Category Archives: Recipes – Cakes

Salted caramel Tim Tams chocolate cheesecake


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How do you make Tim Tams last longer? Ask any fan and they will tell you how hard it is to stop at one, let alone make it last longer.

Especially when we are talking about a collaboration between Arnott’s and Adriano Zumbo to create salted caramel tim tams! It’s been a while since I last rushed to buy newly released confectionary and also that I don’t think I’m ever fast enough, I had resigned to defeat. Such was my mindset when I walked past the biscuit aisle at the supermarket to find stacks of them just staring at me. I could not believe my eyes. Trying to recover from the victory dance in my head, I grabbed a couple of packs and started imagining what I could do with them. (No, eating them straight from the packet was never an option).

I knew I had salted caramel in the fridge dying to be eaten and I wanted to prolong the enjoyment of the biscuits. Immediately I knew these are destined for a cheesecake. I also decided to use my small tart tins to make mini one-serving desserts. This recipe is enough to make 10 small desserts with cream cheese filling to spare.

FOR THE BASE:

  • 18 Salted Caramel Tim Tam biscuits,  2 packets
  • 80g dark chocolate, or 100g milk chocolate,
    roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Butter the tins lightly. I did this wearing a disposable glove, to make sure butter goes all the way into the groves.

Line the base with a disc of baking paper. 

Whiz the Salted Caramel Tim Tam biscuits in a food processor until they resemble fine crumbs.

Melt chocolate and add to biscuit crumbs with sea salt and mix until combined. Spoon into prepared tins and press into base firmly to even it out. Reserve 4-5 tablespoons for decoration.

Chill in the fridge while making the filling.

FOR THE CARAMEL:

  • 200g castor sugar
  • 125ml fresh cream 
  • 50g butter, cubed 
  • 5g good quality salt flakes 
  • A few drops of vanilla essence 

Instructions: Heat the sugar in a wide saucepan until it is melted. Be really careful and wait for it to turn amber/ golden and slightly smoke. Carefully add the cream in slowly, continuing to whisk but be aware of the resulting vigorous bubbling. Add the butter in gradually until it is melted and combined. Add in salt flakes and vanilla essence. Cool in the fridge for a few hours.

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 500g cream cheese, chopped into chunks, at room temperature
  • 1 tin caramel sweetened condensed milk 
  • 8g (2.5 sheets) silver strength gelatin 
  • 1⁄2 cup caramel (as above)
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt

Put gelatin sheets in a dish of cold water and soak to soften for five minutes.

While they are softening, heat caramel gently then squeeze extra water from gelatin and whisk into caramel until smooth. Set aside.

Put cream cheese in a mixer with caramel condensed milk and mix until smooth. 

Add caramel to cream cheese mixture with salt and mix until smooth. 

Pour into prepared base and smooth the top. Chill for six hours or overnight. Sprinkle with reserved Tim Tam crumbs.

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and the left over cream cheese? I made layered cheesecake desserts in cute mason jugs and decorated with a chocolate Easter egg.

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Disney Frozen themed birthday cake and party ideas


For her 6th birthday, J requested a Disney Frozen-themed party.

A search on the internet quickly gave me links to templates for invites: you can print them from here.

For the cake: I decided on a fondant covered cake for its ease in transport and also in decoration.  Theme colours were purple and teal, which I used as the fondant layers.  For the name, I used a darker shade of purple to make it pop.  Tiny white snowflakes were cut out from white fondant, as were trees and decorated around the cake.  A large white fondant snow flake was placed on the surface of the top tier.

I used my Chocolate Cake recipe for a perfectly moist cake.

A few tips from my friend who came over to help (thanks Bryony!):

*always ice your cake before you roll out the fondant – you don’t want your rolled fondant waiting for you;

*always use good quality baking pans to ensure even baking – you will waste less cake if there is less leveling to do;

*aim for a high/deep cake so that you have height in a single cake without needing to layer it up;

*if you do need to layer it up, it will inevitably have a gap on the side – use a thinly rolled piece of fondant and wrap it right round the cake to fill the gap (as seen below with the green-coloured fondant).

*only take the amount of fondant you require from the bag and keep the rest tightly wrapped away to prevent it from frying;

*mix a small amount of coloured fondant with the white to create the colour you want;

I reckon cake decorating is way more fun when your best friend’s around 🙂

Party favours:
J personalised white takeaway boxes by drawing snowflakes on the sides, which contained blue and white (blueberry and coconut flavoured) jelly beans, Disney Frozen tattoos and my famous macarons 🙂 in the theme colours.

