Summer S’mores Beach Cake

Disclaimer: This recipe has been sponsored by Wilton as a member of their Sweet Treat Team. However, all opinions are my own.

Never in my life did I think I would be capable of making a four-layer cake. Not to mention, a four-layer cake that looks just as good as it tastes! This summer s’mores beach cake was inspired by my love for a particular ooey-gooey campfire dessert. The chocolate cake, ganache filling, marshmallow buttercream, and graham cracker crumbs make for a heavenly combination. In fact, the only thing that would make this cake better is a layer of golden-brown marshmallows on top.

Summer S'mores Beach Cake | framedfrosting.com

A cake like this would have intimated the heck out of me last year. However, this year I’ve learned that “fake it until you make it” applies to so many aspects of life, including cake decorating. A cake doesn’t have to be iced perfectly smooth or be covered in a smooth layer of fondant to be impressive. In fact, a few colorful fondant decorations can go a long way into transforming an ordinary cake (or cupcakes) into a beautiful masterpiece! And as I learned at Sweet Up, the “messy icing” technique is very popular this year. So honestly, you have no reason to be intimated by this cake.

Summer S'mores Beach Cake Summer S'mores Beach Cake Summer S'mores Beach Cake

Fondant decorations are great because you can make them ahead of time and keep them on hand for future projects! There are also a ton of different techniques to make your fondant decorations look as simple or as sophisticated as you want. I went the simple route and chose to use pearl dust on my seashells and sand dollars to make them shine.

However, if you want your shells to look more realistic then try the marbleizing technique as seen here. Speaking of realistic…make sure to invest in a wide variety of gel colors. Personally, I think the bright pink starfish are fun and girly but if you’re going for a realistic beach look, you might want to use peach gel color instead.

Summer S'mores Beach Cake Summer S'mores Beach Cake

Summer S’mores Beach Cake

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 25 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

    For the Fondant Decorations:
  1. To make the shells and sand dollars, tear off small pieces of white fondant and fit into the mold. Use a fondant roller to flatten and create a smooth surface, then slowly remove fondant decorations from mold. Use a brush to apply white pearl dust on shells and sand dollars.
  2. To make the starfish, tear off a piece of white fondant and color it using 2 toothpicks of pink (or creamy peach) gel color. Make sure to wear disposable gloves when coloring your fondant so that it doesn't stain your hands. Knead fondant until color is fully incorporated. If color is not as dark as you'd like, add more gel color until you reach desired color. Tear off pieces of colored fondant and fit into the mold.
  3. Let all fondant decorations dry overnight or until hardened. If you want your decorations to be slightly curved, let them dry on wave flower former sets.
  4. For the Cake:
  5. Prepare chocolate cake mix according to directions on package. Pour half of the batter into a 8 inch cake pan and pour the other half into a 9 inch cake pan. (Or pour into two pans of the same size if you prefer.) Bake according to directions on package and let cool.
  6. While cakes are cooling, make your ganache. In a microwave-safe glass bowl, stir together semisweet chocolate and heavy whipping cream. Microwave for 1 minute. Carefully remove from microwave as bowl will be hot. Whisk until smooth.
  7. Let ganache thicken while you torte the cakes. Use a cake leveler or wire cutter to level the tops of each cake. Then, torte each cake by cutting in half horizontally.
  8. Place the bottom 9 inch cake layer (cut-side up) on a cake board and spread cooled ganache on top. Continue assembling your cake using the top 9 inch cake layer, more ganache, the top 8 inch cake layer, more ganache, and finish with the bottom 8 inch cake layer (cut-side down). Freeze cake for 10-15 minutes while you make the icing.
  9. For the Icing:
  10. Cream together butter and marshmallow creme until light and fluffy. Slowly add powdered sugar and beat until well incorporated. Add vanilla extract and mix well.
  11. Use a small portion of the icing to crumb coat your cake. Freeze for 20 minutes and use remaining icing to do the final frosting layer.
  12. Decorate Your Cake:
  13. Once the final frosting layer has been completed, generously sprinkle graham cracker crumbs in a ring on top of the cake. Sprinkle more crumbs around the sides of the cake. Finally, add fondant decorations to cake, using icing to secure them if necessary.
http://www.framedfrosting.com/2014/08/summer-smores-beach-cake.html

Have you ever had a s’mores cake?
What event would you make this beach cake for?

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5 Tips for Healthy Traveling | Evolution Fresh Juices

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Evolution Fresh on behalf of Millennial Central. I received coupons for Evolution Fresh juices to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

As I mentioned in this post, Q and I took a mini-vacation to Houston last week. We had a fabulous time but just like any other vacation, I struggled with eating healthy while away. On vacation, I tend to skip lunches and then pig out later on popcorn and ice cream while watching Food Network. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed some popcorn while on our trip but I made a few changes to eat healthier too …like consistently eating breakfast each morning even though I wanted to sleep in past 10am.

Staying healthy while traveling is often a daunting task. That’s why I’m teaming up with Evolution Fresh juices to share my 5 Tips for Healthy Traveling. These tips apply to a week-long trip as well as short trips and weekend getaways! It’s always important to eat healthy while traveling.

