Chocolate Swiss Roll With Baileys Cream

baileys cream chocolate swiss roll dinner party dessert silver serving plate sprinkled with caster and icing sugar

A happy new year once again – I must warn you to avert your eyes if the diet resolution is still intact. The following contains everything you want but can’t have – chocolate, cake, sugar, and of course a big dose of alcohol! I made this for a dinner New Years Eve, a great start to a wine-filled evening 😉

Actually without the filling swiss roll is quite a healthy dessert, especially if you fill it with jam, as it doesn’t contain any fat or dairy. My Simple Strawberry Jam Swiss Roll is by far the most popular post on the blog! But as per my Christmas Chocolate Yule Log post – the recipe is easily adapted for different flavours and occasions. The cake recipe is taken exactly from that post.

I am completely baffled by the loss of my Tala swiss roll tin that featured in the Yule Log post. Granted it’s not something I use often, and we moved house a few months ago, but how many places can their possibly be to use a big shiny tin! Nevertheless, I was happy to cope with a normal baking tray on this occasion as this swiss roll was one of the christening bakes for my absolutely amazing present from Santa (Rob) – drum roll please… – a beautiful, shiny black, KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer.

kitchenaid artisan stand mixer black and chrome review and sample recipe blogger baker

I’ve only had time for a few uses so far this year but am already utterly enamored. It beats, whips, kneads and mixes quietly and methodically to fantastic results. Watch this space for more KitchenAid cooks coming soon!

Adoration over – back to the cake 🙂

Recipe

4 medium eggs
125g caster sugar
30g cocoa powder
95g self raising flour

Baileys Cream filling:

50g butter
150g icing sugar
2 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream

Additional 2 tablespoons Baileys to brush the cake (optional) – this will of course give a much more alcoholic dessert, richer and extra decadent

Method

– Whisk the eggs and sugar together until light, pale, fluffy, and about double their original volume (this can take up to 10 minutes, even with an electric mixer)
– Sieve the cocoa powder and flour, and gently fold into the egg mixture
– Take a swiss roll tin (or ordinary baking tray with ridged sides), line, grease well, and coat with a layer of sugar and flour
– Pour in the batter, and smooth out very carefully using a spatula, making sure to get into all the corners, and flatten out
– Bake in a hot oven (220 degrees) for 7-8 minutes, until the sponge is light springy to the touch
– Whilst the cake is baking, prepare another sheet of greaseproof paper, a little bigger than your tray. Lay it on a damp tea towel, and cover all over with a good sprinkling of caster sugar
– As soon as the cake is cooked, run a knife lightly round the edges, and flip out onto the sugared greaseproof paper
– Keeping the original sheet of greaseproof paper on top (the one it was baked with), quickly but carefully, start at one end and roll the whole tea towel, cake and paper stack up tightly
– Tuck the end underneath so the roll is held tightly, and allow to cool
– Once the cake is completely cool (check by turning the tea towel roll over and gently pressing with your hands), beat together the butter, baileys and icing sugar to form a smooth buttercream. Use your judgement and add more icing sugar if too runny or baileys if too stiff – it needs to be spreadable but not runny
– Carefully unroll the cake and remove the top layer of greaseproof paper. If the cake doesn’t want to lie completely flat, don’t force it or you risk cracking the outside
– If using, brush the additional 2 tablespoons of neat baileys lightly and evenly all over the cake
– Spread the Baileys buttercream all over the cake, leaving a gap of a few millimetres at each side, and thinning out slightly towards the outside edge
– Carefully re-roll, gently but firmly and tightly, to ensure a neat roll without squishing the buttercream out of the sides. An oozy edge is great, overflow much less so.
– Set onto your plate, seam side down. Sprinkle with caster sugar or dust with icing sugar. The cake is ready to serve immediately but can be made up to a day before (keep in a sealed container in the fridge if doing this)

chocolate swiss roll with baileys buttercream filling recipe method easy stand mixer oozing filling easy impressive dessert

chocolate swiss roll recipe with baileys irish cream buttercream filling stand mixer method fat free cake

Serve in small slices (you can always go back for more!) as it’s a very rich filling. But well worth breaking the resolutions for!

