Sky Blue Chocolate Cake

“Whoever said blue was just for boys, was wrong.”

A cake I wish I could swim in.. well it wouldn’t be a first I guess, but it’s mostly due to the dreamy azure shade of blue that  reminds me of a warm tropical ocean.

Okay enough of the romantic metaphors..

I whipped up this dark chocolate cake at 10.30pm the night before my mum’s birthday and frosted it whilst she was at work on the day. A little last minute due to a busy week, but how could I not bake her a birthday cake! She asked for a chocolate cake and said she fancied a teal or turquoise shade of buttercream.. a brief I ran with! I really hope she enjoyed the finished product. I loved the expression on her face as she walked in from work to find a table full of presents she never expected, and even two bunches of flowers from Dad, whilst my little sister and I sprung up from our hiding place behind the table and shouted ‘Happy Birthday!!!’

I adore the contrast between the rich chocolate-brown and the fresh bright shades of blue. The type of colour scheme you would find in the brochure of a luxury interior designer. I had attempted to create an ombre effect with the different shades of blue, like that of the gorgeous Sweetapolita, but was a little disappointed as I soon realised that my cake was not tall enough at the side to create the full effect, and even more that my colours were not distinctly different enough, and they really did just blend into one. Although hopefully you can notice a light change in tone in the first photo, and appreciate my feeble effort. However, this is a technique I shall most definitely try and master next time, perhaps with pink or purple! Hmm.. imagining a cake already!

For this yummy cake I used my new favourite birthday cake recipe, the super easy One Bowl Dark Chocolate Cake from Sweetapolita, and frosted it with my classic Vanilla Buttercream.

These two weeks spell birthday season, with first my mum’s and then mine within a week of each other. This calls for much cake, presents and our usual girly shopping trip. It’s a time that is also of course, the time to head back to school, and this year for me, it means a whole new school and a whole new beginning…

I am excited, and of course a little nervous. I start a school which over a year ago I would never have though of attending, one which I had stroked off in my head for a number of different reasons. Yet after actually visiting the school,      the warmth and welcome I felt drew me in, and I suddenly had a complete U-turn. I knew that this was where I wanted to go for Sixth-Form. Now  a year later, after thankfully being offered a place, I start my first day tomorrow!

I purposefully and bravely I guess, decided to go the opposite direction to all my friends. And I mean ALL. There is one other guy from my previous school joining me, and that is it. I knew for a while that I wanted to find my own way, break off from the crowd of old familiar faces, meet new people and find a change of scenery. Yes, of course I will miss my old friends, and I am most definitely not waving goodbye to my closest girlfriends, but I am excited at the prospect of new starts and new things ahead.

Butterflies will fill my stomach, I am certain, as I walk through the door to a crowd of strangers, who all know each other, but not me. Yet I have confidence that everything will be fine.. I’ve done something much more scary!

Last summer I stepped on a bus at 4.30 in the morning, with a bunch of new people I had never met, bound for an international conference in Canada, where I would have to meet another 200 new people from all corners of the world. Scary biscuits! Yet this was one of the most exciting, memorable, amazing experiences of my life! You know why? I learnt that underneath it all, we’re all the same. We all have the same fears, the same worries and more things in common than we can imagine. I met a girl from New York who seemed to be like my long lost sister, and we became inseparable. Crazy right?

So although it will be tough for the first few days, and even weeks, I know that things will be alright, and I’m excited for my future at this new school!

Oh, but lastly, I have some sad news..  As I am now going back to school, and the world of studying, exams and homework, the cupcakes might not just be so frequent, nor the cakes or bakes. But I promise, in the sweet name of macarons, that I will try my best to keep you all updated with all that I learn and get up to, in and out of the baking bowl in these coming months.

Once again, thank you for taking this journey with me.

Amy xox

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Raspberry Lemonade

A pink lemonade and a pink macaron please!

I felt oh so sophisticated and grown up as I called out my order today at my new favourite eatery. Let loose in the city for a day, I was soaking it up. I decided I definitely deserved it, after being cooped up for oh so long!

