St. Paddy’s Day

St Paddys DayA few years back, I was invited to a party that coincided with March 17, St. Patrick’s Day.
I wanted to make a cake that was apropos for the evening, but all the cakes I looked at on Pinterest seemed too silly for an evening dinner party, where our beer was likely not going to be green.
As a nod to the colour, I made white and green shards of chocolate and added them to a vanilla cake (that yes, I tinted green — couldn’t help myself) that was covered in vanilla buttercream. Awkward to serve, but delicious, I think it said Happy St. Patrick’s Day, in its own way.
May the luck of the Irish be with you!

Chocolate leaf cupcakes

cucakes creme anglais chocolate leaves (4)I was asked to bring dessert to a party last minute. I popped some cupcakes into the oven but how was I going to decorate them?
I looked in my cupboard for inspiration and found a small box of chocolate leaves that were given to me as a gift. Perfect! I filled the cupcakes with some creme anglais, then piped on some buttercream, a drizzle of melted chocolate and then topped them with the moulded leaves. I think it worked really well.


Torta di pera e cioccolata

Torta de pera e cioccolateIt was -20C outside over most of the weekend and I just didn’t want to face it, so I baked. This week’s food section in the Ottawa Citizen featured “The rustic flavours of Florence” and I thought anything that gave even a small suggestion of Tuscany in this tundra-world I live in, might warm things up around here.
The cake they featured was a gorgeous thing called Torta di pera e cioccolata. Pears and chocolate. I had a couple of pears kicking around the house. Why not give it a try?
The challenge for me was there were no cup or teaspoon measurements in the directions. All weighed ingredients in either grams or ounces. So I pulled out the trusty scale and gave it a go. And I think it worked really well. It tasted great!
Recipe from the book: Florentine: The true cuisine of Florence by Emiko Davies (Hardie Grant, Chronicle Books, 2016).

Laughter & the love of friends

debras-cakeI came across this image in my files recently. It’s a cake I did over 20 years ago for a friend who knew she was dying and wanted to have a final goodbye party. While I visited her in hospital, she came upon the idea of getting a cake. Debra was a talented graphic designer and so the design of the cake became a project for her.
Back and forth we went with ideas (phone calls, it was an era before the internet). She wanted fruit. She wanted flowers. She wanted a saying. She spent many hours finding the right one and this is the one she decided upon.
I was fairly new to cake decorating at the time and was careful to get it right. The text was written on tracing paper, carefully transferred to fondant with pin pricks and then executed with dark brown buttercream.
When I brought the cake to her party, she was delighted with the results. At this point, Debra was weak so we all sat around her bedside, watching videos of her visit to South Africa when she was feeling fine. We ate cake and drank wine and said our goodbyes.
It was a sad occasion but I know that thinking about the cake gave Debra a focus for a few hours while in hospital. At the very least, I gave her that.