baileys cream chocolate swiss roll swirled cake slice dessert fork serving

Easy Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe

easy simple red velvet cupcake recipe with cream cheese frosting home bake instructions and basic ingredients gel food colour

Red velvet is an American-originating fast-becoming cake classic. A lot of recipes make things more complicated than they need be – but these are quick, simple and just as tasty, without the complications of buttermilk, white wine vinegar, or anything else that you don’t know even where to start looking in the supermarket for. Topped with a cream cheese frosting, these are a sure fire hit for all kinds of parties, kids and adults alike, Halloween, Christmas, or anytime in fact for a quick chocolate fix!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Ingredients (makes 6 medium or 4 large cupcakes)

60g butter
60g sugar
1/2 teaspoon good quality vanilla essence
1/4 teaspoon red gel food colouring – liquid colours will not work
10g cocoa powder
50g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg (medium or large)
Pinch of salt

Method

– Beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy.
– Add the egg, food colouring and cocoa powder, and beat until well mixed.
– Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl, and carefully fold in.
– Spoon into cupcake cases, and bake at 180 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes, dependent on size, until they are firm and springy when pressed lightly with a finger .

freshly baked red velvet chocolate and vanilla full size cupcakes easy recipe bake from scratch

The tang of a cream cheese icing is a perfect complement to the sweet cupcakes, but you could of course use something else. White chocolate? Milk chocolate? Chocolate chocolate? 🙂

Cream Cheese Frosting

35g cream cheese
10g butter
100g icing sugar

Simply beat together all the ingredients in a bowl. Don’t over mix or the cream cheese might go runny – if this happens just refrigerate for 15 minutes before putting on the cupcakes.
Cream cheese makes for quite a sticky icing so it’s not really worth trying to pipe it. A simple spread over with a knife and you’re done!

I topped mine with some red velvet cake crumbs, you can either trim a small amount off the top of one of the cupcakes, or separately bake a tablespoon full in a spare cake case. Any leftovers are great for taste testing!

red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting icing and matching cake crumb topping easy simple recipe uk ingredients without buttermilk chocolate and vanilla

And inside – a light, fluffy cupcake, vibrant red in colour but with subtle flavours of vanilla and chocolate.

light and fluffy red velvet cupcake recipe chocolate and vanilla flavour no buttermilk without complication easy and simple basic ingredients uk baker cream cheese icing crumb

I Heart Nutella Brownies

nutella brownies heart shape three ingredient recipe small bites

If you regularly browse the baking world like I do, no doubt you’ll have seen these fantastic Nutella brownies popping up on blogs and baking sites the world over. If you haven’t, take a seat. I’m about to show you something amazing.

I also wanted to finally show off and use this super-cute silicon heart mould from the fab dotcomgiftshop. I bought it about a year ago and have consequently forgotten to use it at every opportunity since. Until now!

i love chocolate dotcomgiftshop silicon mould baking brownies recipe hearts

There’s quite a lot of controversy on various sites with plenty of bloggers claiming they invented this recipe. I didn’t. That’s for sure. I’m just going to share its amazingness. But does it actually matter? Not in my opinion. Lets get to the chocolate!

The basic amazing thing about these brownies is that they only contain 3 ingredients. Really.

Ingredients

140g Nutella
1 egg
35g plain flour

nutella three ingredient brownies chocolate spread egg plain flour recipe easy

And the method’s not that tricky either…

– place all the ingredients into a bowl

nutella three ingredient brownies all in bowl chocolate spread flour eggs

– mix well

nutella brownie batter three ingredients chocolate mix pink heart background

– spoon into your chosen bakeware, making sure it’s greased or lined (I used a quick spritz of cake release spray in each heart). The brownies do rise during cooking so don’t fill whatever you’re using to the top – mine were just over half full

heart shaped mini brownie bites in dotcomgiftshop silicon mould nutella three ingredient recipe

– pop into the oven at 180 degrees. Mine came out perfectly after 15 minutes but the mould is quite small. Adjust upwards for bigger moulds and tray bakes, aiming for a crust to form on the top and no wobble to your mix.

perfect heart shape brownie bites cracked crust nutella three ingredients

– leave too cool at least a little (burnt mouths just are no fun) and enjoy!

