Cooking with Alison

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Birthday Cake Chocolate Bark Recipe

In Desserts, Other Desserts on May 25, 2016 at am


This is a fun and easy-to-make alternative (or addition) to birthday cake for casual or last-minute celebrations. It’s convenient for cottage or ski chalet getaways, classroom or office celebrations, dessert tables, etc.

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Delicious Rhubarb Cake Recipe

In Cakes, Desserts on September 7, 2014 at am

I made this rhubarb cake for a friend’s birthday camping trip and everyone loved it.  This is my new go-to rhubarb cake recipe.  It’s easy to make, it’s moist and delicious, and the tart rhubarb contrasts the slightly sweet cake perfectly.  This recipe makes a lot of cake, but don’t worry, because the cake is freezer friendly.

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Orange Scented Olive Oil Cake Recipe

In Cakes, Desserts on April 15, 2014 at am

This is another great recipe from the cookbook, The Modern Baker.  At first, I was doubtful that this cake would be flavourful enough for my taste, but I was very pleasantly surprised.  This sophisticated, citrusy cake is a great finish to a heavy meal.  I made it for Thanksgiving dinner.  Everyone that tried it really enjoyed it.  Even John’s mom, who isn’t normally a fan of cake, liked it.  I love that this cake is moist, easy to make, and relatively healthy since it uses olive oil as opposed to butter or vegetable oil.  Also, I love the crunchy and slightly sticky crust.  This is served as a one-layer cake, but the recipe makes two layers, so you can make these in advance and freeze them for future dinner parties.


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How to Make a Diaper Cake (and my Favourite Baby Shower Games)

In Cake Decorating, DIY and Crafts on March 22, 2014 at am


This DIY diaper cake tutorial should have been written five years ago – when I actually made the diaper cake and when this trend was the most popular.  But regardless of whether or not this is a new idea, I still love it and I can’t think of a better gift or centerpiece for a baby shower.  I’ve now been involved in throwing a few baby showers, and planning the games is always my favourite part.  So I’ve shared a list of my favourite baby shower games as well.  I’m sure it will come to no surprise that 2 of the 3 are food related.  😉


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Black Forest Pancakes Recipe

In Breakfast, Desserts, Other Desserts on February 4, 2014 at am
Black forest pancakes

Black forest pancakes  (Note:  The black cherry sauce looks too thick, because it had cooled by the time I took this photo.  It had a nicer, runnier consistency when it was still warm.)

John loves pancakes, so for his 30th birthday, I made black forest pancakes for breakfast.  These were indulgent and chocolatey without being too sweet.  These black forest pancakes are made by layering German chocolate pancakes, whipped cream, reduced black cherry juice and fresh cherries.  They are a great way to mark any special occasion.

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Chinese Scallion Pancakes Recipe

In Other Asian Foods, Rice and Noodle Dishes on January 10, 2014 at am


Different versions of savoury pancakes are popular in Asian cuisine, including Korean pancakes, Japanese pancakes, and Chinese pancakes.  My favourite is the Chinese scallion pancake that is believed to have originated in Shanghai.  Considering these pancakes are made with flour and green onions, I have always found them to be overpriced in restaurants.  Luckily, they are very easy to make.  Although they are slightly time consuming to make, you can make a large batch and freeze them for quick and easy future meals.  These make a great accompaniment to all sorts of dishes, but especially to stir fried Shanghai noodles (see recipe here) and sticky rice rolls with pork floss (see recipe here).

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Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe (plus different uses for leftover frosting)

In Cookies, Cupcakes, Desserts, Other Desserts on November 26, 2013 at am

This peanut butter frosting recipe makes a lot of frosting.  Luckily, the leftovers can be frozen.  I first used it to make peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes.  In fact, I’ve made these cupcakes and mini cupcakes for several different events, now.  They were all very well received (recipe below).  Recently, I was in a very popular cupcake bakery downtown Toronto, ON, and I noticed that their chocolate peanut butter cupcakes were decorated the exact same way that mine were!  That was a nice reminder to share this recipe.  Don’t forget to warn people that these contain nuts, in case of food allergies.


I’d also like to share three other uses for the leftovers of this delicious frosting.  For a Canada Day BBQ, I used the peanut butter frosting as the filling for oatmeal cookie sandwiches.  They were very popular.  Then, for John’s housewarming party, I served the peanut butter frosting on graham crackers topped with fresh banana slices and drizzles of homemade dark chocolate sauce.  I’ve also heard that frozen graham cracker and frosting sandwiches are delicious too.  I’ll have to try that next time.  I’d love to hear what you do with your leftover frosting!

