Archive Page 2


Strawberry-Basil Lemonade


This is the drink that inspired my Strawberry-Basil Lemonade Cupcakes. This is a really refreshing, delicious drink to have around on a hot day.

1 cup granulated sugar

6 – 8 cups water, divided

a handful of fresh basil leaves

1 cup puréed strawberries

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Add the sugar and 2 cups of the water to a saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a rapid simmer and the sugar has dissolved, about 7 to 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the basil leaves, and cover the saucepan. Let steep for 10 minutes, then check the flavour of the simple syrup. If you don’t taste enough basil in it, steep for 5 to 10 minutes more and check again. Measure out 1 cup of the syrup.

In a large pitcher, combine the strawberry purée, the lemon juice, and 1 cup of the basil syrup. Stir to combine. Add 4 cups water and taste. Pour in additional water if the flavour is too strong. Chill until cold and serve over ice.


Strawberry-Basil Lemonade Cupcakes – recipe 2 from the Cupcake Interview

As Hilary noted in the interview, these were inspired by a strawberry-basil lemonade I made about a week prior (which will be posted shortly), which was inspired in turn by a delicious cocktail I had at the Nelligan in Montreal. I wanted to make something quite bright to contrast with the heavier flavours in the s’mores cupcakes. These cupcakes have a lemon-basil cake, are filled with lemon curd, and are topped with a strawberry-basil frosting.


Lemon-Basil cupcakes

2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest

1 handful fresh basil leaves

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch baking soda

pinch salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp vanilla

1 recipe lemon curd (there are so many different recipes out there, but the flavour profile remains similar – for this version, I decided to try the lemon curd recipe from Baked)

1 recipe Strawberry-Meringue Frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 325º F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

Add the lemon zest, basil leaves and sugar to the bowl of a food processor, tearing the basil leaves into slightly smaller pieces as you add them. Pulse 4 or 5 times, until the mixture is uniform with a minimal amound of basil leaves visible. Measure out 1 cup of the lemon-basil sugar and reserve the remainder for the frosting.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the 1 cup of lemon-basil sugar and the lemon juice. Add the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter. Add the lemon-basil sugar mixture and mix well.

Add the vanilla to the almond milk.

Alternately add the almond milk and flour mixtures to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined.

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make lemon curd using your preferred recipe. Chill until cold and set. Then, fill muffins with lemon curd using your preferred method.

Frost with Strawberry-Meringue Frosting.

Strawberry-Meringue Frosting

1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped

reserved lemon-basil sugar

splash of lemon juice

4 egg whites

1/2 cup invert sugar or corn syrup

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup butter

Toss the strawberries with the lemon-basil sugar and the lemon juice. Let macerate for at least an hour, then purée until smooth.

Meanwhile, set a small pot of water to simmer. Add the egg whites, invert sugar and sugar to the bowl of a standmixer and place the bowl over the simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved, the mixture has lightened, and the temperature has reached 160º F. Immediately remove the bowl from the heat and replace it in the stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high until it has increased in volume, cooled, and turned bright white.

Add the butter, a knob at a time, until incorporated. Pour in the strawberry purée, a little at a time, until the desired colour and flavour are reached. Pipe the frosting onto the filled cupcakes.


Strawberry-Rhubarb Oat Crumble Muffins


Now that rhubarb’s in season, I’m delighted to be able to make a strawberry-rhubarb muffin for my Social Media Breakfast lineup. Aside from the streusel topping, these are wheat-free, and for the next Social Media Breakfast I’ll have a spelt-based streusel to top them with. They begin with a strawberry-rhubarb compote, and some oats add heartiness.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp turbinado sugar

1/2 cup coarsely chopped strawberries

1/2 cup coarsely chopped rhubarb

2 tsp lemon juice

a splash of vanilla (I use homemade rum-based vanilla)

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and let it melt. Add the sugar, strawberries, and rhubarb. Sprinkle with the lemon juice. Sauté until the rhubarb is tender, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the vanilla. Set aside to cool.


