Tag Archives: cake

Graduation and Some Thoughts on Following Your Passion

24 Jun

Friday was my high school graduation, so I am officially a college girl now! It has been a perfect weekend full of graduation fun. my incredible cousins and godmother flew all the way across the country from Florida to be here to share the big day with me. It was so wonderful to celebrate with two sets of cousins, our family friends from Mommy and Me, my dad’s friend from his twenty-something days, Goose, and his lovely family!

I am so grateful to all of theses people and all of my fantastic friends for making these past four years such an amazing adventure! It is because of the tremendous support of my friends and family that I’ve been able to get into my dream school and have the most fun in my life.

After the ceremony we all went to a lovely outdoor lunch where my mom arranged a delicious menu with pizza, kale caesar salad, raw salmon crudo, minestrone soup, baked salmon, mixed seafood salad, and spaghetti and meatballs. She also got the most beautiful chocolate cake, adorable graduation cake pops, lovely flowers, and adorable balloons. She managed to make lunch at a hotel have all the warmth and personalized touches of a meal a home.

In addition to the fabulous lunch, the celebration has continued throughout the weekend with my fabulous Florida cousins and amazing boyfriend. We had a wonderful Friday night barbecue, Saturday at Disneyland, and today we are off to enjoy the farmer’s market and shopping streets of Santa Monica. The fun just keeps coming!

One of the things that made graduation especially memorable was that I was chosen as one of the graduation speaker. I’m including part of my speech below because I think that it applies not just to my graduating class, but to most everyone.

“I still remember coming to high school for orientation, and getting lost in the winding corridors for a good twenty minutes. I thought to myself, “well this is embarrassing, but at least there are only a few people around to see.” A few days later on the first day of school, I was walking down the staircase in front of the library, when I tripped and fell flat on my face. This time I wasn’t so lucky, because the halls were filled with both my peers and intimidating upperclassmen. Few people noticed, and even fewer seemed to care. While people usually applaud your triumphs, most people are too wrapped up in their own lives to even notice if you stumble along the way. Although we all fear momentary failure and embarrassment, it is our successes for which we will be remembered.

As you venture out into the terrifying real world of esteemed professors, brand new peers, and temperamental bosses, remember that you will fall on your face, either figuratively or literally as in my case, and you will get back up. You are eighteen years old and no one expects you to be perfect. All that matters is that you do what you love and that you do it without fear of failure. Enthusiastically following your passion will get you much farther in life than simply doing what you know you can succeed in. As accomplished film director Jerry Zucker once said, “Ask yourself one question: If I didn’t have to do it perfectly, what would I try?” Let whatever your personal answer to this question is guide you throughout your life. Do what you love, and your passion will make up for whatever natural abilities you may lack. Nothing would be very exciting for long if it came easily, so push yourself to go out of your comfort zone. Take that kitchen chemistry class that interests you, chase that guy or girl who you think may be out of your league, or switch your major finance to sculpture. This is your time to build the life that you want to live, so seize the opportunity to control your own destiny and make every decision count.

Over the past four years, the graduating Class of 2012 has proven that it has the talent and the drive to achieve their goals, however unlikely they may seem to others. As freshmen, no one expected us to win Color Wars, but with our team’s unbeatable spirit, we did! We beat bigger, stronger, more experienced upperclassmen simply with our own determination and desire to win. Ever since our freshmen year, the Class of 2012 has been defying people’s expectations. Our graduating class has had greater academic, athletic, and extracurricular success than anyone ever could have predicted, and going forth into the world, we will continue to achieve the unimaginable.

As we grab hold of our diplomas, we are entering one of the most exciting stages of our lives. The past four years have prepared us for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Have the confidence in our ability to make a difference in the world. Now is our time to fearlessly embrace our passions and make every moment count.”

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Playtime with Legos

23 May

When anyone makes the transition from the carefree pleasures of childhood to the serious responsibilities of adulthood, as I am about to make now when I graduate high school in just under a month, there is tremendous pressure to simply grow up. Well quite frankly, I don’t want to. There is no rule that when you become an adult that you must leave youthful fancies behind. The most succesful and happy adults are those who remember to play.

I plan to always make time to play because it is just as importance as meditation or exercise in terms of maintaining mental and physical well being. Playtime is full of rewards whether you’re exercising on the playground with your kids, boosting your general knowledge with a game of trivial pursuit, or simply having a good time to get your creative juices flowing.

