Archive for Star Wars

C-3PO Sugar Skull Chocolate Chili Biscuits

Posted in Baking, Biscuits with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 06/05/2013 by libbyplummer

C-3PO Sugar SkullsIt’s been a while since I’ve had any spare time for preposterously themed baked goods, but fear not – it’s a bank holiday here in the UK and while everyone else is out in the sun, I’m spending some quality time in my kitchen because I know how to have a good time. Yes, sir.

Star Wars Day (‘May the 4th be with you…’) seemed like a good time to pick up the Darth Vader spatula again. This isn’t the first time time I’ve employed Star Wars as a theme for confectionery – I’ve previously made Star Wars Holiday Special cupcakes, Star Wars shortbread and Han Solo in carbonite chocolates to name a few.

This time? I’ve gone one better and gone for a May the 4th/Cinco de Mayo mash-up. The result? C-3PO Sugar Skull Chili Chocolate Biscuits. You heard.

Obvisouly the sugar skulls are usually linked to the Mexican Day of the Dead festival (Dia De Muertos) on 1 and 2 November, rather than Cinco de May (on 5 May), but why let the facts get in the way of a good biscuit, eh? (On a side note – did you know that Mexico has a festival with the unimprovable name of Night of the Radishes? You do now).

Sugar Skulls

Image: DailyWicca.com

Back to the biscuits (or cookies, if you’re of the American persuasion). I adapted the the Super Chocolatey Biscuits recipe from the Biscuiteers Book of Biscuits and followed their guidelines for icing. The whole ‘line’ and ‘flooding’ icing system is a bit of a palaver, and a process that I’ve only used twice before on my peanut butter plectrum biscuits and Kendo Nagasaki biscuits, but it does give a good result.

I used one of my three (yes, three) sets of Williams Sonoma Star Wars cookie cutters to cut out the C-3PO faces, but you can always but them out with a knife.

C-3PO Sugar Skulls

What you’ll need:
For the biscuits:

275g plain flour (sieved)
100g self raising flour (sieved)
75g cocoa powder (sieved)
125g granulated sugar
1 tsp chili powder (as hot as you dare)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
125g salted butter, diced
125g golden syrup
1 large egg, beaten
For the icing:
450g (plus 50g spare) royal icing sugar
75ml cold water
Coloured icing gel

What to do:
For the biscuits:
Mix the sieved flours, cocoa powder, sugar, chili powder and cayenne pepper into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and use your fingertips to rub the ingredients together until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Next, make a well in the middle and add the egg and golden syrup and mix together into a dough. Add a touch more golden syrup if it’s too dry to form a dough. Divide into two or three balls, squash flat into large discs, wrap in clingfilm and bung in the fridge for an hour or so.

When you’re ready to roll, bring the dough back to room temperature and place a disc between two pieces of baking parchment and roll out with a roling pin. This means that won’t need to add any flour to stop the dough from sticking.

The dough should be about 5mm thick. Cut out your shapes and place them a fair distance apart on a non-stick baking sheet. Stick in a pre-heated oven on 170°C (150°C fan oven)/350°F/gas mark 4 for about 14-16 minutes. Then take them out of the oven and carefully transfer to a cooling rack. Make sure they’re completely cool before you start to ice them or the icing won’t stick.

C-3PO Sugar Skulls

For the icing:
Bung the water in a large bowl, then add 450g of royal icing sugar. Then whisk them together until the icing is the same sort of consistency as toothpaste. If it looks too runny – add some more icing sugar. (I ended up using the whole 500g). I added a a few drops of icing whitener at this point.

Stick a tablespoon or two into a disposable icing bag and snip of the end to make a small hole. Pipe the outline of the face around the edge of the biscuits, forming a tiny wall of icing with no gaps. Let dry for five minutes.

Next you’ll need to convert the remaining icing in the bowl into flooding icing. To do this, add a few drops of water at a time and mix in until the consistency is slightly runny, a bit like custard.

Spoon carefully into the middle of each biscuit and smooth out to the edges using the back of the spoon or a cocktail stick if you want to be precise. Leave to dry for a while.

Next, paint on the C-3PO face. I used some coloured icing gels that were kindly sent to me the nice people at Dr Oetker. I stuck a blob of each colour onto a makeshift baking parchment palette and used a fine paintbrush to draw on all the details.

I have no painting or drawing abilities whatsoever, so the finish isn’t perfect, but it’s the best I could manage with my ham-fisted artistry skillz.

The last step is to return the iced biscuits to a very cool oven – about about 50-70°C/120-160°F/gas mark1/2-3 for 30 minutes. I know it sounds bonkers, but it dries out the moisture that seeps into the biscuits from the icing and restores the crunchiness.

