Chocolate Meringue Cake with Drunken Fruit and a new blog home…

Hello all, my blog has a new home on my brand new website!

www.sweetpeadarlingheart.com

Please come and check it out, and if you would like to keep on receiving my recipes, enter your email address using the pink subscribe box on the right hand side of the site, I’d love to keep sharing with you!

Head on over to find out the recipe for this Chocolate Meringue Cake with Drunken Fruit; I made it for my own ‘Friendsgiving’, it’s a rich and delicious thing to share with your nearest and dearest. A definite recipe for the upcoming festive season.

Hope to see you at my new site

x

Amber

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Thanks to my lovely friends Sarah from Love Katie and Sarah for her beautiful photography, and Rita from Blooming Brides for her gorgeous home grown flowers xxx

 

Strawberry and Coconut Vegan Cupcakes

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My kids have pretty strong opinions about cake.

This should come as no surprise really, given the amount of cake that is often being whipped up and going out of our kitchen. Always eager ‘helpers’, they often come up with their own combinations and drawings to articulate exactly what they mean. There were some pretty fancy numbers being dreamt up this year, let me tell you.

Speculation was rife as to what kind of cake everyone was going to have for their birthday. Some prefer tradition, whilst others have constantly evolving ideas throughout the year; the anticipation was huge.

Finally, after the usual intense brainstorming of ideas, it was decided that strawberry cupcakes with raspberry icing would suffice. But only if they were in the style of a fairy garden. Vision AND flavour, you see what I mean.

No worries, strawberry and raspberry, a berry-licious combination, as Strawberry Shortcake would say. The only challenge now, to make one that all our kinder friends can eat. Nut free, dairy free, egg free.

I got my substituting brain on, and remembered a birthday cake from my own childhood. A strawberry and coconut cake, which we baked in a heart shaped tin. Inspiration drawn, I got a-baking.

Strawberry and Coconut Vegan Cupcakes

(nut free, dairy free, egg free)
  • 120g spelt flour
  • 140g raw sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 40g coconut butter (not coconut oil), the more fragrant the better
  • 120ml coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • egg replacer to the equivalent of 1 egg
  • 100g chopped strawberries

Put out all of your ingredients, and allow them to come to room temperature. Cross fingers for a day that is not too cold so your coconut butter will be soft and pliable (please use coconut butter versus coconut oil. The butter is made with the whole coconut flesh, not just the pressed out oil, this gives it a much more voluptuous consistency as well as maximum tropical flavour! My favourite by far is Niugini Organics; they work with local communities in PNG to produce their coconut butter, so not only is it totally delicious, it’s good for karma points too.)

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C. Line a 12 hole cupcake tray with some pretty cases.

Measure out your flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and coconut butter into the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on slow until the mixture looks uniformly sandy, without any large lumps and bumps.

Pour in the coconut milk and the splash of vanilla, and mix until well combined. Add your constituted egg replacer and give it a spin on medium speed until everything is nice and smooth.

Stir in your chopped strawberries, or if they are a bit on the cold side, drop them directly into the cupcake cases (so you don’t give that coconut butter a cold shock!)

Divide the mixture amongst the cupcake cases, it will be runny but don’t worry! These cupcakes turn out sweet, delicious and fragrant and not at all dry (if someone knows a better word than ‘moist’, then please, let me know).

Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cupcake comes out clean. My cupcakes didn’t go very brown, I think this is to do with using coconut butter rather than normal butter, so don’t rely on ‘golden brown’ being your indicator for the cupcakes being done!

Let the cupcakes cool down a touch before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Now, I wish I could give you a super awesome dairy-free and delicious frosting recipe. Unfortunately I can’t. I did experiment using coconut butter, icing sugar and fresh raspberries to create a super yummy and good for you frosting, and…. it was an epic fail. It went straight to the chickens. So instead I had to default and use a standard frosting recipe, just substituting dairy-free spread (I used Nuttelex) and coconut milk instead of cow’s. A dash of raspberry oil (from some macaron-ing days) added the required raspberry element. I would have way rather used fresh raspberries, but after one botched attempt, I just needed to get these babies done. I’ll put conquering that frosting recipe on the to-do list, and if you have an awesome dairy-free frosting that doesn’t use vegetable oils, then please let me know!!

Oh, and decorate to your heart’s content xx

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salted caramel, the best I know…

Things may have seemed quiet… virtually quiet; does this mean things are actually quiet? No. In fact things are busy, crazy, noisy and for the most part fun.

It has been birthday season, wedding season, merry-making season. And here I have a moment to pause as I await a couple to pickup some cakes for their wedding tomorrow.

Cakes, cakes, cakes. Boy have there been some cakes! There have been jars of crumbs, custards, caramels all around the kitchen, our fridge has been taken over by sweetness. And there is more to come. But with each cake comes refinement of methods, perfecting of recipes and mastering of box folding skills. And each time is gets a little bit quicker and a smidgen bit easier. Swirls are now whipped up, rather than agonised over; layering to a level is now more of a given rather than something to be strived for! Thank heavens it still feels creative and fun, and as always I have a happy and willing gang to lick clean those spatulas for me.

It was Nana Bear’s birthday last week, so the kids got their rainbow on and decorated her cake…

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Holy sugar, I hear you call! Well I have been doing my best to maintain a balance in our day to day lives and lunch boxes whilst the dust of icing sugar settles, but my daughter last week described a drawing of a dress she had done as ‘acai’ coloured – so I think we’re doing okay!

