Cookbook Review: Sally's Candy Addiction

Sally's Candy Addiction cookbook

Someone asked me recently what blogs I read. That's like trying to answer when someone asks about your favourite food or type of music. Where do I start? With the blog question I answered "a lot of food blogs." Then the person replied: "Like which ones?" "Oh she Glows; it's a vegan blog." "Oh, are you vegan?" No, I just like the blog." Then there are the healthy living blogs, vegetarian blogs, clean eating blogs, classic cooking blogs and of course, the baking blogs. Sally's Baking Addiction is one of those blogs I have followed for years. I read a lot of blogs and it is neat to see them grow year after year, and grow so much that the authors land cookbook deals, media appearances and thousands of shares. Like many bloggers, Sally started out writing her blog as a hobby and then turned it into a full-time baking empire. 

Sally's Candy Addiction

I was excited to receive a copy of Sally McKenney's newest cookbook "Sally's Candy Addiction: Tasty Truffles, Fudges and Treats for Your Sweet-Tooth Fix." This is actually her second cookbook. Her first book "Sally's Baking Addiction: Irresistible Cookies, Cupcakes, and Desserts for Your Sweet-Tooth Fix" included 75+ baking recipes for cookies, cupcakes and treats. The latest book is a foray into candy making, which is something I have little experience with and wanted to try. 

The book I received features many beautiful recipes for truffles, caramels, brittles and barks and also features ways to incorporate pre-made candy, such as Snickers or Oreos, into baked goods. This is a gorgeous cookbook with step-by-step instructions, photos and tips for candy making. Besides classic candy recipes, there are innovative variations and interesting flavours using ingredients you can find at bulk food stores or grocery stores. I love when a cookbook lists recipes with ingredients I already have on hand without having to find something obscure. 

Making candy

One of the essential tools for candy making is a candy thermometer. Candy has to reach a certain temperature to set properly. Depending on the temperature you let the candy cook, the texture can be a soft ball, a firm ball, a hard ball, soft crack or hard crack. Yes, those are candy cooking stages and not baseball terms. In the front of the book, Sally lists the basics, including candy making equipment, cooking instructions and kitchen essentials. 

Cashew brittle

The first recipe I tried from the book was the "Salted Honey Cashew Brittle" (pg. 114). All the recipe basically called for was some sugar, honey, butter and cashews. You combine sugar, honey and a bit of water and cook it down. Then you take it off of the heat and add the butter and cashews. After that, you spread it out into a baking sheet and let it set. I have made barks and brittles before, so this recipe was no problem. 

Salted Honey Cashew Brittle

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp unsalted butter, slightly softened
2 cups salted, roasted cashews
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
sea salt, for sprinkling on top


1. Line a baking pan with a silicone baking mat. Alternatively spray a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil.
2. Combine the sugar, honey, salt and water in a heavy-duty saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.
3. Once the mixture has dissolved, begin stirring occasionally as you bring the candy to a boil. Once boiling, stop stirring. Lightly stir until the mixture reaches 200 degrees F. Cook the candy until it reaches 305F.
4. Remove candy from the heat and add the butter, cashews, baking soda and vanilla until combined. Pour onto the prepared pan and pull it apart with a fork until the cashews are in an even layer. Sprinkle with sea salt. Allow to cool completely for about 30 minutes. Break the brittle into pieces. 
I still liked the taste even though my brittle didn't quite have the caramel colour of the photo. Getting the right temperatures before you burn sugar is tricky business. The charm of brittle comes in the uneven pieces and bumpy textures. The honey added a nice sweetness to the flavour and of course, a dash of sea salt always elevates things. 

Salted Honey Cashew Brittle

Then there were the truffles. I have never made truffles before, and definitely not by myself. This is the part where I tell Sally that I am sorry these didn't turn out. It was totally me and not you. Your book is lovely and the recipes are easy to follow for beginner candy makers. Unfortunately, this was not my day. Maybe I was being too ambitious when I dove into a meticulous truffle recipe? As you can see, my attempt to make "Chai Tea Latte Truffles"(pg. 86) did not go well. 

Chai tea latte truffles

The ganache was supposed to be a smooth, velvety filling for the chocolate coating. I melted white chocolate and spices together with a touch of milk. Sally might be upset with me because I used almond milk instead of cream, which is all I had on hand and was probably the falling point of the filling. That was my first problem. I let the chocolate mixture set in room temperature for an hour and then transferred it to the fridge for a few hours. It was still not "manageable by hand" as the recipe suggested. 

