Sunday, May 25, 2014

Angel Food French Toast with Mascarpone Cream and Raspberries

Yup, it's french toast. Made with cake.

I made french toast with angel food cake.

Yes, my dears, you read that correctly! We have been on a little french toast kick lately. We have tried different breads, thicknesses, egg-to-milk ratios, toppings and the like. I got this idea – the angel food cake idea – from an older issue of Bon Appetit magazine. What a great resource! Their suggestion: substitute sliced angel food cake for bread in your favourite french toast recipe. My eyes glazed over and after I finally retrieved my chin from the floor, I had made a decision. Challenge accepted!

I find angel food cake to be very sweet. While I was sure the egg dip would tone that down a little, I wanted to offset that sugar-hit with the tartness of fresh raspberries, and the tang of creamed mascarpone cheese. I also made raspberry sauce (my sis-in-law calls me the Saucy Saucier, because sauce is awesome, and should be consumed in mass quantities).

The night before my experiment, I baked up an angel food cake. I left it to cool overnight on the kitchen counter, and to dry it out a little as well. OK, OK, you caught me. I forgot about it and went to bed. In spite of my neglect, the resulting cake was just a teensy bit dried out – perfect for soaking up some lightly-beaten eggs mixed with a bit of milk.

The result? Angel food french toast, served with a dollop of mascarpone cream, fresh raspberries and drizzled with raspberry sauce was a little bit of heaven. Dessert for brunch, if you will. I think this would also make a great dessert after a fancy brunch. The toast is very delicate and sweet, and soaks up the raspberries and cream like a dream. 

Mmmm deliciously messy

I ended up with some leftover cake, and you probably will as well. Store it in an airtight container in your fridge, and get creative with some layered desserts!

Golden brown goodness!
Click through for recipe and instructions

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Raspberry Greek Yogurt Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream

Raspberry Greek Yogurt Layer Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream

One fun benefit of belonging to a large family is plenty of birthdays. Each birthday means another birthday cake, of course! We recently attended a party for my Mom-in-law's birthday, and for her celebration, I wanted to try something special. This Raspberry Greek Yogurt Cake fit the bill perfectly.

It has fruit in it so it's healthy, right? Right? Hello?
This cake is very moist, and the fresh raspberries add bright flavour. The recipe below makes four layers, but I only used three for the cake. Yup, that left one layer leftover for me! 

Happy birthday to a special lady! Photo by Marlee O.
Because this was a birthday cake for a special lady, I made lots of frosting so I could make the cake look extra special. To make a regular, two-layer cake, simply halve the recipe below and use only the Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream.

The yogurt makes this cake moist and rich.
Click through for the recipe and instructions.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Soft Chewy Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies

Soft, chewy, Oatmeal Cranberries Cookies go well with a cup of tea!

My favourite cookie in the whole, wide, wonderful world is the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. I love the soft, chewy texture and the rich bursts of sweetness from the raisins. In my opinion, they must always be enjoyed with a cup of tea. Unfortunately, my family does not share my high opinion of these cookies. This is a typical exchange: "What are you baking? It smells great!" "Oatmeal raisin cookies," I smile. "Yuck!" is the usual reply.

It's time for tea!
As a result of my family's raisin revulsion, I rarely have them in the house. When I get a craving for oatmeal raisin, I am usually out of luck. This time, I decided to try dried cranberries as a substitute. Guess what happened? I loved them! They are even better than raisins, in my opinion. The tart cranberries are a bright counterpoint to the rich butter and brown sugar cookie base. Now I have a new favourite!

Click through for the recipe and instructions

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Orange & White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Orange & White Chocolate Chip Cookies taste exactly like a Creamsicle!

