Cherry Ripe Layer Cake

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and managed to relax over the holiday season. I can’t believe the best time of the year is over already, it always goes too quickly! Usually, for me, January is a busy month for cakes, with most of my families’ birthdays. This year, however, almost my whole family were sick, and celebrations kept getting put off! So, this beauty of a cake was made for three peoples’ birthday, and delicious it was. Excuse the crappy photos, my awesome proper camera broke, and my the photos from my phone just aren’t the same 😦

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This cake is quite similar to this one I made about the same time last year, with red wine ganache. However, I omitted the red wine this year, and added toasted coconut flakes and cherry ripe bars.

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Chocolate Mud Cake Layers: (recipe by Janelle Bloom)

Makes 4 x 23cm layers

400g butter
200g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup good quality cocoa
2 tbs good quality drinking chocolate or instant coffee powder, or 1 tbs of each if you want
1 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract
2 cups caster (white) sugar
6 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
Approximately 500g fresh cherries, stones removed and halved
Approximately 30 fresh cherries, with stems (I used a 695g bag altogether, and it was just enough)

Preheat oven to 160c. Line 23cm springform cake tins with baking paper. I had two tins, therefore had to repeat the process.

In a medium saucepan, combine butter, chocolate, water, cocoa, drinking chocolate and/or coffee powder and vanilla. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth. Remove from heat, and set aside for 10 minutes or until lukewarm.

In the meantime, beat eggs and sugar together in a stand mixer, on medium speed, until pale and creamy. Stream the chocolate mixture down the side of the stand mixer to incorporate into egg mixture. Beat until well combined. Stop the mixer, and add the flour. Beat again until well combined and smooth.

Weigh mixture into four even portions (I did this with digitial scales), to ensure even layers. Pour mixture into prepared tins. Bake for 25 minutes in preheated oven, or until a skewer is inserted, and comes out clean. Repeat process, depending on how many cake tins you have.

Cool cakes for 15-20 minutes in tins, and transfer to a wire rack. If not using immediately, wrap tightly with cling film once cakes are completely cool, and refrigerate. Bring down to room temperature to assemble and eat.

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Dark chocolate ganache: (you will need to make the ganache the day before serving the cake)

· 300g good quality dark chocolate, chopped, or choc bits
· 300ml thickened cream

In a medium saucepan, combine the chocolate and cream, and place over a low-medium heat, constantly stirring until melted. Place in a large bowl and let cool at room temperature. When ganache has cooled, cover with cling wrap and leave overnight at room temperature.

Assembly:

· Toasted coconut flakes or dessicated coconut
· 900g cherries, pitted and halved
· 100g whole cherries

Place one layer of mud cake on the stand/base. Place ganache in a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle. Pipe one small dob of ganache in the middle of the cake, and place halves of cherries around it. Repeat the process with ganache around the other side of the cherries, and repeat again. Sprinkle with coconut. The end result should look like this:

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Repeat the process three times, until you reach the top layer. You can really decorate the top layer however you want. I used the ganache for the middle of the top layer, and as you can, sprinkled coconut around the edges. I stuck the whole cherries in with the ganache, to ensure they weren’t going to fall off. I sliced the cherry ripes into sharp triangles, to look effective on the cake.

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Enjoy, and happy baking! 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!

Chocolate Mudcake Layers, with Red Wine Ganache, Fresh Cherries and Hazelnut Praline

Happy New Year to you! I am back with a bang – with this bee-yoo-tiful chocolate mud cake with all the bells and whistles! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and enjoyed the break with your loved ones. I know I certainly did, and am feeling refreshed and ready to attack 2015 head on!

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I must say, I am super proud of this cake. I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like, and I had all the flavours imagined in my mind. It turned out perfectly, and it was really delicious, if I say so myself. This cake was inspired by the fantastically awesome Katherine Sabbath. If you don’t know who she is, pretty please check out her Instagram – you will be amazed!
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The thing I loved most about this cake, apart from how it looked, was the combination of the dark chocolate red wine ganache, and the fresh cherries. The richness of the chocolate and the red wine together, with the hit of the juicy fresh cherries, full of flavour, was downright damned delicious. The cherries here in Australia at the moment are so yummy, and so cheap! Yay for Summer! If only it lasted all year long.
Chocolate Mud Cake Layers: (recipe by Janelle Bloom)
Makes 4 x 23cm layers
  • 400g butter
  • 200g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup good quality cocoa
  • 2 tbs good quality drinking chocolate or instant coffee powder, or 1 tbs of each if you want
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract
  • 2 cups caster (white) sugar
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
  • Approximately 500g fresh cherries, stones removed and halved
  • Approximately 30 fresh cherries, with stems (I used a 695g bag altogether, and it was just enough)

Preheat oven to 160c. Line 23cm springform cake tins with baking paper. I had two tins, therefore had to repeat the process.

