October 25, 2011

no tricks, just treats.

Now that I'm too big to get dressed up and try to swindle the neighbours of their candy, it's up to me to create my own treats. 


Plain almond macaron shells were sandwiched with a yummy whipped chocolate ganache (pretty much mousse) filling. Macarons are probably my favourite treat, but when they turn out badly...


Absolutely terrifying. Nothing is scarier to this baker than a dreaded macawrong. This one was baked at the back corner of the baking sheet and probably received a bit too much heat from the oven. I'm still trying to figure out how to diffuse the new oven's hotspots in addition to using the convection setting.

Next up: going all-out pumpkin and trying these with a pumpkin buttercream. Or eating these ones all to myself the way they are. Probably both. 

Happy Halloween everyone :)


October 21, 2011


A plastic yellow duckie bathtime toy was recreated out of cake this week to celebrate a baby shower. If only I could have figured out how to make it squeak...


The body of the duck was carved from lemon buttercream sandwiched between three layers of vanilla pound cake. A ball of rice krispie treats was used to shape the head, and gumpaste was used for the beak.  All the other details were made from gumpaste or fondant.


To dress the cake up a little bit a pink layer of folded fondant was applied to the cake board and finished off with some fondant bubbles. In case the pink bow, flirty eyelashes and "it's a girl!" script hadn't given it away, the mommy-to-be is expecting a little girl.

Congratulations to the new mom (and dad)! 


October 17, 2011


A short while ago I celebrated my anniversary with the better half; he gave me a beautiful bouquet of yellow and pink gerbera daisies (one of my favourites) that I later wanted to emulate as cupcakes. I happened to pick up blackberries and golden raspberries from the store one day and knew they would be perfect. 

I've baked with blackberries before; they're tart and sweet and oh so pretty. The golden raspberries were something new. Until I'd bought them I had no idea they existed. They're a rarer variety of raspberry that's slightly sweeter and milder than their traditional red counterpart. 

 To cut the tartness of the berries, I paired them with a not-too-sweet buttermilk chocolate cupcake base. 

Buttermilk Chocolate Cupcakes
(recipe yields 18 cupcakes)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
3 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

Heat oven to 350F. Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Slowly add buttermilk, followed by water, oil, vanilla and lastly eggs, one at a time. Mix on high for 2 minutes. Pour batter into cupcake liners (about 2 large tablespoons per cupcake) and bake for 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

 The buttercream topping is a standard Swiss meringue buttercream using this recipe. The berries were then (separately) pureed with a little bit of boiling water and added to the buttercream once cooled. 

And then the cupcakes were promptly eaten.


October 14, 2011

blondie's favourite treat

Blondies are the vanilla counterpart to brownies. Both are rich, decadent and totally satisfying, but this recipe combines the best of both worlds with chocolate chips, marshmallows, and fresh homemade caramel sauce. 

Caramel Rocky Blondie Bars
(recipe yields ~25 squares) 
2 cups flour
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup marshmallows
1/2 cup caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 350F. Melt butter in pan over low heat. Pour into bowl and combine with brown sugar, mixing thoroughly. Add eggs and vanilla and continue mixing. Add flour, baking powder and salt to mixture until dough is consistent. Slowly add chocolate chips, marshmallows and caramel sauce, reserving a little bit of each for the top. Transfer dough into greased 10" x 10" pan (I use parchment paper instead of oil/butter) and spread as evenly as possible, dough will be thick. Place in oven and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from oven (be careful, the blondies might not be fully set) and add remaining chocolate chips, marshmallows and caramel to the top. Return to oven and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Do not overcook as blondies will further set while cooling. Let stand for 20 minutes or until blondies are completely cool before cutting. 

These would be perfect served with ice cream but I can barely handle how rich they are on their own. Try them for yourself!


October 8, 2011

i'm thankful for...

Thanksgiving: historically a holiday to celebrate and give thanks for a good harvest, and for a community to come together and rejoice after a season of hard work. Well, I didn't sow my own grains or mill my own flour but that doesn't mean a lot of hard work hasn't been done this year. This Thanksgiving I'm grateful for family. And friends. And wonderful opportunities. And pumpkin puree. And gumpaste.

Many pansy species bloom in the fall and with such rich colours I thought they would make a lovely topping to some fall-inspired pumpkin spice cupcakes.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes:
recipe yields ~24 

1 1/2 cups butter
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp all spice or ground cloves
2 tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk together eggs and both brown and white sugar. Add eggs and vanilla extract and continue mixing. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice in separate bowl. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing until incorporated. Mix on high for additional 2 minutes. Line baking tray with cupcake inserts. Carefully place batter into inserts and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into cupcakes comes out clean. 
Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing:
recipe yields 2-3 cups

2/3 cup egg whites
1 cup white sugar
2 cups butter (4 sticks)
1/2 cup cream cheese
2 tsp vanilla extract

Heat egg whites in a double boiler stirring frequently so that egg whites do not become cooked. Slowly add sugar and mix thoroughly for about 5 minutes or until mixture reaches 55C. Transfer mixture to mixing bowl and whip on high until stiff peaks form. Switch mixer attachment to paddle and slowly incorporate butter. Turn the speed up until mixture becomes uniform. Add vanilla and cream cheese and continue to mix until incorporated and mixture is creamy.

Don't forget to give thanks at your dinner table this Sunday! Happy Thanksgiving!


October 2, 2011

birds and blossoms

One of my closest friends that I've known since gradeschool recently returned to Canada after spending several years teaching English in Japan. Her birthday happened to be close by and I decided to welcome her home and wish her happy birthday with a small cake.

This 6" and 4" vanilla cake included my attempt at elements of Japanese design, mostly in the form of white and pink cherry blossoms and branches.

I wanted to include a big red feature so I cut out sparrows (ish) from deep red fondant and applied them against the soft blue background. They really popped against the delicate flowers and provided a lovely contrast to the ephermeral backdrop.

Happy birthday and welcome home, Allie!