How to: Fondant grape bunch

This week I was making a holy communion cake and amongst the details, a bunch of deep purple grapes was requested! Now I get so excited when I get asked to make fruit, I don’t know why but I think this stems from a fascination of “fake” fruit as a child. I would always ask my mum to buy fake fruit to put in the fruit bowl at home because it would never go bad, always stay shiny and we would look like a commercial house with fancy faux fruit HA! Anyway, I always loved the look of the faux grapes and how it had that same waxy, cloudy glaze (which my mum pointed out could possibly be chemicals lol).

Fun aside, I actually had no idea where to start in making these. I knew I wanted them have a big lush look to them that you would find in a supermarket. I initially thought the easy way out would be just roll little purple balls of fondant into semi oval shapes and glue them together, simple enough? Ugh, no. What about the grape stem? What about the leaves? So back to the brainstorming board, a few google searches and lots of fondant grape images later and voila! I started by colouring my fondant using electric pink and royal blue using Americolour gel. You could also use regal purple but mine ran out… what luck.

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I achieved a beautiful lilac colour which is definitely not what I wanted but with the help of some colourful friends we changed that… keep scrolling 😉

I then sectioned each of my balls off evenly by rolling out a medium thick piece of fondant and cutting circles out using a circle cutter to ensure I had the same size and amount grape. I know, not all grapes are the same size but in this case it would be best to have them almost the same size so they could fit around the bunch nicely.

Once I rolled out my oval sized balls, I cut some floral wire into shorter pieces and created a little hook at the end using some plyers. Once that was done I used some edible glue to wet the end of the hook and pushed it into the end of the grape. I then twisted the end to adhere it to the hook properly (poor description, I’m sorry). But you should get something like this.

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Let your little grapes sit overnight and dry out so that you don’t squash or damage any when wiring them together.

Once your grapes have dried nicely, it’s time to colour! YAY WOO my favourite part. I used an eggplant coloured purple dust, fuchsia, and red non-toxic chalk pastels. I used the eggplant colour all over the grape, and the fuchsia and red to bring it to life.

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What a difference 😉

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After all your grapes have been dusted you can start wiring!

I used two pieces of  floral wire and taped them together using green floral tape, green for obious reasons. I started with one and then taped each grape securely to the wire like so:

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Just keep going until you are happy with how big the bunch is. Try to place them higher and higher as you go.

Once you have finished you can also make the leaves. I am lucky enough to have a grape vine growing in my backyard so I was able to use them as a template and veiner to achieve authentic looking leaves. I washed and dried a leaf and cut it out of gum paste and then veined the fondant using that same leaf. Once it was dried I also dusted it with some petal dusts. I used brown and orange. You can individually wire your leaves and add them to the bunch or you can add them to the bunch and secure with royal icing like I did.

Here is the finihshed product and the cake it ended up on! I loved making this and I hope I get to make more faux fruit in the future.

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Love, Nelle xox

How to use food colouring and petal dusts!

The past few weeks have been interesting, I had many cakes to make and of course they were all completely different! One of these cakes was MOANA! Now I know what you’re thinking, Nelle, we are done with Moana, sick of it! Well the children of the world aren’t done with Moana yet so here we go again! I can’t get enough, there’s so much you can do with this theme and I had the opportunity to make something different which I love, I also got to play around with my airbrush and learn some new techniques and now I want to share some of them with you!

For this Moana cake, it was requested that her flag was included and I chose to add some cute little sea shells because you just can’t have a Moana cake without them!

My tips to achieve that authentic almost distressed/stained look to the flag is to use ivory food colouring! I used the americolour ivory food colouring, thinned out with rose spirit and a paint brush to use to coat white gum paste. I coloured the flag in layers, I painted a thin layer on and let it dry. This shouldn’t take too long if you’re using clear alcohol. I wouldn’t recommend using water as this will leave a sticky, shiny mess. I added the colouring on, layer by layer and I also added more food colouring as I painted. I also dabbed it on to create darker areas and further details. After it dried, I used brown coloured petal dust to dust the edges and in the corners to add further details.

