A Leaving Cake that Wasn't for Me!

I've had quite a few leaving cakes recently, but this time it wasn't for me! One of the women from my work left on Friday to take on a new marketing role, and whilst she wasn't the first to leave in the three and a half months I've been there, she was the closest to my age and we had some good times even in such a short stint! I have been wanting to make this cake for a while and I thought that she deserved something a little special so I used my last jar of marshmallow fluff (so sad, I need to get some more from Australia or the States!) and based my cake on this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker. It turned out pretty well even though it swelled to about twice the size of my cake tin size when I was baking the cakes! My flatmate helped me out with the icing because I was exhausted by that stage but it was very enjoyable and see the results for yourselves.

Snicker's Cake

2 1/2 cups plain flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup Dutch-process (or other dark) cocoa powder
1T baking soda
1 1/2t baking powder
1 1/2t salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups strong black coffee
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 1/2t vanilla extract

4T unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1t vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts, roughly chopped

2 cups sugar
60g butter, softened and cut into pieces
1 cup cream, at room temperature
1T sea salt

115g butter, softened
115g cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup salted caramel sauce
2 cups icing sugar


Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line 3 20cm cake tins. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or large mixing bowl if you're using a hand mixer), sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for an additional 20 seconds (the batter will be very thin). Divide the batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pans in the oven. Continue to bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool the cakes (in the pans) on wire racks for 20 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Nougat Filling:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and evaporated milk, stirring until dissolved, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and add the marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, and vanilla extract, stirring until completely smooth. Fold in the peanuts. Let the nougat mixture cool to room temperature before using it in the cake. You can do this leaving it at room temperature or you can pop it into the refrigerator to speed up the process. Be sure to give a stir occasionally as it cools otherwise it may get too hard and unusable.

Salted Caramel Sauce:
Add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a heavy saucepan, medium sized. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt. You'll see that the sugar will begin to form clumps, but that's okay. Just keep whisking and as it continues to cook, they will melt back down.Stop whisking once all of the sugar has melted, and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks. Continue cooking until the sugar has reached a deep amber color. It should look almost a reddish-brown, and have a slight toasted aroma. This is the point where caramel can go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds, so keep a close eye. If you are using a candy thermometer, cook the sugar until it reaches 180°C. As soon as the caramel reaches 180°C, add the butter all at once. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble up when the butter is added. Whisk the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour the cream into the caramel. Again, be careful because the mixture will once again bubble up ferociously. Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Add the sea salt and whisk to incorporate. Set the sauce aside to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then pour into a glass jar or storage container and let cool to room temperature. You can refrigerate the sauce for up to 2 weeks. The leftovers are great on ice cream according to my flatmate!

Salted Caramel Frosting:

Beat together the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed for 5 minutes (I like to use the whisk attachment, but it's not necessary). Pour in the salted caramel and beat until combined. Reduce the speed to medium-low and slowly add the icing sugar, a little at a time, until it has all been incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for an additional two to three minutes, until light and fluffy.

Cake Assembly:
If your cakes baked up uneven or have domed on top, level off the tops. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Cover with half of the nougat filling and then spread a couple spoonfuls of the salted caramel sauce over top to evenly cover the nougat filling. Top with a second cake layer and cover with the remaining nougat filling and top with caramel sauce. Place the final cake layer on top face-down. Frost the cake with the salted caramel frosting, finishing it as smoothly as possible. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour, until the frosting is set (or use the garage or another cold place in your house overnight, that's what we did!).


A Long Hiatus

I'm unsure how to start this post, as it has been a really long time. I do want to say sorry for not posting since April, but I think I really needed a break to try and do other things in my life, but don't worry, I have still been baking! I think I'm really just starting to get back into it now (which is great because exams are coming up!) but for a while I had so many other stressful things that it was difficult to fit this in as well. Just to give you a snapshot of what has happened: moved flats with my current flatmates and we now have an amazing brand new place just around the corner. I changed jobs from nannying and working at Compass (two jobs was really starting to become a pain!) and now I'm working for a commercial real estate company in the research department as well as still doing my studies. I've taken on more responsibility with AFS by becoming a pseudo committee member and ambassador for the Wellington region. I gave up umpiring for the year because I just couldn't commit to it and I didn't want to let people down and I'm considering whether I'll go back next year or not. Just general life stuff like turning 20 and no longer being a teenager, yay! So I have a few photos here, as well as heaps of new recipes, but the recipe that I want to share today is one that I have made many time but unfortunately they all seem to disappear from our place before I can get any decent pictures! So sorry for the not-so-good one, I'll keep trying to get a better one before they all get eaten by the boys!

