Lemon Meringue Layer Cake with Macarons

This cake was tasty, very tasty indeed. I made this cake for my boyfriend’s birthday, as he loves all things lemon and meringue – you may remember from last year. I was really happy with the flavour of this cake and the lemon curd that filled it, and the macarons turned out quite well, too. I’ve been a bit lucky with macarons of late, lets hope it stays that way!
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I pictured the merinuge on the outside to look a little different. It wasn’t as glossy and high as I would have liked, but I think it was because I didn’t make enough sugar syrup. However, that’s a minor detail. The part I loved most about making this cake was blowtorching it! I love watching the meringue cook and change colour, I could stand there all day and blowtroch…or maybe I just love playing with flames?! I used my usual vanilla cupcake recipe and just added a bunch of lemon juice and zest and it worked a real treat! It was moist, lemony and buttery all at the same time – yum 😉 The lemon curd recipe I used was from the ever wonderful Zumbo, and it was unsurprisingly delicious and unlike many lemon curds, it remained thick and did not leak out the sides of the macarons like lemon curds often do! Winner 🙂
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Macarons:

This recipe is Adriano Zumbo’s, and was published a couple of years ago in the Herald Sun. You will definitely need kitchen scales to make macarons.

  •  135g almond meal
  • 135g icing sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 45g egg whites
  • 50g egg whites
  • 40g water
  • 1/4 tsp colouring gel, yellow

Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray around the edges, and line with baking paper and set aside. Place almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl, and sift together 3 times. Set aside, along with the 45g egg whites. Put 50g egg whites in a separate bowl. Heat caster sugar and water in a small saucepan, over a low-medium heat, until the sugar completely dissolves (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If you do not want to burn your tongue, Zumbo suggests investing in a candy thermometer and heating the syrup until it reaches 118 degrees C (244 degrees F). If the syrup becomes thick and powdery in appearance, you will need to start again. This is because the sugar has been heated too much, too quickly, and instead of dissolving, it has cooked.

Begin beating the 50g egg whites with one hand, and with the other, stream the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl to create an italian meringue. Beat until stiff peaks form, the meringue should be thick and very glossy. If you want to add flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment. So add the colouring now. Just lightly beat them into the meringue. Pour meringue into the almond meal, icing sugar and 45g egg whites mixture and mix roughly to combine. When combined, fold mixture together (one single stroke) until there are no air bubbles left. Make a spread across the top of the mixture, and it should disappear in about 20 seconds. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. (If you don’t have a piping bag set, most supermarkets sell plastic ones, they are Multix brand, in an orange box and contain 5 piping bags with a few different nozzles, plus they’re only about $3. You should be able to find them in the baking aisle). Lock the bag by spinning the top around 4 times. Pipe 3-4cm rounds on the oven trays prepared earlier. Tap the bottom of the trays on the kitchen bench and let them sit for about half an hour, or until mixture is dry to the touch. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 145c (135c fan forced).

Place in oven and bake for 16-20 minutes. Check macarons at 16 minutes, and to test if they are cooked, pull a macaron off the baking paper. If it is stuck, keep cooking and checking regularly. Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then peel off and place on a wire rack. The mixture should make about 12 -15 large macarons, and about 25 smaller macarons. Macarons keep really well (about 5 days in the fridge) and some say that the longer they are refrigerated, the more the flavour is likely to develop. Macarons taste best when they are stored in the fridge, then brought down to room temperature to eat.

