Halloween Cupcake Toppers

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/251738237/moon-owl-cupcake-cake-topper?ref=shop_home_active_16 

Hosting a Halloween party this year? I'll be adding these frightfully easy cupcake decorations to my table this Halloween.

https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/250813906/halloween-pumpkin-cupcake-topper?ref=shop_home_active_20 
These toppers can be found at my sister's etsy shop the G.Alexander Paper Company and are currently 20% off!

https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/251737503/halloween-bat-cupcake-cake-topper?ref=shop_home_active_18
These toppers are reusable meaning your guests will go batty with glee year after year over these spooky cupcake toppers.

Gooseberry Cake

Saturday, October 3, 2015


Here's an ingredient that I've never baked with before: the cape gooseberry. It's a cross between a cherry tomato and a gooseberry. I saw them in my local grocery store last week and thought they would add such unusual dimension to a cake. Because of the vibrant orange colour, this berry blends in quite well with the autumnal season. 


Cape Gooseberry Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

125g fresh gooseberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 3/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3 1/3 cups self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Halve the gooseberries (save a few for the top of the cake) and place in a saucepan with 1/4 cup sugar and water. Simmer for 5 minutes until you have a syrup. Set aside to cool.

In another bowl, combine the softened butter and sugar and whip until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and combine throughly.

Add the flour and baking powder to the creamed mixture and combine. Fold in the syrup and softened gooseberries.

Place mixture into a 9-inch springform pan that has been lined with parchment. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Icing

1/2 cup cream cheese
3/4 stick unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla
3 3/4 cup icing sugar

Cream the butter, cream and vanilla until well combined. Slowly add the icing sugar until thick and fluffy. When the cake is cooled, top with cream cheese icing and fresh gooseberries.



What fall desserts are you most looking forward to?

Plum Jam

Wednesday, September 16, 2015



This easy plum jam is a mixture of both yellow and purple plums hence the pinkish hue. I prefer to use plums that are very ripe and soft as it is easy to prepare and cooks faster.

Another variation of this recipe that I've tried is adding in 2 cups of peaches and 2 cups of plums. I find the flavours work quite well together.

plum jam

Plum Jam

4 cups finely chopped plums
1 cup unsweetened apple or white grape juice
1 package No Sugar Needed Pectin

Wash and prepare 4 to 6 x 250 ml jars. In a stainless steel pot add the ingredients and stir pectin until dissolved. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil and stir frequently. Boil for 3 minutes and skim off foam.

Ladle into jars and return them to the pot. Make sure the jars have 1 inch of water to cover them. Cover pot and boil for 10 minutes. Remove and cool for 24 hours. Keeps for one year.

I don't bother with boiling them so I just keep mine in the fridge and they last a couple of weeks.

plum jam

Marmalade

Monday, September 14, 2015

It's jam week here on the blog!

Here's a marmalade recipe to start off the week. The four citrus fruits really add a great dimension to this jam. If you find the fruit doesn't soften completely, I often place the mixture into the blender and pulse until the fruit has broken down slightly.


Traditional Orange Marmalade

2 limes
2 oranges
1 lemon
1 grapefruit, small
3 cups (750 ml) water
8 cup (2000 ml) granulated sugar

Makes 7 x 250ml jars

Place 7 clean 250 ml mason jars on a rack in a boiling water; cover jars with water and heat to a simmer of 180°F/82°C.

Wash and halve the fruit. Remove the seeds. Cut into paper thin slices about 1 inch thick. Place the fruit in a large stainless steel pot and add the water. Bring to a boil then cover and boil gently for approximately 45 mins or until fruit is tender. 

Slowly add in the sugar and stir until dissolved. Stirring frequently, bring to a boil, uncovered, until the mixture begins to thicken. This should take about 1 hour. 

Ladle the jam into the jars. I don't boil my jam as I used it up quite quickly. If you wish to have it last longer, return the jars to the boiling water for 10 minutes. Make sure the jars are covered by at least 1 inch of water. 

Remove jars from water and let cool for 24 hours. Boiled jars keep for up to one year. 

Check back later in the week for another jam recipe! 

