The Daring Bakers September 2010 Challenge - Decorated Sugar Cookies

Last month was my very first Daring Bakers Challenge. It was great - I learned a lot and made something I never would have made otherwise. This month, I felt a bit let down when I saw that the recipe was sugar cookies... I mean, we've all made sugar cookies. Boy was I wrong. What a challenge it was! Who knew how much technique goes into decorating these things. Outlining, flooding, artistic ability, various types of decorating icing etc etc. It was awesome! I learned so much this month and am super happy to have participated in the challenge!

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking. The theme was September and what it meant to me. My favorite part about September is the return of drinking warm beverages - particularly vanilla lattes! So I got creative and made my cookies into coffee cups with "whipped cream" and flavoured the cookies like a vanilla latte! They were delicious and definitely didn't last long in our house!

Basic Sugar Cookies
Recipe adapted from Peggy Porschen (see link above)
Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4" Cookies

  • 200g / 7oz / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 400g / 14oz / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour
  • 200g / 7oz / 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 1/2 tbsp finely ground high quality coffee beans

  1. Cream together the butter, sugar and finely ground coffee beans. Beat until just becoming creamy in texture. Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during baking, losing their shape. Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms. Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces. Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch) Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins. Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.
  2. Once chilled, carefully peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife. Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour. Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking. Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
  3. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4. Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies. Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in some cookies being baked before others are done. Tip: Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly. Leave to cool on cooling racks. Once completely cooled, decorate as desired. Tip: If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decoratedcookies can last up to a month.

Next up, I made the meringue "whipped creams" to go on top of the coffee cups. It is a very simple recipe from my Joy of Cooking cookbook. I have already posted the recipe in another post of mine earlier this month - please refer to my post Lemon Meringue Dessert and make the meringue portion of the recipe. Pipe into whipped cream shapes that will fit on your cookies.

Now it's time to decorate the cookies - the fun, but time consuming part! I chose bright, fun colours and I outlined my cookies in black. Use the royal icing recipe from the Joy of Baking website listed above. I followed it exactly, but instead of flavouring with almond extract, I used vanilla.

I'm really happy with how my cookies turned out and I learned so much! I can't wait to practice my skills and really perfect my decorating techniques! There are so many options and so much creative inspiration out there on webpages and also on fellow Daring Bakers' blogs. Thanks Mandy for a great challenge!

Happy Baking My Friends!

Pita Bread - Attempt #1

I labelled this post as an attempt because it was just that - an attempt at making pita breads. A pocket was supposed to form in the individual breads, but that didn't happen so the attempt was a bit of a fail! But they tasted good and were great toasted and dipped in homemade hummus, so I guess they weren't a complete fail! I apologize for the quality of the photos - since this recipe wasn't a full-on success, I wasn't sure if I was going to post about it, so they are lacking a little bit!

Now that I'm done with my excuses, I should tell you about the recipe! They were quite easy to make and didn't require a lot of time, which is a bonus for most of you because I know you're often pressed for time. They're quite simple so you can add any flavourings you want and they should turn out just fine.

Pita Bread
Recipe from Bread for Beginners Handout - Well Seasoned Gourmet Foods

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/4 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Stir yeast into water and let sit 5 minutes to disslove.
  2. In large bowl, measure flour, yeast/water mixture, olive oil and salt. Stir til dough starts to form. Dump out onto counter and knead about 5 minutes or until smooth. Add more flour only if necessary. Put dough in lightly greased bowl and cover loosely. Let rise til doubled (about 1 hour)
  3. Preheat oven to 500F. Get out two baking sheets. Dump dough onto floured counter. Divide into 6 even pieces and form into balls. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each piece into a 7" circle about 1/8th inch thick. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Cover and let rest another 10 minutes. Sprinkle with coarse salt if desired. Bake one pan at a time for 4-5 minutes till puffed and just barely browned. Remove from pan, stack and wrap in tea towel to cool.
  4. Wrap airtight. Freeze if not using within a couple of days.

So there you have it - first attempt at making pita breads... definitely not impressive, but at least they were tasty. Stay tuned for more attempts in the future - hopefully eventually I can get the pockets to form! If anyone has any tips I would love to hear them!

Happy Baking my Friends!


Potroast Meatloaf

First off - I have to apologize - I've gone from posting almost daily to posting only a couple of times a week. I just started back to full time work and hopefully once I get in the groove of things, I'll get around to posting more. I'm hoping to get up to posting about 4-5 times per week, so please bear with me while I get settled in my new job!

