Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Beautiful Chocolate for a Beautiful Soul

My sweet friend asked me to be present at her Baptism this past weekend, and not only that I got to bring truffles for dessert!
It was an absolutely beautiful time for my friend, her family, and friends. My family was honored to be asked to witness and I loved having those images for my children to see.  
The fellowship we all had afterward was such a blessing, it's a true gift to find friends in life that become a part of your family. 
As I reflect on this day, I'm looking at an image, this is a photograph I took of the chocolate swirls left on parchment from decorating the truffles. I snapped the picture because I thought it was beautiful and simply that. 
Looking at it today, I see a crown of thorns. ��

May you see God's blessings all around you, today and always. 


Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Chocolate Experiment

After making some cake truffles for a friend's baptism tonight, I made up some peppermint chocolates!!  What a great idea!!!  1 drop of Young Living Peppermint essential oil in about 1/2 cup of chocolate. Pipe into molds and you have yourself yummy after dinner chocolates!!!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!!

I hope you enjoyed a beautiful day with all of your loves!  We started our day off with heart-shaped cinnamon rolls, and are wrapping up with Batman and Wonder Woman - the kids wait all week for these shows! - but I wanted to share what I did for the kids this year!

Before I jump right into these Valentine Day treats, I have to share a little story.  For every Valentine's Day when I was little, my parents would give my brother and I a heart-shaped box of chocolates.  I even kept a lot of those boxes.  I don't know if it was the sweet images on the front, or the lingering smell of chocolate inside that made me hang on to them, but I remember having a collection of all of my chocolate boxes. 

Valentine's Chocolate Heart Boxes into Wall Art
So, the day that I finally had kids of my own, I had dreams of doing the same for them, making a tradition for them each Valentine's Day.

Well, as it ended up, my kids have multiple food allergies (peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, coconut) and can't indulge in a divine box of chocolate covered caramels and nougats.  But that doesn't mean that they don't get pampered.

Let's get started:  :)

Starting with chocolate cake, I crumble it up into small pieces, and then add frosting or ganache.  Here I added toasted marshmallow frosting, chocolate malted frosting, and chocolate ganache.  The best way to combine it is with your hands until you can form it into nice, smooth balls, like these:

For the orange/chocolate/peppermint truffles, I added some orange buttercream to chocolate cake and then added a drop of peppermint oil before I combined them.

Once formed, these all go into the deep freeze for AT LEAST 30 minutes.

While in the freezer it's time to prepare your chocolate, I like to use chocolate and not candy melts.  Mainly because most candy melts aren't safe, due to cross-contamination, but also because I want things to taste as good as they look, and I feel that is achieved by using real chocolate. 

This time around I used the Ghiradelli dipping chocolate.  Another little trick, keep your chocolate warm, and your truffles COLD.  Only dip a couple at a time and keep the rest in the freezer while you work for the smoothest finish.
I love creating "images" with chocolate, so I created the hearts by piping them onto some parchment and then covered them with sanding sugar while they were wet.  Once set, I "glued" them with chocolate on to the top of the truffles.
Over the years I've done chocolate covered cherries, conversation heart cookies, dipped strawberries, and always truffles. 

And now, my kids most definitely have a Valentine's Day tradition that they ALWAYS look forward to, and so do I. 

What are some of your Valentine traditions?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Back in the saddle....

Back at it and gearing up for a Valentine's Day post!!!  So much to share, stay tuned!!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

2012's Birthday Round Up!

It seems as if the roar of major holidays and birthday season took over at our house and I left the blog high and dry.  So today I'm backing up and filling in the gaps.

Birthday season in this house begins in September when I start planning the birthdays or rather finalizing the plans since I am ALWAYS searching out and saving ideas.

The little girl goes first in October and was turning 3, and at this age she actually got a say in the final outcome of the cake design, and she chose - Hello Kitty.  Now, I knew this was coming, but I also knew that I have an intense fear of designing cakes that include the faces of well-known and loved characters; for I don't feel that they would be known or loved once I got done with them.  Thankfully however, we were able to find a Hello Kitty cake pan and I knew I would have indents as my guide!

Unfortunately though, my husband had to be out of town on work on the actually birthday day, so we had TWO parties, which means two "cakes".

We began birthday day with pink, pumpkin donuts...
 ...and finished the day with Hello Kitty cupcakes and "fake" presents.  (aka old toys of mine that she LOVED!)

 These were actually made from a Hello Kitty cupcake maker.  Painstaking to only make two cupcakes at a time, but I got a baked on pattern out of the deal!  :)
 Finally, daddy arrived home and we could have the REAL birthday party!  Hello Kitty with a pink bow, per the birthday girl's request.

