June 29, 2009

The Cupcake Challenge: A Cupcake Update

And now for an important cupcake update. As some of you may have noticed, the cupcake challenge has been hotly contested between myself and cupcake girl at Daz's work. Up until now there has been no proof that cupcakes from the opponent were even baked. For all I knew it could have been Daz's very brilliant plan to get me to bake oodles of cupcakes. Well the joke would have been on him, I would have baked them regardless of fame and glory! Anyway, enough of my waffling.......here are the rival cupcakes.

Mint Chocolate Mousse cupcakes! (excuse the blurry photo, thankyou apple iphone!)


I didn't get a chance to sample them myself, but the word on the street was that they tasted exactly like a Mint Pattie. I pressed Daz a little further and got a description of the structure. Chocolate chip base (cupcake), chocolate mint mousse all topped with a piece of chocolate in the shape of a love heart. I must say these sound Divine. I wish I had gotten a bite myself, but I suppose a photo will do.

Onto other cupcake news. I am proud to announce the joyful arrival of my new cupcake courier, it was delivered at some point during Thursday and weighed in at under 5kg. She can hold 36 cupcakes and we've decided to name the new arrival Beryl. She's gorgeous and only cost me $39.95! You can buy you're very own Beryl from here. Here are some happy snaps of the new addition to the family. I was going to take some photo's of her having her first bath, but that just would have been weird...right?

cupcake courier 2

cupcake courier

I thought it would be sad to take photo's of a cupcake courier without any cupcakes in it, so I went to the bakery that is not named after a primary colour but shares it name with a venomous Australian snake and purchased a cupcake. It tasted horrible, but it was pretty, I never said I wasn't persuaded by looks.

cupcake courier 3

To accompany my new cupcake courier, I finally got myself an offset spatula. From the awesome, but squeezy little shop in Melbourne - cake deco. I think I found my new money pit. I have grand plans for my new spatula, I've been thinking of all the different things I can finally make smooth and flat. Stay tuned for the forthcoming perfectly leveled posts!

offset spatula

Hope you've all enjoyed the update, that's whats been happening in cupcake town today!

June 25, 2009

The Cupcake Challenge: Mini Chocolate Brownie with Peanut Butter Frosting

chocolate brownie mini cupcakes with peanut butter frosting4

For this installment of the Cupcake Challenge I decided to make Mini Chocolate brownie cupcakes with Peanut Butter frosting. I've been meaning to make these for ages. The soft rich centre of the brownie matched with the salty crunchy peanut butter heaven on top is too much to resist.

chocolate brownie mini cupcakes with peanut butter frosting2

When I first thought of making these, I thought Daz would wolf them down before they even got a chance to cool. When I whipped up a batch of my frosting and asked him to taste test it I was totally thrown when his reaction to the frosting was....."ewwww...that's hideous!" Self confidence deflated to non-existent. I knew he didn't like peanuts.....but hideous?.....who calls peanut butter frosting hideous? I decided to power on, I had faith in the finished product.

chocolate brownie mini cupcakes with peanut butter frosting3

I frosted all 4 dozen of my mini cupcakes, keeping Daz in mind I left about 10 unfrosted. I didn't want him to get to work and feel totally left out, so at least he could chow down on the plain version. When I saw him again that night, I asked him how it went, I at lesat knew everyone would love the cute wilton cupcake liners!

wilton mini cupcake liners

To my surprise I was told that they were a huge success! Yay team me! Then I probed more, "were there any cupcakes left"...."no, but the frosted ones were left till last".....hmmmm I was curious, knowing my Daz.....he wouldn't leave something for him till last......"Did you have any?"....."Yeah, I had about 4 of the frosted ones, they were really good!". AHHHHHHHHHH HAAAAA! So they're not hideous! He ate his words....literally! His excuse I hear you ask? The frosting on its own tasted out of place, but coupled with the soft centred cupcakes it tasted amazing. See I told you! So here is the recipe......remember, don't let your partner taste test anything until its finished!

