Campfire Cookies

It’s my first Baked Sunday Morning from Baked Occasions! Yay! The group actually started a couple weeks ago with these Election Palmiers, but I didn’t really feel like making my own puff pastry, plus I just knew that a S’MORES recipe would be the perfect place for me to start (evidence here).

These cookies are basically a chewy brown sugar cookie base, studded with graham cracker chunks, chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. I used milk chocolate chips of course, for that classic s’mores flavour profile, but you could definitely use semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips for more contrast. Of course some of my marshmallows exploded out the sides of the cookies, but it didn’t affect the taste, and my #1 s’mores recipe taster just loved them. There’s a bit of honey in the dough as well, and I think it contributed to the chewy factor of these cookies.

Baked Occasions is set up to match the calendar year and corresponding holidays, but I don’t think our baking schedule for BSM will match up perfectly. In this case, they do, as the Campfire Cookie is in the 12 Days of Cookies interlude in the book for the Christmas holidays. Some people might be perplexed to see a summery treat in the dead of winter, but I like s’moresy things year round, so I’m on board with this.

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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Deb’s Mom’s Apple Cake

by byn on November 17, 2014

in Cakes, Cupcakes & Icing

Deb's Mom's Apple Cake

When I returned from my various travels at the end of October, I still had a crisper full of Empire apples from my trip to Chudleigh’s. I didn’t feel like making apple butter, but needed another recipe that would use up the rest of my beauties before they started to take a turn. I immediately thought of this cake from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, and had my Mom unearth her tube pan from the dark abyss of her corner cabinet. I don’t think this thing has seen the light of day in like 20 years (love you Mom! hahaha).

To make this cake, you whisk up a simple cake batter and layer it up with 3 lbs of chopped apples that you’ve tossed with cinnamon and sugar. It couldn’t have been easier to mix up, but be warned that it has a 90 minute bake time, and then needs to cool completely in the pan before you turn it out.

Apple Slice

Deb writes in her book that this is the type of cake that only gets better as time goes by, and I can attest to that, as I had a slice as my after work snack every day for almost a week. It is super hydrated and lovely and I love the apples on top and tucked inside. I sliced and packed up the rest of the cake for some friends and they loved it too!

Shouts outs to Danielle for my new cake platter she sent me for my birthday!!! It’s going to be in every picture from now on!

Deb’s Mom’s Apple Cake

Source: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, but the recipe is also on her website here

Ingredients

Apples

3 lbs apples, peeled, cored and diced into approx. 1/2″ pieces (I used Empire apples)

5 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

Cake

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup orange juice

2 1/2 tsp vanilla

4 eggs

2 3/4 cups flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray the heck out of a tube pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the apple chunks with the sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
  3. For the cake, whisk together the oil, sugar, orange juice, vanilla and eggs.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and salt, and whisk again until no dry bits remain.
  5. Pour half the batter into the tube pan, and top with half of the apples. Spread the remaining batter over top, and top with the rest of the apples.
  6. Bake for 90 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan, and then turn out onto a plate or platter.

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Cheesy Butternut Squash Rigatoni

by byn on November 4, 2014

in Pasta & Noodles

Cheesy Butternut Squash Rigatoni

You know this thing the kids say these days – “pics or it didn’t happen”? On Planet Byn it’s like “blog or you didn’t eat it”. I swear, if I don’t blog about something I made, even if I LOVED it, I will promptly forget that it ever existed. I have made this pasta dish three Falls in a row, and somehow it’s never made it into a post, but this grave injustice is being rectified as of now.

This recipe starts with a basic white sauce, which then gets spiked with fresh sage, pureed butternut squash, lots of parmesan, and a bit of cheddar. It’s thick, creamy, earthy from the sage, and 100% delicious. The original recipe has you toss cooked rigatoni with the sauce, and then bake it with more cheddar on top, but when I did that last year I found that it wasn’t as nearly as creamy after baking, so I’ve modified the instructions just a bit below.

The first couple of times I made this I roasted and pureed an entire butternut squash, and froze what I didn’t need for this recipe. Seeing as how I just located last year’s leftover puree in a freezer burn covered corner of my freezer, I’ve also modified the recipe so you can just roast what you need (i.e. buy one of those little packages of squash chunks at the grocery store instead of buying a whole squash).

