Tag Archives: chocolate cupcakes

Christmas Cupcakes and Snowflake Tutorial

8 Dec

Are you starting to feel Christmasy yet?? What better way to celebrate than with cupcakes!

Santa face absolutely inspired (copied!) from Bakerella. Love her talent! The reindeers my idea.:)

I recently received an early Christmas gift, one which I bought for myself..well, it wasn’t really a gift, ok you caught me, I’ll make up any excuse to buy to any kind of cupcake paraphernalia. In fact I have a wide array of excuses for buying cupcake paraphernalia.

‘It’s my hobby.’
It’s my business.’
‘It’s an early Christmas present.’
‘I NEED red glitter on my cupcakes.’

You get the picture. But in the Christmas spirit of giving as well as in the spirit of dual-purpose excuses, I would like to share with you all how my new cupcake toy works with a little tutorial. Like I mentioned the other week, silicone is back! And it’s awesome. Multi-purpose, re-usable, and easy to use. What more could you want? Let me show you what you can do with this bad boy.

Snowflake silicone mould and fondant.

What you will need:
Fondant
Silicone mould

Using the mould for fondant

Step 1 (click on picture to enlarge):

Break off little balls of fondant and slowly fill up the cavities. The key here is to shape each ball like the cavity you are filling. What you don’t want to do, is to put too much in at a time otherwise you get a little border on the exterior of the shape out of the excess fondant.

Step 2:

Once you have filled the cavity, pop the snowflake out of the mould. Be careful not to flex the mould too much as you pop out the fondant shape as it might get misshapen...i.e. a little wide the sides.

Helpful Hint:

If you want to use other colours of fondant, use slightly less than you think you need for the area because when you press the other fondant overtop it spreads and if you put in more than you need of the contrasting colour, then it will spread into the area you don’t want it to be in. This great tip I got from my friend at Sweet Sentiments. This is especially applicable when doing centres for flowers.

A good example of where you would use two different colours of fondant for effect.

Back to the snowflake silicone mould…

Using the mould for chocolate

What you will need:
Melted chocolate
Silicone mould

Step 1:

Melt chocolate and pour it into the cavity. I use a small piping tip to guide the chocolate in the small crevices but a snipped tip on a bag should do the trick too.

Step 2:

Swipe the top of the moulds with the side of a palette knife or a regular knife to get a smooth surface. Now they are ready to go into the frezer for 10-15 minutes. These moulds are also great because they can handle a lot of different conditions. They are designed to withstand temperatures from freezing all the way up to 450 degrees.

Step 3:

Pop them snowflakes out and they are ready to use!

One problem I  found with these though, is that the snowflakes melted fast. Yes, ha ha, snowflakes are supposed to melt. But since these guys were out of chocolate, I thought they would last. But just as soon as I snapped no more than few pictures and wanted to take them off the plate, this is what happened…

I am pretty sure the reason for this is because they are so tiny. I think that if I had a bigger mould, with more chocolate surface, they would not be as super delicate. Perhaps the melting could also be due to the high humidity in my house. Let me know how they turn out if you attempt them!

So stick with the non-melting fondant snowflakes, bitte (please)!

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial! Now go out and get yourself some silicone or ask Santa for some!

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Learning about Cupcake Decor

2 Nov

As I wander around in the cupcake world, gawking at amazing one-of kind creations, constantly inspired by cupcake artists from around the world, I find that I have a wonderful and passionate hunger to learn more. Since I am not professionally trained in a fine culinary school, I seek resources on my own. From little hints off blogs, to amazon book reviews, to flickr photos and step-by step YouTube tutorials.

After my cupcake course at Fair Cake in London, I realize how important it is to get hands on advice and coaching. A lot of the intimidation I felt in using fondant and flower cutters vanished after I completed two wonderful cupcake classes with Shikhita Singh. The bad thing is, is that there are barely any classes in Germany like this. For cupcakes, a grand total of none and for cakes, well there are some but they are old-fashioned in their techniques. Luckily the UK is not far away and there are plenty of talented people, like Shikhita offering classes.
Also luckily, in Canada there are also plenty of opportunities to take classes alongside the professionals. So as of now, I am already bookmarking my way and inquiring about private lessons I could sign up for while I am there. One place that has been strongly recommended is the Bonnie Gordon School in Toronto. They have an excellent reputation for talented teachers and hopefully I can get a some one-on-one lessons from one of the instructors perfectly tailored to all the new things I want to learn. Also highly recommended are lessons at Golda’s Kitchen. Here there are courses, a bit like the Wilton style ones where you learn all about sugarcraft. Hopefully I can participate in two classes and have one private lesson while I am in Canada over the Christmas holidays.

