MatchaCake5

I’ll admit – I am currently living a caffeine-fuled life.  Now that I am no longer pregnant and am running around everyday slightly very sleep deprived, coffee is my beastie.  I’ve always been a moderate coffee and tea drinker, but now that I’m a mother, I totally understand moms and their caffeine dependency.  Before having a child, I never quite grasped the urgency in other moms stating how they “need their coffee” or “don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffee,” and the like.  I always knew having child would change everything including sleep patterns, but I am starting to finally get it.  If I am being completely honest, then I will confess that Baby Huff is actually a pretty good sleeper and I know we’ve lucked out a bit in that department – but unless I want to spend my days tending to a newborn as a walking zombie, you better hand over that cup of caffeine.

I’ve always had sleep troubles, so I am used to regulating my caffeine intake.  No coffee after 2pm – no black tea after 5pm.  Drink plenty of water with each caffeinated beverage, blah blah blah.  Now however, my insomnia issues have been traded in for breastfeeding – keeping the caffeine-intake tango still alive and well.  What I am saying is, now when I crave that cup of coffee more than ever, there are still some things to consider before pounding an entire french press in one sitting.

Fortunately, I have experience in this.  If I have a cup of green tea to perk me up in the morning, then I can indulge in an extra-frothy latte or grande americano should we make it out of the house that afternoon – and vice versa.  If I have the morning shift that day (yes, my amazing husband and I take turns waking up early with our little snuggle bug) and have lost track of how many Keurig cups I’ve consumed, then I can always go with a delicious Matcha Latte as my afternoon treat.

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For years now, I’ve been pretty enamoured by matcha.  In a drink, in a dessert – either way, I am totally intrigued.  I love matcha in Japanese desserts – they tend to be light and not-so-sweet.  I equally love a matcha latte –  with its unmistakable flavor of a creamy, sweetened green tea.  I first came across real matcha (as opposed to just green tea) while in Tokyo nearly a decade ago.  Thankfully for the rest of us, matcha and matcha-flavored items can be easily found everywhere these days.  There are even matcha Kit-Kats, for crying out loud!

Recently, I splurged on a tin of my own matcha powder.  It was pretty pricey, but I knew I would get good use out of it by making my own lattes.  I was wrong.  I’ve tried and tried, but my homemade matcha lattes end up tasting like grass.  Thankfully there is more than one use for the stuff besides beverages.  Since I had the tin sitting in my kitchen, I was determined to find new ways to incorporate the unique flavor into my recipes.  Last year I made Matcha Sesame Macarons and you will even be able to find an awesome Matcha Ganache in my book next spring.  But today, it is all about this Matcha Cake with Coconut Frosting.

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This pound cake is a bit denser than a layer cake yet still moist and extremely flavourful.  The kind of cake best served with a a cup of tea or coffee to get you through the lull of the afternoon.  The cake itself stays moist and tender with a combination of real butter, coconut oil, and coconut milk.  I had a feeling that matcha and coconut would go well together, but I was pleasantly surprised by how amazing the combo ended being.  The mound of fluffy coconut frosting doesn’t hurt either.  So if you are in need of an afternoon pick-me-up or are a little bit sleep deprived like me, make this cake and enjoy a slice with your bagillionth cup of joe or tea of the day.

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Matcha Cake with Coconut Frosting

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 rounded tablespoons matcha powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened
  • 12 tablespoons (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 2 - 4 tablespoons coconut cream or coconut milk solids
  • 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a large loaf pan and set aside.
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, place the butter and coconut oil. With the mixer on medium, mix until combined. Add the sugar and mix on medium for about 3-5 minutes, or until creamed.
  4. Add in the vanilla and eggs, mixing well in between. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  5. With the mixer on low and working in alternating batches, add in the flour mixture, yogurt, and coconut milk - starting and ending with the flour mixture.
  6. Mix on medium for no more than 30 seconds or until combined.
  7. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in to the center of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing cake from its pan.
  9. For the frosting, cream the butter with an electric mixer.
  10. Carefully add in the confectioner's sugar, coconut cream, and vanilla until combined.
  11. Mix on medium until frosting is smooth yet fluffy.
  12. After the cake has completely cooled, swirl on the coconut frosting and sprinkle with shredded coconut, if desired.
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WinterCitrusTart9

