Raspberry Bubblegum Macarons

Macarons have been few and far between as of late. As much as I love making them, and more importantly, eating them, they can be very finicky and temperamental, especially in the heat and humidity of the summer. However, I thought, before I go back into Uni hibernation, I should probably make some, even just to know that I am still capable (and this I am now unsure of!).

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 I had been on the hunt for a delicious bubblegum flavour, as I love baking with fun and nostalgic flavours. With fresh raspberries in abundance, I thought, what better than raspberry bubblegum macarons. Whilst my shells failed to comply, they were still tasty, and the intense bubblegum flavour coupled nicely with the burst of the fresh raspberry.

 Macarons:

Recipe by Adriano Zumbo. 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
  • Colouring gel, purple (Wilton and Americolour are best)
  • 100s & 1000s, any sort you like (I use CK Brand – Jimmies)

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 and begins to bubble slightly. You can also use a candy thermometer, and heat 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 and hardened.

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. Add the colouring gel now, taking care to only add very small amounts until your desired colour is achieved. 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 set, most supermarkets sell plastic disposable ones with a few different nozzles. 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. Sprinkles macaron shells with 100s & 1000s. 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. Don’t rush this process – you want the shells to be completely dry. Otherwise, it is unlikely that the ‘foot’ of the macaron will be formed.  Preheat your oven to 135c, or 125c fan forced.

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Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes. Turn trays around, and bake for another 9 minutes. To check if shells are cooked, gently lift one off the baking paper. If it peels of easily, they are done, if not, keep checking at 2 minute intervals. Furthermore, if you notice the tops have a slightly crumpled look after you take them out of the oven, put them back in for another couple of minutes. In my experience, this means that they are slightly undercooked and/or haven’t dried out enough before cooking. Cool on trays for 10 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).

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 Raspberry bubblegum buttercream:

  •  Approximately 10 fresh or frozen raspberries, chopped finely
  • 200g butter, chopped and softened (not melted)
  • 2-3 cups icing sugar mixture
  • Colouring gel, turquoise (Wilton and Americolour are best)
  • Bubblegum flavouring (available at specialty cake supply stores)

With a beater, or in a mixer, beat butter until pale and creamy (usually 4-5 minutes). Gradually add in the icing sugar, mixing each addition until well combined. Add approx. ¼ teaspoon of colouring gel. You can always add more if you would like a deeper colour. Very carefully, add a couple of drops of bubblegum flavouring. Mine is extremely strong, so I only needed a tiny amount to achieve enough flavour. Remember, you can always put more in, but you cannot take it back out! Gently fold through the fresh raspberries through the buttercream.

Assembly:

Pair up similar sized macaron shells. Fill a piping bag, fitted with a large round nozzle (it must be large, as you do not want the pieces of raspberry to get stuck behind the nozzle), with buttercream. Pipe rounds of buttercream onto one macaron shell, and gently sandwich with the other. Place in an airtight container, and store in the fridge. Macarons always taste better the day after you have made them, as the flavour has had time to develop. Always serve macarons at room temperature.

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 Enjoy! X

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Wedding Cakes, Sesame Street and more!

Well, I did say it could be a while. However, I am back, and back with lots of photos of cake! The last month has been absolutely flat out with cakes for me, and it doesn’t look like I’ll be slowing down any time soon! Which is not a bad thing, it is nice to busy making cake, than busy writing essays! Anyway, lets get to the important stuff – this cake below was made for a very special family wedding in late November, and I was super happy with how they turned out:

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The top cake was a 4” vanilla bean layer cake, filled with lemon curd. All of the cupcakes were a nice simple vanilla bean, with fondant flowers to match the bride’s beautiful dress. I love making vanilla bean cake, because it’s so simple, but has such a lovely flavour (providing you use good quality paste or beans). I am definitely a chocolate girl at heart, but vanilla bean brings a nice change and is so underrated.

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I used the trusty vanilla bean cupcake recipe by Taste.com, which I have been using for years, for both cakes. The recipe is so versatile – the result is always great with cupcakes, and small and large layer cakes.