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Drug store edition!

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Now if you only make a few cakes a year and don’t want to go all out buying these products which can become costly, you can use what you have at home! I’ve used coffee mixed with a little clear alcohol and I have tried it with water but it does take a bit longer to dry. You can also use vodka if you have that handy at home 😉

For the brown petal dust you can also use ground coffee but I found it to be a little grainy, so you can use cocoa powder! Works perfectly 😉

For the sea shells, I wanted it to look really authentic and as if they were real shells at the beach. I have to admit I wanted to go nuts and add more and more details but I had to be cautious and use self-control here (HA!) So I made the shells out of gum paste and then let them harden completely. Its best to paint them when they have hardened completely so that their little details aren’t compromised when your touching them and moving them around or poking them with the brush.

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I also used ivory to paint the shells as I did the flag but I only did this very lightly. I used brown, orange and fuchsia petal dusts to colour these shells and I wanted to go with an orange/tan look to the shells. This was so the shells would blend nicely in with the colour of the sand, orange in the airbrush and also blend nicely with the rest of the cake.

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I enjoyed making this cake so much! Happy 3rd birthday Tahlia!

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Happy baking!

Love, Nelle xox

Shopkins cake Q and A!

Over the past few weeks I’ve touched on a few themes and now im going to dive into the crazy, cute world of SHOPKINS! I know, you’re probably sick of these little guys lying all around your house, dodging them while you walk around the lounge room, hoping to not step on those suckers in the dark (ouch!). But here I am to bring you more about shopkins! Now this theme is particularly interesting because they are the cutest and weirdest kids toy craze around, there are about 1000 different varieties of shopkins from strawberries to lawn mowers. Yes, there is a mini lawn mower with eyes on it. I can’t deal. My little sister and cousin are OBSESSSSSSED with shopkins, I remember walking into my sisters’ bedroom where she has perfectly lined up all her shopkin toys, shopkin houses and accessories. It literally hits you in the face, its bold, pink and so cute!

I have been longing to make a shopkins themed cake for quite some time now, purely because I wanted to attempt making those darling little figurines. So when my aunty asked me to make one for my cousins’ birthday I had to go all out. I initially asked her to choose some of her favourite shopkins… She handed me something that looked like a soy sauce bottle?! She then handed me one that looked like a bag of rice!? Obviously I was hoping for the cute ones like the cookie, strawberry…No she chose those…

We convinced her to pick some more and I was so thrilled to see she had picked some cute ones (YES!) she picked apple blossom, lippy lipstick, kooky cookie and I added in Delish doughnut.

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Now there are millions of shopkins cakes floating around so the original designer of this cake was I don’t know who, but if you do leave a comment below! I did change a few things and added my own characters and added a sassy twist 😉

I had a few questions in relation to this cake so I thought I would turn this blog over to you guys, let you take the reins and I’ll answer those questions! Let’s GET STARTED!

Q1: What kind of tools do you need to make the figurines? How did you get it so accurate?

Q1A: Well, I mostly used my hands, looking at pictures definitely helps and YouTube tutorials (shout out to Laura from Krazy Kool Cakes). I would definitely say you needed a selection of round cookie cutters, round piping tips with different sized round nozzles, a clay extruder if you aren’t confident getting thin sausage lines with fondant, paint brushes to add water to attach pieces together, and dry brushes to add colouring using petal dusts! I also have to add in I used colour shapers to just neaten up edges and get into the areas my big as Shrek fingers can’t get into.

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Q2: What was the hardest part about making this cake?

Q2A: Hmmm… Id say the most difficult part was probably making the figurines? It was a blast making them but they are definitely time consuming and fiddly as there were so many tiny details!

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Q3: Do you have any advice about which colours to use? What was the creative process behind allocating what shopkins characters made the cake?

