Monday, June 29, 2009

The Wrong Way

This weekend, I decided to make Hubby and our guests some delicious chocolate molten cakes for his birthday celebration. I found the perfect recipe here, and the photo left me drooling before I could even read the so-bad-but-oh-so-good ingredients:

New recipe with company over? No problem. I always head that mantra, but never felt it applied to me. So, throwing caution to the wind, I whipped up some batter and prepped a buttery pan, feeling confident in my pursuit of the golden molten. Hubby's favorite molten in town can be found at Hattie's. So naturally, as any slightly-competitive baker would also do, I wanted to replicate... and hopefully surpass the legendary greatness :)

However, that was because I'd never experienced quite a dilemma like yesterday's... Until yesterday, I had lucked out by following directions closely, and relying on my limited baking experience to help me salvage disaster.

I filled the tin with this beautiful chocolate/butter/sugar batter, and set my kitchen timer:

Well, the buzzer went off, the oven door opened, and then it hit me. How in the world was I going to remove the cakes-- intact -- onto 12 individual plates?


This is the catastrophe ladies must be talking about when they heed caution about trying new recipes for guests. I had done everything right--plenty of butter in the molds, plenty of baking time, plenty of rest time. Unfortunately, it was not enough. I had put all my eggs in one basket and there was just no way to salvage them in one piece. I flipped the pan over and attempted a classic mold-removal move. Tapping the bottoms of each mold with a knife, I was hoping that this small kick would send each cake perfectly onto the baking sheet. Instead of perfect cakes with a hidden molten chocolate center, I ended up with some plops of molten with no sign of a nice cakey shell... smeared across the baking sheet.

I had to act fast.

My quick fix? Tag-team with hubby using spatulas and spoons to scoop, transferring to bowls, not plates, and piling high with plenty of (homemade) whipped cream to conceal my hasty error.

So, because of this mishap, I want to share with you the right way. The Right Way involves baking in individual ramekins, as opposed to the jailhouse a muffin tin can become with an ooey-gooey cake inside (times 12).

So let's view some cute ramekins that will make your cake baking a much happier experience. The beauty of the ramekin is that it offers a simple one-step way to bake and serve individual desserts.

First, there is the classic white ramekin, which you can always find at WS:

I also love these "Baking Days" ramekins from Spode (they come in lots of other cute colors too!):

And, of course, these adorable Juliska Berry & Thread ramekins:

So whether you brave the muffin tin, or opt for a ramekin (my strong suggestion!), I hope you enjoy baking some delicious chocolate molten cake soon. Oven to table in a pinch, other excuses to use ramekins include but are not limited to: mac n' cheese, souffles, cobblers and more!

Is it really almost July?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

You're Invited!

Now, to start this lovely weekend on the right foot...

let's all squeal together over this precious invitation from my friend CV:

Don't you love it!? We can thank Between the Sheets Co. for this adorable invite to a wonderfully blue-themed sip-and-see for baby Nicholas and his sweet momma.

Like what you see? CV will be back next week to share all the blue details of her baby soiree.

Get ready to be inspired!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Year-old Cake

Well, normally I wouldn't eat year old cake, but as time will tell, this was the weekend Hubby were scheduled to face the frozen truth. We went against our better consciences and sliced into the cake that graced our reception one year ago:

Here is what it looked like this year:

Still promising, I'd say! Now, drum roll, please...

...and...we're tasting...


To our astonishment, the cake had been perfectly preserved during the year. With each bite we looked at each other, wondering if we had a bad case of anniversary delusion. But alas, with each new bite, the truth was only more confirmed: our cake was just as delicious as it was on our wedding day back in 2008.

To this great news, we owe credit partially to my parents' freezer, but mostly to The Cake Guys, who graciously designed, baked and preserved our cake to give us not just one, but two (ok, three, four, five... I'm still devouring it nightly) perfect cakes to accompany our celebration of these unforgettable days.

Here is my highest recommendation of these wonderful fellows for any brides who have not yet made a decision about wedding cakes. If you want a cake that's equal parts pretty and yummy, then you'll love the cake guys. I'll admit that I even gave them every reason to be frustrated. Less than three weeks before our wedding, I fell in love with this cake from Martha Stewart Weddings:

I immediately emailed The Cake Guys, and lo and behold, they said, sure, no problem!  Turns out these proportions are not realistic for actual cake... it would collapse! So the Cake Guys in their genius-ness evened out the layers (they make multi-tiered cakes entirely out of... cake... a surprisingly rare procedure among wedding cake artists, I learned).

