If you’re looking for a winner of a gift, you can’t go far wrong with a handmade chocolate slab!
What you need to make a large slab, or two smaller ones:
- Baking tray
- Baking paper
- 100g Milk chocolate
- 100g Dark chocolate
- 50g White chocolate
- 3 Heatproof bowls
- 3 Small saucepans
- Cocktail stick
The beauty of making your own is that you can use whatever chocolate you like and tailor the topping to the ‘giftees’ taste. One tip – make sure you use tasty chocolate, if you wouldn’t eat it on it’s own, don’t bother using it!
- Set up a baking tray with some baking paper, and if you want to multiple slabs, use something to keep the chocolate contained (I used some straight edged cutters held down by weights).
- Take 3 bowls and 3 pans, pour a small amount of water into each pan (the bottom of the bowl must sit clear of the water to avoid burning) and heat. Chop up each bar of chocolate as small as you can – the smaller you chop it, the quicker it’ll melt! I used 3 different types of chocolate: Green & Blacks milk, Tesco Finest white and Tesco Finest 70% dark.
- When the water in the pans is hot, turn down the heat and place each bowl over each pan and add each type of chocolate to its own bowl.
- With a close eye on your melting chocolate (give it a stir every now and again), chop up any nuts, etc. to sprinkle on top and keep these close by. As soon as your chocolate is melted down to just a few lumps, remove the bowls from the heat and stir until completely smooth. The milk and white chocolate will probably be ready before the dark chocolate.
- Pour your milk chocolate onto your prepared tray, keeping it to the left. Don’t be stingy! Pour it quite thick to ensure it doesn’t snap when you pick up your finished slab. Straight away drizzle the white chocolate down the middle and as soon as the dark chocolate is ready, pour that on the right. Quickly take a cocktail stick, or thin knife and lightly draw out from the white chocolate in the middle to create a swirl. Don’t be too precious and don’t worry if you mix up the chocolate, it all adds to the beauty.
- Grab your sprinkles, whether these are chopped nuts, dried fruit, fudge, marshmallows, or anything else and gently drop these down the middle of your slab. Leave your chocolate slab to set in a cool room out of direct sunlight.
Once set and looking delicious wrap in cellophane for a lovely gift.
One of my most exciting cake projects last year was this one – a guitar cake for a 60th birthday rock party!
The body of the guitar is malted vanilla sponge and the guitar neck is chocolate sponge. I used a printed template to get the body shape which was covered in Renshaw’s Amethyst Purple fondant. The trickiest part was covering the part closest to the neck, as it’s pretty narrow! I then sprayed the body with edible lustre spray to give it a bit of sparkle.
Pickups, switches, etc. were moulded in fondant, sprayed silver and placed on once the guitar cake neck and body were united (I had to use two large rectangle cake boards). Instead of piping the strings, I used edible shoe laces (from Tesco) to add a bit of extra colour.
One of my favourite cakes from 2013 🙂
A lovely lady called me up and asked about having some birthday cupcakes made as a surprise for her friend who happens to live in my village (small world, as they say).
She’d seen my coffee and walnut cake covered in buttercream roses, so it was decided that these 60th birthday cupcakes would use rose piping and be chocolate and vanilla. Indulgent and pretty was the brief 🙂
The cupcakes were decorated with edible pearls and fondant discs with ’60’ on top.
So here they are… presented in a 12 hole card cupcake box, fastened with a ribbon. Happy 60th birthday Jan!
Now the festivities are done, I’ve found some time to post the baking efforts over Christmas! For the first time I made chocolate truffles – using Nigel Slater’s recipe which is super-simple! I made white chocolate, vanilla and coconut truffles and rich chocolate orange truffles dusted in cocoa powder. Truffles make an ideal gift as they last up to 3 weeks so you can make them in advance for Christmas parties too.
I also made a few Christmas cupcake gifts for family and couldn’t resist using these adorable Christmas cupcake boxes bought from e-Bay! I made mixed spice and orange cupcakes and also Baileys coffee cupcakes. Coffee sponge with Baileys buttercream cupcakes were decorated using my new snowflake cutters, I dusted fondant snowflakes with edible glitter.
The orange and spice cupcakes (orange and spice sponge topped with orange buttercream) I used holly cutters and rolled some red fondant berries and dusted the berries in red edible glitter.
Simple but effective 🙂
Following on from my best friend Lisa’s Alfa Romeo Spider birthday cake earlier in the year, I simply had to do her boyfriend’s Alfa Romeo GTV car as a cake for his 30th!
A little more experienced with car cakes this time around I made the fondant details such as wipers, lights, spoiler, reg plates and alloys (sprayed with PME silver spray) a couple of days in advance to firm up. Rob’s Alfa is an unusual colour – pearlescent light blue, therefore I used Sugarflair Ice Blue colour for the fondant (the tiniest amount) and sprayed the ‘bodywork’ with PME Pearl spray to try and match the real-life effect.
