Sometimes you just gotta make cupcakes.  Am I right, or am I right?  And sometimes those cupcakes just need to straight-to-the-point, without extra thrills, and just down-right good.  Like most bloggers I’m sure, I am always trying to outdo myself with the next best innovative recipe, an ultimate, over-the-top dessert, or a crazy re-interpratation of a classic.  Not today.  Today calls for Classic Chocolate Cupcakes and Caramel.


My brain had been on over-drive working on recipes for the book.  All the holidays and seasons are starting to blend together now (bless Michael’s for stocking Christmas decorations 3 months early!).  Autumn is my most favorite season, and although I am busy baking away everyday, I didn’t want to miss out on fall baking.  While this recipe is not necessarily festive nor whimsical for Halloween, baked in some cute spidery liners makes these Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes perfectly party-approved.


For these cupcakes, I used my go-to caramel sauce.  Trust me – it is waaaaay better than anything you can find at a grocery store, is not too difficult to make, and any leftovers can be stored in your refrigerator for all of your caramel drizzling needs.  This recipe contains some salt, so adjust buttercream accordingly.  If your caramel does not contain salt, feel free to add in some fine sea salt to your liking, or sprinkle the tops of the cupcakes with flake salt. Yummm… salted caramel cupcakes…. You can find the recipes here:

Salted Caramel Sauce

Classic Chocolate Cupcakes

Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes


  • 4 ounces egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup caramel sauce, or to taste
  • pinch sea salt (optional)


  1. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an stand mixer. Whisk to combine.
  2. Place a few inches of water in a saucepan and heat over medium.
  3. Place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler. Heat until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot to the touch - about 150 - 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
  4. Once hot, return the mixing bowl back to the stand.
  5. Whisk on high until the outside of the bowl returns to room temperature.
  6. Stop mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
  7. With the mixer on medium-low, add in the butter, a few tablespoons at a time.
  8. Add in the remaining ingredients and turn mixer up to medium-high until buttercream is smooth and fluffy.
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My dear husband, bless him, has come along way with his eating habits.  When we met, he had more condiments in his fridge than real food and truly believed that frozen Jalapeño Poppers made for an entire meal.  Although he has always been open to trying new things like sushi andThai (even before I was around), now he might even be more of an adventurous eater than me.  His cooking skills have gone from only being able to cook chicken breast (still sort of impressive for a bachelor – in his defence) to making homemade gyoza with me and coming up different dishes and sauces that are quite creative and actually taste really good.

So while I am the one who mainly cooks for us, I do turn to him for certain tips.  Prior to his frozen food days, he worked at a pizza place as a teen.  One of his tasks was to make fresh dough.  I’ve mentioned it on here before that breads are not my specialty, but I have been making an effort to try more and more bread and pastry recipes when I have the time.  So when it comes to kneading and forming a decent dough, I call on my dear Brett.  The same guy that I teased for trying to cut a tomato with a butter knife.  The same guy that could once stomach a corndog from 7-11.

Yes, not all breads and pastries have the same dough or kneading process.  However, this recipe does seem to start just like the others: some warm milk, yeast, a bit of sugar, and flour.  I tend to have pretty cold hands (not to mention it has been pretty chilly these days), so my dough never quite looks right to me.  Since most of my baking requires very accurate measurements, I am always a bit stressed when my dough looks a little rough or ragged.  Have no fear!  With a bit of advice for my ex-pizza slinging main squeeze and the addition of a bit more liquids or flour until it looks just “right,” we are back on track to the goodness of this amazing bread twist.



Now you might be looking at the twisted-ness of this dish and think its too complicated.  Believe me, it’s not that bad.  If you can get past the dough-kneading, you can surely pull this off.  Ever make cinnamon rolls?  Well it is kind of the same idea, but instead of slicing into rolls, you give the whole things a big ol’ twist.  After the resting time, you will only be about 30 minutes away from warm, gooey Chocolate Pomegranate Bread Twist heaven.  The dough is spread with a cinnamon-butter mixture and topped of with chopped pecans and dark chocolate chunks.  As it bakes, the dough rises and the cinnamon-butter and chocolate melt in between all the awesome layers.  Out of the oven, give a generous snow-fall of powdered sugar and a handful of pomegranate seeds.  Best eaten warm – but I probably don’t have to tell you that.  Your nose will guide you!


