All posts by Amy Ho

When she's not too occupied completing statistics homework for her graduate studies, Amy can be found in her tiny kitchen doing some recipe testing and adorning naked cakes with flowers. She abandoned boxed cake mixes about two years ago and making the perfect flakey croissant is her baking goal. Her favourite pastry is the kouign amann and her favourite flavour for anything is matcha. She can also be found dreaming up new cake ideas for her blog, Constellation Inspiration.

These No-Churn Rose-Pistachio Ice Cream Sandwiches Need Just 8 Ingredients

There are times for ice cream made with a custard base that’s cooked over the stove and churned in an ice cream maker, but there are also times for a simple no-churn ice cream that comes together with few ingredients and tools. In this recipe, a simple no-churn rose ice cream studded with raspberries and pistachios is sandwiched between two cookies of your choice. I like using less-sweet and simpler cookies like speculoos cookies or sugar cookies to sandwich the ice cream.

No-Churn Rose-Pistachio Ice Cream Sandwiches

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Rest Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours, 20 minutes
Servings: 10 to 12 ice cream sandwiches

Ingredients:

9 oz (266 ml) sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp culinary-grade rose water
¼ tsp salt
2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream
1 ½ cups (160 g) fresh raspberries, divided
½ cup (60 g) roasted pistachios, coarsely chopped
20 to 24 cookies of choice

Directions:

1. Line a 9 x 13–inch (23 x 33–cm) baking pan with parchment paper, leaving some parchment paper hanging over both sides. Set the baking pan aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine the condensed milk, vanilla, rose water, and salt. Set the milk mixture aside.

Related: 20 Easy Baking Recipes for Kids (All Less Than 10 Ingredients!)

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the heavy cream on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until medium-stiff peaks form.

4. Fold about 1 cup (60 g) of the whipped cream into the condensed milk mixture to lighten the milk mixture. Then fold in the remaining whipped cream.

5. In a small bowl, mash ¾ cup (80 g) of the raspberries with a fork. Fold the mashed raspberries and their juices, the remaining ¾ cup (80 g) of raspberries and the pistachios into the ice cream mixture.

Related: This No-Bake S’mores Cheesecake Was Made for Summer

6. Transfer the ice cream mixture into the prepared baking pan and cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap. Freeze the ice cream for 4 to 5 hours (or preferably overnight) until it is firm.

7. Lift the ice cream from the baking pan and use a large knife or cookie cutter to cut out 10 to 12 portions roughly the same size as the cookies you are using.

8. To assemble the ice cream cookies, top a cookie with the ice cream, then place another cookie on top. Serve immediately.


Reprinted with permission from Blooms and Baking by Amy Ho, Page Street Publishing Co. 2020. Photo credit: Amy Ho

Love Amy’s beautiful baking creations? Try your hand at her Nanaimo bar popsicles or sweet honeycomb cake.

This Sweet Honeycomb Cake Involves a Genius Decorating Technique

This un-bee-lievably cute cake is a total show-stopper, and is actually easy to execute, whether served at a birthday party, summer backyard bash (like afternoon tea!) or even a baby shower. The secret decorating tool this cake requires? Bubble wrap! It’s used to create the playful honeycomb decor that embellishes the dessert.

Melted yellow candy or coating chocolate is transferred to a sheet of bubble wrap to cool, creating a large sheet of chocolate with little pockets. Once the “honeycomb” has set, a hexagonal cookie cutter is used to punch out each honeycomb before adorning the cake. This technique can be applied to any cake of your choice, but it’s especially fitting for a tender lemon almond version with honey cream cheese frosting. Trust us when we say this darling dessert will be the buzz of any occasion.

Lemon Almond Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

Lemon Almond Cake
1 ½ cup granulated sugar
Zest of one lemon
¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 eggs, room temperature
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup almond flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¾ cup sour cream
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
12 Tbsp cream cheese, room temperature
¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4-5 cups confectioners sugar
¼ cup honey
1-2 Tbsp whole milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Honeycomb Candy Decor
1 cup yellow candy melts/coating chocolate
Oil-based food colouring (optional)
Bubble wrap

Directions:

Honeycomb Candy Decor
1. Melt candy melts as directed but instructions on packaging in a microwave-safe bowl.

2. While the melted candy melts are still warm, use a spatula or spoon to carefully spread a thick even layer of the candy onto the textured side of the bubble wrap.

