Thank you for the amazing 8 years here at A Baked Creation, we can't thank you enough for the memories! But we've decided to move over to a new site - Sincerely, Syl. Please join us there for future posts on all the things you loved here!


Monday, December 27, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Crispy Bars

How are the holidays treating you? We've been spending time with family and friends non-stop since we got back from Las Vegas. I know I said I would have lots of time to finally tackle cake pops, but the days are just passing by!

For tonight's party, we made peanut butter chocolate crispy bars. You would think that something that doesn't require an oven would be easier to make, but nope, these took me just as long to "whip" up. But oh dear yum are they worth it!

Peanut Butter Crispy Bars
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
(Makes about 9 squares)

1 3/4 cups of crisped rice cereal
1/4 cup of water
1/4 cup of sugar
3 tablespoons of corn syrup
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
5 ounces of chopped milk chocolate
1 cup of creamy peanut butter
3 ounces of chopped milk chocolate
1 cup of Nutella
1/2 teaspoon of corn syrup
  1. For the crispy crust: Lightly spray a paper towel with nonstick cooking spray and use it to rub the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan.
  2. Pour the water into a small saucepan. Gently add the sugar and corn syrup. Make sure none of the sugar or syrup gets on the sides of the pan. Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture until combined.
  3. Put a candy thermometer in the saucepan, cook over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cook until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 235 degrees F.
  4. Remove from heat, stir in the butter and pour the mixture over the crispy rice cereal. Quickly stir until the cereal until it is thoroughly coated. Then press into the 8-inch square baking pan. Let the crust cool to room temperature.

  5. For the chocolate peanut butter layer: In a large nonreactive metal bowl, stir together the chocolate and peanut butter.
  6. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook (double boiler). Stir with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth.

  7. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly.
  8. Pour the mixture over the cooled crust and refrigerate for about an hour or until the top layer hardens.

  9. For the chocolate Nutella layer: In a large nonreactive metal bowl, stir together the chocolate, Nutella, and corn syrup.
  10. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook (double boiler). Stir with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth.
  11. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly.
  12. Pour the mixture over the chocolate peanut butter layer and refrigerate for about an hour or until the top layer hardens.
  13. Cut into squares and serve!

I don't know how they make it looks so neat in the cookbooks photos, but at least I know mine taste and smell just as great. There are no more bars left, I think it's safe to say that these were a hit!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Orange Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Icing

Hi! Around this time, Howard and I are flying over America, on our way to Las Vegas. I felt that I shouldn't go anywhere without leaving you some eye candy. So I made these cupcakes last Friday! We hope you love citrus as much as we do.

Orange Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Icing
Recipe from Food & Drink (Spring 2010)
(Makes about 12-15 cupcakes)

Orange Cupcakes:
2 eggs
1/2 cup of unsalted butter
1 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
2 cups of sifted cake and pastry flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 cup of orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) and have all ingredients at room temperature. Also have your cupcake liners and pans ready.
  2. If you forgot to take out the eggs to have them reach room temperature, place the eggs in a small bowl and cover with hot tap water.

  3. Beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add in the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla.
  5. Mix the flour with the baking powder and salt. Sift the dry ingredients again.
  6. Combine the milk with the orange juice.
  7. Pour half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture, then half of the milk mixture. Repeat. Mix well.
  8. Add in the zest to the batter and mix until combined.

  9. Use an ice cream scoop to evenly divide the batter among your cupcake liners.
  10. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool before frosting.
1/3 cup of cream cheese
2 tablespoon of unsalted butter
2 teaspoon of honey
3/4 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 cups of sifted icing sugar
  1. Beat the cream cheese, butter, honey, vanilla, and salt together.
  2. Gradually add the icing sugar until it is smooth and creamy. Add a tint of orange gel colour if you like.
  3. Spread or pipe on cooled cupcakes.

