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Sunday, 20 October 2013

Fondant and Fondue

 It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve yammered on about food n’ stuff; a few changes at this end have mean there seems to have been less time for faffing about the kitchen and trying new recipes. The fact that October Delicious Magazine’s “20 meals in 20 minutes” got me the most excited in the recent issue is fairly indicative of my current state! But I am determined to get back in the kitchen (in a totally non-sexist, non-50’s housewife kind of way) and flex my culinary muscle: I did make receipe 17 (Chicken Pad Kee Mao) last week, and will make receipe 18 (Thai Beef Salad) this week.

 But the major event of the last month or so was Son 2 turning 5: cue weeks of thinking on a theme and how best to get related food/cake/games/party bags  that look awesome but don’t take too much time or money. Like any good male child we had a superhero party – this year was Batman, which is a great theme as you can basically use anything, as long as you prefix it with “Bat-“. So we had Bat bread (fairy bread cut out with a bat shaped cookie cutter), Bat bikkies (choc shortbread in a bat shape), fruit-Bat sticks (fruit kebabs) – you get the idea. And of course the centre of any good party is The Cake. As you know from previous flogs (Let Them Eat (Decorated Cup) Cake), I am a fan of the Well Decorated Cake. However, after organising over 10 kids parties, I now know that the kids don’t care how many hours you have spent agonizing and frosting and decorating, they just care what it looks like. So I have become a big fan of the Edible Cake topper: there are a heap of (probably at-home-mum) suppliers on eBay who can print out just about anything (even customise them with the kid’s name) and post it to you, which makes cake decorating take…oooh, about 10 minutes. But of course this doesn’t satisfy the Cake Creator within, so another outlet had to be sourced.

 I have started following a series on You Tube called Nerdy Nummies . She is an amateur cook who “… really enjoy(s) making nerdy themed goodies and decorating them. I'm not a pro, but I love baking as a hobby”. I first stumbled across her GingerbreadTardis and have made the bear pancakes (with blueberries for eyes rather the chocolate); as well as the maple syrup cupcakes which I made a second time with variations (banana maple and maple pecan – both yum!). I now also have a long list of cool things I want to try; including the Captain America Cake which will be perfect for July 4th celebrations) and the Lego cakes and.… well, too many to list here! **

 But most importantly for me, she made Batman cupcakes, helped ably by with Batman (who my boys though was Hilarious!)

 The process seemed pretty simple, but I have never used fondant icing. Whether it was fear of the unknown or stubbornness, I had managed so far to get all of my decorating done without fondant; frosting had been fine. I had two girlfriends who had done a course and had learned how to do the whole professional cake-with-fondant and I had always been in slight awe of them. But there is a first time for everything, and I happened to know that there was left over black fondant in someone’s’ cupboard that I could use (it had been a racetrack, and a record and it still kept going). So after a few tips from my Learned Colleagues, I started Cake 1.

 Well, I’m not sure what I was so worried about. It was just like baking cookie – roll out, cut to desired shape stick on.  

 It went so well (and was so quick) that I went back and added the birthday boy’s name. He was suitably impressed; as were guests at the party.
 For my next trick, I decided to make Nerdy Nummies Batman cupcakes for the kid’s birthday party, with a slight alteration. I used yellow frosting (rather than black) and just a black Bat symbol on top (to avoid having to go and buy yellow fondant, and to reduce the number of steps). Again quite simple, however I did have to modify my design to slightly larger than planned, as it was quite tricky to cut fondant shapes that small with the paring knife I was using. I did try and source a “fondant cutting tool” but the ones I found were more to do with cutting long strips than small shapes. Might have to dig out the ol’ dissection kit from uni…..

 But still, I was pretty happy with them:- 
 So there we go, my first foray into fondant, which means I’m sure its only a matter of time before I start churning out things like these …

 ... or even this!!

 So to finish off, a bit on the other “F” word of my title. Delicious magazine has a Latin America Special a few months back, which apart from some super yummy salads (and a citrus margarita recipe) had a recipe for Queso Fundido; which I’m sure translates to “yummy cheesy fun”. It is a Mexican cheese fondue, topped with chorizo and served with potato skins (has your cholesterol shot up just thinking about it??). I had only had potato skins once before; back at Planet Hollywood (in the same meal that I had their divine Snickers pie for dessert *sigh* - back in the day where I could eat that in the same meal without even thinking twice about it!). So I knew they were yum, but always seemed a bit fiddly. My plan was to have them as the entree of a fabulous Mexican feast-dinner party, but I couldn’t seem to find the time, and so just decided to make them for Hubby and I one Saturday night.  The potato skins were fairly straight forwards, they just took a bit of time (bake 90 mins, scoop out centre, bake for another 20 mins), but they were worth it, and stayed in one piece while we scooped out the divine gooey mess of cheddar and mozzarella cheese melted with fried chorizo sprinkled on top. Soooooo yum. But definitely a Sometimes Food! Would be brilliant as part of a mid-winter feast like your traditional fondue, but with less chance of the forfeits caused by dropping your bread.

**so do yourself a favour and have look at her videos!  She covers a whole range of nerdy topics and makes everything quite simple for the amateur cook. So much fun and inspiration!

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