Marshamallow and Rasberry Cupcakes

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Super cute and super sweet, these vanilla and raspberry cupcakes are topped with a home-made marshmallow that’s ridiculously easy to make (and soooo yummy!). Perfect for a girly afternoon tea or Sweet 16th Birthday Party, they look fantastic grouped together on the table or a cupcake stand. ~Mandy Wrangles

RC_finished

Marshmallow and Rasberry Cupcakes

First up, we’ll start with the marshmallows.

What you’ll need:

3 cups of sugar

2 tablespoons of gelatine

1 and a half cups of boiling water.

Vanilla essence

Food colouring

How it’s done:

Dissolve the gelatine into a bowl with the boiling water. You might have to help it melt by squishing with the back of a spoon.

RC_mixing bowl

Egg White

In a large bowl, place the three cups of sugar. Add the water/gelatine mix to it and beat with an electric mixer until the mix is thick and creamy and the sugar is dissolved.

And after about 5 minutes, looks like this! Magic!

It’s at this stage that you can add flavourings and colour. For this recipe, I used vanilla and a few drops of pink colouring to half the mix. Working fairly fast, spoon mixture into a piping bag with a wide round nozzle – be careful because it sets quickly and can be a bit sticky and messy! Onto a tray lined with baking paper, pipe coils of marshmallow.

Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, or until cupcakes are baked and cooled.

Now, onto the cupcakes. This recipe makes around 24 cakes.

What you’ll need:

200g softened, unsalted butter

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

1 cup of caster (superfine) sugar

2 and a half cups of self-raising flour

1 cup of milk

3 eggs

1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries, mashed with the back of a spoon (I used frozen)

Vanilla buttercream icing. (You can make your own, but I’m all for cheating, so used a commercial brand – Betty Crocker)

RC_cooked but no mallow

Naked Cupcakes!

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees C. Line a muffin or cupcake tin with cases, or, you can use the self-structured ones shown in the pics. I like these because you can bake lots more at a time. My trays fit 25 cases.

With an electric mixer, whip the butter, sugar and vanilla until its light and fluffy. Then add your eggs, one at a time. The mixture can go a bit curdly at this stage, but don’t worry, it’ll all come back together. Then add half the flour, half the milk. Then more flour, more milk and keep mixing until it’s all combined. Add a couple of spoons of the mashed raspberries and give another quick mix – but only enough to swirl the raspberries in.

RC_finsihed_further away

Marshmallow and Rasberry Cupcakes

Fill your cupcake cases to about halfway. Add some more raspberry chunks if desired. This is a fairly thick and heavy mixture, so give the tops a bit of a smooth over. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until a skewer stuck in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely before decorating. (pic of cooked, undecorated cakes?)

Once cakes are cool, pull your marshmallows out of the fridge and roll them in icing sugar, or a mix of icing sugar and coloured decorator sugar. Try not to eat toomany before they go on the cakes! With a piping bag and the same large nozzle as used earlier, pipe a round circle of vanilla buttercream around the edge of the cake. Add your marshmallow on top, and you’re done!

Hint: When making cupcakes for a special occasion, I find it really effective to use cupcake cases that match your colour theme, or, as you can see in these pics, two slightly different cases. It’ll make all the difference for the table display.

Chocolate Mud and Oreo Cupcakes

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Oh, my. Chocolate on chocolate on chocolate. And cookies! This was a new recipe I tried out just over the weekend, and it’s pretty safe to say I’ll be making these cupcakes again, especially if my kids have any say in it… ~Mandy Wrangles

CMOC_finished_front and back

Chocolate Mud and Oreo Cupcakes

About 24 cupcake cases

200g of chopped butter

160g dark cooking chocolate. I used Cadbury melts brand.

A quarter of a cup of water

2 tbs cocoa powder

1 tbs instant coffee

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 cup caster (superfine) sugar

3 eggs (best if they’re room temperature)

Three-quarters of a cup of sifted, Self Raising flour

CMOC_mixture

Yummy Mixture!

