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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 11/24/12

Saturday, November 24, 2012

ULTIMATE S'MORE CAKE!

   This recipe comes from www.fatgirltrappedinaskinnybody.com .  Another great cake recipe coming your way!









On Monday we celebrated 7 years of marriage. That’s something to celebrate. We’ve grown A LOT in these 7 years! See, when we went through pre-marriage counseling our counselors told us something we will NEVER forget:
“You two are the 2 most opposite people we have EVER seen in our 25 years of marriage counseling experience. Good luck”
I was a whopping 20 years old at the time and thought ‘whatever, I laugh in the face of a challenge.’ Stupid, stupid stupid. Those first couple years were rough. Rough in the sense that we learned very quickly that marriage takes work. Give me a topic, ANY topic, I can promise, with about 99% certainty we are different.
He’s a night owl, I like to get up at 4 am.
I’m a runner, he’s a biker.
I like vegetables, he likes steak.
He uses discernment when he speaks, I well, I don’t.
I fart, A LOT. He farts about once a day.
Just to give you a few examples…
But 7 years later I can say, with confidence, every ounce of effort has been worth it. I married the perfect man for me. He challenges me, encourages me, and just loves me for who I am, with all my flaws.
My Bae, you mean the world to me, I love you with all my heart. Happy 7 year Anniversary! Here’s to another 57…
And to celebrate, I made cake. I combined a few our favorite things: s’mores, cookies, cake, frosting and cheesecake. Because of course, we don’t have the same favorite dessert. I like cake and he likes frosting. But between the 2 of us, the plate will be licked clean.
7 years means I need to make a 7 layer cake? At least that was my logic behind NEEDING all the layer.
Here’s what you’ll need for this cake:
2 brownie layers
2 cheesecake layers
2 chocolate chip cookie layers
5 graham crackers (this is one of the ‘cake’ layers)
1 recipe for marshmallow frosting
1 recipe for chocolate Frosting



A few notes about this Ultimate Anniversary Cake:

1. These are the best brownies I’ve ever made. I’ve made Ina’s Outrageous brownies. And those are delicious, but they are VERY fudgy, and are not a brownie EVERYONE likes because of the oober fudgeyness. These King Arthur brownies, these are the perfect combination between fudgy and cakey. And they have that shiny, thin crunchy top, like a good brownie should. Make the brownies alone, and bake them in a 9×13 inch pan, or divide the batter in half, like I did for this cake, slice it into wedges and serve with berries, ice cream and chocolate fudge. Whatever you do, BAKE THESE BROWNIES!
2. The chocolate frosting, it’s like the kind you scoop from a jar, you know the stuff. Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines??? Come on, you know you probably have a jar in your cupboard right now. But this is 100 million times better. It’s a similar texture and consistency: smooth, creamy, rich. But no fake chemicals in it, yea! It spreads wonderfully too. As I was making it I told my husband “I found the only chocolate frosting recipe I may ever use again. It’s so perfect, why try anything else?” I mean, I know I’ll try others, but dang, this stuff is truly to-die-for and easy also.
3. I have 3 cake pans that are the same size (9 inch springform to be exact). So I used those 3 to bake the brownies, cookie and cheesecake, to make sure they were all the same size round. I lined the bottom of each pan with parchment paper to make it easy to remove each layer. And then I sprayed the parchment with non stick spray.
4. Everything on this cake is homemade, nothing from a box (ok, the graham crackers, but shoot, I’ve made those from scratch before…) But to make this easier, you can make the brownies form a box, or buy jar frosting. But let me tell you, this won’t be NEARLY as good.
5. In case your brownies or cookie get slightly crispy, it’s ok. The frosting and around the cake will help soften them back up as it refrigerates and sits. Let this cake refrigerate for at leats 1 day before serving for maximum flavor results.
I brought this to work, like I do a lot of desserts, and this is the only dessert EVERYONE has complimented, people are even posting pics on their face book pages. PEOPLE, this cake will blow your mind!









