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The Better Basic: Yellow Cake and Buttercream Frosting

August 29, 2012

This cake is as simple and classic as it gets: a yellow cake with a vanilla buttercream frosting (I dyed mine pink and put a lemon on top purely for aesthetic reasons). Some people may even be tempted to hit their local grocery store and buy a mix (gasp!) or frosting from a can (the horror!), but I know my readers are far too good for that kind of behavior...right? Right! 
And just in case you didn't know cake can be stored in the freezer for a few months if well wrapped in plastic wrap. So why not just bake an extra cake to have on hand? It's honestly the best way to assure yourself that you will never resort to grocery store mixes no matter how desperate you are. 
Remember that chocolate cake with salted coffee chocolate frosting I made not too long ago? This is the same cake, just outfitted in a different dress. I like frosting cakes but I'm not too fond of breaking out my piping gear to decorate the edges. I disguise my laziness by saying, "I like a slightly homemade look to my cakes,." And in all honesty, it's true. Perfection is overrated.

The Better Way to Impress with Chocolate Cake

August 28, 2012

This is a surefire way to knock everyones cashmere-wool blend socks off. Not only is this cake seriously the most moist hydrated cake out there, but it is so sophisticated. I mean just look at it! I wasn't too surprised when my guests were reluctant to cut into it. But honestly, any care of ruining it's beauty goes out the door when you cut into it and see the yummy layers of chocolate cake bound by chocolate frosting.
Both the curled chocolate sticks and the duo chocolate shavings were purchased at my local cake decor/candy making shop. The ribbon adds an extra luxe touch, and serves as reassurance that the chocolate sticks won't fall off unceremoniously. 
I was originally planning on saving this decorating technique for another day, but I didn't frost my cake too well, and this was the perfect way to hide it. Since the frosting was already dry to the touch, I took my spatula, dipped it in warm water and then patted the sides of the cake so the chocolate sticks would attach to the cake.


The Better Lemonade and Dessert Party: Part III

August 24, 2012

There are good parties and there are great parties, and really they are very similar except for a few things here and there. Details are what separate "meh" from "WOW!" Aside from streamers and balloons, here are some details I think really made my lemonade and dessert party successful.
{Monogramed, linen, cocktail napkins from Neiman Marcus}

{Mason jar cups with lemon slice, ribbon, printed card, and a moustache straw!}

{Dessert cards to describe each treat to guests}

{Cake stands are far better than plates. Bottom three from Macy's Martha Stewart collection, top two purchased from Costco}

The Big Display
{Handmade triangle banner and coordinating tablecloth}

{Candy bar}
I was very surprised to learn that candy bars don't come cheap. Luckily I live in the Los Angeles area and was able to find this store. The candy bar pictured above in addition to the candy table, and snickers for the cheesecake totaled to about $175. It seems like a lot but once you start researching the cost of bulk candy you'll commend me for my thriftiness.

Lemonade and Dessert Party: Part II

August 19, 2012

I often use a combination of Paperless Post and Facebook to send invites to my guests. While real invitations sent via snail mail are my favorite choice, I prefer to save money here, and reinvest it elsewhere. When you decide on a date and time, be cognizant of how much food you are preparing. I decided that an afternoon party would be best as to allow me time for morning preparations.  
Screen Shot 2012-07-17 at 6.48.46 PM Screen Shot 2012-07-17 at 6.48.31 PM

Choosing the recipes and making the grocery list is probably the most tedious and time consuming part of pre-cooking preparation. It is important to print out (or photocopy from books) the recipes that you will be making. Not only does this save your cookbooks and laptop from kitchen splatters, but it also an easy way to keep everything at your finger tips. Next, go through your recipes and calculate how much of everything you will need (i.e 50 eggs, 12 lbs sugar, 1 L buttermilk). Check, double check, and triple check your list. Doing so will help you avoid multiple trips to the store for the small items you forgot to write down. I also suggest that you make you list at least a week prior so that you don'g leave anything off due to a frazzled state of mind.

Create a schedule and try your hardest to stick to it. I did, and it helped me stay calm when it seemed the amount of work left to do was overwhelming. But most importantly expect that one or two things will not go as you planned. The day before the party I was insistent upon having pink and white paper straws. I ended up spending hours driving around town and calling all over only to be disappointed. It happens. 

The freezer is going to be your best friend. Cakes, frosting, and other treats (like lemon bars, brownies, and rice crispy treats) freeze very well when wrapped in plastic wrap or stored in Zip Lock bags. It is your only hope of getting everything done on time and keeping it fresh. 


The BEST Big Sister

August 17, 2012

Today I take a break from my posts about refined sugar and unsalted butter to wish a happy birthday to my big sister, Breanna. She's the one who taught me which foot goes to which shoe; how to tell the difference between the front and back of my underwear; that a silk scarf can spruce up a drab outfit; always dress like you will run into someone you know; and that a lady never blows bubbles in her milk. But most of all she teaches me by example how important it is to be the greatest possible version of myself. 
kids (14)
Screen shot 2012-02-01 at 11.01.11 PM
Much love to you on your special day, Bre!

The Better Lemonade and Dessert Party: Part I

August 15, 2012

This past weekend I celebrated and lamented the impending departures that my friends and me would be making to college. It was a bittersweet party because I have known most of these girls since I was 4 years old, and saying good-bye --even if it's only for a little while-- is never easy.
Preparing 8 different cakes, three types of cookies, and several desserts was not easy either, but it was definitely  possible with the right kind of preparation. Over the next few posts I'll explain in detail how you can plan one of these little soirees yourself without crying in the cake batter from the stress of it all.
Here is a peak at what went on inside my house. Enjoy!
The Cake Table
{Dessert table}
Mini BLT
{Mini BLT sandwiches}
Beautiful Mackenzie 
{My beautiful friend, Mackenzie}
{Trying to decide what to eat first}


The Better Home Made Marshmallows

August 10, 2012

I truly feel guilty for not posting in ages! This deep embarrassment for abandoning my blog must be akin to the feeling a mother gets when she loses her child in a department store because she was too busy admiring clearance cashmere.
But anyway, I did manage to create these delicious marshmallows that are a far cry from the bagged confections that have been sitting on grocery store shelves for who knows how long. Dense, soft, and flecked with vanilla bean, these treats are all the more special when made from scratch.
{Whisking the egg whites}
{Coat the pan. Especially the corners!}
{Using the offset spatula to lift from pan}
{Removing excess sugar and cornstarch}

With temperatures in the 100s, any warm drink is out of the question, but come winter time I assure you I will be indulging in one or two with a cup of hot chocolate.  I used this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Miette.
Home made marshmallows are pretty decadent, but if you're feeling as spoiled as Marie Antoinette on her most angst filled teenage days, go ahead and dip these in some milk chocolate.
P.S. It's been brought to my attention that my blog has been having trouble linking to Bloglovin'. I fixed the problem and you can now follow me. Follow my blog with Bloglovin