Monday, February 15, 2010

Piece of My Heart

I made a heart-shaped red velvet cake in honor of Valentine's Day this past weekend. I love red velvet cake, but I hardly ever make it; it was cake #2 in Chocolate Cakery Shenanigans. A friend of mine tried to argue that the red velvet cake didn't count as chocolate cake, even though I made it and it was definitely a chocolate cake-granted, a mild chocolate cake, but chocolate nonetheless-so I'm including it in the list. The psychological effects of colored food are amazing to me.

Anyways, this one had four layers; I was kind of proud because I've only ever made two-layer cakes. Granted, I cut two thin cakes in half to make the 4 layers, but I just wanted an excuse to slather the tangy cream cheese frosting all over it. The cake recipe I used was my great aunt Nell's, which has always been prized as a "secret recipe," but as per my normal cake-making habit, I always add a dollop of sour cream (to keep it as moist as possible). One of my life's greatest pet peeves is dried out dessert; few things are worse than this. The cake turned out to be pretty good, though. My oven is a really old miniature one (It kind of makes me feel like Barbie. For real.), which also means that it bakes very unevenly. With that being said, one of my never ending obstacles when baking is trying not to dry out the cake edges while simultaneously trying to get the middle to actually settle. I love a moist cake, but when the edges are crispy and the center still jiggles like jello, I'd say it needs more oven-time. Someone suggested getting a baking stone to keep in the oven to keep the temperature more consistent. I think I may have to invest in one...

"Take another little piece of my heart, now baby..." (Or a big slice...):

Anyways, my red velvet cake is not the only heart I made this weekend...This is the famous Niknak (see below photo) that I always talk about. She's pretty much famous on rintherealworld. And this is her sweet Lhasa-poo (Lhasa Apso-poodle mix) dog Roxie. Niknak got Roxie when she could still fit in your hand when we lived together our last year at UVa, so I feel like I had some small part in raising her (even though I just had all the benefits of owning a pet without the maintenance). When I saw Rox for the first time, I thought she looked like a little bear cub, so I started calling her Roxiebear, and I that's what I've called her ever since. Roxiebear rocks my world, and she's the most laid back dog of all time. That's a fact. Except I like to think she gets super amped about seeing me. They came over for the day on Saturday to bake butter cookies.

Here was our workstation:

Dipped in semi-sweet chocolate:

Drizzled beauties:

One thing that we really weren't expecting to come out of a bag of Wilton Candy Melts was a grape makes me wonder about food factories. This was the look on Niknak's face when she opened the bag. WHAT?!?!

These sandwich cookies are imitation Pepperidge Farm Milano Cookies with a hint of orange. I'm happy to say that they were very successful copycats. The "hint of orange" is a dab of pure orange extract mixed with the semi-sweet chocolate filing.

The finished products:

And as if the holiday isn't whimsical enough, I felt the urge to make a classic grilled cheese and tomato soup lunch for myself on Valentine's Day. It's the little things in life...


Stacie Crabtree said...

I really wish I was your neighbor! I love reading your posts!

Anonymous said...

Duh, Roxiebear DOES get super excited every time she sees you. You are her favorite aunt. And the only reason you're not her godmother is because my own mother would murder me if she did not hold that title.

PS: Pepperidge Farms should hire us. We are awesome. :)

Dustan and Betsy said...

Dude! Those are awesome eats! I wanna chomp into that cake RIGHT NOW with all my teeth.

"one of my never ending obstacles when baking is trying not to dry out the cake edges while simultaneously trying to get the middle to actually settle"

I think this is the biggest problem in the Universe.