Nothing says “I love you” like Red Velvet…

image courtesy of annies-eats

When I was in elementary school I used to stay up late the night before Valentine’s Day writing valentines to all my friends and licking all those horrible tasting envelopes. Now that I have my own kids, I do my best to spare them the hand cramps and the bad taste in their mouths. So, the night before Valentine’s Day we make cupcakes for all of their friends, because although everyone has a secret fondness for ‘Sweethearts’, nothing says “I love you” like Red Velvet! I came across this wonderful recipe on www.marthastewart.com, enjoy!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon red gel-paste food color
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
  • Cream Cheese Frosting

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cake flour, cocoa, and salt.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together sugar and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in food color and vanilla.
  3. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and whisking well after each. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to the batter, and mix on medium speed 10 seconds.
  4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
  5. To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting.

Note

Makes 24 cupcakes. Gel-paste food color is much more concentrated than the supermarket liquid variety; if you substitute the liquid, you may need to add an entire bottle (1.5 ounces) to achieve the desired shade.

Valentine’s Day Exclusives

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’ve teamed with Terrain on three limited edition candles and packaging. We’re so excited about this romantic trio and wanted to make sure you knew all about them!

New Bulgarian Rose: Inspired by the blooming fields of Bulgaria’s Rose Valley, this candle brings home the fresh scents of rose, black currant, and green leaves.

New Wildflower: Inspired by wild blooms on the Texas prairie, this fresh, floral candle brings home the scents of spring.

New Lily of the Valley: Inspired by delicate, bell-shaped Lily of the Valley, this refreshing candle blooms with notes of hyacinth and jasmine.

Combining natural soy wax, lead-free cotton wicks, and pure scents, Linnea’s Lights clean-burning candles are carefully hand-poured in small batches. Each candle retails for $30. Shop the collection today and bring home a very unique bouquet!

Aromatherapy, Essential Oils and Candles

Image courtesy of holistichealingny.com

Aromatherapy and essential oils are experiencing a real Renaissance. The other day I was having lunch with my friend, and she told me about an aromatherapy class she was taking. By virtue of my profession, I have been interested in the meanings and properties of scents for many years, but I was excited to know that my friend and others were starting to develop an interest in a subject I am so curious about.

The history of fragrance is very interesting and it began with the burning of wood and leaves in ancient times. Neolithic man realized that some firewood, like Cedar and Cyprus, did more than provide them with warmth and sustenance, it also filled the air with a rich redolent scent. The origin of our word perfume hints at this discovery, as it comes from the Latin per fumum, meaning “through smoke”.

I love feeling connected to this rich history through my craft and thought I’d share a little bit of this background with my lovely readers. In ancient times, essential oils and aromas had many purposes; they were used in medicinal healing, food, religious ceremonies and as aphrodisiacs. I think much of this is still true today, and is certainly something I keep in mind while creating new blends for our candles. The demand for these precious oils and scents established a long distance trade, as the oils were not only relatively easy to transport but sometimes more even valuable than gold and jewels. One could say that the map of the world might be very different if human beings had not cultivated their passion for fragrance.

Bright Whites, Great Deals

Image courtesy of One Kings Lane

We are thrilled to be a part of another fabulous sale with our friends at One Kings Lane. Scoop up some of our favorite candles at incredible prices: from Tuscan Fig & warming Chai Tea to Hearth & Winter Spice, there is something to warm every nook and corner of your home.

Does the new year have you decorating a new space or redecorating an old one? Finishing off that room is easier than you think. Fresh white candles, crisp coffee table books, shimmering silver frames—these thoughtful accents round out a room with texture, scale, and ambiance. No matter your style, this collection gives you the look you’ve always wanted. Promise.

Shop the collection here for a limited time only!

Alla Helgons Dag

Holger Motzkau 2010, Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons

Holger Motzkau 2010, Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons

Each family has its own unique culture, and for us, my Grandparents were instrumental in shaping that culture. I always looked forward to visiting them and hearing stories about their life in Sweden before they came to the Midwest. My imagination would stretch itself to Sweden; to forests with dim light pouring through them. Sure, they would tell the same stories over and over again, but each time they would add a little flourish that made it new again. Years later I found myself telling my kids these family tales. I’d see their faces, and  find myself exaggerating and adding my own twists. Eventually, I came to realize that my voice had become just as much a part of the telling as the voices of my Grandparents.

One of my favorite stories my Grandmother told me was that on Christmas she would bring wreaths and candles to the cemetery and put them on the graves of her Great Grandparents. She said that on that night the cemetery was washed in light, the flames from the candles cutting circles and shadows in the snow. This image has stayed with me throughout my life, and eventually I made it to her village. It was around this time of year, near Halloween (years after my Grandparents  moved to America, Alla Helgons Dag  or “All Soul’s Day” was moved to the Saturday following the 30th of October). When I got to the cemetery, I realized that although the day had changed the traditions continued. Being there was like stepping into my Grandmother’s memory, as I was surrounded by light.

In Sweden, the end of October marks the beginning of  the dark nights of winter. On Alla Helgons Dag we bring lanterns, candles and wreaths to loved ones who have passed on. We bring them these things, though more than anything they are gifts to ourselves. We are reminded that the love of those we have lost continues, despite the long days without them.

Sweets to the sweet…

Image courtesy of exclusivelyfood.com.au

As the season changes, so do my cravings. Mid-day snacks become sweeter, cookies abound, and I just can’t pass up making the most luscious, gooiest of desserts…Sticky Toffee Date Cake! It is an indisputable fact that any dessert that begins with “Sticky Toffee” is guaranteed to be delicious, but I found this recipe by Ina Garten to be particularly scrumptious. Enjoy!