 Lemon Meringue Cake

Lemon Vanilla Cake: (adapted from Taste’s recipe)
  • 200g butter, chopped and softened
  • 1 3/4 cups caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • zest and juice of 3 lemons
Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a round baking tin with baking paper (I have two tins, so I baked two cakes then another one), and set aside. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. One at a time, add the eggs and beat until just combined. Add the lemon juice and zest and stir to combine. Add the flour and milk in alternate batches, ensuring you start and finish with the adding the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined. To ensure layers are even, weigh mixture and divide into three. I think, from memory, each layer weighed about 312g. Pour mixture into prepared tins and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Place in oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. It should just be slightly golden. Let cakes cool in tins for approximately 15 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack. When completely cooled, gently wrap cakes in glad wrap and if not using immediately, place in fridge until they are needed.
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Lemon Curd: (from Zumbarons: A Fantasy Land of Macarons p. 28)
  • 160g lightly beaten egg
  • 240g caster sugar
  •  Finely grated zest of 5 lemons
  • 160g fresh lemon juice (this amounted to be exactly 5 lemons for me)
  • 300g butter, chopped and softened
Put the egg and sugar in a saucepan and mix well. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Heat over a low-medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 85c/185f (You can buy thermometers from homeware or discount stores). Strain the curd into a bowl, discarding the zest and any little bits of cooked egg (I had a few – it’s so easy to do!). Cool the mixture to 50c/133f. When the curd is at the right temperature, beat in the butter gradually until smooth and shiny. If not using straight away, refrigerate. If you are using immediately, allow to curd to cool until it becomes firm enough to pipe.
Lemon Curd
 
 Italian Meringue: (italian meringue is made by making a sugar syrup and adding it to the egg whites to create an extremely thick and glossy mixture)
  • 6 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/3 cup cold water
To make the sugar syrup, slowly heat the sugar and water in a saucepan on a low heat until sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat up to medium until mixture begins to bubble – some people heat their syrup to a certain temperature but I usually do it by touch, usually when the mixture is just too hot for my finger it is done! Begin beating the egg whites, and slowly stream the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl. Beat until mixture is thick and very glossy. NOTE – don’t make the meringue ahead of time otherwise it will become limp. Make it straight before you cover and blowtorch the cake.
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Assembly:
Place one layer of cake on a cake stand, and generously spread lemon curd on top. Place another layer of cake on top of the lemon curd, and once again cover it with lemon curd. Place the final layer of cake on top. and cover will lemon curd. There should be a couple of teaspoons left after the cake and macarons have been filled. With a round-edged knife, generously cover the cake completely with the meringue mixture, making flicks with the knife as you go to create an element of height and visual appeal 🙂 With a chef’s blowtorch, gently go over the meringue from about 10cm, depending on how brown you want the meringue to be. To completely blowtorch the cake took me about 10-15 minutes. If you are not serving the cake immediately, gently cover it with glad wrap and keep it in a cool dry place. Enjoy!
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Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Tart

All I can say is YUM! And….omnomnomnomnomnom! Omnomnomnom. Omnom. Nom. Nom. This mouthwatering tart had been a work in progress inside my head for a while, and I wanted to make it for my birthday, as I LOVE LOVE LOVE anything with peanut butter. I was pretty happy with how it looked, even though the pastry was a little rustic looking. Okay, it was completely rustic looking. Plus, I forgot to put sugar in the pastry :/ oops! But it was still pretty awesome, even if I say so myself!
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I’m sure you can already tell, but this tart was super, super rich. Especially after the amazing slab of pork belly I had for my birthday dinner, it’s safe to say I was bursting by the end of it all! This tart was heaven for me, and will be for anyone else who loves the combination of peanut butter and chocolate. It was fairly simple to make, too. It just requires a bit of organising and beginning things the day before. You don’t have to make your own pastry if you don’t want to, either. There are some pretty good frozen pastries around that will still work really well 🙂 The shortcrust pastry recipe I used, I probably wouldn’t recommend. It was ok, but there are heaps of better ones out there. Have a look here to check them out.
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Peanut Butter ganache (adapted from Donna Hay):
  • 1 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of smooth peanut butter
  • 120g butter, chopped and softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste/extract
  • 2/3 cup (80ml) cream, thickened
  • Pinch of salt

Place sugar peanut butter, butter and vanilla in a bowl, and beat until light and fluffy (on high for about 5 minutes). Add the cream slowly and beat for another 2 minutes. If not using straight away, cover and refrigerate.

