OK, so I’ve done a few canvases now with Super Mario Bros 3 on them…and now I decided to make another one! It looked like there was a little bit more room left in my hallway so decided that another painting would make a complete set. It didn’t take long for me to wrack my brains, and in the end I settled for the mini-boss stage – BOOM BOOM! It took me a while to work out that the mini-boss lizard thing was called Boom Boom until one of my friends pointed out that he creates comic-style clouds with a large “BOOM” in them when he hits the floor. I began work straight away…
Tada! I decided to showcase a few more of the baddies (Drybones and Thwomp!) and thought that the fireflower Mario looked great against the black backdrop. I have to stick to my 8-bit roots and not fill in the background with a dungeon background like in the SNES remakes. I love my paintings – they make quite a good set now that they’re all hung up down my hall. Super Mario Bros 3 has always been one of my favourite games of all time, and still is. A few of my friends have offered to buy them, but I couldn’t part with them. Maybe I’ll make some replicas or take orders – it’s strange how cold, hard cash can change a person’s mind!
I was asked a while ago if I would be able to make something special for a work function, and the only criteria I had was that it had to be pink and girly. Not exactly my thing, but its surprisingly easy to find baking ingredients and decorations that are pink: Disney princess stuff, wafer flowers, glitter…and all that jazz. I don’t want to say baking is especially girly, but the cake decoration aisle in my local supermarket certainly wants you to think so! Not to worry – it certainly helped on this occasion! I had a quick look on the internet for inspiration and didn’t find anything inspiring in the quick 5 minute search, so asked a friend that had recently attended a cupcake-making class. She showed me some cupcakes that looked like pretty little flowers, and I knew these would be perfect! I tweaked her recipe ever so slightly to make it more like my own tastes, so please check the recipe below:
- 150g self raising flour
- 150g caster sugar
- 200g soft unsalted butter (the whiter the better – you’ll see why later)
- 2 medium eggs
- 75-100g raspberries
- a decent sized bag of mini-marshmallows (I used about 100g)
- 200g icing sugar
- red food colouring
- pink sugar/edible glitter to decorate
WHAT TO DO:
- Pre-heat your oven to about 180°C/gas mark 4/350°F. While the oven is heating, cream together 150g of the butter and all the caster sugar until even and smooth.
- Crack in the eggs and sieve the flour in, adding a little at a time. Once mixed together you need to gently fold in the raspberries into the cupcake mix. Try to be careful when stirring as to not completely pulverise the fruit. It doesn’t matter if some of the raspberries fall apart or split, but if you mix them too hard all the juice will be released and it will make your mixture too runny.
- Spoon the mixture into buncases, about 3/4 full. Normally I’d only half fill them, but these cupcakes the mixture needs to be able to rise in a slight dome shape – this makes it easier to decorate later. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops of the cupcakes are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
- While the cupcakes are baking you can start to make some pink frosting. Mix together the remaining 50g of butter with the icing sugar and add a drop of the red food colouring. The reason I suggested using a white butter is because the first time I tried this the butter was too yellow, and the food colouring made my frosting go a salmony orange colour. Not so attractive!
- Smother a decent layer of the buttercream frosting over the cool cupcakes, making sure the whole dome of the cupcake is covered. Now comes the time consuming part… The mini marshmallows I had were in a mixed bag of white and pink, but it would have been too time consuming fishing out all of the pink ones so didn’t bother. If you have more patience than me then go for it! You then need to cut the marshmallows diagnally – they should resemble little pointy ears with a circular base. Place the “ears” on the cupcake with the the circular base stuck to the frosting and sticky marshmallow insides facing upwards.
- Keep building up the marshmallows until the whole cupcake is covered. It’s easier if you either work outwards from the middle in a spiral, or place them in concentric circles. That way you have no gaps. Once complete they should look like petals, similar to a carnation. When all your marshmallows are in place you can sprinkle the pink sugar or glitter over the tops of the cupcake. The sugar will grip to the sticky part of the marshmallow or settle into any gaps you might have between petals. Turn them upside down and (gently!) shake them to get rid of any excess sugar and glitter.
