you can find out how to make them in another post.


Recipe: Olive's Carrot Cupcakes
Recipe by Stephanie Alexander, The Cook's Companion
Makes 24 mini cupcakes

Ingredients
60g self-raising flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup olive oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup finely grated carrot (approx 2 small carrots)
1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts

For frosting
60g cream cheese or marcsapone, softened

125g pure icing sugar
30g butter, softened
a drop of vanilla extract



Method
  • Preheat oven to 180C (no fan).  Grease a 24 hole mini muffin tin or line with paper cases.
  • In a food processor, mix together flour, sugar and spices.
  • Add oil and eggs and beat for 1 minute.
  • Add carrot and walnuts and give it a quick whiz to combine.
  • Fill cups 2/3 full and bake for approx  12-15min.
  • Cool in tin before turning out.
  • When cold, decorate with cream cheese frosting.


Cream cheese frosting

  • Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend.
  • Using a small, plain icing tip, pipe a small bulb of frosting on top of each cake.
  • Leave plain or decorate with a sugar carrot or piece of walnut.



BAKING TIPS

  • Use the grating disk for your food processor to grate the carrots in a minute.
  • Don't have a food processor? Follow the same instructions using your electric mixer.
  • Freshly grated nutmeg really lifts these cakes into a whole new dimension.  But if you don't have them, ground nutmeg is fine.
  • Stephanie originally said to just stir through the carrots and walnuts.  For mini cupcakes, the extra whiz in the food processor makes the carrots and walnuts a little finer so you get a more even texture.



Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The curious case of the missing recipe


A few weeks ago I was given a wonderful gift - a bowl full of freshly picked backyard apples, via my sister-in-law Kaz.  We're not sure what variety there were, heirloom perhaps? But they were crisp and sweet and I thought they'd be perfect for baking.

They sat pretty in a bowl for a week or so, filling the dining room with their gorgeous apple scent while I decided what to bake.


An apple pie was inevitable but I really wanted to make some little cakes too.  I consulted my bookshelf and put on my thinking cap and voilĂ ; gorgeous mini apple-almond cakes.

The almond meal made the cakes quite dense - almost a hybrid of a slice and cake, and kept the cake di-liciously moist.  The glaze of apricot jam and sugar syrup was a master stroke! And the thin fan of apple slices just look so darn pretty.  Great job I thought!


I made copious hand written notes and snapped away ready for a future blog post.  Then I did a quick pack up of the house before Mr Di-licicous' annual boy's steak night and stashed my recipe notes away.

A few weeks later I'm ready to write up the recipe and I can't find it anywhere - I've misplaced my recipe notes.

Bugger.

Its highlighted a major deficiency in my blog 'administration' - clearly I need a better system!  In a former life I used to be the organisation queen.  Seems motherhood may have dulled my administrative powers slightly. I'm curious - how do other bloggers keep on top of everything?

Something I didn't forget to do this week though was participate in the Alphabet Photography Challenge over at Three Lil Princesses. The challenge, devised by chief princess Kellie is a look and find series of posts for children learning the alphabet.

My entry - C is for Cooking Cupcakes, features my little Olive cooking up a storm in her own playroom kitchen.  A fan of MasterChef, Olive was only too happy to don her very own chef's hat and apron and pose for the camera. The only 'pressure test' will be how long Olive can keep her playroom tidy for.


Monday, August 1, 2011

The recipe of success


I love getting feedback from Di-licious Cupcakes readers.  Every time a new comment comes in I feel a surge of  cake love spreading across the blogishpere.  It seems I'm not the only one who thinks that life is too short to eat bad cake!

And the cake love isn't just limited to the blog site.  Di-licious Cupcakes is also on Facebook and Twitter for the more socially connected reader (although I confess I still struggle with Twitter.....)  Following is as easy as clicking on the pretty icons at the top right hand side of the blog, just under the banner.

And this weekend, my embryonic social networking adventures have struck gold - two fans (friends) wrote to tell me about their success with recipes featured on Di-licious Cupcakes!  Woo hoo!
"Thanks Di ... I tried your chocolate macaron recipe and it worked brilliantly! My family didn't stop raving about them! ..."  Katie, via Facebook
"I was up at 8am this morning, making some di-licious double choc chip cookies and they were absolutely di-licious!"  Leah, via Facebook 

Now I can't take credit for either recipe - the macarons were created by Dean Brettschneider and the double choc cookies are the masterful work of Allan Campion and Michelle Curtis.


But by testing and sharing these recipes with you on this blog, I'm becoming an alternative cookbook - an online resource for aspiring bakers who want recipes that actually work and don't just look pretty (although I must confess my photos were kind of nice to look at).




If you watched MasterChef Australia last night, you would have seen just how much work is involved in creating and testing a recipe for a cookbook. It gave me a lot of food for thought for what might be one day.  It also renewed my admiration of the many talented food bloggers out there who have put in the hard work and have secured a book publishing deal.  Cookbooks aren't just for celebrity chefs!


So if you try a recipe from Di-licious Cupcakes, let me know how you went - the good and the bad!  Share a photo on my Facebook page and share the cake love with the rest of the world!