Friday, 27 July 2012

Edible Olympic Torch Cone Cakes


There's been a great deal of excitement building up around the world, and here in the UK - especially in the London area as the city and it's residents get ready to host the 2012 Olympic Games.  

I've always been a big fan of the Olympics.  There's just something about them that allows me to get sucked into the hype and watch sports that I would never normally watch, and get really genuinely excited about them. Like the Triple Jump or the Canoe Slalom.  I mean really - who watches those on a regular basis? It seemed like the hype and excitement around the Olympics in the past few weeks leading up to today wasn't as high as I had anticipated it to be, but as the Olympic torch made it's way closer and closer to London the excitement did seem to build.  
 

Last Friday the torch relay past through the town where I live (a 30 minute train ride outside of London).  Although I was working and not able to watch it in person, my husband and son were front and centre while it made it's way down a street near our home.  My husband took the photo above as the torch bearer ran past them.  

I think it's pretty cool to know that the Olympic flame above is the same flame that was originally lit way back in May in Athens Greece, and that it has past from torch to torch without ever going out.
 

I created some fun little edible torches in honour of the Olympic flame making it's way through Greece and the UK, and into the Opening Ceremonies tonight where it will burn brightly above the city of London for all the world to see for the duration of the Olympics.

These edible torches are made with mini ice cream cones that I picked up a couple weeks ago while on holiday in Canada.  I filled them with cake ball mixture and sprayed them with edible gold lustre spray before topping them off with a buttercream flame.  Pretty cute huh!?


Edible Olympic Torches

20 mini ice cream cones
9 inch round cake (baked), chocolate or flavour of your choice (equivalent to half of a boxed cake mix)
3 - 4 Tbsp chocolate icing (I like to use pre-made icing because it holds up better in the summer heat)

Edible Gold Lustre Spray

1 1/2 cups white buttercream icing
Red, orange and yellow food colourings
Piping bag
Large star tip nozzle

1.  Crumble your cake into a large bowl, and add in 3-4 tablespoons of icing. Mix together until they're well combined, and form a dough like consistency.

2.  Form a small amount of the cake dough into a cone shape, and push it inside the mini ice cream cone so that it's flush with the top of the cone.  Repeat until all of the cake dough and cones are used.


3.  Line the cones up on a cutting board, cake side down and spray with edible gold lustre spray making sure to coat the entire cone so that it's nice and golden. Set aside and let dry.


4.  Divide your white buttercream in half.  Tint the first  half orange, and divide the second half into two.  Tint half of the second half yellow, and the other half red.  Imagine that the inside of your piping bag has 4 sides.  Coat 2 opposite sides with the orange icing, and coat the other sides with the red and yellow icing.  The majority of your piping bag will be filled with orange icing, while one quarter will be filled with red, and the other with yellow. 


Pipe the multi-coloured buttercream swirls onto the tops of your cake filled cones to create mini torches.

I used an black food marker to write 2012 on some of my cones.


If you're planning on having an Olympic viewing party these torch cones would make the perfect addition.  If you're not able to find the mini ice cream cones, you can make similar golden torch cupcake cones by baking the cake directly in a regular size flat bottom ice cream cone.  When they're done baking simply spray the cones gold and ice them using the same steps as above.

I'll be watching tonight's Opening ceremonies and celebrating with a few of these edible torches.  I can't wait to see what the next two weeks have in store for us, and I'll be cheering on both team Canada and team GB.  We're going to try and get out tomorrow to watch the road cycling race which will pass the area near we live.  How exciting! 


How will you be celebrating the games?  Do you have any viewing parties planned?  Have you been lucky enough to get tickets to an event? 

I've got another Olympic themed dessert in the works, so keep watching for it!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Gourmet S'mores

The weather here in the UK has been positively dismal.  Having just returned to soggy ol' England from holiday in Toronto where the weather was 38°C (100°F) has only reinforced the fact that our summer so far has been absolutely crappy. 

It was so nice to get away and spend some time in a tropical climate - even if it was on the beaches and streets of Toronto, and not the Caribbean.  No visit back home to Canada is complete without some serious food (ingredient) shopping.  I always return to the UK with a suitcase full of North American treats that are hard to find in UK stores.  I made numerous visits to a fantastic bulk food shop where I stocked up on sprinkles and candy melts -  almost an entire carry on suitcase full!  I also visited Golda's Kitchen - the most amazing cake supply store, thanks to a recommendation from Jodie Whitley via the Made With Pink Facebook page (I'll be posting pictures of the cake shop and my holiday purchase on my facebook page shortly!)


A few days before I left on holiday I decided to perk myself up and get into the summer spirit by making some gourmet s'mores (sans campfire) using some of the ingredients I'd picked up from my previous holiday to the States. 


I'd had a few bags of speciality marshmallows and a couple boxes of graham crackers sitting on my baking shelf for the past few months,  I'd always intended to use them for gourmet s'mores, but I just never got around to it until now.  Plus I needed to make room for my new impending purchases!




I made four different s'more combinations:

Pina Colada:  Original graham crackers sandwiched together with white chocolate, pineapple & toasted coconut marshmallows, and a slice of freshly grilled pineapple. 



Chocolate Mint:  Chocolate graham crackers sandwiched together with mint chocolate marshmallows and dark mint chocolate.



Peanut Butter Cup:  Chocolate graham crackers sandwiched together with flat vanilla marshmallows and a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.



Salted Caramel:  Chocolate graham crackers sandwiched together with caramel flavoured chocolate callets, flat vanilla marshmallows and a spoon full french salted butter caramel (not pictured).