Pastry

Chocolate Ganache:
  • 100g dark chocolate (I used Green and Black’s 70% cocoa), chopped
  • 1/3 cup heavy thickened cream
  • 2 tbs butter
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until melted. Place in bowl and let cool.
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Assembly:
Once the pastry has cooled completely, you can start assembling. Spoon the peanut butter ganache over the pastry and spread it out with a spoon so it is nice and even. Pour cooled chocolate ganache over the peanut butter ganache and gently spread out with a teaspoon, being careful not to blend the peanut butter with the chocolate – you want to create two definitive layers. Ideally, it is best to refrigerate the tart overnight, but if you’re using it sooner, try and refrigerate it for the maximum amount of time possible.
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You don’t have to decorate the tart if you do not want to, it would look great with nothing on top. I had heaps of leftover peanut butter ganache hence why I did all the piping on top. It probably made it that much richer, but it certainly photographed well, I think 🙂
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Jaffa Ombre Layer Cake

One thing is fairly obvious: I love cake. I try not to eat tooo much cake, but with this one, it was difficult to stay away. I was convinced this cake would be super-rich, but surprisingly, it was quite light. It was certainly still decadent, and I will definitely be making this one again. I know I say this with a lot of things, but I’ve had the idea of making this cake in my head for quite some time. My Mum’s birthday seemed like the perfect occasion – as she (and my Dad) both love the Jaffa Macarons, and I haven’t done ombre, or any type of layer cake really, for a while.

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 The recipe I used for the orange cake is from the always amazing Raspberri Cupcakes. It is a beautfiul cake, not too buttery, and the zest from the oraange was intense, but in a great way. This particular post – Orange Cake with Fruit Tingles Icing, is one of my favourite posts from Raspberri Cupcakes, and was one of the recipes I was inspired by, to begin blogging myself (see Musk Layer Cake + Musky Macarons)!

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Orange Cake: (adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes)
  • 165g butter
  • 3/4 cup caster (white) sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • Zest and juice from 1 1/2 large oranges (I had about 1/3 cup of juice)
  • Wilton’s colouring gel, orange
Preheat the oven to 180c (170c) fan forced. Line a 22cm springform cake tin with baking paper and set aside. Beat butter until pale and fluffy. Gradually add sugar. Beat eggs in one at a time until well combined. Stir in the orange zest and juice and flour, until well combined. To divide cake into batches, weigh mixture and divide the number by 3. Pour into three separate, clean bowls. Add small amounts of colouring gel to mixtures, until you have 3 clearly different shades of orange. Pour one batch of mixture into cake tin, and spread with a spoon so it is nice and even. I had a little bit of trouble with this because the cakes were so small, but they were all fine in the end. If you have more than one cake tin, it is okay to put two on the top shelf of your oven, if they fit. Bake cakes for 10-15 mintutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Begin checking the cakes from 10 minutes.
Let cakes cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes. If you are using the cakes straight away, let them cool completely on a wire rack, and then begin layering and decorating. If not, gently wrap cakes in cling wrap tightly – be very careful as the layers will be quite thin and fragile. Place in fridge overnight. It is best to bake cakes the day before, or on the day of use. You could probably freeze them if you were really time poor, however, sometimes I find that cakes can taste a bit strange when they have been frozen!
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Jaffa Ganache:
This is the same ganache I used for the Jaffa Swirl Macarons, however I just quadrupled it.
  • 400g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups thickened cream
  • Zest of 2 1/2 oranges
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir over a low heat until smooth. If using the next day, cover and refrigerate, then take out an hour or two before use. If using on the same day, cover and refrigerate for about 30 mins, or until ganache has slightly set. I probably made my ganache a little too late for when I needed the cake, so you can see in the pictures that it was still quite runny. I tried to make the best of it though, and exposed the colours of the cake by letting the ganache drip around the side. I originally wanted to cover the cake completely in ganache, but I think it still looked nice.
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Assembly:
Place the bottom cake on a large cake stand or a cake board. With a round-edged knife, spread a layer of ganache on the top, and layer with the second cake. Repeat the process, and cover the cake completely with the ganache. If the ganache is too hard, dip the knife in warm water – it will make it a lot easier to spread out.
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You can decorate the cake however you like – you don’t even have to decorate it thought, if you don’t want to. You could use cachous, glitter, you could pipe swirls of ganche – anything you like! As you can see here, I went for choc-dipped orange segments with a tiny bit of gold glitter.
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Summer Strawberry & Vanilla Cupcakes

I made these cute little cupcakes for two of my friends joint birthday this week, and am quite satisfied with how they turned out! My friend suggested the idea of putting strawberry into the plain vanilla bean cupcake, and it worked really well. They added a nice touch of summer and broke up the sweetness of the vanilla and rich creaminess of the buttercream. Yum!

