Category: Chocolate

Darcey’s Easter nests

Darcey’s Easter Nests

Easter nests - CAkesBakesAndCookies.com

Last week Darcey came home from Cubs having made these really cute Easter Nests. They take literally 10 minutes to make, twenty minutes to harden up and just seconds to devour.

My mini chef

She’s becoming a bit of a whiz in the Kitchen of late. A few weekends ago she asked if she could make lunch for everyone. I said yes – thinking that a round of sandwiches were on their way and told her that I would be down to the kitchen in five minutes. By the time I arrived she had already boiled water ready for noodles and had made her favorite “red sauce” (Sweet and Sour – made by mixing tomato puree and soy sauce in heated up honey). I need to get to that kitchen a lot quicker!

So, when she asked on the first day of the Easter holidays if she could make some more Easter nests I knew what was coming.

Mum, where’s that glass bowl” was the first question by which time the white chocolate had already been broken into tiny pieces – I’m sure a few were missing! She loves cooking and baking and is really confident in the kitchen. I’m just glad that when she now want’s to make me a cup of mint tea she uses the kettle and not the hot tap for water! EAster Nest

Easter Nests

The main keys to baking with kids is to let them have fun. Let them make a mess and most importantly in my case- let go of perfectionism. I just let her go for it. I think she had fun. Just look at that super cheesy grin. Happiness personified!

Ingredients

Makes 6 nests

  • 125g white /milk/dark chocolate broken up into small pieces- the choice is yours
  • 2 shredded wheat
  • mini eggs – ours were from M&S

EAster Nest

  1. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heat proof bowl over a  saucepan of simmering water until completely melted.
  2. In another bowl crunch and crush the shredded wheat into small twig like pieces.
  3. Pour the chocolate over the shredded wheat and stir until the Shredded wheat is completely covered.
  4. Spoon the mixture into paper cupcake cases. We placed ours in a cupcake baking tin so they would keep their shape. Make a well in the middle.
  5. Position the mini eggs in the centre and leave to harden for twenty minutes.
  6. Munch through them. Nom, Nom, Nommmmm!

Darcey wanted white chocolate nests; as that’s her favorite, but really anything goes. I think using Shredded Wheat is ingenious. Not only do they look more twiggy but they taste great. Move over cornflake cakes. You have officially been replaced!

EAster Nest

All that’s left to say is I hope you have a fantastic Easter with tons of chocolate and masses of family fun time.

Bye for now

EmmaMT

x

The Black Forrest Gateau decorated cake

Best Black forrest gateaux Do you ever have one of those days when you just get a brainwave? A stroke of cake genius that you just can’t stop thinking about till you’ve baked it / tried it / tasted it? Well that’s what happened last month with the big birthdays in my family.

Tim was born on his mum’s birthday and this year it was a double whammy of BIG birthdays. Let’s just say that they are both staying 21 forever!

Tim’s mum invited us to go out for lunch to celebrate at The Bottlehouse which is an amazing pub with the most fantastic food. I made the cake – of course! Now I know I have mentioned that Tim’s favorite cake is black forrest gateau before but my dilemma was that Tim’s mum had requested a Whisky cake!  I decided to kind of mix them both up and make a very boozy Black forrest gateau in the same kind of way that I made the Whisky cake. That basically meant adding a ton of alcohol. That was my brainwave.

I used the recipe from this post and added more kirsch and cherry brandy at every chance I could. I thought this would put my girls off. Nope! I do believe I am going to have problems with Darcey when she’s a teenager! She loves the alcoholic cakes and she’s only 7!

The challengeRenshaw

It was about this time that I decided to enter the Renshaw birthday cake challenge. Perfect timing you might say. I don’t enter into competitions or challenges very often but when the challenge is something you’ve planned to do anyway you just think “Let’s go for it!”. T that and “fingers crossed!”.

I selected my Renshaw colours. Have you seen their website? I hadn’t before the challenge. I just bought my sugarpastes from the local cake decorating shop, but they do tons more colours and products than I was aware of. Thirty six colour to be precise.  Jade green or tropical coral anyone?