1/2 cup flour of your choice

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

pinch salt

1/2 cup butter, cold

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup each of flour and brown sugar with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the entire mixture looks gravelly. Reserve 1/3 cup for using on the muffins and store the remainder in the freezer – it’s great for a quick apple crisp.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Oat Crumble Muffins

1 cup oats

1 cup buttermilk

1 egg

1/3 cup turbinado sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

splash vanilla

1 cup all-purpose spelt flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

pinch salt

1 recipe strawberry-rhubarb compote

1/3 cup streusel topping

Preheat the oven to 400º F and line a muffin tin with paper liners. In a small bowl, stir together the oats and buttermilk. Set aside so the oats can absorb some of the buttermilk.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, canola oil and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add the oat-buttermilk mixture and the canola oil mixture to the flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Stir in the strawberry-rhubarb compote. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with some streusel.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out clean.


S’mores cupcakes – recipe 1 from Cupcake Interview on Local Tourist Ottawa


I recently had the great fortune to be interviewed by Ottawa’s Hilary Duff, who is on a delicious quest to find Ottawa’s best cupcakes for the Local Tourist Ottawa blog. I’ve been avidly reading Hilary’s research since her hunt began, so I was quite thrilled to make some cupcakes for her.

The first flavour I decided on was S’mores. A while back, while sipping some Laphroaig, I got it in my head that the campfire qualities of a nice, peaty Scotch would go brilliantly with marshmallows and, by extension, s’mores. I had a hypothetical cupcake in my head, and now I had a reason to develop it. The cupcakes would have to have enough whole wheat flour to impart the graham flavour. The tricky bit would be finding the right combination of sweeteners to achieve that nostalgic flavour of store-bought graham crackers. I first attempted the cupcakes with a combination of honey and molasses but found that the molasses imparted too much of a gingerbread flavour.

The next step was to decide on the filling. Would the cupcakes be filled with chocolate and dressed with marshmallow, or vice versa? It was an easy decision to sort out. The marshmallow had to be on the outside so that I could use my brulée torch (which I will make any excuse to use on a dessert) and get a roasted marshmallow flavour. Though I attempted to make a Scotch-based marshmallow fluff, it wound up being too runny and the flavour didn’t stand out enough against the sweetness of the frosting. Instead, I opted to paint the filled cupcakes with Lagavulin, then frost the cupcakes and torch the marshmallow.

The chocolate filling, I think is a matter of personal preference. I used David Lebovitz’s recipe for hot fudge sauce from his book The Perfect Scoop. However, I think any recipe for ganache or chocolate sauce would work quite well. I personally enjoy a deep, dark, chocolatey flavour in s’mores over the traditional milk chocolate – I find the milk chocolate flavour to be too cloying for me to enjoy the combination.


Graham cracker cupcakes

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. whole wheat flour (freshly milled, if possible – Castor River Farms at Lansdowne’s farmers’ market has fantastic, milled-on-the-spot flour)

1 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/4 c. plus 1 tbsp granulated sugar

3/4 c. honey

2 eggs

3/4 c. buttermilk

1 – 2 tbsp. Lagavulin or other peaty Scotch, divided

1 recipe chocolate filling of your choice.

1 recipe marshmallow frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk in the whole wheat flour and salt. Set aside.

Cut the butter into small pieces and place in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Melt, stirring occasionally. Let the butter cook until the foam begins subsiding and most of the bits on the bottom of the pan begin turning reddish-amber. The butter will give off a heavenly, nutty aroma.

Pour the butter into a jar or heatproof container (125 mL mason jars are my favourite kitchen accessory for things just like this). Cover and refrigerate just until cool, 30 minutes to an hour. Pour the browned butter into a bowl. Whisk in the sugar and honey. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the Scotch.

Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir until just combined. Divide batter evenly among the lined muffin cups.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a tester inserted in a muffin comes out clean.

Makes about 12 cupcakes.

When cupcakes are cool, fill with your choice of chocolate filling using your preferred method for filling cupcakes. Using the pastry brush, paint each cupcake with the Lagavulin

*note: for Hilary’s interview, I piped in the filling. This did not give a satisfactory amount of chocolate filling in the cupcake, so for the batch pictured above, I hunted for techniques around the web until I found this one, which gives a nice truffle-sized amount of filling.

