Neverwhere Cake

The world was first introduce to London Below by Neil Gaiman through a BBC television called Neverwhere back in 1996. Based on the shows low ratings and the general persistence by Neil Gaiman he adapted this into a Novel which was a success and fan favorite of those who loved Neil Gaiman. June 2005 brought about the 9 part comic series of the same name and story written by Mike Carey. 2006 came about a stage adaptation that would captivate audiences and bring the characters of London Below to their hometown. February 2012 was the Canadian Premier of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere produced by Mob Hit Productions in Calgary, AB.

I had the very lucky fortune of being apart of this production for its 2 week run in February by helping out backstage. Having worked with a number of the cast prior, this was a really great experience to be a part of. Closing night always ends with a great celebration of success and great times had. As I was starting to get into baking around this time I wanted to bring in a cake inspired by the world of London Below. I wanted it to have a run down, dirty feel to it and the result proved to be a success.

The cake was a Chocolate cake with a raspberry preserve and shaved almond filling. The cake was iced with a basic cream cheese icing which I added a splash of cocoa powder to to give it a dirt like effect. The red bricks are fondant that were died red and cut out in different sizes to give it a put together effect. I finished the cake with a brown sugar trim to represent dirt and a very wonderfully sculpted Rat for the top. For those who have read the book or watched the show or production will know the significance of the rat. My amazing sculptor Justine spent a couple hours trying to capture the rats essence and did a wonderful job!

I feel very lucky to have been apart of the Canadian Premier of Neverwhere and even more privileged to have been able to make a cake inspired by the show for the cast and crew who worked their hearts out bringing the production to life.

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Pecan Banana Bread

I love making banana bread, it is very relaxing and makes my place smell of both bread and bananas! The best part of making banana bread is eating it direct out of the oven, for those who have done so, know there is almost nothing beating it.

I have a really good recipe for banana bread but was feeling creative and wanted to put my own spin on it. Now, I am feeling in a generous mood today and for those who have read my blog a number of times know that I don’t normally post a recipe. However I would like to share this one hopefully prompting some creative spins or sheer joy. For this recipe I always have frozen banana in my feezer and find that it works best to freeze in portions and thaw as needed. The banana flavour is far stronger than that of fresh bananas.

Banana Bread with Pecans

Yeilds: 1 Loaf

2 Eggs
2/3 Cup White Sugar
1/3 Cup Soft Margarine (Butter)
1 3/4 All Purpose Flour
2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Cup Mashed Bananas
1/2 Cup Crushed Pecans
Brown Sugar

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

Mix Sugar, margarine (butter) and eggs in a bowl for 3 minutes. This is a recipe that I always make by hand, I feel that a stand mixer just wouldn’t produce the same results. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and bananas. Mix until just blended. Try not to over mix the batter.

Grease a standard size loaf pan. Pour half of the batter in the pan, then sprinkle the crushed nuts in a layer over top. Then pour in the other half of the batter to cover up the nuts completely. Before putting the loaf in the oven sprinkle a light layer of brown sugar over the top of the loaf. Once this bakes it creates this amazing sweet crust on the top.

Bake in center of oven for an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean from center of loaf.

I would love to hear about your experience with this loaf or alterations to see what people like in their banana bread.

Sincerely

The Butter Alchemist

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Piña Colada Cupcakes

Have you ever eaten something and immediately thought “mmm tastes like summer”? Well these amazing cupcakes taste like a whole lot of summer. They are amazingly light, fresh, and not super sweet.

When I started on the prospect of a Piña Colada cupcake I may have looked at about 30 or 40 recipes on-line and something about each of them just didn’t scream Piña Colada. Each recipe had something amazing about it but it just didn’t seem like it was right. I took ideas from each and came up with my own piece of happiness.

The cake portion of this cupcake was just a basic vanilla cupcake with fresh pineapple, coconut rum and just a splash of coconut milk. Apart from being light and fluffy, the fresh pineapple really made a difference in taste. The Icing is my absolute favorite, I made a Whipped Cream made from coconut milk. This is pretty much the most amazing thing ever! Lactose free and the taste is unparallelled!

RECIPE
Coconut Milk Whipped Cream

2 Can of Coconut Milk
4 tbsp Icing Sugar (or any sweetener like maple syrup or cane sugar)
1 tsp Vanilla

Place the 2 cans of coconut milk in the fridge for at least 14 hours. This will allow the fatty part of the milk to stiffen. Once the 14 hours has passed take the cans out of the fridge and open them. Scoop out the white solids leaving the water in the can (you may discard or us for something else) Place the solids in a mixing bowl with the icing sugar and vanilla and whip until light and fluffy

I promise you wont be disappointed, the whip cream is even great for putting on fresh berries and eating as a dessert. To finish off the cupcakes I dipped the top in shredded coconut and topped it with a cherry and tiny umbrella (everyone loves tiny umbrellas).

