Treat of the Week: Baked Chocolate Donuts

Every morning, after the emails have been checked and the urgent matters resolved, my team makes a coffee run down to Tim Hortons. And every morning, while standing in line, I will glaze my eyes longingly at the display of donuts. The desire is strong and the temptation is near. I woke up yesterday morning with the realization of how I can have my donut and eat it too, without consequences.

Tomorrow, as I stand in line wincing at the Creamy Chocolate Chili sign while craving a sweet chocoately baked treat, I will only have to picture one of my own baked goodies.

Sidenote: While I adore the creative heights that Tim Hortons and JWT broke with the Creamy Chocolate Chili Levitation stunt I can’t believe they let the product go to market with such a name. The product title is just not appetizing, and although I would probably enjoy this frozen treat I don’t think I can ever bring myself to order an item with such a title. 

Baked Chocolate Donuts 

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Makes 7 donuts

  • 1/3C + 2 tbsp almond milk
  • 1/2 all-purpose flour
  • 1/4C oat flour
  • 1/4C cocoa powder
  • 1/4C sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • coconut oil spray


  • 3/4C powered sugar
  • 3 tbsp almond milk

1. Preheat oven to 400F

2. Melt the butter. In a large bowl whisk the melted butter with the almond milk. Add the sugar, maple syrup, and egg and mix until will blended.   Incorporate the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, and sea salt until just combined.

3. Spray the donut pan with the coconut oil spray and ladle the batter until each donut mold is 2/3 full.

5. Bake 12 minutes

6. While the donuts are baking, combine and whisk the glaze ingredients.

7. Glaze the donuts once they have been removed from pan and cooled.


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Upwards and Onwards

The sun is shining and a new chapter awaits.

After months of searching, bleak silence, and bouncing from interview to interview I am pleased to let you all know that the job search chronicles will now be paused.  Instead, commuting horror stories are about to be my topic of conversation du jour. I am excited to share that I will be joining an awesome advertising agency, effective Monday.

The last couple of months were bleak as I faced periods of silence before bouncing from interview to interview. Every night, at bedtime, an image of a dark tunnel would emerge as my eyes closed.

It was an endless dark but glimpses of light from some distance above peeked through the dim sooty bleakness. The little dots of light that had penetrated the otherwise somber twisting road looked to be far off and in irregular stretches. Sometimes the distance between one burst of brightness from another would be so lengthy that one would be encompassed in the darkness.

The ups and downs of the last couple of months and years, in reference to the academics, the professional life, and my personal shenanigans, have taught me the power of hope. We cannot control when or where the light will be able to break through the solid earthen walls next but we can and must visualize the next flicker. Hope, it’s a powerful thing.

Every year at this time, with the stress of school over, I try to dig up a contribution to the surrounding community to place smiles and ignite hope. Last year I baked goodies for the homeless and this year I am donating to Gregory MacNeil’s funding campaign for this summer’s Pan Am Games and Rio 2016. While my resume lists a number of intern positions Greg’s athletic resume includes titles such as Silver Medallist at the 2014 Canadian Nationals Track & Field Championship and CIS Gold in the 60Hm. Greg is an amazing athlete whose only fault may be influencing the Madison girls to call me Jojo. If you haven’t already, hop over to TrackieProfile to make a donation to ignite the flame and fund his dream.

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I’ll rather play beyond the walls

It was cold outside. The winds were howling, the ground was covered with icy snow, and the sky was dark.

The lights were bright. They shone from slanted rectangles, they stood stark against the black barred ceiling. The inside contrasted with the scene beyond the glass windows; one could see in here. Under the sterile lighting one could read, write, type, and glem information from the world wide web. She was inside, but despite the contrast with the outside, she felt cold.

Here she was subjected to reading feverishly, typing faster than the tick of the clock, and developing expertise through an unviewable connection to the outside world. The concrete Turkey offered warmth and the tools of learning that the 21th century had to offer. But she still felt cold; she was trapped.

She had entered the Turkey with the intention to learn, to solve problems, but the concrete had acted more as a nuisance than structural barriers. She looked out the steel-encased window and at the snow, with her wool coat draped over her and her red mittens on her hands she would be warm.


Recently I’ve been having a lot of thoughts about the value of education, especially the value of business education within the classroom. There is a notion that classroom education, university degrees, equates to smarts or competency but I feel knowledge cannot be measured by the GPA or the title on the certificate alone. Sitting alone at Robarts at 1AM while working on an international “group” paper alone somehow inspired this little sketch about my feelings about the confines of the traditional classroom education. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to take classes that challenge students to complete practical projects and I believe more of this needs to be implemented.

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Happy Chinese New Year from Nestle !


My aunt told me a few days ago that she felt a line needed to be drawn at my proposal to make guacamole for Sunday’s Chinese New Year dinner. Orange-flavoured KitKats however, will be on the dessert menu, thanks to the festive Chinese New Year packaging Nestle has come up with.

With a matte gold sheep (Year of the Goat/Sheep) embossing a red background and well wishes printed in white, I think this marketing campaign is extremely nifty. For starters, the orange-flavoured (or milk-flavoured) KitKats  were not developed for the Lunar New Year. But Nestle is positioning these products, that are already within their portfolio, as a Lunar New Year treat. And this simple change in packaging has captured the hearts and the wallets of consumers, my mother revealed she only purchased the chocolate for me because the packaging would let me celebrate Chinese New Year and share my culture with my friends and roommates.