For this cake I used:

  • Duck egg blue for the cake board. I wanted something that would look good for boys and girls and duck egg blue looks so good with brown.
  • Chocolate brown This tastes really good. It’s probably the best tasting ready roll out there.
  • White for the cream topping
  • Poppy Red for the cherries, but I could have chosen Ruby red.

 

How to make the decorated Black Forrest Gateau cake

The cake recipe

  • 225g butter, at room temperature
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 160g  self-raising flour
  • 65g cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 tbsp kirsch
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Grease 2 x 8 inch round tins and line the base with baking paper. You can use two tins and cut the cake in half through the middle, or if you have enough tins bake four separate ones.
  2. Blend the butter and sugar together.
  3. Add in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and eggs and blend until smooth.
  4. Add the kirsch
  5. Divide the mix into the cake tins and smooth it flat.
  6. Bake for 20–25 minutes until the cakes start to come away from the sides.
  7. Leave them to cool for 5 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Make sure you remove the baking paper so the cake doesn’t ‘sweat’.

The filling recipe

  • 340g jar of morello cherry jam (any cherry jam will work)
  • 3 tbsp kirsch
  1. Place the jam in a saucepan on a low heat with the Kirsch until it melts. Set aside to cool then place between each cake layer.

The chocolate cherry ganache recipe

  • 50g butter
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp cherry brandy
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk to soften if neccesary
  1. Place the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over a low heat until they are completely melted. Stir continuously. Add the Cherry brandy then set aside to cool for a few minutes. 
  2. Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl then add the chocolate mix. Whisk until combined then add a little milk at a time. The ganache should look glossy. 
  3. Leave to cool for a few minutes before covering your cake completely with a crumb coat and then a thicker coat. Chill the cake in the fridge in between each layer of buttercream. 

The Black forrest Gateaux cake

Cover the cake in chocolate sugarpaste, smooth and remove the excess.

The cherries

To make the cherries: roll out some red sugarpaste between two spacers. This will give an even thickness so when you cut out circles with a cutter and then roll them into balls each cherry will be exactly the same size.

I wanted the cherries to be a darker shade on one side making them look more realistic. So I got my air brush gun out. This was it’s first outing and I have to say it was really, really easy to use and I pretty much got the desired effect straight away. It was good fun too. I’d been avoiding using it for ages as I didn’t know how it worked.  Now it’s all I want to do.

The Black forrest Gateaux cake

I sprayed the sides of each cherry with a mixture of red and a drop of black food dye until they looked darker and glossier. I then left them overnight to harden up and dry up. 

A few days earlier I made the cherry stems and stuck them in the dips in the cherries before the cherries dried.  Make the stems by rolling out some green and brown sugarpaste. Squidge them together and roll until the stem is the desired length. Add a tiny bit of brown at the tip and leave to dry.

Create swirls of cream with rolled out white sugarpaste. Don’t make the ‘cream’ too tall or it won’t look quite right. I used royal icing to ‘glue’ the cherries in place.

The Black forrest Gateaux cake

To make the cream topping I rolled out the white sugarpaste into a rough circle then used a circle cutter to create some dribbles. Smooth the edge of the cream with your fingers then place over the chocolate sugarpaste. If the cream needs securing brush the underside with a little water.

Add the cherries and swirls of cream and you’re done.

The Black forrest Gateaux cake

This cake turned out really well. It was really moist and rich – which Tim loved and I think his mum liked it too! Darcey definitely did! black forrest gateau

Happy Birthday gorgeous bloke. x

 

EmmaMT

x

5 things I learnt making this 40th Birthday Rainbow cake

Emma B

This is my friend Emma. Have I mentioned that in my adult life I am surrounded by Emmas? This Emma is a mum from Beau’s year but in Darcey there are three of us Emma Mums. When I used to work at Woman and Home magazine there were 6 working in the office at one time – with freelancers! That’s where the EmmaMT comes from. How else do you distinguish between us all!

Anyway back to the cake! This is probably one of the biggest cakes I’ve made. I mean, I’ve stacked cakes before but for one cake this is the biggest. I learnt quite a few lessons making it too, so I thought I would share my top tips with you.

