I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day, however I do love receiving gifts AND kitschy baking so I can’t complain. I found the most gorgeous Valentine’s Day cake toppers months ago and have been dying to bust them out. I pimped out my standard red velvet cupcake recipe by adding a white chocolate cream cheese icing (heaven, I can assure you) and putting a little surprise inside each cupcake…
I love you!
Sweets for my sweet
And what is the surprise inside each cupcake, I hear you ask? Something I see as synonymous with Valentine’s Day – Lindt balls! I used a selection of milk, dark, white and hazelnut balls.
- 120g butter (room temperature)
- 2 eggs
- 1⅓ cups caster sugar
- 4 tsp cocoa
- 4 tsp red food colouring
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 240ml buttermilk (or add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to normal milk)
- 2½ cups plain flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tsp white wine vinegar
- 100g butter at room temperature
- 250g cream cheese at room temperature
- 250g white chocolate, melted and cooled
- 4-5 cups sifted icing sugar
- 24 Lindt balls
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
- Cream the butter, sugar and eggs until light and fluffy.
- In a separate bowl mix the vanilla extract, cocoa powder and red food colouring into a paste. Add the paste to the creamed mixture.
- Add half the buttermilk and mix until combined, followed by half of the flour and baking powder. Mix until incorporated and then add the remainder of the buttermilk and flour and mix thoroughly.
- Add the salt, bicarbonate of soda and white wine vinegar and continue mixing for another 5 minutes until combined.
- Spoon the mixture into prepared muffin tin and fill approximately ¾ full. Pop a Lindt ball on top of each cupcake (they will sink as they bake).
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cupcakes slightly spring back when touched.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool slightly in their tin before turning out onto a wire rack
- Melt the white chocolate in short bursts on a medium heat in the microwave. Set aside and cool until lukewarm.
- Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth in a large bowl. Add in the lukewarm white chocolate.
- Gradually add in the icing sugar until incorporated. Continue mixing for 5 minutes until the icing is light and fluffy.
- Spoon icing into a piping bag and pipe swirls onto the cooled cupcakes.
I also made some little chocolates – hearts and cats, because I love cats! The heart moulds were a gift from a friend and the cat moulds I found in Japan.
My favourite is the sleeping kitty.
December was ridiculously busy, fun and featured an embarrassing amount of food and cocktails. Plus it was my birthday, so more the reason to celebrate!
♥ The Beach
I was finally convinced to go to the beach on a beautiful sunny day, I hid in a cave at first. I eventually got in the water and gave snorkelling a go, I had a great time! I have since returned for beachside walks and post-work swims – something I want to do on a more regular basis.
♥ Ticking more restaurants off my list
I managed to check out quite a few places on my never-ending list of places to eat around Sydney. Brunch at Orto was amazing and I can’t wait to return (why did it take me so long to get here when I live around the corner?!)
Queenies was delicious Jamaican food featuring jerk chicken, sweet potato fries and bammies (a traditional Jamaican cassava flatbread)
Santa Barbara is a Hawaiian Restaurant with delicious bings (asian-style tacos), more sweet potato fries (obsessed), chicken burgers and popcorn with pineapple and bacon chunks! They also have a great cocktail menu and it’s fast becoming one of my favourite places in Sydney for a drink and nibble.
Ippudo – so far I have only tried the takeaway ramen so I can’t comment on the famous pork buns which are sadly unavailable for t/a (tear). The broth was delicious but I found the noodles underwhelming.
And I finally made it to The Milk Bar by Cafe Ish to sample their delicious treats. The caramel slice and malteser pie were particularly amazing! I must return to give their milkshakes and burgers a go.
♥ An Embarrassing Amount of Cocktails…
I didn’t realise just how many cocktails were consumed during December until I went through my photos (and I haven’t even included the 1 litre mojito that was consumed at my work lunch!) Here are some highlights of the tastiest.
Clockwise from the top left we have the Amazing Perfect from Lil Darling, a Downtown Iced Tea from Santa Barbara, a giant cocktail made in a watermelon from The Norfolk and finally 2 very delicious cocktails from 4Fourteen.
