The raddest, baddest dinosaur cake stands

I’ve been on the prowl for cool tableware lately, and I came across the best cake stands at a local homeware store, Homeless.

How cool are these dinosaur cake stands by Seletti? They are eye-wateringly expensive starting at US$90 for the smallest one, but who doesn’t want a Triceratops or a T Rex gracing their cakes? These are going on my birthday wishlist.

Sauria - Seletti

Sauria - Seletti

Source

If you’re not into pre-historic creatures, Urban Outfitters are selling some awesome cake stands in the form of more cuddly animals, though sadly no less expensive.

Rabbit cake stand, £80

Cat cake stand, £80

Horse cake stand, £100

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Recipe: Brownie stuffed chocolate cupcakes with Guinness frosting and Mars bar sauce

This is what the week of baking has been leading up to – the ultimate boyfriend cupcake (well, at least for my boyfriend, who’s all for chocolate and beer!). The drama queen in me calls them the Seven Sins Cupcakes. In a nutshell, they are:

  1. Chocolate cupcakes
  2. Stuffed with Ferrero Rocher brownies
  3. Topped with Guinness frosting, and
  4. Drizzled with Mars bar sauce
  5. Finished with smoky peanut butter cookies
  6. Chopped up Malteser’s
  7. And peanut Smartie’s

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Too much? Oh well, t’s too late to turn back now! Here’s the full recipe for the brownie stuffed chocolate cupcakes with Guinness frosting and Mars bar sauce. It’s such a long post!

Brownie stuffed Chocolate Cupakes Recipe (makes 9-12 cupcakes)

Just a note: I don’t make chocolate cupcakes. In fact, these were my first batch. I still prefer butter-based cupcake recipes, but these aren’t bad and they’re very easy to make. I’ve converted the recipe into cups.

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  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (i used Valrhona cocoa powder)
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 40g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (I used vanilla paste)
  • Ferrero Rocher brownies, broken up in chunks

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Method

  1. Cream room temperature butter until loosened up and creamy in a large bowl.
  2. Sieve flour, cocoa powder, caster sugar, baking powder and salt into the butter. Mix until incorporated and sandy in texture.
  3. Mix milk, egg and vanilla extract together. Pour into the flour mix and beat until everything is just incorporated. Do not overmix.
  4. Line 2 cupcake pans and fill cupcake cases with 1 ice-cream scoop of batter. Break up chunks of Ferrero Rocher brownies and put one piece in each scoop. Top up with batter until 2/3 full.
  5. Bake at 150C for around 18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

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Guinness Buttercream Frosting Recipe (for 9-12 cupcakes)

  • 227 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 1 cup Guinness Extra Stout

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Method

  1. Boil Guinness on medium heat until it reduces to around 3 tablespoons, about 10 minutes. Stir every now and then to make sure it’s not sticking to the pan or burning. When done, the Guinness should be like balsamic vinegar in thickness.
  2. Cream room temperature butter until soft and fluffy. Scrape down the sides.
  3. Add alternatively the icing sugar and the milk. With the mixer on low, start with sieving 1/3 the icing sugar into the butter, then 1/2 of the milk, and so on. Crank up to high speed and mix until the frosting just turns creamy.
  4. Mix in the vanilla paste until blended in.
  5. Lastly, add in the thickened Guinness a tablespoons at a time, paying attention to the texture of the frosting to make sure it doesn’t go too thin.
  6. Pipe the cupcakes when they have completely cooled down!
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The Guinness reduced should be like balsamic vinegar

Mars bar sauce recipe (for drizzling over 9-12 cupcakes)

I had this for the first time the other night at my South African friend’s house with vanilla ice cream. So GOOD. Apparently they have Mars bar sauce with everything in South Africa, can’t wait to check that out when I’m in the country in a few short weeks!