Chocolate Brownies

Makes approx 48 mini cupcakes


170 g unsalted butter
200 g dark chocolate
1 cup Castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt


1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Line tray with cupcake liners
3. In a bain-marie, melt butter and chocolate together, stirring until smooth.

chocolate and butter

4. Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature. This is very important. If it is not cool enough when you add the egg they will cook rather than mix into the batter.

melted chocolate for brownies

5. Using a spatula stir in sugar and vanilla, continue to stir until sugar has dissolved.
6. Stir in eggs, one at a time until thoroughly combined. The batter will become thicker and paler.

brownie batter

7. In a separate bowl, sift together cocoa powder, flour and salt.
8. Combine flour mixture with chocolate mixture and mix with a spatula until combined.

brownie batter 2

9. Divide into cupcake liners evenly

brownie batter into liners

10. To achieve a fudgy centre cook until the cake rinses slightly and the surface no longer look "wet" around 5-6minutes. If you like your brownie more cooked, leave in the oven until it is firm to the touch. 7-8 minutes.

brownie cupcakes in the oven

11. Cool completely and frost

Peanut butter Frosting

Enough to frost 48 mini cupcakes


250 g butter cut into cubes, at room temperature
100 g crunchy peanut butter
2-3 cups of icing sugar


1. Using a hand held mixer, beat together butter and peanut butter until fluffy and pale. This will take at least 10 minutes.

2. One cup at a time, add icing sugar beating well between cups (3-4minutes). Add more icing sugar until the require thickness is achieved.

3. Frost cupcakes

chocolate brownie mini cupcakes with peanut butter frosting

June 20, 2009

Results - White Chocolate Mousse

You saw the recipe.....and now for the results!

white chocolate mousse with pomegranate syrup2

This was one of the easiest top 100 recipes I've made so far. I could have almost done it blind folded. Well I could have said that if only I wasn't stressed out and managed to stuff it up. Yep, I kinda stuffed it, but it still tasted fantastic.

I know I've said in the past that I want to stick closely to each recipe I make in order to test the recipe out fully. But I thought white chocolate mousse on its own was a little boring, so I spruced it up with some pomegranate! Ahhhhh...nothing like a little sprucing.

white chocolate mousse with pomegranate syrup

In my mind I had this fantastic idea that I would make a pomegranate syrup and then perfectly layer the syrup with the mousse. My presentation didn't turn out exactly as I had hoped, but I did learn a good lesson......with mousse it is almost impossible to get a perfectly even surface.....and I needed this recipe to teach me that! The two flavours go together fantastically, sweet and tangy. The next time I attempt this I will drizzle the syrup around the edges of the glass and then transfer the mousse into the glass. Seems like a more reasonable way to do things.

empty white chocolate mousse cup

I played around with the presentation a bit, and though a nice big dollop of mousse and then some scatter seeds would look lovely...and it does.

white chocolate mousse with pomegranate

So what did I do differently. I cooked the pomegranate with some sugar and water for 45 minutes to form a thick syrup. I then refrigerated this overnight, to make sure that the syrup was nice and cold. That's the only variation to the recipe, and if you are a fan of white chocolate, you'll love this recipe.


My only piece of advice is when its time to add the chocolate to the sabayon make sure that the chocolate is pretty cool and work very quickly to incorporate the chocolate. I wasn't so fast. It didn't turn out lumpy, it was actually quite smooth, but once you put it in your mouth you could feel the miniature lumps of chocolate, no unpleasant.....but it would have been nice to get it perfect.


I'll will make this again, in fact I think I will make it at my next dinner party.

June 18, 2009

White Chocolate Mousse

Restaurant: Attica (Victoria)

Recipe from Chef Ben Shewry (appeared on Attica website earlier this year)

2009 Rating: Number 16, 2 Stars

I really enjoy mousse of all different varieties, so when I came across this recipe on Attica's website, I knew I was going to make it one day. Thankfully I had saved the reciepe and now I can finally attempt it. I have some pomegranates in my fridge, so I think I'll put my own little twist on things. So here is the recipe, remember to check back for the results!

White Chocolate Mousse


250gm white chocolate
250ml thickened cream (lightly whipped)
3 eggs (at room temperature)
45gm castor sugar
½ t natural vanilla essence


Melt chocolate over water bain marie, then cool slightly. separate 2 of the eggs, reserving the whites. In a electric mixer place the two yolks with the remaining whole egg, vanilla essence and two thirds of the sugar. Whisk on high speed until sabayon is thick and pale.
Pour melted chocolate into sabayon- mixing quickly to avoid lumps of chocolate setting. Fold through cream. Beat egg whites and sugar in mixer with whisk until soft peaks form. Fold egg whites into chocolate mix, refrigerate until firm.

