Things have gotten a little quiet around here and I wanted a way to still be able to share all the amazing things I come across, from products to recipes and anything else interesting along the way, hence the start of a monthly favourites post. My hope is that these monthly posts will let me have a space to share some of my ideas and finds with you without me having to go through the effort of writing full-length blog posts, which I don’t have time for these days. I’ll also include links to recipes, where to purchase or just for viewing where necessary. Some of these links may be affiliate links.
Cakes and cupcakes
I had gone a little cupcake crazy in April. The month started with a woodland themed baby shower for my cousin in law, I made lilac coloured blueberry cream cheese vanilla cupcakes and chocolate mint cupcakes. The mint was an absolute hit. I used a few drops of peppermint oil (I used Oil Garden Aromatherapy from Go Vita Myer Centre, Brisbane) in the buttercream instead of essence which contains alcohol. The mint themed continued with mint cupcakes for my sister in law and my in-laws as they have birthdays close together in April. The cupcake theme was rounded off early May with my mum’s birthday, again another lot of choc mint cupcakes with a rose buttercream piped top. It was the first time I used this rose piping technique. The effect is so beautiful yet so easy to achieve
It didn’t stop there, my in laws offical birthday cake was a piece of luggage since they travel often and for Mr Munchies I made a chocolate covered superman logo cake filled with coffee cheesecake and a surprise inside. April is a seriously crazy month with baking, way too many birthdays!
My favourite chocolate cupcake recipe is a one bowl wonder by Sweetapolita.
Muslim Kids Guide
One of the reasons I’ve been so busy lately is because of my work on Muslim Kids Guide. It’s a new site founded by Peter Gould, co-edited by myself and Razeena of READ Little Muslims. It really is a one-stop shop for finding all the great things out there for Muslim Kids (or at least it will be insha Allah). It’s only in the beginning stages but we’ll get there.
I have been reading a little more than I should lately, I had forgotten how much I had enjoyed reading. I’ve been using an app called Borrow Box which allows you to borrow books via the app using your library membership. There are different types of apps used with library memberships, Borrow Box is just one of them, you might have to check with your local library to see they type they use. I also use the Kindle App on my iPhone to read books I’ve purchased on Amazon.
I have yet to start any preparing in terms of food for Ramadan, but I have been preparing in other ways. I have started making up my missed fasts, I’m really hoping to tackle them all by the end of this year insha Allah. I dug up my 49 ways to Kids Involved in Ramadan post from last year and have started circulating it again, I need to sit down and give it a good read so I can make sure the kids are well prepared too. My first plan will be to start reading Ramadan books to the kids.
49 Ways to get Kids involved in Ramadan
I hope you enjoyed the first post in my monthly favourites series. What were you up to in April?
One of the activities on our Hajj Activity list last year was to make sheep cupcakes, unfortunately we never got down to it. So, this year when an opportunity came up to write a post for Multicultural Kids Blog I thought why not make them. I searched Pinterest and Google to see what it offered in terms of sheep cupcakes and most results came back with cute little sheep covered in mini marshmallows. Now, mini HALAL marshmallows aren’t the easiest things to find. We’ve been lucky a few times to have them at our local butcher but not this time. After putting a call out on my personal Facebook page, I realised there were many others in the same boat. So, I decided that I needed to come with some other ways to make cute little sheep cupcakes instead. I hadn’t planned to re-invent the wheel on this, but it just seemed necessary.
I made 4 different versions of sheep cupcakes, they all create the same fluffy effect. There’s cupcakes covered in grated white chocolate, cupcakes covered in shredded coconut, cupcakes covered in marshmallows (the big ones – which are much easier to find) and lastly cupcakes frosted to look like wool. Of course if you can’t find halal marshmallows at all, then just use one of (or all of) the other 3 versions and if you’re lucky enough to find minis then use those instead. The faces/heads were created with royal icing, but you could use compound chocolate or candy melts instead. Click the image below for the template or here – Sheep head Template.
I even went so far to create a video tutorial. This is my first ‘voiced’ tutorial and I have to admit, I am a little nervous. I don’t like the sound of my own voice, but I faced my fears just so I could better show you all how to make these cuties. The Eid Mubaaarak cupcake toppers are also free to download. You just need to print them out, cut them, stick onto some toothpick or lollipop sticks and place into your cupcakes.
