Wednesday, February 20, 2008

C is for Cookie

As mentioned here, I thought it might be a good idea (not to mention an excuse for me to indulge in a spot of decorating!) to put up a post featuring the cookie component of this Spring/Easter class I'll be teaching (held on 1 March 2008 , 2 March 2008 , 15 March 2008 and 16 March 2008 - for all inquiries, please call Shermay's Cooking School at +65 6479 8442 or email

The recipe for Rich Chocolate Cookies (flavoured with Valrhona cocoa and Nielsen-Massey's awesome chocolate extract) makes an easy-to-handle rolled dough that's perfect for decorated cookies. As for Royal Icing, I've used a recipe based on egg white powder - I've used a meringue powder royal icing and classic royal icing (based on raw whites) in previous classes before and thought it would be nice to show another alternative that works just as well.

Beyond the basic decorating techniques (like outlining, flooding, drop-in flooding, overpiping, flocking and gilding) that allow you to craft one-of-a-kind cookies, I just couldn't resist adding cookie pops to the line-up.
These treats-on-sticks let you arrange the most unusual edible bouquets – such as this cluster of Tulip Cookie Pops - be it as a memorable hostess gift or party table centerpiece.

Learning how to use a petal tip or drop flower tip to create 3-D piped icing flowers opens up a whole wealth of decorating possibilities; I think these Flower Baskets show off the royal icing blooms to sweet effect.
And of course, no celebration of Easter or Spring would be complete without


and Bunnies.

Putting together an Easter basket for a child? It amuses me to think of these Carrots as accompanied by an Eat Your Veggies label - for once, the recalcitrant little one won't need much persuasion!

and Dragonflies are just as full of fun and frolic.

Need something a little more seemingly grown-up? May I suggest some Gilded Eggs? While a touch of gold works its magic on designs far simpler, faster and less fussy (as will be shown during the sessions), I thought I'd show a sample here of the more ornate numbers possible should one be of the school of thought that more-is-more when it comes to decorated cookies. Admittedly, I was having a bit of a moment when icing these, having just re-watched Marie Antoinette recently (in case you're wondering, not so much for Ms Coppola's revisionist it just me, or are those props - heaps of Ladurée pastries and piles of Manolos - completely show-stealing?). But what with the flurry of scrolls and swags and flourishes, the results might just as well have been inspired by a jewelled Fabergé imperial Easter egg, no?
The Art Nouveau-inspired motif on the right is based on Émile Gallé's design of swirling anemones, as seen gracing bottles of the Belle Epoque cuvée.

I was really thrilled at how these Jasper ware-inspired cookies turned out the last time, so wanted to try a few left plain white-on-blue.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Spring/Easter Class at Shermay's: Cupcakes, Cookies and Other Treats

I'll be teaching a Spring/Easter demo class at Shermay's Cooking School on 1 March 2008 (Saturday), 2 March 2008 (Sunday), 15 March 2008 (Saturday) and 16 March 2008 (Sunday) - the March schedule has all the necessary booking details. For all inquiries, please call the school at +65 6479 8442 or email

I didn't want to limit a theme so rich with possibilities to just cupcakes, or just cookies. So the solution was obvious - the class covers both areas, and a few other treats besides. This post features the cupcakes and some of the cupcake decorating ideas; I will put up a separate post soon featuring the decorated cookies.

The cupcake and cupcake topping recipes are:

Super Moist Carrot & Orange Cupcakes with Walnuts
If anything is worth perfecting, it is a classic like carrot cake. My idea of a well-made carrot cake, a carrot cake worth eating, is ultra moist, gently spiced, lifted with a touch of citrus zest and generously loaded with shredded carrots and chopped nuts - all in all, a lavish mouthful of comfort. The recipe I will be sharing is the same tried-and-tested gold standard I often turn to when I need to produce a sweet treat that will make a memorable impression at tea.
White Chocolate & Cream Cheese Frosting
A lavish carrot cake deserves a lavish frosting. Good white chocolate (I use Valrhona Ivoire) puts a luxurious spin on cream cheese frosting, lending mouthfeel and richness.
Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Cupcakes with Cherry Topping
A buttery crumb base is topped with a luscious cream cheese filling extravagantly flavoured with vanilla bean and finished with a tart cherry topping.

I had a lot of fun coming up with ideas for decorating the cupcakes, from the fuss-free (like these candied carrot curls),

to the fabulously frou frou. Given the seasonal theme, coming up with the latter was virtually like playing a word association game. If there're carrots involved, the Easter bunny simply must put in an appearance.
Delicate little eggs, tinted a variety of pretty pastel washes, demand a basket,

a nest,

or a bed of grass.

And if there're eggs, a chick

or two can't be far behind.

And that's just the cherry on the cake, so to speak. I'll put up details on the decorated cookie component of the class soon; an easy-to-handle rolled dough (Rich Chocolate Cookies), plus familiarity with the ins and outs of working with Royal Icing (using a recipe based on egg white powder that's an alternative to meringue powder royal icing and classic royal icing) and core decorating techniques (from the basic like Outlining, Flooding, Drop-in Flooding, Overpiping, Flocking and Gilding to the slightly more challenging like Piped Icing Flowers), allow you to craft one-of-a-kind cookies and cookie pop bouquets. Sugar moulding techniques (for creating sugar cases and shaped sugar cubes) will also be covered.

On top of the above, the recipe pack includes a handful of bonus recipes - Simnel Cupcakes with Marzipan Centres; Raspberry & Dark Chocolate Cupcakes; Raspberry & Dark Chocolate Ganache. I won't be demonstrating these extra recipes during class so will be elaborating on them shortly as well.