Happy 3rd Birthday Lorelei!!  From all of us and Hello Kitty!
November arrived and we moved on to all things BOY!  I have to say this was one of the most indecisive years for Everett, but he FINALLY decided (after a little prodding, to "make a decision!" that he would like a blue light saber cake.)  Simple enough, right?  Hmmmmm.
Here's what I came up with.

 A hilt made from cupcakes and LOTS of frosting...
 ..and a rice krispie light saber covered in a jar of sprinkles to cover the fact that buttercream and rice krispie treats are hard to smooth out!  :)

I didn't love how it came together, but Everett sure did, and that's all that matters!

Finally December arrived and the yearly, secret, husband cake began it's commence.  It actually worked out that once again Garrett was away from home, not for work, he took a weekend to hunt which gave me two full days and nights to work without having to stash everything and pretend like I was doing nothing.  I'd had a previous idea (which I might still use one day) and then I had THIS one and I am so glad I went with this, because I had SO much fun with fondant and gum paste and construction - this cake was just fun to make and create on.

The Hobbit came out 5 days before his birthday, so being the wonderful wife that I am, I arranged for us to go to the movie on his birthday (secretly) and that also inspired me to search out cake ideas.

Here it is!
 Ok, you got me, that's not it, that's just what the board looked like before I spread everything out and made "the lawn".
The back of the cake...

 ...the front of the cake!
Little details.

More details...I think one of my favorite parts was the walkway.  I used uncolored gumpaste, rolled, cut, texturized and then handpainted everything else in.
 Top down.

There it is, the 2012 birthday round-up.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thinking of Grandma Mary

It's fall!  Well, to be honest, fall here in Northern Minnesota has come and gone and today we are actually getting snow that looks to be sticking around.  Regardless though of what the weather thinks, I will embrace all things pumpkiny and spicy for as long as I have the motivation and supplies!

One of my first (of many) pumpkin creations so far were these Pumpkin Snickerdoodles.  I of course changed up the spices a tad, substituted flax seed meal for eggs, (used squash...shhh!) and maintained a completely nut-free ingredient list and they turned out SCRUMPTIOUS!
My main point for this post though was in the actual "smashing" of the cookies.  Since like most snickerdoodles or sugar cookies, you roll, dredge and then flatten these.  I grew up making cookies like this with my mom and her mom.  At grandma's house though, the cookies always had a signature design which was  a result of her always using the same small juice glass with that imprint on the bottom. 
You never realize how much little things like this give you peace or comfort until you go without seeing them for a while.  Now, my grandmother is still with us, though she is suffering from dementia and has to be in a nursing home.  But when things were being gone through her home after she moved, my mom saw the value in this simple tradition and was able to snag maybe one of grandmas's glasses and then scoured a local thrift store and found several more so that she could pass along the a little memento to all who remembered and now I am so blessed to be able to continue this tradtion with my kids.  And even though sometimes I get so lost in a recipe that I forget, my son already knows that this:

is the sugar cookie "mashing" cup.

Thank you Grandma Mary and Thank You mom!

Here's to age-old traditions and family memories!

Happy Holiday Season!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Birthday

As I sit and enjoy my "black cat" americano (Thanks big brother and family!), sweetened with leftover chocolate and caramel from my birthday cake, I thought I'd share all about this delicious experiment.

Let me just begin by saying I had no original inentions of making my own cake.  I gave my husband ample notice that I wanted a cake, but I would not be making it; and to be nice I directed him to extra cake batter in the freezer. 

But then, I saw this post on www.artofdessert.blogspot.com and the wheels started turning.  So I pulled out the frozen cake batter and baked a little 5 inch cake and enhanced it with Kahlua (greatest idea ever!)

I also baked a 7 inch chocolate cake, enhanced it with kahlua and used a new technique I learned from another talented baker (I can't remember who/where right now).  Do you SEE how flat this cake is?!  My family is pretty bummed that there will never again be cake top in this house!
Cut a strip of old towel long enough to wrap around your cake pan. 
Saturate the towel with water and wrap around the pan just before baking.  Perfectly flat cake everytime!
I whipped up some chocolate buttercream and covered the cakes.
Covered the edges in a triple mix of chocolate chips.
  Then covered the remaining areas with shredded coconut.
Now comes the ooey, gooey, german chocolate cake inspired part.  (The first was mostly inspired by my love of coffee and mounds bars.) 

Step 1:  Make caramel sauce.
Step 2:  Cover cake in caramel sauce.
Step 3:  Drizzle cake with melted tri-chocolate blend.
Bask in the rich, delicious flavors and have a fantastic birthday dessert!