Applesauce Cake with Brown Butter Icing

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Apple season is upon us! Last week I attempted to go apple picking at Taves Apple Farm, but was thwarted by a rather large rainstorm. I was, however, able to purchase some pre-picked gala apples and thought an applesauce cake would kick off the turn towards autumn nicely.

Although this cake is delicious by itself, the brown butter icing and candied walnuts create an added autumnal feel.



Spicy Applecake with brown butter icing adapted from Joy of Cooking

1.5 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground mace (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp white or packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup thick applesauce (unsweetened)
1 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 9 x 2 inch round pan. Whisk together the dry ingredients. In another large bowl, beat the butter for 30 seconds then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 4-6 minutes. Add in the egg and beat. Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the applesauce in 2 parts. Beat on low until combined. Fold in the walnuts.
Transfer mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and then slide a knife around the edge and remove from the pan.
Top with brown butter icing and candied walnuts (see recipe below).

Brown Butter Icing

6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Melt the butter over a medium heat. While stirring constantly, heat the butter until a deep, golden brown colour. Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until a smooth texture and spreadable. Do not thin the mixture with liquid. Spread onto cake immediately.

Candied Walnuts

1 cup walnuts
1/4 sugar
1 tbsp butter

Place all ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat. While stirring frequently, heat the mixture for approximately 5 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and coated the nuts. Transfer to a tray lined with parchment paper and separate the nuts and allow them to cool.


Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Tuesday, August 25, 2015



With the onset of heat early in the summer, we enjoyed a bumper crop of berries this year. I spent many afternoons picking pounds of blueberries for my freezer for those cold, dark days of winter. 

I thought I'd enjoy the last of this season's blueberries with an easy bundt cake. Although I used fresh berries for this recipe, frozen can be easily substituted. 

Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake adapted from Martha Stewart Cakes

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries 
2 tbsp grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In another mixing bowl, whisk the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time until fully combined. Add the vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of the sour cream. 

In a small bowl, combine the blueberries with a tablespoon of flour. This prevents the berries from sinking to the bottom of your cake. Add in the zest and mix. Fold gently into the batter. 

Generously coat a bundt pan with non-stick pan and spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Cool in the pan for 20 minutes and invert onto a rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar before serving. 










Cherry Croissant Pudding

Sunday, August 16, 2015

cherry croissant pudding


As I was perusing the bevy of goods at the White Rock Farmer's market, I noticed this was the last day for cherries. I quickly scooped up a bag and set to work on making this unique dessert.

The combination of croissants soaked with a creamy custard and topped with cherries might even allow this not-too-sweet dessert to pass as breakfast!

Cherry Croissant Pudding adapted from Paul Hollywood's Pies and Puds

1 1/4 cups whipping cream
1 1/4 whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks
6 medium or 4 large croissants
6-7 tbsp cherry jam
1/2 cup of fresh cherries

Grease an overproof dish. Pour both the cream and milk into the saucepan and heat until just before boiling. remove from the heat. Stir together the sugar and egg yolks and and pour in the hot milk mixture. Blend and set aside. 

Meanwhile, halve each croissant and spread with the cherry jam and place in the dish. Scatter on the cherries and pour over the custard. Allow the dish to sit for 30 minutes so that the croissants can soak up the custard. Preheat your oven to 325 F and pop into the oven for 40-45 minutes or until the custard has set. Cover with foil if the croissants are browning too quickly. Serve when hot. 






Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A light mousse can be a refreshing dessert on a warm summer's day. As this is not a labour intensive recipe -- it has 4 ingredients -- it only took me about 10 minutes to prepare.


Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse adapted from Canadian Living

1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (I used Nutella)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup whipping cream
3 tbsp water

In a heatproof bowl placed over a pot of simmering water, melt the spread and water together until smooth. Stir in the butter. Set aside, but keep warm.

Meanwhile in a separate bowl, whip the cream and gently fold in one-third of the chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining cream. Spoon into serving glasses, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours in order to set the mousse fully. 

Top with chocolate shavings or hazelnuts. 




Sweet Orange Cake (Vegan)

Friday, August 7, 2015



I wasn't in the mood to laboriously blend butter and sugar together so I opted for an oil based cake instead. The result was a very moist cake that was whipped up in no time! Perfect for a picnic or camping as no icing is required.