1. Bake one cake at a time

Rainbow cake

Making up one 8″ Madeira cake mix for a 10″ tin will give a really great depth to each layer. I also discovered that if I bake each cake with a sheet of silicon paper loosely placed over the top of the tin the cake comes out completely flat. And I mean completely! No raised, cracked, doming and no excess to cut off.

I’ve since covered all my Madeira cakes with silicon paper whilst baking and they have all come out nice and flat. This makes me very happy!

2. Use a cake ruler to get the sides straight

rainbow cake tips

Remember the side scraper I talked about last year? Well, that has become one of my most valuable tools. When it came to covering this cake in buttercream I did it in two stages so that I was sure it was straight. I used the side scraper on each 3/4 layers when I did the crumb coating but when it came to stacking all the cakes together the scraper wasn’t tall enough so, I used a pink cake ruler.

The cake ruler has one straight side and one serated (I must use that serated side for something one day!) It’s pretty sturdy for a piece of plastic and did a great job of making sure the whole cake was smooth and the sides were at a 90º angle. I simply added a thin layer of buttercream to the crumb coating then stood the ruler along the side of the cake and carefully scraped around the side and voila! One tall covered cake!

n.b. I had to remove a shelf in my fridge to get the cake in to chill the buttercream! 

3. You can have any colour cake 

Rainbow cake

I played around with getting the icing for this cake the right colour. Emma showed me her colour scheme and I had a drop of her nail varnish for the big night to match it to. That was a first! Teal is a pretty difficult color to match and I had nightmares that when I delivered the cake I was going to find that it was too dark/ too green/ or just plain wrong – but in the end it was perfect!  I mixed food colours in turquoise and mint green to get the end result.

When mixing up a strong shade like this it’s a good idea to colour your sugarpaste ahead. Not only will you know you’re happy with the colour, but if you colour the sugarpaste the day before you cover your cake it will be less sticky and more steadfast- or in other words your hands won’t go teal!

Another top tip is to make sure your sugarpaste is pretty thick when you roll it out so when you lift it over the cake any stretching will be hidden and won’t result in a tear. It also means that you’ll be able to smooth it really easily.

Rainbow cake

4. You can make really gold flowers

IMG_7679

These were the first gold flowers I had ever made and I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get such a shiny, lustre result. The way I did it was by colouring my white modeling paste in Autumn leaf food colouring paste. I then made the flowers and used a gold lustre powder mixed with a little rejeunvanator liquid and painted them all over. I also painted my fingers and most of my kitchen table! Once dry the roses were just as I wanted them. When wet they were a sticky mess that makes everything go gold! So you have been warned. Put the flowers somewhere where you can paint them and move them without actually having to touch them.

I left them to dry overnight.

5. Don’t overstack the cakes!

IMG_3178

I made these layers individually, colouring the cake mix before it went into the oven. Then I made sure that each layer was the same depth. The trouble is that cakes are quite heavy and sugarpaste is REALLY heavy so the cakes on the bottom levels became a little compacted. It didn’t effect the taste – just the look.

Next time I will add a thin board inbetween the middle layers with dowels to hold the weight of the top layers. That way they won’t get squished!

Rainbow cake

So that’s my top tips with this tall rainbow cake. If you have any tips then please leave me a comment below and let me know how you decorate cake. Every little tip makes the decorating so much more fun. and it’s great to share the knowledge, don’t you think?

EmmaMT

Chocolate Madeira Cake Recipe

 

I love Madeira cake. I mean REALLY love it. It’s part of my past. So when I was asked recently “How do you convert your Madeira cake recipe into a chocolate cake?” I thought it would be a great recipe to share with you all. I also still had the Morello Cherry and William Pear compote and Belgium chocolate ganache from Tesco’s to try out so they were a perfect fit!

 

This cake is really easy to make and is slightly firmer than my previous chocolate recipes, yet it’s still moist – making it a perfect foundation cake (as my mum would say). In other words it’s perfect for covering in sugarpaste for a celebration cake and the best thing is the fact that it doesn’t crumble like other chocolate cakes do. I do hate a crumbly cake, especially when you’re trying to get a crumb coating of buttercream on it!