Secondly, I know meatloaf isn't exactly classy and that a lot of people don't like it, but I really like meatloaf and I found this lovely recipe for potroast meatloaf in Jamie Oliver's cookbook "Jamie's Food Revolution". It is so incredibly flavourful and your house will smell divine while it's cooking. So if you're not a meatloaf fan, do scroll a little further and at least have a look at the recipe - I promise it's delicious and you won't be disappointed.

Potroast Meatloaf
Recipe from Jamie's Food Revolution


  • 2 medium onions
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 level teaspoon cumin
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
  • 12 plain crackers
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 heaped tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2-1 fresh red chile
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 15-oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 12 slices smoked bacon
  • 1 lemon


  1. Preheat the oven to 475F. Peel and finely chop one of the onions. Place in a large frying pan on medium high heat with 2 lugs of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the ground cumin and coriander. Fry and stir every 300 seconds for about 7 minutes until softened and lightly golden, then put into a large bowl to cool. Place crackers in a ziplock bag and smash up until fine crumbs. Add to the bowl of cooled onions with the oregano, mustard and ground beef. Crack in the egg and add another good pinch of salt and pepper. With clean hands scrunch and mix up well. Move the meat mixture to a board, then pat and mold it into a large football shape. Rub it with a little oil. Place meatloaf into a baking dish and put into preheated oven, and turn down temperature immediately to 400F. Bake for 30 minutes.
  2. Peel the other onion and chop into 1/4 inch pieces. Peel and slice the garlic. Finely slice the red chile. Place the onion, garlic, and chile in a large pan on medium high heat with 2 lugs of olive oil, the paprika, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for around 7 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until softened and lightly golden. Add the worcestershire sauce, chickpeas, tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil then turn heat down and let it slowly simmer for 10 minutes. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper if needed.
  3. Pick the rosemary leaves off the stalks and put them into a little bowl. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and pour all the fat from the pan over the rosemary leaves and mix up well. Spoon your sauce around the meatloaf. Lay the slices of bacon over the top of the meatloaf and sauce. Scatter the rosemary leaves on top. Put the pan back into the oven for 15 minutes or until the bacon turns golden brown and the sauce if bubbling and delicious. Serve with a mixed leaf salad and some wedges of lemon for squeezing over.

And that's that! It makes a lot of food, so make sure you have enough people to eat most of it or lots of containers for leftovers! I hope this recipe can change your opinion on meatloaf - it is easy and delicious! Bon apetit!

Happy Cooking my Friends!


Savory Scones

This is a really fun scone recipe! You can toss in whatever you feel like or whatever you have on hand. You can make substitutions in the recipe if you want and just be creative! This recipe is out of one of my favorite cookbooks - The Guy Can't Cook by Cinda Chavich. In the cookbook, Cinda's comments regarding this recipe are as follows:

...scones are loaded with savory stuff, from roasted red peppers and
spinach to fresh herbs. The combinations are infinite - so get creative. They're
great split, toasted, and topped with poached eggs, or simply to grab for a
portable breakfast."

And the plus side of this recipe - you'll be noshing on delicious scones within 35-40 minutes! Doesn't get any better than that! :)

Savory Scones
Recipe from The Guy Can't Cook, p. 65


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (omit or decrease this if using salty ingredients like feta, bacon, proscuitto)
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup finely chopped savory stuff (roasted red peppers, carmelized onion, roasted garlic, finely chopped spinach, chopped steamed broccoli, crumbled bacon, slivered proscuitto, etc.)
  • 1 green onion minced
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (dill, basil, oregano, or thyme)
  • 1 cup shredded or crumbled cheese (aged cheddar, feta, gruyere, gouda, or blue cheese)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup half-and-half cream or buttermilk (use plain yogurt in a pinch)
  • poppy seeds or sesame seeds


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a food processor, combine the flours, salt, baking powder, and butter. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, then transfer to a bowl.
  3. Sitr in savory vegetables and/or meat into the dry ingredients along with the green onion, herbs, and cheese. Add just enough cream to make a soft dough (the amount you add will depend on how wet the vegetable mixture is), and stir with a fork until until the dough forms. Don't work the dough too much, the less you handle it, the flakier your scones will be. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat the dough onto and 8-inch square about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut into four 4-inch squares. Slice each square crosswise to make 8 triangular scones. Set the scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Using a pastry brust, lightly brush the tops with extra cream and sprinkle with seeds.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a cooling rack for a short time. Serve warm with butter or plain cream cheese. Makes 8 scones.
One more tip from Cinda:

"Think about complementary and classic combinations for the scones (red pepper
with oregano and cheddar cheese; spinach with dill and feta; proscuitto with
chopped olives, basil, and parmesan; cooked and crumbled italian sausage with
carmelized onions; or just get creative)."
I used bacon, cheddar cheese and chives. Hubby & sister loved these and eagerly devoured them. :) These are easy to whip up on a Sunday morning to go with your coffee instead of going to the coffee shop to buy them or as a snack to go in your lunch. Happy Baking my Friends!