Also on my Christmas list are books! For all those people stumped about what to get me for Christmas, I am preparing a nice long list of cake design books. So books that have already made the lists are:

  • What’s New Cupcake: Ingeniously Simple Designs for Every Occasion
  • Professional Cake Decorating by Toba M. Garrett
  • Wedding Cake Art and Design by Toba M. Garrett

Everything from piping techniques to sugar flower creation; I want to learn it all. Flower cutters, edible lustre dust and flower veiners are just the tip of the iceberg for me! I want to turn cupcakes into things of art, not just those muffin-like things that sit next to the brownies. That is my mission.

Here are some cupcake creations I have been working on:

Woo hoo! I made these babies again and took some pictures with better light!

Here I am working with melted chocolate. I created Chinese characters. The word I chose was: Happiness.

Here, I am practicing covering cupcakes entirely with fondant and making fondant faces.

Chinese Cupcakes and Macaroons

26 Oct

I sit here writing, perfectly content, as the smell of baking coconut envelops my apartment and my batch of macaroons turn their lovely shade of golden. When I am not baking cupcakes, I begin to have baking withdrawal symptoms and so I have taken to baking batches of fudgy brownies, crispy cookies and now macaroons to fulfil that desire for baking. Don’t get me wrong, I still adore cupcakes and will remain the Cupcake Queen, however it’s nice to whip up something quick and different. I bring my goodies in weekly to my Deutschkurs which I recently returned to full time. The free goodies are always received in the same way. First with hesitation: ‘Oh, no thank you, I am on a diet.’ Then: ‘Well maybe just one.’ To be concluded with: ‘Do you have anymore??’ It’s a cute little cycle and I am developing a great reputation and learning lots of German everyday in my full time course. I have gone back to hone my German language skills since I want to develop my business in Germany, so I really need to become fluent on my cupcake journey.

Recently, the language school held a Chinese themed party and I was the bearer of cupcakes. It took me a while to come up with a theme for my cupcakes but in the end I did good. I made chocolate, green tea and strawberry cupcakes and all were well received.

Sorry about the bad lighting. Stress from chocolate buttercream + late evening hours = crappy cupcake photo.

The chocolate cupcakes nearly gave me a heart attack as I tried a meringue buttercream as I would like to have a less sweet alternative in my repitoire. Well working with egg whites and hot sugar is never fun and my buttercream came out very soft, which I don’t personally like. The flavour was similar to a chocolate mousse and luckily everyone loved it. Another hit were the green tea cupcakes, the people fell in love with the cherry blossoms. The strawberry cupcakes were served with a creamy and not so sweet frosting, perfect for the German pallet. The only problem is that this whipping cream-based frosting reacts with food colouring and makes the fondant creations bleed onto the cupcakes. Not ideal. After all the stress with the soft chocolate buttercream and the bleeding fondant, I was really stressed for the delivery. I thought that the cupcakes were not up to my standards. Luckily I stuck around at the party and saw people take their first bite of my (ugly) cupcakes. No one noticed the bleeding, no one noticed the soft buttercream, no one noticed my ugly version of Chinese candy melt characters. They just came back for more! They wanted to try all the flavours!! It was so euphoric! I just love to see people enjoy my cupcakes, but I get so stressed, uptight and self-conscious leading up to that first bite.

I used a narrow piping nozzle and melted red candy melts to create these Chinese characters. The character means 'Happiness'. I hope!

I really gotta learn how to chill out. Either way, I learned a lot and am happy that my Chinese friends were happy.

Late night inspiration: I heart fortune cookies.:)

P.S. Mmmm, I have just taken out my macaroons and there is nothing like the sweet and delicious smell of baked coconut just taking over your senses. Just imagine these sexy beasts on cupcakes!


