Sunday 15 February 2015

GF Jelly Bean Flower Cupcakes, Tim Tam Grubs, and the Zoo

Who would have thought that a packet of jelly beans would run out of matching colours before we finished decorating the cupcakes for my birthday.  It didn't matter.  The cupcakes looked colourful, tasted good and were fun to make with Sylvia.  We took them on a picnic lunch at the zoo.  The lions roared, the giraffes were elegant and the food was good.  The weather was even gentle and mild.  And I took heaps of photos!

The day before the picnic, I made a batch of sausage rolls and some grubs using Tim Tams.  The sausage rolls were excellent as always.  I heated them up in the morning before heading out so they were nice and fresh.  (I also took the opportunity to update my photos on the original post in 2008 when my photography was a few steps behind where I am at today.)

Sylvia had a friend over for a playdate.  They helped me test the sausage rolls as well as roll the grubs into balls and coat them in coconut.  I saw the idea for putting Tim Tams in grubs at Love SWAH.  It had to be tried.  For those who don't know, Tim Tams are an iconic Aussie biscuit made of two crisp chocolate biscuits with a chocolate cream filling that are then covered in chocolate.  (You can also read elsewhere on the blog about my love of my favourite childhood treat, which we called grubs.)

Lately there have been lots of different versions of Tim Tams and I used mostly caramel Tim Tams but also a few red velvet Tim Tams.  The caramel didn't blend up too well which meant there were some gooey pockets in the grubs.  Caramel aside, the Tim Tams didn't make a huge impact on the taste.  I am glad I tried it.  I am not sure it will replace my usual use of Marie biscuits in the grubs.

I can make the sausage rolls and grubs without too much effort because they appear so regularly in my kitchen.  Making gluten free vanilla cupcakes is still a challenge.  I decided to use some Bob Mills gluten free flour mix.  Sadly the pantry moths had made a meal of it and ignored the White Wings GF mix that I don't like so much.  Fortunately I have tried a few GF flour mixes and was able to make my own.  It worked quite well.

The resulting cupcakes were quite dense in the way of a British Victoria sponge rather than light and fluffy like an Australian sponge.  I was happy with that.  The recipe I followed didn't call for xanthum gum but I had it so I used it.  I am curious about how and if the cupcakes texture would change without it.

We made the cupcakes in the morning before heading off to the zoo.  Gluten free baking is best had fresh so I didn't want to risk it being dry.  I made the icing with a large dessertspoonful of cream cheese, a teaspoonful of margarine and enough icing sugar to make a spreadable icing.  I underestimated and found myself running short of icing and jelly beans. 

Sylvia and I had fun doing jelly bean cupcakes.  It was a bit of a rush but even so we were the first to arrive at the zoo.  I guess that is joy of going somewhere near home.  The rest of my family were travelling there from Geelong.

The animals at the top of our list to see were the lions.  Last time I was at the zoo, the lion enclosure was closed while they built a new one.  I was a little sad that the walkover has gone because it is one of the parts of the zoo that I remember being there when I was a child.

The new enclosure is impressive and modern and gave much better views of the lions.  There is a lot more information and buttons to push to hear lion noises.  I still miss the old enclosure.

After the lions, we hung about the meerkats and the tortoise and caught up with more of the family before seeing the seals.  Below is just some of my family - siblings, nieces, nephews, in-laws and parents.  The seal enclosure is so calming.  And the little fairy penguins were also swimming about near the seals.

We spread out some rugs at a grassy area where we stopped eat out picnic.  The sausage rolls made me very happy and were welcomed by quite a few of my family.  We also had dips, chips, vegies and rye wraps. 

By the time we got out dessert everyone was quite full.  I really liked the cupcakes and they seemed to go down well.  My mum had made a chocolate cake and, though there were no candles, everyone sang happy birthday and I cut the cake.

We walked through the elephant trail, which includes tigers, butterflies and orangutangs.  It is a trail that we know well and always enjoy.  The mother and baby elephant were playing with each other, the butterflies landed on everyone and the tigers were out but I couldn't see a thing for the crowds.  The 'zoopermarket' in the orangutang area was interesting.  The kids loved the cash register and the modern scanners that actually scanned where products had palm oil in them.

I did the gorilla and monkey trail for the first time since work has been done on it.  The first animal on this walk is the lemurs.  I really loved all the curly poles and trees that looked a little Dr Suess.  And the lemurs were great fun to watch.

Sylvia and her cousins were fascinated by the exhibits about recycling mobile phones to help the gorillas.  These poles below have old mobile phones in them and buttons that make noises like old mobile phones.  They brought back memories.

I enjoyed seeing all the monkeys as we walked along the trail.  The latecomers had gone to check out the lions.  Meanwhile E was off looking at the wombats.  And Sylvia was playing hide and seek with her cousin along the walkway.

Soon it was time to go home.  We had walked about as far as we could. 

While no one had much room for the grubs straight after lunch, I didn't have so many to take home.  I offered them around after we walked through the butterfly house.  My brothers, always a bit suspicious of my cooking, asked if they really had Tim Tams in them.  When I confirmed it, their eyes lit up as they sampled them.

But I had to just stop in and see the giraffes before we went.  Such magnificent creatures.  Then it was time for our train home for some leftover sausage rolls for dinner.

I am hoping we might get to the zoo a bit more often this year as I have now signed up to a zoo membership.  When I asked Sylvia what animal she would like to see, she said a dolphin.  Um... there are no dolphins at our zoo.  Oh well, there are always the meerkats!

