Retro Cherry Chip Layer Cake

Cherry Chip Cake with chocolate ganache, vanilla whipped buttercream, and a retro, diner-inspired finish.

Cherry Chip Cake with chocolate ganache and whipped vanilla buttercream.

This cake is so much fun!!  A bright pink interior from sugary sweet maraschino cherries with Tiffany blue buttercream?  Yes, this cake certainly is a dream.  But really – I've been thinking and dreaming about this cake for over a year now.  I am constantly brainstorming new cake flavors and decoration ideas.  This one in particular (blue frosting and all) popped into my brain last winter, and I am so excited to finally share it with you all!

Cherry Chip Cake with chocolate ganache and whipped vanilla buttercream.
Cherry Chip Cake with chocolate ganache and whipped vanilla buttercream.
Cherry Chip Cake with chocolate ganache and whipped vanilla buttercream.
Cherry Chip Cake with chocolate ganache and whipped vanilla buttercream.

Between holiday baking and seasonal assignments, this fun, whimsical cake kept getting pushed to the back-burner.  I kept it on my "to-bake" list month after month.  The idea waited patiently as berry season came and went, while my short obsession for braided pie crust took up all of fall 2016, and for my brief trial with gluten-free baking to last just long enough to stock up on a dozen different alternative flours that have now been pushed to the back of the pantry.

But as winter rolled around again, this cake idea floated back up to the top of the list.  When the only produce in season is citrus and you need something bright and playful to chase away the winter blues, jarred cherries and artificial hues come to the rescue!!  

For as long as I've been decorating cakes, I've been wanting to make a cake inspired by my favorite Wayne Thiebaud paintings.  He attended college in my hometown of Sacramento, CA and even taught at my Alma mater, UC Davis, so I've always felt a small connection to his work.  Plus cake, obviously (Does anyone know if they are still on display at the Crocker Art Museum?).  This cherry cake is not quite like his paintings, but the swag detail is definitely similar.  One day, I would LOVE to create a scene of cakes that replicates this famous painting, but today I will settle for a Thiebaud X retro diner cake "swag" instead.  

Cherry Chip Cake with chocolate ganache and whipped vanilla buttercream.
Packed with maraschino cherries and decorated with an almost retro feel, this cake naturally comes with a sweet side of nostalgia. I imagine it being served at a diner with checkerboard floors and red vinyl booths or at a soda shoppe, where everything is topped with whipped cream and bright red cherries. The pale Tiffany blue frosting was begging to be paired with the pink interior. For whatever reason, blue is often synonymous with vanilla-flavored candies (when not representing the ambiguous “blue raspberry” ??), and in this cake, I think the color brings everything to life.
— Tessa Huff for The Cake Blog

As you can imagine, the cake here itself is fairly sweet.  Studded with maraschino cherries, the pink hued layers will have your tastebuds dancing in no time.  My recipes tend to encompass all sorts of ingredients and styles from rustic bakes using wholesome grains and seasonal produce to death-by-chocoalte pastries and technicolored cakes.  This cake definitely lies on the playful, sugar-filled end of the spectrum.  To help balance out the flavors, a thin layer of bittersweet ganache is spread between the cherry chip cake and whipped vanilla frosting.

Cherry Chip Cake with chocolate ganache and whipped vanilla buttercream.

Head on over to The Cake Blog for the full recipe!!

Rainbow Polka Dot Cake

A whimsical "surprise-inside" cake with pastel rainbow polka dots and soft watercolour frosting.

Rainbow Polka Dot Cake

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  The recipes you can typically expect on this blog range from rustic to classic to playful.  Sometimes the desserts are left au naturel while others are adorned with sprinkles, candy-coated decorations, and lots of color.  What seemed to be lacking in recent months/years was something in the RAINBOW category!  In honor of little green leprechauns chasing after pots of gold, I'm excited to share my own rainbow treat.

Rainbow Polka Dot Cake

On the outside, this fairly unassuming layer cake is cute and slightly dressed up already with a few piped details and swoosh of my favorite ocean blue.  Had I shared this image first, then you would have had no idea what secrets are hidden inside.  As it is here, this cake looks like what you can typically expect from me here on Style Sweet CA.  But, BAMM!!  One slice reveals an entire party inside!!