  • 1 Mars bar
  • 1/3 cup milk

Method

  1. Break Mars bar into small chunks.
  2. On low heat, add the Mars bar and half of the milk. Stir constantly.
  3. As the chocolate melts, add the remaining milk.
  4. Pour the sauce into a bowl and let it cool down, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t solidify.
  5. When it’s reached room temperature, drizzle the sauce over the Guinness frosting.

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Assembling these bad boys

The fun bit is finally here! Drizzle the Mars bar sauce generously over the frosted cupcakes. The tidiest way to do this is to use a piping bag and just snip off the tip, then squeeze the sauce in a criss-cross pattern.

Then in goes the rest of the sweet treats. Give the Smarties and Malteaser’s a very quick whizz in the blender, or just chop it up, and sprinkle over the cupcakes for great neon colour. Lastly, stick the smoky peanut butter cookies in.

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And there you have it. They certainly are the most decadent cupcakes I’ve ever made. They sure went down a treat!

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Recipe: Easiest 3 ingredient smokey Peanut Butter cookies

This is my favourite peanut butter cookie recipe. It’s chewy, peanut buttery and the brown sugar gives it a unique smoky tang. So if you’re looking for sugary sweet cookies, these aren’t for you!

Ingredients (for 12 regular cookies)

1/2 cup soft brown sugar

1/2 peanut butter (your preference chunky or smooth)

1 small egg

Method

1. Mix all 3 ingredients together with a fork until well incorporated.

2. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper and drop small spoonfuls of the dough, leaving more room between each spoonful than I did with my batch!

3. Bake at 160C for 8 minutes. Cookies are ready when they spring back when you poke them.

4. Let cool completely before carefully removing them using an offset spatula.

Isn’t this just the easiest recipe? If you don’t have brown sugar, you could go ahead and use normal caster sugar, but it will not have the smoky flavour the brown sugar gives.

Recipe: Perfectly chewy Ferroro Rocher brownies, no joke (with adorable DIY birthday bunting)

My favourite April Fool’s stunt is not showing up to class. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work in a full-time job situation, so there’s not much to celebrate this year.

It’s the boyfriend’s birthday this week, so I’ve been baking up a storm at home – there’s a big post coming up over the weekend!

Anywho, I haven’t made brownies in years, but yesterday, I found the perfect brownie recipe. It’s perfect, full stop. And I kicked it up a notch with a cheeky sprinkling of Ferrero Rocher on top. Hello gooey chocolatey hazelnutty heaven.

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Recipe (12 regular brownies)

  • 1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1⁄3 cup cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄2 cup flour
  • 4-6 Ferrero Rochers

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Method

  1. Sieve together baking powder, cocoa powder, salt and flour.
  2. In a separate large bowl, vigorously stir together oil and sugar until blended. It will look like lemon sorbet when it’s done!
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla to the sugar mixture and give it a good stir until incorporated.
  4. Tip the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Stir until it becomes a rich, thick batter.
  5.  Grease your baking pan. Pour in the batter and spread evenly with a spatula.
  6. Here’s the fun bit! Cut up or crumble the Ferrero Rochers and sprinkle over the top of the batter. I only used about 4 but it was plenty.
  7. Bake at 160C for about 18 minutes. You  might want to take it out around 15 minutes if you want it very gooey.
  8. Hold your horses and let it cool before you dig in with plenty of milk.

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I love these brownies. They are ridiculously easy to make and so chewy, especially around the edges! The Ferrero Rocher gives it a nice hazelnutty kick. Next time I’ll add in some nuts for extra crunch as well!

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Since these are birthday brownies, I took it further with some DIY cute birthday bunting. It’s so easy to do!

What you need

  • String
  • Toothpicks
  • Old magazine pages

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I just got a gorgeous Pottery Barn summer catalogue in the mail, and it’s a goldmine for colourful patterns for the bunting!

Very simply, draw 2 parallel lines across a print you like. Draw triangles between the lines. When you’re done, fold the paper along the base of the triangles. Then simply cut out the triangles, and you have your bunting!