Piping fail! My intentions were to pipe beautiful flowers and be all zen in the afternoon. Instead of reaching a calming state, I became frustrated with my lack of practice. It just looked like piles of... oh I don't know! I can just imagine how disappointed my Wilton instructor would be! I later smoothed out all the icing with a spatula. Do you ever do that? =)

I really liked the icing, it was quite delicious! The orange cupcakes had a wonderful citrus aroma with each bite. I personally found the orange cupcakes a bit dense due to my lack of sifting, but my mom and Howard both said it was fine.

We wish you a happy holiday season! We'll be home for Christmas, so come back to read about our adventures in Nevada!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Our Favourite Cookbooks of the Year

Hey Sylvia, do you want a new shirt or a new book? Book please. Are you a cookbook enthusiast? I hope so. I thought that I would recommend some of our favourite cookbooks that we got this year. In alphabetical order:

Ad Hoc at Home
by Thomas Keller with Dave Cruz, Susie Heller, Michael Ruhlman, and Amy Vogler
Photographs by Deborah Jones
Blackboard art by Dan Bunter and Nick Dedier
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published by Artisan
ISBN 9781579653774

Do I thank this cookbook for giving me my favourite carrot cupcake? Yes.

Apart from the delicious dessert recipes, this is one of those gift or coffee table books for those looking to be inspired to cook. There are beautiful photographs and the chalkboard design accompanying these stellar recipes.

Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented
by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
Photographs by Tina Rupp
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang
ISBN 9781584798507

You know I'm going to recommend the guys at Baked. If I didn't love their cookbooks that much, I wouldn't have ran through rush hour to meet them.

I love learning about reinvented desserts, I have enough cookbooks that share basic and classic recipes. This book is fun and filled with the right amount of twists and tweaks to old favourites.

Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook: Breakfast, Brunch, and Beyond from New York's Favorite Neighborhood Restaurant
by Neil Kleinberg, Diana H. Lahman
Photographs by Michael Harlan Turkell
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published by Little, Brown and Company
ISBN 9780316083379

This book gave us brookies. Need I say more?

This was also my first breakfast and brunch cookbook. I went and picked up others after this. Who knew there were such great treasures to be found in brunch cookbooks? Admittedly, I thought it would be all about pancakes, eggs, ham, and toast. I guess I haven't had a real breakfast until I've eaten at Clinton St. Baking Company!

by David Chang and Peter Meehan
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published by Clarkson Potter
ISBN 9780307451958

This book is a really good read, while you might not go out and make their soup stock, you'll still be satisfied learning about David Chang's restaurants.

I know that this is one Howard really likes because Momofuku Noodle Bar is one of his favourite places to eat in New York City. Watching him go through the cookbook to find dishes he's tried and then seeing him gasp at how much work it takes to make is priceless!

Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes
by David Lebovitz
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published by Ten Speed Press
ISBN 9781580081382

With a title like that and a cover like that, it is no wonder that I would pick this up. And am I glad I did!

Remember that I said I like new variations to classic desserts? This one also fits the bill! Most of the recipes are ones that I haven't seen elsewhere and I like that they intrigue and challenge me.

The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook: The Best Sweet and Savory Recipes for Every Occasion
by John Barricelli
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published by Clarkson Potter
ISBN 9780307449450

I love curling up with this book in bed. There is such a feeling of comfort when you're with fantastic photography and yummy recipes at your fingertip.

Whoopie Pies: Dozens of Mix 'em, Match 'em, Eat 'em Up Recipes
by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell
Photographs by Antonis Achilleos
Hardcover, 120 pages
Published by Chronicle Books
ISBN 9780811874540

Yes, I discovered whoopie pies this year. I'm still on a whoopie pie high!

This is an adorable book with puffy covers. (Like a whoopie pie! Well thought-out ladies!) Hopefully this book will give you lots of fun and lots of inspirations from their different whoopie pie recipes.

Since it is also the season to be giving, I bought an extra copy of David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert and John Barricelli's The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook. Would you like to win them?

