Saturday, March 23, 2013

Chocolate Souffle Grand Marnier Cupcakes

If you are a chocolate lover then do I have the dessert for you. These souffle cupcakes are the ultimate rich chocolate dessert! The cupcake size is the perfect individual portion to satisfy any chocolate craving and makes for simple, hassle-free entertaining if you're serving these to guests. These cupcakes are really just souffles that are baked in muffin tins so don't be alarmed when they puff up in the oven then sink slightly as they cool. Don't let the slightly crispy and crackled top fool you - it gives way to a soft, gooey and decadent chocolate centre that has just a hint of orange flavour from the liqueur. If you'd like a more pronounced orange flavour I would suggest adding a bit of orange zest to the batter, or serving with some Grand Marnier spiked whipped cream or chocolate sauce! 


6 oz. semisweet chocolate
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

To serve: Chocolate sauce, whipped cream, or ice cream


Line a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin liners. Combine the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, beat the sugar, eggs, egg yolks, and Grand Marnier together with an electric mixer until thick ribbons fall from the beaters when they are lifted, about 5 minutes. Sift the flour over this mixture and gently fold it in with a rubber spatula. Fold in the melted chocolate mixture until combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the lined muffin tins. I used a cookie scoop to do this. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until cold and firm, at least 25 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the cupcakes from the muffin pan and place them on a baking sheet (keep them in the liners). Or you could just bake them right in the muffin pan. Bake until the tops are puffed and cracked and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out with moist batter attached, about 7 minutes.

Allow the cupcakes to cool slightly on a wire rack, then serve warm with a drizzle of chocolate sauce and whipped cream or vanilla ice cream! To make some spiked whipped cream simply combine 1 cup heavy cream with 1 oz. of Grand Marnier and beat until light and fluffy, or add 1 oz. to this homemade chocolate sauce recipe.

*Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mom's Birthday Cake (and homemade chocolate sauce)

It was my mom's birthday earlier this month, and what better present to give her than a thick slice of chocolate cake with cream cheese icing and fresh strawberries? If you have been following the blog for a long time (or were at the birthday party) you might remember that I made a very similar cake for her 50th birthday last year! This is her favourite chocolate cake and her favourite cream cheese icing so why mess with a good thing, right? The same rings true for my dad's cake on his birthday: chocolate and peanut butter. Always. I love the fact that now I am able to bake my mom all her birthday cakes; it's only fair to slowly start paying her back for making so many great birthday cakes for me and my siblings throughout our childhoods. This year we just had a low key celebration at home with my grandparents, as opposed to the big 50th bash of last year, but no matter the size of the party my mom always manages to light up the room. Happy birthday (belated now) to an amazing woman who I will bake a chocolate cake for any day of the year - I love you!

Chocolate Cake Ingredients:

2 cups white sugar
1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk- If you don't have any buttermilk or sour milk then make your own by combining 1 Tbsp. of white vinegar with enough milk to make 1 cup and let sit for 10 minutes until it curdles.
1 cup strong black coffee
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Place a circle of parchment paper in the bottom of three 8-inch round baking pans and then spray pans generously with a non-stick cooking spray. The parchment paper will ensure that your cakes come out of the pan easily, with none of the bottom getting stuck to the pan.
Whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add in the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla, and beat with a mixer on medium speed for approx. 2 minutes. Note: The batter will be thin. Pour the batter evenly into prepared pans. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place pans on a wire rack and run a butter knife around the edge of the cake. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then invert onto the wire racks to cool completely, removing the circle of parchment paper.

Cream Cheese Icing:

8 oz. (1 package) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup butter, room temperature
3-4 cups icing sugar (until it's the consistency and sweetness you like)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp. milk (to thin if necessary)


Cream together the cream cheese and butter with a mixer until smooth. Add in the vanilla and icing sugar, one cup at a time, until desired sweetness and consistency is reached. If you would like the icing to be more thin and spreadable, add milk 1 tsp. at a time.

Spread over cooled cake layers. This will only make enough icing to frost the cake as pictured. If you would like to cover the whole cake then I would recommend doubling the recipe.

This year I added a new element to her favourite cake in the way of a homemade chocolate sauce. This recipe comes from the amazing David Lebovitz (one of my baking/food idols) and it really is one of the best I've ever had! I was amazed that there is no butter or cream in it, but you don't miss it at all. It's a beautiful, rich, and pourable sauce that you can use for cakes, ice cream, fresh fruit, or even fancy hot beverages. Grand Marnier or another flavoured liqueur would also be a lovely addition.

Chocolate Sauce:

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped


In a medium saucepan, whisk together the water, sugar, corn syrup, and cocoa powder. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once it has just begun to boil, remove from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate until completely melted. Allow the sauce to sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours so it can thicken up a bit before using. 

I used this sauce to pour over each cake layer and to decorate the top of the cake. Store leftover sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days, or freeze for up to one month. Rewarm and stir or whisk again before serving.

*Chocolate sauce recipe from David Lebovitz

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Wine and chocolate is always a beautiful combination. They go together like an adult version of the classic peanut butter & jelly combination (although I'm an adult and I still consume PB&J on a regular basis). I made red wine and dark chocolate cookies a couple months ago and, while they were good, they didn't have as much flavour from the wine as I would have hoped. This moist, dense loaf cake doesn't have an overpowering flavour, but you definitely notice the hint of red wine shining through the chocolate. I highly recommend indulging in a slice or two with a glass (or two) of your favourite red! 


