i hung decorations from every corner!
a week and a half into the aftermath, all valentine’s decorations are still up.
we had a dinner party for valentine’s day last weekend. -wait, let me rephrase that with the honest truth: brian and i had a going away/valentine’s day dinner party last weekend. yes, sad as it is, brian and i must pack up and leave the city that we have so grown to love. pittsburgh has served as nothing short of a true home for he and i. this is the city where we spent the first year of our marriage, where he earned a master’s degree, where he was in 2 bike accidents (ugh), where we learned and practiced fine foods and spirits, where brian learned of making and i learned of drinking real coffee.. yes, we will miss pittsburgh. but we are now venturing on a new and exciting life out in the country, where things move more slowly and we have the chance of having a yard!
onto the party. we wanted to show a few close friends that we loved sharing our past few years with them, so invited them to share a dinner with us the day before valentine’s day. brian and i really relish in cheesy holiday novelty. i love decorationg for it, and i love making it into a real event. i took this opportunity to gift a few confections: truffles! i made chocolate and hazelnut filled truffles rolled in hazelnuts, and dark chocolate mousse filled truffles dipped in white chocolate and pistachios. they were easy and tasty. i bundled them up into little boxes and tied treats to the exterior of the boxes.
i also rooted cuttings from my prized houseplant that i’ve had for as long as i can remember. i potted them into mason jars, and again gifted them to my friends to *hopefully* not kill.
also, to remember our friends by, we set up a photo-booth for everyone to have their pictures taken in. it only verified that our friends are really silly, attractive, and creative. i wish i could share the pictures, but out of respect for privacy, i’m only posting one.
for the food portion of the evening, i made chicken florentine roulades with fire roasted tomatoes, and roasted veggies as a side. my friends all made some really amazing dishes. brian and i were totally impressed at the talent showcased in this potluck. good job guys. i put myself in charge of dessert, though i wavered on what to make until the second the whisk hit the bowl. literally. i wanted chocolate to be involved, because it’s valentines day and (duh) my friends would be miffed if chocolate didn’t make an appearance. BUT i sometimes feel that chocolate can overshadow the many other lovely and delicate flavors out there that make such a lovely last course. (you know i’m about to say almonds, right?) what i really, deep deep down, wanted to make, was an almond cake. -an almond layer cake to be exact. a linzer. yes yes yes. perfect. i can have chocolate, almonds, and strawberry jam, so many of the flavors that i love, all in one slice. it was nothing short of delicious and perfect. i’ve said before that i love the flavor of almonds. -combine that with dark chocolate mousse frosting and tart jam, and i melt. not to out-do the cake base, this frosting is my favorite. it is soft and whippy, moist, and has the perfect balance of dark chocolate and sweetness. with its airy and fluffy texture, it isn’t too rich to sneak in for seconds.
this recipe makes 2 round 8″ layer cakes. cut the recipe in half for a snack cake.
almond layer cake with chocolate frosting
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cup room temperature butter
4 cups almond flour
1 cup coconut flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
8 eggs at room temp
1 cup milk (i used whole)
2 tbsp vanilla
optional 1/4 tsp almond extract
preheat oven to 350f, position racks in center of oven. prep 2 round 8″ cake pans with parchment rounds and nice coating of butter.
begin by creaming butter and sugar with electric mixer. once combined and fluffy, add milk, vanilla, and almond extract (if using it) at a low-speed, until it is all wet and combined. add eggs, a few at a time, and let it slowly mix.
combine all dry ingredients together.
add dry ingredients into wet ingredients. a fragrant, irresistable batter will form, and your fingers will find themselves into the bowl, scraping sugar and almond from the sides, and before you know it, you’re eating the raw batter! stop yourself.
pour violated batter evenly into 2 cake pans, and bake for 35 minutes or so. watch carefully as nuts burn quickly.
let them cool for a bit before loosening edges from pans and inverting onto cooling racks. these cakes are best served the day after, as the lovely flavors meld nicely with time. -like booze does.
i spread (thickly, may i add) some fancy, expensive strawberry preserves between the layers as a filling. i layed it on thick, spread it evenly, and then stuck the un-frosted cake into the refrigerator so the filling would stiffen up a little before icing it.
pistachio and hazelnut truffles made with leftover frosting
(adapted, courtesy of elana’s pantry)
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp honey (or agave nectar)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
slowly melt olive oil and chocolate in saucepan over very low heat. (seriously, no hurry here, burnt chocolate is a sin of gastronomical proportions). stir, stir, stir. when chips are melted, add honey, vanilla, and salt. once smooth and well combined, remove from heat.
stick pan into freezer for 15 minutes. if it still looks shiny and drizzly and runny, stick it back into freezer for 10 minute increments until it no longer looks glossy. it should look dull and somewhat firm, but not hard. *if it gets hard, let it sit at room temp for a few minutes before you continue.
with mixer (hand blender works best here), fluff it. yes, it will turn into frosting, just have faith. it took a good 15 minutes or so of whipping with the hand mixer for this to turn into frosting for me. -rest assured, it will happen suddenly and magically. if it has been 15 minutes and the mixture is turning warm, stick into the freezer for a few minutes and try again.
you will have a nice fluffy mousse-like frosting on your hands (hopefully not literally). spread onto stacked layers, and impress your friends with your uncanny ability to create chocolate for any occasion.
i tripled this frosting recipe to create truffles. try it. once the frosting is well fluffed, stick into the refrigerator for quite a few hours, until stiff enough to hand-roll. dip it in melted chocolate, nuts, coconut, whatever., it’s chocolate, ain’t it?