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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chocolate Raspberry Cream Cake

I made this cake for Libby's birthday, and it was as lovely as it was delicious.  The full name for the cake should be Sour Cream Chocolate Cake, filled with vanilla bean Mascarpone cheese and fresh raspberries, topped with Raspberry Cheesecake Buttercream, but that's a little long. It was certainly a bit involved, but the end product was absolutely worth it. Any of the components would be great with other cakes too, so feel free to switch it up.

I have to apologize for the following photos, they don't do the cake justice. But the lighting was poor and there was no time for styling, so it is what it is.

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
rich and flavorful with a light texture and a fine crumb

(adapted from here)

1 cup cocoa powder, sifted, plus more for dusting pans
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Ghirardelli chocolate chips)
1 cup boiling water
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. salt
20 Tbsp. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sour cream

Have all the ingredients at room temperature.
Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F. Grease three 9 inch cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper circles, and dust with cocoa powder; tapping out the excess.
In a bowl, combine the 1 cup cocoa powder and the chocolate. Add the boiling water and whisk until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth and blended. Set aside.
Over a sheet of parchment, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 30 to 45 seconds. Reduce the speed to low, add the brown sugar and beat until blended. Increase the speed to medium and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating until incorporated before adding more and stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla until incorporated, about 1 minute.
Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream and beginning and ending with the flour, beating just until blended and no lumps of flour remain. Slowly pour in the chocolate-cocoa mixture and beat until no white streaks are visible, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans, dividing equally among the three. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached to it, about 25 - 30 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let the cake cool upright in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge, then invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan. Let the cakes cool completely, at least 1 hour. Once cooled, level the cakes with a serrated knife or cake leveler.

Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Filling
Slightly sweet with a velvety texture

8 oz. Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 c. heavy cream
1/3. c. granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds only
1 pint fresh raspberries

Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean by making a slit lengthwise down the bean and using a paring knife to scraped the seeds out, set aside. In a bowl, whip the heavy cream with an electric hand mixture until soft peaks form. Add Mascarpone cheese, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds, beat on low until just combined. Spread half of the filling on top of one of the cake layers. Sprinkle with half of the raspberries, gently press down into filling. Top with a second cake layer, repeat with remaining filling and raspberries. Top with the remaining cake layer. Refrigerate while you make the frosting.

Raspberry Cheesecake Buttercream
Tangy and delicious in a lovely magenta hue
(adapted from here)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup (6 ounces) cream cheese, softened
4 1/2 - 5 cups powdered sugar, or until desired consistency is reached
8 ounces frozen raspberries, pureed
2 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter and cream cheese in electric mixer for 1-2 minutes until fluffy. Slowly add 1 cup sugar and beat until smooth. Add half of the pureed raspberries and mix until combined. Add remaining powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until well incorporated.
Add vanilla and the remaining half of the raspberries and mix at medium-high speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes).
If needed, add more sugar as necessary to achieve proper consistency. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before frosting. Pipe or spread onto the prepared cake.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Salt Water Taffy

I just had to share this lovely salt water taffy project from Vanilla & Lace (found via Creature Comforts). Doesn't she make taffy pulling look so glamorous? It doesn't hurt that this perfect shade of mint green is my newest color crush. Check out her post here for the full recipe and directions, and be sure to browse her lovely blog!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Weekend Glimpse

I hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend!

We started ours off with a little surprise birthday party for Libby... which I slightly spoiled by not being hidden before she arrived. I was still on the front porch when she pulled up, and I instantly dropped to the ground, trying to hide behind ...nothing. At least it was pretty hilarious. Also, I got to make the cake! More on that later.

For Easter dinner, Annie and I were cooking and decided to keep things simple and not do a big traditional meal. We did babyback ribs, grilled chicken, garlic bread, strawberry salad, crispy potato roast, whole wheat pasta salad, and coconut cream pie for dessert. It was all wonderful.

I made the potatoes similar to this recipe but with what I had on hand and felt like doing... red potatoes (sliced thinly with a mandoline cutter), drizzled with butter, sprinkled with salt, red pepper flakes, herbs de provence, and Parmesan cheese, with a few onion slices. Baked at 375 degrees for 1.5 - 2 hours. They were delicious, flavorful but not overly rich, and so pretty. I'll definitely make them again, I'd love to try this presentation with various potatoes... Yukon Gold, red, purple, sweet potatoes... it would look so beautiful!

The tablescape... I used some milkglass vases with flowers from my garden... some wildflowers, irises, and peonies (some freshly picked and some nearly over-blown) arranged on a pale blue table runner with green faux bois velvet ribbon twirled around. The drinking glasses look vintage but are favorite finds from HomeGoods!

Marshall found some Easter eggs.

Not pictured:
- pizza
- good old-fashioned girl time (giggling, wedding photos, hair braiding)
- strawberry soda
- procrastinating
- getting up early
- my Easter outfit for church: blush pink tights, gold ballet flats, white skirt, black top, blush pink ruffled sweater, long gold knotted necklace, envelope clutch.
- failed queso dip
- family time

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Surprise Eggs

I suppose I should start thinking about Easter, it is only a few days away. At least I have my menu planned! And it's about time those lingering Christmas decorations got put away (I'm looking at you, dusty candy canes.)

