Boozy Black Forest Cake

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This cake is a real treat.

The rich but light chocolate cake lends itself well to the sweet cherries and airy whip cream. The dark chocolate adds a layer of bitterness to all the sweetness. And the chocolate sprinkles add extra texture and crunch. (They aren't rainbow sprinkles, but we'll make an exception this time). With a little Kirsch between the layers, we're doing okay!

 

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Ingredients (Cake Batter):

  • 235g sugar
  • 80g butter
  • 5g salt
  • 160g pastry flour
  • 45g cocoa powder
  • 2.5g baking soda
  • 5g baking powder
  • 160ml water
  • 5g vanilla
  • 3 eggs

Ingredients (Filling):

  • 300g cherries (reserve the juices)
  • 1L whipping cream
  • 80g sugar
  • 5g Vanilla

Decorating:

  • 150g dark chocolate shavings
  • Chocolate sprinkles
  • Kirsch

Steps (Cake):

  • Set oven to 350F
  • Cream the butter, sugar and salt. Scrape down the bowl
  • Sift the remaining dry ingredients together, and add to the butter/sugar mixture. Pour the water over top
  • Mix on medium speed for 5 minutes. Stop to scrape down the bowl, and mix again for another minute
  • Add the eggs and vanilla, then mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down, then mix on high speed for one minute. The batter should resemble a light chocolate mousse.
  • Add batter to a well greased 9" cake pan. Smooth with an offset Spatula. Bake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out moist but not wet.

Steps (Filling and Masking):

  • Whip cream, vanilla and sugar into stiff peaks. Set aside
  • Once fully cool, but the cake into three layers. Brush each layer with cherry juice and Kirsch (adjust juice to booze ratio as you see fit)
  • Cover the first layer with a thin layer of cream. Pipe a rim of cream around the edges, and fill inside with cherries. Repeat for the next layer.
  • Once all three layers are in place, mask the entire cake with the whip cream
  • Cover the sides of the cake with the chocolate sprinkles
  • Pipe rosettes on the top of the cake, and top with amarena cherries
  • Pile the chocolate shavings into the centre of the cake
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Lavender Shortbread

I remember as a kid my mom's obsession with lavender. She would always lather on lavender hand cream, or stuff pockets of lavender into our underwear drawers. Every year at the CNE, she would visit the same booth to pick up more dried lavender. She would grab a few lavender flowers from the tester and carry it around in her hands. She'd shove our noses into it, "I just love the smell of lavender!". We used to make fun of her lavender obsession.

Well, now I'm an adult and have a lavender obsession of my own. We become our mothers, do we not??

My first taste of it was in a lavender flavoured ice cream from a little organic shop. I didn't know what to make of it. It was kind of nice, kind of like eating potpourri?? But my sister Diana loved it, and would get it often. Like a true "big sister", I had to try it every time for quality control. Lo ad behold, it grew on me.

My sister made these cookies, adapted from the Five Roses cookbook (published before the bible probably). They were the perfect balance of sweet, crumbly, and floral. 

lavender shortbread

Lavender can be a lot. The flavour is strong, so start with a small amount.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon lavender flowers

Steps:

Preheat oven to 350F. Gently whip butter, and stir in sugar, salt and egg yolk until just incorporated. Add the flour a little bit at a time until the mixture is stiff, throwing in the lavender flowers at the very end.

Turn the dough onto a floured counter and knead with extra flour just until the mix begins to crack. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into shapes and bake for 10 minutes until slightly golden.

lavender shortbread

Paris

Nothing is better than a girls trip. No offence to the men in my life who I love dearly...but...you're benched.

One of my favourite times of year for a girls trip is the beginning of December. Cities are usually buzzing with the excitement of Christmas, the decorations are spectacular, and there is no shortage of seasonal treats. Usually, I'd head to NYC as its my favourite city and the Christmas windows are spectacular. However, after a few consecutive Christmas trips to NYC, my mother and I decided on Paris instead. My family came to visit me in France when I was there in University on exchange, and we've been wanting to go back since.

