On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place


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Faye Cahill inspired cake

My manager has moved onto greener pastures and I wanted to make a cake for her farewell.

I had some ideas, I wanted purple or lavender (Mandy’s favourite colour) and I wanted a bit of pizazz because Mandy is a sophisticated lady who likes sparkly well-made things.

Faye Cahill InspiredThis cake isn’t anything like I started out to make. And with the passage of time (a month has gone by) I can’t even remember quite what my original plan had been. I do know that I wanted to check out how to apply silver leaf (there you go, that was my original plan) and referred to a Craftsy Class I had purchased which Faye Cahill presents, and then I was so taken with her design that I pretty much went with almost all of it.

Fantasy FlowerI had already begun to make the fantasy flower. Fantasy flowers have never worked well for me. Usually I get in a tizzy with it and ball up the flower and either start again, or walk away, or go watch another YouTube video and wonder how they make them so well when I’m struggling. Not that I’ve got crazy skills with realistic flowers, but I find them less of a challenge to get right. There you have it, fantasy is meant to be whimsical and I’m still trying to make it perfect.

I used Chocit for the centre. I was trying to place the little balls into the centre of the flower and they kept sticking to my finger. I had to use a Colour Shaper to ease it off my finger and onto the flower, but I got a little dent. So I just went with it and then poked the little balls all over. That’s the thing with a fantasy flower, no one can tell what it was meant to look like, so anything goes.

Silver leafThe silver leaf was pretty easy to work with. I only had 2 sheets, and my original plan was for gold leaf but when I ordered it, the company called back to say they no longer had it in packs of 5 sheets but I could buy 100. Yeah, nah (Kiwi slag for no). What I hadn’t realised until late in the piece is that silver leaf needs to on the cake for a day before you can place anything over the top. But when I couldn’t sleep I got up at 2am and applied the stencil. The stencil is for a cookie but I was only going to decorate the very front of the cake so the size was perfect. I was a bit hesitant with the stencilling because last time I stencilled a cake it didn’t go as smoothly as I wanted and ended up a little sloppy, mostly I think due to the royal icing being a little on the soft side. The stencilling went fine and I went to bed.

All that was left was to make the fondant cut out pieces, texture them and then use piping gel to get the little nonpareils to adhere. Oh and then to use royal icing to add some other details, which didn’t go quite like I wanted, but I know I obsess a little more than others.

Mandy1The last thing I wanted to do was to add a row of oval silver sugar pearls as a boarder. I placed a few on the cake but they were rolling everywhere. I had two different sizes and was tossing up as to which to add when I realised that it was going to take me forever to place them and the chances they would behave perfectly and stay put was slim to non-existent. I’ve since seen a picture tutorial from Sarah of The Cake Tin did which would have worked perfectly for me. If only her tutorial came before the cake I was making. Still, I know for next time!

Mandy has been gone for a month and I miss her for lots of reason. Everyone who knows Mandy knows you can’t replace someone like her. She’s one of a kind and I’m certain I’m not the only person who feels the void she’s left. If you ever come back Mandy, I’ll make another cake to welcome you!

Cake details:  American Mud Cake by Cake Paper Party. It’s 4 layers with a 7″ cake card separating the bottom two layers to the top two. Ganche using Whitaker’s 50% chocolate. Fondant by Satin Ice. Buttercream filling SMBC with Nielsen Massey Coffee extract.

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Progel review and Baby Boy cookies

Colour paletteNot only am I giving my opinion on Progel, I also tried the CK brand pre-made Black royal icing mix. I was excited.

I’ve tried a Progel colour (Holly) before and I was unimpressed. I could not squeeze any gel out of the tube. I went red in the face, veins were popping and I was not having a great time. I tried to use a toothpick in the end, which was semi-successful. So needless to say I went into this holding my breath, especially when I’d bought 4 or 5 tubes while we were at BakeBoss in Brisbane.

New startMany other people have raved about Progel so I felt my first experience must have been really unlucky, so here I am, giving it another go and hoping I have a better experience.

SquirtThe news is good. I had no problem at all with getting the gel out of the tube, in actual fact, now I have to warn you that you shouldn’t really squirt it, which is a bit of a pain. But basically you can’t control how much is going to be dispensed when you squeeze the tube, even when you’re trying to be gentle. So squeezing some out onto a dish and then using a toothpick to transfer a smaller dab into the royal icing would be my advice.

Feeling BlueSo all was good with Progel and I’d buy it again. Except that I love Sugarflair. I’m sure there’s a place for both, in actual fact I tend to use the gels for colouring royal icing, and Sugarflair for colouring gumpaste and fondant. But I do love me some Sugarflair. The light blue is Sugarflair Baby Blue, and I can tell you I used a pretty small dab of colour and I still ended up adding a bit more white royal icing to tone it down. Sugarflair has an extensive range of colours and in my opinion a superior depth of colour, and what you see on the test card is the exact colour you’ll end up with.

Blog_200115Not that I’ve done it really, but the more Progel you add the deeper the colour. I guess I did do this with the Navy. To begin with it wasn’t as deep a colour as I wanted, so I added more, and then I got what I wanted, or close to it. I expected the colour to deepen as it sat. By the time I came to flood the cookies a day later I had no complaints over the colour.

CK BlackNext I moved onto the CK brand pre-coloured black royal icing. And yep, it was just as amazing as I’d seen it on the Gateaux Inc video (which I can’t find the link for now). It was as simple as adding in the powder and then the water and mixing the two. And before your eyes you get the most perfect glossy black. I thought it was too good to be true. I’m here to tell you that it was, sort of. That bitter taste you get when adding lots of black (or red) to the royal icing is sadly still present. But there’s no waiting. You just mix and you can go for your life using it immediately.Easy as

The tests weren’t all for nothing. I had planned to decorate cookies for one of the ladies from work who was leaving on Maternity Leave. We arrived back midnight going into Saturday and it was that coming Friday that Nicole was leaving. I was very thankful that I had more cookies than I needed for Christmas and had planned to use all of them.RI Transfers

Monday night I got busy making royal icing transfers. I didn’t really hold a lot of hope the rocking horses would come off the waxed paper in one piece. I was relieved and surprised that they did peel off in one piece.

Baby Boy1I had some vague plans as to how to decorate the cookies, and I began to write down those ideas, and in the end I still missed doing a few things, like making little baby feet, or using my new Stork and Baby stamp. But all in all the cookies are fine, even if my hand writing is a bit scruffy, and certainly not even or straight. I didn’t really have the time to get the Kopykake out, but that’s what it needed, for me at least. Hand writing on cookies is certainly something I need lots of practice on, and having the words in the right font in front of me would certainly be helpful.

