Category Archives: cake

Funfetti Pancakes

(Alternate title: Have you eaten your hydrogenated oils today?) 

I may or may not be known to have some rather strong opinions about certain foods.  Ask me my opinion on butter vs.margarine, for example, and you will never wonder how I feel about the issue…or sugar vs. aspartame, or bacon vs. just about anything. I also have been known to picket in the grocery aisles that contain pre-made mixes of any kind, and to spend hours on end making something I could buy simply based on the principal that homemade is always better.  Yes, I’m “that girl” and I sometimes hate me too.

Except sometimes, I break my own rules.  Sometimes for good reasons, other times not.  Some might say I’m fickle; I say I’m human. Shh, don’t tell anyone, ok?

In case you don’t believe me, here is an excerpt from real conversation R and I had recently:

Me: (babbling intelligently discussing something of high importance)

R: You’re so funny.

Me: Me, funny?!?!  What’s that supposed to mean?!?! I’m not being funny!!! I’m being serious, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

R: You’re very funny.  All the time. Including right now.

Me: I don’t agree.

R: Well, you are.  You’re always either “haha funny” or peculuar funny.

Me. Hmm.  Please pass the margarine.

(end of conversation, beginning of heart disease)

In all seriousness, while I DO believe that homemade is best, I also sometimes cheat and use something out of convenience, cost, and/or Scottish guilt.  This recipe I’m about to show you is what happens when all 3 of those things get together for a party (In other words, when sleeping in is important, cake mixes are on sale for 88 cents each, and you feel guilty throwing something out). Go ahead, put your pride, common sense, and health-conscious ego aside and join me for breakfast…you know you want to!


Go ahead and raid your pantry for Bisquick, cake mix, milk, eggs, vanilla, sprinkles.  Don’re pretend you don’t have those items on hand at all times!  

Pre-heat your griddle to medium-high heat while you introduce all of the batter ingredients to each other.

 1 c Bisquick, please meet 1 c cake mix, 2 eggs, 1 c milk, and 1 t vanilla.  Go ahead and mingle, but don’t get too friendly.

Oh look, the sprinkles are here!  All 3T of them!

You know the drill from here on in – ladle the batter onto the preheated and greased griddle, being sure to have some touch the sides of the griddle and therefore diminish any hopes, dreams, or aspirations of perfectly round pancakes.


And when the surface is dotted with bubbles, flip the pancakes over and continue cooking until they’re golden brown.



Stack these babies up high, and dust with icing sugar and more sprinkles (obviously) before digging in.  Or, if you’re not watching your girlish figure, drizzle with an icing-sugar glaze, too.

Oh look, it’s a party on my plate!


 And a perfect breakfast in celebration of a certain someone’s 1 month birthday…

… even if this post is 2 months late going up and the birthday girl doesn’t have teeth 🙂

And on that note, please pass the margarine and Diet Coke. I’m a little thirsty.

P.S. If you feel guilty serving your family cake for breakfast, give them Cheerios and eat these once they’ve all left the house.  Take it from me, it’s sometimes worth it.

(Wannabe Vegan) Zucchini Bread

My name is Jaclyn and I’m a wannabe vegan.

(Hi, Jaclyn)

Sigh…it’s true.  Sometimes, I flirt with veganism.  In fact, just last night, R* and I had a conversation about it.  It went a little something like this:

Me: I think I’m going to become a vegan.

R: Oh no, not again…(rolls eyes)…why on earth would you want to do that?

Me: Oh, I think it would be good for me. And the environment.

R:  So you wouldn’t eat any dairy, eggs, meat, or fish? Wouldn’t that be difficult?

Me: Well, I’m not supposed to eat dairy, so that’s one less thing to give up.  How hard could it be?

R: True.  But what about bacon and butter?

Me: Good point.  Can I still be considered a vegan if I eat bacon and butter?

R: No.  That doesn’t count. If you eat those things you’re not a true vegan.

Me: Hmm.  Fine.  Guess I’ll be a wannabe vegan then.

*True story; names have been changed to protect the innocent.

In all seriousness, I do think that I could adapt to a vegan diet, or a mostly vegan diet with the occasional slice of double-smoked bacon and smear of fresh creamery butter, of course.  It would be an adjustment, but not an impossible one.

However, as you may have picked up on by now, I love to bake.  I’ve been unsure about how to adapt many of my favourite recipes and create new ones that don’t include eggs or dairy and are still mouth-watering good.  There are many vegan substitutes for dairy (soymilk, almond milk, and the like), but eggs? That’s a whole different animal.  Literally, I suppose.