In the meantime, here's some sweet egg projects I've seen in blogging land. It would appear filled eggs are all the rage this year. Hurry up and make some so you can be cool too!

Smashing eggs never sounded so hip! This fun activity was spotted on Oh Happy Day by Rebecca Wright. Basically, a whole bunch of eggs are filled with something normal-ish, like cereal, but one egg is filled with something special, like glitter or confetti. The eggs are hidden and found like a typical Easter egg hunt, and then the fun begins. All the players get to smash their eggs onto other's heads. Whoever's head is christened with the glitter wins a prize, like a chocolate bunny. Check out the full project instructions and some photos of the egg smashing!

This egg is filled with something sweeter than candy, a heartfelt note. Found on Poppytalk via Going Home to Roost, there's step-by-step photos on how to empty the egg and package it up pretty.

Heart of Light demonstrates her version of the equally lovely project by Not Martha. These eggs are filled with candy, and would delight any recipient.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Crafty Feast: Recap

So Cory and I both exhibited at Crafty Feast in Columbia this past Saturday... and it was a slight disaster.

This was our first outdoor fair, and I knew weather could be in issue, but I wasn't prepared for the insanity we experienced. It rained in the early morning, then cleared up and got sunny. Just after we finished setting up, the sky turned purple, and it suddenly started pouring down rain like I have never seen before. You literally could not see across the street. I had brought plastic dropcloths to protect our stuff in the event of a shower, but I could barely let go of the tent to get them since the wind was whipping it so fiercely (even with the 200+ lbs. of weight we had tied to it). The fabric sides I had attached were ripped off in an instant, and the lovely tabletop display Cory made for me was smashed to the ground. It probably only rained like this for 15 minutes, but it felt like an hour. Poor Cory was soaked to the bone. Someone's tent blew right down the street, through a police barricade. And just like that, it cleared up and was sunny again. I guess they weren't kidding about the tornado watch, I expected to see a funnel any second.

The rest of the day was clear and sunny, though that wretched wind just wouldn't quit. We had to hold down our displays and the tent almost constantly. The winds were so forceful that several tents were destroyed... the wind just picked them right up and twisted the metal frames in half. Honestly, the whole thing was so ridiculous, it's laughable. At least we were there with friends, Matt and Jen Moreau of Fox to the Opera were our neighbors, and we made the best of it together.

I will say that the shoppers did come out in droves once the rain stopped (so at least it ended up being worth our trouble, financially). Although, most of them seemed to have stumbled on to the fair, everyone kept asking why were were all there, as there was no signage to promote the event.

We were able to protect our work for the most part, I only lost a few pieces to the wind. Here's a some photos I snapped after the morning hurricane... my table ended up looking a little forlorn as I wasn't able to put out my milk glass and a few other pieces, and the wind was to crazy to put the sides back on the tent. The large boards I made for my earrings and necklaces looked great, and stayed put for the most part, thanks to weights on the easels, lots of duct tape, and the occasional hand holding them down.

I was only able to dash out of the tent for about 10 minutes right at the end, but I did managed to grab a few goodies for myself: a Sea is for Caramel chocolate bar by Sweeteeth, a fantastic tote bag by Not Made in China, and a leopard spotted kitty by my beloved Three Bad Seeds.

So there you have it... I'm not sorry we went, it was certainly an experience I'll never forget. And while it was mostly stressful, we did have some fun. I will say that I will most likely not do an outdoor fair again, and we will NEVER hold Indie Craft Parade outside!

Weekend Glimpse

I'll post a separate re-cap of Crafty Feast, but in the meantime, here's a little glimpse of our weekend... basically us eating food with friends.

At Mellow Mushroom in Columbia with a very dear friend.

Ummmm.... 2 friends trying to look as creepy as possible, and succeeding.

Started up our monthly supper club again after many months off. We did a fondue theme, cheese fondue for dinner with lots of veggies and this awesome chicken (don't make the fondue! It flopped. But the chicken was perfect.) And chocolate fondue for dessert with fruit, cake, pretzels, and marshmallows. Mmmmm!

Enjoying our feast outdoors (after we salvaged the cheese fondue). Lots of laughter and good food!

Not pictured:
- late nights working like crazy
- rain
- gardens in bloom
- a nap
- taxes
- cuddling my cats

Friday, April 15, 2011

Crafty Feast

I'm running around like a crazy person today, finishing up the last-minute details for Crafty Feast tomorrow. If you're in the Columbia, SC area, stop by and see me! I'm at Booth #75.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Collections: Macarons

I never get tired of seeing macarons (often misspelled, but not to be confused with macaroons). Their candy colors are so cheerful and enticing. The best ones I've ever had were in Paris (of course), from the one and only Ladurée. I wish I could have one right now, the salted caramel is my favorite.

I took some photos of all the food I brought back from Europe, I'll have to dig back and see if I can find them to share with you. Until then, here are some images to get you salivating for these wondrous treats.