Baby Boy2When I took the cookies in so many people commented that they couldn’t eat them. But I tried to polity explain that I didn’t make them to be looked at only, and I hoped they would eat them. Nicole took the two largest plaques home with her, and by the end of the day there was only 3 cookies left. That worked out nicely for us at home 🙂Baby Boy3


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Merry Christmas – 2014

And another year draws to a close. And almost without time to do anything for Christmas. Usually I’m baking Christmas Mince Pies from Show Weekend. My first batch was last Sunday. It’s been such a rush these past few months.

As a bit of a consolation prize I managed to make the Alton Brown Rich Fruit cake (same as I made last year), this time as a cake and I had enough batter left over for 4 (or was it 5?) mini loaves as well.

Mr Fussy's cake. All four corners have his name on them.

Mr Fussy’s cake. All four corners have his name on them.

Given the cake was baked only last week and as an after thought, there was no plan for any decorating. In fact the store bought decorations I’d relied on in past years I’d just thrown out. Now I was stuck. I didn’t really want to leave the cake covered in fondant, but to do something a bit different for Mr Fussy. This after all is his cake. And he gets to have all 4 corners. Corner pieces are much sought after in our family. Natalie managed to get the sides of the fruit cake baked for Jasmine and Sam’s wedding, and when I asked what happened to the corners she said she’d eaten them already! This was just 2 days after the wedding and they were gone. Saves that awkward moment when you begrudgingly share. But we understand, we’ve all been there.

But this is Mr Fussy’s cake. It wont be served on Christmas day, it’ll just be his little secret cake.

The rest of the weekend I spent baking and decorating cookies for Christmas. Much like the cake I really didn’t have any fixed ideas as to how I was going to decorate these. And some haven’t been finished, only that I’m not sure if I want to put anything more on the trees.

I rather like the trees just as they are. But they're not as Christmassy as they could be. To add some baubles or not?

I rather like the trees just as they are. But they’re not as Christmassy as they could be. To add some baubles or not?

Work has been frantic and the last two weeks we’ve been lucky to escape from work before 6pm, some nights it’s 7pm. So we arrive home exhausted and with little thought for anything but trying to summon up the strength to cook something that includes vegetables for dinner.

I got rebellious and made a squiggly snowflake. Anything goes!

I got rebellious and made a squiggly snowflake. Anything goes!

Anyway, these cookies were a good way for me to unwind and spend some time doing something I enjoy. Plus I got to make the reindeer cookie that I’ve been wanting to make ever since I saw it last year. But I didn’t have the right cutter, so a year later here were are, even if it’s just the one. Sadly the icing cracked while it was drying. Still was fun to make.

The big debate was whether to add the snow or not. So far the "or not" wins.

The big debate was whether to add the snow or not. So far the “or not” wins.

And here are some other cookies, not all of them, but a good selection of the others I made. Now to find containers to store them all in until Thursday.

A mix of stencilling, stamps and piping.

A mix of stencilling, stamps and piping.

Well, it seems it wont always go right.

Well, it seems it wont always go right.

Seems a bit weird to have a snowman at Christmas in New Zealand.

Seems a bit weird to have a snowman at Christmas in New Zealand.

I have no idea what the plan is for these. I bought ribbon and all, but what to pipe on them.  Merry Xmas? Mark, Anita I'm digging the "free spirit" piping though. I must be tired.

I have no idea what the plan is for these. I bought ribbon and all, but what to pipe on them. Merry Xmas? Mark (Mr Fussy), Anita I’m digging the “free spirit” piping though. I must be tired.

Hope that whatever you do during this holiday time you have a fun relaxing time spent with those near and dear to you. Stay safe.


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Mum’s birthday afternoon

Mum's birthday cake.

Mum’s birthday cake.

Mum’s birthday was mid-week and today we had a family get together afternoon tea.

I had made the cake a few weeks ago, having to stop in at Natalie’s to get some fresh ground coffee which I don’t have, or would need for later. I drink water and tea and coffee have no appeal. I know, weird right?

White Mocha Cake. Recipe by Cake Paper Party.

White Mocha Cake. Recipe by Cake Paper Party.

I made Summer’s White Mocha Cake. You can find the recipe here. The cake was pretty simple to make, and I used my new cake pans and was pretty happy with how the cakes baked. They were lovely and even, but they did sink during the last 3-4 minutes. But Summer said they would. My MIL saw the cakes and thought I’d goofed the recipe. Ok, so I know I’ve had my share of failures, but not this time.  The cakes rose to the top of the cake pans, settled back down and were roughly 1 1/4″ in height. I did however gouge one of the cakes as I ran the knife around the edge of the cake tin. I thought it might give me grief when it came time to trimming the cakes and layering them for ganaching, but thankfully it didn’t happen. I had visions of having to become a bit of a brick layer and use ganche as mortar and try and piece the bit that I’d gouged back onto the rest of the cake. With the cakes having been in the fridge (from the freezer) they were still firm enough and preparing the cake layers for ganaching went smoothly.

Reserructing the Coffee Caramel buttercream.

Reserructing the Coffee Caramel buttercream.

Now the coffee caramel buttercream on the other than, well that didn’t quite got so well. I had made the syrup the previous weekend (to when I made the syrup) and had it in the freezer. I split the batch because I knew I only needed to fill the layers and not cover the cake. Then last weekend I started out making the syrup. The instructions were not to let the sugar burn. It was taking an age to reach the right temperature and so I stepped away, not for long, but long enough. The house smelt terrible, the smell of burnt sugar filling the air.

Anyway, after making a second batch of syrup (it still never reached the right temperature before it started to show signs of the colour changing) I proceeded on with the buttercream. This is where I didn’t follow the recipe, having assumed the amount of coffee syrup I’d made was all required for the buttercream. Umm, no. I wondered why the buttercream didn’t have that gloriously smooth silky texture of Summer’s cake. It turns out you don’t need all of the syrup (although I don’t know the weight of the syrup). A few days later I whipped up some more butter and slowly started to add my watery buttercream into it. It all came together nicely and it now looked similar (the colour was darker) to Summer’s recipe.

The cake was ganached on Wednesday (I wanted to leave myself a day up my sleeve in case things went wrong and I had to start something over again) and for the most part it went smoothly. Although I am going to have to tweak my method of ganaching (upside down method) because the next morning when I turned the cake up the right way, the cake settled and there was a little dip in the middle. I think I’m going to have to use the two acrylic disc method, or at least I’ll give that a go next cake.

The finished cake. Compare how sharp the edge is of the bottom cake compared to the top (dummy cake without the homemade smoothers).

The finished cake. Compare how sharp the edge is of the bottom cake compared to the top (dummy cake without the homemade smoothers).

