#90) Coco Chai Rooibos Chiffon Cake with Maple Meringue

Inspiration, according to Oxford Dictionaries, is "the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative."

For the first installment of Anna's Bake Off, Anna Olson has asked her fans to make her Earl Grey Chiffon Cake with Maple Meringue (or add your own creative flair).  She also asked that we keep tea time in mind for our photos and talk to her about what inspires us.  

Well, I went the creative route and made a couple little changes to the recipe.  First of all, I halved the cake recipe as husband and I have no will power whatsoever and would devour the entire thing between the two of us. I used David's Tea Coco Chai Rooibos (amazing!) as the flavor base for the cake, used some vanilla sugar I had kicking around, and I traded out the lemon zest for orange zest.  I also added some sugar shards as a garnish to finish it all off.

As for my inspiration, well, can you see the springtime tea pot in the background there?  Well that springtime tea pot represents my spring baby, who made his début just 10 weeks ago.  In such a short time this little bundle has changed my life incredibly and he has come to inspire me in so many ways.  His adorable giggles are proof that I can do the hardest job in the world and that alone inspires me to throw myself headfirst into any other challenges that come my way.  Boiling syrup - why not?  Making meringue - no problem!  This kid's momma can do anything :)  (Well, she can try to anyway)

Just an FYI - this was my very first attempt at a chiffon cake and seeing as I had never made one before, I didn't have the proper tube pan in the kitchen.  Although the end product was delicious, because I couldn't cool the cake upside down, there was a certain airiness missing.  So my advice to all you chiffon cake newbies - get the right pan!

Coco Chai Rooibos Chiffon Cake


1 1/2  tsp Coco Chai Rooibos loose tea
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp  boiling water
4 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup + 2 tbsp pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar, seperated
1/4 cup vanilla sugar
1 1/4 tsp  baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 egg yolks, room temperature
1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1.5 oz  milk chocolate, chopped and melted


- Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Keep an 10-inch tube pan ungreased.  (I used 8-inch round pan - not the best idea I ever had)

- Steep the tea in the boiling water, until the water cools to room temperature.  Remove tea diffuser.

- Whip the whites with the cream of tartar until foamy, then add 2 tbsp of the sugar and continue whipping until the whites hold a medium peak.  Set aside.
- Sift flour, remaining sugar, vanilla sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl or into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment.  Add cooled tea, vegetable oil, egg yolks, vanilla and orange zest.  Whip this mixture on high until it is thick, about 4 minutes.  Add the melted milk chocolate and whip in on low speed.  Fold in half of the whipped egg whites by hand until they are incorporated, then fold in the remaining whites (the batter will be quite fluid).

- Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top of the cake springs back when gently pressed.  (With the right kind of pan...) Invert the cake pan onto a cooling rack and cool the cake upside down in its pan.  To extract the cake, run a spatula or knife around the outside edge of the cake, then tap the cake out onto a plate.

Maple Meringue


2  egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp  cream of tartar
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup  pure maple syrup


- Whip egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy, then add sugar and whip to a soft peak.  

- Bring maple syrup to a boil and cook uncovered and without stirring until it reaches a temperature of 242 F (softball stage) on a candy thermometer.  

- While beating on medium speed, carefully pour maple syrup into meringue by pouring it down the side of the bowl (this will help prevent splashing of hot syrup) and continue whipping until mixture has cooled but is not quite room temperature, about 3 minutes.

- Use a spatula to spread the meringue over the entire surface of the cake (use a small spatula or butter knife to frost the cake inside the center hole).  

Sugar Shards


1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water


- Combine sugar and water in sauce pan.  Heat and stir on medium-low until sugar is dissolved.

- Boil, uncovered, on medium-high for 5-10 minutes, without stirring, until deep golden brown color.

- Pour onto greased baking sheet and let cool for 20 minutes.

- Use knife to break into shards. 

- Use tongs to garnish cake with shards (to avoid pesky finger prints on your pretty sugar shards).


#89) Strawberry Surprise Mini Cupcakes

Wow!  So much to share...  and not just the delicious little cupcakes in the picture :)

Husband and I have welcomed our own little sweetie into the world!  Our little man is already 9 weeks old and is perfect in every possible way :)  He has changed our lives in so many ways, but it seems like things are just how they were always meant to be - a truly amazing feeling.  It blows me away how much he changes each and every single day... before you know it he'll be making sweet treats of his own, maybe like these cute little cupcakes :)

Now, for anyone who reads my recipes, you know I am a chocoholic at heart - there's no denying it.  So the thought of a simple vanilla cupcake doesn't really excite me all that much, but throw some homemade Strawberry Rhubarb Apple Jam in the middle of that thing and I am all over it!  Top it all off with some fluffy Strawberry Rhubarb Frosting and I will devour it :)  So that's just what I did.  Give it a try and let me know how many you chow down before sharing!

