Jun 26, 2012

50 Shades of Grey… cupcakes?!

I generally try and avoid literary band wagons. I avoided the Twilight thing like the plague and am still yet to generate enough interest to read the True Blood or Game of Thrones books.

I recently starting hearing about a book called 50 Shades of Grey and I am sure any lady reading this will know exactly what I am talking about. Upon hearing it was based off poorly written Twilight fan fiction I grimaced and returned to my Kafka on the Shore. Soon more and more of my female friends were talking about this “sexy book” and I admit curiosity got the best of me. And then low and behold my friend express posted me her copy which arrived promptly the next day at work (much to the amusement of my colleagues).

I am about half-way through. It’s terribly written, to the point that I actually have to shout at the pages now and then. If I hear her talk about her “inner goddess” one more time I may have to throw it out the window. It is kind of sexy, but I have read the works of Marquis de Sade so you can image it pales in comparison.

What creeps me out most about this grey-fad is the women throwing these 50 Shades-themed parties with cupcakes, cookies and cakes! Do you realise how unappetising grey desserts look?! Let me show you.

First up we have some very dreary looking iced cupcakes in various shades of grey. It looks like you would be eating piped cement.

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Continuing the wet cement look we have an ombre cake in, you guessed it, shades of grey.

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Next we have cookies! Fortunately they are in a more tasteful colour palette but I am not sure I could keep a straight face nibbling on a biscuit that says “what is the safe word?”

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And saving the best (worst?) for last, we have these grey cake balls. The seller advertises these with “Grab Christian Grey’s balls for your next book club discussion”. Wow.

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Have you ever created any ridiculosuly themed desserts? Any plans for a 50 Shades party? (Please don’t ask me to bake).

Jun 20, 2012

Cats at a sushi train? Genius!

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!

Jun 18, 2012

Banoffee Pie with Salted Pretzel Crust

This month’s theme for the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop is PIE, something I don’t often make as I usually get distracted by cupcakes or cookies. Peanut butter chocolate pie, apple cobbler and pumpkin pie were a few of the ideas that swirled through my head but I finally settled on a well loved classic – the Banoffee Pie.

I’ve always liked the idea of a Banoffee Pie, an English dessert consisting of pasty, bananas, cream and caramel, but found most tooth-achingly sweet. I’ve been loving salted caramel lately and thought creating a salted pretzel based biscuit base would work well to contrast with the sweet caramel.

Banoffee Pie with Salted Pretzel Crust
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Author:
Serves: 10

Ingredients
Salted Pretzel Crust
  • 250g buttersnap biscuits
  • 100g salted pretzels
  • 180g butter, melted
Caramel
  • 400g sweetened condensed milk tin
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 50g butter
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
Topping
  • 3 medium bananas, sliced
  • 300ml pouring cream
  • Dark chocolate shavings to decorate

Instructions
Base
  1. Blitz biscuits and pretzels in the food processor until finely crushed.
  2. Add in melted butter and pulse until just combined.
  3. Press the biscuit mixture into a 23cm/9″ round spring form cake tin and put in the fridge to set.
Caramel
  1. To make the caramel combine the sweetened condensed milk, golden syrup, butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan and stir over a low heat for 10-12 minutes until the mixture is thickened and golden.
  2. Pour onto the biscuit base and return to the fridge to set (about an hour).
Topping
  1. Once caramel has set, peel and slice up bananas and arrange in a single layer over the caramel.
  2. Whip up cream until firm peaks form. Be careful to not over whip as it can go grainy.
  3. Using a vegetable peeler, grate the chocolate into chocolate shavings (or curls if you are more dexterous than me!)
  4. Release the pie from it’s spring form tin and put on a cake stand. Decorate with lashings of whipped cream and finally sprinkle over the dark chocolate.

Thanks to Kitchen Crusader for hosting this month’s blog hop!

Jun 14, 2012

Lately on Instagram…

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!

 Laughter

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.

