Thursday, July 28

Bruise - {Strawberries, Rhubarb and Cream Crepe Cake}

The early days of the summer, in which I trained [seemingly] endlessly for my then-new job, saw many purpled patches on my body. From my own carelessness, my spine found itself battered and colored; crying out each time I lazily dropped all of myself into the unpadded driver’s seat of our go-karts. Absentmindedly, the hue of my legs shifted in response to the sudden catching of doors and stopping of gates as I forgot – time and time again - to consider the effect that the frequent battering would have on my tired skin. Consider it strange, if you will, but my ribcage also discovered spots of new color; the result of friendly by-surprise pokes from overly-eager friends with a different – but appreciated – sense of humor than most.

Then I bruised.

But I don’t so much anymore.


Please forgive me this harsh transition, dear readers, if you can. It may seem unrelated at first, which is not surprising, I know, for this occasionally disjointed space, but it ties in – I promise.

You see, earlier this year I got dumped. It’s been implied, I think, in posts since then, but I don’t believe that I ever mentioned it directly despite the rush of emotions itching to find themselves out of my head.

The hurt that came first wasn’t something I wanted to share because I knew he’d see it. Those closest to me helped me discover that he didn’t deserve to… And also that it wasn’t something I’d really want to remember.

The anger that followed couldn’t be shared either, because it wasn’t right to do. The furious hatred was mine only; to be uttered only to those who were understanding and kind enough to help me through the mess. My closest friends and family – who I am so fortunate to have – did more for me than venting here ever could. Now I have no regrets.

Out of respect – for you and him – I kept quiet. But now, months down the line, I’m finally writing this. Selfishly, I guess, for myself, but also for anyone else who might be going through something similar.

Although it felt, as first, like it would never be true, the hurt and the anger did leave me. I do remember the pain, but it lessened gradually over time as it was buried and overgrown with happier things. Deepened friendships and a heightened sense of appreciation for minutely happy things opened up like blossoms and flowers, granting me a new outlook on life.

It's been gone for some time.


In the end, it was good to get dumped. I didn’t think it possible, but I’m happier now, without a doubt, than I was then. I was meek then; naïve and unknowing in the ways of relationships and afraid to speak up. I’d forgotten that I like to be alone. I’d forgotten to be myself. I’d forgotten to actually do things with my time and had an incredibly difficult time writing for both the blog and the simple joy because of it. I’ve dated since then and I’m happy to say I’m still single. I haven’t found exactly what I’m looking for and I can thank my last failed relationship to thank for teaching me that I have every right to search for what I really want.

That there’s no shame in being single.

That I like who I am, and I won’t change myself to suit some guy.

Until it ended, I did, truthfully, love that boy and love what we shared. But at the same time, I’m happy it’s a thing of the past because I am so unbelievably grateful for how much stronger the split made me. I am more confident now, and I believe in myself and my judgments.

I’m not saying that my next breakup will be easy or that anyone else’s will either. I’m not saying that it’s simple to get over someone and I’m not saying it should be.

It’s a process, a painful but blessed one, that takes a lot out of a person. But, like everything, there’s good in it.

You will be happy again. More so, even. And you’ll be stronger. And thicker-skinned.

And with that thicker skin, you’ll find that you won’t bruise so easily anymore.

The purple fades in the end, leaving nothing but memories.

Do yourself a favor: learn from them.


I am a firm believer that a little pain does the body good, and I hope you are, too.


Strawberries, Rhubarb and Cream Crepe Cake adapted from Cream Puffs in Venice

This cake was insanely delicious. All of the components come together into a sweet, smooth and delicious treat! While making the crepes, don't be discouraged if you have a few failures. This makes quite a bit of batter, so you've got a lot of room for error. Try to keep your cool and have fun! This would be great for a party, but make sure you give yourself enough time to prepare everything a day before serving and put it all together two hours in advance of your ideal slicing time.

Printable Recipe

Crepes
6 tablespoons butter
3 cups milk
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
7 tbsp. sugar
Pinch salt
vegetable oil

Prepare this batter the day before making the cake.

In a small pan, brown the butter, being careful not to burn. Set aside. In the same pan, heat the milk until steaming and allow to col for 10 minutes.