Apparently I was somehow supposed to roll the ganache between my hands into a little ball and dip it in the dark chocolate. The ganache did not cooperate with any of this so I first attempted to scoop the ganache with a scooper and dip it that way. After freezing the ganache for a few more hours it was still not manageable. I ended up dumping layers of ganache and chocolate into a cake pop pan so the truffles resembled something truffle-like. 

Chai tea truffles

You can see that they did not turn out like the original photo. The longer I left them out on the counter the more they melted into a chocolate mess. I don't blame the cookbook at all. She said in the recipe that these would be a "sticky situation" and that was what happened. The ganache was not in my favour this time. Maybe I will leave complicated truffles to the chocolate connoisseurs. This is why hand crafted truffles are so expensive to buy from a chocolate shop. 

Cashew brittle from Sally's Candy Addiction

The one thing about reading amazing food blogs is you're always like "how did they make that thing look so nice?" With perfectly styled photos, amazing recipes and great results, it makes you think about how much goes behind creating a blog post or recipe. But seriously, how are they so talented that their food and photos look perfect every time? Sometimes things don't work out perfectly and you have to post a photo of a complete fail to keep things in perspective. Just because one recipe didn't work out for me the first time, doesn't mean this book is not good. I loved flipping through the pages of this cookbook and bookmarking things to make, especially near the holidays, with amazing ideas for homemade candy gifts to make. Or you could give this book to someone and ask them to make everything in it for you. 

Sally's Candy Addiction cookbook

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this cookbook for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own based on my own experiences.


Travel News: Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2016

In my books, Lonely Planet already scours the globe for the best in travel recommendations. On every single trip, I have relied on a Lonely Planet guide to lead me on an adventure. They have never steered me wrong with restaurants, attractions and advice. Just in time for next year's trip planning, Lonely Planet has released a Best in Travel 2016 guide with the hottest destinations, things to do and travel inspiration for next year. 

Some of the top destinations for 2016 include Botswana, Japan, Greenland, Fiji and Latvia. I like how they highlight places you would not normally think to travel and veer you on the path of exploring different and exciting new places. The Best in Travel 2016 website also has feature articles and lists on the various destinations to supplement the guide.

Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2016

The Best in Travel list is now in its 11th edition and carries on the Lonely Planet reputation of expert travel knowledge. Buy the Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2016 book or e-book online. Where will you be traveling in 2016?


Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Buttercream Icing

pumpkin whoopie pies with buttercream icing

Remember cupcakes? They used to be THE popular and trendy dessert. That was so 5 years ago. After cupcakes, macarons took over, and then cake pops, donuts and desserts in jars. Somewhere in there whoopie pies had a moment in the spotlight. Whoopie pies--with traditions beginning in the United States when farmers would find them in their lunch boxes and yell "Whoopie!--encompass a lot of those trendy desserts. They can be considered a cake, cupcake or pie and are made with two pieces of cake sandwiched with icing. What is also trendy at this time of year is obviously pumpkin desserts, and pumpkin-themed everything. 

pumpkin whoopie pies

Natural delights sent me a package of date rolls to try, including their limited edition pumpkin spice date rolls. I enjoy eating dates themselves as a snack. The rolls are a little more luscious and almost brownie-like with no pits in the middle! They satisfy sweet cravings if you're not tucking into a huge pumpkin whoopie pie. Keep in mind they are 50 calories per roll, which isn't that bad considering 2 or 3 rolls is about the same amount of calories as a can of pop. 

Natural Delights date rolls

Natural Delights almond date rolls

Date rolls are the newest way to enjoy Medjool dates. They are made of chopped, compressed dates rolled in either coconut or almond. They are a sweet and convenient treat, although not too sweet, and it saves you having to make date rolls or squares yourself. Plus they have added fibre and potassium. I'm not just saying the pumpkin spice was my favourite because this is a blog post about pumpkin. It was my favourite by far and tasted like biting into a pumpkin pie. My close second was the coconut flavour. I found the almond flavour tasty, however the soft texture made them clump together a bit so the package ended up a bit like almond date mush. 

