On to the plate

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


White Chocolate Mud Cake – part 1 of my project

Today’s baking is just the beginning of a project I have in mind for Show Day, that’s Canterbury’s provincial anniversary. It still baffles me why it’s called Show Day and not Canterbury Anniversary.

Never mind.

My project will be to decorate a cake, Mr Fussy’s project (during our long weekend) will be to clean the windows and erect the Christmas tree. Then we’ll decorate it. That almost pains me. I’ll divvy up all the decorations so we’ve just exactly the same, I’ll decorate ½ the tree, he’ll do the other ½ and I’ll try to keep my hands in my pockets and not fix interfere with his placement of the decorations.

Back to today though. My plan is to have a two tier cake both with quite separate decorations, but of course both Black and Red. I’m going for an 8” cake and 6” cake.

I wanted to make a White Chocolate Mud Cake. I’ve had a couple of recipes tucked away and just couldn’t decide which recipe to make. So I made them both.

Difference in batter consistency

Today I’ve made the 8” cakes, tomorrow I’ll make the 6” cakes. I need to decide which of the two recipes I’ll repeat. Oh the pressure.

Here’s the link for the White Chocolate Mud Cake I made first, this one I used Cadbury Dream chocolate, as the recipe used too. The second cake I can’t give a link to the recipe because you have to log into the site to get to the recipe (though it’s a free recipe). If you’re really keen then you can register for free at CakeStyle.tv.

Both recipes are from Australian websites. I used Whittaker’s White Chocolate for the second recipe.

Side by side comparison

As much as I worry a little when trying new recipes, I do love a good experiment. And today it was a battle between two Aussie recipes, and two different brands of chocolate.

The CakeStyle recipe has ½ a cup (125gm/ml) of sour cream in it. The proportions are slightly different, there’s 240gm of white chocolate and the same amount of butter for CakeStyle, and it has water instead of milk, but the water and sour cream more or less make the milk component.

The first recipe was for a 9” square tin and I was making an 8” round cake, so I expected to have some batter left over. Using the cake-o-metre application the 8” round cake would need only .80 of the recipe.

I weighed the batter and poured in the amount needed, then I decided to round it up to 1040gm. That gave me an unbaked height of 3cm. The cake took 60 minutes to bake. Well that’s when I set the timer for even though it said 1hr 10 minutes to 1hr 20 minutes.

Cadbury baked and cooled

I knew the oven temperature was right because I keep the oven thermometer in there. But I still expect to test the done-ness before the recipe states.

I used the same weight of batter for the second recipe, but I had a lot more batter left over. I made a 4” round cake as well. I ended up putting it into the oven 4 minutes after the 8” cake went in, and it took the same amount of time to bake. Both cakes took 65 minutes to bake. The recipe says it takes 2 hours. I’m not sure it’s a mistake given I had more batter that I didn’t use.

Since I had a bit of batter left over from both recipes I used it to fill cupcakes. I wasn’t aiming to make them as cupcakes, I expected the cake to be too dense to be a cupcake. What this allowed me to do is bake them both together and for the same amount of time. Just a little extra bonus for my experiment.

Baked cupcakes

Once the Cadbury WCMC had finished baking it was still a bit domed for my linking. I draped the tin with a clean tea towel as was suggested and as the cake cooked it flattened out. But then it continued to do so. So much that now there’s a little dip in the top. Boo.

The Whittaker’s WCMC also domed. Both looked so good half way through baking but then they both took off in the final stages of baking.

Whittakers baked

The Whittaker’s WCMC flattened too, but still has a small dome. Enough that I will have to trim it.

Both cakes were 3cm in height uncooked. The Cadbury one baked to 7cm at the highest point and the Whittaker’s 7.5cm. The Whittaker’s is slightly taller but as I say, needs to be trimmed to remove the dome. It still will be just a few mm higher and wont have a dip.

Ready for the freezer

As to texture and taste. Cripes, I don’t know. I tried and tried to tell a difference, I really expected a difference given the thickness of batters. But I was struggling. I thought the Cadbury WCMC looked a little more compact but it almost seemed lighter when biting into it, well lighter than it looked. But in all honesty, if you mixed them up I wouldn’t know one from the other. They did smell different baking. I preferred the Cadbury.

Both are a little crisp so I expect not only to be trimming the tops, but also the edges before ganaching them.

Mr Fussy also couldn’t say if there was a difference.

What I will say is neither has a real white chocolate taste, and both are less dense than I expected given how dense the Chocolate Mud Cake was for Cameron’s birthday.

Mudcake Cupcakes

So decisions decisions. Which will I remake for the 6” cakes?

I think if I had to make a choice (which I do), I would go for the Cadbury cake (the first one, the one with the link to the recipe), but I’m going to make the CakeStyle one, and what was so important that it tipped me to that recipe given I’ve just said I’d probably go for the Cadbury one. Well it was how it baked. I don’t want a dip. I suspect that even with trimming I’ll still end up with a dip. I need two 2cm layers from each cake and while I have that on the outside I think the middle is just under that. It’s going to annoy me so much that I may yet end up baking another cake. Being a perfectionist (or aiming for it) can be such a drag.

So while I’ve been pondering which recipe I’ll re-make, I spent the afternoon with gum paste making a few more roses. These photos are all taken from my phone, and yes I cheated by having Mr Fussy hold the roses outside against foliage, I imagine that helps with the illusion they’re real 😉 The white rose I made on Thursday evening. The lemon (in amongst the bunch in the vase, centre and left centre (bud)) roses were made this afternoon, and the yellow one was the largest one made today.

