My Perfectly Imperfect Nostalgic Chocolate Chip Cookie [Recipe]

[Warning: this post may induce intense cookie dough cravings. Read at your own risk.]

The other week I was seriously craving some cookie dough. Like, Cookie Monster craving. I could have eaten an entire batch if it was before me at the time. I have no shame in admitting this because I know some of you have likely had a similar craving!

Cravings happen. You know you want to eat some of this…

Continue reading

Summer Time – Meringue Time!

Wow, its been a while since I posted here but I can honestly say I think about this blog often. I continue to bake and eat good things and my goal for the rest of this year is to start sharing more of that here with you.

More and more people have been asking if I’m keeping up with my blog, so to those of you who have asked and are reading this – I thought of you while making these deLIGHTful little meringue cookies.

Many people think Meringue Cookies are

Continue reading

Baker’s Market: A Sweet Find in South Vancouver (with #4)

Connie at Bakers Market

Connie, founder of the Baker's Market, staff's her own booth on opening market day.

This past Saturday the Vancouver Baker’s Market reopened for it’s second fall season, after opening last year. It will now be open every Saturday from now to December, 11am – 3pm; and although it’s a bit of a trek to get to in South Vancouver, it is worth the trip!

Connie started the Baker’s market last year, and is excited about kicking off another season of local bakers. “Every week we get different vendors, so you gotta come every week to check it all out,” she said amongst the buzz of the market.

Buttercup Cake Design at Baker's Market

Buttercup Cake Design at Baker's Market

The opening Saturday vendor’s included our friend Amanda Goats, local pastry chef, who I chatted with a few months ago and has since launched her own business: Buttercup Cake Design.  Amanda will be at the market every Saturday this fall, and is just one of many fun vendors on display.

Miss Mandy’s Sweet Treats, selling mini bundt cakes and home made chocolates, is another vendor at the market and sold out quickly.  Damien’s Belgian Waffles, real Belgian waffles, in many flavours and even chocolate covered were heavenly to sample.  Other vendors included fresh baked bread, cupcakes, cookies, mini-pies, and much more.

Damien's Waffles on display at Baker's Market

Damien's Waffles on display at Baker's Market, white chocolate covered in bottom right - rich & yummy!

The vendor list is available on the market website, but be sure to arrive early because the fresh baked goods move quickly!

There were approximately 12 vendors on Saturday and 10 new vendors will join this coming Saturday – making it a tight squeeze with all the more to feast your fall sweet-tooth on!

Connie had a minute to spare while staffing her own booth at the market, so I could ask about the market’s beginning.

How did the Baker’s Market start? Basically I love baking, and my friends got tired of eating my stuff. And I really felt that there are so many talented people out there who want to share their products, so instead of giving it away I thought we could try a central location where people can share their love of baking.

Baker's Market Guest Book table

Baker's Market even has a Guest Book table with fun fridge magnets!


The Gourmet Fury is another great Vancouver Food Blog, who also happened to cover the spring season of the Baker’s Market earlier this year.  Although I first learned about Melody Fury, the author, earlier in my summer of blogging. Then, she had just covered solid ground during the Winter Games through her posts with videos, photos, and recipes as part of her culinary tourism angle.

Melody is also the founder of Vancouver Food Tour; and has an accolade of coverage and awards already for her quality food blogging. As another great foodie to follow, Melody continues to validate Vancouver as a quality place to eat. She eats and Tweets, and is a fun follow – enjoy Gourmet Fury!

The Pastry School Switch-up with Amanda Goats

Orange Tyme Curd Tart

Orange thyme curd tart ganished with fresh thyme and a plump blackberry.

I arrived in Amanda’s north shore home kitchen on a Monday afternoon and was offered, “an after school snack” that trumps all of my previous after-school snack experiences: an orange thyme curd tart. Garnished with a plump blackberry and a sprig of fresh thyme, from her herb garden – in one bite it’s amazing. I had never considered the combination of orange and thyme before, but these are the secrets you learn in the pastry world.

Now a trained Pastry Chef working in Vancouver, Amanda Goats shared her experience with me on the switch from a corporate world to pastry. Amanda grew up in small town BC, where food was the heart of family social occasions. “I have always loved baking, since I was young. My sister and I used to fight over who got to bake the birthday cakes… My mom would also bake all of her own bread. I guess it started from there”.

After working in the corporate world for a while, Amanda’s artistic side grew restless, so she signed up for pastry school. Instantly she said, “I loved pastry school. It was the most fun thing.” Her program covered all pastry and some culinary fundamentals. Despite the intense amount of detail learned in a short time, she said it was all fun including, “…black box competitions at the end [of the culinary course], iron chef style, and you don’t know what your ingredients are. It was intimidating, but really fun.”

