What’s on My Cookbook Shelf: Second Edition

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a little old-fashioned. My organizing system is mostly paper-based, I like to send Christmas cards and handwritten notes, and I believe there’s some truth behind old adages. (That’s how they got to be sayings in the first place, right?!)

Cookbooks, too, seem like they’re becoming things of the past with the proliferation of cooking shows, recipe sits and foodie blogs. (Gulp.)

There’s something to be said, though, about the sheer pleasure of reading a physical cookbook. It’s not just about reading the recipes- it’s the layout, the photos and the stories that make reading a cookbook such a unique experience. They’re still my go-to source of inspiration whenever I’m looking to bake for the blog.

I share some of the titles that have a standing reservation on my bookshelf last year, but today I thought I’d share a few more recent additions that have been getting my taste buds going.

One of my favorite places in Toronto has finally published their first cookbook. Bobette and Belle, located in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Leslieville, is famous for its fabulous cupcakes and French macarons. I’ve yet to attempt any of their classic recipes, but if they turn out even half as decent as the originals, I just might have to open my own shop.

Further north of the city of Toronto is the region known as Muskoka, or what Torontonians like to call “cottage country”. We Canadians live for our cottages and summer homes, so it’s not surprising that Marty’s World Famous Bakery, located in the heart of it all, would become just that- world famous. Chef Marty’s specialty- the butter tart- is a Canadian favorite, but I’m personally head over heels for his carrot cake. It’s about the best I’ve ever tasted.

Some of the pleasure of poring over a cookbook is the photography and Hello Cupcake! doesn’t disappoint. Of course, it’s easy to take good photos if you have amazing art direction, and the cupcakes featured in this book pretty much put every cupcake I’ve made to shame.

I do a lot of baking, but I like reading cookbooks just as much, if only to gain inspiration. (I’m not a very ambitious cook, I’m afraid.) However, I have attempted a few recipes from David Rocco’s La Dolce Vita and they’re surprisingly simple, delicious and oh-so-Italian. Some of these dishes have even made it to my own cooking repertoire (which is saying something)

But I wasn’t always so adventurous- when I was first learning how to cook I relied heavily on The Joy of Cooking (which contains recipes for just about everything, including possum) and How to Cook Everything (which is geared towards a more modern crowd and to the best of my knowledge contains no possum). They might not be the most fascinating reads, or are the prettiest of cookbooks, but these ones were valuable to my culinary education and I’d recommend everyone get at least one of them- even if it’s just to brush up on the basics.

I love to read and I love sharing my favorite books with you. (For more reading inspiration click here or here.) Don’t forget to friend me on Goodreads either! Btw: These lists are totally my own creation and I was not paid or perked to share my opinions with you by any author or publishing company.


Baking with B: Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes


My childhood home was within walking distance of my elementary school and because my parents ran their own business they were often around during the day and I was lucky enough to go home during the lunch hour and decompress before heading back to class for the afternoon. This lasted all the way through high school, so I consider myself pretty lucky to skipped the ritual of navigating the cafeteria and its famously terrible food throughout most of my grade school career.

Seeing all the kids going back to school made me a little nostalgic for ye olden days, so I decided to make these cupcakes reminiscent of everyone’s favorite childhood sandwich. (I realize this assertion dates me but give me a break here- when I was younger we had zero peanut butter allergies in our school and these would have totally been allowed.)

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes (makes 18)

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
6 oz. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. smooth peanut butter
3 large eggs
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
strawberry jam, for topping

Frosting (makes about 3 c.)

6 oz. cream cheese
1/3 c. icing sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. smooth peanut butter
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 c. whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream together butter and sugar in medium-sized bowl. Add peanut butter, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla (in that order, thank you very much) and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Mix in with wet ingredients gradually until well-combined.

Grease muffin pan or line with liners and use a spoon or an ice cream scoop to fill each cup 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until tops spring back to the touch. Place on a rack on cool completely before icing.

B’s Tip: You can make the frosting ahead of time as it keeps for up to 2 days in the fridge. Just bring it to room temperature and mix until smooth to get it all spreadable again.

To make the frosting, cream icing sugar and cream cheese together in a medium-sized bowl. Add salt, and mix in gradually the peanut butter, then the vanilla. Whisk cream in a separate bowl until soft peaks form, then fold into peanut butter mixture. Frost cupcakes and decorate each with a dollop of jam in center. Decorated cupcakes will last in the fridge, covered, for up to 2 days.