Is it just me or are rainbows and unicorns having a moment right now?  I swear I see this adorable unicorn cake pop up on my news feed at least a dozen times a week.  For me, I try to embrace the latest trends, but only when they are a natural fit.  This polka dot cake really seemed to fit the bill and was a fun way to interject a pop of "rainbow" into one of my cakes for spring.

Rainbow Polka Dot Cake
Rainbow Polka Dot Cake
Rainbow Polka Dot Cake

To be honest, pinning down this recipe did take some major trial and error.  In order to keep the polka dots floating within each layer and appear seemingly random yet abundant, I needed to create a ton of mini cake balls.  The base batter had to thick enough to suspend the cake balls as well.  In the end, I rolled the polka dots cake bites into balls about the size of a grape – and a lot of them, at that.

You can find the entire recipe and assembly method here at


This post was in partnership with Saputo.  Thank you for supporting the brands that make Style Sweet CA available!

BAILEYS Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies

Fudgey, almost brownie-like cookies with flakey sea salt filled with espresso ganache and Baileys cream frosting.

Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies with Baileys cream and espresso ganache

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner.  This year, I am tapping into my (very) inner Irish side and making these BAILEYS Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies!  Creamy, chocolate-y, and extremely decadent – make sure you have a tall glass of milk near by.

Baileys Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies

I’ve talked about my mixed heritage before and specifically about my maternal grandmother in this post. Her ancestors came from Puerto Rico before eventually settling down in part of the Arizona agricultural community where she was raised.  Just judging by her tanned skin, dark features, and wild curls, you probably wouldn’t guess that she is part Irish.  Before settling in Arizona, a brief stop in New York, and establishing roots in San Juan, my Puerto Rican ancestors were originally from Spain – Barcelona and Madrid, to be exact.  While in Europe, someone of Irish decent slipped into the mix when the roots of my family tree were being planted.  In the end, the members of this side of my family all look vastly different from each other.  Some have dark skin, some have red hair and blue eyes, and then there’s me with my incredibly pale skin, my father’s German features, and my grandmother’s curls.  It might just be me, but I find genealogy fascinating, especially when it means I get to indulge in these Baileys Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies in honour of my heritage.

I may be just a sliver Irish, but that won’t stop me from treating myself with these decadent cookies this St. Patrick’s Day.  Even if you aren’t Irish at all, you should still make these.  They are so good!

Baileys Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies
Baileys Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies
Baileys Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies
Baileys Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies

Coffee and Baileys Irish cream have always gone hand in hand, and these cookies are no exception.  Ever indulge in one of those fancy after-dinner drinks with dark espresso, creamy Baileys, and mostly likely a tall swirl of whipped cream?  Well these cookies are kind of like that but in dessert form.  The cookies themselves are so deeply fudgey that they remind me of brownies.  I then stuffed them with a truffle center made from Baileys and espresso-infused ganache and a swirl of Baileys Irish cream frosting.  Each bite is more decadent than the next!  To balance out the richness, I sprinkled the cookies with my favourite flakey sea salt, but I bet dunking them in the above-mentioned coffee drink or a tall glass of milk would be equally satisfying.

Baileys Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies

Baileys Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate Brownie Cookies
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (mini or regular)
flakey sea salt for sprinkling

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Place the chopped bittersweet chocolate in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Heat the chocolate until it begins to melt.  Stir until smooth.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy.  Beat in one egg at a time followed by the vanilla.  Stir in the melted, cooled chocolate until combined.

With the mixer on low, gradually mix in the dry ingredients until incorporated and the last of the flour streaks disappear.  Fold in the chocolate chips until combined.

Using a mechanical ice cream scoop or small disher, scoop the dough into uniform balls and place on the lined baking sheets 3-inches apart.  Each ball should be about 21/2 tablespoons.  Gently flatten the dough with the palm of your hand and sprinkle with a pinch of flakey sea salt.  Bake for 10 minutes and let rest on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before moving the baked cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.  Repeat with the remaining dough.