French Macarons

A sample of her French macarons, not macaroons, I learned from Amanda the extra o is part of the difference between these and the common coconut cookie.

My after school snack slowly disappeared, and Amanda share more pastry adventures, including what her transition out of school. Fortunate to work straight out of school, she has now experienced designing menus and creative desserts. Amanda even shared an insider perspective on Dine Out Vancouver, where the menus are set with dessert, “On weekends we were doing 400 desserts per night, and I was having to make all that product.”

Is it what you expected? It’s a lot harder and grittier…than I expected. It is physically tiring, but you don’t realize it until the end of the day. It is very hard on you. …I find it comical cooking at home now because the portions are so much smaller. I had to scale my [pizza dough] recipe from work down. I usually make a double batch and I made one-quarter of a single batch here, which made four pizzas. I generally make a double batch [at work], which requires 22lbs of flour and 7.5L of water. …I am definitely a lot stronger.


What do you enjoy most? I like the people I work with. Working in restaurants attracts a different type of person, there is a different sense of camaraderie.

Where do you find your inspiration? I have subscribed to bon appetite for years. They are by far my favourite… Epicurious is a mainstay for recipe searches too.

Pastry Chef Amanda Goats

At home with Pastry Chef Amanda Goats

Where do you dine out? My favourite place [right now] is The District. It’s a Belgium pub and all the food is good. They do really good brunch on the weekend too. Fishworks is really good as well.

When did you start your SweetPursuits blog? Before pastry school. A lot of my coworkers and friends were interested in what I was doing.

Amanda is looking into starting her own side cake business now, “I’m excited to do this,” she said with a smile. Simply by talking to her you can tell she favours quality over quantity and has a pastry instinct that is sure to satisfy any customer’s sweet expectations.

The Uncommon Cake Sweetie – Jill Shumka

On a sunny afternoon in Vancouver, Jill Shumka welcomes me into her south Main Street kitchen. I feel like I am walking into a food TV set – a brightly lit and spacious kitchen showcases a double broiler overhanging an extended island stove top. Jill returns to her kitchen and begins to stir what appears to be lemon butter.

A professional ballet dancer turned foodie sweetie, Jill has been passionate about cakes and pastry art since her days in Europe. The mother of two is owner of The Uncommon Cake – a home-based boutique bakery, delivering customized artistic cakes and delicate cookies on request. I am experiencing a tour of her kitchen, and the chance to learn more about her business.

While living in Europe in the late ‘90s, Jill was looking for a career change out of ballet. Switzerland, where she was living, proved to be the sweet inspiration she needed. “Every other store has little marzipan du

cks all in a row and tons of other pastries”.

Slowly whisking butter into the lemon yellow mixture, Jill tells me about her return to Canada and how her business began. “I saw Martha Stewart Living everywhere and learned a lot from there,” but she signed up for culinary school too. “[The school] encouraged me to go to culinary school over pastry because it would give me more opportunity…I also took a night class in cake decorating, but it was very traditional cake designs.”

Jill was looking for more, “I essentially taught myself everything I know [about cakes]”, and she learned from one request to the next as orders came in through friends and referrals. Soon her website was born, bringing us The Uncommon Cake.

As Jill sieves the lemon into a receiving bowl, it dollops through into silky lemon curd – a filling for her next creation!  She continues to wrap the curd and I asked her a few more questions:

What keeps you inspired to bake?

It’s the final product, feeling rewarded by the end result and seeing that you have done a great job – feeling satisfied at the end of the day.

What advice do you have for a new pastry student/entrepreneur?

Learn from a mentor, to dive in and learn a lot in a shorter time.

What is your favourite recipe?

My shortbread cookies. They bake well, cut well and last. It’s a go-to recipe.

What do you enjoy eating, when you’re not making cakes?

If we have time away from our kids, we love Habit Lounge on Main in Vancouver.  They make really good Brie and carrot perogies.

Who do you follow now for inspiration?

Elisa Strauss in New York, of Confetti Cakes, she made a cake for Charlotte & Harry’s wedding on Sex and the City; and Studio Cake styles. For cookies, I like

Hand crafted fondant art for Jill's next cake creation

Do you consider yourself to be a foodie?

I would have to consider myself a foodie because of my obsession with desserts. Maybe sweetiewould be more accurate.

It would seem she has always been an artist, from the dance studio to what now appears to be her baking studio, Vancouverites are fortunate that Jill Shumka brings an uncommon quality to her uncommon cakes and beyond…