Spicy Rose Cupcakes

With Mother's Day just around the corner it's a time for making all things pretty and elegant. The first thing that comes to mind for this occasion is roses. The rose has been used as a symbol in most societies throughout human history. And it's little wonder. It's a beautiful, and varied, flower. Qualities that make them a lovely way to say thanks this Mother's Day.

The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose…

The Living End Retrospective Cupcakes

Last December, one of my favourite bands in the world treated us to the most amazing tour in the world. Calling it The Retrospective Tour, they played every single one of their 6 LP albums in full, one album per night, in every state. To make it easier for the die hard fans, they sold a limited ticket called The Big Red Ticket that granted access to all 6 shows at a discounted price. All states got the self-titled album played twice as it is their most beloved album. But here in Melbourne, the home town of the band, we were given a real treat. We got their Roll On album twice and their self-titled album 5 times, including an under 18s show (ever other show was 18+) that they played as a matinee performance before their final night time show. In the end it totalled 37 shows. To top all that off, they played the shows at a tiny local pub, making it a very intimate set of shows. Could those guys have given us a more amazing tour? They called it their thank you to the fans, but it far exceeded that.

I had wanted to make something special to celebrate the tour. The original plan was to recreate all 6 album covers in fondant, but by the time December rolled around I didn't have enough time. I couldn't let the tour pass without making something, so I decided to make a smaller tribute.

Every moment here is a moment to be seized…

12 Days of Christmas :: 12 Pudding Truffles

This final instalment of the 12 Days blog series is another creation I make most years. I usually make many different kinds of truffles for Christmas and put a few aside to dress up as mini puddings. This year I'm not making a truffle tree, so rather than grabbing a few choice spares, I chose a cake recipe especially for the occasion. 

We don't really like the traditional steamed puddings in our household. One we do like, however, is the untraditional chocolate and raspberry version. These truffles are made from chocolate and strawberry cupcakes to represent our ideal steamed pudding. 

Lots more under the cut…

12 Days of Christmas :: 6 Bauble Cakes

The single most exciting part of Christmas for me is decorating the tree. Most of November consists of me waiting for any sign that's it's appropriate to bring the tree out. This year our neighbours put up their Christmas lights really early, and that was all I needed. I eagrly grabbed the tree and set about my favourite task.

No one else in my family is really into any artistic hobbies or creatively inclined, so even when I was quite young they were more than happy to let me decorate the tree. To everyone else, it seemed like a chore. It eventually became my 'thing' at Christmas. As a kid I'd become easily bothered if people tried to 'help', because it would inevitably result in them putting decorations in places that were just aesthetically horrible. These days, my boyfriend always helps me decorate the tree. While he jokes about how pedantic I am about it and teases me about my decorating 'rules', he shares the same creativity and an eye for detail that comes with his love for artistic hobbies. He's just a pedantic as me, and the only person I trust to help me with this onerous task. It was really evident this year when we were finding places for the last handful of baubles. My sister suggested a place for him to put the one in his hand and he replied with, "No, you can't put it there. There's another bauble of the same size and colour right there." That's my boy!

As I grew up, every year I'd have a different theme. Out decorations were a haphazard collection of brand new assortments of baubles alongside ratty old ones from the 80s. I'd pick and choose colours every year, with one of my favourites being red and gold. These days, my tree is always blue and silver. I've built up quite the collection of blue and silver decorations now, a collection large enough to fit the ridiculously over-sized Christmas tree. While blue and silver is my chosen poison these days, I miss the red and gold a little. I almost have no red and gold baubles left any more, so it was with immense joy that I returned to one of my favourite colour schemes with these edible versions.

Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree…

Orange and Poppy Seed Cupcakes

During my thesis-induced baking hiatus, I did have a moment of weakness. I was missing baking a little too much, and so I returned to the kitchen to bake a quick treat. I told my desk buddies I’d bring in some cupcakes to help them through the last moments of Masters. Stress levels were so high in the office during those last few weeks that the tinest of morale boosts were received with thrice the usual enthusiasm, so really, it was for a good cause. It was also a good excuse to get away from the computer chair that was numbing my limbs and the computer screen that was ruining my eyes.

Excuses, excuses. A baking hiatus was never really going to last anyway…

Recipe +3 …

Croquembouche Cupcakes

Croquembouche is a word that conjures fear in the hearts of many. I've never understood why. Choux pastry is the easiest pastry to make, and toffee is not exactly the most challenging thing to make. Spun sugar can take some getting used to, but it's definitely achievable. 

It seems to have stemmed from that MasterChef episode in Series 1 where Adriano Zumbo brought one for the pressure test. Everyone freaked out and it's since been viewed as the penultimate challenge. Many challenges since have been much more difficult, but still everyone dreads the mighty croquembouche. 

It's really quite simple. If you've never tried one before, here's a mini version to help you ease your way into it.

Step-by-step after the jump…