Pre heat your oven to 150 C, and set out the cupcake cases.

In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt together the butter, chocolate, cocoa, coffee and vanilla. Use a whisk to bring it together until it’s smooth. Don’t let the mixture boil. Remove from heat and let it cool for 15 minutes.

While your chocolate mix is cooling, use electric beaters to mix together the sugar and eggs until they’re pale and creamy. Then add the chocolate mixture, a little at a time. Once it’s all combined, add the flour slowly and mix.

Pour the mixture to fill the cupcake cases to just over halfway and bake for aprox. 30 minutes. This will vary from oven to oven. The best way to tell if your mudcakes are done is to insert a skewer into the middle of one of the cakes. If it comes out clean – you’re done.

Remove from the oven and let cupcakes cool completely before decorating.

CMOC_pair on plate

Decorated with Oreos

Vanilla buttercream mixture

Chocolate buttercream mixture (yes, you can make your own, but the commercial brands are delicious and make life SO much easier. I use the Betty Crocker brand. Whoever said it wasn’t okay to cheat in the kitchen?)

Pack of miniature ‘Oreo’ cookies.

Piping bag and large ‘star’ nozzle.

Bring vanilla buttercream to room temperature.

Put aside two Oreo cookies for each cake, and add the left overs to a small snap-lock plastic bag. Seal the bag and smash the cookies with a rolling pin until they’re a fine grain. You can use a blender to do this, but it’s way more fun to smash stuff! Make sure the grains of cookie are small enough that they won’t clog your piping nozzle. Mix the cookie grains through the vanilla buttercream and pop in the fridge for 5 or 10 mins.

While the vanilla and cookie buttercream chills, add the chocolate buttercream to your icing bag and pipe a ‘base’ of chocolate over the entire cake. Once they’re all done, remove the vanilla/cookie flavour from the fridge and pipe a small swirl on top, adding the saved Oreo cookies for garnish.

Mrs Hartney’s Scones

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I come from a long line of home cooks. My Nanna ran a private girl’s school canteen and then a regional Cole’s cafeteria. Her daughter (my Mum) was a Home Economics teacher in a special needs school for almost thirty years. I thought this week, I’d share some of their favourite recipes with you. We’ll start with Mum’s seriously simple scones.

scones

Mrs Hartney’s Scones

2 ½ cups of Self-raising flour

1tsp of baking powder

2 tbs of butter

1 egg (whipped slightly with a fork)

Milk

Jam and whipped cream to serve

How it’s done:

Pre heat oven to 180 degrees C.

Mum would tell you to add the butter, flour and baking powder to a large bowl and rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until it resembled breadcrumbs. I’m lazier than her (and have this icky thing about food under my fingernails…) so I just throw it in the food processor and blitz for a few seconds. Same result. Then add the egg  to the mixture, still blitzing for a few seconds at a time, then add just enough milk to form a dough – usually around half a cup.

On a floured surface, roll your dough out until it’s about 1cm thick, and using a round cutter (an upturned glass works well, too) cut your scones out. Place them fairly close together on a greased or lined baking tray. Placing them closely helps them to rise apparently, but that could be an old wive’s tale!

Brush the tops with a little milk, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes – until the tops have turned a light golden brown.

Serve warm with whipped cream and raspberry or strawberry jam.

Big Cheat’s Chocolate Box

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It’s no secret I love baking. The satisfaction of making a cake from scratch is awesome. But, let’s face it, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day, or ingredients in the pantry to do that. This week, a very special member of my family turned 13, and I needed a cake big enough to feed at least fifteen people – plus leftovers, because chocolate cake is even better the next day. I was also seriously stuck for time and inspiration. So, I cheated and here’s how:


CCBox_ingredientsWhat you need:

*3 packets of ‘White Wings’ brand Rich Chocolate Cake (or similar – but not mud cake because melting chocolate over a saucepan of water etc is not for cheats). These packets required adding softened butter and 2 eggs each – so 6 eggs all together.

