S’mores Cake

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On Monday, I turned thirty.

This is a milestone year for me in so many ways. A thirtieth birthday. Our first wedding anniversary. Our first baby. Life feels so full of excitement and possibility and reason to celebrate these days. I am so, so thankful. Last year, life was much different.

Stress. Planning a wedding.

Fear. My mom was so sick.

Grief. We said goodbye to my Grandma.

Most days last year were full of uncertainty and stormy weather and there seemed to be no way to right the ship. These days the load feels lighter. There is breathing room and sunshine feels plentiful. I know challenging times will come and go. I know this wonderful season of life will pass, too. But certainly there has been enough hard to enjoy the wonderful and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I am so ready for my thirtieth year and all that it has to offer.

But enough mushy stuff. You came for the cake, didn’t you?

I’ve wanted to make Momofuku’s Chocolate Chip Cake forever and really wanted to work that into my birthday creation. They layer theirs with homemade passion fruit curd, chocolate crumbs and coffee buttercream. As much as I’d love to try it, we aren’t exactly swimming in high quality passion fruit around these parts and I didn’t think that my guests would appreciate such a combination anyway. So, s’mores, AKA my favourite.

This cake took me half a day to make and I still have toasted marshmallow crusted INSIDE my stand mixer but I was really happy with how everything turned out. The chocolate chip cake reminded me of a boxed white cake (in a good way) and that buttercream, although incredibly messy, is my new favourite.

I know it looks like a lot of “stuff” but if you have an epic celebration coming up, I highly recommend this baby.

S’mores Cake

Serves 16

Chocolate Chip Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper circles. Set aside.

Combine butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Cream together on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high again for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.

On low speed, stream in buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Continue mixing for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogeneous. Be patient and don’t rush the process! Stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Once the mixture is completely mixed, continue mixing at low speed and add cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. Do not over mix. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl — if you see any lumps of cake flour in there, mix for another 45 seconds.

Using a rubber spatula, transfer the cake batter to the prepared pans. Give the bottom of your pans a tap on the counter top to even out the layer. Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips evenly over the cake batter layers.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. The cakes will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain buttery and dense. At 25 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the centre should no longer be jiggly. Leave the cakes in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn’t pass these tests.

Take the cakes out of the oven and cool on a wire cooling rack.

Toasted Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 6 cups mini marshmallows

Instructions:

Beat butter in your stand mixer until smooth. Add in powdered sugar slowly and then the cream and continue mixing until smooth.

Turn oven onto broil. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread marshmallows out in an even layer. Place under broiler for about 45 seconds until they are browned and puffed. Watch closely because they will burn very quickly.

Immediately scrape the marshmallows into the butter mixture and beat until smooth and fluffy.

The frosting will be warm due to the marshmallows, so allow it to cool a bit before spreading.

 Milk Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • ½ cup heavy cream

Instructions:

Put chocolate chips in a small bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the cream just starts to boil, pour it over the chocolate chips. Let it sit for two minutes and then start whisking slowly from the centre out, whisking continually until totally smooth and blended.  Cool slightly before assembling cake.

Vanilla Milk

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

Stir milk and vanilla together and refrigerate if not using right away.

Assembly

Ingredients:

  • ½ prepared graham crust, coarsely crumbled
  • Milk chocolate chips or chunks for garnish

Instructions:

Lay one cooled cake layer down on a plate and brush it with half of the vanilla milk, then spread the cake layer with half of the marshmallow buttercream. Press half of the graham crust crumbles into the buttercream. Drizzle with half of the milk chocolate ganache.

Lay down the second cake layer, brush it with the other half of the vanilla milk and spread it with the other half of the marshmallow buttercream. Drizzle this with the remaining milk chocolate ganache and pile the remaining graham crust crumbles artfully on top. Sprinkle the top of the cake with milk chocolate chips.

Cover cake and freeze overnight. Make sure to thaw the cake fully before serving.

