February 4, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
There’s just something about February that practically begs for us to treat ourselves, don’t you think? Here in the farthest northern reaches of Upstate New York, it’s just about the day that the calendar flips from January to February that winter just starts to feel so long. The holidays feel like a distant memory and yet spring seems so far off. And then, there’s just February. I’m convinced it’s no coincidence that it’s the shortest month of the year, because certainly thirty-one days of February would feel entirely too long. Luckily for all of us, the sweet Melina of Sugary & Buttery is back today and she’s bringing us the cure to all those winter woes. We’re talking a pear and poppy seed layer cake, boasting triple layers of pear upside down cake and a poppy seed buttercream that will knock your socks off. You don’t need an excuse to make this cake. You just need a love for spending time in the kitchen, listening to your favorite playlist and making a perfect floury mess. Sounds like heaven to me!
For the Cake
- 2 pears, peeled, each cut into eight
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1½ cups almond meal
- ½ cup flour
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 sticks butter
For the Buttercream
- 4 sticks (1 lb) butter, room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 6 egg whites, room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup water
- ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1½ – 2 ounces poppy seeds
Preheat oven 350°F and lightly grease three 5 inch round cake pans.
Melt the butter and set aside to cool. Arrange pear slices evenly in 3 pans and drizzle with maple syrup. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine almond meal and flour. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla. Mix in butter. Pour into almond meal mixture and lightly fold together. Pour batter over pears in pans and bake for about 1 hour or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool the cakes in pans for about 10 minutes then invert onto a wire rack. Let cool down completely, preferably over night.
To make the buttercream, bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boil the syrup until it reaches 240°F (soft-ball stage) on a candy thermometer. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and beat on medium high until stiff but not dry peaks form. With the mixer running, pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg whites. Turn the mixer on high speed and beat for about 10 mins. Add the butter, piece by piece and keep beating. If it looks curdled at any point during the beating process, continue beating until smooth. Add half of the poppy seeds, then take out about 1 cup of buttercream and mix in the remaining poppy seeds, set aside. You should have a large portion of lighter buttercream and a small portion of darker buttercream, with more seeds.
Assemble the cakes with the pears facing down (otherwise the buttercream will not spread). Crumb coat the cake and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Frost the top of the cake with the lighter buttercream and the bottom half of the cake with the buttercream containing more poppy seeds to achieve a slight ombre effect.
Guys! That cake! Isn’t it about the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen? Plus I’m a sucker for pears so I can assure you I could gobble this right up. Huge thanks to Melina for being awesome and joining us here each month to share her confectionary talents. Her cakes have seriously inspired me to spend more time baking, which is something I just love doing, but don’t make enough time for on a regular basis.
[Photos by Sugary & Buttery for The Sweetest Occasion.]
February 3, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
I always love when citrus season comes along. For those of us in crazy cold climates, it’s like nature’s way of helping us get through winter. At least, that’s how I always see it when February rolls into town and fresh oranges, clementines and grapefruits seem to be the only sunshine we see. Make all that yummy fruit into cocktails, you say? I think that’s a fabulous idea. So today I’ve rounded up 10 of the best winter citrus cocktails your palate has ever tasted.
From blood orange to clementines to freshly squeezed lemons, from tequila to rum to gin, there’s a little something here for everyone, all guaranteed to taste like a summer’s breeze in the middle of winter. Click through to check out 10 of the best winter citrus cocktails!
February 2, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
Good morning, friends, and happy Monday! We’re kicking off the week with the first of two free printable Valentine’s Day art prints I have coming your way. I really really love art prints so this year I’m making it a point to work with some of my favorite designers to bring you at least one free printable art piece each month. You can download them, print them out, stick them in your favorite frames and the idea is that by the end of the year, you’ll have loads of new art throughout your home. Sounds fun, right? Yes! So today we’re talking about this fun print designed just for you by my sweet friend Carolynn of Two Brunettes. You may notice that it also matches the printable Valentine’s Day cards from last week, making it a perfect little gift or just a sweet addition to your home. It’s available in two colors – with a pink background and a white background so scroll down to download your choice of color!
Download pink art print | Download white art print | Download matching Valentine’s Day cards
[Printable art print by Two Brunettes for The Sweetest Occasion.]
