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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!

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Head on over to The Kitchn for the full recipe.

AguaFresca2Guys.  I have a confession.  It might just be summer love, but I am completely smitten with a new a treat.  That, my friends is Watermelon Agua Fresca.  So refreshing, hydrating, and delicious.  It actually might be Aguas Frescas or “fresh waters,” so please forgive me.  Regardless of what you call it, start sippin’ these babies before summer runs out.

Agua Fresca can be made in a verity of flavors.  Most summer fruit like melon and pineapple can easily be used, especially those with high water content.  Pretty much all you are going for is blended fruit, water, and sweetened.  My favorite version?  Watermelon Mint.

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For this drink, I’ve blended up some summer watermelon, made a mint simple syrup, and topped it off with some sparkling water.  So next level.  So move over lemonade, and say hello to Watermelon Agua Fresca!

Watermelon Agua Fresca

Ingredients

  • About 6 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups sparkling water
  • 1/4 cup mint simple syrup, or to taste (1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup packed fresh mint)

Instructions

  1. Make the simple syrup by placing the water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn heat down and simmer until sugar is dissolved and mixture starts to thicken - about 5 minutes. Removed from heat and stir in the fresh mint. Let steep for 15 minutes then strain.
  2. Blend watermelon in a blender or food processor. Blend in batches, if necessary.
  3. Strain through a mesh sieve into a pitcher.
  4. Stir in the cold water and ice cubes.
  5. Stir in cooled simple syrup to taste.
  6. Top each glass with a few tablespoons of sparkling water before serving. Serves about 6-8 glasses.
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I made this cake a couple weeks ago as a going-away cake for some friends.  They are French, yet happen to hate French food – or at least he does.  No cheese.  No fruit or vegetables of any kind.  How can that be?  I can only imagine all the delicious, rich food I would gorge myself with if I ever lived in France.

While he may not be into classic French cuisine, he does love his dessert.  So I guess that is pretty French of him, no?  This cake does no particularly remind me of a fine Parisian gateau, but it is undoubtedly sinful.

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This cake is all things rich, sweet, and decadent.  And with the summer heat, if you are brave enough to turn on your oven, then you definitely deserve a slice.  Moist banana nutella cake is layered with rich chocolate ganache and creamy buttercream.  The same chocolate-hazelnut buttercream is used to ice the cake.  Throw on some toasted hazelnuts for extra crunch and texture, and there you have it!  Don’t forget to serve with the salted caramel sauce – that’s my favorite part.

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Salted Caramel Sauce

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Place sugar, water, and corn syrup in a medium sauce pan.
  2. Gently stir or swirl to combine.
  3. Heat over medium heat until mixture is amber in color and bubbles "calm down." This should take about 5-8 minutes. Swirl pan occasionally to stir.
  4. Once amber, remove from heat.
  5. While whisking continuously, carefully pour in the cream.
  6. Add int he butter and salt. Whisk until combined.
  7. Pour into a heat-safe container.
  8. Let cool before use.
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Find the entire recipe over on The Cake Blog.

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Be honest.  Who feels like turning on their oven in this summer heat?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.  But, that should not deprive you of delicious desserts for the entire season.  Solution?  These No Bake Cheesecake Verrines!  These silky, rich cream cheese custards are paired with a berry gelee, all a top a simple graham cracker crust.

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If you’ve been following the blog, then you know how much I love to pair different flavors together to create new desserts.  Making verrines or trifles are an easy way to do just that.  For this dessert, I’ve taken the compotes of a traditional berry cheesecake to create individual, layered treats.

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Head on over to The Kitchn for the complete recipe!

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All I want to eat around here is fruit.  Juicy, ripe, vibrant fruit.  Watermelon, BC cherries, red berries – you name it.  It is actually HOT here in Vancouver, and summer fruit is the only thing I find refreshing.  Okay, you might be thinking – HOT in Canada?  Oh please.  But hey, this California girl knows a thing about heat, and yes, it is toasty up here.  Like sweat-all-day-while-baking hot.  It is most likely because we don’t have A/C and I bake all day, but still.  Bring on the fruit!