I’m so happy to add this to my archives. See you in 2015, rigatoni!

Cheesy Butternut Squash Rigatoni

Source: slightly adapted from Simply Scratch

Yield: about 3-4 servings

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups diced butternut squash (about 1/2″ chunks)

1 tsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1 clove garlic, grated with a microplane grater

4-5 sage leaves, finely chopped

1 1/2 tbsp flour

1 1/2 tbsp butter

1/2 cup chicken stock

3/4 cup half & half cream (I actually used equal amounts half & half + 2% milk)

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tbsp grated cheddar cheese

+ cooked rigatoni

Directions

  1. First up, you need to make your butternut squash puree, so preheat the oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the butternut squash with the olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper, and roast until soft, about 30 minutes, turning halfway through. Add to a food processor, and process until smooth.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, and add the onion and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes until the onion is soft, then add the sage and saute for a minute.
  3. Add the additional butter, and once it melts, add the flour. Stir for a minute then whisk in the chicken stock and cream. Bring to a bubble, and once thickened, reduce the heat to medium low, and stir in the butternut squash puree and cheeses. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. The sauce will be quite thick and deliciously creamy.
  4. Serve with cooked rigatoni. If you have leftover sauce, store separately from pasta, and reheat over low heat.

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Birthday CakeOctober is always a packed month for me, with Thanksgiving, my birthday and Halloween, plus this month I had trips to NYC & Vancouver in the mix as well, so there was a lot going on. Besides my favourite baking project of the year, I didn’t get up to that much while I was in town, so I decided to combine my monthly recap with my Vancouver Eats for your reading enjoyment:

  • First of all, I found out my co-worker HATES PEANUT BUTTER one year after making him these as a thank you for helping me with something. This distressed me to no end, so of course I found out what his actual favourite cookies are and made him these amazing Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. This recipe is incredible, I highly recommend it for thick, chewy oatmeal cookies, with chocolate chips, not raisins, as nature intended.
  • I didn’t contribute anything besides my birthday cake to Thanksgiving dinner, as it fell between my trips, and I didn’t have much time to prepare. But! I did cook up a batch of Carole’s amazing Chorizo Beer Chili, which is boozy and hearty, and makes delicious chili fries if you have leftovers. It’s a keeper.
  • I traveled to Vancouver for FBC2014 (separate blog post to come), but went a couple of days early to hang out and celebrate my BIRTHDAY. Here’s what we got up to…
  • Jenny & I were starving when we touched down in Vancouver, and made our way over to Relish Gastropub near our hotel to meet Heather and grab a bite. We followed that up with a trip to Cartems Donuterie where the Pumpkin Cheesecake Stuffie Donut rocked my world. This was a yeast donut filled with a pumpkin cream cheese mixture topped with vanilla icing and some sort of crumble topping. YES.
  • Oh my birthday there was only one place I really wanted to go: Butter Baked Goods. My dream came true as my friends and I headed over there, and they surprised me with a chocolate cake (pictured above) that was out-of-this-world. I also picked up a Hello Dolly, Campfire Square, Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookie and Vanilla Cupcake to take back to the hotel, plus some Vanilla Marshmallows and packaged S’mores to take home. This little bakery is just the cutest shoppe (more posh if you put the extra –pe on the end) and we got to meet the owner, Rosie, and she could not have been nicer. I’m in love.
  • My birthday dinner was at Fable, owned by your old friend Trevor from Top Chef Canada Season 2. We had some amazing cocktails and house made bread to start, and the chickpea fritters with pickled red onion and curry mayo. My main was a ricotta gnocchi with pulled pork, pesto, burnt onion powder and some other delicious components I can’t recall. My dessert was an aerated white chocolate pudding (therefore…mousse?) with homemade cocoa cookie crumbles. Everything was great, the service was amazing, and the space was so cozy and welcoming. Shout-outs to my food blogger rock stars for making my day so special.

Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:

  • I went to see Gone Girl the night it opened, and thought it was really well done. Creepy and unsettling and messed up, just like the book. So glad Reese Witherspoon stayed as the producer and decided not to star in it; Rosamund Pike was perfect as Amy.
  • Lena Dunham made a stop in Toronto for her book tour, and I went to see her interviewed at the Toronto Reference Library. I thought her book was just okay, but enjoyed listening to her speak. She has so many interesting opinions on life, success, friendships and feminism. As my friend Nicole said, I could have listened to her for hours.
  • In Vancouver, we happened to meet the lovely Linnie von Sky, a children’s book author, while we were shopping on our first afternoon in town. She instantly became our friend and came with us to eat donuts, introduced us to her husband, and ended up having us over for brunch to her adorable home. I spotted Baked Elements on her bookshelf and explained how I had just been in New York the week before with the authors of that book, at the grand opening of their new bakery. It was one of those weird serendipitous encounters that sometimes happens in life, and I still smile whenever I think of Linnie.

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S'mores Pudding

This is it! Our last recipe from Baked Elements! I only joined in on this book about a year ago, but because of the expedited baking schedule of the last five months, have been able to make about half of the recipes. I’ll do a little recap below of my favourite recipes from the book, and things I still want to make, but first, let’s talk about this week’s recipe.

It’s well known around here that I love S’mores, so this was a perfect way to close out the book for me. This is a rich, smooth boozy chocolate pudding, layered up with toasted graham cracker crumbles, and topped with a bourbon marshmallow topping. I had some issues with my marshmallow not thickening, but couldn’t be bothered to re-make it – no matter, it was still delicious. I loved the differences in texture going on here – smooth, crunchy and gooey – with the bourbon shining through the whole thing.

So that’s the end of the Booze section of Baked Elements! Here’s a little recap of the recipes I made and my favourite recipe from this section:

You can find the recipe for the S’mores Pudding here!

Okay! Here are the 10 sections from Baked Elements, and my favourite recipe from each one!

  1. Peanut Butter: Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones
  2. Lemon & Lime: (I actually didn’t make anything from this section…I don’t like citrus desserts!)
  3. Caramel: Turtle Thumbprint Cookies
  4. Booze: S’mores Style Chocolate Bourbon Pudding with Bourbon Marshmallow Topping
  5. Pumpkin: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
  6. Malted Milk Powder: Vanilla Bean Malt Cake
  7. Cinnamon: Classic Carrot Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
  8. Cheese: Poppy Seed Pound Cake with Brown Butter Glaze
  9. Chocolate: Chewy Chocolate Mint Cookies with Chocolate Chunks
  10. Banana: Honey Banana Poppy Seed Bread

My favourite recipe of the whole book is *insert drumroll here*: Vanilla Bean Malt Cake! I am obsessed with that thing! It was the fluffiest cake I have ever made, and I love it. But you can’t go wrong with any of the recipes in my Top 10!

There are still a few things I’d like to make that I missed and they are: Oopsy Daisy Cake, Whiskey Peach Upside-Down Cake, Devil Dogs with Malted Buttercream Filling and Brooksters.

And with that, we have a short break, and then we start baking out of Baked Occasions! I can’t wait!

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Baked Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

So I have actually made Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls before, but as if I would pass up a chance to try the Baked boys’ recipe! I don’t need that much of an excuse to make spiced, carby goodness, and I mixed these up last weekend, which was Thanksgiving up here in the great white north.

This recipe was pretty straightforward to make, and the only change I made was to heat the milk to 115 degrees, and proof my yeast in it for 5 minutes before adding to the dough. This was because I only had active dry yeast and not instant yeast at home. Other than that, everything was the same. My only problem was that I didn’t use big enough pans and/or I let the cut rolls rise too long, because they kind of exploded out of the pans. No matter, they still tasted amazing, and the drizzle of cream cheese on top was perfect.

So that brings us to the end of the Pumpkin section of Baked Elements! Here’s a little recap of what I made and my favourite recipe from this section:

  • Recipes made: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls, Pumpkin Harvest Dunking Cookies
  • Favourite Pumpkin Recipe: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
  • Recipes I Didn’t Make: Toasted Pumpkin Seed Brittle, Pumpkin Almond Cake with Almond Butter Frosting, Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars (the group made these before I caught up) and I passed on the Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Bread Pudding (Truth: I made the Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Bread and it was so good I ate most of it so it didn’t even have a chance to become bread pudding!)

