Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Chocolate Vanilla Marble Cake with Cookie Dough Filling and Whipped Chocolate Frosting

If you think the name of this cake is a mouthful.... just wait until you taste a mouthful! Imagine: fluffy layers of chocolate and vanilla swirled cake stuffed with completely and deliciously safe-to-eat cookie dough, and smothered in chocolate whipped cream.I made this cake for my sister's birthday this summer and it was one of my favourite cakes to make and eat. Everyone was so surprised by the cookie dough filling!

Marble Cake Ingredients:

5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp. brewed coffee (optional)
2 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 and 1/4 cups white sugar
3 large eggs
1 and 1/2 vanilla extract
1/3 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Line the bottom of two 9-inch or 10-inch round cake pans with circles of parchment paper, then butter or grease the pans with non-stick spray.

In a heatproof bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate with the coffee. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. 
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and sour cream.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and the milk to the batter, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Remove a little more than half of the batter and place into a separate bowl. To the remaining batter stir, or beat, in the melted chocolate. 

Place the batters into the prepared cake pans by alternating spoonfuls of vanilla batter with the chocolate batter. Then, with the end of a wooden skewer or knife, gently draw swirls through the batter to marbleize it. Don't over mix, you want big swirls so they won't all run together when the cake bakes in the oven.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center just comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for before running a knife around the edge of the pan and removing the cakes from the pan to cool completely. 

Allow the cake to cool completely before filling and frosting. Garnish with chocolate shavings.

Cookie Dough Filling:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Cream together all the butter and sugars in a medium bowl with an electric mixer. Add the milk, vanilla extract, flour and mix until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Spread in between cooled cake layers.

Chocolate Whipped Cream:

1 and 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 oz. semisweet chocolate, melted

Melt the chocolate using the same method for the cake or in the microwave. Set aside to cool slightly. In a cold bowl with cold beaters, whip the cream together with the icing sugar until soft peaks form. Add in the vanilla and melted chocolate and continue to whip. It will become a bit more runny at first but keep whipping until the whipped cream becomes stiff again. Spread over the cake layers with a flat spatula or a knife.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan, Marble Cake adapted from Joy of Baking

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gone Fishin' Cupcakes

Here are some other cupcakes that I made for my sister's baby shower! They are so simple and turned out so cute - perfect for welcoming a new little boy!

Just make your favourite vanilla cupcakes and vanilla or cream cheese icing. Dye the icing blue (but leave a small bit of white set aside) and spread it on in swirls to look like water. Top with a plain Goldfish cracker, a pretzel stick for a fishing rod, then take the white icing you set aside and pipe a small fishing line connecting the fish and the pretzel. 

Blue Velvet Cupcakes with Homemade Balloon Cupcake Toppers

I made these cupcakes for my little sister's baby shower last month. She had a baby boy so instead of red velvet I decided to make blue velvet cupcakes! To get the perfect hue of blue (not too green) it helps to add a tiny dab of violet food colouring in with the blue. I made my own cupcake toppers using Rice Krispies squares, sprinkles, and clear plastic toothpicks. To make them I cut each Rice Krispies square into quarters, rolled each piece into a ball and then rolled the ball in sprinkles. The sprinkles stuck to the marshmallow and coated the entire ball of Rice Krispie square. Stick the ball onto a toothpick and then the toothpick into your cupcake! Viola, a really cute homemade and edible cupcake topper! 

Cupcake Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups cake flour (If you only have all-purpose it won't make or break the recipe)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 Tbsp. Royal Blue gel paste food colouring
1 small dab Violet gel paste food colouring
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
1 pound (1 block) cream cheese, softened
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake liners.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. 

In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in the  food colouring, vinegar, and vanilla and mix until combined.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture into the butter mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk. Then, repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk, until combined into a smooth cake batter.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 23-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

Pipe the icing on the cooled cupcakes using a large star tip, or just spread on with a butter knife or flat spatula.

*Recipe adapted from Paula Deen

Whole Lemon Bars

I recently made these bars from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook for a big family dinner with my mom's side of the family. There are a lot of lemon dessert lover's in my family so these were well-received by all! I love the combination of a light, buttery pastry crust with tangy and creamy lemon curd. It's so summery and fresh-tasting. Not only do I love this recipe because it tastes amazing, but also because it's such a simplified way to make lemon bars. As the title suggests, you use the entire lemon all at once in this recipe - the pulp, the skin, the juice, everything. So that means no zesting, juicing, and no waste! I didn't have time to take a picture of how I served them before everyone ate dessert, but I served the squares topped with lightly sweetened fresh whipping cream, fresh blueberries and sliced strawberries. 


