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.