5 Tips for Healthy Traveling | Evolution Fresh Juices

1. Don’t start your morning with coffee.

I like coffee but I’ve never relied on it to start my mornings. Instead, I jump start my mornings with a high-protein drink. I usually add a scoop of protein powder to my spinach smoothies and enjoy it while checking my email and reading my morning blogs. When I’m in a rush or out of protein powder, high-protein drinks like the Evolution Fresh Protein Power come in handy.

5 Tips for Healthy Traveling | Evolution Fresh Juices

2. Think ahead – grab some snacks for later.

Most hotels have a large selection of breakfast foods and it’s important you use this to your advantage! On our latest trip to Houston, the hotel we were staying at had an amazing selection of fresh fruit, homemade muffins, boxed cereals, etc. When traveling, get in the habit of eating breakfast and also grabbing a few snacks for later. For example, enjoy a big bowl of fresh fruit and a toasted english muffin now. Then, grab a box of cereal, an apple, and/or a chocolate chip muffin to bring back to your room for later. You can also grab some PB + jelly and make yourself a sandwich later!

3. Head to a nearby grocery store and stock up!

If you are going to be on vacation for more than a day, think about taking a trip to the grocery store. You can stock up on granola bars, greek yogurts, bread for sandwiches, etc. Make sure to grab some bottled water and milk too. If you’re going to buy juice, think about buying Evolution Fresh juices or anything that is more than 90% real juice. Juices with <90% real juice tend to be loaded with sugar and carbs.

5 Tips for Healthy Traveling | Evolution Fresh Juices

4. Keep yourself hydrated.

When traveling, it can be hard to remember to drink lots of liquids. If you head to the hotel pool or beach, make sure you have something refreshing to drink to keep you hydrated. I use this water bottle because it has markings on it so I can track how many ounces of water I drink. Then, I add that number to my Fitbit Flex which tracks my daily water intake. If you want something fun and fruity, try the Evolution Fresh Organic Strawberry Lemonade. It’s one of the new Summer flavors and it will definitely help you quench your thirst!

5 Tips for Healthy Traveling | Evolution Fresh Juices

5. Don’t be afraid to drink your veggies!

I’m not sure about you, but I am not a huge fan of vegetables. I love cucumbers, zucchini, green beans, and a few others but I hardly ever eat them. When I’m eating out at a fancy restaurant, I’m more likely to order mashed potatoes than a large side of greens. So what do I do? Drink them! Evolution Fresh offers a large selection of green juices that are packed with spinach, avocados, cucumber, kale, and other green veggies.

Evolution Fresh juices can be purchased at most Starbucks locations, as well as Whole Foods. They also offer a small selection of healthy snack bars. Follow Evolution Fresh on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram for more information about their cold-pressed juices.

How do you stay healthy while traveling?
Have you tried Evolution Fresh juices before?

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Mint White Chocolate Pudding Cookies

It’s been over a month since I posted a new recipe on my blog. I am usually pretty good about sticking to a schedule of creating one new recipe each week. However, the past six weeks have been insane around here and as a result, I haven’t created any new recipes.

In order to graduate this May, I had to take three summer courses and they have kept me all sorts of busy. Between discussion posts, quizzes, 5-page papers, and exams, I’ve had my hands full. Not only has blogging taken a backseat, but so have many other things including our annual family vacation to Canada. Yep, I skipped out on a family vacation in order to take summer courses. How lame is that?

As soon as my classes ended, I needed to do something relaxing and fun! I headed into the kitchen and grabbed my KitchenAid mixer out of the pantry where it had been collecting dust. I also grabbed a box of pudding mix and a bag of Hickory Farms melt away mints. Within a few minutes, I had whipped up a few batches of these delicious mint white chocolate pudding cookies!

Mint White Chocolate Pudding Cookies

These cookies are like a science experiment in your mouth. When warm, these cookies are soft and the melt away mints are gooey and have a very subtle flavor. When the cookies are cool, the melt away mints return to their original shape and the cookies develop a super minty flavor. Oh and the nonpareils sprinkles that are on the mints are crunchy and compliment the soft cookie texture perfectly.

I have heard that these mints can only be found around the holidays. However, Q and I toured a candy shoppe the other day in Houston and they had them in bulk. If you can find them in a store near you, I highly suggest buying some! They’re great on their own and in baked goods…I can’t wait to add them to fudge brownies!

Mint White Chocolate Pudding Cookies Mint White Chocolate Pudding Cookies Mint White Chocolate Pudding Cookies Mint White Chocolate Pudding Cookies

Mint White Chocolate Pudding Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: about 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3.4 oz. pkg white chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mini melt away mints

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with silicone baking mat and set aside.
  2. Using a stand mixer, beat together butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs one at a time; then add pudding mix and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the mini melt away mints.
  3. Roll dough into 1" balls and gently flatten with the palm of your hand or bottom of a glass. Bake for 10-11 minutes, or until slightly golden. Remove cookies from oven and transfer to a cooling rack after 2 minutes.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

http://www.framedfrosting.com/2014/08/melt-away-mint-white-chocolate-pudding-cookies.html

Have you tried melt away mints before?
If so, have you ever baked anything with them?

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