After all the holidays and the extra rich and heavy desserts that go along with it, there come winter citrus to switch it all up and just the right time.  Once those resolutions are made, decadent sweets are probably the last thing on your mind.  If you are anything like me though, those said resolutions don’t ever completely eliminate all treats (I’m not totally crazy!), but I do try to eat them more in moderation.  Fresh produce this time of year always seems a bit scarce, except for bright, zesty citrus.  Using their natural vibrance and sweetness, winter citrus desserts are the perfect solutions for feeding your post-resoultion sweet tooth.

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I made this Winter Citrus Tart for the last date night my husband and I had before baby.  I actually did not know that at the time, since baby came on his own terms, but I knew we were close and wanted to make something special while it was just the two of us.  Since I was essentially a ticking time bomb, I wanted to get in one last baking sesh before becoming a mom.  Brett and I made plans that evening to go to our favourite Italian restaurant down the street for dinner, while I set out to make this tart to come home to for dessert.  I knew it would be a bit more elaborate and time consuming than the usual treats I whip up last minute for my husband, but I wanted it to be extra special – plus, I was using it as a distraction from my over-due pregnant belly.

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Since I make dessert and pastry for a living, most of the items coming out of the kitchen are designed for a specific project.  Sure we end up with a ton of sweets hanging around, but they usually have been sitting out for photographs, manipulated in some way or another, or are not always what we are craving.  I hardly have time to bake just for “fun” these days, and if I do it is usually just some random cookie or breakfast good – which is totally delish too, but not the point I am trying to make at the moment.  Food is such a big part of my life and I wanted to try and do a little something different this year when it comes to desserts for the family.

Now that we have a new little one in the house, I know that date night means something completely different.  Date night now will mostly be spent in, ordering take-out, and renting a movie off iTunes.  To make those nights special and different from almost every other night that we stay in and catch up on our DVR, I wanted to challenge myself with a new series: Date Night Desserts.  In theory, Date Night Desserts will consist of special, slightly-challenging desserts and pastries made from scratch that are worthy of being served in our nice dishes, under candle-light, and with a loved one.  They are planned and cared for, as opposed to whipping some random brownies with whatever ingredients you happen to have in the fridge/pantry.  Here, I want to tackle more of the recipes on my “to-do” list and really put my heart into them.  If we are going to be under house arrest with a newborn, then at least I know that I can help keep some of the romance alive through food.  I’m talking things like dark chocolate souffle, salted caramel pot de creme, perfect French crepes, fried beignets, and hand-churned, frozen custards.  And in this case, a homemade Winter Citrus Tart.  Make this tart for your sweetie and challenge yourself with the future recipes in this series to show your loved ones – significant other, best gal pal, children, etc. how special they are.

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Back to the tart…One of the best parts about working with citrus is their beautiful colors – or at least when it comes to styling and photographing them.  Of course, it is still important for them to taste good and not just be pretty, so good thing they are still juicy and delicious.  I could live off satsumas, but a variety of citrus makes for a gorgeous flavour palette.  For this tart, I’ve gathered up the freshest tangerines, blood oranges, grapefruits, and even a sweet lime.  I decided to go with a chocolate crust, slightly spiced with a touch of cinnamon.  The crust is not overly sweet nor rich, but deepens the overall flavour of the whole tart.  I poached the fruit in vanilla for extra sweetness to off-set the tangy filling of creme fruit and cream cheese.  What makes this tart great for date night is that the different components like the crust and filling can be made separately ahead of time, thus making the whole dish more approachable and less intimidating to assemble come dessert time.