Pre heat oven to 180c and prepare your muffin/cupcake pans with cupcake liners. In a mixer combine your eggs and sugar and beat for about 1 minute. Add in your oil and vanilla and beat for another minute. Mic together your flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside, you can sift these if you prefer. Measure out your milks and set aside. Add in half the the flour mixture then half the milk then the rest of the flour and follow with the last bit of milk. Mix until just combined.
Fill cupcake liners until ⅔ full and place in the oven. Bake for 13-15 minutes. The tops will be slightly golden and the cupcakes will spring back if touched. Alternatively a clean skewer through a cupcake can be used to check if they’re baked. Set aside your cupcakes to cool.
In the bowl of a mixer, place your butter and beat on a medium to high speed for as long as you possibly can. Anywhere from 5-10 is a good time. This will ensure a fluffy and creamer coloured buttercream (instead of a more yellowy one). Reduce the mixer to a very low speed and add in your sifted icing sugar. Beat until combined. Add in you milk and beat until combined.
Make some royal icing in black and white (you could also use compound chocolate). Pipe out the faces over the template and leave aside to set for an hour. Pipe the facial features on top and leave aside to set for 24 hours. Peel off and keep aside ready for use.
Fill a piping bag with your frosting. Pipe a small dome onto the cupcake. Roll into coconut or grated white chocolate. Then pipe on a tiny dot of frosting and attach a face.
If making with marshmallows, cut them in half and place the marshmallows around the cupcakes. Leave a blank spot to attach the face. Alternatively you could just frost the cupcakes in a dome shape and attache the face. Or pipe around the cupcakes, starting at the edges dragging in and continuing the process for a few layers which creates a cloud like effect. Then attach a face.
Every year I try to make something for my sons friends for Eid. Sometimes it’s easier than others. Last year for Eid Ul Fitr I made these play dough gifts and this Eid Ul Fitr was homemade chocolate bark for the parents (and the kids as well). This year for Eid Ul adha I thought something crafty might be nice. So, I put together these little Eid Sheep Craft Bags.
These packs are so cute and super easy too with the printables I made. I printed A4 sheets of sheep (4 to a page), I cut them out and we placed them in snack sized snap lock bags with a handful of cotton wool balls, then sealed the bags. I also made and printed those bag labels. They fit perfectly onto the snack sized snap lock bag. I cut them out, folded in the centre and stapled them on. It’s so simple and you can even get the kids involved with filling the bags. Older kids could definitely help with cutting, folding and stapling too.
They were very well received, everyone I spoke to told me their kids wanted to make them straight away. If the kids are happy i’m happy. I’m so glad they all enjoyed it, we definitely did.
Here are the printables if you’d like to make these sheep. There’s 4 labels to a page and 4 sheep to a page. If you just want to make the sheep you could just print that page alone. To download your printables click here or on the image below.
This year has been a little busier than usual. I thought having a 4.5 year old and a 1.5 year old would be easier than last year having a 3.5 year old and a 6 month old. But let me just tell you, I was wrong!! While my 4 year old is pretty good most of the time, Alhumdulillah, it’s my 1.5 year old that gave me a hard time this year. Between her staying up for 2-4 hours at night or her need to not be more than 2 feet away from me – or attached to my hip when out, to her tantrums and lack of eating it has been a little harder than I expected. They call it the terrible two’s but I’m starting to think they had it all wrong, this starts way before they even hit 2. However I’m grateful to have gotten through and I’m so glad to say with a full nights rest these last couple of days she has been an absolute delight, Alhumdulillah.
Rant aside, I wanted to be a part of Eid Eats this year, but when it came down to it, things got a little too crazy and I didn’t get a chance to make something specifically for the occasion. However I’ve had these Sweet & Salty Pecan Cheesecake Bars tucked away and now seemed like the perfect time to put it to good use. Wouldn’t it be great for Eid? My mum asked me to make these a while ago. She sent me a recipe but it turned out the recipe was American and had a lot of ingredients thats weren’t in my Aussie pantry, so I made my own version instead and it turned out wonderfully.