Advertisements

Star Wars matcha biscuits

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Kitchen gadgets with tags , , , , , , on 12/08/2012 by libbyplummer

Star Wars matcha biscuitsAs a sort of trial run for Bake & Destroy’s Sugar Slam III, I had a stab at knocking up a  batch of easy biscuits that required no icing with the help of my latest batch of Star Wars cookie cutters from Williams-Sonoma.

Star Wars cookie cutters

Apart from visiting family, the highlights of my regular(ish) visits to the US are the gluttonous American-sized portions of food, the history (on my last trip alone I saw a space shuttle, John Glenn’s Mercury Programme space suit and visited homes of George Washington and Edgar Allan Poe!) and the fact that we get to casually drive past the Pentagon every day.

And I get to pick up a paper version of The Onion to read in the airport bar on the way home.

And, of course, there’s the chance to stock up on baking paraphernalia at kitchen shop Williams-Sonoma. A tad overpriced it may be, but anywhere that stocks a sizeable collection of Star Wars-themed baking kit is alright in my book.

I’ve previously only made Star Wars shortbread with my embarrassingly extensive collection of Star Wars cutters, so it was time for a change – courtesy of a bag of matcha (green tea) powder that I bought on a recent trip to Japan.

Star Wars matcha biscuits

I’ll save the recipe until it’s perfected…

Star Wars Holiday Special chocolate and brandy buttercream cupcakes

Posted in Baking, Cakes, Recipes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/12/2011 by libbyplummer

Star Wars Holiday Special cupcakes

Never heard of the Star Wars Holiday Special? Let me enlighten you. After the success of the first Star Wars film in 1977, some bright spark had the idea of producing a Christmas/Holiday-themed TV special. What could possibly go wrong? A lot, that’s what. The story sees Chewbacca trying to get home to his family to celebrate Life Day – a thinly veiled, intergalactic version of Christmas. Highlights include a musical number by Jefferson Starship, a comedy skit in the Mos Eisley cantina (starring the Golden Girls’ Bea Arthur) and a jokey scene in which Chewbacca’s wife (essentially a Wookie in an apron) attempts to cook the Life Day dinner. Oh, and Princess Leia sings a song, too. It’s every bit as preposterous as it sounds. You can find it on YouTube or ebay, if the mood takes you…

For reasons that should be entirely obvious if you’ve read the previous paragraph, the Star Wars Holiday Special was only ever broadcast once in 1978 and has never been officially released. This festive cake-based tribute to what is possibly the worst TV programme ever made is formed of chocolate cupcakes with brandy buttercream icing (the icing method is adapted from Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery). I used a Star Wars cupcake decorating kit, along with a Star Wars cupcake stencil set from Williams-Sonoma to decorate mine, but obviously you can use whatever you like.

Star Wars Holiday Special cupcakes

What you’ll need:
3oz/85g self-raising flour (sieved)
4 tbsp cocoa powder (sieved)
4oz/110g caster sugar (sieved)
4oz/110g margarine/unsalted butter (softened)
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp milk (any kind you like)

For the icing:
4oz/110g unsalted butter (softened)
60ml milk
2 1/2 tbsp brandy butter (a good quality one that contains actual booze is best)
1 tsp vanilla extract
17.5oz/500g icing sugar (sieved)
Cocoa powder for decoration (if using stencils)

Makes 12 cupcakes

Star Wars Holiday Special cupcakes

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 170°C/150° (fan oven)/325°F/gas mark 3. Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases.

Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, and sugar in a large bowl, then cream in the margarine/butter using a fork. Next, add one egg at at time, mixing with the fork after adding each one. Then, add the milk and baking powder and mix until everything is combined. Lastly, give the mixture a few stirs with a whisk to make sure that it’s nice and smooth. Using a tablespoon, bung the mixture into the cupcake cases (dividing it evenly among them, of course).

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until a cocktail stick or skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean (with no runny cake mix on it). Once done, take the cakes out of the oven and leave in the tin for around 15 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

Star Wars Holiday Special cupcakes

Once the cakes are completely cool, you can crack on with the icing. Cream together half the icing sugar with the butter, milk, brandy butter and vanilla extract using a fork, until smooth. You can add a little more brandy butter if you want a stronger taste, but I found 2 1/2 tbsp to be about right. Add the rest of the icing sugar and combine until you’ve got a smooth icing. Either spread onto your cupcakes using a palette knife or use an icing bag to pipe on and add whatever decorations you have to hand. Happy Life Day!

Han Solo in carbonite chocolates

Posted in Baking, Gifts, Kitchen gadgets, Recipes with tags , , , , , , , on 28/07/2011 by libbyplummer

Han Solo in carbonite chocolate

When I heard that Firebox was selling a Han Solo in carbonite ice tray I was on the case faster than the Millennium Falcon on the Kessel Run. Sorry – I know I bang on about Star Wars quite a lot on London Baking, but when there’s a chance to re-create one of cinema’s coolest characters in chocolate form, there’s not a second to be wasted.

