Whistler Wonderland [Two Bite Brownies]

peak2peaktreetopswhistler2As a proud Canuck, friends always seemed surprised when I told them I had never downhill skied before (one highschool friend’s reaction was to tell me that I wasn’t as “cultured” as she thought I was). Happily, I was able to check that off my bucketlist just before the end of 2013 with a family trip out to beautiful British Columbia. Guided down the Whistler Blackcomb mountains by my talented skiing cousins and aunt (the same aunt who makes some of my favourite granola), we beginners all progressed to blue runs before the end of our ski week and even attempted some small moguls (most of which I managed to stay on my feet for). With only one nasty bruise, I’d say my first skiing experience was a success and I can’t wait to try again!sunnypines Continue reading

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! [Chocolate Pistachio and Cherry Biscotti]

cookieswapI think sending and receiving snail mail is one of my favourite things (brown paper packages tied up with string…). So snail mail containing cookies? Oh, baby. cookieswap1This was my second year joining in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, and considering I really only participated by proxy last year I was even more excited. (Plus, all the entry fees go to a good cause — yay cookies!)
Continue reading…

Perfecto Cinco de Mayo

20130506-024833.jpgA homemade Mexican feast, sunny southern Spain, day drinking, and lovely girlfriends…definitely a perfect Sunday afternoon and a perfect Cinco de Mayo.20130506-024902.jpgIt’s the kind of sunny afternoon that you’d want to last forever (which I kind of managed to do, with an evening siesta and a walk along the pier at sunset). It was summertime in Andalucía, and the living is easy…
(My contribution to our lunch was my go-to one bowl chocolate cake— just added cinnamon and orange zest to the cake, and lime zest to the cupcakes to make things slightly more “Mexican” in a pinch!)20130508-002453.jpg20130508-002510.jpg

Smuggling une gâterie Parisienne [Chocolate-Caramel Tartlets]

chocolatecarameltartletMaybe it was the smell of cold December air, or the fact that I could understand everything and be understood perfectly, but after living in Huelva for a few months, Paris felt like an old familiar city. (Obviously still amazing, magnifique, and huge, but strangely familiar all the same.)

Shakespeare&co., crêpes, and red-nosed statues?

Shakespeare& Co., crêpes, and red-nosed statues?

SONY DSC

I had heard about Ladurée and their famous macarons from friends and from food bloggers who raved about the expensive little treats.  Not wanting to make a big deal about finding my dessert, I was happy that we just stumbled across one of their pretty shops as we wandered through Saint-Germain.paris3

Macarons don’t travel well so I opted to splurge on a jar of their caramel au beurre salée to bring home and share. After managing to get my caramel through security at the Paris airport (it totally didn’t occur to me that caramel might be a no-no for flying, and I was flying Ryanair– there was no way I was going to check my bag.  Thank goodness for nice security guards!) I knew I wanted to make a special little treat with my Parisian souvenir.caramel

The chocolate-caramel tartlets from David Lebovitz was the perfect recipe; decadent, but bite-sized tarts with a caramel centre, chocolate ganache and a sprinkle of sea salt.  These tartlets look more complicated to make than they actually are, which is always a fun trick.  I also loved that in his post he talks about the superiority of caramel in Paris — a sign that it was the perfect dessert for my Ladurée caramel!  Mr. Lebovitz gives you instructions on how to make your own caramel, but I wanted to use my Ladurée stuff which made an easy recipe even easier.

Sunsets and sparkles at the tower.

Sunsets and sparkles at the tower.

I realize that on January 2nd, some of you may still be sticking to silly resolutions of giving up dessert and such…but these tartlets are worth it, I promise.  (Everything in moderation, right?!) Bonne annéee, bonne santé et bon apétit!

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! [Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies]

20121212-181230.jpg
The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap came on my radar last winter when cookie recipes from their inaugural swap started popping up all over the food blogosphere. I thought it was such a cool idea and put my name down right away to be notified when they started organizing for this year’s event. Well, when I got the email in the fall from organizers extraordinaire Lindsay and Julie that registration was starting I was super excited…and then I realized I was living in Spain. (Which is also super exciting, I’m not complaining!) Because they didn’t get enough participants in Spain to organize a swap here, my fantastic mum agreed to be my cookie chef and my fantastic twin agreed to photograph the process. And so my cookie swap dreams were made possible by my wonderful family! I really am one lucky gal.
And their awesomeness continues: the cookies that I will be receiving they are kindly putting in the freezer until I am home for Christmas (soon!), so I look forward to sharing those with them and thanking my fellow cookie swappers.

20121212-182511.jpgAside from this swap being a grand idea from a purely cookie-loving point of view, it also helped a great cause, Cookies for Kids Cancer. Participating in the swap introduced me to some more wonderful Canadian food blogs, too — there are so many talented people out there. A good cause, cookies, food blogs, snail mail, the holidays….thanks mum & TShap for letting me participate by proxy and thank you Lindsay & Julie for organizing this lovely event, I’m already looking forward to next year!