Beat together the eggs, flour, sugar and salt on medium low speed until just combined, then slowly add the milk and butter. Pour into a container with a spout, cover and refrigerate overnight.

To make the crepes, bring the batter to room temperature. In the meantime, prepare a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper so you have a place to store cooked crepes. Place a nonstick or seasoned 9-inch crepe pan over medium heat. Prep the pan by brushing the surface with oil, then pour in about 3 tablespoons of batter, quickly and swirling to cover the entirety of the bottom of the pan. Cook until the bottom just begins to brown, about 1 minute, then carefully lift flip the crepe any way you can. You can do this by lifting an edge and using your fingers, or by using an offset or regular spatula - whatever works for you! Cook on the other side for no longer than 5 seconds and flip the crepe onto the lined baking sheet. Repeat until all batter has been used.

Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce

1 lb strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
1 c chopped rhubarb
1/4 c sugar, to taste
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cover. Let set at room temperature for about an hour to macerate and draw out juices. After an hour has passed, set uncovered pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced and syrupy, about 30 minutes. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Pastry Cream

1 cups milk
3 egg yolks
1/4 c sugar
1/6 c cornstarch, sifted
2 Tbsp butter, cubed and softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Fill a large bowl with ice and pull out a smaller bowl (that will fit inside) fitted with a fine-mesh sieve to hold the prepared pastry cream. Set aside.

In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the milk to a boil.

In the meantime, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until lightened, about three minutes. When the milk comes to a boil, temper the yolks but adding about half of the hot milk to the yolks while whisking to combine. Pour the tempered yolks into the saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly until thickened but not boiling, about two minutes. Quickly press the pastry cream through the sieve in the small bowl and set the bowl in the ice bath. Stir until the temperature reaches 140F on an instant-read thermometer, then stir in the butter and vanilla. When the cream reaches room temperature, cover and refrigerate.

Assembly

1 c heavy cream
2 Tbsp sugar
Pastry cream
Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce
Crepes
Confectioner's sugar (optional)

Whip the heavy cream with the sugar to stiff peaks. Fold in the pastry cream. Set aside.

Pick out the best-looking crepe and set aside. Put down 1 crepe on a serving platter and top with a thin layer of pastry cream (don't use too much or the cake will slide). Add another crepe and top with strawberry rhubarb sauce. Continue stacking and finish by topping with the best-looking crepe. Chill for at least 2 hours. Let set at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Dust with confectioner's sugar, if desired.

Friday, July 22

Two - {Piña Colada Cake}

It’s funny – I’m more reflective of the past year now, on my second blogging anniversary, than I was on my birthday.

It seems a lot of things have changed since this time last year. I was passionate about blogging then, but I’m certainly taking Whisk Kid more seriously than ever before. Maintaining – with a few hiccups – a weekly posting schedule has really helped me realize how much I love doing this, and also how much I love being able to share recipes, stories and photos with all of you, my dear readers. In this past year, blogging has become less of a hobby and more of a lifestyle.


I like it.

It probably went unnoticed - although I think that’s probably for the best - but I recently switched the blog over to whisk-kid.com from my previous blogspot address. The transition was very exciting and fulfilling for me, of course, but with the seamlessness of the switch, it’s now little more than a happy detail I’m thrilled to share with you! As a note, blogger kindly redirects all traffic to the new address, so there’s no need to worry, change bookmarks or change subscriptions.

It’s difficult to believe I’ve spent two years of my life with this hobby tagging along with me. Like a virtual scrapbook, I’m so fortunate to be able to look over the past year in remembrance. To reminisce but also look forward; happy for the good times I’ve had and eager to experience the ones that still lie ahead.

I don’t know exactly what is in store for the future of Whisk Kid. I wish I could tell you I was writing a cookbook or shooting a movie or designing a line of cutesy coffee mugs.

But I’m not. And that’s ok!

What I am going to do is just this.

Being me.

Being honest.

Being “real,” as is so commonly said.

I think over the years you’ve grown to expect only this from me.

Which is as it should be.


Thank you for seeing me through year number two!


Piña Colada Cake via Sky High
The author of this book uses and alternative to the creaming method for making her cakes. Don't be afraid to try it - it turns out fabulously! This recipe was a big hit!
Makes one 3-layer 9" cake.