Lemon Meringue Dessert

Ok, I've been procrastinating about writing this blog post ALL day. Now the day is nearly finished and I haven't blogged yet. :( So since I have nothing to do while my latest batch of bread dough rises, I will blog! I don't have any wine to tell you about today, so I'll tell you about an easy dessert to make this weekend. My inspiration comes from Jamie Oliver's TV show - Jamie at Home. He made his with lovely pears, chocolate, orange and hazelnut... but I didn't have that stuff on hand, so I made mine a little differently (and far more simple). There are three parts to this recipe - the meringue, lemon curd, and whipped cream.

First up - the meringue! I took this recipe from the Joy of Cooking cookbook. It's easy, but be sure you have the time to to allow them to bake and dry out sufficiently.

Recipe from Joy of Cooking p. 741


  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar


  1. Beat egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar one tablespoon at a time and beat on high until meringue holds very stiff peaks.
  2. Preheat oven to 225F.
  3. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Turn out meringue onto the lined tray and smooth it out into a rough rectangle shape. Leave it a little uneven so it looks rustic.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for about 1 1/2 hours. Turn oven off and open door a crack and leave meringue sit in oven while it cools - for about one hour until its sufficiently dry.

Now that the meringue has been baked, make the lemon curd topping. Or, if you are really efficient, make the lemon curd while your meringue bakes!!

Lemon Curd


  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • juice from 2-3 lemons
  • 3-4 tbsp butter


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 inch of water to a simmer. In a heat-proof medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar for about 2 minutes or until smooth. Whisk in the lemon juice until combined.
  2. Place the mixing bowl on top of the pot of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir the mixture constantly, scraping with a spatula, until it begins to thicken. Remove from heat when it coats the back of the spoon.
  3. Whisk in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, adding the next tablespoon when the piece before just about disappears into the mixture. Place in clean glass container with plastic wrap laid on top. This will prevent skin from forming. Store in refridgerator until ready to use.

Whip about 1 cup of whipping cream with vanilla and sugar to taste.

Now you're ready to assemble your dessert! Place the meringue (careful - its delicate and will break easily) on a wooden cutting board (remember we're going for the rustic look here!). Spoon the lemon curd over top and smooth out in a layer on top of the meringue. Sprinkle with graham crumbs (however may or few you like!). Then spoon the whipped cream over top. Garnish with more graham crumbs and grated lemon zest. Enjoy!

Remember not to assemble this dessert until right before you're ready to serve (you don't want the meringue to get soggy as the moisture is allowed back into it!) I hope you enjoy this dessert as much as we did. It is a rustic, casual dessert that is just fantastic following a family dinner. :) Happy Baking my Friends!


Red Velvet Cupcakes

I recently promised to make dessert and send it in for my old co-workers, but I was having trouble deciding what to make that would be easy to send in for them, easy to package and travel well... Plus, they wanted something chocolately with no fruit, so my choices were a bit limited. Then Anna Olson posted a new recipe on her Facebook page and it was perfect - red velvet cupcakes! Chocolately batter with a pretty pink colour and a rich cream cheese icing to top them off and make them look beautiful. These cupcakes are light, fluffy and moist and the icing compliments them really nicely. The recipe says it makes 15 cupcakes, but I got over 20 cupcakes, but I think I make mine smaller than Anna did. Remember to adjust your cooking time based on how many cupcakes you decide to make!
Red Velvet Cupcakes
Recipe from Anna Olson

  • 6 tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 6 tbsp packed dark brown sugar
  • 6 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tbsp finely grated raw beets
  • 2 tsp white vinegar

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. Beat butter, brown sugar, and white sugar together 1 minute or until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. In yet another bowl, stir buttermilk, grated beets, and vinegar together. Add the flour mixture alternatively with the buttermilk mixture, blending well after each addition. Spoon batter evenly between the cupcake liners. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, until the top of the cupcakes spring back when pressed gently. Cool cupcakes 10 minutes in tins then remove to a rack and let cool completely.
  3. For the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese 3 minutes until fluffy. Add the icing sugar and vanilla and beat gently until sugar is incorporated, then beat vigorously until icing is fluffy. Pipe or spread frosting onto each cupcake.
  4. Store cupcakes in fridge, but serve at room temperature. They will keep for 3 days in the fridge.

