Chocolate Ganache Tart w/ Shortbread Crust

I made this tart for a dinner party last weekend and it went over like gangbusters.  The crust has a hint of almond and a buttery shortbread flavor that compliments the dark chocolate ganache so wonderfully.  I added the raspberries to lighten and brighten it up a bit, but I might also recommend garnishing with a little sea salt, caramel drizzle, or if you're feeling extra indulgent... perhaps even a bit of crumbled bacon?

photos + styling © cake. 2012

Chocolate Ganache Tart w/ Shortbread Crust
adapted from Martha Stewart

3 tablespoons slivered blanched almonds
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cups (spooned and leveled) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons grated orange or lemon zest, (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make dough: In a food processor, pulse almonds until finely ground. Add sugar, flour, zest (if desired), and salt; pulse until combined. Add butter, pulsing until coarse crumbs form with no large butter lumps (dough should clump together when squeezed with fingers).
2. Immediately transfer dough to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Using a measuring cup, evenly press dough in bottom and up sides of pan.
3. Bake in center of oven until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.
4. Make ganache: Place chocolate in a large mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Pour hot cream, through a sieve, over chocolate. Stir until smooth and creamy in texture. Mix in vanilla.
5. Pour chocolate mixture into center of cooled tart shell (if chocolate is lumpy, pass through a sieve). Let stand until set, about 2 hours, or chill for 1 hour.

Free Easter Bunny Printables + an Update

We are huge fans of Annie's organic bunny products in our house, and as Easter and springtime draws close, I wanted to incorporate them into a family friendly printable for the season. So how about sending your little ones to school with a special snacktime treat and a little bunny love? These cute tags can be used lots of ways. I designed them in pink and orange with two lengths for different bag sizes... or you can always just cut and hole punch them for Easter place settings or gift tags.  Aren't they fun?

photo + styling © cake. 2012

Additionally, I wanted to offer apologies for the unannounced absence last week (though I hope you enjoyed the tea cookies) and update everyone that I'm going to reduce our post schedule for the time being as I re-prioritize and seek out additional help and contributors for CAKE.

Some of you may not know that in addition to running this blog, I'm also a full time working mom.  I recently accepted an incredible new full time position, and though I couldn't be happier about the opportunity, it involves additional hours and commitments.  I have no intention of giving up what I've worked so hard to build, but maintaining a sense of balance is important, especially as a mom.  Perhaps you can relate?  I hope I can count on your continued support of CAKE. and would love to hear from those in a similar position who want to share advice or tips on making it all work.

Now enough about me... go enjoy your Monday and your freebies!

Duchess Grey Tea Cookies

These tea cookies make a terrific dessert for a spring garden party or Easter brunch.  They are traditionally a buttery shortbread with a mild Earl Grey flavor, but using the Duchess Grey tea adds just a hint of citrus that lightens them up in the most wonderful way.  The best part is that they're incredibly easy to make, and when dipped in a cup of tea they melt in your mouth.  Now go and bake some... you can thank me later.

photos © cake. 2012

Duchess Grey Tea Cookies
adapted from Real Simple
makes 6 dozen cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons Duchess Grey tea leaves, approx 6 tea bags (I bought the Duchess Tea from Trader Joes)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Pulse together all the dry ingredients in a food processor until the tea leaves are pulverized. Add the vanilla, 1 teaspoon water, and the butter. Pulse together until a dough is formed.
2. Divide the dough in half. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a 12-inch log, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
3. Slice each log into disks, 1/3 inch thick. Place on parchment- or foil-lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart.
4. Bake until the edges are just brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks.

Vintage Bridal Shoot: China + Lace

We've got another beautiful bridal shoot for you this week.  This one comes to us from Phebe of Making ME Event Planning firm.  A classic setting of vintage china and antique lace sets the scene for an afternoon tea party... the perfect inspiration for a traditional bridal shower.

photos © henry photographers

From Phebe: Delicate hues of pinks, creams, cookies, and macaroons point to signs of a beautifully styled vintage wedding photoshoot! By giving the vintage place settings center stage we were able to bring in additional elements that add a subtle touch of loveliness, for example vintage hardware, vintage ribbon, doilies, tea cups and oh my that's a ton of pretty! To recreate this style on a larger scale we recommend a mish-mash of vintage plates, beautiful paper products, and florals that tie this simple yet chic design together.  We hope you enjoy! 