Espresso Ganache
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon coarsely ground espresso or coffee beans
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon Bailys Irish cream

Place the cream and espresso in a small saucepan.  Over medium heat, gently bring the cream to a simmer.  Remove from the heat and place in a heat-safe container (with the espresso beans).  Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight (the longer the cream is infused, the stronger the espresso flavour).

When cool, strain out the ground beans with a fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth.  Place the infused cream back in the saucepan.  Over medium heat, gently bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, place the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl.  Once the cream comes to a simmer, pour the cream over the chocolate.  Let stand for 30 to 60 seconds.  Add the Baileys Irish cream and whisk until smooth.  Allow the ganache to completely cool and thicken.  Once the ganache is spreadable, gently whisk by hand until slightly whipped and fluffy (do not overmix or the chocolate will appear grainy).


Baileys Irish Cream Frosting
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons Baileys Irish cream
½ teaspoon vanilla

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth.  With the mixer on low, gradually add in the remaining ingredients and mix until combined.  Once the sugar is incorporated, beat on medium-high for several minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy.


Once the cookies have cooled and all of the components are made, pair off the cookies into sets of two.  Flip half of the cookies upside down.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium star tip with the Baileys Irish cream frosting.  Pipe a ring of frosting on half of the cookies.  Fill in each right with a tablespoon or so of ganache.  Top the frosting with the spare cookies and gently press together to form a cookie sandwich.


If the cookie batter is too runny to scoop, let stand 5 to 10 minutes until it stiffens up slightly.

Ganache may be cooled in the refrigerator.  Stir every 5 minutes to keep an even consistency.  Ganache will take about 20 minutes to cool in the refrigerator.


This post was sponsored by BAILEYS.  The opinions are completely my own based on my experience. 

As always, please remember to drink responsibly.

Grapefruit Lemon Tart

Tender, buttery crust is filled with vibrant Grapefruit and Lemon curd before being topped with clouds of hand-whipped cream.  Bake this sunny tart to chase away those winter blues as we await spring's arrival!

Grapefruit Lemon Tart Recipe with whipped cream

It was probably the promise of a zesty, vibrant filling, the dreamy clouds of whipped cream, or the hope of spring in the near future that caught your attention.  Yes, all of these are important parts of the narrative, but the story of this Grapefruit Lemon Tart actually revolves around the crust.

Grapefruit Lemon Tart Recipe with whipped cream
Grapefruit Lemon Tart Recipe with whipped cream
Grapefruit Lemon Tart Recipe with whipped cream

My go-to tart crust was already close to perfection.  But in true Tessa form, I wanted to test out a few recipes to see if I could come up with something better.  The pate sablée that I’ve used in the past is tender, sandy, buttery and almost cookie-like.  It has a great “snap” to it and reminds me of shortbread.  Pretty great, right?  But unlike most other pastry dough, this recipe called for softened butter.  

Since I primarily work with cake and buttercream, I usually have a few sticks of butter coming to room temperature on my kitchen counter at all times.  The idea of working with softened butter is very familiar to me, but not usually when it comes to pies and tarts.  Even though I love the taste and texture of this pastry dough, I started to question why I was softening butter just so I could turn around and refrigerate it, not once but, twice before it finally went into the oven?

There must be another way!!  After a bit of research, sure enough, there is another way.  This method, like most pastry and pie dough, calls for super cold butter.  It too comes together in a shaggy mess, but instead of rolling it out smooth, you press the crust crumbles into the pie tin before baking.  Voila!

Grapefruit Lemon Tart Recipe with whipped cream
Grapefruit Lemon Tart Recipe with whipped cream