Notes:

I made Momofuku’s graham crust, baked it for 10ish minutes and used half of it in my cake but any recipe will work. I personally found this one high maintenance because it needs powdered milk, which I never have on hand. Feel free to make a half batch if you don’t want extra.

This cake was even better on day two after being thawed. Make ahead if you can for the flavours to really mesh.

The marshmallow buttercream is CRAZY messy. Spray your parchment and stand mixer paddle with non-stick spray if you can.

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Chocolate Chip Cake Recipe

Toasted Marshmallow Buttercream Recipe

Vanilla Milk Recipe

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A Spring Bucket List

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Admittedly, this kind of feels like “Bucket List: Before Baby Comes Edition”. Trying to fit in those last tasks and enjoy our last couple of months before life gets turned upside down, in the best way possible. Here are some things I’m going to be working on:

 

Sew a dress.

This tutorial inspires me.

 

Finish our baby shopping list.

Not too much more to do!

 

Make art for the baby’s room.

We want to make a special piece with our little boy in mind.

 

Give the condo a good deep clean.

I want things to be in good order so I can take everything in this summer.

 

Choose an epic cake recipe for my 30th birthday.

And make it for myself. I have my eye on something from Momofuku.

 

Do a huge donation run.

Making room for onesies and receiving blankets in our drawers.

 

Plan a bunch of freezer meals for when baby comes.

I have always dreamed of doing this, as ridiculous as that sounds.

 

Nap whenever I want, because I hear time is limited.

I have become an excellent napper these last months, if I do say so myself.

 

Make something with rhubarb in it. 

I always crave it this time of year. This recipe piqued my interest.

 

Plan something for our first wedding anniversary.

Or maybe we’ll just have a baby that day?!

 

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Life Lately

View More: http://sterling.pass.us/shaleen-and-tom

Oh my gosh, I’ve been neglecting this blog! We’re swamped with wedding planning and you may not see much of me for the next while so I thought I’d give you a little update.

I’ve been LOVING my Spring Capsule. I am super happy with everything that I chose and I’ve already made a ton of outfits that I love. It’s evidence that I’m really figuring out my personal style so that makes me really happy I’ve continued with capsules. Tom got me this bag for my birthday, which I’ve been wanting desperately, and it’s the perfect accompaniment to my Spring closet.

greenwald

I started Aquatic Kickboxing a couple weeks ago and I’ve been loving it, although trying to balance two classes a week with everything else going on right now has been challenging at times. I always forget how much I enjoy having a regular commitment each week. It makes me feel accomplished and building a healthy habit is a bonus too. I do miss Nix now that I’m out more during the evenings. He fell asleep with his arms crossed recently and I had to document it.

nix sleeping

DSW just moved in right by our condo so I’ve been there three times already and I’m obsessed. The selection is insane. Save On Foods also opened in our neck of the woods and I love it! So many fun, different products. Have you been? Here’s a photo of Tom holding a $220 wheel of cheese for your viewing pleasure.

tom and cheese

I’m doing my own wedding makeup and I decided to invest in some good products so I’ve been testing a lot of stuff, which has been super fun. I’ve finally got my look cased. A few new favorite products include NYX HD Concealer, Urban Decay’s Naked Flushed Palette and Kat Von D’s Everlasting Liquid Lipstick. I plan to share the entire (long!) list after the wedding.

makeup faves

My bridal shower was this past weekend and I’m still blown away by how awesome it was. It’s very overwhelming to walk into a room full of people who are all there to show you how much they love you. Everyone contributed to a Tupperware fund for me so I could purchase an organization system for our walk in pantry. I was able to order that and also upgrade a ton of my kitchen tools so that was exciting. I’m so bummed that I didn’t get photos with anyone! I don’t know where my head was at. This balloon bouquet is still floating around the condo. It’s too cute to part with.

balloons

The next day was my birthday and it ended up being mostly a low key girls day with my Mom and sisters. Tommy took me for birthday supper at East Side Mario’s that evening and we had the most delicious meal ever. These fried pesto mozzarella balls were insane.

mozza balls

We’re in the home stretch of wedding planning — just a few weeks to go! We had a few setbacks but I feel like we are on track with what needs to get done. Honestly I’m just looking forward to getting there and having the rest be out of my hands. My tendency to control every detail is in overdrive right now, as much as I try to remind myself how NOT life threatening any of this is. We are visiting our venue soon to tie up loose ends and the to-do list is getting shorter all the time. I’ve also been breaking in my wedding shoes as much as I can.

wedding shoes

Some exciting news: we bought Meatloaf tickets! The show happens to fall  on my parent’s wedding anniversary and they are huge fans so Tom and I are joining them for a double date. I cannot wait for this concert. My Mom will have just completed her last chemo the week before so we will have lots to celebrate. The thought of just being married, having my Mom in much better health with the whole Summer ahead of us makes me so happy I can’t even stand it.

That’s about it for now! What have you been up to?

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Coconut Cake

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This cake came about because I couldn’t bring myself to make a carrot cake. When I volunteered to bring the cake for a friend’s birthday get-together a couple of weeks ago, she requested a carrot cake, and I happily agreed. Her wish was my command. THEN my Main Taste Tester’s mom came by with a gigantic carrot cake for us. I thought it was a funny coincidence. My Main Taste Tester even jokingly suggested we just wrap up that cake and bring it to the party. Anyway, the problem with this carrot cake is that it is the best carrot cake in the entire world. I have tried to make her recipe three times and I have not been able to make it nearly as good as hers. I’ve made a lot of cakes, but that sucker makes me feel like a failure every time. My point is that the cake was so good, we ate on it for a couple days and every time my MTT had a piece he would give me his frosting.

By the time I had to make the cake for the party, I could not look at, think about, taste or make another carrot cake. I. Was. Over. It. However, keeping in mind that I didn’t want to be a flake that promises one cake and brings another to someone’s birthday, I tried to think of something that still might be a hit with the birthday girl. After confirming that coconut was a go, I remembered this recipe I’ve wanted to make for ages.  I cut out the nuts due to Tom’s allergy and here we have it. This cake is incredibly moist but still light from stirring whipped egg whites into the batter. It has a rich, buttery vanilla flavor with little bits of coconut throughout. The cream cheese coconut frosting is very rich and a nice contrast to the airy cake. This is a great all-occasion cake and in this case it got me out of my carrot cake overdose bind, for which I will be forever grateful. Oh, and next time someone drops an entire cake off at my house, I’m having a piece and promptly putting the rest in the freezer. Lesson learned.

Coconut Cake

Makes one three tier 9 inch cake

Cake:

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk + 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 whole eggs, separated
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened, flaked coconut
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Frosting:

  • 2 – 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 – 2 lb. package powdered sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened, flaked coconut
  • Pinch salt

Garnish:

  • Extra unsweetened coconut

Prep:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans. Beat egg whites until stiff. Set aside.

Cake:

For coconut buttermilk, stir together the coconut milk and lemon juice and let stand for a few minutes before using.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together butter, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg yolks, extract, and coconut.

Alternate adding the coconut buttermilk and dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix until just combined, then gently fold in egg whites. Be careful not to over mix or the cake will not be as airy.

Pour evenly into the three prepared pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto cooling racks and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frosting:

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla, powdered sugar, and salt. Beat until light and fluffy. Stir in coconut.

Assembly:

Lay down top cake layer on a plate or turntable. Top it with a layer of icing and lay down second cake layer on top. Repeat with third cake layer. Add a thin coat of frosting on the entire cake and pop the cake in the fridge or freezer for thirty minutes to firm up crumb coat. Pull cake bake out and finish frosting with a thick layer. Press coconut into the frosting all over the cake.

Note:

You could substitute some of the vanilla extract in the cake and frosting with coconut extract for an additional punch. The coconut flavor is still prominent without it though.

