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Ask The Expert: Elise Strachan

Elise Strachan has become a household name in the world of sweets, attracting the attention and hearts of millions with her YouTube channel, My Cupcake Addiction. Australian born and with an impressive background as a trained pastry chef, Elise’s engaging personality has her living the motto that ‘Life is Sweet’. This animated mother of two shares her passion for everything from how to bake it, craft it and style it up to create the ultimate festive occasion, with time, kid-friendly and money saving tips along the way. An avid traveller, Elise also shares her adventures of discovering the world’s most delectable desserts and showing her fans the must-go places to get them.


Q: How can I achieve an even coating of icing on cake pops?

A: Note: It’s most common to use chocolate or melting candy rather than icing to coat cake pops.

Make sure your chocolate is nice and smooth and not too thick. You can thin chocolate or candy melts by adding paramount crystals, shortening or (my favourite) coconut oil. Refrigerate your pops for 15 minutes prior to dipping so they hold firmly to the lollipop stick and the chocolate sets a little faster. After your dip, tap gently while also twirling the pop so the chocolate doesn’t pool in any one location.


Q: What are your tips for perfect buttercream?

A: Whip it! Whip it good! Beat the butter until it’s light, fluffy and really well aerated. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time and beat well between each addition for maximum air and ultimate fluffiness.


Q: What is the best way to create a simple gravity-defying cake?

A: I love using either a cookie or hardened compound chocolate or candy melts to create my gravity-defying cakes. Sugar cookies are strong and can be baked in any shape. Although slightly more fragile, melted chocolate is simple and doesn’t require any mixing or baking.


Q: I always make the same flavours of cupcakes – vanilla, chocolate, red velvet – what flavour combinations would you recommend to make my cupcakes more exciting?

A: Portioning out a sculpted cake is yet anoHaving those three basic flavours perfected is the most important; once you have your ‘basics’ you can change them up however you like! Add a cup of white chocolate chips and a cup of frozen raspberries to vanilla cake and you have a delicious white chocolate raspberry combination. Core out the centre of a chocolate cupcake and fill with Nutella for a delicious hazelnut chocolate cupcake. Get creative – playing with recipes is so much fun. Just remember, if you add liquid ingredients (such as lemon or orange juice), you’ll need to adjust your existing liquid measures (milk or water) to suit.

Simple Decorating

Q: I’d like to decorate more but struggle to find the time, which decorating techniques are quick and easy but look great?

A: Using store-bought candies to create amazing shapes, details and even flowers or making simple chocolate decorations on baking paper are both simple decorating tricks. I love using a piping bag to write words like ‘love’ or ‘sweet’ out of chocolate on baking paper, letting them set and adding to the top of a high frosting swirl.

Baking Videos

Q: What are your tips for bakers and decorators looking to share their creations on YouTube?

A: Just start! And find something that makes you unique – there are hundreds of people doing the same thing on YouTube and unless you find something that makes your videos unique, you’ll get lost.

Chocolate Balloons

Q: I’ve tried to make chocolate bowls with the balloon method, but the chocolate has cracked – what am I doing wrong?

A: Cracking is actually pretty uncommon – the balloons bursting is the most common balloon bowl disaster! If you’re getting cracks, you might be setting them a little too long. 5 minutes in the freezer is my recommendation as chocolate becomes brittle if frozen too long. If your balloons are bursting, it’s because your chocolate is either too hot (it should feel almost the same temperature as your finger) or because you’re not getting it into the freezer fast enough. Dip, sit on baking paper and get them straight in the freezer – it’s the 5 minutes between dipping and chilling where disaster strikes!

Drip Cakes

Q: How do you get the perfect drip on a drippy cake?

A: Consistency! It’s all in the consistency of the frosting or ganache. Too runny and it will pool at the bottom, too firm and it’ll go chunky on the edges. I like to test mine on a firm surface (a scraper or cake board). Place a teaspoon of ganache and then tip the surface vertical. See how far the drip runs down for a good indication as to what it will do on your cake!

Natural Colourings

Q: Do you have any advice on using natural colourings for a rainbow cake?

A: If you want a ‘true rainbow’, artificial food colourings give the best result. I love pastel rainbow cakes though and natural food colourings are perfect for achieving the lighter, more pastel effect. If you’re working with frostings, all colouring will darken a little overnight, so if you want a darker hue, colour the icing (or fondant) and leave it covered at room temperature overnight before using.