One of the best parts about this bread twist is that you can change up the flavours to whatever your heart desires.  Try mixed berries in the summer, swap out the nuts, or even spread with chocolate-hazelnut butter.  I think I might have to try that combo next….. The pomegranates here make it look super festive, don’t you think?

ChocoPomBraidBread5The recipe and method were adapted by Joy the Baker.  Follow her amazing step-by-step tutorial here!

Chocolate Pomegranate Bread Twist


  • 2 1/4 t dry active yeast
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c lukewarm milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 T butter, melted
  • 2 1/4 c all purpose flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1/3 c chopped pecans
  • 1/3 c chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • pomegranate seeds
  • confectioner's sugar for dusting


  1. Stir together the sugar and yeast in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Whisk the egg yolk and melted butter into the warm milk.
  3. Pour in the yeast mixing and stir to combine. Let rest 5 minutes as the yeast froths and activates.
  4. Meanwhile, mix together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  5. While stirring with a wooden spoon, pour in the milk mixture.
  6. Stir together as much as possible before turning out on a flour-dusted work surface.
  7. Knead the dough together for about 5-10 minutes, until fairly smooth but not sticky.
  8. Place dough in a greased mixing bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen cloth and let rest for about an hour, or until dough doubles in size.
  9. Once the dough has rested, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  10. Grease a cast iron skillet (about 9-10 inches wide) and set aside.
  11. Stir together the softened butter, sugar, and cinnamon.
  12. Turn out the dough and give it a few good kneads.
  13. Roll out the dough to about a 12" by 18" rectangle.
  14. Spread the cinnamon mixture over the dough, leaving a 1" boarder around the edges.
  15. Spinkle on the chopped pecans and chocolate, pressing well into the cinnamon mixture.
  16. Starting with the long edge of the rectangle facing you, roll up the dough.
  17. Leave the dough seam-side down and tuck under the ends.
  18. Carefully slice the dough log lengthwise down the center, leaving about 1" on one end still intact.
  19. Flip the two strands of dough so the insides face up - with all the pecans and chocolate bits facing up towards you.
  20. Carefully overlap the strands of dough to create a braid.
  21. Take the braid and connect the two ends create a circle of twisted dough.
  22. In one swift, confident motion, transfer the twisted bread to the skillet.
  23. Brush the beaten egg onto the doughy parts of the bread.
  24. Press in any pecans and chocolate chunks that may have gotten loose.
  25. Bake for about 20-22 minutes, or until the edges are golden.
  26. Dust with confectioner's sugar and top with pomegranate seeds.
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When we moved a month ago, naturally, there was no food in the house.  Before I had a chance to do a big grocery trip, I ran over to the nearest store to pick up some things to get us thru the first few days.  I grabbed a box of granola, yogurt, milk, fruit, and some other items to make quick snacks and breakfast.  Each morning that I topped my yogurt off with the boxed granola, I thought, “what a shame.”  A shame because not only is a box of granola from the store expensive (for what it is), I  know I can make a much more flavorful, crunchier, and possibly healthier granola on my own.

The number one reason that I enjoy making my own granola is that you can easily switch up the flavours and ingredients to whatever you like or happen to have on hand.  It is so easy and versatile!  This way, you will never get bored of plain ol’ granola and each handful is like a little, crunchy party for your mouth.  Okay, that might sound weird, but you get what I mean…. This week’s winning combo, Pumpkin Pistachio Granola.

If you are like me, then come this time of year, you always have a partially used container of pumpkin puree hanging around.  I am always looking for new and creative ways to use pumpkin, and find myself tossing whatever puree I have around into just about anything.  For this granola, you bet I tried cooking it with some pumpkin puree.  For fall, I combined some pumpkin seeds, pecans, and dried cranberries to go with the chopped pistachios that I knew I wanted to include.  The colours are really quite beautiful together.  I tossed in some uncooked quinoa for extra crunch and added a dash of all my favourite fall spices.