♥ Iced Coffee Obsession
After drinking iced coffee daily in Vietnam I have been getting huge cravings for it here as the weather warms up. Unfortunately I can’t find the authentic Viet coffee with sweetened condensed milk too easily around where I work, so I have been settling for a “skim latte over ice”. Delicious and the perfect summer caffeine fix. Oh and the odd iced coffee with the works – ice cream and whipped cream, when I feel like a treat!
♥ My Birthday
And then it was my birthday and I decided to celebrate for a week because why not? Firstly I was taken to 4Fourteen for an absolutely amazing dinner featuring a ruben roll (pictured), roast pork, colcannon and the most amazing white chocolate sandwich with dulce de leche. I need to return.
A few nights later I was taken to Movida for my second birthday dinner. Here we have anchovies, goats curd + quince cigars, air baguette with “rost biff” and beef cheek in Pedro Ximenez.
And spicy pork ribs (best!!), salt cod fritters and grilled asparagus. A wonderful treat!
Then I had a birthday picnic Saturday morning with lots of lovely food bloggers! We went to Flour and Stone, bought out half the store, then headed to The Domain for a picnic. It was such a lovely way to spend the morning of my birthday with my new friends I made through this blog.
They stuck candles in the lamingtons and sang Happy Birthday to me, aw! (Life changing lamingtons, btw).
I had my second birthday party at The Norfolk and I wore a cat dress! I will not post any more photos from that night for fear of incrimination… I may have worn a watermelon on my head at one stage.
I had a nice time catching up with the family and actually loved the rainy stormy weather that Sydney encountered on Christmas Day. I baked ginger cupcakes, brownie cupcakes with strawberry santa hats and peanut butter M&M cookies plus I painted my nails coral and mint green to try and look “festive”.
I had a lovely dinner at Longrain for NYE with a great bunch of friends and got to wear my new sparkly dress. What a great way to finish a great year!
♥ A New Toy
Not much has happened in 2013 thus far as I got sick on the second day of the year and was bed ridden for a while. Hmmpf. But I did buy myself a new toy… the Olympus XZ-1! It’s been years since I have used a point and shoot camera, however this one has a lot of custom settings and the ability to set the focal point so I have high hopes for it.
I hope everyone had a wonderful festive season and is settling back into the reality of work!
The other day I went for a wander to the shops to find the perfect birthday dress. I wanted something 50s styled, preferably in mint green. Then I passed a cat dress and any sensible dress ideas went out the window. Isn’t it wonderful?! However I do draw the line at a cat wearing a bow tie, fortunately this part is detachable.
A pair of Charlotte Olympia cat shoes has been on my wish-list for a very long time but at over AU$700 a pair I think I need to be content with just admiring.
This is ridiculous. I kind of think I need a cat-ular. Yes, that’s a cat spatular. The fact that it guarantees you a purr-fect breakfast just tops it off.
If you want to embrace the cat look on a more low-key level, then perhaps some cat eye sunglasses are more appropriate.
More cat stuff here!
♥ Collecting pastel nail polishes (addicted)
♥ Matching my nail colour to my fruit
♥ Matching my nail colour to my new blog design
♥ Especially when the cat likes to sit on your toilet
♥ Doing a chocolate making class! (read more about the day here)
♥ Learning how to temper chocolate
♥ Eating naughty food. Hot dogs and chili cheese fries from The Snag Stand
♥ More naughty lunches! Pork belly from Slip Inn. Working in the city is dangerous
♥ Eating healthy homemade food to offset the naughtiness. Lean lamb meatballs with quinoa salad.
♥ DRY ICE! Especially when it’s applied to gelato. Finally made it to N2 Extreme Gelato :D
♥ Going for a run and seeing this beautiful sunset over the park. Makes exercise that bit more bearable.
What is making you happy right now?
Hope everyone is having a Happy Halloween and eating lots of treats. I didn’t have time to bake for Halloween this year (sad face) but fortunately my awesome and talented friend Alison created some spectacular cupcakes using my recipes that she has allowed me to share with you!
She used my Devilishly Decadent Devil’s Food Cupcake recipe for the chocolate cupcake base with my Vanilla Buttercream tinted orange and black fondant for the decorations. Another tasty option is to use my Lemon Buttercream recipe and substitute the lemons for oranges. Chocolate and orange is always a winning combination!