Sticky Toffee Date Cake with Bourbon Glaze

For the cake:
¾ pound dates, pitted and chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1½ tablespoons baking powder

For the sauce:
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
½ cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons good bourbon, such as Maker’s Mark
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 x 2-inch round cake pan.

Place the dates in a deep saucepan with 1¾ cups of water. Bring to boil, stirring a little to break up the dates. Allow to simmer 1 minute. Off the heat, stir in the baking soda (it will bubble up!). Set aside.

Meanwhile, in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla, scraping down the mixing bowl. (It may look curdled.) Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer still on low, slowly add it to the batter. With the mixer on low, add the hot date mixture in two batches to the batter, scraping down the bowl. The batter will be runny but don’t worry! Stir in the baking powder, which will also bubble up. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, combine the butter, brown sugar, heavy cream and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 minute. Off the heat, stir in the bourbon and vanilla and pour into a 2-cup heat-proof glass measuring cup. Set aside.

As soon as the cake is done, poke holes all over it with a toothpick. Pour three-quarters of the sauce evenly over the cake while still warm and allow it to soak in for 30 minutes. Turn the cake out bottom side up onto a flat serving plate and pour the remaining sauce on top. Cool completely.

Serve at room temperature with sweetened whipped cream.

Fall picks

Image courtesy of poorandpretty.com

As Autumn begins, I look forward to all of its simple pleasures. One of my favorite activities is visiting our local apple orchard. Our family has gone apple picking every year since I was a child, and every year I feel the same jolt of exhilaration stepping out of the car. While engaged in the simple act of gathering apples, I experience a rich sense of harvest. I breathe in the sweet, crisp, leafy combination of the morning and the orchard, and all the years come back to me.

When I get home and put the kids to bed I find myself leafing through old photos and recipes, I search for that elusive nineteenth century novel I swore I was going to finish last Fall, and I make myself a hot mug of apple cider with allspice. Apples, pumpkin pie, old books; scent memory and emotional memory are inextricably linked together. We all have little reminders of this at different moments in our lives, but for me Autumn and Winter are two of the most powerful seasons for these kinds of associations.

This fall, we introduced a new scent called Hearth which combines cedar wood, with sweet amber and leather. It conjures up that first cold evening curling up by the fireplace. Another new scent is our Vanilla Noir, which combines a creamy Madagascar Vanilla with soft woods and musk; this one always reminds me of baking with Mom in the kitchen. And last but not least, our Pumpkin candle with its warm notes of harvest pumpkin, spice and herbs always cheers me up after a long day.

BYO Candles?

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In these final dog days of summer, I’m trying to take advantage of the next few weeks of wonderful weather. I thought the perfect way to enjoy a warm summer’s night would be to host a garden party for friends and family. This time around, I wanted to bring the scents I love so much while inside, outside, and thought our Garden Mint candle would be just the thing.

Garden Mint highlights the yard’s natural, welcoming perfume and is absolutely perfect for these final hot summer evenings. A perfect aroma to take the edge off summer’s fiery heat, watery notes of garden mint leaves mingle with cucumber, spearmint and hints of citrus. The scent is known for its therapeutic & cooling properties and has a gentle aroma that is never overwhelming. This an important thing to consider at an event revolving around dining;  you never want to compete with the aroma of a home cooked meal!

We love the balance of using our candles both inside and out, they’re multi-taskers just like us! As always and no matter where you’re enjoying your candles, just remember to always keep your eyes on a burning candle and never to leave one unattended. Candle safety comes first!

Pick one up at Candles Off Main in time for your next dinner party.

Announcing our NEW Fall/Holiday 2012 Candles!

At Linnea’s Lights we put so much heart and time into each individual candle and the scent that accompanies it that it makes us so happy when we finally get to share our new creations with the public. We were thrilled to have the chance to tease our new candles at The Markoff Group’s Holidays in July preview event. This year we showcased our newest Fall/Holiday 2012 scents: Hearth, Holiday Spice, and Vanilla Noir.

Each candle is unique, and puts a fun twist on everyone’s favorite seasonal scents. The welcoming scent of Hearth entices you with its smoky and captivating cedar wood that is kindled with sweet amber and leather. Holiday Spice has a warming aroma that makes you want to spend your nights tucked beside the glow of its warm regal blend. We’re also introducing a spin on a classic vanilla with Vanilla Noir, a creamy and exotic Madagascar bourbon vanilla, intertwined with soft woods and musk.

We can’t wait till the holidays and hope you celebrate yours with a new Linnea’s Lights candle.

NEW! Hearth ~ For centuries, the hearth was considered an integral part of a home, often its central or most important feature. On brisk nights, find comfort in hearth and home.

NEW! Holiday Spice ~ Pomegranate, tart cranberry, spicy clove with a touch of warm cinnamon & white spices. Holiday Spice will also be available as part of the limited-edition Holiday Gift Set along with Forest Fir and Winter mini votives.

NEW! Vanilla Noir ~ Vanilla has long been one of western civilizations’ most essential flavors, first discovered by Central American Indians.

Stay tuned here and we’ll let you know just as soon as these become available for purchase. What do you think of the new scents and which ones will you be bringing home?

Splish Splash

Image courtesy of wdrb.com

The heat wave has not let up by us, so we’ve been trying to get to the local pool with the kids as much as possible. I’ve also been making ice-cold lemonade and keeping temps down indoors with A/C and a mix of my favorite Linnea’s Lights Summer-inspired White Coral, Ocean, & Sea Salt candles close at hand. Chill out at home with candles like these or for something clean & fresh, our Garden Mint candle is also a favorite. Available from Oliver’s Twist.

How are you all holding up in this heat?

To buy: http://www.oliverstwistllc.com/category/Candles/c57pg