I hope you enjoy this recipe - I know all of my guinea pigs (whoops, I mean ex-co-workers) loved this recipe as did all of my friends I shared them with! Let me know what you think of this recipe. One thing to note about the recipe is that using beets will give the recipe a nice subtle pinky tone - if you are after the vivid red colour found in commercial bakeries and store bought products, you'll need to load this recipe up with red food colouring. Its completely up to you, but I prefer the natural way of colouring the batter... the colour is soft, subtle and pretty and you don't get that yucky processed taste that food colouring can add to your food. And you don't load up on the chemicals and artificial colouring agents that are in food colouring. :)

Let me know what you think of this recipe when you get the chance to try it out! Happy Baking my Friends!


Roasted Garlic & Pepper Jack Cheese Bread

As most of you already know, I've been on a bit of a bread-baking kick. Pretty much anything with yeast and I've been baking it! I came across this recipe for cheese bread in my Joy of Cooking cookbook and I had some roasted garlic on hand and some left over pepper jack cheese from Tillamook Cheese Factory. So I tossed that in and it turned out to be an absolutely delicious recipe for bread.
Roasted Garlic & Pepper Jack Cheese Bread
Recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking, p 598
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 pkgs ( 1 1/2 tbsp) active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese (or any cheese you want)
  • 1 head roasted garlic
  • 5-6 cups all purpose flour
  • parmesan cheese and red chili flakes for sprinkling


  1. Heat milk until warm. Add sugar, butter and salt. Remove from heat.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the warm water and yeast and let stand about 5 minutes, or until dissolved. Stir in the milk mixture. Add the egg, cheese and garlic and beat until smooth.
  3. Beat in 3 cups of the flour until well combined. Add 2-3 more cups of flour gradually until well combined and dough becomes to leave the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough about 10 minutes. Transfer dough to well oiled bowl and turn it to coat with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 hour).
  4. Grease 2 9x5 inch loaf pans. Punch down dough, divide it in half, and shape into 2 loaves. Place in the loaf pans and let rise again until nearly doubled, about 1 hour. Sprinkle loaves with shredded parmesan and some red chili flakes and bake in preheated oven at 375F for about 30 minutes. When the bread is done, the crust will be golden brown and the bottom of the loaf will sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans to a rack to cool completely.

I hope you enjoy this bread as much as I did! Its soooo delicious I couldn't stop eating it. If you have a stand mixer this bread isn't much work because the machine will do the kneading for you - just bust out your dough hook and you're set! Happy Baking my Friends!


Balsamic Chicken aka the Best Chicken You Will Ever Have

This is a recipe to make on the weekend, when you have a bit of spare time and want your house to smell amazing! Make two chickens if you're having company - people will like this chicken SO MUCH that they will eat ALL of it! :) Plus, you get to use red wine in this recipe and you know what that means? You get to drink the rest of the bottle! ;) Woot!

I have to apologize though, the last time I made this recipe, I took photos all the way through the prep stages, but I was so excited to eat it, I forgot to take photos of the finished chicken. :( So I'm sorry, you won't get photos of what the bird looks like when its cooked, but I can tell you what it looks like. It takes on a super dark finish on the skin from the red wine and the onions in the bottom of the pan carmelize and turn a really dark colour too - they taste sweet and delicious. I hate red onions, but I gobble these up because they taste THAT good! So you'll have to trust me on this one - its delicious and beautiful when its done. So please try this recipe out, despite my dismal attempt to photograph it!

Balsamic Chicken
Recipe from my Auntie Shannon
  • 1 5-6lb chicken
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp coarse salt (yes, tbsp is correct - it brings out the flavour in the chicken and doesn't taste as salty as it sounds!!)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • black pepper
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 big red onions


  1. In the morning (minimum 2 hours before cooking), combine rosemary, salt, garlic, black pepper in a bowl. Rub under chicken skin and inside of the chicken. Let stand covered in the fridge until ready to start cooking.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Finely slice red onions and layer on bottom of roasting pan. Place chicken on top of onions and pour red wine and balsamic vinegar over the chicken.
  3. Bake for 2 hours (or 3 hours if doing 2 chickens). Baste with juices from bottom of pan and additional red wine every 1/2 hour. If chicken gets too dark, cover loosely with foil to prevent further browning. Remember to baste!!!

