Monday, March 2, 2015

Chocolate Birthday Cake + Nutella Buttercream Recipe

There are two things I've been searching for, recipe-wise, for a long time. One: The perfect chocolate cake (soft, moist, with real chocolate flavor). And two: a balanced Nutella frosting (not too sweet and actually tastes like Nutella). I'm overwhelmingly happy to announce that last week I finally figured out both. Ina Garten's Beatty's Chocolate Cake recipe is the best chocolate cake I've ever made. A recent special ordered chocolate cake from one of my favorite bakeries (which I won't name here because that would be mean) honestly doesn't have anything on Ina's recipe. During my January cleanse, while I spent a lot of sober time at home fantasizing about all the food I wasn't allowed to eat, I binged on Barefoot Contessa reruns that somehow I'd never seen before. Even more than the health benefits of that cleanse, I'm grateful that it led me to this recipe.

The Nutella buttercream was trickier - I've tried several recipes that I didn't love, so finally I decided to create my own. Which is great because now I get to share it with you! One important note: please seek out the European Nutella. It costs a little more and it's a bit harder to find but it's so worth it. Most specialty stores, especially gourmet Italian stores, carry it. It includes more hazelnuts and less sugar, and you can really tell a difference in the flavor.

2 sticks unsalted butter
1 pinch salt
3/4 cup Nutella
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 - 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, beat the butter and salt for 5 minutes, until pale and creamy. You will need to scrape down the sides of the mixer a few times. Add the Nutella and cocoa powder and beat for 2 more minutes. Add the sifted powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and beat until combined. The mixture will be very thick. Add the vanilla extract and then the heavy cream, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, and beat until fully combined. This makes enough for a 9" layer cake or 18 cupcakes.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Free, Printable Oscars Ballots & Party DIYs

Happy Friday!! I hope you all had a nice week and you didn't suffer too drastically from Valentine's Day withdrawal (like me). At least we have the Oscars to look forward to this weekend! Even if you're just watching at home, I think these ballots are always really fun. I love these sort of things to add to the viewing experience. For the Super Bowl this year we played Bingo and I'm pretty sure that's the most intently I've ever watched a football game. Click the links in the captions to download. Have fun!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Party

Valentine's parties are a great excuse to go overboard on desserts (and pink!) So when setting up our living room for the party, I did both. I covered our coffee table with a pink tablecloth and a lot of sweets. Shown here are dark chocolate dipped potato chips with heart sprinkles, teddy graham s'mores mix, m&m cookies, and black & white chocolate almond bark. Not shown are chocolate covered strawberries, mocha truffles, and teacups filled with chocolate mousse (you can see those on the bar cart).
Candlesticks | Taper Candles | Wine DecanterNapkin Holder | XO Paper Napkins | Paper Cups | Straws | Paper Plates | Berry Basket | Linen Cocktail Napkin | Navy Spotted Pillows | Navy Fleur Pillow

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Valentine's Party Invitations

For our annual "Galentine's" celebration, this year I decided we would make some chocolate truffles for everyone to take home to their sweethearts (or keep for themselves!) So I made a double batch of dark chocolate mocha ganache and let the guests roll their own truffles. I had a heart craft box for everyone to put their truffles in, along with customized calligraphy gift tags. But we'll get to all that later - first, the invitations!
I wanted to work an unexpected color into the design, and inspired by this tablewear, I chose mint. I found the "Victorian" die cut cards at Paper Presentation and loved them for the sheer girliness. I asked for tiny hearts to be worked into the calligraphy where possible to highlight the Valentine's theme, and then topped it off with a cheeky RSVP card that guests were excited to mail back.
Calligraphy isn't quite the splurge it seems to be - especially for a smaller party. These days there are so many talented people on Etsy that don't charge a fortune. I've loved working with Caitlin of Charlie Whiskey Design (you can see her work featured in our Friendsgiving dinner).
Later this week I'll share the bar cart design and photos of the desserts (there were 7!)
In the meantime: 2014 Valentine's Bar Cart Design, Free Valentine's Day Printables, Valentine's Day Fashion Inspiration

Monday, February 9, 2015

4 Free, Pretty February Downloads for Desktop & Mobile

Well, hello! Thank you for still being here - seriously, I mean it. I had to take January off from parties, and from most things really. By the end of 2014 I realized I was rather unhealthy and I needed some time to pull myself together. As I've mentioned before, I don't like to "fake it" here on A Bar Cart in Brooklyn and pretend life is all perfectly planned parties, all the time. I never set out to stage photo shoots of pretend events just for blog material; I only share my actual celebrations with you. And I didn't think you'd be interested in reading about my new Vitamix, cliché New Years cleanse and Bar Method schedule.

Moving on - you really didn't think I'd abandon you for Valentine's Day did you?! I broke my hosting fast with a super fun Galentine's party last weekend, and I'm excited to share the details with you starting tomorrow. In the meantime, here are some pretty downloads for February. Click the links in the captions to download.

PS: Last year's Valentine's Party,  DIY Valentine's Stationery, Valentine's Board on Pinterest