Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Amazing Cake Pop and Costume GIVEAWAY!!!

Christmas is fast approaching, and I'll bet this prize will blow your little superhero's mind! Win a box of custom Cake Pop Princess cake pops, and an AMAZING Lucha Libre mask OR superhero cape from Iwishiwasa. I'm so excited about this giveaway - it really will make a perfect Christmas gift, even if the cake pops need to be munched in the next fortnight. They'll never know, eh? It'll be our secret, I promise not to tell. We can just eat them in the kitchen whilst the kids are messing up their rooms, eh?

All you need to do is click on the Rafflecopter links below - there are many ways to enter, but you will need to be a fan of both Cake Pop Princess and Iwishiwasa Facebook pages to enter. Bonus entries for lovely tweeps and blog comments!

You can click on me to view my AWESOMENESS up close!

Now go - let's get this show on the road. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please note: prize Lucha Libre masks, cape designs, and cake pop designs may vary. Just be happy with the awesomeness you get.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

FOOD PORN - Rolo Cheesecake Bars

When I came across an absolutely amazing recipe for Rolo Cheesecake Bars via the Hugs & Cookies XOXO blog (you can see the original recipe here: HERE) I KNEW I'd have to give it a try. I know things can be trickier for us Brits as we don't have easy access to the same ingredients, so here is the same recipe Anglicised. I've also made a few minor modifications because that's how I roll: I like my cheesecake base to have a hint of spice; I love me some vanilla notes in my desserts; and I love to mix milk and dark chocolate to find a happy medium that's not too sweet or too rich.

Biscuit Base:
400g digestive biscuits, crumbed (stick them into a thick freezer bag and bash the crap out of them with a rolling pin)
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
250g butter melted
250g caster sugar

Mix together, then pack into the bottom of a lined 9x13 inch dish (approx. 23x33cm - Morrison's have a perfect 'lasagne tin' that would fit the bill). I used baking parchment to line mine, as foil always tends to go a bit wrong for me. Bake at 180 (170 fan assisted) for approx 7-10 minutes. Let cool completely. I was impatient so put the rack and tin into the fridge after about 20 minutes to speed things up a little.

Cheesecake filling:
400g Philly or equivalent
Approx. 226g of rolos cut in half (a four-roll pack is 208g - buy two four packs and use the rest for garnish and munching on the way!)
30g plain flour
250g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon Nielson Massey vanilla extract

Beat all ingredients save Rolos together until smooth, then stir in the Rolos. Smooth over your now-cooled base and bake at 170 C (160 C fan assisted) for 30-35 minutes. The top should just be turning golden. Leave to cool completely.

Chocolate glaze
150g chocolate (I used half milk, half dark)
125g butter
1 tablespoon of Liquid glucose (Glucose syrup)

Melt butter and chocolate in the microwave - generally 1 minute on full power, stir, then 30 seconds on full, stir, and then another 30 seconds to get the final lumps out. Add glucose syrup and stir well, before pouring over the cheesecake, smoothing it out, and leaving in the fridge to set for a good few hours. You'll know it's done when the glossy shine has gone a bit matte. I took a leaf out of Danielle's book and drizzled with melted chocolate and topped with another Rolo. You know, because there weren't enough calories in it already. 

Have to say, that it was truly amazeballs. And huge. So huge. Makes a lot of little squares (my tin was slightly larger and I got 35 pieces out of it) and they're wonderfully rich and delicious.

So enjoy! Let me know if you make them or have any other recipe tweaks to share!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Just call me the Cookie Princess!

Saturdays for me are a time of relaxing with my children and doing a bit of recreational baking. I kid you not when I say that my husband absolutely hates cake pops. Never eats them. Although I think this stems from the time he ate three in one sitting when I first started out, but it might also be because he's just sick of the sight of the things. Anyhoo, I digress. What I was getting at is that my husband likes me to bake cookies. Preferably the chocolate ones, but it's obscene how much chocolate I put into my choc chip cookies that I like to bake the raisin ones so I can feel at least a little like my kids' teeth aren't going to rot in their heads. 

