booze

Happy Birthday Cake Cocktails

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Well, I made it. I have met my goal to write a blog for one year. Last year on June 1, I hurried to Best Buy after work to buy a digital camera, then I hurried to the liquor store to buy ingredients for a Long Island Iced Tea Cake, and then I hurried home to start baking my first blog post. Today on June 1, I also found myself at the liquor store after work.

Anyone who blogs will tell you it is a labor of love. Never do I feel that more than when I spend most of my Saturday baking things that do not turn out. I cannot claim to be a better baker than when I started out one year ago, but I can claim to much more readily recognize the point where things start to go terribly wrong. Though there remains much room for improvement, I have rediscovered my forgotten joy in photography.

Throughout the year, I wanted to quit multiple times. I wanted to quit this week. I might want to quit next week. And I just might! Except I recently realized I’m not so much a quitter as I am a pauser. Sometimes I pause  - which may look like quitting to everyone else – so I can gain wisdom or strength or rediscover what it was I enjoyed about something in the first place.

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Though I often feel my posts are published into a vacuum, reason tells me that is not necessarily the case. I am truly grateful to every person who has read a Love & Flour blog post. Though I sometimes forget to respond in writing, I say thank you to every comment, every Facebook like, every Twitter follower, and even every criticism if the feedback helps me improve. I am grateful that though I may fail at a recipe or a photo, the words always arrive to fill the page.

Some of the posts have been really bad. Some of  the posts I’m pretty proud of. I have very little idea of what I should do with social media. I have had a Facebook page and Twitter account since the beginning, but very rarely have I updated them with anything more than links to my posts. It will probably be a long time before I initiate conversations on Facebook (I rarely post status updates my personal page), but I have recently started Tweeting*. You can thank (or curse) Instagram for that.

So now what? I want to take the time to improve my photography. I want to learn more about baking. I want to improve the look of the website – I’ve never liked pink, and the recipe page is in desperate need of an overhaul. I want to do more series!

For the year ahead, I am going to focus on a flavor per month. As this idea expands, I may also focus on a technique, like whipping egg whites into posts about angel food cakes and meringues. My goal is no less than four (an average of one post per week seems reasonable) recipes that focus on the month’s flavor theme. If any one would like to suggest a flavor, please feel free to leave a comment letting me know.

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I have been thinking of what to make for my one-year blog post** since February. Is this an anniversary or a birthday? I leaned towards birthday and an elaborate cake. But I simply have not been in the mood to bake. The answer to what I should post today appeared in the form of a Birthday Cake Batter Martini.

On a final note, does anyone else find it fitting my blog shares its first birthday with National Donut Day? (National Donut Day is always the first Friday in June). If ever there were a sign to continue…

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*Tweeting is a bit awkward. When I talk to myself, I don’t expect a response. But when I tweet, which I find is really just like talking to an invisible audience,  it becomes readily apparent that no one is paying me any attention. Awkward…

**For anyone paying close attention, I consider the May 31 post a prologue.

Birthday Cake Cocktails
 
Author:
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 ounce amaretto
  • 1½ ounces cake batter flavored vodka
  • 1½ ounces creme de cacao
  • 1 ounce heavy cream
  • assorted sprinkles
  • frosting
Instructions
  1. Coat the rim of your glass with frosting.
  2. Place the sprinkles onto a plate, and lightly press the glass rim into the sprinkles to adhere.
  3. Combine all other ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake for about 30 seconds.
  4. Strain into glass and enjoy!
Notes
Whipped cream flavored or vanilla vodka is acceptable here as well.

 

Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Drink (that wants to be dessert)

IMG 3508 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Drink (that wants to be dessert)

Now we’re getting to the good stuff. A drink – the classic margarita – that doubles as a dessert courtesy of a little ice cream and lemon-lime soda.

I really struggled with what drink to make for Cinco de Mayo. The margarita was an obvious choice, but there are so many good-looking margaritas out there that I didn’t know where to begin. My 5 o’clock board on Pinterest provides proof of said margaritas, and I assure you they put my classic to shame.

