You know, perhaps best, that Tianjin has yet to offer the autumn festivities we were accustomed too in America. It requires a lot of effort to get in the mood, but I was certainly bot going to waste the season! I decided to invite Maddie and Megan to a small camp out on the porch. We awkwardly gathered some sticks from around the neighborhood (along with some stares). On our little red grill we built a fire that barely lasted long enough to roast a few s’mores. It was so fun though; we had our indie rock music going and a pile of pillows to lounge on. Everything was there but you! We all miss you so much!
Yes, I know its been a month since Valentine’s Day but to be honest, I couldn’t pass up this post no matter how late. I am putting it out there as the best tasting cake that I’ve ever made. It couldn’t of come at a better time either, as baking is my #1 method of showing my affection (which is what V-day is all about, right?).
There were many “firsts” for me in baking this cake, it was my first try at: red velvet cake, a 6-layer cake, filling with whipped cream… my first successful piping experience, the first cake that I’ve made for a specific occasion other than a birthday, to Megan’s delight, my first time using the cake plate she bought me for Christmas, and last but not least, the first cake that I’ve properly hoarded all for myself!
The reason I enjoyed this particular cake so much is its unique combination of flavors. As is tradition for a red-velvet cake, there is a cream cheese based filling which then alternates with a pink-colored, vanilla whipped cream. Covering the outside of this cake, is possibly the best chocolate icing I have ever tasted. However, the prize-winning factor has to do with the original nature of red-velvet cake. Unlike many cakes that I bake, this cake is “not” overwhelmingly CHOCOLATE… red-velvet cake is no more than a vanilla cake with a bit of added cocoa and a bunch of red food coloring. Hence, the ratio of vanilla to chocolate is just right.
The genius behind this monstrous cake can be found over at Sweetapolita -you can find the recipe and full description here.
For the past month my oven has experienced literal tidal waves of cupcakes entering and exiting by the dozens. Seriously, for about a week, J, M, & M could expect a fresh cupcake every afternoon awaiting their return from school. Other than spending WAY too much time researching cupcake flavor variations, gaining a quite few extra pounds (eek!), and frustrating my Mother to no end with piles of dirty dishes, I have immensely enjoyed these sugar-filled days of baking.
We are a little s’more-crazy around here, so I couldn’t resist trying the cupcake form of a traditional campfire s’more… The first time around, I piped a fluffy meringue atop chocolate cupcakes. Sadly, however, I couldn’t taste the true “marshmallowy creaminess” famous in s’mores. Hence, a few days later, I tried a completely different frosting made from cream cheese and marshmallow fluff.
At this point, I am still tackling the introductory techniques of cupcakes. I have not reached the level of originality and creativity required for developing new flavors and design aesthetic. For now, I am benefiting from the experience of all the excellent bakers ahead of me… this particular recipe was developed by the very talented Rosie from Sweetapolita. She is such a sweetheart and I am constantly wowed and inspired by her work.
There are actually four parts to these cupcakes. 1.) graham cracker (or digestive cookie for those of us living overseas) crumbled base. 2.) Chocolate cupcake. 3.)Dark chocolate glaze spread directly onto the surface. 4.) Marshmallow frosting piped on top. I find this combination a perfect ratio of each s’more component: cracker, marshmallow, and chocolate bar.
Parts #2 and #4 are found here, and parts #1 and #3 are written below. Graham cracker crust: