Sugar Free Lamingtons

So the whole baking deal has taken a bit of a back seat as we’ve cut sugar out of our diet, but I’ve been working away in the kitchen, trying and failing to find baked goods just as good as the sugary stuff. Just in time for Australia day, I’ve made fabulously tasty, refined sugar free Lamingtons. Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

Sponge
Three beaten eggs
1 cup self-raising flour
150g butter
3 tablespoons Rice Malt Syrup

Coating
I cup coconut oil
1 cup powdered cacao
2 cups no-sugar-added desiccated coconut

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
With a saucepan on low heat, combine Rice Malt Syrup and butter until melted.
Place flour, eggs and liquid mixture in a bowl and mix together with a whisk until combined. The longer you whisk, the more air and therefore the fluffier your sponge will be.

Line a loaf tin in baking paper and pour mixture in. Place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until you can press your finger in the middle and the cake bounces back. The sides should begin to be a golden colour.

Meanwhile, mix coconut oil and cacao in a bowl until smooth. This is quite a dark mix, so if you (or the people you’re serving to) like it things a little sweeter, add some stevia to taste. Place coconut in a second bowl.

Take the sponge out of the oven when done, and place on a cooling rack.

Once sponge is cool, cut into fingers (approx. 16). Coat each sponge finger in the cacao mixture, then roll in desiccated coconut.

Keep in an air-tight container in the fridge until ready to serve!

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Mine curve down at the sides, but if you prefer a less “rustic” look, you can square off the edges before you dip ’em in the coating.

Let me know if you make your own and I hope you have a good Aussie-Day break!

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Cupcake Bouquet

So my bestie just had her Kitchen Tea and I thought it was a good excuse to take a bash at a bouquet of cupcakes!

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Super simple and super effective. Here’s how to make ’em:IMG_8871

You’ll need 15 cupcakes (it’s an awkward number I know, but my 1 dozen cupcake recipe tends to stretch itself to 15 so see if you can do that with yours too!) I tend to prefer vanilla because they show up less than chocolate with lighter colours.

You’ll also need about a batch and a half of buttercream, split and coloured into the different flower colours you want to use. I’ve chosen yellow, orange and pink to match the “citrus” decoration theme of the party.

You’ll also need a styrofoam ball and a pot/bucket thats a little smaller than the diameter of the ball. The ball I’ve chosen has a diameter of 15cm.

You’ll need some green tissue paper in a suitable hue to match your colours, some tooth picks and piping bags & nozzles.

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First up, pop your ball into it’s container. Space 15 toothpicks spaced evenly around. I found it easiest to poke one in the middle at the top, then poke in two more in line, either side, to create five toothpicks in a line. Then, three fit in underneath that line on each side, with another two on each side at the bottom.

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Then, start putting your cupcakes on the toothpicks. You’ll need to re-angle, change positions and even add more toothpicks in as you go. I found that the ones at the bottom generally need two as they’re working against gravity. IMG_8880

Then you’ll have something that looks kinda like this ^^^

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As you can see, there’s some white parts poking through and ruining our bouquet illusion. This is where the tissue paper comes in! IMG_8889

Chop your tissue paper into triangles. Or squares. Or pentagons – it doesn’t really matter, they just need to be in little chunks.

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Holding a piece or two in the middle, scrunch the paper up until it looks kinda leafy and then poke a tooth pick through the middle. The paper will sit in between the cupcakes without the toothpick but as the cupcakes are removed it’s good to have the tissue paper secure.

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Once you’ve put all the “leaves” in it should look something like this ^. Try to have the paper lower than the cupcake cases when they come in contact with the sides. This just helps when icing not to get the icing on the tissue paper. IMG_8910

Then it’s time to start icing the cupcakes. I’m using a closed star tip to make roses by keeping my swirl low and even, but there are plenty of other flowers you can create with different tips – if you’re keen for some variation have a look on Youtube or Pinterest.

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Then add you second colour in…

And your third!

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And there you have it! A bouquet of cupcakes!

And in action…

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Mini Nutella Cupcakes

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For a few days now my husband has had to hear me lament about two things:
1. How bored I am, and 2. How much I want Nutella in the house.
So here’s my two-birds-one-stone solution. I made this recipe for NUTELLA CUPCAKES. nomnomnomnom

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Dear cupcakes please get in my stomach.

Okay, so how to make ’em.

Grab
225g unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
4 cups self-raising flower
4 eggs
1Tsp baking powder
AND ONE CUP OF NUTELLA
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Put it all in the bowl of an electric mixer (use a paddle attachment) and mix.

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Then I put a heaped tablespoon of mixture into each divot in a greased mini-cupcake pan. I suggest you stick with minis because they’re. so. rich.
Oh, and as you can see, I made them naked (sans wrappers). They’re just so little that I didn’t want to bother – better to just pick ’em up and pop ’em in.

Then I put them in the oven at 180C, they took about 6-7 minutes but they turn from raw to dry quite quickly so keep by the oven. I was able to make about 4 batches of 24.

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Once the cupcakes have cooled you can go on and spoon a dollop of Nutella on or make this Nutella/buttercream icing:

You’ll need
2 cups Nutella
100g butter
4-6 cups icing sugar
2-4 tablespoons of milk.

Use a whisk attachment to give some air to the Nutella – put your mixer on high for about a minute.
Add the butter and whisk until combined
Add half a tablespoon of milk, then a cup of icing sugar and whisk until combined.
Continue adding half a tablespoon of milk, then a cup of icing sugar until it’s a pipe-able consistency. This will change depending on the temperature as well as your personal preference.

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I added a star-tip to a disposable piping-bag and just did a quick swirl on the cupcakes. Store in a fridge until served.

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Surprise Valentine’s Cupcakes

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I’ll take any excuse to bake cupcakes, and putting a little surprise inside has always been an ambition, so what better excuse than to make these  Surprise Valentines cupcakes!

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W
hat you’ll need;
A cupcake tin,
A small cake tin,
A fondant roller or rolling pin
A serrated-edged knife
Patty pans
Food colouring
A piping bag and nozzle
A heart-shaped cookie-cutter
Some white fondant
A batch of butter cream, coloured with your colour of choice.
A batch of cupcake batter.

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The cupcake batter I used was my favourite – made from scratch. This technique works just as well with a packet mix too!
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You’ll need a flat and clean surface to work with your fondant on, I used a piece of baking paper for easy clean up.
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I chose pink food colouring and these pretty pink patty-pans.
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I used a disposable piping bag and a large-star tip. This just adds a bit of extra flair but if you don’t fancy yourself the piping type you can try: spreading on your icing with a knife, or using a zip-lock bag as a make-shift pipping bag.
Also, I only used the smaller heart as it fit well inside the cupcakes so be careful of size.
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This batch of butter cream suits 12 cupcakes and is made from using a whisk attachment to combine 225g of butter with 5-6 cups of icing sugar (adding in a cup at a time).
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The size of cake pan doesn’t matter ,you just need to make sure you can fit in 12-15 of your hearts once the cake is baked.

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Start off by colouring half of your mixture. I like to add quite a bit of colouring as when you bake a cake, it tends to lighten in colour.

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Pop your coloured cake mixture into your small cake pan. Put it in the oven at the recommended temperature for your recipe, however the time it takes will depend on it’s thickness. Mine took about 15min all up but it’s a good idea to keep checking as it bakes.
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Once it’s out and all goldeny-browny-pink on the top, let your cake cool in its pan. Then remove and place on a plate. Pop in the freezer for about an hour so that it firms up and is easy to work with. Then slice off any brown from the top and the bottom of the cake so there’s only pinky-goodness for your little hearts.
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Then cut out as many hearts as you can so that you can pick and choose your faves.
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Fill your cup-cake cases up to a third with batter.

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Pop your hearts in facing all the same way so that you can remember the bast way to bite or cut into the cupcakes. If those you’re serving them to take a big bite out of the side they might be a bit confused at the rectangle facing back at them!

