Looking back at 2014

I moonlight as a baker, and spend my days as a digital marketer. I recently put together a review of the year that was 2014 in digital advertising, and realized that I should probably put together a review of the year for Blissfully Insane too, especially since I didn’t necessarily post about all the stuff I worked on this past year.

2014 was a personally fulfilling year for me as a baker. It was the year I took my skills to the next level, incorporating visual art in my culinary endeavors. It started a little tentatively as I modeled my first 2 tier cake for a friend’s baby shower, and then escalated quickly through interesting challenges my family put before me. So here it is, a review of my year as a baker.

Here’s hoping that 2015 brings even more interesting baking challenges my way.

2014: Rewind

Challenge #1: Two-tier baby shower cake

Baby Shower Cake

Challenge #2: Vegan, nut-free Elsa doll cake

Elsa Cake!

Challenge #3: Airplane themed cake for a birthday boy that looks to go “Whoosh!”

Airplane Birthday Cake

Challenge #4: Train themed cake for the birthday boy that loves to say “tunnneeeellll”

Vik's Train Cake

Challenge #5: Mango cheesecake for my Mom that asked me to make this thrice this year


Challenge #6: Pink, red, white cupcakes that shouldn’t remind the birthday girl of Valentine’s Day!


Challenge #7: Eeyore cake for the little girl that can’t sleep without him


Challenge #8: Halloween bakes for wicked witches on the graveyard shift


Challenge #9: Tri-chocolate rosette cake for the birthday girl that could swim in chocolateTri-chocolatecake

Challenge #10: Personal tiramisu glasses

IMG_0569v2 copy

#Halloween Treats: Tiramisu ‘Graveyard’ & Witch’s Black Velvet ‘Curse-cakes’

Happy Halloween! Over the last few years, my friends and I have established a tradition of spooky house parties, replete with flaming liquor shots, hours of dancing, complaining neighbors and Halloween treats! Last year, I hosted the mad affair and enjoyed using food as decoration. There were uncarved pumpkins, peppermint sticks in red, white, yellow & black, m&ms, and black and orange whoopie pies! It was the first time I made whoopie pies, and honestly, I didn’t love them. Suffices to say, I won’t be making them again. But they did fit the theme.


This year, the party moved to my friend’s place, and the inspiration came from Pinterest! I absolutely loved making the Tiramisu graveyards and the black velvet ‘curse-cakes’.

Treat #1: Here’s how I assembled the Tiramisu ‘Graveyard‘:



10 Waffle Bowls (egg-free ones available from Safeway kitchen)
1 recipe Tiramisu
Wilton’s black candy melts
About 20 oreos, crushed
20 Chocolate covered cherries
10 Vegan marshmellows


  1. Heat the Wilton’s candy melts and brush the top 1/3rd of the waffle bowls on the inside and the outside with the melted chocolate
  2. Follow the instructions for assembling the Tiramisu from this recipe in the waffle bowl
  3. Top the final layer of the mascarpone cream with some of the crushed Oreos
  4. Flatten a marshmellow by pressing between your palms. Take your edible colors pen and write RIP on it. If you’re particularly adventurous, you can pipe some royal icing instead too. Stick it in the cream as if it were a tombstone.
  5. Place the chocolate covered strawberries around the marshmellow to mimic rocks. I had one whole, and one halved chocolate in each bowl.
  6. Cool and enjoy🙂

This ends up being quite a large serving for a single person. Most folks will end up sharing… and then regretting their decision to do so🙂

Treat #2: The Witch’s Black Velvet ‘Curse-cake’

What would a witch look like if she got reduced to a cupcake? I adapted the Red Velvet – Cream Cheese cupcake recipe and swapped out the red color with black, and tinted the cream cheese with a mix of violet and fuschia colors to achieve the witch’s purple.