To enter our Favourite Cookbooks Giveaway:
  1. Please tell us your favourite cookbook in the comments below! Also tell us which cookbook (Ready for Dessert or The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook) you're hoping to win. One entry per person please.
  2. This contest is open to residents of Canada and the U.S.A. only! But, if you have friends and family with a Canadian or American mailing address, feel free to enter.
  3. The Our Favourite Cookbook Giveaway is open on December 17th 2010 until January 3rd 2011. So you have plenty of time to enter! Comments submitted after 12 midnight EST on January 3rd will not be considered.
  4. There will be two winners, one for Ready for Dessert and one for The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook. Winners will be randomly drawn.
  5. The winners will be announced on January 4th 2011 on our blog, a nice way to ring in the new year.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Iron Cupcake Toronto: Christmas

Last Sunday, Howard and I were judges at Iron Cupcake Toronto's Christmas challenge. Genevieve Griffin, from For the Love of Cake and the organizer of the event, asked us a week earlier and of course we said "yes!" How exciting, we never judged a cupcake contest before!

So we got there and Genevieve had us set up at the Judge's Table, complete with a Judge's badge, clipboard with pen, napkins, and a bottle of water.

She explained to us that we would be judging based on 1/3 presentation, 1/3 taste and 1/3 creativity (how well you incorporate the secret ingredient). Then, we were given a plate with mini cupcakes for the taste testing. I had #1-5, the third judge, Josh Rachlis, had plating #6-10, and Howard had cupcakes from participant's #11-15. We then pick our two favourite cupcakes to move onto Round 2 of the taste test. All in all, we wouldn't get to taste 6 of the competing cupcakes.

This wasn't easy at all! Howard and I didn't check the presentations yet, so we had no idea what to expect. I think it was fun that way, as we simply relied on our taste buds. I choose #4 to move on and was torn between #1 and #2. After much back and forth, I moved #2 to the final round. Howard picked #11 and #13.

Next up, judging the presentations. There wasn't a display for #1, so we'll start here:

Participant #2: Santa's Chocolate Candy Cane
I loved this display, it was a very cute concept, and you can tell that a lot of work went into this. You've got a conveyor belt of cupcakes along with a cooling and packing station!

Participant #3: Naughty or Nice?
Look at that, social media being incorporated into cupcake displays. While you may think the cupcakes look like coal, the inside is coloured!

Participant #4: Wild White-Tufted Cupcake (Cupcacheus Christmaseus)
It's a bird! It's a cupcake! It's a completely new species!

Participant #5: Gingerbread Cupcake with Eggnog Buttercream
This won't be the last gingerbread house we see!

Participant #6: Have you been naughty or nice?
I had to wonder if the sweet trees on the stands were handmade? Regardless, I liked them and thought they were really pretty.

Participant #7: Cupcake #1 and Cupcake #2
Hmm, never tried red and green candy corn before...

Participant #8: Gingerbread Cinnamon Apple
Wow! Great sugar work here, check out the Grinch coming out of the cupcake, also love the backdrop and scattered presents around it.

Participant #9: Black & White Forest
A forest I don't mind getting lost in...

Participant #10: Caramel Gingerbread Hot Chocolate
First thing that popped into my head was gingerbread men hot tubs!

Participant #11: Spiced Cranberry Pear
Oh warm, roaring fire! I hope Santa prefers cupcakes to cookies.

Participant #12: A Filipino Christmas Dream...
Sweet dreams indeed...

Participant #13: Oh, bring us a Figgy Cupcake
Is that sign handwritten?! Nice penmanship and illustration!

Participant #14: Chipy the Minty Cupcake
Aren't these two cute?

Participant #15: Gingerbread Lane (Gluten-Free)
Neato, check out those candycane trees!