Sweet Orange Cake adapted from Joy of Cooking

1.5 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar (decrease by 2 tablespoons for a less sweet cake)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup orange juice
1/3 vegetable oil
1 tbsp grated orange zest
1 tbsp white or cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease one 8 x 8 cake pan and line with parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, sugar, soda and salt and add in the rest of the ingredients. Stir until well blended. Tranfer batter into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let rest for 10 minutes and run a knife around the edge of the pan. Invert the cake and cool right side up. Garnish with a dusting of icing sugar.


 


Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

chocolate chip cookies

Clearing out my pantry and thought I would use up the last of my chocolate chips. The recipe I used calls for baking powder which adds a fluffier texture.

Chocolate Chip Cookies adapted from Bon Appetit

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 light brown sugar (packed)
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Beat, with an electric mixer, the butter and sugars until light and fluffy then add the egg and vanilla. On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. 

Spoon tablespoons of dough onto the trays lined with parchment. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown.





3 Ingredient Brownies

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


These simple 3 ingredient brownies have been my afternoon tea snack, and I'm finding it rather hard not to eat the entire batch!

Raw Brownies inspired by Deliciously Ella

20 medjool dates, pitted
1.5 cup pecans (or almonds)
3 tablespoons raw cacao powder (or 6 tablespoons regular cocoa powder)

Blitz pecans in food processor until crumbly, then add the dates and cocoa powder. Once blended, remove from processor and press mixture into a baking tray.

Place tray into the freezer for about an hour to set. Keep them stored in the fridge to stay fresh.

Makes 10-15 brownies

Butterfly Cake

Saturday, June 6, 2015

butterfly cake

These edible butterflies add a delicate dimension to a spring or summer cake. Made with sugar, they are fully edible as well.

I made a simple lemon cake with buttercream frosting and arranged them over the top of the cake. The butterflies are easily saved for another cake by carefully storing them in a cool, dry container.
butterfly cake

Peacocks and Cheesecake

Friday, May 22, 2015

Exploring Beacon Hill in Victoria and it reminds me of an English seaside. We sat and watched the many whale watching tours head out in the sea.
Brilliant blue peacocks strolling Beacon Hill!
On our walk to the waterfront we stumbled upon Emily Carr's house!
A quick walk by the Fairmont Express on our way to Chinatown.
Stopped for lunch at Cafe Bliss, a gluten-free vegan cafe. Had a delicious fig and nut cheese sandwich topped off with a raw, lime cheesecake.
After lunch we squeezed through the mysterious alleys in Chinatown.

Orcas Island Getaway

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Stay:
I'm always on the search for inexpensive, local getaways that don't involve getting on a dreaded airplane. We stayed in a peaceful yurt located on an organic farm that I found on Airbnb. It's a great option if you want to have a 'camping' experience,' without having to haul lots of supplies and tents. 

The yurt was located in Deer Harbor, but as the island is fairly small it was easy to explore the whole island over a few days. 

On the opposite side of the island, Doe Bay Resort is another great place to stay. They also have yurts, as well as cabins.


Eat:
We bought all of our food from the Island Market and cooked it on a gas stove at our yurt. We found this the most inexpensive option.

If you are want to get away from the dailiness of cooking, there are a variety of dining options. For a post-hike treat, Brown Bear Baking in Eastsound has a relaxed atmosphere with plenty of great food!

Hike:
Mt. Constitution in Moran State Park: This challenging, steep hike is rewarded with breathtaking views over the San Juan Islands. A total of 38 miles of trails are included in this park. I didn't feel quite up to such a steep hike, so we drove to the top. A stone observatory tower is also at the peak of the mountain, which we climbed to the top of. We stopped at the Cascade Falls on our way back down the mountain.


Obstruction Pass: An easy, winding half-mile hike through the cool forest that ends at a turquoise, blue beach. After our hike down, we sat on the beach for a while drinking in the rich hues of the water.

Turtleback Mountain Preserve: 8 miles of trails winding through forests, wetlands, and open meadows with varying levels of inclines. Great vistas!

