scrapsofmylove

6

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever

About two weeks ago, on a Friday morning, I woke up to this photo on my Instagram feed… and could not stop thinking about chocolate cake for the rest of the day. So I scavenged the web for a simple but delicious recipe while at work, and stopped by the grocery store to pick up the essentials that I needed. I’ve mentioned time and time again on this blog that baking has never really been my forte, but my craving for chocolate cake on that particular day was so overpowering that it removed all doubt from my mind (and thankfully so, once I had a taste of the cake!).

The recipe that I found stated that it was the best chocolate cake recipe EVER, but in my mind I was contemplating buying a boxed mix because doesn’t every recipe online state that it’s the very best?! I took a look at the listed ingredients needed to make the cake and decided against a box mix since there were so few components and it seemed easy enough. When I came home, I got to work and Ro stopped by for an impromptu visit to help me out during the baking process…

And the final verdict? If you guys ever want to try just one recipe from over the years on this blog, I promise you that this is the one to try. It was honestly THAT good!

Here’s what you’ll need in order to make this amazing chocolate cake:

For the chocolate buttercream frosting:

  • 3 sticks butter
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup milk 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder

Add cocoa powder and butter to a bowl and mix together using a mixer. Once the mixture has been well blended, add in one cup of sugar with 1 tablespoon of milk and continue to mix on high speed for a minute. Add another cup of sugar and tablespoon of milk and repeat until all of the sugar and milk have been combined. Add in the espresso powder and vanilla extract and combine well. More sugar may be added if the frosting is too thin or more milk may be added if the frosting is too thick.


For the chocolate cake:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt 

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare two non stick 9 inch baking pans by spraying with baking spray or lightly coating with oil. In a large bowl. combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder) and mix thoroughly. Next, add the milk, oil, eggs and vanilla to the mixture and mix on medium speed for about a minute. Add the boiling water to the mixture and continue to mix at a high speed for another minute. Pour the batter evenly into the two pans and allow the cakes to bake for about 30-35 minutes before removing them from the oven. Allow them to cool for about 10 minutes before taking the cakes out of the pan and then allow them to cool completely prior to frosting the cakes.

Once completely cooled, set the first cake down, frost the top with the buttercream frosting, and add the second cake. Frost the top of the second cake as well as all of the sides and garnish with berries of your choice. Now all that’s left to do is to… cut yourself a slice, sit back and enjoy that moist, delicious chocolate cake! You can thank me later! :)


Full recipe adapted from here!

9

Out of the tree of life, I just picked me a plum. You came along and everything started to hum 🎶

One of my many favorite things to do is go to the market. From the vibrant colors and the smell of fresh fruits and vegetables. I find the colors and smell so intriguing. My favorite part would probably be when they cut the fruit and let you have a taste. It’s absolutely mouthwatering!

I prefer to buy all my fruits from local markets. Mostly because I know most of the time the fruits and vegetables are usually organic but the atmosphere of shopping in a market is something I truly enjoy. It’s filled with positive energy and happy faces which only makes me happier!

When you are ever in DC Eastern Market is a place you must visit….and who knows we may just bump into each other!

Photos taken by my friend Arzoo.

Stay tuned for more of my trip to Eastern Market!

10

Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn

While driving down the coast, one of the places that we stopped for the evening while driving through the Big Sur was Deetjen’s. Built in the 1930’s the little cottages reminded me more of private little treehouses that felt almost like home. The cozy interior decor and the magical light that filled the rooms were like something out of a magical fairytale

With no phone service, internet, or television (and even no locks on the doors!) we had dinner at the restaurant at Deetjen’s and snuggled in for the evening, and took a step back to slow down and rest our bones. With all of the frenzy of traveling from one location to the next on an every day basis, it was exactly what we needed.

PS - After we left, someone gave me a recommendation to visit the Esalen hot springs and although it was too late for us, if you’re ever in the area, be sure to check it out as it sounds absolutely magical…

6

Spring In Central Park

While we were in NYC, whether we planned it or not, we would usually find ourselves in Central Park on most weekends. Heading uptown from Wall Street where we were staying, it seemed like the most natural destination and we lingered there for hours at a time while finding little shops and places to explore close by. 

My favorite season in the city has always been autumn; nothing beats getting to experience the orange and red hues and hearing the crunching of leaves under your feet in Central Park. But this last April, I learned that spring in Central Park has it’s own magic. The misty dew, and sprinkles of purple and bright greens cascading along the pathways in the park instill a promise of happiness for warmer days yet to come…

9

Chiang Mai Temples 

During our time in Thailand we wanted to get out of the city of Bangkok and away from the hordes of tourists, in order to get a real taste for the culture of the land. And I’m so glad we did! We took a short flight up to the northern city of Chiang Mai for a two day stay at the beautiful Shangri-La Hotel, where we spent most of our time exploring the beautiful and renown temples situated in the town. 

I’ve shared some of my favorite photos of the temples that we visited during our stay in both Bangkok and Chiang Mai, but the beauty in each of these structures was so absolute and so grand in the flesh that it took my breath away on many occasions. The thoroughness and attention to detail, the intricate carvings in gold and red, and the soft chanting of the monks as we made our way through each building was a tranquil and peaceful experience that is fully indescribable in words for so many reasons, but I’m so grateful to have encountered.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend and can’t wait to share more stories with you all in the coming weeks!