Of course there is the convenience factor of store-bought granola.  If you really think that going all the way to store the store, buying groceries, checking out, blah blah blah is easier/faster than tossing some ingredients in the oven and giving them a stir every so often, then I have an even better solution for you.  I am always trying to out-conveience myself and do things faster, so say hello to Skillet Granola!  Or insta-granola, as I refer to it as.  A quick dry roast in a hot skillet, followed by only about 5 minutes of “cook” time and Voila!!

Pumpkin Pistachio Skillet Granola


  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1/3 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


  1. Mix together the maple syrup, pumpkin, coconut oil, and almonds extract in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Place the dry oats, quinoa, and pumpkin seeds in a skillet. Heat over medium-high.
  3. Dry roast, stirring every so often once the skillet starts to get hot, until the oats are fragrant and slightly toasted (about 5 minutes).
  4. Add in the wet mixture and all of the remaining ingredients (except the cranberries) and stir to evenly coat.
  5. Cook, while stirring slightly, for about 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat and mix in the cranberries.
  7. Spread mixture out on a piece of parchment paper to cool before storing.
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I’m back in Vancouver, and it is officially fall.  I could not be more thrilled!  The blog has been a bit slow, but as you might have seen on Instagram, I was out of town celebrating some very important things.  If you don’t follow along yet, you totally should.  Anyway, It was hotter on our trip to California over the weekend than the hottest day in Vancouver this summer.  I know that might not seem too strange (we live in Canada after all), but it’s October, people!!  As much as I looooved seeing my family and friends, I am happy to be back to our chilly mornings, changing leaves, and fall cooking.  Can you believe Thanksgiving is this weekend already?

Did you know that not all baked goods need to be sweet?  Of course you did, you brilliant readers of mine.  But, sometimes I forget how delicious and heart-warming savoury pastries can be.  I recently made a glorious chicken pot pie with the fluffiest, drop-biscuit crust and a pan of French onion buns.  So good.  You may remember the Apple Zucchini Muffins I made last month that made the perfect snack.  Well, I took those muffins to the next level to create these Pumpkin Squash Muffins.  For those with a busy fall schedule, like me, these are certainly going to come in handy.  Bake a batch to supplement a big pot of soup for the week to make an amazing meal, or warm one up to go with a roasted vegetable and hearty grain salad for lunch.  Yumm.  They are full of veggies, flavour, extremely moist, and easy to make.  Perfect for on-the-go snacking, too.  In fact, I will probably whip up another batch in time for Thanksgiving this weekend.  What an awesome starter or side dish!


I try to cook with the seasons, and I found the most beautiful striped zucchini at the market down the street for this recipe.  If zucchini is totally out of season in your neck of the woods, try grating up your favourite fall squash.  Feel free to change up the cheese (or leave it out completely), add in your own herbs or spices, and top with chopped, toasted hazelnuts.  So versatile!

What are some of your favourite savoury pastries and baked goods to make this season?


Pumpkin Squash Muffins


  • 1/2 c grape seed oil
  • 3/4 c pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 c grated zucchini, water squeezed out
  • 1/4 c shredded Swiss cheese
  • handful of spinach, torn into small pieces


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. Stir together the oil and pumpkin.
  4. Add in the eggs.
  5. In alternating batches, stir in the dry ingredients and the milk.
  6. Fold in the zucchini, cheese, and spinach.
  7. Divide evenly into the muffin tins.
  8. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until set and slightly golden on top. If inserted into the centre, a toothpick should come out clean when done baking.
  9. Cool on a wire rack.
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Thank you all for your patience with my posts lately.  Coming up: Pistachio Pumpkin Granola, Homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup, and more!!


If you were to open the cabinets of my kitchen, then you would quickly figure just how tea-obsessed I really am.  I’ve had a pretty decent collection for some time now.  I love going out for tea as much as I enjoy buying it, so the collection seems to grow and grow… When we moved from Cali, my tea was even packed in its own precious box.  Some of my habits tend to be borderline nuts, and my tea habit (or tea collecting) might be one of them.

My favourite teas are always black teas.  I always try greens, whites, and herbals, but they are just not the same.  The different flavorings don’t come out the same way they do in a black tea.  I love a good almond black tea, and I am such a sucker for a nice London Fog.  Although it is not necessarily a seasonal tea, I enjoy a spicy Chai the best in the fall.



