Gastronomically Terrific

January 30, 2016

Mini cupcakes

Mini cupcakes CUFor a while now, I have been wanting to make the cocktail-inspired mini cupcakes that appear in my Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days recipe book. They look incredibly appealing, and I really wanted to give them a try. New Years Eve and a dinner party in mid January seemed like two really good excuses to try out 3 of the 4 recipes that appear in the book. For New Years Eve, I made the brandy chocolate mini cupcakes. For my January dinner party, I went with the Strawberry Daiquiri mini cupcakes and the Mojito mini cupcakes.

The brandy chocolate mini cupcakes turned out fairly well. The cupcake mixture was a chocolate, orange and brandy one, and the frosting was a chocolate, orange and brandy flavour too. To give the cupcakes a festive feel, I covered them in edible gold glitter. They looked stunning, and tasted pretty good. The only problem was with the amounts. The recipe claimed it made 24-30 cupcakes – I ended up with 48, which was far too many. And I still only needed two thirds of the frosting to ice all 48 cakes.

The strawberry daiquiri and mojito mini cupcakes didn’t go so well, however. Whilst the strawberry daiquiri cakes tasted OK, the frosting was really grainy and just didn’t look very impressive. Also, the bottom of the cakes are just strawberries soaked in white rum. So whilst they taste OK, they aren’t the easiest thing to eat. The mojito mini cupcakes were even worse. They had plenty of white rum in them, but you couldn’t taste any of it. They just tasted like boring tiny lime cakes. They also looked pretty bad, as the frosting for these was just as grainy as that for the strawberry daiquiri mini cupcakes. Whilst some of this may have been down to the way I baked the cakes, I’m entirely unconvinced that the recipes are particularly good ones. Whilst I was also looking after an ill baby the day I made these, she did spend a lot of time asleep, so I had plenty of time to myself to concentrate on making these… it’s unlikely to be an experiment I repeat any time soon!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days Recipes to make every day special, by Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers, pg. 198


December 25, 2014

Champagne truffles

Filed under: Christmas, Sweets — Tags: , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 10:28 pm
Christmas decadence

Christmas decadence

For my last birthday (back in March), or possibly even Christmas last year, I was given a Sweet Shop Recipe Book (which I had asked for). It has recipes for a whole range of exciting sounding sweets, fudge, toffees and truffles – but of course I haven’t gotten around to making anything from it for the whole year.

Upon spotting that one of the recipes was for champagne truffles (incorporating two of my favourite things – champagne and glitter), I decided this Christmas was time to change all that. And I’m please to say that the result, even if I say so myself, does look pretty stunning).

Although we followed the recipe in terms of ingredients, we did change exactly how we carried out various stages, primarily due to previous truffle experiences. After tempering the chocolate we lined some ice cube cases with it, before adding the truffle mixture (which included both Cava and brandy- mmm…). We then covered the truffle mixture with more tempered chocolate before leaving the truffles to set.

Once the truffles were set, we prised them out of the ice cube cases and added edible gold glitter. We weren’t sure of the best way to add the glitter at first – brushing them seemed to work, but then I tried adding some glitter to a small sieve and shaking that over the truffles (just as you would with icing sugar). That worked well, and to get a really good shimmer we then brushed that glitter over the truffles. The end result is really decadent, and definitely one that impresses. Guests didn’t know whether the truffles were homemade or shop bought, which made me feel good!

Who made it: Dan and Anna (yes, this was definitely a joint effort)

Recipe: The Old-Fashioned Hand-made Sweet Shop Recipe Book, Claire Ptak, pg. 140-141

December 21, 2014

Mini Christmas Fairy Cakes

Mini Xmas fairy cakes in box x4Along with another batch of my eggnog cupcakes, I decided to make some mini Christmas Fairy Cakes as a gift for a family member at Christmas (I can post this now because I gave him his gift yesterday, and from the size and decor on the box he knew damn well what it was – he gets a similar gift every year).

