I love our new house. The days and nights are getting cooler and I'm starting to worry that we can't turn on the heater yet (it needs some repair). But as long as I bake something during the day (which I usually do) and my new range heats up the kitchen, and I have my cozy down comforter over me at night, I'll not worry too much about freezing. Every week there's a different contractor in the house doing something, and there's an endless list of things to do, but I still love it.
I love the new town we live in. It's a real community where the neighbors take their dogs for long walks, and there is a spring garden market and a fall festival, and a farmer's market where locals gather every Saturday to meet the farmers and buy local produce. There are Gallery Walks and some great restaurants. I can walk or ride my bike to the grocery store, the library, or the post office. The kids walk to school and if they've forgotten something at home, I'm only two blocks away and I say, "Ok! I'll bring it right over!" - no problem. (We used to drive 30 minutes to school.) I'm spending a LOT less time in the car these days and that means... more time to bake (and do laundry)!
Last weekend, a friend asked me to make a birthday cake for her sister. About 30 people were invited to the party. She told me that the birthday girl loves chocolate and nonpareils, potato chips, and the Jersey shore. The chocolate and nonpareils I could work with. I was so happy with the way the nonpareils dressed up the cake. So pretty and sophisticated and no difficult piping. I'll be using those again for sure. She wanted just a Laverne and Shirley type "L" on top for the birthday girl's first initial. So simple, so pretty.
Each tier has two layers of dark chocolate cake with an inch-thick layer of chocolate mousse between them. A rich chocolate ganache buttercream covers the entire cake. All in, the cake required about 2 pounds of chocolate, 3 cups of cocoa powder, 5 sticks of butter and 3 cups of heavy cream. That's a lot of rich and yummy goodness.
from the Hersheys.com
I made a double recipe for the two-tiered cake.
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
2 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup cold whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small bowl; let stand 1 minute to soften. Add boiling water; stir until gelatin is completely dissolved and mixture is clear. Cool slightly.
2. Stir together sugar and cocoa in medium bowl; add whipping cream and vanilla. Beat on medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bottom of bowl occasionally, until mixture is stiff. Pour in gelatin mixture; beat until well blended. Spoon into serving dishes.
3. Refrigerate about 30 minutes before serving. Garnish as desired. Cover; refrigerate leftover desserts. Four 1/2 cup servings.
To double the recipe: Use 1 envelope gelatin; double remaining ingredients. Follow directions above, using large bowl instead of medium bowl.
Chocolate Ganache Buttercream
from Baked by Matt Lewis and Renato Polafito
Note: I made 1 1/2 recipes for the tiered cake and had some leftover
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped - or you can use a combination of dark and milk chocolate
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into 1-inch pieces
Place both chocolates in the bowl of an electric mixer. In a small saucepan, bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil, then remove from the heat and immediately pour the mixture over the chocolate. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes. Starting in the center of the bowl and working your way out to the edges, whisk the chocolate mixture until completely smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
With the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, on medium speed gradually add the butter pieces and mix until thoroughly incorporated. The frosting should be completely smooth and have a silky look. If the icing is too soft, refrigerate it, stirring every 10 or 15 minutes until it is the desired consistency.