However, I am never one to back down from a challenge.  I am also never one to allow a 69-cent zucchini perish in my fridge, so I did some experimenting and here’s what I came up with.  Wannabe vegan with me?

Oh good, I was hoping you’d say yes! Here’s what we’ll be playing with today:

Flour (I’m using all-purpose and whole-wheat spelt), baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ground flax-seed, buttermilk, coconut oil, applesauce, brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla, zucchini, winter squash (optional), walnuts or pecans (optional).

In my extensive research on vegan baking over the years, I’ve found that many sources recommend using a “flax egg”.  Essentially, ground flaxseed is mixed with warm water and left to sit for 10 minutes or so until it becomes gelatinous.

Easy enough, right?

I dutifully ground up my flaxseed, using my trusty Magic Bullet.  I used to use my coffee grinder, but after a few rather nutty cups of Pike Place I learned my lesson.

However, I’m a wannabe vegan, not a full-blown one.  I am, however, full-blown Scottish, so I wasn’t going to let the buttermilk in my fridge go bad while I used (gasp!) water.

Buttermilk flax egg? Don’t mind if I do.

I whirled up 3 T of ground flaxseed meal with 9T of buttermilk (that’s 1/2 c + 1T, in case you’re wondering), and began to doubt whether or not I should quickly run to the store for eggs while the oven was pre-heating.

(Side note: maybe this bread should be called “I’m too lazy to run to the store since its raining and too frugal to let my buttermilk go bad and what on earth am I going to do with this zucchini that is knocking on death’s door? bread”.  I think that has a nice ring to it, don’t you?)

One look at my fuzzy slippers and sweats and the decision was easy.  I left the buttermilk and the flax-seed to its own devices, and got started on the dry ingredients.  With fingers crossed, of course.  And toes.

Sorry, true vegans.  I promise the rest of the recipe doesn’t contain any more dairy, eggs, or bacon.  At least, not this round.  Can’t make any promises for (Wannabe Vegan) Zucchini Bread 2.0.

Since I like to complicate things, I figured since I was making something practically vegan, I might as well also make it almost healthy.  So, I used a combination of whole wheat and all-purpose flour, but you can use whatever you have on hand.

I’m trying to deplete my 13 types of flour, can you tell?

In the mix:

1.5 c AP flour
1.5 c whole wheat or spelt flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves

Give it a stir and set it aside.

Next, the wet ingredients!

Grab yourself some coconut oil and melt it down – 1/3 of a cup or so.  If you’d prefer, you can use a neutral flavoured oil instead.  If you’re feeling particularly rebellious, you can use melted butter.  Off the record, of course.

Add the oil to a bowl, and then dump in the rest of the wet ingredients:

If you’re thinking that’s not a lot of oil, you’re right – I wannabe healthy, after all! Besides, I had exactly ⅔ c of homemade (cinnamon) applesauce in my fridge that didn’t want to be left out, so I figured I could cut the oil down considerably from a typical quick bread.  I also wanted to be mindful of the sugar, as many quick breads are deliciously sweet but sometimes more cake than breakfast material.  I ended up adding 2/3 c each of brown and white sugar, and found the bread perfectly sweetened for my (terribly jaded) taste buds.  Throw the buttermilk-flax (wannabe) egg in with this, and you’re good to go.

Oh yes, and I also added the about 2 t vanilla. Obviously.  Everything is better with vanilla.

Before I introduced the wet and dry ingredients to each other, I grated up my zucchini – all 69-cents of it.

Houston, we have a problem: apparently I needed $1.38 worth of zucchini, as I could only get 1 c worth and I knew just by looking at it that I probably needed double the amount for the amount of batter I was making.

Kabocha squash (aka Japanese Pumpkin) to the rescue!

I chose this because it’s sweet and mild, and I figured it would blend into the bread well.  And also because it was sitting on the counter and the thought of another bowl of squash soup is about as appealing as going for a 10km run in a torrential downpour.

Just a heads up: the next recipe you’ll see on here will probably be for squash soup.  Consider yourself warned.

However, if you like leaving your house more than me, you could use grated zucchini (2 c total), or a combo of zucchini, butternut, kabocha, or pumpkin. I won’t judge.

Time for the magic to happen.

Love at first sight?

Not quite; still shy.

Everybody play nice now…just because the eggs didn’t show up doesn’t mean you have to rebel.

Ahh, that’s better.

(I’m not going to lie, I was completely nervous at this point. Embarrassing but true.  Had I made a mistake by not running out to the store to get more eggs????)

After about 50 minutes at 350-degrees, I would soon find out.

Hmm….smells delicious and looks promising, but how will they hold up once they’re out of their pans?

