Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Good Australian!

I may be a bad Asian, but I am most certainly not a bad Australian - and to prove it I made Australian themed cupcakes! Afterall, tomorrow is Australia Day (26th January) and what better way to celebrate than with Australian cupcakes!

So what is Australia most known for, other than kangaroos, koalas, vegemite and our great beaches? Well, lamingtons of course (vanilla sponge dipped in chocolate and coated in desiccated coconut)! Yes, you better believe it, I made lamington inspired cupcakes. How, you ask? Well you start by making a batch of vanilla cupcakes. You can find the recipe of my vanilla cupcakes here.

While the cupcakes are baking and then cooling, you can get started on the chocolate coating.

Chocolate and desiccated coconut coating

200 grams of dark chocolate
2 cups of thickened cream
2 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
Generous amount of desiccated coconut

  1. Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 30 second intervals on high. At the end of each 30 second interval, stir the chocolate. Continue this process until the chocolate is completely melted.
  2. Mix the thickened cream and vanilla bean paste in the melted chocolate. Stir the mixture thoroughly until all the ingredients are well combined. Set the chocolate mixture aside to cool.
  3. Pour a generous amount of desiccated coconut into a large container and set aside.

Once the cupcakes are cooled, remove the cupcake bases from the cupcake wrappers. Dip the cupcakes into the chocolate mixture and then cover the chocolate dipped cupcake with desiccated coconut. Make sure the cupcakes are completely covered with the desiccated coconut. Once you have coated all the cupcakes, leave them aside to set.

A cupcake is not a cupcake without some form of icing or frosting. So while the cupcakes are setting beat some thickened cream until it is nice and firm. This can take some time, so while this happening place a blob of strawberry jam on top of the lamington cupcake base. Once the cream has thickened, pipe the cream on top of the blob of jam on the lamington cupcakes. And voila, there you have it, lamington cupcakes with jam and cream. I assure you, it does not get better than this!

To complement the Australian lamington cupcake, I made an Australian flag topper and fondant cupcake topper of the map of Australia. As you can see, I replaced Tasmania with a good old Aussie AFL (Australian Football League) footy. How Australian!

After all,
I am, you are, we are Australian! 

Monday, 23 January 2012

Bad Asian!

It’s official, I am a bad Asian. Not because I got several Asian Fs (a.k.a. A minuses…it’s a Glee joke…), in high school, but because today is Chinese New Year and I did not make any Chinese New Year themed cupcakes. To be honest with you, I had such great intentions to bake Dragon themed cupcakes, but the weather in Perth at the moment is just too HOT! And to add the heat from the oven to the mix would just be unbearable!

I have had a few baking mishaps these last few weeks and I am honestly not sure as to why. I would rather not blame it on my baking incapability but instead blame it on the weather! For instance, in order to get the best baking result, it is best to use butter, milk and eggs that are at room temperature. But since it is so hot, it does not take too long for the butter to melt. Given how quick the butter gets soft, I only imagine what the heat does to my ingredients while in the mixer. And today was an absolute sinker, 39 degrees Celsius, so to save myself from baking heart ache on the first day of Chinese New Year, I refrained from making Chinese New Year cupcakes. Even if that meant I was a bad Asain!    

Even though I did not bake Chinese New Year cupcakes, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a "Gong Xi Fa Choi", "Chuc Mung Nam Moi", "Happy Chinese New Year" and "Happy New New"! May the year of the Dragon bring you and your family good health, prosperity and an endless supply of cupcakes.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Star struck!

I would like to start this blog post with the following disclaimer:

I'm not a stalker ... just a fanatic fan!

As you can see from my two blog post below, I made a Downton Abbey cupcake in honour of my new beloved addiction. Hoping to get a response, I tweeted the photo to Downton Abbey (@DowntonAbbey) and Dan Stevens (@thatdanstevens). And although Dan Stevens did not respond (which I am absolutely devastated about), Downton Abbey did! OMG - I received a tweet from the official DOWNTON ABBEY twitter account! I am practically famous by association. Here is a photo of the tweet to prove it:

Naturally I said yes! But I was not entirely sure how I was going to make a #teamservants cupcake. This was the start of what I like to call "Project #teamservants Cupcake". So I put my cupcaking hat on and thought long and hard. I finally decided to make housemaid and footman uniform toppers to top the cupcakes. So I googled images of Downton Abbey housemaid and footman characters and created their uniforms out of fondant.

In light of my Downton Abbey tweet, my friend Rachael suggested I make a “sour lemon cupcake topped with an icing quiff of hair and call it Thomas”. And although I did not ultimately go with this idea, I did like the sound of it. So I decided to make lemon cupcakes for "Project #teamservants Cupcake".