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Okay, okay – maybe I am complaining a bit too much.  I mean, it is absolutely GORGEOUS in this city of ours.  Especially compared to the months and months of rain we usually get.  The sun rises high everyday at about 5am, and we get to enjoy all of its glory until literally 10pm.  Last night, we had a picnic on the beach and watched the sun set over the water.  It was probably the most relaxing and beautiful Tuesday I have had in a long time.

Meanwhile, since I can’t stop baking inside, I will keep eating my fruit and carry on.  We currently have the most gorgeous raspberries up here, and I turned them into a glorious buttercream.  Paired with a citrus-scented cake and vibrant glaze, this Raspberry Blood Orange Cake is bright and fresh.  Perfect for summer.

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Head on over to The Cake Blog for the full recipe!

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After receiving such much awesome feedback from my Watermelon Cake, I was s0 jazzed to come up with another tutorial post for you all, specifically:  How to Ice a Cake: Version 2.0 (The Perfect Ombre).

Let’s be honest, I am not totally up on my party trends these days.  I no longer make wedding cakes on a weekly basis and it has been nearly 4 years(!!!) since I planned my own.  Is ombre still a thing?  I made my first ombre cake years ago, but are people still into it theses day?  I know the trend hit weddings and cakes a while ago, but I’ve even seen it more recently with hair and nails, so perhaps ombre still lives on.

So clearly I might not be ahead of the trends, but I do know what is pretty.  And pretty is this lovely, summery ombre cake.  I still love color gradients and the dreamy transitions from pinks to corals to buttery yellow, and I hope you do to.  Reminds you of sherbet, right?  Creating this ombre effect out of buttercream is probably much easier than you think, and this version of How to Ice a Cake will leave you feeling like a pro.  Using the color palette of your choice, a piping bag, and few other basic cake tools, you will be whipping up ombre masterpieces left and right.

Step 1:  Torte and fill a round layer cake.  Make sure everything is trimmed and even before you start icing.

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Step 2:  Give your cake a nice crumb coat with plain vanilla (white) buttercream.

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Step 3:  Select the color you’d like to end your ombre with.  For me, I just used white.  Place a large dollop of buttercream on top of the cake.

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Step 4:  Using a small off-set spatula, smooth out the buttercream on top of the cake (as you would ice a regular cake).  Don’t be afraid of some of the icing hangs over the edge of the cake – it will help with the ombre blend later.

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Step 5:  Select your color palette.  Tint buttercream about 4 different colors (about 1/3 – 1/2 cup of buttercream for each color).  Feel free to create a gradual color transition or a bold, contrast-y one!

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Step 6:  Place your first color in a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip.  Starting at the bottom, pipe rings of icing around the cake.  Layer in the next color(s) into the piping bag and continue around until you reach the top of the cake.  You may use the same piping bag to help with some of the color transition.  However, if your colors are bold and are becoming too “streaky,” then feel free to use a clean piping bag in between colors.

This step does not have to be perfect.  Since we are only using a little bit of icing in each color, it might be tricky to pipe a smooth line.  Try aiming to get an even amount of buttercream on all sides.  You do not need a ton of icing, but enough so that when we smooth it out, there will not be cake poking thru.

If you created a lot of icing in each color, remember that you do not need to use it all.  If you find yourself halfway up the cake on your first color, you might want to scale back.

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Step 7:  Once all of the colors are on, begin smoothing out the buttercream.  Start by just using an off-set spatula held perpendicular to your turntable.  Remove any excess frosting, but do not worry about getting things perfect just yet.  Be sure to completely clean of your tools between use.

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Step 8:  Take your icing smoother and continue to even out the icing.  Place the smoother lightly on the cake, with the bottom touching the turntable, and rotate the cake around.  Remember to clean your tools between “swipes.”  If there are any holes, carefully add in a bit of icing in that color.

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Step 9:  Carefully smooth out the top edge with an off-set spatula, as you would with icing a regular cake.  Voila!!

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So, how’d ya do?  Not too difficult, right?   The color transition does not have to be perfect (mine wasn’t), but still pretty.  There are so many color options to explore!  All pinks or all blues – or get crazy with a tie-dye of purple, red, and yellow!  What colors will you try first?