As winter marches on, I have found myself drifting off to my “happy place” more and more often. You know the place; sunshine, sandy beach, nothing to do but splash around in the water. Summers spent lakeside. Walking to the general store in flip flops – I could feel the heat of the pavement through the thin rubber of my shoes. At the store, I slid back the misted glass of the freezer, full of frozen delight. Which one to choose? I usually chose the creamsicle; not quite ice cream, not quite popsicle. Tart, creamy, and sweet. Orange and milk doesn’t seem like it should mix well, but here, it came together and somehow it just worked. Clutching my frozen treasure, I slapped my sticky stack of quarters on the counter and immediately ripped off the paper wrapping. Outside, not ten steps later, the treat already melted down my arm. The last bites were almost liquid, dripping down my chin in a fluorescent orange line, flavoured every so slightly with the woody tang of the stick. What did it matter if it was messy? Another jump in the lake soon washed away any dinner-ruining evidence.

The creamsicle flavour strongly evokes summer for me so much, that one bite of these Orange and White Chocolate Cookies immediately took me back to that sunny lakeside, full of laziness and fun.

What memory takes you back to summer?

Try freezing the cookies before eating — deloosh!

Click through for the recipe & instructions…

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Gluten-Free Apple Spice Cake with Bourbon Whipped Cream

Gluten-Free Apple Spice Cake with Bourbon Whipped Cream

I have noticed that more and more people are eating gluten-free. Chances are, you probably know someone who can’t tolerate gluten. I’ve been curious about trying a recipe, but had been holding back — the lack of flour-substitutes seemed an overwhelming hurdle to me. When I saw a gluten-free all purpose flour mix at my local grocery store, I knew I would seize the opportunity to try one!

If you like coffee cake, you'll love this spicy apple cake!

Now, what do you make when you only have 2 apples in the house, and some spankin’ new gluten-free all purpose flour? Apple Cake! This coffee cake-style cake is moist, spicy, with a bite of apples and a caramelized brown sugar & butter topping. It is excellent with whipped cream, and the Bourbon Whipped Cream is a special treat, indeed. Vanilla ice cream or caramel sauce would also rock.

Click here to read the recipe and instructions

Friday, February 21, 2014

Blood Orange Mini Cheesecakes

Wee little Blood Orange Mini Cheesecakes – get in my belly!
Is it raining again? It feels like winter will never end. Some days, I feel like I absolutely NEED to see a bright colour, or taste a bold flavour or I might turn into a mushroom. Aren’t we lucky ducks, because this time of year — smack dab in the middle of the dullest of days — it just so happens that it is citrus season!

Most citrus is at its best flavour and price right now. You have probably noticed many new and unusual varieties at your grocery lately. If you’ve never tried blood oranges before, do so now! These juicy orbs are sweet and fragrant. Inside, the orange can range in colour from dark pink to almost burgundy-black, however, there’s no difference in flavour.

This is a no-bake cheesecake — how easy is that? Mix the ingredients together, pour it on the crust, and refrigerate. That’s it! No worrying about cracked tops or over baking. The blood orange gelled topping is a ruby red jewel on top that adds a bright hit of citrus to counterbalance the richness of the cheesecake. The secret, “stealth health” ingredient to this cheesecake is... greek yogurt! I used 2%, but you could use fat free if that’s what you have. Greek yogurt contains more protein than regular yogurt. That makes this cheesecake, healthy, right? Right.

A spoonful of Oh My Goodness
Just for fun, I decided to make these into tiny mini cheesecakes, but you could make one full-sized cheesecake if you prefer. Can’t find blood oranges? Use oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit — whatever you can get. This is an easy, versatile recipe you will make again and again. I hope you find your brilliant bit of citrus to brighten your grey day. Cheers!

Click through for the recipe and instructions…

Friday, February 14, 2014

Dark Chocolate & Blood Orange Pots de Crème with Blood Orange Caramel Sauce

Dark Chocolate & Blood Orange Pots de Crème with Blood Orange Caramel Sauce
Happy Valentine's Day, sweeties!

Ingredient Gang Wars: Bloods vs. Dark Chocolate

Are you feeling romantic? Do you have some Plans of Love later today? I am staying home with my sweetie darling, hiding from the Love Fest and all of its heart-shaped pinkness. I sound cynical, but I'm not! We love to go out for date nights, but doing this on Valentine's Day is often more annoying than enjoyable.

I'm squishing your head!


My Valentine's Day-at-home will probably look like a nice, home-cooked dinner, followed by a completely rich, decadent, fancy, chocolate dessert. I absolutely love pots de crème — a French custard that falls somewhere between pudding and mousse — and chocolate ones, especially. Just a few mouthfuls are all you need to satisfy that chocolate craving.

Keep pouring.

I somehow ended up with a bag of blood oranges, and needed a reason to use them. Into the pots de crème they go! The custard itself only uses the zest of one orange, so you can leave that out if you prefer. The blood orange caramel, however, is probably the best caramel I have ever made! You MUST make it. It takes a lot of juice — I needed five oranges to get enough — but the results are amazing. I hooted like a monkey when I tasted it for the first time.

Pass me that PO-duh-CREMM, merci

Instead of a traditional ramekin, I used small canning jars. This amount of custard is perfect — it won't fill you up or weigh you down. You know, in case you will be doing anything, uh, athletic, afterward.

Click through for the recipe and instructions.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Champagne Cupcakes for Valentine's Day

It's a cupcake. With booze in it. What's not to love?
Valentine's Day. Cue the twittering birds and soft music flowing from tiny harps! This, the Day of Love, evokes visions of heart-shaped chocolate boxes, bouquets of red roses, and romance. For me, it is simply a glass of bubbly and a special dessert shared with my sweetie.

What's a cupcake without sprinkles? It's nothing. It's dead to me.
Tart Little Dollop is my middle name.
These romantic, Champagne Cupcakes combine a crisp, refreshing sparkler with a sweet, vanilla cupcake with champagne buttercream. There is a surprise inside, too – a tart little dollop of raspberry filling.

Cut a wedge out of the middle, put a wee bit o' jam in there, then squish the lid back on. Once you put the frosting on, it holds the lid in place.
For the bubbles, I chose The Bub, from Haywire Winery in Summerland, BC. The Bub is a Traditional Method sparkler made from chardonnay and pinot noir. It's fresh and crisp and not too sweet – making it the perfect ingredient for these champagne cupcakes.

Any time is the perfect time for Bubbles!
I hope you try my Bubcakes and share them with your love, maybe with a little glass of The Bub. Happy Valentine's Day!

Click through for the recipe and instructions.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Soft Frosted Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Puffy pillows of chocolate amazingness.

Recently, my husband came home from work with some random store-bought baked good and declared, “these are awesome!” Skeptically, I tasted the offending baked item, and immediately disagreed. Also, (only slightly) offended. He asked me to reproduce the recipe. Of course, he had suggestions — not very helpful suggestions, at that. “Make it more chocolate.” “Make it more different.” “Can you make it taste better?” “I don’t like pink.”

You heard the man.
The candidate for this baker’s makeover was a soft, white sugar cookie with fluffy pink icing, decorated with sprinkles. You know the one! It lives, wrapped in plastic, forgotten on a shelf in your local supermarket’s bakery department. My challenge was to convert this usually stale, dry and chemically-laden sugar bomb into a chocolate delight. Done right, these cookies are tender, full of flavour and not overly sweet. The hit of sweetness comes from the rich chocolate frosting (just a little).
Oh yes, and sprinkles. If you like that sort of thing. (I do.)

Click through for the recipe and instructions.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Apricot Kuchen

Something's kuchen in das kitchen
As the grey, blah days continue, my thoughts drift back to summer and idyllic days driving through vineyard-covered hillsides. One of our vacation destinations this summer was the Okanagan. Anyone who reads my column regularly will know that it is a regular haunt of mine! We stayed with friends, and they sent us home with a generous box of apricots from their garden tree. What a wonderful gift! Our hostess, Margie, made us a version of this Apricot Kuchen, which I absolutely loved. “Kuchen” means cake, and fresh-picked fruit plus cake equals a summer treat like no other.

