Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Pink Elephants on Parade

Disney Classic # 4 – Dumbo

I had a few different ideas for Dumbo; I was going to try to bake Casey Jr., I was going to make a circus tent, then I thought about making clown and circus animal cupcakes instead, I thought I could make some cute “stork delivering baby” cookies – basically my head was a jumble with the possibilities. There is just so much to love in Dumbo! I was discussing the dilemma of having too many ideas with my friend Helen, when she suggested that I do something based on the Pink Elephant sequence. YES!! Immediately I knew that I wanted to make some pink marshmallow krispie squares – in the shape of elephants!

When it came down to it, I ended up with 6 elephants and lots of spare marshmallow krispie cake which wasn’t the right shape or size to make more elephants, so I cut this into squares and iced some bubbles onto them. ^_^
Here is the fellow I used for my template:

I based these on a mallow krispie recipe found here. Granted, marshmallow krispies may not be as technically difficult to make as some of the other cakes – but I had so much fun making and decorating these cakes I would definitely recommend giving it a try. (Although do not underestimate the time/effort it took to ice these bad boys!)

Prep time: Around 1 hour Cook time: no cook

Serves: 6 elephants and 15 bubble bites
175g unsalted butter
360g pink and white marshmallows
450g rice krispies
175g icing sugar
1 tsp milk
drop vanilla essence
Pink food colouring
100g white chocolate
Pink icing tube
Black icing tube

1.Line a rectangular baking dish/roasting pan with greaseproof paper.
2.Make a template by drawing/tracing the outline of the image you are using onto some greaseproof paper and cutting this out.
3.Using a very large saucepan on a very low heat, melt 100g of the butter.
4.Add the marshmallows to the melted butter and stir continuously until all melted
5.Add the rice krispies to the melted marshmallow and butter mixture and mix well until all of the rice krispies are covered. TIP: keep the pan on the heat whilst mixing to keep the marshmallow workable – once it cools it becomes really difficult to mix!
6.Press the mixture evenly into the dish/tray you are using and pop in the fridge to cool whilst you make your buttercream
7.To make the buttercream; place the remaining butter, icing sugar, milk and vanilla essence into a large bowl and beat until smooth. Add pink food colouring to reach the desired shade.
8.Remove the krispie cake from the fridge and turn out onto a chopping board. Using your template, cut the cake into the required shapes. Cut any leftover cake into small squares and put to one side for later.
9.Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl over some boiling water. Cover half of the elephants with the white chocolate, and pop in the fridge to set.
10.Cover the remaining elephants with the pink buttercream, making sure to smooth over the surface.
11.Using the original image as a guide – ice the outline and details onto the elephants using the black icing on the pink elephants, and the pink icing on the white elephants
12.Go back to the small squares that were put to one side, ice a bubble design onto these using either or both of the icing tubes.
13.Eat and enjoy (perhaps with a glass of bubbly :-P)

Next time: Bambi - and I’ll be making a lavender loaf cake. (Yes it IS related to the movie… I’ll explain all next week ^_^)

Happy thoughts

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Dum da-dum da-dum da-dum-dum-dum-dum

Disney Classic # 3 – Fantasia

I drew inspiration from the concept of Fantasia for these cupcakes, rather than from any specific part in the film. I took the idea of combining sounds, colours and textures and tried to incorporate that into the cupcakes; using edible glitter, rainbow sprinkles and popping candy inside the cake! It was brilliant to watch the delight/surprise/horror on my friends’ faces as their cake started to make popping noises as they ate it – I wish I had filmed their expressions!

When facing the prospect of making Fantasia cupcakes I knew I just HAD to find a way to make my cupcakes musical (or at the very least noisy!), because quite frankly I’m certain that had he the capacity to do so, Walt Disney would have made Fantasia taste great.

Now this is where I normally cite my sources, but for these I don’t really have any! This recipe for vanilla cupcakes with vanilla butter-cream is ingrained into my brain – it’s the recipe my Mum taught me when we used to bake together back when I was a little Princess. Where it came from before that, I don’t know! For the “sorcerer’s apprentice” hat toppers, I used the recipe on the back of a pack of Tate and Lyle Royal Icing Sugar, but I’m sure any old royal icing recipe will do just as well!