TIPS:
–  I HIGHLY recommend using a Swiss or French meringue buttercream.  These types of buttercreams are silky, smooth, and blend beautifully.
–  If you are beginner baker, check out this tutorial on How to Ice a Cake.
–  Not confident about getting such a smooth finish or prefer a more rustic looks?  Try this Watercolor Cake version.
–  Place cake on a cake round before icing – it will make transferring the cake from the turntable to a cake stand much easier.  Hate seeing the round itself?  Try using a cake round that is the same size as your cake instead.  It might be a little trickier to move, but better than nothing.  To move, slip a think off-set spatula underneath the cake, and spin and lift it off.

PeachCones

Happy (first day of) National Ice Cream Month!!  To celebrate, I’ve gathered some of my favorite ice cream recipes from around the web.

From mouth-watering flavors like Sea Salt & Honey and a Cookie Dough Ice Cream Bombe to non-dairy recipes and those that don’t require churning, you will be set all summer long.

Check out The Best Frozen Treats to Beat the Heat!

by Tessa Lindow Huff at Foodie.com

Remember to head over to Foodie.com for more recipes or to make you own collection! What’s your favorite ice cream for summer?

Post sponsored by Foodie, but collection and opinions are my own.

BritCoPopsicle1

It’s summertime in the city, and I am keeping this popsicle train rolling.  Although I will be celebrating Canada Day tomorrow, surely I will still enjoy a hot dog or try to catch part of a baseball game come 4th of July to acknowledge my American roots.  In honor of all the patriotism and celebration this week, I bring you Red, White and Blueberry Popsicles.

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Those Bomb Pops of our youth just got a whole new look! Make the natural, grown-up version of the striped, frozen treats from fresh berries and yogurt instead artificial dyes and extra sugar. These pops are fruity, creamy and super festive — what more could you ask for?! So be sure to make a batch to celebrate July 4th or to beat the heat on any summer day!

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I’m sharing all of the instructions over at Brit + Co.   Go check it out!

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Oh hey!  Did you hear?  It’s POPSICLE WEEK!!  It’s been super sunny here in Vancouver, and I’ve cleared my freezer for a permanent spot for my popsicle molds.  I mean, it was nearly 75 degrees here today!  I know, that’s hardly anything.  But even this California girl can feel it getting pretty toasting up here every now and then.  Definitely warm enough for popsicles.

I really wanted to go tropical with this recipe.  Currently, a big hunk of my family is having a mini reunion in the small village town where my grandfather was born in Hawaii.  Sadly, we could not make it out this year, but I have been so inspired by the flavors.  So for all of us that can’t make it out for an island getaway, I will bring the tropics to you.

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Today, I went with Roasted Pineapple Coconut Popsicles.  With a touch of fresh lime juice and dark brown sugar, the pineapple roasted up super sweet and caramely.  I paired pineapple pieces with a creamy mixture of coconut milk, vanilla yogurt, and a touch of sugar.  Originally, I blended everything together, but the color was not very pleasing (due to the brown sugar and roasted goodness).  They still tasted fantastic, so whether you like you pineapple whole or blended, either way will do.

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Makes about 6 popsicles, depending on the capacity of your mold.

Roasted Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pineapple, cut in chunks
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • juice from one lime
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the pineapple chunks, lime juice, and brown sugar in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally, on the stove top until the liquids begin to boil.
  4. Carefully transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for about 10 minutes, or until the liquids are syrupy and the pineapple is a bit soft but not mushy.
  5. Remove skillet and transfer pineapple to a heat-safe bowl to cool.
  6. Once cool, either dice into desired size pieces.
  7. Meanwhile, mix together the coconut milk, yogurt, and sugar.
  8. Place a few pineapple pieces in the bottom of the popsicle molds.
  9. Spoon in the coconut mixture over the top.
  10. Continue to work in layers adding in more pineapple and more coconut.
  11. Insert popsicle sticks before freezing.
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Want to learn more about Popsicle Week?  Head on over to Wit and Vinegar to check out over 40 blogger popsicle favorites!!  There are so many amazing flavors to try all summer long.  Some that have made it on my “must try” list so far include:

The Artful Desperado’s Dairy Free Black Forest Popsicles

Coco Cake Land’s Earl Grey Milky Tea Popsicles 

and Shutterbean’s Raspberry Lemon Yogurt Popsicles

Seriously, go check ‘em all out!  And let me know what ones you plan to try!  Don’t forget to look up #popsicleweek to follow along on Instagram and Twitter.