June 14, 2009

Roasted Chestnuts in Vanilla and Port Syrup

bottled chestnuts
I've been meaning to write this post for a very long time. I had done all the cooking, taken the photos and even transferred them to my computer months ago, but yet I found it difficult to write the post.

Chestnuts mean alot to me. Until recently, I didn't really like them. In fact I hated them. They are one of those things that your really dislike during your childhood, but as you get older you begin to appreciate them on a different level.

chestnut tree

The reason why chestnuts mean alot to me is because they remind me of my dad. He passed away a couple of years ago. He adored chestnuts.....no correction, he went CRAZY for them. We had at least 30 chestnuts trees planted in our back yard, before you think that must be some sort of chestnut forest, it really wasn't. They were of various sizes. Most still tiny. He would plant trees and then assign them a purpose, like "when Maria buys a house she'll take this tree" or "when my first grandchild is born, we'll give them this tree". Since his passing, both those events have happened. He was constantly giving them away too. The biggest tree in the back yard is over 30 years old, planted for the birth of my brother. It even survived a house move, yep that's how crazy about chestnuts he was, he moved home and took the chestnut tree with him! I wasn't kidding when I said he went crazy for chestnuts.

chestnuts in the pod

Every year he would go on a pilgrimage to the Royal Botanic Gardens in the city for a chestnut scavenger hunt. He would leave in the early morning, take public transport and then return late in the afternoon with bags full of huge firm chestnuts. Suffice to say that we ate roasted chestnuts almost every night for months. Probably one of the reasons why I wasn't such a huge fan.

So this year when chestnut season rolled around, I thought I just had to do something with them. The nights are getting longer and colder, and what better way to warm up than some roasted chestnuts in port. Of course I had HEAPS of chestnuts, so I roasted a massive batch and gave them away to family and friends.


Roasted chestnuts in Vanilla and Port Syrup

I didn't measure the quantities, but I made 8 medium jars.

Castor sugar
Vanilla bean
Sterilized jars

1. Make a small nick in the bottom of each chestnut. I usually cut off a sliver of the skin. This will prevent them from exploding. Although if your up for a laugh, exploding chestnuts are cool, besides fireworks are banned in Victoria, how else are you going to get your kicks?

2. Roast chestnuts. You can place them in the oven for a while or under a hot grill. Since my dad loved chestnuts so much, he made his own apparatus to cook chestnuts quickly and easily in the comfort of his kitchen. He took an old frying pan and drilled holes through the base. This way you could place the chestnuts in the pan and then roast them over a gas burner.

chestnut pan

3. Once the skin becomes blackened transfer them to a tea towel lined bowl and wrap them tightly with the tea towel. Made sure that they remain wrapped until you have peeled ALL the chestnuts. Chestnuts have two skin, a thick out skin and a thin inner skin. They need to sweat in order for the skins to peel easily.

roasted chestnuts 2

4. After they have been wrapped for a few minutes take a sharp knife and begin to peel them by removing one chestnut at time from the bowl. I won't lie to you, this is VERY time consuming. It might be an idea to con something into helping you, I find a bribe helps.

roasted chesnuts

5. Once all the chestnuts have been peeled, in a small sauce pan combine Port and a few tablespoons of Castor sugar (sweetened to your liking). Add a few vanilla pods that have been split with the beans scarped into the port. Heat over low-medium heat until just before boiling. Allow to cool slightly, about 50-60C.

6. While the port is cooling, arrange chestnuts into jars making sure that they are tightly packed. Pour port over chestnuts until they are all submerged, making sure that each jar gets a piece of vanilla pod. Allow to cool completely and then place lid on jar. They will keep for a VERY long time, and in fact they taste better the longer you leave them, maybe because you want to eat them so bad. Its been a couple of months size I made this batch, and the port has not fully penetrated the chestnuts yet. Might take a few more months until the port makes it all the way to the center.

chestnuts 2

June 7, 2009

Taste of Portugal Festival

Taste of Portugual Crowd

This weekend in Melbourne you would have been spoilt for food choices. On top of the usual selection of great places to eat, there was also the Good Food and Wine Show and the Taste of Portugal Festival. I decided to go to the latter which was at the Queen Victoria Market.