*This is excellent erved with garlic dill mashed potatoes!

So thats it - its a simple recipe - you just have to make sure you have time to put it on to sit for a bit before putting it into the oven. Dinner party guests will definitely be impressed when you serve your chicken with the carmelized onions and garlic dill mashed potatoes! Make this for your next Sunday dinner with friends or family, they will love it!

Happy Cooking my Friends!


Chocolate Tea Cakes with Earl Grey Icing

I follow a great blog called Food & Whine. She is always posting great recipes for all kinds of things - desserts, main courses, snacks, ketchup, etc! Every time I read a new post I learn something or find another recipe I want to try. When I saw these chocolate tea cakes with earl grey icing, I just knew I had to try them. I'm really excited to share this recipe with you because they were SO good. Its not just me who thinks so! I baked them for a volunteer meeting I was attending and people eagerly devoured them with such comments as "sublime", "delicious", "amazing"... the list goes on! So these are definitely worth a try - even if the idea of earl grey icing freaks you out! Just TRY them. :) I promise, you won't be disappointed.
Chocolate Tea Cakes with Earl Grey Icing
Recipe from Food & Whine
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tea bags Earl Grey tea
  1. Make the cakes: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 18 regular-sized muffin pans with paper liners (or 48 mini-muffin). Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water). Whisk until smooth, then remove the bowl; keep the water simmering in the saucepan. In another bowl, whisk the sugar, flour and salt; mix into the melted chocolate. Add the eggs, one at a time, then whisk in the vanilla until smooth.
  2. Divide the batter among the prepared cups, filling each three-quarters of the way. Bake until the cakes spring back when touched, 15 to 18 minutes (mine took longer, probably about 22 or 23 minutes. Be sure to test with a toothpick regularly so they are neither under or over-cooked. Toothpick will come out clean when they are ready). Remove from the pans and cool on a rack.
  3. Meanwhile, make the icing: Whisk the sugar, egg whites, lemon juice and salt by hand in the bowl of a stand mixer. Empty the tea bags and add the loose tea to the bowl, then set the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water and whisk until the mixture is hot and the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer and beat with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until the mixture holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large resealable plastic bag (or piping bag fitted with a large round tip if you have one), snip the corner and pipe the icing onto the cupcakes.

I especially love the look of these cute little cakes once the fluffy, dreamy looking icing has been piped onto them. They are just so adorable looking, especially once you put them on a nice plate. I had a few people look at me skeptically when I mentioned the icing was Earl Grey... but once they tried the cakes, they lost any skepticism and eagerly took a second cake. :) I would encourage you to try out this recipe (and check out Food & Whine where I found the recipe). Thanks Jen for sharing this great recipe!

Happy Baking my Friends!


Weekend Wines IV

Happy Friday! Hopefully all of you have something spectacular to look forward to this weekend - whether it's an awesome concert, a trip with friends or family or just hanging out and taking some well deserved relaxation time! I am taking a trip to Vancouver Island with my mom & sister to visit some family and just relax and enjoy ourselves. I'm really looking forward to it.

Since it's the beginning of the weekend, I am going to post about wine again! What better time to enjoy a glass (or two) of vino than on the weekend! I've got two really great bottles of wine to tell you about today.
First up is another wine from the Burrowing Owl Estate Winery. It is a 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was a very interesting wine and apparently a very popular wine at the vineyard - they can't keep it in stock! Here are the tasting notes from the wine maker:

A deep dark red core and violet rim present a vibrant aroma of mint, cassis,
tomato leaf and fresh herbs. The palette continues with smooth balanced tannins
with long length and a clean robust finish. The wine expresses predominantly
mint, cassis, tobacco and cloves with a hint of nutmeg and the smoky notes of
the oak. Drink now through 2016, longer if properly cellared.
We tried a bottle of this wine simply because the lady working in the tasting room highly recommended it. We definitely weren't disappointed.