I am sending this slice to Caroline (and Ros) for Alphabakes, the challenge to bake with ingredients or dishes starting with different letters of the alphabet each month.  This month the letter is V - which here is V for Vanilla.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Ultimate chocolate cake with green ombre frosting
Two years ago: Auckland B&B: Braemar on Parliament
Three years ago: NCR couscous salad with chermoula
Four years ago: Samosa Pie
Five years ago: Valentine Scones - raspberry and white chocolate
Six years ago: Tofu Burgers and Tennis
Seven years ago: PPN #52 Gyoza and Salad

Tim Tam grubs
Adapted from Love SWAH and Green Gourmet Giraffe

200g Tim Tams (we used caramel)
1 cup coconut
1 tbsp cocoa
3/4 cup condensed milk
extra coconut for rolling

Put the Tim Tams in the blender and process until the biscuits are pulverised to crumbs.  Mix Tim Tam crumbs with coconut, cocoa and condensed milk.  Roll into balls the size of a walnut and toss in coconut to coat.

Gluten free vanilla cupcakes
Adapted from Gluten Free Gigi and Gluten Free Palate
Makes 24 mini muffin sized cupcakes

60ml butter*
3/4 cup caster sugar*
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp vanilla essence
9 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
6 tbsp tapioca
3 tbsp sorghum flour
6 tbsp corn flour (starch)
3/4 tsp xanthum gum
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk*

Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  (I used a spoon up to this point but you could use electric beaters here.)  Stir in flours, gum and salt and milk to make a thin batter. Spoon into 2 x 12 hole mini muffin pans.  Bake at 180 C for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.

NOTES: I used a leftover 1/4 cup and 2 tbsp of condensed milk, so instead of the 3/4 cup caster sugar I used 1/4 cup, and instead of 1/2 cup milk I used 2 tbsp.  I used soy milk which is our household milk of choice.  I also used Nuttalex margarine instead of butter.

On the stereo:
fratellis new album


  1. looks like a perfect day for a picnic!!

  2. Cute, love the jelly beans topping.

  3. Sounds like a great birthday and I love the colourful jellybean decorations :) I remember the lion walkway being the big ooooohahhhhh thing when I was younger!

    1. Thanks Veganoupoulous - the lion walkway was great but the lions did used to hide in the corner! But I preferred the mesh wire to watching the lions behind the glass!

  4. You sure did take a lot of pictures, Johanna. I feel like I was there with you "guys" lol...Everything sounds just perfect and the cupcakes look colorful, festive and oh so adorable!!!

    Thanks for sharing, Johanna...

    1. Thanks Louise - you should see all the photos I didn't share - I took heaps!!!!!

  5. What a lovely day out and the food looks delicious. The jelly bean cupcakes made me smile the minute I saw them. I must try your sausage rolls soon

  6. Aww these cupcakes are so cute!! Love the jellybean decorations (even if the colors don't all match!)

  7. Hmmm I've never heard of grubs or timtams, but they look like dateballs, which are of course super delicious =) Well, anything that involves cocoa and coconut is pretty great in my books.
    Your cupcakes are adorable!!
    It looks like you guys had a nice day at the zoo and your pictures captured a gorgeous day =)

    1. Thanks Kimmy - other people call grubs names like truffles, biscuit snowballs etc - we have always called them grubs and I am not sure I have seen that name elsewhere! They are like date balls or bliss balls but super unhealthy and delicious :-) I am with you on cocoa and coconut - it such a good combination

  8. Happy birthday! Lovely images of the zoo. I think your cupcakes are gorgeous and yes, I always have issues with one colour running out long before the others - not everything inside a packet is equal! xx

    1. Thanks Charlie - I was so sure there would be heaps of jelly beans - meant to buy jelly belly beans but was not organised enough so will try these again some time with jelly belly

  9. My Mum's birthday is in January and we often celebrated at the zoo. It was really nice reading about your celebrations in that context! I love the cupcakes too - and suspect I'm more of a dense sponge than light sponge person.

    1. Thanks Kari - I think it is the first time I have celebrated at the zoo but no doubt was inspired because my sister in law was going to have her birthday there earlier in January and then the weather was too hot and I was disappointed esp as there is the new lion enclosure so it seemed like a second chance to do it! I can see why you would have enjoyed going for your mum's birthday. Hope she didn't miss you and your baking too much this year!

  10. Those pesky jelly beans! Fancy there not being enough..... you'll just have to buy two packets next time. They do look colourful and I always love the chewiness against cake sponge.
    Looks like you had another great day out. What a busy family you are!

    1. Thanks Kate - now that I know I can't just rely on one packet of jelly beans I will be more organised next time and if there are a few leftover I will have some very helpful people in the house willing to volunteer their services!

  11. My goodness, your post is always packed with delicious food and adventures including sausages rolls and Tim Tams! I need to find some jelly beans and decorate my desserts with them from now on - seriously they are adorable! Take care, Johanna, hope the weather in Melbourne is not too hot!

  12. Looks like a fun day out! The jelly bean cupcakes are really cute, and I really will have to get hold of Tim Tams one day so I can try them! Thanks for sharing with Alphabakes.

  13. Happy Birthday! Looks like a really fun way to spend your birthday. The cupcakes are really cute especially with the jelly beans. I love tim tams and bought a whole load back from my last trip to Australia. I've never heard of grubs before. I'm not a huge fan of coconut but I wouldn't mind trying one or two. Thanks for entering AlphaBakes.


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