Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Chick On Sticks - The Recipe

Cute hey? I decided against adding eyes or beaks in a different colour - minimalist chicks you could say. The amazing sons, the gorgeous husband and the fab friend all enjoyed them on Easter Sunday. They are very sweet though - so be warned if you don't have a sweet tooth or if you do and need to avoid indulging your sugar addiction. So, here's how....

  • 2 x Sainsbury's basics Madeira cake (yes, the basics variety - cheap but actually very nice)
  • 1 x tub Betty Crocker vanilla frosting (cheating all the way my lovelies)
  • 1 x packet of Scotbloc (you really can still buy this from Sainsbo, fabulous stuff)
  • yellow oil based food colouring
  • lollipop sticks - the paper variety preferably
  • chick shaped cutter (unless you are feeling very creative and have lots of time)
  • polystyrene block (available free from Homebase I understand, or be prepared to hold the cake pops until dry)

What To Do
  1. crumble your Madeira cakes into, well, crumbs
  2. stir in the frosting, all the frosting - this is why they are so sweet
  3. refrigerate the dough for a good hour or so
  4. roll out the dough to the depth of the cutter and cut the chick shapes out, repeat as necessary
  5. refrigerate the chicks for another hour or so
  6. melt the Scotbloc gently in the microwave and stir in enough food colouring to get a good yellow colour
  7. dip the lollipop stick in the Scotbloc and gently push into the bottom of the chick - about an inch or so
  8. (yawn) refrigerate again for about an hour or until the scotbloc has fully hardened
  9. re-melt the scotbloc gently in the microwave
  10. dip the chicks headfirst in the melted scotbloc so they are totally covered
  11. gently tap and twizzle the chicks over the bowl until the scotbloc stops dripping
  12. insert the stick into the polystyrene block to dry
It sounds more complicated and long winded than it really is. You can do it in stages over a number of days which is what I did. A good website for supplies is The Cake Decorating Company, and they delivered incredibly quickly when I used them. I also referred to Bakerella's YouTube video for the tap and twizzle method so you get a nice smooth coating. Maybe I have too much time on my hands, or perhaps my housework aversion is to blame, but I love making cake pops. More to come I would imagine.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Chicks On Sticks

Since making the Lego Head Cake Pops for amazing son number 2 I have been longing to have another go. With Easter just around the corner and the fab friend coming for lunch with us all I've just the excuse - especially when there is the bathroom and bedroom to clean. Have I mentioned before how much I loathe housework? So work is under way - rather quickly as these are a lot easier than the Lego Head ones as I have used a cutter to form the basic shape.

Just need to coat them in 'chocolate' and add an eye or two. Recipe to follow once they are finished - a cheat's delight this one! Now, what else can I find to do other than cleaning.....

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Want To Be In My Gang?

I have a generous friend in London to whom I am forever indebted. A few years ago I spent 2 weeks in France on holiday and discovered the proper French macarons, indulging in them at the local patisseries whenever possible. I was distraught on my return to discover you can't get a decent 'macaron' in Nottingham, nothing, not even a whiff. So my generous friend sent me 24 of the delectable delights from Laduree at Harrods in the post. They were something else. I think I love macarons even more than wine, or cocktails or even chocolate. It is probably a very good thing they are not readily available here in Nottingham. I am still going to try making them, but am feeling very nervous about doing so hence my appalling procrastination. In gratitude to my generous friend I occasionally send him a parcel of yummies in the post that I have made. I posted one this morning - hope he enjoys it.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Perfect Peach

It is that the time of year when some of us begin to think about getting the supreme suntan, others about seeking out the chicest sunglasses, whilst others about hunting for the sublimest sandals. Me? I am forever searching for the perfect peach nail varnish. It is an elusive thing I can tell you. I have tried many a shade - from pink to coral to orange. And with little joy or success. I may be a perfectionist and something of a hoarder at times, but even I am a little embarrassed at the number of peachy nail varnishes now in my collection. Sadly none of them are quite right. I painted my toe nails yesterday in preparation for the chance to wear my favourite wedges today - and after trying again some of the pictured colours I gave up and went for gold. The search continues.....any suggestions?

