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Entries in white chocolate (6)


White Chocolate Espresso Cake

White Chocolate Espresso Cake

Pastry Affair turns three years old today. While the thought that I have been doing this for so long feels a little surreal, at the same time it feels entirely expected; I can't remember a time when I didn't sit down each evening to play around with the blog in some form or another. Even though I never quite planned on it, I found myself partaking in the unavoidable tradition of combing back through old posts. The steady stream of recipes, photographs, and words from the past year act as a personal history for me. A small record of late night cravings, hours spent behind a camera lens, and several lengthy conversations about my love for breakfast—it's all there, buried between the webpages.

White Chocolate Espresso Cake White Chocolate Espresso Cake White Chocolate Espresso Cake

The past year has been a quiet evolution. I am still growing as a blogger, though perhaps not making the large strides I did in the years before. Even so, I feel like I am finding more of myself in the photography and the words, slowly uncovering bits and pieces of my elusive voice. That voice can be so difficult to find.

Throughout the last year I gave myself three challenges. The first was to eat (and bake) vegan for a month. Though it was difficult at first, I successfully completed the challenge and discovered a huge revelation about myself in the process—I'm lactose intolerant. At the time it seemed like an ironic fate for a purveyor of butter and cream, but I have since grown to accept it. Even though the recipes I share with you do not conform to this condition, you can be assured that in my own kitchen I regularly use dairy-free ingredients. Real butter, for better or worse, hasn't found a place in my refrigerator in months.

White Chocolate Espresso Cake

The second challenge was to include metric measurements with the recipes whenever possible to make baking these recipes easier for those of you who live abroad. Lastly, and perhaps most ambitiously, I challenged myself to consistently develop my own recipes from scratch, to learn recipe development the hard way: through trial and error. To be quite honest, incredibly difficult moments and embarrassing errors were had in my kitchen, most of which I kept to myself. Though I have improved substantially since I began, I am still not immune to failures. Just this morning I tossed a batch of pineapple cakes, hot from the oven, straight into the trash can.

Baking never fails to keep me humble.

White Chocolate Espresso Cake

Truthfully, though I love the corner of the internet in which this blog rests, you continually make it something special. Through your comments, emails, and endless support, you have made these past three years possible. You have given me the inspiration to keep mixing together new ingredients, to spend time clicking away behind my camera lens, and to spend nights staying up late to share my thoughts with you. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Thank you.

White Chocolate Espresso Cake

I have long believed that celebrations should involve cake and plenty of it. I think three years are worth celebrating, don't you? This cake went through a couple iterations before it reached this final product, but friends and family have all agreed that it is incredible.

White Chocolate Espresso Cake is on the list of my favorite cakes to date. A basic white cake batter is infused with espresso and has a lovely coffee aroma when finished baking. A white chocolate buttercream is spread around the cake; quite sweet, it is best used sparingly, but produces a complementary flavor to the cake. Topped with a sprinkling of cocoa powder and coffee beans, the cake becomes a work of art. As Janet Evanovich preaches, calories don't count during a celebration and I am inclined to agree. Eat up, my friends.

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Raspberry White Chocolate Scones

Raspberry White Chocolate Scones

After a wonderful, relaxing holiday break, it is time to get back into the routine of everyday life. I have been resisting it, wanting to hang on to the languid afternoons and laughter-filled evenings with family and friends. It is hard to face the starkness of reality again. I find my feet tripping over themselves as I settle back into old habits and the mundane quality of everyday activities. I know I must cut ties from the holidays, so to speak, so I can face work and school with a clear mind, but it is proving harder than I anticipated.

My mind keeps drifting to warm fireplaces, hearty dinners, and silly games...

Raspberry White Chocolate Scones Raspberry White Chocolate Scones

I am used to having long, slow mornings where my body can wake up with the sun and I can eat a quiet breakfast as my eyes adjust to the morning light. Life as a graduate student afforded me this small luxury, filling the rest of my afternoon with classes and homework until my job took over and filled my evenings. Mornings became my time to unwind, the small moments to share alone as I mixed up dough in the kitchen or watched the repetitious nature of morning talk shows.

My schedule in the new year, however, is just the opposite. My alarm goes off well before the dawn and I stumble around trying to find my rhythm as my eyes burn under the yellow light of the apartment. I head out to work in the dark, arriving to a windowless room, wishing my tired brain had the capacity to remember to bring a cup of coffee. Most days I do not even see the light of the sun until mid-afternoon passes. My body is slow to adjust to the new routine, confused by the sudden lack of my natural alarm clock.