Q3A: When choosing colours its always best to choose colours that POP! I wouldn’t make blue shopkins characters and have a blue background for the cake base. I would be looking at complimentary colours and contrasting colours that really catch the eye. One little fun fact about me is that I did an art unit at uni (OoooOoooh fancy me). Th entire unit was dedicated to painting and it focused on colour contrast and comparison which taught me so much about complimentary colours and how to capture the eye with colour. My advice would be to with what you would think suits best, pink and blue look awesome against each other hence why my board and cake were blue and pink, as well as the little shopkin house which had blue and pink aspects. The little characters were also all of different colours which made it really pop. Orange and blue also look great against each other which is why Kooky cookie really pops on the cake!

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Q4: What is most exciting about making children’s cakes?  

Q4A: Making children cakes are exciting for me purely because they have the most colourful themes! Colours are what bring cakes to life! They have such interesting themes, characters and colours that you sometimes cant to with things like wedding cakes, or for lack of a better word “Adult” cakes (no no not nude ones HAHA). It’s fun also because you can really revisit your childhood sometimes, especially for me, when I get to make Disney themed cakes I get to relive a little bit of my childhood and I think that’s quite nice as an adult. We often forget what it’s like to be a child and dream, so for me this is a fun way to hold onto those fond memories.

Q5: Did you have to research on Shopkins to understand color scheme/fonting/vibe of the concept?

Q5A: I didn’t have to research in the sense that I had to watch their show (I know, I cant believe they have a show and I don’t HAHA!) But I did have to google search their characters to capture their details. To make the name for the cake I really wanted to get “shopkins” type font, so I actually googled “shopkins my name” and this funky little website came up where you could type in any name and it would shopkins your name. of course, I couldn’t save it so I screen shot it, and printed out the picture onto normal paper and cut it out by hand sing an exacto knife! (add that tool to your list)

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Now I have a question for all of you… Which was your favourite shopkin character from this cake? Comment below!

If you have any other questions don’t hesitate to post in the comment section below!

 

Happy baking! love, Nelle xox

Mothers day! How to make burgundy fondant!

Firstly, wherever you are in the world this is a little blog dedicated to all the hardworking, beautiful and strong mothers out there! You are amazing, loved and should be appreciated every single day! Especially my beautiful mum who is my backbone, support system through all of this cake craziness and without her, none of this would be possible!

Now for this fun little blog I wanted to share some of the mothers day goodies I had the pleasure of creating this mothers day. I had found these adorable cookie stamps at coles (grocery store) and they were just too cute, i had to use them on my mothers day cupcakes!

I also wanted to add some chic couture cupcakes into the mix. However, this year I wanted to really go with a colour theme and in Australia mothers day is held in autumn and ive been really vibing with burgundy lately so I used burgundy, baby pink, white and of course a beautiful touch of gold.

This colour scheme was  perfect because it had richness from the burgundy and gold and the prettiness of the pink and white to tie it all together. Now for this blog, I am going to share a secret little tip that I used to make burgundy fondant. I bought burgundy and maroon colouring but of course it didn’t work. It probably would have If I added a bottle and a half, let it sit there over night and sang to it in 10 different languages, but who has that kind of time?

I did a little revisit to my old art books and what I found was some information on mixing colours. I also did a google search and found that I could mix in red, blue and a tiny bit of black fondant to achieve burgundy! I loved the colour but it just wasn’t enough, I wanted a more purple/red shade so I also added some purple gel colouring to get a deeper/purplier (is that a word?) shade of burgundy!

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IMG_1119I was so happy with how these turned out, heres the whole set! Once again, happy mothers day to all! Let me know how you celebrated mothers day this year!

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I also managed to make a cute little something for my mother, and I finally got to have a crack at mini cakes and mini macaron towers! So happy with how they turned out, she absolutely adored her gift!

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As always, love Nelle xox

The loneliness of cake making

This is a topic that has been highlighted before by many other people in the industry and I’m just here to add my experiences with this particular topic and share some of my stories. This feeling of “loneliness” does not diminish the happiness we get from producing cakes, nor does it mean we are negative about the privilege we are given to be able to do what we do. Let’s face it, this is an AWESOME job! But there are not always positives, the loneliness portion for me means having to sit up till early hours of the morning in a room alone making sugar flowers, crying over split ganache, dancing on my own in my cake room to “Heartbreaker”  by Mariah Carey and getting emotional over the “Les Miserables” soundtrack (Don’t judge me!).