Natural Delights date rolls

Natural Delights pumpkin spice and almond date rolls

Natural Delights date rolls are available in pumpkin spice, coconut and almond flavours at most major grocery stores and online for $4.99 per 8oz tub. I brought some along for Thanksgiving dinner at my in-law's and the date rolls were a nice break from pumpkin pie and cookies. They would look nice on a dessert or cheese tray. Yes, sometimes you need a little break from pumpkin pie. As much as I love pumpkin pie, I also like experimenting with other pumpkin desserts and even savoury pumpkin meals. These whoopie pies are like a fluffy, pumpkin cake with icing. I also sprinkled a few fall-themed sprinkles that I found at Bulk Barn on the icing for some decoration. 

pumpkin whoopie pies with buttercream frosting

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (adapted from this recipe)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pure pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt in medium bowl.
3. Beat butter and sugar in a stand mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs, then pumpkin and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the flour mixture until combined.
4. Pipe or scoop the mixture onto a baking sheet. Bake for 10-13 minutes and then cool for 5 minutes before piping icing onto them. If you don't have a piping bag handy, cut a small triangle at the corner of a Ziploc bag to use for piping like I did:  

Quick Buttercream Icing


1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp milk or water
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla


1. Cream butter for a few minutes and then add gradually add icing sugar.
2. Add vanilla extract.
3. Add the milk or water to achieve the right consistency. 
pumpkin whoopie pies

I threw any plans of making a "mini" dessert out the window when I made these. They will expand in the oven like crazy, which is always a good sign when baking. These whoopie pies were massive. I had to cut them in half and couldn't eat a whole one in one sitting. Man, are they good though. I am glad whoopie pies had their time in the spotlight because I almost prefer them to cupcakes. Instead of a bunch of icing on top of cake, you get a wonderful dessert "sandwich" with even layers of cake and icing.

Disclosure: I received free product samples from Natural Delights for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own based on my own experiences.


Tasty Travels: Mont Tremblant, Quebec

Mont Tremblant weekend getaway

I get weirdly excited about staying in hotels. Waking up in a comfortable room, watching all of the TV I want and relaxing in a new place is like Christmas morning for me. I don't understand people who find staying in hotels stressful or even boring. When my husband had a conference day at Mont Tremblant a few weeks ago, I suggested we stay overnight and turn his work day into an excuse for a mini getaway. The whole week leading up to it I was so excited to go and stay in a hotel overnight because somehow that's exciting to me. Maybe it's a sign I need a real vacation? I don't know. It was another destination near Ottawa to check off the road trip list.

Croissant and coffee

Mont Tremblant is a village in Quebec about an hour or so from Montreal and an hour and a half from Ottawa. Well, Mont Tremblant is the village and Mont Tremblant ski resort is at the foot of Mont Tremblant mountain. The only other time I had heard about Mont Tremblant was from stories I heard about wild ski trips there in high school and University. I guess I never went on any of those crazy bus trips because this was my first time going. 

Mont Tremblant village

I dropped my husband off at the conference centre he was going to in the morning and was ready for a day of exploring. After a coffee and croissant in the village at Au Grain de Cafe I was all set to take a hike, practice my putting or going up the gondola. Then it started pouring rain. After layering up to stay warm, I thought "Great. Now what am I supposed to do all day? Do I sit in my car all morning listening to the radio (which I did for awhile) or find something entertaining indoors?" Any tourist attraction worth their weight in gold has a rainy day alternative to keep people happy when the weather doesn't cooperate. For me, it was painting pottery at Le Studio Creatif. I picked out a mini trailer piggy bank out of the shelves of possible mugs, plates, bowls and keepsakes. 

Studio Creatif Mont Tremblant

You are allowed to pick out 5 colours to paint on your chosen piece. Then you pay $10 each hour you sit and paint, on top of the cost of the pottery itself. After you're finished painting, you leave the piece there overnight so they can fire and gloss it and it is ready the next morning for pick up. Even though I picked out one of the pricier pieces, for a few hours of entertainment and something to keep at the end, I didn't mind spending a little more money.  I enjoyed the time I spent concentrating on something creative and painting layer after layer to create a smooth, even coloured finish. The finished product:

By the time I finished painting to avoid the rain and grabbed a bite of lunch, it was almost time to check in to our hotel. We stayed in a deluxe room at the Holiday Inn Express. Before you go hating on the Holiday Inn, it was one of the cheaper options at Mont Tremblant where prices can skyrocket depending on the season. I didn't only pick it because of the price. It seemed to have one of the most central locations in the village to everything. You take three steps out of the door and you are at the base of the gondola and a two minute walk to coffee and restaurants.  

Holiday Inn Express Mont Tremblant

The room itself was spacious with a nice view overlooking the pool. Included in the price was a free gondola pass, a round of mini golf and a decent breakfast. When I book hotels I look for prime location, good bed, clean room and some breakfast, and this one checked all of those boxes for under $200 a night. The only thing I would caution is that it is a busy hotel with many families and tour groups, even in September, so the crowds and noise levels in the lobby, hallways and breakfast area are something you can't avoid.  

