Cookbook Review: The Whole30 Cookbook


My husband will be turning 40 this year and for the past 4 years he has been suffering from a variety of skin disorders that have literally popped up over night and taken over his life. He has been steadily healthy and rarely ever has a sniffle but his skin on the other hand has just been wreaking havoc on his day-to-day activities. He can barely walk without feeling a degree of discomfort. Simple daily tasks are becoming more and more difficult for him especially if it involves his hands being in water or changing a diaper on our 9-month-old baby.

Almost every day there seems to be a discussion between us about his skin and what might be causing these never ending-issues. The topic of our discussions: Food. The relationship between what he eats daily and the reaction his skin has to the various foods he eats.

I love the idea behind the Whole 30. (A big thank you to Penguin Random House for sending over a copy) “ For a full 30 days, you completely eliminate the foods that scientific literature and my clinical experience have deemed the most commonly problematic in one of four areas- your cravings, metabolism, digestion and immune system. During the elimination period, you’ll be completely eliminating these foods for a set period of time, experiencing what life is like without these commonly problematic triggers while paying careful attention to improvements in energy, sleep, digestions, mood, attention span, self-confidence, cravings, chronic pain or fatigue, athletic performance and recovery, and any number of other symptoms or medical conditions.” (Hartwig, 2016) Once the 30-day period is over, you slowly reintroduce the foods you have been missing and carefully pay attention to your body, the changes that occur and how you feel.

The Whole 30 diet involves eating meat, seafood, and eggs, lots of fruit and veggies and healthy fats. There are rules that you need to follow during the 30 day elimination- no added sugar of any kind, alcohol, grains, legumes, baked goods, dairy, etc. (Refer to the book for the rest-she goes in detail). I’ll be honest- I have never been able to stick to any kind of diet ever. I have tried to eliminate sugar in the past and it just doesn’t work for me. I also don’t have any major health issues that would make me want to diet in the first place anyways. That being said, I am always motivated to just eat and be healthier in general. My thoughts: If you can stick to the rules and you are motivated to change your life in some shape or form. This, in my opinion is the best way to do it. I love the idea and it just all makes perfect sense.

For those who are further interested in Whole 30, author Melissa Hartwig’s book The Whole30 talks all about it. This particular book “The Whole30 Cookbook” includes a bunch of recipes to get you started on your Whole 30 journey.

The Recipes

Recipes are easy to follow and most don’t have a lengthy ingredient list. There are a few exceptions of course. Recipes with longer ingredients however are ones with more spices (which only makes a dish tastier right!) Each recipe is accompanied with a description about the particular dish as well as a picture. Also included: Prep time, cook time, total time and serving amount. Some recipes have additional tips at the bottom for the particular recipe. The end of the book takes us to a Basics Section where she includes chicken broth, bone broth, basic mayonnaise, egg-free mayonnaise, Whole30 Ketchup and more. Also included is a list of Whole30 approved companies, cooking conversions and of course an index.

I managed to recreate 3 recipes in the book. You will have to pardon my not so perfect pictures. All were made in the evening when my kids were sound asleep so the lighting and presentation were not the greatest! Also not pictured below: Beef and Sweet Potato Chili. This was my favourite one of them all. I have already made it 3 times! I love this recipe because it has all the flavours of a normal chill minus the beans. I can’t for the life of me come to like beans!

Smoky Barbecue-Spiced Kale Chips


Pesto-Pepper Frittata with Squash

I have to be honest… I have not completed this 30-day challenge but trust me I can definitely use it and of course my husband would really benefit from it too. Once I can convince him to stick to an elimination diet to find his triggers, I will most definitely update this post and let you all know what the results were! Stay tuned!

A big thank you to Penguin Random House Toronto for sending over a copy of The Whole 30 Cookbook in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions in this blog post are 100% my own. 

Food Bloggers of Canada Featured Member!


Hi all!

I am super thrilled to be a featured member on the Food Bloggers of Canada website! If you haven’t had a chance to check out my interview with FBC you may do so here:

For those of your who are unfamiliar with FBC, check out their website at I have been a proud member for a couple months now. When I first started to blog, I really didn’t know where to start and what to do. I knew I wanted to write about cookbooks and food as it was my passion so I turned to FBC for help. They provide a network of other food writers throughout Canada and much inspiration may I add for creating my own blog.  They also have a ton of resources for food bloggers like myself.

