Sketch, bake, carve: Reconnecting with my creative side post-wedding

Art, Baking, Holiday

This month has been crazy! Andy and I were married on Oct. 6 and departed immediately after for our honeymoon trip of a lifetime to Maui and Kauai.

It was magical and perfect, and we couldn’t have asked for a more memorable October.

While I’m sad to have these amazing life events behind me, I’m also, admittedly, relieved. For the first time in over a year and a half I finally have some free time!

This week I’ve been having fun using my free time to get back to being creative and get into the Halloween spirit.

Sketch

The first item on my creative agenda following our honeymoon was to get back to sketching. I’ve always been a “Hocus Pocus” fan and I definitely had the Sanderson sisters in mind when I was creating this pen & ink sketch:

Bake

I also decided to get creative with cookies. I’ve made cut-out cookies before, but decided this time to try something new and decorate them with royal icing — I’m all about trying new things!

The decorations came out far from perfect but they were a lot of fun to make. I would highly recommend this chocolate cutout cookie recipe, which tastes very similar to a chocolate sandwich cookie. Pair it with Alton Brown’s recipe for royal icing which comes out so shiny and beautiful (don’t use my application as basis for judgement!).

Carve

And, of course, no Halloween is complete without a Jack-o-Lantern. Andy and I carve pumpkins every Halloween and I have to say, I think his looks better than mine this year!

Note to self: Next year, remember to buy a carving kit. The chef’s knife just isn’t cutting it anymore!

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Halloween!

Marble Cake with Apricot Filling and Decadent Mocha Frosting

Baking

A special post-birthday shout-out to my boyfriend Andy who turned 33 this week! While last year we celebrating by exploring the fabulous town of Skaneateles, this year we celebrated by going out to eat at SUMO hibachi and later enjoying his favorite cake – a marble filled with apricot preserves and topped with a rich mocha frosting.

Here’s how to make it:

INGREDIENTS

For the cake:

  • 1 box of marble cake mix (I’ve mentioned before that the men in my family prefer box-cake. Thankfully, it’s a great solution when you are looking to save time and feature your frosting.)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs

For the filling:

  • 1/2 jar of Smucker’s Apricot Preserves, 18 oz

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup salted butter, room temperature (or unsalted, if preferred)
  • 2 tbs instant coffee granules
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup melted semi-sweet chocolate– cooled slightly (you can use chocolate chips for this)

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Painting with #cakebatter. 🥄

A post shared by Emilee Smith (@emileejaysmith) on

DIRECTIONS

  1. Bake the cake according to the instructions on the box, using two 9-inch rounds.
  2. Let cake cool completely.
  3. Spread the apricot preserves over the first round. Be generous, as the cake will absorb the preserves over time.
  4. To prepare frosting, whip butter and instant coffee granules together until fluffy.with an electric mixer.
  5. Turn mixer to medium/high speed and slowly pour in whipping cream and whip until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  6.  Mix in vanilla extract and melted chocolate while whipping on medium/high speed.
  7. Turn mixer speed down to medium/low and slowly add in your powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until the frosting has reached your desired thickness.(Tip: If you are using a strong variation of instant coffee, you will want to use the full four cups of sugar to balance the bitterness of the granules.)
  8. Gently place the second round of your cake atop the first.
  9. Generously apply frosting to the top and sides of your cake.
  10. If desired, decorate with chocolate chips and cocoa powder.

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Original frosting recipe retrieved from http://www.bakeaholicmama.com/2014/01/chocolate-cake-with-whipped-mocha.html. The recipe has been altered from its original format.

 

Chocolate Bread Pudding

Baking

Last night as I was preparing for the impending snowstorm, I decided to try making a rich and cozy dessert: bread pudding.

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Although I had never actually made bread pudding before, I found through some internet skimming that most recipes were extraordinarily simple. I decided to give it a go and found that with such a short time required for preparing the dish, bread pudding actually makes for a great week-night dessert, or in this case, addition to a blizzard preparedness plan.

I followed the recipe closely, though I used chocolate chips or morsels instead of grating a bar of chocolate and also had to bake my pudding ten minutes longer than the recipe suggested.

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The dessert really did come out great, and the blend of cinnamon, almond, chocolate and Kahlua made for a great cozy-feeling dessert on a cold winter night.

If you do decide to give this recipe a try, I also recommend topping it with whipped cream.(Homemade is obviously the best if you have the time, but if not, store-bought will more than do!)

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I acquired said recipe from FoodNetwork.com and would certainly recommend it to anyone looking to try out a rich and flavorful dessert. Click here to check it out!