crissybakes on Instagram!

21 May

I’m on Instagram! Click here to find me!

#crissybakes

At long last I’ve joined the current social networking century and now have an Instagram.  Follow for pretty pictures of the food that might not quite make it onto the blog, others that do get posted on here and extra titbits I find along the way.  Now I have to figure out how to hashtag…hmm…

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Pineapple Upside-down Cakes with Whipped Coconut Cream

28 Mar

Cooking is expensive.  Not as expensive as buying ready-made everything, however if you make many different types of things you’ll find you accumulate way too much excess ingredients that never seem to be used up.  Upon doing a quick inventory (read: searching the pantry for a snack) I found pineapple.
pineappleThe result of a over-zealous Costco shop, there are at least 3 cans of the stuff in the dark recesses of our pantry.  We are not a pineapple eating people.  However, I’m not one to let buyer’s remorse get me down, so into a cake it went!

Well, cakes.  Upside down cakes.  I’ve heard they’re good…
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A Chocoholic’s Dream – Chocolate Mud and Kit Kat Birthday Cake

9 Mar

This cake was a bit of an experiment, as I was trying to make a chocolate cake without using chocolate.  That was mostly me not wanting to go to the store, and having a lot of cocoa on hand, however it didn’t end as disastrously as it could have!  The end result was a soft, smooth, chocolatey cake, which was perfect for decorating as a birthday cake.  And, unlike a real chocolate mud cake, this one can essentially be made in one (large) bowl.  You just need a mixer and a sifter!

Ingredients –

  • 185g butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 250g Philadelphia (or cream cheese of your choice), softened
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 3/4 cups plain flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

    Decoration:

  • 250 grams Philadelphia
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2 blocks Kit Kat chocolate (of your choice, I used white and milk)
  • 1 punnet strawberries
  • Small block of milk or dark chocolate

Method:

Mix butter and sugar until light coloured and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well in between.

Add the cheese, sour cream and vanilla and beat until combined. (you may notice my cake has little white bits in it – this is the cream cheese that I didn’t mix in as well as I should have.  Was trying it out to see if it would look interesting, but if you want a single colour cake, then mix very well at this point!

Fold in the sifted flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarb soda.  Spoon the mix into greased and lined 24cm round springform cake tin.

Smooth the batter out to get a more even cake

Smooth the batter out to get a more even cake

Bake in the oven at 180°C for 55mins.  Check if cooked by pushing a skewer through the middle.  If it comes out clean, the cake is done!  You should check after 50mins just in case. Over-baking will dry it out.

Now, while the cake is baking, let’s talk decoration!  The cake will be a huge let down if you don’t add anything to it.  Icing is a must, fruit is optional, and extra chocolate is always welcome.  Plus, in my case, I was decorating a birthday cake, so there was no compromise.  I had to go all out!

White chocolate icing, White and milk Kit-Kat, chocolate shavings and chocolate dipped strawberries. Would you like some more chocolate with your chocolate cake?

White chocolate icing, White and milk Kit-Kat, chocolate shavings and chocolate dipped strawberries.
Would you like some more chocolate with your chocolate cake?

White Chocolate Icing

Super easy!  Take 1 cup full of white chocolate chips, melt them (microwave or stove is fine), and combine with 250g of softened cream cheese.   Depending on what consistency you want, you can also add a dash of thickened cream to make it runnier.  I prefer when it’s a bit more solid, and for the decorations I am using, it needs to help stick them to the cake so, solid is better! But, not everyone likes it, so make it your own.  Mix the chocolate and cheese together and let it sit until you’re ready to spread it onto the cake.  Don’t place it in the refrigerator, that will solidify it too much (think about it, the ingredients you made it from are solid at fridge temp!).

Kit Kat Border

Just open the blocks and break them apart.  Surprisingly, you achieve a better result if you do this with your hands, rather than with a knife.  So strange!  When done, place in bowl ready for later.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Add an elegant touch, and dip some strawberries in chocolate to make your decorations that little bit more impressive (and tasty).  Wash and completely dry your strawberries.  If they have water on them the chocolate will not adhere as well.  Place some baking paper on a cutting board, and make sure you have room in the fridge for these!  Then melt 1/3 – 1/2 a cup of chocolate pieces (again, just microwave them, preferably in the smallest Tupperware you own).  Once 80% melted, just mix with a spoon while the remainder melts.  Dip strawberries one at a time, making sure to cover them evenly.  Twist them slightly to stop chocolate drips, and place carefully onto the covered board.  Once all are done, place in the fridge to solidify that chocolate.  I only made 8, however you can make as many as you wish.

Chocolate shavings

Lastly, to finish the cake off, I also chopped some chocolate finely.  You can use the remainder of the block, or any broken/unusable Kit Kat pieces.  This will be used to fill the gaps so icing doesn’t show through too much.

By now it should be time to check on the cake!

Looking good coming out of the oven...

Looking good coming out of the oven…

Skewer test done, it’s ready to come out.