mini heart shaped nutella brownie bites three ingredient recipe

Of course you can adapt the recipe to include so many different things, chocolate chunks, nuts, sweets, icing on top, the list is endless! And as these brownies are SO quick to make (you can easily whip up a batch in under half an hour), why not try them all 🙂

Oh yes – and served warm with vanilla ice cream, hot and cold heaven!

nutella brownie heart bites with vanilla ice cream hot and cold dessert easy baking ideas recipe

Quadruple Chocolate Cookies

recipe for quadruple chocolate chunk cookies adapted from bero easy no eggs

Sometimes a little chocolate isn’t enough. Two kinds? Been there. Three sorts? Done that. Four types? Now we’re talking!

quadruple chocolate cookies recipe milk dark white cocoa powder four kinds

For this super simple cookie recipe, I vamped up the chocolate to the the max, with white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and cocoa powder. There’s no such thing as too much chocolate, obviously.

four kinds of chocolate quadruple cookies baking squares recipe

I cut the milk, dark and white chocolate into small chunks. Given that my kitchen was somewhat sweltering (much like the rest of the country), it was like cutting butter and took no time at all. On colder days you could easily pop them into a polythene bag and bash with a rolling pin.

chopped chunks of triple chocolate for cookie recipe white milk and dark

The rest of the ingredients were equally as simple:

basic cookie ingredients original bero recipe flour brown sugar milk butter golden syrup

And the recipe? Well I adapted this one from my trusty Be-ro book. You can find the online version here.
One of the things I like best about this cookie recipe is that it doesn’t contain any eggs, but still makes beautifully soft, squishy cookies.

bero recipe book chocolate chip cookies adapted to quadruple chocolate

The adapted ingredients list:

100g margarine
75g light brown sugar
30ml (2 tablespoons) golden syrup
30ml (2 tablespoons) milk
50g cocoa powder
125g self-raising flour
50g white chocolate
50g milk chocolate
50g dark chocolate

And the method:

– mix all the non-chocolate ingredients together in a big bowl

basic bero recipe plain cookie dough

– add the cocoa and about 3/4 of the chocolate chunks

quadruple chocolate cookie dough with triple chocolate chunks recipe

– roll into small balls, place on a greased baking sheet (or silicon as I used)

– flatten slightly with your fingers, and adorn with the remaining chocolate chunks

I always like to keep some of whatever’s inside, to decorate the top of the cookie, not just for aesthetic reasons, but also because I like the eater to be able to easily see what’s inside. Take for example a cookie I picked up on an event early in the year, “yum, white chocolate chip!”. 2 seconds later I was spitting it back out into my hand as they were actually peanuts, to which I am allergic. Oops. I’m lucky it’s not too serious an allergy and a couple of anti-histamines later I was fine, and lived to cookie another day.

recipe and method for quadruple chocolate cookies rounding into balls and pressing chunks into top before cooking

– bake for 7 – 8 minutes at 180 degrees, or more depending on where you want your cookies on the squishy/gooey/crunchy scale

quadruple chocolate chunk cookies freshly baked biscuits recipe

– if you can possibly resist, let them cool completely before eating. There’s something extra special about that combination of chewy cookie and crunchy chocolate.

quadruple chocolate individual cookie with triple chunks recipe

If by any chance they do last longer than 5 minutes, the cookies are best stored in the fridge in this warm weather, in a sealed container, so they don’t go soggy.

On the other hand, you could just eat one, after another, after another… and give that chocolate craving a big kick!

quadruple chocolate cookies freshly baked white milk and dark

Easy Mid-Week Cookies – Oatmeal Raisin & Double Chocolate

easy midweek cookies double chocolate oatmeal raisin recipe with one egg yolk

Why are they called mid-week cookies? Do you ever get a couple of days into work and feel like it should be the weekend already? These are a great little therapeutic bake and perfect sugary pick-me-up, to make it that little bit easier to get out of bed tomorrow.

The basic recipe will give you yummy plain sugar cookies, but is so easily adapted to whatever flavourings or additions you’d like.

Ingredients

125g butter
30g caster sugar
40g brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tablespoon golden syrup
Pinch of bicarbonate of soda
Teaspoon of vanilla essence
150g plain flour

Adaptations:

Oatmeal raisin
Add 50g oats and 50g raisins, plus 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Optional
Use wholemeal plain flour for something that’s bordering on a healthy snack!

Double chocolate
Substitute 30g flour for 30g cocoa powder. Add in 50-75g of whatever chocolate chips or chunks you have to hand – I had some milk chocolate buttons lying around

Method
– beat together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Trust me it’s worth it. Use an electric mixer for speed/if you’ve had a particularly bad week
– add the remaining ingredients, including any extras, and mix well until everything is combined. If making a drier mix (like oatmeal raisin) you may need to get your hands in there to knead together properly.
– grease a baking sheet well (I use cake release spray), and roll balls or drop teaspoons of your dough on, depending on how wet your mixture is

I shaped the oatmeal raisin into balls, before rolling in a 50/50 brown sugar and oat mix for extra crunch. When on the baking sheet I pressed them out so they were a little flatter.

oatmeal raisin cookie recipe egg yolk rolling in oats and brown sugar easy

For the double chocolate, the batter was wonderful and sticky so I used teaspoons full, well spread, and each topped with another chocolate button.

easy gooey chocolate chunk cookie recipe egg yolk topped with chocolate button

– bake at 180 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Check back regularly and take out as they start to brown, don’t over-bake or you’ll lose the great chewy cookie texture. Allow to cool at least a little, but make sure you try one while they’re still warm!

easy midweek oatmeal raisin golden crunchy chewy cookies egg yolk recipe

double chocolate cookies biscuits with chocolate buttons easy one egg yolk recipe

See – I told you it was easy! Two sets of cookies, mixed, baked and eaten in under an hour!

oatmeal raisin and double chocolate cookies square plates easy recipe

Try not to eat them all at once – calling in sick with a stomach is not the answer to a bad week! Roll on the weekend… 🙂

double chocolate and oatmeal raisin best chewy easy cookies recipe

Scooby Doo Chocolate Birthday Cake

scooby doo cartoon network birthday cake rob name how to chocolate fondant no special wilton tin

Happy birthday to my Rob! Can you believe it’s a year ago since I made his guitar birthday cake? Doesn’t time fly…!

Scooby Doo is his favourite cartoon character, and I’d planned and stocked up on chocolate fondant before we went away, knowing it’d have to be a quick turn around as soon as we got back. As luck would have it (honestly I didn’t even think he was part of their brand), WHO did we meet at Universal Studios whilst we were in LA last week??

universal studios hollywood california april 2013 photo with scooby doo and daphne sunshine

Wilton make some lovely Scooby Doo pans that I’m sure make life much easier, but I’d searched and searched around and couldn’t find one either to buy or rent for under about £20. Given my love for trying things new and not wanting to repeat cakes, I decided that really was too much to spend. So – I set about my own way of doing it! With a simple template, I found the image online, printed it, and cut it out. I also printed a mirror image so I could flip it over and press through the detail where needed.

scooby doo cake how to print off opposite pictures for template and stencil

I wanted the cake itself to be quite sturdy, as it had to hold shape when trimmed and cut. Normal victoria sponge just wouldn’t be up to this – so I used this chocolate pound cake recipe from the BBC. It was straightforward, easy to follow.

To get the cake into shape, I started with an oversized rectangular shape, my alphabet and number tin. After placing the template inside, I blocked off any squares that were completely outside the shape, so as not to waste too much cake.

scooby doo cake instructions without special pan start with rectangular or square tin paper template

Once completely cool, I put the template back on top and carefully trimmed into shape, with a sharp serrated knife.

scooby doo birthday cake instructions chocolate paper template to shape cake

Can you guess what it is yet…?!

shaped chocolate cake from scooby doo paper template printed online

Next up, to retain moisture, and give the icing a good base to stick to, I added a layer of chocolate buttercream, being sure to get in all the corners and nooks and crannies. Once smoothed out, the cake went into the fridge for at least half an hour, so the icing could firm up, and wouldn’t squish all over the place when it was iced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little bit of smoothing, snipping, and tucking later…:

chocolate fondant covered cake edges trimmed and tucked for neatness silver board

Finally it was time to start the details. To create the black cartoon edging, I simply took a fine paintbrush, and very carefully painted on the lines with black gel food colouring. It did take quite some time, and needed a day to dry, but was so effective.