I made this just before leaving Compass - S'Mores Cake!

Madeira Cake with lemon frosting made for my friend's workplace.

Today's recipe... Muffins! See the variation for these chocolate and oreo muffins below the recipe.

Bakery Style Muffins

3 cups plain flour
1T baking powder
1/2t baking soda
1/2t salt
150g butter, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1t vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups plain or vanilla yoghurt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

1 cup any sort of frozen berries

Preheat the oven to 200°C and either line two muffin tins with paper liners or grease them really well. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well. With the mixer on a low speed, add the dry ingredients in around 3-5 batches, alternating with the yoghurt each time. Add the chocolate and the berries and mix through with a wooden spoon. Be careful not to overmix here, not only so the muffins aren't hard as a rock but also so that the berries don't colour the mixture too much. Scoop the batter into the lined muffin tins, making sure to fill them all the way to the top do that they dome like bakery muffins. Bake for 5 minutes in a 200°C oven, then reduce the temperature to 190°C and bake for a further 15 minutes or until browned on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. These muffins taste amazing, a testament to that fact is that 24 only last about 3 days in our 4 person flat! Yum!

Use only 2 1/2 cups of flour and add 3/4 cup of cocoa powder, whisk it in with the dry ingredients at the beginning. Also substitute 1 cup of oreo crumbs for the frozen berries for an extra surprise!

These are the traditional muffins with this recipe but they look a little burnt because the oven in our old place burnt stuff all the time... They look much better made in our new oven in our new flat!


126 Mini Cupcakes

That's right, over two days I make 126 mini cupcakes. Well, it ended up being more like 200 with the dud and practice ones, but those don't count, right? I was asked to make 120 mini cupcakes for a 21st which seemed ok at the time, I mean, they're little, how hard is that? It ended up very very fiddly and while it wasn't difficult, it was definitely time consuming! The girl who's 21st it was wanted 6 different flavours, and they're all flavours (or similar variations) on recipes that I've already done. Except vanilla cupcakes. Weird ae, that I've never done vanilla? I think it has to do with my whole chocolate obsession... But the vanilla ones actually turned out really well! They ended up being vanilla funfetti cupcakes because the sprinkles were really cute. So I had 6 flavours and ended up making 21 of each flavour because it was a 21st, which I thought was a nice touch. :) Apparently they were very well received and although I was exhausted on Friday it was definitely fun and a new experience. So below is the recipe for the vanilla funfetti cupcakes, adapted from Sweetapolita and pictures of the vanilla cupcakes and all of the cupcakes together in a box as well.

Vanilla Funfetti!

Peanut Butter Chocolate, Chocolate Madness, Chocolate Bailey's, Vanilla Funfetti, Mojito and Strawberry Lemonade.

Vanilla Funfetti Cupcakes (Makes 24 large cupcakes, halve the recipe for 24-30 mini cupcakes)

1 cup milk
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 egg, whole, at room temperature
1T vanilla essence
3 cups plain flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1T baking powder
3/4t salt
175g butter, softened but cool, and cut into cubes
1/2 cup sprinkles (optional)

375g butter, softened and cut into cubes
3 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
3T milk
1T vanilla essence or vanilla bean paste
Different types of sprinkles for decoration

Preheat oven to 180°C. Prepare the muffin pans with your favourite baking liners and set aside. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the egg whites, whole egg, 1/4 cup of milk and vanilla essence. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter, and blend on low speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining 3/4 cup of milk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1 1/2 minutes. The mixture should be light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition. If you're making funfetti cupcakes, simply fold in the sprinkles, until just combined. Divide the batter into your prepared pans, no more than 2/3 full. Bake until a toothpick comes clean when inserted into the center of the cupcake, about 16-18 minutes. Be so careful to not over-bake. Let cool completely before icing.

Vanilla Frosting:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed. Butter will become very pale & creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then increase to medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy. This frosting is best used straight away.