Then fill the cases up until they’re 2/3rds full, making sure to place a dollop of batter right on top of the heart. Bake with caution – again checking as they bake. Mine took about 12 minutes. (Oh, and don’t worry about the hearts re-baking, for some reason when you place cake in batter, just the batter bakes)

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When they’re out they’ll look something like this ^^^ you can see a little dip where the hearts are which is totally fine. If you can still see some heart poking out, it might be worth covering the cupcake with a thin layer of un-coloured buttercream so that the pink heart can be separated from the pink icing and you can get the full effect.

Once your cupcakes have cooled, it’s time to ice ice baby.
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Snip the point of the piping back off and put the tip inside before putting your piping back in a glass for ease.
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Then top it up with the buttercream and twist the end when your done.
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You want to try to press the buttercream down as you go so that it’s not all airy like this. The more air bubbles means the harder it is to pipe smooth icing.
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To make the fondant heart-toppers, place your fondant down on a surface dusted with icing sugar/corn starch. Roll with a rolling pin, rotate the fondant, roll, rotate, roll, rotate, until the fondant is about 2 credit-cards thick.
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Cut out more hearts than you need as some are prone to breaking/turning out ugly.
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Then place them on a flat surface, in a dry room. Drying them out for 24 hours is best, but they should be firm enough in an hour or two, depending on their thickness and the humidity. 
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Using a medium amount of pressure, swirl the piping bag around the cupcake and into a point -it’s far easier than it looks! Keep all of the cupcakes facing the same way as when you baked – that way you can remember where the hearts inside are!

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P
ut a fondant heart on inline with the heart inside. I told those eating this batch to face the heart towards them and bite in. If you can’t tell people as they eat, hopefully that will be their instinct anyway!

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The finished product!

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And, on the inside…

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DIY Fabric Buttons

For my Birthday, my beautiful friend Claudia gifted me Cath Kidson’s Button Factory – a kit for making ab-fab fabric buttons. Before I even got the chance to sit down at have a bash, I came across a similar system for covering buttons with fabric at Daiso, for, you guessed it, $2.80. I grabbed them in the hopes that once my Button Factory is out of business, I can continue on. I decided to test both out at the same time and this is how it went!

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The Daiso “Cover Button Kit”s in 27 and 18mm, and Cath Kidson’s Button Factory.

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First up; I could not wait to try this beauty out!

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What you get in your kit; some beautiful Cath Kidson fabric in 7 different designs, a instruction and ideas book, the backs (the silver guys with the loops) and the fronts (the plain silver guys) for 25 buttons, and a rubber mould (blue) and plastic plug (red) to help create your buttons!IMG_8292

As per the instructions, I cut off my first square of fabric. The last page of the book provided gives a template so you know how big to cut your circle.

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The fabric then sits in the blue mould, before placing in the silver front. Then, after tucking the edges under, the red plug assists you in pressing the back into place. It’s pretty self explanatory. and the instructions given in both kits are clear.
You’ll end up with something looking like this;

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As you may be able to guess, I had some difficulty with a little tuck on the final product, so make sure to go around each gather before you press in the back to ensure that the fabric on the front will be flat.

So how does my Daiso buy compare?

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I decided to have a bash with these 18mm buttons as the 22mm were a similar size to my Cath Kidson Factory.
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The kit comes with a similar number of button backs and fronts, a mould and plug, as well as a template.

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The process is just the same, although the mould is a little stiffer so pushing the button-front in can take some time….

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…however because the mould is clear, it’s easy to see if there are any problem-tucks in the fabric.

Fast forward half an hour and I have a jar of beautiful buttons at my disposal!

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The verdict: completely obsessed with Cath Kidson’s Button Factory, and completely delighted that I can continue my button making days thanks to Daiso.

