Friday, August 30, 2013

Black Forest Cake

We went to an Oktoberfest themed party tonight and I was asked to bring a dessert.
Hmmm.  What kind of dessert should I bring?  
I decided that Black Forest Cake would be fun.  
I have never made one before, and have probably only tasted it once before in my life.
But I knew what I wanted it to taste like - Cherries and chocolate - Mmmm!
I wanted to make a layer cake and have glossy cherries on top 
and I wanted to use the Mascarpone icing I used for my Tiramisu Cake.  
I have been craving that icing for a while now, 
and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to make it again, 
and to experiment with piping it on a cake.

Once again, I researched recipes for Black Forest Cake 
and for Chocolate Cherry Cake on the web, 
and once again, I couldn't find exactly what I wanted to make.  
But I am still grateful to all of the cooks who post their recipes on the internet, 
because I used parts of several different recipes to get it right.

There are three easy parts to making this cake.  
The cake, the chocolate ganache and the icing.
Oh and you have to open a couple of cans of cherry pie filling....

I started with the basic cake from this recipe for Chocolate Cherry Cake III from
It's a dump cake - you start with a cake mix and you add things to it.  
This recipe makes a single layer cake in a 9" x 13" pan. 
I might try this version sometime- it would be quicker...
But for this party, I wanted to make something prettier- a layer cake with a little more WOW.

Here's what I decided to do:
I used a chocolate fudge cake mix, added two eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil 
and a teaspoon of almond extract. 
I mixed all that together and then folded in one 21 oz can of cherry pie filling, 
stirring until the cherries were just barely mixed in.
My internet "Research" told me that gently adding the cherries at the very end 
helps keep them from sinking to the bottom of the cake.  
I poured the batter into two greased 8" cake pans 
and I baked them as directed on the box.

While the cakes were cooling, I made the Ganache from the Allrecipes recipe above.  
Don't skip the ganache... It adds a layer of rich chocolate deliciousness....
I heated these together: 
1/3 cup of milk (I used almond milk, because I had it and I liked the almond taste it added)
 5 TBSP of butter and
1 cup of sugar over medium high heat.  
I let this boil for a minute or two, stirring constantly, til the sugar wasn't grainy any more.
Then I removed it from the heat and added 1 cup of chocolate chips.
I stirred this until the chips were melted and the mixture was smooth. 

I removed the cakes from the pans and set the first layer on the cake stand.
Then I poured the chocolate ganache over each of the two layers of cake and spread it to the edges.
I let these sit so the ganache could harden a bit while I made the icing.

Here's the first layer with the ganache.

The next step is to make the Icing.

The icing is ridiculously easy.  And soooo delicious. 
You can read about it here.
Double this if you want to ice the whole cake.

In a medium bowl, mix together:
1 8 oz container of Mascarpone cheese
1 cup of whipping cream
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Beat until stiff peaks form, about three to four minutes.

I spread the first layer of cake with the icing, right over the ganache, 
and then placed the second layer on top of that.
I iced the top of the second layer too. 

I could have stopped here- it's pretty enough and less fattening-  
but I wanted to make it a bit fancier- so I decided to ice the whole cake.  
I had to double the icing to ice the entire cake, but I think it was worth it.

I made a border of piped icing on top to keep the pie filling in place.  

Then I added 1/2 of a second 21 oz can of cherry pie filling to the top.

This icing was very easy to pipe, and it kept its shape very well.
 I got fancy and added some icing stars... 
I resisted putting one more cherry on top.  Such restraint.

I need some practice at piping, but it turned out pretty well.

I actually made most of this cake yesterday and refrigerated it overnight. 
I added the extra frosting and cherries this morning and then popped it back in the refrigerator.
Again, my internet "Research" told me this cake would taste better the next day, 
and if it's on the internet, you just know it's true!  ;^)

I could only take a quick snapshot as it was being cut and served...

Because we devoured it 
and it got rave reviews....

I will put this one in the recipe box and will most definitely make it again.

And if you want to have some fun looking at cakes made by supposed "professionals", 
check out this link to Cake 
It's hilarious. 
You won't believe what passes for cake decorating!!!


Linking to:
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
Treasure Hunt Thursdays at From My Front Porch to Yours

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Grand * Bedroom Before and After

Well, this took a while....
We have been working on redecorating our son's bedroom, 
since he moved on to his own place in the city, 
only two years ago!

I showed you a Sneak Peek here.  

Things sometimes take a little longer than you plan for...
But the room is done now and ready for it's big debut. 
Bring on the guests!

These beds were in my Mother's house for many years.
You can read about that here.
She bought them at an estate sale and had them refinished.
I've always loved them.
I slept in them whenever I went to visit her 
and now they have a place of honor in my house.

I know some of you would suggest painting them 
but I like the dark, vintage wood and the constrast with the walls.
So here they are, in their vintage glory.

The walls are finally painted (long story, several colors later...) 
and the new drapes are hung.

I found these drapery rods that have details similar to the beds
and my friend, Mary, made the gorgeous new drapes.  
She makes each pleat by hand and they are so luxurious!
You may remember the gorgeous french pleated drapes Mary made for my living room... 
You can see them here.

Love these pleats!

The twig mirrors were inspired by this photo I lifted from Houzz:

I had the beds, and I just needed some round mirrors.  
I found these at Walter E. Smithe Furniture 

and they do the trick nicely.

I found the duvet covers on sale at Pottery Barn and snapped them up.
The colors are perfect for this end of the house. 

This bedroom shares a bathroom with our original guest room.
You can read about the guest room here 

I bought this wicker table at an estate sale right around the corner from us 

and I brought this chair in from the other guest room.

It makes a nice little nook for guests to use.

The map has always hung in this room,
 which had kind of a travel and adventure theme when my son was young.
We stained the frame a darker color to work with the "new" beds and dresser.
We used a General Finishes Gel Stain and were amazed at how easy it was to use. 
 I learned about Gel Stains from my friend Kim, over at County Line Road.
I'll show you how we did it soon, in another post.

I like to have some Chicago area information handy for our guests.  
This book features some of the amazing architecture in the city.

I bought the Early American dresser below at a resale shop 
because I couldn't resist the scallopy parts 
(Remember how much I love "Scallopy parts"?)

and the bead board 

and the little drawers 

and all of the storage, 
all for $75.00.  

Initially, I thought I would paint it, 
maybe try my hand at the chalk paint craze.
Then I decided, nah.  It works with the beds and the rest of the room.
I live in an old colonial house. That's Early American, right?

There was a time when Early American looked awful to me 
(and probably still does to many of you youngsters out there!) 
but I have come back around to liking it again.  
You'll see.  
It will be the next new thing.  
Right after we all tire of Mid Century Modern.

I still need to "style" the shelves but I am stumped.
Any ideas?
I would love some suggestions.

The new chandelier is from Ballard Designs

and it replaces this beauty....

Bye, Bye, Boob light!

Below is a before shot of the room, just as we started to paint.

I was sorry to see the hand painted mural go 

but at the suggestion of my smart friend Julie, 
I took lots of pictures of it and will have it framed for my son some day.

Again, the before:

And the after...

Another view, before:

And after:

It's very serene now. 

Just waiting for some guests....

Linking to:
Be Inspired at Common Ground
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Fabulously Creative Friday at Jennifer Rizzo
Tickled Pink at 504 Main
Furniture Feature Friday at Miss Mustard Seed
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
Treasure Hunt Thursday at From My Front Porch to Yours
Tutorials, Tips and Tidbits at Stone Gable
Wildly Original Link Party at I Gotta Create!
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