The French Pear Martini

With the New Year’s celebrations quickly approaching, I thought I would share one of my favorite Champagne cocktails that would be a great addition to any New Year’s Party.  The first time I had this cocktail I was at The Bar at the Taj Boston while we were searching for a wedding venue. I love this cocktail so much that it was the Bride’s pick for the signature cocktail at our wedding!  After falling in love with this cocktail, I searched the internet to find the perfect recipe and I stumbled on this recipe from Style Me Pretty.  Some recipes I found had some additional ingredients that just didn’t sound right, but this one tastes just like the one at the Taj.  The French Pear Martini combines the sweetness of Elderflower, fruitiness of the pear and the bubbly Champagne into a tasty cocktail that also looks festive.

French Pear MartiniSource

Adapted from Style Me Pretty

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ oz. St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
  • 1 ½ oz. Pear Vodka
  • Chilled Champagne
  • Granulated sugar for the rim (optional)
  • 1 lemon, wedged (optional)
  • 1 pear, sliced for garnish (optional)

Directions

  • Prepare your garnishes by slicing a lemon into wedges and the pear into rounds.  To prevent pear from discoloring, squeeze a lemon over cut slices.
  • To prepare martini glasses, run a lemon wedge around the rim and dip into sugar.
  • In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine St. Germain and Pear Vodka. Shake vigorously until well chilled.
  • Pour into prepared martini glass and top with champagne.
  • Garnish with a round of pear.

This cocktail is just as delicious without all of the garnishes if you want to keep it simple.  Enjoy!

Advertisements

Christmas Table

IMG_2678

Although we won’t be hosting Christmas day dinner at our new house this year and I sadly won’t be able to decorate our dinner table, I thought I would share my Christmas dinner table design from last year. I had so much fun creating this design.

First, the centerpiece:

Christmas Table Decor - LiveDinePartyI wanted my Christmas table theme to be all red & white, and the perfect Christmas time decoration that is red & white is candy canes!  I started with the centerpiece and based the rest of table design around that.  I used a simple cylindrical vase and attached candy canes around the outside.  First, I unwrapped all of the candy canes (carefully 🙂 ). To attach the candy canes I used double-sided tape. I wrapped two big pieces, one around the top and one around the bottom of the vase and carefully pressed each candy cane on. I used double-sided tape as time saver, but I wish I had taken the time and used a hot glue gun to glue each candy cane on. I think the result would have been more resistant to getting a little water splashed on it when watering the flowers.  Another tip, candy canes break easily so work slowly and carefully. Some are already broken before you take them out of the package so buy extras! To stick to the red and white theme, I decided on white flowers (I used roses and carnations as a filler) and some red berries. It turned out perfect!

Christmas Table Decor - LiveDineParty

Christmas Table Decor - LiveDineParty

Now, the place setting:

Christmas Table Decor - LiveDinePartyAlthough, I’m not a fan of assigned seats at a family dinner, I used place cards to add to table design.  I used mini candy canes to create the place card holders and printed out everyone’s name on cardstock.  To create the candy cane holders, you will need three unwrapped mini candy canes and a hot glue gun.  Run the hot glue gun along the straight edge of one mini cane and attach it to the straight edge of a second mini candy cane so the hooks  are positioned to hold the place card, like an easel.  Add more glue and attach the third mini candy cane for support so that it looks like a tripod.  Add a small ribbon at the top and you are done!  Now, just design the names on your computer and print.

The one idea that I found on Pinterest that I absolutely had to steal was using mini Christmas stockings as flatware holders.  After some searching, I was able to find the mini stockings at Michaels for a very reasonable price.  I also bought the red and white striped ribbon that I used to wrap the plates in at Michaels.  I wanted the plates to look like presents!  I bought a ribbon with a wire edge so that the ribbon would hold its shape.  Although it was a little more difficult to work with, the finished product had the look I wanted.  Finally, I used a red table cloth to tie the red and white theme together.

Christmas Table Decor - LiveDineParty

Overall, I was so happy with how the design turned out and all of our guests loved it too!

I have so many ideas for my next Christmas table, but I guess they will have to wait until next year 🙂

I might glam it up a little for next year so stay tuned!

Non-traditional Thanksgiving Dessert

Chocolate Layer Cake - LiveDineParty

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I did not host Thanksgiving.  But, I was commissioned to help with dessert.  There were going to be a few guests at Thanksgiving (I won’t name any names here and no it was not the children 🙂 ) that would not eat the delicious pear and cranberry tart that my mother-in-law was making or any other traditional Thanksgiving dessert.  So, I decided to take on a chocolate layer cake with chocolate buttercream frosting.  Yes, non-traditional but soooo good!

I’ve made a layer cake before, but this time I attempted to do four layers and I went all out with decorating it.  This chocolate cake recipe is super moist and the brewed coffee really brings out the chocolate flavor.  I used the chocolate buttercream recipe from the famous Magnolia Bakery in NYC.  It is my go to chocolate frosting.

For the Chocolate Cake:

Adapted from Ina Garten, via foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

  • Butter, for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9-inch x 2-inch round cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Chocolate Layer Cake - LiveDineParty

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Mix to combine.  With the mixer on low, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. Add the hot coffee and stir just to combine. Don’t be alarmed, the batter will be very liquidy.  Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Chocolate Layer Cake - LiveDineParty Chocolate Layer Cake - LiveDineParty

For Magnolia’s Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

The below recipe would probably be enough for a two layer cake, but since I was making four layers, I made 1.5x the recipe below.  No one wants a cake with too little frosting 🙂

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 9 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Directions

To melt the chocolate, place in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat for about 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally until completely smooth and no pieces of chocolate remain. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5-10 minutes. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Add the milk carefully and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and beat well. Add the vanilla and beat for 3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat on low until a desired consistency is reached.  If you refrigerate overnight, make sure it is at room temperature before frosting the cake to avoid creating crumbs.

Now for the fun part!…The Assembly:

I baked the cake the night before, covered with plastic wrap and stored it at room temperature overnight.  Then, I made the frosting, assembled and frosted the cake the following evening.

I went to work the day after baking the cake and started to get stressed out about how to cut the cake layers in half without completely destroying them.  In order to make a two layer cake into a four layer cake I cut each layer in half using Wilton’s Small Cake Leveler.  It is a great baking tool that I did not know existed until now.  It made it so easy to get a straight cut and no cake was wasted in the process!

Once the layers were cut, I placed a small dab of frosting on a 12 inch cake cardboard round and placed the first layer on top.  This helps the cake from moving while you are assembling and decorating.  I also placed some parchment paper around the edges of the cake to keep the cardboard round clean while frosting.  Then I began frosting the top of the layer, moving from the middle of the cake to the edges.  Repeat these steps for each of the layers.  Once the cake is topped off with the final layer of cake, I added the top layer of frosting and then moved on to frosting the sides of the cake.

Chocolate Layer Cake - LiveDineParty Chocolate Layer Cake - LiveDineParty

For the decorations, I added some mini chocolate chips to the sides of the cake.  Once I was done frosting the cake and adding the chocolate chips, I removed the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake and magically the mess I made disappeared!  I finished the cake off with some decorative edges using a star frosting tip along the bottom and top edges of the cake.  Hint:  This hides some of the mistakes you made frosting the edges.  And, to make my non-traditional Thanksgiving dessert somewhat festive, I topped it with a hand-turkey decoration!

Chocolate Layer Cake - LiveDineParty