Source: None via Erin on Pinterest

Source: via Lisa on Pinterest

Source: via Boya on Pinterest

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Book-themed Baby Shower

I just stumbled across this lovely book-themed baby shower on As a lover of literature myself, I adore this idea. Check out the details...

And the best part is, dear Martha gives you the entire party plan. I know this is a dream come true for you timid party-planners! There's DIY instructions for the decorations, which include a mini-book garland and covered books. A nursery-rhyme menu is included, complete with recipes. My absolute favorite? Free printable invitations, bookplates, and bookmarks designed by my beloved Rifle Paper Co.

This would be a wonderful theme to adapt for a birthday party! It could also be a great option for a second baby when the usual essentials aren't needed but you still want a little party.

Click here for the full party plan from!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Forest Xylophone

So this video is a little off-topic for my usual posts, but it was too fantastic not to share. Basically, there's a giant xylophone made from thousands of bits of wood... set up in a forest. By rolling a ball down a continuous downhill track, the xylophone plays Bach’s Cantata 147, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. The whole thing is actually a commercial for some limited edition phone, but that aside, it's a crazy cool piece of art. Credit goes to Invisible Designs Lab’s Kenjiro Matsuo.

via The Fox is Black

Monday, April 11, 2011

Weekend Glimpse

 In the dish, my favorite Easter candy, candy-coated malt eggs, often called "Robin's Eggs." Love these so much, it's a good thing they only sell them once a year. On the wood, a couple stone eggs, made from some kind of agate I think.

 Our peas are growing! I am very impatient for them.

 Lunch at our neighborhood burger joint... so very yummy.

James is fragile. And sleepy.

Not pictured:
- much frantic jewelry-making for Crafty Feast
- a nap, interrupted
- P. F. Changs!
- late night Target run
- summer weather... too hot already!
- sleeping in

Friday, April 8, 2011

Black + White + Winner

 I love this rug. The print is referred to as zebra, but I think of it more as swirled paint. It's from Target, so it's affordable, and appears to be completely sold out right now. I hope they do this design in more colorways, I'd love to see it as a subtle tone-on-tone version.

Giveaway Winner!
According to, the lucky winner of the gray rose earrings is commenter #13.... Bekah Rankin! Bekah, I've contacted you to get your address so I can send these out to you. Congrats!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Guest Post: Vegetable Tarte Tartin

I have a treat in store for you... a guest post by the fabulous Jen Moreau! Jen is a dear friend, as well as the creator of Fox to the Opera, the wife of Dapper Ink, and a dedicated Indie Craft Parade volunteer. She is graciously sharing the recipe for the scrumptious root vegetable tart we enjoyed last weekend. Take it away, Jen!

I love this recipe for its unexpected mix of ingredients. The hearty flavors of root vegetables are complemented with a savory caramel glaze, a flaky crust, and just a touch of cheesy goodness. Not to mention, the presentation is gorgeous, leading everyone to believe that this rather simple side dish is a culinary work of art. The best part--it’s an entertaining-friendly dish. You can make it up hours ahead of your party and pop it in the oven shortly before guests arrive.

I think cooking is best accompanied by music. Since this dish is a creative variation on the traditional French preparation (and perfect for our French-inspired dinner party), you should pull out old jazz tunes or listen to Henry Mancini’s Charade score for inspiration when you try your hand at the Vegetable Tarte Tartin. 

Vegetable Tarte Tartin 
  • 3 or 4 red potatoes, cut into ½ inch-thick rounds
  • 4 or 5 small purple potatoes, cut into ½ inch-thick rounds
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½ inch-thick rounds (slice rounds in half if too big)
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into ½ inch-thick rounds
  • 1 small onion, cut into ¼ inch-thick rounds
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 small bunch fresh sage or taragon, chopped
  • 6 ounces gouda, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 1 8.5-ounce sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 egg, for egg wash
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the potatoes and the parsnips, olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet; bake until tender, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, mix 3 tablespoons water and the sugar in a skillet and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan, until amber, about 7 minutes (Watch carefully. Once the caramel turns amber, it burns very quickly.) Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Quickly pour the caramel into a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish and spread with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the sage on top.

Arrange the roasted potatoes and parsnips in a single snug layer on top of the caramel and herbs. Scatter the onion and garlic over the roasted vegetables; sprinkle evenly with the gouda.

Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface into a 9-by-13-inch rectangle. Pierce the pastry all over with a fork, then lay it on top of the gouda, folding the edges under to fit, if necessary. If making ahead of time, cover securely and refrigerate until baking. Before baking, use a pastry brush to brush the egg wash over the crust.

Bake 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking until the dough is cooked through, 15 to 20 more minutes. If the crust turns golden brown before the baking time is through, cover the baking dish loosely with foil and continue to bake.

Let the tart cool 10 minutes in the baking dish. Then carefully invert it onto a cutting board. Replace any vegetables that stick to the dish, if necessary.

Cut the tart with a pizza roller, and prepare to be greeted with oohs and ahs at the table.

*adapted from a recipe in Food Network Magazine