Without further ado (am sure you're sick of my waffling), I present my cookie recipes. I love to tweak them to get new variations, but the basic recipe remains the same as I love the texture of the oats. And oats are good for you, right? RIGHT?! :)

Oat & Raisin Cookies

1 1/4 cups Butter
3/4 cup Soft Light Brown sugar
1/2 cup Golden Caster Sugar
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups Plain flour
1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Ginger
3 cups Large, rolled, oats
1 cup Raisins
1.5 cups dessicated coconut (optional but LUSH)

Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/4 cups Butter
3/4 cup Soft Light Brown sugar
1/2 cup Golden Caster Sugar
1 Egg
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups Plain flour
1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon Salt
3 cups Large, rolled, oats
200g Bar of Dark Chocolate (inside a strong plastic food bag, beat into chunks with a rolling pin)
100g small Plain chocolate Chips
1.5 cups dessicated coconut (optional but LUSH)

Preheat oven to approx. 180 degrees Celcius, fan assisted.

Beat margarine and sugars until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add combined flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and spices; mix well. Stir in oats and raisins/chocolate chips and coconut, if using.

Roll golf-ball sized pieces of cookie dough, place on a baking sheet and press down gently to flatten ever-so-slightly. If you're using a non-stick tray, you don't need to grease or line, otherwise you might want to. If you prefer your cookies a little crunchier, you might want to flatten further. They don't spread excessively, but do ensure you leave plenty of space between them on the tray just in case. 

Bake approx 9-11 minutes (depending on whether you like them chewy or crunchy). In the picture I've baked them for 11 minutes. 

Enjoy delicious smells wafting around your house. 

Cool 1 minute on the baking sheet before transferring to wire rack.

Store tightly covered. They do honestly get better with age, although I doubt they're going to last that long. 

Oh yeahhhhhhhh, baby. 

Friday, 13 April 2012

How to ship / post cake pops (the Cake Pop Princess way)

I get asked how to ship cake pops regularly, and I thought - rather than typing it out every time, why not create the most detailed tutorial possible? So here it is - if you have anything to add, please feel free to leave in the comments and I'll add to the post. This is my method - it's the only way I know and it works for me. In the last 18 months of poppery, and almost a thousand parcels,  I've only had three breakages in the mail - one where the box was crushed on one corner (2 pops out of 20 were damaged) which I assume was from being dropped onto a corner, and two where the pops had things that overlapped the edges - fondant in both cases. A pretty good track record, I think :)

A bit of background before I start: I live in the UK. I ship my cake pops all over the UK, and often Europe. Occasionally they've been as far as Brazil, Japan, or America (including Arizona and Florida). When it's hot the pops aren't particularly happy. My pops have made it in 35 C heat at my end, but it was a close one. If you live in a particularly hot place, you might want to consider only taking your pops to the post office just before closing, and using an overnight or expedited service.

Firstly, if you're going to post your pops you need to make sure they're as sturdy as possible. Try not to add lots of things (eg. ears) on top of the candy coating - I always put mine underneath. If you're using fragile fondant - perhaps for wings, then don't let them overlap the edge - stick everything down firmly. Means less things to ping off or break in the mail.

Let's start with the boxes. I use 9x6x6 inch and 9x6x3 inch single wall cardboard boxes. I buy mine on eBay (about £17 for 100). I could buy larger quantities but space is an issue here and I get told off by the hubby if I have too many boxes lying around (he's not happy about the 5 massive rolls of bubblewrap for about £30 I buy at a time either, but that's a different story!). 9 inch boxes are brilliant for 6 inch cake pop sticks, but will fit 7.5 inch sticks too. If you use longer sticks, you're going to need bigger boxes. 

I line my boxes with tissue paper. Not just because it's pretty, but because it helps to hold the pops in place. If the contents do settle during transit, the paper will keep them moving as one entity rather than bashing into each other. But mostly because it's pretty and I'm a sucker for pretty. 

After you've lined your box, you're going to need some bubblewrap to cushion your precious cargo. Remember than once your box is in the postage system, they won't be keeping it upright. More likely dropkicking it around the sorting office, so protect your babies at all costs!