Vanilla Cupcakes


1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup vanilla sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup Strawberry Rhubarb Apple Jam, recipe found here


-Preheat oven to 350F.  Line mini cupcake pan with paper liners.
-Cream butter and sugars.
-Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
-Whisk together dry ingredients in small bowl.
-Alternately add dry ingredients and milk, stirring to incorporate after each addition.
-Divide half the batter between 24 mini cupcake liners.
-Spoon 1/2 teaspoon of jam into each liner.
-Cover jam with remaining batter.
-Bake for 7-9 minutes.
-Let cool completely.  Frost and enjoy!

*makes 24 mini cupcakes

Strawberry Rhubarb Frosting


1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup icing sugar
2-3 tbsp Strawberry Rhubarb Apple Jam, depending on personal taste


-Cream butter.
-Slowly beat in icing sugar.
-Stir in jam.


#88) Cocoa Bliss Chocolate Cake

Okay guys, we've got less than two weeks left to go until our little bun comes out of the oven!  It sure is a very exciting time for us and we couldn't be happier, but I have a feeling if you asked my husband what the hardest part of having a pregnant wife is, he would surely say something about all the munchie missions I have sent him on in the last 9 months.  I have asked for everything from chips to burgers to slushies...  But for those of you who know me well, you know that I have asked, even begged, for chocolate cake!  And this hasn't been one of these one-time only, limited time offer cravings either - this one pops up every other week.  (My poor husband!)  So, knowing my weakness for homemade versus store-bought cake, he offered to make me a decadent, over-the-top chocolate cake full of whipping cream, cream cheese, and butter...  Oh yeah, I am that lucky ladies!  But sometimes its the simplest things in life that bring the most pleasure, so we worked together and made this very simple yet very satisfying chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  No fancy ingredients, just all the good ones :)  Try it out the next time you are craving chocolate cake and you won't be disappointed, I promise!

                                                       Photo by souRIRE photography

Chocolate Cake 


2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder (the better the cocoa, the better the cake!)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk (I used half evaporated milk and half water)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (don't skimp, trust me its worth every drop)
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup boiling water


-Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans.

-Mix together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.

-In a small bowl gently whisk together eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla.  Add to dry ingredients and mix on medium until well-incorporated.

-Stir in boiling water (don't worry, the batter really is supposed to be that thin).  Pour batter into prepared pans.

-Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool in pans for about 10 minutes, then remove and let cool on wire racks.  Let cool completely then slather on the icing :)

Chocolate Icing


1/2 cup margarine, melted (I didn't have any butter in the fridge)
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla


-Stir together melted butter and cocoa.  Add about 1 cup of icing sugar then half the milk.  Stir to incorporate.

-Add the remaining icing sugar, milk, and vanilla.  Stir to combine.  (At this point I like to give my Kitchen Aid a good work out and let it whip that frosting for several minutes to make it as fluffy as possible - so delicious!)

*Be sure to check out this week's "Sweets for a Saturday" here: http://sweet-as-sugar-cookies.blogspot.ca/2012/04/sweets-for-saturday-66.html


#87) Chewy Oatmeal Crunchies & an Announcement

I haven't been around much lately, have I?  Not since July!  I have a laundy list of excuses to explain my absence, if you're interested...

Let's see...  where to start???  Well let's start with August...

August - travelled to best friends' wedding :)  brought parents back to the Big Land :):)  (didn't leave a lot of computer time)

September - new job, oh and (warning, big announcement coming up...) first trimester exhaustion = zombie

*That's right, we've got a bun in the oven!!!!!  And well, he's almost ready to make his début (6 more weeks).

October & November - I worked and I slept, that is all.  Who knew a baby the size of a pea needed so much of momma's energy?????

December & January - tried to catch up on some of the regular things I had missed out on in October and November (husband, friends, dog, etc.)

February & March - oh this is a fun one... Sick leave due to pregnancy-related, severe hip and pelvic pain (this makes buzzing around in the kitchen pretty much impossible...  these cookies would not exist if it wasn't for husband's help, trust me.)

So there you have it, my plea for your forgiveness.  I promise to do better from now on, really, I do!  Please accept these cookies as my sincere apology.  They are chewy and crunchy all at the same time, thanks to the rice crispies (who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?).

PS - Stay tuned, I think there might be another sweet treat in the near future, if I can walk tomorrow, that is :)


2/3 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla
2 cups rolled oats, old-fashioned (not instant)
1 cup flour
1 cup rice crispies
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips


-Pre-heat oven to 375F.

-Beat butter and brown sugar unitl fluffy.

-Beat in egg and vanilla.

-Add dry ingredients.

-Stir in chocolate chips.

-Spoon heaping tablespoonfuls onto greased or lined cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.

-Bake for 10 minutes or until golden.  Let cool on pan for 2 minutes, before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

*makes about 3 dozen cookies.