Kitchen Plans!! {Time To Get Rid Of The Sea Of Orange Wood!}

April 21, 2015

Are you enjoying spring?  I sure am! And I'm itching to get started on some projects! Like my "sea of wood!" It's time, I am ready! The amount of work is a bit overwhelming, but I'm determined.  I can do this!! Here is a reminder of what I'm working with...
Kitchen

Painting and Stenciling

April 13, 2015

I have been itching to start a project! Seriously.... I needed to paint something! So I did! This just made me so happy!
Paint begins

Salted Caramel Buttercream Chocolate Ganache C.A.K.E.

April 10, 2015

This is no ordinary cake... This stretched my baking skills beyond what this country girl usually attempts. Believe me!! But my sweet precious daughter requested this labor intensive cake for her birthday. Who could turn her down? Not me....

Salted Carmel CAKE

Like I said...This is no ordinary, run of the mill cake.  I made the cake and the salted caramel one day and then the buttercream and ganache the following day. Whew! FYI...This is a LONG post, there are a LOT of steps in making this decadent C.A.K.E.!! Cake Adored Keeper Encore!) This cake is so intense it deserves capitals and periods and exclamation points!!! There is a lot of sugar and butter and ... yeah, you do not want to know the calories or fat content for this cake.  I don't want to know! I ate my slice (or two...) in blissful ignorance! :)

The cake part of this recipe was okay, I think it fell short of my Best Chocolate Cake By Scratch recipe, but I really like that hot coffee was added instead of hot water, so I changed that in my recipe here.

Also... about Salted Caramel.... My daughter is a stickler for caramel. Soooo, not truly knowing what she would like, I bought one at the store and made the one here.  Then we did a taste test. I did it with Hubs too.  It was funny, both caramels were the same but different.  The homemade one tasted like caramel right from the start and was sweeter.  The store bought was sweet but you didn't really taste the caramel til the end. They were both good and I actually used both in the recipe. I preferred the homemade, Hubby couldn't tell the difference, and my daughter liked the store bought. Crazy right?!

The Best Chocolate Cake Ever! 
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup very hot hot coffee

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour 3 8-in round pans.
2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa,baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Add eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer for 2 minutes.  Then stir in very hot hot coffee. The batter will be extremely thin. Pour batter into pans.
3. Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool and remove cakes from pans. 
4. Once cool/cold, wrap the cakes in saran wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.  It's much easier to slice in half when the cakes are firm and very cold.

Salted Caramel

1-1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup + 3 Tbsp heavy cream
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. sea salt (more determined by taste)

Directions:
1. Place sugar and water into a deep, heavy-bottomed pot, bring to a boil and cook, swirling the pan. NOT stirring with a spoon, until the sugar dissolves and the color changes to amber.
2. Remove from heat and pour in the heavy cream (be careful as the caramel may bubble and rise up in the pan). Whisk together. When the bubbling stops, add the butter and whisk til combined, mine was not completely smooth, but don't worry it will by the end.
3. Return the pan to a medium heat and cook til a gentle simmer, whisking the whole time until the caramel is smooth and free of lumps.  Whisk in salt a little at a time, tasting as you go.  BE CAREFUL- the caramel is extremely hot! The saltiness of the caramel is up to you. Just make sure it is well combined and dissolved before you add more.
4. Pour into a glass jar and allow to cool completely.  It may be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.  


Salted Caramel Buttercream

1 cup sugar
4 egg whites or 3/4 cup of carton egg whites
1 cup softened unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
6 Tbsp (or more) salted caramel (I used the recipe from above)
Cream of tartar (more on that in the recipe)

Directions: (Just a heads up... this is the labor intensive part. Please read through all of the directions before you begin.)
1. Put the egg whites and sugar in a dry, very clean heatproof bowl. (If there are oils or anything it can alter the whipping of the egg whites)
2. Place over a pan of simmering (not boiling) water. The base of the bowl should not touch the water. Whisk the egg whites and sugar by hand, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch. If you rub some between your fingers is should be smooth with no graininess, this should take about 5 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and pour into the bowl for your stand mixer with the whisk attachment or use and electric beater.(I didn't try it with an electric beater, but I assume it would work just fine) 
Whisk until the egg whites form a thick, glossy bright white meringue.
It will take about 10 minutes. Start at a lower speed then work your way up to high.
(Note: Mine never reached that point. It could be because I used carton egg whites, which there is controversy about. My buttercream ended coming out fine. I read where you can add cream of tartar to the egg whites and that helps the meringue form. It worked! I put in a few pinches til it thickened up.)

