Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cake

Yesterday, the Smith clan decided to celebrate the birthday of Grandpa and Uncle Elliot in one big shin-dig.There was food.There were festivities. Oh and there was wine. Lots and lots and lots of wine.

In celebrating a total combination of 138 years, I figured we needed one hell of a cake!

I happened across a few recipes and decided to whip up something ingenious. Something wintery and minty while not leaving the mouth with that gross toothpaste aftertaste (if you’ve ever had a bad Thin Mint, you know this all too well). Thus, I settled on a Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cake to wow the holiday tastebuds. While a bit lopsided, the resulting creation was perfection.

While it may take a bit of time to make, you won’t regret crafting this cake!

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cake

inspired by this recipe! 

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk (can be soy, lactose-free, etc.)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

For the frosting:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  •  4 cups powdered  sugar
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • pinch of salt
  • dark chocolate for garnish

Directions

Dark Chocolate Cake: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F and prepare two 9-inch cake pans.
  2. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly to combine.
  3. Next, in a separate bowl, combine milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter but be sure not to over mix .
  4. Distribute cake batter between the two pans. Bake for about 30 minute or until a toothpick  inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove from the pan to cool completely before frosting.

Peppermint Buttercream Frosting:

  1. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on a medium setting until it is smooth and lightened in color, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add  sugar, ½ a cup at a time. After each cup has been incorporated, turn the mixer onto the highest speed setting and mix for about 10 seconds
  3. After all the sugar has been incorporated, add peppermint extract, salt and mix until well-incorporated.
  4. Frost cake. When finished, grate dark chocolate over the top and serve!

Coconut Chocolate Chip Pound Cake with Kalua Glaze

Well, it’s rained about 40 days and nights here in Lausanne and things are looking a bit dreary. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love a good excuse to be all pensive, turning on the big blonde brain machine, staying indoors whist sipping a cup of tea, good book in hand while contemplating my existence. Let’s be honest though even that gets tiring after a while (am I even real? what does the word “banana” even mean?  why do we call them “toucans” and not rainbow-beaked birds?!)

To liven spirits here and elsewhere, here’s a recipe sure to find a special place in your heart, belly AND transport you to a land of tropical paradise (personally, my idea of a paradise is a land where 5’2 is a perfectly tall height and breakfast is served 24/7 but let’s not get crazy here)

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Last week, my pal David celebrated his 21st birthday and I made this cool cake, inspired by David’s love of yogurt. Absolutely loves it. I swear that kid will live to be 312 with all those probiotics floating around.

So without further ado, I present to you the aaaaaaaamazing Coconut Chocolate Chip Pound Cake with Kalua Glaze

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Coconut Chocolate Chip Pound Cake with Kalua Glaze

Serves 8-10 people

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups white wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup coconut yogurt
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup chocolate chips

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons Kalua
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons milk

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a loaf pan.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, and oil.
  3. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the chocolate chips into the batter.
  4.  Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  5. While waiting for the cake to bake, prepare the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Next, add Kalua and milk in small increments, stirring until mixed together thoroughly.
  6. When the cake finishes, remove it from the oven and set on a cooling rack. Using a fork or toothpick, poke small holes over the top of the cake and drizzle with the frosting. Serve with lots of love!

Pat’s Sydney Sider Breakfast

Yesterday morning, I was lucky enough to witness an Aussie in his natural kitchen habitat. Doing what, you ask? Creating the most intricate breakfast feast I’ve seen since I had an Ulster Fry (and figured out what black pudding was– the hard way). While I often get to reap the culinary benefits of having this food wizard as a flatmate, Pat’s “Sydney Sider Breakfast” was out of this world! Forced on principal to grab my camera before chowing down like a madwoman, this breakfast is as delicious as it looks! Thanks Pat!!!

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Pat’s Sydney Sider Breakfast.

Serves about 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of sourdough bread
  • 4 eggs
  • 12 truss tomatoes, on the vine
  • 8 large brown mushrooms
  • 3 avocados
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • pepper
  • salt

Directions

1.Peel avocados and mash in a large bowl. Add lemon juice, a large pinch of salt, a dash of pepper and olive oil and mix together to taste. Set aside

2.In a large skillet, cook tomatoes and mushrooms over medium high heat with a dash of oil, stirring occasionally until lightly crisp.

3. Meanwhile, begin to poach eggs using your preferred method (for me, I like to use the old measuring-cup-in-water-bath-method [you can read about it here!] but the old trick of cracking them in boiling water with vinegar works just as well!)

4.While eggs are poaching, slice bread into thick slices and toast ’em.

5. When ready to serve, spread toast generously with the avocado. Top the toast with a poached egg and add a few tomatoes and mushrooms on the side. Enjoy!

Checking Off the List

When you were a kid, did you ever make lists in class or with your parents or friends about things you wanted to do when you were big and strong and just more…. grown up? Sometimes it’s things like “swim in a sea filled with whipped cream” but there are also those hints of goals and accomplishments thrown into the mix such as “perform at Madison Square Garden” or “graduate from university” – things of a more “realistic” nature (although I still wouldn’t mind swimming in a sea of whipped cream).

 It’s funny for me to think about those lists now because, as it turns out, I’m actually checking things off. Which is crazy to think about- that all those things a poofy blonde-haired 8-year-old me dreamed about. It never really occurred to me how much I’ve checked off until recently when I returned from a trip around Italy.

It felt like I had been gone 2 months in the 10 days where I saw Bologna, San Marino, Rimini and Rome with Kylea, one of my flat mates. It’s funny because one of my dreams was exactly that- travel around on trains with a best friend. Trains are few and far between in Texas and the thought of being able to hop around with only a backpack in Europe with a gal pal was almost as imaginary and unattainable as Peter Pan or a sea of whipped cream to swim in. But i did it! And I even have some great pictures to prove it 🙂

San Marino!

At the Colosseum!

Roma!

Me!

After thinking about this particular trip, I realized just exactly how much I’ve checked off my list. And it’s a pretty good amount of things!

Sometimes it’s difficult to see that you’ve achieved goals because life just gets complicated and filled with other stuff- we get caught in a riptide of tasks and forget to celebrate our dreams and victories and the fact that we worked so hard to get to this place. For me, I can get so focused on the future, the next goal to achieve, the next ladder to climb, that I forget to take time in the present to pat myself on the back and say “Look at everything you’ve done in the past twenty-one years! You’ve ran races, you’ve been a featured artist on the radio, you’ve swam in oceans, you’ve lived 5,210 miles away from home, you’ve worked at a travel magazine, you’ve earned enough funds to buy an awesome camera, you’ve performed in a nightclub in Barbados and the oldest bar in Belfast, you’ve overcome destructive friendships and venomous relationships, you’ve hiked mountains, you’ve traveled, you’ve loved deeply…. and there’s still so much more.”

 They say that “you are your own worst enemy” but I think along with that there’s a hidden meaning- that you can also be your own best friend. While it’s easy to get caught up in a destructive downward spiral imagining all of ways that people are better or have accomplished more that we have, it’s important to realize that the list we made years ago wasn’t for those people and it wasn’t the same as theirs either.

That list is ours!