Every holiday season I adopt a family with a child on hospice and gift them their wish list. Contributing to a charitable cause is something that I have vowed to continue and is more important than ever, as I want to lead by example for my son and exemplify generosity for Landen to make his own philanthropic choices someday.
It just so happens that I started my business after teaching myself how to make Sea Salt Caramels and gifting them for the holidays and they quickly became our most highly requested item on the menu! 3 years ago, I asked myself how I could love on my community and encourage them to give back too. Thus, the Annual Ladies Holiday Charity Brunch was born! I just ask every guest to bring a gift and in exchange, I spoil them and they go home with a box of our caramels!
I am going to share with you how I plan and execute this event and hopefully this will encourage you to host a Ladies Holiday Charity Brunch in your community!
STEP 1: Come up with your theme! Sure- its the holidays. But the options are endless. You can do a Winter Wonderland, Classic holiday colors, or Flannel! I wanted the party to feel warm and cozy....think "hot cocoa by the fire" so our theme was all about dressing up in your best flannel! Every aspect of the party should tie back to this theme in some way. Let me show you....
Party Invitations: These lovelies were designed by Phenix Paper Co. and had the perfect hint of flannel with instructions to dress "Flanneled Up!". Send invitations early, as people are extra busy this time of year. I prefer a virtual Save The Date followed by a mailed invitation- who doesn't like getting mail!?
STEP 2: Sourcing your decor
Decor & Rentals: We used our Fav local rental companies for various items: Yay Parties for the furniture and Balancing Balloons for tableware! How cute are the warm and cozy blankets!
STEP 3: Create your menu
Food and Beverages: What can you make ahead of time? We prepped an egg casserole the night before and threw it in the oven the morning of the event- 45 min later...DONE! Offer a simple Arugula salad on the side.
A mimosa bar is a must! Add fresh cranberries to garnish champagne and offer a variety of sweets to nibble on. I opt to make an easy Spiced Bundt Cake (TIP: make the week before and freeze) and buy the rest! The peppermint bark from Trader Joes is such a great dessert to snack on. Don't forget non-alcoholic beverage options. We LOVE Rachel's Ginger Beer in Seattle and they have the best holiday flavors.
The goal was to keep it cozy! My house is tiny but I didn't want to be limited to the amount of amazing women to invite. We rented an outdoor tent with heaters and created a cozy place to sit (or stand) with blankets. Notice the flannel on the tabletops? We used blankets and scarves!
STEP 4: Activities that are fun and offer convenience
Activities: we hosted Stella & Dot to allow the ladies to conveniently get some last minute Holiday shopping in. WIN WIN!
The main activity is for each guest to decorate their caramels! We provide chocolate and all the fun holiday sprinkles & candy canes to make them their own. The guests LOVE this so i've decided to make this the main activity of the event ever year.
My friend makes these amazing candles! And they just so happened to have the most appropriate title for the theme of the party. Guests were also provided the option to buy these as last minute holiday gifts and each went home with one as the party favor!
And look at all of the holiday gifts we raised!! Over 40 gifts provided to children on Hospice. I love my family and friends and look forward to spoiling them every year by hosting our annual Ladies Holiday Charity Brunch!
This year- we are offering our Sea Salt Caramels for sale and donating a percentage of proceeds to the Confetti Foundation which provides birthday parties for kiddos in the hospital. If you would like to help- please visit our store starting November 27th! WARNING: We sold out just 48 hours after launching our site a few weeks ago so get em' fast!
Calling all chocolate lovers! It tastes as good as it looks. A moist, triple-layer sour cream cake with notes of coffee and espresso topped with fresh cranberries.
Recipe adopted by Back in the Day Bakery
Triple-Layer Sour Cream Chocolate Cake Recipe:
3 cups cake flour
9oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped (I used a food processor)
2 cups hot brewed coffee
1 Tbsp.. pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 Tbsp. Espresso Powder
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup Canola oil
1 cup Sour Cream, room temperature
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 1/2 lbs semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (2 8oz bags of chocolate chips)
1/3 cup hot brewed coffee
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Sugared cranberries for garnish
Oven 350 degrees. This will make three 9X2 inch cakes. I used two 6 inch cakes and had enough batter left over for 24 cupcakes! Freeze the cupcakes for a future part or event :)
1) Using a food processor, pulse the chocolate until you have finely chopped chocolate pieces. Combine the chocolate with the hot coffee and let it melt for several minutes. Add vanilla and stir until well blended.