A Norwegian Wedding Cake

When I was asked if I would accept this challenge, I was very unsure how it would turn out. From the photos, it looks like an almost impossible task! Kari is a friend of mum's from work and she asked mum if I would make her wedding cake. She was going to make it herself, but was talked out of it and probably quite luckily, I can't imagine how stressful that would be! So when she asked me, I said I would have a go and see how it went. Kari already had the rings on which you bake them, so that actually made it so much easier. Surprisingly, the cake wasn't actually as difficult as I thought. The dough was fairly easy to make (mostly because I was using mum's stand mixer I think, this would be very hard to do without one!), the most difficult part was actually trying to roll the rings all the same thickness. Then I am also really bad at, well, doing anything straight. As odd as it sounds I can't even walk in a straight line! So to make 37 rings go straight and not diagonal? Huge challenge. Luckily mum isn't as straight-challenged as I am, so it was her job to make sure that the cake was properly aligned! We ended up having two practices before making the actual cake, and I'm glad we did even though we had cake lying around for ages! Also word of warning, if you don't like the taste of marzipan (like me!) then this cake isn't for you. I don't mind it, but I'm not a fan. Luckily my flatmate, Luke, loves marzipan, so he was quite happy to eat all the spare pieces I had lying around! This cake looks amazing as a wedding cake because it's so tall and has the graduating rings, but it's not actually incredibly hard to make. So if you're looking for an impressive cake, like marzipan, and happen to have the Kransekake cake rings lying around, then go for it! I really enjoyed making it and apparently all the guests at the wedding and Kari and her new husband and family all loved it, so I think all in all it was a great success! This recipe is originally from Not Quite Nigella.

Kransekake (This is double the standard recipe, FYI to make a cake with 36 rings)

1.1kg almond meal
1.1kg icing sugar
1/2 cup flour
8-10 egg whites
3t almond essence

3 egg whites
6 cups icing sugar
Lemon juice from 1 lemon

You will have to do this in two parts, because unless you have an industrial mixer, it's not all going to fit! In the large bowl of an electric mixer add the almond meal and flour and sift in the icing sugar. Add 4 of the egg whites into the mix and mix with a paddle on low speed. Add a little 5th egg white until you reach a moist but rollable consistency. Cover your hands lightly in flour and if the dough still sticks to them add a little more flour. Cover with gladwrap so that it doesn't dry out. Repeat this sequence again and you'll have two sets of dough for the cake. Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease each Kransekake mold with oil and sift over with flour. Take a small amount of the dough and roll it out and place it in the molds, joining any joins straight away before it dries out. Don’t fill too much as it will expand a little. Cover the dough in the molds with gladwrap so that it doesn't dry out. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until it is a light golden shade. Cool in tin and if any are sticking together then quickly run a knife between them before they cool and harden. Remove from the tin once cooled. Sort rings into graduating shapes. Make royal icing by sifting the icing sugar in a bowl and whisking in the lemon juice and egg whites. Using a piping bag fitted with a small plain tube, place some royal icing on the bottom of the largest ring and stick it to the cake board. Then with the royal icing, draw patterns on the rings as seen above. Sandwich these together with more royal icing which sets like glue. Also a good idea is to put a circle of icing underneath each ring before sticking it to the next one because it makes the cake much sturdier. Enjoy your Norwegian cake!


Courtney's Love Affair With A Cookie

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to post again! I have actually still been baking, I've just been repeating some things, working on a big project and have been in general really busy! So I'm not sure if I've mentioned before about my new flat, but it's really awesome! I've really been enjoying living here and my flatmates are all really cool. :) Courtney is the other girl living here and she really likes baking as well. She loved this cookie recipe the first time I made it and she's made it twice since! She told me the other day that it was dangerous introducing her to that recipe... Haha. It was originally from Sally's Baking Addiction but I modified the recipe to match my peanut butter addiction. :)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Overload Cookies

1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1t baking powder
1/4t salt
200g chocolate bits
2 large eggs
1t vanilla extract
75g butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup chocolate bits
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup white chocolate (optional)
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. Melt the chocolate in the microwave for about 1 minute. Stir until a smooth consistency is reached. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla. Set aside. With an electric or stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Beat in the sugars, scraping down the sides every 10 seconds or so. The mixture will be grainy. Mix in the beaten egg/vanilla until incorporated. Add the chocolate in a steady stream and beat until combined. Melt the peanut butter for 30 seconds in the microwave and then add to the mixture. Add the dry ingredients on slow speed. Fold in the chocolate chips. Do not overmix at any point in this process. Chill dough for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Scoop about 2T of dough and roll into a ball. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cookies have just begun to set with the centre still appearing very soft. They will firm up as they cool. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.