And there you go! Your cupcakes should be complete – check out mine below:
They went down an absolute treat! They were visually stunning. Sometimes I don’t think my poor attempts of Instagramming everything does my baking any justice, but you have to believe me that everybody was impressed. People from other departments even came over to have a nosey! It’s a very versatile cupcake as well, as you could use any colour icing, and colour sugar, or even make it with chocolate sprinkles if you really wanted. The only thing negative I have to say about these was the cutting and placing the marshmallows took a REALLY long time! I only made 12 cupcakes, but I think I was decorating them for about an hour – so don’t make these if you’re in a rush 😉
OK, so it’s been a long time since my last post (2 months!). It’s been a very bust time, and although I have been doing a lot of baking I’ve not had the time to get online and upload my creations. Hopefully over the next few days I shall do a few more updates to keep you all up to speed 🙂
It’s not unusual that my friends or family place a request in for me to bake them something a little bit different. I’m quite happy to bake a classic Victoria sponge, as it’s the easiest cake recipe in the world to follow…but part of me likes the challenge of baking something new. Recently, my boyfriend had completed his very last exam required before he becomes a fully-fledged medical professional (!!!) and had a job interview in the same week. I told him I wanted to treat him to something sweet (other than myself) and foolishly declared that I would make him anything he wanted! He pointed me in the direction of a picture of cake that looked like pigs in a mudbath. Apparently that particular cake has already done the rounds online, so I jumped at the chance to make my very own version!
I took inspiration on how to make the cute little piggies from the “Sunday Baking” website. My pigs looked nowhere near as good, but it was great to get a starting point on how to make them. Credit where credit is due – here is the link: http://www.sundaybaking.co.uk/pigs-in-mud-cake-mississippi-mud-cake-recipe-with-kit-kats/
Below is my recipe for Mississippi Mudbath with Pink Pigs!
- 200g salted butter
- 175g plain flour
- 50g cocoa powder
- 3 large eggs
- 225g caster sugar
- 200g dark chocolate
- 200ml crème fraîche
- 50g icing sugar
- 50g ready-to-roll icing (pink)
- 3 boxes of chocolate fingers
WHAT TO DO NEXT
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350ºF. While it’s heating up, mix the butter and the sugar together in a bowl until the whole thing has blended into a smooth mixture.
- Sieve in the flour and cocoa powder together into the bowl and crack in the eggs. Beat the whole mixture together until it creates a smooth consistency. The cake mix should be slightly gooey and not as stiff as a regular sponge.
- The cake mix should be enough to fill two 7-inch round cake tins. Bake in the oven on the middle shelf for 20-30 minutes. The cake mix won’t rise much and should be more brownie-like in appearance. I was planning to layer the cake, so you don’t want it to be too thick… If you accidentally use self raising flour it’s not a big deal, you just might be required to trim a layer of the cake off before decorating.
- While the cake it cooking, heat up the crème fraîche in a pan and break the dark chocolate up into small pieces so that when you throw them in the pan they melt quickly. When everything is runny, remove from the heat and add the icing sugar. This should thicken the mixture and make it more suitable for icing.
- Once the cake it cooked, remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. It needs to cool completely before you ice with the chocolate and crème fraîche combination, otherwise it will melt. Sandwich a layer of the chocolatey goo between each cake and smooth the mixture thinly around the edges of the entire cake.
- Adhere chocolate fingers around the whole thing to create a border. If your cake depths worked out perfectly, you should have about 1cm of chocolate finger poking above the top of the cake. I used about 2 and a half boxes of chocolate fingers for the whole cake (if you get a box of unbroken/undamaged fingers you could do it with just 2 boxes at a push – I had a habit of eating a lot of fingers along the way!). Pour the remaining chocolate icing on top of the cake… Hopefully the border you’ve created with the chocolate fingers will be enough to stop the icing slipping down the sides. This should create the “mud bath” for your pigs!
- Finally, roll the pink icing around in your hand to heat it up slightly. This will make the icing more pliable. Create little pigs out of the icing in any way you like! I used a cocktail stick to add details to the snout and ears, but you can have fun trying out as many different things as you like. It’s important that you press the pigs into the icing before it’s set, otherwise they will sit on top and it won’t look like they’re actually playing in the mud.
Check out the finished product below!
What can I say?! I had so much fun making this cake, and my boyfriend was over the moon when he received it! The cake itself is very sweet, which works perfectly with the tartness of the crème fraîche icing. There were plenty of ways you can make the pigs as well, and if you’re not feeling especially creative you could just omit the pigs and add any sort of colourful decoration you like – Smarties, marshmallows, chopped nuts, etc. Overall, this is probably the most enjoyable creation I’ve had the pleasure of baking. I hope you will enjoy it too!
Anyone who knows me will know my wild obsession with the Eurovision Song Contest. I love the cheesy music, the interesting ideas Europeans have about fashion, and especially the novelty acts that don’t even seem to know where they are! I become quite the Eurovision zealot, and begin downloading my favourite tracks as soon as they are released. I’m going away for the weekend and shall be attending a Eurovision party and each of us must come as a different country – I was fortunate to land an easy one: Germany. I always like to think outside the box, so will be attending dressed in the style of Texas Lightning, the German Eurovision entry for 2006. Yes, OK, it’s basically a cowboy outfit, but my original idea just didn’t work. I don’t exactly like the UK entry (sorry, Bonnie Tyler!) but in support of the event I have suitably decorated a cake for the occasion 🙂 No recipes here this time, I just wanted to show you my efforts. You could make any kind of cake – I followed the same recipe as my raspberry cake – but it helps if you bake it in a square tin. Cut the top and bottom edges from the cake (and eat them yourself, obviously) to make a rectangle. It’s a better flag shape… The cake below was iced using ready-to-roll coloured icing. You could make your own, but it’s difficult to get the right vividness of colour just by using food colouring.