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Date Night Dessert: Winter Citrus Tart

Ingredients

  • 3-4 assorted citrus fruits - orange, tangerine, grapefruit, blood orange
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 1 cup creme fraiche
  • 1 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
  • 1 pre-baked tart shell

Instructions

  1. Slice off the top and bottom of the citrus. Cut away the outer peal and pith.
  2. Slice citrus into rounds, about 1/3" thick.
  3. Place the water and sugar in a large pan. Heat over medium-high until the sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil.
  4. Add in the vanilla bean and seeds. Turn heat down and let sugar mixture come to a simmer.
  5. Carefully add in the citrus rounds and cover. Simmer for about 8 minutes.
  6. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fruit to a drying rack until drained and cooled.
  7. Meanwhile, stir together the creme fraiche, cream cheese, and sugar - to taste.
  8. Spoon the filling into the tart shell.
  9. Arrange poached citrus on top.
  10. Chill until ready to serve.
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Chocolate Tart Shell – adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg, slightly beaten

Sift together all of the dry ingredients and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Cut in the butter with a pasty cutter or use your finger tips to blend until the mixture is mealy with clumps no larger than the size of a pea.  Stir in the egg until the mixture starts to come together into large clumps.  Turn dough out until fully incorporated.  Press dough into a 9″ round, greased tart pan then freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray the shiny side of a piece of foil with non-stick spray and place it (greased-side down) on top of the crust.  Bake covered for about 20 minutes.  Remove foil and continue to cake until done, about 5-8 additional minutes.  Let completely cool on a cooling rack before filling.

Who’s surprised to learn that I’ve always had a sweet tooth?  Yeah, I didn’t think anyone would be.  Even well before I started making and baking my own sweet treats, I’ve always been a candy and chocolate lover.  Whether it be sneaking in jumbo-sized candy into the movies and or the occasional special stop by See’s Candy, I loved it all – still do.

While I started out by baking, I’ve learned a lot along the way in regards to candy-making and tempering chocolate as well.  I probably first started making candies and chocolates about a decade ago when I started to make them as edible gifts around the holidays.  Working with boiling sugar is a lot different than baking a cake, but the end results yielded the same feelings – the feeling of making something from scratch at home to share with the people I love.  With the biggest day of love just around the corner, I’ve already been thinking of what treat(s) to make to share with my valentines.

This year, I think I will go with some homemade chocolates.  Those store-bough boxes of chocolates always have a ton of flavors that I don’t actually like (or anyone I know actually likes), so why not make my own?  From chocolate truffles, caramels, and more – there are so many approachable recipes and options for a DIY Chocolate Box.  I haven’t narrowed down my decision of what to make yet, but I did round up some of my favorite recipes from around the web to choose from.

Check out DIY Chocolate Box

by Tessa Lindow Huff at Foodie.com

What are your favorite chocolates to eat and make?  Will you be trying any of these recipes to share on Valentine’s Day?

 

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.

StrawberryAppleCrumb5

We survived week 2!  After multiple check-ups and a get together with out prenatal group, Baby Boy is thriving!  Our sleep routine is getting better and he continues to eat like a champ.  Time both slows and flies by with a wee little one.  I find myself scanning Instagram and Pinterest more than ever during late-night feedings and am usually showered and dressed (even if in sweats – but clean sweats) earlier in the day than I used to be.  At the same time, between appointments, diaper changes, and bath-time, I don’t even know where the day goes.  Time seems to stand completely still while I am cuddling my son, but my husband and I have strangely found more time in the in between, trying to take advantage of his naps to do the little things like take a shower, unload the dishwasher, and even bake a quick cake.

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With that said, this post makes a lot of sense.   While nursing and soothing/cuddling, I find myself on my phone a lot these days.  I didn’t think that would be the case, but somehow I am all caught up on my social media and have read more blogs and articles than before.  Here are some of last week’s favourite reads:

Molly Yeh’s fondue game is out of the world.