A huge thank you to FBC for this wonderful feature!

Much love! Xo




Cookbook Review: Canadian Living: The Ultimate Cookbook

I’ve had a subscription to The Canadian Living Magazine for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my mother always had a subscription and I would pour over her magazines staring at all the pictures of food, dreaming of the day that I would be able to make them all in my own kitchen. Each month when a new issue arrives at my door, I read every article (yes I’m that dedicated!) and tear out my favourite recipes.

I can’t even begin to explain how incredibly thrilled I was when I started to see advertisements in the magazine that a cookbook filled with the ultimate recipes would be hitting the bookshelves. As I flipped through the book, I started recognizing recipes that I have seen in the magazine that I kept (bye bye tear outs!) all neatly laid out in this perfect cookbook!

For those of you who are not familiar with Canadian Living recipes, let me tell you…they all turn out amazing. The Canadian Living Test Kitchen is composed of industry professionals, food experts, home economists, recipe developers, and food writers. I have been recreating their recipes for years and there is not one recipe that has gone wrong. As a busy mom who cannot afford to lose time, I can trust that each recipe will go right without any errors. Every recipe is tested till perfect, which means they have tested every recipe using the same grocery store ingredients and regular household appliances as we do. No surprises, no strange “where in the world do I find this??” ingredient. Perfect for the everyday cook and busy parent.

The collection of recipes you will find in this cookbook are the ultimates of everything. The ultimate appetizers, the ultimate fish and seafood, the ultimate sauces, seasonings and preserves, and so much more. This means you are getting the best recipes of everything. I have this book tabbed to the max and my dinners planned out for the next couple weeks (no word of a lie!).

I love that this cookbook bypasses most of the usual do’s and don’ts, techniques and ingredients that are typically located in the beginning and cuts right to the recipes. The recipes are so simple you don’t even really need anything else.

The Recipes

The recipes are categorized with symbols above each recipe into the following categories:

  • 30 minutes or less
  • Canadian classic
  • Vegetarian
  • Complete meal (balanced meals containing protein, starch and vegetables)

Recipes are super easy to follow with ingredients listed in order of use. Directions are also simple and uncomplicated. Each recipe lists hands on time, total time and how much the recipe yields. Also included at the end of most recipes are storage directions, any make-ahead steps that can be done ahead of time (thank you Canadian Living, all busy parents are thanking you!), any variations of the particular recipe and nutritional information per serving. Recipes are cross-referenced making it super easy to locate your favourite. (yes…perfection!)

Chapters are divided into the following:

  • Appetizers, dips, & spreads
  • Soups
  • Salads
  • Side dishes
  • Poultry
  • Beef & Lamb
  • Pork
  • Fish & Seafood
  • Pasta, Noodles & Dumplings
  • Eggs & Breakfasts
  • Quick Breads
  • Yeast Breads
  • Sauces, Seasonings & Preserves
  • Pies & Tarts
  • Cakes
  • Desserts
  • Kitchen Reference

I have created several of the recipes in this book thanks to my monthly subscription of The Canadian Living Magazine. For the purpose of this blog post, I recreated my favourite Hazelnut Moose Cake that has become a staple for birthdays in my family. Every one loves it! I get compliments every time I make it and the best part…it contains one of my favourite ingredients, Nutella! This would also be a perfect cake to make for your significant other for Valentine’s Day, I promise you will not be disappointed! (Recipe & pictures below) I also recreated (for the first time) a super tasty and healthy Curried Chicken and Lentil Soup that was a hit in my family as well.

Chocolate Hazelnut Moose Cake (pictures below)

Prep Time: 1 hr       Total Time: 4 ½ hr       Portion Size: 16 to 18 servings


  • 175 g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) whipping cream 35%

 Chocolate Cake:

  • 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
  • 4 tsp (18 mL) cider vinegar

 Hazelnut Meringue:

  • 3 egg whites
  • Pinch cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) ground roasted skinned hazelnuts, (about 1/2 cup whole)
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla


  • 1 pkg gelatin
  • 1 cup (250 mL) hazelnut chocolate spread
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) whipping cream 35%

 Candied Hazelnuts:

  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) roasted skinned hazelnuts


Chocolate Cake: Grease 10-inch (3 L) springform pan; line bottom with parchment paper. Set aside. In bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Whisk in 1 cup water, oil and vanilla; stir in vinegar. Scrape into prepared pan.

