Chocolate Caramels with Sea Salt

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Everyone getting ready for New Years Eve? Picked out your dress, got your booze, got all these parties to go to? Yeah?? 

Well, not for me. I'm going to stay at home by myself and probably read over my new baking books (again) and maybe fiddle around with my new light setup. Exciting, I know.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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80% Biga Bread

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"What the heck is a biga?" is most likely what you're thinking right now. Simple - a type of preferment for bread. If you've read my basic bread dough recipe, you should know what a preferment is, but if your memory is a little foggy, no worries. A preferment is a portion of water and flour and yeast that are allowed to ferment for 12-18 hours, then more flour and water are added to make the final dough. It improves flavour, acidity, and texture. A great way to improve the taste of your bread with minimal effort, essentially. Usually preferments are a small percentage of the final bread, maybe 20% or so. But it doesn't always have to be, as with this one. 

Before this, I had never made a bread with this much of a preferment. I was a little worried about it, especially since I've never tried this method of bread making before. But I have to say that this is some excellent bread. This is my ideal bread right here. Super crunchy crust, moist interior, lots of fermentation bubbles. I could eat it all day long. And I did.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Hot Buttered Rum Apple Pie

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I know I already mentioned this in the last post, but Merry Christmas! I hope you had a sweet ol' time with your family and/or friends. I hope you over-ate and then did not feel a smidgen of guilt cause it's Christmas!! It's the one time you get to overeat (well, maybe Thanksgiving... and your birthday... and when you're sad). I hope your holidays were filled with pie and chocolate and ice cream and cookies. Cause really, deep down, that's what Christmas is all about.

Just kidding. I think.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Bourbon Pecan Pie

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This will just be a quick little post - it's Christmas Eve after all! Actually, since it's past midnight, it's CHRISTMAS! Merry Christmas everybody and happy holidays! It's a bit late for you to make this pie for Christmas dinner, unless you're not the one cooking the dinner, but it is a stellar pie nonetheless.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Hazelnut Brittle

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Another quick, easy, and super tasty stocking stuffer! You can add whatever nuts or seeds you want to this recipe, just keep it all within the weight limits. This makes a good-sized batch, so if you're only making it for one person, go with half of a recipe. 
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Snowflake Sugar Cookies

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Christmas is right around the corner, everybody! Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you already know this. Are you prepared? I... sort of am.


I have gifts for almost everybody. These cookies were part of a little goodie bag for my friends, including these marshmallowsthese cookies, and hazelnut brittle (which will be on the blog in a couple days). They're easier to make than they look, but they taste and look amazing.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Hot Chocolate Three Ways

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Have you been running around, doing your last-minute Christmas shopping in the freezing cold and crazy crowds? Have you been wrapping presents all day long and have the paper cuts and two empty rolls of tape to prove it? Have you been figuring out your Christmas menu and are freaking out at all the ingredients you have to buy? 

You need a break. You need some proper hot chocolate, a couple marshmallows, and a comfy blanket. 
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Peppermint and Chocolate Swirl Marshmallows

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When I was a kid, my brother told me that marshmallows were made out of ground up hooves, horns, tails, and bones of cows and pigs. I hardly ever ate marshmallows as a kid, to no surprise. To be honest, I never bothered to actually look up what marshmallows were made of or how they were made until about 6 months ago. Embarrassing.

Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Maple Chai Cookies

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I am a huge fan of Christmas. I look forward to Christmas the whole year and as soon as December hits, I'm in heaven. I love seeing the lights everyone puts on their houses and the Christmas displays in stores. I love hearing Christmas music wherever I go and I love the all-around cozy and kind atmosphere of Christmastime! 

While I haven't had much time to do any Christmas shopping (which is stressing me out a little bit), I'm still quietly loving Christmas when I have a spare moment. If I'm on the bus and I see someone with a large shopping bag, I imagine that it's a gift for someone special and how it's probably the perfect gift and they're so happy they found the right gift for that person. Is that weird? 
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Pumpkin Creme Pie with Maple Molasses Roasted Pecans

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First off, I'm sorry for falling off the face of the earth for the past month and a bit. I started interning at a hotel in the morning before school and on the weekends, so I work 13 hours days sometimes and usually only have one day off. And to be honest, I'm not that keen on baking for 6 hours on my day off when I do it for 13 hours on my work days. But, finally, here is something I did make on my day off.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Spiced Crab Apple Mini Pies

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This is it, the first "official" fall recipe of the year. I feel like as soon as September hits, bloggers go crazy for fall. It's like suddenly, on September 1st, no matter where you are, it is now fall and you better be putting pumpkin into something. I'm a bit late to that party, I guess.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Roasted Peach Ice Cream