As you can see, the feeling of loneliness is difficult to deal with, because as humans we are interdependent creatures who can often have conflicting emotions. One minute we want to be around people and the next we want to be alone. As I like to put it simply, i hate to feel lonely but I want to be alone. Complicated beings we are, but that’s just human nature! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a complete isolation freak who hates human interaction… or am I, I’ll let those closest to me figure this one out 😉

For me, cakes are an escape from the real world, although it is the real world and this is my reality, it gives me a sense of escape because I can immerse myself into a creative field and allow my hands to move in ways that make beautiful things. It gives me purpose and makes me feel beautiful every day. Not in a physical sense but an emotional sense. To see people happy and love their cakes gives me a sense of pure joy. To think I had something to do with their happiness is something I think is reason enough to continue. When I’m in my cake room I feel like no one can hurt me, judge me and I can be myself without having to explain. In a world like todays it’s hard to feel this way.

Although the loneliness often sets in and you sit there and often think about how much it hurts, you often think about your family in their beds sleeping, that dinner you had to skip because you had cakes to make, or that lonely Friday night when you could have been with your loved ones but instead you’re alone in the kitchen again. Yes, it hurts. But is it worth it? YES. To me it’s worth it, not because we love our loved ones any less or because we choose cakes over them but for all the reasons I listed above. Although this isn’t a job that can aid in world hunger, take away poverty and cure cancer it is a simple happiness that you can provide. It is something that can make a memorable childhood memory, a simple pleasure in a world full of misery. A simple happiness you can give to yourself.

It may seem like a silly dream to people reading this but it is my dream. As kids, we grow up wanting to be a million different things, but when the day comes where we get to choose, we don’t always get to choose something that truly makes us happy. Sure, I have other outlets I’m interested in, I am not restricted to just this but it is something that has made me who I am today. In many ways, it saved me from myself. Gave me a purpose, helped me become happy again.

So for me, the loneliness is worth it. It made me appreciate my own company and enjoy it. I got to know what I was made of and how far I can push myself. If you’re like me and you feel lonely sometimes while you’re caking or working on a big essay for uni and you just feel like you may be feeling “FOMO” (fear of missing out) or maybe you are just feeling alone in general. Stop. Don’t disregard your feelings but understand them. Know that it is ok to feel this way and that you’re never truly alone.

Ps does anyone else just sit there and stare at their cakes after they’re finished even if its freezing cold and you are tired as hell? Yeah me too! This was one of those cakes, and this is why it’s worth it.

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This is a cake i could not stop staring at, it was made for a dear, lifelong friend Linda from Pretty Little Desserts. Congratulations on your engagement. I am truly blessed to have made this for you.

 

As always, love Nelle xox

How to achieve black buttercream!

 

Sounds simple enough right? Add black food colouring into your simple buttercream, WRONG! Adding black food colouring to your buttercream, whether it’s SMBC, IMBC, American buttercream, it’s not easy to achieve black! So to everyone who wants to attempt it keep reading and I’ll walk you through how I achieved black buttercream.

There are a few ways I’ve achieved black buttercream…

The first way i achieved black buttercream was by making a dark chocolate buttercream using lots of yummy dark chocolate ganache added to a regular vanilla buttercream. To which I then added quite a lot of black gel food colouring. This did work but I needed to add quite a bit. I used this method a second time but this time I made it a day ahead and I rewhipped it before using and the colour had actually darkened and was extremely dark!

For something quicker, I have also tried adding straight cocoa powder to regular buttercream and then added a mixture of chocolate food colouring which is an oil based food colouring in jet black, as well as regular gel colour and I popped it in the fridge for about 10 minutes and kept mixing until it darkened. It also worked but wasn’t as nice tasting as the first method.