And amongst all this I went to a ‘Science of Styling’ class run by the fabulous Megan Morton, to help gain some inspiration in how I communicate what I do so not all of my photos are just of a round cake on my floorboards! At the end of the day I realised it’s all just fundamentals of art anyway, with a splash believing in yourself and your own style, so yippee, let’s just live life as beautifully as we can and that’s got to shine through. And beautiful things make people happy, and that’s okay!

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So with all of this and more going on, there haven’t been too many moments for experimentation. But there is some definite sub conscious stirrings going on, and hopefully sometime soon I will have a moment to break free from the busy-ness (business) and still have enough energy to feel creative. And one day bring you a new recipe!

But for now, to my ‘favourite, so far’ salted caramel recipe. Sticky, sweet, salty and still pliable enough to work with straight from the fridge. There was some definite trial and error with some caramels setting rock hard, not the best for layering in a cake! But this one is a keeper, and as is so often the case, we have Christina Tosi to thank for it.

Salty Caramel from Momofuku Milk Barphoto 1

Makes about 320g (1 & 1/2 cups)

105g heavy cream

25g butter

4g vanilla extract

2g salt (Christina recommends 4g, which I find a little salty, so I cut it down to 2, then sprinkle some Fleur De Sal flakes when I am using the caramel for a little more pop of salt)

130g sugar

100g glucose

1 gelatine sheet

105g heavy cream (yes, you need two lots of 105g)

Put 105g cream, butter, vanilla and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Make a caramel: Heat the sugar and glucose in a medium heavy-based saucepan over medium heat until the sugar begins to melt. Once the sugar is starting to melt stir, stir, stir until you have a beautiful deep golden colour, 3 to 5 minutes.

While you are attending to the caramel, practice your multi-tasking skills and bloom the gelatine sheet, in a cup of cool water.

When you are happy with the colour of your caramel, take it off the heat and pour in the other 105g of cream. Stand back as it may spit and steam! Once it has all calmed down, whisk that pot of caramel until it is smooth and glossy. If there are any hard spots of caramel, put the pot back on a gentle heat and whisk until smooth.

Whisk in the bloomed gelatine, which you have squeezed all excess water from, until is has completely dissolved. At this point you are going to pour your caramel into the bowl with the butter, cream, vanilla and salt in it. Christina recommends pouring the mixture through a sieve, I don’t as I find it makes a sticky mess and my caramel has always been pretty smooth anyway, but by all means go for it if you are that way inclined.

Let the mixture sit without touching it for a couple of minutes, until you can see the butter starting to melt. Then, give it a good old whisk (slowly at first so you don’t splash it all over yourself) until it is shiny, sticky and beautiful.

You can use it right now, or keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks! How’s that for getting ahead? You can give it a blast in the microwave when you’re ready to use it (apparently, we don’t have a microwave so I never bother) until it is the right liquidity for you to use. Or just spoon it in big ol’ dollops from the jar as I do, to make a gorgeous, unctuous, golden mess…photo 2-1

a homemade website, to go with some homemade cakes!

Wowee, it’s been a long process but I have finally finished my full website!

www.sweetpeadarlingheart.com

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I’m super excited by it, as I have never built a website before but, with some serious time spent playing around and a fair bit of googling, I did it! Yay me!

I hope you like it, it’s always hard to see things from the outside when you are doing something for yourself, so feel free to let me know what you think.

Of course, as with all things homemade, I feel there is still some room to tweak and improve… eventually I would like to put up a complete set of photos for the scrummycakes, but I think for now it’ll do the trick.

I also feel like I am embarking on not exactly a new journey, but perhaps a refined one, in my own life and my little world of baking, so stay tuned here for some experimentations and hopefully some yummy recipes.

xx

a life well shared

I am lucky to have some totally awesome friends in my life. Friends who help me in ways I would have never known; their skills constantly amaze and inspire me. I’m sure you have some of these friends too, ones who have stood the test of time, and even if you don’t catch up everyday, when you do, it’s like no time has passed at all.

One of these amazing friends of mine is Sarah, who I have known since the very start of school when we were just little 5 year old kidlets.

I have many great memories of Sarah; watching my first true scary movie, ‘Scream’ at one of her sleepover parties (none of us could sleep, especially next to the huge glass door in her bedroom, let alone go to the bathroom on our own), many a giggly adventure on some school music trip, birthday parties rollerskating in our home town; and newer memories of her at our wedding, at our kids birthday parties and being dubbed ‘Aunty Sarah’ and attending her own amazing wedding, complete with flash mob wedding dance (trust me, she’s awesome).

What fun it’s been to know her over the years, to share my childhood life and now my adult life with her. How we have changed, how we have grown.

She is now an amazing writer and actress, who puts on these hilarious shows which so often remind me of that shared childhood. She also just happens to be one of the best photographers I know.

I am so super lucky that after a life well shared she has been so generous and taken some beautiful photos for me of my cakes. Take a sneak peak at the latest photos, I’m so excited by them! She is a constant inspiration, in her drive, outlook and enthusiasm for life.

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It’s so fun to be creative with some of your besties. Thanks Sar, you’re awesome! xx