Archive | September, 2010

Edible Butterflies ─Mmmm, tasty.

27 Sep

My friend asked me to bake these only one night in advance, so I did my best. My friend requested some cupcakes for his wife, whose birthday it was, to bring them in for her colleagues at work. Sound familiar??:) He wanted blue and he wanted flowers, so off I went. I made super simple flowers and decided that blue flowers called for blue butterflies and I had a special trick up my sleeve.  Blue edible paper. In Germany, you can’t get most baking accessory things and it’s frustrating so you just gotta get creative and source out cool local stuff.
I found this cute edible paper in my local grocery store and I have these cute punches from the local craft store. Put two and two together and you get a big win. Ever since, I saw cute little accents on ShamsD cupcakes, I knew I had to have them. So I have been staunchly committed to rolling out my fondant super-duper thin to get my little baby dragon flies and baby butterflies. But ever since my Trusty Apprentice brought back some white edible paper and now since my discovery of COLOURED edible paper, I am in love with my punches. So cheers, to punches big and small and to no more torn fondant stuck everywhere!

You can gently crack the edible paper to create the “flying butterfly” effect. Cooooool.

I also am in love with my chocolate swirls. Talk about perfect frosting consistency. That is the key. I will tell you right now. I frost my cupcakes right before delivery which means I refrigerate my frosting until the morning of. Now if you don’t let the frosting come to room temperature again (as when it is first made) then you are in big trouble. Although the frosting comes out through the piping tip, JUST, it is very difficult to handle. It slides all over the flat iced surfaces of my cupcakes. It comes in bursts and then stops mid-swirl. That is the trouble with firm frosting which hasn’t been out of the fridge for long enough. Once it is at room temperature, I always recommend a quick whirl with the hand mixer. Yeah, I know it gets things all dirty and covered in chocolate icing again, but it’s worth it to get it to that whipped consistency all the way through the entire batch of icing.. This ensures that the entire batch of frosting takes on a equal temperature.
I hope the perfect chocolate swirls and blue edible paper were enjoyed by all!

P.S. The words frosting and icing are interchangeable. Two different words, same exact meaning. And I thought Deutsch was hard!

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Autumn-inspired Chocolate Leaf Tutorial

24 Sep

Fall is already in full swing in Frankfurt and out come the fall boots and heavier jackets. I was feeling inspired by a cake on Clockwork Lemon so I thought I would take chocolate leaves, inspired by autumn colours to the world of cupcakes, so off I went to collect some. After running into some technical difficulties (the leaves were too high to reach), I managed to find some other trees with lower hanging leaves.

To make chocolate leaves you will need:

Washed and dried leaves with nicely visible veins
200g of white chocolate
Wilton food colouring pastes ─colours of your choice
Toothpicks
Small bowls or shot glasses
Teaspoon or pastry brush
Backpapier (parchment paper)

I brought home my colourful collection and this is what I did.

Step 1:

Wash leaves and pat them dry. Ensure when you collect the leaves, you get ones with really visible veins.

Step 2:

Melt white chocolate using the double boiler method (i.e. melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering hot water).

Step 3:

Divide up your melted chocolate into little glasses or small bowls.

Step 4:

Using a toothpick, add food colouring paste to the white chocolate. Please don’t use liquid food colouring, otherwise the chocolate will seize up on you. This is when the chocolate you are melting suddenly becomes grainy and firms up, looking like a dull, thick paste and you can longer work with it.

Step 5:

Make some nice autumn colours. Using the Wilton buttercup yellow created a really nice autumn yellow. I also added it to the red and the orange to also make them more golden-y.

Step 6:

Using a pastry brush or the back of teaspoon also worked very well, apply the coloured chocolate to the back of the leaf, where the veins are most visible. I found that using bigger leaves and at least 2-3 applications of chocolate worked best. The smaller leaves didn’t work so well, the big leaves where too big for cupcakes however the medium leaves were juuuust right. And by three applications, I mean, put them in the fridge for drying after each application and reapply the next coat onto the dried chocolate. Let the chocolate covered leaves dry on Backpapier (parchment paper) in the fridge.

