Vanilla Bean Macarons

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I made these particular macarons to sit on top of my 21st birthday cake (and because I think no afternoon tea is complete without them!) Feel free to adapt the colours or flavours as you wish.

Ingredients (makes around 40 macarons, 20 paired)
Macaron shells
225g pure icing sugar
130g almond meal
115g egg whites
60g caster sugar
1g bicarb soda
A few drops of rose pink & violet food colouring

Vanilla bean filling
100g butter, softened
¼ cup milk
½  tblspn organic vanilla bean paste
4 cups icing sugar
Rose pink & violet food colouring

Method
Preheat oven to 150°C fan forced. Grease and line two large baking trays with baking paper.

Separately sift icing sugar and almond meal into medium bowls or over sheets of baking paper. Repeat process 3 times and re-weigh ingredients (I know this seems excessive but trust me, it’s worth it). You will need to top up the ingredients as you may have lost some in the sifting process. Sift icing sugar and almond meal into a bowl and repeat, ensure there are no lumps.

Whisk egg whites until doubled in size using electric beaters or an electric stand mixer. While still whisking, gradually add caster sugar and bicarb, whisking until mixture forms very stiff peaks.

Gently fold almond meal mixture into meringue using a spatula until incorporated.

Divide mixture into 2 bowls. Add food colouring (pink to one, purple to the other) one drop at time, stirring very gently with a spatula, until desired colour reached.

Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 9mm round nozzle (approximately). Hold nozzle close to the baking tray and pipe 3cm diameter circles onto prepared trays – don’t make a circular motion àla soft serve. Tap the underside of the tray to allow macarons to settle and air bubbles to escape. If there is still a little peak on top, dip a teaspoon in water and use the back to smooth the surface. Repeat with other colour. 217929_10151403883896183_1104201680_n

Leave to rest for at least 20-30 minutes or until the macarons form a skin and the top is no longer shiny or sticky to the touch (this is VERY important as it will give your macaron its lovely ‘foot’).

Bake for 12 minutes. Remove trays from the oven and allow macarons to cool on the tray. They will still be soft at this stage but will firm up on cooling.

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To make the buttercream, cream the butter for 1-2 mins. Add the milk, vanilla and half of the icing sugar and beat for at least 3 mins (until the mixture is light and fluffy).

Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for a further 3 mins or until of a spreadable consistency. Add extra milk if too dry or extra icing sugar if too wet.

Halve the mixture and add a drop of rose food colouring to one half and a drop of violet colouring to the other.

Pipe a generous amount of buttercream onto half the macarons and sandwich with a second macaron.

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Recipe adapted from Callum Hann’s ginger macarons

Carrot Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

I love this cake, it’s so quick and effortless to put together and is absolutely delicious (also, because it contains carrot it’s basically a salad, right?!). It’s great at any time of year but is particularly good as a treat around Easter for someone who doesn’t like chocolate or for people who are chocolated out!

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Ingredients (serves 8-10)
1 ½ cups grated carrot (lightly packed)
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 cup plain flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
¾ cup vegetable oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:
40g (1 tablespoon) softened butter
60g cream cheese (e.g. Philadelphia)
1 teaspoon lemon rind
1 ½ cups icing sugar, sifted

To decorate (if desired):
Extra chopped walnuts
The thin end of a small carrot cut into 2 halves
4 sprigs of coriander

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Method
Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).

Grease an 8″ round cake pan with margarine and line the base with baking paper.

Combine eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla & sifted dry ingredients  in a large bowl & beat on low speed.

Stir in carrots & walnuts. Mix well.

Pour mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake in the oven for approx. 40 – 45mins or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes, before placing it on a wire rack to cool completely.

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To make the cream cheese frosting, beat butter & cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add in the lemon rind and icing sugar and beat until smooth. Spread evenly over the top and sides of the cake.

If desired, decorate by placing the finely chopped walnuts around the edge of the cake and the carrot pieces in the centre of the cake with two coriander sprigs above each carrot. Enjoy!

