Ombre Bridal Shower Cake

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I had the great privilege of making my good friend Joanna’s bridal shower cake.  The theme of the party was high tea, so I wanted to keep the cake simple and well, just make it pretty.

The colors for her shower were coral and seafoam green.   With the help of her bridesmaids, we decided on a two tiered strawberry cake with lemon buttercream icing.  Because of the spread of food that would be available, they opted for a 6″ round tier on the bottom, and a 4″ round tier for the top.  Cute!  The bottom tier would be ombre coral buttercream, and the top tier would be the seafoam green ombre buttercream, with a few little embellishments to finish it off.

I did a quick sketch as to what I thought the finished cake would look like.

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I learned of a really pretty flower technique off of Jessica Harris’ Craftsy class, Simply Modern Cake Design, which I thought would be fitting for the style of the shower.  I started out with a Wilton sugar sheet.

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Then punched out several 1″ round circles.

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Cut a slit half way through, and then use a little gum glue adhesive to overlap the two ends into a cone shape.

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After making several cone shapes, you just layer them and build outwards.  As your bloom gets bigger, you can switch to a larger circle shape.  I started using a 1.5″ round circle once my flower got bigger.

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The finished flower.

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I flatted a small dome-disk of yellow fondant and gumpaste and adhered it to the middle of the flower with gum glue adhesive.  I then used a pointed fondant tool to texture the middle.

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Before the flower fully set, I also inserted a toothpick up from the bottom up into the yellow middle of the flower so that it would be easier for me to attach to the cake later on.  I made two of these and set them aside to dry.

I baked up two 6″ round cakes and two 4″ round cakes, leveled them, stacked, and did a crumb coat with buttercream, as I always do.

This time, however, I inserted three bubble tea straws in the middle of the bottom tier in a triangular arrangement to act as a support for the top tier.

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I mixed up the lemon buttercream, split them into two bowls, and mixed one bowl up to the coral buttercream, which was applied to the bottom layer.  For the middle layer I added some of the white colored buttercream into the coral buttercream to lighten up the color, and the top layer was covered with just the plain colored buttercream.

I then took a small spatula and lightly dragged it around the cake working from the bottom up to blend the three layers of color together to get that gradient effect.

IMG_1286 And then with a bench scraper I tried my best to smooth it out.

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Repeated with the top teal tier (can you say that 3 times fast?)

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The two cakes once smoothed.  I also used a white frosting sheet that you can get at Michaels and cut out two circles that were the same size as the two tiers to give the tops a smoother finish.

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While I let the cakes set in the fridge, I worked on the pennant topper using two wooden skewers and some scrap booking paper and string I had on hand.

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I packed up and transported the parts of the cake to the social room of the condo where her shower was held, which was decorated so beautifully.  Her bridesmaids did a great job planning and finding such great decor!!

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And check out that spread!  They also served an assortment of hot and cold teas to guests as well.

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I assembled the cake on a cute vintage pedestal that the bridesmaids acquired at a thrift store.

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IMG_1362The shower was a great success and the beautiful bride-to-be had a wonderful time with friends and family.  Congratulations again, Joanna, super excited for you and your big day!!

 

Peppa Pig Cookies

IMG_1105I was (happily) commissioned once again to create some birthday treats for Jaslyn’s birthday.  As some of you may recall, I did her fishy cupcakes last year and her little bro’s jungly themed cake earlier this year.

Her theme this year was Peppa Pig, a little oinker who I knew nothing about until my friend asked me to make these for her daughter’s birthday party.

Thanks to my Kopykake projector, it made decorating a whole lot easier.

I mixed all my royal icing colors ahead of time and stored them in different colors.  I made them all to a thicker consistency so I could just spray it with some water if I ever needed to thin it down.

I started with her face, using a #2 wilton tip.

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Then switched to a smaller, #1 wilton tip to do her right arm, legs, and curly tail.  Keep the rest of that icing for later, you’ll need it to do her left arm.

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After letting the icing dry completely to prevent bleeding, I pipped out her dress back using the #2 tip.

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I then switched back to a #1 tip to do the wand stick, the shoes, her wings, and the base of her crown.  Yeah, this was the Peppa Pig fairy version.

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When that dried, I used a #1 tip to do the star on her wand, as well as her princess crown.

Also take that light pink icing and do her left arm now that her dress has completely dried.