Not bad, eh?

I'm telling you, you'll love these guys! They even added script "L's" on the cameos for a cute personal touch. If you see a cake you like, ask your baker about it. It's worth it, believe me... think outside the box!

While we're at it, let's also not forget to share major props for amazing photography from Larry Sengbush and to-die-for flowers by the famous Junior at The Garden Gate. Possible wedding vendor posts to come... what do you think?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wifey Wednesday

And we're back with Wifey Wednesday! This evening I'm offering a tip you certainly don't want to miss. It's the perfect skill every hostess--wife or not--simply must master: properly opening a bottle of wine.

Don't be intimidated if you've never tried it. It's really quite simple once you get the hang.

Firstly, I recommend purchasing a waiter's cork-screw for quick opening. This tool can take you through the entire process, using just one little gadget.

To begin, cut the label off at the top using the tiny blade on the handle end of your cork-screw:

This gives you access to the cork, which is where you'll place the end of the screw:

Start twisting. Go slowly. If you've miscalculated the exact center, you can always *gently* pull out and try again. This step and the next are KEY. If you tear the cork on your way down or back up, you'll end up with a corked bottle, which is really unpleasant (aka: your guests will be scooping pieces of the cork out of their glasses all night long... not classy).

Once the entire screw has entered the cork, use the lever built into your cork-screw to help you pull the entire cork out:

You did it!

Now it's time to pour and enjoy. We'll have Wine Tasting 101 sometime soon :)

Some accessories to consider purchasing are: a magnetic drip stopper--great for keeping drips of wine from staining your counters and dining table-- and a wine stopper--perfect for keeping your bottle from airing out too much in-between pours (you can see mine there in the tray above).

You can also find a little wine kit like this:

It's your one-stop shop with a super easy opener and all the bells and whistles.

PS- the wine we've used in this post today is Atteca Old Vines 2007. A 90-point Wine Spectator selection! My Dad has a knack for excellent wines in reasonable price ranges. Maybe we can hear from him sometime. Good find, Dad!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Potting Project

This past weekend, Hubby and I were happy to acquire two little pressies.

One from my mother:

This added just the touch of cheer to our otherwise fresh flower-less dining table.
(Note the usage of silver creamer as a simple flower vase...Mom said she snatched this up at an estate sale for $4! Add your own flowers and viola!)

And one from hubby's mother:

These awesome planters actually belonged to Hubby's beloved grandmother, Nanny. We are so glad to have these lovely planters on our patio, as a garden is something we must look forward to having in the future :) I should have taken a picture that showed the scale of these guys-- they are enormous! And quite heavy and sturdy. I think our mini-garden will be quite successful in them.

We are trying to decide just what to put inside. Veggies? Herbs? Cascading ivy? I will keep you posted, no doubt. We are very interested in choosing a plant native to our region-- the hot summer months are a death sentence for most delicate petals.

Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Timely Upgrade

For months, I had been putting my hands in here:

Ewww! I know!

While I was glad to keep my mani spic-and-span over the course of several dish scrubdowns, I confess that I was sacrificing cuteness for functionality. How was I supposed to get excited about doing chores looking like that? Luckily, my irrationality did not go unnoticed, and I was happily surprised to receive this lovely treat from a real domestic diva (who you'll hear from personally very soon- stay tuned!):

Now I can preserve my polish with style! Not only are these zebra scrubbers cute, but they are also extra-functional. The gloves are long and keep my arms nice and clean during washing time. Doing the dishes doesn't have to be a drag. If you've never tried dishgloves, I'd highly recommend you do. And very soon. You would not believe what a difference it makes when your hands don't get all icky and dishsoap-dry after a half hour of sudsing.

Think you need some? There are some way cute options available for you and all your domesticity-loving friends:

First, this pair comes complete with a faux diamond! Now you won't feel bad if hubby sees that you've laid your wedding band aside to get down to business:

Available from Spoon Sisters.

And next, can we say summer?!

For purchase on Serendipity Collections.

I'm thinking these would complement my yellow mixer quite nicely:

Find them on Nifty Gifty.

These gloves from Fancy Pantz Designs are for the girl who wants to unleash her wild side during chore time!

Let's get scrubbing!

Ummm...dying to see Julia&Julia! Anyone else seen the previews?


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