Since last Sunday I’ve also been making gumpaste roses. I wasn’t happy with any of the ones I made. Now I know just because I don’t like them doesn’t mean to say that no one will like them, but I just wasn’t that thrilled about using them on the cake.  I started looking at Stevi Auble’s Wafer Paper flowers Craftsy class. I thought I could give them a go and see if anything there came out looking better than the gumpaste roses. Last night I made two ribbon roses and a large open rose (all stylised) and I decided that I liked them better. Not that I knew how many I would use, or where I would place them.

I’d also covered a dummy cake. Partly to use as a practice for another project I’ve got coming up. I’d covered it in pearl white Sugarflair lustre last Sunday and was pretty happy with how it worked out. And I used some wafer paper that I’d cut with craft punches, an edge that I thought complimented the stencil I was using.

I was a bit up in the air about whether to use a “riser”. I was quite keen to see how it looked. I’d ordered a bunch of different sized 2″ cake dummys from DeeSee Creations in Hamilton. They arrived and looked good, I just had to figure how to cut them down since 2″ was too high, but that’s the size they come in. I had tried my craft knife but it really didn’t penetrate the stryofoam and my cake knifes weren’t “cutting it” (pun intended). It was another little detail that was playing on my mind. The design would all hinge on whether I could cut the styrofoam or not. Saturday I got a spare hacksaw blade and thankfully it worked quite nicely. I had expected that had I been able to cut them I’d end up with the discs being wonky and in need of some fine sandpaper, which I’d bought last week in anticipation of needing to sand into a smooth surface. But I was pretty good at lining everything up and they behaved nicely. I used my press ‘n seal for the first time (such a good moment, I’m such a cake geek). I laid the dummy on it and cut around the edge and it all worked perfectly, then I turned the other side and found that the press ‘n seal could be bought up the side as well and it all smoothed quite nicely. The “riser” was now fully covered with press ‘n seal. I used the new glue thingee Mum had bought me a while ago to run around the edge of the riser and then it was a simple matter of covering the sides with 25mm ribbon. Lastly a bit of painters tape held the dummy cake onto the riser. A bit of royal icing was used as the glue to hold the wafer paper edging to the dummy. Yep, I was pretty pleased at how that all turned out. The only thing is the lustre does come off so I had to be careful how to handle the “cake”.

Chopping up a chopping mat to make my own fondant smoothers.

Chopping up a chopping mat to make my own fondant smoothers.

I was in Alexandra on Friday and was debating whether to cover the cake in fondant that night, or wait until Saturday morning. The reason? Thursday night I found the ganache had softened a little to the touch and with the house being warm I figured it was just enough to soften the ganache, it had been perfect first thing in the morning. I didn’t know whether covering the cake in fondant and then rubbing the fondant to smooth it out would be more than the ganache could withstand if it were just a little soft. When I got home I checked and although the fire was going, the ganache seemed to have firmed a bit but not quite as firm as it had been on the Thursday morning. Ahh well. I decided to give it a go anyway because if I didn’t work I could somehow find time on Saturday to start all over again (although this would not have been an ideal outcome!).

During the previous weekend when I had covered the 6″ and 10″ dummy cakes I had found it really hard going and it seemed to take an age to get the fondant to spread out enough. My arms were so sore the following day. I re-read the instructions that came with “The Mat” and decided to follow those instructions 😉 Well I think I just needed a reminder about putting more pressure on the outside edge of the rolling pin and focusing on that part to help roll out the fondant. Needless to say it went a lot quicker but it was still a good workout. I was really hot after doing that, and knowing the ganache was not quite as firm as I’d have liked, I ran my hands under cold water for a while to cool them off.

Friday morning I had taken one of my thin plastic chopping boards that I use to roll out fondant for smaller things I’m working on and I placed my 8″ acrylic round on it and used my craft knife to cut a circle. Then I took my new clear acrylic scraper (for ganaching) and did the same thing. I was trying to get something that would act like acetate to use when smoothing the fondant on a cake. It is also supposed to make it easier to get sharper edges in the fondant. Can you believe I was doing this all before zipping out the door to catch a flight to Queenstown (which was 6:40am – yawn). I am anything but conventional. So feeling pretty happy that I had the right sizes and shapes for using as smoothers I was keen to see how they behaved by comparison to my Wilton fondant smoothers. This was another reason I was keen to get the cake covered Friday night.

I’d coloured the fondant the previous weekend having taken a bit of the fondant (ivory) and intensely coloured that, then added a bit of that to the rest of the ivory until I had the colour I was after. I was very happy with the colour, but I did have to test some of it with the stencil to ensure that the colour was deep enough that you could still see the stencil design.

With the fondant all rolled out I checked it for the usual dimples and imperfections that had shown up in past cakes. It looked pretty good so I was ready to hold my breath and cover the cake. I don’t know if this part ever gets any easier. I suppose it does, but the number of cakes I make that are covered in fondant are few and far between and the gaps between means I always worry that it will tear or I’ll have elephant skin or any number of other disasters will choose this time to upset the apple cart. No it wasn’t perfect. I had a small patch that had stretched a bit too much as I had covered the cake and I could see some of the ganche colour coming through. I wasn’t going to panic. I was hoping that by the time I stencilled the cake it would be hard to spot that bit. No point getting upset. I’m not a professional and I’m slowly learning to cut myself some slack. Every cake I make I learn new things so even if everything went haywire I’d still have found the experience valuable.

9 Texan sized muffins this was meant to make. 17 savoury "normal sized" muffin later, plus 12 chocolate. Who's complaining?

9 Texan sized muffins this was meant to make. 17 savoury “normal sized” muffin later, plus 12 chocolate. Who’s complaining?

I pricked a few air bubbles that refused to slip out from underneath the top of the cake so proceeded to start smoothing the sides, spreading the fondant down the sides of the cake. So far so good, even though it wasn’t perfect. Now the time to try out those homemade smoothers. First it was about getting sharper edges along the top of the cake. I have to say they worked better than I expected and I’m sure if I spent a little more time it would be even better, but it was the best I’d done to date so I wasn’t complaining. Next it was to assess the sides of the cake and focus on a bit where I’d bumped it and made a divot in the fondant. At first it wasn’t smoothing out, but then I changed to a circular movement with the rectangle smoother and that did the trick in no time at all. Although it wasn’t perfect I wasn’t beating myself up. I knew that the stencil would detract from the bits that could have done with some more time but I wasn’t sure if the fondant was already starting to dry out and I might actually gouge a bit that I couldn’t fix again because the fondant wasn’t quite as supple. Lastly I took a skewer and inserted it into the centre of the cake. It was now time to cross my fingers there wouldn’t be any ugly bulge to deal with in the morning when I got up.