Enjoy!
Sincerely

The Butter Alchemist

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Killer Bunnies Cake

Not to long ago we came across a card game by the name of Killer Bunnies… “OMG WHAT” is usually the response I get when I mention this game to people. Now this game is very much innocent in terms of the game, game banter on the other hand can be quite, well not so innocent. The main premise of the game is to go through the cards, collect carrot cards while killing off other players bunnies.

Now once you start playing the game and have completed a few rounds you realize that you have

just spent the last 5 or more hours playing a card game with good company and have accomplished not a whole lot. Being a game that not everyone knows I tend not to talk about it to people as it seems a little nerdy in the D&D sense (no offense) but during a conversation with a friend we discovered that we both happen to play and love the game, not only that but his fiance was in particular a huge fan! With her birthday around the corner I was commissioned to make a Killer Bunnies themed cake.

After about 11 hours of baking, colouring, sculpting and overall decorating the best cake that we have ever produced came to life! (just wait till I post photo’s of other cakes). My sculpture (also my partner) is absolutely amazing, thank you Justine to an absolutely wonderful characters, and thank you to my photographer Jeremy Coulter for the amazing challenge, and of course the wonderful photo’s listed. The cake is a delicious vanilla cake with Nutella Buttercream and slice almond filling and covered in fondant.

Sincerely
The Butter Alchemist

 

 

 

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Rocky Road Cupcakes

I will be the first to admit it, keeping up with my blog is clearly not my forte, however my facebook page does remain more active. Click here to like my facebook page to keep more up to date with my baking adventures.

For this post, I have chosen Rocky Road Cupcakes, these little chocolate delights are amazing. Traditionally rocky road treats tend to be brownies and personally if you don’t have a very good chocolate brownie, your rocky road treat will not be as good as it should be. I know that can be said for cupcakes as well, however that is not the case with this particular recipe. The cupcakes were amazingly moist with a wonderful chocolate flavour. My favorite part was making the chocolate icing, it was really basic but wonderful.

This batch was made for my regional managers birthday, despite how many times I was told not to bring cupcakes, they were very much enjoyed by all parties and were a smash. I would love to make these in the future, however I would love to try some modifications, maybe chocolate whip cream instead of icing, and maybe a gooey chocolate center, who knows… maybe a “Rocky Road Cupcakes 2.0″ is in order.

Sincerely

Michael Tremblay
The Butter Alchemist

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Cherry Almond Cupcakes with Almond Buttercream

 

I have used Almond Buttercream in the past and I think the world of it, but I wanted to top it on a cupcake that was gonna prove to be worth it. After hunting around the internet trying to gain some inspiration I came across a website that had made a Cherry Almond Cupcake and it got my attention.

 

 
Click here to go to Frosting for the Cause blog where I got the recipe for the cake portion.

I was making cupcake for a co-workers last day at work and there were a number of people to bake for. The upside to this recipe is that bakes a lot of cupcakes with one batch. Super easy to make and definitely a crowd pleaser. I chose not to bake cherries inside the cupcakes as I wanted just a simple cherry cupcake, when I decorated however I did place a single cherry inside the cupcake before topping it with the Almond Buttercream.

Thanks to a wonderful friend of mine Jeremy Coulter, who has started dabbling in photography, he was able to put some time aside to take some photos of my cupcakes for the wonderfully low price of some cupcakes. Hopefully an arrangement that I can continue to utilize as it is a great deal. Both photos in this post are courtesy of him.

 

Enjoy!

Sincerely

Michael Tremblay
The Butter Alchemist

Photos Courtesy of Jeremy Coulter

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Vanilla Cupcake with Strawberry Cream Cheese

Sounds pretty basic doesn’t it. I thought so too, there is nothing stuffed into the center. There is not a crazy amount of flavours or names and yet, this little cupcake contains a world of awesome. The combinations of the two basic flavours really works well together. This cupcake is an instant classic and thus far a crowd favorite, and one day may rule my menu. (We wills see about that last part, I do have others that are just as amazing!)

I have found a modified a vanilla cupcake recipe, this is the same cupcake recipe I use for a majority of my cupcakes. Why? It is simple, absolutely easy to make, and tastes like vanilla heaven. I say that because if Vanilla had it’s own heaven it would be in the form of these cupcakes. The trick that I have found to make these cupcakes great is vanilla from mexico. I have found just that the vanilla is far greater in taste and oddly in colour, it is a much darker vanilla. But if you can avoid using Artificial Vanilla, please do, the real stuff is far more supreme.

And now the amazing wonders of the strawberry cream cheese icing. Take your basic icing and add 2 tbsp of fresh strawberry puree, and by fresh I mean it. Don’t by it, don’t use frozen strawberries. Go down to the store and buy fresh strawberries and use a food processor, stick blender or blender and make fresh strawberry puree. I promise it will be worth it. Now mix that into your favorite go to cream cheese icing. TA DAH!!! So awesome it hurts.

Enjoy!

Sincerely

Michael Tremblay
The Butter Alchemist

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Nutella Filled Vanilla Cupcakes with Nutella Dream Buttercream

The name pretty much says it all. Not only do you get a delightful vanilla cupcake that has been filled with Nutella, yummm. It is topped with an amazing Nutella Buttercream.

