Whoosh! How the days fly by – just like that it seems. There are others in my memory that seem to stand still, frozen in time. Friday was one of those days. It marks the beginning of a new year for me and was a day to reflect and a day to celebrate.

I wanted to share a few of those precious little moments that filled my day. And with each one, I look forward to this next year with hope, anticipation and the sense of being renewed. My heart is overflowing and I choose for joy to be always present.

Birthday Wishes

Cheers!

Ruthie Signature

Good morning, loves! Wow, we had one of the most beautiful weekends ever. Mid-60s and sunny… it felt like a breezy spring day! I think I’m ready to welcome the warm weather, how about you?

This weekend was extra special because I played hostess and threw a bridal shower for a dear friend. The location — Tiny’s No. 5. Naturally, I fell in love with this space the minute I set eyes on the private room. I’m pretty sure it came straight out of a Restoration Hardware catalog.

Gah, so gorgeous!

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I just love the warm, rustic feel of the space and kept the decor simple with some DIY floral centerpieces made with tinted green mason jars, white tulips, orange spray roses, greenery and baby’s breath. It was a sweet, small celebration with delicious baked items, divine cheese spread with toasted breads and honey, endless mimosas, watermelon agua al fresca and more.

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I really can’t say enough about the venue, the food or the service. From start to finish, the experience was impeccable and working with the event staff was a breeze. I already loved Tiny Boxwoods but this was certainly the icing on the cake! Such a perfect space to celebrate an intimate special occasion. Tiny’s No. 5 just might be my new favorite brunch spot in Houston.

Rose Signature

Yesterday I was blessed to celebrate another birthday (numbers don’t really matter here) and every year I have made myself a delectably moist, most utterly fudgy chocolate cake. I’m sort of a chocolate cake snob, I guess you could say.

While there are plenty of boxed varieties that taste quite delicious, it’s almost like birthday therapy to mix up my own chocolate concoction and I wanted to share this ooey-gooey slice of heaven with you! This is a recipe from Food Network’s Ina Garten that I have revised a bit each year by trying out different flavors like dark cocoa and even adding things like coffee flavored powders or extract flavor add-ins – just to put my own little twist to it.

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Ingredients

THE CAKE:
– 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 sea salt
– 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
– 1/2 cup vegetable oil
– 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:
– 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (Buy the best brand you can afford)
– 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
– 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder (I love hazelnut!)

Directions

THE CAKE:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

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 speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 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.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:
Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don’t whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

It’s tempting to eat right away, and even tougher to resist if you’re going to serve it to guests for a special occasion. Me? I just cut a gigantic slice and serve with an ice cold glass of milk (or you can dish it up with almond milk, for our lactose intolerant friends)! Enjoy!

Ruthie Signature