Chocolate Covered Vodka Cherries

I’m pretty sure it’s never a bad idea to start the week with a little bit of chocolate so today we’re jumping right into Monday with these delicious chocolate covered vodka cherries! Samantha and Chanda of Zest It Up are sharing this recipe today just in time for Valentine’s Day so you can add a delicious and decadent touch to your celebration. They’re so easy to make and would be the perfect addition to an at-home date night this weekend. These little buggers are sure to be addicting so make up a whole big bunch so you have lots to go around!

Chocolate Covered Vodka Cherries from @cydconverse

Chocolate Covered Vodka Cherries from @cydconverse

  • Fresh cherries
  • 10 oz dark chocolate
  • 2 cups vodka
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • Sanding sugar (optional)

Chocolate Covered Vodka Cherries from @cydconverse

Place cherries in a small bowl, with stems intact. Slice open the vanilla bean and add to the bowl.  Pour vodka over the cherries and vanilla bean until fully submerged and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

Chocolate Covered Vodka Cherries from @cydconverse

When you’re ready to make the cherries, remove them from the bowl and place them on a paper towel to soak up any excess liquid. Then, place 2/3 of the chocolate in a microwave safe glass bowl. Microwave at 30 second intervals until they are all melted, stirring regular. Remove the bowl of melted chocolate from the microwave, and add the remaining unmelted chocolate a handful at a time, stirring as you go.  Continue adding the unmelted chocolate and stirring until you have brought your melted chocolate down to 82°F, which will keep the chocolate glossy and preserve the consistency.

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Finally, dip the cherries in the chocolate by holding the stem, then dip into sanding sugar if desired. Set on parchment paper to cool and serve right away or plate them on a pretty platter to serve up after your Valentine’s Day dinner.

Chocolate Covered Vodka Cherries from @cydconverse

Chocolate Covered Vodka Cherries from @cydconverse

Chocolate Covered Vodka Cherries from @cydconverse

Many thanks to the ladies of Zest It Up for sharing this fun recipe with us and to Jessica Helton of A Little Long Distance for the beautiful photos!

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[Styling + recipe by Zest It Up | Photos by Jessica Helton of A Little Long Distance.]

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Best Valentine’s Day DIY Ideas + Friday Link Love

These link love posts are among my favorite because it’s my chance to take a moment and recognize some of the awesome things that my friends and fellow bloggers are creating. And, seriously, when it comes to Valentine’s Day, these ladies are not holding back. We all know that my favorite Valentine’s Day ideas are the ones that are simple, budget-friendly and heartfelt, so printables and edibles fall right in line with that philosophy. Today I’m bringing you some of my favorite picks for Valentine’s Day crafts and recipes, plus you can scroll down for all your weekly link love fix. See you here on Monday, friends, when the love for love will continue! xoxo

Best Valentine's Day DIY Ideas from @cydconverse

[Printable calligraphy valentines | Conversation heart cookies | DIY gift wrap | XO brownies | Heart floor decals.]

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Color Palette: Peacock + Sea Salt

In the last reader survey a few months back, so many of you said that these weekly color palette posts are among your favorite. I was honestly a little bit surprised (just because I know how much you love a good DIY post or a pretty party), but pleasantly so! I’m such a lover of color and love the challenge of finding cool new ways to use color to make a statement. All of this is a little bit of a tease leading up to next week when I’ll be announcing a fun new partnership I’ve taken on for this year that will seriously be one of the coolest collaborations I’ve ever tackled. But today we’re talking about peacock and sea salt and all these pretty shades of blue, purple and pink. What could look like an ode to a unicorn gone wrong looks so sophisticated when paired with lots of white and a touch of metallic gold. Even if I do say so myself, I think this combination is just so pretty and surprisingly chic!

Color Palette: Peacock and Sea Salt from @cydconverse

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[Photos, from top: Suite One Studio | Dustin Aksland via Remodelista | Melissa Chambers.]

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Pear and Poppy Seed Layer Cake

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 playlist and making a perfect floury mess. Sounds like heaven to me!

Pear and Poppy Seed Layer Cake from @cydconverse

Pear and Poppy Seed Layer Cake from @cydconverse

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

Pear and Poppy Seed Layer Cake from @cydconverse

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.

Pear and Poppy Seed Layer Cake from @cydconverse

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.

Pear and Poppy Seed Layer Cake from @cydconverse

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[Photos by Sugary & Buttery for The Sweetest Occasion.]

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10 Best Winter Citrus Cocktails

10 Best Winter Citrus Cocktails from @cydconverseI 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!

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