So much for the delicate savoury item I was looking for to go with the rest of the afternoon tea.

So much for the delicate savoury item I was looking for to go with the rest of the afternoon tea.

As if that wasn’t enough, I spent the rest of the night covering the cookies I’d made the previous weekend (and had in the freezer) with royal icing. I was in two minds whether to then spray them with a subtle pearl gold over a stencil or not, but if I was going to then I wanted the cookies dry and ready the next day.

Then comes the next day where I get up and eye the cake to check for bulges. None! I ran my hands carefully around the cake and was really surprised how smooth it was. The homemade smoothers do a much better job than the Wilton fondant smoothers. I think it’s because there’s more contact on the cake, especially a round cake, from the homemade smoothers.  So that’s a winner. Although I’d already ordered some acetate smoothers from Etsy, I’m quite happy with the homemade ones I’ve got. The other bonus is that I didn’t have to use one bit of cornflour to stop the smoothers from getting stuck. Those thin chopping mats have just enough texture to them that they don’t grab and stick to the fondant.

Close up of the stencilling.

Close up of the stencilling.

I can tell you I was very nervous about using the stencil. I had watched some of the Craftsy class I was enrolled for on Stencilling. And I thought I had it sorted. I used the concept shown of how to wrap the stencil around the cake (that is a brand new knee high that I’m using), and I cut into my expensive stencil to make a slot for the knee high to feed into to secure the stencil around the cake. I wasn’t sure if my royal icing was quite the right consistency, if anything a bit on the soft side, so I stencilled a cookie first. It looked just fine to me. I’ve seen some stencilling where the royal icing was too stiff and it sort of looks like it’s pulled away in jagged bits around the edge of whatever the design is. I wanted my icing to be stiff enough to get the right shape left behind, but for the icing sit nicely and smooth out.

The consistency of the royal icing was just right for the cookie.

The consistency of the royal icing was just right for the cookie.

Let me say stencilling a cookie is considerably easier. Look at what happened to the bottom section of the cake. It’s all smooshed and has lost definition by comparison to the top half of the cake. Again there was no point getting upset. It wasn’t what I wanted but it was what it was. It’s not something you can just wipe away and start again. Because the bottom row of the design was thicker I had to wait longer for it to set enough before continuing on with a repeat of the pattern. It was about 2.5 times of the patter.

If I did this again (and I should really, I love the stencil design), I’d add another .5cm strip of stiff board (something that would bend) to the bottom of the stencil to lift the design up. I really should have had a full pattern at the top and not worried about where it finished at the bottom, especially since I was adding a ribbon to the bottom. Unfortunately the second section of the cake didn’t got any better than the first and the bottom was still thick. Not only that, the pattern didn’t quite line up and being the novice I am, I put royal icing over the last section of the pattern that was used to line up the stencil. I should have taped that off to avoid re-applying royal icing. As I say, I learn something (many things) each time I work on a cake. The last section I thought I was wising up and made more slots in the stencil at the bottom to try and get the stencil to sit flush against the bottom of the cake. That’s what it appeared was my problem. The stencil wasn’t flat against the cake, therefore the royal icing was being pushed through the stencil and each swipe over it to remove some of the excess was pushing more of it into the gap. This time I did line up the pattern better and I didn’t re-apply the royal icing over that section, and I had also used more painters tape to ensure I didn’t go back over the other side of the patter to re-apply where I’d actually started. I was already learning 🙂  However the icing still smooshed through at the bottom and didn’t appear to be any better for having secured the stencil toward the bottom. That leaves me to believe my royal icing needed to be a little stiffer. I’ll do better next time.

The cakeboard all dressed up. Frill press with brush embroidery.

The cakeboard all dressed up. Frill press with brush embroidery.

The dummy cake was ready, the actual cake was ready, now onto the cakeboard. And here I also learnt something. How boring would this be if I were perfect – haha!  I covered the board in fondant and used my homemade circle smoother which worked nicely to smooth out the fondant. I sort of lifted one side of it and kept it lifted while I went round in circular motions with the other bit. I held the one side up to make sure I didn’t gouge the fondant. Smoothing on a flat surface makes it a little easier to accidentally dig into the fondant. I used my new frilled edge pattern, bought specifically for this project (as was the stencil) and placed a 9″ circle onto the fondant (sadly I didn’t have the forethought to put baking paper under it to prevent it from sticking to the fondant) and then pressed the pattern into the fondant with the ends of the frill butting up to the circle. I really didn’t need to apply nearly half the pressure I was. I really only needed to get enough of an impression as I was going to use brush embroidery (something mum really likes) over the edge. Having pressed way to hard made it more tricky to then pipe over as I ended up with a bit of a trench like surface. I needed to pipe more icing so that it filled the little trench to reach the other side. I know that is difficult to understand, but hopefully you get it. I wasn’t happy with the colour of the icing so when it had dried I then brushed a pearl lustre over it.

More cookies. Using fondant roses and royal icing "flowers" to round out the design.

More cookies. Using fondant roses and royal icing “flowers” to round out the design.

Some stencilled and royal icing transfer cookies.

Some stencilled and royal icing transfer cookies.ay

After dinner I made the wafer paper flowers and finished piping and stencilling the rest of the cookies. I was pretty happy with where things were left for the day. I was tired, it was a full on day with one thing or another, but it meant Sunday I could potter and not be rushing about with last minute things. Everything was ready. Other than cleaning up the lounge. Don’t you find that job always gets done just as you’re about to have visitors. And then it looks so good you wonder why you don’t do it more often 😉

Lots of food. And there's still those chocolate brioche to come!

Lots of food. Looks like someone already pinched a savoury brioche. Recipe for Brioche by Little & Friday.

We had a really lovely time in the afternoon. I had made some savoury and sweet Brioche rolls (well I was only going for savoury but really wanted to try the chocolate as well – I can’t help myself!) and Natalie had made her dainty meringues and her Russian Fudge. Of course there was too much food, but that’s what you do, over cater. Plus we skipped lunch because we knew we were having an afternoon tea.

Mum finally got her birthday present having had to wait another 4 days for it.

Wafer paper roses with a little petal dust to bring it all together.

Wafer paper roses with a little petal dust to bring it all together.

Happy Birthday Mum, love you!


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Happy birthday Mary

This weekend was my Mother-in-Laws birthday.

12 serves would be better. And it would use up all the Rocher Chocolates!

12 serves would be better. And it would use up all the Rocher Chocolates!