It works best if you use a tiny dab of water to adhere each layer to the one beneath it. Not so much a fan of royal icing, as it’s too sweet, but it makes for excellent cake decorations! Enjoy Eurovision, everyone!
Due to a special offer in the supermarket I cleverly (or perhaps greedily?) purchased double the number of Oreos required for my Easy Oreo Truffle Pie. Sure, I managed to wolf a few down, but I thought I could maybe use them up to get them out of my sight before I became numb to the taste. I settled on making some basic cupcakes, but tweaked the recipe slightly to accommodate the biscuits. Oreos were ground down into a powder like before and were used in both the cupcake and the frosting. The result was a tantalising batch of Oreo cupcakes – check out my recipe below:
- 175g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 150g caster sugar
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2tsp baking powder
- 150g icing sugar
- 1tsp vanilla essence
- A whole packet of Oreos (I used 16!)
WHAT TO DO NEXT
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4/350ºF. Whilst it’s warming up, cream together 100g of the butter and all of the caster sugar until smooth.
- Stir the eggs into the mixture, add the vanilla essence and sieve in the flour and baking powder. Blitz 4 Oreos in a food processor or use a hand blender and add these to the mixture as well. Stir together well to evenly distribute the Oreo crumbs.
- Line a muffin tray with cases, spoon in a generous dollop of the cupcke mix into each one, then bake on the centre tray of the oven for 15-20 minutes. I managed to make about 8 cupcakes from these quantities.
- Remove from the oven once baked and allow to cool. It’s importantly that the cupcakes are cooled completely before you ice them, otherwise the frosting will melt!
- While the cupcakes are cooling, mix together the remaining butter and all of the icing sugar to make a buttercream. Blitz another 4 Oreos together and add these to the buttercream. (*note* If you like a little bit more texture you could have chunkier pieces of biscuit left in the buttercream – to do this just put the Oreos in a sandwich bag and attack with a rolling pin instead of using a blender)
- Add the frosting to the cupcakes and decorate with some Oreo halves. Tada! All done.
It was certainly a littel bit different, and definitely an innovative way of incorporating even more Oreos into a recipe! They were very moreish and chocolaty, and went down very well with my colleagues that got to eat them. However, adding the blended Oreos to the cupcake mixture acted the same way as adding cocoa powder would, so the cupcake was a tiny bit dry. They were still tasty and the creamy icing countered any dryness in the cupcake…but maybe next time a tiny bit more butter should be used!
Whenever an occasion comes up that I need to impress at I always end up baking something completely new that I’ve never tried before. I need to learn my lesson and start doing my tried-and-tested favourites instead; the kind that you can do perfectly every time. The thing is…there aren’t many things I can bake flawlessly as my presentation tends to be on the sloppier side, and the baking that I *can* do with my eyes shut aren’t the most impressive. So, when it came to an attempt to impress my boyfriend’s new housemate and her girlfriend at a dinner party I decided to go against my gut instinct and make something untested. TUT! I saw an article in the news that the humble Oreo celebrated its 100-yer anniversary last year, so I took some inspiration from that to create a delicious (and presentable!) recipe based on one of my favourite snacks. Behold my Easy Oreo Truffle Pie!
- Pastry (OK, so there is a massive cheat involved with this recipe. I had some sweet pastry left over from my Michelin Star Chocolate Orange Torte [https://nicejuicyapple.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/michelin-star-chocolate-orange-torte/] in the freezer so it’s up to you whether or not to follow the directions to make the pastry from tht or you can buy some ready-made short-crust pastry from the supermarket. Or if you know how to make your own, then kudos to you!)
- Oreos (I must have used about 1 and a half packets)
- 2 tubs of Chocolate Philadelphia (another cheat!)
HOW TO MAKE THE PIE
- By following the recipe I linked to the Chocolate Orange Torte you should be able to make the pastry, or you can follow the instructions provided for the ready-made pastry if that’s what you have instead. You should aim to fill a round 7-inch cake tin. Once it has baked you can remove it from the oven – it doesn’t necessarily need to cool in this instance.
