Wednesday, 27 June 2012

First Tooth Cookies

There are few events in life that will change the way you look forever - I'm not talking about dying or cutting your hair, covering yourself in fake tan or makeup - none of those things are permanent.  Aside from plastic surgery or physically growing taller, the only thing I can really think of that will change the way a person will look forever is when they start to get their teeth.  And that's exactly what has happened to my little boy. 

First Tooth Cookies

It is a momentous event you know.  No longer can I stick my finger in his little mouth and have him chew away on it - if I do that now, I might as well be sticking my finger in a rat trap.  Each time I put my finger in there to have a little feel, it's a gamble as to whether or not it will actually come out intact.  Having a mouth full of baby teeth is like having a mouth full of little razor blades.  They're tools that will come in handy with everyday life, but they can draw blood if you're not careful. 

We've waited 9 long months for these teeth to show up.  And while many babies I knew were really struggling with their teeth, crying out in constant pain and needing dose after dose of baby pain killers, I was quite relieved and pleased to see that Jayden has gone relatively unphased by the whole teething process. 

We noticed the first bottom one appear the day after he turned 9 months.  A week later the second bottom tooth made its appearance.  I thought that was all the teeth we'd see for at least a month - the body needs to recover from these things you know.  But a week later while we were in Italy, I dipped Jayden backwards while playing with him in the sun and to my surprise I saw another new tooth - but this time on the top!  Within the next two weeks, the total number of teeth we'd see in his mouth had grown to six.  His little smile is looking quite different now - it's hard to get used to!

So goodbye toothless gummy smiles - we will never see you again.  Instead let's celebrate with a cookie - a cute little first tooth sugar cookie.  Well, actually let me celebrate with the cookies - Jayden gets some celebratory bread sticks and cheese.  After all, I wouldn't want him to rot his teeth out  ;-)

First Tooth Cookies

First Tooth Sugar Cookies

Equipment:

Tooth Cookie Cutter
White Pearl Lustre Dust
Pink Lustre Dust
Craft Paintbrushes
Edible Black Marker Pen


Sugar Cookie Dough - recipe here
Royal Icing - recipe here, although I used a boxed mix to save time.


1.  Roll out the dough, cut, and bake your cookies according to the directions in my sugar cookie post here.  Let your cookies cool fully before you start decorating them using royal icing.


2.  To decorate, pipe the outline of the tooth in white royal icing that's thick enough to hold it's shape, but not too dry (you should be able to tell if your icing consistency is right if you run a knife through your bowl of icing and it comes back together in about 10 - 15 seconds).


3.  Now it's time to flood your cookies - you can do this in two ways:  fill them immediately after you've piped the outline, or allow the outline to dry for several hours and then fill.  I prefer it when the outline blends in with the rest of the icing, so I flood my cookies immediately after I pipe the outline.  Give the cookie a gentle shake from side to side a few times to help smooth out the icing.  Leave the flooded cookies to dry over night.


4.  Mix approximately 1/4 teaspoon of white lustre dust together with 1.5 teaspoons of vodka, or other clear alcohol in a little dish.  Using a paintbrush of an appropriate size, dip the brush into the white lustre dust mixture and brush over top of the royal icing to give it a pearlised finish.  Let dry for 15 - 30 minutes.


5.  Use an edible black marker to draw on little faces.  Give your teeth some rosy cheeks by dipping a smaller paintbrush in a bit of the dry pink lustre dust.  Gently apply the lustre dust in a small circular motion for the rosy look.


Look at these little pearly whites all lined up in a row!  Don't you just want to sink your teeth into them!?

First Tooth Cookies

And to announce the winner of my Sweet Paris giveaway - the winning comment is........



