Sunday, December 26, 2010

How to Make Fondant Snowmen

This cute little snowman was part of an order of holiday cupcakes I shared the other day. I've had quite a few requests on how to make him, so ask and you shall receive! These instructions also work for gumpaste.

The pictures don't have the best lighting, but I'm hiding at my parents' house with the plague, so please forgive me.
These are some of the tools you'll need, but your mileage may vary. I used white pre-made fondant, orange and blue food colouring for the nose and scarf, a black edible food marker, a paint brush, and that gumpaste tool with the little wheel cutter thing. You'll also need some egg whites or water to glue the bits together.  You might also need cornstarch or shortening to deal with the stickies.
Roll out three balls of fondant, in various sizes, like you would when making a real snowman.
 Stack them! Use whatever you've decided on for glue, and stick them together, just like a real snowman.
 Dye some fondant orange.
 Shape said fondant into a little tiny carrot for the nose.  Remind yourself to get a manicure.
 Stick the carrot nose onto the snowman's face, taking care not to get any residual orange dye on his head.
 Dye some fondant blue, or whatever colour you want his scarf to be.
Roll it out, then cut a thin strip for the scarf. Using the wheel cutter thing, cut tiny strips into the bottom of one half, to resemble scarf fringe.
Gently wrap the scarf around the snowman's neck.
And finally, use the edible marker to draw on eyes and buttons.  You could also use black fondant for this part, but I find the pens easier and just as cute.

That's not so bad, right? It's just like making a real snowman, but you don't have to get cold or go outside or exert much energy.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas (or happy weekend if you don't celebrate)!

Stay tuned for the Candy Cane tutorial next!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Salted Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (and Knitting)

Salted butter adds a neat twist to these chocolate chip cookies:
The classic chocolate chip cookie is my favourite kind of cookie.  Although the BCCC (big chocolate chip cookies) are still my top recipe (you can't go wrong with all that butter and sugar), these provide a great alternative. They're soft, chewy (but not cakey), with a bit of crispness to the edges. Plus they're easy to make, require less butter and sugar, and yield a larger batch than the BCCC. I kept pretty straight to the recipe, but as always, I omitted the risk of death nuts.
In other news, my attempts to make sure I'm completely Grandmafied by the time I'm 30 are going well! I've recently learned to knit.
I made this cowlneck scarf for my mom, and am currently working on a few more as Christmas presents for friends (almost done, blenzies!). I'm hoping to move on to something a little more complex next, and will probably post the odd project from time to time.

But back to the cookies...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Holiday Cupcakes

Happy Winter Solstice!

I'm lucky to have a beautiful view of the North Shore mountains from my apartment, whose snowy peaks and white ski runs help remind me that it's officially winter today.  But aside from the mountains, it's Vancouver weather as usual.  Some rain.  Some sun.  Lots of moderate cold.

These cupcakes, with festive fondant candy canes and snowmen, help remind me that Christmas and snow is just around the corner. (Well, maybe not the snow).

Do not worry -- I'll post a tutorial of how to make the fondant candy canes and snowmen in the next day or two.  I created these quite late at night, in poor lighting, and a little (a lot) unsure of how they'd turn out, so I'll take some time to make comprehensive instructions.

I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Best Banana Bread

This is quite possibly the best banana bread ever.
But first I have some amazing news to share: On Wednesday I finally finished my Communication degree.  4 majors, 2 schools, countless years, several trips, and a baby later, I am done. It's nice to have accomplished something so many people said would be impossible. And how did I celebrate? By baking, of course.

Not too long ago, Monet over at Anecdotes and Apple Cores posted a recipe for her favourite banana bread.  I've made a few different banana breads lately (okay, I mainly bake them into muffins), but none of them really blew me away. I'd yet to find a recipe to be faithful to.

I might have found it now, though.  I changed a few things to suit my tastes-- adding whole wheat flour, a pinch of nutmeg, and yogurt instead of sour cream.  The results were incredible.  A moist, lightly spiced bread that goes great with tea.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lemon Blueberry Quinoa Muffins

A few weeks ago I decided to take a quick trip to Chapters to use up a giftcard I had on some new baking books.  

Unfortunately, the trip turned into one of the moments where you become aware that how incredibly and grotesquely awkward and feeble you feel on the inside shows on the outside.

I had a rough idea of what I wanted but Chapters has a rather extensive collection of cookbooks.  Who knew? By the time I had chosen my favourites, holding each new favourite until it was replaced, my arms were exhausted and shaky from all the heavy lifting.  (If I ever write a cookbook, that shit's going to be paperback. Seriously.)

I ran into a two friends of mine when I was nearing the front of the store. As I was shakily extending my arms to prop open the books to showcase some of the recipes, my dear friends kept asking if they could, you know, maybe hold my books for me and I could just point to the recipes.  And then one of the employees kept coming up asking if I needed a complimentary bag while I waited, or if she could take the books to the counter for me since they were clearly very heavy.  At first she seemed cordial but after about the fifth attempt, her lips said, "It's my job!" but her eyes said, "Your pathetic arms are about to snap from holding a book."  I gave in, and she quickly whisked the books away from me and I resolved to make an attempt at a push up that night. 

(I didn't).
Anyway, these muffins come from one of the books-- Quinoa 365.  I've been wanting to eat more quinoa. In fact, I've had a box of it sitting in my cupboard for well over 7 months.  But I'm finicky about food, and spook easily when it comes to new textures.  I figured muffins would be a safe bet. You can't distinguish the quinoa at all, and the muffins have a lovely sweetness.  The boy likes them, too, so if one part-time foodphobe and a 4-year-old will eat them, you know they're good.

I've made a few other recipes from this book, so if you get the chance please pick up a copy.  I saw some kicking around at Costco for cheap.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chocolate Elvis Sandwich

I have something to confess: Not all my desserts are pretty, dainty, or even that good.  Sometimes they look like this. The poor quality photos, the obvious late-night binge-- there's nothing but a shame snack here.
My friend Asia emailed the other night to say she had made a Chocolate Elvis Sandwich.  I had no idea what this was, but needed to know immediately so I too could make one.  I was with another friend, Tara, planning our Martha party and we were both so intrigued we resorted to texting and emailing her concurrently in obvious desperation until she told us.

Have you heard of an Elvis sandwich?  It's a peanut butter, banana, and bacon sandwich, fried in butter.  Holy awesome, right?  Well she kicked it up a notch by adding chocolate.  She didn't use bacon, though. (I disapprove, Asia).

This sandwich is every bit as wonderful and terrible as you think it is. Next time I can see it easily morphing with a fluffernutter and becoming a peanut butter, marshmallow, chocolate, and bacon fried dream.  God help us all...

Do you have a shame snack?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Vancouver Baker's Market

Just a quick reminder as I force myself through my last week of university (ever!!!) that I'll be at the Vancouver Bakers Market this Saturday, December 4th.  The market has moved to a much better location at the Creekside Community Recreation Centre in the Olympic Village.

Please stop by try some samples, and say hello.  I'll have some holiday-themed cupcakes, whoopie pies, pie pops, and more!

Plus I'll be donating $1 from every $5 earned to the Foodbank, so you can eat some treats and make a difference this holiday season!  

Hope to see you there!


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