I chose the cake I wanted to bake as soon as I read Summer’s blog post on 7 August. I was only days from having gotten off a plane from our 6 week holiday over the other side of the world and I hadn’t quite gotten my head into the game. I wanted something that would look effective (and taste delicious) without having to drag out all the tools and equipment to create flowers to adorn a fondant covered cake.

Summer’s recipe just hit the mark and I loved how fluffy and light the cake looked.

Last weekend I set about making the cake. I knew it would be a little time consuming because when Summer said “about” a third I knew that I would be doing “precisely” a third.

You can see just how many bowls I used in making sure I had just the right amount of vanilla and chocolate batter to marble the cakes.

Brown sugar in cookies can be difficult to mix in thoroughly.

Brown sugar in cookies can be difficult to mix in thoroughly.

The same weekend I also made a batch of cookies using my new Whisked Away Cutters. I had a new recipe to try. It was a bit of a mish-mash of a few recipes. I really wanted a recipe with a darker cookie. This is a ginger based cookie but it tastes more spicy than it does ginger.

Hmm, what to do with these blank canvases.

Hmm, what to do with these blank canvases.

As I often do, I started flooding the cookies and then wondered how I would decorate them. Of course leaving it this late meant no wet-on-wet. But in the end it worked out just fine. I found stencilling to be so much easier than I’d anticipated. I guess I’d built it up to be a bit of a difficult method but it was super quick and easy. Of course I they’re not perfect but I’ve already learnt a few things in my first attempt and I wont be hesitant again.

Vanilla meets chocolate meets more vanilla. And marble.

Vanilla meets chocolate meets more vanilla. And marble.

I took the cakes from the freezer Thursday night after arriving back from a work trip to Alexandra (so pretty down there during Winter) and Friday I made the frosting. Unfortunately the frosting hadn’t cooled and thickend enough for me to complete covering the cake that night so I covered the mixer bowl and put it in the fridge overnight.

This is how gorgeous the frosting looked Friday night.

This is how gorgeous the frosting looked Friday night.

Saturday we started the day with pancakes (love those buttermilk pancakes) and I took the mixer bowl from the fridge and gave the frosting a poke. Solid. Cold and solid. Now I had something I still couldn’t work with. On the Friday night it was beautifully mixed, shiny and velvety. Now it was dull and hard.

Of course I didn’t really have the patience (or wish to leave it to the last minute) to wait several hours to see if it came back to room temperature in time and would be the right consistency/thickness to work with, so I put the bowl into another bowl with some warm water and slowly started to break it up and mix those smaller solid bits together a bit.

When I felt the smaller solid bits were small enough I used the mixer to start to incorporate it. I had to keep scraping the bowl and paddle to get the frosting that was clinging to both back into the bowl. The more I mixed the frosting the lighter it was becoming and I didn’t really want a two toned frosting. It took quite a bit to get the frosting to where I thought it was right to work with. What I hadn’t realised until I was covering the cake was the chunks of chocolate. While everything was perfectly mixed and smooth and glossy on Friday, it seems the chocolate decided to make a return to its original state. I hadn’t realised this or else I’d have done something more (I don’t know what) to incorporate things better. Most of my chocolate was 72% so it could be that I just had too much cocoa solids to work back into a homogeneous velvety smooth frosting.

Fixing the channel.

Fixing the channel.

I’d noticed too with the cakes that as they baked, they rose from the edge, then from the middle but they never quite met so I ended up with a channel on each cake.

At this stage I’m putting this down to the cake tins. My cake tins are all 3” and I know that can make a difference in getting the heat into the cake tin. Anyway, I’ve ordered a bunch of 2” cake tins from the USA now, they’re dirt cheap by comparison to what we pay here in NZ, and I couldn’t find any 2” cake pans at all the usual places I buy from.

The other thing that told me these cakes hadn’t baked as they should was the finished height. Summer said they’d be around 1.5” but mine were barely 1” right in the centre. I knew these cakes were unlikely to be quite as light and fluffy as Summer’s cake.

After 6 weeks of being away from the kitchen and having seen the Baking Powder container was nearing the end I suspect that I also need to replace the last of my baking powder.

Little bits of chocolate not quite mixed back into the frosting.

Little bits of chocolate not quite mixed back into the frosting.

As for the cake, it is as Summer said, not sweet but it is rich. That frosting is so yummy, even with the little chunks of chocolate. I had a hard job pulling myself away from the left over frosting. I had to tip the last of it down the sink or I’d have eaten the lot! And there’s a diet already in my horizon (as of tomorrow!! L) That stuff is so good it’s bad.

Marble cake slice.

Marble cake slice. 

Because of those little bits of chocolate I opted not to have a smooth cake. A pallet knife made easy work of putting little ridges in the surface. Then it was just a case of piping a few swirls and placing the Rocher chocolates on the top and job done.

I’m going to have to re-make the cake once my new pans arrive (baking powder is already on the shopping list). I’m keen to see how the cakes bake without such a barrier of a cake tin to work against.

All together now. Happy Birthday, to you!

All together now. Happy Birthday, to you!

The great news is I couldn’t see all those little bits of cake that I’d placed in the channel. Love having a cake that provides it’s own camouflage.

One last comment. This cake can easily got 12 slices. I decorated the cake for 10 slices but only Mr Fussy and his brother could manage to eat an entire slice. It was so rich that smaller serves would have been nicer.

Getting the hang of the stencilling.

Getting the hang of the stencilling.

 


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Foreign lands, here we come

Over several weeks I’ve been working on a set of cookies that represent our upcoming trip to the other side of the world. This will be my second time travelling that far. The first trip, May 2012 was with Emirates. Terrific airline but boy it was a horrendous travel route. It took over 34 hours to reach London. We took my Mother-in-law (who is English, but moved to NZ 45 years earlier and had never returned) and not one of us was able to sleep. In fact I ended up with a sore tail bone about 2 hours into the first flight (to Sydney) and at times was kneeling on the floor facing into my seat just to alleviate the pain. Even when we landed I couldn’t sleep. I think I’d gone about 2.5 days without sleep. It was awful.

This time we’re travelling with Air New Zealand. And thanks to work, I’m a Koru member. For our flights from Christchurch to Auckland,  San Francisco to Auckland, Auckland to Christchurch we can make use of the Koru Lounge facilities. It makes a huge difference and I’m extremely grateful that work provides all Consultants with this “perk”. We wont mention the 4:15am wake up I have this week in order to fly to Auckland for a client visit. Travelling isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and almost every trip has me leaving or arriving after normal work hours. I’m on a salary and don’t get paid for, or have the extra hours officially recognised.  There’s a bit of give and take of course 🙂

A few weeks back I bought a Kopykake projector when I was in Melbourne (for work) and this has been a huge help in achieving the decoration of this set of cookies. I might have been able to do the same without it, but it would have been a significantly more laborious task.