Tomorrow, while the 6” cakes are baking I’ll dust the roses I’ve been making. Dusting flowers isn’t something I’m keen on but it does finish them off (so would making leaves and adding a calyx mind you). And I should really do it properly. Not that I have any idea what I’m going to do with these.

Next weekend I’ll ganache and then decorate the cakes. Mr Fussy will take the 6” cake to his work, and I’ll take the 8” cake to mine. And then come Show Weekend, well I don’t know. But I’ll have a 3-day weekend to do something else, whatever that is. I’ll think of something.

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Caramel Fudge Brownies “best by”

This weekend, well today, Saturday, has been about using ingredients that has a best by date that’s just passed.

Slice of caramel fudge brownie

A few weeks ago I came across this recipe for Caramel Fudge Brownies. I’m not even sure why I spotted it. But I posted it to my Facebook page and I wasn’t the only one ooh’ing and ahh’ing over the picture.

I couldn’t make it the coming weekend as I was out at Cake & Sugar Art learning how to make the Magnolia and double blossom sugar flowers. Then last weekend I had the Halloween Cake. But here we are. And using a packet of Jersey Caramels that had a date of 2 October 2013. Ahh, what’s a couple of weeks between friends? It’s just a best by, not an expiry date.

My plan had been to make these last night, yeah I know, what’s one more day. I’ve caught Mr Fussy’s “man flu”. A flu that’s confused about gender. Anyway I just couldn’t bring myself to bake anything. Not even when it contained caramel. Yes, the flu really had a grip on me. Although I had a shocking night (awake from 11:30pm – 2am – don’t worry, I put in an online order to a NZ Cake Decorating store, it wasn’t a complete waste) I woke feeling not too bad, my face didn’t hurt and my headache had subsided. I was very thankful because Mum and I were off to She Chocolat for a Chocoalte Tour. It was an education in the history of Chocolate, with a good number of tastings. I never would have thought I’d enjoy a pretzel dipped in a chocolate fondue. I don’t like pretzels.

Anyhoo, I got home this afternoon after a nice morning followed by lunch with Mum, then a quick (and expensive) stop at Mercato who were holding their annual sale, to get stuck into catching up on my baking agenda.

Brownie batter

The recipe says to put the brownie mixture into a Jelly Roll tin. Do you know what that is? It’s not a common term we use (unless my head is in the clouds) in New Zealand. I had to Google what the dimensions are. And what do you know? There’s a variety of different sizes. Yeah, not very helpful when the recipe doesn’t state the size of the pan. My pan, which I think might have been called a Jelly Roll tin at Stevens, is 24 x 36cm, give or take a few mm.

The ingredients filled the pan to the top which was a problem for adding a layer of gooey caramel and chocolate.

Once the brownie had baked I then cut the brownie into a size that fit into my expandable square tin (with higher sides) and a loaf pan. It also left me with about 7mm of Brownie the entire length of the Jelly Roll tin and enough at the end to slice 6 square of brownie which is now in the freezer waiting for another occasion to make an appearance and be dressed up with vanilla ice cream, chocolate fudge sauce and berries.

1310_Caramel and Chocolate layers-2-2

Now it was safe to add the caramel.

We don’t get Kraft Caramels here in New Zealand, but we can buy Jersey Caramels. This morning before heading out I melted them down in the microwave. I had full power for 30 seconds and then mixed, not that there was much melting going on. Then a further 20 seconds and they were nicely melted and with a bit of mixing because one organised lump. When I got home they had hardened into the lump. At least it gave me confidence that the caramel would set once it had cooled.

To the tin of condensed milk, with the Jersey Caramels I added the last of the caramel sauce I’d made some weeks ago. The caramel had a distinct Jersey Caramel flavour to it. Mr Fussy said it was like a MacIntosh Toffee lolly, specifically an Egg and Cream flavour.

Because I had packed some of the brownie up for the freezer, and we’d gobbled up the little narrow slither from the edge, I decided to cut back on the chocolate layer ingredients. I made only 2/3rds of the chocolate.

I had worried that the chocolate would be too hard to smooth over the caramel with the caramel layer and brownie having been cold from sitting in the fridge, but it was fine. I was able to pick up the loaf pan and tilt it to move the chocolate into the corners. I used an offset pallet knife for the expandable square tin.

After about 15 or so minutes I tested to see if the chocolate had set. You can actually see my print in the corner. It had set but it wasn’t solid hard.

I cut the loaf pan caramel fudge brownie up into 6 pieces. Really it could have been cut a bit smaller because it was becoming difficult to eat with 3 mouthfuls to go.

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I used Whittaker’s 62% chocolate for the chocolate layer, it wasn’t bitter, but I think it overshadowed the caramel. Still my preference would have been to use a homemade caramel. The brownie base was also not a rich intense chocolate flavour since it only used cocoa powder, but it has a nice soft texture, I guess it is fudgy.

I’ve got a whole expandable tin of this left, and I’m pretty sure I know some family members only too happy to give this recipe the taste test. And I’ll be glad not to have any temptation left in the house. I’ve already spent the day sampling a lot of chocolate in different forms.  I’m pretty much done now, and very satisfied with my lot.