Flip it over for a nice flat decorating surface

Flip it over for a nice flat decorating surface

Now let it cool down a little, if you start decorating too early, the icing will just melt off it.  30 mins should be enough.  Once that’s done, apply icing to the top, smooth it out, and them apply to the sides.  The sides are being covered up by Kit Kat, so you can be pretty messy with them.  Make sure there is a decent amount on there, it’s the glue, remember!  Keep the top looking nice, as you still want it to be smooth and level for decorating.  Once the icing has been applied, start adding Kit Kat to the sides of the cake, firmly pressing them into the icing.  Sprinkle the top of the cake with the chocolate shavings, concentrating on the places that won’t be covered with other items.  Then, add the strawberries to the top of the cake.  You may also wish to add a ribbon around the cake, it makes it a little bit fancier…

Decorated and ready to decour

Voila! Decorated and ready to devour.

Naturally you don’t need a special occasion to make this cake, as you can see it’s very easy – there was more prep in the decorations than in the actual cake-making!  Vanilla ice cream went very well with it.  This cake keeps amazingly as well, just DO NOT refrigerate it.  It becomes hard and inedible.  Will happily sit out on your counter for up to 3 days, even decorated like so.  This recipe also would make amazing cupcakes.  Enjoy!

A chocoholic's dream

A chocoholic’s dream

I’m bake! I mean back!

9 Mar

I’m back from my amazing adventures in lovely Europe, and looking forward to sharing all sorts of awesome and yummy ideas that I’ve had this past year!  Thank you for staying subscribed and being patient ( I only got a handful of people checking up on me…)

Is there anything in particular YOU would like to see made?  Something that you’re not sure would work, or just be cheeky and suggest something super hard for me to (presumably) fail at?  I’d make it just to prove you wrong you know. 😀

So, tell me!  I’d like the challenge.  And who knows, you may even get to try it out.
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On hold, but not forgotten.

21 Feb

Hello from Europe!

just a quick note to say the website is not forgotten – I’m overseas at the moment having an amazing time travelling, and have been for the past 6 months.

crissybakes will be back up and running as soon as I get home

Decorating with…Chocolate

11 Jun

Lets face it, everyone likes a bit of chocolate.  Whether it’s a tiny bit of dark chocolate with your wine, or a king-size kit kat chunky, we all enjoy it once in a while.  This is what makes chocolate decorating a huge hit when it comes to cakes.  Not only is it easy, it is also delicious, and can be tailored completely to the individual’s tastes.  The variety works in your favour.  Milk, dark, and white are good starting points.

Actually, no.  Step back.  Rewind.  if you take one thing from this post, let it be this – the brand of chocolate you use matters.  No, really.  It really matters.  If you use shitty cheap chocolate, you are going to get shitty cheap chocolate decorations.  It’s that simple.  All you’re doing to the chocolate is making it a different shape.  You’re not changing the taste of it one whit.

A good rule to go by – if you wouldn’t eat it on it’s own, why the hell would you put it into, or onto, a cake?

If you really are that poor, just buy chocolate when it’s on sale.  Don’t bother getting special “cooking” chocolate.  That’s chocolate with added fat in the form of oil – it makes it melt quicker.  Duh!  But if it’s not what you’d eat regularly, just don’t bother with it.  My go-to favourites are in the middle-range – Lindt chocolate and Cadbury.  Dark chocolate both are good (go with the higher cocoa count, always), white chocolate I like Dream, but mostly because it’s a bigger block and you can carve into it easier (keep reading to know what that means, or scroll to the white chocolate pictures).

The easiest way to use chocolate is to put it into the recipe, by melting it.  Make sure you don’t melt it directly in a saucepan, as it can burn very quickly and it’s an expensive ingredient to waste!  The technique to use involves melting the chocolate over a saucepan of simmering water, in a heatproof bowl.  This ensures the chocolate melts, but it does so in a safer and slower manner than direct heat allows for.  This can be used to melt chocolate for virtually any use – from just plain hot chocolate to making a tasty ganache.  When combining it into a recipe, you may melt the butter and the chocolate together – two ingredients, one process!

The cheat’s way of melting chocolate is the microwave.  Some are vehemently opposed to the microwave…strange people.  It makes things so much easier in the kitchen!  That said, if possible, avoid microwaving chocolate.  It’s tricky, and you have to pay more attention to taking it out, mixing it, putting it back in again, etc, than it is worth.

Once you’ve melted it, chocolate (obviously) starts to solidify!  So depending on what you want to do with it, you may need to work quickly.

Lets see, what can we do with melty yummy chocolate?  Just putting it in a cake, boooring.  Lets have some fun.  I’m sure most people can follow that part of the recipe, so I’m going to gloss over it.  The interesting part is decorating with chocolate.  This is where you can get creative!

Ok, I’ll throw in a recipe for chocolate icing.  There.  Used one cakes like this one:

Really easy, but oh so yummy.  …Ask anyone!

Ok, obligatory icing out of the way.  Now for fun stuff.

When you melt chocolate, you can also mix chocolate.

Yes!  It’s true!  You can make pretty marbled chocolate, which YOU made yourself!  The patterns and stuff are all up to you.  Winner.