January 29, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
This post was sponsored by Lindt. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that so
generously help The Sweetest Occasion keep the party rockin’!
You guys are well aware by now that my favorite tokens of affection to give and receive for Valentine’s Day are those that are sweet and simple with a homemade touch. Enter today’s super easy and utterly delicious Valentine’s Day idea – DIY chocolate box valentines! Paired with our free printable Valentine’s Day cards designed just for you by Carolynn of Two Brunettes, they’re as easy as downloading, printing, trimming and sticking in an envelope. Inspired by my favorite Lindt LINDOR milk chocolate truffles, these little babies make a great Valentine’s Day gift for everyone from your better half to your best friend to your coworker the next cubicle over.
- Lindt LINDOR milk chocolate truffles (10 – 15 per box)
- Paper mache boxes
- Paper heart appliqués
- Glue stick or glue dots
- Printable Valentine’s Day card (download here)
- Printer (or access to a local print shop)
- White card stock
- Envelopes (A7 size or similar)
- Baker’s twine (optional)
Begin by dressing up your paper maché boxes with a little heart action. I found these glitter paper heart appliqués (and the boxes) at Michaels, but you could also use a glitter paper and a heart paper punch to achieve the same thing. (You can usually find glitter papers in the scrapbook aisle of most craft stores.) Attach a heart to the lid of each box using a simple gluestick or glue dots or a similar archival-safe permanent adhesive made for paper.
Next up, download the PDF file for the printable card and print it onto white card stock. Or you can bring the file to your local office supply or print shop and have them do the printing! The file includes a card with a white background and one with a pink background so you can pick the one you love best to gift your valentine. Once printed, trim to size using a paper cutter or craft knife and a metal straight edge. Finally, pen a sweet message on the reverse side of the card, tuck it into a pretty red or pink envelope and done!
Don’t forget to stuff the box full of Lindt LINDOR milk chocolate truffles! They are my personal favorite and my mom used to include them with my Valentine’s Day gift every year when I was a kid. They just don’t make truffles any better in my book (which probably has something to do with the creamy, smooth melting center) and your valentine deserves the best, so there’s that. Also, the pretty red packaging makes for a pretty perfect Valentine’s Day gift, don’t you think? The traditional Valentine’s Day box of chocolates has never looked or tasted so good!
I’m pretty sure all of my favorite gifts to give or receive involve chocolate in some capacity, but especially on a day that’s really quite synonymous with chocolate, you absolutely can’t go wrong with taking a few minutes to make one or a few of these pretty little chocolate box valentines this year. It takes chocolate-giving to a whole new level that feels special and personal, which is what a day designed for celebrating love is all about.
[Photos by Cyd Converse | Printables by Two Brunettes for The Sweetest Occasion.]
This post was sponsored by Lindt. Read more about our editorial policies.
January 28, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
I was so excited to see this gorgeous Valentine’s Day dinner party from Nicole D Photography hit my inbox, because it’s a whole lot of things I love. Drawing inspiration from the now ubiquitous Park & Rec Galentine’s Day party episode, Nicole went totally glam and girly when pulling this celebration together. It’s all about your best friends, champagne, an excuse to wear a pretty dress and getting crafty making DIY floral crowns. How stinkin’ fun does that sound? The details here are over the top gorgeous, but if you break it down this is absolutely something you could do with your own girlfriends this Valentine’s Day. You can pick up your favorite take-out for dinner, bring home a few bottles of champagne and give your hand a try making something pretty to wear in your hair. (I love this DIY floral crown tutorial or you can pick a different craft idea you love!) Either way, I love the idea of taking a traditionally romantic day and using it as the inspiration to celebrate the ladies and friendships in your life, because you can never have too much of either if you ask me. Many thanks to Nicole for sharing!
Photography by Nicole D Photography | Floral design by Denise Fasanello Flowers | Hair by Fallon Fitzpatrick | Makeup by Dramatizon | Shot at The Green Building | Furniture rentals from Patina Rentals
Floral plates | White plates | Gold-rimmed glasses | Pink champagne flutes | Red lace dress | Red floral jumpsuit | Long white maxi skirt | Lace tank top
[Photos by Nicole D Photography.]