Marshmallow frosting

4 egg whites

1/2 cup invert sugar

seeds from 1 vanilla bean

1 1/2 cups sugar

Set a small pot of water to a simmer. Add all ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer and set the bowl over the simmering water, making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Whisk constantly, checking the temperature from time to time (or by attaching a candy thermometer to the side of the bowl). The sugar will dissolve and the mixture will grow lighter and more opaque in colour. When the temperature reaches 235º 160º F, remove the bowl from the pot and replace it in the stand mixer. Using the whick attachment, mix on high for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture has cooled, turned bright white and considerably increased in volume. Scoop the marshmallow frosting into a piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice and pipe onto the filled cupcakes.

Using a brulée torch, toast the frosting until golden in most places and very slightly burned in others – this uneven toasting, for me, really gets the campfire feel across. Alternately, you could set the cupcakes under a broiler on high for 2 – 3 minutes, or until the frosting is toasted to your liking.


Wheat-free, Dairy-free Carrot Ginger Muffins


I was considering new ways to incorporate carrots into muffins when I came across a Fine Cooking article that recommended steaming vegetables before puréeing to help maintain colour and flavour. I often find carrot cakes and muffins too greasy, so a steamed carrot purée seemed like a good option. The consistency of the purée helps the muffins stay moist and delicious.

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup canola oil

2 eggs

1 1/2 cupspuréed steamed carrots (preferably orange, for colour), cooled

1 1/2 cups spelt flour

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch kosher salt

1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease or line muffin tins.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, oil and eggs. Whisk together until smooth.

Add the puréed carrots and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in chopped crystallized ginger.

Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, until a tester inserted in a muffin comes out clean.

Makes about 12 muffins.


Apple Pie Muffins


This recipe is adapted from a very old recipe of mine, my grade 8 Home Ec Spiced Applesauce Bread recipe. For those keeping track, that’s 1994. It’s been a while, but it was definitely worth keeping!

1 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup canola oil

2 eggs

3 tbsp whole milk

1 cup all-purpose wheat flour

1 cup freshly milled Red Fife flour (or whole wheat flour, if Red Fife isn’t available)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cardamom

pinch freshly grated nutmeg

pinch kosher salt

2 small handfuls walnut pieces

2/3 cup coarsely chopped Granny Smith and Royal Gala apples, poached in butter and sugar

1/3 cup streusel topping, for sprinkling

Note: For streusel topping, combine 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse until a crumbly mixture forms. Store leftovers in the freezer.

In a medium bowl, combine the applesauce, granulated sugar, brown sugar, canola oil, eggs, and milk.

Sift together the all-purpose flour, Red Fife flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and cardamom into a separate bowl. Add the nutmeg and salt and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the walnut pieces and stir to combine.

Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients. Add the apples. Stir until batter is just combined.

Divide batter evenly between muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin lightly with some streusel topping. Bake at 350º F for 20 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out clean.



Maple-Date-Bacon Muffins

Update: I changed the title, after realizing that these muffins no longer contained oatmeal.

These muffins are the third draft of a recipe I developed to serve at Social Media Breakfast Ottawa (#smbottawa on Twitter). (Draft 2 of the recipe was served there; draft 3 is nearing final draft status.) It was a flavour combination that recently got stuck in my head, thanks largely to all I’d been hearing about Marysol’s bacon-date brioche, which I have yet to try. I find these to be a great breakfast muffin – they’re hearty, and have a good balance between salty and sweet.


Maple, Date and Praline Bacon Muffins


1/2 cup Red Fife flour, freshly milled if possible

1 cup rye flakes

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

 generous pinch of cinnamon

4 tablespoons canola oil

2 eggs

8 tbsp maple syrup

3/4 cup chopped pitted honey dates

2/3 cup crumbled pralined bacon (slightly burned bits are okay here. They amplify the smokiness of the bacon.)


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

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the rye flakes and Red Fife flour and toast until fragrant and lightly coloured, anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together the rye flakes, Red Fife flour, and buttermilk until completely combined. Let this mixture sit while you prepare the rest of the recipe. This will soften the hard grains, resulting in a lighter, fluffier muffin.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Whisk to combine.

In another bowl or large measuring cup, combine oil, eggs, and maple syrup. Stir this mixture and the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the chopped dates. Fill muffin cups 1/3 full. Scatter bacon evenly into muffin cups, reserving some to garnish muffins. Fill muffin cups with remaining batter and garnish with bacon.

Bake muffins until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 18 – 20 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.