You can find the recipe for the Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

Only 1 more recipe to go!!!

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Campfire Cake

by byn on October 16, 2014

in Cakes, Cupcakes & Icing, General

Campfire Cake - Top

Today is my BIRTHDAY and there was no question in my mind what my birthday cake would be this year. I’ve had my eye on this cake forever, and then my friend Danielle made it twice this summer, and I knew it needed to happen.

I’ve written about this at length before, but I love making my own birthday cake. It’s my favourite baking project of the year, other than my Champagne & Cookies party. I just love it.

Campfire Cake

So what makes this cake a Campfire Cake? First of all, the foundation is three layers of SUPER hydrated, rich chocolate cake, that could not be easier: two bowls, a whisk, and you’re good to go. It’s filled with toasted marshmallow frosting, in which you legitimately broil marshmallows in the oven and add them to a buttercream frosting, so that there are little bits of brown, toasty, marshmallow goodness swirled throughout the frosting. Finally the whole cake is covered in a glossy, smooth chocolate malt frosting. I suppose there should be a graham component somewhere to make it truly s’moresy, but I didn’t overthink it.

I also followed Danielle’s advice and picked up a lazy susan/turntable thing, which made decorating this cake a breeze, and let me do the neat swirly effect on the sides and on the top. She’s so smart!

I loved my cake, and it was an excellent Thanksgiving dessert!

Campfire Cake - Inside

Campfire Cake

Source: Cake & Marshmallow Filling from Sweetapolita, Chocolate Malt Frosting from The Joy the Baker Cookbook

Ingredients

Cake

2 1/2 cups flour

3 cups sugar

1 cup dark cocoa powder

1 tbsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 1/2 cups hot coffee

3/4 cups vegetable oil

1 1/2 tbsp vanilla

Toasted Marshmallow Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

1 cup icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 jar (213 grams) marshmallow fluff

16 large marshmallows

Chocolate Malt Frosting

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 1/2 cups icing sugar

2 tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup whipping cream mixed with 1/3 cup chocolate Ovaltine powder

Directions

  1. For cake, line two 8″ cake pans with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla, and pour into the dry ingredients. Whisk until smooth. Divide batter equally between the two prepared pans and two small bowls. Bake the cake layers until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean, about 20 minutes. Let the cake layers cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then flip out onto cooling racks. Wash and dry the pans, and repeat to bake the other two layers. Place the cake layers in the fridge or freezer to cool completely.
  3. For the toasted marshmallow filling, beat together the butter, icing sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add the marshmallow fluff and mix again. Now line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, spray it with nonstick spray and set the marshmallows on it. Set the oven to broil, and stick in the cookie sheet. Watch it super closely, as the marshmallows can burn very quickly. When golden brown, take the sheet out of the oven, and carefully flip the marshmallows over, and broil the other side. Remove sheet and add to bowl. Mix again on low speed. It’ll be a sticky delicious mess. I chilled the bowl for about 30 minutes to firm up the icing before proceeding.
  4. Divide the marshmallow frosting evenly in thirds, and stack up your cake layers with marshmallow frosting in between. Stick in the fridge while you make the chocolate malt frosting.
  5. For the chocolate malt frosting, cream together butter, cocoa powder and salt until smooth and creamy. Add the icing sugar, milk, vanilla and cream/Ovaltine mixture and mix again for a couple of minutes until fluffy and smooth.
  6. Ice the cake with a very thin layer of chocolate icing, and stick in the fridge for 30 minutes to set, then finish with a final thick layer of frosting.

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Chocolate Mayo Cupcakes

This is one of my favourite, if not the BEST Baked Sunday Mornings, for reasons that have very little to do with the actual recipe we made. I’m still feeling all sorts of warm fuzzy feelings from this week’s trip to NYC where I got to meet many of the Baked Sunday Mornings crew. It was just the best. So much so that I would probably have passed on this week’s recipe, but I just didn’t want to miss out on visiting everyone’s blogs, now that I’ve met them in real life.

So I know, the mayonnaise. If you have issues with it, or it grosses you out, this is not the recipe for you. The mayo replaces the butter/oil in the recipe, and you can’t taste it at all in the baked cupcake. It was actually pretty soft and hydrated. I don’t think this is going to become my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe, but it’s good to know that in a pinch if I run out of butter, and have mayo in the fridge, I can still make a tasty treat.

Now the frosting is another story: I am obsessed with it. It’s not a cooked frosting like many of the Baked boys’ other recipes, but instead a simple mixture of butter, icing sugar, vanilla and lots of melted dark chocolate. It was heavenly. I brought these to work on Friday for my co-workers and everyone loved them. I think they’re slowly getting used to the fact that I will randomly show up with treats.

So that brings us to the end of the Chocolate section of Baked Elements! Here’s a little recap of what I made and my favourite recipe from this section:

You can find the recipe for the Chocolate Mayonnaise Cupcakes here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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Baked Swag

Magical. That’s the only way I can even begin to describe my whirlwind, 36-hour trip to New York City. As I sat in Washington Square Park, I just had a moment: is this really my life? Who takes a mid-week, two day trip to Manhattan for a cookbook launch party??? Turns out I do, and I’m so happy I decided to go.

Meeting my Baked Sunday Morning crew at the party was just the most fun. I felt an immediate connection to the whole gang, as we traded stories about the recipes we tested, the bakeries we visited during the day, and generally bonded over the whole experience. Sheri, Sandra, Kristen, Liz, Mark, Dafna, Erin and Christine – it was so amazing to meet you guys! If you ever find yourselves in Toronto, make sure to let me know! And to the rest of the Badass Recipe Testers who couldn’t make it – you were missed!

Matt & Renato could not have been more welcoming and thankful that we were all able to make it out! They signed our books, posed for countless pictures, and are just the nicest, sweetest, most down-to-earth boys you could imagine. They also gave each of us a tote bag full of swag, and it held all the goodies you see up above. Matt & Renato – thank you SO MUCH for this opportunity! You guys are the best!

I haven’t even mentioned the treats yet! There were many recipes from Baked Occasions, and lots of others from the boys’ previous cookbooks. I had a mini Brookster, a Peanut Butter Crispy Bar, and a Sweet & Salty Cupcake. SWEET JESUS. It was the best cupcake of my life. There was also a DJ, a photobooth, and burlesque dancers! We chatted, ate, took a billion pictures and then I finally succumbed to my aching feet and decided to call it a night. It was truly such a special, magical, once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I’m so, so happy I was a brave little Byn and went!

So besides that, were you wondering how many treats and food-related shops I could eat and visit in 36 hours? Here goes:

  • After I dropped my bag off at the hotel, my first stop was Dominique Ansel. Forget the cronut though, I went for the Pretzel Lobster Tail, which is a soft pretzel stuffed with peanut butter and buttercrunch, topped with sea salt and served with a whipped brown butter honey dipping sauce.
  • Next up I grabbed an almond milk latte at Third Rail Coffee, and after a stop in Washington Square Park hit up these foodie-related stores in quick succession: Fishs Eddy (amazing dishes, cake stands, props and other kitchen related goodness I couldn’t fit in my carry on bag), NY Cake (cookie & cake decorating galore), Trader Joe’s (the line wrapped around the entire inside of the store – no way was I wasting a precious hour of NY time in line), and Williams-Sonoma (the Baked boys gave me a WS giftcard last year, and I finally got to spend it! I got two 8″ cake pans that I’ve been coveting forever).
  • Based on Dafna’s recommendation that this place had her favourite falafel outside of Israel, I obviously had to go to Taim, and it was incredible. The softest, chewiest pita bread EVER, plus fresh falafel, dreamy hummus and crispy veggies. I sipped on a brown sugar lemonade and people watched in Soho, and loved it.
  • I stopped at Momofuku Milk Bar before heading back to the hotel for a nap before the party, and grabbed a slice of Candy Bar Pie and Grasshopper Pie to take home, two treats that haven’t made it to the Toronto post yet.
  • On Wednesday morning, I decided I needed to sneak in a few touristy stops, so I did a quick visit to Rockefeller Plaza, stopping at Bouchon for a super healthy breakfast (croissant + TKO), before walking through Times Square.
  • Since this is the kind of trip where you have dessert after breakfast, I headed over to Doughnut Plant on the way to Chelsea Market, where I had a Creme Brulee doughnut. Been wanting one since Lydia and I visited in 2009, when I showed restraint by only eating one doughnut. I didn’t make that mistake this time and picked up a Peanut Butter & Banana Cream doughnut for later!
  • CHELSEA MARKET is everything I dreamed of and more! I just loved it! I picked up a handmade S’mores Candy Bar and a Fat Witch brownie to take home, and unfortunately didn’t figure out how to break into the Food Network Studios.
  • As per my new friend Kristen’s recommendation, I went to The High Line, which is an elevated park connected to Chelsea Market and is so pretty.