Bake in 350 F (180 C) oven until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Run sharp knife around edge. Remove from pan; let cool completely on rack.

Make-ahead: Store in airtight container for up to 24 hours.

Cut cake in half horizontally to make 2 layers.

Hazelnut Meringue: Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using 10-inch (3 L) springform pan as guide, trace circle onto paper. Turn paper over. In bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Beat in sugar, 2 tbsp at a time, until stiff glossy peaks form. Fold in hazelnuts and vanilla. Spoon onto circle, smoothing top.

Bake on bottom rack in 225 F (110 C) oven until dry and crisp, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Turn off oven; let cool in oven for 2 hours. 

Make-ahead: Store in airtight container in cool dry place for up to 5 days.

Mousse: Meanwhile, in small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 2 tbsp water; set aside. In heatproof bowl over saucepan of hot (not boiling) water, melt hazelnut spread with 3 tbsp water until smooth; stir in butter.

In microwave, warm gelatin on high until dissolved, about 20 seconds; whisk into hazelnut spread mixture. Set aside and keep warm. (Mixture may separate while standing; whisk to combine.) Whip cream; whisk one-third into hazelnut spread mixture. Fold inremaining whipped cream.

Line bottom of 10-inch (3 L) greased springform pan with parchment paper. Place bottom cake layer in pan; pour 1 cup of the mousse over top. Place meringue layer in pan, trimming to fit if necessary; pour 1 cup of the mousse over top. Top with remaining cake layer; top with remaining mousse. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

Make-ahead: Wrap in plastic wrap and overwrap in foil. Freeze for up to 2 weeks. Thaw overnight in refrigerator; continue with recipe.

Meanwhile, place chocolate in bowl.In small saucepan, bring cream to boil; pour over chocolate and whisk until smooth. Let stand, whisking occasionally, until ganache is thickened slightly, about 20 minutes. Run sharp knife around cake; remove from pan and set on rack over parchment paper.

Pour ganache over top, smoothing top and sides with palette knife. Refrigerate until almost set and ganache is still shiny yet no longer jiggles, about 30 minutes.

Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

Candied Hazelnuts: Meanwhile, in shallow saucepan, dissolve sugar and salt in 3 tbsp water over medium-high heat. Add hazelnuts; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is light golden, about 8 minutes. Spread nut mixture on parchment paper–lined baking sheet.

Let cool. Coarsely chop; sprinkle over top of cake.

I had to show this picture first to entice you to make this gorgeous cake! This is the finished product. Hazelnut Moose Cake topped with a Ganache frosting and caramelized Hazelnuts.
Making the meringue
Candied Hazelnuts
Spreading the moose over each layer of cake
The assembled cake pre-ganache


The end of the book takes us to the Ultimate Kitchen Reference including a table of equivalents (measurments), cooking equipment, baking equipment, an extensive and most useful list of ingredient substitutions, food safety, meat doneness temperatures & visual cues, and a fruit & vegetable buying guide.

I loved this cookbook and it just might be the cookbook of the year for me. It includes anything and everything and would make the most perfect Valentines gift for your loved one (or for yourself of course) I know that in the next couple of years the pages will get stained with sauce and oil and may get a little dog-earred but I can’t wait to place this ultimate collection on my bookshelf and eventually share these classic recipes with my kids.

** All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. I received a copy of Canadian Living: The Ultimate Cookbook from the most generous Simon & Schuster Canada to give an honest review. You may purchase this cookbook through for $40.00. Price is subject to change.

Join myself with Simon & Schuster Canada on Valentine’s Day and cuddle up with your favourite book!


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“Alice Eats: A Wonderland Cookbook” Review

I am a lover of all things Disney. I have a massive cabinet filled with Disney snow globes of all characters and every Disney DVD that has ever been released. When I noticed this adorable cookbook combined with the classic literature of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland I knew I had to get my hands on it!

In “Alice Eats: A Wonderland Cookbook”, Julie Van Rosendaal creates the most sumptuous Wonderland delicacies based on the storyline. Pierre Lamielle creates modern, whimsical and beautiful illustrations that are unlike any other interpretation of Alice that I have ever seen (and probably one of my favourite parts of the book, other than the recipes themselves!)

