Chocolate Cherry White Russian

Chocolate Cherry White Russian | Sophster-Toaster Blog

It recently came up, over dinner, that my friends had never seen The Big Lebowski. With this wrong needing to be righted as quickly as possible, we made plans to watch it together the following weekend. Of course, my husband and I informed them that White Russians were required viewing accessories. They were apprehensive about a cream based cocktail but agreed to let me push them out of their comfort zones.

There was a problem with the plan, however: I couldn’t put my money where my mouth was because I have a moderate-to-severe coffee allergy and can’t drink Kahlua. Slightly disappointed that I’ll never know what a real White Russian tastes like, I spent the past week developing a new cocktail, inspired by the classic, so I could join in with the fun.

After some research, I decided the closest swap for coffee liqueur would be chocolate liqueur. I was hoping to find a dark coloured chocolate liqueur to best mimic the look of a Kahlua cocktail, but discovered the only thing available in my area is a clear creme de cacao – so that’s what I used. I didn’t want to be creating what would be, essentially, hard chocolate milk, so I added some kirsch to make things a little more interesting.  The result is a decadent, surprisingly smooth and refreshing cocktail that’s just perfect for Valentine’s Day!

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Chocolate Cherry White Russian

Ingredients

  • 1 oz vodka
  • ½ oz Kirsch (or other cherry brandy)
  • 1 oz creme de cacao
  • 1½ oz half & half cream

Method

  1. Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice and stir until chilled and thoroughly combined.
  2. Fill an old fashioned glass with a handful of fresh ice and strain mixture over. Serve immediately.

Chocolate Cherry White Russian | Sophster-Toaster Blog

All photos be me.

Chocolate Chili Macarons

Chocolate Chili Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I love making macarons. I’m still tinkering with ingredients and practising my macaronage (the specific technique by which you mix your batter) and have yet to master this tricky French cookie, but I think I get a little better with every attempt. My favourite thing about making them is coming up with new flavours to try. My husband suggested a chocolate chili vibe a few months ago and I recently realized it would be perfect for Valentine’s Day! I had been sitting on the idea because I wasn’t quite sure how to represent each flavour. I thought about cocoa cookies, spicy jelly filling, chocolate chili chai buttercream, using a fresh chili puree to flavour the cookie, and garnishing a vanilla cookie with cayenne powder or fresh chilies but I ultimately decided to keep it simple with a bright red, spicy, cayenne powder flavoured cookie and bitter, dark chocolate ganache filling. The result is a slightly sweet, seductively spicy, adult cookie.

Chocolate Chili Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Blog Chocolate Chili Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Blog Chocolate Chili Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Blog Chocolate Chili Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Blog Chocolate Chili Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Blog Chocolate Chili Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Blog Chocolate Chili Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Blog Chocolate Chili Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Blog Chocolate Chili Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Blog Chocolate Chili Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Blog Chocolate Chili Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I used Hisako Ogita’s basic macaron recipe from I Love Macarons and added 1 tsp cayenne powder to the dry ingredients and a whole lot of red gel food colouring to the wet ingredients before mixing. I garnished with cocoa powder after piping the cookies onto silicon baking mats. Bitter ganache is shockingly simple to make, here’s how I do it:

Bitter Ganache

Ingredients

  • 100 ml whippingcream
  • 3½ oz  unsweetened baking chocolate

Method

  1. Finely chop the chocolate and place in medium bowl with a tea towel underneath to protect your countertop.
  2. Bring whipping cream to a soft boil in a small pot.
  3. Pour the hot cream into the bowl with the chocolate and stir until the ganache is glossy.
  4. Cool to room temperature before spreading between cookies. Reheat using a double boiler if it becomes too cold to spread.

Chocolate Chili Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Blog

All photos by me.

Complete Collection

Complete Collection | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who is organized enough to own a favourite piece of clothing in multiple colours. I never seem to be on the ball enough to go back and grab the same style in a second hue or print after falling in love with the first. I’ve also always wondered, while watching others do it, if this makes good wardrobe building sense.

