Monday, March 19, 2012

Country Style Decorative Storage ~ Wire Baskets W/ Chalkboard Tags

We've all been shoving stuff in labeled bins for years, so it's nice when a fresh look for storing clutter presents itself.
My new home has an entry hall off the garage.  The hall contains locker-like cubbies with built in charging stations for each member of the family. I love the built-in look of the cubbies but I wanted them to have more of a vintage farm feel.
*As a little side note, I should have organized all of our cubbies for the photo shoot, but just keepin' it real ;-)  
Two decorations line the walls in the entry hall, an antiqued blue cork board found at Marshalls and a canvas portrait of the kids on my parent's farm.

After considering several different basket style and materials to work with my farm fresh theme, I came across these large Shabby Wire Baskets on Amazon.

The baskets are a nice sturdy metal and have all sorts of antiquing details that don't show up in the stock photo.  I am soooooo impressed with them and for $17 they are a super deal!

Keeping with the vintage look, I wanted a unique label for these baskets.  I came across these chalkboard tags on etsy from seller BrandensGrace.  I ordered the Fancy Wood Tags in a 5"X7" size.  
I love how these little wooden chalkboards and wire baskets turned out. They helped give my cubbies exactly the look I was going for :-) Now maybe a rug and a window treatment to finish it off? Hmmm...

~The Lemonista

Monday, March 12, 2012

THE ULTIMATE IRISH CUPCAKE ~Think Guinness, Baileys & Bushmills!

These cupcakes are unbelievably decadent and utterly amazing!  I started off with a famous chocolate stout cake recipe, which is now my favorite chocolate cake recipe evah!  Next, I took my tried & true Wilton's buttercream icing recipe and added Baileys Irish Cream to it.  Finally, I made a classic bittersweet chocolate ganache and kicked it up a notch with a little Bushmills Irish Whiskey.  The result was quite possibly the most fabulous chocolate bake good I've ever tasted. These may take a little effort, but man, are they ever worth it.

Just take a gander on what looms on the inside of these bad boys....
This recipe yields 12 cupcakes. *I've divided this recipe from a batch that made 24 cupcakes so that is why some of the measurements seem a little atypical. Feel free to double and triple :-)
For the Cupcakes:
1/2 cup Guinness Stout
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/3 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 12 cupcake cups with liners, such as this St. Patrick's Day Cupcake kit by Meri Meri that I purchased at Williams Sonoma.

Bring the Guinness and butter to a simmer in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth.

Allow Guinness mixture to cool a little while you whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl to combine.

Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined.
Add the Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine.

Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat briefly.

Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined.
Divide the batter among the cupcake liners. Bake until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 17-18 minutes. Allow cupcakes to cool completely.
For the Bailey's Buttercream Frosting:
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
2 Tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream
1 teaspoon milk
In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer.

Add vanilla.

Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry.

Add Baileys and milk. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.
Using a large round tip, pipe the frosting on the cooled cupcakes. Or, if you don't have cake decorating supplies, pile the frosting on with a spoon and smooth into a dome with a knife.

Refrigerate the cupcakes to get the buttercream cold for dipping in warm chocolate ganache.

For the Bushmill's Ganache:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon Bushmills Irish Whiskey

Combine chopped chocolate, heavy cream and butter in a heat proof bowl and microwave for 20 sec, stir, microwave for another 20 sec, stir, * repeat until chocolate in melted and ganache is smooth*  DO NOT OVERHEAT.  There is no cure for burnt chocolate. Add your 1 tsp. of Bushmills Irish Whiskey and stir.

Remove cold cupcakes from the frig and dip in warm ganache.

Allow ganache to set and decorate :-)

Here's some Irish cheer all boxed up to go to my new neighbors.

*Hint* The wine and liquor superstores, such as BevMo and Wine & More sell the miniature bottles of most liquors. These are great cost savers when you only need a small amount for cooking.

Erin Go Bragh! 
~The Lemonista
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