Brownie

Adapted from King Arthur Flour Fudge Brownie recipe
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder (I used instant coffee)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 cups chocolate chips (I used semi sweet)



Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 2 round cake pans (or a 9×13 inch pan for a standard batch of brownies).
*Grease the pan AFTER you add a piece of parchment, like the note above says.
In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it’s hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it’ll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.
While the sugar heats a second time, crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla till smooth.
Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.
Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. Note: If you want the chips to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather than melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips.
Spoon the batter into the cake pans.
Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool COMPLETELY on a rack before frosting or cutting (if your making normal brownies)









Cheesecake

1 1/4 pounds cream cheese (20 oz), room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium until fluffy, scraping down side of bowl. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down side of bowl after each addition. Beat in sour cream.
Put a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of a springform pan, spray with non stick spray. Pour half of the filling in each pan Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven temp down to 325 and bake for an additional 45 minutes.
Remove pan from oven, let cool 20 minutes. Run a knife around edge of the pans to loosen from the sides; let cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until ready to use.
***UPDATE***
I’ve received some e-mails that the baking time for the cheesecake layered has resulted in over baked cheesecake. While I haven’t experienced this, try baking your cheesecakes for about 1/2 the time and check and see if they’re done… then continue baking if they need it.


Chocolate Chip Cookie

Used my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe , spread half of the batch in each cake pan and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until it’s slightly golden. Not TOO golden or the cookie will be crispy, and you want a soft cookie in the cake.


Chocolate Frosting
Recipe adapted from Sweetapolita


Ingredients

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled (I let it cool about 1 hour, stirring occasionally)
4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (no need to sift)
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Directions

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate. Process until the frosting is smooth.


Marshmallow Filling

Recipe from My S’more Refrigerator Cake
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow fluff
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
To make the butter cream, beat together the marshmallow fluff and butter, on medium speed, until the mixture is smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Reduce the speed to low, add the powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat for another minute. Increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes until it’s light and fluffy.


Assembly

Place one layer of brownie on a cake stand. Frost brownie with with marshmallow frosting. Place a cookie layer on the marshmallow filling. Spread cookie layer with marshmallow frosting.
Remove cheesecake from freezer, unwrap, and remove from metal bottom of the pan from each piece, then peel off parchment paper.
Place cheesecake layer on top of the marshmallow frosting.
Spread a layer of chocolate frosting on cheesecake. Layer graham crackers on the cheesecake. You’ll have to break up the crackers to make them fit. Spread chocolate frosting on grahams, then place the second layer of cheesecake on the chocolate frosting. Spread cheesecake with marshmallow frosting
Then place the remaining cookie on the frosting. Spread the cookie with marshmallow frosting and put the remaining brownie on the marshmallow frosting. Spread the remaining chocolate fudge frosting on top of the cake and on the side.


So it looks like this:








Refrigerate until ready to serve. Remove from the fridge about an hour before serving to help it come to room temperature slightly. Because this cake is SO dense, when it chills, it gets even denser and takes a little muscle to cut.










Yes, I came up with cake all on my own. Of course I found inspiration from other sites (and I credited sites I used recipes from), but in the end, this is MY creation based on my husbands deep love for S’Mores. He loves them, with all his heart! I made another s’more cake, last year for his b-day. Not NEARLY as intense as this one though :)

THE FIELD GUIDE: SURVIVING BLACK FRIDAY INFOGRAPHIC!

   Have you ever wondered what it takes to pull off a successful Black Friday shopping day? Or are you the type that camps out in front of Target each year to get that killer deal on a new plasma TV? Either way, whether it’s your first time braving the crowds, or if you’re simply looking to hone your skills, below is a field guide that we think will help you get in, get what you need, and get out this Black Friday.

THE BEST TRADITIONAL SCOTTISH SHORTBREAD COOKIES!


This comes from www.cooklikejames.typepad.com .  Enjoy!