Starting with the outline, and added coloured fondant for the nose and collar:

building up scooby doo birthday cake nose outline ears collar fondant all edible

Finished details on the collar, complete with dog tag!

scooby doo dog cartoon birthday cake green gold and blue collar edged in black food colouring

For the eyes and mouth, I used some white fondant (plus a little extra black for those googly eyeballs!) Again the template came in handy, as I could shape the fondant on top of the paper before sticking to the cake with a little edible glue.

scooby doo birthday cake detail face big black wet dog nose white smile google cross eyed

Finally, I wanted to add Rob’s name for the cake. My letter stencils really aren’t great at making free-form letters, they never come out of the mould! So, I tried a different approach – very lightly wetting the cake board in a small area, and laying a strip of fondant over the top. I dipped and brushed the letters well with corn flour, before pressing them very firmly into the fondant.

rob icing name on cake board how to letter stencils orange

Then, very carefully, I peeled away the excess and the inside of the letters (does he have the most difficult letters in his name or what!), finishing with a teensy bit of glitter.

rob orange name made out of fondant on cake board edible

And tada! The finished cake! It was a complete surprise to Rob so I kept the candles just on the collar, so as not to ruin Scooby Doo’s face before he saw it.

scooby doo chocolate birthday cake instructions finished with candles rob

One very happy (although slightly jet-lagged) birthday boy! Number of candles not representative of his actual age… 🙂

rob with scooby doo chocolate birthday cake happy wine candles

Belgian Chocolate Brownies

godiva belgian chocolate brownies recipe crispy top sticky middle

This weekend just gone I have been back in Brussels, for the third time in 4 months! Thankfully it had warmed up a tad since my last trip, when we landed at midnight to be greeted by a chilly -8 degrees.

For reasons I can’t bring myself to explain right now, we came back with rather a lot of Belgian chocolate. Smooth, creamy little bites, and so difficult to stop at just one! There are a lot of chocolate houses in Brussels, these are from Godiva and very highly recommended 🙂 Managing to squeeze in a day off on Monday, I wanted to bake something decidedly wicked with this lovely high quality ingredient.

godiva belgian chocolates brownie recipe

Recipe (adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery brownies)

130g chocolate
115g butter
200g sugar
90g plain flour
2 eggs
optional 80g chocolate, broken into chunks

godiva belgian milk chocolates weighing out for brownie recipe

It took surprisingly little time to unwrap all the chocolates – although there was quite a case of one for the bowl, one for me!

I didn’t have many of the dark chocolates, but thought these would be extra special as chunks in the mixture (with a few milk chocolates thrown in for good measure).

godiva belgian dark chocolate 72% cocoa brownie recipe

chocolate brownie mixture with chunks of milk and dark belgian chocolate

Method

Melt the 130g chocolate and butter together gently, this is best done in a bowl over a pan of boiling water (don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the hot water).

Take off the heat and stir in the sugar, then add the eggs, flour, and chunks of chocolate (if using). Mix well until smooth and chocolatey.

Pour into your tin, which should be greased and lined. Mine was 20cm square but you could use a bigger/smaller one if you wanted thinner/thicker brownies.

belgian chocolate brownie recipe batter mix ready to bake square tin

Bake at 180 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the top is crispy, the side are a little firm, and the centre is still a bit squidgy when pressed.

freshly baked belgian chocolate brownies crispy top ready

Leave to cool completely in the tin, turn out, and cut into pieces – as big or as small as you like!

slicing belgian chocolate brownies

Chocolatey, fudgy brownies – with extra chocolate chunks for good measure!

belgian chocolate brownie squares recipe

I also tried the Hummingbird Bakery’s method of icing sugar decoration – pop the stencil on stop and sprinkle over.

icing sugar patterns on brownies circle stencil

Pretty patterned brownies!

belgian chocolate brownie squares with icing sugar flower patterns stenciled

Chocolate Philadelphia Swiss Roll

cadbury kraft chocolate philadelphia cream cheese in sponge swiss roll recipe instructions

So my first ever attempt at a swiss roll went really rather well a couple of weeks ago. So well it was devoured entirely the same day, with not a crumb left!