Holiday Inn Express Mont Tremblant

Going to Quebec means watching television in French, like tuning into some "Parts Unknown" dubbed in French over Anthony Bourdain's voice. I relaxed for a little while and then picked my husband up at the end of his day. Then it was time to decide where to go for dinner. We walked around the village to check out the options and ended up splitting a pitcher of sangria on one of the outdoor patios overlooking the main square. 

To be honest, I wasn't overly impressed with the restaurant selection. The advertisements claim there are more than 40 restaurants of different cuisines in the village from sushi to classic French to steakhouses. I can see the appeal if you have been skiing all day and want a quick bite. For a romantic night, there are not that many fancy options or anything different than a resto-pub. We ended up settling on Pizzateria for dinner, which was exactly how it sounds. 

Mont Tremblant village gondola

When it comes to things to do at Mont Tremblant, the list is never ending. With some resorts, you run out of activities after a day. Although it was fall in Tremblant--and not ski season--there were still plenty of things to do for all ages. There are 11 hiking trains ranging from 1 km to 11 kms, bike rentals to bike cross country and for mountain biking, ziplining above the forest on a 5 line trail, river cruising on Lac Tremblant and of course shopping and the casino. For kids there is luging, mini golf, climbing towers, horseback riding and more. 

Mont Tremblant mountain top

What I didn't know was that there is a mini gondola that goes from the bottom of the village to the top near the base of the panoramic gondola. So you basically take a gondola to get to another gondola. We saved our tickets for the panoramic gondola for the Saturday we were there. Someone who is afraid of heights like me can still enjoy the thrill of zipping up a mountain in a glass bubble with 360 degree views of the scenery. You can look down and see the trees, fall colours and all of the those hikers who decided hiking the mountain was a good idea and are regretting their decision half way up. 

Mont Tremblant, Quebec

The Laurentian Mountains are one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world. As you look out on the spectacular vistas, you see about 100 million years of history. The elevation is about 3,862 ft. It is obvious why Mont Tremblant rivals Whistler as one of the best skiing destinations in Canada. The surrounding lakes, such as Lac Mercier and Lac Tremblant are also picture perfect dots along the vista. Sitting and enjoying the view is an activity in itself, as well as taking selfies. 

Mont Tremblant scenic panoramic gondola

Mont Tremblant Quebec

I would love to go back in the winter and try out some of the easier ski hills. Seeing the steepness of the mountain in the summer, I wonder what some of the more difficult ski hills are like in the winter. After the gondola ride, we figured we should use the free mini golf passes from the hotel and played 18 holes of mini golf along with almost every other kid there that day. I still love playing mini golf any chance I get. Then we headed back to Ottawa in the afternoon and our mini getaway was over. Don't underestimate fall as a good time to book a getaway. The rooms were cheaper and although there were still crowds, there probably weren't as many people as there were in the prime summer or winter months.  

Mont Tremblant, Quebec

I thought I would get bored exploring the village by myself on the first day. Exploring alone can be fun sometimes too and it takes you down unexpected paths, like painting pottery. You never regret traveling. No one is ever like "I wish I didn't take that vacation" (unless your credit card says otherwise). So take some time to see some different scenery, get outside, carve out some alone time and also spend time with a loved one. 

Mont Tremblant Quebec, Canada

If you're looking to visit Mont Tremblant, I would recommend taking advantage of their fall colours offer that saves 20% on lodging until October 30, 2015. You can also save 30% on winter bookings, if you book before November 19, 2015. 


Food News: Courant Toastower

Impecca Courtant Toastower

Toaster ovens have saved me in many a small kitchen situation. Unfortunately, they have to be one of the ugliest kitchen appliances. Even though they are useful if you don't have a working oven, they are bulky, full of crumbs and get dirty. With all innovation comes a sleeker, nicer and more efficient way of doing things. Impecca recently launched their Courant toastower that toasts, bakes and broils with a size of only 9 3/4 inches wide and a 12 litre capacity. 

Courant Toastower toaster oven

The toastower features a stainless steel design, galvanized interior, tempered glass door and cool to the touch handle. No more burning your hands from opening the toaster oven! It can easily fit 2 slices of pizza or 4 pieces of bread with two racks for heating. With 900 watts of power, you could bake cookies, pizzas, quiches or frozen dinners easily with little effort. This would be a nice addition to a small apartment, dorm room or rented space. The Courtant Toastower is available at Home Depot and other speciality stores for $39.99. 