It never occurred to me how many references there are to food items throughout the story, despite reading and watching the movies several times. What a brilliant idea to create this most adorable keepsake book. Something that I look forward to passing on to my daughter once she’s old enough (and passes the “ripping pages out of books” stage)

With recipes like Alice’s “Eat Me” Cakes with Blackcurrant Icing, The Queen of Hearts’ Red Velvet Cupcakes with Regal Cream-Cheese Frosting, and the Milky Mystic Matcha we can bring ourselves and our imaginations deep into Alice’s Wonderland and feel like we are there right beside her sharing the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Speaking of which, there is an adorable Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Section that outlines each of the following 4 characters: the Dormouse, the March Hare, the Mad Hatter and Alice and their own versions of a scone, a savory, a sweet and a unique tea concoction. How sweet!

Included is a section on brewing a proper pot of tea; assembling your cups and saucers, stirring your tea “never clanging the sides of the cup or spilling over the sides”. Another cute little section on tea sandwiches including a visual guide of different kinds.

Another notable (and adorable may I add) 2 pages on Tasseography. I actually had to Google this when I was reading it as I wasn’t sure if it was made up or actually real! For those of you who aren’t familiar, Tasseography is the ancient art of reading your fortune in tea leaves. “The finer the tea, the more detail you will find in the images.” Instructions on how exactly to do it are included along with the creative illustrations with Alice characters on interpreting your fortune wherever the tea leaves may land. Loved it and it is something I would definitely incorporate at my next tea party/brunch with the girls!

It was nice for a change to open a cookbook and not have a thousand pages on equipment and ingredients, etc. Not that I don’t appreciate what authors write (I actually do learn a lot despite being an avid cook and baker myself) but just nice to cut to the chase and see simple recipes that anyone can recreate without a boat load of Do’s and Don’ts.

The Recipes

Each recipe begins with an adorable little “Alice in Wonderland” description of what is to come. The recipes range from savory to sweet including specialty drinks. They are easy to follow and are appropriate for the beginner cook/baker. Ingredients are listed in order of use and instructions are simple, organized and well laid out.

The book is divided into the same chapters you will see in the classic story as told by Carol Lewis. Under each chapter you will find a collection ranging from 1-5 recipes that reflect that particular chapter. Here is an example:

Chapter 4: Rabbit sends in a Little Bill

White Rabbits Cucumber Frames with Three Fillings

Bill’s Brandy Snap-to-Its

Alice’s Little Cake Pebbles

I managed to recreate the Mock Turtles Chocolates, which consisted of pecan halves topped with square caramels and a piece of dark chocolate. They were ridiculously easy to make despite the fact that I left them in the oven too long (opps!) This is a perfect quick dessert to make if you have last minute guests coming over. I didn’t have pecan halves at home but rather pecan pieces that were already chopped so I tried my best to recreate what I saw in the picture.  My picture below isn’t the greatest but hey..they tasted awesome regardless and I can’t complain. For presentation purposes, buy pecan halves!

Mock Turtle’s Mock Turtle Chocolates

Makes about 2 dozen tasty turtles


  • 1 ½ cups (250 mL) pecan halves
  • 24 individually wrapped square caramels
  • 1 bar (3 oz/90g) dark chocolate, broken into about 24 pieces


  • Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees (180 C).
  • On a parchment-lined baking sheet, arrange the pecan halves in groups of four, all pointing away from eachother, like the legs of a turtle. Unwrap the caramels and place one on top of each cluster, right in the middle.
  • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the caramel softens and starts to melt. Remove from the oven and place a square of chocolate on top of each caramel, pressing lightly so that the caramel oozes out a bit on the sides. If the turtles have spread out too much, you can push the pecans back together while the caramel is still soft.
Topping the pecans with carmel squares. Please don’t mind my not-so pecan halves!



This picture doesn’t do justice! They were so so good! This picture comes from the second batch I made. Can you tell I was running out of good looking pecans? Ha!