This thought-provoking read by The Faux Martha about inspiration/originality + a decadent chocolate cake.

How to boil an egg – according to this Bon Appetite infographic

Style Me Pretty Living’s Caradamon Rose Cocktail – since Valentine’s Day is less than 2 weeks away, I can enjoy a bit of alcohol again, and you know how much I love cardamom.

The one-and-only Dorie Greenspan’s Custardy Apple Squares – as seen on Food 52 – and remembering when I tried to work my way through Baking: from my home to yours when I first started baking nearly a decade ago.

In the daylight hours, I was able to find some time to do some cooking and baking – or at least this week I did.  We had some gorgeous weather this past week and were able to squeeze in a few walks to the park and even a trip to the grocery store sans baby.  Some friends and family think I’m nuts for baking/cooking with a new baby at home, but for me it’s actually relaxing and rewarding – not another chore.  I really enjoy baking/cooking (duh- or else why would I even have started this blog?), I find that in all the chaos of having a new baby at home, I am comforted by being in the kitchen. Where with baby I have so many questions and concerns, in the kitchen I can whip up a cake in 20 minutes and just trust the science behind mixing a couple eggs with some flour and throwing it all in the oven.

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This week’s Baking with Baby recipe is this Strawberry Apple Crumb Cake. I wanted to make a quick, sweet treat that would work for a snack and/or breakfast that used up some of the leftover produce in the house. I knew I would not have time for something with multiple parts (cake+ icing + filling, etc), so this single layer tea cake was the answer. Since I do make so many layer cakes, I sometimes forget the amazingness that lies in the simplicity of a single layer cake. Everything baked up in one pan, making less dishes and more time for baby cuddles. The crumble topping was easy enough and would work wonderfully on its own, but a quick stir of some creme fraiche with orange zest and sugar made the for the perfect addition. Yes, there are healthier things I could be snacking on, but the fresh fruit, whole wheat and almond flours, and yogurt made it feel light, fresh, and a bit better for me than other packaged or preserved snacks that are equally easy to grab ‘n go with.

Did I mention how easy and quick this was to throw together? Just some sifting and slicing while baby naps and you are ready to go. Feel free to add in whatever fruit you have on hand like sliced pears or blueberries!

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Recipe adapted from the Huckleberry Cookbook

Strawberry Apple Crumb Cake + Weekly Thoughts

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/4 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 apple, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 dozen strawberries, sliced
  • 1 cup creme fraiche
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons orange juice
  • sugar to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine the first 9 ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Cut in the butter between your finger tips until the ingredients start to come together into little clumps. Refrigerate.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line a 10-inch spring form pan with parchment and set aside.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth.
  5. Add in the sugar and mix on medium until creamed.
  6. Add in the eggs and vanilla.
  7. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  8. With the mixer on low starting and ending with the dry ingredients, alternate adding in the dry ingredients and the yogurt.
  9. Mix until just combined.
  10. Spread evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan.
  11. Top with sliced apples and strawberries.
  12. Sprinkle top with crumb mixture, leaving some of the fruit to pop out - if desired.
  13. Bake for about 45-60 minutes or until done.
  14. Cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before removing the cake from the pan.
  15. Stir the orange zest, juice, and sugar into the creme fraiche. Place a dollop of cream on each slice to serve.
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If you’ve been following along, then you know that 2015 was always going to be a BIG year for the Huff household.  Not only will I be editing my book this year (Spring 2016 release) and working on my various freelance gigs, we also welcomed a new baby boy into the world.

A little bit late, Everett James decided to join us last weekend.  Nearly 8lbs of perfection.  He has tons of dark hair, his daddy’s nose, and the sweetest personality.  So far, our favourite new activities include lots of pj’s, snuggle sessions, and making faces at each other in the moments that he is actually awake.  I won’t get into too many details here, but you can follow along for more pics and such over on Instagram.