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So I turned the classic margarita into a dessert margarita. Like guacamole, this recipe should be viewed more as a process than as a  hard-and-fast set of rules. Just gather your ingredients and get to mixing.

If time permits, prepare the glasses with a salt/sugar rim and place them in the freezer to chill for about an hour before preparing and serving the margarita floats. I used vanilla ice cream this time, though the original recipe suggested vanilla or lemon. How about trying both together? Next time I think I’m going to try a margarita float made with lime sorbet.

IMG 3488 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Drink (that wants to be dessert)

Until Cinco de Mayo, cheers!

Day 1: The Appetizers
Day 2: The Main Dish
Day 3: The Side Dish
Day 4: The Drink
Day 5: The Dessert
 
Margarita Floats
 
Author:
Recipe type: Drink/Dessert
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 lime wedge
  • salt and/or sugar for the rims of the glasses
  • 1 scoop ice cream
  • 2 tablespoons tequila
  • 1 tablespoon triple sec
  • lemon lime soda
Instructions
  1. Run the lime around the rim of a glass.
  2. Dip the rim of the glass in salt, sugar, or a mixture of equal parts salt and sugar.
  3. Place scoops of vanilla ice cream in the glass, then top with 2 tablespoons of tequila and 1 tablespoon of triple sec.
  4. Fill with soda and serve immediately.
Notes
A traditional margarita is made with tequila, triple sec, and lime juice.

 

A Perfect Monday: Books & A Lane Cake

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I love to read. Far and away, reading is my number one hobby. If for some odd reason I were to become independently wealthy, all I would do is sit around and read. I’d curl up on the couch and read all night. I’d swing in a hammock on the beach and read all day. I’d read on the plane while I traveled from my couch to the beach. If my nephew asks me for girl advice someday, I will say to him, “Wyatt, you should Date a Girl Who Reads.”

Though I’ve always been a reader, I wouldn’t say I’m well read. I’ve never read any of the great Russian authors, (Tolstoy, Chekhov), and I honestly can’t think of any literary greats who I should be reading (Milton?). So why books? And why today?

At 3 p.m. EST today, the 2012 winners of the Pulitzer Prizes will be announced. I have a deal with myself to read every book that has ever won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Prior to 3 p.m. today, I’ve read 35 of the 53 prize-winners. And when I get through the list, I’ll take on another category. I have a lot of reading to do.

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My two favorite books are “Gone With The Wind” (the movie does not do the book justice) and “Lonesome Dove.” Rounding out my top five would be “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay”, “Middlesex”, and “The Grapes of Wrath”. A few of my favorite authors include Jeffrey Eugenides, Wally Lamb, and John Updike. And though they’re not all that literary, anytime Emily Giffin releases a new book or Charlaine Harris writes a Sookie Stackhouse tale, I’m all over them.

As a kid, my summer routine was to ride my bike from my Grandma and Grandpa’s house to the library in the morning, then swim at our town’s pool in the afternoon. For a few years, I spent my mornings helping kids learn to hone their reading skills at the summer reading program in “the little red schoolhouse” before trekking over to the library. Those were the days.

And in those days I loved “Bridge to Terebithia,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” and anything Judy Blume wrote. I’d also be remiss not to mention I’m pretty sure I’ve read every Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley Twins, and Babysitter’s Club book in existence. Does that enhance or utterly destroy my cool image?

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Since the Pulitzer winners are on my reading bucket list, and a Lane Cake was on my cake bucket list, it seemed fitting I should post a Lane Cake on Pulitzer Day. Lane Cake is referenced in Harper Lee’s 1961 Pulitzer winner “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Scout says, “Miss Maudie baked a Lane Cake so loaded with shinny it made me tight.” When I read that sentence for the first time, I didn’t know what “tight” meant. The first thing that went through my mind was, “Tight? Did it give the poor girl the runs?” Turns out tight is a slang term for drunk. (I warned you I’m not well read.) And in case you didn’t know, shinny references the liquor in the cake.

