Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Best Chocolate Cake EVER

I love chocolate!!! I can't deny it, so I freely admit it.  My husband on the other hand claims he's not a "sweets guy" but then sneaks into the pantry or freezer for just a "little something sweet" every night!  MEN, ughh!  It's not fair, how do they eat like that and still look great???  The one time my wonderful hubby will admit he wants something sweet is his birthday and it's always the same request.. chocolate cake with chocolate icing.  So for years I have tried different recipes, and while they were all good (I mean it's sugar, butter and chocolate how can they not be?) a little over a year ago I stumbled onto one that with only a few minor tweeks got rave reviews from the "not a sweets guy" and everyone else I've made it for.  It's dense, but moist, not overly sweet but so good you will want to lick the plate and sneak a second piece when no one is looking :)

The original recipe is from Ina Garden (Food Network's Barefoot Contessa) here is the link to her recipe.  Ina is a stickler for sifting everything and only using fancy specialty store quality ingredients, but I'm not really that picky so I made the cake using good old generic and store bought chocolate and skipped the fuss and it was still fantastic. I also added extra vanilla and a little bit more sugar to the frosting because I used semi sweet chocolate baking squares from the grocery store instead of a fancy bar, but I think the less expensive version is too good to mess with the other :) 


1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup hot coffee

In your electric mixer or large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.  With the mixer on low slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry, then slowly pour in the hot coffee just to combine.  Pour the batter into two greased and floured round pans and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

For the icing beat two sticks of room temperature butter on medium high for a few minutes until fluffy, then add one egg yolk, 2 teaspoons vanilla and beat another three minutes.  Now with mixer on low, slowly add 2 cups of confectioners sugar scrapping down the sides of the mixing bowl to make sure it is all combined.  Next, dissolve 1 tablespoon of instant coffee crystals in 2 teaspoons of hot tap water.  Finally add the coffee and 6 ounces (or 6 squares) of melted semi sweet baking chocolate (using a bowl over boiling water works best so you don't scorch the chocolate or a microwave if you do it slow and be very careful) into the other ingredients. 

I'm no baking expert and as you can see my cake decorating skills or lack there of are pretty sad, but it still tastes AMAZING!!!  Thankfully, that makes up for my poor presentation, or at least I hope so ;)


Monday, June 24, 2013

Painted Wood Island Re-Do

A few weeks ago I decided that I didn't like the set up in my house so much to my husbands shock I started moving everything around.  You know sometimes a girl just needs a little change :) But in the process of moving things around this wall near our front door was empty, so I decided to take an old island that we weren't using and solve my empty space situation!  It was a quick afternoon project and I really love how it turned out.  It truly is amazing what a little paint will do.. don't you think?!?

My husband and I bought this solid wood island at an unfinished furniture store for our first house years ago, we were so proud of our first DIY project staining it (who knew that would be the start of all my crazy projects?).  But now, two moves and two kids later this island just wasn't doing anything for me so I decided to give it a little makeover.  

So here it is the before and after, now in its new home near our front door.

To get from blah to beautiful, I painted the entire piece black.  I used a can of black paint I had on hand, but you could totally use spray paint.  Then I painted a coat of red, for this I did used spray paint.  I like how smooth spray paint goes on and how quickly it dries.  The coat of red can be light since you will want some of that black to show throw after a little distressing.

Once it was dry, I used a piece of sand paper to rough up the edges down the legs and across the entire top.  Just have fun, there is no science to distressing just keep sanding until you like the look.  I decided to leave the two drawers black, which I also painted black inside and out for a little contrast.

Next, I grabbed two new knobs from Hobby Lobby.  The picture doesn't do them justice, but they are a great aged red that look as if they have been distressed as well, a perfect compliment to the island if I do say so myself! :) To finish it off I sealed it with some Annie Sloan clear wax, my secret weapon for any furniture project... OK maybe not so secret!

Thanks to a little paint, instead of being destined for donation it now has a new fabulous life in our home.  That is for a few years until I get bored and paint it again, but don't tell my husband that!