Here’s what I started with (I’m missing the image for the Maple leaf).

The beginning. All images carefully chosen to represent something meaningful about countries we're travelling to.

The beginning. All images carefully chosen to represent something meaningful about countries we’re travelling to.

I’ll take you on a little tour of the cookies. First up is packing. I hate packing, and I hate unpacking even more.
The Cookie: This particular cookie, however, I love. For so many months as I’ve been decorating various cookies, I’ve tried to paint cookies in a watercolour. I’ve been unsuccessful. I knew this set of luggage needed to have a worn, faded look. It meant no vibrant colours, no solid colours. I mixed Avocado green, warm brown, Ivory and egg yellow and then used a bit of everything really, along with white, to achieve the four shades of colour. To that I added a lot of vodka and that was the trick. The Americolor food gels are thick. I always thin them with Vodka, but this time I went overboard with it hoping that it would reward me with a thinner, more watery colour. And so it happened. I used a Sugarflair food safe marker to draw the outline of the suitcases. This cookie was one of the last (along with the Koru) and I’d learnt along the way, with using the Kopykake, I needed another copy of the image in front of me. I had found that I tended to mistake shading for solid sections and thus made them solid as I was tracing. And sometimes the image wasn’t flush in the unit and I’d end up with a little wave where it was meant to be a straight line. Wait until you see the UK cookie, it was my first and these problems I’m describing all occurred all in that cookie. Initially I was thinking I wouldn’t care if I painted outside the lines of where the suitcases were. I painted the colours first, still using the Kopykake as my guide. But then I decided I was doing just fine so I might as well attempt to keep the colours where they needed to be. When you take the cookie away from the projected image it looks really weird. You have to believe what it’s going to turn into 🙂 The triangle is a big triangle, but the details of the suitcases were still fiddly, and small. The bottom suitcase is a smidge over 6cm, and the stack is 6cm.

Passports - check.

Passports – check.

Next comes the first Koru. This is the logo for Air New Zealand. This represents our first part of the journey, leaving New Zealand. We have to first fly to Auckland, I think that flight is 4:30pm. There wont be too long at Auckland International Koru lounge, but enough time to get dinner.

First stop Auckland. Thank goodness for Koru membership.

First stop Auckland. Thank goodness for Koru membership.

Our first stop is Canada. We’re staying with Mark’s Dad’s cousin in Chilliwack. Chilliwack is 90 minutes out of Vancouver. I also have a friend I used to ride with (she’s a very good triathlete, even getting a spot to compete at Kona) who has married a Canadian and lives in Abbotsford. We have to pass Abbotsford to get back to Vancouver so we’ll pop in and see Hilary, Jason and their new baby boy on our way to the big smoke. We have a 48 hour Hop on Hop off ticket whcih should get us to most of the prominent places in Vancouver City.
The Cookie: I think Mr Fussy believes I mucked this cookie up. When I added a mix of bronze and gold lustre dust and painted it on he felt that I’d dirtied it. I didn’t want a stark white cookie with a solid colour. And while clean and simple lines (read order) is where I’m most comfortable, I’m trying to embrace different looks and textures and a more haphazard way of decorating.

Never seen Canadian money before. Wont take long to spend it - trust me.

Never seen Canadian money before. Wont take long to spend it – trust me.

Next is the UK. We’ll be landing in London and being proper tourists this trip. Last time I was overwhelmed and shopped almost the entire time we were in London. Not this time. We’ll also be visiting Mark’s cousin Anna, James and Chloe, their new baby. Our last trip coincided with Anna and James’ wedding. Boy the English still do weddings properly. All the ladies wore hats and had matching shoes and handbags. Despite having a NZ designer dress I very much felt out of my depth in amongst such glamour. After a few days in London, sightseeing, visiting Peggy Porchen, The Hummingbird Bakery and a few other foodie places we’ll be taking the Eurostar to Paris. Last time we took the Eurostar to Brussels.
The Cookie: This was the first cookie (as mentioned). After I’d traced the outline and then took the cookie away and compared it to the image, I realised I had shaded areas that weren’t shaded, they were just a few random lines. I didn’t like it and decided that I’d thin down some grey royal icing and brush it over the surface. This did two things, it sort of blended the lines, and it gave it some texture, after all this is stone. This is another cookie where I’ve been giving it quite a bit of thought since. I didn’t know whether I should hand paint the outlines to see if I could redeem the cookie and bring it back to something that was a little closer to the image. I did hand paint it this morning. It took a fair amount of time, and the use of thinned black food gel, and straight food gel. In the end the cookie actually looks really good through the camera lens, it seems a little more crisp than what I see it in the flesh.

Amazing wonders await us.

Amazing wonders await us.

Paris, the city of love. For us it was the city we were both sick as a dog and struggled to get out of bed to participate in all the activities that I’d booked. This time we have a Food by Mouth walking tour as well as the expected Paris Pass. Perhaps oddly, I don’t wish to go back to the Eiffel Tower, and have no interest in seeing the Mona Lisa. There will be museums and galleries I’m sure, but I’m not fussed about traipsing about making sure we get to see every single one of them. I’m more about fossicking through antiques and trying to find some gems at the market. So we’re going to the Aligre market too.
The Cookie: My black royal icing was too thin. Rather than hold the piped shape the icing settled in a far less defined look than I wanted. I was only going for a silhouette for this cookie, but with the outer outline less curved as the inside line I decided yesterday I needed to add more. After Googling some images of French Poodles I realised I could add a patch at the back and then I piped dots. By the time I got to the other end of the Poodle I was pretty much good to go with adding a few more dots. The cookie does look better, but I’m still disappointed I haven’t got my original look.

Second visit, hopefully in perfect health.

Second visit, hopefully in perfect health.

After 5 days in Paris it’s off to Switzerland by (FAST) train. I can’t wait to see the Alps. Despite it being the middle of summer, hopefully the sights will still be breathtaking. Geneva has been the hardest place for me to arrange activities. How can you go to Switzerland and not eat chocolate?! I can’t book us on a chocolate tour because they only run with a minimum 10 people in a group. We don’t have the time to travel further afield either. We do have  a chocolate tasting booked, that’ll have to do. I’m also waiting for our host (most of our accommodation where we’re staying more than 1 night is through AirBnB renting a locals apartment) to recommend some places that do great fondue. We also have an afternoon excursion where we’ll be seeing Geneva by coach, tram and boat. Mr Fussy said he may even need to buy a new watch. The one shown no longer works. I guess nothing lasts forever, and this watch was purchased some 18 years ago when he was last in Switzerland.
The Cookie: This one is inedible. The silver on the blades is used with I don’t know what, but the label on the container tells me that decorations must be removed before the baked item is eaten. I had piped the blades in a grey icing, but it looked flat. Steel blades need to shine and reflect light. I really did debate long and hard whether to paint the blades with the inedible lustre. I decided that it didn’t matter if the cookie got tossed and was not eaten. But still a shame. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices in order to achieve something a little more realistic. This was the first of two cookies where the brush fell out of my hand  (maybe I’d stopped breathing and was about to faint ;-)) I have a bit of silver dust where it doesn’t belong. And after having finished decorating this cookie I re-froze it, but on removing the baking paper this morning I could see that more of the silver had flaked off. Good things to know.

