Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More Mocha, Please....

Several weeks ago I was in the mood for chocolate covered in chocolate, so I made my Mom's famous mocha chocolate frosting recipe along with a new recipe for mocha chocolate ganache cupcakes:


Don't be intimidated by the "ganache" in the title like I initially was - these were not too hard at all to make.....and they were by far the best cupcakes I've not only ever made, but ever had, period. And did I mention that we used to regularly frequent the now-famous Carlos's Bakery (aka Cake Boss on TLC) when we lived in Hoboken??!

And, if you've read the "About C" section of my site you'll recall that I incorporate something sweet into each of my meals. So I'm kind of a desserts expert. And these cupcakes are that freakin' good. That's right, Buddy. If you're reading this, you should call me up for your next season of Cupcake Wars! :-) Normally I don't ooze confidence to this extent, but I am so darn proud of these bites of heaven. Try them out and you won't be disappointed.

Here is the recipe for the ganache cupcakes from America's Test Kitchen:

Ingredients:
Ganache Filling
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (chopped fine)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (chopped fine)
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 3/4 cup hot coffee
  • 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions:
FOR GANACHE FILLING: Place chocolate, cream, and confectioners’ sugar in medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave on high power until mixture is warm to touch, 20 to 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth:
Then transfer bowl to refrigerator and let stand until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.
FOR CUPCAKES:
1.Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard-size muffin pan (cups have ½-cup capacity) with baking-cup liners. Place chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl. Pour hot coffee over mixture and whisk until smooth:
Set in refrigerator to cool completely, about 20 minutes.
2. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl and set aside:
3. Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
4. Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Place one slightly rounded teaspoon ganache filling on top of each cupcake:

Bake until cupcakes are set and just firm to touch, 17 to 19 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes:
Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before frosting, about 1 hour. *Side notes - I didn't use cupcake liners and went the old fashioned route with grease and flour. Also, I had extra batter so I used an additional, smaller cupcake pan. Depending on how big you make your cupcakes, you may have extra batter, too.

And here is my Mom's famous mocha frosting recipe:

Ingredients:

5 T butter *NOT margarine!!!
3 cups powdered sugar
6 T unsweetened dry chocolate cocoa

1 cup strong black coffee (cold)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:


1. Slowly melt the butter, then set aside in a medium/large mixing bowl.

2.In another bowl, sift the powdered sugar (if you don't have a sifter don't worry about it, it will be mixed thoroughly later on...I never sift anyways) with the cocoa.
3. Slowly (several spoonfuls at a time) add this dry mixture to the butter. Then, use a spoonful or so of your coffee to moisten. Mix with mixer. Continue to slowly add the sugar/cocoa mixture and cold black coffee as necessary. Continue to mix with mixer. *Don't add too much coffee or it will be runny - if this happens, just add more sugar/cocoa.
4. Add 1 tsp of vanilla and stir.
5. Enjoy! *I think this frosting is best paired with a yellow layer cake.....but I was in the mood for all chocolate.....and ultimately this frosting would be delicious over anything. If you have any leftover icing it is great on graham crackers for instant homemade smores.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rub a Dub, Dub - How to Redo Our Tub???

We have been patiently putting off any upgrades in our master bath all year... mostly because Mr. C & I both agreed the first floor should take top priority and secondly - our bathroom isn't too shabby as is. The good thing about waiting before renovating is that it allows one to really mull over any potentially big decorating decisions....before say, throwing caution to the wind and painting the bathroom bright purple. Okay, I'm exaggerating. Our purple master bath isn't blindingly bright...and at night the color is actually very calming and soothing - spa-like, even.....but during the day it can totally take on the resemblance of a pastel-painted Easter egg. And I'm not saying that just because Easter is around the corner.

We painted the master bath right before we moved in (along with every other room in the house), because I felt like we needed to get this done before moving in all of our furniture. While it was much easier to paint in an empty house, especially with Mr. C's large family all kindly pitching in to help.....we didn't have much time to get 'er done, as we were still living in a different state when we first bought our house. Yep, those were a looooong couple of weekends - puttin in a full day's work on Friday, then driving up to Boston from NYC....to paint all day Saturday and Sunday....then drive back down to NYC. That obviously got old fast, so we tried to do the painting as quickly as possible, hence we picked our paint colors as quickly as possible.

So what is the point of all this paint rambling and rehashing, you ask?  Well, now that we are soon approaching the end of our first year in our new home, we are starting to talk about updating our master bath....and we are considering lots of different ideas before making any rash (aka purple) decisions. And if there's one thing I've learned from all that painting - it's to take your time and make sure it's what you realllllly want before picking up a purple covered paint brush or taking a sledge hammer to the tiled bathroom floor.  (Interesting and relevant side note - always pick a shade lighter than what you actually want on the paint deck. Colors always intensify once applied to walls).