As for Mr Fussy, as I was allocating portions of the caramel fudge brownie, he was scraping the gooey caramel from the baking paper and happily licking his fingers. But he too found the last few mouthfuls were too much. So smaller pieces would be my advice.




Another practice cake–square cakes are not my friend

You might be wondering what all this practicing is about. I’m making my nephew’s 21st birthday cake (gulp). Because Cameron is currently working just outside of Sydney, and has a 6 week break between his work (he’s in outdoor adventure and they take a break half way through the year) his birthday is being celebrated early. In two weeks time. A month before his actual birthday.

Last weekend I had a go at an explosion design. I might try something different this week to see if I can pre-make the explosion, and use modelling chocolate as the interior colour. This will (hopefully) help with the interior colour bleeding along the edges of the cake fondant where the cuts are made, and get crisper slices.

I needed a cake recipe, and I was determined to use modelling chocolate in the decoration.

While Cameron has no ideas for what his cake should be, Natalie is keen on having two square cakes, one on top of the other, looking like boxes. The top having the explosion with stars bursting out the top.

My thought was to have it appear like the boxes had been covered in gift wrap. There wont be any fluffy bows, it’s a blokes cake after all Winking smile

The colour scheme is black, silver (grey) and red. Now you’re starting to see why last week’s cake used those colours, but I had no idea of design at that point just wanted to start using the colours.

This post is (meant to be) about the cake recipe I tried, the ganache recipe I used, and the the perils of getting nice crisp edges on a square cake.

I have enrolled in Jessica Harris’s Craftsy video, Clean and Simple Cake Design. It’s not one of the free classes by Craftsy, but from Jessica’s blog, Jessicake, you can get a 50% discount on the Craftsy class. Which is what I did.

The link to Jessica’s blog will take you to her post on the Mudcake.


Jessica had mentioned that this cake is best 3 days after baking. That suited me to a “T”. and in my mind, had me wondering how I might go about making the cakes for Cameron’s birthday where I wasn’t scrambling at the last might, completely exhausted and too tired to stay up past 9pm during his 21st celebration.

I made the cakes, 2 8” square cakes, on Thursday evening.

Got to love a cake that doesn’t require a cake mixer. And I’m loving my recently purchased Stevens milk saucepan. It has a teflon coating and a pour spout on both sides. And a handle, a proper handle, unlike my saucepan set, which I also love, but find it impossibly difficult to hold and pour from.

I used good quality ingredients for the cake. There’s Dutch processed cocoa and Whittaker’s chocolate. A mix of 50, 62 and 72% went into the cake recipe.

Batter consistency

This is what the batter consistency is like. It worried me a little because my cake pan was lined only with baking paper, and the bottom was a separate piece to the side. I worried the batter would leak out and some sit between the baking paper that was lining the side and the tin.

Jessica was very patient with me when I asked on her blog a couple of questions about the size of her cakes for the cake recipe. And I used that measurement along with the CakeOmetre website to convert the recipe from 2 8” round cakes, to 2 8” square cakes.

And I can say that the conversion worked beautifully. Though not all ingredients come out in a nice easy divisor. For instance I needed 3.8 eggs. Not going to happen Smile

Crunchy like a brownie

In the end, thankfully, I had no dramas with leaking batter and the sides lifted away easily, and the cake released nicely from the tin. Jessica had mentioned the cake is a bit like a brownie. I was hoping for that, and not the dense heavy type cake you get with Divine Cakes. Not that there’s anything wrong with their cakes, just that I don’t like how dense they are, and how sticky they become, especially with cutting them, which is my job, at work (my inability to observe people butcher the cake cutting without having heart palpitations).

See all those little holes?  That’s me testing to see when the cake was done. I started with 25 minutes, then went another 3, then another 3 and then a further 2. So 33 minutes all up for me. I was pretty confident that it was completely cooked, but you’ll nice I never actually tested the very centre.

Top and botttom

When I turned the cake out I couldn’t help but noticed that darker, slightly undercooked middle. And I should have turned the cake back up the correct way because that centre dipped, as you can see, and never came right after flipping the cake back up the correct way, once cooled.

The second cake, baked the same amount of time, after checking the centre this time, but still had a smaller section in the middle that looked a little undercooked. I wasn’t worried (other than the dip) because a brownie is meant to be fudgy and I’d see enough toothpicks come out clean that any more baking and I might have been overcooking the rest of the cake. I’m using the cake tin I use for making the Christmas cake, it’s proper tin and really retains the heat. I was keen to get the cakes out after 10 minutes of cooling because I was concerned the heat in the tin was continuing to cook the sides.

Even though the top of the cake is flat, it was still slightly raised to the sides, so I had to level it a little before ganaching. The top was lovely and crisp and I was having no problem snacking on it while I ganached the cakes on Friday evening.

Thursday evening I made the cakes, the modelling chocolate (in 3 colours) and made the Ganache. It was like having a full-time job, after my full-time job.


I’ve watched Michelle’s YouTube videos (set of 3) on making the ganache, ganaching the cake and covering the cake in fondant, several times. You can see Michelle’s video’s here.

I used another tool, found on CakeCentral’s website for working out the quantities of Ganache I’d need for the cake.

I used Michelle’s microwave method for making the ganache. It worked out just fine, except that my bowl is just some plastic bowl from the $2 shop and did heat a bit, where Michelle mentioned that hers don’t.