Immediately after making it a thought popped into Rob’s head, his little face lit up, “how about making one with chocolate Philadelphia?”

Well – you know I can’t refuse a baking request, especially not one that could be so amazing!

If you’re not sure about chocolate Philadelphia, well, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. I agree the combination of cream cheese and chocolate sounds a little weird, but if you think the cheese is really just made of milk and cream, then it’s just one big creamy chocolate spread!

You can find my recipe and method for the swiss roll here – Simple Strawberry Jam Swiss Roll – it really is easy, promise!

It’s just as easy to adapt the filling as well. Rob wanted “some of that white creamy stuff” in it as well – I eventually deciphered this to be buttercream. After rolling the cake and leaving it to cool, I spread on a layer of thick vanilla buttercream followed by a very generous layer of chocolate Philadelphia – I used about 1 1/3 tubs altogether.

chocolate philadelphia swiss roll recipe spreading buttercream and cadbury cream cheese onto sponge base

A quick re-roll, some chocolate icing drizzled over the top, and done! I love how quick swiss rolls are to make as well, and you can eat them straight away (although this one got even better after a little time firming the fillings up in the fridge).

chocolate philadelphia cream cheese cadbury swiss roll recipe instructions

Don’t you love that gooey inside!

chocolate philadelphia and vanilla buttercream swiss roll cadbury kraft

Fancy a slice….?

cadbury chocolate philadelphia swiss roll slice recpie ideas instructions

Starring Mrs Lovett’s Meat Pies – as Cupcakes!

mrs lovetts meat pies fom sweeney todd cupcakes made using chocolate chunks red icing and painted fondant topping in silver cupcake foil case

Last weekend Rob and I were invited to a fabulous “Musicals and Theatre” themed fancy dress party. You may have already seen the Sound of Music cake pops I made for the party as well. My biggest challenge, and on request from the hosts, was to create some ‘meat pies’ for Mrs. Lovett’s kitchen, from Sweeney Todd. Never one to refuse a request I spent the past couple of weeks scheming to come up with these baked beauties!

I wanted the base of the cake to be dense and chocolatey, with different textures to give the effect of a chunky pie filling. I started off with 2 whole bars of milk and white chocolate, bashed and broken into thick chunks.

milk and white chocolate chunks home baking cupcakes

The main sponge of the cupcake was a rich chocolate, and they baked up beautifully with chocolate oozing out of the top. (I coated the chunks in a little flour before mixing in so they didn’t all sink to the bottom).

chocolate cupcakes with white chinks freshly baked oozing

Next up – a gooey ‘meat juice’ – aka a thick, sticky red velvet buttercream, lightly flavoured with chocolate and vanilla, and coloured a gross blood red!

blood red icing buttercream meat juices for mrs lovetts meat pies sweeney todd

I used this to fill the cupcakes…

chocolate cupcake meat pie chunks oozing red red blood meat juice icing halloween

… and cover the tops:

chocolate cupcake in silver foil pie case blood red icing topping sweeney todd mrs lovett meat pies

Any good pie needs a pastry lid, and these were certainly no exception… or were they? This pie was covered in a coloured fondant, using a highly technical mix of yellow, orange, peach, ivory and even black food colouring.

making a cupcake look like pastry pies fondant topping silver foil case

To get the proper meat pie look, the edges were crimped with the edge of a fork, and little pastry leaves added to the centre.

mrs lovett meat pies from sweeney todd fondant pastry crimping edges with a fork leaf decoration

Fresh meat pies, ready to ‘bake’!

fresh pastry meat pies actually are chocolate cupcakes with fondant topping and silver foil case

And bake they did – with the careful help of my lovely painter and decorator Rob. He used brown food colouring diluted with water, and stippling with a paint brush to create a fantastic baked pastry crust to the pies.

meat pie cupcake for musical theme sweeney todd mrs lovetts meat pies entirely edible and sweet

Get them while they’re hot!

freshly baked meat pie lookalike cupcakes made with chocolate and fondant topping paint effects and pastry