Congratulations Nicola McCandless!  Please send your mailing details to me at madewithpink@gmail.com, and I'll have a copy of Sweet Paris sent off to you!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

French Hot Chocolate, Sweet Paris Book Review and a Giveaway


Phew!  After a whirlwind of Diamond Jubilee baking it was nice to get a bit of a break from baking and blogging by escaping to Italy for a few days.  Last week we travelled to Bologna for a short 3 day city break.  It was my first time in Italy and we (my husband, baby and I) had a fabulous time.  The sun was shining, the people were friendly and most importantly the food was amazing, especially the gelato!  

The gelato in Italy is the best ever.  They've got an amazing array of flavours, and I think the best one we tried was probably the ricotta and chocolate - who woulda thought!?  A daily gelato (or two!) was essential in helping to cool down in the hot Italian sun, so you can imagine our disappointment when we landed back on UK soil where the wind and rain was there to great us in full force.

The weather has been so rotten in the UK, I'm skeptical as to if summer will actually ever arrive.  The weather so far has been more suited to hot chocolate rather than gelato, and I'm pleased to say I have the perfect recipe!



A month or so ago I was sent a review copy of Sweet Paris by Michael Paul.  The instant I first opened Sweet Paris I knew it was going to go straight to the top of my "favourites" list.  Although I had a fantastic time in Italy, Paris still remains my favourite city to visit and I will definitely be taking my copy of Sweet Paris with me on my next visit there in August.

Sweet Paris isn't your typical recipe book.  It's filled with insider knowledge on the best places in Paris to find traditional French desserts and treats such as chocolate eclairs, macarons, strawberry tarts, brioche, creme brulee, salted butter caramel, and of course - hot chocolate.  A brief history of some of the major Parisian patisserie shops are included, as well as a history of many of the featured desserts.  There is a great selection of recipes that compliment the written content of the book as well, and I had a really hard time deciding on which one to make.  In the end I settled on the hot chocolate, and as well as a spur of the moment apple tarte tatin.



Sweet Paris is made up of seven chapters and also includes several pages of addresses so you can easily find your favourite pastry shop while your there.  The thing that really makes Sweet Paris stand out from the other books on my shelf is the photography.  The pages are filled with stunning images of Parisian pastries, pastry shops and every day images of Paris. I could stare at the photos all day long!



Some of the recipes that I've bookmarked to make in the future are:  

Classic French Chocolate Eclairs
Traditional Tart au Citron
Bittersweet Tarte au Chocolate
Homemade Blackcurrant Sorbet with Cassis
Classic Caramel au Beurre Sale 



I'd been looking for an authentic French hot chocolate recipe ever since I had my first encounter with it at the infamous Parisian tea salon Angelina.  The hot chocolate at Angelinia was so rich, thick and chocolately I couldn't finish the whole thing.  Although it was delicious, it's definitely not something I could drink on a regular basis.  The recipe for hot chocolate in Sweet Paris is just right - it's still delicious and chocolately, but not overwhelming enough that you couldn't finish the whole cup!




Old Fashioned French Hot Chocolate 
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 Vanilla Pod 
600ml (20oz) Whole Milk
250ml (9oz) Single Cream
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
Pinch of Sea Salt
150g (5 1/2oz) Bittersweet Dark Chocolate, finely chopped
100g (3 1/2oz) Milk Chocolate , finely chopped
300ml (10 1/2oz) Double Cream, whipped

Instructions: 

1.  Slice the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.  In a large saucepan, add the vanilla pod and seeds to the milk, cream, brown sugar and salt.  Warm over low heat and bring to a simmer, but don't boil.

2.  Remove the milk mixture from the heat, and then remove the vanilla pod.  Add in the milk and dark chocolates and stir gently until they're melted and the mixture becomes smooth.  Using a hand whisk, whisk the hot chocolate mixture for a few minutes until it's smooth and frothy.

3.  Return the hot chocolate to the stove and re-heat again to a gentle simmer (not boiling).  Pour into cups and serve with whipped cream on top.

I served my hot chocolate with whipped cream on the side, just like they do at Angelina in Paris.



I also made the Apple Tarte Tatin when I needed a last minute dessert idea.  It was the first time I'd made a tarte tatin and it was delicious and so simple, only requiring a few ingredients.  I took a few pictures of it using my iphone before we gobbled it up.  



I can't wait to try more recipes from Sweet Paris, and also explore some of the many pastry shops and tea salons listed in the book.  As I mentioned before, I will definitely be bringing my copy with me when I go to Paris in August.



Now here's some good news - it's GIVEAWAY time!!! I've got an extra copy of Sweet Paris to give away to one of my lucky readers!  


To have a chance at winning, simply leave a comment below telling me what your favourite Paris pastry is.  It could be macarons, eclairs, brioche - you decide!  Additional entries will be given by doing the following:

  • Become a follower on Google+ (I just joined this week!)
  • Become a fan on Facebook
  • Become a follower on Google Friend Connect
Links to all of the above are in the right hand column.  Maximum of 4 entries per person.  The winning comment will be chosen at random.

Open to UK residents only.  Contest closes at 11:59pm Monday June 25th.  Winner will be announced shortly after.  

*** Please note that you MUST leave a comment below in order to be entered into the prize draw, otherwise I have no way of keeping track of who, followed etc.  If you make a comment anonymously then please leave an email address so I can contact you if you win. You should leave a separate comment for each of the 3 things listed above if you want to be entered more than once.  I will be using random.org to choose a number from all of the comments listed below in order to determine the winner. ***


With thanks to Hardie Grant Publishing for my review copy of Sweet Paris. 

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Red White and Blue Dessert Jars

Earlier I posted the recipe for my Diamond Jubilee Petit Fours, but I've got a few more street party / picnic treats to share with you as well! 

These two recipes are super easy to make - NO baking required!  So even if you think you're too busy over the bank holiday weekend to start messing around in the kitchen making treats, I can assure you that you've got time to make these!


First up are my Red, White and Blue Dessert Jars - they're dead easy.  Layers of fresh blueberries, no bake cheesecake and chopped strawberries make these cute little jars the perfect picnic or street party dessert.  They're highly portable!

Red, White and Blue Dessert Jars
Makes 3 

Ingredients:

8oz (227g) Cream Cheese (don't use light, as it won't work the same)
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp (37g) Granulated / Castor Sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) Whipping Cream or Double Cream
1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract

Fresh Blueberries
Fresh Strawberries, chopped

3 Maison/Jam Jars

Instructions:

1. Wash and chop (chop strawberries only) your berries and set aside.  To make the cheesecake filling, mix the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla using an electric mixer in a medium bowl until nice and smooth.

2. Whip the cream, and then fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture so it's fully combined.  Fold gently though - you don't want to loose all the air in the cream!

3. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes to firm up.

4. Fill the bottom of each jar with a handful or two of blueberries, so the jar is 1/3 full.  Next spoon a few spoon fulls of the cheesecake filling on top of the blueberries so the jar is 2/3 full.  Lastly, add your strawberries on top of the cheesecake layer to fill the remaining 1/3 of the jar. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


See!  I told you these were easy!  I covered the tops of my jars with these pretty Jubilee Jar Covers from Lakeland that they sent me.  I also had a bag of Jubilee peanut M&M's that I used to fill up an extra jar I had, which helped make my street party feast extra festive!


You may recall I made some baby blue coconut ice for my baby shower last summer, and the Diamond Jubilee was the perfect opportunity for me to make another special version of this retro British sweet.  I've kept the white layer, but changed the traditional pink top layer to half red and half blue.



Diamond Jubilee Coconut Ice

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups (560g) Icing Sugar
2 1/2 cups (200g) Shredded (Desiccated) Coconut
395g Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Red and Blue Food colouring

Instructions:

1. Line the base and sides of a deep (4cm+) 19cm square dish with plastic cling wrap

2. Sift the icing sugar into large bowl. Stir in the coconut, condensed milk and vanilla extract.

3. Press half of the mixture firmly into the base of the prepared pan.  Take the second half of the mixture and divide it into two.  Work the red food colouring into one half of the remaining mixture, and the blue colouring into the second half kneading well in order to distribute the colour evenly. Press the red mixture evenly over half of the white layer, and the blue mixture over the second half of the white layer.  You can use a spatula to help smooth the top out.


4. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until firm.  Remove the coconut ice from tray, peel away the cling wrap, and cut into squares.  The coconut ice will keep for a week if stored in an airtight container.


I served my coconut ice in some pretty Jubilee cupcake cases that Lakeland sent me.  They can be found here in case you're interested. 




Hopefully my street party treats have inspired you all to make something red, white and blue to help celebrate the Diamond Jubilee in style!  Have a fabulous holiday everyone!



Friday, 1 June 2012

Diamond Jubilee Petit Fours


By now it's no secret the Queen's Diamond Jubilee is coming up next week.  Over here in the UK we're in full BBQ and street party planning mode. 

To be honest, I've never actually been to a street party before - I guess they're kind of like the North American block party, although to be honest I don't think I've ever been to one of those either.  I don't think they're as popular there as they are here. 

A traditional British Street Party (Image Source)

It's being reported that there will be over 10,000 official street parties throughout England and Wales, and that's not counting unofficial parties that haven't gone through the proper approval process through local councils.

On Sunday I'm hoping to attend one of the larger parties in my area that will take place in our favourite park.  Monday and Tuesday are public holidays here, so the parties and celebrations will continue for a few more days.

In order to help make your street party look it's best all of the major stores have released their own lines of street party gear including the essentials such as bunting flags, paper plates, cups, napkins, cupcake cases, etc. 

Each of the jubilee product lines are very patriotic and obviously incorporate everything British and royal such as union jacks and crowns, but they're also very different from each other.


Lakeland was kind enough to send me some products (above) from their Jubilee range, so I've featured some of them here with my latest street party inspired creations.

My street party snacks are the perfect addition to your Jubilee table - they're patriotic, three out of the four are quick and easy, you can make them all ahead of time, they're all very transportable, and best of all they taste great!!!

I've decided to split the recipes for my Jubilee treats into two separate posts, otherwise you'd be reading this post forever!

 

First up I'll start with my Diamond Jubilee petit fours.  I've always wanted to make petit fours so when I was given some cute little London themed sugar decorations in a Waitrose goodie bag, I knew they'd be perfect to add on top.  I used the traditional Victoria Sponge recipe that I came up with last year to celebrate the Royal Wedding, but this time I replaced the strawberry jam with black current jam - something I consider very British as it wasn't something I'd really ever come across in Canada.


Diamond Jubilee Petit Fours

Ingredients:

3/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp (200g) Castor Sugar 
3/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp (200g) Butter, room temperature 
4 Eggs 
1.5 tsp Vanilla extract 
1.5 Cups + 1.5 Tbsp (200g) Self Raising Flour 
1/2 tsp baking powder

Blackcurrant Jam
Vanilla Buttercream 

Ready to Roll Fondant - I used Renshaw Regal Ice White Chocolate flavour

Liquid Fondant - (I used the Silver Spoon powdered version that you mix with water)
Liquid Glucose - optional
Red and Blue gel colouring

Decorations of your choice - I used Jubilee decorations from Waitrose and a couple of left over crowns I made for my Dome cake here.

Instructions:

1.  Pre-heat oven to 350ºF (175ºC).  Line two* square 8"x8" cake pans with parchment paper and set aside.  Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (about 5-8 minutes).

*I divided my batter up, and made 6 cupcakes for another project and used the rest in a 9"x9" pan which made 16 petit fours approx 1.5"x1.5"

2.  Add in the eggs 1 at a time to ensure they don't curdle the butter and sugar mixture.  Beat well before adding each following egg.  Beat in the vanilla extract.

3.  Gently fold the self raising flour and baking powder into the butter, sugar and egg mixture until just combined.  Don't over mix.  Divide the batter equally between the two pans, making sure that the batter is as flat and even as possible.  Bake for 20 - 25 minutes.

4.  Let the cakes cool in their pans at before lifting them out by the parchment paper. Leave the parchment paper on your cake, and wrap it in cling film before placing it in the freezer for about an hour to firm up slightly.

5.  While your cake is chilling in the freezer make your buttercream icing according to your favourite recipe. (I don't have a recipe for my buttercream - I just cream a block of butter and keep on adding icing sugar (with a nit of milk and vanilla) until it tastes right.

*The instructions below are for one 9x9 cake (as I mentioned above). If you've made two 8x8 cakes, follow the instructions below twice.

6.  Take your cake out of the freezer ensuring that the bottom of the cake is facing upwards (this ensures you'll have a perfectly flat top) and slice it in half so you end up with two layers.  I used a Wilton cake slicer, but a steady hand and knife should do the trick.  Open your cake so that the freshly cut sides are facing up.  Spread a thin layer of the balckcurrant jam on one half of the cake (remove any large currents), and a layer of buttercream on the other half (make sure it's as smooth as possible).  



Sandwich the two layers together so the fillings are in the middle, making sure that the edges are aligned.  Next, trim the edges of your cake to ensure it's perfectly square with nice sharp edges.  Spread another layer of buttercream on the top (which was once the bottom) of your cake, making sure it's as smooth ad level as possible.

Roll out your fondant so it's about 3mm in thickness.  Cut a square of fondant out the same size as your cake (you can use the bottom of your cake pan as a guide, and trim the edges later). Place the fondant over your buttercream covered cake top and smooth it out, ensuring you don't have any trapped air under the fondant.  Trim off any excess fondant so that the edges are flush, and it's exactly the same size as the cake.

Cut your fondant covered cake into small squares - once trimmed, my 9x9 cake made 16 squares.

7.  Prepare your liquid pouring fondant according to directions on the package - I added in about a teaspoon of glucose to mine to help make it spread easier.  I used Silver Spoon brand which is available in most supermarkets, but you can also buy other bands at speciality cake stores.   One 500g box was just enough to cover my 16 petit fours.

Place a 1/3 of your cake squares on a wire rack that's been placed over a baking dish.  Start by pouring a tablespoon or two of the uncoloured white fondant on the top of one of your cake squares.  Using an offset pallete knife, spread the fondant to the edges so it starts to flow down the sides of the cake.  Using the back of the knife, scoop out a bit more fondant from the bowl and spread it down each side, starting from the top.  Let the fondant run down the sides until all of the cake is covered.  



Once the cakes are covered, place a sugar decoration in the middle of each one and let the icing dry for at least half an hour.

Ignore the random white one with sprinkles!

Divide the remaining fondant icing in half an colour one half red, and the other blue.  Repeat the steps above for the rest of your cakes.

8.  After the fondant has surface dried, use your palette knife to move each cake onto a paper liner.  You can press the paper onto the fondant to help it form to the shape of the cake.

Leave your petite fours uncovered until they're thoroughly dry.  I made mine in the evening, and I don't know what on earth possessed me to cover them in a sealed container but I did, and because my liquid fondant hadn't dried completely my sugar decorations absorbed some of the moisture which discoloured them.  Obviously I wasn't thinking clearly!  

These petit fours will keep at room temperature for up to 5 days if they're properly covered with liquid fondant to prevent them from drying out.



I hope you like these petit fours - I loved them - especially with the addition of the blackcurrant jam!  I can't wait to make more of them.  Don't let all the steps detour you, because although they do take a bit of time to make them, the final results are not only pretty, but also delicious!

Check back later for my other Diamond Jubilee street party recipes!

Thanks to Lakeland for the Jubilee products (cake stand, napkins, cupcake cases and jam jar covers are featured), and to Waitrose for the Jubilee sugar decorations.
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