We held the party at Snow Planet, Silverdale, Auckland. Perfect backdrop for our Frozen party, don’t you think? 🙂

I don’t know who was harder to get off the snow – the kid or the big kid…

Salted caramel chocolate cake with brandy ganache


Wow that was a mouthful, but trust me this is an easy cake, done in 2 hours. I don’t normally believe in ‘one-pan’ cakes but this turned out to be the most amazing cake I have done in a while (those who got to eat it loved it).

The cake is adapted from Annabell White’s Chocolate Buttermilk Cake.

The batter is baked separately in two identical pans – reason is being an extremely moist cake, I would have a hard time splitting it in half without it breaking up all over my hands.

It also helped when it comes to adding the salted caramel layer – I could easily spread it on while the cake is warm, without needing to over handle it.

A silky smooth and glossy chocolate ganache is then poured over with much abandon,  letting the ganache glide freely over the cake and sides.

Quite an indulgent experience especially when the cake’s left overnight so the cake, salted caramel and chocolate ganache got a chance to mix and mingle, producing one moist cake with a real depth of flavour.

Given how quick I got this done, it is definitely a weeknight cake too if you should ever have any cake emergency!

Cake recipe:
ingredients
115g butter
125 g dark chocolate
1 cup sugar
1 tsp Princess cake and cookie baking emulsion from Lorann oils
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

salted caramel
See my recipe from the Salted Caramel Macaron post.

Ganache Recipe:

140g dark chocolate tabs
125ml fresh cream
20g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon whiskey or brandy (optional)

Cake directions
1. Heat oven to 180 deg C. Grease two 22cm tin and line with baking paper.
2. Heat butter and chocolate carefully in saucepan stirring on medium temperature. Do not over heat. Take off heat, add sugar and baking emulsion straight away while mix is hot.
3. Whisk in buttermilk and eggs with a whisk. Add dry ingredients, whisk gently till just smooth. Pour batter into tin.
4. Bake for 30 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. Turn out on wire rack to cool.
5. Spread 4 tbsps of salted caramel onto the top of one cake. Place the other cake on top.
6. Make chocolate icing. Put chocolate and butter into a bowl. Heat cream in a saucepan till just boiling and pour over chocolate. Let it sit for a minute before stiring. Add whiskey or any liqueur of your choice. Pour over cooled cake and using a palette knife, spread the icing around, allowing the ganache to dribble over the edge randomly.
7. Smooth tops. Let the cake sit overnight and it will taste even better the next day.

Rainbow star-shaped birthday cake


It’s impossible to avoid making a rainbow cake. It’s everywhere and at all the kids birthday parties we’ve been to. That itself could be the reason not to make one but I thought well, it is on my pinterest board and my food bucket list so decided to go ahead. I found the perfect recipe – Nigella’s one – and since the Guardian posted a pdf of it I’m assuming it’s ok to repost it. It lists buttermilk as one of the ingredients which I think leans towards a rather moist cake, which we prefer.

The twist to it is that the shape of the cake is a star! No I don’t have multiples of star pans so yes I baked the layers individually. I also doubled the recipe and made slight alterations to the original recipe.

The oohs and ahhs from the little ones as I lifted the slice out to reveal the coloured layers was one of the highlights of my day!

Cake Ingredients

500g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp salt
400ml buttermilk (or 75g yogurt mixed with 125ml semi-skinned milk)
2 tsp almond extract
250g softened butter
400g caster sugar
7 large free-range eggs
ready-to-roll icing to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Spray the cake tin with cake release.
Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate and salt together.
Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a little of the flour with the last one.
Gradually add the rest of the flour with the buttermilk, one after the other, until thoroughly mixed. Add almond extract.
Divide into 6 bowls, adding a gel colouring into each. Pour one coloured mixture into the tin and bake for about 10 minutes or until the sides pull away from the tin. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Buttercream icing
500g butter, softened
4 cups icing sugar, sifted
3-4 tbsp milk

Beat the butter till it is soft and add the icing sugar in. Pour in the milk tablespoon by  tablespoon, until the mixture achieves a spreading consistency.
Spread onto the cooled cakes layer by layer, and then onto the top and sides. Try to keep these layers thin and smooth.
Sprinkle some icing sugar on a clean and flat surface. Knead and roll out the fondant icing till it is quite thin and using a rolling pin to help, pick up the large piece of fondant and lay over the cake. Smooth all over.
Decorate as you wish =)
Here I gave some edible ink marker pens to my daughter and tasked her to decorate her own birthday cake. She was delighted!

Three-eyed alien cake and cake pops from space (toy story aliens)


We recently celebrated J’s fourth birthday. Unlike last year when we had the Thomas tank engine cake, this year the theme isn’t very strong. I was going for the whole Toy Story / super heroes theme with a party at Museum of Technology and Transport. I was wondering what cakes I could do when I stumbled upon an alien cake. J loves the three-eyed aliens, they are her favourite characters! I went to my local kitchen shop and bounced my ideas off a sales lady there.

The criteria:
– Relatively quick
– Easy to transport
– Resemblance
– A point of difference
– Challenging elements such as new techniques

The cake was simple – I used my favourite chocolate cake recipe and baked it in a Wilton’s oval tin.
I did this the night before I needed to ice it.

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I made up a simple buttercream icing, and covered the cake first thing in the morning. The cake was not crumbly which made the icing job much easier.
Next was the fondant.

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I had watched enough Masterchef episodes to know how it should work. Luckily too they showed how hard the contestants had to knead it before it was ready – I would have doubted and threw the rock hard fondant away. After about 15 minutes of kneading…

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I rolled the green fondant out, large enough to cover my cake.

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Lifting it up with a rolling pin, I rolled it over the cake and then smoothed out the sides.

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I actually did a ‘wahoo!!’ jump at this point as I never thought it would be so easy.

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I rolled some white fondant into three oval shaped balls for the eyes and marked the pupils with a black edible marker.

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I mixed a smidgen of tyler powder ( you can also use gum tex, but it’s not really necessary for this project) into some green fondant to make the ears ( the paste makes the fondant harder), and also shaped a long piece for the candles.

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I rolled a log shaped piece of green fondant and pushed a cake pop stick inside to make it firm. I stuck a ball shaped piece to the end and this became the alien’s antennae. I stuck it to the head.

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Timestamp: From starting the icing to finishing the cake, it was 1.5 hours.

Next were the cake pops. Note that I start the cake pops the night before they are finished because I don’t often have a whole day in the kitchen all by myself. You can start the same day but I would recommended baking the night before to save on waiting time.

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Using the same chocolate cake recipe ( or you could easily use the boxed cake mixes), I baked a cake the night before and let it cool.
Once it’s cool, breakup the cake in a large container. I tear the cake up into six pieces first, then crumble each piece till there are no more big pieces. Mix half a tub of chocolate icing into the crumbled cake, and start bringing the mixture together. Just use a large spoon to do this. Some people suggests doing this by hand, with gloves. I’ve tried it and don’t like it because I ended up with so much icing stuck on my gloves instead of the cake.

Using a small cookie scoop ( these are smaller than your ice cream scoops), shape the mixture into small balls of cake. Roll them into oval shapes. Place then in a sheet and let it firm up in the fridge for an hour.

For the green chocolate coating, you will need the following:
– Spooky green chocolate melts (the colour matches the Toy Story aliens better than the normal green chocolate melts)
– Cake pops sticks 6″ long
– Edible eyes (I bought these to save time, but you can make them with drops of white royal icing)
– Green chocolate coated sunflower seeds
– Sour apple- flavoured strips, cut into little pieces
– Ceramic chocolate melting cup

Place the green chocolate melts into the ceramic cup, fill to about half way.
Melt in microwave in DEFROST mode ( this is very important, hence the shouty capitals, if you don’t want burnt chocolate) for 15 seconds at a time, till it melts.

Dip the end of the pop stick into the green chocolate, then stick this end into the bottom of the oval cake ball. Careful not to poke the cake ball too much or too little. If the cake balls fall apart, leave them in the fridge for longer. The little bit of chocolate will help to hold the cake ball on the stick.
Holding the end of the stick, dip the cake ball into the melted chocolate to completely cover it. Don’t move it around too much or you will get cake crumbles into the chocolate.
Ever so gently swirl the dipped cake ball over the melted chocolate cup, to let the excess dribble off.
Now I needed an extra pair of hands to help and J came to the rescue.

She quickly placed three googling eyes, while I placed the ears and antennae onto the cake balls.
Voila! All done.

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I placed them on a round cake dummy for drying and display. I used the edible marker pan to draw a mouth for each alien.

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We had more cake balls left so we shaped them into spheres and dipped them in yellow chocolate melts, with a liberal splashing of sprinkles. These formed our planets.

What should I do with the left over green chocolate melts?
I poured them into a silicone mould with alien shapes (authentic Toy Story alien ice cube tray, gift from grandma in Hong Kong, and was quite expensive and we weren’t quite sure we will get too much use out of it at the time, but now so totally worth it!!) and made lots of green alien candies.

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Sorry I don’t have a picture of the candies by themselves, and only have one of them with the Oreos macarons.
We bagged these up for the kiddos to take away. I think most of them went straight for it though.

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We also made some chocolate marshmallow sticks – the idea came from chocolate spoons or sticks for making a hot chocolate drink, but like the candies, they were consumed straight away as is.

I hope I’ve inspired you to make some cake pops or fondant cakes – just let your imagination take you to a different place! Hope to see some links to your works out there, do share 😉