Pina Colada Cake

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Nothing screams summer more than barbeques on the back deck, ice cold pina coladas, and enough time to spontaneously whip up a cake just for-the-heck-of-it. The other day, my sister decided to make a nice family dinner to be enjoyed in the warm sunshine, and since I had some time, I decided to make this recipe for Pina Colada Cake from Glorious Treats. The cake was absolutely delicious. It was moist, superbly tropical, and incredibly easy to make.

I followed the original recipe fairly closely, making only a few minor adjustments. I’m a strong supporter of butter in baked goods, so I swapped the vegetable oil in the original recipe for the same amount of melted butter instead. I also divided the batter between two 9″ pans (instead of three 6″ pans), and used coconut rum in the cream cheese frosting instead of dark rum. The result was the perfect cake for a warm summer evening!

I hope you’re all enjoying the sunshine as much as I am. Cheers to many more summer nights (and cold drinks to go along with them)!

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I’m Dreaming of a (Sugary) Sweet Christmas

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I was showered with oodles of baking-related gifts yesterday. I was spoiled beyond words. As I opened my new cupcake carrier, baking utensils, baking pans, and cupcake corer, all I could do was dream about the tasty treats I couldn’t wait to bake. It took all of the self-control I possess to resist baking on Christmas Day–not because I couldn’t but because I had already devoured so many treats that I knew I would be sick if I ate one more sugary thing.

But when I woke up this morning, it was a new day. And new days call for new adventures.

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The holidays are filled with delicious flavours. These cupcakes were inspired by one of my personal favourite Christmas treats–candy canes! I made classic chocolate cupcakes, filled them with a chocolate-mint ganache, and piped each with candy cane speckled buttercream. The chocolate pairs nicely with the peppermint, preventing it from overpowering the cupcake.

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the cocoa and hot coffee until smooth. Set aside. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Also set aside. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Mix in the vanilla extract. Add the cocoa mixture and beat until combined. Add half of the dry mixture to the wet mixture, mixing just until combined. Add the sour cream. Add the second half of the dry mixture. Do not overmix the batter. Spoon into paper-lined cupcake tins. Bake for 20-22 minutes and remove when a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool for a few minutes in the tins, and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Meanwhile, combine the chocolate chips and peppermint extract in a small bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan and immediately pour over the chocolate. Stir until all the chips are melted. Mix in the butter, continuing to stir until combined. Place in the fridge to cool. Be sure to stir it every 15-20 minutes until it thickens.

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Cut a small hole in the top of each cooled cupcake. Fill each with a spoonful of ganache filling. Replace each hole with the piece of cupcake you removed.

For the candy cane speckled buttercream, beat 3/4 cups of softened butter. Bit by bit, add 2 cups of icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add a pinch of salt, 3 tablespoons of milk, 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract, and a 1/4 cup of crushed candy canes. Beat until smooth. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a desired tip and swirl over cooled cupcakes.

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I hope you all had an incredibly blessed Christmas. I can’t wait to share even more of my baking adventures in the new year. Now enjoy every last bit (and flavour) of Christmas while you can!

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Peanut Butter Lattice Brownies

Yesterday, my friends and I participated in a day of fasting. Although not all of us fasted from food, we decided to have a potluck dinner together at the end of the day to celebrate our efforts and share our experiences. Who doesn’t love a good potluck, right? We had a delicious dinner with casseroles, homemade poutine, pizza, sushi, veggies, and brownies. As I was considering what to contribute, I thought that sticking with a classic like brownies would be a good idea. But I decided to add in something equally delicious as chocolate–peanut butter.

These brownies were the perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter! To make them, I made my favourite brownie recipe, whipped up the peanut butter batter from a random cookbook, and combined them in a lattice pattern before baking.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 x 9 x 2″ pan with tinfoil and grease it well with shortening. For the brownie batter, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract until all are well combined. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, and salt as well. Pour it into the greased pan. Note that the batter will be fairly thin in the pan. If you want thicker brownies, use a 9 x 9″ pan instead, but adjust baking times accordingly.

For the peanut butter batter, combine all four ingredients, mixing well. Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with the desired tip or transfer to a plastic lunch baggie and snip one of the corners to the desired size. With the peanut butter mixture, draw a criss-cross pattern on top of the brownie batter. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in various areas comes out clean. Allow the pan to cool on a cooling rack for quite some time before using the excess tinfoil to remove the brownies from the pan. Transfer to a large cutting board and cut however you desire.