1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9x5" loaf pan. You could also bake this in an 8x8" or 9x9" square pan, but keep in mind you will have to adjust the baking time to a shorter amount.

In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric until smooth. Add the brown sugar and white sugar and cream together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg until well combined, then mix in the red wine, yogurt, and vanilla. The mixture will look curdled but don't worry!

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and gently stir together until just combined. Don't over mix.

Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Cool the loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes, then run a knife around the edges to loosen it and turn it out onto the wire rack to cool completely.

This cake is great warm out of the oven, but the flavour intensifies after it has cooled, and even more so the next day. Wrap leftovers in plastic and store at room temperature.

*Recipe adapted from 17 and Baking

Friday, March 8, 2013

Mediterranean Flatbread

This homemade flatbread dough is super versatile, and quick enough to make any night of the week! I loaded mine with fresh vegetables, salty feta, and creamy hummus to create a colourful mediterranean-inspired entree. It is hearty enough to be served as a vegetarian main, or served in smaller portions as an appetizer. 

Flatbread Dough:

1 tsp. active dry yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
3/4-1 cup warm water
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat bread flour
1 and 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Feta cheese
Roasted red pepper hummus
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 Roma tomato, diced
2 green onions, chopped
10-15 marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped or whole - I used jarred artichoke hearts that were marinated in olive oil, vinegar, and herbs. I used some of the artichoke marinade to coat the topping mixture, so if you don't use marinated artichokes then just drizzle a bit of olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar, and a sprinkle of basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic powder into the bowl of toppings and adjust to taste


In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, and 3/4 cups of lukewarm water. Stir to dissolve the yeast and sugar, and allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes until a foam develops on top.

In a large bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, basil, garlic powder, and salt. Add the olive oil and stir. Once the yeast mixture is foamy, stir it into the flour with a spoon until it forms a loose ball. You may need to add in a bit more water at this point if there are still loose, dry bits of dough in the bowl. Add a little bit at a time until it comes together and is a little bit sticky.

Turn the dough ball out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead well for 7-10 minutes. If the dough is too sticky then sprinkle it with a little bit more flour, but it should remain sticky and stretchy.

Place the kneaded dough ball into a large bowl that has been lightly greased with olive oil. Turn the ball around in the bowl to coat with olive oil. Cover loosely with a dish cloth and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 1 hour. You can also let the dough rest for 24 hours in the refrigerator and use it the next day.

Prepare the topping ingredients by tossing the bell peppers, tomatoes, green onion, and artichokes together in a large bowl. I used jarred artichoke hearts that were marinated in olive oil, vinegar, and herbs. I used some of the artichoke marinade to coat the topping mixture, so if you don't use marinated artichokes then just drizzle a bit of olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar, and a sprinkle of basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic powder into the bowl of toppings and adjust to taste.

You can make this flatbread in a 16" round pizza pan or on a rectangular baking sheet - it's up to you! Prepare your pan of choice by lightly greasing it with olive oil. Once the dough has risen, punch it down to release the air pockets. Stretch it out into a circle or rectangle by gently turning it around in your hands and then placing it onto the pizza pan, or by pressing and stretching it out thinly onto the baking sheet. 

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and place the rack in the centre of the oven. It is very important to fully preheat the oven before baking the flatbread.

Spread a thick layer of roasted red pepper hummus on the crust and cover evenly with the vegetable topping mixture. Crumble feta cheese over the toppings. Bake in the preheated oven for 13-15 minutes, until the crust is browned on the bottom. Check the centre of your crust to make sure it has cooked all the way through, and leave the flatbread in the oven for 3-5 additional minutes if necessary. Remove from the oven and allow it to rest for 3-5 minutes, then slice and serve.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Simple Granola

Granola is one of those things that I feel people get ripped off for, both economically and nutritionally. It's so fast and easy to make at home, and by doing so you get to control exactly what goes in it. I usually make a big batch to enjoy for breakfasts and snacks throughout the week! As the title suggests, this granola is a simple recipe with a nice short list of ingredients that you probably have in your cupboard right now. Don't have something listed? No problem - just substitute another chopped nut or seed, or a different type of oil or sweetener! I will say that the combination of coconut and sunflower seeds add a delicious toasty flavour to this lightly sweetened granola. The extra virgin coconut oil gives it even more coconut flavour, so if you use another oil then you might want to add a bit more vanilla extract or other flavoured extract. My personal favourite way to enjoy this granola is over plain greek yogurt with berries and a drizzle of honey.


2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil or canola oil
2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats, coconut, and sunflower seeds. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, oil, and honey, and heat until the sugar is dissolve and the liquid is thin. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until well coated. Evenly spread the granola onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Stir the granola around on the sheet and bake for another 10-12 minutes, until the granola is golden brown. Keep an eye on it as it bakes and stir so that is bakes evenly and doesn't burn. The granola will continue to get crispier as it cools. 

Remove granola from the oven and place the baking sheet on a wire rack. Allow the granola to cool completely on the pan, then break up the chunks and store in an airtight container.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan