Sunday, August 26, 2012

Speechless Sunday


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Salted Caramel Soaked Chocolate Cake

It's probably not hard to tell, I love baking, especially with my friend Michelle. For girls' night a few weekends ago, she texted me a picture of this pin, asking if we should make it. Yeah, I am not really sure how I even could have said no to making this with her.

Photo Credit: Michelle Waters

If you didn't click the pin, I'll just tell you, it was a recipe from Martha Stewart. For whatever reason, Martha and I don't mesh well. I seem to find her recipes a little too elaborate and my attempt never turns out like her pictures, which actually is fine with me because I have loved what I end up creating.

Photo Credit: Michelle Waters

Since neither Michelle or I are opposed to devil's food cake mix, we didn't even attempt Martha's cake recipe and went the quicker route with a box mix. For the rest of the recipe, Michelle was in charge of the caramel part and I was responsible for the frosting. The only part of Martha's whole Salted Caramel 6 Layer Cake recipe (the original pin) we ended up making correctly - or so we think - was the frosting. And let me tell you, it is so insanely yummy. I will be using it for something else in the future, no doubt.

Darker Chocolate Frosting
Martha Stewart

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp cocoa powder (Dutch-process recommended)
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp water, warm
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup powdered sugar
generous pinch coarse salt
1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled

Whisk cocoa powder in water until dissolved. In a separate bowl, beat butter, powdered sugar and salt on medium until pale and fluffy. Slowly beat in melted chocolate and cocoa mixture until combined. This next part is important. Let stand for 30 minutes before using. It will not look very frosting like at this point and you must be patient to let it set. However, do not stick it in the refrigerator because it will solidify into the state of your original chocolate.

I learned this by putting leftover frosting in the fridge. Nope. Don't do it if you want to eat some more later. You do that too, right? Eat frosting plain, by itself? Whew. I knew we could be friends.

Photo Credit: Michelle Waters

At this point, Michelle was making the caramel and well, it didn't exactly get as thick as it looked in the picture and we figured it should have been by the time that had passed. Probably something to do with the temperature and needing a candy thermometer and whatnot. Just a little beyond us at midnight on girls' night, trying to assemble this cake, despite Michelle's awesome skills in caramel making. So here's what we did.

Yup, just poured our thinner caramel between each layer. Oh yeah. We also cut our layers down to 3 instead of 6. We ate some of the others because we were getting antsy to assemble and isn't that part of girls night? Eating layers of cake, prior to assembly? Well, it was for us.

The three cake layers pretty much became one and the frosting was just delightful to work with. It has really great consistency and spreads so easily. Plus, it looks so good just as is, in its rich, dark state.

Photo Credit: Michelle Waters

As I said, we were up past midnight making this and at one point I said, let's drizzle caramel on top and sprinkle a little salt. I said it, but definitely forgot to do it. So, just pretend the photos have a little caramel drizzle, sprinkled with sea salt.

Photo Credit: Michelle Waters

So, that is the story of how we arrived at the Salted Caramel Soaked Chocolate Cake. Very much like those "poke" cakes I've seen on pinterest, but I haven't tried making one of those. This however, I will make on purpose again. It is quite decadent. We even had it for breakfast the next morning because, well, that's how we roll.

This post is linked up to some of the parties listed under my Show & Tell tab at the top of the page.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

#5 Take a calligraphy class. [✓]

Yesterday was my last calligraphy class. My amazing friend Michelle and I took the class through Portland Community College. It was a total of 6 weeks of classes, one each week for just over 2 hours a night. Our teacher, Mary Ellen, was very nice, patient and super knowledgeable. She studied calligraphy at Reed College under Lloyd Reynolds. We focused on the italic alphabet. I loved the techniques I learned and would highly recommend taking a class from Mary Ellen, if you're around the Portland area and interested in calligraphy of course.

Here is a little bit of my work, always in progress, of course.

I really appreciated how Mary Ellen emphasized that she was teaching us the fundamentals of the italic alphabet, but that calligraphy is an art and therefore we should add our own style to our lettering

Upon recommendation from Mary Ellen, I bought the book Written Alphabets. It was written by her friend and goes through 33 alphabets and historically describes how the different changes came about for each alphabet. Plus, it has illustrations and directions for making each letter of those 33 alphabets. It really is a beautiful book. You can see the inside of it here. I love looking at the letters, is that odd?