Best Traditional Scottish Shortbread Cookies



Shortbread cut


Best Traditional Scottish Shortbread Cookies

Another classic Christmas cookie - Shortbread is a traditional Scottish dessert that consists of three basic ingredients: flour, sugar, and butter. According to Wikpedia, this cookie resulted from medieval biscuit bread, which was a twice baked, enriched bread roll dusted with sugar and spices and hardened into a soft and sweetened biscuit called a Rusk. Eventually, yeast from the original Rusk recipe was replaced by butter, which was becoming more of a staple in the British Isles. Despite the fact that shortbread was prepared during much of the 12th century, the refinement of shortbread was actually accredited to Mary, Queen of Scots, in the 16th century. The name of one of the most famous and most traditional forms of shortbread, petticoat tails, were named by Queen Mary. This type of shortbread was baked, cut into triangular wedges as they are in this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.
Download Best Traditional Scottish Shortbread Cookies recipe

Ingredients

½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1½ cups (7 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
2/3 cup (2 2/3 ounces) confectioners' sugar
½ teaspoon table salt
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices (Lurpak or Kerrigold if possible)

Directions

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Pulse oats in spice grinder or blender until reduced to fine powder, about ten 5-second pulses (you should have ¼ to 1/3 cup oat flour). In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix oat flour, all-purpose flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. Add butter to dry ingredients and continue to mix on low speed until dough just forms and pulls away from sides of bowl, 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Place upside-down (grooved edge should be at top) collar of 9- or 9 1/2-inch springform pan on parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet (do not use springform pan bottom). Press dough into collar in even 1/2-inch-thick layer, smoothing top of dough with back of spoon. Place 2-inch biscuit cutter in center of dough and cut out center. Place extracted round alongside springform collar on baking sheet and replace cutter in center of dough. Open springform collar, but leave it in place.

3. Bake shortbread 5 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees. Continue to bake until edges turn pale golden, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Remove baking sheet from oven; turn off oven. Remove springform pan collar; use chef’s knife to score surface of shortbread into 16 even wedges, cutting halfway through shortbread. Using wooden skewer, poke 8 to 10 holes in each wedge. Return shortbread to oven and prop door open with handle of wooden spoon, leaving 1-inch gap at top. Allow shortbread to dry in turned-off oven until pale golden in center (shortbread should be firm but giving to touch), about 1 hour.

4. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool shortbread to room temperature, at least 2 hours. Cut shortbread at scored marks to separate and serve.




Shortbread baked
Shortbread in springform

DIY SANTA CLAUS TIN CAN VASE!


This comes from www.sewmanyways.blogspot.com.


Hello and welcome to Tool Time Tuesday. For the next few weeks or more, I am going to gear these TTT posts towards Christmas...maybe do some decorating posts or maybe gift giving ideas. I know it may seem early, but we all know those nights of making or decorating at the last minute. So why don't you join me in doing one or two crafts a week, so you can actually enjoy the holidays without all the rushing around.

Here is the first project for the holidays....A Santa Can. Make one this week for yourself and then make another one for gift giving. It's perfect and practically FREE!








Do you remember the post I did showing flower arrangements for a school fundraiser. I went to local restaurants and pizza places and asked them for their large metal cans that tomatoes come in. They were happy to give them to me for free. They are the big ones...7 inches high and 6 inches across at the top.(note: Lowes or Home Depot have unused paint cans of different sizes you could probably use also)

That's one in the picture below. You will also need red spray paint, something to make a black belt and a belt buckle. Pictures on this next...










Here are some ideas for Santa's black belt. Old leather belts that don't fit any more (I don't want to talk about the not fitting part) or elastic belts that you can adjust to fit.









How about an old strap from a camera or bag that you aren't using any more.






You can also cut black fabric and fold the raw edges into the middle...no sewing! You can also use trim, satin ribbon or ric rac too.









If you aren't using an actual belt, you'll need a buckle. You can cut one off an old belt or use 2 D rings. D rings are the things you find on a belt most of the time made with ribbon or a scarf. Another idea to make a shiny belt buckle is to cut open a soda can, trace a template of a buckle on the inside metal and cut it out with tin snips. Actually, the can is so soft, I cut it with a small pair of scissors.








Just find a picture of a buckle and draw it out on card board.









Then trace it on the inside of the can.









The next step is to spray the can. I sprayed it upside down so the paint won't get inside the can.















Now for the ideas...
a place to hold all the Christmas cards you receive over the holidays.









Add some evergreens cut fresh from outside for the scent of the holidays.









Add some berries for a beautiful centerpiece. These were some fake berries I already had, but real ones from your yard would be beautiful too.