3. Let candy layer harden before using a hexagonal cookie cutter to cut out the honeycomb pieces. Alternatively, you can break the honeycomb pieces into shards by hand.

Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
1. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. With the mixer on low, mix in the remaining ingredients until just combined. Beat on high until fluffy. Add more or less milk until desired consistency is reached.

Lemon Almond Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease three 6-inch cake pans.
2. In a medium sized bowl, rub together the lemon zest and sugar with your hands, until sugar becomes fragrant. Set aside.
3. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until mixture becomes light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and mix until well-combined.
4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together.

5. In large measuring cup, combine the sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla extract.
6. Add half the dry ingredients and half of the wet ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture. Mix together lightly. Add the remainder of the ingredients and mix until combined.
7. Bake the 3 separate cake layers for 33–35 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle of each comes out clean.
8. Allow cake layers to cool completely before assembling, frosting and decorating. Then slice, and serve!

Don’t let your cake baking skills stop there. Try your hand at this easy berry, lemon & tahini pound cake or master one of these 25 summer desserts from The Pioneer Woman.

Our New Favourite Dessert of the Summer: Nanaimo Bar Popsicles

The Nanaimo bar is one of those great Canadian desserts with a name that does not at all describe the deliciousness of what is actually in the bar itself (a sweet coconut and graham cracker base, topped with custard-flavoured buttercream and finished with a thin layer of chocolate ganache).

Well, skip the grocery store. We’re giving the humble Nanaimo bar a refreshing summer makeover just in time for Canada Day. This fudgy, creamy and decadent popsicle recipe consists of three main components that pay homage to the iconic dessert: a chocolate custard base studded with crushed graham cracker pieces and toasted coconut flakes, a vanilla custard centre and a dark chocolate drizzle.

Nanaimo Bar Popsicles

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 12 hours (includes freezing)
Servings: 6-8 bars (depending on size of popsicle mold)

Ingredients: 

Vanilla Custard Layer
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla

Chocolate Layer
1/3 cup (50 g) dark chocolate, chopped
Crushed graham crackers
Toasted coconut flakes

Chocolate Drizzle
1/3 cup (50g) dark chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp coconut oil

Directions: 

1. Combine milk, cream and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes until it reaches a gentle simmer. Remove saucepan from heat.
2. Whisk egg yolks, cornstarch and vanilla in a heatproof bowl until well combined.
3. Slowly stream in the hot milk mixture over egg yolk mixture while whisking constantly.
4. Return mixture to saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 6-8 minutes or until custard thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon.
5. Once custard has thickened, transfer the custard into two separate bowls to cool, with 1/3 of the custard in one bowl and 2/3 of the custard in the other (we will be reserving the smaller portion for the chocolate layer).

6. While custard is cooling, place chopped dark chocolate for the chocolate layer over a double boiler. Once chocolate has melted, using a rubber spatula, fold the melted dark chocolate into the reserved smaller portion of the custard.
7. Allow custard to cool before transferring to popsicle molds. Place a piece of saran wrap directly on the custard to prevent a ‘skin’ from forming on top of the custard.

8. Once custard has cooled, transfer custard into popsicle molds. The vanilla custard layer goes in the mold first, taking up the majority of the mold. A thinner layer of chocolate custard goes on top of the vanilla layer.
9. Insert the popsicle sticks, cover and freeze overnight.

10. When popsicles are ready to be served, melt the remainder of the dark chocolate and add coconut oil to create the chocolate drizzle.
11. Drizzle unmolded popsicles with chocolate and sprinkle with crushed graham cracker and toasted coconut flakes. Serve immediately.

Can’t get enough of this Canadian sweet treat? We have 10 more tasty Nanaimo bar recipes that are calling your name, plus 50 red and white desserts to celebrate Canada Day.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

The Ultimate Strawberry Rhubarb Pie for Canada Day

Every year July 1st, I catch some of the festivities of the Canada Day celebration in my city. They have a large open fire salmon barbecue at the centre of the festival grounds surrounded by many vendors selling lemonade, fresh kettle corn and cotton candy. My favourite part of the festivities is the pie-by-the-slice fundraiser inside the local community centre.

There’s always quite a large selection; pies made with plump local blueberries or Okanagan peaches are always popular choices. But my go-to has always been the strawberry-rhubarb. There’s just something so irresistible about the combination of the sweet and tangy pink filling and the (optional but mandatory) à la mode, that keeps me going back year-after-year. So here’s an ode to my favourite July 1st treat, with an added Canada Day-inspired touch.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Canada Day Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Chill Time: 60 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Makes: One double crust 9-inch pie

Ingredients:
Crust:
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup cold butter, unsalted, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup cold water
4 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 cup ice

Egg Wash:
1 egg
Coarse sugar

Filling:
5 cups chopped rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 cups strawberries, halved
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup cornstarch

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Directions:

Crust:
1. In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt and sugar. Set aside.
2. Add the butter pieces and coat with the flour mixture using a bench scraper or spatula. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are okay!).
3. Combine the water, cider vinegar and ice in a small bowl.
4. Add 2 Tbsp of the liquid mixture over the flour mixture. Mix and cut it in with bench scraper or spatula until fully incorporated. Continue adding the liquid, 1-2 Tbsp at a time. Mix until the dough comes together in a ball.
5. Shape the dough into 2 flat discs, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Filling:
1. Prepare the rhubarb and strawberries. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, combine sugars, cinnamon and cornstarch.
3. Toss together the fruit and dry mixture. Add lemon juice and combine.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Assembly and Baking:
1. Once the dough has chilled, roll out the dough in between two sheets of parchment and fit it on the pie plate.
2. Line pie pan with rolled out bottom crust.
3. Roll out top crust. Using a maple leaf-shaped cutter, punch out maple leaves into the rolled out top crust. Save all the maple leaf cut outs to use for decorating the edge of the pie.

4. Pour filling into the bottom crust, leaving behind any excess liquid from filling.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

5. Gently place on top crust. Take the reserved maple leaf cut outs to create a border around the pie.

6. Coat top crust with a simple egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Place pie on a baking sheet before putting it in the oven, just in case any juices bubble over.
7. Bake at 425°F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the pastry is set and beginning to brown. Lower the oven temperature to 375°F and continue to bake until the pastry is a deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling throughout, 35 to 40 minutes longer.
8. If the top crust is starting to get a little dark too quickly, place a pie shield on the pie.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

9. Once ready, let pie set for at least 1 hour before cutting into it. Serve as is or with a big scoop of ice cream.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Looking for more inspiration? Try our 60 Great Canadian Recipes.

Watch this video to get Anna Olson’s top tips on baking fruit pies.

Pumpkin Pie Bars

These Pumpkin Pie Bars Belong on Your Thanksgiving Menu

Pumpkin pie bars take your favourite fall slice and transform it into an easy, yet elegant, three-layer dessert These beautiful baked bars start with a buttery shortbread base, which is then topped with a creamy pumpkin pie filling before being covered with a generous nutty brown sugar crumble. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or a homemade pumpkin spice latte, and slide into fall.

PumpkinPieBars-10

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Cool Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Makes: 15 to 18 bars

Ingredients:
Shortbread Base
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

PumpkinPieBars-1

Pumpkin Pie Filling
3⁄4 cup granulated sugar
1 (15 oz.) can pure pumpkin purée
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
2 large eggs
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Pecan-Hazelnut Topping
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped
1⁄4 cup brown sugar

Directions:
Shortbread Base:
1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line the bottom and sides of 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving overhang on all sides.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter, sugar, vanilla and salt. Add flour and mix on low speed until everything is combined. Press the mixture evenly into prepared baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes, until dry to the touch. Reserve for second baking with filling.
3. Increase oven temperature to 350°F.

PumpkinPieBars-4

Pumpkin Pie Filling:
1. In a blender or food processor or large bowl, combine all filling ingredients and blend until smooth.

PumpkinPieBars-5

2. Evenly pour filling over the baked shortbread base and smooth top with a spatula.
3. Bake at 350ºF for 20 minutes. Reserve for third baking with nut topping.

Pecan Hazelnut Topping:
1. In a medium bowl, combine nuts and brown sugar. Mix well.

PumpkinPieBars-8

2. Sprinkle pecan hazelnut topping in an even layer over baked filling layer. Bake for a final time for 15 to 20 minutes, until pumpkin pie filling has set.

PumpkinPieBars-12

3. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 1 hour at room temperature. Lift the parchment out of the pan using overhang, and transfer onto a cutting board. Cut into 15 to 18 bars or squares. Serve.