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, plus extra for greasing

Lemon filling:
1 small-medium sized lemon
1 and 1/3 cups sugar
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
4 large eggs
2  Tbsp. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. salt


Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Line an 8-inch square pan with foil or parchment paper so that it overhangs at least two sides. Lightly butter or spray the surface of the foil with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, cream together the flour, sugar, salt, and butter, until a crumbly dough, that holds its shape when pinched, forms. You can also do this in a food processor by combining the flour, sugar, and salt first, then pulsing in the chunks of butter until a dough forms.

Smooth the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan, using your hands or a small offset spatula to get it as level as possible. Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake the crust for 20-25 minutes, or until it’s golden brown.

While the crust is cooking, cut the lemon in half, remove the seeds, and cut the lemon into chunks or slices.

Put the chunks of lemon (all of it, peel included!) in a food processor or blender along with the sugar and let it run until the lemon is completely broken up. Add the butter and process again until smooth. Add the eggs, corn starch, salt, and blend until almost smooth. Scrape down the sides of the processor or blender as needed.

When the crust comes out of the oven, pour the lemon filling over the hot crust and bake for 35-40 minutes or just until the filling stops jiggling and is barely set, and the top is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely. I usually pop the pan in the fridge or freezer to speed this up! Once cool, carefully lift out the bars grasping the foil. Cut the bars into squares or rectangles. Sift powdered sugar over the top just before serving, if desired, or see my note about toppings at the top of the page.

*Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Gooey Cinnamon Cake

This cake is sooo good. But how can any dessert with "gooey" in the title not be a sign of good things to come? It may not look like much, but underneath that cinnamon-sugar topping is a sugar cookie base with a sweet, gooey topping that just melts in your mouth. The little squares are all too addicting.


Cookie Base:
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder 
1/4 tsp. salt
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk

Soft Gooey Layer:

1/4 cup light corn syrup or golden syrup
1/4 cup milk or heavy cream
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. white sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Cinnamon Topping:

2 Tbsp. white sugar
1 and 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Line a 9- by 13-inch cake pan with foil or parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two or on all four sides. Spray the foil or parchment paper in the pan with nonstick spray or brush with melted butter.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

To make the cookie base, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and in a small bowl. Beat the butter and the sugar in the bowl of stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or by hand, until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the egg and the milk and mix in, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir in the dry ingredients, until fully incorporated. Put the mixture in the cake pan in dollops (it’s too thick to spread if you add it all in the same place), and spread it into an even layer with a spatula.

To make the soft gooey layer, in a small bowl, whisk together the corn syrup or golden syrup with the milk or cream, and vanilla.

Beat the 12 tablespoons of butter with the sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Add one-third of the flour, then half of the milk/corn syrup mixture. Add another one-third of the flour, then the rest of the milk/corn syrup mixture. Then stir in the remaining flour. Dollop the batter over the unbaked cookie layer and spread evenly.

Mix together the 2 Tbsp. of sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle it evenly over the cake.

Bake the cake for 25 minutes, or until the cake feels slightly damp, but gently set in the center. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. When cool, lift out the cake using the overhang of the foil, and cut the cake into 1-inch squares.

*Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz who adapted from Smitten Kitchen

No-Knead Oatmeal Bread

This recipe yields two loaves of the most delicious, soft and fluffy bread. It's mix of oatmeal, whole wheat and white flours make it hearty and nutritious - perfect for morning toast.

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
3 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons of butter
1 pkg active dry yeast (2 and 1/4 tsp.)
1/4 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
Place brown sugar, salt and oats in a large mixing bowl. Add boiling water and the butter. Let stand till lukewarm. Ensure that it has cooled to lukewarm before adding the yeast, otherwise the hot water will kill the yeast and your bread won't rise!
In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over the 1/4 cup warm water. Let stand for about 5 minutes. Stir. Add this yeast mixture to the oat mixture and stir.
Add the all-purpose and whole wheat flours a cup at a time, stirring to combine after each addition.
Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. 
Grease two standard sized loaf pans generously with butter. When dough has risen, punch it down. A trick is to use two forks to do this: Stab the dough in the center first, then pull the dough from the sides of the bowl towards the center up onto itself. Then take the two forks and, working from the center out, divide it into two equal portions. Place each portion into your prepared loaf pans. Let rise until dough creeps above the rim of the loaf pan.
Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Bake loaves for 10 min. Reduce heat to 350ºF. Bake for another 40 to 45 more minutes or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped — you have to remove the loaf from the pan to test this. Turn loaves out into wire racks immediately to cool.

