Valentine's Day from 'the 6ix' to 'the Sticks'

We've mentioned a time or two that we like (*love) to bake. Naturally then,  holidays are our absolute favourite. Themed baked goods are just the best aren't they?! So Valentine's Day was no exception, and as expected, both #domesticphd test kitchens were getting their 'hearts-on' with the smell of fresh baked goods. 

Over in Toronto for Kathryn...

This year's Valentine's Day baking inspiration came via special request. Butter tarts. I wasn't surprised. While I dabble in baking quite a few different goodies, I like to think of myself as a butter tart connoisseur of sorts. The title comes with the territory of dating someone who loves butter tarts as much as my love does. They say that actions speak louder than words, and I couldn't agree more. Baking (and cooking in general) has always been one of my favourite ways to give a little love to those around me. And for a day centred around mushy- gushy displays of affection, the sweet, gooey goodness that characterize butter tarts was the perfect treat to share. 

The challenge however, was how to make my classic butter tart recipe V-Day themed. Luckily, the Dollar Store sells literally everything one could ever possibly need and I found heart-shaped baking tins! I used my own recipe, one that I have modified from a family recipe. My 'secret' ingredient in these is the cream cheese- the pastry melts in your mouth!  

Small-heart shaped cut outs to amp up the v-day tarts! 

Small-heart shaped cut outs to amp up the v-day tarts! 

I was over-zealous with the first round of tarts, filling them a little bit too much. The filling bubbled out of the little heart shells, not only making a mess, but also ruining the cute effect. Thankfully, this gooey combination of butter, cream cheese, brown sugar and raisins tastes delicious no matter how you bake it! 

While they may not look pretty, they sure taste good! 

While they may not look pretty, they sure taste good! 

The final product turned out perfectly.  Enjoyed best when shared with loved ones. Pairs well with a cup of tea and a lazy afternoon. 

The final product! Also pairs well with champagne (mimosa here) and a few kisses- Valentine's staples! 

The final product! Also pairs well with champagne (mimosa here) and a few kisses- Valentine's staples! 

Here's my butter tart recipe, enjoy! xo Kath

#domesticphd Butter Tarts 

Makes ~13 heart-shaped tarts, or 15 regular-sized tarts

1 cup butter, at room temperature

6 oz cream cheese (which is about 3/4 of a 250g pkg), softened 

2 cups flour 

2 eggs 

1 1/2 cups brown sugar 

2 tbsp butter, melted  

1 pinch salt 

1/2 tsp vanilla extract 

1 cup raisins (or pecans, or a combination of both!) 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).  
  2. Pastry: Cream butter and cream cheese together using stand or hand mixer. Add flour and mix well. Make balls out of pastry, about the size of your palm and use your fingers to press into tart tins. 
  3. Filling: Mix eggs, sugar, melted butter, salt, vanilla, and raisins together well. Fill the tart shells 3/4 full.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes or until tarts are slightly golden brown. 
  5. While it will be hard to wait...let the tarts sit for 15 minutes to let the filling cool. Otherwise you will burn your tongue. You have been warned!

While in Guelph for Michelle....

It was everything that I could have possibly hoped for: explosive, deadly, incredibly bloody and heart-wrenching...last night's episode of The Walking Dead, that is! It is probably an understatement to say I have been  anxiously awaiting the return of the TWD, and so 9 pm couldn't have come fast enough for me yesterday.

#  nerdalert


So it was settled. I decided to make what I'm calling my "bleeding blackened heart" cupcakes to mark the occasion. And while some of you may have already started squirming, I assure you there were no zombies harmed in the making of these cupcakes :P If you can erase the image of bleeding hearts out of your mind, the cupcakes were actually very delicious. I used a black forest cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart's CUPCAKES book, topped them with vanilla icing, melted Belgian chocolate for the hearts, and used cherry pie filling to fill the cupcakes and make the hearts "bleed".

Delicious and exploding with cherry pie filling.

Delicious and exploding with cherry pie filling.

And just because it was Valentine's Day, and I'm still oozing with confidence from our recent macaron attempt, I made heart shaped macarons to go along with the cupcakes.

Success, heart shaped!

Success, heart shaped!

What was interesting this time around was that my batter was very sticky, and I couldn't seem to get the batter to the slow moving lava consistency that is required. I was convinced I had over-stirred my batter and that this batch was going to be a complete fail. Yet, the macarons stayed in shape while cooking, had feet, and looked super cute in the end -- another feather in my cap!

Nothing left to do but dive in for some sweet treats.

Nothing left to do but dive in for some sweet treats.

Here's the original recipe for the cupcakes from the Martha Stewart CUPCAKES book, enjoy! 


1 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter  

1 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

2 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed dark-brown sugar

3 large eggs, room temp

3/4 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

cherry pie filling

2 tbsp cherry-flavoured brandy

  1. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Cream butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. Add brown sugar, and beat until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in sour cream. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in three batches (alternative with two additions of buttermilk).
  3. Cook for approximately 20 minutes at 350F.
  4. Decorate as you wish with the cherry pie filling (e.g., inside cupcakes, drizzled on top, in between cupcake layers) and toppings of your choice (e.g., icing, whipped cream, chocolate ganache).

Source: Martha Stewart --CUPCAKES, copyright 2009.

Note: I cut the recipe in half to make 16 cupcakes. I also cut back on the white granulated sugar using 1/4 of a cup (I usually always cut back on the white sugar in recipes and the treats usually turn out sweet enough!) For the icing I went by taste and used about 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, 1.5-ish cups of icing sugar, with a splash of vanilla and milk.

xoxo Michelle