Tuesday, April 26, 2011

William Sonoma Recipe: Easter Nest Torte

My mother-in-law threw a massive Easter lunch this year and we were in charge of bringing something chocolate.  Mike and I took the opportunity to try out William Sonoma's Easter Nest Torte - and ooh we're glad we did!  It really wasn't that hard to make - just a little time consuming  - and delicious!  

1/2 c self-rising flour (to make your own: add 1.5 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt per 1 c. flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3c cocoa powder
1 stick (1/2c) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c superfine sugar (you can throw normal sugar in the food processor for a couple pulses, or just use normal sugar - that's what we did and the texture was still great)
2 eggs
4 Tbsp orange flavored liqueur
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces

Grease a 9in springform pan and line the base.  Sift flour, baking powder, and cocoa.  Add butter, sugar, and eggs.  Whisk until creamy.  Turn into the prepared pan, level, and bake at 350 for 20-25min.  (Mine only took 12 min on convection. Watch closely.)  Remove from pan and place on a cooling rack.  Move the cake to a serving plate and drizzle with the liqueur.  (We used a toothpick to prick holes all over for better absorption.)

Measure the cake's circumference, then cut a waxed paper strip 1/2in longer and 2.5in wide.  Melt the chocolate and spoon it along the strip, spreading it to the edge on one side and shaping a wavy line on the other about 1/2in away from the edge.  Leave 1/2 in free at one end.  Set aside for 15-20min, then carefully lift the paper strip and secure it around the sponge so the straight edge rests on the plate and the ends of the strip meet. Chill.  (We found it took longer then they said to get to a pliable state that was still hardened enough to stand upright.)

2 tsp powdered gelatin
2 Tbsp cold water
3 egg yolks
1/4 c superfine sugar
1 tsp conrstarch
1 1/4 c milk
7oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/4 c whipping cream

Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small bowl and set aside to soften.  Beat the egg yolks in a bowl with the sugar, cornstarch, and a little of the milk.  Put the remaining milk in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring just to a boil.  Pour it over the egg yolk mixture, whisking well.  Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook gently, stirring until thickened.  Do not allow to boil.

Remove from heat and stir in the gelatin until dissolved.  Break the semi-sweet chocolate into pieces and add to the gelatin mixture.  Leave to melt then stir until smooth.  Cover with waxed paper and allow to cool until just beginning to thicken then remove paper.

Whip the cream into soft peaks and fold it slowly into the chocolate mixture.
Turn into the chocolate mould on the sponge and level.  Chill.  Remove the waxed paper strip from the outside of the cake.

5oz milk chocolate
small chocolate eggs

The recipe says to:
Use a sharp knife, slice the milk chocolate into long thin shards and lay on the cake in a nest.  We just went ahead and melted more semi-sweet chocolate, spread it on waxed paper and then broke it into pieces which we arranged on the cake.

Enjoy!  It's super rich, creamy, and not too sweet!  (Not to mention my husband is quite the chocolate pro!)
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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Artist's Cake

My dad is a very talented artist, as I'm sure I've mentioned before, and today is his birthday! We celebrated early and my sister-in-law and I made this cake for him. We got the cupcake idea from "What's New Cupcake" (What's New, Cupcake?: Ingeniously Simple Designs for Every Occasion) and had the Safway bakery print out one of his paintings (here's the original) on edible paper.

I tried out a new "buttercream" frosting recipe to try for a super smooth surface and it worked great! Here's the recipe (from here):