10

Lisbon, Portugal

If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you probably know that a few weeks ago Poria turned the big 30 and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the new decade in his life than with a trip to Lisbon and Barcelona… I tried to keep it a surprise from him, but eventually one thing led to the next and of course he managed to find out but was just as excited for our upcoming adventure (and planning a trip is always more fun when you have a partner in crime planning with you, right?). We invited his sister, Jayran, to join us too and headed on a European trip that we’d remember for a lifetime! 

Our first destination of Lisbon was rainy during periods of our stay there but nonetheless it was one of the most charming and beautiful cities in Europe that we’d ever visited. We took time to explore the old quarter of Alfama, St George’s castle,  Jeronimo’s Monastery, and El Barrio Alto where we were staying, during our time in the endearing city. The narrow cobblestone roads were lined with colorful homes and intimately placed shops with the not so distant taste of seawater wafting through the air. Somewhat reminiscent of San Francisco with the adorable yellow and red trolleys and steep alleys, Lisbon was a city that we’ll remember for some time to come…


Hope you all enjoy the photos! Many more to follow in the coming weeks!

8

A few months ago, one of our good friends Alvaro headed to LDAC (a Leader Development and Assessment Course to train ROTC cadets to Army standards) for a month where he was stripped of all means of technology including his phone, laptop and any other devices he may have taken with him. During his month away from home, his only means of communication was to write letters to his loved ones. And in return, his loved ones wrote letters to him. 
Every day, he would receive a letter postmarked from a couple of days earlier filled with sweet words and tokens of love from his girlfriend. Alvaro asked me to take a few photos of the letters that he received while he was away and described them as the one thing that kept him going.


The notion of a hand written letter is often forgotten and overlooked with our technological advances in today’s world when a quick and simple email or text will do the job. But sometimes it’s sweet to go back and add a personal touch to our messages. The nostalgic feel of a hand written letter will always have an intimacy that is so often lost in the midst of our every day hustle and bustle…  but sometimes it’s nice to go back.

10

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

It’s taken weeks, but I’m finally getting around to posting photos from our holiday trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida! The holiday season is always a hectic one for us between work, spending time with our families and getting all of our shopping done, so this pre-Christmas gift from Poria’s parents was a welcome one that we accepted gratefully. Jayran, her boyfriend Hirad, Poria and I all boarded a plane on a cold December winter morning and made our way to sunny, warm Florida for a few days of relaxation. 

We ventured out to as many parks and attractions as we could during our five day stay (including Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Universal Studios, Downtown Disney, and of course Magic Kingdom) with Jayran planning a near perfect itinerary packed with new things to do and see each day. I didn’t get a chance to take as many photos with my camera as I would have liked at a lot of the parks (mostly due to the fact that I didn’t want to leave all my equipment unattended for all the activities and rides at the amusement parks), but Animal Kingdom was one of the parks where I didn’t hesitate to bring my camera, knowing that there would be so much to take in. The park was divided out into the continental areas of Africa and Asia, and we ventured through lush greens as we made our way through exhibits, rides and even a mini African safari!   

We spent the entire day experiencing the sights and sounds at Animal Kingdom before heading back to the hotel to prepare for a new day of adventure… hope you all enjoy the photos! <3

Pink Tea!

When you’ve completely exhausted hot chocolate this winter season… what do you turn to when you’re still craving a hot savory drink to get you through the cold, snowy days? Pink-green tea, of course! This drink is one that many Afghans are familiar with and I’ve grown up drinking all the time. The sweet drink is a light pink color, but it’s actually green tea so not only does it taste good, but it’s healthy too (or at least I tell myself)! We had guests over this last weekend, and my mom came over a bit earlier to help me out with the steps…

For this recipe, you’ll need:

  • green tea leaves (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • half a gallon cold water
  • half a gallon of milk 
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom 
  • 1 cup sugar

Add the water into a pot and add high heat. Add the green tea and the baking soda and allow the tea to come to a boil.

Once the tea has come to a boil, let it continue to simmer over high heat for about 15-20 minutes. The foam in the pot should turn a light pinkish color by that time. If not, let it boil for longer until the foam turns pink.

Drain the tea into a different pot or bowl and use a strainer to strain all of the tea leaves as shown below.

Now comes the tricky part… In order for the drink to get it’s beautiful light pink color, it’s important to oxidize the tea. Using the original pot and a new bowl, carefully pour the tea from one container to the other. Repeat this about ten times so that all of the liquid can breathe.

Once this has been done, in the original pot or a new pot, add milk over medium heat and let the milk warm up.

Slowly add in the oxidized green tea and mix in with the milk until you’ve reached the light pink color that you want for the tea. 

You can choose to make the tea lighter or darker based on your preference. Add in the cardamom and sugar last (you can add more or less sugar based on your taste preference), and mix thoroughly. The warm, sweet drink is ready to be served!

My mom was the one who went through these steps while I photographed, but I took notes and made sure to be ready to have this recipe down on my own the next time around! ;) Hope you all enjoy!