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Raspberry Cheesecake Tarts

I am such a sucker for all things raspberry. I’ve posted lots of raspberry recipes here before these Raspberry Cheesecake Tarts. There were these amazing coconut macaroons and this stunning cake, oh and this cake too and this simple galette … Just search “raspberry” and wander through the berry patch, so to speak.

Raspberries have such a potently magical flavor to them – they always taste like summer. In fact they are, to me, one of the most transporting of flavors. Even in the dead of winter when it’s grey and raining, or the streets are covered in snow, if you pop a ripe raspberry into your mouth, you get a fleeting reminder of warm days and sunshine and being outside. Nothing else quite does that for me.

These little Raspberry Cheesecake Tarts are so easy to make and require very little effort for a really stunning result. With the completely acceptable “cheat” of frozen tart shells you can whip these up in no time and take them somewhere to share with friends, or just make them for yourself. The recipe is easily halved to just make 12 …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Vanilla Strawberry Birthday Cake

Vanilla Strawberry Birthday CakeSometimes you picture something in your mind before you make it and it looks so good in your imagination that you brace yourself for the reality knowing it may not be as good. Other times you make something and you exceed your own expectations. This Vanilla Strawberry Birthday Cake exceeded my expectations and I was excited to knock my own socks off with it. I used my favorite white cake recipe and kept it simple with strawberry jam between the layers and really soft, simple almond butter cream. Since it was my birthday, I made it a bit special with some amazing mauve spray roses and an all over petal effect in the frosting.

It’s a lovely cake, easy to work with and there are no tricks here. The recipe is easy to follow and doesn’t take long to make. When you’re choosing fresh flowers for a cake make sure they are non toxic/edible (obviously) and do your best to source organic blooms and give them a bit of a rinse so you don’t end up with pesticides or pests in your cake. For this cake I simply trimmed the tiny roses and stabbed them (gently placed them?) into the frosting. I had enough to cover the whole surface but I really like the aesthetic of a sort of halo or crown of flowers along one side, sort of organically spilling across the cake’s top. Roses are technically edible but there is no bonus to munching on these pretty petals, they don’t taste like much, guests can simply remove them from their slice as they go. If you don’t want to waste the roses and rosebuds you can rinse them and float them in a bath (so luxe!) or float them in a pretty shallow bowl as a centerpiece or decorative arrangement. Alternatively you could freeze them into ice cubes to float in a punch bowl or to pretty up your water glass.

But back to the cake …

It’s lovely to look at but I promise it’s even better to eat! More pictures and the recipes are after the jump. Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments! Happy baking!  (more…)

Cinnamon Espresso Oats

In my world breakfast doesn’t begin until coffee is present and accounted for. More often than not it’s thick, black espresso, lovingly nicknamed “jet fuel” made on the stove top in an old fashioned percolator. If I’m not at home, it’s a coffee shop Americano, but either way I want it to be strong, dark and bold. I don’t add cream or sugar to my coffee, but I do enjoy coffee in sweets like my Coffee and Cream Cake or warm coffee over vanilla bean ice cream for a classic affogato. Bittersweet is a flavor profile I really love. Coffee and cinnamon both fall into this category and I find them quite remarkable together, so these Cinnamon Espresso Oats were a somewhat obvious breakfast hybrid for me. They are simple to prepare – this is barely a recipe – but they make up for it in the complexity of their nuanced flavor. I’ve dressed them up here with some creamy slices of banana and crunchy green pumpkin seeds because I find oats to be at their best when they are part of a textural landscape with a variety of things going on. All alone they can be a bit, well, stodgy, but add a crunchy crisp something or a soft fruit and they get infinitely more exciting.

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Blackberry Cheesecake Pots

There are few joys in life as pure as a perfectly ripe, sun-warmed blackberry, plucked from its bramble and eaten whilst squinting in the August sun. I have waxed poetic about blackberries before and praised their versatility and I just can’t get enough of them. These cute little Blackberry Cheesecake Pots combine my beloved blackberries with peppery ginger snap crumbs and a mascarpone cheesecake mousse that is light as air and freckled with vanilla beans. If this doesn’t taste like summer to you then you haven’t had enough rosé.

A local restaurant that I love does a strawberry cheesecake pot and this is a bit of a riff on that. Fruit on the bottom, lots of cookie crumbs and light, light, light cheesecake-ish mousse that, to my palate, eclipses the sturdy silken curd of a baked cheesecake. And honestly, it’s late August, who wants to put on the oven? Not me.

I started these little Blackberry Cheesecake Pots with homemade wild blackberry jam but you could just mash up and sweeten fresh berries if you didn’t have the convenience of jam, either one will be great, just don’t go too heavy with the sugar, you want to taste the summer-fresh flavor of the fruit, not cloying sweetness. But let me clarify, it’s also just fine to buy blackberry jam for these. I won’t tell.

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Apple Blueberry Pie

I was born in a small town in rural southern British Columbia. We had 10 acres of land and to a small child, it was enormous; a wondrous, magical place full of nature and adventure. The property sported a small orchard of beautifully twisted and gnarled apple trees and if you have seen an apple tree you may understand how magical they appear.

They have a particular grayish bark that makes them look ancient and wise and during the spring they burst with soft pink blossoms that later in the summer and fall become perfect fruit. Many a sunny summer day was spent amongst those ancient beauties, climbing, conversing with bees and picking apples, then watching my mother’s hands peel them, slice and spice them, and bake them into perfect pies in our farmhouse’s wood burning oven.

Now I live a long way away from that pastoral life, I’m decades beyond those hazy summer apple-picking days. I can easily stop by a grocery store or bakery and buy a pie, and it would be good, it might even be great. It might remind me vaguely that I once upon a time plucked sun-warmed apples in the shade of hundred year old trees. Or maybe not. Despite time and distance, nostalgia is a potent force and despite it being a seemingly insignificant goal to pick apples and make a pie from them, the action, for me, was soul satisfying. Sometimes simple things can transport us, take us back in time and place and let us re-live a moment, or re-connect with someplace or some one we have lost or moved on from.

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