Step 7:

Take out them out of the once the last coat has dried. Overall, the drying of each coat takes about 5-10 minutes. So after about 30 minutes your leaves should be ready. I left my leaves in for another hour after that just to harden them up even more. So after this hour and half, take the leaves out and gently peel the chocolate off the leaves. The key word here is gently! Gently people!

Step 8:

Decorate your cupcake with your handmade decor.

I gotta say, this was a lot of work, and these pretty little leaves are seriously sensitive to any kind of heat, from your hands, the air or light. I am not sure whether it would have been different if I had been working with normal chocolate and not white chocolate as I hear white chocolate can be very temperamental when things are added to it (i.e. food colouring paste). So I don’t know how long these would last if you didn’t refrigerate your cupcakes. I don’t think I want to find out actually. A bit too much hassle and stress in hoping they survive and not crumble into a million pieces for my liking!

Overall, an interesting experiment, the results were a little disappointing but it’s always nice to try a new kind of cupcake decor, even if it didn’t create quite the WOW factor I was looking for. On the other hand, if YOU come up with better results, do send the pics my way!

Short and Sweet Post: Golf Event Cupcake Minis

20 Sep

Last week I sponsored a golf charity event that was hosted by the president of the Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow club which I am a part of as a mentor. He invited me a few weeks ago and I decided it would be a wonderful opportunity to introduce yet more Frankfurters to cupcakes.
I came up with a simple design as I knew that the majority of golfers would be male so no girlie cupcakes were allowed. I made classic flavours, French vanilla and Belgian chocolate. I frosted the vanilla ones in green tinted buttercream and added a little white M&M flavoured chocolate bean which my Trusty Apprentice recently smuggled in from the UK. I added a little toothpick flag to increase the cuteness. The chocolate cupcakes were decorated with a swirl of chocolate frosting and topped with chopped frozen Mars bars.

I scored this awesome vintage tray at Das Depot (no relation.:)) in Frankfurt for €6. Das Depot is the equivalent to say, Home Sense with lots of home accessories. It's usually super over-priced but had a sale on. Woo hoo!

Once the golfers came in and finished lunch, I walked around with tray and distributed them. I love interacting with people and talking about my favourite topic (cupcakes!) so it was a fun afternoon.

P.S. Stay tuned for my next post ─an autumn-inspired photo tutorial.

Cupcakes for an Expat

15 Sep

Going to events in and around Frankfurt has given me the opportunity to meet many new people. I recently attended American Citizens Information Night and besides the abundant supply of American goodies like bagels and Mountain Dew, I met a lot of friendly, open and kind expats. There is just something very wonderful about the immediate comfort you get from a fellow expat when you know you can speak English really quickly and they will still understand all your subtle jokes and innuendos.

As luck would have it, I got the chance to bake for one of those lovely people I met that night. Anita is an avid fan of cupcakes, an expat like me and also understands the etiquette when it comes to providing cake on your own birthday. So she requested my help to sweeten up her colleagues in the form of 1 dozen French vanilla cupcakes and 1 dozen Belgian chocolate cupcakes. She is a big chocolate lover, so I obliged by using my best chocolate cocoa. Her favourite colours include teal, blues and greens so I used those colours as accents.

I decided to include one cupcake blanketed fully in fondant as a bit of an ode to hello naomi who is a big inspiration to me. There is something very clean and professional about a cupcake with a fondant finish. I do try to keep fondant to a minimum, but I have seen this fondant covering done many times and I thought it was about time, I try it for myself.

With these fondant-blanketed cupcakes, there are different methods, however the one I used includes a buttercream layer under the fondant blanket. So if you are not a fan of the fondant, you can simply peel it off and you still have your normal cupcake with buttercream frosting to bite into. For a good how-to tutorial, visit CakeJournal. Word of warning, use recipes that guarantee you a nice domed cupcake. The key to adding a fondant top, is to have a domed top to begin with. If you don’t have a domed cupcake and instead just create the dome out of buttercream, when/if the buttercream melts, your fondant will lose its shape as it will have no dome to hang onto and could slide off into a gooey mess.