One of the most expensive places to stay, but after a false start (3 years ago), we're finally making it to Switzerland.

One of the most expensive places to stay, but after a false start (3 years ago), we’re finally making it to Switzerland. I must try really hard not to pronounce it Switzerlind like we do saying New Zealand (Zealind).

Moving on from Geneva we find ourselves in Italy, the first of many stops being Milan. I’ve arranged for a private walking tour which includes a viewing of The Last Supper. Apart from that we have another day to ourselves to unwind or find more museums and galleries to gaze in wonder. My brother has suggested that there’s not as much to do in Geneva so I’m thinking this will be a chance to watch the world go by. I’m going to find a local supermarket and see what is “normal” in that part of Italy. I plan to visit as many markets as I can find, and a supermarket, just to get a glimpse into everyday life in Europe.

Italy. So much passion. So much to see and experience. Let's go!

Italy. So much passion. So much to see and experience. Let’s go!

Next up we’re off to Modena. Yes the same Modena that makes the beautiful dark liquid gold known as Balsamic Vinegar. Oh my! Although the highlight of the visit will be the Ferrari Museum and a simulated drive for Mr Fussy. He loves his fast and exotic cars. Our cats (Chinchilla Birmans) have Italian names, Maranello (Ferrari) and Murcielago (Lamborghini). We have a couple of days here including a Monday. In Europe many places come to a standstill on Monday with museums not opening. I’m not sure what we’ll be doing but there’ll still be a lot to see.
The cookie: This cookie was perhaps the most complex. It uses the most colour and was the first one where I included hand painting. I really didn’t trust my level of skill to pipe the Ferrari name. I also hand painted the stallion and the letters “S” and “F”. This cookie left me a bit breathless. I was holding my breath while painting. Somehow needing to keep a steady hand requires me to hold my breath. I was worried the yellow might crater but it behaved. And I had to make up a bit of green all for that tiny stripe. Still, what would the cookie be without the green stipe, it’s crucial, and given it’s a logo, there’s no way you take shortcuts, even if it means spending 5 minutes trying to get the right shade of green. This cookie as been in the freezer twice. It has been decorated in stages. Last weekend I added the stallion and popped the cookie back into the freezer. All I needed to do to complete the cookie was add a few tiny thin streaks of white to give the stallion the correct definition.

Bring on the fast cars.

Bring on the fast cars.

With the highlight of our Italian trip (for Mr Fussy) over and done with, it’s just a short trip by train to Bologna. I’m not sure why we’re going here, but why not! It’s a shame that the train time table is such that we’re arriving and departing parting mid morning. Mr Fussy likes to have a sleep in while on holiday, so the mornings will be a slow start. I on the other hand hope to find somewhere to run. I’ll be seeing a little more than he will be 🙂

Then it’s back to Florence, well for Mr Fussy, he’s been here once before. There’s a market that I’ve already been researching, and of course Gelato. Thank goodness it’s summer, there will be plenty of excuses to visit many places that make Gelato. And yes, I’ve been researching the best places to go 😀

Our last destination in Italy, and the last stop of our Europe leg, is Rome. What trip to Italy would be complete without a trip to Rome. The usual Vatican City and Colosseum visits are on the list and we have a tour of Rome by night by Segway, our first night. Then it’s up bright and early to meet at 7:15am for our day tour to Tuscany. We’re going to be pretty tired. I hope I don’t fall asleep and miss anything. Our AirBnB host has also recommended that we visit Gianicolo, from here we’ll get stunning views of old Rome.  And there will be more Gelato.  Again I’ve done plenty of research and have starred a lot of places for eating on Google Maps, and downloaded the maps for offline use.

Last trip there were many anxious moments as we were plucked into daylight from underground railway stations and faced with uncertain locations and an absence of street signs. I had purchased some mobile data, but used it sparingly because there were plenty of days still to go (we visited Bruges, Brussels, Berlin and Paris). Mark’s Uncle is looking into the various options for us so I’m hopeful that we’ll be traipsing around Europe with far less concern about where on earth we are.

We’re heading back to the UK from Rome. We have a few days in Hove (just out of Brighton) staying with Mark’s Mum’s cousin and wife before setting out by train for Chester, where Mark’s Aunt and Uncle live. While I don’t expect to go all out shopping while in the UK, Chester has a great complex called Cheshire Oaks which I visited several times. I just couldn’t get around it all in one day! I’m also sure that I’ll be on the look out for cake decorating stores as well (and throughout Europe). Once in Chester it’s time to settle in one location for a longer stop (but still short – just 6 days). John and Margaret have free reign to plan anything they like for us. We might be in for a surprise 🙂

The night before we fly out, we head back to London for a Derren Brown show. Mr Fussy is quite interested in the “skills” of Derren Brown. I don’t share the same fascination but I’m going too. Then the following day it’s off the the United States of America. My first trip to America.

The Gold Gate Bridge awaits us. Can't wait to run over it.

The Gold Gate Bridge awaits us. Can’t wait to run over it.

We land in San Francisco – woo hoo! We’re staying with a lovely couple in their Historic Italian house. This is our first AirBnB that’s a shared holiday home. And by all accounts (from feedback), we’re in for a treat.

With our flight out of San Francisco being an Air NZ operated flight, I get to carry another piece of luggage for free.  Another piece isn’t going to cut it, so we’ve bought extra allowance for 2 more pieces. That brings our tally to 5 checked in bags!!  Yes, there will be shopping!  We’re setting a day aside for shopping. Ok, I’m setting a day aside. I have several places on my list, first up, Trader Joes. I want to visit a Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Joanne’s Fabrics, Home Depot, Dollar store. Lots of places I’ve read on numerous blogs that are places to shop for craft gear.  If anyone has other places that are great for craft gear, specifically cake/cookie decorating, then please speak up.

