Monday, March 26, 2012

I'm a Terrible Blogger...

But my cakes are pretty!





This cake was made for Aleksander, my good friend Mariana's hubster.  We threw him a little surprise party with some close friends and it turned out to be a great success.  His face was great, I think that is the first time I experienced an honest surprise at one of those.  


Everyone did a little something to contribute to the party, it was a bit of a pot luck.  I, of course, immediately grabbed the cake making part.  It wasn't easy though, I am finding that cakes are difficult to make when the question 'How do you want the cake?' is answered with, 'Chocolate'.  Damn, that narrows it down.  








But, after some prodding and interrogating, I came to find that he likes cookie dough and marble cake.  I can work with that!  The final product was this happy looking little cake.  


Two marble cake layers filled with cookie dough swiss meringue buttercream and coated with vanilla swiss meringue.  I poured over a layer of chocolate ganache, then coated the bottom in crushed cookies.  A little frosting border, some swirls, cookies and cookie dough balls pulled it all together.  It's a real shame I didn't get a picture of a slice, but I guess if you want to see that you will just be forced to make this cake yourself.  Poooor you. 


Glad you liked your cake Alek!









1-2-3-4 Marble Cake


1 Cup Butter
1 Cup Milk
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Cups Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
3 Cups Flour**
4 Eggs
4 teaspoons Baking Powder


***The original recipe calls for Self Rising Flour.  If you have that available to you and want to use it, you MUST omit the salt and baking powder!!****


If using plain flour, combine with salt and baking powder and set aside.


Cream butter until fluffy, then add sugar and beat until pale and creamy.


Add eggs one at a time, beating well in between each egg.  Add Vanilla.


Alternate adding flour and milk, starting and ending with flour.  Flour, milk, flour, milk, flour.


Remove 2 cups of batter and add the cocoa powder to that. 


Add the batter to two greased and floured 8 inch pans.  Alternate between the chocolate and vanilla batters in a checkerboard pattering, layering colors one over the over.  You want three cups of batter in each pan.  Run a knife through it in a swirly pattern, in one direction and then the other.


Bake at 350F/175C for 25-35 minutes.  Remove from the pan immediately and cool completely.




Cookie Dough
from Always With Butter

1/4 Cup/56g Butter
6 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Water
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 Cup Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/3 Cup Chocolate Chips


Cream the butter and sugar, then add the water and vanilla.  Beat in the flour and salt, then add the chocolate chips.  Chill in the fridge until you're ready to use it.




Chocolate Ganache


9 oz Chocolate
1 Cup Heavy Cream


*This recipe makes much more than you need, so feel free to halve it*


Bring cream just to a boil, then pour over chopped chocolate and stir until smooth.  Let it cool before you pour it over the cake.




My favorite go-to recipe for Swiss Meringue, as well as detailed instructions, can be found here.




Assembly 


Take your cookie dough and reserve 1/4 or so.  Mix the rest with about a cup of swiss meringue until smooth and well blended.  Fill cake, then crumb coat and chill for 15 minutes.  Frost the cake, but try to reserve a cup or so for piping.


Chill cake for a bit, then cover with ganache.  To get the drizzle effect on the sides, pour the ganace in the center of the cake and then twist and turn the cake to get the ganache to run over the sides. 


Once that sets a bit, crush up some chocolate chip cookies and press them into the bottom of the cake, brushing off all excess.  Pipe a line of frosting around the cookies to contain them if you like.


Once the ganache has partially set, pipe on swirls and top with remaining cookie dough rolled into little balls.  Finish it off with cookies, cut in half.


Enjoy!
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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Gender Oriented Toys..Good or Bad? I Say...So-So.

No food here folks, if that's what you're looking for then scroll on down.  


Recently on Facebook there was a discussion about gender oriented toys, stemming from this article.

It specifically talks about Lego for Girls, which happens to be a product that Bellamy and I got to have fun with and evaluate through Buzzador.  Buzzador is a company that sends you products, toys, food etc to get market opinions.  You don't pay for anything and keep whatever you get, you are just required to submit opinion reports and pictures if possible, as well as spread the word.  Not a bad deal for free stuff I would say!  If anyone is interested in joining up with them, go for it!  Just remember to tell them Creuxx sent you ;)

Now, on to the topic of discussion.  Lego for Girls.

There have been 'girly' Lego for some time, but those are mainly marketed for the 2-5 age group.  I personally think it is both great and somewhat sad that they have come out with this product.  On one hand, it is great to see a Lego set that my daughter is interested in and appeals to her.  I mean seriously, 99.9 percent of Lego is Harry Potter, Robots, Star Wars, Animals etc.  All well and good and of course girls can play with them, but are they at all interesting to girls?  No, not really.

There is an argument from some parents saying 'Well why should girls have special Lego, that just says to boys that 'These are yours, and those are for the girls''.  Um, no it doesn't.  It says 'Here, you have 4 million choices, plus one more in case you want a pink house for Harry Potter!'.

There is one argument in the article that I completely agree with.  The figures are NOT Lego!  They are practically Barbie dolls.  They have breasts!  They are dressed like teenage girls, not girls in the 6-12 yr age bracket it is marketed to.  I hate that the mascots are designed like real girls and not little brick girls.  I hate that they have perfect hair and makeup.  I hate that because it is girls, they have to look that way.  There is not one single Lego product that is marketed towards boys that has anything remotely close to a human boy on it.  They are all little brick people, they all have brick hair.  I find it sickening that Lego has fed in to the fad that girls HAVE to look pretty, they have to be thin and perfect.  Lego girls should be bricks too!  So shame on you Lego for falling into a trend trap.  

Now, having said my piece about that, I will move on to the toy itself.  What Bellamy received is this:



It is very cute, and it comes with tons of things to put together.  Unfortunately, 85% is accessory pieces i.e: flowers, animals, bugs, etc.  The actual amount of Lego is lacking quite a bit.  Because of this, Bellamy got bored very quickly as there wasn't so much 'building' as 'decorating'.



But, we pressed on and got it done. We buildorated that thing.







She did the majority of the building herself.








The directions were clear and simple to understand with picture examples.  Like an Ikea manual.








She probably could have been done here, once she had the doll together that was much more interesting than anything else.  I really have a problem with her tits and stylish hair cut.





Getting there!







Had to encourage her to finish at this point, she was getting tired of the million little pieces.








Annndd......








We're done! Finally.




Final verdict:


Pros: Cute, girl friendly, something to do together that interests them.

Cons: Overly sexualized characters, too many accessories and not enough actual Lego, not 'Lego'.  

It's a playset with the Lego name on it.  If you put this next to the Harry Potter or Star Wars set it's a very, very big shame.  This is very much a marketing ploy and a sad one at that.  They can do much better than this.


While it was fun to put together with Bellamy and we did enjoy it, she has not really paid much attention to it since, and I believe the age range should be adjusted.  I can't imagine a 12 year old playing with this, nor can I imagine a 6 year old sitting still long enough to put it together.  


Nice try Lego, but you kind of missed the mark on this one.
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