The sponge is chocolate malt made with malt extract, Horlicks, Malteasers and belgian chocolate. Once constructed and sandwiched with vanilla/malt buttercream, I covered the whole cake in belgian chocolate fondant, then the ice blue fondant prepared earlier. Windows were cut out of the fondant (to reveal the chocolate fondant beneath) and tyre rounds for the alloys to fit into.
I painted the Alfa badges using food colouring, a steady hand and a very small paint brush! The grass is buttercream, coloured green and piped using a multi-hole nozzle – perfect for grass and hair.
Birthday boy was pleased with his Alfa Romeo GTV 3.0 V6 24v (I know this detail as I had to pipe it on the back) and a fab time was had by all HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROB!
With the birth of a baby boy, I gladly accepted the commission of a novelty cake to celebrate! I couldn’t resist using my new cutter set of tiny feet, and of course, lots of blue sugarpaste!
The sponge is chocolate with seriously chocolatey buttercream (nothing less than Green & Blacks cocoa powder). I desperately wanted to try making a little fondant train and teddy bear which were in the latest cake book I’d bought, not bad for a first attempt if I say so myself. The letters ‘B’ ‘O’ and ‘Y’ were cut out by hand from chocolate flavour fondant as I wanted the lettering to really stand out.
Congratulations to Laura and Keith on the arrival of baby Peter 🙂
After a day’s recovery after a rather busy week I thought I’d post about my 1400 cupcake marathon! Wolfson College’s choice of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, mocha, ginger, banana, red velvet, chocolate & hazelnut, Oreo cookie, lemon, orange, coffee & walnut and carrot cake cupcakes went down a storm. It was a pleasure working with the committee, and President Tamara on the order and I got to use both of my acrylic stands and mini board signs for the first time.
Despite many, many, many hours of baking, frosting and decorating I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and am very grateful to the guests for all of the wonderful comments and cake compliments I received throughout the night of the ball 🙂
Sadly there wasn’t time to take many photos but I managed to quickly snap my cakes on their beautiful stands… if anybody reading this was at the ball and took photos of the stands/cakes, it would be great to see them – email me!
A scorching week of beautiful sunny weather really helped soften the butter for this birthday cake, celebrating Gary’s nans (Peggy) 85th birthday.
On finally finding a trustworthy recipe (the link to this recipe is below) the cake was baked in two 8 inch sandwich tins and prepared for decoration.
Firstly I made a batch of coffee buttercream for the centre of the two sponges and then continued all over the outside of the cake. Using a cake smoother, I went around the edges two smooth it off, and then chopped up more walnuts to gently pat around the sides of the cake (a messy job, but worthwhile for all those walnut fans). The excess plain coffee buttercream was then kept to one side while I prepared a second batch of coffee buttercream, this time adding a few teaspoons of red, (mixed with a little blue) food colouring to get a soft vintage pink tone.
A dollop of each colour was added to a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M nozzle, I then piped a number of roses onto the top of the cake. Start in the middle of the cake and pipe from the centre outwards (unlike the way you’d usually pipe onto a cupcake, where you would start from the outside and work towards the centre). Ensuring that all areas were covered with rose swirls, I popped an edible pearl into the centre of each rose and lightly sprinked with white edible glitter.
I also decorated a few chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream roses to accompany the main birthday cake.
This week I was tasked with 12 cupcakes (6 lemon and 6 Malteaser) for a hen party which was a surprise visit to Royal Tunbridge Wells for some spa pampering. With this in mind I decided to have a bit of fun with chocolate and piped the name of the bride-to-be onto baking paper along with a little chocolate crown. I used Wilton Candy Melts, popped them in the microwave for short intervals until completely melted, popped a small writing nozzle in my piping bag and traced over some printed lettering.
Once the lemon cupcakes were iced with lemon buttercream, I prized the hardened chocolate decorations from the baking paper and gently sat them on each cake.
Hope the ladies had a super relaxing time on the hen do 🙂
An excellent opportunity to try out my new cupcake stand 🙂 My wonderful friend Leila turned 30 this month and along with some other friends, they held a joint birthday party and I provided the sweet treats in form of cupcakes!
Chocolate cupcakes – chocolate sponge with chocolate buttercream and chocolate curls
Strawberry cupcakes – strawberry sponge using fresh strawberries whizzed in the mixer, then popped through a sieve. Topped with strawberry buttercream and a blushing red slice on top.
Vanilla cupcakes – can’t go wrong with a good old vanilla cupcake! Vanilla sponge with vanilla frosting, topped with a cocktail cherry. It’s amazing how much more flavour a good quality vanilla extract gives compared to an essence – this means you don’t need to use as much either 😉
The band ‘The Undercovers’ were really good too.