If you're just sending plain pops without any fragile embellishments, then you don't need to individually wrap. If you're using 6 inch sticks, you can get 8 pops per layer, but 7.5 inch sticks will be limited to 6. Make sure you tuck all of your sticks under and to the side of the other pops - the last thing you want is a stick resting on the face of your pop in case they're crushed in transit. At least then the back is damaged but the face is okay. Don't ruin their pretty faces!

Separate each layer with a double layer of bubblewrap. 

You may have more fragile pops to send. I have varying degrees of bubblewrapping for such instances (yes, this is the exciting life I lead). This butterfly has a candy clay body that might get squished, so I give it a double layer of bubblewrap. 

Double it over, leaving a little room at the top. 

Now it's ready to box! 

Layer two has some bigger pops - there are only 6 pops on this layer. The amount of pops per layer is completely and utterly dependent on what you're sending. If you're worried, less is more!

This little guy has things that stick out of his head. The last thing I want is for those things to be touching the side of the box during transit, so I'm going to give him plenty of overlap when I wrap him. 

Layer Three has 8 pops again, but they're a bit fragile because they have mexican paste wings. Just in case I'm going to wrap them in a single layer of bubblewrap. Another double layer of bubblewrap between this and the next layer.

Then secure your tissue paper with tape, or a sticker. Isn't my sticker cute? No, really, isn't it? :)

Close the box. Give it a shake. Can you hear movement? If you can, you're going to need more bubblewrap (or packing peanuts, or shredded paper). MOVEMENT IS YOUR ENEMY!!!!! Sometimes I put a wad of cardboard hidden underneath the tissue paper at the bottom, to save costs as my courier doesn't weigh their parcels. Assuming I have cardboard to hand (I usually do; I'm a hoarder of cardboard).

Once it's all quiet on the Western Front, you can finish taping up your box.  And because you've gone to all that trouble inside, you'd best signify which way is up so the recipient gets the benefit when they open the box. You can do this with an address label, or another sticker, like I do. I do love my little stickers. Perhaps too much. I did mention earlier that I don't get out much, didn't I?

You're now ready to send! 

A few points to note: 

Are you sending in hot weather, or to a hot place? 
If it's hot where you are, then wrap each pop in bubblewrap, regardless of fragility, and refrigerate your box before you send for as long as possible (or keep your wrapped pops in the fridge until you box them - remember not to store unwrapped pops in the fridge as they'll sweat). Air is the best insulation. Those freezer bags at the grocery store? They're bubblewrap inside a shiny layer to look pretty. 

Don't put pops on top of pops!
They'll mark or dull each other if they rub against each other, especially if they're dropped from a height. For example, by a postal worker with butterfingers. Separate layers with bubblewrap. ALWAYS individually wrap your pops in cello bags, never leave them naked as they will mark against each other.

Got things to stick on your pop? 
Like eyes, or spots? Do it at the time of dipping rather than after it's dried with a blob of candy melt. Means a more secure attachment. Couldn't attach it before the pop dried? Use a hairdryer on low to get the surface tacky again (it'll go shiny) and pick up your sprinkle with a dampened cotton bud - so much more precise than a finger.

Hope this helps you in your posting endeavours - don't forget to stop by the UK Cake Pop Forum if you need any help with any aspect of cake poppery. We won't even mind if you're from overseas. No really, we love foreigners!

If you'd like to see more of my work, please do come on over to my website - www.cakepopprincess.co.uk
or join the lovely popfans over on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cakepopprincess. Sometimes I witter on about random things on Twitter too - just look for @cakepopprincess .

Friday, 23 March 2012

Making up for lost time - MILLIONS OF MAKES!

I've been crazy busy for ages, working weekends and evenings and all sorts, so my poor old blog has been neglected. On the plus side, you get a massive collection of new makes to pore over at once. Make yourself a cup of tea or pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy!

First up, we have the NEW AND IMPROVED! Ballet tutu cake pop! You may remember the old style, which I made specifically for a tutu-and-tees party, hence the top being a bit more tee than the lovely glittery bodice below. I much prefer the new design, and the tri-colour tulle tutu just makes it that much more special!

Ballet Tutu Cake pops
Such a simple but effective pop - these light bulb pops are perfect for rewarding bright ideas! 