 Prep time: Overnight        
Cook time: 15-20 mins           
Makes 12 cupcakes


For the hat toppers:
200g Royal Icing Sugar
10ml cool water
Navy food colouring
Black food colouring
White star shaped sprinkles

For the cupcakes:
200g Margarine
200g caster sugar
200g self raising flour
2 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
2tbsp multi-coloured sprinkles

For the buttercream:
150g unsalted butter
350g icing sugar
1 tbsp milk
drop of vanilla essence

To decorate:
30g popping candy
Edible glitter (I used Rainbow Dust in White Hologram)

TIP: It’s best to make the royal icing toppers the day before to give them plenty of time to set! Popping candy starts to pop on contact with moisture, so it’s best to finish the cupcakes as close to serving time as possible – the longer you leave the cupcakes between putting the popping candy in them and serving them, the less poppy they will be! I finished my cupcakes around 30 minutes before my guests arrived, and they were still very poppy. The cupcake that was leftover the next day only had very little “pop” left!
  1. Draw the outline of your toppers onto a sheet of greaseproof paper to create a template (I drew 16 Mickey Mouse hats). Turn the paper upside down and secure this (pen side down) onto a flat baking sheet. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the royal icing sugar and the water with an electric mixer for 10-15 minutes, until it forms soft peaks. (When you lift the mixer out of the mixture this should like a peak which stands for at least 5 seconds.) Once the royal icing is ready, put 1/3 of it into a smaller bowl and colour this black. The remaining 2/3 of the icing should be coloured navy 
  3. Using the smallest nozzle on your piping bag, and using the templates you created earlier as a guide, pipe the royal icing onto the greaseproof paper, allowing each colour to set slightly before moving on to the next. Gently press the star sprinkles into place, and then put to one side to set, uncovered. 
  4. Nex, move on to the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5, and place some cupcake cases into a bun tray.
  5. Mix the margarine and the caster sugar in a bowl until creamy, then sift roughly half of the flour into the bowl, and fold this into the mixture. Add 1 egg to the mixture and beat until combined, then sift the remaining flour into the mixture and fold in. Add the final egg and beat until the mixture is well combined, then stir the vanilla essence and the sprinkles into the mixture. 
  6. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases (around 1 tbsp per cupcake) and bake until firm to touch. (approx 15 – 20 mins) Allow cupcakes to cool on a wire rack before decorating.
  7. Once the cupcakes are cool, carefully cut a circle out of the top of the cake (as if you were making butterfly cakes) and leave the cake and the top on the side to dry out a little whilst you make the buttercream. (The cupcake as a whole will still be very moist – it’s just that you need to dry out the parts that will be in contact with the popping candy, in the end you will have a moist sponge with a crunchy layer of popping candy and deliciously creamy buttercream!) 
  8. To make the buttercream; beat the butter, icing sugar, milk and vanilla essence in a large mixing bowl until smooth and creamy. Keep this in the fridge until it is needed. 
  9. Place about 1tsp of popping candy into the hole you made in each cupcake, and the put the top back on. 
  10. Cover the cupcakes with the buttercream, trying to disguise the raised centre. Place a topper onto each cupcake and sprinkle with a bit of edible glitter. Magic! 

Next time: Dumbo! I’ll be making some marshmallow krispie cakes inspired by the Pink Elephant sequence.

Happy thoughts

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Hi-diddle-dee-dee, it's Pleasure Isle for me!

Disney Classic # 2 - Pinocchio

I initially had a little trouble coming up with an idea for a Pinocchio themed cake – for some reason I didn't quite fancy a cake made out of wood, or garnished with crickets... so I started to think about whether any food or drink featured in the film. This cake is based on the scene when Pinocchio and Lampwick are in the billiard room at Pleasure Island, drinking beers and smoking cigars.

I made the beer cake and chocolate cigars based on recipes I found here, here and here. Again I made some slight changes to the recipes to better suit my needs – the major change however was a switch-over between the two chocolate mixtures! Originally I was going to use the chocolate truffle recipe for the cigars, and the chocolate frosting to ice the cake. However, when it came down to it, the smooth creamy consistency of the truffle/ganache was much more appropriate for icing the cake, and the thick pliable chocolate frosting was much more suited to the cigars. The recipes and the technique I used are posted below

Chocolate Cigars:

115g icing sugar
120g dark cooking chocolate
60g butter
small bag of white chocolate buttons
2 tbsp white granulated sugar
drop of black food colouring

Prep time: 30 mins         
Cook time: no cook, but does need at least 2-3 hours in the fridge to set
Makes 14-16 cigars