PumpkinPieBars-17

Of course, pumpkin pie bars are begging for little whipped cream. Master the basic technique (or fix an over-whipped batch) with this tutorial.

Apple Granola Bars

Apple Pie Granola Bars That Taste Just Like Fall

We’ve made apple pie healthier and snack-sized, but have still kept all the classic, cozy fall flavour you know and crave. These apple pie granola bars have all of the perks of the traditional slice, without any of the fuss of making pastry. Filled with dried apples, cinnamon, nuts and honey, they have serious comfort food appeal, but are wholesome enough for an on-the-go breakfast. If you’re feeling decadent, dip one side of these bars in melted butterscotch chips or serve a la mode.

AppleGranolaBars-8

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Chill Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Makes: 8 to 10 bars

AppleGranolaBars-1

Ingredients:
1⁄2 cup unsalted whole roasted almonds
1⁄2 cup unsalted roasted hazelnuts, chopped
1⁄2 cup unsalted roasted walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup rolled oats, toasted
1⁄4 cup honey
2 Tbsp almond butter
1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract
1⁄2 tsp cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp salt
1⁄2 cup dried apple rings, diced
1/3 cup butterscotch chips or salted caramel chips, melted (optional)

Directions:
1. Line an 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving overhang.
2. In a medium bowl, mix to combine almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and oats. Set aside.

AppleGranolaBars-3

3. In a small saucepan, combine honey, almond butter, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. While continuously whisking over low heat, warm mixture until it starts to gently bubble. Remove from heat and pour mixture into nut mixture.

AppleGranolaBars-4

4. Using a spatula fold in diced dried apples and mix until everything is thoroughly combined. Transfer into lined pan and tightly pack the mixture with the back of the spatula. Make sure there are no gaps.
5. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm up.

AppleGranolaBars-5

6. Using parchment overhang, lift granola bar mixture from baking pan onto a cutting board. Cut the chilled granola bar mixture into 8 to 10 bars or squares. If desired, dip one side of the chilled bars into the melted butterscotch chips or salted caramel chips and place on parchment until set. Serve.

AppleGranolaBars-13

Enjoy more bountiful fall apple desserts with this mouthwatering list of perennial favourites.

Cherry Galettes That Are Easier (And Prettier) Than Pie

Galettes are great. They’re not fussy. They don’t care if they’re imperfect on the outside because they know it’s what’s on the inside that counts.  And they don’t require the usual over-the-top latticework and crust crimping that makes you regret baking. Galettes are open-faced pies that ooze fruit juices and rustic charm – and they’re the easiest desserts to bake with fresh summer fruit.

Galettes are a perfectly portable dessert for summer picnics, afternoon teatime, birthdays… any occasion, really. And, they’re even more perfect when served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. These freeform cherry galettes are a bite into summer’s best-kept baking secret.

Cherry Galette

Individual Cherry Galettes

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Makes: 5, 4-inch galettes

Ingredients:
Pastry:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, more for rolling
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup cold water
4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup ice

Filling:
3 cups cherries, pitted and halved
1/4 cup granulated sugar (see note below)
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Pinch, salt
1/4 cup apricot jelly

Egg Wash and Sanding Sugar: 
1 large egg
1 to 2 Tbsp coarse sanding sugar, as needed

Directions:
Pastry:
1. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar and salt. Add butter and coat with the flour mixture using a bench scraper or spatula.
2. With a pastry blender or two forks, cut butter into flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are okay).
3. Combine water, vinegar and ice in a small bowl. Add 2 Tbsp of the water mixture over the flour mixture, mixing or cutting with a bench scraper or spatula until fully incorporated. Continue to mix in water mixture, 1 to 2 Tbsp at a time, until dough just comes together in a ball, without being soggy (you will likely not use all of the water).
4. Shape dough into 5 flat discs, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until chilled.
5. Lightly dust a clean surface with additional flour and roll chilled dough into a circle of approximately 5- to 6-inches in diameter.

CherryGalette-8

Filling and Assembly:
1. In a large bowl, toss gently to combine cherries, sugar, flour, lemon juice and salt. Let cherry mixture stand for 15 minutes.

CherryGalette-12

2. Spread a spoonful of apricot jelly (about 2 tsp per galette) on each rolled-out pastry disc. Using a slotted spoon, divide the fruit evenly between the discs, leaving liquid behind and allowing a 1-inch border around the edges. Discard liquid or save for another use (e.g. boil to cook out flour and thicken for use as an ice cream topping or cocktail syrup).
3. Fold the edges of the pastry over the filling to create a rustic pleated pattern.