Madeira cake recipe 

(Makes an 8″ cake – 1 ½” deep) 

75g butter at room temperature
75g margarine (Flora is best) at room temperature
 200g caster sugar
1 tea spoon vanilla essence
3 eggs (large) 
175 g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
 1 ½ teasp of baking powder
3 tbsp milk
 
  1. Line an 8″ cake tin with silicon paper and pre-heat your oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan).
  2. Blend the butter, margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the eggs slowly until they’re really well mixed in.
  3. In a separate bowl weigh out the flour, cocoa and baking powder. Mix them so that you have a light brown dry mixture. This will prevent you having any cocoa lumps in the mix. Sieve into the butter and sugar mix and blend.
  4. Add the vanilla essence and milk and mix well.
  5. Pour the cake mix into the tin and smooth with the back of a metal spoon.  Bake for 45 minutes in the centre of the oven. The cake is ready when you can smell that delicious chocolate cake aroma filling your kitchen. The cake will come away from the sides of the tin and a skewer will come out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.
  6. Leave to cool on a wire rack
  7. When completely cool cut into two halves and fill with compote/ buttercream /jam. I loved the Tesco’s compote. It would be great for making a black forest gateau.
  8. Cover the top of the cake with a dusting of icing sugar or a really decadent chocolate ganache (if you want a ganache recipe you can find mine on this post)

 

I re-heated the Tesco ganache in a saucepan and poured it all over the cake till it just dribbled down. There was a little left over which Tim said could not be wasted! He scooped it up with a spoon.   I then placed the finished cake on the kitchen table to cool. Actually, it was to bribe the girls to do their homework before the Sunday evening witching hour! No homework. No cake!

It worked!

Enjoy!

Some seriously chocolatey cookies

SHELL 4

It was my sister Shelley’s birthday on Monday and I wanted to make her a little treat. Just a little one – as I know she has nearly as much chocolate left over from Christmas as we do!

I decided to make her some vanilla and chocolate cookies covered in thick milk, dark and white chocolate. You could say it was a chocolate overload.

The inspiration for decorating these cookies came when we were messing around with the sprinkles last week. Shelley had come to pick up my nephew Asher while we were mid way through decorating biscuits and she helped Beau to create this pattern on her cookies with royal icing. I haven’t done this effect for years. It’s really easy to achieve, but is a little time-consuming and pretty messy… or that might be just me.

How to make these seriously chocolatey cookies 

  1. Bake your cookies. I made Vanilla cookies from this recipe and chocolate cookies from this recipe.
  2. Melt your chocolate in a pyrex bowl over simmering water. Don’t let the bowl touch the water though.
  3. Place a piping bag in a glass and fold the edges over the outside so you can pour your chocolate into the bag easily.
  4. Add a clip on the end to keep the melted chocolate in the piping bag and not running down your hands/arms/worktops.SHELL 1
  5. To make cleaning up a doddle. Lay some clingfilm over your work surface and position your wire rack over the top.
  6. Pour some melted chocolate over one cookie at a time.
  7. Smooth it so that every bit of the cookie is coated (there’s more yumminess that way)
  8. With your piping bag (with a different type of melted chocolate) pipe lines in one direction across the whole cookie. It doesn’t matter if they aren’t that straight. You’re going to be messing them up anyway. SHELL 2
  9. Use a toothpick to drag across the cookie. As you drag each line is pulled in that direction creating little peaks.
  10. When you have done a few lines in one direction drag the toothpick in the other direction – in between first lot of lines. (Please note that I had to turn the cookie around so I could take the picture- but in other words the first lot of dragging was done from left to right, the second was from right to left- I hope that makes sense!)
  11. Once you have finished leave them alone for at least an hour. They take a long time to fully set. After an hour move them very carefully across the wire rack  with a spatular or by giving them a gentle push with a toothpick so that they don’t permanently stick to the rack, then leave them to fully harden overnight (or for at least 6 hours). They are then ready to wrap or eat.