And Henri, the cat filled with ennui… and Party Mix, is now back with another video in time for Halloween! He is not a fan of Halloween, “No one ever dresses as crippling self-doubt” hehe.
I have recently fallen head over heels for Choupette Lagerfeld, Karl Lagerfeld’s insanely pampered pussy cat. Harpers Bazaar recently did an interview with Karl which gave us an insight into the bizarre world this kitty inhabits. Not only does Choupette have two maids and 24 hour medical care, she also has a driver too! Apparently Choupette rarely meows, everything is done with the eyes. She knows exactly what she wants. Also, she does not like Chanel No 5. She prefers the smell of juicy food. Of course.
Please head over to the Harpers Bazaar page and check out the rest of this interview. These 2 stunning images are from the Harpers Bazaar shoot:
And now some delightful candid photos of Choupette. She enjoys lounging in the sink.
Playing with her iPad and watching the bath be filled.
Enjoying her lace doilies.
Hiding in shopping bags and small places.
If you want to keep up with Choupette’s fabulous lifestyle I recommend following her on Twitter. She even sasses Lady Gaga occasionally (“Silly Gaga, only Choupette can rock fluffy white hair.”)
I just came across this amazing photograph on Pinterest by David Seetoh Lang and was blown away. It is quite possibly the most fun, unique and sweet portrait of a woman and a cat I have ever seen. Also the logistics of this shot baffle me, was there someone off screen hurling the cat into frame repeatedly? Haha.
After looking through David’s extensive portfolio I found the set of images this shot came from – a series of Heidi Iro and her cats, shot in Salzburg, Austria. Here are some of my favourites.
Have a great weekend everyone. Please don’t throw any cats, no matter how inspired you are by this gorgeous shoot ;)
I saw this ad for Fancy Feast on the TV the other night and was beside myself with joy. I had to share. Cats at a sushi train?! It must be like heaven on earth for them!
For more examples of cats starring in ads check out my Cats in Advertising post. Meow!
After perusing my Instagram photos for my regular “Lately on Instagram” post I didn’t realise how much I had been eating out. So that’s where my money is going!
♥ Finally made it to Gnome Espresso & Winebar
After reading about the infamous Super Grilled Cheese Sandwich on Chocolatesuze’s blog, I dragged my housemate out on a rainy Saturday morning in search of this wonder (we were meant to go running, oh well). Cheddar, gruyere, buffalo mozzarella AND prosciutto. Oh wow – heaven. This sandwich is one of those “once a year” kind of things. The coffee was great too, but overshadowed by the decadence of cheese!
♥ I also made it to The Baron!
I have been reading rave reviews from Suze and Mel about The Baron in Castle Hill. My parents live in the Hills so I conned them into driving me there (also with the promise of stimulating conversation). On the left we have the pulled pork sandwich with cabbage slaw and on the right we have the jamon, washed rind cheese, aioli, sundried tomatoes & pickles sandwich. Both were amazing! We also devoured homemade caramel slice and carrot cake – both absolutely divine. The blonde waitress was also super friendly so this place gets many thumbs up.
♥ More eating, Italian style
The housemate and I engaged in several lady dates featuring Italian food and fantasising about the Amalfi Coast as we stared at the never-ending rain. On the left is the amazing breakfast by Caffe Sicilia (it’s mean to come with eggs but I got spinach instead. I’m weird). And on the right are 2 delicious pizzas from Pizza e Birra. Bellissimo!
Sat front row at a comedy show and had a great time, although was continually heckled by the MC haha. And on the right this cat mugshot just made me laugh way.too.much.
♥ Random presents and cupcakes
Nothing perks you up like coming home to presents! I also tested a new recipe – chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream. Recipe to come soon!
♥ Exercise and sickness
To combat all this eating I started my training for the City2Surf. I was going really well until I got sick. And now I am in bed humpffff.
Firstly before you think that this is makeup FOR cats, fear not. It is merely a new cat-themed collection of makeup by French brand Paul & Joe. Brilliant! And the crazy cat lady in me is squealing with delight!
For more cat related shenanigans see:
And while I am continuing on my crazy cat lady rant, here is a photo of my cat Bruce sniffing an Edamame bean.
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