Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fancy Things: Salted Caramel Cake

I don't usually post about my baking adventures on this blog, but I think this cake definitely falls into the fancy things category. I'd had the idea to make a salted caramel birthday cake for a while, but I wasn't sure how I was going to execute. I wanted the cake to be super buttery and filled with vanilla flavor, the caramel to be just the right amount of buttery and salty and the vanilla buttercream to not be too sweet. I hate really sweet buttercream. I tweaked a bunch of recipes I found online and the outcome was delicious. Seriously, I could eat this cake every single day.

Vanilla Bean Cake
(adapted from Dorie Greenspan)
2 Cups Cake Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/8 tsp Baking Soda

1/8 tsp Salt
10 tbsp Unsalted Butter, softened
1 Cup Sugar
3 eggs, plus one egg yolk
Seeds from 1 Vanilla Bean
3/4 cup Buttermilk

Sift together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Cream butter until its fluffy, add sugar and beat for about 2 minutes. Add eggs and yolk one at a time, beating between each one. Add vanilla bean seeds. Add flour and buttermilk in batches, 3 for flour and 2 for buttermilk. Divide evenly between 2 8-inch round pans that have been floured and buttered. Bake for 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Salted Caramel Filling and Drizzle
4 tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
3/4 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Vanilla Extract

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together butter, brown sugar, heavy whipping cream, and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for 6 minutes, whisking occasionally Whisk in vanilla and cook 1 more minute. Pour caramel into a squeeze bottle (like the kind for ketchup or mustard) and refrigerate. Heat in the microwave when ready to use.

Vanilla Buttercream
(adapted from 
Demolition Desserts)

4 oz. Unsalted Butter, softened
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp Lowfat Milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice

Cream the butter & salt for about 30 seconds and then add half of the powdered sugar and the milk to the butter and beat again until combined. Add the rest of the powdered sugar, the vanilla, and the lemon juice and beat until combined. Beat on high speed for 5-6 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy. 

To assemble, turn first layer over onto dessert plate lined with parchment paper. Spread salted caramel evenly and generously on that layer. Top with second layer. Frost top and sides with offset spatula. Drizzle (this is where the squeeze bottle come in handy) salted caramel in a decorative pattern on top of the cake.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spotted Hearts

White Ruffle Tank/Old Navy
Melissa Bootie/ShoeMint (last seen here)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

From the Fitting Room: H&M Conscious Exclusive 2013 Collection

I was pretty excited to try on the party dresses from H&M's latest Conscious Collection. I arrived at my local store a couple of minutes before they opened and I was the first person there. I pretty much got to try on everything I wanted, with the exception of this lovely dress, which my store didn't carry. I ended up only buying one of the many dresses I tried on. My reviews are below.

Tulle Dress/Size 6/$199: I had really high hopes for this dress, but sadly I was disappointed. I normally wear a size 2 (for reference I am 5' 3" and 102 lbs) in H&M clothing, but had to size up to a 6 to get this dress to fit my waist (this seemed to be a problem with the whole collection based on the comments I heard in the fitting room). But then of course it was huge in the bust area. It also had this weird gold thread running along the seams which made it look cheap in my opinion. With all the tailoring I would have to do, this dress just wasn't worth it. The color was gorgeous though.

Satin Dress with Train/Size 2/$59.95: This two piece dress was super weird. The top part is a bodysuit and bottom is a wrap around skirt with snap buttons. The top was pretty, but I hated the bottom. No matter how hard I try, I just can't get behind the mullet skirt. The color was very pretty in person and the fabric seemed nice, if not a bit too clingy. And I really liked the bead detailing on the sleeves. 

Long Dress with Bare Back/Size 2/$59.95: This dress actually ended up looking better in person than I thought it would. The size 2 was a great fit and even hit my waist at the right spot. I thought I would hate the little waist cutouts, but they didn't end up bothering me at all. Ultimately I decided to pass on this dress. It was too long, the material was way too clingy, especially in the stomach area and I don't really think I would wear it much. If you had an event to wear it to, I think it would be a great buy.

Fringed Dress/Size 2/$199: I tried on this dress even though I had no intention of buying it. I'm just not into fringe and I don't think I ever will be. The fit was fine, but it really just made me feel like I should be on the set of the Addams Family. Not my style.

Rose-Trimmed Dress/Size 4/$129: This was one of the two dresses I was most interested in, but it was just way too costumey in person. Like the dress last year from this collection, this just made me feel like a linebacker. It's too bad too because the bottom was just lovely. The whole dress in general was constructed really well and the applique was really beautiful. I did have to size up from a 2 to a 4 in this dress. The 2 was way too tight in the thigh area.

Dress with Beaded Embroidery/Size 2/$129: This dress turned out to be a surprise winner for me. I loved everything about it, from the gorgeous bead work to the sturdy fabric, plus it has pockets! Although this felt true to H&M sizing to me, I will say many people in the fitting room were commenting on how tiny the waist was. This also seemed to be the most popular dress, almost everyone was trying it on. The store was also having an extra 25% off all dresses, so this one was definitely a keeper for me.

Patterned Dress/Size 2/$99: I didn't like this dress on me at all. It was so puffy on the hips and incredibly unflattering. I thought both the print and beading at the collar were nice, but the structure of the dress was just horrible. I really can't imagine it being flattering on anyone. This dress did fit true to size.

I also attempted to try on the Asymmetrical Dress, but after fighting to get it on for almost ten minutes, I gave up. This was one of the two major problems with the collection as a whole; the dresses were unnecessarily complicated. They also ran very, very small.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Work to Play

I'm a huge fan of daytime sparkle. Even better? Carrying the sparkle over into nighttime.

Floral Top/Ann Taylor (seen here)
Skinny Denim/Forever 21
Decked Out Necklace/Mark. (seen here)
Knee High Boots/Loft