I have also added just straight black to the buttercream and it turned PURPLE. Yep, it was a grey, purple colour. Similarly, to the first method, I let it sit overnight and voila! It worked 😉

Quick tip! If you want to make black ganache, it’s actually a lot easier as the chocolate is already quite dark, add gel or preferably chocolate colouring as it is oil based straight into your fresh made, melted ganache and stir. It should go black pretty much instantly depending on how much you’re using.

WARNING: This may stain teeth…If it’s a Halloween party you’re set! 😉

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Happy baking! Love, Nelle xox

How to make edible moss!

I am so excited to finally share my method for achieving edible moss! This is such an easy method for making edible moss, and as I’m sure there are many other fancy alternative methods and different recipes, this is just how I like making mine and it works every single time!

I’ll be sharing my recipe, method, along with a picture tutorial, and a few ideas about how to use it on your delicious treats!

Let’s get started!

You will need:

  • 1 packet of vanilla/light coloured biscuits (I used a packet of arrowroot biscuits, you can also substitute and make your own biscuit dough such as a shortbread or sugar cookie which ive also used before)
  • 1-2 bottles of liquid green food colouring
  • 30g Melted butter
  • ¼ cup white caster sugar or less if you prefer less sweetness

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Equipment:

  • Food processer (if you don’t have one you can crush the biscuits in a zip lock bag and beat it with a rolling pin, but I think using a processor gets the best results!)
  • Baking tray
  • Baking paper
  • Spatula
  • Bowl

STEP 1: Crush your biscuits in a food processer and pulse until it reaches a fine crumb, ensure there are no lumps. Add it to a bowl and add some sugar to taste.

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STEP 2: Melt the butter and add it to the crumbs to create a sand like texture, don’t worry if it isn’t completely moist and clumping together, the butter just helps with attaining the moist texture, and adds a buttery flavour.

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STEP 3: Add 1 bottle of green food colouring and mix, if you feel as though the mixture isn’t moist enough I would add another bottle. I would recommend wearing gloves and mixing with your hands as its easier to get the colour to coat each crumb this way. It should resemble cake pop mixture.

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STEP 4: Add some baking paper to a baking sheet above and below the mixture and roll it out thinly.

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STEP 5: Place the tray in the oven on a medium heat around 140 degrees and cook it for 10-5 minutes, checking it at 10 minutes.

STEP 6: Once it is completely cooked it will have formed a crust at the top and be slightly soft. Leave it to cool completely and then add the mixture to your processer again and pulse till it reaches a fine crumb consistency.

TIP: if your crumb mixture is still a bit soggy, add the crumbs to the baking sheet and spread it out to one layer and put it in the oven for 5 minutes to dry out.

And voila! You have edible moss 😉 See how easy that was?!

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I’ve used the edible moss in many ways! I used the edible moss to coat my gourmet “Te Fiti” inspired apples, cookies and my Willy Wonka inspired cake!

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Check out @sassysprinklescakery on Instagram for more pictures of this Willy Wonka cake!

If you decide to give it a go I would love to see your work! Post it on Instagram with the #sassysprinklesediblemoss, and if you’re on Facebook just post it up on my Facebook page!

 

As always, Happy baking!

 

Love, Nelle xox

 

 

MOANA

Disneys new film “Moana” has taken over households all over the world and I’m sure most can agree it’s a total hit with the kids and parents! When I watched the film I fell in love with all of the beautiful colours, nature and of course the MUSIC! So for this week I had a challenge on my hands which was given to me by one of my dear friends who NEVER colours within the lines! She has a unique soul and is always up for creating something bigger and better. The challenge was to create a Moana themed dessert table for Nyla’s 3rd birthday with Moana themed desserts, tropical styling and just a giant life size 3D Tamatoa cake!? So I have never created a 3D novelty cake like this but when she showed me the cake she wanted how could I say no?! Secretly I was excited as hell and so ready to take this on! As a caker, cakes can sometimes be a little repetitive and it can often put a hold on creativity, so this was definitely something i was excited about as i got to spread my wings and let the creativity flow!

The purpose of this blog post is to sum up some of the highlights of the dessert table, some tips and ideas for creating your own Moana themed table and some of my fails and triumphs. I’ll also be posting some tips for the desserts if you’re thinking of going all out Moana style! Here we go!

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The first thing about styling these kind of tables is TIME! YOU NEED TIME! Of course the desserts and cake can wait till the week of, but my biggest tip of all is to start early! Buying things online can be troublesome so always try to buy things early to leave room for mistakes (buying online has its moments).

Have a plan! What route do you want to go with? Are you focusing on “ocean” vibes or are we staying on the sand? Or both? My biggest issue is wanting to do too much! But sometimes the K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid) rule applies heavily here! With such a beautiful theme like Moana its easy to get carried away with flowers, greenery, fruit, shells etc But be warned, sometimes your “plan” changes, like me, changes were made right before the guests arrived (talk about indecisive).

For me, I had to work around the CAKE as it was pretty large and took up about 40% of the table. The cake had to be the centre of attention so it was a matter of “trial and error” but it worked out in the end! Now, not everything was all unorganised, messy chaos, there was LOADS of planning. But my other tip is to let it flow! Being a tropical laid back movie, it’s important to create that organic, natural feel that adds authenticity.

So for my table, i decided to have some kind of “flow” to it by adding fabric to the table that wasn’t completely smooth to create the illusion of movement. I was lucky enough to find these gorgeous shells that were brought by my grandparents from Cyprus over 30 years ago. These huge shells added to the authentic touch that is needed, and helped stay true to the theme. I stuck to a “rustic” wooden feel with the use of crates, cake stands, wooden stumps and palettes that added to the natural look which were collected over time from previous prop sales and garage sales. Buying tropical fresh fruits and florals that will add to your colour scheme can also really make everything pop and make it authentic!

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A cool tip is to use a pineapple as a flower vase! Carefully cut the top of the pineapple head and then scoop out the flesh the day before using a knife and spoon. Cut a circle at the top as a guide and then scoop away, making sure to leave a slightly thick skin on it so it doesn’t become flimsy (make sure not to scrape all the way down the bottom and leave a decent foot). I spray painted it gold and added the florals in on the day as well as fresh monstera leaves at the back to give it more height. I also matched the colours to the macarons which were made by “Macarons by Maree” as well as matched the colours to the fruit.

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What I loved most about the table was that so many characters were highlighted, from the GIANT Tamatoa cake, to the gourmet caramel apples which were inspired by Te Fiti. I handmade sugar frangipanis and dusted the middle with yellow petal dust and the mini pink ones with a fuchsia petal dust. As Te Fiti has a green moss texture to her in the film, i also wanted to create the look of “moss” on the outside of the apples. I’ll be posting up a tutorial/blog about how i achieve this look so stay tuned!

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Additionally, Maui and Moana were highlighted on the background as well as her adorable little pets.

Even the crazy Kakamora pirates were at the party!  I actually found fresh coconuts and painted their little faces on using acrylic paint. I actally cheated and ran out of time and used fondant to add to their faces, and it worked a treat! (TIP: If youre using fondant add it when the paint is dry).

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Now just because the table had so much going on, and the cake was the centrepiece the desserts didn’t lack any details! The mini tarts were beach themed with white chocolate ganache inside tinted a pale shade of blue, with pearly sugar shells and biscuit crumbs to resemble sand.

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The jelly cups were inspired by my latest trip to Hawaii where i had an amazing encounter with some GIANT turtles where we got to interact with them on the shore! Such an amazing experience had to be recreated in a little dessert cup. I also made cute little chocolate turtles and had them just pulling up onto the shore! The turtles were made with milk chocolate and i used a silicone mould (TIP: if you’re planning on making a lot of these turtles buy a few moulds to save time).

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I just had to add some tropical fever to these desserts so I had to make a silky smooth mango panacotta with a glittery pineapple and glittery palm tree made by “Have it Made by Leanne Marie” to just add that extra sparkle!

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Not to mention those awesome volcano pyramid chocolates with a caramel interior, that oozes out just like lava!

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And lastly, the cake. This cake was inspired by Ashlee Marie, with a few changes! What a cake it ended up being! I have to say the worst part was transporting this cake as it weighed over 30kgs and was roughly 24 inches in length not including the legs! The shells and treasures on his back took about 2 days to make and all in all was a great experience. I used rolkem super gold to paint his shell to give him his “shiny” look. On the areas where his claws are there is an orange and purple blended look to it and i actually used fuchsia petal dust to achieve this. You can also use an airbrush but using the dust gave me more control and a concentrated colour. I also handmade Maui’s hook because well it is the main reason for this scene! His hook was created using gum paste and i used a clay extruder to give me those thin brown strings around the hook. I used a range of interesting piping tips to give me a pattern on the hook, to which i painted these sections in an ivory food colouring to create more depth and authenticity.

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Oh there are so many things you could do with this theme and this is just the tip of the ice berg! GO NUTS! COCONUTS IN FACT!

Ok, i couldn’t resist, Nyla’s mum asked me to dress as Moana so i just had too! HAPPY 3RD BIRTHDAY TO NYLA! We hope you enjoyed your Moana themed party!

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More blog posts to follow about the cake and possibly some tutorials about how to make some of the desserts.

As always, I hope you are having a great week!

Love always, Nelle or Moana xox

L O V E

Happy Valentine’s day to all the love birds out there, whether you’re celebrating with your loved one or not take this day to tell someone you love, that you absolutely, positively adore them. Where do I begin? Some wise love writers and poets before me may describe love as having no boundaries, a feeling with no end, a true expression of gratitude. But that’s not me HA! To me, love means SUGAR, CAKE AND CHOCOLATE! What better way to show someone you love them but with food GLORIOUS food! Now other than sweet bakes I’m a savoury gal myself, so if someone cooks me a home cooked meal I’m in instant love. I thought I would note down some of my perfect valentine’s day ideas both cake related and let’s say “date” related just incase you’re stuck on ideas or not much of a romantic but still want to do something absolutely sweet!

If you’re a guy or girl and you’re reading this and you want to buy something for your significant other here is what I think.

Sure, roses, chocolates a simple card and a teddy are cute and definitely a great gift, chances are once the roses are dead, chocolates are eaten and teddy are consumed by dust it won’t be remembered. Here’s what I think, if you’re a baker like me a customised gift is awesome even though yes they are eaten your partner will get a kick out of all the effort you go to as well as find your customisation a nice touch. Another great gift idea is something i find super super cute and a little out of the box. It’s cost effective and thoughtful and something i actually have done in the past (do not judge my level of cheesiness) I grabbed a deck of cards and wrote a “reasons why i love you” mini book. Yep, sugar and spice and everything CHEESY! HAHA

Another idea is to do something fun together as a team because well today is the day you guys can celebrate your love and possibly show the world (I mean Facebook) about how awesome your little A team is (ha-ha just kidding, I love you all). I would recommend definitely cooking each other a meal or if you’re the one who does all the cooking, id hint to your partner that perhaps they better get their MasterChef on. But anyway I’m not a love guru so what do I know. Either way, enjoy doing something fun together!

Anyhow, this is what I did for valentine’s day. Of course I resorted to baking because it’s in my blood, sugar is officially running through my veins. I made customised cookies inspired by sweetheart candies that I purchased throughout my recent travels to Hawaii. I’ve always had a soft spot for these pastel little sweet hearts however has anyone actually read their conversations? WOW, here are what some say:

  • LOL
  • TXT ME
  • LOVE BUG
  • XOXO
  • CUTIE PIE
  • PUPPY LOVE
  • YOU ROCK

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So as you can see its pretty dull, but hey it has a certain sweetness to it 😉 Instead of those messages I decided to make mine completely, utterly personal and relate them back to our trip in Hawaii.

Now Mr Sprinkles had an obsession with the fried chicken over there, so I decided to write the words FRIED CHICKEN. Yep he got a cookie shaped as a love heart with the words fried chicken. Perhaps next time ill make it fried chicken flavoured as an April fools joke 😉

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As well as you had me at ALOHA because HAWAII DUH?!