Visit:
Pelindaba Lavender Farm: We took an afternoon and strolled through the rows of fragrant lavender. It was such an relaxing stroll, and best of all it was free! Afterwards, I popped into the store and stocked up on culinary lavender for scones.

Orcas Island Pottery: A great stop to browse a wide array of pottery by various artists throughout the island. I really enjoyed that the displays of pottery wind through the gardens on the property.

Farmer's Market: A great variety of food, crafts, clothing, and local produce. I picked up some lip balm from the Island Thyme. This market runs from the first weekend of May to the last weekend of September.

Let me know some of your highlights from your latest getaway!

Photo 7:http://www.thesanjuans.com/orcas-island-activities/recreational/hiking-turtleback-mountain.shtml
Photo 8: http://nwescapes.king5.com/pelindaba-lavender-farm/biz/178869

Chocolate Meringue Nests

Friday, April 3, 2015

Filled with raspberries and strawberries, these chocolate meringue nests are a lovely light ending to your Easter dinner.
chocolate meringue nests

Chocolate Meringue
1/2 cup egg whites (approx. 4 eggs)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2/3 cup superfine sugar
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Have all ingredients at room temperature before beginning. Preheat oven to 225 degrees F and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Beat together egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar until soft peaks are formed. Add sugar a tablespoon at a time to the mixture while beating on high speed. Beat until peaks are very stiff. Sift together confectioners sugar and cocoa and gently fold into meringue with a spatula. Once mixed, scoop meringue into a piping bag with a large tip (I used the Wilton 104). 

Begin at the center of the circle, pipe a spiral of meringue outward. It should resemble a coiled rope. Then starting at the outer edge of the meringue, pipe a circle around the perimeter for the second layer. Repeat for a third layer. Bake for an hour and 15 minutes. Meringue should lift off the parchment easily if fully cooked. 

After the meringue has cooled, cut up strawberries and raspberries and ladle into each. Grate chocolate over each nest. If saving for a later date, store empty nests in an air tight container for up to 6 months. 

chocolate meringue nests

Chocolate Bunnies

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

As chocolate is a quintessential part of Easter celebrations, I thought I would share this easy recipe for chocolate bunnies. 


What you will need:
Wilton silicone mold, 24 cavities
3 cups of Guittard bulk dark chocolate

Choice of filling:
edible lavender
sea salt
raisins/cranberries
almonds


Melt chocolate on low heat on stove until melted (no need to temper chocolate, as the Guittard chocolate is pre-tempered). Spoon a small amount of chocolate into each mold, filling 1/4 of the way full. Be sure to push the chocolate into each corner of the mold to avoid air bubbles. Add fillings. Then spoon remaining chocolate into each mold until full. Place in refrigerate for 10 minutes. Although chocolate may not appear to have fully set, if the chocolate remains too long in the fridge it will start to "sweat." Place molds in a cool place for 1 hour to fully set. Then pop chocolate out of the molds and voila! 



Lemon Poppyseed Cake

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Rather then the traditional carrot or pineapple upside down cake, I thought I would introduce a new Easter cake. This 3-tiered lemon poppy seed cake filled with lemon curd adds a zesty, fresh flavour to this holiday.
lemon poppy seed cake with lemon curd


Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Lemon Curd Filling inspired by Martha Stewart Cakes
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 7 large eggs, lightly beaten, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest   
Lemon Curd Filling

Lemon Poppy Seed Glaze
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or place parchment paper into 3 8x2 cake tins. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl cream butter for 2 minutes until lighter in colour. Slowly add sugar and beat for 4 minutes until light and fluffy. Pour in eggs one at a time and continue beating for 5 minutes until well mixed and fluffy. Beat in vanilla until mixed.
On low speed alternate between milk and flour mixture, making sure to begin and end with flour. Add zests.

Evenly divide batter into the three tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on wire racks. 

When cooled, remove cakes from tins and peel off the parchment. Place one layer on cake stand and level with a knife if top is uneven. Spread a layer of curd and then place the second cake on top. Add the remaining curd and place the third layer on top. Refrigerate for 1 hour. When ready to serve, pour glaze over top of cake.

Isn't this cake stand the cutest?