CherryGalette-14

Egg Wash, Sanding Sugar and Baking:
1. Beat egg until uniform in colour. Gently brush egg wash over the folds to seal and sprinkle with coarse sanding sugar. Chill formed tarts until dough is firm, about 1 hour.

CherryGalette-20

2. While tarts are chilling, preheat oven to 400ºF. Remove galettes from refrigerator and immediately transfer to the oven. Bake until fruit juices bubble over and pastry is a deep golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.

CherryGalette-25

Serving:
1. Serve galettes warm with ice cream, if desired.

Note: When adding sugar to the galette filling, add it in increments and taste as you go. Riper, in-season fruits may require less sugar in the filling, while under ripe fruits may require 1 to 2 Tbsp more sugar.

CherryGalette-39

Craving more ice cream-topped pies? Here are 45 seasonal favourites to make the most of summer’s sweet bounty.

Easy Peasy Muffin Tin Strawberry Shortcakes

Growing up I always thought strawberry shortcakes were composed of, well, cake. Why would someone call it a shortcake if cake was not the starring ingredient? While there are versions that pair strawberries with cake, these fluffy, flaky biscuits are made in a large muffin tin, which give each one a crisp, clean edge. Once they’re ready, they’re sliced and filled with a bright, glossy strawberry mixture. I made a basil whipped cream for these shortcakes for an earthy note, but you can easily opt for the classic, plain (and delicious) whipped cream.

Muffin Tin Strawberry Shortcakes with Basil Whipped Cream

Makes: 10 individual shortcakes

Ingredients:

Baking Powder Biscuits:
3 cups flour
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
Coarse sugar

Strawberry Filling:
1 clamshell strawberries, hulled, halved, quartered if large
1/2 cup apple jelly

Basil Whipped Cream:
1 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup basil leaves, torn (optional)
*If preparing basil whipped cream, infuse basil into whipping cream at least 3-4 hours ahead of time.

Muffin Tin Strawberry Shortcakes with Basil Whipped Cream

Directions:

Baking Powder Biscuits:
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a large muffin tin.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, vanilla, salt and baking powder.
3. Using a pastry blender or a fork, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs of consistent size. The butter should be pea-sized bits throughout the mixture.
Stir in milk until dough starts to form a ball.
4. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1-inch thickness.
5. Use a circle cookie cutter to cut out the biscuits. Note: When cutting biscuits with a cookie cutter, do not twist the cookie cutter once you have cut into the biscuit dough. This will “seal” the edges of the biscuit and prevent optimum rising!
6. Place each biscuit into a muffin tin cavity. Brush the top of each biscuit with heavy cream and sprinkle on coarse sugar.
7. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 – 22 minutes, until tops are golden.

Muffin Tin Strawberry Shortcakes with Basil Whipped Cream

Strawberry Filling:
1. In a microwave safe bowl, warm apple jelly.
2. Toss strawberries in apple jelly until all pieces are covered. Set aside.

Basil Whipped Cream:
1. Heat cream over medium temperature in a small saucepan until it just starts to simmer. Remove from heat and toss in basil leaves.
2. Allow mixture to sit at room temperature about 30 minutes, uncovered.
3. Pour the cream through a mesh strainer into a small bowl to remove the leaves.
4. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours before using.
5. Once chilled, pour basil whipping cream into the stand of a standing mixer. Whisk until stiff peaks form.

Muffin Tin Strawberry Shortcakes with Basil Whipped Cream

Assembly:
1. Before assembling, warm the biscuits lightly if they have cooled.
2. Split shortcakes and divide strawberry and whipped cream among bottoms. Close with shortcake tops.
3. Serve warm.

Muffin Tin Strawberry Shortcakes with Basil Whipped Cream

Looking for more tasty treats? Try these 36 Strawberry Desserts to Celebrate Summer.

This No-Bake S’Mores Cheesecake Was Made for Summer

Nothing says summer quite like making s’mores on the campfire. The fire crackles, the smell of toasted marshmallows that fills the air, and the laughs from watching those mallows unexpectedly catch on fire permeate the otherwise quiet night.

