This weekend our church had a dessert night, and somehow our small group was volunteered (or maybe someone in our group volunteered us?) to make all the desserts for 120 people! We were feeling a bit intimidated about getting it all done, but in the end it worked out great! I made two of my 'old standby' Martha Stewart vanilla bean cheesecake, one with the glaze and one without. I won't bore you with the details because I absolutely do not stray from her recipe~ it is the most amazing cheesecake I've found!
Before I divulge my new top-secret recipe, let me just tell you about two of my favorite kitchen tools. The first is Cake Release from Wilton. You use it anywhere a recipe says to 'grease and flour' a pan, and the cake will pop out, crumb-free, every time! This stuff is amazing!
Another of my favorite things for baking is something I use nearly every day. My hand mixer. I think it goes back to my pioneer roots, as I would rather use this than bother with setting up and plugging in another machine. Plus I love the fact that it uses zero electricity and washes up super-easy. I received mine for Christmas from some wonderful friends, and I think they found this one at Williams-Sonoma, though I couldn't find a link anywhere.
Okay, so on with the new creation... It really isn't top-secret, as it really isn't anything too complicated, but it came out so great that I thought I would share. First I made a basic chocolate cake. Mine was rather spongy (it contained 4 eggs, I think!), but you could use any cake recipe that you like. The only alteration I made to the original recipe is that I took about 4 tablespoons of good quality raspberry preserves, heated them for a few minutes to thin them, and added that to the batter. I made it in an 8x8 pan and flipped it out on a wire rack until it was completely cooled. Once it was cooled I used a large serrated knife to split the cake horizontally into two layers, and I laid it open like a sandwich. To the bottom layer I spread on about 1/2 cup of the raspberry preserves. I placed the top layer back on top.
For the icing I made a thin chocolate glaze by heating about 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream and 2 tablespoons white corn syrup in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until just starting to boil. Then I removed it from the heat and added about 12 oz. chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. I allowed this to come to room temp. and then spread over the cake. As a finishing touch I shaved a chocolate bar into small curls and added this to the sides of the cake while the icing was still wet. It looked so pretty!
**Amended to add: Use whichever pan(s) your recipe calls for! Mine happened to be a small recipe that only called for an 8x8, but a regular layer cake recipe would have exploded in such a small pan! Any form of cake would work for this, I think!**
I also had some time this weekend to do some sewing with these gorgeous new fabrics form Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane Collection. I had been drooling over these prints for months and finally bit the bullet and bought some when the perfect project came up. I love how these skirts turned out! I actually have a few more of her prints that I haven't cut into yet~ I can't decide what to make of them because they are so lovely! (I was fighting bad lighting, but hopefully you get the idea... I take the worst pictures!)