Whittaker's 72 percent chocolate Ganache

More Whittaker’s 72% chocolate. I was a bit worried the chocolate would be too bitter, but I really wanted the higher percentage.

It was a very late night on Thursday, waiting for the cakes to cool and the ganache reach room temperature before putting in the fridge. I put both the cakes and the ganache into the fridge before they were all room temperature, but most of the heat had gone from both. They were just slightly warm to the touch.

I used 5, 250gm blocks of Whittaker’s chocolate blocks between the cake and the ganache.

Thursday evening I dropped into Divine Cakes to look at their cake boards and grabbed quite a number of things, and got my own Cake Decorators discount card. I felt so proud. Well chuffed.

The board I bought was 9”. I really needed two 8” cards so that I could have trimmed the cakes to be a few mm shy of 8” and then I’d have been able to get the ganache on better with the sides being perfectly straight, and the edges square.

Friday night I kept working those edges. I would sit for a while, think, research and get back up and try again. It was an arduous task. I thought what I ended up with was pretty decent given how hard I’d made the job for myself by not buying the right sized cake card. I’ve put that right by putting in an order from CakeStuff this afternoon.

Saturday all I had planned was to cover the cake in fondant. Nice and easy.

I had to rush to Spotlight, I’d tried getting there twice during the week. They close at 5:30pm. Such unsociable hours for people who work until 5pm and have to travel there. It’s not like their shop is central. And it’s not like Christchurch has anywhere that is a hub anymore.

I rushed to Spotlight to see if I could get some piping gel, quilters ruler and stitching tool, amongst other things. And I needed to be back by 10am for taking the cats to the vet with Mr Fussy. I only decided to rush to Spotlight at 8:15am. That has got to be the quickest shower I’ve ever had. I promise I did actually stay in there long enough to get washed Smile

Fondant with The Mat

I also wanted to see if they stocked grey fondant. They didn’t. They stock Satin Ice (as to Divine Cakes) and it would appear it isn’t made in grey.

I had to mix a very small piece of black fondant, and an even smaller bit of yellow, into the white Bakels fondant. And I could tell that I’d overworked the fondant. It had a funny texture on the surface. I knew I should let the fondant rest for a while (probably overnight) but I didn’t have time. I did leave it about 90 minutes.

I seasoned The Mat and got ready to roll out the fondant. I didn’t knead it anymore, I didn’t want to keep re-working it.

But guess what?  You know that builders saying, ‘measure twice, cut once’?  Well I should have done that. I got to 14” relatively easily. But it wasn’t the size I was aiming for. I was aiming for 20”. I had my measurements wrong. I kept rolling and rolling and sighing and thought I was never going to get there. And finally I did. After almost having to undress because it was so hot, and I was almost burning my hands with the friction from rolling my wooden rolling pin. And when I finally got my 20” all round I finally stopped and my brain kicked in and I realised I’d just rolled the fondant way too thin. I had the right amount of fondant, but rolled it big enough for a 10” cake of 4” high. The fondant was way too thin. So I had to gather it up and knead it slightly and start over. Reaching the 14” was reasonably quick, but again I could see the funny inverted bubbling on the surface of the fondant.

The the thing about using The Mat, the fondant is, not sticky, but without any cornflour or icing sugar, the fondant smoother was catching on the surface and not gliding across it nicely. So I had to sprinkle a little cornflour over the top in order to use the fondant smoother on top.

As for getting nice sharp corners. It never happened. I pulled the fondant into the corners like I’d seen, which caused a little bit of gathering of fondant along the sides, but I more or less got it right. Again because I was using a cake board that wasn’t the right side I had to work around a bit of a lip which I think didn’t help me trying to get the fondant nicely against the very bottom of the cake. It was a real hassle and I was very disappointed with the finish. I’ve covered the Chrismas cake better than that, and not watched any videos on how to. But the Christmas cake is on the Tupperware base and which gives plenty of flat surface. I will say that there was no tearing or pulling on the top corners.

While I thought I did a pretty decent job of ganaching the cake with what seemed like straight sides, the fondant covering showed up every little imperfection.

I couldn’t wait to cover the cake so I didn’t have to see those awful corners. I was going to decorate on Sunday but I finished the cake off Saturday afternoon (next post).

Cake texture

Cameron got a quick lesson in cutting the cake this afternoon. And I warned him about the resistance he would feel when he got to the ganache middle. And explained the bottom cake (for his birthday) will have 3 layers, so there will be two points where there will be some resistance. And then he was instructed about how to hold the knife to get a nice clean cut. He did ok, but was probably really baffled about all the fuss.

The cake was good. Phew. I didn’t know what I was going to do with the recipe turned out a dud like last week’s Vanilla Cake disaster.

The Craftsy classes (even the free ones) have resources and one of them is a sheet that explains how much fondant you’ll need for the shape and size of the cake (and has been spot on for me on both cakes I’ve covered these past few weeks). I was using it as my guide for how big I needed the cakes to feed 80 people. This 8” square cake, of 4” high (mine is 3”) said it would be 25 pieces, and that’s cutting around 1” wide. I can’t see how you’d get 8, 1” wide slices and come out with 25 but maybe it’s been too long since I was at school.

I had been doing all sorts of combinations over the weekend and reckoned that I’d end up getting 8 x 1” x 2” slices. That would net 32 pieces. The 10” cake I’ll be doing for the bottom tiers will be 4” high given I’m making that 3 layers, too keep the proportions right, otherwise it would look a bit squat.