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These cupcakes below have to be the most fun I have ever had making cakes! I was a little nervous to make these because I have never done anything like it before, but I was very happy with the results! As you probably know from my previous work, I am not a fan of fondant at all, but I had to make a slight exception for these cuties 🙂

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It was only the second time I have attempted bright red buttercream, because the first time, it was a nightmare! Red is such a difficult colour to get right, because you have to use sooooo much colour for it to be deep enough. However, if you add too much gel to the buttercream, it splits due to the amount of liquid = disaster. It took me two times to get it right, and the trick for me was to start with a deep pink, and then add the red to deepen the colour. If anyone has any tips for red buttercream – please let me know!! 🙂

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Below are some other Birthday and Christmas cupcake orders I have been lucky enough to make 🙂

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Happy Christmas baking to you all, stay tuned for a delicious festive dessert soon! x

P.S. For more regular photos and updates, follow me on Instagram – @whiskitforabiscuit

 

Cappuccino Naked Layer Cake with Chocolate Ganache

These naked cakes seem to be on trend at the moment! I really enjoyed making this cake, and I really like the combination of the rustic buttercream around the cake, and the rosettes and pool of chocolate ganache on top. This cake was made for my Mum’s birthday, as she loves coffee and chocolate. So, this flavour was a no-brainer!

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 I used the trusted vanilla cupcake recipe for this cake, as it converts quite well into a round cake, too. I tried to get a good quality coffee flavour into the buttercream by using real espresso shots, and this worked really well. I also used dark chocolate ganache in the middle of the layers as well as on the top. It was a nice addition and it cut through the creaminess of the buttercream, and really, who doesn’t love ganache?!

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 Vanilla Cakes:

  • 200g butter, chopped and softened
  • 1 1/2 cups caster (white) sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 cup milk

Line two 22cm round springform cake tins with baking paper. Preheat oven to 180c. Beat butter, sugar and  vanilla bean paste until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until each is well combined. Add the flour and milk gradually, in alternating batches. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine after each addition. Ensure you begin and finish with flour. Divide mixture evenly between the two prepared cake tins. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer is inserted and comes out clean. I had a bit of a problem with my cakes taking a while to cook in the middle, and one of them sunk quite a bit after I had taken it out of the oven. If you find this starting to happen in the few minutes after you have taken the cake/s out, place them back in, and lower the oven temperature if the edges of the cake are cooked. You don’t want dry edges and a  raw middle. Yuk! Once cakes have cooked, leave them to cool completely in tins. Release gently from tins once cool. If you are not assembling the cakes immediately, wrap them tightly in cling wrap and place in the fridge until ready to assemble. I prefer to assemble cakes cold, especially this one, because you will need to carve the tops. Always bring cake down to room temperature to serve and eat. 🙂

Dark Chocolate Ganache:

  •  250g good quality chocolate chips, or dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup thickened cream

Combine chocolate and cream together in a medium saucepan, and cook over a low-medium heat, stirring, until melted and smooth. Pour into a heatproof bowl, and leave until set. If you are not using ganache on the same day, refrigerate, and slightly warm in the microwave to use.

Espresso Buttercream:

  • 400g butter, chopped and softened (I prefer to use salted butter when making buttercream)
  • 3 1/2 cups icing sugar mixture
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract
  • 30ml espresso coffee (try to use real espresso if you can. If it is not possible, use a good instant coffee powder with 30ml boiling water

Beat butter and vanilla until pale and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and coffee and beat until well combined. With the sugar and coffee, you don’t have to stick to these quantities if they are not to your taste. Taste as you go and add what you are happy with.

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Assembly:

Place one vanilla cake on the stand or board which you will present on. Using a serrated bread knife, gently cut the top of the cake, horizontally, until you have created an even top. Using a palette knife or a spatula, generously spread approximately 2/3 cup of buttercream over the top of the first cake. Then, using a tablespoon, spoon approximately 2-3 tablespoons of dark chocolate ganache on top of the buttercream and push out toward the edges of the cake, taking care not to mix the two – you want the ganache on top of the buttercream. Place the second cake on top of the first, and again, gently cut across it to create an even top, and spread with the buttercream only. After this, using your palette knife or spatula again, gently coat the outside of the cake with buttercream, taking care to gently scrape the edges, creating a smooth, naked cake appearance. Then, place approximately 2 1/2 cups of buttercream into a large piping bag fitted with a large, star nozzle. Pipe rosettes or swirls around the edges of the cake, and lightly dust with cocoa powder. Spoon 1/2 cup of dark chocolate ganache into the middle of the cake, and gently spread out to the rosettes if you need to. As mentioned earlier, always bring cake down to room temperature to eat. Serve, and enjoy!

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Happy Baking!

Triple Salted Caramel Mini Cupcakes

I made these super delicious morsels for the RSPCA Cupcake Day at work, and I believe they were quite the hit. Well, I’m guessing they were, as there were none left at the end! If you follow my blog, you will know I am the number one lover of all things salted caramel, and these cupcakes did nothing to change my opinion. They were yum. Really yum.

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I’m happy I made the wise decision to make them minis, though. They were the perfect size. Not too big, and not too small. Just enough to pop them in your mouth all at once, to close your eyes and go to heaven for a few seconds. If I could have, I would have popped and definitely not stopped. I really am a shocker. As I sit here, I have a fresh tub of the biggest Nutella (one of my many other loves) you can get at the supermarket, right next to me, and a spoon clumsily hanging from my mouth. I may have slightly freaked out about the prospect of a worldwide Nutella shortage. Anyway, back on track…

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Salted Caramel Cupcakes: (from Gourmet Getaways) Makes approx. 60 mini cupcakes

  • 190g butter, chopped and softened
  • 150g white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup golden syrup
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 170c. Line cupcakes trays with cases. In a large saucepan, combine butter, white chocolate, brown sugar and golden syrup, and place over a medium heat, stirring with a metal spoon until combined and melted, and the sugar is dissolved.

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Remove from the heat, add the milk, and let cool for 10 minutes. Stir through the flour and baking powder until combined. Add eggs, one at a time and stir until combined. Fill cupcakes evenly, and bake for approximately 18 minutes, or until a skewer comes out of the cakes clean. Cool in tins for 5-10 minutes, and let cool on wire racks.

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Caramel Maison: (this recipe is on page 245 of Adriano Zumbo’s cookbook)

  • 220g pouring (whipping) cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped (I used 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
  • 120g water (this is just under 1 cup)
  • 300g caster (white) sugar
  • 60g liquid glucose (available at most supermarkets)

Place the cream and vanilla in a small saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, and remove the vanilla bean if you are using one. In the meantime, place the water, sugar and glucose in a larger saucepan over a low-medium heat and cook until the glucose and sugar are fully dissolved, stirring occasionally. Zumbo says to use a clean pastry brush dipped in water to clean the sides of the saucepan in order to avoid crystalisation, however you can also just place the saucepan in really hot water with suds just after use and the sugar will melt off really easily. Increase the heat to medium, and cook the sugar mixture until it reaches a dark amber colour. This does take quite a while, and I was getting worried that mine would not work, but persistence is key here, it will eventually darken after 10-12 minutes. Very carefully stir the cream mixture into the sugar mixture slowly – be very careful because it spits and releases lot of heat. I found the best way to do this was with a spoon with a very long handle, as you want to keep your face as far away from the saucepan whilst it is spitting. If you don’t have a spoon with a super long handle, just add the cream really slowly and try to stir as best you can! Keep stirring as much as you can until the caramel settles down, then stir until completely smooth. Transfer to a bowl, let it cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

Caramel Buttercream: (this recipe is on page 42 of Zumbo’s cookbook)

  • 150g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
  • caramel maison (prepared earlier. Leave 2 tbs for the sauce to drizzle on top of cupcakes)
  • approx. 2 tsp sea salt

Place the butter in a bowl, and beat until light and fluffy. Warm the caramel maison in the microwave until it reaches a pouring consistency (mine needed 1 min, 20 seconds on high as it was in the fridge overnight), however, just warm it in stages to prevent burning the caramel. With the beater running slowly, add the caramel maison to the butter and continue mixing until thick. Once I had added about half of my caramel, I got a bit worried because it looked like it was curdling, however as I kept adding the caramel, it began to thicken up. Once you have added all of the caramel, fold in the salt. I did not measure my salt, as I used a shaker. So if you too are using a shaker, you can salt to taste.

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Assembly:

Place your preferred piping nozzle in your piping bag, and fill with caramel buttercream. Pipe swirls/rounds onto cupcakes. For the sauce, take the 2 tbs of caramel maison left, warm in microwave until it is an almost liquid like consistency. Pour into a sauce bottle or similar, and drizzle over each cupcake. To store, place cupcakes in airtight containers, and leave at room temperature, in a dry area.

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Cappuccino Choc-Dip Macarons

Trust me to make macarons more difficult than they already are! I didn’t think the choc dip component of these special delights would be that tricky, but they turned out to be quite fiddly, and very messy. It was worth it though, as they were quite delicious. It’s been forever since I have made anything remotely coffee, and I tend to forget how yummy coffee flavoured desserts and sweets can be. This flavour went down really well with my family and colleagues, and even my boyfriend who loathes coffee quite enjoyed it, too. Winner! Also, apologies for the photos. I’ve been having issues with my good camera, so my iPhone had to do the job this time around.

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 The filling was super easy to make. It’s a basic buttercream with a bit of coffee thrown in. You just have to make sure to get the balance just right – not too much coffee, not too little. The flavour worked really well with the salted butter, and the dark chocolate dip. Even though it was messy, I’d totally do the choc dip again. It makes them just that little bit extra indulgent – perfect in the throes of Winter!

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

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. 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 set, most supermarkets sell plastic disposable ones with a few different nozzles. 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. Don’t rush this process – you want the shells to be completely dry. Otherwise, it is unlikely that the ‘foot’ of the macaron will be formed.  Preheat your oven to 125c or 135c, fan forced.

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Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes. Turn trays around, and bake for another 9 minutes. To check if shells are cooked, gently lift one off the baking paper. If it peels of easily, they are done, if not, keep checking at 2 minute intervals. Furthermore, if you notice the tops have a slightly crumpled look after you take them out of the oven, put them back in for another couple of minutes. In my experience, this means that they are slightly undercooked and/or haven’t dried out enough before cooking. 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.

Cappuccino Buttercream:

  • 200g salted butter, chopped and softened
  • Approx. 1 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • Approx. 30ml espresso (you can use coffee bags or instant powdered/granule coffee as well, just make sure it’s not too watered down)

Beat butter until pale and creamy. Add vanilla bean paste and beat until combined. Gradually add sugar and coffee to butter mixture. Please be careful with adding the coffee, as you don’t want to add too much liquid at once, otherwise the butter may split and curdle. Add it slowly and keep tasting until happy with the strength and flavour.

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For the choc dip, melt good quality dark chocolate in a small glass bowl/ramekin. Don’t use anything too deep because it will make it harder to dip the macaron in and out of the chocolate. I melted the chocolate gradually, as I needed it, as I didn’t want it to harden, because the dipping process did take a while. Overall, I ended up using about 200g of melts (small chocolate bits). Melt chocolate in 20 second increments in the microwave, and use a metal spoon to stir. Melting the chocolate in short  increments will keep it from burning and turning into that horrible lumpy, grainy consistency. Once chocolate is smooth and glossy, gently dip each macaron half way into the chocolate, using a teaspoon to remove the excess, and place on an oven tray lined with a fresh sheet of baking paper. Once chocolate has hardened, dust macarons with cocoa. Place in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and bring to room temperature to eat.

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 Whilst the weather here in Melbourne is pretty horrible at the moment, like, ice-all-over-your-car-in-the-morning kind of horrible (Aussie’s are not used to this!), the upside is that it’s perfect macaron making weather! No humidity, no air conditioning. Take advantage of it if you can!

 

Have a great weekend, and Happy Baking! 🙂

Pear and Chocolate Layer Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

My friend asked me to make a special cake for a very special occasion, and she gave me complete freedom to choose the flavours and look of this special cake. I was a bit worried, because I wanted it to not only be creative and interesting, but also a crowd pleaser. It took me a while to come up with the idea that eventuated into the pretty little thing below,and I kept umm-ing and ahh-ing about every last detail. I’m pretty happy with the result.

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This is the first ‘naked’ cake I’ve made, and I must say I really like the look of the naked cake. It first worried me a little because covering a cake in icing kind of gives you a security blanket in that you can cover up all the flaws on the cake itself, but I love the rustic look, and also the autumn colours this cake has.

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I have used the combination of pear and caramel before, and really, adding chocolate to this magnificent duo, is certainly not going to do any harm! While it may seem a little rich, the pear is a nice fresh hit when paired peared with the creamy caramel and breaks the decadence up nicely, even though I would be so much more than happy to down a bowl of that caramel buttercream on its own.

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The recipes used here are nothing I haven’t made before, I’ve just adapted them a little differently.  You can find the caramel buttercream recipe on this post for Caramel au buerre sale macarons, and you can find the chocolate cake recipe here – I have just made it into three round cakes instead of cupcakes. As for the pear, there is one pear, chopped, in each layer, plus the whole baked pear in the middle of the top layer. Enjoy!

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St. Patrick’s Day Rainbow Cupcakes

Happy (belated) St. Patrick’s Day to you all, and top of the morning to ya! 😉 I have seen these super cute cupcakes many times on Pinterest, so I thought it was time to give them a go. They’re so adorable 🙂

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I used my trusted vanilla cupcake recipe for these, and once again, they worked a treat as always. To get the rainbow effect throughout your cake, you just need to divide your batter into separate bowls, colour them, and spoon them separately into the cupcake cases before baking.

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I also loved the sour strap rainbow. As cute as it looked, it also gave the cupcake a nice sour tang and cut through the buttercream. Deeeeeeelicious.

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These little gems are really easy to make, too, and would be fun for kids to have a go at. You obviously don’t have to colour the batter, either. And you don’t have to pipe grass on the cupcakes, which I discovered is quite time consuming to get right!

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Happy Baking, Guinness drinking and potato eating! Hope you all have a great weekend 🙂