B’s Tip: If you’re using a jam with a lot of whole berries in it, make sure to macerate any larger chunks of fruit before decorating. Trust me, it makes the whole dolloping experience way easier.


These cupcakes are surprisingly moist and cake-y and probably are just as great for you as the sandwiches were. So why not call a spade, a spade, and eat your PB and J in cupcake format? The consensus is that strawberry jelly is the way to go, but my personal favorite is raspberry. What’s your jam? (See what I did there?)

KBwB-BFlower-50Baking with B appears every other Monday on the Keeping Busy with B Blog. Find out why I like baking so much here. For more of my baking, click here. And for even more recipe inspiration, check out my Pinterest full of food eye candy that will have you licking your computer. Promise.

Baking with B: Cappuccino Cupcakes


Don’t be fooled by these tasty little fellas. They’re masquerading as chocolate cupcakes but they’ve taken on a little more of a grown-up flavor. No, there’s no booze in them (although that might be an interesting experiment) but is there espresso powder which probably means they’re not that appropriate for the kiddos. Or maybe you’re baby-sitting and want to return the kids full of sugar and caffeine. In that case, I give you permission to bake away. Nothing goes better with coffee than chocolate anyway.

Cappuccino Cupcakes (makes 24)

1 c. butter

1 3/4 c. sugar

4 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks

1 tbsp vanilla extract

3 c. cake flour (spooned and leveled)

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c. buttermilk

3 tbsp espresso powder

1 c. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Bring cold ingredients to room temperature before starting to mix your batter. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line 24 standard muffin cups. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time, until combined. Beat in vanilla. In another large bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder and salt. Add 1/3 c. of the dry ingredients to wet ingredients, beating to combine. Beat in 3/4 c. buttermilk, another 1/3 c. of the flour mixture and alternate between buttermilk and flour mixture until all ingredients are combined. Do not overmix.

In a small bowl, combine espresso powder and 2 tsp hot water. Stir espresso and chopped chocolate into batter and divide among muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cool in pans first, about 5 minutes before transferring to racks.

B’s Tip: You can use whichever icing recipe you like, but my particular favorite for this recipe is just straight up chocolate. For an extra caffeine kick, you may want to try mixing it in with extra coffee or espresso.

Happy baking!




Baking with B (usually) appears every other Monday on the blog. I just love cupcakes though, which is why I’m feeling extra generous this week. Find proof on just how crazy I am about cupcakes here. Find out why I like baking so much here. For more of my baking, click here. And for even more recipe inspiration, check out my Pinterest full of food eye candy that will have you licking your computer. Promise.

Making cupcakes for a crowd? Never fear. I shared my method on how do it here. Want more cupcake recipes? I’ve got some delicious ones here.

Cupcakes for the Masses

7BFP-SpringCupcake-SQ1000-05There was another birthday party at the office. Guess what happened. This.

The request this time was for cupcakes, of all flavors, and after I briefly considered opening a bakery, I decided the only way to approach this task was to make it as efficient and simple as possible. (Who says you can’t mix productivity and baking?) See, I’m a not a professional cake decorator or baker (although sometimes I pretend to be when I break out my cake decorating kit with all of the fancy icing tips) and although I do enjoy having people over for coffee or brunch, I’m not really accustomed to making things for a large group of people, let alone bake and decorate cupcakes en masse.

So maybe I cheated a little bit and made a giant batch of my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe (which you can find here and multiply according to your needs). Despite the numerous (and extremely varied) requests I received, I decided to narrow down my flavors to three classic options: plain vanilla, chocolate chip and butterscotch chip. Oh, and they were all going to have buttercream icing too. Ba-bam. Who could argue with that?

Once my batter was mixed, I divided into three separate mixing bowls. I left one batch plain and stirred in 1 c. of chocolate chips into one, and 1 c. of butterscotch chips into another, stirring gently to mix. I baked them according to the instructions here and left them on a rack to cool completely before decorating.

To “color-code” all of the flavors, I found three different patterns of muffin cups and decided to coordinate them with three different colors of frosting to further increase the recognition. Making several colors of frosting can be labor-intensive but luckily isn’t too difficult once you’ve made yourself a big batch of icing and separate it accordingly. I never worry about making too much icing- it’s always handy to have some extra on-hand to clean up mistakes. In my case, having too much icing was a little bit of a happy accident- I wasn’t initially going to draw flowers but I couldn’t resist using up the rest of those sweet spring colors.