Dare I say I’m impressed?!?!

The bread rose just fine, and held together beautifully.  It is perfectly moist with really nice warm spice undertones.  Wannabe vegan or not, this sure is a winner in my books.

Wannabe healthy? Try this bread for breakfast or a quick snack instead of an oil and sugar laden bakery muffin or quick bread.

Wannabe frugal? Experiment with what you have on hand instead of buying more.

Wannabe vegan? Yes please!

Chocolate Swirled Peanut Butter Banana Bread

When you were a kid, did your parents ever tell you that TV would rot your brain? I can’t remember if mine did or not – does that mean my brain has already rotted? Either way, I watched more TV than I should have as a child, and (most days) my brain works alright.

A few years ago, I made the decision to go without a TV.  Criticized by many and understood by few, it was the right thing for me at the time.  Truthfully, I haven’t really missed it, with the exception of a few odd times.  Besides, I always told myself that if I really wanted to watch TV, I could just go to the gym.

Let’s just say I haven’t watched much TV since my days of “Who’s The Boss?” and my gym membership has remained mostly unused since 2007.

The other day, I made a grave mistake: I plugged my TV into the wall, and – lo and behold – I have cable. Who knew?!?!

Naturally, I did what any good Martha-wannabe would do and I turned it to the Food Network.  “Recipe for Riches” was on – have you heard of it? I hadn’t, but it is a reality show of sorts.  Contestants were competing for the best cake in Canada, and the winner will have their product reproduced under the Presidents Choice Brand.  They also win $25,00o in prize money, if you’re into that kind of thing.

One of the final 2 contestants made this cake called Banana Chocolate WOW cake, or something to that effect.  It was a banana cake with a chocolate filling, and a white chocolate cream cheese icing.  One of the judges commented that her cake was good because it wasn’t as dense as banana breads usually are (clearly, banana cake shouldn’t be as dense), and I’ll admit that while at the end of the episode neither she or the cake WOW’d me (or the judges; she lost so you can save yourself the hour it would take to watch the episode), it made me decide to share my version of banana bread with you sooner rather than later.

What are your thoughts on banana bread? Mine are that it is usually too dense, too greasy, too light, or not enough banana flavour.  I know, I’m so fickle! Don’t you agree though? Many quick breads suffer from the same ailment, but many have not yet achieved the perfect flavour/texture balance.

Until now that is.  Enter my new love – chocolate swirled peanut butter banana bread.  Because really, isn’t everything better with peanut butter and chocolate? 

Oil (canola or grapeseed), buttermilk, bananas, brown sugar, peanut butter (I like natural), vanilla, AP flour, WW flour, eggs, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, chocolate chips.

In a large bowl, mash 3 large bananas.

Add 3/4 c brown sugar, 1/3 c oil, 1/3 c buttermilk, 1/3 c peanut butter, 2 eggs, and 1.5 t vanilla, and beat until everything is well acquainted.

In a separate bowl, stir 1 c AP flour, 1 c ww flour, 3/4 t baking powder, 3/4 t baking soda, and 1/2 t salt together.

Stir the dry ingredients in by hand until everything is just barely incorporated.

No one will eat your banana bread if you don’t.

Wondering when the chocolate joins the party? Grab yourself about 1 c of batter in a separate bowl, and sift in 2 -3 T of cocoa powder.

That, my friends, is why we sift. Use a spoon to smoosh the cocoa pebbles (is that a cereal? I was deprived as a child so I’m not sure) through the sieve, then use the spoon to do a little QC on the batter.

But wait! There’s more:

In this instance, “more” refers to about 1/3 c of chocolate chunks.  Did I measure? Ya right.

Stir the batter together, and set it aside.

Grease and flour 2 loaf pans (I doubled the recipe when I took pictures – this bread is in high demand – so please don’t stretch this 4 ways unless you have a hidden talent for multiplying banana bread), and pour about 2/3 of the regular batter in.

Dallop most of the chocolate batter on top…

Top it off with the rest of the regular batter, and whatever you left in the chocolate bowl.  Unless of course you thought the rest of the chocolate batter was for sampling, in which case you go right ahead.

Gently swirl the two batters together.  Make sure you use a clean skewer for each pan so the swirls are equally distinct.

Bake at 350-degrees for about 40-50 minutes.  These babies took exactly 42 minutes in mine.  Aren’t you proud Mom? I used a timer!

In the pan, they smell delicious.

But once I sliced into them?

To me, this is the quintessential banana bread – not too light, not too dense, hints of peanut butter, and a rich chocolate swirl.

Claimed by some to be the best banana bread they’ve ever had, all I can say is WOW.