Lightbulb cake pops
If you're in the UK, there's pretty much no chance you can escape the subject of the next pop. For a few weeks a year in the run up to Christmas, weekends are dominated by the X-Factor! 

X-Factor logo cake pops

I wanted to do something a little different for Easter this year. Bakerella's chicks are adorable but they've been done to death, and I didn't love my old bunny. I tried to make this year's creation a cross between Hello Kitty and Miffy, keeping things nice and simple. 
Rabbit/Bunny and chick cake pops
 I love the next pop - it's a little guinea pig made for a client who was having her daughter's party at a petting zoo. The chicks, rabbits, and spiders were also for her. I do like the spiders, but I have to admit that they look a bit crab-like. Maybe next time I'll do them in black and red!
Guinea Pig cake pops

Spider cake pops
Now, I'm not a Gleek, but was very fortunate in that the client was and made some suitable suggestions for Glee themed cake pops - namely the Loser hand and the slushie! 

Glee cake pops
 Now, the teacup and the London themed cake pops were for a client surprising a friend with a trip to Afternoon Tea at the Ritz in London for a 30th birthday celebration:
London cake pops

Tea Cup cake pops
Border Collie cake pops

Three Little Pig cake pops
 These are pretty much the same design as they were before, with nonpareil instead of circular sprinkle spots on their backs. I still love them just as much though!

Dinosaur cake pops
 Moshi Monsters are absolutely huge at the moment! Every time I post a new pic, I get loads more orders for even more of the damn things - it never ends!

Katsuma Moshi Monster cake pops
 Baby shower cake pops - personalised baby bottles!
Baby bottle cake pops

 My first ever request for cake pops for a wake. These were requested for someone's grandfather, who apparently loved fruit. I love their simplicity, yet am so pleased with the results of the pear. I wanted them to be perfect to honour the deceased, and know that the client was very happy with them, which in turn makes me happy.

Apple and Pear cake pops

Numerical cake pops were one of the very first pops I ever made. This is a more updated and staged image of my baby blue number one cake pops. 
Number 1 cake pops

I was given a challenge by a client to come up with something new and interesting for a christening. I did what I always do in such instances, and asked about the theme. Turns out she had commissioned some bunting for the occasion, and my mind went into overdrive with the thought of bunting cake pops. OOOoooh the possibilities! I love me some Cath Kidston, and would love to do a girly version of these! I tried to replicate as many of the patterns as she had in her own bunting as possible.

I've seen elephant cake pops before, but the trunk was always a little lacking. I wanted to make something a bit more in proportion. I know other have used gummy worms, but the issue with those is that they're flexible and the coating might crack. I prefer to use candy clay so that the appendages are fixed once the candy melt coating is dry. 
Elephant cake pops
 I thought of these last year, but really didn't have the right ribbon in stock to pretty them up appropriately. I made a trip to the fabric shop especially to make these - so simple, but I love them to pieces. So girly and glittery!
Fairy wand cake pops
 I made these Gorilla cake pops back in January. I tried to make their expressions different and as I make making these, they really were talking to me. Clearly I need to get out more!
Gorilla cake pops

You know what one of my most popular characters is? The one that gets the most likes and shares? Well, this is definitely it - the GRUFFALO! I made the Gruffalo's child and the Mouse on this occasion, and it was an instant hit. I love me some Gruffalo, and you should have seen what the amazing Toadstool Parties did with it all. In fact, see for yourself here

Gruffalo cake pops

Valentines was exceptionally busy again this year, and I try to mix things up each time. This year instead of the 'I LOVE YOU' pops I made last year, I opted for various designs of hearts in lots of flavours. I even went as far as to make my own gold sprinkle dust this year - you can see it on the red (top left) and white (bottom right) pops. 
Heart cake pops for Valentines
I had an email from a client back in January asking about cake pops to suit a party with a Katy Perry theme. She was going for the whole candy thing. I suggested lollipops (not pictured) as well as cupcakes and ice-cream cake pops. I hear the night was a great success, though stressful for the hostess! 