I bought this skirt from ModCloth a couple of years ago, in yellow, and immediately loved it. I love the colour, the cut, the way it moves and the way I can style it to suit every season. I get compliments nearly every time I wear it and it’s always the first thing I toss in my suitcase when packing for an adventure. I’ve already had to mend it twice and will be utterly heartbroken when it dies.

I’ve been aware since I bought the skirt – and agonized over the colour choices – that ModCloth sells the style in a rainbow of colour options. I’ve kept the notion that I might buy it again tucked in my back pocket but never thought I would pull the trigger; the fashion world is so vast and life’s too short to explore the same place twice, right? But then I saw my beloved skirt on sale, in red, and decided to see what this complete collection thing was all about.

Complete Collection | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Let me say, I’m so glad I did. I love this skirt as much as the first! The neat thing is, I already know exactly how to wear it… because I sort of already owned it. It seem to me to make good sense when assembling a wardrobe, even on a budget. You know it’s going to work with your overarching style, and match the other pieces already in your collection, because you’ve previously tested it. The longevity of the new investment seems solid too. The risk of the new piece falling out of style or you falling out of love with it are low when the rewards of old one have been so great.

I think I’ve been converted to this way of thinking and shopping. Maybe I’ll become one of those people with the gorgeously curated closet holding a full rainbow of their favourite pieces.

Complete Collection | Sophster-Toaster Blog Complete Collection | Sophster-Toaster Blog Complete Collection | Sophster-Toaster Blog Complete Collection | Sophster-Toaster Blog Complete Collection | Sophster-Toaster Blog Complete Collection | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Skirt ModCloth
Sweater H&M
Stockings What Katie Did
Jewellery old

Complete Collection | Sophster-Toaster Blog

All photos by me.

Valentine’s Day Birthday, Part I

I think this will be the best year of my life. We’re only two weeks into February — one week away from my 27th birthday — and the hubs and I already have big things coming together for 2015. My husband is moments away from inheriting a cottage in Northern Ontario that has been in his family since the 1920’s (don’t get the wrong idea, it’s a money-pit) with intentions of rescuing it from back tax limbo and restoring it to it’s former charm and I achieved a big goal of seeing something I made in a for-real, brick-and-mortar shop window when Craft Arts Market opened up a few blocks from my house, just to name a couple. When I was a child, I always thought 27 was the best age a person could be. I felt it so strongly that the feeling alone has survived in my memory far longer than the reason why I felt it. I can’t believe I’m finally here. I think it’s time to plan the celebrations.

Building a Backdrop \\ Sophster-Toaster

With a birthday that always seems to land on the same weekend as Valentine’s Day, I don’t think I’m ever had a birthday party colour scheme other than red, pink and white or a theme other than today is also Valentine’s Day. This year, I’m branching out. I’ve chosen pink, orange and gold as my decoration colours and the theme of … birthday party. Alright, I’m not great at themes.

I’ve spent the last two weeks making my invitations and decorations, and planning food, drinks and furniture arrangement. For the most part, I’m treading in unfamiliar waters and choosing nondescript seasonal decorations and food ideas over festive ones. However, there is one tradition, started by my mother, that I have never gone a year without and have decided to continue, with restraint: there will be one heart…

Heart Backdrop \\ Sophster-Toaster

… and I’m making it a big one. (Find the DIY I used to make the backdrop here.)

Building a Heart Backdrop \\ Sophster-Toaster

Valentine's Date Outfit \\ Sophster-ToasterBow Tie \\ Sophster-ToasterValentine's Day Outfit \\ Sophster-ToasterPoetic Licence Heel \\ Sophster-Toaster

Dress: Modcloth // Bow Tie: Sophster-Toaster // Tights: H&M // Socks: The Green Room (old) // Shoes: Modcloth (old) // Hair Clip: H&M (old) // Earrings: Modcloth (old) // Bracelet: Sweet Auburn Studio

Chair is Ikea.