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Recipe from Aunty Cynth

Giant Vanilla Cupcake

I haven’t made a giant cupcake for about 18 months but I’m so glad I found my giant cupcake cases again because they’re so much fun to make (and eat!) They’re also really easily adaptable as you can make them any flavour you like and decorate them in a million different ways. This time I’ve used buttercream roses but you could ice it as simply (or complexly) as you like – there’s a link to my fondant ‘soft serve’ icing instructions at the bottom of the page.image1-16

Ingredients (serves 10-12):
Cake
375g butter, softened
375g caster sugar
6 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
375g self-raising flour
3 tablespoons milk

Cupcake Case
375g white chocolate melts or Wilton candy melts

Buttercream icing
250g butter, softened
800g icing sugar
1 ½ tablespoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons of milk
Food colouring

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Method
Spray silicone giant cupcake pan liberally with canola oil and preheat oven to 160°C fan-forced.

Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla and then eggs, one at a time, ensuring that each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add in half of the flour followed by two tablespoons of the milk, and then add remaining flour and milk. Mix until just combined.

Fill the giant cupcake pans, starting with the cupcake top. Fill until approximately 2cm shy of the top of the pan. Then fill the bottom pan with the remaining batter.

Bake in the oven for between 40-70 minutes, checking regularly. Note: the cupcake top will bake faster than the bottom so take it out before the bottom is done. The cake is ready when a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Leave cakes in their pans for at least 20 minutes before gently peeling the silicone off and allowing the cakes to cool completely on a cooling rack.

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Image credit: The Pink Whisk

While the cakes are cooling, wash and dry the bottom cupcake pan ready to make the cupcake case. Melt half the chocolate/candy melts and pour into the bottom cupcake pan. Spread evenly up the sides using a pastry brush. Refrigerate for 20 minutes and then repeat with the remaining melts. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and then gently peel off the silicone mould.

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Image credit: She Who Bakes
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Image credit: She Who Bakes
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Image credit: She Who Bakes

Using a serrated bread knife, trim around bottom cake so all crunchy edges are removed. Level top (of base) and then cut base in half. Cut off bottom layer off top piece. Level base (of top).

Make buttercream by beating all ingredients but the food colouring until light and fluffy. Set half aside for the crumb coat, and then add the food colouring to the remaining buttercream.

Put a 1cm thick coating of the uncoloured buttercream between 2 bottom layers of cake and then between the base and top (ensure level – cut if necessary). Then put a thin layer of buttercream on the inside of the chocolate case and gently ease cake into it. Cover top of cake liberally with buttercream to form a protective barrier against crumbs.

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Put the coloured buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 2D nozzle (to make roses) or equivalent, and pipe icing in a rose swirl pattern, starting from the bottom of the cake and working your way up.

Decorate with icing flowers, sprinkles, silver cachous, glitter… basically whatever you like!

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Alternatively, if you’d prefer a soft-serve, fondant look. Halve the buttercream recipe to only make the crumb coat & then follow these directions: https://bakerholicsanonymous.wordpress.com/recipes-2/cakes/giant-cupcake/

Recipe adapted from ‘Vanilla Giant Cupcake Recipe’ by The Pink Whisk

Bûche de Noël (Chocolate Yule Log)

Happy Christmas Eve everyone! Today I’m sharing with you an incredibly easy yet delicious cheat’s version of the classic French Christmas dessert – Bûche de Noël.

For a traditional pudding-hater like myself, Christmas dessert has never brought much joy. Sure, you can smother your piece of pudding in custard (which I do) and that helps a bit, but somehow the fruity-boozy flavour that I hate so much still overpowers it. Anyway, fortunately I’m not the only pudding-hater in my family and so last year Mum made this Bûche de Noël (chocolate yule log) in addition to the pudding for dessert. This yule log is sweet (but not overly so) and very light – perfect for a hot summer’s day. It proved so popular last year that we’ll be making it again this year 🙂

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Ingredients (Serves up to 12)
1x 250g packet Arnott’s chocolate ripple biscuits (or equivalent)
600ml thickened cream
1 tspn caster sugar
1 tspn vanilla essence
20g cocoa powder
Grated chocolate, to decorate
Spearmint leave lollies, to decorate
Raspberries, to decorate

Method
Using an electric mix, mix cream, sugar and vanilla together until stiff.