Ice cream cake pops and cupcake cake pops

So, I know I said that the Gruffalo was my most popular cake pop of all time. Well, that was true until I posted THIS image of Lady Googoo - this thing went mental! I was stunned! I'd never really heard of it until someone asked for it (my kids are still a bit too young for this Moshi Monster / Moshling craze!  I don't usually take images at night because the light is so bad, but I was just desperate to share this one. Turns out it worked out quite well - the flash makes it look like she's been papped! So apt!

Lady Googoo cake pop

I took another image by daylight, along with the White Fang cake pop I made for the same order: 
Lady Googoo and White Fang Moshi Moshling cake pops

Now, I'm not going to lie to you but the next order really warmed my cockles. When I was filmed by Facebook earlier in the year, I had a lovely camera man called Marc from Kingfilm do the honours. He contacted me about ordering some Giant Microbe cake pops for his biologist girlfriend for their 9th anniversary. Pretty much the same week I had another request FROM THE GIRLFRIEND! Unbeknownest to them, they ordered cake pops for each other - how cute is that? Not wanting to give the game away, I subtly tried to steer them into ordering different flavours so they didn't get sick of them! She had ordered some photo pops and some pops of their likeness, so luckily not all the same thing! She was over-the-moon with her cake pops, which made me overwhelmingly happy. I'm a sucker for a cute story!


Geobacter and Deinococcus cake pops of my own design

In the UK we have a famous brand of corn-based (I think) chips called Monster Munch.You know the cheese puff, fluffy variety? Well, apparently I had a client who's boyfriend REALLY like the beef ones, that were represented by this little guy:
Monster Munch cake pops

Another request I kept getting was for Lego Ninjago cake pops. At first I was a little unsure how I'd put them into practise - they look like ninjas, and I wanted them to be textured - but I managed to nail it (I think so, anyhoo!) on my first go. Wooohoooooo! 
Kai Lego Ninjago cake pops
 Penguins have been done before, many times, in the cake popping world, so it's always a challenge to put your own spin on things. I made the chap on the right able to hold a little toothpick placard, which the client had requested. I think they're supercute! 

Penguin cake pops
 These were just a little pirate request I received via the page - I like their simplicity! 

Personalised pirate skull and crossbone cake pops
The next cake pops came about due to a slight misunderstanding between a client and I during an email exchange. She mentioned red, black and white signs, and I suggested round pops with numbers on. She thought I meant roadsigns, and then the whole roadsign cake pop thing came about - when she mentioned the elderly sign, I was like YES! AWESOME IDEA! They're cheeky, fun and versatile - LOVE THEM!

Road sign cake pops
 A friend of mine asked if I could make some Transformer cake pops to go on top of her son's birthday cake. At first I was a bit stumped, as the actual Transformers would be a nightmare to recreate, but then it hit me - THE LOGOS! Works brilliantly, I think! 

Transformer Cake Pops
Just a little request for unicorns. You can't quite tell but they have glittery pink manes. If we're being honest, I think I could probably improve them - watch this space! 

Unicorn cake pops
 I'll be honest. I'm a perfectionist. I'd made Upsy Daisy (In The Night Garden) cake pops before but I was never really happy with them. When I had another order for them, I knew I finally had the chance to redo them and make them better than before. Am pretty pleased with these - I do feel that the others looked a bit amateur compared to the way I pop now!
Upsy Daisy (In The Night Garden) cake pops

AND FINALLY (Thanks ever so much for making it this far - you totally rule!) I had my first ever wedding cake order a couple of months ago. I'm not one to chase the wedding market. I'd done a few orders of simple hearts or balls for wedding favours, but didn't have a wedding cake order until earlier this year. The client specifically requested three tiers with nonpareil all over, so it was a bit of a challenge to make them my own. What I decided to do was to add two hearts on the top instead of one. A simple change that I think was actually quite romantic and poignant - after all, two hearts enter into a marriage rather than just the one. The client was so happy with them, as was I! 

Wedding cake pops

I can't thank you enough for staying with me until the bitter end of this blog post. I know it was ridiculously long, and I will try to be more on-the-ball in future. 

Remember to drop by The UK Cake Pop Forum if you ever need hints and tips on the world of cake poppery - I'm always happy to help if I can! 

Happy popping, peeps! 

Bianca xxx