Venue: Making ME Event Planning Firm 
Photography: Henry Photographers
Dresses: Flair Bridesmaids
Flowers: Finally Flowers
Paper Products: Blush Printables
Plate Rentals: Making ME Event Planning Firm

All in the Details: Mason Jar Mania

I've always been kind of a mason jar fanatic- they're a simple everyday detail that can be used as casual or elegantly as you see fit.  Lately they've been popping up in all sorts of unexpected ways... and in such pretty colors too!  Here's a little inspiration for how to incorporate these jars into your home or event this spring.

photos (top to bottom) via: the wedding chicks // once wed // style me pretty // boots + gus // the csi project

Tea + Taxidermy: A Bridal Shoot

I'm always happy for an opportunity to feature something out of the ordinary, and I found myself intrigued by this bridal inspiration shoot from FRESH photography.  I love the juxtaposition between the vintage setting and the intense surreal models.  This shoot was a collaboration between a number of Canadian local artists... read on for more info below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one.

 photos © fresh photography

From FRESH: The Oddly Beautiful Taxidermy-inspired Bridals were a creative, collaborative effort of local artists. FRESH brain-childs two such styled bridal sessions a year, partnering with trusted professionals to showcase, share and live our passion. We're mostly creatives from a small mountain town, fighting boredom in the off-season. The Bridals were originally inspired by the mixed-media sculpture of Joey Conundrum and found vintage dresses and conceptualized by FRESH. It's a personal goal to challenge myself creatively, technically and professionally on a regular basis. Stepping out of my comfort into an explosion of autumn color and shadow has, I think, pushed all of us artists in a positive direction. For it is usually when we step out - in faith, out of the box, off the cliff - that one's potential is reached. 

The Story: Our 3 wishful brides - with divergent lives and paths, reflected by their blonde, brunette and auburn hair - have met circumstantially at an abandoned home.  Their hearts, in a similar state - neglected but not yet abandoned - are bound by common hope and longing to meet their beloved, their Sparrow. The word "sparrow" being a Native American symbol of desire and fertility.  (see Brother Sparrow - Agnes Obel). Not hearing word nor receiving sign, the trio is discontent to sit and wait.  They set out on a pilgrimage, climbing mountainous terrain to increase their view over the river valley.  And that is where they leave us, having scaled great heights, taking permanent watch over the area, waiting for sight of their beloved.

Concept, Styling - FRESH Photography 
Cinematography - Ben Olsen
Cakery - Sweet Dreams Cakery 
Hair Stylist - Stephanie of Shine Salon 
Makeup Artist - Makeup by Emily Kjelshus 
Mixed Media Artist, Assistant - Joey Conundrum 
Models - Lisa Frisk, Sam Zielsdorf, Tamer Vockeroth 
Furniture - Trail's Treasure Chest

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Bailey's Cream Cheese Frosting


Hello from Caroline of Coeur De La!  There is nothing that says St. Patrick’s Day to me more than a homemade chocolate stout cupcake with a Bailey’s cream cheese frosting. I’ve been making these cupcakes for the past two years and they are always a hit. These cupcakes are my spin on the good ole irish car bomb. These cupcakes are super moist, full of chocolate, and the Bailey’s adds a great twist to a typical cream cheese frosting. If you are a stout lover like me, you will love these cupcakes. It just seemed quite fitting to share the recipe with you being that St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner. If you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with corned beef and cabbage like I do, a stout cupcake for dessert might sound a bit heavy. But, I have a mini solution for you … make bite sized chocolate stout cupcakes. I am a firm believer that less is more and you will be surprised with how satisfying one mini chocolate stout cupcake will be. Every time I eat a mini stout cupcake with Bailey’s cream cheese frosting it feels as though I am in a pub and enjoying one or two irish car bombs. Even if you don’t celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, I am sure you will love these cupcakes.

For the chocolate stout cupcakes I use this recipe because it is tried and true and yields a perfect cupcake. But, I top these cupcakes off with a Bailey’s cream cheese frosting (recipe follows).

photos © coeur de la

Bailey's Irish Cream Cream Cheese Frosting

2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3-5 tablespoons of Bailey's Irish Cream (for a less expensive version I used Carolan's from Trader Joe's)
1 8oz package of cream cheese (make sure it is soft)

1. In a medium sized bowl combine the powdered sugar, cream cheese and vanilla extract ... next, with an electric hand mixer ... mix till smooth
2. Add your heavy cream and Bailey's and mix again
3. Make sure to taste and add more of whatever ingredient you would like until you are happy with the taste ... I say this as you really can't go wrong with these ingredients. Taste as you go.
4. Enjoy!

An Art Gallery Bridal Shower

This beautiful submission comes to us from Meg of Rodeo & Co. photography.  The bride to be is her best friend, as well as being a writer and creative... so the gallery setting at artstream was a perfect fit for her shower.  It was an intimate gathering with plenty of homemade touches... the bride's little sister did all of the details and her mom did the food.  Clearly this was a truly personalized and thoughtful event... I'm charmed.


 photos © rodeo & co.