Recipe

CHOCOLATE LAYER CAKE with CARAMEL FROSTING

My boys really love to eat cake particularly chocolate cake. So here’s a recipe from my favorite baker Anna Olson.

Cake

  • ¾ cup (175 g) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups (400 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups (350 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (120 g) regular cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 1 ½ tsp (4.5 g) baking powder
  • ½ tsp (2.5 g) baking soda
  • ½ tsp (2.5 g) salt
  • 1 ½ cups (375 mL) buttermilk at room temperature

Frosting

  • 1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups (400 g) packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ tsp (2.5 g) salt
  • ½ cup (125 mL) whipping cream
  • 2 ½ cups (325 g) icing sugar, sifted

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease three 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pans and dust them with flour, tapping out the excess. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper.

2. Using electric beaters or a mixer fit with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium high speed for 3 minutes, until the mixture is fluffy and scraping the sides of the bowl often. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add this alternately with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour mixture and mixing well after each addition. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and spread it to level.

4. Bake the cakes for 25 to 30 minutes, until a tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool for 20 minutes in the pans, and then turn them out on a rack to cool completely.

5. For the frosting, heat ½ cup (115 g) of the butter, the brown sugar and the salt in a heavy bottomed saucepot over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once this mixture comes to a full boil, boil it for 4 minutes, just stirring once or twice. Whisk in the cream and boil one minute more. Remove the pot from the heat and cool for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.

6. Using electric beaters or in a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment, beat the mixture (it should still feel warm) and add the icing sugar. Continue beating the frosting until it is a little above room temperature (don’t worry if the frosting seems to go a bit grainy – it will smooth out), then add the remaining 1/2 cup (110 g) of butter and the vanilla, beating until smooth and of a spreadable consistency, and still a little warm.

7. Place one cake layer onto a plate (having peeled away the parchment paper) and spread a generous dollop of caramel frosting to cover. Place the next cake layer on top, frost and repeat with the final cake layer. Frost the top and
then the sides of the cake, swirling the frosting to create an appealing look. Let the cake set for 2 hours uncovered.

The cake should be stored at room temperature, and can keep, covered, for up to 2 days.

NOTE: If the caramel frosting starts to set while you are still frosting the cake, you can heat it just
slightly and beat to soften it up again.

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Tnalak Festival a Celebration of Culture and Tradition in the Southern Philippines

A place where people with diverse culture and beliefs are living a simple yet unique life, that is how guests who came to visit described the province. And this is what Tnalak festival celebrates every second week of July in South Cotabato. It is the celebration of one of the symbols of the area and it is now hailed as one of the most colorful and memorable events. T’nalak is in fact a work of art, a woven piece of cloth with bright colours. The T’boli weavers elaborate their dreams into a beautiful tapestry made from deeply coloured abaca fibers.

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Every year there is always something worth celebrating, and each year it never fails to surprise strangers and locals with its fun and truly splendid activities, from street dancing which portrays the different culture of its population, trade expos where a lot of local products can be seen, motocross, a Retro ball to welcome overseas Filipino workers as they join the celebration, down to pageant night where the most beautiful woman in South Cotabato is crowned.
As I roam around the busy flea market I can’t help but notice the smile in everyone’s face, children having fun in the rides, lovers comfortably eating in a nearby barbeque stand, and families having snacks in a pizza booth. There are so many things to do in this one week affair which once again shows that South Cotabateños are united, taking a break from the hardship in life.

T’nalak is getting its way to the top list of most admired festivals in Philippines most of all for the entire experience it has to offer. We may not have the fancy of a city life but we have a warm heart who will always welcome strangers, travellers who want to escape from a busy and chaotic living. Unfold the mystery of Mindanao’s most promising province, experienced T’nalak festival.
Next year it will be another celebration, another year to be proud of being a dweller of this extraordinary province.

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Davao City a Paradise in a War Zone

For years, Mindanao, the eastern most region of the Philippines has been known as the war capital of the country. Most travel companies and other countries advised tourists the dangers of travelling within this territory. This region has been home of terrorists, guerrillas and militants due to the vast jungles and limited population that provides them a better chance in hiding and a better way to combat the Philippine Arm Forces. However, what most of us don’t understand or know is the beauty Mindanao has to offer.

I’m always afraid to travel to this region because of travel advisories and warnings, but as a human, we tend to always challenge ourselves and work or do things that most people wouldn’t risk doing. To make things short, I went to Davao, a city located in the southern part of Mindanao. It’s a big city; it is even referred to as the world’s biggest city though it has a small downtown.

As I was on the bus for a four travel to Davao from Koronadal, a small city in the Southern part of Mindanao, I was praying that my tour will be fine and that it will be safe. I was so surprised seeing the place. I’m definitely shocked with what I experienced, I am expecting a place that is rotten or does not have economic growth, a place where each person carries a gun and will look at you with suspicion.