I know, I know, inappropriate name much? But that's seriously the best way to describe these cupcakes. They are soooo good! I actually wasn't going to make them last week, I was too tired, too lazy etc etc. But I really wanted to eat some, so I thought I really did have to make some. I also thought my new flatmates might appreciate some and I was right, they went down a treat! If I were to do them again, I would probably inject the filling into the cupcakes after they were cooked, or half fill them, put the filling in the and put top up the batter. It would be more of a filling then and less of a kind of spread. But if you love chocolate like I do, then these cupcakes are for you! It's definitely an orgasm of chocolate in your mouth, so if that's what you're after, then make these straight away!

Chocolate-Gasm Cupcakes

115g butter, softened and cut into cubes
50g dark chocolate bits
1/2 cup dutch-processed or other dark cocoa powder
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2t baking soda
3/4t baking powder
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1t vanilla extract
1/2t table salt
1/2 cup sour cream

75g milk chocolate
1/4 cup cream

375g chocolate bits
1 cup cream

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line standard-size muffin pan with cupcake liners. Combine butter, chocolate, and cocoa in medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk until smooth and combined. (Alternately, you can microwave the mixture at a lower power, stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted. This is what I did.) Set aside to cool until just warm to the touch. Whisk eggs in second medium bowl to combine; add sugar, vanilla, and salt until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Sift about one-third of the flour, baking powder and baking soda over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined, then sift remaining flour mixture over and whisk until batter is and thick. Divide the batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Either put the filling and put more batter on top or inject the filling into the baked cupcakes. Bake until skewer inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before icing, about 30 minutes.

Milk Chocolate Filling:
In a microwave safe bowl, combine milk chocolate and cream. Microwave for 30 seconds on low power then stir. Repeat if chocolate is not melted. Whisk until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator while you prepare cupcakes. Do not leave in fridge for more than 30 minutes.

Whipped Chocolate Ganache Frosting:
Place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 2 minutes on low, or until the chocolate on the top just starts to melt. Then pour over the cream and heat for a further minute to warm the cream. Stir until the ganache is smooth. Leave to cool until it is a pourable consistency and then refrigerate for around half an hour, but don't let the ganache set. Then pour the ganache into the bowl of a stand mixer and whip the crap out of it until you can pipe it! :)


The Amy

Some of you might be wondering why this post is called "The Amy". But Amy, of course, will understand. I worked with Amy for around 6 months at my old job, but they've now sadly moved to Auckland! So I thought that I would make cupcakes to celebrate the last day Amy and I had together as well as the fact that it had been her birthday the week before. Then I remembered that Amy had recently decided to be vegan. Hm... It was a challenge but I thought I may as well give it a go! There seem to be an increasing number of vegans in the world, and vegan recipes were plentiful. I knew I'd have to buy some soy or rice milk, but heaps of recipes called for agave or other specialist vegan sugars/sweeteners or butter-type products. I found this recipe and thought it would work quite well. Amy loved them, she was so excited that she called her mum in the UK! I would advise chilling the frosting before using though, as it kind of melted a bit of my way to work. Luckily I took photos before I got to work! The reason behind the name to this post, is that Amy and I were joking about opening a cupcake shop and she asked if I would open a vegan one. I probably wouldn't have a whole vegan cupcake shop, but if this were ever in the distant future to happen, I said I would sell this cupcake and call it "The Amy". There you have it, Amy's Vegan Cupcakes. :)

Vegan Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cupcakes (The Amy)


1 cup flour
1 cup vegan brown sugar (in New Zealand, all Chelsea products are vegan)
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
3/4t baking soda
1/4t salt
1/3 cup chocolate soy milk
1/4 golden syrup
1/4 vegan margarine
1/2 cup applesauce

2 cups vegan icing sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup rice milk
1t vanilla essence


Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. In a large mixing bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together. In a smaller mixing bowl, mix together the wet ingredients and pour them into the dry. Beat until combined. Spoon cupcake batter into liners until about 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool for about 20 minutes and then frost the cupcakes.

Peanut Butter Frosting:
Mix wet ingredients well with a hand beater and then slowly add in dry ingredients. Add more icing sugar or rice milk until desired creaminess is reached.