It feels silly to admit it now, but baking such a large amount of cupcakes was a (needlessly) intimidating experience for me. Despite the fact that they were not among my best or most exciting baking adventures, they were definitely one of the simplest and weren’t any less tasty. It was worth it to see the look on everyone’s face when I brought a giant plate of them out into the waiting room. It reminds me that I bake for my own enjoyment and for others; my baking is for sharing, and not for impressing other people.

Besides, sharing is totally calorie-free.


Why just stick with baking a big ol’ batch of vanilla? If you’re the mood to change things up a little bit, I’ve baked chocolate cupcakes, banana cupcakes and a whole whack-load of muffins here, here, here and here. Or if you mosey on by the blog tomorrow, I might have another super special cupcake recipe to share with you too!

Baking with B appears every other Monday on the Keeping Busy with B Blog. Find out why I like baking so much here. For more of my baking, click here. And for even more recipe inspiration, check out my Pinterest full of food eye candy that will have you licking your computer. Promise.


Baking with B: Classic Chocolate Cupcakes

KBB_baking_chocolate_cupcakesI used to baby-sit this little girl who used to call these “cups o’cake” which always made me laugh until I realized that the recipe we always used to make these during our times together was actually called “Cups o’Cake”- although I can’t for the life of me remember which cookbook it was from all of these years later. (Help me out here, folks, if you know it.) Needless to say I haven’t baby-sat her in years and years, but these chocolate cupcakes have remained a staple in my baking repertoire because they really are like “cups o’cake”- light, and fluffy, and melt-in-your-mouth. These will not stick around for along, and if you pair these with chocolate icing, all bets are off. Hide your cupcakes. I’m coming over.

Classic Chocolate Cupcakes (makes 12)

¾ c. unsweetened cocoa

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

¾ c. unsalted butter, room temperature

1 c. sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

½ c. milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Sift cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well. Add vanilla. Add half the flour mixture and beat. Add milk and beat. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat for 3 minutes. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool on rack.

Happy baking!



Baking with B appears every other Monday on the Keeping Busy with B Blog. Find out why I like baking so much here. For more of my baking, click here. And for even more recipe inspiration, check out my Pinterest full of food eye candy that will have you licking your computer. Promise.  

Wanna know more about making cupcakes en masse? Visit this post to see how I did it. Looking for other delicious cupcake recipes? Click here.

Baking with B: Banana Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

KBB_baking_banana_cupcakesI normally don’t get weekends off so when I do happen to get two days of vacation in a row (it doesn’t happen often!) I try to cram as much in my schedule as humanly possible. Isn’t it funny that we use our vacation time to get things done?

So when I woke up yesterday morning and realized something had to be done with the rapidly ripening bananas in my fruit basket, I was feeling kind of frustrated and bored with everything. The solution? Whip up something a little extra-special to brighten my mood.

Banana Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting (yields 12)

(based loosely on the recipe found here)

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

3/4 c. butter, melted

3 ripe bananas, mashed (for a total of about 1 1/2 c.)

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 375F. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Make a well in the bowl and slowly add in wet ingredients one at a time, stirring just until blended. Line a 12-muffin pan with liners. Slowly use a spoon to pour even amounts of butter in each muffin cup. Bake in the middle rack for twenty minutes.

B’s Tip: Wait until the cupcakes are completely cool before frosting, or you can end up making a runny, sticky mess with the icing.

Cinnamon Frosting

(again, loosely based on the recipe found here)

1/2 c. butter, softened

1 1/4 c. icing sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp cream

Cream together butter and sugar. Add in the cinnamon; stir until completely blended. Add just enough drops of cream until it can be stirred into a smooth consistency.

The cinnamon in this frosting gives it enough of a spicy kick in the pants to cut the sweetness so you can enjoy the subtle yum of the banana cake part underneath. So far I’ve made these babies twice, and there have been no survivors.

Happy baking!



Baking with B appears every other Monday on the Keeping Busy with B Blog. Find out why I like baking so much here. For more of my baking, click here. And for even more recipe inspiration, check out my Pinterest full of food eye candy that will have you licking your computer. Promise.

Feeling ambitious? I’ve got more cupcake recipes here, and I share my method on how I make them for the masses here.