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.

Chocolate Easter Nests

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This recipe is incredibly quick & easy (only 5 steps & 4 ingredients) so it’s perfect for making with the kids. The nests look adorable and, most importantly, taste even better –  I’ve never met someone who hasn’t loved them!

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Ingredients
1x 100g packet Chang’s Original Fried Noodles (or equivalent)
2 tbspns crunchy peanut butter
200g dark chocolate melts
1 bag of Cadbury “Mini Eggs” (or equivalent)

Method
Microwave peanut butter and chocolate until melted.

Mix until it is a smooth paste.

Add the noodles and coat them well.

Spoon the mixture onto grease-proof paper and shape into small nests.

Top with three mini eggs and then place in the refrigerator until set.

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Adapted from Chang’s Original Fried Noodles ‘Chocolate Spiders’ recipe.

Banoffee Pies

Inspired by the banoffee pie scene in Love Actually, I decided to have a go at making some. I was unsure whether I’d like them or not, but with their buttery pastry, dark caramel and fluffy whipped cream topping, even a banana-hater like myself thoroughly enjoyed them.

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Ingredients
395g sweetened condensed milk
3 small bananas
Juice of ½ lemon
300ml thickened cream
2 tablespoons grated chocolate

Pastry
1 ⅔ cups plain flour, sifted
110g butter, chilled
110g pure icing sugar
1 egg yolk

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Method
Remove and discard label from the condensed milk can, then using a can opener, make 2 small holes in the top. Place in a saucepan, open-side up. Fill pan with cold water to come almost to the top of the can (about 1cm to the top). Bring to the boil, then reduce to medium-low and simmer for 3 hours until a caramel forms, topping up water to keep the same level. Carefully remove cans and cool.

For the pastry, place flour, butter and icing sugar in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg yolk and 2 tblspns cold water and process until the mixture comes together in a smooth ball. Enclose in a plastic wrap and chill for 30mins.

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line eight 10cm loose-bottomed tart pans. Chill for a further 15mins. Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with pastry weights. Blind-bake for 10mins, then remove paper and weights and return to the oven for 5mins or until crisp and golden. Allow to cool.

Open the condensed milk can, then spoon the caramel toffee into each pastry shell to almost fill. Thinly slice bananas, toss in the lemon juice, then place an overlapping layer over the toffee. Whip the cream and pile on top. Decorate with chocolate curls.

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Adapted from delicious. ‘Sweet’ cookbook.

Watermelon Cupcakes

These cupcakes are very kitschy (but cute!) and are a real favourite with young children. They’re also very simple to make and are perfect for a child to take to school and share with their classmates on their birthday.

*Note: the shade of green of the frosting was actually much deeper than it appears in these photos*

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Ingredients (makes approx. 24 cupcakes)
Cupcakes
2 ¾ cups plain flour
2 tspns baking powder
200g unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cups caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tblspn vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 cup mini dark chocolate chips
Pink food colouring

Frosting
100g butter, softened
¼ cup milk
½ tblspn vanilla extract
4 cups icing sugar
Green food colouring
**Optional – extract from melted watermelon flavoured Jelly Belly jelly beans (or equivalent)

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Method
Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C-ish fan forced). Line two 12-hole muffin trays with green patty pans.

Sift together the flour and baking powder. In a different bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 mins. Add the caster sugar about a third at a time, beating for 2mins after each addition. After the last of the sugar has been beaten, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar dissolved. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 min after each addition or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat until just combined.

Add approximately a third of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat on a low speed until combined. Add half of the milk and beat until combined. Repeat this process until all of the flour and milk is thoroughly combined but be careful not to overbeat (this will toughen the mixture). Add in the food colouring and gently stir through the chocolate chips.

Spoon mixture into the patty pans (filling each about 3/4 full).

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Bake for about 18-20mins or until the top springs back when touched. Remove the cupcakes from the trays immediately and cool on a wire rack for at least half an hour before icing.

To make the frosting, 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. Add a few drops of green food colouring (& watermelon flavouring if desired) and beat until combined.

Spread each cupcake with a generous layer of frosting. Enjoy!

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Adapted from the Crabapple Cupcake Baker’s Vanilla Cupcakes & Vanilla Buttercream recipes. Watermelon cake inspiration from Pinterest!

Grasshopper Pie

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Happy St Patrick’s Day everyone! In honour of the occasion I have decided to post a green recipe. I sadly lack good taste when it comes to my food and drink and love horrendously fake hues (I have a real thing for blue cocktails) and so this pie is right up my alley 🙂 I also love the classic combination of mint and chocolate so this dessert hits all the right notes for me. I choose to use marshmallows instead of gelatine in this recipe as I find it makes it faster to make and less fiddly – although it does take a while for it to set. I tend to serve mine with a little bit of whipped cream and some chocolate curls.

Ingredients (serves 8)
20 oreos (with filling removed)
100g butter, melted
¾ cup milk
24 large, white marshmallows (approx. 180g)
¼ cup creme de menthe liqueur
2 tblspns white creme de cacao liqueur
1 cup whipped cream
1-2 drops green food colouring

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Method
Preheat oven to 180°C. In a food processor process oreos until they resemble large crumbs. Mix in butter and then pat into the bottom and sides of a 25cm pie dish.

Bake for 5-10mins, remove from oven and cool completely. Once cooled, place into the freezer to chill.

In a saucepan melt marshmallows in the milk over a medium heat. Remove from the heat and add creme de menthe and creme de cacao. Mix well. Add food colouring and then fold in whipped cream.

Pour into chilled pie shell and freeze for 3-4 hours.