There’s a little je ne sais quoi about the combination of a plump and perfectly golden toasted marshmallow, melted dark chocolate, and classic graham squares. Perhaps it’s the nostalgia of childhood, perhaps it’s the act of bonding with friends over s’mores. Whatever it may be, this no-bake s’mores cheesecake is a rich and dreamy version of the summertime treat that can be made without having to gather firewood.

Classic graham crackers are used to make a sweet, crispy crust, while a velvety dark chocolate cheesecake is the centrepiece. The cake is then finished with a torched meringue topping, a spin on what one might consider the pièce de résistance of a good s’mores treat; the classic plump marshmallow.

Smores Cheesecake

No-Bake S’mores Cheesecake
Makes: One 8-inch cake

Ingredients:

Graham Crust:
20 graham squares
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of salt

Chocolate Cheesecake Filling:
265 g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
340 g cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream (will yield ~2 cups whipped cream)
1/2 tsp espresso powder (optional)

Meringue Topping:
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Smores Cheesecake

Directions:

Graham Crust:
1. Using a rolling pin or food processor, crush graham cracker squares into a fine crumb.
2. Transfer graham crumbs into a bowl. Add in pinch of salt and toss.
3. Add melted butter to mixture and mix until crumbs are evenly coated.
4. Press graham mixture into a parchment-lined 8-inch spring form pan.

Smores Cheesecake

Chocolate Cheesecake Filling:
1. Place chopped dark chocolate into a stainless steel or glass bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. The bottom of the bowl should not be touching the water. Stir chocolate until it has fully melted. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whip the heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese with sugar and butter with a mixer on medium speed until creamy.
4. Gradually add melted chocolate, beating on low speed, until well combined.
5. With a rubber spatula, fold in prepared whipped cream until well combined. Spoon into prepared crust and chill until firm.

Smores Cheesecake

Meringue Topping:
1. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk to combine.
2. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place over medium heat. Place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler.
3. Whisking constantly, heat the egg white mixture until the sugar dissolves and it is warm to the touch. Once warm, transfer the bowl back to the mixer.
4. With the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high until medium-stiff glossy peaks. Add salt and vanilla and mix until combined.
5. Fill meringue in pastry bag with piping tip. Pipe meringue onto chilled cheesecake.
6. Using a kitchen torch, toast the meringue top. Enjoy!

Smores Cheesecake

Looking for more campfire treats? Try our 14 Easy Campfire Recipes.

Chocolate Cowboy Cake With Fudge Frosting

Even if you can’t make it to the Calgary Stampede, you can bring a little bit of rodeo home to your ranch with this fun and exciting cake.

Nothing says ‘classic’ like a chocolate cake with a decadent fudge frosting. Add a little espresso powder to the icing for a little jolt of ‘Yeehaa!’ Sophisticated in flavour, with a rustic homemade presentation, this cake is perfect for celebrating your big rodeo win or your special cowboy’s birthday.

cowboy cake

The perfect blank canvas (well, chocolate canvas), this cake is a great base for any party theme you’re after. The sides and top are iced, not too perfectly,  to give it a rustic, approachable look. Bring the excitement of the Stampede to your cake by topping it off with little horse and cowboy figures, homemade bunting, and sugared rosemary sprigs.

Chocolate Cowboy Cake with Fudge Frosting
Cook time: 30  minutes
Makes: 4-layer, 6-inch cake

Ingredients:

Cake:
175g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
270g (1-1/2 cup) brown sugar
3 eggs
2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

Frosting:
225g (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (50 g) powdered sugar
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
100 g dark chocolate (70%), melted and cooled
2 tsp espresso powder (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven at 350°F. Grease 4, 6-inch cake pans.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.
3. In a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time and mix until well incorporated.
4. Add in the dry ingredients and start mixing on slow. Gradually add the milk and sour cream/Greek yogurt.
5. Divide batter evenly into 4 cake pans. I used an ice cream scoop to make sure each pan had equal amounts of batter. You can also you a scale to do this.
6. Bake for 28-30 minutes until the cake springs back when you press the top gently. Let cakes cool before removing them from pan.

Cake icing

Frosting:
1. Beat butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa powder and espresso powder and beat until smooth.
2. Add the melted chocolate and beat until smooth.

Cake Assembly:
Level the cake layers if they have a domed top. Place the first cake layer on a plate or cake stand. Apply a large dollop of frosting and smooth it out, right to the edges of the cake. Place the second layer, apply frosting, and repeat. It is okay if things get a bit messy. With an offset spatula, coat the cake with the remaining frosting.