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As much as I love fall, I'm really going to miss the abundance and variety of fresh local fruit that we have in the summer. I love going down to the farmers market on Saturday, picking up whatever fresh fruit that was in season, and finding something to make with it. Fall has apples, pears, and, of course, pumpkins, which are all nice fruits, but they're not the same as fresh raspberries, strawberries, peaches, or blueberries. They just don't have that bright, summery taste. I guess that's what makes them so wonderful when they finally arrive at the markets - we've missed them for so long. 
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Basic Bread Dough

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Bread is incredibly simple yet deceptively complicated at the same time. Four ingredients - flour, water, yeast, salt - that can be manipulated to produce an endless variety of products. Every step in making bread is important and attention to detail is key. A slip-up in any of the many steps can create a less than impressive bread.



Because of this, people are intimidated by making bread at home. It's complicated, I don't have a bread stone, I don't have a steam injection oven, I don't have a linen cloth, I don't have a mixer. To make an outstanding loaf of bread, yes, those tools really do help. But you can still make a great loaf of bread without all the extra equipment and it is much simpler than most people make it out to be. The only tool you really, truly need is a digital thermometer. You don't need a mixer (I did these completely by hand), but a thermometer is essential. Once you successfully make a loaf of bread at home, you'll be hooked on it.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Blueberry Lavender Pie

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I hate to say it, but summer is winding down. Just kidding, I'm actually pretty excited that summer is coming to an end, at least here in Vancouver. I've had enough of sweating. It's as simple as that. Summer is nice and wonderful, but sweaty. I managed to enjoy some of it after my trip to Italy, but then it was right into school. Not much time to enjoy summer when you're in a hot, humid, crowded kitchen for 7 hours a day. 
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Dark Chocolate Espresso Ice Cream

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You know those people that hate raw tomatoes but love tomato sauce? Or hate avocado on its own, but love guacamole? Or those people that hate drinking any kind of coffee drink, but adore coffee flavoured desserts? I'm one of those coffee people.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Nectarine and Blueberry Crisp with Pecan Oat Crumble

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While I love being in pastry school and learning more about baking soda than I ever thought I could, there are times when I want to make something messy and ugly. Almost always, I strive to make my food pretty, appetizing, and a little bit refined. I like doing that. But doing that for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week makes me want to do the opposite.

Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Raspberry and Pink Peppercorn Macarons

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These little gems were actually a project I did for school. It was a simple project, just scale down an existing cookie recipe to yield a certain number of overall cookies. It wasn't really an exercise in creativity, but I decided to get a little creative anyways. As soon as Chef told us about the project, the idea for raspberry and pink peppercorn macarons immediately came to mind. I was inspired by a dessert I made a little while back - the raspberry and pink peppercorn mousse. I loved the contrasting flavours of the raspberry and the peppercorns, as well as the slightly spicy kick from the peppercorns. And so, I set about making the mousse into macarons.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Peach Vanilla Jam

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Before I started pastry school, I only had one fear of what it was going to be like. I feared that we would bake sometime incredibly easy, like muffins or cookies, something I have done dozens and dozens of times. And I was afraid that for some strange freak reason, I would completely mess up. I would be completely embarrassed and have to explain to everyone that I did actually know how to make that simple thing, just not today. 

That happened.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Raspberry and Pink Peppercorn Mousse

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The days seem to by flying by now. Isn't that how it always is when you're having fun? And I certainly am having fun, but I'm also crazy busy. I went from having most of my afternoons free to do whatever I wanted, to now having about two afternoons to do everything I need to do. Welcome to the adult world, I guess?
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Strawberry Lemon Sorbet

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This sorbet is crazy refreshing in so many ways. First, the taste! Oh man. So strawberry-y with a bit of lemon in there to wake you up a bit. The colour! Yes, that's the real colour of it, no food colouring or photoshopping in there, guys. It really is bright red. And, of course, it's cold! What else could you want from a summertime dessert? 
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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S'more Tart

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To me, s'mores mean summer. You can never have a s'more in the winter because no one wants to sit outside in the snow, roasting marshmallows, but that's what makes them such a special treat in the summer. This tart, however, requires no fire (unless you have a brûlée torch) and can be made whenever! It definitely tastes like a s'more, just a little different.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Vanilla Panna Cotta with Cherry, Balsamic, and Rosemary Compote