I am so happy I took this class because it is something I can always practice, nearly anywhere and I absolutely love how it looks, not to mention, it is surprisingly therapeutic. I suppose it is how artists feel when drawing or painting. Oh, and yippeee for checking one more thing off my 25 Before 25 List!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Speechless Sunday

I'm doing a lot of this, having a college friend from out of town visit and saying goodbye to one moving down to L.A. all in one weekend. Bittersweet-ness all around.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Summertime Swimming

My niece, Addison, has always loved the water. See her last year

And the year before, which may possibly be my favorite picture I have ever taken? 

Once again, to the grass' dismay, we set up the pool in our backyard.

She could play out here for hours.

I just love her little bum in a swimsuit. 

This year was her first year taking swim lessons. 

She sort of had a love/hate relationship with it. She loves being in the pool, just not being told what to do. Did you know she is an only child?

Mostly, the submerging of her head underwater was the biggest problem. I would guess this is the stickler for lots of kids learning how to swim.

 Some days, there needed to be a carrot on a stick in order to get through swim lessons.

She's definitely my niece.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Speechless Sunday


Dear Addison (4 Years, 2 Months Old)

Dear Addison,

You are smart. Right now, you know that. Please, don't ever forget it. Keep thinking for yourself and questioning the world around you. You are a beautiful little girl, too, but everyone tells you that, so you know that too. I want you to know your worth isn’t only determined by how you look, no matter what anyone says. I have always deliberately tried to make sure I tell you how smart you are because it’s the truth. You are smarter than you realize, now and in the future. Never, ever let anyone tell you otherwise. 

With your intelligence comes a pretty stubborn streak every now and then. Rumor has it, you're just like me when I was little. In fact, lately, you have been refusing to do things I know you can do, like write your name or throw your garbage away. Exercising your free will I suppose. And then there are instances of a little stubbornness and displays of your clearly superior knowledge like this:

                Addison:   Momma, Auntie Mal killed a bug yesterday. Auntie Mal, what kind of bug was it?
                Me:           I think it was a pincher bug.
                Addison:   Hmm. I think it was a lobster bug. Or maybe a spice bug.

You have always been pretty advanced in your reasoning capabilities, when you want to be of course, but don't get me wrong, you make a pretty darn good irrational toddler. The other day, we were watching Tom & Jerry Blast Off To Mars. (Tom & Jerry are your favorite by the way) You have seen this particular one lots, but this time around, as Tom was hanging onto a rocket blasting into space, you declared “Yeah right, like a cat could stay on a rocket ship.” You are too smart to even enjoy cartoons. Oh, but don’t worry, you quickly forgot how unrealistic it all was and have watched the goofy cat and mouse chase since this rational thought.

You have turned into quite the negotiator as of late. One thing you nearly always try to negotiate is bed time, but what little kid doesn’t? Mom says 10 minutes til bed and you say 11. Then mom says 10. You say 5. Mom says deal. It doesn’t always go like this because you are getting smarter but when you started negotiating, you weren’t too keen on what made a good deal. I love negotiating with you.

Speaking of time, in the past month, you have become obsessed with it. Your concept of units of measurement has advanced from baking your pies in the bathtub for “350 hours.” Even though there is no difference between 30 minutes or 50 minutes to you, you have started to ask questions regarding what time it is, how many minutes until something happens and you say things on Thursday mornings like “Tomorrow, on Tuesday it will be my birthday.” I love listening to you sort and categorize your world.

I have always been amazed at how you soak in the world around you. There is a show on OPB you watch called Wild Krats which talks more scientifically about animals. Because you have seen an episode or two, you do not refer to the hound on Fox & The Hound as the hound or a dog, but are convinced he is an American badger. Or your bald eagle beanie baby as a bird or bald eagle, but repeatedly tell us he is a falcon. We tried to correct you at first, but now just enjoy your listening to your certainty when you tell us how your falcon is doing.

You and momma are moving to the coast in a month and I plan on squeezing in as much time with you as possible. I'm sure going to miss you, baby girl.

Love you always, forever and without a doubt,

Auntie Mal
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