  1. Line a baking tray with cling film or greaseproof paper, and make some space for it in the fridge.
  2. Break the dark cooking chocolate into pieces in heatproof glass bowl and melt the chocolate. (This can be done either in the microwave by microwaving for 30 seconds on medium, stirring and continuing in 10 second bursts until fully melted, or if you prefer by melting over a pan of bowling water).
  3. Chop the butter into small cubes and mix into the melted chocolate until the butter is also melted. Leave the mixture to cool for 10 minutes before sifting in the icing sugar. Beat until combined.
  4. With very clean hands, scoop out a bit of the mixture and mould it into a cigar shape and place it onto the prepare baking tray. Repeat until all of the mixture has been used and then place the tray in the fridge to set for at least 2-hours. The cigars (truffles) should be solid and firm to touch.
  5. Meanwhile, put the sugar into a plastic food bag and add the black food colouring. Seal the bag and then rub the sugar between your hands until the sugar has absorbed the food colouring and is various shades of gray. (Don't worry if the colour is not even, I found that it looked more like ash having some granules darker than others!) Place the coloured sugar into a bowl.
  6. Once the truffles are set, melt the white chocolate buttons. Dip each truffle about 1cm into the chocolate at one end, and then immediately dip this into the grey sugar. Place back on the baking tray to set.
  7. Wrap a small piece of paper around the truffle and secure into place with some white chocolate. You can choose to fashion the paper to match any brand of cigar – just remember to tell people not to eat that part!

Beer Cake: 

For the cake:
200ml Guinness beer
170g plain flour 
2 medium eggs, beaten
290g soft brown sugar
60g cocoa powder
100g dark chocolate chips
115g margarine
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda 
¼ tsp baking powder
For the chocolate ganache covering:
300g dark chocolate
250ml double or whipping cream

For the cream cheese frosting:
125g cream cheese
250g icing sugar
90g unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp lemon curd

Prep time: around 2 hours 
Cook time: 1.5 hours 
Serves: 14

  1. Start by preparing the chocolate ganache, as this will need time to cool and set. Break the chocolate into small pieces into a large mixing bowl. Bring the cream to the boil in a small saucepan over a medium heat, then immediately pour over the chocolate. Mix until all of the chocolate has melted then put the bowl to one side and leave to set, uncovered, for 2 hours at room temperature. Whilst the ganache is setting, make the cake.
  2. Preheat the oven to gas mark and grease and line a 4 inch cake pan
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix the butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy, then gradually beat in the eggs until combined.
  4. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into a second bowl, and in a third bowl, mix the cocoa and the Guinness.
  5. Fold a small amount of the Guinness mixture into the butter and sugar, followed by an equal amount of the flour mixture. Repeat this process until all three mixture are well combined (careful not to over beat as you don't want to loose the air!) Fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Place ¼ of the mixture into the baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. When the cake is done, place this on a wire wrack to cool. Repeat until all the cake mixture has been used, and you have 4 layers.
  7. Whilst the cake is cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Note: The recipe I based this on said to put all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Not that I'm questioning Mr. Worrall-Thompson's authority on frosting, but clearly his food processor is far superior to mine, as whenever I try this I end up with tiny lumps of butter in a mixture that is anything but smooth. Therefore, the technique below is to make the frosting by hand. However, if you would prefer to try the professionals way, then pop all the ingredients into your food processor and blend until smooth ^_^
  8. Chop the butter into small cubes and place in a large mixing bowl. Beat until soft. Add the cream cheese, vanilla essence and lemon curd and mix until combined, then sift in the icing sugar and mix well. Keep in the fridge until you need to use it.
  9. Once the cakes are cool, begin to layer them, using the chocolate ganache between the layers. Tip: if your cake start to tilt then place a skewer straight down the middle as a support – just remember to remove this before serving!
  10. Use the remaining chocolate ganache to completely cover the sides of the cake.
  11. Roll up some greaseproof paper, and shape this into a handle, poking the ends into the chocolate ganache to secure it into place.
  12. Spoon half of the cream cheese frosting into the centre of the top of the cake. Allow this to run naturally to the edges. Save the other half of the cream cheese in the fridge for serving.

And there you have your very own Beer cake and chocolate cigars!! Now the beer cake is pretty tall, so to serve this I cut it in half to make two two layer cakes, and used the rest of the cream cheese frosting to top the cake which didn't have any, before cutting into slices.

Next week: Fantasia – and I'm planning some magic musical cupcakes ^_^