Tag Archives: 28 before 29

29 Before 30

Friday Link Love

It’s resolution time people. It is year four of my “__ before __” list and I am really excited for the year ahead. As I’m sure you’ll notice a lot of my goals this year focus on trying new things and pushing the boundaries on the skills that I already have. I’ll keep you guys updated on my progress!

  1. Body Beautiful – find my healthy and work on loving what God gave me.
  2. Coffee Journey – cold brew, french press, turkish…find my perfect cup.
    *my acupuncturist put the kibosh on this, but I have rediscovered my love of hot tea. My reining favorite is Princess Grey.
  3. Convince Andy to grow and wax a handle bar mustache.
  4. Try 10 new recipes.
    Double Chocolate Cookies
    Very Blueberry Scones
    Vanilla Extract
    Chocolate Blackberry Whipped Ganache
    Biscoff Brownies
    Biscoff Blondies
    Chocolate Peanut Butter Bark

    Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
    Chocolate Orange Cookies
    Chocolate Drizzled Orange Spice Cookies
  5. Take a hand lettering class.
    Silk Dying Class
  6. Take a painting class
  7. Take a class and learn a new skill (TBD).
    Indigo Dying Class
  8. Write 5 original recipes or recipe adaptations.
    Pineapple Buttercream
    Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Jar
    Vegan Hot Cocoa in a Jar
    Vegan Apple Crumble
    Peanut Butter Pretzel Brittle
  9. Get my braces off.
  10. Redesign blog layout.
  11. Complete three mini home renovation projects.
  12. Take a mini Atlanta vacation.
  13. Do two Zen Tangles a week. Ended up with adult coloring books instead.
  14. Try 12 new restaurants.
    4 Rivers
    Northside Pies

    Consciousness Blossoms
    First Watch
    Maple Street Biscuit Co
    Apropos Deli
    West Egg
    Midtown Caboose
    Be Our Guest

    Au Peche Mignon
  15. Collaborate on two new projects.
  16. Go apple picking.
  17. Put the MP3s from all of my cds on one car friendly storage device. Nope
  18. Create my first DIY post. Fail, I had some great ideas, they just never made it to you guys.
  19. Have high tea.
  20. Host a tea party.
  21. Make a quilt. I completely forgot about this until about two weeks ago and I decided that it was just going to have to wait another year.
  22. Make a statement necklace.
  23. Fill a sketchbook with new designs. I didn’t manage to fill one, but there has been a definite increase in the number of sketches I’ve been doing.
  24. Find a way for my diabetic mother to have dessert every night.
  25. Make at least 5 of the crafts I’ve pinned on Pinterest.
    Glitter Dipped Wooden Spoons
    Tea Wreath
    Cocoa & Cookies in Jars
    Paper Flowers
    Christmas Gnomes
    Flower Crown

    Flower Monogram
  26. Work on curating a wardrobe vs. just buying clothing.
  27. Wear makeup at least five days a week.
  28. Get my tattoo. Didn’t make it to Savannah, hopefully next year.
  29. Create a gallery wall in the master bedroom. I didn’t find all of the things I wanted to fill the space, but I am about half there.

If you’re interested, you can see my 26 before 27, 27 before 28 and 28 before 29(my best year yet!).


Image from here.

Recipes I Want to Try

The last few months have been pretty crammed with baking as I scrambled to hit my 12 new cake recipes before the deadline on my 28 before 29 list. Now that I am in the clear, I’ve taken a baking break and have been reflecting on all the things I learned along the way. I’ve discovered that I really like baking with a friend or family member (mostly my mom and my friend Rachel); it helps me relax and enjoy the process since I know that there is someone double checking ingredient lists and recipe steps as we go along. I discovered that I am a frosting snob. Cake can vary on texture and flavor and be fine, but frosting!? If it isn’t right, I scrape it off and throw it away. Which makes me feel like a diva, but I can’t help it. It does, however, make me that much more excited when I find one that truly like. Whipped ganache or peanut butter frosting? Yes, please; I’ll bring my own spoon. I’ve also started thinking a lot more about presentation. Several of the later recipes I tried called for more precise assembly and the reaction from the taste testers was overwhelmingly positive. A swirl of fudge here, a carefully place berry there, and it made everyone feel like they were getting something extra fancy.

I am currently working on my 29 before 30 list, that I will be sharing with you next week, and I am definitely going to continue the trend of trying new recipes. I am hoping to expand my culinary comfort zone past cupcakes and start putting a little extra consideration into my presentation. To get inspired, I have once again turned to Pinterest for help and my Cake board is making me feel like it will soon be time to again pull out the mixer and don my apron. Here are a few of the recipes I am currently considering.