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Silicone Moan

Now I am a big fan of silicone, in baking terms anyway. I love the way my brownies, flapjacks and caramel shortbread turn out of the silicone baking tray with no greasing or lining. Effortless and easy. So I was more than a little excited by the prospect of this silicone piping bag from Lakeland. I had made some vanilla cupcakes for the amazing sons and wanted to ice them so decided to give it a try. The cupcakes were iced well enough, but in hindsight I didn't like the 'feel' to the piping bag - it felt clumsy, and I'm not sure I would manage anything that needed a more deft or delicate touch like macarons which I am planning on making VERY soon. Still, the cupcakes have been wolfed down - little Easter ones complete with eggs in the end. Twee and a definite cliche but deliciousness itself.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Dirtee Coffee

It has come to my attention that although I love (good) coffee and my wondrous Rancilio Silvia espresso machine I have neglected to write anything about either here. My coffee of choice varies throughout the day - espresso first thing in the morning and always freshly ground coffee beans are the only rules. The gorgeous husband and I have rediscovered "dirtee coffee" though - a double espresso with whipped (read "squirty") cream on top. They call these 'espresso con panna' at Caffe Nero. Amazing - and only a little bit naughty really. We now have a can of "squirty" cream in the fridge and I can't see it lasting very long, these coffees are very addictive! I wonder what the Italian for "dirtee coffee" is.......

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Dim Sum Yum

Flicking through the photos stored on my phone I came across this one of my Mothers' Day meal at China China, a fab Chinese restaurant here in Nottingham. The gorgeous husband is (clearly) Chinese and his wonderful Mum is a trained chef, so it takes a lot for him to be impressed by a Chinese restaurant. So much so that we VERY rarely venture into one. Until recently! A lovely Chinese family took me and the boys to China China a few months ago where we had Dim Sum and were suitably impressed. So the gorgeous husband was prepared to give it a go when I categorically stated I rather fancied some Dim Sum for Mothers' Day recently - blatant I know, but how else to get him to try it?

The place was very busy and I was definitely in the ethnic minority (nothing new there - have you seen my family?), which is usually a very good sign. We were not disappointed. Everything was delicious - from the char siu bau to the cheung fun. Tripe is a bit of an acquired taste that I have been learning to like and this was delicious enough to convert anyone brave enough to try it. The icing on the cake (or should I say the stuffing in the bau?) was the price - less than £40 for the 4 of us to eat, impressive when you know how much the amazing sons consume!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Cooks Cooking Cookies

The wonderful Kitchen Aid is now very at home in the kitchen, and I totally love it. It makes baking incredibly easy, which in turn could make staying trim incredibly hard. I had the fab friend (different person to the lovely friend) round for dinner last night. That in itself was pretty delicious (salad of rocket, watercress and spinach with grilled Portobello mushrooms stuffed with cheese and topped with a poached egg) BUT my fab friend then announced we "have to make peanut butter cookies", at 9pm at night!

She was dutifully sent to buy the peanut butter and chocolate chips as I (quite uncharacteristically) had run out and we (more or less, well more really as we added a great deal more peanut butter (accidental) and chocolate chips (deliberate) than stated) followed the recipe in the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. This book should probably be illegal incidentally. The lovely friend has lent it to me and it contains the most amazing, decadent recipes that are completely irresistible.

The result - well, after less than 24 hours there is just one cookie left. The gorgeous husband was practically speechless when he tried them - he couldn't believe how good they were. Who gets the last one? Amazing son number one - we had a sweep stake on the Grand National which he won. He hadn't realised that he had won, and I would probably have got away with snaffling that last cookie for myself, but honesty prevailed.