One baby thing I will be introducing to the blog this year is the series “Baking with Baby.”  Since this is all new to me, I will be talking about the meals and treats I make while caring for a newborn.  I already did some food prep before baby got here that I will share, as well as the energizing breakfasts, hearty lunches, and fresh snacks/dinners I will need to get through the upcoming year as a new mom.  Or at least that is the idea.  I welcome you all to follow along to see what works and what doesn’t.  Hopefully you will be able to learn a thing or two about balance and nourishment.  Also, feel free to share any tips on how you survived the months of nighttime feedings, a sleepy yet demanding little one, and/or trying to go back to regular life while cooking/cleaning with one hand when the other is holding a swaddled baby.

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Before baby arrived, I made the Wholegrain Chocolate Muffin mix from Izy Hossack’s  Top with Cinnamon cookbook.  This make-ahead mix is simple to throw together, and even easier to turn into a small batch of muffins when the mood strikes.  Just make the dry mix and store.  When ready to use, just mix in the second half of the ingredients – they will be ready to bake before your oven even finishes pre-heating.

Within the first few days of baby being home, I already made a batch.  I gave Izy’s recipe a twist to create Wholegrain Banana Chocolate Muffins with fleur de sel, cinnamon, and cocoa nibs.  We had some bananas that were over-ripe when we got home from our hospital stay, so they made for the perfect addition to her recipe.  My sleep-deprived husband and I gobbled them up both as a late-night snack and for breakfast to fuel us the following day (they stay super moist if wrapped up overnight).

So whether you have a new baby at home, busy family-life, or just want a quick, sweet yet healthy snack to get you through the day, make this mix!  You’ll thank me and Izy later.

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Recipe adapted from Top with Cinnamon 

Yields about 18-24 muffins; or 3 batches of 6-8 muffins

Wholegrain Banana Chocolate Muffins + Our New Addition

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup white spelt or all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed or melted coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • cinnamon, fleur de sel, cocoa nibs for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Sift together the dry ingredients. Stir until combined.
  2. Add in the oil and rub it into the dry ingredients until evenly distributed.
  3. Store in an air-tight container until use.
  4. When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Mash banana in a medium mixing bowl.
  6. Stir in the egg, milk, and vanilla.
  7. Stir in 1 3/4 cups of the dry mix until combined.
  8. Divide between 6-8 lined muffin cups. Sprinkle with cocoa nibs and flour de sel.
  9. Bake 20-25 minutes or until done.
  10. Top with banana slices and cinnamon, if desired.
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Although the holidays have come and gone, I find there are still plenty of winter days left where the classic combo of chocolate and mint are more than acceptable.  Mint does not have to be all candy-canes and red-striped.  In fact, I can get behind fresh mint in my desserts any time of year.  So while this cake may not look like your typical mint holiday treat, it is equally tasty and timely during the cold, winter months ahead of us.

Chocolate and mint remind me of being all bundled up on a chilly day.  The mint is like the type of crisp, cold wind that makes your nose and ears turn red and the chocolate is like a cozy, hand-knitted scarf.  Or the refreshing kick that peppermint adds to a hot chocolate being sipped next to a warm fire.  So snuggle up next to a loved one with a slice of this Chocolate Mint Cake and melt all your worries away…

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This cake pairs my Classic Chocolate Cake with White Chocolate Mint filling.  The cake has been iced in mint buttercream, but a plain vanilla would also pair perfectly – if that is just too minty for your liking.  To finish, I’ve created a White Chocolate Peppermint Swirl Bark to decorate the cake with.  How fun is that!?!

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Chocolate Mint Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso
  • 3/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 9 ounces white chocolate, chopped (by weight)
  • 3 ounces heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter, diced
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans and set aside.
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the oil and sugar. Add in the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, until combined.
  4. With the mixer on low, alternate adding in the dry ingredients and the milk in 3 batches. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  5. With the mixer on low, stream in the hot water. Mix on medium no more than 30 seconds or until combined.
  6. Evenly distribute the batter between the two pans and bake until done or a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean - about 24-26 minutes.
  7. Cool on a wire rack 10-15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
  8. For the filling, place the white chocolate in a heat-safe bowl.
  9. Slowly heat the cream to a simmer.
  10. Pour cream over the chocolate and let sit 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth.
  11. Add in the butter and stir until melted.
  12. Add in the peppermint extract to taste.
  13. Set aside or chill in the refrigerator until a spreadable consistency to use as the filling.
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For the White Chocolate Peppermint Swirl Bark:

Line a baking sheet with parchment or a non-stick mat and set aside. Melt 12 ounces of white chocolate over a double-boiler.

Once melted stir in 1/4 – 1/2 peppermint extract, or to taste.  Pour onto the lined baking sheet, reserving a couple tablespoons to tint green. Smooth out into a 1/4-inch layer with an off-set spatula. Tint the remaining chocolate green and spoon dollops of tinted-white chocolate on top and swirl with a wooden skewer. Sprinkle with mini white chocolate chips and sugar peals. Once chocolate has set, break into pieces.

 

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Happy New Year!!!!  Why hello there 2015.  Aren’t you looking good so far?

Well – here I am, still pregnant and wanting to share at least one last recipe with you all before this baby finally drops.  I made these Confetti Cookies a week or so ago.  They are so festive, fun, and full of sprinkles!  My big brother celebrated his birthday a couple days ago (just days after my supposed due date), and while I don’t know what better gift there could be than making someone an uncle for the first time, I made him these cookies in advanced – just in case I was in the hospital or something on his special day.  Well, baby did not come on his birthday and I was able to celebrate with him after all, but there was no harm in making a few dozen or so cookies as an added bonus.  Anything with this amount of sprinkles is totally appropriate for ringing in the new year, celebrating a birthday, or for snacking on while waiting for a stubborn baby to be born.

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My brother’s birthday cake last year ended up being a HUGE hit.  Remember this Whiskey-Coffee Cake?  I didn’t think I would be able to pull off another cake quite as elaborate or unique this year so I went the cookie route.  And when I say cookie, I mean like 45+ giant homemade cookies.  I doubled the recipe to make sure I had enough, and ended up with confetti cookies for days!!  This recipes comes straight from Momofuku’s MILK cookbook.  I made a batch of these a few years ago, and my brother says – to this day – that they were the best cookies he ever had.  Needless to say, he was MORE than excited and surprised when I showed up with bag-fulls of his favorite cookies a week before his actual birthday.

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Confetti Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cake flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sprinkles
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cups milk powder
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Combine 1/4 cup sugar, brown sugar, cake flour, baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon sprinkles in the bowl of an electric mixer.
  3. Add in the oil and vanilla. Mix with the paddle attachment until small clusters form.
  4. Sprinkle the clusters onto a line baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway. Let cool before use.
  5. Combine the remaining sugar, butter, and corn syrup in the bowl of an electric mixer. Cream together with the paddle attachment on medium for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add in the eggs and vanilla. Mix on on medium for about 5 minutes.
  7. Reduce the speed to low and in the dry ingredients and sprinkles. Mix until the dough starts to come together - about 1 minute. Add the sprinkle clusters and mix for just an additional 30 seconds.
  8. Using a mechanical ice cream scoop or disher, scoop out uniform balls of dough and place on a baking sheet - they should be about the size of a golfball. Gently flatten the tops.
  9. Cover the pre-scooped balls with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  10. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  11. Space out the chilled dough balls at least 3 inches apart and bake for about 15-18 minutes, or until the edges are golden.
  12. Cool cookies on their baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
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One thing that I actually really enjoy around the holidays is menu planning.  Anyone else? Maybe I’m just nuts… The hubs and I are hosting Christmas Morning this year, and I have to keep reminding myself that 1) there are only 5 of us this year 2) it’s only breakfast and 3) I am 38 weeks pregnant.  I want to make it ALL!!  From something sweet to something savory, a fancy coffee drink for the slow-cooker to recipes that I can make ahead of time – I am having the hardest time narrowing down my menu.