*1 Betty Crocker brand Milk Chocolate Frosting. I love this stuff, and use it even when I’m not cheating.

*Aprox 40 miniature Kit Kat chocolates (buy the multi packs)

*Various packets of chocolates. I used: Freckles, Ferrero Rochers, Jaffas, Miniature Oreo Cookies (again, cheaper in the multi packs), Smarties or M&M’s, Maltesers and Chocolate Finger buscuits.

*Ribbon.


How it’s done:

I used a rectangular cake tin 22cm x 28cm and 7cm deep. Grease and line the tin with baking paper, set your oven to the instructions on your cake mix. Make and bake cake as directed – allowing for extra baking time because you’re using 3 cake mixes. Mine took almost 2 hours to bake.

CCBAllow cake to cool COMPLETELY on wire rack. Seriously, give it an hour or two or you’ll regret it later when all your chocolate decorations fall off. Trim the top of your cake so it’s perfectly flat.

Smother the whole thing with the chocolate frosting. Using a little extra frosting for glue, surround the outside of your cake with Kit Kats as a border. Use the ribbon to tie around the Kit Kats, not only does this give the cake a little bit of extra wow, but it helps keeps those suckers from falling off! Use the chocolate finger biscuits to divide up sections – making sure each section is wide enough for whatever you decide to put in them eg: I measured using the Ferrero Rochers and the Oreos. Fill your sections with plenty of yummy chocolate goodness, bearing in mind contrasting colours etc.

That’s it. Done. So easy, so quick (except for baking time). And such a show-stopper!

3 Ingredient Chocolate Fudge Cake

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I made this wicked chocolate fudge for the first time over the weekend. To be honest, I’m almost wishing it wasn’t so easy – because it’s seriously smooth, creamy and very, very decadent.

3 ingred. fudge cake

Chocolate Fudge Cake

A 385ml can of condensed milk.

50 grams of butter, chopped into cubes

400 grams of dark chocolate, cut finely.

How it’s done:

Grease and line a slice tin – I used an 18cm x 18cm square tin. Over a LOW heat, combine butter and condensed milk in a medium saucepan. Stir continuously to stop it burning and sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. Once the butter has melted, add your chocolate and keep stirring until it’s melted. It does get quite thick at this point, so bring your muscles!

Pour into the prepared tin, smooth the top, refrigerate for one to two hours and cut into serving size squares. And THAT’S IT! It will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container – if it doesn’t get eaten before then.

** I did find this recipe to be a little on the rich side (but it could be just perfect for you!) so next time I might try using milk chocolate. Or white chocolate. Or maybe using one of those fancy flavoured chocolates, like salt or chilli. I might try mixing in some nuts and marshmallows for rocky road, or some jelly lollies or, or…

Let me know if you come up with any more ideas!

Chocolate Lasagne

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(aka The Lasagne Saga)

 

Mandy Wrangles_2_tnSo, one thing I’ve learned since writing up these recipes for Escape Club is that you guys tend to like the super rich and decadent chocolately ones the best. So when a friend suggested over Facebook (*waves to Deb*) that I give Chocolate Lasagne a go – who was I to refuse? There’s heaps of recipes out there online, but I decided to go with my own invention. The only tip I stole was to use instant pudding for some of the layers… read on and you’ll see how that went!

So hopefully, with all my trial and error, I’ve saved you the drama, and even though this is a time consuming dessert to make (that time is chilling between layers, not actual work), it’s really simple when broken down into steps.

Choc Lasagne_1Preparation:

Grease and line a tin with baking paper. Be careful with this step, and make sure you’ve lined the tin well. I used a cake tin measuring 22cm x 28cm and 7cm deep. You don’t need to make yours as mammoth as mine, but do make sure your tin is deep enough for all the different layers.