Summer seemed to have finally arrived, all be it for a day, and the sun made everything brighter, clearer, happier. It always makes me smile to see city slickers in their shirts and ties escaping the office to join the regular shorts and t-shirts wearing crew that are the rest of us, and find a spot in the park to soak up the rays.

Here in Northern Ireland, we can’t really call what we get for summer, ‘summer’. I’m sorry but rain, wind and cold aren’t what I’d typically choose for weather in July, thanks all the same. So when Ireland gets sun, everyone knows about it, and it usually becomes an unannounced public day of celebration, and BBQs are dusted off and up in action through-out the land, possibly never to see the light of day until next year.

When I think of summer, I think of my mum’s fresh crop of strawberries, raspberries, collecting them daily as they’re bursting off their stalks. She always can be found in the kitchen, and sweet smells will waft through the house, of some new delicious recipe she’d found, to make use of her enormous pile of red juicy berries.

Today my pink lemonade was like summer in a bottle. Yet I’m sure there were a whole load of other things in that bottle too. Nasties which probably could be done without. Though it was very pretty, if a little artificial.

So following in my mother’s footsteps, I decided to try and make my own Pink Lemonade. Though as you can see, the raspberries played such a big role, and they really did dominate the colour, making it more raspberry than pink, that I thought it only right and proper to credit them in the name.

This is my homemade Raspberry Lemonade. Refreshing, juicy and tangy. Summer in a bottle. Best served with a sprinkling of sunshine and enjoyed outdoors.

Raspberry Lemonade

Adapted from a BBC Good Food Recipe

*I scaled the original recipe down to suit the amount of raspberries I had on hand, and this made enough syrup to fill the small glass bottle shown.

100g caster sugar

1 lemon sliced

1 orange sliced

1tbsp lemon juice

60z raspberries

fresh mint to serve

1. Place raspberries in pan, add caster sugar and leave on a low heat.

2. Slice lemon and oranges. Squeeze juice into pan, before placing the slices in. Add lemon juice, stir.

3.Pour over around 100ml water, depending on how much liquid is already in your mixture.

4. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5-7 mins. Take off heat and allow to sit.

5.When cool pour through a fine sieve, (I added a muslin cloth) to remove all the bits.

6. Bottle, and when serving top the cordial up with sparkling or still water. Either works well!

*Can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

Such a simple and delicious summer recipe, please give it a try and tell me what you think!

Oh and before I forget, I would to say a huge thank you to the lovely Choc Chip Uru over at Go Bake Yourself  for awarding me the Versatile blogger award! This was such a surprise, I have only had this blog for just over a week now, so I really truly appreciate all the support and comments! Thank you!

I am aware there are a few rules, a few things I must carry out after being given this lovely award, so here goes!

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you = yep done that!
  2. Include the links to their blogs = ahuh
  3. Include the award image in your post = see above!
  4. Copy the award image to your site = will do that shortly..
  5. Give seven random facts about yourself = see below, (this may take a while!)
  6. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award = decisions, decisions
  7. When nominating other bloggers include the links to their sites = sure thing
  8. Let those bloggers know they’ve been nominated :) = with pleasure!

Seven random facts you didn’t know about Amy

1. I have an irrational fear of wearing something black with blue jeans..

2. I used to think that ‘drink driving’ was having a cup of tea whilst at the wheel.

3. Give me a small spoon with dessert, massive spoons scare me. (feel..like..i.might..choke)

4. I have been lactose intolerant all my life but that don’t stop me enjoying lots of yummy ben & jerrys.. nom!

5. My dream first car would be a blue Nissan Figaro, vintage darling!

6. Polar bears are the cutest, most amazing animals, and if I won the lottery I would go visit them, before they die out! :(

7. Phew, nearly there (this was harder than I thought!) Top of my bucket list right know is to fall in love with a French guy in Paris. There done! :)

And.. I would like to pass this award on to the next 15 lovely people, whose wonderful blogs have got me inspired and amazed by the blogging world I have just recently joined! Thank you all!