Friday, February 21, 2014

1 Year in the Blogosphere!

"Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." - Roald Dahl
1 Year in the Blogosphere!
Ah so it may be a little hint in the title, but this day marks one year of my blog! Oh yes, one whole year ago today on the 21st of February I sat at my desk and began writing a book review for The Perks of Being a Wallflower (here - it does say the 20th, but in my mind I always started on the 21st, I never seem to make things easy for myself..) and it's been an adventure ever since!

I'd been contemplating creating a blog so long prior to when I actually did -  I would always spend hours looking at inspirational blogs full of craft tutorials, beauty reviews you name it.. And so in the end I told myself, stop looking and start doing - the wonderful cliche that is.

I had this blog set up way before the publishing of my first post - I spent that time working on layouts, designs, themes, the fonts and all that jazz - it feels as though I've been an art student forever and with any piece of work I create I have to make sure everything is ready to go 100 times over before I hit go - my dads a perfectionist so I think I'm gonna say I get most of that from him! Also when I did post my first post, I didn't really shout and scream, sing and dance about it - I kinda kept it as my secret blog (another trait I've always had, very secretive, but not in a bad, mischievous way!) I guess it's the whole "Ahh what will people think?" Oh so many things held me back from saying 'here, here's my blog' and in the end I thought - eeeeerm, I enjoy this, like, really enjoy this, so here you go.. I guess that's another cliched lesson in life - do what you love to do, just roll with it, and here we are!

Through blogging I've met some very lovely and talented Bloggers and YouTuber's, attended my first press events, ate a real flower (post coming up about that situation soon..) and to top it all off my blog is shortlisted in the UK Blog Awards! I figured I'd be here for days if I began to continuously type away at all the events from the past year - so instead I have created a collage with an image from each of my posts. It's been lovely to have a look back over the year, a very colourful posted year at that!
Fancy having a look back through some of my past posts? Here's a handful!

I'm excited to continue blogging away - it's a lot of fun (yet a lot of hard work!) creating posts, photographing, editing, promoting etc etc! It's always rewarding to have lovely feedback and as I said - meeting new people along the way just adds so much more loveliness to this whole blogging experience and ohhh how super glad I am that I started to blog! Thank you to those who have continuously supported my ideas and posts, you wonderful people.
Short but sweet post of my year in the blogosphere - the next event is my 19th birthday (6th March - eep!) and I am mega excited, I've already bought some birthday outfits and am asking for way too many nail varnishes as always.. So here's to hopefully many more fun years ahead of working hard and having a jolly wondrous time!

What's been your blogging highlight so far? :)

Thank you for joining my adventures
and reading, nosing, browsing my blog!

With love,

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Valentine's Day Cake Pops!

"Hi, I'm Olaf and I like warm hugs!" - Frozen
Valentine's Day Cake Pops - Recipe & Tutorial!
Love is in the air, ba da ba da, ba da ba daa.. Ahh yes, it's that time of year again, Valentine's Day. I like to vision this day with petals falling from the sky and everyone walking around dressed in giant love heart costumes, but instead it'll go something along the lines of being freezing cold, rain and me sitting in my room doing art coursework, watching a Disney film no doubt. If you too are like this then wonder no more, here is another solution, why not bake a yummy treat? Ah, baking - what a great idea..

At first I was unsure what Valentine's themed post I'd create, but then I had a thought.. 'Hey, you have never baked Cake Pops...' And there we go, it sprung upon me that I must, I must do this, I must bake! I've always wanted to make these tasty Cake Pop treats, I adore themed Cake Pops and so it was only right that I create Valentine's Day themed ones!

Below are simple steps to creating your very own - everybody loves a Cake Pop, if you're stuck on what to do on Valentine's day then these would be a great treat to bake with/ or for your Valentine (o0o0o).
These are super easy to make. So be on your way to Valentine Cake Pop greatness!

For the CAKE - you will need:
(Makes 20 Cake Pops)
✿ 125g Softened Butter
✿ 125g Caster Sugar
✿ 125g Self Raising Flour
2 eggs
✿ 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
✿ 2 tbsp Milk
✿ Pink Food Colouring
✿ Vanilla Frosting

For the DECORATION, ETC - you will need:
✿ Cake Pop Sticks
✿ White Chocolate (300g covers 20 Cake pops)
✿ Red, White & Pink Sprinkles
✿ Heart Sprinkles

Preparation time:
I took about 3 hours making these, due to faffing around with my camera photographing each step, without pausing I'd say these take about 1hr 30mins (or less) all together, by far the most fun I've had baking!
Firstly give your hands a wash with soap and warm water - and you're ready to roll!

To get things started, preheat your oven!

Next take your cake tins (or tin, the cakes will cook quicker if split into separate tins) and either use a grease proof spray or like I've done, apply baking paper and line with butter.

Cream together the butter and caster sugar into a large bowl and mix until you get a pale and fluffy texture.
Mix in the two tea spoons of Vanilla extract.

Whisk the two eggs together in a separate jug and slowly add the first half of egg into the bowl,  mix, mix, mix and then add in the second half of the egg, continue to mix.
Next, add half the self raising flour along with one tablespoon of milk and mix together. Then repeat - add the last half of self raising flour and the last table spoon of milk.
You should be left with a very smooth and slightly thick mixture.