The ‘full fondant blanket’ over a cupcake is very popular across the globe, in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the UK, however interestingly enough, I recently heard that in America, cupcakes are taking a new direction in becoming more healthy ─with more vegan cupcakes for example. Highlighting this point, a vegan chef recently won the $10,000 prize on Cupcake Wars showing that traditional ingredients could be on the way out. Healthier options such as apple sauce, coconut milk and agave nectar are substituting traditionally used items such as butter, milk and refined sugar.

Personally I like to get the best of both worlds and that is why I try to achieve a balance in my cupcakes. I love the beauty and sophistication of fondant covered cupcakes but can appreciate that it should be kept to a minimum and that cupcakes don’t need to overwhelmed with sugar. This is why I chose to do this single cupcake as an accent so that the details of fondant art can be aesthetically inspiring and not sugar-overload off-putting. We shall see what the response will be like from the Germans as I introduce them to the world of fondant.

The cupcakes themselves turned out beautifully with the extra special chocolate cocoa powder and needless to say, chocolate cravings were satisfied, yet more German cupcake addicts were born and all was right in the world.

Completely pooped ─what a day, what a day.

6 Sep

Wow. I look around at the aftermath of getting ready this morning and it’s a complete hazard zone. A cupcake calamity. From butter, sugar and frosting on every countertop and cupcake pans, boxes and other paraphernalia strewn everywhere, to open closet doors as I hunted for bags and threw my clothes on this morning. But it was all worth it (how many times have I used this phrase in my blog now?).

Picture captured in a remote corner of our apartment where I could crop out the mess!

 

This weekend was Rotlintstrasse Fest and I made, frosted, decorated, packed, transported, set-up a tower of 72 cupcakes. Mr. Cupcake is out of town so it was up to me to make things happen as a solo act. It was tough. My mind had to be constantly alert. I had to stay on task and on time and to organize everything myself. I couldn’t just use my popular catch-phrase: “Babe, can you help me with this one little thing.’ Everything was on me. I had to not only make sure everything was done to the last detail, but to do it myself. Even the little things like packing the elevator and making sure not to lock myself out!

So onto the cupcakes themselves. As mentioned in my previous post, I decided to go for a more ‘o’naturale’ look with fresh berries and a household brand like Snickers. It was a neighbourhood festival so I decided to make my cupcakes more familiar and not as flamboyant. I went with French vanilla cupcakes with tinted pink buttercream frosting, drizzled with homemade raspberry coulis and topped with a blackberry. For the chocolate lovers, I made my Belgian chocolate cupcakes, topped them with caramel infused buttercream and drizzled them with caramel (German caramel tastes a bit more like butterscotch though!) and then finished them off with chopped frozen Snickers bars.

After setting up my tower, I took a few shots. Inadvertently on each photo I captured a different cupcake customer group. Cupcakes don't discriminate.

I got my space at the festival from A-viva (so gracious!) which was selling beautiful fruit tarts and cakes as well as other cuisine delights made by the international language students. A-viva and I will be donating all our proceeds to the flood victims in Pakistan (yet another reason why A-viva is the best Sprachschule (language school) in Frankfurt!).

I sold alongside a Spanish A-viva volunteer who was a fantastic sales guy.

We sold-out of cupcakes in about 4 and half hours and I was happy to call the day a success.

One happy customer!

As I finish this post, I am absolutely pooped-to-the-max, my home is messier than a pigsty but I love life. Cupcakes are fantastic and I love, Love, LOVE selling them especially when all the profits get donated to a good cause! After I get this house in order, I am treating myself to a long bath and a manicure.

P.S. No, seriously. If a pig walked into my house right now, he would laugh in my face and give me the number for a Frankfurt maid service. Immediately.