WatermelonCake

Nothing screams “Summer” more than watermelon.  You can find me any day of the week stuffing my face full of fresh, juicy watermelon cubes, and I wanted to make a dessert to mirror my love for this refreshing treat.  Let me introduce you to my Watermelon Cake.

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What is more appropriate to make a watermelon cake out of than Red Velvet Cake?  Well, red velvet with chocolate chip “seeds” of course!  I took my favorite sour cream red velvet cake and dressed it up just like a watermelon.  With green and red buttercream and even chocolate sprinkles, each slice of cake looks just like a slice of watermelon.

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How to Make a Watermelon Cake:

1.   Prepare and bake Red Velvet Cake.  Trim tops of any domed cakes, if necessary.

2.  Place the bottom layer of cake on a cake board or turntable.

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3.  Fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium, plain piping tip with buttercream.  Pipe a layer of buttercream onto the first layer of cake.  Even out buttercream with a small off-set spatula.

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4.   Place the second layer of cake of top of the buttercream and repeat.

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5.  Place the third cake layer on top, bottom facing up.

6.  Crumb coat the entire cake with a think layer of buttercream.

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7.  Tint about 3/4 cup buttercream watermelon red.

8.  Place a large dollop of red buttercream on top of the cake.

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9.  Carefully smooth out the red frosting on top of the cake with an off set spatula.  Be careful not to let any of the red frosting touch the sides of the cake.

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10.  Tint about 1 1/2 cups buttercream green.  I made a leaf green and a lime green, then swirled them together – keeping the colors slightly under mixed and streaky like the outside of a watermelon.

11.  Fill a pastry bad fitted with a medium, plain round piping tip with the green buttercream.

12.  Starting at the bottom of the cake, begin piping flat rings around the sides of the cake.  This will help control the icing and help keep an even layer.  You do not need to pipe the thickness of the piping tip around the cake, a thinner layer will suffice.

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13.  Be sure not to pipe any green frosting on the top of the cake.  Once the sides are covered, taking an icing smoother to smooth out the sides of the cake.

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14.  Carefully transfer finished cake to a cake stand if desired.

15.  Place any remaining free frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a small, round tip.   Pipe a bead boarder around the bottom of the cake and the top where the red and green frostings meet.

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16.  Finish off the top with chocolate sprinkles!

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Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • red food coloring or red velvet emulsion
  • chocolate chips
  • For the buttercream - 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • red food coloring
  • green food coloring
  • chocolate sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degree. Prepare 3 X 6" round baking pans and set aside.
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. Place butter and coconut oil in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until smooth.
  4. Add in the sugar and mix until fluffy.
  5. Add in the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time.
  6. Mix together the milk and sour cream in a small mixing bowl.
  7. In alternating batches, add in the dry ingredients and the sour cream mixture with the mixer on low.
  8. Stir until just combined.
  9. Add in red food coloring or red velvet emulsion and mix to combine.
  10. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  11. Evenly distribute batter between the pans and bake until done (about 22-24 minutes).
  12. Cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before inverting.
  13. To make the buttercream, place egg whites and sugar in a clean bowl of an electric mixer.
  14. Whisk to combine.
  15. Fill a medium sauce pan with a couple inches of water and heat over medium.
  16. Place the mixing bowl on top of the sauce pan to create a double boiler.
  17. Heat egg mixture until it is hot to the touch (about 160-165 degrees on a candy thermometer)
  18. Once egg mixture is hot, transfer mixing bowl back to the mixer.
  19. Beat on high until the outside of the bowl returns to room temperature.
  20. Swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
  21. With the mixer on medium-low, add in the vanilla and butter, a few tablespoons at a time.
  22. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix until smooth.
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