Because we are taking this project slowly to ensure we make the most informed and thought out decisions, I am only going to focus on only one project at a time. The focus of this post will be on how we can spruce up our perfectly functional existing tub:



I don't <3 the white and gray checkered tile backsplash around the tub. But, she's got good bones and I do love everything else about that tub - especially those jacuzzi jets. So, I am looking for a way to inexpensively facelift the tub in a style that is very elegant yet neutral for when we plan to sell our home. Here are some of the options we are considering after we have bid adios to the white/gray checkered tile:

Option #1: Install a white tile backsplash with a small accent of carrara mosaic tile, kind of like these pics:

Aubrey & Lindsay's Blog

bathrooms - Carerra marble tile floor and countertop pebble shower floor subway backsplash  Master bathroom redo  green gray walls paint color,
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Source Unknown
Option #2: Just add paint - nothing else. Hang framed art and/or a long shelf over the tub, like the shelf shown below:

August Fields
Option #3: Add an accent wall of tiles:
bathrooms - gray walls gray mosaic tiles backsplash shower surround wood washstand calcutta marble countertops double sinks polished nickel faucets sconces sisal rug lilac purple round skirted tufted ottoman white mirrors soaking tub
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bathrooms - damask roman shade tumbled marble backsplash soaking tub Moroccan accent table shower  Natasha Baradaran  Lovely zen spa bathroom
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bathrooms - ICI Dulux - N.B.C. White - green accent chair gray yellow white Saltillo tiles white caesarstone countertop white wood vanity baskets ornate frameless mirror white beadboard frameless glass shower white cupboard bathroom
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 Option #4: Add a large mirror over the tub and forgo any backsplash:

bathrooms - gray blue green claw foot tub glass pendant marble countertop white washed painted shabby chic beveled frame mirror white roman shade shabby chic vintage cottage bathroom blue green  walls paint color bathroom
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We have a large mirror similar in scale to the version above. It would need to be repainted, though.

We also currently have a much smaller (and I'm betting much less expensive) Ikea version of the round mirror in the picture below (we actually have two of them!):

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We could also hang a round mirror like this (I don't own any mirrors like this one, though, so it wouldn't be free like the mirror options above):  
bathrooms - platinum gray walls paint color modern crystal chandelier beveled mirror white modern bathroom vanity chrome sconces espresso stools marble tiles floors bathroom
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Option #5: Add a larger-scale carrara tiled backsplash:

bathrooms - carrara marble gray walls white  Lovely lovely bathroom.    Soft gray walls, white shelves, classic carrara marble backsplash.
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Houzz
Option #6: Stencil above the tub. This idea scares me for potential resale purposes, though:

bathrooms - Brewster Heather Geometric Wallpaper blue green geometric wallpaper tub chrome fixtures espresso stained wood floors white bathroom vanity mirrors chrome sconces drum pendant lights
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Option #7: A combo of #'s 5 & 6 - Do a carrara tile backsplash and stenciling:


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 Option #8: Add beadboard around the tub base and the bathroom walls, like this:

My Home Ideas
 

bathrooms - white beadboard plantation shutters claw foot tub white pedestal sink mirrors polished chrome modern stool blue wallpaper  Alexandra
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bathrooms - white carrara marble tiles floor silver gray soaking tub star pendant chandelier black woven stool beadboard  Gast Architects  chic,
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Inspiring Interiors
I am really drawn to the option #4 bathroom containing the large, round beveled mirror over the sink (of course I am, it's a Sarah Richardson bathroom). I also like the idea of adding a small row of carrara mosaic backsplash (as seen in the option #2 bathroom)....and I like both of them together best of all!!!! Decisions, decisions. Speaking of which, I would greatly appreciate any and all input as we slowly but surely plan to make the decision. Thanks in advance, friends!!!

T-3 Days until 3-0!

I've always envisioned that when I turned 30, I would treat myself to something fabulously over the top - basically a once in a lifetime splurge. I've also always drooled over ridiculously-overpriced Chanel purses, so for a long time I figured that would be my top (dream!) choice to welcome my thirties:

Bag Snob
Then along came the Ipads and Iphones and they started to steal the stage from Chanel. Or, maybe an entire day at the spa or a special weekend getaway with Mr. C would be the best way to begin thirty-something?

So with all of these over the top, fabulous possibilities - guess what I actually realllly want for my 30th birthday???


Dewalt Nail Gun

Oh, and a miter saw, too:


Best Power Saws

I want these handy tools so I can add crown molding and wainscoting all over our house, because I am obsessed with trimwork:

entrances/foyers - black garden stools black pedestal table sisal rug art  Ken Gemes Interiors & Tria Giovan Photography!  beautiful transitional
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entrances/foyers - pendant lighting staircase runner  Foyer with huge white linen pendant light!   tapered drum pendant, sisal stair runner and
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entrances/foyers - blue brown striped stair runner white green pillows cane bench white garden stool wainscoting  Thornton Designs  ivory & seafoam
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entrances/foyers - glossy ebony floors bench wainscoting staircase gold gilt vintage frames art tan gray walls  Joe Schmelzer Photography!  gorgeous
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entrances/foyers - bench photo gallery wainscoting tan beige brown white gray hall  Top Design 2: Nathan Egan!  Love this small hall with photo
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I'm more obsessed with trimwork now then Chanel. Sad but true. When I told Mr. C. I wanted power tools for my bday, I thought his eyes were going to bug out of his head. He happily drove me over to Home Depot and we spent a good hour looking at all of the toys and dreaming up our future workshop. It was heaven for both of us. Seriously, when did Home Depot become my favorite store?!?!? Two years ago there's NO way those words would ever leave my mouth. But for now, I truly can't get enough of decorating and investing in our home. I'll save Chanel for my over-the-hill birthday.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Living Room Update

Last week I posted our family room update; this week it's time for the living room...and the rest of this post will be pictures. Enjoy!

 
 

Linking to these great parties!