Prepare a 8 x 8-inch pan with baking paper and cooking spray. Preheat your oven to 170c. Crush your crackers until fine like breadcrumbs, don’t be concerned about bigger chunks among the crumbs. Add your melted butter and brown sugar. Mix well and press into prepared pan, place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Beat cream cheese on a medium speed until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until combined. Add in eggs one at a time until combined. Spread over prepared base and place in the oven for 25 minutes.
Roughly chop pecans and add in brown sugar and butter. Mix well. After the cheesecake has baked for 20 minutes, remove and gently top with the pecan mixture. Spreading over gently, but firmly pressing into the cheesecake. By placing this on top after some baking time, it ensures the pecan mixture doesn’t settle to the bottom and doesn’t burn. Place back in the oven for 15 more minutes.
Allow to cool completely, then place in the fridge for a couple hours to chill. It is easiest to cut these when it is chilled. Remove and slice into squares. if you feel you may break the cheesecake when removing, then slice them first and remove one slice at a time. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Variation: For this recipe I used salty crackers and salted butter. You could use unsalted butter and biscuits instead if you don’t like salty sweet desserts. If using sweet biscuits, there’ll be no need for the brown sugar in the base.
Still looking for Eid Gift ideas? This year has been a little (very) crazy. I’ve had a 17 month old who would be up 2-4 hours at night, suffice to say I was exhausted during the day. I didn’t have a chance to get, make or even plan out my Eid gifts this year. An idea came to me, simple and easy yet yummy and handmade. I do like giving handmade gifts, last year I gave brownie mix jars hard to family and playdough to all my sons little friends.
This year I handed out almond, toffee, salted chocolate bark to our friends and family. I also made cute printables to go with them. Keep reading for the recipe and free printables.
The size of my bags were 13cm but I made the printables slightly bigger so they’d fit a snack size snap lock bag as well. You could use them as is on a bag or cut the edges to fit. I made them in green and black and there’s 3 on a page to save from excessive printing.
Click the green image for the green version or the black for the black labels. Enjoy!
Lay a piece of baking paper on a flat tray. Place your sugar into a flat pan on medium to high heat. Ensure your sugar is dvey spread onthe pan. When the sugar dissolves and begins to turn an amber colour, remove from the heat and pour into your baking paper and spread thin and evenly.
Chop your almonds and set aside in a bowl. Once your toffee (cooked sugar) has set, cut it with a knife. This will cause the toffee to crack and shatter into small shards. Set aside the shards in a bowl.
Lay baking paper on 3 flat trays. I melted my chocolate in 2 lots as it was easier to work with.
Chop 200g dark chocolate and 400g milk chocolate into small pieces. Melt your chocolate in a metal/glass bowl over a pot of simmering water, ensure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.
Melt the chocolate until almost all the pieces have become smooth and liquid.
Remove from the heat and stir until smooth and shiny. Pour 2 serving spoons of chocolate into each tray and spread to approximately 3mms. If the chocolate is too thin, it will snap easily.
Sprinkle your almonds, toffee shards and salt onto the chocolate.
I’ve had this idea for a while now. In fact I had planned to make this last year Ramadan, I just didn’t have the time last year.
This is by no means a new idea (although at the time I thought it was) Lail from With a Spin has a little Gingerbread Masjid and I recently saw the cutest DIY kits by Secubit Bakery (USA) on Facebook. Seeing those kits was part of my motivation for finally getting this Masjid made, the other part was being asked by my friend Razeena over at Read Little Muslims.
As you’ve probably noticed my version is made with chocolate cookies. Why chocolate cookie? Well, I’m not really a fan of gingerbread, plus gingerbread is synonymous with christmas so I thought it would be ideal to try something a little different and it’s chocolate, who doesn’t like chocolate?
I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel when it came to the recipes for these, and it is tricky enough to get a cookie recipe that doesn’t flatten or spread so I’ve adapted recipes from other sources and I used pre mix Royal Icing from Queen to make the whole job a little easier. You could try chocolate for the sticking and decoration but I avoided that because 1. I didn’t have any, and 2. I wanted something that would set hard without me having to worry too much. However, I might try chocolate next time.