Tips from Melissa’s Kitchen:

Use the cooking times above as simply a guideline and not an exact duration to bake/melt. Each oven varies in temperature so it is best to keep your eye on these turtles very often as the carmel melts. I had expected that the carmel was supposed to be oozing in the oven prior to taking them out but I was wrong! I ended up making 2 batches of these because I I had waited for the oozing and by then it was too late…they had started to burn. They only need to be slightly softened when you top them with the chocolate, otherwise the carmel will harden too much causing a much difficult dessert to eat and possibly some broken teeth!

Comment below if you try these out, I would love to know!

** All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. A big thank you to White Cap Books for sending over this gorgeous cookbook!

“Alice Eats: A Wonderland Cookbook” may be purchased at for $34.95. For more information on this cookbook, click on the following link:

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Cookbook Review: “The New Sugar & Spice” By Samantha Seneviratne

Cookbook Review: “The New Sugar & Spice: A Recipe For Bolder Baking” By Samantha Seneviratne

“Homemade desserts have a big job: they carry important messages to important people. We bake them with the people we love. We share them with the people we love. We eat them with the people we love.” Freelance recipe developer and food stylist, Samantha Seneviratne couldn’t have said it better in her new cookbook, “The New Sugar & Spice”, a collection of recipes for bolder baking.

It is no wonder that Seneviratne has created such a gorgorgeous cookbook as she has been a food editor at Good Housekeeping, Fine Cooking, and Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. All of which happen to be some of my favourite magazines ever! When you get a moment, check out Senevirathne’s website and blog at She has a unique collection of recipes for cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, breads and more including a gluten-free and vegan section as well.

Seneviratne goes back to the past when sugar wasn’t the all- powerful ingredient but rather a compliment to other spices and ingredients, resulting in a more balanced end product. “My aim is to make spice an equal partner with sugar, open up a new world of homemade deliciousness, and create new cravings for something other than mass-produced sweetness”, Seneviratne says of her goal of creating this cookbook. “ In Sri Lanka, I realized food comes from the earth. There I learned how to eat with my hands and my heart”. The desserts in this book are a combination of American classics we all know and love with a hint of spices from Seneviratne roots.

Included is a section on baking tips, equipment, and ingredients. Seneviratne emphasizes the importance of not relying on temperature and time alone but rather sight, smell, and touch in addition to your clock and I couldn’t agree more. I can’t tell you how many times I have put something in the oven, set a timer, walked away and continued on with other household tasks. Seneviratne recommends an oven thermometer for accurate oven temperatures as ovens vary from each household and brand.

Equipment is pretty basic for the average baker and include the following: bench scraper, candy thermometer, cookie scoops, electric hand mixers/stand mixers, measuring cups and scales, offset spatula, parchment paper, pastry blender, pie weights, rulers, and timers. Basic ingredients used in some of the recipes are reviewed along with tips for using the ingredients in recipes. For example, washing delicate berries only when you are ready to use them as leftover water can encourage mold. , Dutch-process vs. natural cocoa powder, consistency of room temperature butter and more useful tips that are great reminders for even the experienced baker.

The recipes:

Recipes are organized into spices with the following chapters:

  • Peppercorn & Chile
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Clove & Cardamom
  • Vanilla
  • Ginger
  • Savory Herbs & Spices

Each chapter begins with a beautiful story of Seneviratne’s youth and visits to Sri Lanka where spices were frequently used in the baking of goods. I thoroughly enjoyed reading these life stories as it is clear how important her upbringing and her family are to her in her life, as well as how it has influenced her baking. Besides the recipes themselves, these stories were my favourite part of the cookbook and I read every single one. To me it reflects the passion and love that went into creating the recipes in the cookbook. Just beautiful! Also included is a short history and introduction of the particular spice mentioned as well as storing guidelines. Despite being an avid baker myself, I found that I actually learned quite a bit!

The recipes are well organized, neat and easy to follow. Ingredients are listed in order of use. Recipes are cross-referenced making it super easy to locate your favourites. Each recipe includes visual indicators accompanied by the cooking time so you know when your finished good should be ready. The pictures were spot on and although there wasn’t a picture for every single recipe, there were definitely enough and the ones that are included are perfection.

Anything chocolate always gets my attention. I managed to recreate the salt & pepper caramel brownies and hot honeycomb candy and both were sensational! Anytime I see caramel in a recipe, I tend to veer away from it, as you need to keep a watchful eye. It can turn clear to brown in a matter of seconds. Despite my fears, I tackled it and to my surprise it was super easy and ridiculously amazing! The only thing I would have adjusted is the amount of pepper, I definitely put in more than I can handle.