A Craving

You know those times when you see something and you just can't stop thinking about it? Maybe it's a dress or a necklace or a new Xbox game? For me, it's most often a recipe. I see a picture and then I just can't stop thinking about the flavour, the texture, the whole package! I'm making you drool right? Usually when I think of chocolate chip biscuits, they don't make me drool. They're nice, don't get me wrong, but they're usually just a go-to kind of thing. Not something really special. But these, well. These were different. I saw the picture on Sally's Baking Addiction and I couldn't stop thinking about them! Probably half to do with the fact that they had "sno-caps" which are chocolate chips with sprinkles on them. Yum! But. They looked so soft and chocolatey and delicious. And they were! Honestly, my new go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. For anything. They were so amazing! I would highly recommend, and follow the recipe so that you too can achieve an amazing soft cookie... :)

PS: This photo was published on FoodGawker and TasteSpotting!! :D

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

175g butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
2t vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
2t cornstarch
1t baking soda
1/2t salt
1 1/2 cup chocolate bits

Line a baking tray. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Mix in egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed.  On low speed, mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. The dough will be thick and sticky. Chill for at least 30 minutes (or up to 3 days). Preheat oven to 180°CDrop balls of dough onto baking tray (about 1.5T of dough per cookie). Press a few chocolate chips onto the tops of cookies for looks, if desired. Bake for 8-9 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges. Do NOT bake them longer than 10 minutes. Remove and let cool for 3 minutes on the baking tray.  Transfer to cooling rack. So easy!

Brunch with Maddie

Maddie is a friend of mine from school who I first got to know actually from winning the scholarship for my exchange. Maddie applied for the same thing and wanted my advice, but actually ended up going for a year-long exchange with Rotary (traitor!!). She came back 4 weeks ago now but has already moved out! I definitely understand, but I did find it quite funny. We were actually at the same flat viewing by chance, and after that we thought we should catch up and ended up having brunch. I was making the sweet thing (of course!) and I saw this recipe in the Little and Friday recipe book that I really wanted to try. I know I've made brioche before, but this recipe was much easier and less time consuming AND it had chocolate. Yum! So after walking up the 200 stairs to Maddie's new flat (seriously? Why do we even live in Wellington?!) we enjoyed these very yummy and reasonably easy to make brioche. They're good anytime of the day really, just make and eat them!

Chocolate Brioche

550mL milk
60g fresh yeast, crumbled, or 3t dried yeast
6 1/2 cups plain flour
3t salt
1/2 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
140g butter

200g chocolate bits
1/2 cup cream

200g chocolate bits

1 egg

In a saucepan, heat milk over a medium heat until lukewarm. Remove from heat and sprinkle over yeast. Stir until yeast has dissolved. Place dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Using an electric beater with a dough hook attachment, mix at a low speed. If you do not have a mixer, mix by hand to combine. Add yeast mixture and eggs to bowl, continuing to mix at a low speed. Mix until a sticky dough forms. Stop mixer and scrape down dough from sides of bowl. Increase to medium speed and mix for 10 minutes until an elastic, shiny dough forms and pulls away from the bowl. If doing this by hand, tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Cut butter into small pieces and gradually add to dough mixture, mixing until well combined. Cover bowl with a tea-towel and allow dough to prove until it has almost doubled in size. Tip dough onto a floured bench.Preheat oven to 180°C and grease 3-4 texas muffin tins. Roll the dough into a rectangle measuring approx 45cm x 20cm and 1cm thick. Position the dough on the bench so that the longer side is facing you. Spread a thick layer of chocolate ganache over the dough, ensuring it is fully covered, and sprinkle over chocolate bits. Roll up dough away from you to form a long log. Using a sharp knife, slice into 5cm-wide slices. Place each scroll into a muffin tin. Lightly beat the egg and brush the tops with the lightly beaten egg. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool before removing from tins. If melted chocolate leaks out the bottoms, spoon it back on! Yum!

Chocolate Ganache:
Put chocolate in a medium sized bowl and heat on low in the microwave until the top layer of chocolate starts to melt. Pour over cream and heat also on low for around 30 seconds-1 minute. Then just keep mixing until no chocolate lumps remain. Leave in the fridge until the mixture is no longer warm but don't let it set.

Mum's Birthday!