Other notes:

  • I pretty much walked everywhere, which is an amazing (yet exhausting) way to see great parts of the city, and burn off some of the sugar I consumed.
  • I stayed at the Tribeca Grand Hotel which I absolutely LOVED. Everyone was so nice and friendly, and there was the best lounge/bar on the main floor that I was obsessed with.
  • Obama was eating at a restaurant across the street from the hotel on Tuesday night, and all the streets were closed off with NYPD everywhere.
  • I saw Vanessa Bayer crossing the street in the Village except I couldn’t remember her name, and thus couldn’t accost her with my best impression of her, doing her impression of Miley Cyrus.
  • I didn’t want to come home BUT will be back in December with my friend Lydia and can’t wait!
  • There are pictures of the party and many of the treats I ate on my Instagram.

And with that it’s back to reality and time to prep for Thanksgiving!

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Baked-Occasions-Cover_Final-small

Attention everyone! Baked Occasions is out today!!! This is the 4th book by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, who I affectionately refer to as the Baked Boys. I recipe tested for this book, and thought this would be a good chance to talk a bit about my experience.

As you know, I’ve been a part of the Baked Sunday Mornings online baking group since 2011. Last summer, one of the group admins (Hi Sheri!) asked the group if we’d like to participate in recipe testing for the boys’ new book. Uh, YES! Of course I did!

Black Forest Cupcakes

Starting last July, Sheri would send me an email every couple of weeks with a recipe to test. I took this very seriously, and had a few self-imposed rules for myself before testing a recipe:

  • Always start with a clean kitchen!
  • Never test a recipe when you’re in a rush; make sure you have a block of time set aside.
  • Read the recipe all the way through before beginning.
  • Check (and double check) that you have all the ingredients (there is nothing worse than getting halfway through a recipe and realizing you’re missing one thing).
  • Print out the recipe and have a pen handy for making notes.

Sheri also developed a feedback form for us all to use, which asked questions about the ingredients, the yield, the baking time, and the taste and texture of the finished product. I tested a total of nine recipes, and they were:

  • Red Wine Chocolate Cupcakes
  • Baked Wintermint Cake
  • Nonnie’s Blueberry Buckle
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake Chocolate Brownies
  • Pistachio White Chocolate Cheesecake
  • Corncake Chocolate Chip Fritters
  • Traditional Linzer Cookies
  • Black Forest Cupcakes
  • Hair of the Dog Cake

Wintermint Cake

My favourite recipe I tested was the Wintermint Cake (chocolate layer cake filled with dark chocolate mint ganache and mint buttercream). Although I made it last August on a hot and humid day, it’s a perfect cake for the holidays. I was also a HUGE fan of the icing on the Black Forest Cupcakes. My least favourite recipe was the White Chocolate Pistachio Cheesecake. I didn’t like the taste, and it was not a cute looking dessert.  My co-workers gave it a unanimous thumbs down.

Everything I made was brought into my office for my co-workers to try. The first recipe I was assigned was the Red Wine Chocolate Cupcakes. I was curious to see if anyone would be able to identify the red wine, so I set out a piece of paper and pen next to the cupcakes, and told everyone to guess what the “secret ingredient” was. No one was able to guess, and I included this in my feedback form. Everyone really got into it, and was eager to provide feedback on the various recipes I tested.

I am actually on my way to NYC this morning to attend the launch party for Baked Occasions tonight. I am so, SO excited to meet my fellow recipe testers, see the boys in person, and eat many, many treats. I’ll post a full recap upon my return!

In the meantime, go grab a copy of Baked Occasions!

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