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Adapted from: Pioneer Woman

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The Ultimate Cherry Cake

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My Mom’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day. When I was little I used to love it because we would celebrate all day at school and then come home and have a birthday party for her. The day has always felt more like Mom’s birthday and a family occasion rather than a romantic day to me.

 My Mom is a great lady. She is a hard worker and has always cared for others in some way in every job she’s had. By the time she was my age, she had three kids, which totally blows my mind. She also went back to college while working, with four small kids at home, something that I really admire. Looking back, she must have been swamped. She is also very kind hearted and always discouraged us from speaking negatively of others. Mom is a bit of a goofball who laughs at her own jokes. She also passed on her “nervous laugh” to me. If someone gets hurt, or a situation is dire, or it is seriously not the time to be laughing, both of us idiots will be covering our mouths in the corner, snickering inappropriately. My accident prone father will be happy to confirm this.

 When deciding what kind of cake to make for her birthday, I remembered how much she loves cherry chip and wanted to make a really amped up version from scratch. I gave this recipe a try and it is seriously delicious. The cake is super sweet, so I kept the frosting light although I did add a cherry buttercream filling that tastes like the inside of a chocolate covered cherry.  I also garnished it with a ton of them to make it look extra fancy. This cake seems to get moister as the days go on and it looks beautiful. My paternal grandma, a lifelong dieter and TOPS member, who never even eats her OWN birthday cake, saw this one and actually took a slice saying that she was going to cheat with it. If that doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what will.

 I hope you had a great birthday, Mom! I love you.

 

 The Ultimate Cherry Cake

 Makes one two layer 9 inch cake

 Ingredients:

 Cherry Chip Cake

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups white sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup milk ( I used 1%)
  • ½ maraschino cherry juice
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 10 oz. bottle maraschino cherries, drained and chopped
  • 4 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks

 Cherry Cordial Buttercream Filling

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup maraschino cherry juice
  • 1 tbsp. corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1-2 drops cherry flavoring oil (optional)

 Whipped Vanilla Frosting

  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 drops red food coloring

Garnish:

  •  Chocolate Covered Cherries ( I used 18)

 

 For Cake:

Preheat oven to 340 degrees.  Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and line with parchment.

Beat the egg whites in a cold stand mixer bowl on high with your whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

Sprinkle 2 tbsp. flour over chopped cherries until flour absorbs (there may be excess juice on them) and set aside.

Add butter and sugar to stand mixer bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Whisk dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. Combine milk, vanilla and cherry juice in a small bowl. Take turns adding the flour mixture and the juice mixture to the sugar mixture, mixing after each addition. Stir cherries into the batter. Carefully fold the egg whites into the batter. Pour into prepared cake pans and bake for 22-26 minutes, depending on your oven.

Let cool completely before filling and frosting.

For Cherry Cordial Buttercream Filling:

 Whip butter on high for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat on low until combined. Add cherry juice, vanilla, corn syrup and flavoring and beat on high 2 minutes until creamy.

 For Whipped Vanilla Frosting:

 In a small saucepan, add milk and flour. Whisk mixture together over medium heat until it is very thick. Remove from heat and cool completely (I put it in the fridge to speed things up). When cooled, stir in vanilla extract and set aside. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together on high speed until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add cooled flour mixture and beat on high for another 2-3 minutes until smooth and mixture looks like thick whipped cream. Do not overbeat or mixture could separate. I added food coloring at this point and blended it well.

 To assemble the cake:

Place one cake layer down and spread cordial filling evenly on it. Place second cake layer down and do a very thin coat of whipped frosting. Place in the fridge for 15-30 minutes to harden the crumb coat, the pull back out and finish frosting. Use chocolate covered cherries to garnish. I placed them all around the edge of the cake. Keep cool and take out about an hour before serving. This cake stays moist for days.

Frosting from: http://tastykitchen.com/blog/2010/10/thats-the-best-frosting-ive-ever-had-again/

Cake adapted from: http://foodiewife-kitchen.blogspot.ca/2012/08/cherry-vanilla-cake-with-swiss.html

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