Lemon, Lavender and Earl Grey Mini Cakes

Hello Lovely,

I feel like it's been forever since I made a dessert. I really don't remember the last time I baked dessert so I feel that this recipe is long overdue. For the past few weeks I have been consumed by photo shoots, investing in my food photography and planning my European summer trip, so this dessert has really helped me to unwind and actually enjoy Spring. Let's face it, April is over and Summer is soon here! So I've definitely got to take some time to stop and smell the roses (literally)!

I was planning on serving these cakes at a Spring gathering with some friends over the Easter holiday, but the gathering was cancelled. I was disappointed that the cake cracked; I didn't realise it was finished until about 5 minutes too late so it dried out. I was left feeling completely uninspired when I looked at my cakes. To this day I still regret not levelling them so they could be the same height and have flat tops (See what stress does to you). I stared at these cakes for an hour trying to figure out how to make them pretty. The coconut glaze-icing didn't turn out well and I definitely did not have the energy to whip up buttercream frosting.  I eventually decided to use some store-bought Betty Crocker Whipped Strawberry frosting I had but even though didn't know what to do.

After a few more moments of head scratching and failed icing, I decided to make a "rose" shape on top of each cake. But I still wasn't satisfied. So I took a walk outside and found some flowers that I thought really complimented the mini cakes. After that I felt like I was at high tea! The flowers really brought out the best in the cakes and hid the imperfections that were bothering me. I made a little bouquet and rest it in a jar in the middle of the cakes and let creativity take care of the rest.

What I love about the cakes is that no flavour is too strong or overpowering. It's not too sweet, and doesn't even taste dry. You should definitely try this recipe the next time you have friends or family over or if it’s your turn to donate some sweets. The best part is you can cut these cakes in half to make more. The recipe yields 14 when baked in a 9” shallow pan and a small circle cutter is used to cut each out.

Lemon, Lavender and Earl Grey Mini Cakes

Ingredients

·        2 cups flour

·        ½ cup earl grey tea, strong brew with ½ teaspoon lavender

·        ½ cup sour cream

·        ½ cup nonfat milk

·        ½ cup sugar

·        ½ cup plain applesauce

·        1 egg

·        1 teaspoon baking soda

·        1 teaspoon baking powder

·        1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

1.      Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9” baking pan and set aside.

2.      Brew a cup of Earl Grey Tea and steep for 5 minutes. I used Harney & Sons.

3.      Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and soda together. Add the wet ingredients and mix until well combined.

4.      Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 18 minutes or until knife inserted in centre comes out clean.

5.      Allow to cool completely. Then using a small circle cake cutter, cut out the mini cakes. Decorate with icing of your choice and enjoy.

Key Lime Coconut Doughnuts

Hello Lovely,

Guess who's not a fan of coconut, That's right, this girl! But when I saw these doughnuts on Baker by Nature, I couldn't resist! I loved everything about it except the shaved coconut on top. I though it made for a great photo, but I could never eat that much coconut. Even though I don't like coconut, the use of coconut milk and coconut oil would be so subtle in the doughnut, I knew that I wouldn't even taste it. And I was right.

Everyone knows that virgin coconut oil is an organic superfood. So using it in a doughnut recipe should make it healthy right? No? Well that's my logic and I'm sticking to it.

Key Lime Coconut Doughnuts

Ingredients

For the Key Lime Coconut Doughnuts:

·        1 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour

·        1 teaspoon baking powder

·        1/2 teaspoon salt

·        1/2 cup granulated sugar

·        2 teaspoons fresh lime zest

·        2 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

·        1 large egg, at room temperature

·        1/2 cup coconut milk

For the Key Lime Glaze:

·        1 cup confectioners' sugar

·        1 and 1/2 tablespoons key lime liqueur

·        1 teaspoon lime zest

·        1/8 teaspoon salt

(Optional) Decoration:

·        1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted

·        2 teaspoons lime zest

Instructions

1.      For the Key Lime Coconut Donuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Generously grease a doughnut pan; set aside.

2.      In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

3.      In a large bowl combine the granulated sugar and lime zest; mix together with your fingers until zest is evenly distributed in the sugar. Add in the melted coconut oil and, using a whisk, mix until combined. Beat in the egg, then stir in coconut milk.

4.      Add in the dry ingredients and gently fold the mixture together using a rubber spatula, stirring only until mixture is evenly combined.

5.      Divide the thick batter evenly among the moulds of your prepared pan, filling each mould up 2/3 of the way. Bake for 10-11 minutes, or until firm and lightly golden on the tops.

6.      Remove pan from oven and allow doughnuts to cool for at least 10 minutes in the tray before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

7.      Once cool, dip each doughnut in glaze and serve! The glaze does take a few minutes to set, so you may want to wait about 5 minutes after glazing to dig in... but it's hard!

8.      For the Key Lime Glaze: In a wide, shallow dish combine liqueur and sugar, and whisk to combine. If the glaze appears too thick, add a little more liqueur until desired consistency is achieved; if glaze appears too thin, add a little more confectioners' sugar until desired consistency is achieved. Carefully dip cooled doughnuts in the glaze, and let rest for 5 minutes - if you can wait - before serving.

