Now that I’m living amid stacks and stacks of boxes, I’ve come to embrace leaving the house with two small children. We used to do it every day, to head to a Strong Start preschool near our house. That ended after the 15th time going there to find that parents were bringing their visibly ill children to school and getting their germy hands on everything. Since going to the school, we’ve gotten sick about every second trip, so I stopped. Then I felt bad and started going again, last week…the week before we move and then go on a two week road trip. Guess what? Yup…sick again. Last time I ever go there.
Parents everywhere hear this: Please, for the sake of every living person alive, do not take your sick child into public. It’s not good for your kids and it’s not good for anyone else. Braving going to work may be one thing (although just as bad) but heading out to “mommy and me” events dragging your snot dripping infant/toddler is so not cool.
In any case, I had an opportunity to head out of the house, drive a million miles away (45 minutes) and head to the most amazing park in Victoria, the legendary Beacon Hill. Here is where most tourists to our fine city must go. If not for the vistas of the ocean as you stroll along it’s high cliffs, then for the duck ponds, flowers, and petting zoo. The whole park is also overrun with peacocks, and whenever I hear their haunting call I am brought back to my childhood. I used to visit this park every summer with my favourite aunt and I still think of her today whenever I go.
On a sunny morning between rain breaks, I took the kids for a little stroll to visit with the animals. The resident park dwellers are pretty friendly and most (squirrels, ducks, geese, etc.) will come right up to you.
I also took it as an opportunity to get my shutter finger some exercise and the boy too…he does love to run.
Oh the flowers! It’s not a trip to Beacon Hill without 1,678,987 pictures of blooming beauties.
What I don’t usually expect from my happy boy is his latest penchant for drama. Whenever I tell him I’m taking a picture, these are his poses. Sad, dramatic. It’s like he is such an old soul in a tiny funny little body and I love every little bit of him. He knows mommy doesn’t want too many big cheesy grins and he’s taken to making the most of each click of my shutter. Don’t worry too much though, seconds later he was chasing 15 ducks and a squirrel across a meadow. He’s got many sides, you see.
This one’s get a similar penchant for hamming it up for the camera. I think she’ll be the next Food Network Star at this rate. What do you think?
As I’ve been fairly lax lately about posting I’m a wee bit behind in my timeline. This is my birthday cake from almost three weeks ago! It’s a delicious, light and airy cake…almost like a pound cake but lighter that tastes of vanilla and brown butter (hence the “caramel”) slathered with a light and fluffy chocolate whipped cream frosting. Just for fun, I filled it with chopped mini Reese cups and said to heck with the calories, it’s my birthday y’all!
One Year Ago: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Brown Butter Caramel Cake with Whipped Chocolate Frosting
Yield: One 8″ two layer cake
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
For the Cake:
3/4 cup butter
1 vanilla bean + 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
For the Whipped Chocolate Frosting:
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup icing sugar
170g good quality milk or dark chocolate
210g bag of new Reese minis (the uber tiny ones), coarsely chopped
1. For the Cake: In a small saucepan, set over medium heat, place the butter. Take the vanilla pod, split it lengthwise and scrape out all the gorgeous seeds, scraping them into the saucepan. Toss in the pods as well.
2. Continue to heat the butter until it has foamed up and then the foam has died down again. At this point (about 10 minutes), the butter should begin to turn brown, remove from the heat and fish out the vanilla pods and throw them away.
3. Pour the butter into a small dish and refrigerate for at least one hour. Stir frequently to ensure even cooling and remove from fridge when it is at a stage close to room temperature. You need the butter to be softened for the next step.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 8″ rounds.
5. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add in eggs, one at a time, ensuring you beat it thoroughly between additions. Add the vanilla extract now as well.
6. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the wet in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk.
7. Divide the batter evenly between the greased pans and bake for 25-30 minutes in center of oven. Remove from oven and cool in pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
8. Run a knife around the edges to ensure they are not stuck and tunr out onto cooling racks until completely cooled.
1. For the Whipped Chocolate Frosting: In a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment or in a bowl using a handheld mixer, whip the cream, sugar and vanilla together to stiff peaks.
2. In a small microwaveable bowl, heat chocolate until just melting, stirring frequently (Try 10 second intervals so as to not burn the chocolate).
3. Stir a small scoop of the cream into the chocolate and then add the remaining cream in small additions. If you add the cold cream too quickly to the warm chocolate, you will end up with grainy frosting. Still delicious, but not the same.
4. Frost your cake:
- Using a serrated knife, cut the tops off of your cake to make them flat and even.
- Lay the bottom half on a cake stand or plate, top with a large scoop of the frosting. Spread it evenly to within 1/4″ of the edge.
- Sprinkle the chopped Reese cups onto this layer, and top with a small scoop of more frosting to help it stick to the next layer.
- Top with the final layer of cake.
- Scoop remaining frosting onto the top of the cake and spread evenly over the top and sides.
- Serve immediately or keep refrigerated (covered) until serving time.
More brown butter recipes from Guilty Kitchen:
Brown Butter Spiced Apple Cake Sandwich Cookies
Brown Butter Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins
Pumpkin Carrot Bread
Brown Butter Roasted Banana Bread
A Better Carrot Cake
Similarly delicious recipes from other fabulous food blogs:
Brown butter Ice Cream on Chez Pim
Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats on Smitten Kitchen
Popcorn with Brown Butter, Rosemary, and Lemon on Andrea’s Recipes
Brown butter Toffee Blondies on Honey & Jam
Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies on Macheesmo