4. Once the meringue has cooled, switch the mixer to a low speed and begin to add the butter a tablespoon at a time. Make sure that the butter is incorporated throughout before adding more. 
The meringue will deflate and may even begin to look curdled.... Don't panic, its fine! Just keep adding the butter til all of it has been added. It should come back together and if it doesn't, don't worry....

If your mixture is runny, the butter could've been too soft or the meringue was too warm still, just refrigerate for about 15 minutes and then whip again.

If it still looks a bit curdled, here's the solution: Place about 4 Tbsp. of the meringue in a small bowl and microwave for about 15 seconds, it will become runny. While the stand mixer is whisking, pour this back into the bowl of buttercream down the side, and it should help it turn smooth.  (I had to do this twice for it to work.)

5. Once the buttercream is smooth and silky, whisk in the vanilla and salted caramel.  This thickened my mixture immediately and it was ready to spread on the cake.

**Before you start the ganache....

Remove cakes from the fridge and carefully, using a long, sharp serrated knife to slice each cake in half.  (Hubby was sweet enough to do that step for me :)) You will have four layers. Place one layer on a plate or cake stand and spread about a quarter of the buttercream. Then drizzle about a tablespoon of the salted caramel over that. (You will need to heat up the caramel, but not too much you don't want it to melt the buttercream.) Continue to do the same with the rest of the layers. What ever you have left spread it all over the cake as a crumb coat. Then place the cake in the fridge while you make the ganache.

Whipped Ganache
(This is the SUPER easy part!)

7 oz of dark chocolate (I used 3/4 cup of dark chocolate morsels)
3/4 cup of heavy cream

Directions:

1. Place the chocolate pieces in a heatproof bowl, (I used my glass 2 cup measuring cup)
2. Pour the cream into a small saucepan and heat til just simmering, and pour over chocolate pieces. All the pieces should be covered with cream.
3. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then stir until smooth.
4. Allow ganache cool to room temperature, it will thicken, but still be liquid. Pour into stand mixer bowl with whisk attachment. It will whip into a spreadable cream.  Don't whisk too long or it will be chocolate butter. (It seemed to be taking a LONG time to whisk and I took my eyes off it for a minute and then I glanced back and it was whipped!)
5. Spread ganache all over cake, you will need to work pretty quick. It doesn't take long for it to set.

Final step:

Pour and drizzle salted caramel all over cake. (This is where I used the store bought jar)
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(This recipe is adapted from the Domestic Gothess )

I wish I had taken a picture of a slice of this piece of heaven.... But I didn't. You'll just have to trust me that this cake is gorgeous and divine. Now Hubby says the bar has been raised for birthday cakes. So, when his comes around, I better watch out!! :)

One last look.... So beautiful... (Photo courtesy of my daughter)

Salted Carmel CAKE

Be Blessed!
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What To Do With My Hair?

March 23, 2015

I am at a cross roads... With my hair. I'm trying to figure out what looks best on me. I've just spent the last couple of hours scouring photos of my hair for the last decade and more. Hmmm... It's been pretty eye opening... You should try it. Here's one from the 80's....Oh Boy! What a fashionista...NOT!
1980s

Shelf, Shelves and a Pinterest Win!!

March 20, 2015

Happy First day of Spring!! Yay! Of course it snows here.... But warm days are coming!!!

I've wanted these two shelf areas done for years!  I don't know why I've waited??? I drive myself nuts sometimes. :P And this Pinterest Win? Love Love Love what I did with these hooks!
Hooks

Happy Anniversary....Sunny & 75....Jet Lag...

March 18, 2015

Wow! What a couple of weeks it's been! Back in February, Hubby and I celebrated our 27th year of marriage... It was kinda cool. 27 years on the 27th of February. So, I thought I'd make a little something for him.
27 Reasons I Love You