(Note: Recipe adapted from the wonderful Julie.)

Ponderosa (aka Banana-Chocolate-Chip) Cake

Despite what you may have thought, I haven’t forgotten how to blog.  I’ve actually missed it like crazy! Unfortunately, I was out of commission (literally) for almost 2 months with mono, and then dealt with a stubborn laptop.  Anyways, all is right in the world once again and I should be able to resume a (semi) regular posting schedule 🙂

Let’s talk about cake, shall we? I love it.  Chocolate, Vanilla, Carrot, Lemon…you name it, I love it. This, of course, is no surprise, but if you’d like to act shocked I’d be ok with that.  I also adore a good banana cake, and while it seemed like every one and their mother had what they consider to be the perfect recipe…I was still searching.  Oh sure, I’ve made – and subsequently eaten – many great banana cakes – including a great one with peanut-butter icing that my Mom makes –  but my search continued.  For a while there, I just figured that banana cake perfection didn’t exist, and had resigned myself to trying something different every time.

Then, when I was least expecting it, there was light at the end of my banana cake tunnel! About a year ago, I tasted an absolutely delicious version…one bite and I was hooked.  Was the search over? Would the hostess part with her recipe? Thankfully, yes – she told me the cake was called a Ponderosa cake, and after a short Google session I had the recipe at my fingertips.  And now, my friends, I’m sharing the recipe with you.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

The All-Star Cast:

Butter (duh!), white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, bananas, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sour cream, cinnamon, and chocolate chips.

To start, cream together 1/2 c butter and 3/4 c white sugar.

While the butter and sugar are getting to know each other, get the rest of your ingredients ready.  The fancy term for this is mise-en-place (“everything in its place”), and I can guarantee that it will make the cake come together quickly and effortlessly.

* 1 egg + 1/2 t vanilla

* 2 banana’s, mashed

* 1.5 c flour +1 t baking soda + 1 t baking powder + pinch salt


* 1/2 c sour cream

* 1/4 c brown sugar + 1/2 t  cinnamon

* 3/4 c chocolate chips

Add the egg and vanilla to the creamed butter/sugar mixture, and beat until well combined.

Add the mashed bananas.

Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the wet ones, and gently mix in until just combined.

Next, stir in 1/2 of the sour cream.

Repeat the process until all of the dry ingredients and sour cream have been incorporated.

Now, this is where I diverted from the original recipe.  If I had actually taken the time to read it properly, I would have known that I wasn’t supposed to add all of the chocolate chips at once.

I didn’t read the recipe, and I’m here to report that the only thing that was harmed in the consumption of this cake were my hips.

Oh well, all in the name of research, right?

Spread half of the batter in a greased 8 x 8 ” pan.

Sprinkle evenly with half of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Repeat with the remaining batter and cinnamon-sugar.

Bake at 350-degrees for 40-ish minutes.

If you can wait for more than 5 minutes after it comes out of the over…well, I commend you.

I couldn’t.

I’m not sorry.  This cake is light and moist with a great texture, and is chock-full of flavour.  I think my search for the perfect banana cake is over – is yours?

Until we meet again…


(Pink?) Lemonade Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

My friends, it has been WAY too long since we’ve broken bread together! I’ve missed you! A whole lot! So I baked you a cake to make up for it.  Please can we be friends again?

Let’s talk about cake for a few minutes, shall we? I don’t know about you, but I have been sick of cupcakes since pre-2008 when they were actually popular.  Granted, I know there is a certain appeal to being able to pick and choose from 28 flavours (or is that Baskin Robbins? Sometimes I get confused), but I think there is a certain unmistakable charm of a freshly iced cake on a gorgeous cake pedastal that can’t be beat. Besides, it’s my birthday and, let’s be honest, a generic cake from the supermarket bakery just wouldn’t cut it.

Now, ya’ll know me – I’ll seldom pass up an opportunity to make something chocolately, but after making a (rather delicious) chocolate cake already earlier in the week for a special dinner party, I wanted to go on the opposite end of the flavour spectrum.  Since it’s finally Spring, I figured a lemon cake would be the perfect fit.

When I was a child, my Mom used to always make a lemon bundt cake using lemon cake mix AND lemon Jell-o.  It was delicious, but I don’t generally (ok, ever) stock either one of those ingredients.  However, I did have a can of pink lemonade concentrate in the freezer, and a few lemons hanging out in the fridge, so I knew I could create my own lemon cake without yellow #4 and partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

Won’t you join me?

Sugar, lemons, butter, lemonade concentrate, vanilla, eggs, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, milk, cream cheese, icing sugar.