Although it’s billed as an ice tray, it can also be used for other things like chocolate and jelly, so I set about trying to craft some chocolate that actually resembled the fictional carbonite compound that Han was frozen in (I clearly had too much times on my hands last weekend).

Han Solo frozen in carbonite

The nice people at Firebox very kindly sent me one of the trays to try out. Here’s the recipe for Han Solo chocolates:

What you’ll need:
150g chocolate
Black dusting powder (optional)

What to do:
It’s really not rocket science. All you need to do is melt the chocolate, pour it into the mould and leave it to set, but if you want a few pointers then please do read on.

Han Solo in carbonite ice tray

You can use any type of chocolate you like – milk, plain or white – the higher the quality the better. If you want to make your Han Solos grey like mine then you’ll need to go for white chocolate. To melt the choc, pour a small amount of water into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down so that it’s simmering gently. Then break 150g of chocolate into small pieces and plonk in a heat-proof bowl and sit the bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure that there’s some distance between the water and the bottom of the bowl. Stir until the chocolate is melted and then remove from the heat.

If you don’t intend to colour your chocolate, then simply pour it into the mould – it should be just the right amount to fill each segment to the top. Smooth the surface with the back of a spoon or a spatula and clean off any access around the edges (this will make it easier to pop the chocs out of the mould once they’re set). The chocolate should set at room temperature (provided that it’s not a really hot day), or you can bung the mould in the fridge to speed up the process. The temperature of your kitchen or fridge will determine how long the chocolate takes to set, but it should be solid and ready for scoffing within a couple of hours. Once set, simply pop the chocolates out of the mould.

Han Solo chocolates

To make ‘carbonite grey’ chocolate, you’ll need to add some black dusting powder (a little at a time) to white chocolate and stir until you get the colour you want. Water-based food colours are a no-go as they won’t mix with the chocolate.

For more photos of the mould and the chocolates that I made, head over to my hands-on write up at Pocket-lint.com.

The Han Solo in carbonite ice tray is available from Firebox for £9.99.

Star Wars shortbread recipe

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Scottish food with tags , , , , , , , on 11/04/2011 by libbyplummer

Star Wars shortbreadI’ve been patiently waiting for my cousin to perfect her shortbread recipe so that I could try it out for myself, and it was well worth the wait. There are very few ingrediants, so it’s very simple to knock up a batch of dough in next to no time. As I still hadn’t tried out the second set of Star Wars cookie cutters that I got from Williams-Sonoma last year (yes, I have two sets), I decided to knock up some Star Wars shortbread in the shape of the Millennium Falcon (pictured), Tie Fighters, X-Wing Fighers and the Death Star. As you do.

What you’ll need:
4oz/110g softened unsalted butter
2oz/50g caster sugar
4oz/110g plain flour
2oz/50g rice flour

What to do:
First, in a large bowl, cream the butter together with the sugar with a fork. Next, add the two types of flour and mix to form a dough. Once rolled into a ball of smooth dough, wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for an hour or so to chill.

Preheat the oven to 180 °C (160°, fan oven)/350 °F/gas mark 4. Next, roll the dough out to about thickness of about 0.5mm/0.25in. The dough is quite crumbly so it’s a bit of a bugger to roll out. You’ll need to be very gentle and persevere, but I promise you it’s worth it. If the dough cracks while rolling, just gently push it back together and carry on rolling with care. The trick is to handle the dough as little as you can and to make sure that both your hands and the dough are as cool as possible.

Once you’ve cut the shapes out, put them on a greased baking tray (I just use a Teflon baking sheet) and bake at 180°C (160°, fan oven)/350° degrees F/gas mark 4 for approximately 12-15 minutes or until the biscuits begin to turn golden brown around the edges.

After taking them out of the oven, leave the biscuits to cool for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Immediately after you put them on the wire rack, drench them with caster sugar (it’s best to put some newspaper underneath the rack to catch any stray sugar). Once they’re cool, you cake shake the excess sugar off and then you’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll.

Star Wars spatulas? Hell yes.

Posted in Baking, Kitchen gadgets with tags , , , , , , on 22/02/2011 by libbyplummer

Star Wars spatulasMy brother and sister-in-law came over to visit from the US of A this weekend, bringing with them not one, but two Star Wars spatulas for me! Being a huge nerd and a big fan of the films as well as a keen baker, you can imagine my excitement when I found out that US kitchen store Williams-Sonoma was offering a range of Star Wars goodies.

Star Wars cookies

I’ve already kitted myself out with two sets of cookie cutters and some cupcake kits and using a Jedi mind trick, I managed to convince my brother into purchasing these Darth Vader and Stormtrooper spatulas for me. He did, however, ensure that these were packed into his wife’s luggage on the way over to avoid any ‘imperial entanglements’ (aka the potential embarassment of an airport security officer pulling them out of his bag in front of his fellow passangers).

Bravo, Williams-Sonoma – the force is strong with this one.

Follow London Baking on Twitter and Facebook