Decorations
Sugared Rosemary Sprigs
What You’ll Need:
1 egg white
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions:
1. Whisk egg white until it’s no longer stringy in consistency.
2. With a pastry brush, lightly brush a thin coat of egg white on rosemary sprig.
3. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Let dry overnight.

‘Yeehaw!’ Bunting 
What You’ll Need:
Two skewer sticks
Twine/string
Nice cardstock/paper
Glue, pen, scissors

Directions:
1. Apply a small dab of glue at the end of each skewer stick and attach each end of the twine to a skewer stick.
2. Cut out 6 small triangles from cardstock. Write the letters of ‘yeehaw’ on each of the triangles.
3. Attach to twine with a small amount of glue.

Looking for more delicious cake ideas? Try our 25 Best Birthday Cakes.

Winter Wonderland Birthday Party

A Whimsical Winter Wonderland Birthday Party

When I was younger, given the choice, I would always pick chocolate cake over coconut.  But as I got older, I really started to appreciate the subtle flavour of coconut — especially in winter.

With a hint of warm spices, coconut’s dreamy qualities are even more pronounced, making it an ideal cake for a winter birthday party. The fact that shredded coconut looks like snow is an added bonus!

Celebrate a winter birthday with a whimsical, winter wonderland themed party, complete with a snowy coconut cake and rustic decorations.

Winter Wonderland Cake

Give your party a fun, winter wonderland feel by creating a rustic woodland scene complete with DIY evergreen tree toppers, a  gold winter hare and lots of shredded coconut. If you want to kick it up a notch, make a shimmering snow scene by dusting some fine edible glitter on top of the coconut layer.

Coconut Cake Slice

Coconut Chai Cake with Coconut Buttercream
Makes: 1 three-layered 6 inch cake

Coconut Chai Cake:
185 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
2-1/4 cup flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
200 ml coconut milk
100 ml milk
2 chai teabags (~2 tbsp chai tea leaves)

Coconut Buttercream:
227g (1 cup) butter, at room temperature
3 cups icing sugar
3 tbsp coconut milk

Winter Wonderland Cake

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease the 6-inch cake pans.
2. Over medium heat, let the two chai tea bags steep in the milk. Once milk comes to a light boil, remove from heat and let tea bags steep for 5-10 minutes. Once milk has cooled down, combine the milk with the coconut milk.
3. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together. Gradually add in the eggs, one at a time.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk to combine flour, baking powder, shredded coconut and salt.
5. Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture and mix on slow to combine.
6. Pour in the milk and coconut milk and add in the remaining of the dry ingredients. Mix until combined.
7. Divide the mixture evenly among the three prepared cake pans and bake for 33-35 minutes. Check for doneness by using a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean, you’re good to go! You can also test for doneness by gently pressing your finger on the cake — it should spring back up.
8. For the icing, using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment cream the butter until mixture is pale in colour and fluffy. Add the icing sugar, one cup at a time and alternating between adding the icing sugar and coconut milk, beat until light and fluffy. Add more coconut milk, 1 Tbsp at a time if buttercream is too thick.

Winter Wonderland Decorations

You’ll Need:
– Skewer sticks
– Assortment of felt, scrapbook paper, card stock
– Glue
– Plastic figurine
– Gold paint (non-toxic)
– Fresh flowers

Winter Wonderland Cake Toppers

Tree Cake Toppers

Draw out tree shapes on a variety of scrapbook paper, felt and glitter card stock. Cut out your trees.

Using a hot glue gun, apply a small dollop of glue at the blunt end of a skewer stick. Gently press a paper tree on top of the glue. Let the glue dry for a couple of seconds before arranging on your cake.

Gold Hare Cake Topper

Gold Hare Topper

Using non-toxic gold paint (easily found in the kids section at your local arts and craft store), apply a thin coat onto the plastic toy figurine. Apply a second coat if desired. Let paint completely dry (overnight, if possible) before placing on top of cake.

Tip: Your local craft store or toy store will have a great selection of plastic toys that will work as toppers.

By Amy Ho

When she’s not completing statistics homework for her graduate studies, Amy Ho can be found in her tiny kitchen testing recipes and adorning cakes with flowers. She can also be found dreaming up new cake ideas for her blog, Constellation Inspiration