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Once the crown dried, I used a #1 tip to do the blue dots, and used the same color as her dress to do the red dot, as well as her smile.

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Then I went in with my brushes and painted on the facial detail, including the outline of Peppa’s face, her nose, and some of the blush on her cheeks.  I also went in with some white royal icing and partly filled out the wings to make them pop a bit.

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And the finished cookies.

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Happy birthday, Jaslyn!

 

Miniature Dessert Cupcake Toppers

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My dear friend Kathy recently celebrated her 30th birthday for the third time (you can do the math).  A small group of us went out to celebrate with AYCE sushi brunch at Sushi Sugoi, which was a great time.  Since it was a small gathering, I didn’t want to make a huge cake with lots of leftovers, so I decided to make a small batch of cupcakes and prettify them with some cute toppers.

I always wanted to have a go at making miniature foods to dress up cupcakes or other things.  I LOVE food and I’m typically a fan of food when it comes in humongous quantities, however there’s something adorable about seeing tiny, small scale pastries or bowls of ramen made out of fondant (or polymer clay for those that make them as charms or display) that you can balance on your finger.  Can we say “kawaii”?

I decided to keep with the dessert theme and do a few different types of sweet edibles, like a macaron, cake slices, a chocolate swiss roll, and neopolitan ice cream sandwiches (which were really something I came up with on the fly since I had fondant scraps leftover).

I started with the macarons.  I knew I wanted to include macaron fondant toppers since me and my friend had a mad obsession trying to perfect the macaron last Christmas.  I rolled some fondant that I tinted with pink food gel to just a little more than 1/8″ thickness, using my Wilton 9″ rolling pin with the slide on thickness guide rings.

Once rolled I used the mini circle cutter to cut out two discs.

I then used a sharp toothpick (or anything that’s needle point shaped) and poked a bunch of holes at the bottom half of each disc to mimic the macaron feet.

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Then, I rolled out some white fondant to a 1/16″ thickness and used the same circle cutter to cut out what

would be the macaron filling, and then simply assembled them together.

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Mini macaron!  I made several of these, I think 4.

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I then decided to use the rest of my pink fondant to make an ombre layer cake, which kind of reminds me of the pink ombre cake I made for Kathy a few birthdays ago.

I rolled out even balls of fondant, graduating each ball a slightly lighter pink than the one before.

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and then I rolled out the four pink balls each to just over a 1/16″ inch thickness, and stacked them alternating them with the white fondant rolled out slightly thinner to represent the icing layers.

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I then rolled another disc of white fondant for the top of the cake, and then cut out a rectangular shape of fondant that was the diameter and height of the mini cake.  I didn’t care too much about the seam becuase I would be covering the top.

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I then put the remaining bit of pink fondant left into my extruder and piped out a roper border which I coiled and put on top of the cake to be like the icing.

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Once the cake was done and I made sure all the layers were adhering to each other, I had the joy of using my blade to cut into my cake to see all the layers inside.

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Next, I decided to do a chocolate swiss roll.  I rolled a sheet of white fondant and brown tinted fondant each to a 1/16″ thickness and cut them to the same sized rectangle, and stacked them on top of each other.

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And then rolled it up!  I trimmed off the two ends to get rid of the uneven bits.

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Lastly, with my leftover brown, white, and pink fondant, I thought I’d make up some simple neapolitan ice cream sandwiches.  Again rolling out the brown, white, and pink fondant to the same thickness and stacking them on top of each other like I did with the swiss roll, I cut them to small rectangles.  I then used a pointed fondant tool to make the holes on the cookie.

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To dress up the miniature foods I had just made, I figured they would look better on some mini plates, so I rolled some fondant to 1/16″ thickness and used the wide end of a large piping tip to cut out circles.  I used a fondant baller tool to form the inner recessed circle of the plate, and used another fondant tool to pinch the edges all around the plate.

I jazzed up the cake slices a bit by mixing up a stiff royal icing and using the wide end of a flat toothpick, spread the icing on the exterior of the cake slices to make the outside of the cake look like it was covered in buttercream.

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With the swiss roll, I cut off a couple slices of the swiss roll and plated them in various ways of the log.  I used the same stiff royal icing at the top to give the appearance of whipped cream and added a few balls of pink fondant poked with holes to resemble strawberries (or any other kind of pink fruit I guess).