1st Layer is Dark Chocolate Fudge:

Melt 50g of butter with a 395g tin of condensed milk. Stir constantly over a low heat – you can’t leave it or you’ll burn the pot. Once the butter and condensed milk are combined, add 400g of finely chopped dark chocolate. Continue stirring until all combined and thick. Then carefully spoon the mixture into the bottom of your prepared pan, making it as level as possible. I added sliced ‘Chomp’ chocolate bars sprinkled on top for texture. Chill in fridge while you prepare the next layer.

Choc lasagne_22nd Layer:

Is marshmallow! Add 2 tablespoons of gelatine to 1 ½ cups of boiling water. Stir until combined. Place 3 cups of sugar in a large mixing bowl, and add the dissolved gelatine mix. Mix with an electric beater for at least 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add a couple of drops of vanilla essence, and mix for another couple of seconds. If you wanted to add some colour, now is the time to do that, too. Spread carefully over the top of your chilled chocolate fudge and chill again. You’ll most likely have waaay too much marshmallow, so use your leftovers by spooning into a greased cake tin (you’ll use it another layer).

choc lasagne_33rd  Layer:

Is caramel. Now, I’d planned to cheat here and use the tinned version, but didn’t have enough. So I made my own like this: Add 200g of butter to 200g of brown sugar in a small saucepan. Heat slowly and stir constantly until they combine to a smooth paste. Then, add a 395g tin of condensed milk and keep stirring for about 5 minutes, but don’t allow the mix to bubble. Cool at room temperature for about half an hour (or if you’re impatient like, me – 10 mins in the fridge). It’s important your caramel is cool so it doesn’t melt the marshmallow when you spread it over the top.

4th Layer:

So, this is where my problems started. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say I tried using instant chocolate pudding. It was a disaster and I had to scrape it off the caramel (which I’d allowed to set well, thank goodness) and start again. I started with about a cup and a half of leftover marshmallow, to 2 tablespoons of butter. Melt together in a medium saucepan over low heat. Once combined, add 2 tablespoons of cocoa and continue stirring. Pour mixture over 4 cups of Coco-pops, and mix really well until the Coco-pops are covered. Press firmly into your tin with the back of a spoon, over the top of the caramel layer. Then, just because too much chocolate is never enough, I sprinkled white chocolate buds over the top.


choc lasagne5th Layer:

Now, when I make this again, I’ll probably leave this layer out, but it’s up to you how much is enough, or how rich you like your decadent desserts. I added a thin layer ofmilk chocolate ganache by mixing 250g of milk chocolate with 3 tablespoons of cream and heating over a low heat until the chocolate is melted and combined.

6th and Final Layer:

Is the same as the first! Yes, more dark chocolate fudge, and more sliced Chomp Bars for decoration. Allow your finished Chocolate Lasagne to set for a couple of hours before turning out of the tin (VERY carefully – and this is where you thank me for reminding you to line that tin well). You might need to give it a bit of a tap on the bottom, to coax it out, but be patient. Slice with a very sharp knife. You could serve this with whipped cream – but honestly, you probably won’t need it!

Now… time to go for a run. Or do some sit-ups. Or something.

Glass Shard Cupcakes

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With only a few weeks until Halloween, I thought this would be a good time to share some of my favourite – but kind of gruesome – recipes for your Halloween party. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting both sweet and savoury recipes of the very dark kind, along with others of the more cheerful kind (unless you have an aversion to fairgrounds and clowns, that is…)

Today we’ll kick things off with Glass Shard Cupcakes. As usual, I’ve used a few ‘cheats’ where possible.

Glass cupcakes_1What you need:

1 x chocolate cake mix. I used White Wings brand.

1 x Betty Crocker vanilla frosting.

1 x packet of clear Isomalt Sticks – available from any cake decorating suppliers or online.