Fold in the cocoa until combined.

Spread a small amount of the cream along a long, rectangular serving plate to make a base. Spread 1 biscuit with 1 ½ teaspoons of cream and then top with another biscuit. Top with another 1 ½ teaspoons of cream and then place biscuits on their side onto the cream base on the serving platter.

Repeat until all biscuits have been used, to form a log.

Spread remaining cream over entire log, reserving a small amount for the branch.

Cover loosely with foil and refrigerate for at least 6 hours to set.

Just before serving, cut cake diagonally about a quarter of the way in and use that piece as a branch off the main log.

Patch it up with the remaining cream so it looks attached.

Use a fork to make some lines along the branch to look natural and then sprinkle with grated chocolate.

Decorate with some raspberries and spearmint leaves and serve. Enjoy!

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Adapted from Arnott’s ‘Bake and Create’ Recipe booklet.

Red Velvet Christmas Cupcakes

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Wow! Only a week and a day until Christmas 🙂 It’s warming up around here which means that having the oven on and heating the house isn’t ideal and so I’ve had a couple of organised baking spells to try and minimise the amount of oven time.

I made these cupcakes yesterday for an afternoon tea with friends and they’re easy and delicious (and still soft & moist today).

For decorations, go as crazily festive as you like. There are plenty of cute Christmas sugar icing decorations that are cheap and readily available, you could make up a range of different coloured icings and pipe a wreath on them or something along those lines (if you can be bothered), or do as I did, and cut out some holly out of ready-made fondant icing.

Of course, these cupcakes aren’t reserved just for Christmas time, they would work equally well as birthday cupcakes with piped icing and candles!

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Ingredients (Makes 24)
Cupcakes
150g softened butter
⅔ cup caster sugar
2 tspns vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 ⅓ cups self raising flour, sifted
4 tblspns cocoa, sifted
½ cup buttermilk
1 ½ tblspns of good quality red food colouring (I use Wilton’s, you may need to adjust the amount depending on the brand you use)

Cream Cheese Icing
500g cream cheese, chopped
100g butter, softened
1 tspn vanilla extract
1 ½ cups icing sugar
2 tblspns milk

To Decorate
Ready made white fondant icing
Red food colouring
Green food colouring
Holly leaf cutter (or stencil)
Sharp Knife

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Method
Preheat oven to 160°C fan-forced. Place butter, caster sugar and vanilla into a large bowl and beat with electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, beating until well combined. Add the flour, cocoa, buttermilk and food colouring and beat on a low speed until just combined.

Divide mixture into cupcake tins lined with (green) patty pans. Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on your oven) or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the largest cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

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While the cupcakes are cooking and cooling, divide half of the fondant icing into 2 and colour one lot vibrant red, and the other a deep (holly-ish) green. Roll out the green fondant with a rolling pin and cut out 48 holly leaves. Then, using a sharp non-serated knife, mark out a leaf pattern by running the knife through the centre so that it leaves an incision but does not cut through. Then cut diagonal incisions from the centre out so that it looks like the veins of a leaf (see picture below).

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Pull small pieces of the red fondant off and roll into 48 small balls to make the holly berries.

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Once the cupcakes are almost completely cool, start making the cream cheese icing. Place the cream cheese and butter into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 8-10 minutes. Add the icing sugar and vanilla and beat for a further 5 minutes or until completely smooth. Add the milk and beat until just combined.

Ice each cupcake with a generous amount of icing and top with 2 leaves and 2 berries. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from Donna Hay’s recipe ‘red velvet cupcakes with sugared cranberries’.