I kept the template simple, a dome, minarats and square sides. I left windows out of the masjid so it would be less hassle, but I’ve included it as an option in the templates so you can cut them out if you wish. I used the window template to add the windows in with icing afterward. I also included a people template, but you could use a gingerbread cutter instead. I haven’t included the people in our masjid as we haven’t had a chance to decorate them, I’m waiting to do them with my son, I know he’ll enjoy it. A BIG BIG thank you to Penny Paperoni for transforming my drawings into this awesome template for all of you. Click the image below to download and print your template.
glasses or thin bottles to hold everything in place
Chocolate Sugar Cookie
In a mixer, cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla essence until combined. Sift 3 cups flour and cocoa powder and add to the mixture. Mix until dough starts to form, if dough isn’t forming add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until dough forms.
Place dough into a piece of cling wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
Cutting the Cookies
While the dough is chilling print and cutout your templates. Don’t forget to cut out the door of the masjid. Cut baking paper pieces to fit your cookie trays. I used 2 cookie sheets (and reused 1 later on for the masjid people).
After dough has chilled remove from fridge and split into 2 lots, place 1 lot back into the fridge.
Roll the dough onto the cut piece of baking paper, I found this the easiest way to roll the dough, use flour if necessary. Roll the dough to ½cm thick. Place the templates (1 masjid/minaret piece with one square side fits well together on one sheet) onto the dough and cut it out as close to the edge with a sharp thin knife. Remove the excess dough by gently peeling it off the baking paper, being careful around the edges of the masjid cut outs. Place the excess dough in the fridge as well.
Carefully lift the baking paper and place it onto the tray then place in the fridge to chill for another hour.
Do the same with the other lot of dough, cutting out another square and another masjid/minaret side, place again in the fridge for an hour.
If you have another tray roll out the excess dough on another sheet of baking paper and use the people template to cut out as many people as you like, you could also use a gingerbread cookie cutter.
Pre heat oven to 175c after the cutouts have chilled for 45 minutes. Once heated, place the trays into the oven. The masjid and squares will take 13-17 minutes, keep an eye on it from the 10 minute mark. Your cookie will be done when the middle seems firm and is not wet looking. The people shapes will take from 5 – 8 minutes. I baked the people separately so they didn’t burn.
Cool completely before decorating.
Brown Royal Icing
Measure out your half cup of royal icing mixture and place it into a bowl, add in water a few drops at a time. I used a syringe. It’s easy to get the mixture too wet, so be sure not to add too much.
You want your icing to be thick, a good guide is the 20 second rule. Run a spoon through the mix and count the time it takes for the streak to settle back, it should take at least 20 seconds.
Tint your icing brown to match the cookies and fill into a piping/ziplock bag.
Make another batch of royal icing as you did for the brown icing. This time colour it in various colours of your choice. Use candies, lollies, sprinkles and the like to decorate the sides of the masjid.
Decorate each side of your masjid with the icing and decorations and let it set for a few hours. Get a large flat plate, board or cake platter. To attach the masjid front to the plate, pipe a thick line of brown icing onto the flat surface, remembering to leave a gap for the doorway (use the masjid template cut outs to guide your lines). Hold the masjid front piece onto the icing for 15-30 seconds and place a glass or something firm at the front and back of the piece.
Do the sides next, by piping icing onto the inner side edge of the masjid front and pipe a 12cm line on the the plate. Hold the side in place for 15-30 seconds and place something on both sides of the piece to hold it in place. Repeat with the other side.
Finally the masjid back, pipe a line between the 2 sides and along the inner edge of the piece, hold the back piece in place for 30 seconds and place something firm on either side to hold it in place. Pipe more brown icing into any gaps. Use glass cups to keep everything in place while setting. Set for a few hours.
Once set, remove cups and clean out any access icing by gently cutting away with a sharp knife.
Put on display or serve with tea!
Storage The assembled cookie will last 1-2 weeks in cool weather, be sure to keep it covered with cling film to avoid dust, dirt and pests getting into it. If baking to assemble at a later date, store your pieces in an air tight container in the freezer. When ready to decorate and assemble, remove all your pieces and let them thaw separately, then decorate, set and assemble. If baking and decorating to assemble at a later date. Decorate your pieces and let them set. Wrap each piece in cling film and freeze. Before thawing, remove each piece from the cling film and allow to thaw separately. Assemble and enjoy!