1 x Red Queen brand ‘Writing Icing’. Comes in a pack of 4 tubes, available at the supermarket.

Black food colouring.

How it’s done:

Make up a batch of chocolate cupcakes according to the packet instructions. Allow to completely cool.

Glass cupcakes_2Isomalt Glass Shards:

I use the ‘Cake Play’ brand of Isomalt sticks. It’s meltable, mouldable candy. It can be coloured as well as flavoured, but for this recipe I used it straight. It’s brilliant for so many different decorating ideas, but especially candy glass. A little on the expensive side at around $15 for a packet of 12 sticks, so it’s worth trying to catch them on special or online. Using Isomalt is a bit daunting at first, but, like working with chocolate, once you get the hang of it, a whole new world of ideas is opened up to you.

Prepare a flat surface with a large sheet of baking paper.

For this recipe, I used 6 Isomalt sticks. Snap each stick into 2 or 3 pieces, and add to a microwave safe container. I use a coffee mug because it has a handle and this stuff gets HOT. *Don’t even think about sticking your finger in there!*

In increments of about 10 seconds at a time, melt your Isomalt in the microwave, until it’s completely liquefied and bubbling. Since each microwave is different, the time could vary. Give it a good, quick stir with a metal spoon. Working very quickly – Isomalt hardens again fast – pour the candy mixture onto your baking paper and smooth out as thin and smoothly as possible in large pieces. Don’t panic if you get a few lumps or bumps. If you find the candy in your cup has hardened too quickly, just zap it back in the microwave for a few seconds.

Glass Cupcakes_5Your ‘sheets’ of melted Isomalt will be completely hard again in about 5 or 10 minutes (depending on room temp). Place another sheet of baking paper over the hardened candy, and with the heel of your hand, press down and crush carefully. It’s the best way to get bigger pieces. Lift from your baking paper and put aside in a bowl.

*Isomalt clean up is with hot water and elbow grease.

glass cupcakes_7Decorating:

Ice your cooled cupcakes with the pre-made vanilla frosting. This stuff saves a crazy amount of time and is DELICIOUS. Then, stick shards of candy glass into the cakes, making sure you use some smaller pieces as well as large ones. Try not to make this bit too even – a more haphazard style works better here.

To make up the ‘blood’, I squeezed about half a tube of the red ‘Writing Icing’ into a tiny shot glass. It’s too thick to use directly (we want the blood to drip and ooze) so I added a few drops of warm water. Unfortunately, this made the colour too bright – easy fixed with a single drop of black food colouring. The end result was a colour and texture very close to the real thing. I used a chop stick to both mix the ‘blood’ and also to drizzle it over the glass, as well as a few well-placed drops on the plate for effect.

Creaming Soda and Fairy Floss Cupcakes

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Sometimes when baking, everything goes to plan. And sometimes it doesn’t. This recipe was one of those doesn’t times…but that doesn’t necessarily mean disaster.

I got this recipe for creaming soda cupcakes from a friend via the internet. ‘Ooh,’ I thought. ‘Everyone loves creaming soda. I might be able to tweak and change this recipe and make something really amazing.’ Little did I know just how much I’d have to tweak and change. But the end result? AMAZING.

FFC_2What you need – CUPCAKES:

  • 2 cups of Kirks brand creaming soda (ok, confession time. I didn’t use Kirk’s brand like the recipe told me to. This could have been where things went wrong, but I can’t be sure).
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups of self raising flour
  • 2 large eggs

How it’s done:

Sift the flour and sugar into a large bowl and put aside. Melt butter in the microwave and whisk with the eggs in a second bowl. Add the creaming soda to the butter and egg mix.

Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the egg/butter/creaming soda. Gently fold the mixture together. Pour into cupcake liners and bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.

All good, right? Wrong. My cupcakes were more like pancakes. They didn’t rise at all. I double checked – yes, I used self raising flour. Next time, I’ll add some baking powder as well. But, how to save this batch when the cupcake cases were only 2/3 full?

