Daily Life, Food

Christmas with the Taylors

Aaron and I had a wonderful time with his side of the family during Christmas break. It’s the first time the entire family has been together in like 5 years because of all of the missions! Aaron and I got to meet the adorable Keith and Parker, the first nephews on his side. Boy, they sure stole my heart. Stop making babies look so fun, you guys! Just kidding. I loved getting to know the other wives in the family better, watching the boys beat each other in Smash brothers, and just relaxing with everyone. It was a much needed break.

I was so blessed this Christmas by the generosity of my family, and I made out like a bandit with new cooking gear. We’re talking about pizza stones, a bundt cake pan, a measuring scale, mini loaf pans, an adorable rolling pin, mini angel food cake pans, a Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Mixer, and a bread machine. It’s amazing! I’m practically in a panic trying to decide which ones to use first!

Finding out about my food allergies has had its ups and downs, and one of the hardest things for me has been the cost of my food in comparison to Joe Schmoe down the street. Sure eating mainly non-processed food is better for you, but it also pinches your wallet more. That’s why I’m so over-the-moon about the bread machine and ice cream maker! We eat bread all the time, and now it each loaf costs pennies, instead of dollars. And it is so delicious and easy to make. I’m getting a little teary-eyed just thinking about it. Sigh. And don’t even get me started on ice cream. We love homemade ice cream, and I can’t wait to try even more recipes!

So thank you to my family who fuels my desire and my love to cook anything and everything in all the land. I’m truly blessed.

Aaron also surprised me BIG TIME by buying me my own domain name! He’s always supported me and helped me make this blog into something we can both enjoy, and I’m so grateful to him for thinking of it. So as of a few weeks ago, you can find me at bravelittletaylors.com! Isn’t he the best?

Back to Christmas break. On Christmas Eve, we all went over to Aaron’s uncle’s house to eat tacos and enchiladas together, a wonderful tradition in my book. I wanted to make a dessert to bring over, and I found this adorable tutorial over on A Beautiful Mess just a few days before, and I knew I had to try it: a Christmas Tree Cake! I mean, how could I not?!

Aaron’s sister Cari was my wonderful partner in baking for this project (and many other meals during the break), and together we built this masterpiece. Gosh, Cari, you’re so great! We had a little misstep when I tried to make the frosting with unsweetened chocolate the first time (go me!), but it turned out beautifully in the end. The cake is rich and succulent, and the raspberries just put it over the top for me. We made a separate smaller cake, too, but we gave that one to Aaron’s grandma to take back home with her. Check out the recipe below!

Christmas Tree Cake
Yield: 1 big tree and 1 mini tree

If you’re feeling like a Christmas tree cake might be out of place when it’s not made in December, you can also make this cake in 2 9-inch round pans, and treat it as a double layer cake instead.

INGREDIENTS
Brooklyn Blackout Cake:
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup whole milk
2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Frosting:
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup lukewarm water, 88°F to 90°F
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup or honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Decorations:
Fresh raspberries
Sprinkles

DIRECTIONS
Brooklyn Blackout Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13 pan.
  2. Place the chocolate, cocoa powder, and milk in a heatproof bowl (like a glass bowl or double boiler) and place it over, but not touching, barely simmering water in a saucepan. Stir until the chocolate is melted, the cocoa powder dissolves, and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to lukewarm.
  3. Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
  4. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until it is light in color and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add 2 of the eggs and mix until incorporated. Add the remaining 2 eggs and the vanilla and mix until incorporated. Beat for 1 minute more. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the cooled chocolate mixture until blended and smooth. Add the flour mixture, mixing just until the flour is incorporated and the batter looks smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
  5. Bake just until the tops of the cakes feel firm when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.
Frosting:
  1. Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and place it over, but not touching, barely simmering water in a saucepan. Stir until the chocolate and butter are melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly. Check with your fingertips that the temperature of the lukewarm water feels similar to the chocolate.
  2. Add the lukewarm water all at once to the chocolate mixture and gently whisk until the frosting is smooth. It thickens when you add the water. Stir in the corn syrup or honey and vanilla. It’s best to make the frosting right before you’re ready to frost the cakes because it’s easier to decorate when the frosting is liquidy.
Preparing the cake:
  1. Once your cake is finished cooling on the wire racks, it’s time to cut out your trees! Click here to head over to A Beautiful Mess to print out their printables, and follow their directions on how to cut the cake properly. They do such a good job at explaining it.
  2. Once you’ve cut out your cake, spread the frosting over the two cakes, allowing it to drip down the sides. It will still look gooey, but it will set as it dries.
  3. Decorate with raspberries and sprinkles while the frosting is wet, and let it set for about 45 minutes before serving.
  4. Dazzle your friends and family at your festive dessert!
Sources: Cake recipe: Leite’s Culinaria; Tree Decorations: A Beautiful Mess

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