Since my favourite of the two were the hot honeycomb candy (which taste like a better version of the crunchie bar) I decided to post this recipe. Comment below if you get a chance to try it out! (pictures below the recipe)


Makes about 1 pound candy


  • Butter, for the pan
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup mild honey or Lyle’s Golden Syrup
  • 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending on how spicy you’d like it
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate (60 to 70% cacao), chopped (about 4 cups)


  • Butter an 8-inch square pan and line with aluminum foil with a 1-inch overhang on two sides. Butter the foil and any exposed sides of the pan. Grab a small whisk, a heat-safe spatula, a small plate, and an oven mitt, and set them by the stove.
  • In a medium saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar, honey, vingar, cayenne, salt, and water. The mixture will swell up to about 4 times the volume in the next step so make sure the pot is big enough. In a small bowl, set aside the baking soda.
  • Heat the sugar mixture over medium-high heat to 300 F without stirring. In order to get an accurate reading, make sure the bulb of the candy thermometer is submerged in the sugar mixture. You may have to hold the pot tipped to the side while the sugar cooks. Use the oven mitt to protect your hand and arm from steam while you hold the pot. Remove the pot from the heat, quickly remove the thermometer and place it on the plate, and immediately whisk in the baking soda.
  • Take care to disperse the baking soda evenly, but don’t mix longer than a second or two or you’ll deflate the bubbles. Quickly scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Don’t touch it once it goes into the pan so as not to disturb the bubbles. The mixture will swell up and then deflate. Let it stand until completely cool and hard, about 30 minutes.
  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Place the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted. Make sure that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Alternatively, you could melt the chocolate in the microwave, in 15 second bursts, stirring in between each one.
  • Lift the candy from the pan and pull off the foil. Break the candy into 1-to 2-inch pieces. Transfer the chocolate to a deep, narrow dish, like a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Using a fork to lift the candy, dip each piece into the chocolate and toss it to cover it completely. Pick the coated candy up and tap it on the edge of the dish to knock off any excess chocolate. Set the candy on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining pieces. Pop the sheets I the fridge for a few minutes to set the chocolate.
  • Store the candy in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week (if its not too hot) or in the fridge up to a month.

Notes from Melissa’s Kitchen:

I found Lyles Golden Syrup with no issues to my surprise. I was sure I was not going to find it in Canadian grocery stores but I found it in the honey/peanut butter isle and it was super cheap. I put about 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne in the candy and I found that I could barely taste the spice. I was afraid to add more as I had put too much spice in the brownies. I would definitely add more next time around.

My candy mixture started to burn before it reached 300 degrees. I’m not sure exactly what happened but I figured it would be one of two issues: 1.) my candy thermometer sucks or doesn’t work well (doubt it) or 2.) I didn’t tip the mixture as mentioned in the directions well enough to get a more accurate reading. I had my thermometer attached to the side of my pot and occasionally tipped it. In this situation, I should have listened to one of Senevirathne’s suggestions…using my eyes and sense of smell to determine whether the candy was ready and of course, plain old intuition. I started to smell a teeny tiny bit of burn and saw that the colour was getting darker but had my eyes glued to the thermometer and it was only at 200 degrees. When I mixed in the baking soda, I tried to do a quick 2 second stir as mentioned in the directions but it did leave a couple lumbs of soda. It did not affect the end product though. Once these chunks of candy were dipped in chocolate to my surprise, I hardly tasted that they were slightly burned. They were SO GOOD!

Salt & Pepper Caramel Brownies


Candy Mixture pre-boil.
The (slightly burned) Candy mixture hardening up.
My mess of breaking up the candy into chunks!
Chunks of candy ready to be dipped in chocolate.
Candy chunks dipped in 70% Lindt Chocolate
These were phenomenal and I can’t wait to make them again! Like a classy version of the Crunchie bar with a twist.


