Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Staying Warm

I am so excited! It is snowing and I am enjoying a hot cup of tea. A cup that has been hot from beginning to end, thanks to my new Mr. Coffee Mug Warmer.
We live in an old and drafty house. I love this house dearly, but it makes drinking tea by the pot full a slightly less enjoyable experience because inevitably by the time you get to the bottom of your cup, your beverage is stone cold. So naturally, EJ and I went on a search for an electric cup warmer. I looked in big boxes and small independent store alike and while a few had heard of this mysterious "cup warmer" few had actually seen it in person and fewer still knew where to find one. EJ lost interest, but I pressed on.

THE INTERNET I thought with excitement! I wanted to support a local business, but this was a job for the Internet. A few clicks into my search and voila! I compared the nearly $30 Bodum warmer to a tiny thing from Salton. Features, benefits, price, delivery time. I finally settled on a $10 (well $9.59 from amazon.com) Mr. Coffee MWBLK Mug Warmer. It promises to be, easy to clean, has a convenient cord length for use almost anywhere and be great for a variety of hot beverages and soups.

Sold! I only wish it came in green.

Sharing the love of (hot-hot) tea,


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Made from Scratch

Being unemployed has its benefits. One such plus is that I have time to make my favorite cake--from scratch. I found this recipe for Coconut Cake with Lemon Curd Filling in Essence magazine about two years ago. I have only had time to bake it one other time. And with a growing waistline and a non-coconut eating, sugar-busting, exercise freak hubby, I wasn't really motivated until now.

This cake takes a good afternoon to make from start to frosting. You have to plan ahead so that you have coconut, heavy whipping cream and lemon curd on hand. The truly gifted could make their own lemon curd as well. I have made a few tweaks to the original recipe, but you'll never know the difference. The result is a heavenly triple-layer confection that is not too sweet and goes with almost any tea!
Makes about 16 servings. Preheat oven 350 F
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs (at room temp)
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup lemon curd
Fluffy White Frosting
3 cups sweetened flaked dried coconut
Preheat oven. Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans. In bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and baking soda, mixing well. In large mixer bowl at medium speed beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in extracts. One at a time, beat in eggs. Alternate adding flour and buttermilk, ending with flour. Pour batter into prepared cake pans; smooth tops with spatula. Bake until wooden pick inserted into centers of layers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely on racks.
On cake plate or stand, place first layer top side down, spread with half of the lemon curd. Add second layer top side down; spread with remaining lemon curd. Add third layer top side up. Frost sides and top of cake then sprinkle with coconut. This cake tastes best when made ahead by a few hours.
While cakes cool, prepare frosting:
Fluffy White Frosting
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract

In bowl using mixer on medium speed, whip together cream and 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar until stiff peaks form, about 2-4 minutes. In a separate bowl, beat together cream cheese and remaining 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold cream cheese mixture into whipped cream. Fold in coconut extract.
Sharing the love of tea (and real homemade cake),

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