recipe || this years birthday cake

Each year the question comes, "what kind of birthday cake would you like this year, my Love?" And each year, I answer differently. I don't have my one special cake, the one and only that I want to have year after year. I just love cake too much to not want to try all the kinds. So each year, I give it some focused thought and see where the cravings lead. 

This year: chocolate.......chocolate on chocolate. I've had several "best" chocolate cake pins adorning my sweets pinterest board for a while now so one was chosen and that became this years birthday cake. 

And to just brag on my J a bit......he made one darn good chocolate cake. The man is multi-talented, never ceases to impress me. He and AK put the whole thing together and, truly, that has made every piece even better. They even put sprinkles on the top just because they know I love them. The frosting on this cake, especially, was so fluffy and decadent, a bit of what dreams are made of, I think. It's just a really good chocolate cake. 

Thank you, my loves. You make everything more wonderful.

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Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon espresso powder

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.

For the cake: add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk together to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.

Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.

Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.

Frost cake with......

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks), softened

1 cup unsweetened cocoa

5 cups confectioner's sugar

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

Directions

Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps. Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.

Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.

If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner's sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

Original recipe via Pinterest

And as one little extra piece of goodness: if you like the chocolate, peanut butter combination, then dollop a little scoop of creamy peanut butter onto the plate of your chocolate cake and eat them together. I assure you, life as you know it will be better. You can thank my mama for that.

Enjoy your indulging, friends.

recipe | strawberry ice cream

A few summers ago when we were visiting our family in Texas my mom made homemade strawberry ice cream, and I've never seen my husband so excited about ice cream before. Weeks afterward, he would make the comment, "Babe, we have to make that ice cream mom made. We have to!"  I'm the sweets-lover in our home, but he leaves me in the dust when it comes to this ice cream.

We have a family farm we love to go visit about 25 minutes away, across the river, in Indiana. Each season they have different things that you can come pick at their farm, and when June hits, it is strawberry season. At some point in the month of June, we make our way up there to partake, and this June was no different. This time, though, we took the shortcut and just bought the already picked strawberries from their market to take home and turn into this creamy creation. J made it a couple evenings later while I was away at my Titus 2 group, but when I walked in the door at 11:15 he had a spoon ready and waiting for me to try. He was just as excited as usual, and it was just as wonderful.

You have to try this recipe, friends. It's bound to bring an extra dose of happy. 

Strawberry Ice Cream

3 cups fresh ripe strawberries, stemmed & sliced

4 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 cups sugar, divided

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2 3/4 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Make sure that your ice cream bowl is nice and frozen, ready for mixing.

In a small bowl, combine the strawberries with the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Stir gently and allow the strawberries to macerate in the juices for 2 hours. Strain the berries, reserving juices. Mash or puree half the berries.

In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine the milk and remaining granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and reserved strawberry mixture into frozen ice cream maker bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 20-25 minutes. Five minutes before mixing is completed, add the reserved sliced strawberries and let mix in completely. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

*My mom just uses 2%. We've done whole milk before, but J used a combo of 1 cup 2% and 1/2 cup half-and-half this time. Anyway you choose it's good.

recipe | italian lemon cake


My darling mother passed on many things to me; her smile, her vocal inflections, the way that she stands like a flamingo while she's cooking, and her love for all things lemon. That tart, refreshing, light wonderfulness that is lemon. It makes us happy. 

So when springtime hits, my eyes start scanning cookbooks and pinterest pins for anything and everything lemon. Throw "italian" in the title and I will undoubtedly have a go at that recipe, pretending that I'm whipping it together in my little Italy apartment to later be enjoyed with a cappuccino. Springtime and lemons are a fabulous combination for dreams.

Italian Fresh Cream Lemon Cake

2 cups + 1 tablespoon flour

1 3/4 cups icing/powdered sugar

4 eggs

2/3 cup whole cream (heavy cream or whipping cream)

7 tablespoons butter, melted

zest of one lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour an 9 1/2 inch bundt cake pan. 

In a large bowl beat on medium speed eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.* Melt butter and let cool completely. Grate the peel of one lemon. 

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, then alternating with cream, gently fold into egg mixture with a spatular. Keep folding until mixture is combined then gently fold in lemon peel, vanilla, and melted butter. Pour into prepared pan and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes. Let cool, then dust with powdered/icing sugar. 

Original recipe via pinterest

*Give these a decent amount of time to whip together. Don't rush it. Make sure they truly have that "light and fluffy" look to them. 

Enjoy, fellow dreamers.