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DIY Cake or Mini Cupcake Stands (Plus Tips for Spray Painting)

In Desserts, DIY and Crafts on September 27, 2013 at am

I just love do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, but I haven’t taken on very many (see my DIY stocking advent calendar here and DIY paw print keepsakes here), because they usually require a lot of basic tools and/or materials that I don’t have the spare cash or storage space for.  So when I learned how easy it is and how few supplies you need to make your own cake stands, I just knew that it was just a matter of time before I’d get started on making these.  You see, I love cake stands.  I covet and I covet and I covet, but I haven’t purchased one yet, because all of the cake stands that I’ve seen and liked cost at least $80 each, and I just can’t justify spending that kind of money on things that I don’t actually need, that I don’t use often, and that take up significant cupboard space.  But after sitting on this idea for over two years, I decided that my sister’s surprise 28th birthday party was the perfect occasion to justify owning and making some cake stands.  I used them to display chocolate cupcakes with nutella frosting (recipe here).  For contrasting height, I also served a two-layer strawberry and vanilla cake (recipe here) on a basic cake board.

Photos below:  You can see the before and after photos below.  I was lucky enough to find this cute and unique white plate that was quite flat and in like new condition.  It cost only $1 and I didn’t have to spray paint it, which also means that it’s completely food safe.  I paired it with an interesting thick and heavy wine glass that I turned upside down.  The wine glass cost $1 and I decided to spray paint it yellow for a fun and bright contrast.  



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and the delicious cakes just keep getting… uglier (Strawberry and Vanilla Cake Recipe)

In Cakes, Desserts on September 24, 2013 at am


After incredible success with turning Sweetapolita’s vanilla birthday cake into a lemon layer cake (recipe here), I knew that I had to try her fluffy vanilla cake with whipped vanilla frosting as originally intended.  Especially after she validated my preference for homemade vanilla cake that resembles boxed cake mix!  But since I only like vanilla cake that has fruit in it, I couldn’t help but add some fresh strawberries.  The tartness of the strawberries contrasted the not-too-sweet vanilla frosting beautifully.  You could always omit the strawberries and whipped cream filling.  I made this for my sister’s surprise 28th birthday party.  In my opinion, it was quite ugly up close.  John said that it was even uglier than the cake I made for his birthday (see photo here), haha.  🙂  Personally, I like the lemon cake more (probably because it uses lard in the cake batter), but the flavour and texture of this strawberry vanilla cake won’t disappoint, as long as you don’t overbake it.

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Favourite Lemon Layer Cake Recipe

In Cakes, Desserts on September 20, 2013 at am

Although this may be the ugliest cake I’ve ever made, it is the best lemon layer cake that I have ever 1. eaten and 2. made.  This triple-lemon cake consists of four layers of cake, two layers of lemon curd, one layer of whipped cream and fresh blueberries, and a covering of whipped frosting.  There is lemon in the frosting, the cake layers, and, of course, the lemon curd filling.  I know it sounds like a lot of work, but many of the components can be made days in advance and it truly is worth it.


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Favourite Chocolate Cupcakes with Light and Fluffy Nutella Frosting

In Cupcakes, Desserts on August 22, 2013 at am


This is my new favourite chocolate cupcake recipe.  I have also used it successfully to make a layer cake.  This recipe is very similar to the previous favourite chocolate cake recipe (see here), with the main difference being that this new recipe includes cornstarch.  The difference in result is very subtle, but I’m convinced that the texture of these cupcakes is slightly better.

This nutella and chocolate frosting is also worth mentioning.  I never knew that such a simple frosting could be so light in weight, smooth and delicate in flavour, and still hold its shape when piped.  In fact, Sweetapolita calls it “nutella cloud frosting” to describe the texture.  It is comparable to swiss meringue buttercream in heavenly texture but requires much less work, time, and ingredients.  Note that I’ve also paired this chocolate cake recipe with a chocolate swiss meringue buttercream and it was incredible.  See instructions here.

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Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake Recipe

In Cakes on July 6, 2012 at am

I love making baked goods that use sour cream, because I always have trouble finishing a tub of sour cream.  It also happens to give cake a great moist texture.  I made this sour cream chocolate chip coffee cake for co-workers and the flavour and texture received great reviews.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with coffee cake, coffee cake doesn’t necessarily contain coffee.  It is often simply served with a cup of coffee.

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