I remember when we were younger and mum always used to make birthday cakes for Alex and I. She did heaps of cool things, one year we had a Barbie cake (where the skirt is the cake and you stick a Barbie in the top!), another year we had a pancake party and heaps more of course! But then we started getting into buying the cakes because it ended up being much easier and stress-free! We usually get all of our birthday cakes for our family from Moore Wilson's now (we're all particularly fond of the Duchess cake...) because they do really good cakes. This year however, I really wanted to bake mum a cake myself for her birthday. She said she didn't want any fruit, just chocolate so I was trying to think of what I could do. I was considering trying to replicate a Duchess cake so I googled to try and find a recipe, but apparently they only exist at Moore Wilson's! But, I did come across a recipe that looked nearly as good and I could make it in advance and freeze it. Since it ticked both of the boxes, I decided to give it a try and it was fantastic! If you want something more that just a basic cake for a birthday, or if you don't want to have to ice a cake, or if you want to make it in advance, then this cake it for you! Be warned, it does take a fair bit of time, just because you have to chill and bake things etc., but it's actually surprisingly easy. So maybe this could be your next go-to birthday cake?

Double Chocolate Mousse Cake

250g chocolate bits
4 eggs, separated at room temperature (keep both parts though!!)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4t salt
1t vanilla essence
115g butter

250g dark/semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups cream
1t gelatin or 1 gelatin sheet, softened in 2-3T cool water

200g white chocolate, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups cream
1t gelatin or 1 gelatin sheet, softened in 2-3T cool water

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 20-25cm springform cake tin. Melt the chocolate slowly in the microwave on a low heat, or in a double boiler/bowl over a pot of simmering water. When it's nearly all melted, stir until no lumps remain. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with about 1/3 of the sugar. Start beating on a slow speed and gradually increase the speed until the egg whites look fluffy. Add the remaining sugar, salt and vanilla and continue to beat until the sugar has dissolved and the meringue is shiny and nearly at the soft-peak stage. Then, using a whisk, stir the soft butter into the melted chocolate until completely incorporated. Then whisk in the egg yolks. (I didn't read the recipe properly before starting and had to use 8 eggs as I threw away the egg yolks!! :O) Fold half of the meringue into the chocolate mixture using a whisk. Fold the remaining meringue in with a rubber spatula, making sure the mix the heavier batter at the bottom of the bowl. Gently fold until no streaks remain. Now fill a large casserole/baking dish about 2-3cm full with hot water to be a water bath for the cake. You must also wrap the springform tin in aluminium foil, do 2-3 layers so water will seep in while the cake bakes. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and then place the tin in the water bath. Place the cake in the oven and bake for 26-28 minutes. The top will be shiny and a skewer inserted into the middle will come out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool to room temperature. As it cools, it will sink and lose some of its volume, that's fine. Refrigerate the cake for 1 hour and then run a knife around the edge of the tin and invert the cake onto a serving plate. Remove the bottom of the pan and baking paper and then replace the ring of the springform tin around the cake. This will be the mold for the mousses.

Chocolate Mousse:
Put the chopped chocolate in a medium-sized heat-proof bowl. Bring 1/2 cup of the cream to a boil and pour it over the chopped chocolate. Stir the chocolate and cream mixture gently, until smooth. If the chocolate doesn't melt completely, heat it briefly on low in the microwave and continue to stir until melted. While the chocolate is melting, soften the gelatin in a small dish with the cool water. Once it has softened, heat it on low heat in the microwave and stir to dissolve. When the gelatin mixture is completely free of lumps, stir it into the melted chocolate (I know it's got water, but it actually works!). Whip the remaining cream, making sure not to overwhip it. The chocolate mixture must be free of lumps and around 25°C so that the chocolate doesn't set, but the cream won't just melt. Add about half of the whipped cream to the chocolate mixture and fold in with a whisk. Fold in the remaining half with a rubber spatula once the first half in whisked in. When the chocolate and cream are evenly blended, pour the mousse over the top of the cooled cake in the ring. Use an offset spatula to smooth the top. Return the cake to the refrigerator whilst you make the white mousse.

White Chocolate Mousse:
Repeat the directions for the chocolate mousse, but using the white chocolate. Pour the white mousse over the top of the chocolate mousse and return to the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least 4-5 hours before serving. It can also be frozen for up to several weeks, just let it defrost in the fridge for around 5 hours before serving.