Preheat your oven to 350-degrees (or 325-degrees if it’s convection), and grease and flour 2 8″ round cake pans.  I highly recommend lining the bottoms of the pans with a round of parchment paper, and greasing again.  Of course, if you’d prefer to leave your cake coming out in one piece up to chance please completely disregard every piece of advice I ever give you.

To get things started, zest 2 lemons.

If you’d like to donate to my microplane fund, please contact me individually.

Juice one of the lemons into a clear glass measuring cup, and add enough milk to make 1 1/4 cups. If you already have buttermilk in your fridge (I clearly did not), feel free to substitute that instead.

Let the (pretend) buttermilk hang out on the counter while everything else gets sorted out.

In a large bowl, beat 1 1/3 c sugar with 1 T lemon zest. This will help release some of the essential oils in the lemon zest.

Add 6T of softened butter, 1/4 c thawed lemonade concentrate, and 2 t of vanilla to the sugar and lemon zest.

Yes, you read that quantity of butter correctly.

Sorry, Paula.

Beat it! Beat it good!

Add 2 eggs + 2 egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: 2 C AP flour, 1 t baking powder, 1/2 t baking soda, 1/2 t salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl alternately with the buttermilk.

When everything is properly acquainted, distribute the batter evenly between the two prepared pans.



In a short 20 minutes, the cakes should be done!

Please don’t just take my word for it though, get yourself a cake tester.  Or a fork.  Or a toothpick. Thumbs are not recommended though. Trust me.

While the cakes are cooling, let’s make some icing, mmmk?

I know lemon cakes traditionally are glazed, but I had a block of cream cheese in the fridge that has been waiting for the chance to be thrown in the game for about a month now.  I knew it was now or never.

Combine one block of cream cheese (8-oz),  2 T butter, 1 T lemon zest, 2 T thawed lemonade concentrate, and 1/2 t vanilla until smooth.

Gradually add icing sugar, cup by cup, until you reach the desired consistency and sweetness.  I added 3.5 cups total.

Let the icing chill while the cakes are cooling.

Hmmm…as I’m sure you’ve surmised by now, I had a dilemma on my hands. I couldn’t assemble the cake (too hot), and I had two lonely egg yolks hanging out on the counter.

Clearly, I had to make lemon curd.  My Mom makes awesome lemon curd (although she calls it lemon cheese…no clue why.  Last time I checked there was no cheese in it), but by this time it would have been 3:02am in Toronto where she lives and somehow I didn’t think she’d appreciate a call from me asking for a recipe.  Besides, she would have just told me to “check my disc”.

Right, Mom?!?!

So I figured out what to do all by my lonesome. It’s a hard knock life, for me.  It’s a hard knock life, for me…

Whisk together 3/4 c sugar with 2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.

Add 2/3 c of lemon juice and 2T butter, and continue whisking.

After about 5 minutes, it should just lightly coat the back of a spoon.  Pour it into a separate container, and let it cool.

Such a pretty colour, no?!

When everything is sufficiently chilled, you can begin assembling the cake.

Pipe a ring of icing around one of the cakes (to keep the lemon curd contained), and fill with some of the lemon curd.  Exactly how much is up to you – I used about 3/4 of it.

Top with the other layer of cake, and ice with the rest of the cream cheese icing.  Stick the cake in the fridge and forget about it overnight.

Just kidding!

Go ahead and cut yourself a slice.  You’ve earned it.

This cake is not for those who are lemon fence-sitters.  It is unmistakably lemon – bright, tart, and sour.  I really like it, and I hope you will too.

In fact, I’d love to offer you a slice – free to the first 12 (local) people who say they’d like to try some. Come celebrate with me, ok?

Until we meet again…





Carb Lovers Unite!

They say man cannot live on bread alone, but what about woman?

Can she live on chocolate cake with peanut butter cream cheese icing?

Or chewy pretzels with sea salt?

Hmmm….what about 4-cheese butternut squash and cauliflower pasta?

No? Then surely puff pastry appetizers will do!

Ahh…coconut cake.  Just what I’ve been missing my whole life!

Check back in soon; we’ll talk about fish…or eggs…or spinach…or quinoa.

But for now, can someone please pass the peanut butter and bacon chocolate chunk cookies? I’m going through withdrawal.


See you on the StairMaster,


Tres Leches Cake

My friend Ivanka organized a Mexican themed potluck last weekend, and I volunteered to bring a dessert.  When I think of Mexican food, I think of spicy and savoury dishes, but am not very familiar with their desserts.  It came down to tres leches cake and flan, but the cake won simply because I was running short on time and couldn’t make two desserts.