In a medium saucepan, combine butter, chocolate, water, cocoa, drinking chocolate and/or coffee powder and vanilla. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth. Remove from heat, and set aside for 10 minutes or until lukewarm.

In the meantime, beat eggs and sugar together in a stand mixer, on medium speed, until pale and creamy. Stream the chocolate mixture down the side of the stand mixer to incorporate into egg mixture. Beat until well combined. Stop the mixer, and add the flour. Beat again until well combined and smooth.

Weigh mixture into four even portions (I did this with digitial scales), to ensure even layers. Pour mixture into prepared tins. Bake for 25 minutes in preheated oven, or until a skewer is inserted, and comes out clean. Repeat process, depending on how many cake tins you have.

Cool cakes for 15-20 minutes in tins, and transfer to a wire rack. If not using immediately, wrap tightly with cling film once cakes are completely cool, and refrigerate. Bring down to room temperature to assemble and eat.

Dark Chocolate and Red Wine Ganache:

  • 500g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2/3 cup thickened cream
  • 1/2 cup red wine, I used Shiraz

Place chocolate and cream in a medium saucepan, and cook, over a medium heat, stirring, until melted and smooth. Remove from heat, and slowly add red wine. Stir until well combined and mixture is thick (wine will hang at the top of the mixture, but keep stirring, as it may take a couple of minutes for it to be mixed in properly). Pour ganache into a heatproof bowl, cover in cling film, and refrigerate. If using ganache that day, you will need to wait until it is set to use it. It may be a good idea to make the ganache first. If using the next day, you will need to slightly warm ganache in the microwave, for 10 seconds only.

FYI – for best results, beat your ganache in the stand mixer before piping, especially if it has been in the fridge overnight and has been warmed in the microwave. It will make the ganache nice and fluffy, and will be much easier to pipe.

Hazelnut Praline:

  • 1 cup caster (white) sugar
  • 3 tbs water
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper. Arrange hazelnuts neatly on the tray. Place sugar and water in a medium saucepan, and cook, on a low-medium heat, until sugar has completely dissolved. Then, turn heat up to high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar mixture turns a deep golden colour. Pour sugar mixture over the hazelnuts, and leave to set and cool, which will take approximately 30 minutes. If not using praline immediately, break into pieces and store in an air-tight container, in the freezer. This will prevent the praline from becoming sticky.

 

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Assembly:

Spoon mixed ganache into a piping bag with a wide, round nozzle. Place one mud cake on a stand, board or plate. Pipe one round of ganache in the centre of the cake. Place cherries, cut side down, around ganache. Repeat process around the cherries with the ganache, and repeat again. It should go: ganache, cherries, ganache, cherries, ganache (see photo below). Repeat with the second and third layers of mud cake. For the final layer, the top of the cake, do the exact same thing with the ganache, but instead, place the whole cherries on this layer. In addition, place whole cherries on top of the ganache rounds on the edge, just to give the cake a bit more height. Trim the ends of the cherry stems if they are brown, with a pair of kitchen scissors. Arrange praline as desired. ENJOY! 🙂

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This cake was made for my Dad and Nanna’s birthdays, and to see their faces light up when they saw this cake was wonderful, and then again when they tasted it. It really was a labour of love. I hope I get the opportunity to make this special cake again soon.

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Until next time…x

Follow @whiskitforabiscuit on Instagram here.

Top Deck Mini Cupcakes

It’s been a busy few weeks. I have been popping cupcakes out of my kitchen like no tomorrow! So, here, I present to you, Top Deck Mini Cupcakes. White Chocolate, and Dark Chocolate. It’s that simple.

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 These cupcakes are super easy to make, and are very delicious. I used the extremely trustworthy chocolate cupcake recipe that never lets me down, and my own white chocolate ganache to top them with. White Chocolate ganache is something I have always struggled to make. I find it is always runny, and I usually have to add a truckload of butter before it becomes somewhat of a pipe-able consistency. Nevertheless, it was yum!

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Chocolate Cupcakes:  (from Taste.com.au) 

Makes approx. 55 mini cupcakes

  • 100g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 125g butter, chopped and softened, not melted
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa

Line trays with cupcake cases, and preheat oven to 160c, fan forced (170c regular). Place the chocolate and water together in a small saucepan, and place over a low heat, stirring with a metal spoon until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Set aside. Beat butter and sugar together until pale and creamy, approximately 3-4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until each is well combined. Place flours and cocoa in a separate bowl, and stir to combine. Add the flour mixture to the butter, sugar and egg mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. Once combined, add the melted chocolate mixture and continue to stir with a wooden spoon until mixed. If the mixture is a little runny, leave it to settle for 10 minutes or so. Spoon mixture into cupcake cases, and bake for 15-18 minutes in preheated oven until cooked, or until a skewer comes out of the cake clean. Leave in trays to cool for 5 minutes, and transfer to a wire rack.

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 White Chocolate Ganache:

As I mentioned earlier, this is certainly not a perfect recipe. It took a lot of trial and error before I was happy with the taste and consistency. I would recommend making the white chocolate and cream mixture at least a few hours before, or even the day before.

 

  • 300g good quality white chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup thickened cream
  • 300g butter, softened, not melted

Place the white chocolate and the cream into a small saucepan, and stir with a metal spoon, over a low heat, until melted and smooth. Pour mixture into a heat proof bowl, and place in refrigerator. Beat butter until pale and creamy. Depending on the consistency, you may need to put the white chocolate and cream mixture in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Gradually add the mixture to the butter, and beat until combined.

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Spoon the ganache into a piping bag fitted with a small nozzle of your choice. Pipe ganache onto mini cupcakes. To store, place cupcakes in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place. Cupcakes will last approximately 2-3 days. Enjoy!

Snickers Peanut Butter Cupcakes

This, for me, is indulgent cupcake heaven. You may have noticed that I am quite an avid peanut butter fan, and combined with chocolate and peanut caramel, well…what can I say? Obviously, these morsels of pure deliciousness are extremely rich and decadent, so I tried to make them a bit smaller than a standard sized cupcake!
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I was thinking of making a salted peanut caramel to fIll the cupcake, but I thought with the peanut butter ganache it would just be a little too difficult to stomach, but delicious nonetheless. So, I opted for a small piece of Snickers in the middle. This surprise went down very well with my colleagues 🙂
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The cupcakes I used are my usual trusted chocolate cupcake recipe which I have used in posts such as the Easter Egg Nest Chocolate Cupcakes, and you can find it here. This time, I halved the recipe, and it made about 15 medium sized cupcakes.
The peanut butter ganache is a Donna Hay recipe which I have used a number of times, and I could go on and on forever and ever about how amazing it is 😉 You can find the recipe in the Peanut Butter Macarons post.
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To make the cupcakes, you will need a 12 piece fun size packet of Snickers. After spooning the cupcake mixture into the cases, place half a small Snickers bar into the mixture and push it down into the batter. To top the cupcakes, fill a piping bag with a wide round nozzle and pipe swirls on top of the cupcakes. Slice the remaining Snickers bars into small pieces, and place a piece on the top of each cupcake. To store, place in an airtight container and leave at room temperature – don’t put them in the fridge! They will last a good 3 days in the container, although I have a sneaking suspicion not many of these babies will be around for 3 days 🙂
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Choc-Mint Candy Cane Macarons

I do love the combination of chocolate and peppermint. Bittersweet dark chocolate with a cool minty kick made these macarons quite the tasty ones. They were somewhat a tribute to the humble candy cane, which is definitely one of my favourite Christmas treats. I realllly wanted to make these macarons into a candy cane shape, but it didn’t work for me this time 😦 I overcooked the shells for one, and piped them all the same way – which was fine until I needed to sandwich them together…silly! I think I will try it again though, now that I know what not to do. I’d love to try some gingerbread men shapes as well, but knowing my luck they would turn out like lumpy pancake men. Yum!

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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
  • Wilton’s colouring gel, Red (I used ‘Rojo Intenso’)

Preheat oven to 170c (160c fan forced). Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray baround 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 cocoa 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. With a skewer or a cake tester, spread 3 or 4 lines of the colouring along the sides of the bag. Spoon mixture into the 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.

This is how it's done!

Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes. Turn tray around in the oven and bake for another 7 minutes. To test, 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.

Yum!

Choc-Mint Ganache:

  • 100g good quality dark chocolate (I use Green and Black’s 70%)
  • 1/2 thickened cream
  • 1/2 tsp natural peppermint extract (available from most supermarkets)

Place chocolate and cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir with metal spoon until melted. Stir in the peppermint extract. Pour into bowl and let cool. Refrigerate until firm enough to pipe or until when you need to use. If you are leaving the ganache in the fridge overnight, it may need 10 seconds in the microwave to be pliable enough to pipe.

Candy cane goodness...

To assemble, match up likely macaron pairs. Spoon ganache into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle, and pipe small rounds of ganache onto a shell, then sandwich with another. Yum!

Deliciously Christmassy!

I hope everyone is enjoying the Christmas season so far, I cannot believe how quickly it has come! I think the best part of this time of the year is definitely the food, surprise, surprise! Although, it’s a scary reminder of how much I have to cook and bake before next Tuesday – luckily most of my shopping is done!

Happy Baking 🙂 X