Serve with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

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Adapted from Grandma’s recipe.

Lemon Meringue Pie

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It is thought that the meringue was invented in 1720 by a Swiss pastry chef named Gaspirini. It rapidly became a favourite of the French Court and apparently Marie Antoinette herself used to make it!

The Lemon Meringue Pie is a favourite of many – a staple on cafe and restaurant menus and always incredibly popular among my family and friends. However many people seem to think it’s too hard to make at home. Au contraire mon ami! This recipe makes the whole process very simple and so you can wow your friends and family in no time.

Ingredients (serves 8)
Pastry
1½ cups plain flour
3 tspns icing sugar
140g cold butter, chopped
1 egg yolk
2 tblspns water

Lemon filling
½ cup cornflour
1 cup caster sugar
½ cup lemon juice
1¼ cups water
2 tspns finely grated lemon rind
3 egg yolks
50g butter

Meringue
3 egg whites
½ cup caster sugar

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Method
Put flour, icing sugar, butter, yolk and water into a food processor and process until just come together. Press dough into a ball, knead gently on a floured surface until smooth; cover, refrigerate 30 mins.

Preheat oven to 180°C fan-forced. Lightly grease a 24cm flan tin. After resting, roll dough on floured surface until large enough to line the tin. Lift pastry into tin, ease into sides and trim the edge.

Place tin on an oven tray, line pastry with baking paper and fill with pie weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 10mins then remove baking paper and weights and bake, uncovered for a further 10 mins or until pastry case is browned lightly. Cool, reduce oven temperature to 160°C fan-forced.

To make filling: combine corn flour and sugar in a medium saucepan. Gradually stir in juice and water. Stir over heat until mixture boils and thickens (mixture should be very thick, jelly-like). Reduce heat, simmer, stirring for 30 secs. Remove from heat and quickly stir in egg yolks, butter and rind. Stir until smooth and leave, covered, until room temperature.

Once at room temperature, spread filling into pastry case.

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To make meringue: beat egg whites in a medium bowl with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until dissolved after each addition. Mixture should be smooth and glossy.

Top pie with meringue mixture (I like to make it look rustic with mounds of differing heights) and bake for 5 – 10 mins at 160°C fan-forced until browned lightly. Stand for 5 mins before serving.

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Adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly Recipe

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

This is probably my most requested frosting/icing/addictive substance that goes on cakes. It works beautifully on cupcakes and large cakes and is a favourite with both children and adults!

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Ingredients
Note: This makes HEAPS and I often halve or only use 3/4 of the recipe, however if you want really thick icing or will make a second batch soon after, the full recipe is the way to go (it lasts for about a week)
200g butter, softened
½ cup milk
1 tblspn vanilla extract
8 cups icing sugar
A few drops of food colouring/flavouring as desired

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Method
Cream the butter for 1-2 mins in a large bowl using an electric mixer. 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. Add  colouring/flavouring and beat in until combined and the desired colour/flavour has been achieved.

Using a knife or piping bag, apply buttercream to cupcakes or cake and decorate as desired.

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Adapted from the Crabapple Cupcake Bakery Cookbook

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Chocolate, Date & Almond Torte

First thing’s first, I want to apologise for my lack of blogging lately. I’ve just started uni so it’s been a bit of a challenge trying to juggle everything BUT I certainly hope to do better in future. This torte is my go-to dinner party dessert, particularly in summer.  It is relatively quick and easy, always tasty and has never failed me yet. I also love that it only uses ingredients I have constantly on hand but looks a bit exotic and special. I love it served with raspberry coulis and dusted with a little icing sugar (as pictured here).

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Ingredients (serves 8-10)
4 egg whites
165g caster sugar
200g pitted dates
200g raw almonds (skin on)
200g dark cooking chocolate
Icing sugar, to dust
Berry coulis, to serve

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Method
Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease and line the base of a 22-23cm springform cake pan.

Place dates, almonds and chocolate in a food processor in 2 batches. Process until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Whisk the eggwhites until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until sugar dissolves and stiff peaks form.

Transfer date mixture to a large bowl. Fold in a little beaten eggwhite to loosen date mixture, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.

Spoon batter into prepared tin and bake 60-70mins, or until torte is firm at the outer edge & moist but not wet in the centre.

Cool in pan. Dust with icing sugar and then slice torte, serving with berry coulis.

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Adapted from Delicious Magazine June 2005

Chocolate Praline Cake

This has been my favourite cake for as long as I can remember. A rich, fudgy brownie-like base topped with a crunchy, sweet praline topping – what more could you want? I love serving this with fresh raspberries and double cream.

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Ingredients
Cake
180g butter, chopped
200g dark chocolate melts
3 eggs
250g caster sugar
200g ground almonds
50g plain flour

Praline Topping
100g butter
100g caster sugar
1 ½  tblspns golden syrup
60g flaked almonds

Method
Melt butter & chocolate in a microwave or double boiler, stir until smooth.

Beat eggs and sugar until creamy and changed in colour.

Add chocolate mixture to egg mixture and stir to combine.

Fold sifted almond meal and flour into mixture and mix well.

Pour mixture into a greased and based-lined 19x29cm rectangular slice pan & spread evenly. Bake at 175°C for 30mins then cool in tin.

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For the topping, combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, boil for 2 mins. Spread topping over cake.

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Bake at 175°C for a further 10-15 mins or until topping golden brown. Cool in tin (topping will harden on cooling).

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Cut into desired shape and size and serve with berries and whipped cream.

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Keeps for 5 days in an airtight container.

Adapted from the Australian Gourmet Traveller, November 1996.