Jelly. Creaming Soda flavoured jelly. Oh, yeah!

FFC_4What you need:

1 packet of Aeroplane Jelly ‘Create-a-jelly’.

1 cup of boiling water

200 ml of creaming soda.

How it’s done:

Aeroplane Jelly make this awesome Create-a-jelly that can be found in the supermarket alongside the flavoured stuff. Create-a-jelly allows you to make any flavour you desire. Just add your favourite fruit juice, soft drink, iced tea, cordial…

Anyway, I just happened to have a pack in the pantry, and made up a batch according to the instructions (dissolve the Create-a-jelly with the boiling water, then add the creaming soda) in a shallow jug and popped it into the fridge for an hour, until it was about half set but still pourable. Then I topped up the flat cupcakes with the jelly mix and put them back in the fridge for another two hours.

FFC_3Fairy Floss Decoration:

What you need:

1 x Betty Crocker ready-made vanilla frosting.

Pink and blue food colouring

1 x small container of blue and pink fairy floss.

…because too much sweet stuff is never enough, right? I spooned around 3 tablespoons of frosting into two separate bowls and tinted one pale pink, and one pale blue. Load up your piping bag with one teaspoon of each colour at a time – one spoon pink, one spoon blue, one spoon pink… Then pipe a simple swirl onto the top of each jellied cupcake. Carefully add a little fairy floss for decoration, trying not to handle it too much to keep that flossy look.

The end result was all round ‘WIN’ so far as my family of taste-testers went. The texture of jelly with cake and fairy floss was gorgeous. Very, very sweet – but gorgeous. I might just make this mistake again…

** A word of caution – don’t add the fairy floss until you’re just about to serve up. It tends to melt at air temperature.

Eat In by Anna Gare

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praline_1You probably already know Anna Gare as judge of Australian Junior Masterchef, and also as the host of Great Australian Bake-Off. She’s also the author of two cookbooks – in 2011 she released Homemade and the brand new Eat in – the best food is made at home. I have to agree with her on the title!

I love Anna’s theory that “…cooking, like love, does not have to be rocket science. It is a way of thinking, tasting and feeling that allows you to draw pleasure out of what could otherwise be ordinary. It turns a chore into a little party, or, sometimes, a big one…”

Eat in is a simple cookbook to navigate. Beautiful colour photographs accompany each recipe, which are listed under the headings: good morning!, lovely lunches, feeding family & friends, salads, what’s for dinner mum? and sweet things.

praline_2Included is a handy conversion chart – something I wish every cookbook had (I can’t tell you how much time I’ve wasted trying to convert American recipes to Australian measurements).

Recipes vary from the more exotic-sounding, such as theQuail with pistachio, orange and sage butter and Whole poached trout with celeriac rémoulade to one of my Nanna’s old favourites – Butterfly cupcakes. All the recipes are written in an easy to follow manner; there’s nothing too difficult or out of reach for the everyday home-cook.

I decided to give Anna’s Tealight chocolate mousse with pistachio praline a go as my test recipe. Now, you’ll need to read the book to get the actual recipe… but I can tell you as the first time I’ve ever made praline – it was a success.

Praline is one of those things I’ve always been a bit wary of in the kitchen; too much can go wrong (think burned toffee, burned skin, a big old messy pot to scrub…) but this was simple, everything I needed was already in my pantry and fridge, I escaped without burning anything, and the clean up was immediate with hot water. Too easy!

I didn’t have any tealight glasses handy to serve, so instead used my favourite glass tumblers that are reserved especially for desserts. And the verdict from my family? More please…

‘Anna Gare – Eat In – The Best Food is Made at Home’

207 pages

Text by Anna Gare

Photography by Ian Wallace

Published by Murdoch Books 2013

ISBN – 978-1742663890