But what I saw is a place booming with development. You’ll see buildings, markets, malls, etc. which are signs of economic growth. Above all this, I saw smiling and peace loving people. I was unequivocally relieved thanking that God answered my prayers. I later found out that the Davao has been proclaimed as the most peaceful city in Southeast Asia and that I made a fool of myself.

Aside from a wide array of modern urban amenities, Davao is a melting pot of diverse people, religion and culture. This is a place where you can see Moslems and Christians living together peacefully. It also offers a vast selection of fruits and seafood’s. White sand beaches, waterfalls, exotic animals and mountains are just around the corner.

I really enjoyed my 3 weeks stay in the city. I was able to go on an island hopping in the island of Samal, a small island 45 minutes away from the mainland of Davao through a boat. It boosts a cluster of white sand beaches, virgin and undisturbed diving sites, shipwrecks and a pearl farm.

It also showcases a vertical cave and a series of falls. Three hours away from Davao is Mt. Apo, the tallest mountain in the Philippines. It takes 3 days to hike this giant. It was an active volcano before but now is considered dormant. The hike itself is a great adventure and you’ll get to see exotic animal, plants and flowers. This is the first time I have seen a true and alive Rafflesia and it was amazing. The peak of Mt. Apo presents a different kind of feeling and I can’t compare it with anything else. Outland Adventure, the largest ropes course facility in the Philippines, situated in a sanctuary within Davao metropolitan itself.

This facility is known to have the fastest and longest zip line in Asia and that ride is definitely my most blood rushing experience ever. One of the best dining places I’ve ever visited is Jack’s Ridge, which is located at the top of a hill. The idea is to have a coffee shop, dining place and park within a forest within a hill top. It has a cozy ambiance where you may have a romantic date while listening to live bands or just enjoying the fresh air while overlooking the beautiful lights of the city.

There are a thousand things that can be done within Davao and I guarantee that you’ll absolutely enjoy. Truly Davao is a magnificent place and for me it’s a paradise within a war torn zone. I just hope that Davao will move further for economic development and maintain its peace loving outlook.

Though Mindanao’s face has been painted with fear and unending war and terrorism, there are places within it that hope and pray that someday peace will come their way. Thankfully, I took a risked and I experienced the best things in life. Doubtlessly, I will be back in this peaceful, lovely and beautiful place.

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Online writing job: how to get paid

Being able to do the things you want when you want and how you want the figures to be about everyone’s  dream. Ok..Let’s narrow it down to say you have a talent for writing or maybe just a knack for writing poems and short stories. Ok, let’s just say you can write and you own a computer that is hooked up to the internet…how about putting that talent, knack, skill…or whatever you call it to paid use. Yeah you could..How…by getting a Freelance online writing job. Somehow you get to do what you want and how you want too .Being freelance gives you  a wider range of jobs to find when searching for freelance online writing jobs and does not just narrow you down to certain themes. So you have the opportunity to broaden your scope and come in contact with a larger group of subjects such as music, journalism, publishing, screen writing, filmmaking, acting, fragrances, computer programming, proofreading, web design, website development and lots more.

There you have it, a wider range..easy to pick from and also easy to start a freelance online writing job.Bet now you are thinking Hollywood…imagine you’re writing for  some Hollywood executive!! That’s more like it..isn’t it. Imagine it and do it…….. simply by starting a freelance online writing job, you could start writing on any theme, subject or category you want and get paid for it. That’s the juiciest part…..the money still comes in. You love fiction, creativity..you got tips on how to make or perform, then start writing and don’t just write this time and put it away…get paid for it by looking for a freelance online writing job.

Put your computer and internet connection to good use by doing something you like and do it easily. Get paid for your beautiful thoughts from the comfort of your home through a freelance online writing job.

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My grown up boys

Being away from my two boys makes me feel incomplete and lost. I’m always dragging myself back to work when I’m home, wishing the day will not end that I have to pack my things again and prepare for a long travel. I still can’t believe that my little angels are  now big boys , but still they seem so fragile and helpless. I always shed a tear whenever I heard them saying “I Love You Mama”.  It breaks my heart to know that I can’t be with them all the time. If only I can stay at home and take care of them, If only I don’t have to go to work and leave my kids.

Perhaps unconditional love is really true; my love for my kids is unconditional. In my mind I can hear their voices and see their faces. I want to cuddle them in my arms until they fall asleep like an angel. Kuya now knows how to write his name though not his full name. My little Sanzi can already hold a pencil and draw a small circle. It’s amazing to discover that they are both left-handed in writing and eating.

I’m so excited to see them in school with their bags and books, playing with their friends and schoolmates. As I headed to bus terminal I can’t stop myself  from crying, I’ll be counting days and nights alone in my room again. I’ll be home soon my kids so behave and be good boys.