Some other great recipes that I have all tabbed up from this cookbook:

  • S’more Pie
  • Cinnamon, Hazelnut and Date Buns
  • Cinnamon Toast Bread Pudding
  • Maple Glazed Pecan Pudding
  • Buttery Shortbread with Coffee and Cardamom
  • Gingerbread
  • Sticky Apple Date Cake
  • Gingerbread Pancakes and many many more!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading and experimenting with the recipes in this cookbook. The recipes are unique, bold and perfect for anyone who likes to play around with spices. Stay tuned to my social media accounts as I occasionally recreate more of the recipes in this book!

**I received a copy of this cookbook from the most generous Ten Speed Press. All opinions and thoughts in this post are 100% my own. You may purchase “The New Sugar and Spice: A Recipe for Bolder Baking” By Samantha Seneviratne for $25.91 CAN at your local or Prices are subject to change. For more information on this book including an excerpt from the book:

Other books by Samantha Seneviratne: Gluten Free For Good

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Cookbook Review: “Butter Celebrates!” By Rosie Daykin

Cookbook Review: “Butter Celebrates!” By Rosie Daykin

Another beautiful cookbook written by Vancouver based bakeshop owner, Rosie Daykin. If you haven’t already checked out her first cookbook “Butter Baked Goods”, you are truly missing out. The recipes in this book are amazing and the food photography by award winning photographer, Janis Nicolay is spot on. There are pictures for every recipe, which as you all know, I LOVE! I can just stare at these pictures all day and drool. I tabbed up this book in a matter of 20 minutes with all the recipes I wanted to try.

This cookbook is all about baking for celebrations. Rosie’s introduction speaks about her love of baking for others for special occasions. “This is much more than a cake. This is someone’s life and we’ve been included.” (p.2) Rosie warmly welcomes you to recreate some of the recipes in this book and let them become traditions in your own home.

Included in the beginning of the book is a section on “Essential Elements of Entertaining.” Here she briefly goes over a couple things that work for her in prepping for company and meals. Making lists, setting a nice table, creating a warm atmosphere with candles, music, decorations, and serving food family-style. Also included is a section on cupboard staples, tools and equipment. The staples she includes are pretty basic for the most part and there isn’t anything too fancy here.

The final section “Some Gentle Reminders” I had thought was going to be annoying but as I read it, I appreciated it more than I thought I would. She briefly goes over a couple techniques and tips that even seasoned bakers can quite easily forget such as what exactly room temperature butter is and testing it with your fingers, making substitutions and how it will affect your end product. I have substituted many times due to not having something in the house and (I hate to admit it but..) not reading through the entire recipe prior to starting. So I thoroughly enjoyed reading the tips.

The book is divided into the following celebrations:

  • Valentine’s Day
  • Patrick’s Day
  • Easter
  • Mother’s Day
  • Babies
  • Summer Celebrations
  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
  • Hanukkah
  • Christmas
  • New Years
  • Sweet Packages
  • Butter Creams and Frostings

About The Recipes:

The recipes are well organized and easy to follow. They are measured by volume, not weight. Most of the ingredients are easily assessable at your local supermarket. The directions are fairly straightforward and easy enough for a beginner baker. Some of them are long and depending on the type of baker you are (I am a slow baker with a toddler hanging off me which doubles the duration of anything) and the time you have available in your life. Some can be a little time consuming, but I assure you these recipes are well worth it.

I managed to tackle the “Cupcakes with the Most-ess” as this recipe, (which is essentially a knock off recipe of the famous Hostess Cupcakes) has been on my to do list for ages. I am on the hunt for the perfect replica and I think I may have found it. Here is the recipe:


Cupcake Ingredients:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup dark cocoa

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

½ cup butter, room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1-cup buttermilk

1 tsp pure vanilla


½ cup whole milk

1 tbsp all-purpose flour

1-cup butter, room temperature

2 cups icing sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla

Finishing Touches

1 recipe Chocolate Ganache (at end of recipe)

