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Archive for July, 2008

So, what do you want? The good or the bad? I think….the bad news should come first…hopefully then the good news can make up for it. It’s once again the time of the month for July’s DB challenge. However, after much thought and consideration, I’ve decided to opt out of this month’s challenge. Being unemployed means every cent counts. When the challenge was first announced I was really excited. However, I needed a reason and an occasion to make this cake. None came, so in the end, I decided I was not in a position to spend extra money or something which would most likely go to waste. I will however, attempt this challenge the instant I’m given an opportunity.

I know that many will visit the site today in anticipation of July’s challenge. So…for the good news, I’ve decided to post up the few cake orders I’ve been busy with in the last couple of weeks.

First up is a Tiramisu I made for Krys’s colleague’s husband. I opted for a more general sorta design as the cake was to be cut up into small pieces and served as dessert.

Next, was a Chocolate Banana Cake. This was my first time making chocolate butterflies and I had lotsa fun. It was obviously for a girl as I seriously doubt any guy would appreciate a cake decorated in butterflies.

The next was my pride and joy! Haha! :) But seeing that up till now, I’ve been mastering the art of using chocolate decorations in most of my cakes, I’ve decided it was time to work with sugarpaste. As this was a Mississippi Mud Cake for a 6 year old girl, teddy bears and lotsa pretty, colourful gifts should not go wrong.

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This is once again a way overdue post! Sometime in March, I made some very sinful sweet delights for 2 good friends of mine for their birthday. Both were guys, but weird as it is, both absolutely LOVE chocolate and have such a sweet tooth they were bound to be the tooth fairy’s favourite boys when they were young! Seeing they both love sweet dessert, I decided on a chocolate trio gift box made up of chocolate coated nut brittles, profiteroles and eclairs filled with ganache and dark chocolate truffle filled brandy baskets. Except for the truffle, everything else was a first time for me. It was fun and if any of you have chocolate lover friends, you should make something like this for his/her birthday!

Chocolate-Coated Nut Brittle

   
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup assorted nuts (hazelnuts, walnut, almond was what I used)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Dark chocolate
Method:
  • Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside. Mix nuts, sugar and water in a saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  • Bring to a boil then lower heat and cook till mixture turns a rich golden brown and registers 310F on a sugar thermometer. 
  • Quickly remove from heat and pour nuts onto prepared baking sheet. Spread it out evenly and allow to cool completely. 
  • Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Break brittle into bite size pieces. Dip pieces in chocolate, half coating them. Allow it to set.
Truffle-Filled Brandy Baskets:

Truffle/Ganache

Ingredients:

  • 300g dark chocolate
  • 300ml heavy cream
  • Alcohol (optional and adjust to taste)
Method:
  • Place chocolate and heavy cream into a large bowl and melt using a double boiler. 
  • When chocolate has melted, stir in alcohol if using.
  • Allow it to cool to room temperature then clingwrap and refrigerate till sets.
  • Use it to pipe into brandy baskets and to fill eclairs and profiteroles. 
Brandy Baskets
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp brandy
Method:
  • Preheat oven to 200C. 
  • Melt butter, sugar and syrup together. Stir till smooth and remove from heat.
  • Stir in flour and brandy, making sure it is well incorporated.
  • Place small spoonfuls of mixture well apart on a baking sheet. Bake till golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few seconds – just enough time for you to be able to pick it up with your fingers. 
  • Working quickly, pinch edges together and allow it to set in a small cup. 
Eclairs and Profiteroles – Choux Pastry
Ingredients:

 

  • 20g butter 
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1 egg
Method:
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Line and grease oven trays.
  • Combine butter with water in a saucepan and bring to boil. 
  • Add flour and beat with wooden spoon over heat until mixture comes away from base and side of saucepan and forms a smooth ball. 
  • Transfer mixture to another bowl and beat in eggs with electric mixer till glossy.
  • Spoon mixture into piping bag and pipe out long oval shapes for eclairs and round ones for profiteroles. 
  • Bake in oven for 7 minutes. Reduce heat and bake for 10 minutes or until browned lightly and crisp. 
  • Remove from oven and cut into half. Place it back into oven and bake till dried out. 
  • Cool to room temperature. Pipe ganache/truffle so it forms a sandwich.

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This is an example of coversations I’ve had in the last couple of weeks with various friends:

Friend: Are you sick AGAIN?

Me: (nodding my head, pointing to my throat and in a whisper) Yes!