I’m not sure if I blogged about my recent cake cravings or not, but for the past month or so I’ve wanted cake like my life depended on it.  This is not entirely unusual, since I love sweet things.  Since I cannot be trusted to be alone with a full-sized cake, I jumped at the opportunity to make one for the potluck. Always safer to share with other people, right?

I had never made tres leches cake before (and I’m not entirely sure if I’d ever eaten it before) but it’s as Mexican as cakes come so I did some googling and purchased enough dairy to send the lactose-intolerent into major shock.What is tres leches cake, I hear you ask?  My cultured readers Those of you that speak Spanish may have already picked up on the fact that tres leches cake means “three milks”.  This is referring to the mixture that is poured over the cooled cake. I was nervous and skeptical about this – who likes to eat soggy cake?!?! – so I decided to bring you along for the journey. You’re welcome.

The goods:

Flour, sugar, eggs, baking powder, salt, vanilla, milk, heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk.

Don’t panic – I didn’t forget the oil or butter.  There isn’t any in this cake, which makes it a health food.  Which means you should make this cake often.

First, we must measure out our dry ingredients:


  • 1 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1-½ teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt

Next, separate 5 eggs.  Yes, 5 eggs for 1 cake. It’s basically a sponge cake, I think.

Add about 3/4 c of white sugar to the yolks:

Beat them for a few minutes until they turn pale yellow or until your arm gets sore from holding the mixer:

In the spirit of honesty, I am going to tell you what I did wrong so you don’t make the same mistakes as me.

In my eagerness to eat make cake, I just poured the yolks into the flour like so…

…completely forgetting about the 1/3 c of milk and 1 tsp of vanilla I should have blended in with the beaten yolks first.  Oops.

The show must go on.

Remember the 5 egg whites that are patiently waiting on the sidelines?  It’s time to beat them up!

This post has been brought to you by the fine folks at Hamilton Beech.

Just kidding – no one at Hamilton Beech knows who I am.  Taking pictures and beating eggs is hard work! Who would like to volunteer to buy me a tripod???

Please, not all at once!

When the egg whites have been beaten to the soft peak stage, like so –

add another 1/4 c of sugar:

Continue beating the egg whites until they stiffen up.

(use your imagination – it’s probably more vivid than the blurry picture I have)

Gently fold the egg whites into the other ingredients:

I said be gentle!!!

Much better. Thank you for your co-operation.

Spread the batter into a greased 9 x 13″ pan:

And bake it @ 350-degrees for 35-45 minutes until it looks like this:

Lookin good!

Let the cake cool – if you’re impatient time-crunched like me you can stick it in the fridge.

While we’re wating, does anyone know why this is called tres leches cake when clearly there are 4 different type of dairy used, and one of them (whipping cream) is used in two different applications? Why isn’t this called quatros leches cake? I sense another sleepless night ahead.

Whisk together 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 1 can (or 1 2/3 c) evaporated milk, and 1/4 c whipping cream.

Poke lots of holes in the cake using a fork:

And pour almost all of the milk mixture overtop!

Stick the cake back in the fridge, straighten your hair, grab the cake, and rush out the door to your potluck.

After a few hours, here’s what the cake looked like:

Amazing! Almost all of the liquid has been absorbed into the (sponge) cake.

Never one to quit at half-time, I whipped up some cream…

…but I didn’t add any sugar, because in my haste to rush out the door (more on this later) I forgot to bring some with me.  We all survived.

Spread the (sweetened/unsweetened) whipped cream on top of the cake while explaining to those watching you that they are about to be offered a slice of milk-soaked cake. Ignore the skeptics; that means more for you.


If you want to get all fancy, my sources tell me that a maraschino cherry is a traditional garnish for tres leches cake. However, since I think that maraschino cherries have enough dye in them to kill a lab rat (and because I didn’t have any), I abstained.  However, remember that extra cup or so of the milk mixture that was left over? I poured a bit into each bowl, and then put a slice of cake on top:

Fancy? No. Delicious? YES!

Look – the cake holds its shape and isn’t soggy!

But the million dollar question is, how does it taste???

Sam (aka the tres leches connoisseur) says it’s delicious and authenic tasting! She took the leftovers (i.e. one slice) home to her boyfriend, and proclaimed it even better the next day.

Speaking of the next day, remember how I mentioned that I was in a rush that night?  Angie had graciously given me a large Ziploc bag full of (frozen) evaporated milk that was leftover from a cooking class earlier in the week.  I put it in a shallow bowl on my counter to thaw, and after taking out what I needed for the cake I forgot to put the rest in the fridge.  Apparently there was a hole in the bag, because this is what I came home to at 1am:

Yup, that would be several cups of evaporated milk that overflowed on my counter ( I would show you a picture, but then I would have to come to terms with doing my dishes) and in between the planks of my beautiful wood floors. Awesome.

Thank goodness the cake was delicious.

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Coulis

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the studies that prove that chocolate is good for us.  Dr. Oz says that we “need dark chocolate with 70 percent or more pure cocoa to reap the benefits of flavonoids…the really powerful, vitamin-like substances that dilate the arteries of the body”.  As smart as I am, who am I to argue with Dr. Oz?

So, now it has been established that chocolate is a health food, let’s talk about dessert.  Nibbling on a chunk of chocolate never fails, but sometimes, cake is the only thing that will fit the bill.  I don’t know about you, but I appreciate a good piece of chocolate cake.  No, not the pale-brown spongy stuff that if it weren’t for the colour you might not know what you were eating, but the rich, dense, almost black kind.  True, what I’m about to show you is hardly what many of us consider cake – especially without any flour – but it will show that craving who’s boss in no time flat. Are you brave enough to join me?

The cast of characters:

Eggs, chocolate, butter, vanilla, and espresso powder. Sometimes simple really is best.

As with most baking, preheating your oven is the first step – 325 in this case.

Next, we must get the pan prepared. Using a springform pan is easiest; line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the sides. We’re going to cook the cake in a water bath – more on this in a moment – so wrap the outside of the prepared pan in tinfoil while you’re at it, ok?

Alright, time to get the party started!  We need 1 lb of best-quality chocolate for this cake, and you can use semi-sweet, bittersweet, or a combination of the two with equally good results. I used a 100-g bar of 70% cocoa (Dr. Oz approved) to start things off:

And then coarsely chopped up some good-quality semi-sweet chocolate to total 1 lb:

Now, just a word to the wise (aka you): this dessert has a very limited ingredient list, which means that the quality of each individual ingredient matters more than it would if we were making something else.  If you’re going to make this cake, please don’t skimp on the chocolate – use the best you can afford to buy!

Speaking of only using the best, it’s time for the butter to be cubed up:

That would be a total of 1c of butter, for those of you keeping track.

Add the butter to the bowl with the chopped chocolate to keep yourself from doing continous quality control sampling on the chocolate shards.

Remember the instant espresso powder? It will help accentuate the chocolate, so measure 1 TBSP into the cutest espresso cup you own:

Dissolve the espresso powder by adding 1 TBSP of pure vanilla extract to the mug and stirring it for a few seconds.

Add the espresso/vanilla mixture to the same bowl with the chocolate and butter, and set it aside for a minute.

Time to crack those eggs! I used Omega-3 eggs, hence the bright orange yolks, but you can use whatever kind you like as long as they’re cold.  Crack 8 into a bowl.

Beat the eggs on medium-high speed for abour 5 minutes or until they’ve doubled in volume…this will take 5-7 minutes depending on whether you’re using a stand mixer, a hand mixer, or your biceps.

While the eggs are doing their thing, we need to melt the chocolate.  My preference is to use a double boiler or bain-marie, but you can use your microwave if you must. But really, must you?!?!

If you’ve never used a bain-marie, all you need to do is place your (heatproof) bowl on top of a pot of simmering water.  So easy!

Now would be a good time to boil a kettle of water for the water bath, too.

Want to see what the chocolate looks like as it melts?

Hmmm not QUITE there yet…let’s give it another minute.

(cue Jeopardy music…)


Please resist the urge to grab a straw and drink this delicious looking and smelling concoction as-is.  Thank you in advance for your co-operation.

Better not forget about the eggs – how do you think they’re looking by now?

Gently fold about 1/2 of the beaten eggs into the melted chocolate mixture:

When almost all of the eggs have been incorporated, gently fold in about 1/2 of the remaining eggs and then repeat one more time until all of the eggs have been folded in.

Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan like so:

Put the springform pan into a large roasting pan and then pour boiling water all around it until it’s about half-way up the sides of the springform pan. This, my friends, is what I meant when I said we were going to bake the cake in a water bath.

I know what you’re thinking – why bother with the water bath? Quite simply, using a water bath will help ensure that the cake reaches a safe temperature to ward off any salmonella without developing hard edges around the exterior of the cake.  Equally important, it will also allow you to receive a steam facial while baking a cake.  Aren’t you glad you asked?

Bake the cake for about 22 – 25 minutes – the edges will just be beginning to set, and the middle will still look undone.  Just have faith, I promise this will work out even though it would appear that you will be serving your guests raw cake batter.

Remove the cake from the water bath and let it cool on a wire rack until it reaches room temperature.

While the cake is cooling, I suggest we make some raspberry coulis.  Feel like joining me?

Throw 12-oz of fresh or frozen raspberries, 5 TBSP of sugar, 1/8 tsp salt, and 1/4 c water in a pot.

Simmer for a few minutes until the berries are thawed (if using frozen), and then mash up with a potato masher.

Let the whole mixture cook down for a few minutes until its thickened up, and then pour it into a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and allow it to drain.

Eventually, all that will be remaining will be the seeds, which you can either discard or feed to the neighbourhood children.

Juice a lemon, and add about 2 tsp of juice to the coulis to brighten everything up.

Check it out – my favourite colour is below:

Are you ready for cake yet? I am.

Since presentation is very important, put the cake on a pedastal and dust the top with a little bit of icing sugar…

Cut into 4 slices (if serving women) or 16 (if serving men).  Place a slice in the middle of some of the raspberry coulis, and then garnish with some whipped cream, raspberries, and mint if you feel so inclined.

And the verdict?

As you can see, everybody hated this cake.  You probably will too, if you hate things that are dense, rich, smooth, and satisfying.  In fact, you probably shouldn’t make this.  BUT if you do, will you save me a slice? Please?

(Better Than Boxed Mix) Cupcakes + Icing

It’s time to be honest – when the time comes for you to make a cake or cupcakes, do you turn to your great Aunt Betty or Uncle Duncan’s tried, tested, and true recipe? Many of us do, but its usually not for the taste; it’s for the convenience.  Adding 3 eggs, 1/3 c oil, and 1 1/3 c water to the (mystery) contents in the red box and then mixing for 30 seconds is pretty easy, I will admit.  However, every now and then it’s a good idea to actually know what you’re eating.  All cake mixes contain flour, sugar, and some sort of leavener…pretty standard stuff.  However, they also contain Dextrose, Polyglycerol Esters Of Fatty Acids, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Cellulose Gum, Artificial Flavors, Xanthan Gum, Maltodextrin, Modified Cornstarch, Colored with (Yellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake). YUMMY! Suddenly, Aunt Betty’s or Uncle Duncan’s “secret recipe” isn’t so appealing, is it?

I set out to make cupcakes that were as easy as a boxed mix, but with ingredients even a pre-schooler could pronounce.  Don’t believe I could do it?

Watch me.

Flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla.  So far, so good.

Whisk or sift together 1.5 c flour, 1 c sugar, 1.5 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt.

Add 1/2 c softened butter, 1/2 c sour cream, 1 egg, 2 egg yolks, and 1.5 tsp vanilla. All at once, to the dry ingredients.  How easy is this?!?!

Beat at medium speed until the batter is mostly smooth, about 30 seconds.

Do you see the flour that hasn’t been mixed in yet? It’s no big deal; just scrape the sides down with a spatula and stir until any remaining flour pockets have been incorporated.

Divide the batter amongst 12 regular sized muffin cups, or whatever pan you decide to use.  I used a medium-sized muffin tin and got about 22 cupcakes out of it.

Bake @ 350-degrees for 15-24 minutes (depending on the size pan you’re using).

Check it out!

Cupcakes that are as quick to whip up as a mix but are made with only natural ingredients? Yes Please!

Now that we’ve established that it IS in fact possible to make better tasting and better-for-you cupcakes, let’s talk about icing.  It would never occur to me to use a recipe for icing – I usually just whip up some butter, icing sugar, milk, and vanilla until I reach the desired consistency.  However, a while ago I stumbled upon a recipe for icing that sounded so strange I knew I had to try it.  Are you ready for this?

Here’s what you need:

Milk, Flour, Vanilla, Butter, and Sugar.

Whisk 5 TBSP of flour into 1 c of milk and cook until it thickens up.  Bizarre, right?

I felt like I was making play-doh.  Inedible play-doh.

So I added a tsp of vanilla, to at least make it smell good.

Let this mixture cool completely – if you’re in a hurry you can stick it in the fridge.

When it’s cool, put 1 c of granulated sugar (no, not icing sugar , and yes, I’m sure) and 1 c of softened butter into your mixer.

Time to whip it! Whip it good!

It’s time to add the cooled & cooked flour-milk-vanilla mixture. Go ahead, don’t be shy!

You guessed right…just beat it! Beat it! Beat it! Beat it! Beat it!

I’ll stop. You should have the idea by now.

When it looks similar to whipped cream, it’s ready!

Hmmm…it LOOKS good, but how does it taste?

This. Is. Delicious. Not too sweet, super creamy, and very easy to work with. Make this today, and then bring me a piece of cake, ok? PLEASE????