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I also had to include some fruit puns so I included “I’m coconuts for you” and “you’re a fine-apple” because he’s a pretty fine- apple, occasionally.

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The last one I included was I LOVE SNORKELLING. This one is really hilarious to me because over in Hawaii we both experienced snorkelling for the first time and after our first snorkelling encounter he would not shut up about snorkelling. Of course I made fun of it as I do and said he would start snorkelling in the bath tub when he got home HAHA! And so, bae had to have a cookie with his one true love on it SNORKELLING!

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I also sandwiched them together with more cookies and caramel because bae loves caramel! Giggles aside, he loved them.

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Happy valentine’s day to all you lovers out there, and to all my single pringles I hope your day is as magical as ever because the only person in the world who actually NEEDS to love you is YOU so love yourself first!

Love always, your baking cupid, Nelle

Xoxo

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Ps, if anyone wants to be my valentines date you know the drill. FOOD.

Strawberry Milkshake Panacotta!

During high school until now I have had a strawberry milk obsession, when I say obsession I mean I use to drink it almost every single day! So I had to do what any normal person would do, make a dessert inspired by strawberry milk! The one thing that I make almost  every week is panacotta, which is a light milk based custard. Milk + strawberries = Strawberry milk! But I also wanted to make something pretty, easy to make and something I also always loved as a child growing up was STRAWBERRY NESQUIK! Voila! I bring you the winning dessert, my strawberry milkshake panacotta! I say winning because…

A few months ago I entered this recipe into a competition called The Yellow Pages’ search for Sydney’s Undiscovered Baking Legend and it WON! YAY! *throws confetti* The prize was that I got to be featured on the front cover of the yellow pages for 2017, as well as have my recipe printed in the book. This is definitely a dream come true and I am beyond honoured and blessed to have this opportunity. This competition is such an honour to be a part of because it highlights Australia’s greatest love, FOOD! In saying this, the competition also partnered with the Country Women’s Association (CWA) which is an organisation based on helping women and children in both regional and rural Australia, by empowering one another through baking and a love for food. More information about the organisation can be found in the 2017 edition of the yellow pages. I think it’s very important to understand how much food has grown in the last decade and how much it is still growing! Desserts and sweets especially, have begun to take over the nation. Food is a universal language and brings us together so share this recipe with your friends and family and enjoy!

You’ll find a hard copy of the strawberry milkshake panacotta recipe in the yellow pages 2017, and if you get the chance to get a copy of the local newspapers (Canterbury express and the Torch) You’ll be able to read a bit more about my journey. But for now, I’ll share the recipe here, a few tips and tricks and my TOP TIP for baking that I use absolutely every time.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/the-express/janelle-halil-to-feature-on-yellow-pages-cover-after-winning-sydneys-undiscovered-baking-legend-with-strawberry-panna-cotta-recipe/news-story/c676a69f3f96000f3ffb37bee877ced7

Strawberry Milkshake Panacotta

Ingredients

200ml milk
200ml cream
¼ cup strawberry Nesquik
2 tablespoons of white sugar (optional if the Nesquik doesn’t make it sweet enough)
5g powdered gelatine
water to soak the gelatine

Method

  1. Weigh out your gelatine and add some water to soak until and leave to bloom for about 5 minutes
  2. Add the milk, cream and Nesquik into a low-heat saucepan and dissolve (DO NOT BOIL)
  3. Once all dissolved take off the heat and add in the mass of gelatine (I say mass because your gelatine should be all in one big mass)
  4. Once the gelatine is dissolved, put your mix through a strainer and serve into glasses or dessert cups

TIPS:

  1. Always strain your mix to catch any little clumps of gelatine
  2. Taste test your recipe to make sure it isn’t too sweet or not sweet enough
  3. Add your mix into the fridge when it has cooled, if you put your dessert in the fridge hot it will form a skin
  4. SMILE and have a great attitude when baking, believe it or not, it will affect your end result 🙂

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@YellowAustralia

Love Nelle, xox