2) In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and the oil until combined. Whisk in the sour cream to the egg and oil mixture until combined.
3) In a mixing bowl or stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, espresso powder, and baking soda and mix for 10 seconds on lowest setting.
4) Beat in the wet ingredients, in 3 batches. Mix until just combined, do not over mix the batter. This is create a dense cake.
Divide into two or three cake pans (depending on the size cake pan you are using) or a sheet pan. Bake for 35-40 min, or until toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out with a few crumbs.
1) Pulse two 80z packages of semi-sweet chocolate chips in a food processor to create finely chopped pieces.
2) Combine the butter, heavy cream, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Slowly bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally to make sure the sugar is melted. (I also added a spritz of orange zest, to give the ganache another layer of flavor!)
3) Remove from the heat and pour over chocolate. Add hot coffee and vanilla, whisk until melted.
**The ganache will make enough to frost the outside and layers of the cake. I made a peanut butter buttercream to layer between the cakes but you can be creative and add any flavor that sounds great with chocolate!
This makes for a simple yet decedent Chocolate Holiday Cake!
Happy Holidays everyone!
Everything you have heard about making homemade croissants is most likely true. Yup, it has lots of butter and yes, they are time consuming and a tid bit difficult to make. So let me start by saying- strive for improvement each time, not perfection.
On my baking journey, I am striving to teach myself at home how to make some of the most challenging pastries (even for professional pastry chefs). In fact, French Macaroons were my first endeavor almost two years ago. It took ALOT of patience, trial and error, time and well, almond flour. But after I finally made the perfect batch and shared with family to see their reaction, I was reminded that it was all worth it.
And so, on to my next challenge. These melt in your mouth puff pastries known as the Croissant! I must say, it was the first time in a while that I truly felt challenged. These require time, a lot of folding of the dough, the right eye and touch for the temperature of the dough, the perfect rolling of the dough and you have to work fast!
These are some of the tips and tricks I learned from The Art and Soul of Baking by Sur La Table and Cindy Mushet.. Hopefully this will help you at home to bake croissants with some ease and success!
Flour- it seems to make the most sense to use pastry flour because croissants are a 'pastry'. However, they require more gluten formation than other pastries. All-Purpose Flour or Bread Flour are higher in protein than pastry flour and when combined with liquid, gluten is formed.
You may also use a combination of bread flour with cake flour. Bread flour will have the highest amount of protein, while cake flour has more protein than pastry flour but less than All-purpose flour. Make sense?
Make sure to brush off any excess flour when folding the dough. You don't want unnecessary gluten to form and create a tougher dough than desired.
COLD Butter - the butter must always be cold. If after rolling the dough, it becomes soft (because it has become too warm) stop there and place it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or until cold again.
The butter block simply put…..is a block of cold butter. No need to add additional flour to the butter block. The easiest technique to produce cold but flexible butter, needed in order to fold in with the dough block is to wrap the COLD (this is critical) butter block loosely in plastic wrap. Now for the fun part! Use a rolling pin to beat the butter until it is malleable. it will have a somewhat flat and even surface.
Folds- its super easy to lose track of how many folds you have done. Keep track! Too many folds will prevent the layers from rising (therefore, it will not bake those beautifully layered crust).
Make sure to line up the edges and square off the corners when folding the dough. This will give you more perfectly even layers with the butter generating a more perfectly flaky and high rise when baked.
Make Dough Ahead of Time- you can make the dough, incorporate the butter block, and folds then refrigerate for up to 24 hours before using the dough. You can also freeze the dough for up to 2 months. For the longest preservation in the freezer- wrap 1-2 times in plastic wrap and add to a freezer bag. Or take it one step further and precut the dough to make baking that much easier.
Importance of Temperature- the temperature in the room will affect the time it takes for the dough to rise. Its a hot summer day but you have the A/C cranking? Your kitchen is most likely at an optimal temperature (65-70 degrees) to allow the dough to rise. A hot summer day and no A/C? Probably not a good idea, place in the refrigerator and wait for it to cool down.
Chill Dough Before Baking- remember, cold butter! This will produce the best rise AND give you that flakiness you worked so hard to create.
Make it Your Own- the most traditional fillings are chocolate and ham and cheese. But be creative and make your own variation!
Hello! I'm Candice and I love baking. This blog is dedicated to all things sweet, exploring your passion, staying inspired and encouraging you to Eat More Cake!