- Put a whole packet of Oreos in a blender until it creates a powder. You should make sure that there aren’t any large chunks of biscuit in there, so either keep blending until the crumbs are quite fine or pick the big bits out and eat them! If there are big chunks left in there it won’t make a very good truffle.
- Mix the blended Oreos with the Philadelphia in a bowl until the mixture thickens and becomes even in consistency. Spoon into the mixture into the pastry shell and smooth the top with a spoon or knife. It doesn’t matter if the pastry has not yet cooled as it won’t affect the truffle filling.
- Decorate the top of you pie with halved Oreos…and there you go! The easiest Oreo Truffle Pie you’re ever likely to make!
Having the pastry already made and by using the Philadelphia already laced with chocolate it cut down on preparation time massively. You could make your own by adding chocolate spread to cream cheese but I didn’t want to risk messing up quantities. The texture of the truffle pie-filling was unusual but divine – a bizarre combination of crumbly and smooth at the same time. I’m a huge fan of Oreos, but I think you could tailor this recipe to include any kind of biscuit as you only threw them into a blender! As for the taste test? The proof was most certainly in the pudding as it went down exceptionally well at the dinner party… That’ll be a big gold star for me then? 🙂
I realise this post comes a little bit late, as I made it over Easter Bank Holiday. I had 4 days off from work and knew it must be time to make something new – and given that it was Easter, I thought about making something related to the season! I looked into making homemade Easter eggs, but given that this basically boiled down to melted chocolate in a mold I didn’t think it would be spectacularly interesting. Cue a search on the Internet for traditional Easter desserts. I stumbled across something called mazurek, which turns out to be a layered Polish cake. Luckily I have a half-Polish friend and her mother bakes good old-fashioned Polish cuisine, and she was able to send me a recipe. So, without further ado, here is my version of mazurek:
- 225g plain flour
- 125g of unsalted butter
- 300ml double cream (not the extra thick variety I normally use!)
- 2 large eggs
- 175g icing sugar
- 40g cocoa powder
- 100g ground almonds
- 75g sultanas
- 200g chocolate (I used dark, but plain is fine)
- 1tsp vanilla essence
- peanut butter (optional)
HOW TO MAKE THE BASE
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6/400ºF and grease a circular tin – I used a 7-inch dish with a push-out panel on the bottom.
- Sieve the flour into a bowl and cut the butter into small cubes. Mix them both together (you might have to get in there with your hands) until it becomes doughy. Beat one of the eggs together 100ml of the double cream and add to the dough. Mix the whole lot together to create a squishy textured dough.
- Press the dough into the bottom of the baking tin. You can use your fingers or your fists, as long as it’s roughly level. It doesn’t have to be neat by any means, as the other layers will cover up any wonky parts! Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 15-20 minutes or until you notice it going golden brown. Remove from the oven (at this point it doesn’t matter if you let it cool before the next layer is added because it’s going back in the oven later)
HOW TO MAKE THE MIDDLE LAYER:
- Reduce the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350°F. Remove the yolk from the remaining egg and keep the white. Whisk until frothy and sieve in the icing sugar and coca powder together whilst whisking. The mixture should begin to stiffen.
- Add the ground almonds and sultanas and beat the ingredients together with a wooden spoon. The whole things will be quite stiff and maleable by now. Press the mixture on top of the base layer with your fingers or the spoon (I don’t recommend your fists for this one as this layer is a bit sticky).
- Bake the combined base layer and middle layer for 20 minutes. Once it’s baked you need to remove it and allow it to completely cool.
HOW TO MAKE THE TOP LAYER
- While the middle layer is baking it’s a good idea to make the top layer of the cake to save you a little bit of time. It’s pretty simple – bring the remaining 200ml of double cream to the boil in a pan then break in the chocolate. You can add a teaspoon of vanilla essence if you like, as I find this takes away any bitterness from the chocolate cream. Mix together until smooth, remove from the heat, and allow to cool and create a velvety ganache layer.
- Once the chocolate has cooled but not completely set, and the baked layers have cooled, the cake is ready to be iced. I added a layer of “posh” peanut butter on top of the middle layer to add an extra hidden layer and create a slightly more indulgent cake, but this entirely optional. Spread the chocolate on top of the whole cake…and there you go, it’s finished!
I actually really liked this cake, but I think the combination of flavours might not be suited to everyone’s palate as there is a lot going on here. The base was dense, the middle layer was chewy, and the top layer was soft – and each had a different flavour. I altered some of the traditional ingredients (the original recipe had a dates and walnuts layer instead of peanut butter!) so perhaps it’s not mirroring old-fashioned Polish cooking anymore, but it certainly tasted good. I reckon that by adding the peanut butter layer it created a more attractive stripy pattern, it’s just a shame that I iced half of the plate as well as the cake!