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The macarons were simply placed on a plate, stacked on top of each other.  I took one of the neopolitan ice cream sandwiches and placed it with the 4th macaron, and you can see at that point how out of scale my macarons were relative to the other treats :)  Or we can just say it ‘s a giant macaron cake.

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The rest of the ice cream sandwiches were stacked on top of each other.  With all of these treats and plating, I used stiff royal icing as the “glue” and they held up very well.

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I think these look so adorable together.

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I put these toppers on some taro flavored cupcakes I had made, some of them with taro icing, some of them with chocolate icing.  The one with the 3-2 was her official birthday cupcake, and was so delighted with the mini macarons on them.

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Enjoy, and good luck trying these out!

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Jungle Themed First Birthday Cake

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After making her daughter’s fishy cupcakes for her 3rd birthday, my friend Becca was so kind to give me an encore to make her son’s 1st birthday cake :).  She requested a strawberry cake with blue and green colors incorporated.

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Cake toppers for inspiration.

She sent me a picture of a few jungle animal toppers that she wanted to incorporate.  With that, I thought a great way to get the colors in was to do a blue buttercream all around the cake, with green detailed in the shape of grass!

So I baked up two strawberry cakes, 8″ round.

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Then leveled and cut each cake in half, and started layering them in the same fashion I always do.

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I decided this cake was as good as any to try playing with modeling chocolate.  With a mixture of white chocolate, corn syrup, and food coloring, I rolled out some green modeling chocolate to 1/16″ thickness, on a sheet of was paper greased with shortening.

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Then I used a sharp scalpel and cut out the silhouette of the grass.

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And carefully pulled off the excess chocolate.

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And brushed a layer of sugar syrup on top.

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I then pressed the grass around the cake bottom using a fondant smoother.

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Then I slowly peeled off the parchment paper and used my finger to smooth away any of the shortening residue that was on it.

I have to credit Jessica Harris for her awesome technique on using this wax paper transfer method to transfer modeling chocolate/fondant details onto a cake without worrying about guidelines and placement!  Using this method made it really easy to line up the grass without worrying about ripping or stretching my modeling chocolate.

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I then made some yellow modeling chocolate, rolled it out, and imprinted a chevron pattern into it.
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I then used my scalpel and cut out some letters to spell out the birthday boys’ name, Ace!

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Because I wanted them to firm up before applying them onto the cake, I covered part of my 8″ round tin with wax paper, and placed the letters on there (with some shortening on the back so they would stick to the paper) to let them firm up, while still maintaining the curvature needed to apply them to the cake.

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While those firmed up, I used my scalpel to cut out a number 1, to go on top of the cake.

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And to bring in some of the brown found in the features of the animal toppers, I to used an extruder to make a border around the 1, as well as around the bottom of the cake.  I made a long strip of it and cut it to the appropriate length and applied each strip individually.

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And then the bottom of the cake.

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Once the letters hardened, I applied some sugar syrup to the backs and gently placed them along the side of the cake.

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And the finished cake to bring to Becca (pre cake toppers).

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And a quick picture of the adorable birthday boy, looking a little confused at what was going on :).  However I think they enjoyed the cake all the same.photo

Happy 1st birthday, Ace, this is just one of many great birthdays to come!!

Tres Leche Cake

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A few years ago, I made the smart (but uncommon) decision to order a dessert AFTER an all you can eat meat buffet fest at Bolero in Calgary.  I was so glad that I did, and continued to repeat this pattern of glutenous behavior in subsequent visits there.

Why?  Because of their Tres Leche Cake (translated to be literally “three milk cake”) which is exactly that: a sponge cake soaked in condensed milk, whipping cream and evaporated milk.  

There is nothing wrong in that sentence at all.

Attempting to make a tres leche cake was something I had in the back of my mind for a while now, and I finally decided to give it a try to bring to a farewell party for some dear friends of ours that were moving away.

(I have a tendency to try new recipes when the pressure’s on.  I dunno why I do these things to myself.)

You can find the detailed recipe that I used here.  It’s pretty straight forward enough.

Anyways, separate the egg yolks and whites from each other.

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Whip up the egg yolks and sugar till they are a nice pale yellow.  Then add in the milk, and once combined, stir it into the flour mixture (not shown).

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Whip up the egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form.