Legos are one of the most beneficial and beloved toys in America because they encourage kids to embrace their creativity and they are just plain fun! I wish that I can say that I was a lego lover growing up, but they’ve become more of a recent love. Check out some of the incredible ways that people have been using their legos and see the innovative things that people have done to express their adoration for America’s favorite toy!

Simon Pillard and Philippe Rossetti’s 20,000 Lego kitchen island from Dwell

Lego lunchbox from Firebox


Lego soap dispenser from Simply Sara

Lego cake from Betty Crocker

Lego Bow tie from Made in Forest Hills

Lego conference table from abgc Architecture and Design

Lego crayons from Crafty C0rn3r

Lego messenger bag from Luxfordst

Lego deer taxidermy kit from David Cole


Lego building inserts in Toulouse, France for Imaginez Maintenant (Imagine Now)

What’s your favorite way to play?

Light and Fluffy Flourless Mocha Cake Roll

6 Apr

Happy holiday weekend! Whether you are celebrating Easter or Passover make sure to enjoy this time to be with the ones you love. I wanted to share with you this delicious, Passover-approved Mocha Roll Cake that my family and I enjoyed tonight.

In my family we look for any excuse to celebrate, incorporating holidays from different religions into our own life. That’s why after having our Passover Seder tonight, we are heading off to celebrate Easter in Santa Barbara. Yes it’s untraditional for a Jewish family to celebrate Easter (and Christmas too) but we view it as a joyous opportunity to celebrate the changing of the season, without attaching any religious implications to it.

Cake batter ready to go in the oven

Baked cake

Our Passover may be every bit as untraditional as our non-Christian Easter. To enliven our telling of the story of Passover, each child receives a goody bag of stick frogs, plague masks, candy blood, and other plague-themed knickknacks. We also make sure to give prizes to everyone who hunts for the afikomen, not just the winner who finds it. These alternations to the typical Seder ensure that our family always looks forward to Passover as a joyous time to be with family and friends, instead of a dreaded 8-day bread fast.

Cake topped with cocoa powder, ready to roll

Rolled cake cooling...first scary rolling part done!

This year I allowed our non-traditional variations on Passover to influence even our menu. I decided to skip the usually dense chocolate cake, and instead make this airy chocolate roll cake that resembles a Christmas Buche de Noel more than anything else. This cake is super light and fluffy thanks to its light lack of either flour or butter. I’ll admit that I was too much of a wimp to risk rolling the cake myself, so my mom rolled it in the tea towel initially, then my older sister rolled it into its cream-filled final form. Yes it takes a bit more effort than most cakes to get it to roll without breaking, but Passover is a celebration, so there’s no better time to attempt a daring recipe. This flourless, yet indulgent chocolate cake is the perfect way to end your Passover Seder or Easter Brunch.

Unrolled and frosted cake

Successfully rolled cake thanks to help from my big sister

The less than attractive "drizzle" of chocolate ganache

Light and Fluffy Flourless Mocha Cake Roll

Our Passover chocolate cake, in one beautiful piece

Serves 10-16

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Heavenly Chocolate Cake Roll

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • cooking spray
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons strong coffee
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, divided

Filling

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 heaping tablespoons powdered sugar (if making for Passover, make sure your powdered sugar is kosher for Passover)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder

Ganache

  • heaping 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a 10-by-15-inch shallow baking or jellyroll pan. Then line the bottom lengthwise with a piece of waxed or parchment paper that extends up the short sides one inch.
  2. In a double boiler melt the chocolate chips with coffee and stir occasionally until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Beat egg yolks with an electric mixer until pale and creamy, then add sugar gradually, and continue to beat until yolks are even creamier. Gently stir the chocolate into the yolk mixture.
  4. In a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites with salt until they hold stiff peaks (it takes a while, but be patient because it will make all the difference). Gently fold the egg white mixture in four batches into the chocolate-yolk mixture to lighten it.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top, then bake it for 15 minutes, or until cake layer feels dry (but very soft)
  6. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and cover the top with a light damp towel or two layers of damp paper towels for 10 minutes, then gently remove towels; don’t fuss if they have a bit of cake stuck to them.
  7. Run a knife around the edges of the cake and lightly sift one tablespoon cocoa over the top of the cake and cover the cake with a thin tea towel that is a bit longer than the pan. Place the back of a baking sheet or a large flat tray over the towel and invert the cake and paper onto it.
  8. Gently peel back the parchment or waxed paper that lined the pan. Sift the remaining tablespoon of cocoa powder on the other side of the cake.
  9. Using the towel underneath to help lift and roll the cake, roll the cake from short end to short end with the towel inside. Let cool completely, encased in its towel. This will probably take about 20 minutes.
  10. While waiting for the cake to cool, beat the heavy cream, powdered sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, and espresso until it holds stiff peaks, then set it aside.
  11. In the top of a double boiler, melt your chocolate for the ganache, and once it is completely melted, remove it from the heat and pour the whipping cream over it. Then rapidly whisk the cream and the chocolate together until it forms a shiny liquid.
  12. Once the cake is fully cooled, get your serving plate ready and place it nearby. Gently unroll chocolate cake and remove tea towel. Place another sheet of wax or parchment paper on the top of your cake, and invert it on the back of a baking pan once again, so that your parchment paper is underneath the cake.
  13. Gently spread the whipped cream filling evenly over cake. Use the paper once again to re-roll cake.
  14. Place on serving platter, seam side down, then pour or drizzle the ganache over it. If your ganache looks pretty with a simple pour, leave it as is. If, however, it does not elegantly glide over the edges of the cake, take a knife and smooth it over the top of the cake. The entire ganache coat is optional; if your cake turns out perfectly without it, feel free to forgo this step.

Enjoy! What are your holiday plans this weekend?

Valentine’s Day Treat Round-Up

3 Feb

Now that it’s finally February, Valentines Day is less than two weeks away! I understand that some people resent this holiday as a time for relationship insecurities and means for flower, greeting card, and chocolate companies to get rich by capitalizing on societal pressure. Personally, however, I cherish Valentine’s Day as a wonderful opportunity to show the people in my life how much I love them, without the pressure to buy a gift for everyone I know (as with Christmas and Hanukkah) or to have your thoughtfulness overlooked because of the overwhelming sea of presents (as with birthdays). Every year I look forward to baking goodies, decorating cards, and crafting presents as a way to show my family, girlfriends, and Goose how much they all mean to me.

So that you do not feel pressured to spend $39 for a box of Valentines Day Sprinkles Cupcakes, or splurge on a $100 box of chocolates, check out this round-up of treats that is not only cheaper, but cuter and more heartfelt than anything you could hope to buy. Whether you are looking for a special dessert recipe to make for your sweetheart, wanting to make treat boxes for your friends, or trying to find an easy snack to brighten your children’s faces, this list has you covered!

Candy melts molded into Lego ice-cube trays and topped with heart sprinkles make these the most playful treat I’ve ever seen: Lego Dude Valentines

From Sugar Swings! Serve Some

These three-ingredient treats were a huge hit when I made them last year: Hershey’s Kiss Oreo Truffles

From Bakerella

For the especially skilled pastry chef, these delicious rhubarb desserts will not go unappreciated: Pistachio, Roasted Rhubarb, Strawberry and White Chocolate Petits Gateaux

From Cannelle Et Vanille

Here’s a a sweet cake that is as delicious as it is beautiful: Cherry Vanilla Layer Cakes

From Sprinkle Bakes

Here is a semi-healthy treat for the men in your lives: Chocolate Covered Tuxedo Strawberries

From Delicious Adventures

These French-inspired cookies will make any travel-junkie’s heart skip a beat: Red Velvet Valentines Day Macarons 

From Delectable Deliciousness

These classic icebox cookies get a playful makeover from maraschino cherry juice and pink sanding sugar: Vanilla Bean and Cherry Swirled Icebox Cookies

From Shugary Sweets

For everyone who is sick of chalky-conversation hearts, here is a delicious upgrade: Homemade Marshmallow Conversation Hearts

From A Farm Girl's Dabbles

These old-fashioned cookies get a Valentines Day make over with a new heart shape that you can fill with chocolate, jam, or marshmallow fluff: Peanut Butter and Jelly Heartprint Cookies

From Steph's Bite By Bite

These petite baked doughnuts are the perfect morning treat before school or work: Mini Baked Sugar Doughnuts

From Kirbie's Cravings

What Valentines Day (or Anti Valentine’s Day) treats are you baking?