Printable Recipe

Pineapple-Lime Filling

1 (567 g) can crushed pineapple in juice (no sugar added)
1 c (198 g) sugar
1/4 c (59 ml) lime juice (from about 2 limes)
1 tsp vanilla

Combine the pineapple, sugar and lime juice in a small saucepan. Bring the ingredients to a simmer, stirring frequently. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the pineapple has a jam-like consistency. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before using.

Brown Sugar Cake

1 3/4 c (414 ml) buttermilk*, divided
5 eggs, room temp
2 tsp vanilla
3 3/4 c (532 g) flour
1 3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 c (319 g) brown sugar
1 c (237 g) butter

Preheat your oven to 350F. Oil and line three 9" cake pans and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of buttermilk, the eggs and the vanilla. Set aside.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, butter, and 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk, and mix on low to incorporate. When evenly combined, beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Pour 1/3 of the egg mixture into the batter and beat just to combine. When fully incorporated, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add another 1/3. Repeat until all of the egg mixture has been added. Divide the batter amongst the prepared pans and bake 25-28 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly pressed. Cool cakes in pans on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pans, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to cool (doing so will ensure that the cake stays moist), about 4 hours.

*If you do not have buttermilk, pour 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice into your measuring cup before measuring the first cup. Pour that into a separate bowl and add the remaining milk. Let set about five minutes before using, allowing the milk to curdle slightly.

Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Click for step-by-step instructions on making Swiss Meringue Buttercream

3 egg whites
1 c (198 g) sugar
1 c + 4 tbsp (170 g) butter, cubed and at room temp
2/3 c (156 ml) unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp coconut extract

In a double boiler, cook the egg whites and sugar, whisking constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and whip on high speed (with a stand mixer or an hand-held one) until room temp, 10-15 minutes. Lower speed to medium and begin adding the butter, piece by piece, waiting about 10 seconds before adding the next to ensure that it is fully incorporated. After all the butter has been added, return mixer to high speed and beat until the buttercream comes together and becomes light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add the coconut milk in several additions, scraping down the bowl well after each one. Beat in the extract and use.

Assembly

Put on layer of cake on your cake stand and cover with 1/2 of the Pineapple-Lime filling. Top with another layer of cake and spread that with the remaining filling. Put on the top layer and frost with the Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Cover sides with toasted coconut, if desired.

Tuesday, July 12

Worth - {Cherry Pie}

On days when big crowds are anticipated in the park, my team leaders make sure to schedule an extra person for the day. Understandably, the extra is there to help with expediting the process of loading and unloading cars or to assist the crew around the track during races.


But when the queue empties and the crowds leave, that extra person is left with no purpose, which, in a working environment, is not something higher-ups tend to look kindly upon.

As such, that extra person – innocent an unknowing until this situation occurs – is handed cleaning supplies and hastily sent away to find a mess that needs undoing.
Most of the crew hates discovering that they’ve been named as the day’s “extra.” As they reluctantly receive their tools, frowns give birth to sighs; their expressions worming as their fingers wrap joylessly around the personification of their new purpose.

A broom is often the weapon of choice; too-short, cheaply made and always accompanied by a dust pan, both are to be swish-swished and clank-clanked around the park; trapping discarded maps, crumpled receipts and smashed fries in tandem.

But today, after being kicked out of position and subsequently crowned extra, I was assigned the most hated task of all.

A pair of tongs was passed my way, accompanied by a red bucket proudly declaring itself as “The Butt Bucket” in scratchy black lettering.

I was no longer the extra. Now I was the “Butt Picker.”

Now, I know how bad that sounds. But, in reality, butt picking is nothing more than picking cigarette butts from the ground. However, surely, considering that the average age of a Cedar Point employee is somewhere between 19 and 25, it’s entirely likely that the chore was intentionally given such a crude name. A crude name that I’ll gladly admit to laughing about – wouldn’t you? And I’ll also admit this: I don’t mind doing it.


You see, when you’re told to go tidy up around the park, you’re freed of all of your daily obligations. Yes, I love my job, but cleaning is like a second break. There are no races to start, no cars to straighten out, no guest complaints – just you, your thoughts and your tools.

So I take my butt picking duties to the beach…

And I walk.

And I clear my head.

Late last night I wandered to the front of the park, slowly drifting left and right over the comfortably populated sidewalk. Amid the pleasant murmur of passing guests and the collapsing of waves on the shoreline, I clicked the tongs together repeatedly, collecting burned-out cigarettes peacefully and without thought.

The park’s newest attraction, The Windseeker, pours epic-sounding songs down over us from the far end of the path, lit, in the sky, like a firework on hold. As I walk, I overhear complaints that The Windseeker isn’t scary enough and that it’s a lame addition to the park’s long list of rides.

But what these people fail to understand it that that’s simply not what it was intended to be. Sure, the ride has a height element, but it’s just a glorified version of the swings you’d see at any 4-H fairground. It’s not supposed to freak you out – it’s supposed to be relaxing and fun; a refreshing new element from the tired old “up-the-hill-down-the-hill” of every roller coaster on point.
With just a little more thought and consideration, those complaining and unhappy guests would be infinitely happier…


Kinda like the rest of my crew and butt picking.

The chore is far from glamorous (not that anything about my job is glamorous), but it’s also far from awful.

With the right mindset, many things can be made bearable.

You’ve just got to let it happen.


Cherry Pie adapted from Sweet Paul
This is actually the first cherry pie I have ever had, and I think it was really good! I'm not sure what kinds of cherries typically go into pies, but when I saw "pie cherries" written on the sign at the orchard... I kind of felt like I had no choice. I really like the sweet and sourness of this dessert. Yum!

Printable Recipe

Pie Crust

1 1/2 c (188 g) flour
3/4 tsp salt
9 Tbls (128 g) butter, cubed and frozen
3 Tbls (38 g) shortening, frozen
6 Tbls water, cold

1 egg
1 Tbsp water

To make the pie crust, combine the flour and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Add the frozen butter and shortening, then cut in using two forks, a pastry blender, or your hands. Continue working in the butter and shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add just enough of the 6 Tablespoons of water to bring the dough together and knead a few times to ensure that the flour is evenly moistened. Divide the dough into two portions: one should be 1/3 of the mass and the other 2/3. Press into disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to two days.

Prepare the cherry filling (below) while you wait.

When ready to roll, dust your counter with flour. Remove the larger portion of the dough from the fridge and let rest on the counter for 5 minutes to allow it to warm and become more manageable. Roll the dough into a circle large enough to fit your 9" pan and transfer to the pan by rolling the dough around your pin and draping it over the top. Trim so there is about 1" of overhang. Fold over edges and crimp, then pour in the cherry filling. Place pie in the refrigerator.

Roll out the second ball of dough and cut out decorative shapes. Remove the pie from the fridge and place shapes on top. Combine the egg and tablespoon of water and brush over crust. Return pie to fridge, and set your oven to 400F. When it comes to temperature, bake the pie for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 300F and bake 55-65 minutes longer, or until the crust is browned and the filling bubbly. Cool completely on a rack and place in the refrigerator to chill overnight before serving.

Cherry Filling
3 lbs (1360 g) pie cherries, pitted
3/4 c (150 g) sugar
5 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into rolled pie crust.

Friday, July 1

Old - {Strawberry Cake with Rose-Scented Buttercream}

I pulled an old CD out of my case a few days ago.

I hadn’t listened to it in quite some time, I realized, as I slid the red and white disk from its sleeve.


It came into my care about ten years ago; a well-loved hand-me-down from an older brother who lost interest. Misuse and poor care over the years have resulted in battle scars and altered playback, but most of the tracks still read well, particularly the hits. Through the tracks, the subwoofer in my trunk sounds its fatigue over the bassline. With ease and grace, the pollen and petals on the tired Tiger Liles beside me fall to the seat; butterflies in the passing breeze of a carelessly open window.

It’s broken – this environment – but it’s comfortable. The nostalgic nature of hearing old songs casts a dreamy glow on everything, making it ok that the CD is skipping. That the bass is faltering. That the flowers are slowly – beautifully – gracefully – dying.


Like an old favorite CD, once misplaced but never forgotten, T came back into my life a little over a month ago. Misunderstandings and a fight came of the rough playback, but we found ourselves comforted by what was made stronger between us because of them. Eventual easing into interlocked fingers and innocent kisses over manicured rows of strawberries smoothed the track, ceased the skips in our communication and tripped, instead, the beat of my unsuspecting heart.