And Mrs. Lovett’s pies wouldn’t be complete without a few (fondant) extras:

mrs lovetts meat pies from sweeney todd for musical theme party fondant topping and gory body parts eyes nose bloody finger halloween cupcake baking ideas

We arrived at the party to find the kitchen amazingly transformed into Mrs Lovett’s pie shop, completely bedecked with fake brickwork all around the normal white walls. And, as the birthday boy works down in Leicestershire, he’d picked up a huge haul of pork pies from Melton Mowbray. My how this confused people!

mrs lovetts pie shop musical themed party singing in the rain pork pies cupcakes that look like pies brickwork background

fleet street bloody sign against brickwork mrs lovetts pie shop sweeney todd musical theatre fancy dress theme party

We gave them half a chance by putting the cupcake ‘pies’ on cake stands, but there was still a lot of surprise when they bit in! I didn’t get to try one (don’t worry I stocked up on birthday cake), but received a rave review that they tasted “like a bite of a dream”. Result! Look gross but taste great 🙂

mrs lovetts meat pies kitchen baking cupcakes on stand fondant made to look like pastry nose

I couldn’t help but share some more photos from the party as so much effort had gone into decorating the house.

The conservatory morphed into The Little Shop of Horrors, complete with a handmade Audrey 2:

little shop of horrors front audrey 2 plant built at home musical theatre fancy dress theme party

Recognise the chandelier from Phantom of the Opera? Again, all handmade!

phantom of the opera chandelier built at home gold beading white half face mask and rose musical theatre fancy dress theme party

And the pièce de résistance – a giant Clock of the Time Dragon from Wicked. Complete with moving clock hands and smoke from the dragons mouth. AMAZING!

wicked musical clock of the time dragon built at home fancy dress theme party

To finish – my rock star and I in our costumes!

mamma mia abba and beatles costumes musical fancy dress theme party jen and rob electric guitar

Chocolate Brownie Christmas Trees

christmas tree forest mini cupcakes piped with a star nozzle and green butter cream

What a week last week turned into! The winter weather well and truly hit the UK with some horrid floods followed by a sharp cold snap – road closures and ice everywhere. I shouldn’t complain, a lot of people have far more serious problems caused by the floods, but for me it’s meant some horrific problems commuting – one day it took a total of 5 hours, just to go 20 miles each way!
By Wednesday I was just plain fed up, in a bit of a sulk, and craving some time in the kitchen to cheer myself up. What could make me happier than some festive baking! Totally inspired by these Christmas tree cupcakes over on The Baking‘s blog. Thankfully this week is looking a little better (although I did skid on a big patch of ice this morning) – and I’m back to Christmassy enthusiasm!

I have no recipe for these I’m afraid. They started as a a kind of whipped chocolate cupcake to use up the egg yolks from the weekends Christmas macarons but ended up having all kinds added – melted chocolate and coarsely ground hazelnuts being two of the main culprits. I baked them in my mini muffin tray, spraying it with cake release first so they popped out easily. They came out as a fudgy, nutty brownie, good for all kinds of cravings and a perfect base for my little trees.

mini christmas tree cakes petit fours green icing with yellow star on top

For the Christmas trees themselves, I simply mixed up some stiff green butter cream, and piped onto the brownie using star nozzles. Starting with a wide star nozzle, pressing it down so the base spread out, leaving for 10 minutes to set slightly, then piping smaller stars on top, finishing with a finer swirl from the smaller nozzle.

metal star icing nozzles wide small piping bags bright green butter cream christmas tree

My decorations weren’t as elaborate as those over on The Baking – all my patience has been used sitting in traffic jams this week – so I topped them with a simple gold star sprinkle, and a quick spritz of silver shimmer spray.

chocolate brownies with christmas tree butter cream top festive baking easy star nozzle piping

Because the icing was so stiff to start with it held really well, so the result was a soft, gooey brownie with a squishy icing tree topper. Hooray for Christmas!

christmas tree picture mini cupcake choclate brownie with butter cream piped topping

christmas tree mini cupcakes petit fours simple gift decoration idea green piping

PS they also looked cute in little petit four cake cases, I’d suggest they’ll make an excellent present but realistically they didn’t last the weekend!

christmas tree chocolate brownie petit fours mini cupcake cases green tree yellow star