SHELL 3

Happy Birthday Shelley. Love you. xXx

SHELL 5

enjoy!

Excited about sprinkles. And sauces. And ganache!

Tesco Sprinkles

Just before Christmas I received one of those emails that makes you feel like the pounds instantly go from your Mac straight onto your hips! Tesco’s are launching a great new range of ice cream accessories and Finest* desserts and they wanted to know if I would like to ‘test them’? I mean it would be rude not to, don’t you think? So I carefully made a small selection from the fantastic range which will be instore from next week (14th January to be precise)

Mr Nice Cream

The ‘Mr Nice Cream’ Ice cream range includes cones, sponge cookies -now they sound fab and fan wafers (I love those things. When I was little I used to make sandwiches out of them with jam and cream).

I requested to test the squeezy sauces. Strawberry -which tastes like jam without the annoying lumps of fruit (I’ve been putting it on my toast!), Chocolate sauce which is made with Belgian milk chocolate and British cream (deelish) and Toffee sauce which is made with British double cream, British butter and golden syrup (Sorry but I can’t do the toffee sauce but that didn’t stop Beau and Darcey demolishing it on their ice cream. Are you supposed to squeeze it directly onto a spoon before you put it on your gob? No, I didn’t think so, but that’s what I found them doing one afternoon during the Christmas holidays- I hope our dentist isn’t reading this!)

There’s also a mango and passionfruit sauce. How did I miss that off my list?

To top it all off.

Don’t you just love these cell sprinkles with the 3-4 compartments with different colours and designs? They’re the perfect store cupboard essential. I tested the Princess ice cream sprinkles with pink hearts and dots sprinkles (my fav) and the mixed sprinkles with mini chocolate sweets and 100’s and thousands. Although they are ice cream toppers, they obviously make perfect cupcake and cookie toppers too.

I tested just two types of sprinkles but there are tons in the range, including the mini pots of toppers (see below). This is where you can really go to town. There’s micro marshmallows, jelly beans (in cherry, lemon & lime, banana, raspberry, strawberry and orange flavours), mini meringues, chocolate orange fudge, shortcake balls, caramel fudge…..shall I go on? There’s more! The world is your ice cream oyster.

Chocolate heaven

The only things I haven’t tried out yet are the Morello Cherry & William pear compote and the Belgian chocolate ganache sauce. I’m saving them for a cake I am making next week. I can’t wait. They look so good.

Tesco Sprinkles

Sprinkle trouble

Now, when these arrived Beau helped me open the package up. That’s where I went wrong. Letting a 9 year old see a small tub of jelly beans and chocolate covered shortbread would be pester power out of control enough, but when it came to the micro marshmallows I was in big trouble. You see I had lots of baking to do for Christmas and I wasn’t going to have five minutes to do any additional blogging, so the whole collection just sat on the kitchen worktop (accidentally) teasing her. Every single day she asked if she could have them. “Not until I have taken shots of them and done some baking with them” I would say. To which I was greeted with a lot of huffing and puffiing!  Then on Christmas day I broke my camera! More delay!

Beau had to wait a WHOLE WEEK! to eat them!!! I think it’s a new form of kiddie torture!  Just look at what happened the day we were due to bake with them. I borrowed my sisters camera (thanks Shell) and her son and we made biscuits. The shot below was taken before any biscuits went into the oven. Beau just couldn’t wait any longer! What a cruel Mamma I am.

Needless to say I used about 5 micro marshmallows on one cookie and she ate the rest! I think they were a hit!

Tesco sprinkles

We made vanilla cookies and chocolate cookies and I let Beau, Darcey and my nephew Asher go to town with the icing. Then the toppers came out to play. This is when the fun really started. Here are just a few that they made. (there were over 50) A good time was had by all, but I think I shall ‘play’ with the chocolate ganache and compote when the kids are in bed. I’m not sharing that!

Beau's cookies

Ice cream sauces are £ 1.49 each, Ice cream sprinkles from £ 2.19, Mini topper tubs 89p each, Chocolate ganache £ 2, Compote, £2, all available from Tesco.com from January 14th. Enjoy.

EmmaMT

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