As I was driving to my last cake decorating class last night, a splash of white on the right caught my eye and made me take my eyes off the road for a moment. A small graceful tree full of dainty white flowers was looming against the twilight skies.
A beautiful site I had to slow down for . . .

spring dessert


I looked around some more. Cheery yellows, playful pinks, naïve whites were jumping at me from each side of the road. Every plant seemed to be flowering back to life.
So colorful . . .
So familiar . . .


spring flowers

I looked inside the bag that held my cake decorating supplies and smiled. Subconsciously, I had tinted the frosting for my cake to be decorated that night the same colors: cheery yellows, playful pinks, naïve whites . . .
Strange how our minds can be in sync with nature despite us being so wrapped up in our technology-centered lives . . .

old-fashioned buttercream roses

desert spring

This last class was very good. But then, so were the previous ones. Ann’s classes are fun, hands on, and to the point. She’s been in the business for over two decades and has quite a collection of tricks and techniques under her belt—all tried and true.

spring dessert

I love her classes.

strawberry-rhubarb butter

gluten-free quinoa-coconut tartlets

spring images

flowering fruit tree

We did buttercream roses that night. I studded my simple 8-inch vanilla cake with about a dozen of them. It looked so pretty. Nicole and I thought it would be perfect for her friend’s fourth birthday party that was coming up, and we gave it away. There’s just so much cake you can eat, with a class each week for 6 straight weeks, you know.

old-fashioned tartlet molds

buttercream roses


spring in Nevada


But I couldn’t get those roses or the blooming trees out of my head. And I also had some leftover frosting . . . in cheery yellows, playful pinks, naïve whites.

gluten-free tartlet pastry

Nicole kindly helped me fill these.

The next day I whipped up some quinoa tartlets, filled them with oven-roasted strawberry-rhubarb butter I’d experimented with the day before and decorated each with a buttercream rose.

oven-roasted strawberry-rhubarb butter

fruit trees in bloom


pretty flowers

I got a beautiful bouquet of spring flavors and colors. The “grassy” quinoa works nicely with the tart freshness of the first fruits of the season, and the buttercream roses . . . well, they just happen to bring it all together. There’s nothing like a mouth full of rich and fluffy buttercream frosting once in a while.

Welcome, spring!
Recipe for Olga’s Original Quinoa-Coconut Tartlets*

1. ½ cup (70 g) brown rice flour
2. 1/3 cup (40 g) quinoa flour
3. ¼ cup (30 g) coconut flour
4. ¼ cup (30 g) tapioca starch
5. 3 tablespoons natural cane sugar
6. ½ teaspoon salt
7. 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon zest
8. ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
9. 5 tablespoons (70 g) solid coconut oil, broken into small pieces
10. 2 ½ tablespoons (40 g) cold butter, cut into small pieces
11. 1 large egg yolk
12. 3 tablespoons ice cold water

1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the first seven ingredients and pulse a couple of times to aerate.
2. Add the solid coconut oil and the cold butter and pulse until the mixture looks sandy.
3. Add the yolk and 3 tablespoons ice water and pulse until the dough comes together. It does not need to form a ball. Just open the lid and press the dough between your fingers to see if it holds together. If it doesn’t, add more ice water in ½ -tablespoon increments.
4. Press a small piece of dough into a tart mold, starting from the bottom and working your way up the sides, until the dough is evenly distributed and about ¼ inch thick. Remove excess dough with your fingers by pressing against the edges of the mold. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the tart bases for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.
6. Let cool before lifting them out of the molds.

Makes about 15-18 2 ¼ -inch tart bases
Recipe for Olga’s Original Oven-Roasted Strawberry-Rhubarb Butter**

1. 1 lb fresh ripe strawberries, washed, hulled, and quartered
2. 1 lb fresh rhubarb, washed, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
3. 1/3 cup natural cane sugar
4. 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
5. 1 tablespoon lemon juice
6. ¼ teaspoon cardamom
7. 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1. In a big bowl, combine strawberry and rhubarb pieces. Sprinkle with sugar, lemon zest and juice, cardamom, and nutmeg; gently toss to combine. Let macerate for 20-30 minutes or until the fruit releases juice.
2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer the fruit mixture to a roasting pan and roast, stirring occasionally, until the fruit turns deep red and is reduced to about a cup, about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours.


1. To assemble the tartlets, fill a tart base with a scant teaspoon of strawberry-rhubarb butter and top off with a buttercream rose.
2. To learn how to pipe a buttercream rose, please go here.
3. * and ** developed at an altitude of 4500 feet above sea level