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now GENTLY fold the egg whites into your egg yolk/flour mixture.  You don’t want to deflate the air too much, otherwise it won’t soak up all the milky goodness you’ll be pouring in later.

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And then once incorporated,  spread it into a greased pan.  The recipe said to use a 9×13″ pan.  I however opted for an 8×11″ pan.  I wanted my cake to rise a bit taller.

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And bake it at 350 degrees F for 35-45 mins, or until your toothpick comes out dry.

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While it’s cooling, you can prepare the milks.  Combine the cream, a can of evaporated, and a can of condensed milk into a pitcher.  Stir them well together.

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Once the cake cools, pierce it all over with a fork to make it easier for the milk to soak in.

So… this is my ugly cake, flipped upside down into my 9×11″ pan.  A part of the bottom of the cake got stuck to the pan so I had to place it back on like a toupee.  But no worries, we’ll be covering that up soon pretty quick here.

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Start drizzling the milk mixture all over the cake, paying attention to the sides and corners, you don’t want to leave any dry cake areas.  Try to get every part of the cake nice to absorb the milk.  I even went as far as to lift up the undersides and corners of the cake with a spatula and tilted the pan to let the excess milk run underneath to help with absorption.

You should be left with approximately 1 cup of unused milk in your pitcher when it’s all done.

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Let the cake soak for about 30 minutes until all the milks are soaked in, and then whip up the heavy cream with sugar to make a nice fresh whipped cream to cover the cake with.

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For the purposes of what I was making the cake for, instead of topping the cake with cherries like the recipe suggested, I decided to pipe out some letters with melted chocolate onto parchment paper, let it harden in the fridge, and placed them on the cake.

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I was a bit apprehensive when it was time to serve the cake, worried that my cake might have totally disintegrated and became a soggy, pudding-y mess and wouldn’t hold it shape when I cut into it.  I was so relieved to see that I was wrong!  The cake was very moist, rich, creamy, but still held it’s shape.  I can’t get over how something so simple can taste so decadent.

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This recipe is definitely going to my “must keep pile,” and I think the next time I make it, I’ll try serving it with a drizzle of fruit puree on the side, just like Bolero.

With that being said, the cake was devoured, well wishes were made to our dear friends, and a pathetic attempt of a going away song was sung to the tune of “happy birthday to you.”

But that’s another story for another time.

 

Great Eats and Sweets in Montreal!

If you’re wondering what’s up with my foodie flashbacks, I had a bit of a realization that I had been so wrapped up in sharing about fun things I baked, that I stopped sharing about great things I ate.  So here’s me making up for some lost time, sharing some of my food highlights from me and J’s Montreal honeymoon!

Schwartz’s

We hit up Schwartz’s as soon as we landed in Montreal.  I really don’t know what to say other than “GO.”  It was probably one of my favorite places during our time there, and I absolutely loved the vibe of the place: super casual, noisy, and me and Justin eating along the counter watching the cooks serving up the food and them tossing things our way whenever we asked.

Just, go.

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The best window display *I’ve* ever seen.

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No shortage of food: a plate of smoked meat, a smoked meat sandwich, a stack of bread, which seems to be standard with every order. We also dug into some coleslaw and house made fries (not shown). Sigh.

 Juliette & Chocolat

Nearby Schwartz was a place I googled that was suppose to have some good desserts, so we walked off some of our meat sweats, and headed to Juliette & Chocolat for some delectable desserts.  The vibe was perfect, cozy, chill, a different but welcoming vibe from Schwartz’s.  I was really into their various drinking chocolates and made sure to order one!

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A snapshot of their delightful display of treats.

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My dark drinking chocolate. Mmm…

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Passionfruit pot du creme

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Strawberry and banana crepe

Fairmount Bagel

Again, after another googled search, we hit up Fairmount Bagel for breakfast on our way to the Jean-Talon market.  Located in a quiet area within a residential setting, it’s very very small inside; the place where you pick up bagels to go.  They do however, have a small menu of different cream cheeses and smoked salmon which they can prepare for you.  So we did that and ate on the bench outside with the company of some pigeons looking to pick up any fallen bagel crumbs.  44415_10151142840176560_876845510_n

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One of our fresh toasted bagels with salmon and cream cheese.

La Banquise

After a great afternoon at the farmers market we decided to stop at La Banquise for a “light” mid afternoon snack of poutine.  We ordered two two share: the La Galvaude, which was chicken and green peas (we thought it’d be different), and the La T-Rex, which had ground beef, pepperoni, bacon & hot-dog sausages.  YUM!