Claire's Cake

Claire was a co-worker of mine who just left Compass Health. She was working there for 3 years, which is a pretty long time to keep a part-time job whilst studying! She made lots of friends at Compass because she's such a lovely person and there were lots of us sad to see her go. Lucky for her though, she's off to start the next stage of her life, being a nurse! So we had a morning tea for her at work, and my boss asked me if I could bake something for it, fitting for Claire to be leaving. I had seen this cake a little while ago, and I did modify it because unfortunately the Swiss meringue buttercream didn't work so well, but it turned out great in the end! I thought it was a really nice mix of fruit and chocolate and I thought the cake and icing balanced well together. All in all, it was a really nice cake, highly recommended.

PS: If you want to see Claire's blog, the link is here.

Dark Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Buttercream (Makes a 3 layer 20cm cake)

2 1/4 cups plain flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
2t baking soda
2t baking powder
1t salt
210mL buttermilk
200mL espresso or strong, hot brewed coffee
100mL vegetable oil
2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 1/2T vanilla essence

300g butter, softened
3 cups icing sugar
1 cup strawberries (or to taste), mashed or pureed

Preheat oven to 180°C. Prepare three 20cm round cake tins with butter, baking paper, and flour or cocoa powder. Tap out excess. In the bowl of an electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients. Add all remaining ingredients to bowl with the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour into prepared pans. If possible, use digital kitchen scale and weigh pans for even layers. Batter will be liquidy.
Bake for 20 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Cakes are done when toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs, about 30 minutes. Try not to over-bake. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes then gently invert onto racks until completely cool. When cool, cut off the tops of the cakes from edge, cutting straight across with a very sharp knife. (We tried a blunt knife, it wouldn't cut!) Frost the cake layers by putting a mound of frosting in the middle and spreading to the sides. Then do the same with the top and frost around the sides.

Strawberry Buttercream:
Whip the butter in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar bit by bit and mix until the frosting comes together. Then add the strawberry mixture and beat for 3-5 minutes. If the icing is too runny, add more icing sugar.


New Year Cupcakes - Pt 2

The second type of cupcakes that I made for New Year's Eve, I thought some alcohol would be a nice touch! These ones are called Baileys Baby.

Chocolate Baileys Cupcakes

115g butter, softened and cut into cubes
50g dark chocolate bits
1/2 cup dutch-processed or other dark cocoa powder
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2t baking soda
3/4t baking powder
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1t vanilla extract
1/2t table salt
1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup Baileys

125g butter, softened
4 cups icing sugar, sifted
2T Baileys

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line standard-size muffin pan with cupcake liners. Combine butter, chocolate, and cocoa in medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk until smooth and combined. (Alternately, you can microwave the mixture at a lower power, stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted. This is what I did.) Set aside to cool until just warm to the touch. Whisk eggs in second medium bowl to combine; add sugar, vanilla, and salt until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Sift about one-third of the flour, baking powder and baking soda over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined, add the Baileys, then sift remaining flour mixture over and whisk until batter is and thick. Divide the batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake until skewer inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before icing, about 30 minutes.

Baileys Buttercream:
Beat butter in a stand mixer and slowly add icing sugar until crumbly. Slowly add Baileys until the desired consistency is reached. Add more Baileys if you need. Beat for 3-5 minutes until light, fluffy and creamy, but still firm enough to pipe.

New Year Cupcakes - Pt 1

I just realised that this is a bit out of order, because I remembered that I did want to post something else! Sorry! So for Christmas mum gave me the Miss Melicious Cupcakes book. It's really awesome, the flavours are very original and it was a very cool present! So I decided to try out two of them, and this is the first one. I made them mainly because Cam loves caramel and they looked really cool! In the book they're called, "At The Drive-In". :)

Caramel Popcorn Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

110g white chocolate, coarsely chopped
125g butter, cubed
1/4 cup golden syrup
2/3 brown sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 cup plain flour
1/3 cup self-raising flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup caramel popcorn, crushed, plus extra to decorate

125g butter, softened
4 cups icing sugar
1T milk
2-3T caramel sauce (homemade recipe here)
1t sea salt

Combine chocolate, butter, syrup, sugar and milk in a saucepan. Stir over a low heat until melted, then cool for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 170°C and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Sift flours and mix into the wet mixture. Stir in egg, incorporating well. Mix in crushed popcorn. Fill liners three-quarters full and bake for 25 minutes or until tops spring back when touched gently. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove and cool completely before frosting. Decorate with caramel popcorn.