I am also extremely impressed with the execution of these KitKats as Chinese New Year treats; it is exceedingly smart. A printed paper sleeve was used instead of printing the festive graphics directly on foil, allowing for product continuity post-Lunar New Year. These sleeves can simply be removed for products to stay on store shelves, eliminating the practice of the post-holiday margin lowering markdowns. (As much as I love the markdowns of February 15th, Valentine’s Day manufacturers could learn a thing or two from the Lunar New Year KitKats.)

More and more companies in Canada are actively targeting the ethnic market but many are still reluctant to do so due to the risks and costs associated with segment marketing. I think these Lunar New Year KitKats are an excellent example of how companies are becoming more and more creative at lowering the barriers to ethnic marketing.  I am excited to see (and maybe be part of a team!) what is next in store for ethnic marketing, as Andrew Pelletier of Walmart Canada once revealed, “This is truly the future of retail [marketing] in Canada.”.



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The Challenge to Notice Things

A few weeks ago, at the end of a business design class that featured active listening exercises, our instructor challenged us to notice things. We live our lives within routines and it is so easy to overlook changes or anything outside of the expectant.

I live about a 10 minute walk from the Athletic Centre and I always take the same route to and from the AC. In the span of a typical week it is quite possible for me to walk through this same stretch of Spadina 12 times. Despite the regular visits it had taken me about a year and a half to notice that the street played host to a Shoeless Joe’s on the west side. And I only noticed the restaurant’s existence after I was handed a flyer with the address listed.

The challenge popped into mind this morning as I was leaving the AC to head home after my workout. Instead of pressing the play button on my phone and hurrying through the slush I decided to relax into the familiar surroundings and see if I could spot anything new or beyond the normal daily scope. I didn’t know if this thread of difference would be a cute squirrel out to play or even just a pair of interesting pants a fellow pedestrian could be wearing. I was just on a mission to notice something I haven’t taken note of in my previous walks along this stretch of Spadina.

I must say I feel sufficiently rewarded for my efforts. On February 14, 2015, I spied with my eyes a Nestlé Tollhouse Cafe on Spadina.

It is often difficult to step outside of personal bubbles but the insights gained, once one is in the green, are invaluable. I now challenge you to also notice things out of your ordinary. And if anyone’s discoveries include speciality flavoured Oreos in the GTA, please send me a text.



(I’ll take an ice cream sandwich, please)


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Is Lululemon Changing Its Marketing Strategy?

In strategy courses we are often asked the following question: What are some companies that changed the industry?

The top three companies that come to mind are Southwest Airlines, Apple, and Lululemon.

With two of the same Lulu sweaters (but in different colours!) hanging in my closet, it is unsurprising that I am writing my Business Design paper on the apparel company. Examining the company’s strategy reminded me of deviances I’ve noticed in the past few months. I am left wondering if Lululemon is changing it market strategy and overall strategy.

The 2014 Lululemon Annual Report reveals that the company believes a key component of their competitive advantage arises from their community-based grassroots marketing approach. Unlike their competitors, Lululemon does not employ the traditional advertising approach of print media, television commercials, and celebrity endorsements.  I was unsurprised to read this. In conversations with Educators they proudly told stories of the company’s practice in gifting gear and discounts to ambassadors (local athletes, yoga teachers, and fitness instructors), as opposed to spending large sums on celebrity/pro athlete sponsorship/endorsements.

But Lulu’s Instagram posts showcase the brand’s  strategy is changing.  Two weeks ago it posted a photo to cheer on their elite ambassador Walter Wood, a professional freestyle skier. Andrew Ference, captain of the Edmonton Oilers, was featured in an Instagram video just before Christmas. And in July, Jamie Anderson (an American professional snowboarder) starred into a mini-campaign where she was given the keys to the Instagram account to let followers experience her Lulu life.

I am willing to bet Lululemon traded more than just gear and discounts to get these professional athletes to endorse the brand and star in these social media shots. With the employment of elite ambassadors I feel that it is without doubt that Lululemon’s strategy is changing but if the terminology is an indicator of anything, fear not, they have not forgotten where their grassroots lie.

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Hello. Bonjour. Guten Abend. Buongiorno. 你好.

When I was younger, much younger, my relatives would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I would always answer that I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t know if being an writer meant writing the next great Canadian novel, journalistic articles or even the jiggles in TV commercials.  Either way, my relatives laughed at my answer and told me to stop being silly.

As the years went by, the aspirations to be a writer dissolved. Instead, I set out on a path anchored by the subjects that are considered by society to be the leading opportunities for employment. In the last few years I have written countless papers and reports examining subjects from the rise in consumerism in China in the post-Mao era to the cultural aspects of a multinational company’s region specific ad to the similarities of two of the largest forest fire catastrophic failures of all time. But it wasn’t until a business writing course and a business design course that I realized I have the desire to share the crazy in my mind and that writing is my preferred medium to enhance creativity.

I am now rebranding a blog I started many years that I had frequented at irregular intervals. I am now on a mission to create, share, and discover. Join me on this journey to become a writer and spark conversation.

Joanna Chan


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