I’ve made this before and they tend to look good, but I have to say that I was especially pleased with them this year. I know they tasted good because I may have made 12 when only 6 fitted in the box… 😉

The cakes themselves are basically a gentle version of a Christmas cake. They contain flour, eggs and butter. But the sugar is light muscovado sugar, and you add mixed fruit and almond extract. You can also add mixed nuts, but to me that just ruins the taste. They smelt amazing in the oven, and taste like Christmas, but a bit lighter.

To decorate the cakes firstly I drizzled them with brandy and added some apricot jam. Then I cut out a circle of marzipan, then placed a circle of royal icing on top. The recipe actually states to make runny icing and coat it with that, but I think ready-made royal icing looks better. I then cut two holly leaves per cake out of green ready-to-roll icing, and coloured some marzipan red to make holly berries. These are then all placed on top of the white icing (I say ‘I’, actually my 2-year-old son helped with the rolling and cutting and, I have to say, did a damn good job!).

I was pretty pleased with the end result, both on terms of the way the cakes looked and tasted. I hope they are enjoyed as much by the receiver of the gift!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Fairy Cakes, Joanna Farrow, pg. 30

January 29, 2014

Santa’s Little Helper

Filed under: cocktail — Tags: , , — lawsonanna @ 9:36 pm

Amaretto and glassThis is the title of one of the cocktails in Nigella’s Christmas cookbook. It sounds lovely (if strong) – just a mix of brandy, amaretto and Cointreau.

Well, it’s not. It’s far too strong and far too sweet for my liking. There’s not a lot else to say about this – I had to mix it with Coke, and it was still way too strong for me. And I like my alcohol. If you know me, you know I’m not shy about my drinking. But I don’t want this again. I’d be much happier with a plain old glass of brandy. Or whisky. Or wine. Or anything else really.

Who made it: Anna and Dan

Recipe: Nigella Christmas, pg. 6

January 2, 2011

Cherry Cakes, part 2

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , , — thinkingdan @ 1:57 am

For our New Years celebrations, we repeated two favourite cherry based cakes for a few friends.  Both tasted just as good as we remembered but getting appearances right can sometimes be tricky…

Let start with the Cherry Gateaux:

January 2010, looking happy and gay:

What doesn't taste better with Cherry Brandy?

Cherry Cake, January 2010.

January 2011: Looking sad and grey:

Cherry cake, New Years 2011

and I cheated so much to get the least sad looking slice of cake I could.  Even the cherries look like they’ve seen better days… all these problems came from me overwhipping the cream, which then wouldn’t spread over the cake properly and went grey when the cherrys were put on it.

They taste the same though!

Contrast this to the: Chocolate Log, or “Buche de Noel as its known to some people who put chestnut puree in instead of cherry goodness:

Chocolate Log with Cherry, October 2010

Chocolate Log with Cherry, New Years 2010-2011.

Both of these look right, the new one perhaps more so because Anna wouldn’t let me near the cream… This was a HUGE success: everybody ate way too much of the magic cherry creamy cakey chocolately goodness and sat there feeling full and happy for the rest of the evening.

In Conclusion:

Eat more chocolate cherry cake!  And let Anna sort out the cream…

December 30, 2010

Merry Muffins

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , — thinkingdan @ 11:15 am

Otherwise known as Christmas Muffins, these guys are the result of a mad scientist’s experiment breeding mince pies with cute fluffy innocent muffins, and the result is tasty indeed.


Would you still get presents if you left Muffins and Latte out for Santa? I think so...


Looking at the ingredients, there is a lot to be worried about here.  Alongside innocent things like cranberries, raisins, mixed spice and brandy, there is apple, Greek yogurt, and mincemeat.  No, I don’t know why.  I’m guessing that the consistency gets all messed up by the mincemeat and the yogurt is needed to offset it.  It does result in a somewhat more solid muffin than the common or garden kind*but in a good way.  There is some slight resemblance to scones, although they are fluffier than that.  They taste like nothing else, but are definitely good fun for a change and the whole sordid mess works out beautifully in the end.

* My Granny had a muffin garden and would often have a good crop in August when we visited for the summer holidays.  Alas, modernisation and climate change have taken their toll and the muffin gardens and sponge-cake fields of the past are now a lost art and are becoming thing of legend.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Cakes, bakes, puddings and prayers by Susan Over, page 42.

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