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Saturday, 5 January 2013

postheadericon Christmas cake!

This was of course made before Christmas but as usual my posts are late! i wanted to go for a 'Santa stuck in the Chimney' theme but I managed to leave Santa's legs til the end of the time I had and ended up running out of time so the legs and feet are not so pretty =P

The bottom layer was carrot cake with a cream cheese frosting and covered in marshmallow fondant and the top layer was a chocolate cake filled and covered with chocolate ganache- a chocolate heaven!

The wee snowmen and Christmas trees I made a couple of days before and they were made out of marshmallow fondant. I didn't actually have any cutters that would have helped so instead I just used a fondant embellisher for an outline and then cut them out with a small sharp knife. The little stars were made with a plunger cut out for stars which is a very handy tool =) And I used liquid gels to paint on the wee details and let them dry overnight.

 I was really happy with how smooth the ganache went on to the cake and what a professional look it gave to the cake. I am pretty sure that i might have tried to use ganache before but wasn't as convinced but now I honestly want to use ganache for everything! If only you could make it in a fat free way! I decided to make a brick effect since it was to be a chimney which obviously means you cant see how smooth it is but next time =P

I do wish that the carrot cake had the height of the chocolate cake but I forgot how dense carrot cake is! then the proportions of the cake would have been better for the idea of the cake I think. But I guess too much chocolate cake can never be a bad thing!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

postheadericon Teeny tiny carrot cake cookies!

I made these for Jasmine's boyfriend for his Christmas as he is vegan and I wanted to try a vegan cake type thing. They were from a blog that I have mentioned before because for vegan foods, this blog has so many different ideas:

I believe that I used plain flour instead of the whole wheat flour and I don't have any coconut oil so i used vegetable oil instead and it seemed to work.

This recipe is really easy as well- just one bowl to mix the dry ingredients and then add in the mixed wet ingredients.

Then put into wee even sized balls, pop on a greaseproof paper on a baking tray and bake and once they come out of the oven, pop them on a cooling rack and then devour! i actually really like these as a wee snack...or just a big snack by eating a whole plate of them =D 

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

postheadericon Hello 2013!

I don't actually have any resolutions for this year! If I have a better year filled with happiness then I sure wouldn't complain! To be honest if I can get most of my 101 in 1001 list done then I will be very happy! So I thought I would do a wee update on the last things I managed to check off in 2012:

-18: Finally get my prescription for my glasses

I actually got my prescription for my glasses last year but I put off actually buy them for several reasons- denial that my eyes aren't perfect, choosing the perfect pair of glasses and the money that I was saving was going towards my America trip. But after a lot of squinting and blurriness I finally chose 2 pairs of glasses and can now see!

-37: Go to the theatre or pantomine

I went to see the Shakespear Improvised show when I couch surfed this summer in New York and it was super fabulous! I would recommend that anyone who gets a chance to go should grab the opportunity! Each show is completely different so I would definitely go again! I did hear that they have come over to the Edinburgh fringe festival  in previous years so hopefully UK people will get a chance to see them.
What they do is get someone in the audience to shout out a theme or a title that they will use and they take about 20 seconds to think about the title. After one of the guys makes up a monologue about the title then they do an hour long play in the style of Shakespeare! Here is a wee clip of them:

-72: Learn Spanish

This is something that I have wanted to do for quite some time and it is always on and off but the last couple of months I have been slowly learning in my spare time during work! I actually bought the Spanish version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in Spaish like 4 years ago so have cracked that open to learn a little of it! I recently went on a trip to Valencia for 3 days and this totally helped a lot, just to be around lots of Spanish speaking people! Just need to make a lot more trips out to Spain I think :D

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

postheadericon Macaroons!

I have finally manned up and had an attempt at making macaroons! They were made for part of my best friend, Jasmine's, Chritsmas present and didn't turn out so badly. I did look at a couple of articles on making macaroons before I started making them which helped an awful lot!
I used the French method to make them which seemed to work for me. Maybe one day I will also try the other method to compare which is easier and has better results though. The French method takes a little less technical work but you do have to let the macaroons rest for between half an hour to an hour before popping them in the oven.

I did read that it is better to have one or two day old eggs so you can do this by separating the egg whites and storing them in the coldest part of the kitchen (usually this is the back of the fridge). When I made them I didn't have time to 'age' the eggs so in order to imitate this effect a good tip is to separate the eggs and microwave them on medium/high for 10-20 seconds.

Here is the basic recipe for the standard macaroon:
3 egg white (or 100g weighed)
50g granulated sugar
200g powdered sugar
110g ground almonds

Whisk the egg whites and granulated sugar together until you get stiff peaks. If you the eggs slide around the bowl when you try and turn the bowl upside down then you should keep whisking. Once the eggs start defying gravity then stop whisking! Now sift the icing sugar and almonds together. I used already ground almonds but if you want to be fresher then feel free to measure out 110g of almonds and put them in a processor with the powdered sugar and grind it all up to a powder and then sift it in a bowl. Next is a crucial stage; mixing the egg whites into the almonds and sugar. Once you over mix this mixture it can be a disaster! At first you should incorporate the mixture with fast strokes because you do need to break down the mix but after about 20-30 strokes start to slow down so that you can get a feel of how the mix feels. You should be aiming for a smooth mix and if you put a small amount on a plate the top should flatten itself. If there is still a peak then keep mixing but go slower because it is better to under than over mix.

If you are wanting to add colour or flavours to the mix you should add them right after you start to incorporate and break up the mixture as this means it gets fully incorporated without needing to over mix. Powdered flavours and colours work best as adding extra liquids might make the mix weird! I added liquid lemon flavour but I only added a little bit so I don't think it affected the mixture too much.

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe circles on greaseproof paper on a baking tray, making them about 1.5in in diameter. A good idea is to draw out the circles before hand so you can get them the right size although keep in mind that this mixtures spreads, something that I obviously did not think about! 

Once the macaroons are piped you need to let them rest for about an hour in order to rest and this helps create the 'feet' you see in macaroons. You know when they are done resting when you are able to touch the top of the macaroon and it is not sticky because it has created a 'skin'. Once you achieve this pop them in a preheated oven at 300 Farenheit or 148 celsius. They will be cooked in about 10-12 minutes, depending on the size you make them. Once they are cooked leave them to cool before filling them.

The filling that I made for these was a buttercream, with some lemon flavouring, as Jasmine wanted something lemony! You can be quite creative with the fillings with buttercreams, ganaches, jams and spreads!

Since I haven't actually eaten a proper macaroon I don't know how mines compared to the French proper ones but I would for sure recommend making them because they are very yummy! =D

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Ellen's Cakes
I am a 21 year old student who loves to bake and make yummy sweet things
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