Seeing that Christmas is in 48 hours, I finally decided on (for now) a bagel and croissant bar (with whipped honey butter and chia jam), fluffy eggnog cinnamon rolls with (diary free – for my dad) cream cheese frosting, and a big ol’ fresh fruit platter to go with some yogurt/granola parfaits.  Too much? Never!!  LOL.  As I head out to fight the crowds at Whole Foods (hoping that people will make way for my big preggo belly), feast your eyes on this: a glorious Peppermint Red Velvet Cake Roll!  For all of you that are still menu-planning, add this to your list.  I looks super fancy and festive, but actually really easy to make.

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I’ve paired a traditional Red Velvet Cake Roll with White Chocolate Peppermint buttercream.  And before I start receiving hate mail, no – you don’t need to use red food colouring if you don’t want to.  However, it only takes a little bit to get this red – trust me, I was almost completely out of gel food colouring and just scraped the bottom of the tube with a toothpick to add to the batter.  Feel free to leave it out completely – I promise it will still taste delish.

Head on over to The Kitchn for the full recipe.

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Happy Holidays to all!!!  And if you don’t hear from me for a while, then it probably means Baby Huff decided to come early.  I can’t wait for you all to meet  him!

xoxo
Tessa Huff

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I’ve made it over 37 weeks with this pregnancy and all I want this holiday season is eggnog.  True, creamy, sinful Eggnog.  And a healthy baby boy, of course.  I suppose my mommy-instinct is stronger than my craving, and I’ve come to accept that there will be no egg yolk or rum filled drinks for this gal this year.

I bought a “Soy-nog” from the store, but it was absolutely terrible.  How did I think it would ever be good?  So I turned to Pinterest.  Now that’s laughable, isn’t it?  Not that Pinterest isn’t anything but amazing, but somehow I’ve pinned dozens of gorgeous and delicious-sounding vegan ‘nogs, but still just can’t seem to find the time to even purchase the ingredients needed to make my own.  Funny how that happens, right?  I suppose there is always next week….. Wait, Christmas is NEXT WEEK?  Better run off to finish my shopping and wrapping gifts instead.  In the meantime, let’s all enjoy this Eggnog Spice Cake:

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“In this cake, layers of spice cake have been smothered in creamy eggnog filling and enrobed in silky buttercream. The browned butter adds a nutty, warm element to the classic cake and the slight tang of the cream cheese in the filling balances everything out. Since fillings and frostings can become super-sugary very quickly, this Swiss meringue buttercream is the perfect way to add rich creaminess without being too sweet. Garnish with bits of toffee candy and serve with a warm mug of eggnog.”

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Find the complete recipes over on The Cake Blog.

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Clearly, I have a thing for gingerbread desserts.  I’ve made cakes, cookies, and even a gingerbread house cake!  I am not sure if it’s the spice element, deep molasses flavor, or the fact that anything ginger around the holidays reminds me of my grandmother’s Ginger Crinkles.  Regardless of why, I just keep gravitating toward ginger and gingerbread-inspired treats.

Remember this amazing 6-layer Gingerbread Latte Crunch Cake I made last year?

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Well, I decided to turn that flavor pairing into a cookie.  Yup, Gingerbread Latte Cookies.  Along with molasses and some of my favorite spices, these sandwich cookies contain almond flour and a touch of cocoa for extra depth and a bit of softness. I paired the cookies with a rich, creamy espresso buttercream filling. They’re perfect for snacking on with one of those whipped cream-topped holiday coffee beverages or just a plain cup of joe.

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I made this cookie recipe as part of the Cooking Channel’s “31 Days of Cookies” series.  A handful of us bloggers, along with their test kitchen, have created the most delicious variety of cookie recipes for you all to enjoy this holiday season.  So go ahead, be the star of your next cookies exchange, and head on over to check them all out!

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Find the recipe for these Gingerbread Latte Cookies here.