Notes

Donuts are best eaten the day they are made.

 

If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment below and don’t forget to snap a pic and tag it #lifebyolivia on Instagram! Seeing your kitchen creations makes my day. ♥

 

Double Dipped Love/Hate Cookies

Hello Lovely,

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, so we're totally taking a break from all of the healthy eating for the day! I remember in college the Psychology Club had an annual bake sale every Valentine's Day called the Love it or Hate Bake Sale. We sold desserts for people who both celebrated and hated Valentine's Day. It was the perfect marketing strategy! People who didn't care for Valentine's Day were happy with their Anti-Valentine's Day treat and lovers were happy to share their bright and colourful treats with each other. That was actually the inspiration for this cookie. To be honest, I never thought I would make cookies , but as the saying goes, "Never say never."

This recipe doesn't get any easier. In fact, it's not even actually a recipe. It uses so many shortcuts that none of it is from scratch, but that doesn't make it taste any less delicious! All you'll need is a package of Pillsbury Sugar Cookie Mix, two cans of frosting (chocolate and strawberry or vanilla with food colouring), and of course sprinkles!

Bake the cookies according to the package directions, and wait for them to completely cool. While the cookies are cooling, you can melt the frosting in the microwave. But just remember, melt it too much and you've got watery frosting that won't stick to anything and in about one minute the frosting will return to it's original texture so you've got to work fast.

Share these cookies at a bake sale, with co-workers, friends or your loved ones. Go crazy with the sprinkles and even paint a design on the cookies. Happy Valentine's Day!

Strawberry Cheesecake Trifles

Hello Lovely,

Valentine’s Day is coming up next week and it tends to be very chocolate heavy in terms of desserts/gifts. So I wanted to do a nice, simple dessert that wasn’t chocolate but still had Valentine’s vibes. I had some leftover strawberry cheesecake filling from the Cheesecake Brownies (see newsletter for recipe) so after randomly browsing Pinterest for some inspiration, I decided to go the easy route and make trifles. I've made it before with raspberry cocoa so I felt pretty confident. Trifles are so easy to make, you just have to know how to layer.

You can go the easy route with a boxed cake, but that would've yielded too much for me. I only wanted to make 3 trifles and the goblets were only so big, so I made my cake portion from scratch. In hindsight, I should've realised that I was making too much batter, but hey, better to have more than not enough, right? I'll still share the recipe using the boxed cake if you want to make this for a large crowd.

If you're only trying to make a little, all you'll need is about 1.5 cups of flour, 3/4 cup milk, 1 egg, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder and soda, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Grease a 9 x 9 pan, bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until knife inserted in centre comes out clean. That's what I did. For everyone else, your recipe is as follows.

 

Strawberry Cheesecake Trifle

Strawberry Cheesecake Trifles
Makes 6-8, depending on dish size

1 box white cake mix with all the ingredients to make it
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1.2 oz bag freeze-dried strawberries, diced finely
2 cups heavy cream

Make the cake batter according to the instructions on the box then bake on a parchment lined half sheet pan (18×13″). Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs over the top and bake for 15-18 minutes until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let the cake sit in the pan for 20 minutes then use the parchment paper to lift it out of the pan and set aside to cool completely.

Once the cake is cooled and you’re ready to assemble, make the ‘cheesecake’ by beating together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and ground up freeze-dried strawberries in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Scrape up the bottom and sides of the bowl then add 1/2 cup cream to whisk it all together so you lighten up the cream cheese for about 30 seconds. Once that’s happened, add the rest of the cream and beat on medium high speed until the mixture has thickened and is light and fluffy. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag.

To assemble, figure out how big the cake needs to be to fit snugly in the serving dish and cut out rounds from the cooled cake. Place a cake layer in the dish, pipe out an almost even layer of the ‘cheesecake’ then repeat with another layer of cake and ‘cheesecake’. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 hours if not serving right away.

I didn't personally eat any of these because of my new diet, but my mum loved them! I intentionally dialed back on the sugar because while she enjoys dessert, she doesn't like anything that's overly sweet. And having a diabetic step-dad means that I have to watch the sugar content on everything I make. If you want the recipe for the Cheesecake Brownies I mentioned earlier, just hit that subscribe button below!

For more ideas on V-Day ideas, check out these faves below!

Who do you plan on making these for this Valentine's Day? P.S. This would be the perfect treat to serve at your "Galentine's party" with friends!

Chocolate Pumpkin Donuts with Cream Cheese Frosting

Chocolate Pumpkin Donuts with Cream Cheese Frosting

These baked pumpkin doughnuts with cream cheese glaze are the perfect fall treat. Now, I for one love me a good pumpkin recipe. And I also love my doughnut pan. So naturally – it’s a match made in heaven. Ready in 30 minutes start to finish – have them for breakfast or afternoon coffee! Yes please! Seriously, you’re going to love this recipe.

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