1 Recipe Red Velvet cupcakes tinted black with cream cheese
12 waffle cones (Keebler has eggless ones)
12 Back to Nature Fudge Striped cookies
Wilton’s Black Candy Melts


  1. Bake the cupcakes
  2. Make a little extra cream cheese. Tint the majority of it purple, and about half a cup green
  3. Heat the candy melts and brush onto the waffle cones. Let it dry before you touch it again.
  4. Frost the cupcakes with the purple frosting using a 1M tip. Make sure you have a little left aside for later.
  5. Top the frosting with a single cookie. You can use any chocolate covered cookie or dip a plain cookie in melted chocolate
  6. Take some of the leftover frosting to line the base of the cone and place over the cookie. Put it in the fridge to dry.
  7. Once the cones are firmly placed over the cookies, pipe the green belt over it. Finish it up with the purple “belt buckle”
  8. Serve it up🙂

These ‘spooky’ desserts were easy to put together and were a great hit at the party. The cupcakes gave the expecting Moms and new Moms an alternative to the boozy Tiramisu and the witch ‘hats’ prompted a ton of silly jokes. Here’s looking forward to more Halloween fun next year!

Lemonade, Pizza, and Tiramisu

The theme for the party was “Make Your Own…(lemonade)….(pizza)”. And boy did we make our own bourbon spiked lemonade, in pretty mason jars….

Lemonade Bar
Lemonade Bar

….and rabbit shaped pizzas, courtesy of K!


This weekend, I hosted one of the most fun, and surprisingly family-friendly parties. The kids discovered the lemonade bar and fruit before the adults, and got rather creative with stretching their own pizza dough and toppings. I got a mini pizza courtesy of one (it was the size of a slightly over-sized dollar coin). Other pizzas that made an appearance were the rabbit, and the owl! And finally, pineapples made a Hawaiian!

The only thing that people weren’t making…. was dessert. And not because I didn’t get all the ingredients for a sweet dessert pizza, but because I totally wanted to make Tiramisu for about the second time in my life. And I made a few enhancements to the last recipe. And, it was phenomenal. I usually don’t eat more than a small serving of the desserts I make. But this one, I had 2.5 servings of. Things to note: this isn’t a 100% authentic, because I replaced the lady fingers with chocolate cake. But it’s a substitution worth making.


Makes 12 individual servings in cups the size above

For the chocolate cake

1.5 c all purpose-flour
1/3 c cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
2.5 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c + 3 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 c cane sugar
1 c milk
1/2 c vegetable/canola oil
1/2 c water + 1 tbsp instant coffee
2 tbsp vinegar
1/4 tsp salt

For the mascarpone cream

~500g mascarpone cheese
2 c whipping cream
3 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c + 2 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 c Kahlua (up to 3/4 cup)

For the soaking syrup

4 tbsp Kahlua
4 tbsp water + 2 tbsp coffee

Cocoa powder for dusting

Step 1: Make the cake

  • Dust and grease a half-sheet baking pan. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Add the vinegar to the milk and let it sit for a few minutes, till the milk curdles
  • In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa, all purpose flour, salt, cane sugar, baking soda
  • Add the vanilla, oil, brown sugar and water+coffee mix to the milk. Mix it
  • Mix the liquid and dry ingredients. Don’t overmix – whisking heavily will cause cracks
  • Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick put through the cake comes out clean

Step 2: Make the Tiramisu cream

  • Whip the icing sugar with the heavy cream until stiff peaks form
  • In a separate bowl, whip the mascarpone cheese with the vanilla extract and Kahlua until stiff peaks form
  • Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone cheese mix

Step 3: Assemble the Tiramisu

IMG_0569v2 copy

  • At this point, you need to decide what kind of bowl(s)/glasses/serving dishes you’re assembling the Tiramisu in. Basically speaking, you need to have two layers of cake with cream in the middle, and you need to cut the cake to fit the serving bowl you’re working with
  • Make the soaking syrup, mixing the Kahlua and the water with instant coffee
  • Put one layer of cake in your serving bowl/container
  • Brush the soakingsyrup generously over this layer
  • Spoon a layer of the mascarpone cheese mix over the cake. Use a fine sieve to dust some cocoa over the cream
  • Place the second layer of cake over the cake and brush it with the soaking syrup
  • Spoon a second layer of the mascarpone cheese mix over the cake. Use the sieve to dust cocoa over the cream
  • Chill for a few hours before serving

Quick tips: Clean the sides of your serving bowl with a damp paper towel after each layer to ensure your glass/bowl looks clean. This is probably the bit that took me the most time! Enjoy — I certainly did and I can’t wait to make this all over again!