Salty Caramel Buttercream:
Beat butter in a stand mixer and slowly add icing sugar until crumbly. Slowly add milk, caramel sauce and salt until the desired consistency is reached. Add more sauce if required. Beat for 3-5 minutes until light, fluffy and creamy, but still firm enough to pipe.


A Weekend of Baking

I've been wanting to make these for a long time, but never quite got around to it. I think it was probably because, brioche is not one of those things that you can just quickly make. The recipe just seemed so long and involved, I really wanted to try making them, I just never found the time. Luckily, last weekend, I finally decided that I needed to give them a go! It was actually a beautiful weekend and I was baking the entire time... And now I'm being repaid with a crappy weekend and extremely windy at the moment... YAY. Oh well, I guess that means you can stay in your pyjamas and write your blog in bed! So I'm not exactly sure why my brioche didn't go exactly to plan, I have a feeling it was because I don't have dough hooks for my mixer, so the dough just ends up spinning around the beaters and up to the top of the mixer. Very inconvenient I say. So if you have a stand mixer that doesn't have dough hooks, then I would recommend using a hand mixer, as they all seem to come with them nowadays. The dough hooks work very differently to the beaters, they sort of knead the dough instead of spinning it, which is what the beaters seemed to do. So to me the snails didn't look exactly right, they were too flat, but they still tasted amazing so everything was fine in the end! You should give these a go if you have most of a weekend spare, I know it's a long time, but they are truly worth it! The recipe comes from Brown Eyed Baker.

Brioche Raisin Snails (Makes 15-20, depending on how large you want them)

2t active dry yeast
1/3 cup lukewarm water
1/3 cup lukewarm milk
3 3/4 cups plain flour
2t salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
350g butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm

2 cups milk
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1 1/2t pure vanilla extract
3 1/2T butter, cut into bits at room temperature

1 cup moist, plump raisins
3 tablespoons dark rum

1/4 cup sugar
1t ground cinnamon

3/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
3t water
1t vanilla essence


Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one, or use hand beaters with a dough hook. Toss a tea towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can- this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour, then remove the tea towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you'll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You'll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room. Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight.
Line one large or two smaller baking sheets with baking paper.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon together. On a flour dusted surface, roll the dough into a rectangle about 30cm wide and 40cm long, with a short end toward you. Spread the pastry cream across the dough, leaving a 2cm strip bare on the side farthest from you. Scatter the raisins over the pastry cream and sprinkle the raisins and cream with the cinnamon sugar. Starting with the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. With a decent knife (not like my $4 one from the supermarket...), using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends if they're ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into rounds about 2cm thick. Put the snails on the lined baking sheet(s), leaving some puff space between them. Lightly cover the snails with baking paper and set the baking sheet(s) in a warm place until the snails have doubles in volume, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. 
When the snails have almost fully risen, preheat the oven: depending on the number of baking sheets you have, either center a rack in the oven or position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 190°CRemove the baking paper, and bake the snails for about 25 minutes (rotate the sheets if you're using two, from top to bottom and front to back after 15 minutes), or until they are puffed and richly browned. Using a metal spatula, transfer the snails onto a cooling rack. Put a piece of baking paper under the rack of warm rolls to act as a drip catcher. Put the icing sugar into a small bowl, and stir in a teaspoon of water. Keep adding water drop by drop until you have an icing that falls from the tip of a spoon. Add the vanilla extract, then drizzle the icing over the hot snails.

Pastry Cream:
Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Meanwhile, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk-- this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won't curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are full incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold or, if you want to cool it quickly, as I did, put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water, and stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

Raisins and Rum:
Put the raisins in a small saucepan, cover them with hot water and let them steep for about 4 minutes, until they are plumped. Drain the raisins, return them to the saucepan and, stirring constantly, warm them over low heat. When the raisins are very hot, pull the pan from the heat and pour over the rum. Standing back, ignite the rum. (One of my flatmates did this for me because I was a little wary of doing it with one of the small lighters, but it's actually fine as long as you're fast.) Stir until the flames go out, then cover and set aside. (The raisins and rum an be kept in a covered jar for up to 1 day.)

One less than the top photo... They were so good!