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In a tiny little town called Monticchiello, outside of Montepulciano, I had one of the best desserts I have ever had. Ever. And I know my way around a few desserts. It was a vanilla bean panna cotta with a blackcurrant sauce. The panna cotta was unlike any other I've ever had - it was so creamy and luscious, without the rubbery texture you sometimes get with panna cotta. The blackcurrant sauce was sweet, yet a little bit tart, which added a perfect balance to the creamy vanilla. 
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Raspberry Almond Tart

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It's always tough coming back from a vacation. You have to do dishes. You have to take out the trash. You have to go to work. You have to clean up your messes. Plus, there's the post-vacation blues to deal with. 
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Italia

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As some of you may know, I spent the last four weeks in England and Italy with my boyfriend. We spent about two weeks in England visiting his family and the next two weeks traveling through Tuscany. 
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Honey Lavender Macarons

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These were not originally what I planned to make. For weeks, I was dreaming up a combination of blueberry, honey, and lavender. I decided on macarons last week, but even then, there were still possibilities. Blueberry macarons with honey lavender filling? Honey macarons? I eventually decided on lavender macarons with honey blueberry buttercream. 

They did not turn out well at all.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Maple Eclairs with Maple Sugar Glaze

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I love my cat. I love him to pieces. I talk to him, probably more than I should. If he sneezes, I say bless you. I tell him to move his furry butt when he starts sniffing the desserts I'm trying to photograph. It's just my little kitty Ajax and I in my apartment and he's more like a (really adorable and super needy) roommate than just a pet.

But today, I did not love my cat.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Lemon Cake with Honey Balsamic Roasted Strawberries

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This is my very first cake. I'm sure those of you who are cake masters can tell this is my very first cake based on the uneven layers and shoddy frosting job, but I am proud of it nonetheless. You'd think with my very first cake, I'd go for something a bit more basic. Nope.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Rhubarb and Brown Butter Tart

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Baking with a time limit is not my ideal way of baking. I calculate the exact amount of time I have to make everything and photograph it, plus throwing in some extra time in case something goes wrong (which it often does). I freak out if I think I might not have enough time because what if it's still in the oven when I have to go to work? I always finish with at least an hour to spare before work, yet I freak out anyways. 

Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Earl Grey Infused Chocolate Pots de Crème

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I can't remember the first cup of tea I ever had, but I do remember having tea almost every morning of my life. My grandma was a bit tea drinker (She was Scottish) and that was passed on to me. When I was very little, I remember waiting for my grandma to make my tea and bring it to me in a big green plastic cup. Most often, I would burn my tongue on the first sip.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Vanilla Macarons with French Buttercream

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Vanilla is probably the most versatile flavour in the whole world. Vanilla extract or vanilla beans are added to pretty much every dessert and baked good, even if the overall flavour is something like pumpkin, chocolate, or strawberry. It just makes every other flavour taste better.

And yet, vanilla gets a bad rap. It's 'boring', 'plain', and 'average' to some people. The fact that it is such a widely used flavour makes it nothing special. I'm here to tell you that that is wrong! Vanilla is a delicious, intense, and wonderful flavour. Have you ever smelled a vanilla bean? It's like sniffing those smelly markers back in elementary school, you couldn't get enough. You just keep on sniffing until eventually you get marker on your nose.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Pecan Brownies

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Pecans have quickly become one of my favorite nuts. It was like love at first bite when I made these pecan sandwich cookies. I had never had many desserts loaded with pecans until then and let me tell you, I was in love. Completely in love. 

Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Rhubarb Crostatas

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Rhubarb was never really high up on my list of dessert fruits when I was growing up. This was just me though, I'm pretty sure everyone else was into rhubarb.

Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Strawberry and Coconut Milk Tart

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I agonized for days about what to make with strawberries that would really show off the berries. I went through all twelve of my recipe books, but nothing seems quite right. I became frustrated and exasperated with my fruitless (or fruitful? Haha) quest.

Eventually, I gave up and decided to make something completely different. And you know what? It failed miserably.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Strawberry Raspberry Mojitos

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I've been writing this blog for just over six months now and I feel like I've talked a fair bit about myself. I would like to think that you know a little about me, at least the basics. I've severely toned down my love (read: obsession) of cats, but other than that, you know me, kind of. So I feel like it's time for a bit of a confession.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Nutella Zeppole with Dark Chocolate Sauce

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I used to be terrified of deep fryers. I mean, I love deep fried food, who doesn’t? But being near a deep fryer made me antsy. I don’t exactly know why. I think it was a combination of a few little things. The biggest would be being burned by hot oil. I mean, if that got onto your skin, how do you get it off? What if the whole fryer just exploded and you were covered in hot oil? Terrifying. Secondly, oil stains last forever, no matter how many times they go through the wash, at least in my experience. And thirdly, I’m worried that if I get over my fear of deep fryers, I’ll become horribly fat from deep frying things at home.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Maple Blueberry Muffins

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After I made this blueberry sauce, I realized that I still had a whole bunch of blueberries left. I was pretty tempted to just eat them all raw, but I decided not to in the end. 