Makes: 1 dozen cupcakes

You will need: 1 muffin pan, buttered and floured, large ice cream scoop, 14-inch piping bag fitted with a small plain tip, 1 (11×17-inch) rimmed cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
  2. For the cupcakes, on a large piece of parchment paper, sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and beat to combine.
  6. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and beat until combined.
  7. Use the ice cream scoop to fill each muffin cup three quarters full.
  8. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean.
  9. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow them to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before gently placing them on wire racks to cool completely.
  10. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a small pot over medium heat, combine the milk and flour and whisk until the mixture starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  11. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and icing sugar until pale yellow. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  12. Add the cooled milk and vanilla and beat on high speed until light and fluffy. Fill the prepared piping bag with this mixture.
  13. Prepare the Chocolate Ganache and pour it into a bowl that is deep enough for you to submerge a cupcake in it.
  14. Push the tip of your piping bag through the bottom of a cupcake and squeeze gently until the cupcake starts to swell. Don’t squeeze too hard or the cupcake may split from too much filling. Repeat with all the cupcakes. Reserve the balance of the filling in the bag for decorating the top of the cupcakes.
  15. Once all the cupcakes have been filled, drop them one by one in the ganache. Use a fork to gently lift the cupcake from the ganache and tap it on the edge of the bowl to help remove any excess. Transfer each dipped cupcake to the prepared tray and use a knife to help slide the cupcake off the fork.
  16. Place the cupcakes in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to help the ganache set. Once it has set, you can pipe the top of each cupcake with a little more filling for decoration.

Chocolate Ganache Recipe

Makes: 3 cups

3 cups dark chocolate chips

2 tbsp butter, room temperature

¼ cup whipping cream

  1. In a double boiler over medium heat, or a heatproof bowl placed over simmering water, melt the chocolate chips and butter.
  1. Remove the chocolate from the heat and whisk in the cream. Allow the ganache to cool slightly before use.
  1. The ganache can be made several days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. When your ready to use it, place the bowl over a simmering pot of water to warm it through.

A couple notes on my experience:

Something went wrong for me while making the ganache . The moment I poured the whipping cream in the melted chocolate-butter mixture, it seized and became lumpy and thick. I had to throw it in the garbage. I re-read the recipe to make sure I did everything correctly and it seems I did. I used 70% Lindt Coverture chocolate, not sure if that made a difference. I’m thinking it may have been on the heat too long and my butter may not have been completely at room temperature. (These little things count!) I didn’t want to risk wasting another 3 cups of it so when I redid the ganache, I decided to use a Martha Stewart recipe that I have used in the past. Her recipe requires warming the whipping cream and pouring over the chocolate. It seemed to work well for me. If you do try this recipe out, and the ganache comes out well, please comment below I would love to know! (and know where I went wrong!)

While filling the cupcakes with the mixture, I did not put the tip deep enough into the cupcake. This resulted in not enough of the filling in the centre of the cupcake and lots of leftover filling. (see pic below) I think this requires a teeny bit of practice as to what the cupcakes look like when they swell with the filling, as I also ended up with a couple split ones depite the warning!

These tasted phenomenal. Despite some of the challenges I had, I would 100% make them again based on taste alone. My husband ate almost the entire batch.

Filling the muffin tin with the cupcake mixture.
Baked cupcakes
Making the filling.
Martha Stewart recipe for ganache.
Poking the bottom of the cupcake to fill the centre with the white filling. Put the tip deep into the cupcake and slowly release as it swells.
After dipping in the ganache.
Gorgeous, yummy cupcakes!
Note how the filling didn’t hit the centre/top of the cupcake. Refer to my additional notes for this.
But just look at how beautiful this is! Perfection!

Some other great recipes you can expect to find in this cookbook:

Chocolate Whoppie Hearts with Raspberry Fluff Fill

Chocolate Cake for Two

Irish Coffee Cupcakes

Guinness Cake with Pretzels

Coconut Marshmallow Bunnies

Double Decker Eclairs

Strawberry Cupcakes

Animal Cookies

Dark Chocolate Cherry Loaf

Banana Pecan Caramel Cake

And many, many more!

gingerbread part 2


The end of this wonderful cookbook takes us to a section on “Sweet Packages.” This section briefly goes over unique ways of packaging your baked goods and tying the perfect bow.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this gorgeous picture-packed Cookbook. I look forward to baking my way through this book and referring to it on my next big (or small) occasion. To say the least, it is definitely a keeper. Stay tuned to my social media accounts for pictures as I occasionally recreate more of the recipes!

**I purchased BUTTER CELEBRATES!” By Rosie Daykin at for $21.94 (prices are subject to change) All opinions in this post are 100% my own. This book is published by “Appetite by Random House”

Additional Info:

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