 

Jun 7, 2012

Vivid Sydney Festival 2012

Vivid Sydney is a festival that takes over the city after dark from 25 May – 11 June this year and transforms Sydney into a spectacular canvas of light, music and ideas. I attended last year and was blown away by the light sculptures and projections and thoroughly enjoyed a performance by Bat For Lashes in the Sydney Opera House. This year my expectations were exceeded – the light sculptures were just as impressive but they really stepped it up a notch with the projections onto the MCA, Customs House and the Opera House. Amazing. My week was topped off by a performance of Karen O’s “psycho opera” Stop The Virgens at the Opera House.

Vivid Light Sculptures and Projections

The MCA was amazing this year with an ever changing kaleidoscope of colours projected onto its facade.

There were many other light sculptures dotted along the water from the Opera House to Walsh Bay.

The projection onto the Opera House by Urbanscreen, a German design collective, was truly breathtaking. Utilising the techniques of light projection, video mapping and motion graphics, they have incorporated pattern and writhing human forms that complement the unique design and shape of the Opera House.

Customs House has been covered with animation sequences by The Electric Canvas

I made some animated GIFS :D

A few more light sculpture shots from my Instagram:

After walking around in the dark and cold for hours it was 10pm and I was feeling peckish. Knowing my only food prospects at this time of night were McDonalds or Burger King, I sullenly walked back to the station. But lo and behold I stumbled across the Cantina Mobil parked outside Customs House – my first food truck spotting!

I got a soft taco with slow roasted chipotle beef and red cayenne chilli sauce for only $4.50! It was absolutely delicious and exactly what I needed at that time of night. To find out where the Cantina truck is next check out their Twitter.

Karen O in Stop the Virgens

A few nights later I returned to the Opera House to take in Karen O’s new project – Stop the Virgens. From the Vivid Live website: Seven years in the making and featuring over fifty artists onstage, Karen O’s STOP THE VIRGENS is Vivid LIVE’s most ambitious undertaking yet. Created by Karen O, the frontwoman of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, in collaboration with KK Barrett, production designer behind Being John Malkovich and Lost In Translation, and indie theatre/film director Adam Rapp (Red Light Winter, In Treatment) the self described ‘Psycho Opera’ transcends the traditional boundaries of popular music, theatre and performance.

The performance was visually and aurally stunning – the costumes and stage backdrops were amazing. Unfortunately there are no cameras allowed in the Opera House, these are photos by Prudence Upton and Daniel Boud.

The Karen O opera is now finished but you can still check out the light sculptures and projections until 11 June from 6pm-12am. Don’t miss out!!

 

Jun 1, 2012

iPhone cases

My beloved mint green encased iPhone has been possessed lately. It’s been ringing random people from my contacts list at all times of the day and night (including multiple calls to the UK) and driving me a little crazy (and confused).

After speaking to a girl with the same cover I discovered her phone was also randomly dialling people. It turns out the big novelty grey button is easily pressed when in my handbag and voice control is activated, which then decides to phone my friends in the middle of the night and they sit and listen to me discussing tacos with someone. So now I am in the market for a new iPhone case! After some internet browsing I have settled on 8 designs.

Iconemesis teams up with various artists to produce gorgeously designed iPhone cases – it was so hard narrowing it down to just 4! Clockwise from top left we have:

♥ Cupcake by Fifi Lapin

♥ Lolly by Pete Harrison

♥ Teacup by Fifi Lapin

♥ Feathers by Cat Sims

And ofcourse the wonderful Kate Spade has numerous brightly coloured and patterened cases to choose from!

♥ Graffiti Spade

♥ Le Pavillion

♥ Diagonal Stripe (they didn’t even try with that name, did they?)

♥ All in a Day’s Work

Which one do you think guys? I am leaning towards the Fifi Lapin teacup case. I love the muted colour palette!

May 30, 2012

Ladurée is opening in Sydney in July

The squeals of delight from every foodie and fashionista could be heard echoing around the realms of Twitter when it was recently announced that iconic French patisserie Ladurée would finally be opening a store in Sydney in July! With stores throughout Europe, Asia and the Middle East, it was only a matter of time before this sweet brand would set up shop on Australian shores and start dishing out their delicious pastel treats.

Word on the street is that Ladurée will be opening their first store at Westfield Sydney. I’m predicting flashbacks to the manic Zara store opening – except these impatient queuers will be in need of a sugar fix! Terrifying.

