Valentines Day Sweets 2013… à la Jen’s Just Desserts
Thursday January 24 2013
As I write this, ‘Snowmageddon – the January 2013 UK remix’ has mostly melted away, & up until this morning, I had literally been stuck indoors for a week, unable to get my car out of the garage/driveway/cul-de-sac because of snow and ice. Talk about cabin fever! I’d agreed to provide a few online publications with photos /ideas /recipes by today’s due date (eek! – talk about procrastination!), but as of yesterday, I literally only had like 7 eggs & two & a half thingies of butter.
Then I remembered I had egg whites left over from my custard-ing & curd-ing, so macarons were definitely an option. So, for the MACARONS, my original recipe & technique can be found here, & information on how to colour & shape them, here. So as not to overcomplicate things, these are basic macs, flavoured with just a dash of vanilla, & coloured with a bit of Sugarflair Ruby & Wilton Neon Magenta gel pastes until my fave shade of hot pink was achieved.
& I think most of you know that I normally just freehand pipe, so this is what the hearts looked like piped onto the baking parchment. Just using a 1 cm round piping tip/nozzle (or actually just snip the tip off a disposable piping bag): start at the bottom point, pipe to the left; then from the top right, pipe downwards back to the bottom point. The shape when you pipe it should be quite exaggerated, as it will spread a bit.
Then, pop them into the oven & watch FEET magically develop!
Once the macs are baked & cooled, then you can pipe your messages on them using royal icing, or even store-bought icing gel thingies (but careful because the icing gels don’t dry in the way royal icing does). The royal icing recipe I use is here – just add enough water until it’s a thick enough piping consistency. I used a 1.5mm tip.
Then, the MOCHA CAKE – this part was purely experimental, again, given my lack of ingredients. (Not gonna lie, the supermarket is only like a mile away, but I didn’t fancy walking back in the snow/ice with hella heavy bags full of eggs/butter/sugar/flour/milk – yeah, why ARE baking ingredients so heavy!?!) I knew I wanted to save whatever remaining 5 egg whites & most of the butter for the IMBC: Italian Meringue Buttercream. I didn’t have any soured cream or buttermilk, but DID have some left over dulce de leche & some not-so-fancy cocoa powder, & some vegetable oil… so chocolate cake was a possibility. Ooh but then I remembered the Starbucks espresso powder in the corner. So here’s what I threw in the bowl, and hoped for the best:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit /180 degrees Celsius.
Grease & flour (spray/line, whatever) 2 x 8-inch baking pans
- 1 cup caster / superfine sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup whole / full-fat milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste / or extract to taste
- 3 tablespoons dulce de leche (mine was the runnier variety made with Carnation condensed milk, but I suppose you could just use the condensed milk)
- here’s how you can easily make dulce de leche
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda / bicarbonate of soda
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (I used Bourneville)
- 1 tablespoon espresso powder
Mix the wet ingredients until fully incorporated & then sift in the dry ingredients.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until done.
Allow the cakes to cool completely & whip up your IMBC: Italian Meringue Buttercream. (Or you can use Swiss, or any buttercream really… I just like how stiff, yet light & fluffy meringue buttercreams are). Colour as you wish…
Well, after the cake & macarons, I did have like a third of a thingie of butter left (I dunno what you’re supposed to call them in the UK? – a pack? packet? 250g butter square thing), & 2 eggs & a little milk, leftover royal icing from the macarons, & some coloured fondant that had gone hard.
Then I remembered my new iddy-biddy-hot-diddy-donut moulds from Lakeland for DONUTS!
OK, so as with the mocha cake recipe, this was an experiment on measurements/ratio of wet/dry ingredients, so here goes – this will make enough for like 40 mini-donuts:
Preheat oven to 340 degrees Farenheit /175 degrees Celsius.
Grease & flour (spray the silicone version with cake release spray) your mini-donut baking pan(s).
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- dash of vanilla
- dash of salt
- dash of nutmeg & cinnamon
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1/2 cup milk
Mix butter & sugar together until light & fluffy, then add egg & mix some more. (You can use a wooden spoon or stand mixer).
Add vanilla & salt, & nutmeg & cinnamon.
Add flour & milk & mix until fully incorporated.
Only fill the donut moulds about halfway full. Bake for 10 minutes.
Once the donuts are cooled, you can use this recipe/process for POURING FONDANT. (It may seem complicated, but this one works for me!)
You can pipe on whatever messages you want using royal icing.
And there you have it… three different ideas for Valentine’s Day bakes, made with just a few ‘leftover’ ingredients. Enjoy!