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.

Post Taste Testing

15 Jun

So yesterday was tasting testing day. I got to my German classes where there were lots of students and classmates milling around, took the lid off my box of 31 cupcakes and waited with bated breathed and sweaty hands. Very sweaty hands. As my first brave guinea pigs bit into those cupcakes and put pen to the questionnaires, all I could do was wait. Here are the results.

Completed questionnaires: 17

The Breakdown:

10 people enjoyed them thoroughly and rated them either as perfectly balanced, or almost perfect on all of the criteria.

4 people enjoyed them, however we not overwhelmed by their amazingness and rated them as almost perfect or good in all of the criteria.

3 people said they were average and rated them as good or by circling number 4 (needs improvement).

Favourite questionnaire comment:

“It was pretty good and nice to see…just something in the middle of the cake was not well liquefied (the butter, I suppose) Follow arrow–>Or was it intended? Is it supposed to be like that? Sorry it’s the first time I’ve eaten cupcakes! :p”

He he he, my homemade caramel!! Fail. :)

Future changes and key learnings:

1. Good news for future testers. No mini cupcakes, just the classic size for testing, which means more cupcakey goodness for all. I just think the baby ones do no justice for the real final product I want to promote. Plus they don’t travel well. They fall all over the container and mess up their hair a.k.a frosting. Plus I don’t have any paper liners for them, as they are not easy to locate here in Germany and you have order them online and all that jazz. Again, doing a disservice to final product’s appearance. Although taste testing is TASTE testing, the appearance still has to rock.

2. Next change for the future = more good news. I want to increase the size of the classic cupcake. When people unwrapped their goodies, I saw that the cupcakes were 50% smaller than the ones I used to make in Canada. What the hell? How did that happen? I suspect this has something to do with the cupcake liners in Germany…Anyway, I am on a mission to fix this. Bigger IS better.

3. Next learning: still gotta work on my piping. Yay, I got my frosting shiny, yay, I got it to stand tall and proud, but boo, it wasn’t consistent. Practice makes perfect and I need to continue to frost my heart out. Plus I am attending some classes mid-May to improve my skills.

4. No salt. Or maybe two families of cupcakes. More traditional and then more gourmet. I put beautiful French (damn expensive!!) hand harvested Fleur de sel on my cupcakes and there were mixed reviews. Some people got it and others didn’t. Clearly two different opinions, two different groups.

5. Questionnaire user friendliness. Hmmm, didn’t expect so much resistance to my itsy bitsy 7- page questionnaire but I guess I was wrong on that. I will look at condensing it and adding and removing some questions for future use. What I loved is that some people took it really seriously and gave tons of feedback. What I was annoyed about is how people just wanted to have a cupcake while the others around them diligently filled out their questionnaires. Don’t worry, I was strict and I didn’t put up with any shitty excuses as to why they couldn’t fill out the questionnaire. No, ma’am.

Verdict on the chocolate recipe: Definitely a keeper

Verdict on the frosting: Definitely a keeper, although will try some different recipes in the future also

You know I have to say that although the cupcakes still need more work and not everyone was perfectly pleased, I really felt the support come through on the questionnaires. Even if their were some criticisms on the salt for example, there was still a ‘good luck’ and smiley face in the comments sections of the questionnaire. And those ‘good lucks’ were plentiful. I love love loved the support and it makes me feel all warm and cosy inside, even if the cupcakes aren’t quite up to par yet.

So, 31 chocolate caramel cupcakes, 3 hours of baking and decorating and 17 questionnaires later, I feel enlightened, motivated and satisfied. That kind of enlightenment you get when you watch Oprah. That kind of motivation you get when you know you get to do something you love. And that kind of satisfaction you get when you know your doing something good.


The real deal cupcakes posing on some questionnaires. See how small they are compared to North American ones, yet they fill the entire paper liner, so I am no scrimping on the batter.

P.S. It feels awesome to have 12 fans on my Facebook fan page, even if I am one of them.

P.P.S. Reaction to first fan review on my fan page: How wonderful it is to be supported. Five stars!! How psyched am I! *doin’ a happy dance with sweaty hands of excitement*