Raspberry Diamonds

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These elegant shortbread cookies were perfect for holiday celebrations and #BakeChain packages. I found this recipe at Fine Cooking (particularly their special edition magazine The Best of Fine Cooking: Cookies).

I knew I found a winner when my Dad gave them his seal of approval… but he said he’d like them better without the jam and the glaze. Thanks, dude!

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Book Review: Mrs. Fields Best Cookie Book Ever!

In my very first baking blog (no longer active), I had a series of cookbook reviews. I decided to continue that unknown tradition with a clean slate. You might ask, “Cookbooks? Do people still buy those?” Yes, stupid. Shaddup! Despite usually turning to the Internet for recipes, I just loved owning and thumbing through recipe books. I have a simple criteria: Every recipe must have a picture!

This is the story of Mrs. Fields Best Cookie Book Ever!, at least from my perspective. Call it a peek into my childhood; the door to my inevitable passion for baking…

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Neapolitan Cupcakes

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I found the recipe for this classy cupcake at CookingClassy.com though I used my own strawberry buttercream. I was looking for a lovely cupcake to complement a lovely meal prepared by my friend’s mother. Alright, I’ll level with you, I was trying to impress the mother. Not sure why, probably because I can’t impress my own sometimes.

(If my mom is reading this, I’m totally kidding! Love you!)

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Star Wars: The Fondant Awakens

 

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I was recently asked to do a Star Wars themed birthday cake for a young padawan named Maggie. Excited, I was! And while my ambitions and creativity expanded to a galaxy far, far away, timing and — let’s get real — my abilities would hold me back. But, you can do a lot with a little bit of fondant and a catalogue of Star Wars characters.

Lucky for me, someone gifted me with a set of Star Wars cookie cutters and with some extra fondant to give dimension to his eyes and nose, a confectionery Yoda was born!

The others, however, required a little more fun and attention to detail.

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The setting along the side of the cake was of Tatooine (not pictured is the planet’s dual suns over the horizon). I was going to go with a non-figurative representations of jawas but then I remembered this is for a kid’s birthday… and without sleeves they were essentially erect penises on the side of the cake.

And now you can’t unsee it. Moving on…

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C-3P0 was enormous fun to build! His detailing was very simple and translated well into fondant. But what’s a 3P0 without his R2?

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With a dome coloured with silver pearl dust, some strategically placed blue fondant, and a few indented lines, R2-D2 came alive to accompany C-3P0. If I had more time and room, I would’ve loved to create all the characters!

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The surface of the cake might not be anything to write home about, but I know one little girl who was very happy with her cake. One day, I’ll make a cake depicting the trench run scene, or a 3D ewok cake, or maybe a detailed Millennium Falcon cake; but until then, I’ll just keep training practicing.

Spreading Love with Rainbow Cupcakes

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In my last post, you might have noticed that I got a little sentimental (I regret nothing!) So let me fill you in on some of the behind the scenes stuff: Because my friends wanted a chocolate cake for the Gender Reveal cake, I had to make at least one batch of vanilla cake to dye blue. Needing only half for the cake presentation and having mixed a full batch of vanilla batter, what’s a girl to do? Mom always told me not to waste food so….

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I reserved half the batter and divided it into three bowls to mix red, yellow, and green. And of course, I left some blue batter for these fun little cupcakes. I carefully spooned the batters, layering them gently and baked as per usual. Topped with my usual vanilla buttercream and dressed with these little pink chocolate hearts I molded, these rainbow cupcakes are just another way to spread the love!

The Great Gender Reveal Cake

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I try not to get too personal on this blog even though I take baking very personally. Sure, the things I bake for my friends and family are personal but when I blog about them on here, it’s to show my growing technique or share an exciting recipe. But when my dear friends Brandon and Marisa broke the news that they were expecting a baby and wanted me to make a gender reveal cake for the celebration, I didn’t fully grasp how personal it would mean to me to be asked and trusted with this information. To blog about the experience, about the cake, I have no choice but to get personal and perhaps a little uncomfortably emotional about it.

Simply put: I’ve made many cakes before but this was hands down the best cake experience of which I’ve had the honour of being a part.

With the parents-to-be in gender-neutral clothing.

Being the only person with a naughty little secret sporting a grin of Cheshire Cat proportions as party-goers made their guesses by donning pink or blue, I felt a little smug… maybe even a little powerful. And while everyone’s eyes were on the cake as it was being sliced, my eyes were on the parents-to-be, and their parents, and everyone else’s reaction. I teared up before the cake revealed to the room what a piece of paper revealed to me a week before – IT’S A BOY!

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Big smile for a baby boy!

Let’s be honest, their reactions would have been the same whether that cake revealed pink or blue. And though you don’t know Brandon and Marisa personally, I will tell you this: that they will be amazing parents and I look forward to spoiling that kid with many baked goods!

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Some chocolate cupcakes to accompany The Great Gender Reveal!

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Eager cousin Oliver was hoping for a little girl cousin. Maybe next time, buddy!

Photos by Dianna Reis Martin (soon-to-be auntie to a beautiful baby boy)


Disclaimer
Father-to-be Brandon included this statement on the event invite that I wanted to make clear as well:

And for the record, please don’t think we agree with gender colours… this is just for a party! Our girl would be decked out in blue, and our boy would be proud to love pink!

Well said!

Welcome to the #BakeChain

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Introducing the #BakeChain! A fun little “spread the love” project I decided to start that involves, what else? Baking! Unlike the Herman Friendship Cake, this bake chain letter is more personalized and free – you can bake what you want, as much as you want, dress it up however you like, and most importantly, you personalize it with a sweet little note to the recipient telling them what they mean to you. Your friend, in turn, will spread that love to three other people they know. Man, the idea of it alone is giving me diabetes!

So here is what you’ll need:

  • Baked goodies; 1-2 dozen cookies/brownies/tarts/whatever will do; it’s totally up to you! Want to bake three small cakes? Have at it! Did you only make 1 dozen regular-sized muffins? Feel free give your friends 4 each. It’s the thought that counts.
  • A little note expressing how awesome your friend is!
  • Some packaging for your treats. This can be brown paper bags, small tin containers, or tupperware. I found these decorative treat boxes at Bulk Barn (see below) that I will hand-deliver to their homes.  Well, at least to two of them. One of my friends happens to live in another city, so I’ll be sending it via post in a less decorative box.
  • A copy of the instructions so that they can extend the #BakeChain to their friends! You can copy and paste the instructions below.
  • When or if you receive a #BakeChain package, you must take a photo of it, along with the note of love and post it on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and tag the person who sent it to you and hashtag it #BakeChain.

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I will post the recipes for my cookies later. Be on the look-out for that!

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INSTRUCTIONS (PRINT AND INCLUDE IN YOUR #BAKECHAIN PACKAGE)

How to #BakeChain

  1. Take a photo of your treats along with the note with your name on it and post on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter using the hashtag #BakeChain and tag the person who gave you the sweets.
  2. Select three other friends and bake some cookies, brownies, cupcakes, muffins, tarts, or anything else of your choosing for them. The quantity and how you pack or present the parcel is up to you.
  3. Include a note for the recipient explaining why you cherish them.
  4. Include a copy of these instructions.
  5. Deliver your dessert package by any means: hand-delivered, postal service, or bike courier, whatever!
  6. There is no time frame for when you need to send your baked goods. Just don’t be the person who weakens the chain!