In the past, I have not been entirely satisfied with the lemon cupcake recipes I have encountered, so I decided to vary my vanilla recipe with some lemon extract, zest and juice. And good news, it worked an absolute treat! I will definitely share this recipe with you in the near future. The sponge was FML (Fluffy, Moist and Light) and packed just the right amount of lemon flavour.

So here is the final product:

"Project #teamservants Cupcake" was a success. Now the waiting game begins … will I get another tweet in response? One could only hope! 

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Old MacDonald ain't got nothing on me!

Old MacDonald may have had a farm, but I bet his farm didn’t taste half as good as mine! After all, my farm is made of cupcakes and cake pops!

Yesterday was the baby shower of a good friend of mine, Ebonee. The theme of the baby shower was farm animals as Ebonee is a lover of all things nature, in particular farm animals! To help her celebrate this wonderful occasion, I made a farm animal themed cupcake arrangement and cake pops.

As you can see from the photos above, sitting at the top of the cupcake arrangement is a two tier fondant covered chocolate cake. It was an absolute nightmare covering the cake! I was rushing to get the cake done as I was running late for dinner with Brendyn’s friends. I wasn’t paying attention and accidently rolled the fondant out too thin and when I went to cover the cake, the fondant kept tearing and cracks were appearing everywhere! The more cracks that appeared, the more frustrated I got! It got to the point where I just stormed out of the kitchen in a huff and went to dinner. I nearly did a Lonely Island and “threw it on ground”. When I got home, I decided not to start the cake from scratch, but instead covered the dodgy fondant work with decorations such as the red barn, grass and trees. And it turned out ok – life is not that bad after all! I have definitely learnt my lesson though. Firstly, do not be stingy with the fondant and secondly, not to rush the process!

The cupcakes were my usual vanilla cupcake recipe with buttercream frosting and chocolate frosting – nothing too exciting. I decorated the cupcakes with six types of farm animal fondant toppers: cow, dog, horse, pig, rooster and sheep. As you can see, I also cut out little brown fences to decorate the cupcake stand and cake pop holder. As you know, I am a lover of themes and when someone gives me a theme, I just have to do everything in my power to adhere to the theme as strictly as possible. After all, consistency is cool!

Overall, despite the cake hiccup, I am pretty happy with this baking adventure! Ee-i-ee-i-oh!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The only way is Downton!

My recent obsession is Downton Abbey. I just can’t seem to get enough of it (as with the rest of the world)! I am an absolute sucker for romance and the relationship dynamics of Lady Mary Crawley and Matthew Crawley is to die for! I watch every episode with bated breath wondering “will they or won’t they”. I am currently experiencing massive Downton Abbey withdrawals and season three is not due to air until September of this year (depending where in the world you are). What on earth will I do between now and September?! I guess I could rewatch season one and two for a fourth time …

Not surprisingly, I wanted to make a cupcake in the honour of Downton Abbey! Since Downton Abbey season one and two is based in the early 1900s (more specifically 1900-1918), I did some internet research to see what types of desserts were served in that era, so that I could replicate it in a form of a cupcake. From my extensive research, I discovered that sponge cake and butter cream frosting was already well invented by the 1900s (please keep in mind this was an American source based on the American food timeline not the English). So this made my cupcaking adventure quite easy … or that was at least what I had thought!

My cupcaking adventure yesterday was a disaster! My foolproof chocolate recipe proved not to be so foolproof afterall. I don’t know what went wrong. I measured all the ingredients out and followed the recipe with the utmost precision but got bland tasting, non-rising, below average cupcakes. The only thing I can think of which may have attributed to this is perhaps one of the ingredients passed its use by date. Nevertheless, as you can imagine this left me feeling quite devastated. So I reverted to my vanilla foolproof recipe (touch wood) and made chocolate butter cream frosting! And of course I topped the cupcake with my Downton Abbey cupcake toppers! Nothing new here, once again I just sketched the Downton Abbey imagery onto a piece of fondant. I also made a cheeky “The only way is Downton” topper at the expense of ‘The only way is Essex”.

So I am going to admit something that is going to make me look a little stalkerish! But I assure you, it sounds worse than it really is. So, Dan Stevens the amazing actor who portrays Matthew Crawley is very active on twitter. He constantly replies to fans’ tweets, to the extent where he is wishing specific fans “good luck” for their upcoming exams. And this made me like him so much more! I can’t believe he takes the time to reply to his fans – very swoon worthy! After discovering how active Dan Stevens is on twitter, I may or may not have joined the world of twitter to follow him (@topthecupcake). Awkward …

I will end this post with my favourite scene from season 2 - enjoy! 