1. Chocolate Mandarin Orange

Recipe 4

Orange Almond Cake with Orange Blossom Frosting

Recipe 3

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Espresso Frosting

Recipe 1

Black Forrest Cake

Recipe 2

Another thing I want to work on is the quality of my food photos; we eat with our eyes too, right? And those pictures above? Gorgeous, and they make me very, very hungry.


All images are from the blogs linked in the titles and can also be found on my Cake Pinterest board.



The-I-Gotta-Have-Chocolate-Cake Cake: #12 of 12!

Most of the baking I do is for other people. Most of my 12 recipes from the 28 before 29 ended up going to the office for Andy. I had the same intention for whatever recipe ended up being #12… until the other night. It hit me, I needed chocolate and I needed it bad. I’d read the post on Smitten Kitchen earlier in the week, and I thought its alternate title “The Nothing Is Ever Going To Be Okay Again If I Don’t Have Chocolate Cake Cake” appropriately reflected my feelings.


6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (145 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk (see Notes for other options)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1/2 cup (41 grams) Dutch cocoa powder
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table or fine sea salt

2 ounces (55 grams) unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) powdered sugar (sifted if lumpy)
1/2 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of fine sea salt (optional)
1 tablespoons cream or whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the cake: Heat oven to 350°F (175°c). Line the bottom of an 8-inch square cake pan with parchment paper, and either butter the parchment and exposed sides of the pan, or spray the interior with a nonstick spray. In a large bowl, use a hand or stand mixer to beat the butter and sugars until fluffy; scrape down bowl. Add the egg, yolk and vanilla and beat until combined, then the buttermilk and mix again. Scrape the bowl down well and don’t worry if the batter looks uneven. Place your flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a sifter (I find this step necessary because my cocoa is very lumpy) and shake it over the batter bowl. Stir on low until just combined; scrape down bowl a final time. Scoop batter into prepared pan and smooth flat. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes in cake pan on cooling rack, then flip out onto rack or serving plate to completely finish cooling before frosting. Speed this up by placing it outside for 10 minutes (thanks, winter!).

Make the frosting: Place frosting ingredients in a food processor and run machine to to mix. Scrape down bowl then process for another 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth and somewhat fluffed. [Don’t have a food processor? Beat butter, powdered sugar and salt, if using, in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Pour in chocolate and milk, beat until combined, then one more minute to whip it further.] Scoop the frosting onto the cooled chocolate cake and swirl it around. Finish with rainbow sprinkles; don’t even fight it. Cut into squares and prepare for your family/roommates to completely freak out when they spy it on the counter. (But only share if they offer to do dishes.)

Cake keeps at room temperature for a day or two, or in the fridge up to a week, or so I’ve heard but never tested out.

*Yield: 1 generously frosted 8×8-inch cake, which we cut into 16 small squares.
Could also yield: 1 generously frosted 8-inch or 9-inch round cake, 12 very generously frosted cupcakes, or it could be doubled and baked in a 9×13-inch pan. Could also be scaled and stacked as a birthday cake.
  • All and all, not a bad cake, and really easy to throw together.
  • The frosting recipe is now my second favorite chocolate frosting recipe. I don’t know what could possibly be better than whipped chocolate ganache, and this is pretty much half ganache, half butter cream so it make sense.
  • The cake was good; Andy even went back for seconds. I would like to note that it took much longer to bake than the instructions indicated. Almost 10 minutes longer.
  • I can’t believe I actually finished my recipes for the year!

#11 of 12: Chocolate Olive Oil & Blood Orange Cupcakes

Before my mom headed out earlier this week, she offered to help me whip up one more cupcake recipe for my checklist. In honor of Andy’s favorite Christmas treat, the chocolate orange, we selected this recipe for Chocolate Olive Oil & Blood Orange Cupcakes by Love & Olive Oil.