In other Ladurée related gossip, I posted last month about the Hello Kitty x Ladurée collaboration and the new Ladurée makeup line. And to satisfy your macaron obsession for now, why don’t you go make some macarons with strawberry and white chocolate ganache?

May 24, 2012

MCA Zine Fair 2012

On Sunday I attended the Zine Fair at the Museum of Contemporary Art – a fun afternoon of browsing and purchasing cute handmade zines (and a DIY mobile!)

Love this paper spoon garland!

Each year The Rizzeria has a great stand with posters, tea towels, bags etc. I’ve printed with them before – I love The Rizz!

Some cute polaroids.

A whole stand of cat-related zines! YES!

Kitiya Palaskas had a bright and colourful stand. I bought her Kitten Club zine.

My Kitten Club zine I purchased (left) and the colourful and quirky stand by Mechelle B (right) – there were lots of fun badges I was oooing and aaahing over.

My friend bought this origami game – I used to play with it all the time when I was young.

This stand had the most beautiful watercolour works! I spent so long hovering around trying to decide what to purchase.

I finally decided on buying this DIY mobile. You buy them flat and cut out and and assemble yourself. I can’t wait to hang it up in my room!

It was yet another fun day at the MCA Zine Fair – and guess who will be exhibiting next year? :)

May 21, 2012

Chai Cupcakes

I love tea! I can’t start the day without a strong cup of English Breakfast, followed by an afternoon pick-me-up of Earl Grey and finishing the day with a cup of peppermint tea after dinner. When I feel like indulging I brew up a strong cup of chai tea with an array of spices including cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. I’ve been toying with the idea of experimenting with a chai cupcake for a while and thought this month’s theme of Tea at the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop would be the perfect opportunity to create it.

Quite a few recipes involved using the store-bought “Chai Mix” that I find overly sweet and fake tasting. I decided to make my own blend of spices to add to the batter and finished the cupcake off with cream cheese icing and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Delicious!

Chai Cupcakes
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Author:
Serves: 24

Ingredients
Chai Cupcakes
  • 230g butter, softened
  • 1¾ cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups self-raising flour
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
Chai mix
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cardamom
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
Cream Cheese Icing
  • 4-5 cups sifted icing sugar
  • 100g butter at room temperature
  • 250g cream cheese at room temperature
  • Cinnamon to decorate

Instructions
Chai Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
  2. Cream the butter with an electric mixer until smooth in a large bowl.
  3. Gradually add the sugar and beat for 3 minutes until fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Sift the 2 flours and chai mixture into a separate bowl.
  6. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. Do not overmix!
  7. Fill cupcake liners about ¾ full with mixture and bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden brown.
  8. Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
Cream Cheese Icing
  1. Cream the butter and icing sugar together until well mixed.
  2. Add the cream cheese in cubes slowly until incorporated. Continue mixing for 5 minutes until the icing is light and fluffy.
  3. Spoon icing into a piping bag and pipe swirls onto the cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

 

May 16, 2012

My favourite users on Instagram

My addiction to Instagram is intensifying and I am constantly on the hunt for new IG users to follow for inspiration or just a little amusement. Here are my current favs!

@hacth427

Dachshunds! Frollicking in fields! This user is from Japan and photographs their miniature dachshunds - Hatch is a boy who is 8 and Nico is a 3-month-old girl. I die a little of cuteness.

@ayu0319

Another Japanese user who bakes and takes the most gorgeous pictures of her food. The styling is always so refined and elegant and constantly fills me with inspiration.

♥ @designlovefest

Bri from the amazing blog designlovefest fills her Instagram with cute hair and clothing ideas, inspiring design, travel snaps and more!

♥ @megan_morton

Megan Morton, stylist extraordinaire and founder of The School and The Studio posts cute craft projects, fabulous props and accessories and all things bright and colourful.

♥ @haruyonakano

Another amazing Japanese Instagrammer (can you see a trend here?) who takes stunning photos of food, desserts and everyday sights. Always simply styled and eye catching!

I really gotta step up my game with Instagram! Taking photos of my cat Bruce sniffing my finger just ain’t going to cut it anymore…

Who are your favourite Instagram users? Please share with us!

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