While in San Francisco it’s my birthday. How wonderful to be somewhere so different for my birthday. I’m not sure what we’ll be doing. I’ve asked our hosts for some assistance/recommendations for making reservations. We have a booking to head out to Alcatraz at night, that should be special. At one point I thought that we couldn’t book at all, until I realised that I was trying to make a booking too far ahead of when the dates became available. Alcatraz isn’t open on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, so I only had one day to choose from. I can assure you I was making that booking pretty much as soon as the date became available. I’m not sure yet what else we’ll be doing/seeing, apart from going over the Golden Gate Bridge. But I’ve got a little bit of time and plenty of hours travelling where I can do more research.
The cookie: This is my least favourite. I outlined the image just fine. I even piped all those lines just fine (and again held my breath, but also got cramp in my hand). But the original image (above) has the background a solid colour and I got carried away and flooded the cookie white before my brain caught up. So I was a bit stuck what to do with the background. This morning I asked Mr Fussy for opinions about making the background a sunset with warm oranges, yellow and red, or a blue sky. He felt the bridge would be a bit lost with the warm tones (even though I intended to add gold lustre). Getting colour into those tiny sections was difficult, but I got there in the end. I guess the reason I’m disappointed with this cookie is that it doesn’t match the original image I’d chosen. There’s nothing wrong with it at all, it’s just not how I wanted it to look 🙂

Bring us home Air New Zealand.

Bring us home Air New Zealand.

After 5.5 weeks of travelling it will be back to the big plane to head home, and lose a day in the process. And with arriving home comes unpacking. No wonder I don’t want to come home!  We have a few extra days before heading back to work. Last trip I remember every day thinking about what I was doing that same day the week/month before. I tortured myself doing it, but it was so much more exciting than sitting at a desk working office hours.

Excited much?!

Excited much?!

You’ll see these cookies again. I plan to keep up blogging while we’re away and using these cookies to highlight which country we’re in. There will be an absence of recipes or occasions where I’m baking/decorating, but there will be plenty of food. I intend to try many many things, ok, pastry, bread, pasta, chocolate, desserts of all types. I’ll be sharing some photos and stories along the way.

All we have to do now is work another 11 days (7 of mine in Auckland and Sydney). I’m not really looking forward to unpacking from a week in Sydney to immediately pack for our trip. I can assure you there will be a lot less clothing going with me this time.

My MIL will be taking care of things at home, including keeping the cats company. I’m sure they will much prefer staying around home then spending the time at the cattery. I’m crossing my fingers that there isn’t any unexpected excitement at home and things tick along nicely while we’re a world away.

 


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Joy’s Best Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Poor Mr Fussy has had very little choice in cookies for work. I’ve been so busy making sugar cookies decorated with Royal Icing that there’s been no need to bake anything else. I can’t blame him for the look of delight when I suggested making chocolate chip cookies.

Bright and colourful

Bright and colourful

I’d read Joy’s blog when she posted the recipe and it had been on my mind to make these next time I had nothing else on my agenda. And that happened to be today.

Actually I made the dough last night and left it in the fridge overnight. Poor Joy, not sure what she might think with us swapping out the majority of the bittersweet chocolate to the bag of M&Ms that had been tucked away up in the pantry. We still added a little 50% Whittaker’s chocolate to round things out.

Very light in colour and structure.

Very light in colour and structure.

I really enjoyed the smell of the cookie dough, the aroma of the browned butter was very pleasant. The recipe itself is a little bit fussy, but the results are worth it. You’ve got to brown the butter and leave it to cool some 20 minutes before beginning. Then you cream brown sugar and the other half of the butter together before adding in the browned butter and white sugar. So there’s sort of two rounds of butter/sugar.  And then there’s the egg. There’s 1 whole egg and a egg yolk. What to do what that egg white because I’m not fond of tossing ingredients down the sink. Thank goodness egg white freezes well, and in my experience, works just the same when it’s thawed.

Plonk a couple of spoonfuls onto Gladwrap and roll. Easy peasy.

Plonk a couple of spoonfuls onto Gladwrap and roll. Easy peasy.

The dough is very light in colour, and it’s very soft as well. I also made a bit of a change. Rather than press the cookie dough into a disk and refrigerating, I rolled it into a log using Gladwrap. Taking large spoonfuls of dough to make a log was no problem, and those spoonfuls of dough came together into a cohesive log without any need of massaging it. I’m glad I left it in the fridge to firm up a big. Cutting the log into slices wasn’t difficult at all.

Eek, it's got a flat bottom. Must make uniform.

Eek, it’s got a flat bottom. Must make uniform.

As expected the dough had a flat bottom. I wasn’t especially happy with the idea of cookies baking with a straight edge so I succumbed and took each cut piece and squashed it and then rolled it into a ball and flattened it on the baking tray. Then I turned the cookie over so the flattened bottom was facing up.

All round and even, but perhaps a little too fat. Next time squish them a bit more.

All round and even, but perhaps a little too fat. Next time squish them a bit more.

The first tray went into the oven and it didn’t take me long to decide I’d flatten the remaining cookie balls more, and not tidy up the edges so that they were nice and smooth. The first lot just seemed a little organised and not quite as appealing. Not that the look detracted from the enjoyment of eating a warm cookie. The edges have a very delicate crispness and the inside is softer but has enough structure that it holds its own and doesn’t crumble. When the cookies were completely cool they were still very nice to eat. The few chunks of actual chocolate was still soft and oozed when finally allowed to escape the confines of the cookie.

I ended up with two “logs” of cookie dough. The other one has been put in a Glad ziploc bag and now in the freezer. Now Mr Fussy has another week of chocolate chip cookies to look forward to when he (desperately) needs a change.

Plenty of colour when you sub in M&Ms instead of bittersweet chocolate.

Plenty of colour when you sub in M&Ms instead of bittersweet chocolate.

This is another cookie recipe I’d be happy to make again. It’s quite different to other Chocolate Chip cookies we’ve made. I really liked the lightness and of course that browned butter.

While those cookies were baking, I was busy using my new KopyKake (KK) to trace some images onto (more) sugar cookies I baked (from previously rolled and then frozen cookie dough) on Friday night. Hopefully I’ll have finished the decorating by end of next weekend and will post the cookies. For now the cookies are in the freezer awaiting my attention, and steady (haha) hand.2014-05-25 11.07.20 2014-05-25 11.08.50 2014-05-25 11.07.53 2014-05-25 11.06.40 2014-05-25 11.06.13

All the countries we're visiting.

All the countries we’re visiting.

And following on from the theme of next weeks cookies, I’m off to Auckland tomorrow back Wednesday evening, and before we head overseas I’ve got another overnight trip to Auckland, then the week before we head away I’m in Sydney the entire week. While it sounds busy (and it will be), I’m hoping that by the time we get on the plane for Canada (our first stop)

I’ll actually be tired enough that I’ll sleep. Wouldn’t that be nice 🙂