I wont lie - Paris was super rainy. Like, every single day it rained. You would be walking around, enjoying the sights and then next think you know you'd be running into the nearest cafe to wait it out for the next 2 hours (this is where most vin chaud and french onion soup was consumed)

Despite the rain, it was an incredible trip. Some highlights were:

  • Exploring every single floor of Gallerie Lafayette, trying on (and falling in love with) everything in Maje, and drinking Aperol Spritzes on the rooftop
  • Walking down the Champs Elysee and finding the Pierre Herme + L'Occitane collab shop. I tried as many Pierre Herme macarons as possible before my mother could clue in and tell me to lay offf (Ispahan, salted caramel, and Mogador were personal favourites). I also grabbed a honey mandarin hand cream exclusive to this location that I LOVE. My boyfriend and sister also love it. Back off.
  • Eating bread + cheese at every meal
  • Seeking out every Christmas market in the city (favourite being at La Defense)
  • Musee D'Orsay
  • Exploring Montmartre, Le Marais, and St.Germain
  • Stumbling across a restaurant that only served steak in green sauce and french fries. Oh and this super mustardy salad. omg.
  • Sampling the Speculoos truffle at Bostani Chocolatier
  • The hazelnut pastry (whats the damn name again) + hot chocolate at Angeline
  • Admiring the decor of the Laduree shop
  • This D&G Toaster and juicer I didn't know I needed
  • Countless vin chaud
  • The incredible meal on Bustronome - who knew a bus would have such great food? We essentially sat on this beautiful bus with huge open windows and ate delicious food while it drove us to all the main sites in Paris.

We ate:
- Little Potatoes stuffed with a fresh cream
- Scallop tartar with grapefruit and creamy endives (oh man)
- Turbo fillet and pumpkin in saffron sauce (oh man)
- Chicken with rosemary, asian pear cooked in chicken broth, stir fried polenta, and parmigiano crisp (oh man)
- Caramel apple terrine, hazelnut crumble and granny apple sorbet
- Financiers

This really was such an amazing trip. My only complaints are that I lost my hat (where is it?), the taxis drive like they have a death wish, and we were a little to early to eat Galette de Rois since its made in January only!!!

Merci Paris, we will see you soon.

Chocolate, Espresso & Sea Salt Caramel

Chocolate. Espresso. Sea Salt. 

Name a better trio. I'll wait.

sea salt chocolate espresso caramel

These little guys are so addictive. My boyfriend loved them. I was the best girlfriend ever. Until he got a particularly salty bite. Then I was "trying to kill him". Beware of liberal sea salting!

This recipe is one I got from the Bake from Scratch magazine. It is amazing, and if you cut these into small pieces, it makes a huge batch. I got over 200. You can but shouldn't eat these by yourself. They're perfect for portioning out as gifts. On the other hand, they DID keep really, really well for weeks....

I wrapped mine in parchment paper and fish n chip paper. So ~artsy~.

Be sure to use a really great dark chocolate here and don't compromise. It's worth it.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup (113g) 70% dark chocolate
  • 1 cup + 2 TBS (270g) heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup + 1 TBS (135g) condensed milk
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (140g) regular corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup (140g) light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup (60g) water
  • 1/4 cup (57g) unsalted butter softened
  • 1 TBS (6g) espresso powder
  • 1/2 TBS (9g) vanilla
  • Maldon sea salt as needed

Steps:

  • Line a 9"x13" baking pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray
  • Cut the chocolate into large chunks and place in a medium sized bowl
  • In a small saucepan, heat your the cream and condensed milk. Once warm, pour it over the chocolate
  • In a medium saucepan, add the sugar, syrups and water. Start on low heat and raise the temperature up the mix to 240F
  • Remove sugar mixture from heat and stir in the cream/chocolate mixture and vanilla
  • Add back to the heat and bring the mix back up to 240F, stirring constantly
  • Remove from heat and stir in butter and espresso
  • Pour mixture into prepared baking pan. After 5 minutes, sprinkle with sea salt
  • Cover the pan with plastic and let it sit overnight. Then cut it into desired sizes and wrap!
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