Pretty elaborate eh? No, no, nooope. It was done with your average, garden variety fork.

It’s quite easy, as you can see!  However, doesn’t it just add that little extra bit to your cake, to say that you designed  the chocolate?  Hmmmm?  You betcha.

Obligatory working with hot stuff word of warning – chocolate at this temperature is hot.  Not sexy hot.  Just plain stick to your hands in an “It burns!” type of way.  Not what you want!  So watch yourself.  Or don’t, y’know.  No, be careful.

Once you’ve marbled your chocolate into amazingly intricate (read: poked it with a fork/skewer a bunch) designs, you can have even more fun with it by how you shape it.  It will take a while to cool, so you can mould it into spirals, cut it into blocks/logs, imprint a design on it or even use cookie cutters and make your own little pieces of chocolate.

Stars are always a safe choice

When using cookie cutters you may want to use metal ones – plastic and hot liquids don’t go particularly well together, just note that your metal cookie cutters will be mega hot if you use them on hot chocolate.  If you have them, use some gloves.  If not, use a tea towel, like me.  Pokemon one recommended.

Marbled yumminess

Another note on cooling the chocolate.  Feel free to put it in the fridge AFTER you’ve moulded it.  If you don’t have the time to wait for it to harden out of the fridge before you start messing with it, you will have an even harder time of it when you get it out of the fridge.  Chocolate becomes brittle once you’ve re-solidified it, and really hard to make into shapes.  So, trust me, just let it sit out for a little.  Go watch some tv or something.

One very easy way to make chocolate work in a decorating sense is to use a cheese slicer.  Hah, yup, a cheese slicer.  Grab a block of chocolate (white seems to be the easiest one to play with) and flip it so you don’t see the “block” side.  Then, start slicing!  These chocolate curls or slices (depending on your slicing technique) are quite versatile.  It’s a great way to tidy up the sides of a cake.  Or, if your cake looks boring, just plop one or three of these on top.  Voila, cafe-style decoration.

Sliced, not diced

If one doesn’t own a cheese slicer (for SHAME) you can also use a sharp knife (dangerous!) or one of the sides of your standard grater (you know, the one with the one grater on the side).  I can’t vouch for the grater option, but it should work, in theory.  The knife one be very careful!  It’s not as exact as a cheese grater, either.  See how in the above picture they’re all vaguely uniform?  Hey, I did say vaguely!  These are quite brittle as well, being so thin and all.  So do watch out with them.  They’ll keep perfectly well in an airtight container, so do a whole block at once and you’ll have enough for those unexpected desserts (yep, I make a lot of those).  If you decide you don’t need them anymore, no matter!  Use them in a recipe – melt as per usual.

look at the sides!

Last but not least, you can use chocolate without messing with it.  Maltesers are amazingly yummy, and add plenty to a cake.  Here’s one I made for my sister’s birthday, it had so much chocolate in it I’m sure we all had an overload that day.  Hang on, that’s impossible!  🙂

Herpyderpy chocolatey bertdy!

This is just a few ways to use chocolate, but they are definitely some of the more simple ones that make a nice impact.  So, to recap:

  • Always melt over simmering water in a heatproof bowl
  • be careful with hot things, they’re burny…
  • Never put into the fridge to solidify before messing with it, and
  • marbling is just sticking a fork into chocolate and swirling it around.

Other than that, have a blast.

Oreo Chocolate Cream tart

1 Apr

Puttered around the supermarket this morning and found Oreo biscuits for $1.  Naturally, I bought multiples.  Here’s experiment #1 with Oreo’s, which I have dubbed an Oreo Chocolate Cream Tart.  Eating it now, it’s pretty fab.  And easy to make.

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Swirly Honey Glazed Brunch Scrolls

21 Mar

Oh, brunch, how I love thee.  Urban dictionary defines it as:

(A) contraction of breakfast and lunch, usually occurring around the hour of 11 a.m. Typically reserved for snobs and biddies who like tea and jam.
“Muffy, would you care for a bit of brunch after tennis? I can make reservations at the Forsythia Garden Tea House.”
I define it as that breakfasty-type meal that you can eat at pretty much any stage in the late morning/afternoon as long as it is your first meal of the day.  Anything goes at brunch, depending on your mood.  Sweet, savoury, hot, cold, runny, smokey, crunchy, smooth… it’s the meal with which you get the most freedom.  Also, it’s typically paired with the first coffee of the day, which can only be a plus in my book.

Blue Muffins for a Long Weekend

9 Mar

Labour Day, also known as Eight Hours Day in Tasmania and May Day in the Northern Territory, commemorates the granting of the eight-hour working day for Australians. It also recognizes workers’ contributions towards the nation’s economy. It is an annual public holiday and its date varies across the states and territories.” Source

In reality, Labour Day for most people in Australia just means a long weekend.  Yee-hah!  To commemorate this auspicious occasion (and also because I had most of the afternoon off) I made muffins.  Blueberry ones.

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Valentine’s Day – Love a Red Velvet Cake

13 Feb

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, here’s a Red Velvet cake I made last month for Mum’s birthday.  Could also be used to make cute cupcakes!

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