Green and Black Fruit Salad

This salad is a continuously tasty one to pack in bag lunches. Before I worked from home, I ate it just about every day for dessert at work, and it helped me avoid the crash I’d get if I indulged with a snack from the vending machine. It’s inspired by a fruit salad I had at Nectar Fine Teas here in Ottawa as part of their high tea. What makes it unique is the syrup the salad is dressed with – at Nectar, it was a jasmine tea and lime syrup. At home, I make a syrup with Stash green tea and lime zest, which really brightens the flavour of the fruit. Ordinarily, I’m not a fan of melon in fruit salad, but the honeydew works well here.


Green and Black Fruit Salad

Makes 2 generous servings

1/2 pint container of blackberries

2 kiwifruits, peeled and diced

A large handful of grapes, halved

1/4 honeydew melon, peeled, seeded and diced, or balled with a melon baller

2 tablespoons Green Tea and Lime Syrup (recipe below)

In a large bowl, combine the blackberries, diced kiwifruits, grapes, and melon. Toss together to evenly distribute the fruit. Drizzle the syrup over and toss to combine. Serve.


Green Tea and Lime Syrup

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

zest of 1 lime

1 green tea bag

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. (Note: if you like your syrup to have a lighter consistency, add 1 cup water). Bring to a boil over medium heat, then shut off the heat. Add the lime zest and tea bag and remove saucepan from heat. Let steep for 10 minutes. Taste and let steep longer if necessary. Remove tea bag and decant into a bottle or jar. The syrup will keep for a few months in the fridge. The syrup can also be used to flavour and sweeten cocktails and tea.


Parsnip, Cheddar and Black Pepper muffins

Amidst all the sweet muffins I make on a regular basis, I began to feel the need to include a savoury flavour or two. I happened across a recipe in Baked: Explorations (those cookbooks are phenomenal) that had potential, but I wanted to tweak it to suit my palate and what I had in the fridge and pantry at the time. The resulting muffin is sweet and salty, and tastes somewhere between a biscuit and a muffin.


Parsnip, Cheddar and Black Pepper Muffins

adapted from Baked: Explorations

Steamed Parsnip Purée

4 to 5 medium parsnips

Fill a sauté pan or saucepan with about 2 inches of water. Set a bamboo steamer on top.

Peel the parsnips and coarsely chop. Place on the rack of the bamboo steamer. Cover and place over high heat. When the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and steam parsnips for 8 to 10 minutes, or until fork-tender.

Add parsnips to the container of a blender and pulse to make a smooth purée. Let cool before using in muffins.


1 cup steamed parsnip purée

3 tablespoons sour cream or buttermilk

2 eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/4 cups grated Black River Maple Cheddar

Preheat the oven to 400º F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, combine the parsnips, sour cream, eggs, and butter. Mixture will be very thick.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and sugar.

Add flour mixture to the parsnip mixture and stir to combine. The batter will be very thick.

Fold in the grated cheese.

Divide muffin batter evenly between muffin cups. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins.


Haunted Forest Cake (Happy Birthday, Northern Army!)

October 27th was local design agency Northern Army‘s first birthday, and I was asked to make them a cake to commemorate the occasion, ideally incorporating their logo. I’d recently been toying with the idea of a spicy black forest cake, and this seemed like the ideal opportunity to finalize the recipe.

I made 3 square cake layers using the recipe below. The icing was a similar combination to the one I used for my Cupcake Camp Cupcakes – I find it eliminates the chalky mouthfeel I get from using a simple buttercream. I layered the cake with thick layers of frosting (next time, I’m making the icing batch bigger so I can get a better ratio of cake to icing). I printed out the Northern Army letters at about 320 pt Helvetica Bold, cut them out, and laid them on rolled-out white fondant. I cut the letters out of the white, then rolled out a full tub of Duff’s Black Fondant that I got at Michaels. I covered the cake, then cut the letters out of the black. I laid the white letters where the black cutouts were to make a relatively flush surface. To make it shiny, I brushed the cake all over with kirsch.

Haunted Forest Cake with Cherry-Kirsch Frosting

3/4 cups cocoa, sifted

1 1/4 cups hot water

2/3 cup sour cream

3 cups pastry flour or type 00 flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tbsp instant espresso powder

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/4 cups butter, softened

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Preheat oven to 325º F. Grease 3 9-inch cake pans and line with parchment.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa and instant espresso powder. Add the hot water and whisk until smooth. Add the sour cream and stir to combine.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Whisk to ensure ingredients are combined.

In a large bowl, cream the softened butter. Add the granulated and brown sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla bean paste.

In 2 or 3 additions, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with the cocoa. Begin and end with the flour mixture, stirring until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake at 325º F for 35 to 40 minutes or until a tester inserted in the centre of each cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove cake from pan to cool completely before frosting.

Cherry-Kirsch frosting

Adapted from Demolition Desserts

1 cup butter, softened

2 tablespoons whipping cream

5 cups sifted icing sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons kirsch, divided

3 egg whites, at room temperature

pinch salt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons invert sugar

1 cup cherry jam

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter until creamy. Add the whipping cream and mix. Reduce speed to low and add icing sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Mix in the salt, vanilla, and 1 teaspoon of the kirsch. Set buttercream frosting aside.

In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg whites, salt, granulated sugar and invert sugar. Set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Using a hand mixer, mix for seven minutes, or until white, glossy, and thick. Remove from heat and add kirsch. Let cool slightly.

Purée cherry jam until smooth. Mix into the buttercream frosting until thoroughly incorporated. Fold the seven-minute frosting into the buttercream mixture until combined.

