Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Chocolate truffles aren't as yummy as I expected

I kept buying double cream (heavy cream in America I believe), in the mistaken belief that I needed it to make chocolate truffles.  Then never could find the recipe to which I thought it belonged, before the cream went out of date.  Bother.  So this time, I made ganache from roughly equal parts near-boiling cream and chocolate and just waited until the mixture was fairly solid in the fridge, then rolled little bits into balls.  And coated them in either cocoa, chocolate line sprinkles or icing sugar.  What a mess!!  My hands, which never seem warm, and in fact turn blue, then white, reguarly (from poor circulation) were suddenly too warm to do a non-messy job of rolling the chocolate balls.  So the shapes aren't too even.  But it was fun trying to roll them in the toppings.  And only marginally less messy.  Boy am I glad The Team were at school for this experiment!  Especially as I didn't even think they tasted all that great anyway...  Even with the addition of some smooth peanut butter.  Ah well, the girls' class teachers enjoyed their samples  ;)

Friday, January 11, 2013

We made peppermint bark, again

The girls saw the spare boxes of candy canes in the pasta cupboard (that sounds like a good hiding place, doesn't it?) and insisted that we make bark again.  Because they ate it all so quickly last time.  Not a problem I said, and we got to smashing up the candy canes.  They had a blast unwrapping and cracking the canes, then trying to crush them with the end of the wooden rolling pin.  We did an okay job...
Then I melted the chocolate in a bain-marie for the best result.  Well, I say bain-marie but really it was a ceramic bowl over a saucepan of boiling water.  Sounds a lot less fancy like that though, doesn't it?  Mini-2 stirred in the milk chocolate and candy canes
 And Mini-1 did the white chocolate portion.
And we all gobbled up the resulting bark in a matter of days, yummy!!!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Big girls like birthday cake too

I had a long and involved series of conversations with a loving Dad, who decided that for his daughter on her 21st birthday a broken iPhone was the way to go.  Seriously.  Apparently she'd managed to break about 6 screens between when she'd first got the phone and her upcoming birthday.  Crazy clumsy.  But she had been sensible and purchased insurance, so was fine.  Until the next time that is.  I was quite impressed that he knew his daughter so well, and he chose a classic victoria sponge in black and white for her.  And she loved it.  Happiest of birthdays to you Chloe!

Friday, January 04, 2013

Our twin birthday girls

Both Mini-1 and Mini-2 have twins.  I may have mentioned that before.  Or not.  But I feel that I have, hmmm... Anyway, these other children aren't technically our twins, you understand, but rather children born to different mothers on the same day in the same ward of the same hospital with whom we are good friends.
So anyway, to cut what could be an unnecessarily long story short, we were going to see Mini-1's twin on their actual birthday (which always falls within the Christmas school holidays, boo hiss) for a playdate at our place - woo hoo!!!  
And so to the cake, of course.  Again, Mini-1 was particular in her desires and still declared green to be her favourite colour (that'll be 3 years now, gosh), whereas her twin said pink and white.  I had bought a number 8 shaped cake maker and fully intended to use that somehow.  Well, it was going to be 2 and a half years until I'd next get the chance, wasn't it?!

It looked good on the pack, right?
 But it was quite tricky to assemble.  The batter was tinted pink, as per the twin's request.
Oooh, it worked!!  But it proved quite tricky to take off the backing sheet, so I didn't dare try to slice and fill it with jam.  I figured that the kids would eat it regardless, and not be too bothered about the lack of a middle layer/filling.
We bought 5 bags of Smarties in order to have enough to make the stripes I wanted across the top of the cake.  You would think that nearly 3/4 of a kilogram of coloured choc sweeties would be plenty, right?  Wrong.  After the girls separated out all the colours, there were hardly any orange ones and it didn't look like there were going to be enough to do the lines really close together - as I had planned.  I had no intention of going out and buying more Smarties (because I knew we'd need to eat all the leftovers, and I really, really prefer M&M's) so had to re-think the spacing between the lines.
Et voila, we see the final result!  As it happened, I could probably have placed the lines a little closer together (and perhaps, if you're being a touch unkind, a little straighter, but who's checking with a ruler?) because there were a fair few leftovers.  But not really that many in the right colours.
The girls were tremendously impressed, as 8 year olds faced with cake and candy are wont to be.  
Here we see them blowing out the candles together.
 Then posing separately for the cutting - happy birthday gorgeous girls!!! 

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Birthday roll-out cookes

Happy New Year 2013 to you all!!
You may have noticed, if you've read this blog for a while, that I love birthdays and my kids.  Soppy, I know, but there it is.  So combining the two?  Fun x 2!!
We found out recently that some new friends, sisters of similar ages to our girls, had birthdays quite close to the girls.  As such, we arranged a playdate in the middle of the older two girls' birthdays in the school holidays.  I had planned to bake a little 6" cake and try out a new icing/design technique I'd seen but with Mini-1's birthday so soon after I just ran out of time.  Instead, we decided to do roll-out cookies, cover them with sugarpaste and take them plus the edible food markers along on the playdate as our contribution.  
The girls really liked getting right down and dirty with the rolling pin and cookie cutters.  It took a bit of practice for them to place the cutters correctly to allow as many cookies from each rolling as possible.
They were then covered in plain white sugarpaste and left to dry for 24 hours or more, ready to take along. And you can see all 4 girls had great fun colouring in their blank canvases.  I had imprinted some of the cookies specially for the birthday girls, so they got extra creative with the markers.

 And the younger sisters weren't left out - they coloured and drew little masterpieces of their own.  Happy 8th and 9th birthday girls!