June as most could sum up by now has been by far the worst month for me all year!! Just when you think it’s going to end, news of Aunty Jenny’s return to the Lord came and that was probably the last straw for me. So, when July came, you could probably guess how glad I was June was finally over!

Aunty Jenny’s departure was in itself something to rejoice and cry about at the same time – rejoice in the fact that she’s back in the arms of the Lord and is free from suffering, but sadness in the loss of a great woman of God. Leukemia certainly robs one of their life in a quick manner. The last 5 months have been a roller coaster ride – drop in white blood count, then rise, then drop then rise…..we prayed, we praised, we worshipped, we hoped but in the end God’s in control and knows what is best. I never thought I’d be affected as badly as I had by her death but something in me changed. I realised that every moment now is precious and that I need to not take people for granted. When Uncle Frank and AJ were in OCF, I never took the time to sit down and have long talks or visit them in Margate because I always thought I had plenty of time”. There was always a “next time”, a “I’m too busy”, a “Christmas next year”, etc etc.

After she left, I knew that it was time to actually do something instead of PLANNING to do something. I promised I’d call UF as often as I could and would visit more in the future. By some pre-arrangement of God, a close friend and I were talking the night after AJ’s celebration service and UF came into the topic.

Me: Hey, weren’t you UF’s connect group leader?

Her: Yeah.

Me: Do you still have your old stuff? Do you know when is UF’s birthday? I somehow don’t ever recall celebrating his birthday in OCF.

Her: Hhmmm…I’ll check.

The next thing I know I received an sms saying it was Sunday the 6th of July. Whoa! 4 days after AJ’s service. Immediately we started planning a party for him because we know how hard it would be for him seeing it’s his first birthday without AJ. We managed to gather more than 20 of us and together we went down to UF’s place to shower him with as much love as we could. It was laughter, joy, happiness and love all around the house that night. We had heaps of food – lasagna, wedges, roast beef, salad, herb potatoes, quiches, spaghetti etc. I whipped up 2 different kind of cupcakes – Mississippi Mud Cake and Caramel Mud Cake, and decorated them to form out the words “Happy Birthday Uncle Frank”. It was all worth it just to see the smile on a man who’s played such an important role in so many of our lives. We knew that not only did it mean a lot to this 74 year old man that we were celebrating it with him, but each of us left that night knowing that we were changed in one way or another.

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These here are my modified versions of mississippi and caramel mud cupcakes made for UF’s birthday. I dug a hole in each of them and filled it with dark chocolate mousse. Then topped it with chocolate ganache. I made the sugarpaste hearts and alphabets by hand one by one as the stamps didn’t seem to work too well. 

        

 

Mississippi Mud Cake

Ingredients:

  • 250g butter, chopped coarsely
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/3 cup coffee liqueur
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee powder
  • 225g plain flour
  • 35g self-raising flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
Method:
  • Preheat oven to 170C. 
  • Combine butter, chocolate, sugar, water, liqueur and coffee powder in a saucepan. Stir over low-medium heat till chocolate melts. 
  • Transfer mixture to a large bowl and allow it to cool for 15 minutes. Whisk in combined sifted flours and cocoa, then eggs. 
  • Fill cupcake cups till 2/3 full and bake till set. 
Caramel Mud Cake
Ingredients:
  • 185g butter, chopped coarsely
  • 150g white chocolate
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup golden syrup
  • 1 cup milk
  • 225g plain flour
  • 75g self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten lightly
Method:
  • Preheat oven to 170C. 
  • Combine butter, chocolate, sugar, golden syrup and milk in a saucepan. Stir over low-medium heat till chocolate melts. 
  • Transfer mixture to a large bowl and allow it to cool for 15 minutes. Whisk in combined sifted flours and cocoa, then eggs. 
  • Fill cupcake cups till 2/3 full and bake till set. 
Dark Chocolate Mousse
Ingredients:
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 150ml thickened cream
Method:
  • Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Allow it to cool slightly.
  • Beat cream with electric mixer till thick and foamy.
  • Fold cream into chocolate and mix well. 
Chocolate Ganache
Ingredients:
  • 300g dark chocolate
  • 300ml thickened cream
Method:
  • Put chocolate and cream into a large bowl and melt in a double boiler. 
  • Set aside to cool completely. Refrigerate it to allow it to set.
Assembly
  • Carve a well in the middle of each cupcakes. 
  • Spoon chocolate mousse into each well. Pipe ganache onto each cake. 
  • Decorate accordingly. 

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