Use this mixture to frost the haunted forest cakes. Garnish or decorate cakes as desired and serve.

Makes 1 3-layer cake or 6 dozen mini cupcakes.


Frangelico Balls

For a recent Fancy Party, I wanted to make rum balls. However, I wanted to make them taste a little more nuanced and elegant, so I decided to base the flavour profile on hazelnuts and spices. For the liquor, I used Frangelico, and I replaced the usual vanilla wafer or Oreo crumbs with Speculaas crumbs, using a delicious recipe from Baked. I think gingersnap or gingerbread crumbs would also work well here.


Frangelico Balls

1 cup Speculaas cookies, chopped to crumbs in a food processor

1 cup toasted, skinned hazelnuts, chopped

1 cup sifted icing sugar

2 tbsp Dutch process cocoa

1/4 cup Frangelico

1 1/2 tbsp invert sugar, honey, or corn syrup


chocolate sprinkles, ground hazelnuts, or other coating

In a food processor, pulse together the Speculaas crumbs, hazelnuts, icing sugar and cocoa until uniform.

In a small bowl, whisk together the Frangelico and invert sugar. Add to the bowl of the food processor and pulse until a dough comes together. Cover the dough and chill the mixture for at least 4 hours.

Place some water in a bowl and the coating in a shallow dish. Form the dough into 1-inch balls. Dunk in the water, then roll in the chocolate sprinkles. Repeat until all the dough is rolled.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes about 70 Frangelico balls.


Taste it, Now Make it! Prosciutto Bruschetta

During my recent travels to Nova Scotia, I visited Mix Fresh Kitchen with my parents. We began our meal with some great cocktails and appetizers, one of which was this wonderful prosciutto bruschetta. What really made this appetizer shine was the inclusion of fresh mint – it gave the bruschetta a new depth of flavour that was really memorable and quite good. Below is my attempt to re-create this dish at home.


1 baguette, thinly sliced

olive oil

1 pear

1 peach, preferably freestone

8 slices prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise

a few fresh mint leaves

1/4 to 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese


Preheat the broiler to high.

Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush baguette slices lightly with olive oil. Broil for 2 to 4 minutes, or until the bread looks golden and crispy. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350º F.

Slice the pear in half and remove the core using a melon baller or spoon. Slice each half into quarters. Run a knife around the peach and twist the halves apart (this is easiest with a freestone peach). Slice each peach half into quarters.

Set a wire rack over a baking sheet. Wrap each of the pear and peach slices with 1/2 slice of prosciutto. Arrange in a single layer on the wire rack and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the prosciutto is crispy and the pear and peach slices are fork-tender.

With a knife, spread each crostini with about a tablespoon of mascarpone cheese. Roll the mint leaves into a cigar shape and chiffonade. Place a few strand of mint on each crostini. Place a slice of prosciutto-wrapped pear or peach on top.

Serve on a long plate, alternating the pear and peach bruschetta.

Makes 16 appetizers.




Raspberry Whole Wheat White Chocolate Chip Muffins

I’ve been working through some new muffin recipes for Ottawa’s next Social Media Breakfast (October 19, as it happens) and arrived at these muffins. I really wanted to figure out a sweet muffin recipe in addition to the standard banana-nutella ones I have on hand, and I think these fit the bill. The whole wheat lends a wholesome quality, while the sweetness of the white chocolate chips complements the tart raspberries.



1/2 cup spelt floour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

pinch cinnamon

pinch salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup demerara sugar (or brown sugar, if you can’t find demerara)

1/2 cup canola oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen

1/2 cup white chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 375º F and line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours with the cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, demerara, canola oil, eggs, and vanilla. Stir the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined.

Add the raspberries and white chocolate chips and stir until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake at 375º F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a tester inserted in a muffin comes out clean.

Makes about 12 muffins.


Taste it, Now make it! French Mojito

Whenever I travel, I try to seek out good places to eat. The positive sides of this are endless: finding places to return to, having the best meals I can, trying new things…but the negative side is, you can only experience that first dish once, and usually it’s a while before you can experience it a second time, depending on how far away the destination is. So, I’ve decided to launch a series where I attempt to replicate dishes from my favourite places, to fill in the interim before I can return.

The first taste I’m working on is the French Mojito, from The Middle Spoon in Halifax, Nova Scotia. If you have any kind of sweet tooth, this is the place for you. It is a haven of cocktails and cakes. I went 2 nights in a row on my last visit to Nova Scotia, and I’m sure there are multiple trips in my future. I think it’s one of the best things to happen to Halifax’s restaurant scene. The Middle Spoon combines delicious desserts with craft cocktails using only the freshest ingredients, and everything on their menu is a memorable item.


I tried the French Mojito with the Peanut Butter Pie on my first visit, and both were heavenly. However, it was the French Mojito that really stood out. A combination of raspberries, lime and mint with the faintest hint of rosewater, it tasted both refreshing and elegant. I knew I had to attempt it upon my return to Ottawa. So here it is, my version of the Middle Spoon’s French Mojito.


1/2 lime, quartered

a small handful of fresh mint

a small handful of raspberries (about 15 small or 8 large raspberries)

1/4 teaspoon sugar


1/4 teaspoon rosewater

1 ounce vodka

1 ounce raspberry liqueur, such as Chambord

a splash of club soda or, ideally, soda water from a siphon

In a highball glass, muddle together the mint, lime, raspberries and sugar. Add 2 to 3 ice cubes and set aside.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the rosewater, vodka, and raspberry liqueur and shake until your hands feel too cold.

Strain into the glass with the muddled fruit. Stir slightly, add a splash of soda water, and serve.

Makes 1 mojito.