To be honest, the first time I made Chai syrup (to be used in this recipe), I actually didn’t have any Chai on hand.  However, I did have an almost-full box of cardamom pods.  Anyone else have random boxes of whole spices just lying about?  No?  Just me then ;)  Anyways, I decided to make my own chai syrup with just black tea and whole spices infused into a thick, rich simple syrup.  Success!  The syrup is very strong and pretty bitter – but mix that into some hot water and steamed milk, and YUMMMM.  Ever better, mix that into some sweet, silky buttercream – HEAVEN!!



Now, we all know that Pumpkin and Cinnamon have been reigning as fall’s King and Queen for some time now.  There is LITERALLY pumpkin spice EVERYTHING: from candles to cookies, coffee to body lotion, toothpaste to motor oil…okay maybe not quite yet, but you get the idea.  For this recipe, I am starring a different orange vegetable and a whole set of spices.  These Chai Sweet Potato Cupcakes are extra moist and extremely flavourful.  Check out the full recipe over on The Kitchn.


As you know, I make more than my fair share of layer cakes.  I love the combination of a light yet velvety cake, creamy and flavourful filling, and silky smooth frosting.  However, single-layer cakes are surely and quickly finding a place in my heart.


With life getting busier and busier every day, I totally see the appeal of a single-layer cake.  In the end, they take less time to prepare and you don’t have to stress about the stability of the layers or frosting them up all pretty.  Don’t get me wrong, there will always be  a reason (or 50) to make a layer cake, but I am loving experimenting with new flavours and textures in these more “user-friendly” and forgiving single-layer cakes.




To start?  How about an upside-down cake?!?  The weather literally took a turn overnight here, and I can’t think of a better way to kick-off our official start to fall than with this Caramel Pear Upside-down Cake.  Caramelized pears, spice cake, cinnamon butterscotch drizzle, and cardamom whipped cream – yes please!!  Find my recipe over at The Kitchn.  

Hey everyone!  I’ve been waiting most of my career to share this news with you, and now I finally can.  Guess what?  I am writing my first COOKBOOK!  I can hardly believe it myself.  And now that the news is out there in the real world, I am beyond excited, anxious, thrilled, nervous, etc.  Pretty much feeling all of the feelings right now.

Earlier this year, I started working on a proposal for a book all about…can you guess?  Yes, CAKES.  Well, of course, right?!  I signed with an amazing agent late Spring, and the project got picked up by a FANTASTIC publishing company earlier this summer.  My contract with Stewart, Tabori, and Chang, an imprint of Abrams Books, currently sits on my desk ready to be signed and finalized.  They create the most GORGEOUS books with beautiful images.  I was waiting until every last “t” was crossed and “i” was dotted to let you all know, but I could not wait any longer.


Wondering where I’ve been lately and why there have not been as many original posts lately?  Well, hopefully this clears up why.  The manuscript and all of the photos (that will be shot and edited by me) are due just after the new year, so I have been busy busy baking away….

I am thrilled to be sharing this news with you all.  It’s still pretty far away, but I can’t wait until you can all have a piece of this blog in your hands. The book is going to a fabulous collection of mouth-watering cake recipes and decorating ideas/techniques.  Another piece of the puzzle that is just unbelievable is that I am photographing it myself!  The cakes will be shot in all natural lighting, using my rustic yet refined, playful yet sophisticated style.


So, if you like the photos on the blog, enjoy my cake decorating tutorials, and look forward to yummy, innovative recipes, you will love this book.  Or at least I hope so.  It’s been an exciting process so far, and I am so glad you can all now be on this journey with me.  Be sure to follow on Instagram for some behind the scenes!!


You may find my first press release about the book here on

Love you all!
xoxo Tessa


Hi everyone!  Can you believe it? A BRAND NEW recipe post!!!  I can hardly believe it myself…

It surely has been a CRAZY summer.  I have been working on a major project (details to come soon) and we are still getting settled after out move.  I’ve been super busy freelancing – hence all the shared recipes lately, but I finally have a spankin’ new recipe for you, my lovely, devoted blog readers.