The second bottle of wine I'm going to tell you about today is my absolute favorite as of late. I've been waiting for Vista D'Oro Farms to release this wine all summer and am so excited to say that it totally exceeds any expectations I had for the wine! My good friend knew I had been waiting for it's release, so she bought me a bottle and brought it over for me to try! I'm so happy she did - I've already been back to buy another bottle - it's that good! :) If you're looking to try this wine, it might be available near where you live - check out this list of retailers on their webpage. And if it's not available at a liquor store, you may be able to order some online. Definitely check out their webpage.

They don't have any tasting notes up on their webpage yet, but this wine is a delicious, dry 2009 Gewurztraminer. Awesome on it's own or with seafood or pasta. If you get a chance to try this wine, I would highly recommend it!

Have a great weekend everyone! Cheers!


Coconut Chocolate Chip Brownies

First things first - I got a new haircut and have to show it off - new haircut to start my new job! Here is a photo - its definitely different and I lost about eight inches of hair. :D (I AM aware that this is not remotely food or wine related, but I'm excited ok?!)

Alright, now that my face has been plastered all over my blog... lets get on to what you came here for - awesome food! I have a confession to make - I've made some really bad batches of brownies this summer. I'm choosing to blame it on the recipes I've tried, but you never know... maybe I just have a brownie handicap. That is what I was beginning to think - "I've lost my baking touch"... it was a really panicky feeling. But then I went back to the basics - I busted out my "Clueless in the Kitchen - a cookbook for Teens" cookbook. I'm a little embarassed about that... but guess what? It worked! I took the brownie recipe, adapted it and voila - amazingly perfect brownies. So without further delay, here is the recipe for my coconut, chocolate chip (or whatever you have in your pantry) brownies.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Brownies

Adapted from Clueless in the Kitchen, page 153

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the cocoa and baking soda. Blend in 1/3 cup of the oil and mix until smooth. Pour in the boiling water, stirring until mixture thickens (for complex scientific reasons, it will thicken). Now stir in the rest of the oil, the sugar, and the eggs. Mix until smooth.
  3. Add the flour, the vanilla and the coconut extract. Blend completely - there should be no lumps. Now mix in the chocolate chips and the coconut, and pour into the greased baking pan. Spread the batter evenly to avoid crispy edges.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until just set in the middle. Don't overcook brownies - they're always better slightly moist.
  5. Let cool and cut into squares. Dust with icing sugar to make them look pretty (if you can wait that long before you devour them). Enjoy!

This recipe was a big hit - my husband didn't want me to share them with anyone (I usually give away about 1/2 of my baking so we don't end up eating all of it), kind of like my cinnamon buns - hubby hides them on everyone else in the house so he can enjoy them all to himself. :) I guess I should take it as a compliment.

Any way, I hope you enjoy this recipe and have an opportunity to give it a try - its easy and delicious. Happy Baking my Friends!


Rosemary Foccacia Bread

Lately it seems I have been in a bread baking frenzy.... anything bread and I want to try baking it. This has been both good and bad - the good thing is that I am starting to get comfortable working with yeast. The bad thing is that I've been eating a LOT more bread than I usually do. Time to double my workouts I think! Any way, I've been trying out foccacia recipes - I still haven't found one I'm in love with, but this one is quite good and I have a few suggestions that should make it even better.
Rosemary Foccacia
Adapted from Bread From Beginners handout (the Pink Spatula)
  • 1 1/2 cups + 1 tbsp lukewarm water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • a couple sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • coarse salt


  1. Add water, olive oil, salt, yeast and flour to a large bowl in order given. Finely chop leaves from one sprig of rosemary and add it to the bowl. Stir until all of the flour is incorporated. You may need to use your fingers to get the last bit of flour incorporated. Loosely cover and let sit at room temperature for 3-4 hours.
  2. The recipe notes that you should press the dough to about 1/2 inch thick on an oiled baking sheet. I thought this was too thin - I would put it into an 8x8 inch pan and press it evenly into the bottom of the pan. This will give you a thicker bread. Let rise 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F.
  3. When dough has risen, dimple it randomly with your fingertips. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with finely chopped leaves of the last sprig of rosemary and coarse salt.
  4. Bake until golden brown (about 30 minutes). Don't over bake it though - you want soft bread. Transfer to rack to cool.
  5. Enjoy!

So thats that! Easy rosemary foccacia bread. I will keep you posted if I find another recipe that I like better, but at this point, I think this recipe is winning! Do you have a favorite foccacia bread recipe? If you care to share, feel free to send me an email (check out my contact information on my blog). Thanks for stopping by. Happy Baking my Friends!