*Recipe adapted from Alexandra's Kitchen

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Summer Sangria

Sadly summer is almost over... but it's not too late to soak up the sun and enjoy some fruity sangria during the last few weeks of August! Here are two basic recipes, one for white sangria and one for red. Both are delicious and refreshing!

White Sangria

1 lemon
1 lime
1 orange
1 green apple
1 peach
5 strawberries
1 bottle pinot grigio
1/2 cup triple sec
3/4 cup orange juice
1-2 Tbsp. sugar (optional)
1 can ginger ale
Sparkling water or champagne (optional)
Fresh mint leaves

Red Sangria

2 oranges
1 nectarine
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 bottle red wine
2 Tbsp. GM, and/or dark rum
1/2 cup triple sec
1 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp. sugar (optional)
1 cup sparkling water or champagne


Slice fruit and place in a large pitcher or punch bowl. Pour in all alcohol and juices, except for the ginger ale and sparkling water or champagne. Refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours to allow the fruit to get soft and the flavours to develop. Pour in the ginger ale and sparkling water just before serving so it retains its carbonation.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Chipotle Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers

These are hands down some of the best homemade veggie burgers I have ever made! Like most veggie patties, they are a tad bit mushy if you use too much sweet potato or if you make them too thick - but that won't even matter once you taste all the flavours going on in these! The use of cornmeal instead of breadcrumbs gives them great texture and crispy exterior, and the chipotle pepper adds a touch of spice and tons of flavour. Make these immediately!


1 medium (1 lb.) sweet potato
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 15oz. can black beans or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 whole chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
1/2 cup cornmeal, divided use (I love Bob's Red Mill brand of cornmeal because it is more textured than most)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1-2 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 bunch cilantro
1 Tbsp. neutral oil like canola or grapeseed, for frying
4-6 burger buns
1 avocado, sliced
Mayonnaise, Sriracha, and lettuce for serving


Cook the sweet potato first by either microwave or oven. For the microwave: poke it with a fork all over, wrap loosely in paper towel and place it on a plate. Microwaving for 7-10 minutes, until no longer hard. For the oven: Bake for 40-50 minutes in a 400 degrees F oven until cooked all the way through. Set the sweet potato aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

In a large bowl, combine the corn kernels and beans. Use a potato masher or a large fork to mash up the beans a bit. You still want there to be a bit of texture so don't mash them completely smooth. Add in the chipotle pepper and 1 tsp. of the adobo sauce from the can, 1/4 cup cornmeal, garlic powder, cumin, salt, green onions, and cilantro. Stir to combine, then cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the cornmeal to absorb some of the moisture and the flavours to develop.

Divide the burger mixture into 4 or 6 burger patties, pressing them until they are about 3/4" thick. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup of cornmeal onto a plate. Heat 1 Tbsp. of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is very hot, coat the outside of each burger patty in the cornmeal and place on the skillet. Cook for about 5-6 minutes per side, or until the patties are golden brown and crispy on the outside. You can add more oil if needed, or if you needed to cook the burgers in two or three batches. Turn the patties gently with a flat spatula so they don't fall apart on you.

Serve in a bun with mayonnaise, crisp lettuce, sliced avocado, and a squirt of Sriracha if you like it spicy!

*Recipe adapted from Budget Bytes

BBQ Tofu Summer Salad

This isn't so much a recipe as it is a list of delicious, summery ingredients that make for one great salad! It's a super simple tofu preparation that I've been enjoying all summer long. 


Romaine lettuce, chopped
Fresh or frozen (and thawed) corn kernels
Carrots, cut into thin matchsticks
Avocado, diced
Firm tofu
BBQ sauce (my favourite storebought brand is Dad's Amazing BBQ sauce)
Your favourite salad dressing (Ranch or Blue cheese dressing works really well here, as does a lighter citrusy vinaigrette)


Prepare the BBQ tofu by cutting it into strips and pressing as much water out of it as possible. Place in a container or bowl, smother in BBQ sauce, and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. Overnight is best for the most flavour!

Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Cook the tofu until it is warmed through and slightly crispy on the outside. Reserve the BBQ sauce left in the container. Alternatively, you could place the tofu on a parchment covered baking sheet and broil on high in the oven for 8-10 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Cover the cooked tofu with the reserved BBQ sauce.

Prepare the salad vegetables, then add in your dressing of choice and toss to coat. Plate and place the BBQ tofu on top. Enjoy!

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Thai Coconut Green Curry

This is one of my favourite meals! I love a good stir-fry and this one is so flavourful, a bit spicy, and full of veggies! I love making it for friends and my family because takes no time at all to prepare and it's easily customizable for both vegetarians and meat-eaters. If you make it with tofu then it's even tastier the next day because it has a chance to soak up the coconut curry flavours overnight!


1 can Thai coconut milk
2 Tbsp. Thai green chili paste (or more if you like it really spicy)
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1" knob of fresh ginger, finely grated
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 cup thinly sliced assorted stir-fry vegetables (I like to use snap peas, bell peppers, carrots, onions, bok choy or kale)
Fresh Thai basil, finely chopped (if you can't find it then regular basil will work too)
3-4" stick of fresh lemongrass
1 cup cooked shrimp, chicken, firm tofu, or chickpeas
Cooked Jasmine rice


Prepare your rice and protein first. Cook the rice according to the package directions while you prepare the rest of the dish. Cook your chicken or shrimp, drain and press your tofu, drain and rinse your chickpeas if they are from a can or cook them if they are dried. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the coconut milk over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Stir in the green chili paste, brown sugar, and the lemongrass stick and heat until dissolved. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the mixture thickens slightly. If the sauce gets too thick then just add a bit of water or milk until it is the consistency you'd like.

Add in the ginger, vegetables, protein, and cook until the vegetables are tender-crisp, about another 5-10 minutes. Remove the lemongrass and sprinkle fresh Thai basil over the top. Serve over Jasmine rice. 

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Hippie Brownies

All-natural, gluten-free, and vegan! These are the ultimate hippie brownie bites :)


1 cup roasted whole almonds
1 and 1/2 cups dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
 Pinch sea salt
Optional add-in: chopped chocolate or mini chocolate chips


Place the almonds in a food processor and blend on high until they are finely ground crumbs. Don't run the processor too long though otherwise it will start to turn into almond butter.

Add in the cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Pulse the food processor to combine. Add in the chopped dates and continue to process until thoroughly combined and the mixture sticks together when you pinch it between your fingers. If it is not sticky enough add a couple more dates until it is no longer dry or crumbly. 

Line a small square plastic or glass container with plastic wrap. I just used a square tupperware container that was approx. 6x6". Firmly press the brownie mixture into the container, ensuring it is an even thickness all over. Place in the fridge or freezer for 1-2 hours to allow it to firm up and make slicing easier. Instead of making squares you could also roll the mixture into balls and skip this step altogether!

Slice into squares and store in an airtight container at room temperature, or in the fridge or freezer for longer storage. 

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Butterscotch Cashew Pretzel Cookies

These cookies were inspired by some of the new Dairymilk chocolate bars I've seen popping up in stores recently. They have everything from peanut butter, pretzels, cashews, cookies, toffee, candied peanuts in them, so I figured I could apply the same "stuff everything good into one dessert" strategy into cookies! These are the ultimate blend of salty and sweet, with a bit of crunch from the pretzels and a rich caramel flavour from the butterscotch chips.


1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup cashews, chopped
1 cup pretzels, broken into small pieces


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

In a separate large bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer, until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the butterscotch chips, cashews, and pretzels.

Drop 2 Tbsp.-sized balls of cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Gently press down on the tops of the balls to flatten slightly. Bake for 12-14 minutes, just until the edges of the cookies start to brown. Remove from oven and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Double Chocolate Cookies

These are the perfect chocolate cookie. Chewy and very chocolate-y! Try them with white chocolate chips or topped with an almond to make them even more special.


1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk or white chocolate chips - You can even use a mixture of half of each kind


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In large bowl, beat butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla with a mixer until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until well blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets. This cookie dough is pretty soft so it may be a bit hard to roll into balls. Try chilling the dough in the refrigerator for 10 minutes if it is too difficult to work with.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or just until set. Cool slightly on the cookie sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

*Recipe adapted from Lovin' From The Oven