As I cut the cake to get 8 slices for lunch we decided that the cake was actually too rich and 1” x 1” would be plenty. It was a really nice flavoured cake, and my worries about the ganache being too bitter came to nothing. I shared that concern but Logan assured me it was just right, and I also didn’t think it too bitter. And thankfully it was just perfect with the fondant, the fondant didn’t come across as being too sweet. Though I had a 1” x 1” centre piece with just that size piece of fondant on it.

What I am pleased with is how even the fondant was rolled. Looks good to me. Not that anyone else would probably give it a second thought. And of course the cake is great. Three days on and it was still moist and had great texture and flavour.

The plan now is to bake the 8” and 10” cakes next weekend, ganache them and then they’ll go straight into the freezer. I’ll collect one of them on Thursday, with Natalie taking it out of the freezer during the afternoon, so that all up it will also be the equivalent of 3 days at the time it will be eaten.

I’ll cover one cake on Thursday evening, collect and cover the other on Friday evening, and probably start decorating Thursday’s cake (10”) on the Friday. That should alleviate most of the pressure of having to fully decorate and deliver the cakes on Saturday.

Of course I know there will probably be something that doesn’t go as smoothly as I would hope for so I don’t for a moment think I’ll be cruising through Saturday, but you never know Winking smile

Fudgy consistency

You can now see how fiddly it was to cover the cake when I ended up with a really tiny bit of cake board in the way making the job quite fiddly. Anyway, the inside, and yes you can see that the bottom cake is a little more dense where it could have done with a little more baking in the middle. No one said it was stodgy, or they were just being too polite.

And that’s a sneak peek of what the cake was decorated like. But there were 3 different “thoughts” of design. That’s the next post.


Double trouble and welcome to the neighbourhood

It’s been a long time coming, making a recipe from Deb’s blog Smitten Kitchen. But I got there. This is the Double Chocolate Layer Cake.

Here’s the first double. Cake and cupcakes

Welcome neighbours

Chocolate or Berry

And while we’re at it, Chocolate or Berry?

The recipe is for 2, 10” cakes. I really wanted to make Mr Fussy some Raspberry filled cupcakes, and I thought it would be nice to bake a cake for the new neighbours that moved in last Friday. However we didn’t have enough Raspberries, but we had heaps of bags of frozen mixed berries. So mixed berries it was.

Anyway, after reading over 200 comments on this one post on Deb’s blog I was settled on making a 6” layered cake and using the rest of the batter to make cupcakes. So cupcakes for us, cake for them.

There were a lot of people commenting on making the cakes in 9” pans and having the batter pouring over the top. Deb (and another blogger who made the recipe) said that there’s very little rise when baking. So here’s my 6” cakes, in a 3” deep pan. The batter uncooked measured 3cm, and here’s the cupcakes before and after.

3cm to this

Rising to the occassion

With all due respect, this recipe does have more than adequate rise to it. So be warned if you’re making this recipe and trying to cram the mixture from a 10” cake into a 9” cake pan.

The original plan was to bake a two layered cake for Darren and Teresa (I think I have the names right), but when the cakes came out I knew it was going to be rediculous making a layered cake with these two. Change of plan. Split each cake and make two layered cakes. There’s the second double.

Once the cakes had cooled I wrapped them in Gladwarp and put them in the freezer while I got cracking with the Berry filling, and then moved onto the Swiss Meringue Butter Cream.

The details

Funny thing making the SMBC. Or not. After last week’s 2nd ever time making this and finding the bowl was so hot that it took an extraordinary amount of time to cool the mixer bowl before beginning to add the butter, I used a different bowl to heat the egg whites and sugar thinking this might alleviate some of the heat by then transferring the mixture to the KitchenAid bowl when it was time.

Nope, as soon as I transferred the mixture it immediately heated the KA bowl and I was again grabbing a towel and dousing it in cold water and wrapping it around the KA bowl. In the end it still took a really long time so I did as Carol mentioned on the Facebook page, and I put the bowl into a sink filled with cold water. I did this when the meringue was really thick and glossy and I was ready to swap from the whipping attachment to the usual mixing paddle. And this was about 20 minutes into mixing the meringue.

French tip

I thought it was time for a slightly different view of the cake to keep you from nodding off while I blabber on about the SMBC experience.

Anyway after the bowl was cooled off I began to add the butter which was cool but not cold out of the fridge. First I didn’t have unsalted butter. I didn’t think it would make a huge difference. I just wouldn’t add the salt with the vanilla to the recipe. Hah! It’s amazing just how much salt there is in normal butter because it was really obvious. But not a nasty “oh I’ve ruined it” surprise. I actually liked it. Even though SMBC isn’t as sweet as normal frosting it’s still sweet. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of sugar still in the recipe, it’s just white sugar, not icing sugar.

I had the wet towel draped over the top of the KA because the motor was till hot and my head very close to the bowl looking to see that each chunk of butter had been fully mixed in before adding the next few cubes. While I was watching, and anticipating adding another two batches of butter (85gm left I might add) I noticed the mixture changing. I actually thought it was about to curdle.

Double everything

By the way, these photos are all of the cake I gave the neighbours, but I promise I made two. You’ll see.

The SMBC wasn’t curdling at all, it was just at the right stage for turning glossy and velvety. Which meant there was no need to add anymore butter. Right? Well I stopped anyway.

The SMBC weighed 1353gm, I made the same quantities as last weekend. 10 cups of SMBC. That’s 9 egg whites. That’s a lot of yolks that I’m still trying to decide what to do with. I’m looking to buy Egg Albumen. I’ve found a couple of options on TradeMe. They’re for weightlifters, but it’s just dried egg whites. What do you think? I hate wasting all those egg yolks. And I can use the dried egg whites for Royal Icing too. I’m not fond of the Wilton Meringue Powder. The CK brand was nicer.

I measured the 353gm into a bowl and added a few dessert spoons of the mixed berry filling to it, and a little bit of Electric Pink Americolor gel to it. I probably didn’t need it. I actually didn’t see any change in the colour. So pretty much all the colour is from the berries.

The remaining 1kg of SMBC I added Whittaker’s Ghana chocolate (70%), I can’t remember how much because I had some that I’d melted last weekend and didn’t use, and then a further 6 pieces. It wasn’t as dark as I was going for but I was too lazy to melt and cool some more before mixing it in.

double trouble

Told you I made two Smile

I got a little distracted when I was torting the cake and while trimming the top I didn’t see that some of the side had broken off. That made the top of the cake the bottom layer to ensure the two little bits that broke off weren’t going to collapse from the side and give me all manner of grief when covering it with SMBC.

At least I didn’t have to make a decision about which cake was being given away. If you want to make a good first impression, give away the best. I guess the fact I turned up there still rubbing meringue off my face and with my yellow croc gardening shoes didn’t really help with a good first impression. Perhaps they overlooked that for the cake.

Anyway, what’s left to talk about?  Ahh yes, the photo up above with the cupcakes and the double coloured frosting.

I decided that if it was good enough to use Gladwrap for RI to then make it easier to put into a piping bag, then it was probably good enough for SMBC, but I went one step further and decided to bundle the Chocolate and Berry into the same bag. It mostly worked out well. Except the house was so hot that the frosting was softening to the point it was becoming difficult to pipe with.

And if you’re wondering about how to make a hole in a cupcake for filling, the apple corer works nicely. Except these cupcakes (and cake) are super moist and squishy that you’ll end up clogging up the end of the corer making it a little untidy. But you can always put the cupcakes in the fridge for 30 minutes. I’m sure that would help, in the same way putting the cakes into the freezer before torting helps.

Mum had wondered if the Strawberry huller would work. It does. But it doesn’t make quite as neat a job as the apple corer. I suspect more homes have an apple corer than a strawberry huller anyway. Though I wouldn’t be without my strawberry huller.

Mixing it up

I’m utterly hopeless with the French tip. I can manage this piping but I can’t not pipe a uniformed round. I tried. I scraped the SMBC off and re-piped it. The fact the SMBC was too soft didn’t do me any favours either. I popped that back in the fridge and waited (impatiently) until it had cooled some before having another go at piping.

Chocolate berry layered cake

Lord knows what we’re going to do with another 5 slices of cake and 18 cupcakes. I have to confess that when I make cakes or cupcakes I tend to snack a little as I work. That’s another reason I’m enjoying making cookies. There’s nothing to nibble on. The trimmings from the top of the cakes, the centres I extracted for the berry filling, all gone, as well as sharing one undecorated cupcake with Mr Fussy to “test” the texture to confirm it was just as Deb and most of her 200+ commenters said.

To recap: the recipe I made as written by Deb with the following changes. Instead of 1 1/2 cups of coffee I had 20ml of Bushells Coffee and Chicory Essence and added boiling water to make 1 1/2 cups of liquid. I used  85gm of Whittaker’s Ghana chocolate (70% cocoa). I used mixed berries instead of Raspberries for the filling. The batter weighed 2247gm. I put 600gm into each of the x 6” baking tins and got 19 cupcakes. The cakes still took 60 minutes to bake. The cupcakes 21 minutes.

The recipe from Rosie made 1353gm of SMBC. It was sufficient to crumb coat and frost both 6” layered cakes and frost 18 cupcakes. I have quite a bit of the chocolate left and enough of the mixed berry to frost a couple more cupcakes. All left over frosting is in the freezer.

Double delight

I quite like only having the berry filling between the layers. It didn’t ooze out and it’s difficult to detect , but it’s there. It’s quite subtle but served with the left over berry filling it ramps up all those lovely fresh berry flavours.


An oldie but a goodie–Afghan Biscuits

Afghan Biscuit

Mr Fussy and I rarely have a disagreement. We don’t argue. We don’t even really have lively debates. I don’t know if that makes us boring, weird or a match made in heaven. I’m going for the latter. But we don’t agree whether Afghan biscuits should have walnuts or not.

Is it a discussion topic in your household? We don’t really discuss. We know we have differing opinions. And I know mine is the only one that counts Winking smile  In the kitchen.


Making Afghan biscuits isn’t about making use of ingredients already in the pantry. Mr Fussy has Honey Puffs for breakfast. Unless it’s pancakes. But for most of his life he’s eaten nothing more than Honey Puffs for breakfast. A creature of habit? I had to add Cornflakes to the shopping list. I’d meant to do it for several weeks and kept forgetting. But here we are, a bowl full of cornflakes not destined for breakfast but for baking.

Ready for the oven

There’s no raising agent in the biscuits so while the Edmonds Cook Book calls for spoonfuls, I did flatten them, because I used a generous dessert spoon. I made 11 biscuits. You’d normally make them much smaller, the walnut on top (see, you need it as a guide!) would be a little smaller than the size of the biscuit.

Afghan Biscuits from the Edmonds Cookery Book


200gm butter, room temperature

75gm sugar

25gm cocoa – I used Dutch processed

175gm flour

50gm Cornflakes


Heat the oven to 180degrees Celsius

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.

Scape down the bowl if necessary.

Sift the flour and cocoa then add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture.

With the mixer on low combine the flour and cocoa into the creamed mixture.

Add the Cornflakes and very slowly mix until the Cornflakes are combined.

Put spoonfuls onto a baking tray lined with baking paper (you decide the size of the biscuit, they wont spread).

Flatten the dough using your fingers if you wish.

Bake for 15 minutes, rotating the tray half way through to ensure even baking.

Leave the biscuits on the baking tray until they are cooled.

Transfer to a cooling rack.

Ice with chocolate icing and a walnut if you’re daring.

When Mr Fussy is asked about chocolate icing, and given the choice of cocoa or chocolate he always goes for chocolate.

I used both milk chocolate drops and 50% Chocolate by Whittaker’s. A bit of room temperature butter and some icing sugar and a little hot water to achieve a spreadable but reasonably stiff consistency.

Walnuts or no walnuts

As expected, Mr Fussy screwed his nose up at the biscuits with a walnut on. He’s got 6 and I have 5 with a walnut. Though I wont be eating them all. I’m off again to Nelson Tuesday morning for the rest of the week. Travelling away means I miss out on some home comforts, like the convenience of grabbing a muffin out of the freezer or a cookie from the Tupperware container.

Walnuts for me

It doesn’t get better than this though. Walnuts for the win!

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Ginger & Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Goodness


Yay, I finally made brown butter. There are so many recipes that I could choose, so many. But I chose these Ginger Chocolate Chunk hunks of cookie. I read the recipe during the Christmas holidays and had it earmarked for my brand new Silpat mats which Mr Fussy put with my Christmas present (thanks to me ordering them).


I actually wasn’t sure if I might have burnt the butter. I’ve never made it before. But from what I’d read I’d “know”. But how? So the night after making the cookie dough I went through YouTube watching how others made it. Gosh there are so many ways. Well essentially they are all the same, but whether you put it into another bowl after it’s browned, and whether you put it through a sieve. Well all those things seem to be up to the individual. So I just did what I thought was right. For better or worse.



I mostly followed the recipe I used for the Chocolate Pistachio Cookies by David Lebovitz. I left the dough overnight in the fridge and rolled the dough and sliced it rather than rolling balls, flattening them and then leaving the ready made cookies in the fridge for 12 hours. I just don’t have that sort of space to do that.


Anyway, this recipe can be found here. I’m copying it word-for-word despite having changed the method as described above.

Ginger & Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies


  • 11 Tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
    1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract (yes, that’s I Tablespoon)
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    2 teaspoons fresh ground ginger (or 1 teaspoon ground ginger)
    1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    3/4 teaspoon baking powder
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup + 3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
    1 egg, lightly beaten
    5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
    2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
    Fleur de sel, for sprinkling (optional but highly recommend)


  • Melt 10 Tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan (set the remaining 1 Tablespoon aside).
  • Cook over medium heat, swirling occasionally, until the butter turns brown and develops a rich nutty aroma- about 5-8 minutes, depending on the heat. {Note: The butter will go through a “foamy” stage, once it settles down, keep a close watch on the colour.}
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
    In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the granulated sugar and fresh ginger.
  • Use your fingers to rub the ginger into the sugar until it’s slightly moistened and fragrant; Set aside. {Note: If you’re using ground ginger, just toss it in with the dry ingredients.}
    In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar (and ground ginger, if using instead of fresh).
  • Add this mixture to the bowl of granulated sugar/ginger.
  • Whisk to combine. Add the cooled brown butter and the remaining 1 Tablespoon of butter.
  • Using the paddle attachment, beat on med-low until you’re left with something that resembles clumpy, wet sand. 
  • Add the egg and beat on low until just combined.
  • Switch over to a large rubber spatula and fold in both chopped chocolates.{Note: My batter was a tad dry, but once I started forming the dough into cookies, it became more cohesive.}
    Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. For each cookie, measure out about a 1/3 cup of dough. Form each into a ball, place on the cookie sheet, and flatten slightly (to a little less than 1/2-inch thickness).
  • Once all the dough has been measured out, cover the sheet with plastic wrap and chill for about 12 hours. {Note: The longer you chill the dough, the better the flavour!}
    When you’re ready to bake: Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  • Line another cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place about 4 cookies on the sheet–leave about 1-inch of space between each cookie.
  • Sprinkle with a little bit of Fleur de sel (if using). Bake for 8-11 minutes, or until the cookies are light golden in colour. {Note: My cookies were perfect after 9 minutes.} The cookies may look uncooked in the middle but they will firm up as they cool. Remove the sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for about 8 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

My Notes:

I used Whittaker’s 72% ad 62% chocolate.

I left the cookies on the tray until they had cooled before moving them to a cooling rack.

My temperature was 190 degrees Celsius for 11 minutes. I turned the rack part way through baking.

I got 15 cookies.