Don't think you can't make these if you don't live in the US, or don't have the graham crackers or fancy marshmallows.  I've seen toasted coconut marshmallows in the UK before in several stores, and most recently I've been able to find them in the South African grocery stores near my home.  Regular marshmallows will work just as well in all of these s'mores, but my tip is to cut them in half so they lay flat instead of standing tall like they normally would.  All of the chocolate I used is from the UK, and is available in any major grocery store with the exception of the caramel callets which were a gift from my March Foodie Penpal who bought them in a local shop in Manchester.  If you don't have the caramel callets or the salted butter caramel, then you can use the new flat Rolo chocolate bars that have just been launched for sale in the UK. 

As for the graham crackers, you can make your own at home by following the recipe here that I used to make my mini s'more pops a couple of years ago.

To make the s'mores you'll need the above ingredients and an oven.  If the UK weather ever gets better then you can make them the way they were originally intended - with a camp fire.  But until then you'll need to pre-heat your oven to 200°C (400°F).  


Assemble your s'mores together and wrap them in a square of aluminum foil (this will ensure your chocolate and marshmallow don't melt and ooze out the sides of your graham crackers and into the oven.)  Place them in the hot oven for 3-5 minutes before removing.  Carefully unwrap each s'more and enjoy - just make sure you don't burn yourself on the hot gooey marshmallow and chocolate!

I think that the salted caramel s'mores were my favourite out of the bunch.  They were so so soooo good, but also very rich.  I couldn't have eaten more than one.  I also really liked the Pina Colada ones, they were so different from any other s'more I'd made.  I only got to try a small bite of the chocolate mint s'more before my husband gobbled it up.  As for the Reese's s'more, while it was good, it wasn't my favourite.  I'd still prefer to eat the Reese's cup by it self.

What other unique flavours of s'mores have you made?  Do you have any other suggestions for me??

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Surprise Foodie Packages

I've had the pleasure of receiving two great foodie packages in the post recently.  The first package was my June Foodie Penpals package (I usually post about these on the first of each month) and was sent to me by Fay from the blog Food Fables.  I was Fay's first Foodie Penpal, and she did a great job choosing the things in my package.  She sent me some pink strawberry flavoured candy melts that I'll most definitely be using for some kind of cake pop or other creation.  Also included was some of my most favourite gummy candies that you can get at Asian supermarkets - the ones Fay sent me were Mango flavoured, but they come in loads of other flavours.  I used to get these all the time when I lived in Canada where they were more widely available.  How did Fay know I liked these???  Fay also included some other Asian foods - an instant noodle pouch - great for a last minute meal, and some chilli paste which I have to admit scares the crap out of me because it looks so potent.  I'll definitely be using it in some stir frys and sauces, but I must make sure to use it sparingly!  Fay also sent some Strawberry and pepper vinegar that her mum's friend made.  I haven't used it yet, but I'm sure it would be delicious on salads.  Not sure what else it might be good for - any suggestions?


I sent my Foodie penpal package to Emily who runs the Bristol Bites website.  Emily said she preferred savoury things rather than sweet so I sent her one of my favourite finds.  It's a packaged Pad Thai kit that comes with noodles, sauce and spices, and just requires you to add your meat of choice and an egg.  I discovered these Pad Thai kits recently and I think they're great and can taste quite authentic with the addition of a tablespoon or two of peanut butter mixed in.  I also sent Emily a mini tub of roasted garlic sea salt (I also bought one for me because it looked so good - my husband's tried it already and says it's great on steak), and some sweet chilli Ryvita mini's for snacking.  Finally I felt that I had to include one sweet thing, so I sent Emily some Jules Destrooper chocolate coated cookies that looked really good.  I haven't tried them, but I wish I had bought myself a package as well!


The second foodie package I received were some delightful little hand decorated cookies in the shape of cupcakes.  These cookies were made for me by Rachel of the blog Blissfully Scrumptious, and were part of a bake swap organised by my friend Sarah of Maison Cupcake to celebrate the launch of her new book titled Bake Me I'm Yours, Sweet Bitesize Bakes. I love the idea of swapping baked goods centred around a common theme (mini bakes) and seeing what everyone comes up with.  The cookies that Rachel baked for me were a vanilla butter cookie that were decorated with white chocolate as the cupcake icing and then fondant bases, with perfect tiny cupcakes added on top which I think were made with royal icing.  The cookies are delicious, and I was so excited when I got home from work and noticed the box in the hallway that I couldn't wait to unpack it.  Seriously - if you saw me trying to unwrap it you'd think I'd received a Gucci handbag or something!  I was so pleased to see that all the cookies arrived perfectly in tact - not a crumb/crumble to be seen!


As for my baked item, I sent Rachel some mini cupcakes I decorated with pastel fondant and mini sugar paste flowers and pearls.  It was the first time I made fondant covered cupcakes, and I was really pleased with the way they turned out.  I'll be posting a tutorial on them soon, so check back for that.  Never in my life have I been so worried about sending something through the post.  At least with my foodie penpal packages, things are generally far less fragile, and I haven't put a whole lot of time and effort into personal making each individual item.  I was dying to know if my cupcakes survived their journey to Dorset through the mail, and sent a tweet out to everyone on Twitter to see if they knew a potential food blogger by the name of Rachel who lived in Dorset - (we weren't told if our bake swap mate was also a blogger).  Sure enough within a few minutes a response was tweeted to me, and Rachel and I were united via Twitter where we thanked each other for our baked treats and I was assured that my cupcakes did indeed arrive in tact.  Phew!  My packaging job had worked!


I really hope that the Bake Swap continues on a regular basis, as I had a great time making and receiving my mini bakes. Keep an eye out on the Maison Cupcake blog to see if there is another instalment of bake swap.

And if you're interested in becoming a Foodie Penpal you can find more information and sign up through the Rock Salt Blog here if you're in the UK & Europe, or through the Lean Green Bean Blog here is your in the US & Canada.
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