Yield: 12 cupcakes


  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup pure olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon blood orange zest, finely grated
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon almond meal
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
  • 2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons blood orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon blood orange zest, finely grated
  • 1-2 tablespoons soy creamer or heavy cream (as needed)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and zest until incorporated. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in coconut milk mixture. Stir until just smooth (do not overmix).
  3. Pour into liners, filling each with 3 tablespoons of batter (cups should be no more than 2/3 full). Bake 18-20 minutes (or 10-12 for minis), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  4. For frosting, cream butter until smooth and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until combined. Mix in orange juice, zest, and vanilla. Continue adding sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition (depending on the temperature of your butter, you may need more or less sugar or added cream to achieve the proper consistency). Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Read more at http://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2010/01/chocolate-olive-oil-and-blood-orange-cupcakes.html


  • The taste tester results on this one were definitely love or hate, but in all fairness, the ones who didn’t like it admitted they don’t like chocolate orange candy so…….yeah.
  • I feel squarely into the former category. The cake was a-mazing! Rich yet light, the perfect texture, and the slight tang of the blood orange really added depth to the chocolate flavor.
  • The frosting was meh, but then again, it was only a slight modification of the standard butter cream, which, if the last half dozen recipes have taught us anything, I don’t seem to like. However, one of my wonderful taste testers called it “life changing” so if you like orange and buttercream you should probably go ahead and give it a try.
  • How cool is it that the cake is vegan and that the frosting can be vegan if you want? I really like when recipes are adaptable for people with dietary restrictions.
  • I am considering making the cake again, but in a loaf pan and making a blood orange glaze to go on top. Then I can eat it for breakfast.

#10 of 12: Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes

In honor of the impending weekend holiday, I decided that recipe #10 of my 12 should be inspired by one of the most traditional Valentine’s Day day desserts. So I give you Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes by The Cake Blog!

Cupcakes 2

Cupcakes 4

Cupcakes 3

Cupcakes 1

For the Chocolate Cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pans with cupcake liners.
  2. In large bowl combine all dry ingredients: flour , sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk until well combined.
  3. Add oil and sour cream and mix together with whisk.
  4. Gradually add water and continue to whisk.
  5. Add vanilla and eggs and whisk until combined.
  6. Fill cupcake lines 2/3 full with batter.
  7. Bake for 16 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  8. Let cupcakes cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to wire racks to finish cooling.
  9. Once cupcakes are completely cool frost with Strawberry Cream Cheese and Chocolate Ganache.

For the Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
12 oz cream cheese, softened
5 Tbsp strawberry puree (from 3/4 cup frozen strawberries)
1/2 tsp vanilla
6 cups confectioner’s sugar

  1. In bowl of stand mixer combine butter and cream cheese and beat on medium speed until creamy.
  2. Add strawberry puree and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Gradually add confectioner’s sugar 2 cups at a time and mix until well combined.
  4. Place frosting in piping bag fitted with Wilton tip 2D. Hold piping bag straight above cupcake and squeeze and wiggle piping bag slightly and pull straight up to create the ruffled look.
  5. Place cupcakes in refrigerator for about 15 minutes to let the frosting set up.

For the Chocolate Ganache:

1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp corn syrup
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Place heavy cream and corn syrup in saucepan and heat over medium-high heat just until simmering.
  2. Put chocolate chips in bowl.
  3. Pour cream over top of chocolate chips and let sit 5 minutes, do not stir.
  4. Once chocolate begins to melt, stir mixture until chocolate is completely smooth.
  5. Allow chocolate to cool and firm up a little bit before drizzling over top of cupcakes.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries:

28 Strawberries
12 oz Ghirardelli Dark Melting Wafers

  1. Line baking sheet with wax paper.
  2. Wash and completely dry strawberries.
  3. Place Ghirardelli Dark Melting Wafers in bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals stirring after each, for about 1 and a half minutes, until chocolate is smooth.
  4. Dip strawberries in melted chocolate so they are about 3/4 the way covered. Place strawberries on prepared baking sheet.
  5. Once all strawberries are dipped place in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to allow chocolate to set.
  6. Add Chocolate Covered Strawberries on top of cupcakes.

*Keep cupcakes stored in air tight container in refrigerator until ready to enjoy.


  • My favorite cupcake to date, they were seriously….WOW.
  • Everyone who tried it completely flipped, even people who didn’t normally like chocolate or didn’t like cream cheese based frostings.
  • The buttercream recipe was a little off. I had to add an additional two cups of powdered sugar to get the frosting to the right consistency. With the 6, it poured out the end of my piping bag (ziploc bag with the corner cut off).
  • Building it was a little labor intensive and tricky. Even after fixing the frosting consistency issue, I had a little trouble keeping everything together. Trying to layer frosting, ganache and then balancing the dipped berry? Yeah, there might have been a little bit of swearing. I think next time, and there will be a next time, I’ll frost…wait a bit…and then add the rest.