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This cake recipe, from “Booze Cakes: Confections Spiked with Spirits, Wine, and Beer A Perfect Monday: Books & A Lane Cake, calls for bourbon in the cake, filling, and frosting. If I had made this Lane Cake a few weeks ago, it could have easily been my entry for the Cooking Hard Stuff challenge. It takes a lot of ingredients (10 eggs!), equipment (three cake pans, two mixing bowls, one candy thermometer), and time. I was pretty beat by the time I had it all put together, but I then again, it didn’t get to be on my cake bucket list because it was easy.

The full recipe is below but here are the high points. Be prepared to use both a hand mixer and a stand mixer as the cake batter needs to be mixed and the egg whites need to be beaten to stiff peaks to fold into the cake batter. I had a lot of filling left over. I wrote the ingredients below as they appear in the cookbook, but unless you plan to cut your three cake layers into halves for a six layer cake, I would recommend halving the ingredients for the filling. Avoid the urge to place too much filling on the cake layers or you will end up with a drippy mess that will be difficult to frost. Lastly, I found my Wilton Cake Lifter A Perfect Monday: Books & A Lane Cake to be invaluable throughout the process of assembling and moving this cake.

If you would like to know what I have read or am currently reading, feel free to send me a friend request on Goodreads.  If you are in need of some recipe inspiration, I also keep a Love & Flour Goodreads profile where I list all the cookbooks I peruse. Enjoy!

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Updated to note: For the first time since 1977, no Pulitzer Prize was awarded for Fiction! I am so disappointed, yet I also find the irony of this post and no award hilarious. I am taking solace in the fact that I have read one of the nominated books, Swamplandia!, and that I have plenty of cake to eat.

Lane Cake
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • For the Cake
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 10 egg whites
  • For the Filling
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter
  • 1¾ cups granulated sugar
  • ⅓ teaspoon salt
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 1 cup golden raisins, chopped
  • 1½ cups assorted dried fruits, chopped
  • ½ cup candied cherries
  • 1½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • ⅓ cup orange juice
  • For the Frosting
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  • ¼ cup half-and-half
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add in the bourbon and the vanilla extract and continue to beat.
  4. Add part of the flour mixture, then some of the milk, to the mixing bowl. Continue to add the flour and milk in alternating additions, ending with the flour to prevent curdling.
  5. In another mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.
  6. Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter.
  7. Pour the batter into three, greased and floured 8-inch cake pans.
  8. Baked at 325 degrees F for approximately 30 minutes or until the cakes are golden and a knife inserted into them comes out clean.
  9. Set the cakes aside to cool.
  10. While the cakes bake and cool, prepare the filling. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  11. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar, salt, and egg yolks.
  12. Return to medium heat and stir constantly until a candy thermometer inserted into the mixture reads 180 degrees F.
  13. Remove the heat again and stir in the pecans, dried and candied fruits, coconut, bourbon and orange juice.
  14. Set the filling aside to cool.
  15. While the filling and cakes cool, prepare the frosting.
  16. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and salt until creamy.
  17. Add the confectioners’ sugar and bourbon in alternating additions until fully incorporated.
  18. Slowly add the half-and-half and continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy.
  19. Refrigerate the frosting until ready to use.
  20. When the cake and filling are cool, assemble the cake by placing one cake on a plate.
  21. Pipe a ring of icing along the edge of the cake to act as a dam for the filling.
  22. Spread filling to the dam, then place a second cake on top of the filling.
  23. Repeat piping and filling on the second cake, then place the remaining cake on the top of the filling.
  24. If possible, allow to sit overnight to allow the flavors of the filling to meld into the cake.
  25. Use a spatula to spread the frosting over the top then down the sides of the cake.
  26. Rejoice you are finally finished and enjoy a piece of cake.
Notes
I used currants and figs for my assorted dried fruits.