Thursday, March 20, 2014

Caramel Walnut and Chocolate Slice

Have you heard of the paleo diet or lifestyle? I only discovered it recently, as some of my friends have joined in this way of eating. I had my first paleo muffin yesterday and it was indeed a healthy snack. It's a far cry from the sweets I'm used to creating in my kitchen, and it made me think of how boney I would be if I followed the trend. I say trend, although my friends are certain it's not, and call it a lifestyle rather than anything. I suppose it has become popular recently though, as several paleo cafes have popped up in the area in the last year out of the blue. It's one diet that seems to be a sustainable way of eating, unlike so many diets that people use to lose weight, like the shake diet, which for me, is a recipe for fluctuation. It also seems to be a good thing to stick to if you're lactose or gluten intolerant. It cuts out many processed and refined foods, and steers clear of legumes, starchy vege, dairy and grains. It's a sort of cave man style of food--fresh vegies, meat, fish, nuts and fruit.
For myself however, I am sticking to "balance is key" and just eating a little bit of all the good and tasty stuff, even if it is processed. Life is too short to deny yourself one piece of slice--especially when it comes with a layer or chocolate, a gooey golden filling of caramel dotted with walnuts, and a buttery, shortbread base. Walnuts are healthy, right?

CARAMEL WALNUT SLICE  (Better Homes and Gardens)

350g butter
225g caster sugar
275g plain flour
395g sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup honey or golden syrup
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
200g dark chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 180C. Put 225g butter and 100g of the sugar into a bowl and beat until light and creamy.
Add flour and stir to form a soft dough.
Spread the dough in a lined slice or lamington tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden.
Put remaining butter and sugar in a medium-sized pan and stir over low heat until the better melts. Add condensed milk and honey, stirring continuously until the mixture is combined and very thick.
Remove from heat. Stir walnuts through, before pouring over the slice base.
Leave to cool, and then spread melted chocolate over the caramel to the edges.
Refrigerate for 3 hours before cutting into 24 squares.

NOTE: You may want to use a hot knife to cut through the chocolate as it tends to crack a little when cutting.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

How to Make a Baby from Fondant or Gumpaste

 Making this gum paste or fondant newborn baby is easier than pie. With the use of a silicone baby mold, you will have a perfect miniature, edible baby within minutes--and it makes you look like a pro without being one. You can make this little bubba lifelike with a little pink petal dust to highlight the cheeks and bottom and a tan or light brown petal dust for definition in the creases and to give a more realistic skin tone. Being a very fair person myself, I instantly started creating a Caucasian newborn, but you can darken the skin as desired.
These adorable babies are perfect  for baby shower cakes, cupcakes and Christenings and can be left as is or decorated with bonnets bows and frills, or popped into a little fondant cradle or pram as a cake topper. I am going to use the babies in Anne Geddes inspired baby shower cakes atop large open fondant roses. Pictures to follow!

How to Make a Baby from Fondant or Gum paste

You will need:

Silicone baby mold
Quantity of flesh/ light coloured fondant or gum paste (about the size of a golf ball per baby)
Greaseproof paper
One or two small paint brushes
Tan or light brown petal dust
Dark brown matte petal dust
Pink matte petal dust

1. Colour fondant as desired. Make sure it is dry to the touch, not tacky. (You may want to add some icing sugar or corn flour at this stage. Tacky fondant can prove problematic.) Take a piece about the size of a golf ball and roll it into a smooth ball. Elongate this ball between the palms of your hand.

 2. Gently but firmly press this fondant into your dry mold, paying special attention to the head and feet areas. (Do not powder or grease these particular silicone molds, as it may take away the definition of the baby.)

 3. Gently cut away any excess overhanging fondant until the fondant of the baby is level with the top of the mold. Brush away any left over excess and smooth the top with your fingers.

 4. Place the mold in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm. To remove the baby, gently ease it out from the mold head first, holding the mold at the front with both thumbs, pushing from the back of the mold with your fingers.

5. Place the baby gently on some greaseproof paper. Because it has been in the freezer, it may get a damp look to it--allow it to dry.

6. Take a small brush with a little tan or light brown petal dust on it. work into the creases and over the baby's body. Build up the colour a little more under the chin, in the arm and leg creases and the sides and underneath of the tummy. If you have a darker brown petal dust, brush this over the crown for soft baby hair.

7.With a smaller brush, use the pink petal dust to touch on the cheeks, bottom, elbows, knees and hands. You can also colour the lips with the pink, or use a stronger colour such as a watered down red food colouring to carefully stain this area.