1 cup Crisco (or other quality vegetable shortening)
1/2 cup (stick) of butter, (allowed to come to room temperature)
1 tsp clear vanilla flavor (clear so that your buttercreams soft yellow color isnt compromised)
1 tsp of flavoring such as crème bouquet or lemon (optional) (I'd add extra butter flavoring)
1/4 cup milk (more or less as needed for consistency desired)
1 pinch salt (for use with unsalted butter only)
1 tsp meringue powder
2 lb bag of powdered (confectioners) sugar that has been sifted
On lowest speed, incorporate the these last three ingredients, just until they’ve begun to combine, and then turn the mixer up to medium speed, and blend until smooth and a little fluffy. If using a stand-up mixer, this texture will achieved after about 2 minutes, and if using a hand-held mixer, after about 5 minutes.
If while you’re mixing, the mixer beings to strain or you notice the icing is too stiff, add more water or milk, very small amounts at a time until you have the consistency you want. If the mixture becomes too soft, then simply add more powdered sugar.
And the best tip they gave to get that perfectly smooth top - Paper towels!! And not just any - they have to be Viva since Viva doesn't have a textured pattern on there. Once you've frosted the cake and let it sit for 15-30min or until it's "crusted" then you place your paper towel on there and start gently rubbing with your hand. Works like a charm!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pale Pink

I just love this cake!  Very simple but it also looks like it tastes delicious!  (image from Style Me Pretty - I think!)
How to make a carnation look good!  (pic from here)
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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Prepping for a Wedding

I love wedding flowers.  They might just be my favorite arrangements to do.  The anticipation of seeing everything come together gets me so excited every time!  Part of this excitement is definitely due to the energy that the families and friends have put in for this special day.  I'm looking forward to the professional shots of the whole thing!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Wedding Details: Personalizing Shoes

I love extra, unnecessary details that make fabulous pictures!  Above are stickers placed on the bottom of the bride's shoes from Your Happily Ever After. A fun easy way to get your something blue!  And below they just used sharpies to write the initials of the couple.  Easy and extremely affordable!  (The bottom picture is from Style Me Pretty, I think - I grabbed it awhile ago and forgot to page mark it!)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Feature Flower: Mini Cymbidium Orchids

Orchids are a great long lasting cut flower.  As long as you keep the water clean and the flowers out of drafts they can live for as long as 4-6 weeks!
Potted orchids are also fantastic since they'll keep re-blooming for you and aren't that hard to care for (but details on that is for another post!).

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Easter Flower Nests

made from curly willow and lily grass
 bupleurum, larkspur, buttons, and snowdrops (the only thing blooming in the garden!)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Real Parties: Cat in the Hat Party

This past weekend we had the Cat in the Hat Party for our now 2 year old! 

We set up our IKEA kids table with craft paper for the kids to color on.
Ties -made from cardstock (almost all the decor was from cardstock - diy details coming!)
Treat bags for the kids (included Cat in the Hat stickers).
Umbrella Sugar Cookies (recipe)

Red Velvet Cake (recipe from epicurious - after making it and being unhappy with the color and texture, we re-made it with these alterations)

BLT Bites (Snack for the adults!  This was an idea that I got from my friend, Katie - easy to do and really tasty!)

No surprise that only the babies were willing to wear the hats!

Red Velvet Cake Recipe


  • 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1.5-2 tablespoon red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 - 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Sift sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk, sour cream, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in small bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions.
Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20-27 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.
For frosting:
Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
Whip the cream - adding a little powdered sugar and vanilla as you go.  
Fold in the whipped cream to the cream cheese frosting.

Split cake layers in half (so you have four layers).  Put filling in and dirty ice the outside.  Chill for a good hour.  Then frost the rest of the cake to avoid crumbs.

(original recipe from epicurious, alterations by KCD)

Sugar Cookie Recipe

This is my mom's sugar cookie recipe that she's made for years.  We use it for any roll out sugar cookie you need - it's not too sweet and has a great texture.  This was the first time I tried putting it on sticks and it worked great.  I rolled it a little thicker, chilled the dough after cutting out the shapes to avoid them getting misshapen from the stick, and then slid the sticks into the cookies right before I put them in the oven.

1c butter
1c pwd sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
dash salt
2.5c flour

Cream the butter and powdered sugar.  Add the vanilla and beaten egg. Sift in salt and flour.  

Roll to 1/8in thick. Cut out shapes.

(optional - chill.  I've found this helps the cookies maintain their shape)

Bake at 350 F for 8min (or lightly golden).

(These freeze well too.)
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