Stay tuned for some buttony-crafts 🙂

DIY Flower Crowns

Let’s make flower crowns!!!
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You’ll need some fake flowers, some wire (this is florist’s wire, but you can use anything), ribbon and perhaps a glue gun

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grab a piece of wire and make a general rounded shape (you can use the shape of your head as a guide)

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with your fingers (or some pliers if you have a thicker wire) bend back the wire into a loop, and twist the wire around itself

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so now your crown should look something like this

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the flowers I’ve bought are attached to two wires. most fake flowers won’t be, so you may need to pop off the flower from the stem and hot glue some of your wire into the flower (there’ll often be a little hole from the original stem as shown below)

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line up your flowers on your wire to give a bit of an indication of how it might all fit together.

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if you have a focus flower, like I do, wire it on first

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so that it looks something like this ^^^

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after you’ve put all your flowers on, grab two lengths of ribbon (I’ve chosen cream).

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and tie them on to your pre-made loops.

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 The final product!!!

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Let me know if you have a bash – I’d love to see!

DIY Bon-bons!

Bon-bons! A cute way to add a personal flair to your Chrissie table with this quick and easy table deco.IMG_8509 2

What you’ll need:

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Crackers – I got a pack of 10 at riot for $2
Toilet paper rolls – you can buy these in a pack with the crackers at
Spotlight but I just saved ours up!
Wrapping paper – I got this pack of three from Typo for $15 but I
suggest you go with the thinnest paper available ’cause it was a little hard to rip!IMG_8493 2

You’ll also need things to fill your bon-bons with. This time I’m using a bell (10 pack of red, gold, silver $2 for The Reject Shop) a Ferrero Rocher and some tea-light candles. If you’re keen for more ideas to put in your bons stay tuned for a list at the end of other things I’ve used.

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You’ll also need a pair of scissors, sticky tape, and some ribbon/sting/twine to tie the ends.

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First up place some sticky tape in the middle of your cracker to help secure it.

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Then place it inside your toilet paper roll and press down the tape.

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Put your goodies in then wrap with paper. I cut mine a little longer than the length of the cracker to allow for bunching around the end of the role.

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Secure with tape. Now comes the part where your neat, carefully constructed bon-bon is destroyed with crushing as you bend and crunch the paper around the ends of the toilet paper roll.

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Then secure with  your ribbon of choice!

I wrapped the girl’s bon-bons in spots and the guy’s in chevron, I also replaced the candles with Santa choccys for the guys.

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I tend to put a decoration, a chocolate and small gift in bon-bons. I’ve also put in bible verses, (good) jokes, recipes and fun facts as the paper product.

This year I’ve decided to do all the girls the same, and all the guys the same. Previously I’ve made individual crackers with gifts and fun facts tailored to the person – good fun but a bit of work!

I generally put a bit of pressure on myself with these things, but usually bon-bons contain pretty underwhelming treats so just remember that it’s really not a tough act to follow.

IDEAS

For everyone:
Chocolate Liqueurs
Chocolate Santas
Lindt Lindor Chocolate Balls
Key rings
Candy canes
USBs
Recipes
Guitar Picks
Comb
Magnets
Pet toy
Stationary (highlighters, pens, mini-post-its)

For Men:
Bottle openers
Shot glasses
Mini screwdriver
Mini deck of cards
Pocket Knife
Ear phones
Bookmark
Mini torch/keyring

For Women:
Cheap Jewellery (Equip etc. or tacky-but-fun Christmas light-up necklaces/earings)
Nail polish
Candles
Tea
Lip balm
Hair clips
Soap
Brooches
Thimbles
Bobby pins/hair ties
Mini cupcake cases
Mini cookie cutter

For kids:
Wrapped lollies
Bouncy balls
Bubbles
Lego
Toy cars
Plastic jewellery
Chalk
Grocery and party stores also have a selection of lolly-bag toys that I tend to raid for bon-bons

Would love to see your bons and hear your ideas for goodies to put inside!

Note: I have to give credit to James for helping me to think of ideas, however he started with “bottle openers” and “recipes” and he ended up on the floor covered in a pink sarong with my laptop charger on his face suggesting “laundry powder”, “a mouse” “chicken salt sachets” and “as many pizza shapes as you can stuff in there”.