Trip to Cochrane and pizza night with Delissio Rustico pizza

Cochrane Ontario

There is a constant in life that never seems to fail you. Whatever happens, you know that it will always come. I'm talking about pizza night. Every family has their own version of pizza night as a way to unwind from the week and take a break. In University, a bunch of us started a pizza night tradition where every Thursday night we would stop by our favourite pizza place on the way home, pick up enough pizza for everyone, and walk to someone's house to eat dinner and watch The Office. Yes, that was when The Office was on prime time television. Now, we are not all living in the same city, so we have to go a little farther to share those moments. That's why I went to Cochrane, Ontario for the Labour Day weekend to visit one friend with whom I used to share those pizza night memories. 

We drove about 8 hours from Ottawa, Ontario to Cochrane, Ontario, which is located northeast of Timmins and south of Moosanee. It was the farthest north in Ontario I have ever been. Before that I would say Barrie or Parry Sound was as north as I had traveled in Ontario, so this was my first real experience of northern Ontario. One of the main attractions in Cochrane is the Polar Bear Habitat and Conservation Village. The polar bears Ganuck and Inukshuk were brought there from the Toronto Zoo and live in the habitat where you can see them swim around and play at feeding times throughout the day. As you can tell by the hype around the habitat and the main sign in the town, polar bears are kind of a big deal in Cochrane. 

Cochrane polar bear habitat

With driving there on the Saturday and leaving on the Monday, we only really had one full day in Cochrane. We had a great time catching up with old friends and seeing all the neat things about their life up there. Our lovely host even cooked us a moose roast for dinner. Then it was back in the car for another 8 hours. Thankfully I had some good books, snacks and my Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring book in between assisting navigating duties. 

Secret Garden adult colouring book

A few years ago, we were sharing pizza from the cheapest pizza deal in town (I'm pretty sure it was something ridiculous like 4 pizzas for $25) and now we are all traveling, starting families and living an "adult" life. Growing up, pizza night used to be every Friday night and my parents would put a Delissio pizza on and I would watch TGIF shows on ABC. Who doesn't have fond memories of watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Boy Meets World on a Friday night? No matter what was going on--in both situations--we always knew there was pizza night. 

Delissio Rustico Margarita Pizza

Delissio gave me a chance to try their new Delission Rustico pizzas to liven up pizza nights. There are other nights besides pizza nights in some households. Maybe there's taco night, fajita night, sandwich night or even BBQ night. Whatever it is, Delissio wants to put the excitement back into those nights you need something easy and tasty for dinner by combining pizza and BBQ night.  

Delissio Rustico pizza on the BBQ

Did you know you could cook Delissio pizzas on the BBQ? All you do is turn on the BBQ, wait for it to heat up, place the pizza directly on the grill and close the lid. Half way through cooking rotate the pizza slightly and then after about 15 minutes, take it off the grill. Sometimes you get the BBQ blues and get sick of eating grilled meats. This is a great way to beat BBQ boredom. Unfortunately, the weekend I was going to try cooking the Delissio Rustico pizza on the grill it rained the entire weekend. Then we discovered some technical issues with the BBQ, so I couldn't try this cooking method this time. 

Pizza night

I cooked the pizza in the oven on a pizza stone for optimal crispiness. I forgot how quick and easy it is to throw a frozen pizza in the oven for dinner. Open a bottle of wine, put together a quick side salad and you are all ready to go for pizza night. My favourite wine this summer has been Avelada Vinho Verde. As well as being affordable, it is refreshing, light and slightly spritzy. It is my wine of choice for sitting on patios, BBQing and summer nights. 

Delissio Rustico pizza

I have to admit, I hadn't bought a Delissio pizza in awhile. Sometimes I like making my own pizza and the times I have bought frozen ones I tried other brands. Delissio seems to have changed since the frozen pizzas I remember. They are no longer packed with sodium with enormous cardboard-tasting crusts. In fact, Delissio has reduced the sodium and calories of their frozen pizzas. The new Rustico pizzas have 200 calories per 1/4 pizza with about 480mg of sodium. They taste a little more like Ristorante pizzas with the thinner crusts and smaller size. The Delissio Rustico Pizzas come in a variety of flavours, including Funghi, Pollo Tuscano and Spinaci Fresca. 

Delissio Rustico Margarita pizza

Delissio Rustico pizza

I tried the Delissio Rustico Margherita pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. I thought the taste was all there--not too salty tasting--and the crust and cheese crisped up well. The Rustico pizzas are definitely an improvement over the old Delissio pizzas, and I didn't have to pick off any of the vegetables I didn't like. I would also add a bunch more toppings next time. Adding your own toppings or creating new toppings is another way to liven up pizza night. No matter how much things change or how much the pizza changes, I can always look forward to pizza night. 

pizza and wine

Disclosure: I received free product samples from Delissio for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own based on my own experiences.

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