Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Baking: Santa Hat and Christmas Tree Brownies

 Santa Hat and Christmas Tree Brownies:

I think these my be my favourite ever cake decorating attempts! Look at how cute they are! And sooooo easy! I challenge you to find anyone who would not smile or go "ohhhhh" upon being presented with one of these! While I will be providing you with recipes for triple choc brownies and two types of icing, they are by no means the only option available. Perhaps little carrot cakes with cream cheese frosting for the Christmas trees, and red velvet for the Santa hats? And you can always go a step further and make a little fondant star for the Christmas tree, or little royal icing baubles. Knock yourself out basically!

First, some decorating tips. For both of these you'll need an icing bag, but don't fear if you don't have one! All you need is a zip-lock sandwich bag. Fill the sandwich bag about 3/4 full with the icing, close the zip and then snip one of the corners. And you're done!! Now, I went one step further, I had a bunch of icing bag tips for the different icing shapes, and I used some sticky tape to tape them onto the bags. This is especially important, I think, for the Christmas tree, because you want those nice looking tufts of branches (I used the small star shape). Although you can use a bamboo kebab stick if you don't have any icing tips.

The Santa Hats are pretty self explanatory, but I'll do a run down for you anyway.

1. Cover the cooled brownies in the white chocolate cream. It's rich, so be careful how thick you apply it.
2. Cut the leafy tip off a strawberry and place it in the middle of the iced brownie.
3. Use your sandwich bag full of icing to top the strawberry with a ball of icing, and add another ring around the base to make it look more like a hat.
4. Voila!!



The Christmas trees look a little tricky, but they need no expertise and barely any patience. Maybe not kid-proof, but damn close!
1. Ice the cooled brownies with a layer of green buttercream.
2. Place a strawberry upright in the middle of the brownie.
3. Grabbing your icing bag, go around the base of the strawberry in small bursts of icing. Continue all the way around, and then go up and start another ring.
4. Once you've done the top, go around and fill any patches you might have left.
5. Using the yellow buttercream, squeeze a small burst at the tip of the tree.
6. Decorate the tree with whatever you like. I used small edible silver balls to look like baubles and twinkly lights, but you could use tic-tacs, small candies, 100s and 1000s, or roll your own baubles out of royal icing.
7. Doneski!

That's it! That's all there is to it, they're a tiny bit fiddly, but I find it easier if you make yourself a cake decorating stand (I just piled tupperware containers on top of each other with a plate on top) so it's you don't have to bend down too awkwardly.

Triple Chocolate Brownies: 
Ingredients:
125g butter, melted
200g dark eating chocolate, melted (can be substituted for 1.5 tbsp cocoa powder)
1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cup (185g)plain flour
150g white chocolate, chopped
100g milk eating chocolate, chopped

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180 Deg C (160 Deg C fan forced)
2. Combine ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Spread brownie mixture into greased pan/muffin tray/and bake for between 25 - 35 minutes

Tips:
*Because I knew I wanted to make these individual decorated brownies, I grabbed a muffin tray and lined each hole with a cupcake liner. However if you have a deep cookie cutter, or are handy with a knife, you could cook them in a regular brownie pan. The muffin tray option will cook quicker though, so keep an eye on that.
*If you don't like one of these chocolates, or prefer milk to white, don't worry about swapping around the quantities. Make them the way you like them, I can guarantee they'll taste delicious either way.

Buttercream:
Ingredients:
125g butter, softened
1tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup (240g) icing sugar
2 tbsp milk
Yellow and Green food colouring

Method:
1. Beat butter and extract until as white as possible.
2. Add half the sifted icing sugar and the milk gradually while beating continuously.
3. Add remaining sugar and beat until combined.
4. Remove a small amount, 2-4 tbsp depending on how many cakes you intend to make.
5. Add 2-3 drops of yellow colouring and mix until combined. Put it in the fridge until you need it.
6. Add green food colouring to the remaining buttercream and mix it in. For the green of my tree I used about 1.5 caps.

Tips:
*Mine came out a pretty bright green, which I love, but I think it could look amazing in a really dark green. Simply use more food colouring.
*Powdered food colour creates much more vibrant colours than the liquid style at the supermaket, but they do tend to cost more.
*If you don't want it too sweet, halve the vanilla extract.

White Chocolate Cream:
Ingredients:
120ml thickened cream
150g white chocolate, chopped finely
1 vanilla bean, split

Method:
1. Put chocolate in a small bowl, and place a strainer over the top.
2. Place cream in a small saucepan with the split vanilla bean over a low heat.
3. Bring just to the boil.
4. Pour boiling into the strainer and over the chocolate.
5. Mix constantly until the chocolate has completely melted.
6. Put the bowl into the fridge and leave to cool, preferably over night but for at least 4 hours.
7. When it's time to decorate whip the mixture like you would regular cream.

Tips:
*The smaller the chocolate is diced, the quicker it will melt and the less you'll strain your arm!
*If you haven't cooked with vanilla beans before, when you cut a split in the bean use the edge of the knife to run down the bean and collect all the tasty deliciousness inside. Add that to the cream along with the bean.







6 comments:

  1. Ooooooh, so clever! Although.... I'm not so sure there are even strawberries in the shops here at the moment. But still, clever!

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    Replies
    1. You get awesome gingerbread, so i think this evens us out a little. Do they can or freeze strawberries in the UK? You could definitely swap the strawberry for a marshmellow, lolly, chocolate or anything remotely shaped right BUT strawberries are definitely the best option.

      Delete
  2. Those are some of the best looking brownies I've ever seen. Serioiusly--I'm so impressed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I was secretly pretty impressed myself.

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  3. These look amazing! So clever.

    ReplyDelete

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