Celebration Sponge Cake

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I made this sponge cake over the weekend for my Grandma’s 80th Birthday. I really wanted to make something special as it is widely accepted that my Grandma is one of the most amazing humans on the planet (really, she’s exceptional). This cake looked amazing, tasted delicious and is very adaptable – you can use any fruit that’s in season to put on top, and fill it with anything you like. If I was in a rush I would even be inclined to buy a sponge cake, cut in half and decorate it to get the effect with minimal time and effort.

Ingredients
For the sponge: 
3 eggs, separated
1 cup caster sugar
½ cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup plain flour
1 tbsp cornflour

For the sweetened, thickened cream:
500ml thickened cream
Icing sugar (to taste)
Vanilla extract (to taste)

For the jam: https://bakerholicsanonymous.wordpress.com/recipes-2/frostings-icing-condiments/raspberry-jam/, alternatively you can use store bought (but it is likely to be sweeter)

For decorating: 
2 punnets fresh strawberries
1 punnet fresh raspberries
1 punnet fresh blueberries
1 pomegranate
Fresh mint

For the macarons: https://bakerholicsanonymous.wordpress.com/recipes-2/cookies-biscuits-macarons/raspberry-macarons/ (with the raspberry jam to sandwich)

Method
Make the raspberry jam according to instructions.

If desired, make the macarons according to instructions. Sandwich with some of the jam.

For the sponge: 

Preheat oven to 160°C (fan-forced). Grease two 20cm round, shallow tins and line the bases with baking paper.

Use electric beaters to beat the egg yolks, sugar, water, and vanilla for approximately 10 minutes, until very pale and thick. Wash the beaters and then, in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and baking powder until stiff peaks form.

Fold the sifted flours into the yolk mixture and then gently mix in the egg whites.

Divide evenly between the tins and bake for 20 minutes or until springy in the centre and the cake has come away from the sides of the tins.

Gently turn cakes, face up, onto wire cooling racks with clean tea towels on them (this stops the wire from denting your cakes). Leave to cool entirely.

For the Cream

Add cream, icing sugar (to taste) and vanilla extract (to taste) into a large stick blender/master container (or bowl) and blend until the cream is very thick.

To Assemble 

Lay one of your sponges top-down on your serving platter.

Spread with raspberry jam (or desired filling).

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Spread a generous layer of whipped cream on top.

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Top with strawberry slices, chopped evenly.

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Gently place the other sponge, top-side up onto the cake.

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Top liberally with cream and spread it evenly, right out to the edge (but not down the edge, you still want to see the cake).

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Top with fruit and mint leaves (the more the better often for aesthetics – and flavour!) And, if desired, place macarons with a blob of cream and a raspberry on top, evenly around the cake.

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Enjoy!

Recipe from Grandma

Caramel & Pear Upside-down Cake

First off, I would like to apologise profusely for my extended hiatus! No, I didn’t hibernate through winter (quite), instead I was on holidays in the Greek Islands and then my time was filled with Birthdays, work & uni assessment.

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However, today I have an absolutely delicious recipe for you; one so good that only moments ago I finished gobbling up a piece and felt I had to share it right away!

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Ingredients (serves 8)
175g butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large pears, peeled & sliced thinly
½ cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
¾ cup almond meal
1 cup self-raising flour
1/3 cups milk

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Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced) and grease and line a round 23cm springform cake tin.

Melt 55g of the butter in a small saucepan and then stir in brown sugar over a low heat until combined into a caramel.

Pour the caramel mixture into the base of your prepared tin. Arrange your pears on the caramel. I tried to make neat circles, but this was a challenge as my pear was quite soft!

Using electric beaters, cream the butter and sugar. Once combined, add eggs, almond meal , vanilla and spices and beat until combined. Finally, add flour and milk and beat until just combined.

Gently spread the batter over your pears and bake in the oven for between 50-60 minutes (until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean).