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Write on the bunting should you want to, position them on the string, and glue together the pointy end. Tie the string to the toothpicks, and set them on the brownies. Ta-da!

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Tutorial: Super easy Shaun the Sheep fondant cupcake toppers

I was racking my brain for a cake theme for one of my best friends’ birthday this past week when she showed me a picture of Shaun the Sheep cupcakes. It was a eureka moment. Even though there weren’t any Shaun the Sheep tutorials out there, I took the plunge and made these toppers, which I was pretty chuffed about!

These Shaun the Sheep fondant cupcake toppers were surprisingly easy to make, so I thought I’d do my own mini tutorial. I didn’t take any photos while I was making them, but here are the very simple steps:

1. For the head:

– Take some black fondant (just under the size of a ping pong ball) and roll into a ball. Lying it flat on your silicon mat, press down evenly with your finger or use a small rolling pin to gently roll over the fondant so that you get an elongated and rounded shape. Check against a photo of Shaun the Sheep to see if the shape is accurate.

– Using a toothpick, poke 2 holes near the bottom for the nostrils.

– Position the head on the cupcake wherever you want it to be.

2. For the ears:

– Roll a small amount of fondant (about half the size of a Malteaser’s) into a ball. Put your index finger on the centre and roll gently so it takes the shape of a sausage.

– Using a fondant tool with a balled end, press it gently into the middle of one length and stop when you reach the centre. You should get a hollowed concave shape.

– Using the length of your index finger, push down gently on the top of the sausage to elongate it until you get the desired length and height. The ear should be just over half the length of the face.

– Put the ears on the head, curving them so that they look like Shaun’s ears.

3. For the eyes

– Don’t put in the eyes until this step. If you put the eyes into the head before you put it on the cupcake, the eye sockets will stretch and it will look like Shaun the Zombie.

– I used oversized white chocolate pearls for the eyeballs, but you can also use white fondant. I didn’t need to use water to affix the pearls, I simply pushed them into the face deep enough for them to hold.

– For the pupils, I used Americolor’s edible black pen to gently dab colour on. Again, black fondant is an alternative. Just use a small circle cutter.

– Tip: Position the pupils a bit differently for each Shaun for a fun cupcake collection!

4. For the wool

– Cut mini marshmallows into half and arrange over the frosting, sticky sides down.

I love this photo. It looks like Shaun is scared of the pig!

Ta-da! And it’s done! It was easy enough for me to make 4 in a row. It does get a lot easier after your first attempt (or third… my first three Shauns were either too fat or too thin), so stick with it if your first go doesn’t work out!

Hopefully that was relatively easy to follow! These are the first cartoon fondant cupcake toppers I’ve done, and I enjoyed it so much I might have to do it again sometime.

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Murphy’s law and an ombre pink triple-layer Red Velvet mini cake with Cream Cheese frosting

You know when you wait all week to decorate a cake? And you build it up in your head – it’s going to be this amazingly beautiful cake, with ruffles, and fondant toppers, and maybe a surprise inside…

And then, like, it all goes to shit? (Pardon my French.)

I just had one of those days. I am bloody exhausted.

It’s my grandma’s birthday tomorrow and I was planning to make a pretty ombre ruffle cake. Straightforward enough eh?

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I stacked and crumbcoated my cake mid-week. I’d bought a petal frosting tip a while ago which had just been sitting in the cupboard, so I was excited to finally try my hand at the ruffle technique. My ombre colours were looking pretty, and look, I even scored the cake like the tutorials teach you to.

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Then it all went wrong.

It turns out that Wilton’s 104 tip is tiny. So tiny that my piping bag broke as I tried to squeeze the frosting out. The ruffles I managed to pipe were tiny and broken. Sigh. So much for a ruffle cake.

But that’s OK. Shit happens. To Plan B I turned – the ombre cake.

