Merry Christmas Readers!

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Phew!!!!  I’m typing this as I’m making 2 tarts at the moment.  One traditional chocolate (very simplistic, with just a few ingredients that create the most decadent, yet simple taste), and a white chocolate swirled with butterscotch sauce for my husband.

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I guess it’s a let’s write between stirring the chocolate kind of night.  I am tired. 🙂  December flew by for us, and to be honest, it was a little too fast and crazy for our normal style.  Lots of things we went to, formal Christmas stuff, family outings, a few birthday parties, two that celebrated our Christmas baby.  And lots and lots of baking.

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When we needed to go to a Christmas formal, I thought it’d be fun to set up the kids and my mom (who was going to watch them that night) with a table ready for decorating Christmas cookies if they wanted to.

So the night before the formal, while doing some home-primping girly things, I was also cutting out and baking sugar cookies.  It was so much fun to do this and set up all the sprinkles (we have quite a collection!) and frostings for them to do the next day.

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I have such fond memories of doing these kinds of things with my mom, and how wonderful that she gets to repeat it with my children.  And with the exact same cookie cutters she always used with us!

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We also set the kids up like this another time when we went out to do some Christmas shopping together.  If any readers have any other ideas for what kids can do when you’re out at parties or dances and such, I’d love to hear them.  Hopefully next year’s December will calm down some, and we intend to make more so, for good measure.

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Seeing reindeer was one of the highlights!  And camels, although we didn’t get a picture of the camels 😀

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Fascinated faces… lol

Lots of fun things…

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And mesmerizing sights…

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I think we all drank our weight in hot chocolate 😉

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Our mornings have often been spent cuddling together, and squished, as all our children just have to all sit on the same couch at the same time with me LOL 🙂 it’s just one of those things where you have to take a moment.  We may go to fancy things sometimes… but on the whole, this is our reality.  And we are very, very full.

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And don’t worry, if you feel overwhelmed or stressed out this season, always remember… you’re not alone 😉

Somewhere, there is a baby being forced to see Santa…

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Merry Christmas!!!!

Stephanie

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Cinco de Mayo!

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I loved being a part of a family where my mother had little traditions for the holidays.  Cinco de Mayo, the 5th of May, is a holiday that was always marked by my mother getting some authentic Mexican cookies or pastries, candies, or even chocolates,  It was never a big ordeal or a huge party, but was rather a little family tradition that simply brought joy and different kinds of food into our house for the occasion.

This year my husband brought home some Mexican wedding cookies last night, and we went out today to get some festive sugar cookies my older son is crazy about… plus a chocolate pie for tonight to go with some Mexican Espresso (Espresso coffee with a dash of cinnamon and vanilla).

Delish!

Swedish Chocolate Cake (Kladdkaka) – Easy & Out of This World – Perfect Holiday Treat

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I like to try ahead anything I’m planning on making to bring for our family holiday celebrations… even though there can be a mischievious element of fun in making your friends and family be the guinea pigs for a new recipe or pie, I truly want to know if I love it.  If I don’t absolutely love a dessert, I won’t eat it nor will I expect anyone else I love to eat it… why waste the precious calories 😉 ?

My motto is…

Eat wonderful, incredibly good foods or wine,

and don’t waste your calories on candy, store bought cookies, or lesser desserts.

 

There is something to be said about a homemade treat for the holidays – but they usually just take so much time that the average working person feels they can’t accomplish it.  The result of this Swedish cake was breathtaking!  The easiness in making it puts it easily above any “chocolate pie” – and is great for the ever-busy mommies or for working families!

You only need 7 ingredients, and you probably have most in your pantry already!

Recipe by Izy Hossack, creator of Top with Cinnamon cookbook (and only 18 years old – wow!):

Swedish Chocolate Cake
Serves 8 to 9

I’m throwing a bold claim in here: this is the best chocolate cake you’ll ever make. It’s wonderfully quick since it’s all melted together in one pot and poured straight into the cake tin. Bake it carefully—keep it gooey! I’ll cry if you over-bake it, OK? It requires no frosting, only a dusting of icing sugar but looks just as impressive as a four-layer cake with buttercream roses… It’ll be gone in a day, though, so don’t make any plans for it any longer than five hours post-bake. No worries though, you can just make another one because it was so darn easy the first time!

135 g (4 ¾ oz or 10 Tbsp) salted butter
55 g (2 oz or ½ cup) cocoa powder
350 g (12 oz or 1¾ cups) granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
110 g (3 ¾ oz or 1 cup, minus 2 Tbsp) plain (all-purpose) flour
3 eggs
2 Tbsp icing (confectioners’) sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line, grease and flour a deep 18 cm (7 in) cake tin.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 20-30 minutes—it should be set around the edges but still gooey in the middle.

Let the cake cool in its tin for about 20 minutes, then run a blunt knife around the inside edge of the tin to loosen it. Turn out onto a wire rack, dust with icing sugar and serve warm.

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A note about her instructions… this isn’t exactly a difficult cake, however it IS a tricky cake.  It’s hard to get it to turn out just right – not too-under-baked, and not over-baked into the consistency of an American brownie.  You are not trying to make brownies 🙂 and you’re not trying to make a molten-lava runny cake either.  It’s tricky because it’s in between. 

I noticed her directions leave out that you need to mix all the dry ingredients together first – fully incorporate the cocoa powder together with the flour, sugar, and salt (I added a pinch of Kosher salt).

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You don’t need to melt the butter in a saucepan, you can easily melt it in the microwave if you wish.

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You DO need to whisk the eggs & combine them together with the melted butter and the vanilla, before combining them altogether with the dry mixture.

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Also, never add vanilla into a dry mixture – always add it into a wet mixture… it just won’t incorporate effectively otherwise.

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When everything is mixed, and you’re ready to combine the wet & dry mixtures, make sure you do not use an electric beater – there is no need and you risk over beating it.  Use a wooden spoon if you have one (or metal) or a spatula will work fine, only stir about 30 times – if you over-stir, the batter will be too hard and stiff.  You want to mix it until its just combined, then pour it into your greased pan.

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A word about baking time:  This will more than likely take longer than 20-30 minutes at 350 F.  For ours, it really wasn’t ready until about 40 minutes of baking.  But unless you’re ok with brownies, you need to be checking every 5-10 minutes after 30 minutes.  45 minutes is too long and gives you regular brownie texture.  But each environment is different and ovens as well, so make sure you keep a watch on it so that it comes out how you want.

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A trick I use… to cool quickly, place on top of ice packs

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Dust with powered sugar!  This picture was when it had been only 20 minutes baked – the edges were firm but the middle inside was still too runny, I popped it back in (checking it every 5-10 minutes) and meant to take it out at 40 total minutes, but got distracted by my little one (life of a mom right??), so it was in for 45 minutes and came out slightly over-baked :/  It looked great and done – just gooey enough at 40 minutes though.

Our delicious, a little over-baked, finished result:

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choclate tarte

If you love chocolate desserts, you have to check out the Traditional Chocolate Tart I made for Christmas last year – it was divine… and it’s still #1 in our family.

It’s incredibly easy, however it takes more steps than the Swedish Chocolate Cake (and of course, is a completely different texture… the Tart is more “mousse-like” instead of gooey cake-like in Kladdkaka), but if you want a truly decadent and elegant dessert that is SURE to impress family and friends, the Traditional Chocolate Tart is the way to go!  I’ll be making it again come December.