The presentations were very fun to judge. We gave everyone a score from 1 to 10. Howard and I based on their overall concept and how well it showcased their cupcakes (this is a cupcake competition after all). So this meant we took into consideration the creativity, originality, props made/used, and the title of their entry.

When we were all done judging the presentations, Genevieve had Round Two of the taste testing ready for us. In this round, we gave each cupcake a score from 1 to 10 based on the taste. We also had to rate how well the contestants incorporated "Christmas" into their creation.

The Judges Table: Sylvia, Howard, and Josh Rachlis.
After we gave our scores, the three of us compared ratings. We found that we all had similar tastes and gave roughly the same scores.

While we were deliberating, a cupcake decorating contest for the attendees was held. Four attendees had to decorate six cupcakes in five minutes using the frosting and candy. Winner was determined by loudest applause.

After the contest, the judge's scores and the People's choice ballots were tallied. Genevieve introduced all the participants and announced the winners.

Congratulations to Alex and Beth, Iron Cupcake Toronto: Christmas winners!

Monday, December 6, 2010

MoRoCo Chocolat

After getting Cake Pops signed, we went for lunch, and stopped to visit MoRoCo Chocolat. This place was recommended to me by my brother!

99 Yorkville Avenue
Toronto, ON M5R 3K5
(416) 961-2202

They're on twitter too!

Here's one of their display windows. Love it when shops get into the festive mood. Here, they have stringed up some white-coloured macarons as decorations in the frames.

If you look closely under the table, there is a miniature tea party happening on the lower level!

The store itself is quite pretty and the staff were friendly towards us.

We rather enjoyed looking through all the names of their chocolates. There's Mintjito, Pout, Thai Me Up, Think Pink, Flirt, Sourpuss, and C'52 among them. If you're wondering what the names mean, you can download their chocolate map to check.

They also sell a variety of other sweets and gifts.

Like macarons!

We ended up trying Salted Caramel, Lemon, Passionfruit, Chocolate, Pistachio, and Raspberry. Howard and I both agreed that they didn't need to dye the macarons such bright colours. I liked the raspberry one and Howard liked the pistachio one from the bunch.

Their store is also the entrance towards their lounge where most people were eating brunch. Keep in mind that this is one of the more swankier places we've visited (it is in Yorkville), so the prices are a bit higher.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cake Pops with Bakerella

Um... you all know Bakerella right? If her name and wonderful blog doesn't ring a bell, maybe her irresistible mini treats will? Cake pops or more specifically the cupcake pop!

Bakerella went touring around North America to promote her cute book, Cake Pops. Now, I don't know about you, but I've been checking in book stores ever since the book's release, but never found one. I chalked it up to it being a bestseller. Which it was. On the New York Times Bestsellers List.

So I was pretty excited to see this post about her visit to Toronto. Yay! I would finally get a copy of the book, get to meet her, and have my book signed!

I should have been there earlier. My mind slipped on Saturday morning as I thought the event was at 1pm. Luckily I knew that something wasn't right and I managed to get to Williams-Sonoma at 12:05. I love that they drew a cake pop on the sign.

But that doesn't mean I was even close. Sigh, my original plan was to arrive at 11:30am. But I was on tip-toes and was able to hear the Q&As. Howard, being much taller, was very kind to take photos for me.

Whoohoo! The photo's a little fuzzy (Howard!) but I think you can still see the Canadian-themed cake pops Carolynn Sheu (thanks for letting us know) from Ottawa made - moose and beaver! I kind of blanked out when I sat down and didn't say anything. But Angie was very sweet, commented on our bangs, and asked if I liked to bake and I blurted out that I've never tried making cake pops before. *smacks head*

But I will. Now that I have the book and a holiday coming up. I will make cake pops!

Also, you might see the colour of the pumps she was wearing...

Her sharpie marker is the same colour as her shoes. Don't you love it when your accessories match like that?

As a nice surprise, we were given buttons after the signing! I love them - cupcakes, robots, and little snow people. Thank you for visiting Toronto! =)