Monday, 23 May 2011

Jack's 2nd Birthday Cake - Rabbit Madness!

Last week's 'Work In Progress' was finished.  I had great little helper in my niece Chloe who cut out the rabbit cupcake toppers and made their tails.

After pondering for  a few days on what to use as whiskers for the the rabbit (he was looking a bit Donny Darko until he had whiskers!), the idea of using angel hair noodles came to me at 3am!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Work In Progress

My 'Work In Progress' this week is a birthday cake for 2 year old Jack.

Jack loves his cloth rabbit.  The rabbit goes pretty much everywhere Jack goes.  Jack really loves his rabbit!

So the obvious thing for his birthday?  Yep, you've guessed it.....a rabbit cake!

Following are a few photo's of how its shaping up.  In fact all that needs doing now is baking the cake!

Bunnies Burrowing!

Tasty Carrots

Mr J-Bunny himself!

Heather's Birthday Cake

I had a 'commission' by my niece Chloe to make her mum a birthday cake.  Her instructions were, (given over a series of whispered conversations & telephone calls I might add), to make the cake with pink things on it and with the writing 'Happy Birthday Sister.....You Are Old'!!

I thought I might change the brief slightly, i.e lose the wording! But I did go with the pink theme (ish) and did various sizes of white & black flowers with a pink centre.  I even added at the last minute some of my ludicrously expensive 'diamond' crystals to go in the centre of the two largest flowers, something which Chloe took great delight in and wanted to eat both of them!  I also made a vibrant pink buttercream for the filling.

Guess who ate the biggest piece?........Chloe!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Diet Brownie Breakthrough

At last! A virtually sin free cake....or rather a brownie.  These little bite size brownie's satisfy the two main things that everyone wants when they are dieting.....chocolate & cake!  They are also extremely easy to make and contain a surprise ingredient.

The credit for this discovery lies firmly with my fellow 'foodie friend', Jo who is an avid reader of cookery & food blogs.  I received a message last week urging me to try these 'alternative' brownies.  They are great for people who are wheat intolerant as they contain no flour, extremely low fat (no butter only 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil) and no refined sugar!  Instead they contained.....wait for beans!!!  Could they be too good to be true?.....

I tested them out this weekend on an unsuspecting OH, who I have to say looked rather worried at the addition of black beans into the shopping trolley on Friday night; he thought I was going to try and sneak them into a chilli and make him eat it.  I  told him they were for a surprise and he was indeed surprised when he took a break from 'important' football watching on Saturday afternoon to be my taster and then I let him know that he was eating the 'surprise'.  He tried them whilst they were still warm and said they would be better cold but that they had a good taste to them.

Chief Taster Jess thought they were tasty but liked them even more when I told her that they were virtually fat & sugar free and Louise's response in the office was to immediately ask for the recipe!  Everyone who tasted them said they would not have guessed that there was beans in the recipe.

ok,ok, the recipe is as follows:

Amazing Black Bean Brownies (guessed the surprise ingredient yet?!!)

1 carton black beans, rinsed & drained
3 eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup of agave nectar*
1 teaspoon instant coffee (optional)
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts (optional)**
1 level teaspoon baking powder***

* the agave nectar is a low GI (Glycemic Index), natural fructose sweetener extracted from the agave plant. With its low GI it is good for diabetics as well as it releases glucose into the blood more slowly and steadily. It is also a good sugar alternative and can be substituted easily with honey if you can't find it.  I bought it in Sainsbury's at £2.43.  If needs be though you can put in 3/4 cup of white caster sugar. It would also be good for drizzling on nice thick pancakes instead of maple syrup or honey.

**  I added hazelnuts to my mixture just to give the brownies a bit more texture, you could any other nuts that you wish.

*** I added the baking powder to give the brownie a bit more of a 'cakey' feel to it.

  • Preheat your oven to 170°C and line a square baking tin or brownie tin with greaseproof paper. I always leave it over the sides so you can lift it out of the tin.
  • In a food mixer, place all the ingredients (except the hazelnuts or chocolate chips if adding) and blitz until smooth (a good few minutes).  The mixture is very liquidy but don't worry.
  • Once everything is blitzed, add your hazelnuts or chocolate chips, or a combination of both) and give one final quick pulse.
  • Pour the mixture into the lined tin and place in the oven until the top of it is dry and the edges start to pull slightly away from the sides of the tin, usually around 30 minutes should do it.
  • Once cooked, take out and lift out of the tin and slice into small squares.  Lift off the greaseproof paper once slightly cooled and leave to fully cool on a wire rack.

The brownies are best eaten cold and store well in an airtight container for 3 or 4 days.

An alternative recipe which I think would be good to try is the following, or you can just google black bean brownie's, there are lots of variations out there:

1 carton black beans, drained & rinsed
2 whole bananas
1/3 cup of agave nectar
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup of caster sugar (optional)
1/4 cup of instant oats

Again same method as before, blitz everything except the oats, adding them at the last minute to the batter.  Pour into a lined tin and bake for 30 minutes.

There we have it, healthy brownies!!  Enjoy x

Friday, 6 May 2011

Royal Wedding Cupcakes

Last Friday was the Royal Wedding.  The day had many great elements....Kate looked stunning in her dress, William scrubbed up quite well, the weather was good (well 'Up North' it was glorious!), a BBQ was had at a friends house and best of all......we all got a day off!!

In honour of the occasion, I decided to make cupcakes inspired by the day....