Oh, I miss my solitary mornings with the sun...

Raspberry White Chocolate Scones

Though my weekday mornings may have vanished, this only strengthens my desire to fully enjoy the slow pace of the weekend mornings. I usually like to make a special breakfast for myself, whether it be waffles, pancakes, or a modest bowl of oatmeal. Over the holidays, I made a batch of these Raspberry White Chocolate Scones. They may be a simple pastry, but they lent a luxurious quality to the morning I made them and the mornings that followed.

I think we all deserve to give ourselves a little morning luxury whenever we have the space. A good scone can start a quiet morning off just right.

Raspberry White Chocolate Scones

The sharp tones of ripe raspberries meet the sweetness of white chocolate in this delightful breakfast pastry. Raspberry White Chocolate Scones are carefully mixed together to keep the raspberries whole and sprinkled with a little extra sugar before baking. Perhaps what the photographs do not display well is just how incredibly moist and tender these scones truly are. These make for a lovely treat on a weekend morning with a cup of tea or mug of coffee.

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Candy Cane Popcorn

Candy Cane Popcorn Candy Cane Popcorn Candy Cane Popcorn

One of my neighbors really loves to go all out when lighting their home for the holidays. They don't just throw up a half dozen strings of light and call it good. Oh, certainly not. I can only believe they used the home from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation for inspiration and took the idea two (or ten) steps further. The home is truly a sight to behold. It puts my own house (and every other house in the neighborhood) to shame.

Fair warning: you may need sunglasses.

House of Lights House of Lights House of Lights House of Lights

Starting back in September, the family starts preparing the holiday lights. They begin building frames out of wood and pvc pipe to string with lights. Gradually over the weeks, more and more frames start popping up in the yard and, though the lights remain unlit, you can feel the festive storm begin to brew.

As Christmas approaches, the lights start to sparkle. Almost daily, the sheer amount of lights seem to double as the family rushes to get as many strings up as they can. The Chmielewski family truly expresses and wants to share the Christmas spirit with everyone they meet. They don't go through all of the months of work to set up the display just for themselves. Their wish is very simple. They just want to bring a little more holiday magic to everyone who takes a walk by their brightly lit home.

House of Lights House of Lights House of Lights House of Lights

What these photos don't show you: the lights are far brighter than my camera could ever capture, the flashing and flickering of lights on everything from the roof to the evergreen trees, the rotating Ferris wheel as it spins around carrying stuffed versions of our favorite holiday characters, the Christmas music singing loudly as it fills the air, the miniature bake shop selling everything from your favorite holiday cookies and bars to steaming cups of hot cocoa and warm hot dogs, a holly jolly Santa Claus greeting everyone who comes along to visit, and the friendly smiles and awe-struck faces of the small children walking through the sidewalk wonderland.

The home is perhaps the one and only home to ever feature three yeti (one of which is larger than life). It hosts half a dozen Kris Kringles and spans all holiday genres from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to The Little Drummer Boy. I love how the Bethlehem star not only guides the wise men to the multiple nativity scenes they have set up in the yard, but it brings in the holiday visitors from miles around as the star leads them to this special place. Is it garish? Certainly. But I can't deny it had me (and everyone else) smiling from ear to ear.

Candy Cane Popcorn

And my favorite part? They take donations for charity in a lovely, well-lit box. Upon first glance, I wondered if the charity might be their own electric bill but, after asking a few questions, I found out just the opposite. Last year the money they collected went to help local residents who can't quite afford to keep their own lights (and heat) on during the winter season.

I can't imagine a more fitting cause.

Candy Cane Popcorn Candy Cane Popcorn

This Candy Cane Popcorn snack mix is as addictive as it is colorful. Popcorn, by nature, has more protein than any other cereal grain, more iron than spinach, more phosphorous than pretzels, and almost as much fiber as bran flakes. It's a super food. By simply coating the popcorn with a drizzle of white and dark chocolate and a sprinkling of crushed candy canes, it turns the popcorn into a decadent tasting sweet that's good for you at the same time! This is the ideal 100 calorie snack to zap your chocolate cravings without indulging in something you may regret later. It's also a perfect dish to bring to parties!

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