I mentioned in my previous post that I’ve never tried pumpkin in a sweet dish before. With Halloween around the corner I decided it was a good change to change all that. I bought a stack of pumpkins on the weekend and started having some fun.
My first stop was incorporating pumpkin into cake. I absolutely love all the spices that make up pumpkin pie spice, so I just knew I was going to love these. But I also wanted to incorporate some of Halloween into them as well. Here’s where the ghosts come in.
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This is an idea I’ve been sitting on for quite some time now. As in, well over a year some time now. I’d got components for it) here and there but kept putting it off. I’m procrastinating my procrastibaking. Now there’s a new level of avoidance for me. So yesterday I finally decided that enough was enough and I was going to get this idea out of my head: piranha plant pops!
These iconic little beasties from Mario have been recreated into so many different mediums. From paintings to sculptures to earrings, so many skilled people from all genres of art have paid tribute to these little guys. I wanted to join in and recreate them in a way that makes them almost entirely edible.
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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…
We don't get much snow in Australia when compared to the rest of the world. During winter we get a little in our alpine zones along the east coast. Rarely, Melbourne and Hobart see snow during severe cold snaps. It's never happened in my hometown in my lifetime. I've seen snow once when I travelled to Falls Creek with a few friends some time ago. It's really not as soft and fluffy and lovely as the movies had me imagine. Still, it was a load of fun. We couldn't afford any of the recreational stuff, so we frolicked in the snow for a day. I made my first and only snowman with my friends, while others made phallic objects out of the snow for everyone on the ski lifts to see. As you do.
During Christmas, though, you can forget about snow. Our climate tried to fake it last year thanks to the La Niña we experienced. We had a massive hail storm from which my car still bears the cosmetic scars. Mass flooding across my state further threatened to ruin the day. Except in typical Australian spirit, we weren't letting that happen so easily. People gathered up the hail and shoved it in the eskies to keep the drinks cold. Others got out in the board shorts and started swimming or body-boarding down what were formerly main roads.
Most years, though, it's sweltering. Some years you get lovely 30°C days that you can make it through. Other summers it can exceed 50°C and you spend the day sprawled out in front of a pedastal fan, eating watermelon and waiting for the sun to go away. The last time I experienced a festive season like that, I was celebrating it in a rural area, so we spent the day hoping the bushfires would go away as well.
Despite our sweltering Christmas days, snow is still an iconic part of Christmas. Influenced by cultures on the other side of the globe, all our Christmas cards and decorations revolve around snow and pictures of families or Santa rugged up in warm clothes. We spray fake snow on our trees or around the borders of our windows. We adorn our trees with icicles and houses with large light displays cover their lawns and rooftops with batting or wadding to resemble snow. Everywhere there are penguins and snowmen rugged up in their winter woolies.
It was only natural that snowmen should feature somewhere along the way.
We'll have some fun now before I melt…
I've often heard people say that anything that tastes great isn't good for you. I disagree: fruit is one of my favourite things in the world, and some fruit in particular to me taste better than any sweet imaginable. Watermellon is one of those things.
It's not watermelon season here in Australia at the moment so there's no lovely fresh, local watermelon in the stores at the moment. In lieu of being able to sink my teeth into those, I created some truffles inspired by one of my favourite food items in the world.
These truffles may taste nothing like watermellon, but the aesthetic is enough to tide me over until summer arrives.
Step-by-step after the jump…
A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Zoopa (the social club in our Zoology Department) committee about a cake. They were hosting a fundraising auction and, because I won both judges and people's choice award at this years and last years Bake Off, they wanted me to bake a cake for it.
Whenever I get an unrestrained chance to bake a cake for the masses, the thought of, "Yay! I can do something I've been wanting to for ages," quickly turns to, "Holy crap. What am I going to do?" The choice is overwhelming. Especially given that it needed to appeal to all genders and a range of demographics with a single thing in common: Zoology. I toyed with several novelty cake ideas that were either animal or science based. In the end, I went with something that was just going to taste nice.
What’s in the box…
Chocolate crackles have such a power over me. They're one of those food items that can reduce me to giggly fits of glee at the thought of making them. You're never too old to enjoy that simple treat, but this slice offers a way to deliver them with a little more class than usual.
I've been waiting for the perfect excuse to make this. So when I threw a get together this weekend just gone these were the first thing on my list of party food.
Much more on these spheres of crackley heaven…
Dad's 57th birthday was on the 1st of November. He's not much of a sweet tooth, but he does love mudcake. I had him over for dinner and made him his favourite meal; beef osso bucco. I decided last minute to throw together a cake for dessert.
So I revisited the recipe shown here, but baked it as a single cake this time.
Jump in the mud…
So you guys have seen me do this before…
… but what other iconic Australian animal has a big nose like a koala?
I’m sure you’ve already guessed what comes next…
For those of you playing at home, this Wednesday just gone was Australia Day. Now, I’m not particularly patriotic. I have a love for the land, for the wildlife, but I wouldn’t consider myself to be in love with my country. Not to the point I really celebrate Australia day, anyway. Though, do any of us really celebrate it? When we celebrate, it tends to be out of the love for a celebration, more than for some inherent patriotism.
Nevertheless, an excuse to bake is an excuse to bake. And since my heart lies with the wildlife, it was typical of me to do a dessert so themed. Hence, the koala truffles were born.
Aussie Aussie Aussie, nom nom nom…