A Piano Cake Recipe!

What better way to celebrate the purchase of a new piano than with a piano cake? Although we can’t personally vouch for the taste until we’ve made one ourselves, here are the basic ingredients and instructions from Tastemade. See the instructional video on their website here.

For the chocolate cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2/3 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups butter, softened at room temperature

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream, room temperature

For the chocolate chip meringue:

6 large egg whites

2 cups superfine sugar

1 cup mini chocolate chips

For the chocolate buttercream:

1 1/2 cups butter, softened at room temperature

4 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups cocoa powder

2/3 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 teaspoon salt

For the chocolate ganache:

2 cups dark chocolate chips

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons coconut oil

For the decoration:

16 white chocolate Kit Kats

10 milk chocolate Kit Kats

Instructions

Make the chocolate cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a 13 by 9 inch pan with baking spray and parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa. Using a hand mixer, blend the butter, eggs and vanilla into the dry mix. Fold in the sour cream. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until fragrant and a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake. Set aside to cool.

Make the chocolate chip meringue: Turn the oven to 250 degrees, and line a quarter sheet pan with baking spray and parchment paper. In a large bowl, whip egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form, approximately 10 minutes. Gently fold in mini chocolate chips and pour into prepared pan. Smooth out to create an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes, and then turn the oven down to 200 degrees and bake until stiff, approximately 4 hours. Turn the oven off and allow the meringue to set and cool completely in the oven.

Make the chocolate buttercream: In a large bowl, whip softened butter and powdered sugar together with a hand mixer. Add in cocoa powder and milk and mix until smooth. Add in vanilla and salt and set aside.

Make the chocolate ganache: Set chocolate chips in a medium-sized bowl, and heat the cream to a near boil. Pour cream over chocolate and whisk to combine. Add coconut oil, and divide ganache into two bowls. Refrigerate one to set and leave the other at room temperature.

Assemble the cake: Cut baked chocolate cake in half. Place one of the cakes on a large platter. Cover with one cup of chocolate buttercream and top with the meringue layer. Top with another cup of buttercream and finish with the remaining cake layer. Cover the entire cake with the remaining buttercream and set in the refrigerator to chill for approximately 30 minutes. Remove from fridge and pour the room temperature ganache over the top of the cake. Carefully drip ganache down every side of the cake for a dramatic effect. Place the chilled ganache in a piping bag and create a border around the bottom of the cake. Place the white chocolate Kit Kats across the middle of the cake, keeping them together in fours. Break up the milk chocolate Kit Kats and place them on top of the white Kit Kats, mimicking piano keys. Serve immediately. Cake will keep up to 4 days covered.

email

Firefighter calms with piano after emergency call

A firefighter from Monroe, Washington helped calm residents after a stressful night of emergency calls – with a serenade on their vintage piano.

Greg and Meagan Bennett were home when one of their carbon monoxide alarms went off. They checked the batteries and the alarm stopped. But two hours later, the other alarm sounded, so the couple called for help.

An emergency crew arrived, but found conflicting readings from the alarms and decided to call for backup. Meagan says a second crew responded to their home, and all of the excitement proved too much for the couple’s dogs. She took them outside while 5 firefighters and EMTs kept working inside her home.

As the emergency call was finally wrapping up, firefighter Bryan Kerr inquired about the couple’s piano, which was a family heirloom from 1920. He asked if he could try playing it, then surprised everyone with a snippet from Coldplay’s “Clocks.” Greg recorded video so he could show Meagan when she returned with the dogs.

She tells KING 5: “It started out as a super stressful, annoying situation and this just really made our night. It was awesome!”
read more here…

Deaf man is amazingly self taught on the piano

via the Hamilton County Times

Does Kyle Thomas know how beautifully he plays the piano?
He’s been told.
The Noblesville resident can hear the piano. But he can’t tell if it’s in tune.
He can hear the volume, but he can’t distinguish the pitches.
Thomas, who was born deaf, has played the piano since he was 12.
“I taught myself,” said Thomas, 41, who can distinguish between high and low, loud and soft, fast and slow.
Just like learning any new skill, playing the piano takes practice to do well. “It’s easy for me now, after all of these years,” said Thomas, who has developed a technique and understanding of what goes into the music, structure and theory.
He plays so beautifully that he’s often sought after for local community theaters.
“It is amazing that he can play when he basically cannot hear the music,” said Jan Jamison, director of Westfield Playhouse’s production, “33 Variations,” on stage weekends through Feb. 18. The play, interestingly, goes back and forth examining the creative process between Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Diabelli Variations” and the journey of a musicologist who has ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, to discover why Beethoven, who while growing deaf, was compelled to write 33 variations on a simple theme.
“I looked at Beethoven’s music and decided it would be a worthy challenge,” said Thomas, whose livelihood is warehouse work at the Amazon fulfillment center in Whitestown. “I would consider several of the variations to be among the most difficult pieces I’ve played.”

During Westfield’s play rehearsals, I watched and listened as Thomas sat at the baby-grand piano in his borrowed black tuxedo with tails, loud crazy-patterned socks and long, thick beard that he’s he’s been growing for a year.
He played the variations throughout the play as they were mentioned.
But how does he do it? “With my hearing aids on, I do hear the piano, just in a different way,” he said. While hearing aids don’t correct hearing loss in the way that eyeglasses correct vision,” he said, “For me, they amplify sounds but don’t necessarily help in clarifying them.”
He said, “So I have to rely on visual cues in addition to what I’m able to hear.”
During his play rehearsals, he develops a sense of timing and learns exactly what to listen and look for, he said.
“If I make a mistake, I know it mostly in a visual or physical sense. My fingers may slip, or my timing is off, or I know that what I’m playing doesn’t match what i’m reading on the sheet music. So I correct things to the best of my ability.”
Thomas said neither of his parents are deaf nor is he aware of any family history of deafness. When he was a baby, his parents noticed that he wasn’t responding to auditory stimuli, and doctors confirmed that he was indeed deaf. His mom actually taught at Indiana School for the Deaf but said her son didn’t show any interest in learning to sign as a child. So he was put into Washington Township Schools in Marion County. At school, he used hearing aids and other assistive-listening devices.
Looking back, he’s always been performing in some way. As a kid, he acted out fairy tales, put on magic shows and participated in the usual school programs.
As for learning the piano, both sets of grandparents had pianos in their homes, so he “did the usual banging on the keys.” And he said, “My childhood friends usually spoke of music lessons as being boring.” But it wasn’t until he saw the movie, “Great Balls of Fire!” in 1989 that he thought, “Wow, I wish I could play like that.” He started teaching himself, used old lessons books from his grandparents, then took lessons from his church organist.
A turning point in his life occurred his freshman year at North Central High School, where he was cast, in 1991, in the play, “Children of a Lesser God,” about a deaf student and her teacher, and he began to learn American Sign Language beyond the basics. Then, he played in his first musical, “The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd.” From that point on, he was involved in so many shows that he lost count.
He was on stage in most shows, acting and, if it was a musical, dancing and lip-syncing. And then he started getting asked to play the piano in shows.
Read the full article here