This is particularly relevant when it comes to anything crafty or which involves any kind of artistic talent. I may know exactly what I want the finished product to end up like but when it comes to the execution, I fall down. I have the same problem when I'm trying to put an outfit together.
For the final instalment of my week of bonfire night posts, I knew that I wanted to do something involving fireworks. As an avid collector of anything sparkly, how can I not love fireworks? When I got out the tube station last night, the air was thick was the acrid smell of fireworks and I took a big deep sniff. As I walked home, I could see fireworks in all directions soaring about the buildings and exploding in a shower of colour.
As I was idly searching the internet for some firework inspiration, I came across this site where a small child makes firework cake toppers from molten sugar. There is actually a picture of said small child drizzling the sugar in an appropriate shape. Surely if he can do it, I could too?
Yeah, not so much.
My first challenge was not actually reading the method and therefore not having one of the ingredients (cream of tartar). I decided to plough ahead anyway.
I melted the sugar and some golden syrup (in lieu of corn syrup) in a saucepan with some water and excitedly opened my new candy thermometer so that I could make sure that the sugar got up to the appropriate 300F. Except the thermometer wouldn't work and just kept flashing at me in an infuriating way. I tried pressing all the buttons in all the possible combinations but nothing worked. I was going to have to do this the old-fashioned way.
A little googling later (I really advise you not to put your laptop on the stove next to a saucepan where you're melting sugar), I realised that I could tell if the sugar was ready by dropping a little into some cold water and seeing if it hardened. And so I continued to do this for the next 10 minutes or so until I reached what I thought was sugar nivarna/got bored.
I quickly added some blue food colouring, realised that the mixture had turned a weird sludge colour and then added a load of red food colouring to try and counteract the blue (bizarrely it worked). Then it was time to start drizzling.
Turns out, I'm not very good at drizzling. And, more importantly, my sugar wasn't hot enough. After a couple of attempts which resulted in me forming several large blobs of sugar, I decided to give it up as a bad job and sulk for a bit.
Pride continued to niggle at me though and I decided to give it another go. You can see the results below. It's nowhere near as good as a nine year old's firework and look slightly like a diseased tree but you can get the general idea. It's like one of those fireworks that you save until last because you think it's going to be amazing and then it turns out to be a bit of a damp squib.
Luckily the cupcake underneath is pretty solid. A rich chocolate cupcake with a decadent sour cream and chocolate frosting. To distract from my poor weird-looking firework, I threw on some edible red glitter as well. Did it work?
From BBC Good Food
For the cupcakes:
- 200g self-raising flour (or the equivalent of all-purpose + baking powder + baking soda + salt)
- 200g light brown sugar
- 6 tbsp cocoa
- 150ml sunflower oil
- 100ml sour cream
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extrac
- 100g grated chocolate (ideally grated but I got bored so melted it instead)
- 200g milk chocolate
- 200ml sour cream
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 150C/300F and line a tin with paper cases.
- Combine all the cupcake ingredients (except the chocolate) in a large bowl with 100ml of water. Beat together until smooth and then add the chocolate and give it a quick stir to combine.
- Pour into paper cases and bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
- To make the frosting, heat the chocolate, sour cream and sugar in a sauce pan until all the chocolate is melted. Chill until it's firm enough to use as frosting.
Firework directions from Wisdom of the Moon. As I said above, I didn't use the cream of tartar which meant that my sugar wasn't as clear as it could have been. To be honest, this was the least of my worries. The easiest way to clean everything when you've finished/given up is to throw all your utensils into the saucepan that you used, fill it with water and allow it to come to the boil. All the sugar should just dissolve away.