I was a bit hesitant to make blueberry muffins to be honest. When I think of blueberry muffins, I think of the ones you find in supermarkets. You know, the giant ones that are too sweet, cakey, and kind of....sticky. Those muffins give blueberry muffins a bad name.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Lemon Tartlets with Blueberry Sauce

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It seems like spring has finally decided to show up here in Vancouver. We've had quite a few sunny days and this has tricked my mind into thinking that summer is right around the corner, which it most certainly is not. 
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Dark Chocolate Soufflés

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Soufflés tend to have a certain mystique around them for some people. They see it as a delicate dessert that is fickle and temperamental. Only people who really know what they're doing can pull off a good soufflé. None of that is true. When you accept the fact that the soufflés will fall, they become just another dessert that anyone can do.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Salted Caramel Budino

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I've decided to start a little project to make my kitchen less crowded and messy. My kitchen is very small to begin with. I have a cupboard dedicated to my baking ingredients, but that is also getting too small. I've sneaked a few things into my cooking cupboard, but now it's a big mess in all the cupboards. I've even had to store things like flour and sugar on top of my fridge.

It's time for a change! I have a plan.
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Apple Tart

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Big news, everybody! Huge news! Gigantic news!

Yesterday...... it was sunny.


Okay, yeah, not really big news for most people, but for the sun-deprived population of Vancouver, it was a massive deal. I'm not talking sunny with some clouds, maybe a bit of shade here and there, I'm talking full-on, no clouds, all day sunny. Unbelievable. 

Posted by : Megan Voigt
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A New Look

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You may have noticed that things look a bit different around here. Hopefully, you're liking what you see here! I figured it was time for a fresh look and a better name! Most people had trouble with the word 'cioccolato', which is actually just said, 'choco-lato'. It was tough to spell and didn't roll off the tongue very nicely. The layout was a bit drab and boring as well, so I figured I would kill two birds with one stone.

It is my pleasure to introduce to you, Hint of Vanilla, formally known as Cioccolato Etc.

Everything that used to be here is still here. I will continue to post the same delicious treats that I always have. I've added categories to make finding recipes easier, plus I now have social media buttons that actually go somewhere. 

I hope you all enjoy my new blog as much as I do!
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Manila Mango and Lemongrass Ice Cream

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Winter is kind of over now, but it's not really spring yet. Here in Vancouver, it's still rainy. I still have to wear my winter jacket. I still wear a pair of knee high socks sometimes. It still feels like winter. And winter has just gone on too long. I've had enough of the cold and the wet and the gloomy. I want sun! I want to go out in a light jacket! I want to wear something other than my gumboots!

Posted by : Megan Voigt
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The Big Apple

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Whew boy! What a trip. It was a busy 4 day trip full of all the best touristy stuff, plus some little gems that I'd like to think are off the beaten path, or at least as off the beaten path as you can get in such a huge city. Honestly, New York is dense. Every building is just smushed right up against it's neighbors. There's very few back alleys or side streets, so that on garbage day, there's huge piles of garbage bags lined up on the sidewalk. There's just nowhere else to put them. 


But let me tell you, all those things you hear about New York having amazing food - they're all true, as long as you go to the right places. I did not have a bad meal in New York. Every dinner, I was blown away by the sheer scrumdiddlyumptiousness of it all.
In case you're headed off to New York anytime soon, I thought I'd give you a brief rundown on some of my recommendations for restaurants!
Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Blood Orange Panna Cotta

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I didn't intentionally make a pink dessert for Valentines Day, I swear. Last week, I saw some blood oranges and thought they were just beautiful, so I decided to make a dessert out of it. It just so happens that it's kind of pink and it's Valentines Day tomorrow.



Posted by : Megan Voigt
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Toasted Hazelnut Granola

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I'm not a breakfast person. I never have been. I don't know if I ever will be. It's like being a morning person; you are or you are not. Maybe the two tie in together because I am certainly not a morning person. 

My breakfast is usually a big mug of tea. That's it. When I wake up, I never feel like eating. I might be hungry when I wake up, but for the first hour of being awake, I don't enjoy eating, no matter what it is. Crazy, right? After about an hour, I get ravenous. I mean, wolf down anything I can get my hands on. 



Posted by : Megan Voigt
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