Who Is Anastasia?

My photo
New Castle, Indiana Zone 5, United States
When I was 55, I decided to embrace the things I love and hold precious and dear - regardless of anyone else's thoughts and opinion. I am a folk artist who loves flowers - my own flowers, grown by me. I love good, hearty, exotic foods, and I love to prepare them myself. I love the secret garden situated in my backyard, regardless of how junky it gets. No longer able to afford a vacation, this will have to be it for the time being. In the winter months, I still enjoy it. Anyway, here I am sharing my art, favorite recipes, cocktails, gardening tips, and just my usual vents and bantering. After all, I'm old enough to say whatever the heck I want to now ... Oh, the two pictures below are NOT of my garden, although the one with the pink French doors looks very much like the backyard I grew up with. I am searching for pictures of that wonderful place and will post soon.

JEWELS OF MY SOUL

JEWELS OF MY SOUL
My Book Available on AMAZON

Stacey Torres ART Prints

Stacey Torres ART Prints
A very limited selection of reproductions from my paintings can be found here

October 3, 2009

Chocolate Merlot Cherry Cake

A good friend of mine is getting married in January. The wedding is early in the morning with a small brunch reception for close friends and family. I offered to make cupcakes several months ago, but have changed the flavors, recipes, etc. a billion times. At one point, I was going to go with muffins instead of cupcakes because of the time of day, but these guys really like the idea of cupcakes.


Bill has German ancestry, and loves Black Forest cake – he also loves, loves, loves cheesecake. His fiancĂ©e, Roxanne also loves chocolate with chocolate icing; they both are fond of coconut. I tried to come up with an idea that can incorporate all of the above, and I just overdid my thinking; planning a variety of all things they like. But then there was a breakthrough. Bill asked me the other day if there would be a small cake; something for them to cut at the reception. I hadn’t thought of it before. I’m not a cake decorator by any means, always focusing on flavor and texture. What would I do? I decided to make a bundt cake. My mother has an antique iron bundt cake pan. So, I decided to make a bundt cake in this pan, and then instead of traditional cupcakes, I would make mini bundts from the same batter.

Ultimately, I decided to make the bundt cake from everything special to this couple. It will sound complicated, but it is really a great and easy recipe. It is basically a Black Bottom cake with these changes: Dark chocolate cake blended with sparkling Blackberry Merlot and dried cherries (the Black Forest flavor); the filling is cream cheese, cinnamon, vanilla and almonds (vanilla, almonds and cinnamon are a classic blend to make aphrodisiac cookies). For a glaze I microwaved a tub of Duncan Hines Creamy Homestyle White Chocolate Frosting + 1 Tablespoon of Merlot until it was liquid. When I do the actual wedding cake; I will also sprinkle some white iridescent snow sugar and decorate with flowers in the center.

Here’s the recipe:

CHOCOLATE CHERRY MERLOT CAKE

1 box Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Cake Mix
4 large eggs
¼ C Oil
1 C dried cherries
1 C Wild Vines Blackberry Merlot
1 C Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (premium brand)

Soak the cherries in the wine for 30 minutes, and then mix all of the above ingredients.

Filling:
16 oz. of softened cream cheese
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1/4 C blanched Slivered Almonds
1 C Sugar
1 C Chocolate Chips

Cream all of the above until smooth.

Spray bundt pan with cooking spray. Pour ½ of chocolate batter in bundt pan. Top with cream cheese mixture. Top with remaining cake batter.
Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes or until your tester comes out clean. Cool well before further cooling on wire rack. Do not flip over on wire rack until you are absolutely sure the cake is cool. Turn onto plate and do as you please.


I cut the cake too soon - but it had to be done ... not so bad ...

What I did wrong (I've adjusted the above recipe to reflect my updated changes) - I originally had butter or coconut oil in the filling - that's why the filling has a holey Swiss cheese look; tastes good, but looks silly). I also forgot to add my ice cream - which is my signature touch to all my cakes/cupcakes ... what was I thinking. It still tastes fab, but I'm going to have to make another updated one tomorrow ... all part of my therapy, you know.

October 2, 2009

Not MIA

Haven't felt much like blogging lately.  My mother suffered two falls in one day last week, landing her in the hospital with a broken ankle; complications developed, and she was in ICU for three days. And, now, she is in an extended care facility for rehab until further notice.  Sadly, I've noticed just over the past few days a decline in her memory and thought patterns. I have been told by the medical staff that it's a result of one of her meds, and not to worry -- but I do.

Anyway, I am in great need of therapy - and will be doing a practice cake this afternoon for a friend's upcoming wedding.  Will post later with the results; but the only hint I can give you now is that it's chocolate, merlot, cream cheese and more ... Just have to create the dang recipe first.

The Backyard --Today's Vacation Spot

The Backyard --Today's Vacation Spot
A simple garden meal in the shade. No, it's not my backyard, but it looks identical to the one I grew up with at our home in Queens. Looking for an original pic of it to post soon!

Old Fashioned Tips