I decided to create a stripy pattern on one third of my pan. Before I put the pan in the oven, the peanut butter batter sat on top of the brownie mix. However, as they bake, the brownie batter will rise between the cracks and they bake quite nicely into each other. Feel free to experiment with the pattern of the peanut butter batter. I’m already eager to try a swirly pattern, or polka-dots, or even using a much thinner tip to write words. The possibilities are endless to create a very personalized treat for you and your friends (or even just you) to enjoy!

It’s a Comfort Food Kind of Day: Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today. It’s gloomy, rainy, and a little bit chilly. Although today is a perfect day by the standards of an earth worm, for the rest of us it requires curling up on the couch under a cozy blanket with a cup of tea and a film. Days like these call for just a little something to add some sweetness. That something is a baker’s classic.

Chocolate chip cookies are often forgotten. They have become such a common staple in the cookie jar, leaving them highly underestimated. In fact, I kind of forgot about this tasty treat. I’ve made so many chocolate chip cookies in my day that they don’t pose much of a challenge. But that is exactly what I was looking for today. Something simple and quick that could be devoured as soon as possible. Oh, and did I mention that eating the cookie dough straight from the bowl is pretty much the most delicious part?

There are numerous chocolate chip cookie recipes out there. In fact, there are so many that it can be overwhelming to choose which one deserves your butter and your time. I came across this recipe on Pinch of Yum. I initially picked the recipe because of how delicious Lindsay’s photos made these cookies look. But it turns out that it is the best recipe I have found to date! The cookies baked really nicely and came out chewy in the middle and crunchy on the edges. They’re sweet but are sprinkled with a little salt. The recipe won me over with the first bite.

The original recipe requires chilling the dough in the fridge for 24 hours. I, unfortunately, have zero patience so I decided to bake them right up. I have no basis for comparison, but I can honestly say that the cookies taste fabulous regardless. I halved the original recipe and ended up with 24 cookies–the perfect number for both sharing and selfishly devouring.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugars together until very light and fluffy. This may require 5-6 minutes of mixing. Add the egg. Mix in the vanilla. In a separate container, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix until just incorporated. Add the chocolate chips. Drop balls (the approximate size of golf balls) onto a greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Allow to bake for 16-19 minutes or until edges are browned. Allow to cool before removing from the cookie sheet.

What’s your favourite comfort food on those slow and rainy days?

Spice it Up: Chocolate Chai Cupcakes

A month or two ago, I was up late into the night tossing and turning. Thankfully something good came from it because when I finally came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to sleep, my mind went into a frenzy as I brainstormed some delicious new flavour combinations. Ever since that night, I have been dying for an opportunity to finally try these guys. The rich flavour of chocolate combined with the bite from the chai had my taste buds watering. This past weekend, I decided that the time had come for my ideas to finally be put to a mixing bowl.

Chai tea is one of the most delicious teas out there. It is a black tea with flavours like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom. Some chai even has a hint of black pepper, most likely giving it an extra little bite. The flavours are often paired with a fair bit of sugar as the sweetness brings out the robust flavours of the spices. Chai tea has always been a very popular drink in India but has more recently gained popularity in North America and Europe.

In order to make these cupcakes, I adapted my favourite chocolate cupcake recipe. The recipe usually calls for hot coffee, but I replaced it with concentrated steeped chai tea. I found that the cupcakes were just as moist as the coffee version. If you don’t have any chai tea, you could make a basic chocolate cupcake by using hot water instead. This will most likely not cause any problems for the flavour as long as you rely on the buttercream to deliver the spice.

This recipe is easy to make and bakes approximately 18 cupcakes. An easy chai spice mix is added to a basic vanilla buttercream to make it chai-a-licious. I sprinkled the tops with the remaining chai spice and some chocolate sprinkles. But you could top the cupcakes with anything from chocolate shavings to cinnamon sticks and all that’s in between!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Make the chai tea and allow it to steep for a generous amount of time. Whisk the cocoa powder and chai tea together until smooth. With a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the chocolate-chai mixture and the vanilla to the wet mixture and beat well. In a separate container, combine the flour, soda, powder, and salt. Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Add the sour cream. Add the second half of the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Divide the batter into muffin-lined cupcake tins and bake for 20-22 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Make the chai spice. In a bowl, beat 3/4 cups of softened butter with 2 cups of icing sugar. Add a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon of heavy cream, and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of the chai spice. Beat all of the ingredients together until it is light and fluffy. Transfer to a piping bag adorned with a desired decorating tip and swirl a little on the top of each cupcake.

So go ahead. Grab a friend, grab a cup of tea, grab a Chocolate Chai Cupcake and be prepared to spice up your day with a little joy, comfort, and sweet and spicy deliciousness!

Do you drink much chai tea? What other flavours would pair nicely with chai?