Cupcakes!

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I know it sounds a bit lame, but I LOVE piping cupcakes. I find it strangely therapeutic, but only when the buttercream swirls exactly the way I want it to :p Which definitely doesn’t always happen!

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I used my trusted vanilla bean cupcake recipe that I have used countless times. The great thing about this recipe is that you can double it, halve it, add anything you want to it (ie. Strawberries!), and the cakes will still be super moist and fluffy 🙂 Unlike macarons, where you can make the slightest of adjustments and every single shell will crack!

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Tower!

Cupcakes always look so pretty in photos, especially when they’re cute girly pastel colours like these ones. I love adding ribbon and cachous and other colour co-ordinated bits and pieces to the photos to brighten them up and to try and make a bit more of a story out of my food. I’m not sure if I’m any good at it, as I know next to nothing about photography, but it’s definitely fun to play around 🙂

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Parisian Red Velvet Cupcakes

Before I say anything else, I believe red velvet cupcakes are the world’s greatest invention. Ever. I. Love. Them. So. Much. I’m not sure exactly what it is, maybe the cream cheese frosting or the fact that the cake itself isn’t too sweet, or the combination of the two. Whatever it is, I love it!

It was my best friend’s birthday, and she loves all things Paris-y, so when I saw this kit with the cases and the little toothpicks, I knew exactly what I was going to use them for! I have tried a few red velvet recipes in my time, including the one for the giant cupcake, but I think this is the best one I have come across. It was delish-i-ohso.

Red Velvet Cupcakes: (by Martha Stewart):

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (if you don’t know what cake flour is, read this)
  • 2 tbs good-quality cocoa
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (yes, you read that right!)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Wilton’s red colouring gel
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract/vanilla bean paste
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp white vinegar

Preheat the oven to 175c (350F). Line two cupcake trays with cases. Place the flour, cocoa and salt together and mix, then set aside. With an electric whisk or a stand mixer, beat together the sugar and the oil until combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating until each is fully mixed in. Beat in vanilla and red food colouring gel.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 batches, and the buttermilk in 2 (3 dry, 2 wet additions – begin and end with dry). Whisk well after each addition. In a separate small bowl, combine the baking soda and vinegar – it will foam. Add mixture to the batter, and whisk all together for about 10 minutes. Fill each cupcake case about 3/4 of the way. Place in oven for 10 mins, then turn tray around and bake for another 10-12 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in tins for 5 mins, then transfer to wire rack. Makes approx. 22 large cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Icing:(also from Martha Stewart):

  • 225g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
  • 340g cream cheese (I used Philadelphia), softened slightly
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract/vanilla bean paste
  • 2-3 cups icing sugar mixture (confectioner’s sugar)

Beat the butter and cream cheese together until pale and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the icing sugar to taste, I used just over 2 cups, but you might want more if you like it sweeter – it’s really upto you 🙂 Beat in the vanilla.

Fill  piping bag fitted with a round nozzle and pipe a swirl on each cupcake. Decorate however you like!

I was originally a little worried about the amount of oil in this recipe, because you could really taste it in the batter before it was cooked. However, these cakes were so fluffy and moist – seriously one of the best I’ve ever tried. If you’re a fan of red velvet, definitely give these a go…you will not be disappointed 🙂

Have a great weekend and happy baking! X

Pink Champagne & Strawberry Layer Cake + Mini Cupcakes

I had always wondered what Pink Champagne would taste like in a dessert, as I had heard many stories and seen many recipes, but still wasn’t one hundred per cent convinced. As was it was my Nanna’s 81st Birthday coming up, I thought it would be the perfect time to try something Pink Champagney-cakey, because my Nanna lovvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvves Champagne, more than anyone else I know. I began my search for an inspiring recipe and stumbled across a Pink Champagne Cake Pop number from the ever-amazing Sweetapolita. I knew then I had to make it, because when it comes to cake, Sweetapolita is up there with the best and I knew it would be fantastic!

