quit monkeying around... you nut!

If it’s one thing I couldn’t get enough of as a kid, it was nutella. On white bread. Toasted. It was the only way to go – that or dipping an espresso spoon in the jar for more than a few solo helpings of this tasty treat. So I thought what better way to satisfy that childhood craving, which I’ve carried forward into adulthood, than with a cupcake!

The finished product… a banana chocolate chip cupcake topped with nutella buttercream. Now if you're looking for a jolt of chocolate, this cupcake is definitely it - although the hazlenutty buttercream would probably suit a vanilla cupcake a bit better.

But still, a word of caution to banana and peanut butter – there might be a new cupcake in town!

can you hear the bells?

There are some things children of the eighties often reminisce about – Atari, banana clips, John Hughes movies. But one of my favourites is the good ole Dickie Dee.

Founded in Winnipeg in 1959, this unique mobile ice cream vendor would employ teens and young adults to ride around the streets of suburbs across Canada, ringing their bell (so to speak). I’m sure that for most of us, at least once in our childhood, that bell signaled cries of “Dickie Dee! Dickie Dee!”

One of the more popular Dickie Dee treats was the creamsicle. And so, upon the request of one of my most dedicated cupcake tasters, I decided to kick it old school with a Creamsicle cupcake.

I started with a vanilla cupcake, then in injected it with homemade cream and topped it with orange buttercream. I think it's a perfect (and nostalgic) summer treat.

Now if I could only find an old Dickie Dee tricycle!

hello... and goodbye

A short post mid-week for a baby on the way and a wonderful person on the way out.

First up, a half dozen red velvet cupcakes with pink cream cheese, topped with little duckies, pink diaper pins, baby bottle and rattle. Forget the ring on a string, I think cupcakes are the new way to predict a baby's sex for this grandma-to-be anyway.

Next up, if I must, a sweet way to say goodbye to a little blonde spitfire who's one of the funnest, bravest, most kick-ass people I know. For you, a half dozen red velvet cupcakes topped with (and don't let the sprinkles fool you) little broken hearts. I'll miss you Angie... but here's wishing you the best of luck in this next exciting step!

please sir, can i have s'more?

Whether it’s camping in a tent or trailer, there’s no funner (oh yeah, I wrote it!) a tradition than eating food cooked over a campfire while the mosquitoes bite away, you can actually see the stars in the sky and a nearby owl hoots.

And nothing says camping more than the beloved S’more (at least for me). According to Wikipedia, while the origin of the dessert is unclear, the first recorded version of the recipe can be found in the publication "Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts" of 1927. Consisting of marshmallows and chocolate squares semi-melted and squeezed between two graham crackers, it’s a little bit of heaven.

So my first instinct when thinking about a suitable recipe was to turn to one of my favourite creator of sweet treats, Bakerella, for a s’mores recipe that made my mouth water. Her recipe calls for a graham cupcake layer, then a sprinkling of graham cracker crumbs and brown sugar, then half of a jumbo-sized marshamallow, a layer of chocolate batter, some more brown sugar crumble and last, to top it off, melted chocolate and marshmallows (I used minis).

To be honest, these took a while to make and were a darn mess - but then again, that's what S'mores are all about... an ooey gooey mess.

Those darn Girl Scouts sure knew what they were doing!


“Toula, I come to this country with $8 in my pocket… to make all this… for you.”
~ Gus Portokalos, My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Growing up, I loved spending time with my big Italian family. Sunday lunches in the basement of my grandparents house, making tomato sauce in the driveway and watching Johnny Lomardi on Channel 4 but having no idea what he was saying were staples of my childhood.

But at the core, the older generation – although fiercely proud of their Italian heritage and the hardships they endured when coming to Canada in the late 50s – was always proud to be Canadian.  They saw it as an opportunity to carve out a better life – not only for themselves, but for the children they would eventually have.

And even though I still enjoy routing for Italy in the World Cup, taking in an afternoon at an Italian festival in the summer and knowing that the “pasta” they serve at your local restaurant chain really isn’t pasta, I too share their appreciation for being Canadian.

So in honour of the day that celebrates this unique and multicultural country that accepts all instead of making them conform, I made maple walnut cupcakes with maple buttercream. Of course, I couldn’t forget the Canadian flag and red sprinkles on top.

Canada, here’s wishing you a Happy 144th birthday. You’ve never looked so good!