The Ginger is subtle. Though Mr Fussy said his last mouthful (of the cookie we shared) had a bit of ginger in it, so he got was pleasantly surprised. As for whether these cookies “cut the mustard”, he said they were good, but didn’t stand out above any other chocolate chip cookie.

I love how the chocolate is still melted even when the cookie is properly cool. So while I have the Rhubarb Crumb Topped muffins for my lunches this week, Mr Fussy has these cookies.


Last word belongs to the Silpat mats. Mr Fussy has used them numerous time or fries or battered fish, but this was my first time for baking. I was pleased with how the bottom of the cookies baked. And more so the Buttermilk Scones I made for lunch too. There was so much frozen berries in them, so a high content of moisture, but the bottoms were still nicely browned and baked.

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Ice Cream, Lemon Curd and a Chocolate Sauce

This morning started with putting our house back to pre-Christmas. We’d moved our wrought iron liquor stand out to the garage and had to take all the bottles of alcohol off. That thing is heavy without several dozen bottles of booze.

While we were moving things out and bringing things back Maranello was whinging to go outside. Finally I organised him to go outside (our cats are indoor cats but have harnesses and leads so they can go outside, somewhat restricted, when we’re home – I wont be surprised if you think we’re bonkers).

At the same time the washing machine was just revving up for the spin cycle and with several bottles of alcohol on top they began clinking together. Maranello, who could saunter out the back door, instead headed to the bedroom and hid in the wardrobe. I was at a loss for words. He’d been harping (meowing) on about going outside and now he was hiding.

It took me some time to figure out what had happened. During the Christchurch earthquakes we’d had bottles of alcohol sitting on the beer fridge in the laundry and I imagine the sound of the bottles clinking on the washing machine (it’s a front loader) reminded him of the terror of the earthquakes. I’ve heard of so many pets been left traumatised by the earthquakes. Once I shifted the bottles Maranello was quick to head out the door and have a taste of the outdoors. And life resumed.


The chocolate sauce I made late this afternoon had a splash of alcohol in it. A choice of Whiskey (we don’t have any), Cognac or Rum. I chose Rum (recently purchased for the Rum & Raisin Ice Cream I made).

The sauce was really easy to make. I used a recipe from David Lebovitz’s book Ready for Dessert, a recipe I’d taken a copy of when I’d borrowed the book from the library.

Rich Chocolate Sauce by David Lebovitz


  • 340gm dark chocolate (with at least 45% cocoa solids), chopped
  • 180ml water
  • 180ml double cream (I used standard cream which has 35% fat)
  • 2 teaspoons whiskey, rum or cognac

* Variation – for a slightly richer sauce, stir in 2 tablespoons unsalted or salted butter, at room temperature, along with the whiskey, rum or cognac


  • In a medium saucepan, combine the chocolate, water, and cream.
  • Warm over low heat, stirring gently until the chocolate is melted and the sauce is smooth.
  • Remove from the heat.
  • Stir in the whiskey, rum or cognac
  • Serve the sauce warm


The other day I made Scottish Shortbread. I froze some of it, and used some crumbed up in Lemon Truffles and then added some of the crumbled up shortbread in the Ice Cream along with the Lemon Curd I’d made.

I’m getting to be so good with freezing things and then reusing them in new ways.

The Ice Cream I made was based on the same recipe I used for the Strawberry Ice Cream, a recipe adapted from David Lebovitz.

I really enjoy making Ice Cream. I love watching it being churned. I know some people are mesmerised by watching flames in a fire, but I have a similar draw to watching churning ice cream. And I haven’t heard of that leading to any other devious behaviour.


I didn’t measure the amount of crumbled shortbread or how much Lemon Curd I added. I just did what felt right.

Mr Fussy has admitted that the Ice Cream, despite adding a biscuit, is just fine.

Isn’t Ice Cream great, you can just add any sweet left over to create something a little bit special and unique to what you’d find in the supermaket.


As for the chocolate sauce with the ice cream, it was nice but nothing I’d call out of this world, but it’s really straight forward to make and for that it’s a winner. Only Mr Fussy got a hint of the rum, I wasn’t aware of it at all, other than smelling it in the kitchen while I was making the sauce.

Unfortunately the Whittaker’s chocolate wouldn’t completely blend. I don’t know why. It hadn’t burnt, and when I touched the little globs they were soft and flattened without any pressure, but why they wouldn’t completely blend into the sauce I’m unsure.

David suggests the sauce being served with a Chocolate Cake.

I had made a Devil’s Food Cake (guess whose recipe?!), covered it with a White Chocolate Cream Cheese frosting and added crushed up candy canes around the bottom and served that during afternoon tea yesterday. Lots of my extended family aren’t into heavy fruit cake and I didn’t want them missing out. Yes I’m a star and all round good guy.

When I mentioned to Mr Fussy that the sauce was recommended to have with chocolate cake he asked after the cake I’d made yesterday. Unfortunately for him what hadn’t been eaten was divided up between my two sisters. Imagine pouring warm chocolate sauce over a cake smothered with white chocolate cream cheese frosting. If that doesn’t make your teeth hurt I don’t know what would. However he’s turned down my offer to make another chocolate cake.


I’ve got lots of cream left over from what we expected to use at Christmas, I wonder if I should make another ice cream. Mr Fussy is keen to use it to make cocktails on New Years Eve. Who will win?