Behold my bounteous orbs!
These tiny apricots were at the peak of ripeness. I had to be extremely careful not to squeeze them too hard or they would burst! The cake is a simple short cake – it is really easy and doesn’t have many ingredients. Lay the fruit on top of the batter and it sinks down ever so slightly into the cake. A light dusting of cinnamon and sugar on top creates a smoky, caramelized crust on the fruit. After baking, brush the top of the cake with a glaze made from melted apricot jam. In the end you get a fruity little coffee cake, to enjoy in the afternoon with tea, or as I have been doing — with breakfast. This Apricot Kuchen was even better the next day, as the juices from the cooked apricots and the glaze soaked into the top of the cake. Yum! 

Fruity wheel of awesomeness
To peel or not to peel?That is a personal preference, for sure. My personal preference was to not fuss over peeling 12 tiny apricots! The fruit was so ripe that the skins were practically non-existent after baking. However, if I were to make this with peaches, I would definitely peel them. You can make this cake with any stone fruit such as peaches, plums or nectarines. Try it with cherries — I recommend you use a cherry pitter so you don’t go crazy!

This was my second breakfast.
Click through for the recipe and instructions

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Canadiana Cookie Project

My Canadiana Cookie Project

Rather than do a cookie set in a Christmas or holiday theme, I decided to do a theme that evoked winter in Canada. What is more Canadian than Hudson's Bay? Well, it may be American-owned now, but the ubiquitous stripes of the point blanket are reflected in the first cookie, styled into a Christmas stocking. The red blanket-stitch around the edge really makes it stand out.

The second cookie is a sweet little white ice skate. I live on the west coast, so outdoor winter ice skating is but a dream for me. But when I was a teen, I lived in Minnesota for a time and remember the outdoor rink at the end of my street with fondness.

I like to think the third cookie is a cute little Noble Fir; little chickadees nestled in its snow-covered, white sparkle sugar branches.

The fourth cookie is a red mitten, with a fur-lined wrist in red sparkle sugar.

Does this wintery set make you think of skating outdoors, your nose & cheeks turning pink, thoughts of a warm fire at home and hot chocolate in your mug?

Sugar cookie recipe here
Royal icing for outlining recipe here
How to thin royal icing for flooding, video here

Friday, January 10, 2014

How To: Zebra Striped Cake

So chic!
I have been seeing this cool, zebra-striped technique everywhere lately, and wanted to try it out for myself. I love all my striped clothing – why not cake, too? I had been putting it off because it looked like it would be really complicated. Guess what? It isn’t! It is SO easy. Your friends will be amazed at your cake wizardry, when presented with this fun cake with the zebra-striped surprise inside.

I made my cake in red and white stripes, but you can use any contrasting colours. This cake would look fantastic with vanilla and chocolate stripes! The darker the chocolate, the better.

For simplicity, use 2 two-layer boxed cake mixes – one white cake, and the other devil’s food cake.

Click through for the recipe and tutorial 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter, Honey & Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter, Honey & Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mmmm … uh… chickpeas?! You go first.

Oh, Facebook — I love ya. Every day, you suggest wonderfully spammy websites to visit, weight loss potions to purchase, and weird businesses to “Like”. You also make my tummy happy, by spreading crazy recipes like a rampant virus through my news feed.

This recipe recently appeared in my news feed on Facebook no less than five times. Apparently, the ingredients are so weird people can’t resist sharing it with their Facebook friends. If you are on Facebook, you have probably seen it recently. While technically it is a chocolate chip cookie, I use the term “cookie” rather loosely. It contains no flour, eggs or butter, which any self-respecting cookie should contain. No, my dear sugarholics, this cookie is made from chick peas. You read that correctly! Chick peas, peanut butter, honey, baking powder, chocolate chips and a pinch of salt. That’s it.

I am skeptical by nature, so I needed to try it out. Mr. Cake made a rude face when I described it to him. However, I knew if he liked it, it could be a winner. The recipe doesn’t make very many cookies, about a dozen and a half. They turned out well – I flattened the sticky balls of dough a little to achieve a nice “cookie” shape. As a bonus, the recipe is gluten-free, if your baking powder contains corn starch instead of wheat starch (most do)**. I recommend natural peanut butter – I like the crunchy variety. They were delicious – and Mr. Cake liked them, too!

Share your experience with me if you try it!
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