I really enjoy any type of festival, I love the atmosphere, the excitement, the entertainment and most of all the FOOD! Oh the food, all those glorious aromas filling the air, rendering punters confused and slightly lost. Frantic, as they try to keep their hunger at bay while wrestling with everyone else to find that dish that is making that sweet sweet smell. We decided to go a little early, just before lunch so hopefully the crowd wasn't too hungry. We quickly figured out that you needed to buy "tickets" in order to get your food.

Taste of Portugual Curency

So many choices, and if it were up to me, I would have purchased a ticket to try EVERYTHING! Thankfully my wallet came to the rescue, running out of money at just the right time.  

So we lined up in the food queue, once at the very front I handed my tickets over to a lovely bubbly lady. She kept saying something and then rushing off. I couldn't quite make out what she was saying since there was so much noise around. Just before she handed everything over she leaned forward and said something. I had no idea what she was saying, and I quickly realised that she was speaking Portuguese. I laughed a little and told her that I didn't speak Portuguese. She was so sweet and extremely friendly. She just looked at me and said "oh....I thought.....oh sorry". Surprisingly I get that all the time, people speak Spanish, Italian, Greek and now Portuguese at me and I have no clue what they are saying. I'm waiting for someone to start speaking Chinese at me! Well that happens already, but its usually my friends parents. 

So here's what we tried...

Food keeping warm

Rissois de Camarao (Prawn Rissols). I was a little disappointed with the prawn flavour, it didn't seem to exist. But it was lovely and crunchy with a smooth creamy filling. Yummy indeed.

Prawn frittas

Frango no churrasco (Charcoal Chicken). This was my favourite. I was a little worried, when thing are cooked on mass sometimes flavours can be lost. But this was spot on. The smoky flavour went right through the chicken. We broke the chicken up into little pieces and shoved it into the bread roll, then licked all the sweet sticky goodness off our fingers. I could have done that all day long. It was delicious!

charcoal chicken

Bifana no Pao (Pork Steak Sandwich). I thought I would laugh in the face of Swine flu and eat pork to my hearts content. Take that piggy sickness! The pork steak was tender and juicy. They had managed to scoop a fair bit of sauce into the roll and so it was almost gravy like. I would have loved some lettuce or veggie on it, but it was pretty darn good on its own.

Pork steak sandwich

After we had eaten we noticed that the entire thoroughfare was blanketed in a thick smoke. You could spot where it was coming from and the smell was intoxicating. I followed my nose and found the two guys responsible for the smoke onslaught. They were grilling some sardines over an open fire. 


I didn't feel like another round of body rubbing through the crowd, so I told my stomach to just chill and thought my brain would be happy enough with just a couple of photos. Now since I'm at home, I wish I had just gone in for another try. 

Sardines on carcoal

There were some beautiful Portuguese custard tarts calling my name. But I knew we were going to Crabapple Cupcakes, so I wanted to save my calories for cupcake heaven. We had a Raspberry and White Chocolate Mud cake cupcake. It was good.....real good. I would give it 9 out of 10....service on the other hand, I would give it 0 out of 10. 

crabapple white chocolate and raspberry mud cupcake

crabapple white chocolate and raspberry mud cupcake 2

crabapple white chocolate and raspberry mud cupcake 3

June 4, 2009

Random Post


AustraliaDay2005 006

As you may know I am obsessed with BIG THINGS, so when the opportunity arose to see the worlds largest lamington I just had to be there. And getting to chance to have a taste of it was an added bonus!

This event was from a couple of years ago, which is old news by now, but still good stuff I say. The Lamington was constructed and then deconstructed in order to celebrate Australia Day. Bakers delight came to the party with the monstrous delight, hosted at Federation square. The public could taste the Lamington by giving a gold coin donation. All money raised went to charity, in order to raise money for tsunami disaster back in 2005.

AustraliaDay2005 005

The Lamington was pretty big. When it was still in one piece it was much taller than the people breaking it apart, and apparently weighed more than 1 tonne, that's alot of bloody lamington. I didn't get a picture of the full creation. Some may say that it was not a traditional lamington as it was "glued" together with jam. 

When I had my piece it was pretty nice. I was expecting a big dry old piece of cake with a bit of chocolate and maybe no coconut. I was pretty surprised to get a decent lamington with just the right amount of toppings and fillings. Good job I say.

AustraliaDay2005 008

We left and then came back a couple of hours later and there was still a massive slab of lamington left. I'm not entirely sure if they still hold the record, but I think it would take a huge effort to beat Bakers delight.