Monday, December 2, 2013

Back For S'mores

We were out of town for a few days recently, and when we came home, found that most of the leaves had dropped.

Our front beds are choked with leaves:

Our driveway is nearly completely hidden:

The roof, cleaned off just two weeks ago, is covered again:

The trees around the pond are pretty bare.

We have two Japanese maple trees.  The one in the backyard makes a nice bright contrast to the evergreen magnolia tree. 

I love these leaves!

The berries on the bushes around here have matured completely.  I've discovered that they maintain their plump, round shape and red color for weeks when kept in water.

When picking camellias today, I noticed some spots on a few of the leaves.

I believe this is algal leaf spot, which can do damage if present in large amounts.  Only a few branches are affected here, so I'll leave them alone.  To be honest, I love their feathery edges.

I've seen a few ladybugs around...

...but I think it will be a few more months before I start seeing insects again!

Holiday knitting has shifted into overdrive.  It's December, and I have one unfinished project and one in the queue.  I'm going to have to work really fast to move things along, but I'm glad I was able to squeeze in a quick baby jacket for a friend who just had a baby.  It's a simple design, knitted flat (on two big needles).  It buttons down the side for easy removal.

I love the little silver buttons (a major score at the local thrift shop for .50):

I stamped out a quick tag, bagged it up, and it was ready to go!

Of course, being the holiday season I'm in the midst of a baking frenzy.  Last week I made a rather unusual cake: a s'mores layer cake.  I don't have permission to post the recipe, but it's from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook and I believe the recipe can be found online if you Google it.  It's a basic layer cake, but part of the flour is replaced by graham cracker crumbs.  In between layers, I spread a thick chocolate ganache:

The ganache was thick enough to stay put and not run down the sides, which would make this cake even messier than it already was!

The cookbook recommends a 7-minute frosting, but I had a different idea.  Sweetapolita lists a fabulous marshmallow filling/frosting on her website:  Marshmallow filling/frosting

It is heavenly.

Unless I really concentrate and take my time with a cake (and sometimes even when I do), the cake comes out lopsided, as was the case here.  That's all was still delicious.

(night photo):

I liked the cake, but it was definitely different.  The addition of graham cracker crumbs gave the cake a rather heavy and chewy texture.  The graham taste came through nicely, and it meshed well with the chocolate/marshmallow combination (unlike the pumpkin/caramel/chocolate layer cake I made for Thanksgiving - yuck!).  It was awfully sweet, though, and this is from someone with a major sweet tooth.  I suspect that could be the reason that 7-minute frosting was used in the original recipe.  Still, I think I'll make this again. 

Back to work...have a great week!

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