Allow the cake to sit in the tin for around 15 minutes before turning out.

Serve with cream or ice-cream and a dusting of icing sugar if desired.

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Recipe adapted from ‘Caramel pear cake’ on BestRecipes.com.au

 

Torta Caprese (Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake)

This cake is my new dinner party go-to. The cake itself has it all; it’s intensely chocolate-y, rich and moist, the perfect dessert cake and between you and me, it is INCREDIBLY easy (yes, I am shouting at you). It takes very little time, dirties very few dishes and keeps well (although it never lasts long around here!) To serve, simply dust with icing sugar and top with berries and ice-cream.

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Ingredients (serves 6-8)
200g butter
200g dark chocolate
4 eggs, separated
170g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g almond meal
Icing sugar, to dust
Ice cream & berries, to serve

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Method
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C (or around 150 fan-forced). Grease & line a 24cm cake pan with baking paper.

Melt the butter and set aside.

Process (or finely chop) the chocolate until it is in tiny bits, but still retains a little texture.

Place egg yolks, sugar & vanilla in a medium bowl and beat until pale and thick. Fold in chocolate, butter and almond meal (mixture will be very thick)

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggwhites until soft peaks form. Gently fold in chocolate mixture, ensuring you don’t knock the air out.

Spoon into the prepared pan, level the top and bake for 50-60 minutes or until just firm to the touch.

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Set aside to cool in the pan, then turn out.

Serve while still warm with icing sugar, berries and ice cream. Bellissimo!

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Adapted from ‘Torta Caprese’ in delicious. ‘Wicked: Sinful desserts from your favourite chefs’.

Giant Chocolate Cupcake

I love giant cupcakes. They’re so much fun to make, decorate and, more importantly, to eat. This recipe is for quite an intricate giant cupcake but it is easily adaptable – if you don’t want the bother of working with fondant you can just double the buttercream and ice the cake with that. The cupcake case is also optional (but I think makes the end product look so much more professional). Of course, you could also make the cake batter from scratch but do keep in mind that it is quite a time-consuming process already and the box mixes are relatively stable and so good for cutting and shaping.

The cupcake easily serves 10 adults and would be perfect for a kid’s party serving up to 20 children who have eaten other party food.

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Equipment
Silicone giant cupcake kit
Turntable
Serving plate
Pastry brush

Ingredients
Wilton candy melts
2 boxes chocolate mud cake mix

400g sifted icing sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
2 tspns vanilla extract
125g unsalted butter

White fondant icing
Blue food colouring
Red food colouring
Yellow food colouring
Large sprinkles (pre-made using fondant)
1 red gumboil

Method
Make cupcake case by pouring a small amount of melted melts into the silicone bottom case and, using a pastry brush, spreading it until the entire inside of the case is thinly coated. Refrigerate for 20mins and repeat. To remove from silicone once completely set, loosen by pulling  & pinching edges away from the chocolate & then gently peel down the sides of the mould.

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Make cake according to packet instructions and fill greased (spray oil) cases 2/3 full. Bake in moderate oven (175°C) for 40-70 mins (bottom will need longer than top) or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave in silicone moulds for at least half an hour or until cool. Then carefully peel off silicone, ensuring the cake is supported at all times.

Using a serrated bread knife, trim around bottom cake so all crunchy edges are removed. Level top (of base) and then cut base in half. Cut off bottom layer off top piece. Level base (of top).

Make buttercream by beating ingredients until light and fluffy.

Put a 1cm thick coating of buttercream between 2 bottom layers of cake and then between the base and top (ensure level – cut if necessary). Then put a thin layer of buttercream on the inside of the chocolate case and gently ease cake into it.

Cover top of cake liberally with buttercream to form a protective barrier against crumbs.

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Transfer cake onto a cake board on a turntable. Make a thin sausage out of white fondant (or a thick one for a really cartoon-ish soft serve effect) and put on cake in a spiral manner to achieve a ‘soft serve effect’ in the end.