Part II – Eggless Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Buttercream

Baby Shower Cake


If only I was as regular with posting my recipes as I am at baking. This post has been months and months in the making. The top layer of this 2 tier cake was a moist chocolate cake with strawberry buttercream frosting. I’ve always found berries hard to work with. It’s easy for the buttercream to break with the acids in the berries. This time, I tried something slightly different, that might feel a bit like cheating, but was pretty delicious and well received.


2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups of sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup strawberry preserve
1/4 tsp salt


1. Cream the butter with a whisk. Add the sifted powdered sugar at a low speed until incorporated. I prefer my buttercream slightly tart and not too sweet – so I recommend adding 1/2 cup at a time and tasting as you go. 

2. Whisk the strawberry preserve/jam so that its nice and smooth. When the buttercream is smooth, gently fold in the strawberry preserve. Add salt to your taste. 

You may want to add more jam or sugar to your taste. But these are good proportions to start from. If you’re looking for a thinner buttercream, simply add some whipping cream, a tablespoon at a time.

For the chocolate cake, here’s the recipe I used.  

Also see: Part I: Eggless Orange Cake with Almond Buttercream

Baby Shower Cake Part I – Vegan Orange Cake + Almond Buttercream


I have a philosophy. It usually goes like “only cook with the ingredients that taste delicious”. Because food needs to be delicious in its entirety, not just in bits and pieces. But I also believe that food engages 4 out of 5 senses, and the visual cues it brings up are just as important as the havoc it plays on your taste buds. So I did something I don’t usually do, recently. I worked with fondant.

A close friend of mine is having a baby girl in 2 months and as I helped her husband organize the baby shower, I took it upon myself to make the dessert, and to challenge myself with something different. There were many firsts with this cake:

  • First 2 tier cake
  • First time working with fondant
  • First time working with gumpaste
  • First attempt at creating a strawberry buttercream recipe

The results, though not perfect, were still fantastic. I learned a ton about working with fondant and the different types of fondant in the market. Since this was a 2 tier cake with 2 different cake flavors, and I have much to share about working with fondant and gumpaste, I’m divvying up the blog post into 3 parts.

Part I:  Vegan Orange cake with Almond Buttercream



3c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Naked Mighty Mango juice
1 cup Tangerine/Orange juice (unsweetened)
1.5 tsp baking soda
5 tbsp grated fresh orange zest
4 tbsp water
1 c oil
1.75 c sugar
2 tsp orange extract
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the frosting

2c unsalted butter at room temperature
3-3.5c sifted powdered sugar
2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp heavy whipping cream


  1. Dust and grease a 9 x 3 round pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix juices, oil, extracts, orange zest in a bowl.
    Tip: You can substitute the 2 different juices with any available orange juice if you don’t have access to the Naked and Cuties brands. I’ve just found that the flavor is great with Naked in it. I might also recommend trying adding 1/2 cup of mango juice to 1.5 cups of orange juice as a substitute for the brands called out in this recipe.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
  4. Gently fold the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Do not beat.
  5. Add the water to easen up the mix and pour into the greased and dusted pan.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
    Tip: If after 20 minutes it seems like your top is cooking without the bottom, cover the pan with foil to avoid the top of your cake from burning.
  7. Cream the butter. On the low speed of your beater, add the powdered sugar until just incorporated.
  8. Increase your speed to medium, and add the extracts, salt and cream and beat till you see stiff peaks.
    Note: I don’t like my frosting too sweet – so I typically prefer to add 1.5 cups of sifted sugar to 1 cup of butter. I’d suggest adjusting the amount of sugar to your taste.
  9. Once your cake has baked, let it cool overnight, or at least 2-3 hours – first on a cooling rack and then in the fridge.
  10. Cut the cake into 3 even layers with a sharp serrated knife.
    Tip: Wash your knife with boiling hot water and wipe down quickly before cutting the cake. The hot knife cuts through the cake much better. 
  11. Frost your cake between the layers and also cover the cake with frosting all around, smoothening it.
  12. Stick it in the fridge for 15 – 20 minutes. Spritz some cold water over the cake (not a ton!) and then cover with fondant. Tip: Since I didn’t have a spritzer, I brushed it with some water instead.