Unfortunately, when I made the cake I was running quite low on time (nothing ever changes!), and it wasn’t as pretty as I hoped it would be. So, it was definitely a rustic looking cake. The photos don’t do the cake justice either, I literally finished icing it and had to run out the door in my ten-inch heels, so the fact that the cake survived the journey to the restaurant is a miracle in itself! Lucky it did though, because it was really, really yummy. There was just enough booze to counteract the amount of butter and sugar in the icing, and the tang of the soaked strawberries in the middle certainly made it one delightful biteful!

My favourite part of the cake was definitely the Pink Champagne soaked strawberries in the middle. I cooked them down with some vanilla and a bit of sugar, and they were soooooo good! I could have happily eaten them all there and then.

Pink Champagne & Strawberry Layer Cake: (adapted from Sweetapolita)

  • 3 cups cake flour (if you don’t know what Cake Flour is – read this)
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 170g butter, chopped and softened – not melted
  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Pink Champagne
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries

Preheat a fan forced oven to 175c (350F), and grease and line two 22cm spring form pans. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy, about 5 minutes. Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) together and set aside. To the butter and sugar mixture, gradually add the egg whites, followed by the vanilla. Add and alternate the dry ingredients and the champagne – make sure you begin and end with dry (3 dry, 2 wet). Stir in chopped strawberries. Mix until fully combined, but ensure you do not over mix. Evenly distribute the cake batter (use scales to ensure they are exact) into the two prepared tins. Place in preheated oven, and cook for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. The cakes should spring back slightly when done. Do not open the oven until the cakes have been cooking for 25 minutes. Leave cakes in pan to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

 Pink Champagne Buttercream: (this can be made a few days in advance and stored in the fridge)

  • 350g salted butter, chopped and softened, not melted
  • 2 cups icing sugar mixture
  • 1/3 cup Pink Champagne
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract

Beat butter until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla. Gradually add the Pink Champagne and sugar. After buttercream is fully incorporated, beat for another 5-8 minutes.

Pink Champagne soaked Strawberries:

  • 1 small punnet strawberries, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup Pink Champagne
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp caster sugar

Place all ingredients in a small bowl and leave to soak for up to an hour (you could leave it longer if you wanted to). Pour ingredients into a small saucepan and cook over a medium heat until mixture is boiling. When it starts to boil, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 45 minutes, or until mixture is thick and syrupy. Let strawberries cool before you put them on the cake.

Assembly:

Place one layer of cake on a stand or board, or whatever you’re using. Spread a very thin layer of buttercream over the first cake, and evenly pour the soaked strawberries, and sandwich with the second layer of cake. Cover the entire cake with a layer of buttercream, using a round edged knife. I find the easiest way to do this is to get a cup of warm water, and to regularly dip – it just goes on smoother and won’t break the cake. Top the cake with a handful of strawberries for decoration and freshness 😉

I also made some mini cupcakes with the leftover Pink Champagne buttercream I had. I managed to get some better photos of these ones…

I used the foolproof recipe I always use for Vanilla Cupcakes, they work perfectly every time and are so easy!

 

 

Cupcake Madness!

The vast majority of my time in the past week has been spent making over 100 cupcakes, and a heck of a lot of buttercream! 100 may not seem like much, but when you have never done that many before, it is certainly a challenge. But lots of fun too!

I had to make three different flavours for a 21st order – chocolate, vanilla bean and red velvet. The chocolate ones had the yellow buttercream, the red velvet ones had the bright orange buttercream and the vanilla bean ones had the bright red buttercream, and all cakes were sprinkled with gold glitter.

I was really happy with how all the cakes turned out, and the colours of the buttercream were really effective. The vanilla bean with the red icing was my favourite to look at because it was so bright and the gold  glitter looked great on it.

I’m not going to write out the recipes for this one, but here are the links for the Red Velvet and the Chocolate cupcakes. I used a different recipe for the vanilla bean, and I will post that up when I make them again soon 🙂

TIP –   when you want to make bright red buttercream, you need to use soooooooooo much colouring gel to make it intense. If you are doubling or tripling the recipe, colour it in batches and then mix them because it is a lot easier to control the colour that way. I tripled my recipe, and needed a good 3 1/2 tubs of Wilton’s gel (Rojo red I think it was). I was really unhappy with mine at first, but weirdly enough overnight in the fridge it brightened from a crimson red to an intense red! This is what it was like first:

 

And after:

And these were just some circusy-themed ones I made for my sister and her friends 🙂