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 Maison du Macaron (now called A La Folie Patisserie)

And just a little ways down from La Banquise was the Maison du Macaron, a bright white, simple, and clean cheery cafe with a huge assortment of macaron flavors.  We decided to get 6 to share, as well as a giant iced macaron, filled with house made raspberry sorbet!

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Our 6 assorted macarons.

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Our fancy ice cream sandwich macaron with raspberry sorbet

 

Au Pied de Cochon

We had a 9:30 pm reservation to Au Pied de Cochon that night, it was the only time we could get in (but that’s okay, we wandered some nearby shops and I found two dresses for a steal of a deal.)  Believe me, this food was worth the wait, and the vibe is super hip.  It was a warm night, and they had their garage style doors wide open for neighborhood passerbys to look (and smell) what was going on in the restaurant.
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Baked mushroom tartlet with a bunch of different mushrooms.

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Fois Gras on top of a baked apple slices. So rich and decadent. The apple/fois gras combo was so good!

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Duck covered in this amazing broth of various types of mushrooms.

 Olive + Gourmando

Olive + Gourmando was one of those walk by places that looked so happenin’ that we had to go inside.  We were staying at the Hotel Nelligan in Old Montreal and this place was nearby.  We popped in for some great pastries and a mid afternoon coffee.  With their assortment, it really was hard to just pick a couple.

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Check out that spread!!

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Le Gros Jambon

Another little diner close to our hotel, we popped in for breakfast also at the recommendation of Google.  I’ll be honest, I thought my breakfast was just alright, but what kept me coming back literally every morning after that (no jokes), was their ridiculous delicious chocolate chunk cookies by their front window.

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Sweet counter.

They were so good that I bought 3 right before we flew back home so I could have a little something to enjoy back home.  I swear there’s something in them, they were so addicting!!

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Yummmmmmmm!!

Cacao 70

Being a big fan (and also being deprived) of chocolate focused cafes, I knew I had to squeeze in another chocolate stop in Montreal.  That takes us to Cacao 70, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a coco fix!  The inside is fun to see, with their wide display of various chocolate nibs and chips from all over the world.

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My frozen hot chocolate. I loved how it was hot on the bottom and was cold on top.

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J’s drink (unfortunately I can’t remember what it was, but it was really good too).

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We went for the sharing assorted platter for 2: 1/4 of their triple chocolate pizza, a banana split waffle, chocolate covered ice cream, and warm chocolate sauce, and chocolate fondue with various treats and fruit for dipping in, as well as a grill to roast our marshmallows. HOHHHH.

 Beavertails Pastry

The perfect way to end off our last night of our trip was wandering the port of Montreal, and stopping in for some beavertails.  (Think elephant ear, but longer, and better cause there’s toppings!)  This place was buzzing with a long line up of people awaiting their beavertails and beverages, but me and Justin were able to nab a table in the corner to finish off our trip in Montreal.

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We loved our low maintenance honeymoon trip of feeling like we were going someplace far away, without having to bother with passports, currency exchange, and a long plane ride.  It was perfect for what we wanted, and we just had a ball eating our way through the city as a newlyweds!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Oat Bars

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I was bored.

I had quick oats in my pantry from my days of eating healthy *snort*.

I opened allrecipes.com

I entered in “quick oats” as an ingredient to use.

And I found this recipe. Seriously, a much better use of quick oats than the flax-seed-no-sugar-applesauce-don’t-pretend-you’re-a-cookie cookies I originally bought them for.

Melt the butter and brown sugar.

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Stir in the oats.20140423-231457.jpg

Then pack half of it down into a pan.20140423-231504.jpg

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I love this.  Melt the peanut butter and chocolate.20140423-231510.jpg

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And pour it on top of the bottom layer of oats.20140423-231534.jpg

And because I love coconut and happened to have some on hand, I didn’t think it’d be a bad idea to toss some of those in a bit.   The more the merrier, right?20140423-231541.jpg

Top the chocolate with the second half of the buttery oat mixture and oat it down. And like the recipe suggests, you just chill these until they firm up where you can cut them into squares.  20140423-231547.jpg

Nice.  Give these bars a try, be happy you saved a bit of electricity for not turning on your oven, and enjoy!

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