little cakes … big punch

Mother of pearl!

I have fallen in love with a cupcake.

No lies.  It’s true.

After cupcake crawls in New York City and San Francisco – I found my favourite right here, in Ottawa.

Seriously.

Thank you Little cakes cupcakes for making the best darn cupcake I’ve ever tasted.

And thank you the lemon kitchen for organizing one of the best food events I’ve ever attended.  I kid you not … it was an absolute BLAST (the Red & White fundraising event for Harmony House).

I have to admit Wednesday night was full of best food moments for me.  For example … Chef Lora Kirk from Ruby Watchco Toronto made the ABSOLUTE BEST POTATO SALAD I HAVE EVER HAD.

I loved the potato salad so much that when Lora offered to send me home with some … I shamelessly took her up on her offer.

This potato salad made me completely shameless.  Ask Chef Blackie … he laughed at me as I stood in front of him and Lora, fork in hand, ready to dig into the potato salad from the demo plate.

I have no shame.

And it didn’t stop with the potato salad.  Nope … these cupcakes had a very similar effect on me.

A couple of things you should know about eating a Little cakes cupcake.

Shakira and Colleen make them fresh for each and every event.  They don’t have a store front … you contact them and place your order.  Trust me … you can taste the difference … you can taste the freshness.

When eating said cupcakes – take a bite of the entire thing.  That’s right.  This isn’t one of those cupcakes where you want to lick off the frosting and forget about the cake.  The cake is good.  And when combined with the frosting … the combo rocks.

After trying the 4 cupcakes on hand (on site … and then (again) shamelessly asking to bring 4 home with me to sample for this blog post), I decided to rank them in order of preference.

Here they are, ranked in reverse order (I do need to build up the anticipation right?):

The pina colada cupcake.  It was my 4th favourite.  Pina colada’s aren’t my favourite drinks to begin with … and although I enjoyed this cupcake (if you are a pina colada fan – you’ll really love this) it was a little sweeter than what I normally like.

My 3rd favourite was the brownie “cupcake” … fudgy and chewey … and topped with a thick chocolate buttercream.  It made me very happy.  2nd favourite … and I honestly thought this was going to be my favourite one … was the maple french toast.  The cake itself was a nice light spice cake … and then the maple glaze on top of the frosting … it really and truly tasted like a bite of french toast.  This was no imitation of the real thing … the flavours were completely spot on.

Oh how I heart french toast …

And the number one BEST CUPCAKE EVER.

Well … my choice just might surprise you.

No chocolate.

No lemon.

No peanuts.

Nothing that normally tops my best of list …  nope.  None of those things.

This one was all about the banana rama.  The absolute perfect cupcake … it was so light.  It was so moist.  It tasted of fresh bananas.  No fake stuff here.  It was pure goodness. I swear I spent most of the evening telling everyone they should go over and try one.  It made me smile and a little green with envy … my banana cupcakes NEVER turn out this well … they usually are slightly heavier, more like a muffin than a cupcake.

Ab-so-lute wonderfulness.  Sigh.  How I heart this cupcake.

I wish every day was like last Wednesday … killer potato salad and banana rama cupcakes.

Loves.

wordless wednesday :my thomas hass experience

Have you heard of Thomas Haas?

He makes some pretty great truffles - especially his lemon thyme chocolate and his raspberry chocolate.

I know because I tried 18 different types.  In less than 30 minutes.

Actually 17 different types (we had double of the earl grey chocolate truffle to taste).

My Thomas Haas experience actually took place in a food court.  Can’t you just picture  Justin Rogers and I sitting in a food court, I have my camera and Justin has plates, napkins and a knife?  People must have thought we were nuts … my snapping away at each chocolate … Justin cutting each one in half, taking pictures on his iphone … and then we would both dig in.  Some we LOVED and some were so-so (I have to honestly say that Justin makes better cassis and passionfruit truffles). 

Needless to say … even though Justin and I didn’t make chocolate or bake together that afternoon … we still had a sweet time together … I mean … just look at them! 

ps.  Valentine’s day is almost around the corner … I think you should all start thinking about having a Justin Roger’s experience … well you can skip the food court taste test … but you can certainly get some of his equally beautiful and delicious truffles and share them with people you love  … just sayin’

 

spiced brown sugar cookies

Ok … so I totally meant to post this recipe before Christmas.

It’s true! 

I made it for my Christmas cookie exchange at work,  and I even shared it on Rogers Daytime Ottawa on the 21st (Lois, Tom and I had a blast making these) … with the intention to post the recipe the next day.

Only … I got caught up in some of my holiday baking (scones, monkey bread, cranberry orange upside down cakes, sticky buns, squares, cheesecakes, and lots of lemon meringue tarts) … and blogging was the last thing on my mind.

Until today. 

I realized … better late than never with this recipe … it makes a really delightful little cookie … full of spice, a little sweet … a little crunchy yet still soft in the centre.

Mother of pearl I heart this cookie.

Plus … it’s really (and I mean REALLY) good as the base for a lemon cheesecake (the spices and the lemon are a great contrast).    

You see … I’ve re-functioned the cookie for post holidaysjust don’t cover the cookies in the powdered sugar / cinnamon mixture.   

This is another Donna Hay recipe.  I know … my love of Ms. Hay continues (as does my love of her ipad app) … and these cookies certainly solidify her awesomeness. 

I think you’ll like them too.  

spiced brown sugar cookies

ingredients:

1 c. powdered sugar

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 1/4 c. flour

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp baking soda

120 g butter, room temperature

1 c. brown sugar

1/3 c. corn syrup

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Place the icing sugar and ground cinnamon in a bowl and mix well to combine.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer (or with your handheld mixer) beat together the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup until pale and fluffy – about 3 minutes at medium speed (don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time).

Add the egg and vanilla to the batter – beating at medium speed to combine well.

Turn off the mixer: add the flour, baking soda and spices, mix in until incorporated.

Roll small amounts of the cookie dough into balls – about the size of a small chocolate truffle.  Place on a cookie sheet (lined with parchment paper), leaving room to spread. 

Bake for 8 minutes – rotating halfway through baking.  You’ll know they are ready when they are slightly cracked. 

Allow the cookies to sit on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.  You want the cookies to still be slightly warm when you coat them in the icing sugar mixture.If you’re making these cookies for a cheesecake base – this is where the recipe ends.  Simply allow to cool, pulse in the food processor to a fine crumb, add some melted butter and mix to combine.  Press into the base of your cheesecake pan.  You won’t be disappointed.  I promise.

However … feel free to make these cookies as they were originally intended … Put the cookies (a few at a time) in the powdered sugar / cinnamon mixture – gently tossing the cookies until they are coated in the sugar.

Place them on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Makes 84 truffle sized cookies.  Absolutely delightful cookies!

I’m glad these cookies are my first blog entry in 2012 … a recipe I truly love to share with all of you :0) 

Enjoy … et bonne année!