Truth time guys – I still prefer my old way.  Maybe it’s because we are creatures of habit or perhaps I just haven’t perfect the “press into the pan” technique just yet, but I kind of like my softened butter way.  One of the biggest turn-offs for my original recipe is probably the fact that you have to roll out the dough, but in the end, this is what I prefer.  If you roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper, then it doesn’t stick (usually the first headache that comes to mind when you think about rolling pie dough).  Rolling the dough creates even thickness in the baked crust.  Trying to press in the crumbly dough pieces was difficult for me since I couldn’t tell/feel how even it was until after it baked.  I tried my best to create even thickness, but in the end the bottom was fairly thick (especially the corners) and I ended up handling the dough waaaaay more than if I has rolled it out.  And since with pastry the more you mix and work the dough the tougher it bakes up, this was not a good thing.  And, there is still some chilling involved.  Of course I will give you both methods to try out, but personally, I prefer waiting for my butter to soften and even then having to roll it out as opposed to uneven, thick tart shells.  The taste is great and it browned beautifully, but I will leave it to you to decide which recipe to choose.  Lastly, I prefer to make my pastry dough in the stand mixer or by hand.  I know by hand may seem like more work, but I prefer it over having to take out and wash my food processor, hehe.

Okay, now onto the filling!  I thought spring was near, but Mother Nature decided to give us another round of snow.  Snow in March?  In Vancouver?  This is not normal.  I decided to make the most of it and bake up one last winter citrus dessert for the season.  Inspired by Yossy Arefi’s incredible book, Sweeter of the Vine, I put together this Grapefruit Lemon Tart.  The filling comes together like lemon curd then endures a short bake until it is slightly puffed and set.  The sweetened whipped cream is optional, unless you let plastic wrap touch the top of your tart (like I did) and you need to give it a last-minute make over.  I mean, I meant to do that!  Enjoy!

Grapefruit Lemon Tart Recipe with whipped cream

Grapefruit Lemon Tart
adapted from Sweeter of the Vine
3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and softened
par-baked tart shell (recipe to follow)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar, and salt.  Stir in the grapefruit and lemon juice.  Place the butter in a heat-safe dish or large glass measuring cup and set aside.

Place the saucepan over medium heat.  Stir constantly but slowly until the mixture thickens and registers 170 degrees (about 8 to 10 minutes).   Do not let the mixture come to a boil or it will curdle.

Once hot and thick strain the curd with a mesh sieve over the butter.  Stir until combined.
Pour the citrus curd into the partially baked crust.  Bake until the edges of the curd puff up but the center still wiggles when you move the pan (about 20 minutes).  Cool at room temperature for about 20 minutes before refrigerating.  Allow the tart to set in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight before slicing.  Top with whipped cream, if desired. 


Sweet Pastry Dough
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
½ teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and chilled
1 egg yolk
1 to 2 tablespoons ice cold water

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.  Using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, cut in the butter until the bits of butter are about the size of a pea.  Stir in the egg yolk.

Working with only a teaspoon or two at a time, gradually add just enough water so that when you press the dough together it stay intact. The dough should still be shaggy and crumbly when done.  Do not at too much water.

Press the dough into a 9-inch tart pan.  Start by pressing the dough up the sides as evenly as possible, then fill in the bottom.  Reserve a bit of the dough to repair any cracks that may occur during baking.  Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes as you pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.

Once chilled, line the tart pan with foil, shinny-side down.  Fill with pie weights or dry beans and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the tart pan from the oven and very carefully take out the weights and foil.  At this point, patch up any minor craks with the reserved dough.

Return the tart back to the oven for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until the crust is light golden brown.  If the center puffs up during baking, gently press is back down with a piece of foil or parchment paper.

Resume recipe for the Grapefruit Lemon Tart, or cool completely before wrapping in plastic.  The tart shell may be stored wrapped well in the refrigerator for a couple of days or frozen in the freezer for a few months.


Whipped Cream
¾ cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
splash vanilla extract

By hand of with an electric mixer, whip the cream until it begins to thicken.  Add the sugar and whip until soft peaks.  Add the vanilla and whip until medium/firm peaks.  By hand, this will take about 3 to 5 minutes.  Do not over-mix.

White Chocolate Rose Cupcakes from "My Sweet Kitchen"

White chocolate-studded vanilla cupcakes with Swiss meringue buttercream piped roses from Linda Lomelino's new book, My Sweet Kitchen!