This late summer Peach Tomato Tart will knock your post-Labor Day socks off.  I know, most of us are already in fall mode.  But while Starbucks is screaming “Pumpkin Spice Latte,” my Whole Foods produce aisle says something differently.  I always believe in cooking with the seasons and do my best to shop local and organic.  Maybe it is just us here in the Pacific Northwest, but we still have an abundance of stone fruit and the most glorious heirloom tomatoes I’ve ever seen.

I’ve heard of peachy tomato jam and peach ketchup before.  Once ripe, they are both perfectly sweet and juicy.  And since a tomato is technically a fruit, the sweet duo should pair nicely with each other.  I kind of make up this recipe as I went, but it turned out fabulous.  Looking for something a bit different? Check it out!



Peach Tomato Tart


  • 1 9" round raw pie crust
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup peach jam
  • 1-2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1-2 ripe peaches
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • splash of milk
  • sugar in the raw for sprinkling


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place pie crust on a nonstick baking pan or parchment.
  3. Spread the softened cream cheese on top of the crust, leaving a 1 inch border around the edge.
  4. Spoon the peach jam on top of the cream cheese.
  5. Slice the tomatoes and peaches into thin rounds.
  6. Layer the fruit on top of the jam, overlapping to completely cover the surface.
  7. Fold up the crust and pinch to seal.
  8. Dot the top with the butter.
  9. Bake for about 20 minutes.
  10. Stir the egg yolk and milk together to make an egg wash.
  11. Removed the tart from the oven, and quickly brush on the egg wash around the edge of the crust.
  12. Sprinkle with sugar and return to the oven.
  13. Continue to bake until the crust is golden brown.
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Hey everyone!  If you noticed or  wondering if I have been a little quiet here on the blog lately, you are not imagining it.  I have been working on a few big projects lately.  The latest?  We are moving!  It might just be across town, but we are moving to our very first home.  Like, we received the keys and are officially home owners!!  It’s not like the 4-bedroom house with a yard that I grew up in, but I have never been soooo proud to own 1,000 square feet in one of the best neighborhoods ever.

My current apartment is packed to the brim in boxes.  I still need to scrub the kitchen and get the carpets cleaned (so excited for hardwood floors in the new place!).  I’ll sure miss the amazing city view of our little 15th-story “box,” but I am very much ready to get out of this building.  We will be living in a gorgeous condo just steps to Stanely Park – just recently ranked the best urban back of North America by Tripadvisor, not to brag or anything.  Remy girl is going to love walks to the park, around the sea wall, and hanging out at English Bay.  Check out the pics on my Instagram.  Can’t wait for this new adventure!!

Bottom line, it will probably continue to be a bit quiet around here until we get settled in.  I’ll try to unpack the kitchen first, promise.  Fingers crossed the oven works!!


Until then, please enjoy this Apple Zucchini Muffins.  They are perfect for using up the last surplus of summer squash and the first harvest of autumn apples.  And they are fairly healthy-ish!  Topped with a cinnamon oat crumble and a side of sweetened creme fraishe, you’ll be grabbing these for breakfast or on-the-go snacks – or at least that’s how I’ve been enjoying them all week.


Find the complete recipe over at The Kitchn.



This entire summer, I have been up to my elbows in cake (or rather soapy water and cake-making dirty dishes) for a new project.  It’s been so hot with the oven constantly on and I feel like my brain is a bit fried.

We usually don’t keep a variety of beverages in the house (the fridge is already packed with butter, milk, and eggs), so I’ve been on a homemade lemonade kick lately to cool off.  Just a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice, a few ice cubes, and agave all shaken up in a cocktail shaker.  Add water and voila!  So much better than drinking plain water all day – and if you know me, then you know I’ve always struggled to drink enough water per day.

I like to jazz up my lemonade when I can.  I love adding mint simple syrup, sliced strawberries, and honey.  My favorite?  Adding raspberry puree.  Hello raspberry lemonade!

To give my brain a break from all that cake, I decided to give the ol’ classic lemon bar a twist.  By just replacing some of the lemon juice with raspberry, I came up with these amazing Raspberry Lemonade Bars!


Head on over to The Kitchn for the full recipe.