Whenever I describe this cake to people, they wonder about it. It’s not a flavor they immediately gravitate towards. But every time I’ve served it, people go for seconds and thirds. It’s my secret weapon that’s guaranteed to please.

Up next: Part II – Eggless Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Buttercream.


Eggless Banana Cake and the Smells of Childhood


“I’m terrified of my oven”, N said.
“Oh no, that just won’t do”, said I. “Baking’s really not that hard.”
“Will you teach me?”, she said.
“Of course. Why don’t you come over and we’ll bake something together.”
“I don’t like chocolate cake though. Banana cake?”
“Great! I have an easy peasy recipe that’s delicious. Just make sure you get 2 very over-ripe bananas with you.”

And so, on Friday evening, right after we finished our dinner of Spinach Soup and Teriyaki Noodles, N & I got to work in the kitchen, listening to my new acoustic Pandora station full of the sounds of Passenger, Sarah Bareilles, Jack Johnson. And as N realized, making banana cake isn’t rocket science.


1.5 c all purpose flour, sifted
1/3 c + 2 tbsp sugar
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/2 c buttermilk
2 tbsp water
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 over-ripe bananas
1/4 tsp vanilla extract


1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Dust and grease a 6″ pan.
2) Mash the overripe bananas with a folks until it forms a pulp of sorts
3) Mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt
4) Add to it the oil, buttermilk, water and vanilla and gently fold the dough – it will be a little tough.
5) Gently mix the mashed bananas with the cake dough. The consistency will be thick, but you should be able to easily stir it.
6) Bake in the oven for 1hr or until a knife through the cake comes out clean. After the first 20 minutes, make sure you cover the pan with foil, to ensure the top doesn’t burn.
7) Turn out over a cake rack to cool before serving.

“It smells so good”, said N.

“Yup. It’s the smell of our childhood.”🙂


Add a 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and fold into mix before pouring the dough into the pan for banana chocolate-chip cake.
Add a 1/4 cup chopped walnuts to the mix before pouring into the pan for banana walnut cake.

Breakfast in a cupcake: Eggless Nutella (chocolate hazelnut) cupcakes


1995. That was the first time I ever had Nutella. And honest to God, it was love at first taste. I’d dream of dollops of chocolatey hazelnut goodness on my bread, on my crackers, on my dessert, on my spoon….

I’m surprised I didn’t try this before. But the other day, as I was browsing my Pinterest boards, I came upon this beautiful, beautiful recipe from Hummingbird on High.

I played with the recipe and came up with a vegetarian version (sans eggs) that was nothing short of delicious. It was also a good time to experiment with my new mini cupcake pan – until I realized, that I filled them up too much, making my cupcakes a little “muffin-y”. However, they tasted delicious and I will most definitely be making these again.


For the cupcakes

Makes 10 – 12 cupcakes, or 40 mini cupcakes

3/4 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup milk (whole or 2%)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup oil
2 tbsp water
1/2 cup Nutella
1/8 tsp salt

For the Nutella buttercream frosting 

1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
11/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp almond or hazelnut extract
1/3 cup Nutella
1/8 tsp + a pinch of salt


Make the cupcakes!

  1. Add the vinegar to the milk and set aside for a while
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa 
  3. Add the vanilla and oil to the liquid mix
  4. Add the Nutella to the liquid mix and beat it until its creamy and well mixed
  5. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry one
  6. Add the water to the mix. Pour into lined cupcake or mini cupcake pan and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean
  7. Set the cupcakes aside to cool on a cake rack

Make the frosting! 

  1. On a low setting, beat the butter while adding the sugar
  2. When incorporated, add the salt and almond or hazelnut extract
  3. Beat at medium to high speed until the buttercream is light and fluffy
  4. Fold the Nutella into the mix 

If your buttercream is too soft, simply refrigerate it for a little while. Make sure its soft but firm when you begin frosting.

The cupcakes were super moist! Funnily enough, when I took them out of the oven, they felt nearly weightless, but once they were refrigerated, oh the flavour of hazelnut and chocolate in a moist cake was like a symphony for my tastebuds. And the buttercream took some serious will power to stay away from while I was making it. I’ve gone on the record to say I don’t always love buttercream, but this was something else all together. Enjoy🙂