White Chocolate Rose Cupcakes

I started following Linda’s work well before the thought of creating my own website even entered my head. Her innovative recipes and decadent flavour combinations from her blog, Call me Cupcake, are down right drool-worthy (to say the least), but it was her photography and styling that really turned me from casual follower to super-fan.  In her latest book, My Sweet Kitchen, Linda has done it again!  With page after page of gorgeous cakes, pastries, and pies, I’ve been wow-ed and inspired to step into my own (sweet) kitchen and get baking.

White Chocolate Rose Cupcakes
White Chocolate Rose Cupcakes
White Chocolate Rose Cupcakes

It was baking blog “pioneers” like Linda, Naomi, Aran, and Helene that pushed the limits when it came to photography and really set the bar for newer bloggers, like me.  When I started this space, I’d already been baking professionally for years, but I had no idea how to translate my tasty recipes in the real world to an online community on a computer screen.  It was these women who deeply inspired me with their stunning photography and helped me understand that, in the blogging world at least, you must first feast with your eyes.  Secondly, they showed me that food wasn’t merely for consumption, but that it should tell a story (hello, gorgeous food styling!).  Just take a look at their work, and you’ll see what I mean!

When I first transitioned from a baker to blogger, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out my camera, shape light, and style my treats in the most appetizing manner.  It took a lot of practice (please promise you won’t look too far into the blog achieves, lol).  It took a year of serious trial and error to develop my own style, and then another to really hone in on it.  My photography is still evolving, and I hope it never stops, but it certainly is a process.

Lucky for us, and anyone else still trying to find their own food photography style, Linda has not only packed the pages of My Sweet Kitchen with the most delicious recipes, but she has also included a section on photography and food styling.  How awesome is that?!?!  Linda helps transform ordinary desserts into beautiful, show-stopping treats, AND THEN shows you how to photograph them!  Because really, if it didn’t happen on Instagram, did it really happen at all? 

White Chocolate Rose Cupcakes

If you are already a fan of Linda’s work online (or are just hearing about her now), I promise you will be BLOWN AWAY at how amazing her desserts look in print.  Thanks to the gracious folks at Roost Books, I am giving away one copy of her new book!  If you want tips and expert advice on how to bake, decorate, and photograph your own creations, be sure to jump down to the bottom of this post to enter!  And if you don’t win, be sure to run out and purchase a copy anyway.  It really is a great book to add to any cookbook collection, and Linda is just about the sweetest ever.

A HUGE thank you to Roost Books for providing the giveaway copy.  Be sure to sign up for their mailing list here for more up to date info!

White Chocolate Rose Cupcakes
White Chocolate Rose Cupcakes

White Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted from My Sweet Kitchen
makes 12

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 ounces white chocolate

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add the butter and mix until slightly combined and the chunks of butter have worked into the dry mixture - no larger than the size of an almond.

In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla.  With the mixer on low, stream in the egg mixture.  Mix until just barely combined.

Stop the mixer and fold the batter until the last of the dry streaks disappear.  Fold in the white chocolate.  Even distribute the batter between the cupcake liners.  Bake for 20 to 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out with moist crumbs.  Let cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

To ice the cupcakes, I used my go-t0 Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  Linda uses a similar icing and tints it with pureed and strained raspberry juice.  You may opt to use gel food coloring as I've done so here, or try her delicious berry version!  Add in a tablespoon of raspberry puree at a time until desired consistency and flavor is achieved.

For the Decoration
Fit a piping bag with a small petal tip (I used Wilton 104), and fill halfway with buttercream.  For the center of the rose, pipe a tight spiral keeping the tip perpendicular to the top of your cupcake with the narrow end pointed up. Always with the narrow end away from the surface of the cupcake, pipe THREE overlapping petals around the center.  Next, continue around with a new layer and pipe FIVE overlapping petals around the center.  For the last row of petals, pipe SEVEN to EIGHT petals.

I could go on about how to pipe a buttercream rose in more detail, but let's just do ourselves all a favor and go search YouTube instead, hehe.  Seriously, I could try to describe how to do it, but there are already so many great resources and videos online that really show you how to do this.


But, if you'd rather see me in action... be sure to follow me on Instagram!  I'll be uploading a how-to video later this week =)


Last, but not least, be sure to enter to win a copy of My Sweet Kitchen!