Then I realised my frosting was really, freaking stiff. I’d deliberately been tightfisted with the milk because I read that the frosting had to be firm to hold its shape in ruffles, but this frosting was actually like cement. What a face palm moment.

I had to rebeat my frosting, separately obviously, since I’d already mixed in the colouring. And of course I put too much milk in, so I had to go back and beat more icing sugar in.

By this point I was feeling pretty defeated. But I took a deep breath and prodded myself on, giving the cake a fresh coat of cream cheese frosting before the ombre buttercream layers went on.

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And surprisingly, it worked out. I also realised that the reason my frosting is never smooth is that it is too stiff. The frosting with what I thought was too much milk turned out to be great for a smooth finish. This is definitely the smoothest cake I’ve buttercreamed – still a long way to go to a perfect finish, especially the top, but hey, silver lining!

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I dressed the cake up in a sprinkles halo, and decided to make a little 3D fondant heart topper to put on top. I took photos while I was making it, so I might put up a mini tutorial on it later!

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What a day. Stressful as it was, I’m pretty happy with the way it all turned out. But seriously, I’m going back to cupcakes for now, no more cakes for a while.

Style over substance – cupcakes and flowers

A warning: this post is an exercise in style over substance. I made a few too many cupcakes for a friend’s birthday, and it so happens that I nailed the perfect sky blue frosting, so I thought I’d do a post with some pretty photos of them.

Food colouring: Americolor Sky Blue, with a bit of red mixed in when it veered too much towards mint

Piping tip: Wilton 1M open star tip

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**DSC_0038 The flowers were for my mum’s birthday. I absolutely love David Austen roses, but they aren’t that easy to find in Hong Kong unfortunately. **DSC_0020 I couldn’t resist getting a peek of my new Valentino Rockstud pumps in there – I’m so in love with them! **DSC_0050 Photography-wise, I am seriously considering buying an umbrella light to get much softer lighting than I do now with my HK$99 Ikea lamp covered with a translucent shirt. I’m not really happy with the way my photos turn out, the colours are too cold and hard. Thank goodness there are so many amazing blogs out there that cover food photography for beginners, there is so much to learn!

Another crazy cake fortnight up ahead, just finished crumb-coating my grandmother’s birthday cake for this Friday, then my boyfriend’s birthday is the following week. Definitely more cake posts to come folks! Thank you so much for everyone who’s been liking and commenting so far. I can’t believe anyone’s reading, let alone kindly sharing their thoughts!

Minnie Mouse Cake, and fondant nightmares

Put fondant together with Hong Kong’s humidity and you get a nightmare.

Before going to Phuket, I made a Minnie Mouse cake for my cousin’s baby daughter’s third birthday. I used Renshaw fondant to make a bow and ears about a week in advance so that the pieces had enough time to dry. And well, this happened the day before I had to finish the cake.

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The bow completely fell apart as it dried. Great.

With less than 48 hours left, I had to go for Plan B. I stacked and frosted the cake as usual, and the night before the cake was picked up, I made a brand new bow. This time, I was careful to use less corn flour to roll out the fondant in case it dried out like the last one.

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More importantly, instead of relying on the fondant to hold its own shape, I rolled the strips around some marshmallows which held them up nicely. It didn’t look as nice from above with the marshmallow inside, but I wasn’t taking any chances!

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I’d heard horror stories about refrigerating fondant, but considering the humidity, I had to go for the lesser of two evils. And lo and behold, the bow held beautifully after 24 hours in the fridge, there as no sweating on the fondant or anything. Phew!

I absolutely loved putting the little Oreo Minnie Mouses (Mice?) together on the side of the cake, an ingenious idea I picked up from Pinterest. I used oversized heart sprinkles to make the little bows, which is so easy and adorable. This was the 4th cake I’ve baked so far, and I haven’t yet mastered a perfectly smooth finish to the frosting, so it was a great way to hide imperfections. I finished the cake with a halo of matching pink and white sprinkles.

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Hopefully this is the last I see of fondant for a while.