Then add a little HO HO HO sign for the perfect greeting at your front door. I bought this sign after Christmas for 10 cents. You can easily make one by printing the words out on your computer, tracing it on cardboard...a little paint and glitter and you're done!






These large cans would be great for centerpieces, but wouldn't a little vegetable can or those tiny tomato paste cans be cute decorated the same way, but used for place card holders at the dinner table. Ohh, I need to make one of those!! I'll show you if I do! Add that to the list of "To Do's"








Here's a little break down of the cost:
  • cans...free
  • belt...free (because it doesn't fit...wahhh!)
  • evergreen...free
  • berries...I had them, but maybe $2.00 if you had to buy a bunch)
  • Ho Ho Ho...10 cents or free if you make one
  • red spray paint...I had it, but $3.00 for the can if you need to buy it
I'm thinking of 2 words...CUTE and CHEAP!

Have a great Tuesday,

~Karen~

HOW TO MAKE A LIGHTED CHRSTMAS PRESENT DECORATION!


  This diy comes from www.trendytree.com .  Pretty cool and pretty ingenious.  Make a few of these for around your front door or porch area.




How to Make a Lighted Christmas Box Decoration

 









This crafty idea for lighted Christmas decorations comes from TypicalScrapbooker Janie, one our Trendy Tree Facebook Group members, and what an excellent idea! She put together some pieces of chicken wire to make her box, added some inexpensive clear Christmas lights, covered the boxes in a nice shiny fabric and topped the box off with a crisp Deco Poly Mesh bow. Kudos to Janie! – Be sure to drop by her Blog Typical Scrapbooker Crafts and say hello!
There is just no limit to getting all sorts of variety in this decoration – size – color – fabrics - bows – embellishments……the list is long and only limited by your imagination. Imagination…..which in my case….I need examples!! So here are some more photos of TypicalScrapbooker Janie’s boxes!











Wire mesh or chicken wire, secured with zip ties. Strand of 100 Christmas lights also secured with zip ties…..don’t you just love zip ties….so many uses))) The lights were secured around the sides. Bottom of the box was left open.











A second layer of wire mesh was added for more support. Wire mesh or chicken wire can be found at your local hardware store, Lowe’s or Home Depot. You’ll need a pair of wire cutters and be careful with sharp edges. I like to wear thin leather gloves when working with wire.











You’ll see some sagging before you’re done, but once the sides are wired together it will be sturdier.











Good old zip ties! Zip ties were used to secure the lights too.











Finished box ready for decorating!










Lighted Box. You might want to test the arrangements of your lights before the next step, just to even them out.










Fabric was applied with double sided crafting tape.













Boxes could be made in any size or shape and would look great as a collection underneath the tree…..or on the tree! Some other options to consider might be:
  • Assorted fabrics or other materials. I believe Janie tried Deco mesh and this proved to be too thin, even two layers of it. Janie recommended a fabric that was not too sheer, but sheer enough that you could see your hand through it.
  • Clear Christmas lights – an option would be to use battery powered lights if you’re making a small package. One of the lighted boxes that we have for sale on Trendy Tree has the lights wrapped around a coil like center instead of the lights wired into the sides. This might be an option that would save some time maybe. This sort of lights yields a soft glow to the box, or the purchased one do, I think the effect would be about the same. I’m thinking about some 3″ cardboard centers that we have out of a roll of packing material…..wrapping the lights around that several times. You know how a rolled of string of lights just glows….you could just put the bunch of lights under the box if you’re not going to be moving it around or anything.
  • Toppings for your boxes are just unlimited. With the gorgeous wire edge ribbons and Deco Poly Mesh….bow making is a snap. Love the use contrasting colors and textures. Other embellishments of tinsel, pieces of sprays, balls….
  • Lighted boxes don’t just have to be for Christmas! Birthday parties …….multicolored boxes….decorated with polka dots or even the birthday party theme….I can see right now….I need more time for crafting!!
Thank you so much TypicalScrapbooker Janie! And thank you for being a member of the Trendy Tree Facebook Group. We look forward to seeing more of your creations and sharing ideas! Again, drop by Janie’s site for a visit ….you’ll be glad you did))