Monday, 9 January 2012

'Like' one, 'like' all

My lack of blogging can be attributed to the fact that I have been hard at work on my new cupcake topper collection which I launched on the Top the Cupcake facebook page last Sunday. Here is a little sample of my favourite toppers:

So what better way to celebrate this momentous occasion than to host a little competition?!

So hop on to the Top the Cupcake facebook page (!/pages/Top-the-Cupcake/210765192305368) and tell me what cupcake toppers you like by liking the photo in the album titled ‘Cupcake toppers’ and go into the running to win a dozen of your favourite toppers. You can like more than one photo, but your name will only go into the running once. The competition will end Sunday, 15 January at 12PM (WST). The prize winner will be drawn at random. This is an international competition - everyone and anyone can enter! So get liking ...

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Combining my two food loves!

As you are aware, I have been guilty in the past of making a cupcake for no other reason than to talk about something not cupcake related on my blog. I am afraid I have done it again! This time to discuss my two food loves.

Obviously, my first and foremost food love is cupcakes! Anyone and everyone could have guessed that. My second food love is fast food, in particular KFC. I could easily eat KFC original fried chicken every day, I mean it EVERY DAY. I must admit, there was a time in my life when I could not decide which of the two was my favourite chicken: hot and spicy chicken or original chicken. But after extensive taste tasting and research, I have ultimately come to the conclusion that the original fried chicken is truly the yummiest!
Now before you get concerned that I made a KFC flavoured cupcake, let me assure you, I have not. I have merely made a cupcake dedicated to my secondary food group. Although having said that, a chicken salt inspired cupcake does sound mighty delicious. I am salivating at the thought of it!

So there you have it, a KFC topper sitting on a vanilla cupcake! The topper was quite easy to make as I hand drew Colonel Sanders on the fondant circle with an edible marker. So sadly, not much technical skill went into executing this cupcake creation.

Every time I go to KFC (which is quite regular), I always order the same thing: “Hi, can I please have a two piece feed with original chicken and Pepsi Max (obviously, I am concerned about my figure, hence the Pepsi Max). Also, can I please have two thigh proportions?” I love, love, love the thigh portion of a chicken and there are two reasons for this:
  • ONE – the parson's nose (also known as the chicken’s bum) is delicious; and
  • TWO – it is after all the juiciest piece of the chicken.
I even have a method of eating the two piece feed down pack. I always like to leave the best to last, so I tend to eat the bun and potato & gravy first. Then I peel the chicken skin off the two chicken pieces and set them aside. I proceed by eating the chicken meat. Ok, now saving the best to last, I wrap the chicken skin around approximately 4 regular sized chips and roll it up. Whoa – KFC chicken skin wrapped in chips. DELICIOUS! This is one of my most favourite things in the world. It never ceases to cheer me up after a hard day’s work. But let me warn you, it is an acquired taste and not for the faint hearted.

On one occasion, I did visit KFC and did not order the two piece feed (yes, I know blasphemy)! Instead I order the Man Time Burger (basically a burger, where the buns were substituted with chicken fillets). So basically, it was some bacon, cheese and sauce wedged between two chicken fillets. My friend suggested that I should add a hash brown to the burger and so I did. What was my consensus? Meh, I was not a fan. The burger itself was too dry - had the chicken fillets been made from chicken thigh, then that would have been a completely different story. Also, I may or may not have got the meat sweats after eating the burger – who could be sure of these things?! Serves me right from straying from my usual beloved two piece feed.

It's TINA time! BAM!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New New!

When I was in my early teens, my family would spend the summer holidays in Vietnam with my parents’ respective families. We would usually leave for Vietnam in December and return in early February in time for the start of school. In Vietnam people don’t usually celebrate the New Year according to the calendar year, but instead according to the sun's longitude and the moon's phases. Therefore, each year Chinese New Year falls on a different date, basically anywhere between January to February.

One of my fondest memories of my various visits to Vietnam was on the eve of Chinese New Year. The family would climb to the top of my uncle’s roof with sparklers and he would play ABBA's famous hit ‘Happy New Year’.

But instead of singing “Happy New Year”, my uncle and cousins would sing “Happy New New”. Although my uncle’s and cousins' English is fairly strong, they always seem to say (and on occasion sing) “Happy New New”. So every New Year’s Eve, I always catch myself smiling at the thought of my family in Vietnam singing “Happy New New”! It is now a tradition between Brendyn and I that instead of wishing each other a “Happy New Year” when the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve, we wish each other a “Happy New New”!
What better way to welcome New Year than with my new found love flourless chocolate cake! So I have spent the first day of the year in style, I am enjoying a cup of tea with a raspberry flourless chocolate cupcake. I used the same flourless chocolate recipe for the flourless chocolate cake pops that I made and blogged about late last year. I simply added raspberries into the cake mixture and VOILA raspberry flourless chocolate cupcakes!

“Happy New New!"