 To get your cake pops pink in the middle add a few drops of pink food colouring. I personally love the gel food colourings and I apply it to the mix using a cocktail stick as I find I waste a lot of the colour if I used a spoon.
As it's Valentine's Day you could make your mixture red or a deeper shade of pink - I've opted for a soft baby pink which I think suits the occasion just fine!

Carefully pour the cake mix into your cake tins (or tin), spatulas are super handy for getting every bit of the mixture into the tins so no mixture is wasted, or do what I do and instead of saving the mixture just lick the bowl...
From a low height, gently drop the tins onto the table, this evens out the mixture and gets rid of any air bubbles.

Pop your cakes into the oven and set the timer to 20 minutes (or until a skewer is inserted into the centre of the cake and comes out clean).

Once your cake is baked all the way through, take the cakes out of the tins and place on a cooling wrack for the cakes to cool - room temperature is all groovy.

Now sadly, it's time to destroy your cake! Break up the cake into teeny sections and either start digging away with a fork or using your fingers to break up the cake - this works effectively as you're able to break up every little bit.
Your cake should end up looking something like this, teeny weenie crumbs.

Next, add a heaped tablespoon full of your vanilla frosting. You want to avoid creating a soggy mixture so start off with one spoon full and gradually add more until the mixture is not longer a crumbly consistency.
Get ya hands stuck in and mould the mixture into a giant ball - slightly brain looking..
Wrap your ball of cake mixture and wrap in cling film - place in the fridge for about 15 minutes. The next stages work best when the mixture is slightly cold/ thickened.

After you're done wondering around the kitchen waiting for the15 minutes to be up, it's then time to start breaking small parts of the mix and rolling into small bouncy ball shapes. Keeping in mind the size of the cake pops you would like to create - smaller/ bigger. The above size creates 20 Cake Pops. Putting your cake pop balls onto a tray with baking paper works best as the pops won't stick!
A little diagram of my rolling action.. (Make sure your hands are super clean for this part! The mix turns your hands a little oily..)
Ta-da! Once you have rolled out all of your mixture, then place the tray into the fridge for about 10 minutes - keeping things cool.

Whilst the Cake Pop balls are chilling out in the fridge, start preparing the glue for the sticks.
I added about 50g of white chocolate and popped it in the microwave for one minute, gave it a mix and then a further one minute in the microwave. You don't want the chocolate to be too runny as this acts as the glue.
Take the Cake Pops out of the fridge as it's time to start adding the sticks! Dip the stick into the melted chocolate and push into the centre of the Cake Pop - about 2cm deep, you want to avoid the stick to be peeking through the end!
Continue doing this to all your Cake Pops, leave to set for about 5 minutes, this gives the chocolate enough time to set so the pops won't fall straight off the sticks!

Not very Valentine's Day related but I couldn't resist with my favourite Mickey decorations.. Of course you don't have to make themed cake pops, there are so many styles you can create, you can be as bold and as crazy with the decoration as you'd like!
Ahh I love the decorating part! I put 250g of white chocolate into another bowl and melted for around 3 minutes stopping half way through and mixing. 

Once the chocolate is all melted, take your Cake Pop and begin by holding the stick and rolling the ball into the chocolate and spinning the stick around so you get an even layer of chocolate.
Before the chocolate sets, start to add your decorations! As this is a Valentine's Day theme, I've gone for these cute love hearts and glimmer sprinkles. I found these inexpensive decorations at my local supermarket, any cute pink/ red decorations are perfect for Valentine's Day!
Here are a few shots of some of the styles I went for, to create the 'webbed' one simply dip a spoon into the chocolate and from above drizzle over the cake pop for this slightly wacky design.
Mmm mm! Here's the insides of the Cake Pop, the texture is so, so soft and gooey - the vanilla frosting in the cake mix is where the main flavour comes from - they taste like small pops of candy floss, rainbows, vanilla and sweets. 100% bad for you but 100% good for the soul - that's how I'd like to think anyway..

I have presented my cake pops in a few of my favourite vintage looking Disney glasses, but another great way to present these are popping the sticks through polystyrene blocks, and you can decorate those as fancy as you'd like!
If you are like me and perhaps aren't the biggest Valentine's Day celebrator - then these still make up for cute edible centrepieces and great for dipping in cups of tea.. You can be as crazy as you like with Cake Pops, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, multicoloured decorations - let me know if you'd like to see some more baking tutorials from me!
The most yummiest little Valentine's Day treat there is!

I hope you enjoyed this post - I had oh so much fun creating these (and eating them after..) To complete the look you could go all the way and wrap the Cake Pops individually in cellophane tied with a little ribbon!
Tweet me here using the hashtag #charlotteleniacakepops or tag me on Instagram so I can see your creations!
EEK and just before I finish this post, I wanted to say a huge thank you to anyone that voted for my blog in the UK Blog Awards! (If you're confused as to what I'm talking about - this might help!) The list of successful blogs making their way through to the next round were published at midnight on the 3rd of February, with a long anxious wait and twiddling my thumbs.. With your votes I only went and made it through to the next round *party, party*! Thank you oh so much if you voted -  you rooock, myself and a glitzy gown shall be off to the awards ceremony in April - be sure to see a post all about that adventure! Thanks for the support and I can't wait to continue my blogging journeys!

What are your plans for Valentines' Day? I hope you have a lovely time and if you do make these (or anything similar) then enjoy, enjoy!

With love,

*Disclaimer - This is not a sponsored post :)