‘Tis the season to a time of chaos! Oh, and delicious food of course. With all the hustle and bustle these days – trying to organize family feasts, fighting the shopping crowds, and trimming the trees with holiday decor, the last thing you probably have time for is menu planning. Lucky for you all, I have already scoured the web to find the best Holiday Pies for the season. From hand-held sweets to raw, healthy treats – trust me, there is something for everyone.

Joy Pie

 

 

Check out The Baker's Dozen: 13 Best Holiday Pies

by Tessa Lindow Huff at Foodie.com

Remember to head over to Foodie.com for more recipes or to make you own collection!

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

 

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It is the season for giving thanks, and I know I certainly have a lot to be thankful for this year.  So much so that I can’t hardly believe it!  Our first home, an amazing publisher picking up my book, and a baby on the way.  What more could I even ask for?  In return, I will just make delicious treats to thank the universe for our good fortune.  The only think that could make life even more amazing would be if my family and friends that lived closer.

Sadly, we will not be making it back to California for the holidays this year.  It will be the first Christmas that my husband will not be spending with his family.  My parents and brother will be up here in Canada wish us, but I will certainly miss everyone else so much.  We will not be celebrating Thanksgiving next Thursday either.  In Canada, Thanksgiving was celebrated in October (which we also missed), so my family decided to create a feast right in the middle.  My mom made a beautiful turkey with all of the traditional side dishes, plus a few new modern twists.  I, of course, brought pie.

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With all the cake making and baking that I do, it is humorous how rarely I actually make a full pie.  Maybe a couple times a year, maximum?  If I could nail down a good lattice, then maybe I’d make pie more often – lol (perhaps a new goal for next year?).  Well, with this pie, you don’t have to worry about a top crust at all.  Instead, I topped this Maple Sweet Potato Pie with toasted marshmallowy meringue topping.  I created a similar topping for an amazing pie over on The Kitchn, and just had to make it again.

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Maple Sweet Potato Meringue Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 single pie crust
  • 2 cup sweet potato puree
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Roll the pie crust into a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp or trim the edges.
  2. Blind bake at 425 degrees until slightly golden.
  3. Meanwhile, place the sweet potato puree, sugars, maple, and spices in a saucepan.
  4. While stirring with a wooden spoon, heat over medium-low until mixture starts to steam and everything begins to incorporate.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream.
  6. Add in the eggs and whisk until smooth.
  7. Use a immersion blender to completely combine (highly recommended).
  8. Pour pie filling into the blind baked crust.
  9. Reduce oven to 375 and bake until the center of the pie has just set and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  10. Once cooled, top with meringue or topping of your choice.
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Hey everyone!  Is it really nearly mid-November already?  I can’t believe it.  As I start to wrap up all the photos for the book and begin final edits, I finally had a chance to create some new content for you all.  Where is said new content?  Well, it’s on the way – I promise.

In the meantime, take a look at what is coming up soon:

Homemade Holiday Marshmallows

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Toasted Sweet Potato Pie

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Also, for those of you who really can’t wait, check out these fall favorites from the archives:

Citrus Vanilla Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Pear Layer Cake

Whipped Pumpkin Butter

Cinnamon Apple Butter

Butternut Squash Hand Pies

 

Thank you all for your patience and loyalty!  And remember you can always find my regular contributions over on The Kitchn.

 

 

 

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The other day, the husband and I were having some serious cravings for iced sugar cookies.  I have no idea what brought on this craving, but it was Sunday afternoon, and we both could use a break from all the cake in our house.  While I mentally went thru the recipe and what ingredients were left in the regenerator after a marathon week of baking cakes, the idea of sugar cookies seemed a bit much.  Do I really want make dough that needs to chill?  Roll and cut it out with cute cookie cutters?  And then make icing?  No, not really.  I’ll save that for Christmas…

My husband Brett always teases me that I can’t just follow a recipe or make anything simple.  I am always trying to put a spin on anything from basic Chocolate Chip Cookies to Buttermilk Pancakes, even when the original recipes are already awesome.  Guilty as charged.

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So when he requested just “regular” cookies, I tried my best to stick to it.  We only had leftover egg yolks from making Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and no whole eggs.  With that slight handicap in mind, I stumbled on this Almond Snickerdoodle recipe.  Of course I had to make a few minor tweaks to make them my own Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles, but nobody was complaining at this house.  Extra large, soft and chewy, but not cake-like, these cookies were truly delicious.  I think it was the bit of rich, cream cheese and smooth peanut butter that did the trick – not to mention the cinnamon sugar “crust.”  Perfect for enjoying on a rainy Sunday evening at home.

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Recipe adapted from My Recipes.

Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon - divided
  • 2 tablespoon granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment or nonstick mats.
  2. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and set aside.
  3. Beat together the brown sugar, cream cheese, butter, and peanut butter with an electric mixer or wooden spoon until smooth.
  4. Add in the vanilla, almond, and egg yolks until combined.
  5. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, mixing on low until well combined.
  6. In a small bowl or plate, mix the remaining cinnamon and sugar together.
  7. Using a cookie scooper, disher, or mechanical ice cream scoop - if you have one, scoop out evenly portioned balls of dough. Roll each ball in the cinnamon/sugar mixture before placing on the baking sheet and flattening slightly.
  8. Repeat with remaining cookie dough.
  9. Bake for about 10-12 minutes (depending on the size of your cookies) or until done.
  10. Cool on a wire rack for a couple minutes before removing from baking sheet.
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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.

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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.

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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

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  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.

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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!

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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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

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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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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!

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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?

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Pumpkin Squash Muffins

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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!!

For those of you who don’t already know, we are having a baby!  Yup, without any further fanfare or a surprise reveal, there indeed is a tiny child on the way.

To be honest, I first drafted this post a couple months ago, and forgot to publish it.  I am now sitting here exactly 2 months away from my due date.  My belly is growing as crunch time to both book + baby delivery is getting shorter.  It’s been totally insane over here, and I absolutely love it!

Here’s what I meant to share with you just after the announcement of my book deal:

 

“First of all, thank you all sooooo much for your kind and encouraging worlds regarding my new book.  I really appreciate each and every sentiment.  They certainly help me get through these busy days….

Speaking of busy days, did I mention that the manuscript is due in January?  While that does not give me too much extra wiggle room, it is kind of working out for the best.  Not only is the book due in January, but so is our first child.  That’s right, my husband and I are having a baby!

Since this blog is primarily about dessert, I wanted to wait until I shared the big book announcement first before revealing this news.  But as you know, I do tend to talk about my personal life from time to time, so I just had to let you all in on our little secret.  So after 4 years (and counting) of blissful marriage, Brett and I will be bringing a baby boy into this world just after the new year. I don’t want to dive too much into it, but we are over-the-moon excited.  Can you believe it?  I have been counting my blessings everyday.  It is al happening at the same time, but I am never one to complain from too much goodness in my life.  The nursery might not be ready until after the book is complete, but that’s life for ya!  And we are certainly grateful/lucky/blessed to be living such a fabulous one.”

28 weeks

 

Truth be told, this pregnancy was/is not a secret.  If you’ve been following along on Instagram, then you’ve definitely seen my growing belly.  I honestly just forgot to post this slightly-major news for all you lovely blog readers.  I blame pregnancy brain.  For that, I do apologize.  It would have been pretty strange come January if there was radio silence and then a random baby popping up on the blog.  Any and all new mommy advice is welcomed =)

Now, time to tear myself away from looking at tiny clothes and get back to recipe testing….

Cheers!!
Tessa and Baby Huff

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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.

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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!!

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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.