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Roll out fondant until thin & large enough to cover top of cake and gently place on the cake. Gently massage fondant onto cake, hugging the curves & taking particular care not to pleat the fondant. Cut off excess if necessary and tuck the bottom up so all buttercream is concealed. Decorate with giant “sprinkles” made from red, yellow & blue fondant icing and place the gumball as a cherry on top.

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Pigs in Mud Cake

I’ve admired this cake on Pinterest for a while now and so when I was asked to make a cake for my Aunt’s birthday a few weeks back, it seemed the perfect choice. It’s very easy to make (and could be made even easier by using a packet cake) but is memorable and super cute so is excellent if you’re short of time (or patience) like I am. It would also be very popular at a children’s birthday party or as a present for a friend with a sense of humour!

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Ingredients (serves 8-10)
Cake
1 cup water
1 ½ cups caster sugar
125g butter, chopped
20g cocoa powder
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
1 ½ cups self-raising flour
2 eggs

Frosting
90g butter, chopped
⅓ cup water
½ cup caster sugar
1 ½ cups icing sugar
⅓ cup cocoa powder

Chocolate Ganache
400g dark chocolate
200ml cream

Decorations
4 large blocks of Kit-Kats
Pink ribbon
White fondant icing
Flesh/coral food colouring
Green buttercream (if desired)
Sugar flowers (if desired)

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Method
To make the cake: preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease and line a 20cm round cake pan.

Combine the water, sugar, butter & sifted cocoa and soda in a small saucepan; stir over heat, without boiling, until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil then reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to medium bowl; cool to room temperature.

Add flour and eggs to bowl; beat with electric mixer until smooth and pale in colour. Pour into pan and bake about 25-30mins (check regularly from 15 mins as ovens vary considerably).

Stand cake in pan 10 mins before turning, top-side up, onto wire rack to cool.

To make frosting: combine butter, water and caster sugar in a small saucepan; stir over low heat, without boiling, until sugar dissolves. Sift icing sugar and cocoa in small bowls then gradually stir in hot butter mixture. Cover, refrigerate until frosting thickens. Beat with a wooden spoon until spreadable.

Break Kit-Kats into pairs (be careful as they can break easily) and get out serving dish/cake board.

Once cake is completely cool, cut carefully in half and level the top. “Glue” bottom of cake to serving dish/cake board with a little bit of frosting. Sandwich cakes with a generous amount of frosting and then coat the sides and top with the remaining frosting.

Working quickly, place the Kit Kats around the edge of the cake until the cake is completely surrounded. This will act as the “fence” of the pig pen. Tie the ribbon around it to fasten.

To make the ganache, gently heat chocolate and cream in a saucepan and stir until melted and combined. Put in fridge to cool.

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Meanwhile, colour modelling fondant (I use Orchard) with coral/flesh colour until desired pig colour reached. First I made the three little bottoms by making little balls, making the butt crack using a skewer and making a little hole to place a tail. To make the tails, make a thin worm shape, twist it so it looks like a corkscrew and attach using a tiny bit of water.  Then make two bellies with holes for belly buttons and two faces which are made by one ball with a smaller ball on top for a snout, holes for eyes and nostrils, and little triangles for ears. Faces which are one ball with a smaller ball for a snout and little triangles for ears. Finally, make four little trotters for the floating pig and arms ending in trotters for the sitting pig (it’s really a trial and error process, keep trying until you’re happy with the shapes and proportions).

Remove the ribbon from the Kit Kats once they are firmly attached to the sides of the cake (so it doesn’t get dirty in this process), and carefully pour ganache onto the top of the cake to make the mud. While still soft, position pigs as desired and make ‘ripples’ using the back of a teaspoon.

Refrigerate until ganache is firm. Then return ribbon to place, add buttercream “grass” and sugar flowers if desired, and serve. Enjoy!

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Cake recipe from Women’s Weekly Classic Cakes (as Family Chocolate Cake), inspiration from various pinterest posts.