20121212-181958.jpgThese cookies are melt-in-your-mouth chocolate dreams. My mum has been making these for as long as I can remember; this is her recipe that she adapted from one of Martha Stewart’s magazines back in the day. These are sophisticated little cookies and I remember being pleased as punch when I made them for the first time a few Christmases ago — I left a festive dusting of cocoa powder all over the kitchen when I threw everything into the stand mixer a little too enthusiastically, but that was pretty much my only misstep and they turned out beautifully. (What I am trying to tell you is that it is hard to mess these cookies up.) They are a staple at our home during the holidays (and often year round…), and I hope you enjoy them, too!

20121212-181815.jpg

20121212-181921.jpg

Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies

Overwhelmed Under the Arches: La Mezquita, Cordoban Highlights, and a Clementine Cake

Looking up at the iconic arches in the mosque.

During my second year of university I took a little break from a full science course load and took some artsy electives.  One of my favourite classes was ‘Intro to Spanish Culture’ — our teacher, an enthusiastic academic from Andalucia, had me captivated after the first class.  Shortly thereafter I heard about this language assistant program in Spain, I applied the following year, and now here I am! Crazy.
One of the images I remembered the most from that class was that of the great mosque in Cordoba.  TShap and I ended up going back there twice, we were so amazed by the structure and the history of the building (plus, tourist tip! the entry is free from 8:30-10am!).  Although the mosque really is fantastic to see, many tours make it the only stop, and I would recommend staying to see the rest of this beautiful town.  From the Jewish quarter, to the Alcazar, to the gorgeous patios at Palacio de Viana, there is a lot to see. Catch a flamenco show, try some bull’s tail stew, and enjoy!

Craftsman at work at the Zocco Market

Looking into one of the patios at the Palacio de Viana.

This cake showcases two of the most abundant ingredients in Andalucia: citrus and olive oil.  This was my first weekend without traveling;  I enjoyed some downtime (and partying) at ‘home’ in Huelva and baked for the first time since I’ve been in Spain — it felt nice!  I was a little nervous with how using our new oven for the first time would go but this cake worked out so well! I was very pleased.  

Flamenco concert in Cordoba

Trying Rabo del Torro…I was wary but it was delicious.

Great travel buddy and photographer, twin:)

Clementine Olive Oil Cake with Dark Chocolate Chunks

Churros Con Familia (y Chocolate!)

20121027-005502.jpg

Today marked one full month that I’ve been living in Spain — in some ways it feels like it has absolutely flown by, and in others I feel like I have been gone for much longer. Either way, I’m loving the experience so far.
Thomas and I met up with our parents in Madrid today, and although they were pretty jet lagged from having just arrived we managed to do a good bit of sightseeing and street wandering. My mum and I both had the same thing at the top of our Madrid “to-do” list: San Ginés, Madrid’s top spot for churros con chocolate. We made it there just as the sun was setting over the beautiful Plaza Mayor and enjoyed our churros under cozy heat lamps outside. I’m so excited to be here with my family (or most of it– miss you Sam and Robbie!), and we decided that we should try a different chocolateria every day. I think I’m up for that challenge.

20121027-005641.jpg

No Oven? No Bake Chocolate Cake

When we moved in to our apartment in Huelva,, our bubbly and seemingly lovely landlady (who is an older Spanish lady from Sevilla) told us upfront that our oven was currently not working, but would be replaced “mañana”.  Well, three weeks have gone by, and that’s a lot of mañanas.  We’ve called our dueña several times, and she keeps reassuring us that a new oven is on the way, but we’re getting impatient over here! We will persist, por que no es vale!

To make things worse, our microwave broke last week (we’ve been told that it will be replaced mañana, too…), so when I said I would bring a dessert to a little “international” dinner I went to last week, I realized it would have to be a “no bake” recipe for sure. Cue this amazing No Bake Chocolate Cake from Heidi at 101cookbooks.  With only two key ingredients (I did manage to find all of the ingredients, though, in our little local grocery store!), it is a cinch to make, and can easily be done with super low key kitchen equipment.  (I used a plastic container lined with parchment paper as my “cake pan…it works!)

This cake is basically a decadent chocolate ganache or fudge in disguise. Make sure there are other people around to help you eat this, or you could end up eating it all yourself….not that that’s necessarily terrible.
I tried to make my cake a little more “Canadian” for this international shindig, so I decorated it with some maple candies and chocolate loonies that I brought from home (they are really for my students, but I figured I could sacrifice a few!).  It needed a little gussying up since I was lacking any cocoa powder or powdered sugar to make it look a bit more sophisticated.
This recipe was really easy to follow and the results were delicious — I’m really looking forward to making it again (maybe for (y)our birthday, Thomas!), but I’m also really looking forward to having an oven…fingers crossed.
Hasta luego!

Chocolate Ricotta Mousse

You know what’s awesome? A dessert that only takes 10 minutes to put together. Toss it in the fridge for an hour while you do something productive (or nap), and then it’s ready. It’s like it practically makes itself. Magical.


This is one of those desserts.  Minimal effort, but fabulous results. This is for chocolate lovers. It isn’t too sweet, so the intense chocolate flavour is the star of the show.  Serve it with a spoonful of whipped cream and seasonal fruit, and voilà!,  a deliciously pretty dessert.

Slightly less exciting is when you have a major brain fart and don’t realize that your lactose intolerant friend probably can’t eat ricotta cheese. Don’t bring this to lactose intolerant friends, even if they are incredibly nice about it and happen to have another dessert on hand anyway. You could make coconut macaroons instead, maybe?

Continue reading