He’ll be leaving soon, that boy, for bigger and better things. He’ll pack up his car and leave just as before.


Things will change.

It’s going to hurt.

But I can live with it.

As a wise friend once said, “never regret a decision you’ve made. Always remember that, at some point, it was exactly what you wanted.”

He couldn’t be more right.


Strawberry Cake with Rose Scented Buttercream
I was inspired to make this cake after discussing strawberry reduction with Stella of Bravetart. In addition to their flavor, the reduced berries impart a pleasantly subtle shade of pink to what would otherwise be a white cake. As a note, I found the cake to be delicious as is, but the crumb is a bit heavier than I was hoping for it to be. Next time I’ll replace the sour cream with milk to loosen the batter and make incorporating the egg whites a little easier. I hope you’ll enjoy this cake as much as I did!

Printable Recipe

Strawberry Reduction inspired by Bravetart

1 1/2 c (230 g) sliced strawberries
1/8 c (25 g) sugar

Combine in a small saucepan. Cover and let sit at room temp for one hour to pull the juices out of the berries.

Set saucepan over medium–low heat and, stirring frequently, reduce to 1/2 cup, about 30 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool to room temp.

Strawberry Cake adapted from Chocolate Chic
Makes enough batter for one 9” round cake, or two 6” round cakes.

1 1/3 c (190 g) cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c (118 ml) strawberry reduction
1/2 c (118 ml) sour cream
4 (160 g) egg whites
6 Tbls (85 g) butter, room temp
5/8 c (125 g) sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350F. Oil and line one 9” round cake pan or two 6” rounds.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the strawberry reduction and sour cream. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, being very careful not to overbeat. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the batter.

In another large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Add 1/3 of the strawberry and sour cream mixture, mixing just to combine. Add half of the dry ingredients, mix to combine and repeat; ending with a final addition of the strawberry mixture.

Scoop about 1/3 of the whipped whites into the bowl of batter and mix to incorporate. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites in three additions.

Pour batter into prepared pans, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in pans for ten minutes, then remove from pans and wrap with plastic wrap, refrigerating until well-chilled, at least two hours, before frosting.

Rose-Scented Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Please click here for a step-by-step guide to making Swiss Meringue Buttercream and troubleshooting tips!

1 1/2 c (300 g) sugar
7 egg whites
27 Tbsp (381 g) unsalted butter, room temp
1 tsp vanilla
Few drops rose water

In a double boiler, cook the egg whites and sugar over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved (test by rubbing some between your fingers. If it's completely smooth, it's done). Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp. Then, on a medium-low speed, add the butter, waiting until each piece is completely incorporated before adding the next. The buttercream may turn into a soupy curdled mess during this process, but if you continue beating it for a few minutes it will become light and fluffy. Add the rose water and vanilla, beating to combine.

An Invitation, a Special Offer, and Some Sweet Features!

Good morning, dear readers!

In addition to a new post (which will go live sometime later in the afternoon), I have something exciting to share with you guys today! My super talented friend, Jordan, over at Kitchen Karate, has just opened I'm With Cupcake, an online shop featuring all sorts of cutesy goodies! His offerings include all sorts of hand-picked treasures from Cupcake Soaps to Ninjabread Men Cookie Cutters, perfect for treating yourself or giving as gifts to others!

The shop is open now, but the grand opening is tomorrow and Jordan's doing something special to celebrate the occasion: after you've filled your virtual baskets, head on over to the checkout and use "whiskkid" as your promo code to receive 10% off your purchase of $30 or more (before taxes and shipping)!

This offer is valid only on July 2nd - 3rd, 2011; can be used one time and cannot be combined with other offers or promo codes. Also, as a note, I am not receiving any kind of compensation/reward for offering this deal to you guys. I swear, I'm not a sell out - I'm just trying to spread the word and help a friend :)

Click the invitation below to check out the shop!



In other news, I was recently interviewed by Splashlife for a feature called "30 Under 30: Futurist Foodies." I am absolutely honored and floored to have been included, especially considering my company! Check it out (I'm on the bottom of page 2) to read a little bit about all of our "foodie" thoughts!

Check out BBC Food today, too, to see the rainbow cake on their Cake Wall of Fame!

I hope you're enjoying this beautiful day!
Kaitlin