Nutella Buttercream you say? Yes, I have found a way to translate Nutella into a delightful buttercream. After spending an hour or two scouring the internet for a Nutella Icing I was rather disappointed. There was a lack of icings made with Nutella, there was one blog that made a gluten free chocolate cupcake with a Nutella Cloud Icing and it just wasn’t exactly what I wanted. So I took it upon myself to create such a wonderful delight. At this moment however I am kicking myself because I created it on a whim and wasn’t prepared with a pen or paper in hand to write down my measurements. Dammit! Next time I will. I feel that I could duplicate it in a heart beat.

The inspiration for this cupcake came from previous cupcakes that I have made and have yet to blog about. I first took a stab at creating a Nutella filled cupcake and topping them with a peanut butter frosting and skor bits. The issue with any peanut butter anything is it always turns out way sweeter than you want it to. They were good anyway and when that blog goes up you will see that there is not a lot of icing on them as not to distract from the absolute wonderful flavour of the Vanilla Cupcake. In the process I have also learned that baking the Nutella into the center of the cupcake is a difficult task. I always find that the Nutella sinks to the bottom of the cupcake which is not so pleasant when you take the wrapper off, however the magnificent Justine was down at Crate & Barrel the other day and picked me up a lovely item called a cupcake corer. It was a mere $6.95 and is the best thing ever. The taste is the same whether you bake the Nutella into the cupcake or fill it afterwards.

To check out more of my baking like my facebook page, click here. Or use the link at the bottom of page. If there is enough interest I will consider posting the Nutella Buttercream recipe, and trust me, it is worth it!

 

Sincerely

Michael Tremblay
The Butter Alchemist

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Apple Gruyere Pie

I figured for this post I would post something that is not so decadent. One of my all time favorite desserts is the classic apple pie. I mean how can you go wrong? Apples mixed with the perfect medley of spices surround by a buttery flakey crust, and what kind of monster serves apple pie without vanilla ice cream.

The inspiration for this recipe came from a short lived TV show called Pushing Daisies where the main premises of the show (just for those of you who never watched it) was a pie maker who had the ability to bring people back to life for 60 seconds. He teams up with a private investigator to help solve murders all while running his pie shop that has been so aptly named The Pie Hole. To this day no matter when I watch the show I get this insane urge to bake a pie.

The reason Gruyere came in to play for this recipe is that on the show a couple of the characters love and collect cheese for which a pie of the very same nature was made. After hunting and hunting and hunting for the recipe and being unsuccessful I took matters into my own hands. I took my favorite crust recipe and I added Gruyere cheese directly into the crust for some added sharpness. For the filling I pretty much kept it the same, I did not put too much cheese in the filling as not to distract from the wonderful tartness that apples have. Once assemble I sprinkled a fair amount of cheese onto the crust to bake right on.

Viola! A very modern take on a very traditional pie. You will be able to make this with you favorite apple pie recipe. I mean everyone likes what they like and if this is something that you want to try just modify you recipe.

Enjoy!
Sincerely
Michael Tremblay
The Butter Alchemist

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Upside Down Honey Cheesecake

Has it been forever? I think so! For this post I have decided to post something that I haven’t made in a while, mainly to save my waistline and so I don’t ruin it by eating it a lot. So like the title says, its an upside down cheesecake. The way this cheesecake works is that you don’t bake it with a crust. WHAT NO CRUST ON A CHEESECAKE YOU SAY!

This cheesecake is amazing for its pure simple taste and ultimate creativity. Baked in ramekins these little wonders are the perfect dessert for yourself or a small dinner party (could be a large dinner party if your A. that ambitious and B. you have enough ramekins). When preparing the cheesecake I like to let the cream cheese sit out just a little longer than normal, and by a little longer I mean a lot. The way to a perfect cheesecake is absolutely no lumps and that the ingredients are mixed perfectly. So make sure the cream cheese you are using (I fully endorse Philadelphia Cream Cheese) is nice and warm so that when you put it in your mixer it blends smooth. When adding the other ingredients do it gradually and making sure that the batter is smooth with no lumps before you want to bake.

When you assemble these cheesecakes you use however many ramekins you want / need and put some of the honey syrup in the bottom of each, think of the syrup as your crust and then lay on the cheesecake batter (again make sure there are no lumps.) Lumps cause the batter to cook unevenly and cause big blobs of cream cheese in some spots and runny parts of just the ingredients in others, not really something you want. Bake the cheesecakes in a bath and once they are done let them cool just slightly.

To serve, cut around the edge of the ramekin and place upside down on a plate. The cheesecake should just slide out of the ramekin and the lovely honey syrup will just pour ever so nicely over the cheesecake, of course make sure to get the rest out of the ramekin so it doesn’t go to waste.

Challenge!

Like my facebook page (link at the bottom of this page) and once I get to 50 Likes I will gladly post the recipe for this so that you can all enjoy its amazingness!

Sincerely

Michael Tremblay
The Butter Alchemist

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