Recipe: Red Velvet Layered Cake with Raspberry Cream Filling and White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

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We all sat around the table. (Father was away again.) I was thrilled. I had watched Mandy bake the cake and Bertha sew the gown and Nathan pick the flowers.

Mandy cut the cake. When she handed me my piece, she said without thinking, “Eat.”

The first bite was delicious. I finished the slice happily. When it was gone, Mandy cut another. That one was harder. When it was gone, no one gave me more, but I knew I had to keep eating. I moved my fork into the cake itself.

“Ella, what are you doing?” Mother said.

“Little piggy.” Mandy laughed. “It’s her birthday, Lady. Let her have as much as she wants.” She put another slice on my plate.

I felt sick, and frightened. Why couldn’t I stop eating?

Swallowing was a struggle. Each bite weighed on my tongue and felt like a sticky mass of glue as I fought to get it down. I started crying while I ate.

Mother realized first. “Stop eating, Ella,” she commanded.

I stopped.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, 5/5 stars

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Ella Enchanted has been my favorite book since I was twelve. I’ve read it at least a dozen times. Most recently, I re-read it  for book club and was nervous it wouldn’t stand the test of time, especially with how much I had hyped it up in my mind.

Spoiler: it did. For me and everyone else in the book club, whether it was one of their old favorites or their first time reading it.

It’s also the ultimate love story, so of course I had to team it with my Valentine’s Day post. I was inspired by Ella’s birthday cake and wanted to make something that would truly be a show-stopper. Plus, Brice and I  binge-watched the Great American Baking Show and I became obsessed with doing some proper chocolate work.

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I usually have a love/hate relationship with cake. They’re fun to make, but it’s never a go-to dessert for me, because it’s usually so heavy and sweet, especially when filled with frosting. These three layers of fluffy red velvet cake sandwiching a light and fresh raspberry cream filling, topped with white chocolate frosting and dark chocolate decor are a perfect balance, though. No “sticky masses of glue” here.

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Guys…sorry for the pics this month! I was losing natural light too fast. Struggles of photography in a basement apartment are real.

For the chocolate work, I highly recommend using a thermometer with a digital reader. I did not and my temperatures were slightly off meaning my tempered chocolate was a little streaky and wasn’t setting as well as I would have liked. For my first time tempering chocolate, it worked out well enough.

Here are the recipes I used:

Paula Deen’s Red Velvet Cake – the only thing I changed was the amount of food coloring. I had a .25 ounce container, some of which I used for these mini princess cakes.  I just tossed in the remainder of the container. (An ounce just sounded excessive!)

Zoe Bakes Raspberry Cream Filling

White Chocolate Frosting

Instructions for Tempering Chocolate

  • Before tempering the chocolate, I traced onto wax paper with a pencil the words and hearts that I wanted to make.
  • Once I’d tempered the chocolate, I poured the chocolate into a piping bag with a medium sized tip. I experimented with different tips and the tiny tips were harder to work with.
  • Outline your shapes and words. I free-handed some of them as well. Just have fun.

Just don’t force your Valentine to eat more than desired, like poor Ella. (Not that they’ll be able to stop eating it!)

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Recipe: Baked Pistachio Donuts with Chocolate Glaze

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Sam O’Neill drew a deft little caricature of the two of us as Mulder and Scully (I still have it, somewhere) and Cassie stuck it to the side of her computer, next to a bumper sticker that said BAD COP! NO DONUT! 

— In the Woods by Tana French, 5/5 stars

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Recipe: Pumpkin-Cranberry Bran Muffins

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Now let me say this: when you’re traveling a good cloak is worth more than all your other possessions put together. If you’ve nowhere to sleep, it can be your bed and blanket. It will keep the rain off your back and then sun from your eyes. You can conceal all manner of interesting weaponry beneath it if you are clever, and a smaller assortment if you are not. 

But beyond all that, two facts remain to recommend a cloak. First, very little is as striking as a well-worn cloak, billowing lightly about you in the breeze. And second, the best cloaks have innumerable little pockets that I have an irrational and overpowering attraction toward.

— The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, 5/5 stars

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Recipe: “Nightshade’s” Drool-Worthy Pizza Sauce

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“What are you doing?” Emma asked.

“Ordering pizza from Nightshade’s,” said Malcom. “There’s an app.”

“A what?” said Dru.

“Nightshade?” Livvy turned around. “The vampire?”

“He owns a pizza place. The sauce is divine,” Malcolm said, kissing his own fingers.

“Aren’t you worried what’s in it?” said Livvy.

Click here for my review of Cassandra Clare’s latest installment in the Shadowhunter saga, Lady Midnight.

Did anyone else notice how many times the Blackthorns ordered Nightshade pizza? Was anyone else craving pizza with an out-of-this-world sauce? You will suspect addictive demon powders have been slipped into this sauce.

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Recipe: Miniature Princess Cakes (Prinsesstarta)

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“She [Nina] shoved one of the cakes from the coffee service into her mouth …”

Nina was always eating sweets and was especially enamored with cake. I set out to make one that would have her salivating. For a Six of Crows book review, click here.

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