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Archive for the ‘Christmas Baking’ Category

It has been beyond cold in these parts. Entirely opposite to what Australia is experiencing. Our windchills (and humidity) take the cold over the top, for example last week it was -13C with 30% humidity and a windchill that makes it feel like -25C at 8am! That’s wild. Your skin can freeze in 10 minutes. It’s a battle of being chilled and too hot at the same time; imagine having to take literally 10 minutes to put all your outdoor gear on, you’re already sweating because you’re inside, then going outside, walking – expanding energy, getting warm in your coat, and then popping into a warmly heated shop! You just can’t undress fast enough! It’s brutal. Staying home is easy, you just don’t feel like the battle.

Having the oven on makes the kitchen a wee bit cozier during this deep freeze so I baked this old favourite. Plus the aroma is intoxicating. It is an old recipe that I posted in 2012 here but I remade it with a small addition and reduced it to one loaf so I thought I’d post the revised version. The biggest change was that I added about 50 mL of melted Belgian chocolate to the chocolate part which really enhanced the flavour without making it too doughy. I also brushed the dough with an egg yolk to make it gorgeous and shiny. We had it for New Year’s Day breakfast along the side of the Smoked Salmon Roll-ups. It was delicious.

The chocolate flavour was richer using the melted Belgium Chocolate with the cocoa powder.

Chocolate Brioche

Makes 1 relatively good sized braid. Original recipe was modified from Baking with Julia.

To print this recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 7 g dry yeast
  • 65 mL tepid water (80°F to 90°F)
  • 30 g granulated sugar + a pinch, divided
  • 50 g unsalted butter, cut into smallish cubes
  • 125 mL whole milk
  • 10 g salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 420 g all-purpose, unbleached flour, divided
  • 14 g unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 30 g icing sugar
  • 50 mL Belgian chocolate, melted and cooled
  • non-stick cooking spray or olive oil

Ingredients for the glaze:

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • splash of water

Directions:

  1. Spray two large mixing bowls with non-stick cooking spray, or rub with butter or olive oil and set aside.
  2. Whisk the yeast into the water with a pinch of sugar in a measuring cup and allow to proof, about 5 minutes.
  3. Heat the milk with 1/3 cup granulated sugar and the cubed butter until warm to touch and the butter has entirely melted. Stir in the salt until melted. Allow this mixture to cool to 110°F.
  4. Once cooled, pour the milk mixture into the large stand mixer bowl attached with a whisk and add the eggs one at a time, mixing well to combine. You should have about 1 litre of liquid. Divide into two portions of about 500 mL each and set one portion aside.
  5. Put the cookie paddle onto your stand mixer. To one portion, add about 100 g of the flour and beat on low for about 3 minutes or until it comes together. Now switch to the bread dough paddle and add the remaining flour or as much as needed, kneading on medium-low speed to make a soft dough that is clean off the sides of the bowl. Now knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Transfer to one of the bowls that has been prepared. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm dark place to double in size (1 or 1 1/2 hours).
  6. For the chocolate portion, sift 210 g of flour with the unsweetened cocoa and icing sugar.
  7. Retrieve the second portion of the liquid and add the cooled melted Belgian chocolate and mix well.
  8. Add about 100 g of the sifted flour, cocoa and icing sugar and beat on low for about 3 minutes or until it comes together. Add the remaining flour or as much flour as needed kneading on medium-low speed to make a soft dough that is clean off the sides of the bowl. Now knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Transfer to the other bowl that has been prepared. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm dark place to double in size (1 or 1 1/2 hours).
  9. When dough has doubled in size (both the chocolate and the plain versions) punch down and deflate them. Cover again and allow to rise until doubled in size (about 45 minutes to 1 hour).
  10. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Divide the plain, white dough in 2 equal portions (I find a scale very helpful) and roll into approximately 16″ lengths. Divide the chocolate dough into 2 equal portions. Combine the four ropes on a lightly floured surface and braid. Press together the ends and fold under the braid. Place on lined baking sheet and allow to rest for 40 minutes.
  11. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Combine the egg and cold water or heavy cream and mix well. Brush the braid with the glaze and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush the expansion joints of the braid and return to bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the internal temperature is about 200°F. If they brown too quickly, cover browning parts with a little piece of foil.
  12. Cool before slicing. This can be frozen in an airtight plastic bag for about 1 month.

Note:

  • Stale slices of this bread makes excellent French toast or Bread Pudding!
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The marketing company that I work with from time to time recently moved into their new exciting office space and they invited me down for a look. I decided to bring them a baked treat (because that is how I roll) and created this new chewy chocolate peanut butter brownie recipe! I was inspired by your generous reaction to the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bark with Gold Sea Salt that I created, thank you. This is not an overly sweet brownie but it is richly flavoured with chocolate with the classic peanut butter combo. I used natural, chunky PB that isn’t sugared or salted, but feel free to use your traditional grocery store PB and omit the additional sugar and salt that I add in the later part of this recipe. The recipe is loosely based on my Go-To brownie recipe that my dear Mom cut out of the Toronto Star about 20 years ago (click here and here).

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies 

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes about 25 brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 5 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 45 g (1 1/2 oz) semi-sweet dark chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup natural, chunky peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Sift flour, icing sugar, cocoa powder and baking powder.
  2. Melt butter  with chocolate chips, add vanilla and water and stir well.
  3. Beat in the egg whites (if the liquid is still hot, temper them so you don’t get scrambled eggs!)
  4. Add dry ingredients and stir well.
  5. Pour into a prepared 9″ x 9″ pan and line the pan with parchment paper, then spray with non-stick baking spray. Bake for 25-40 minutes until firm and cake tester comes out clean.
  6. Option to frost with a butter icing, but not necessary as this brownie is very moist and flavourful.

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PB ChocolateBark

This is a perfect recipe to show case the gorgeous gold sea salt that Barb (Profiteroles and Ponytales) so generously gave me at Christmas. Admittedly, this recipe is more appropriate for Christmas but what the hay…you get it now. On the plus side, it’ll give you enough time to source gold sea salt! Now this sea salt isn’t just brown made to look like gold, it actually looks like the real McCoy (probably not real gold, though but it’s just as pretty)! I would have liked to pry the top off and get the actual larger chunks but it seems it was glued on so I was out of luck. I can see this gorgeous sea salt on so much more so you’ll likely be reading about it again.

GoldSeaSalt copy

This is the gold sea salt that I sprinkled on the bark

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bark with Gold Sea Salt

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 285 g semisweet chocolate
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup chunky peanut butter (just peanuts, no salt, no sugar)
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • gold sea salt

Directions:

  1. Slowly melt the chocolate in a double boiler or bain marie, stir in the cinnamon and mix well. Meanwhile, mix the chunky peanut butter and icing sugar well.
  2. Spread the melted chocolate onto a silicon lined baking sheet to about 3-5 mm (just less than 1/4″). Dot the peanut butter onto the melted chocolate and swirl with the blade of a very thin knife. Sprinkle with gold sea salt. Refrigerate until hard and then break into bite-sized portions.
PB Bark

Mmmmm PB and chocolate, a match made in heaven!

Notes:

  • Melting chocolate should always be done very slowly and never over boiling water.
  • I used a natural peanut butter because that is what we have, if you use peanut butter with added sugar and salt, you will need to modify the recipe.

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Christmas_First

Happy Holidays, my dear blog readers. I cannot begin to thank you for all of your lovely comments and your beautiful support throughout this year. In 2016, Kitcheninspirations is in her 8th year and it’s been quite a joyous ride. Originally this little blog was simply a repository of recipes, an on-line cookbook of some of my favourites over the years. But then someone commented and the rest is history. I cherish each and every one of you and hope to meet you in person soon. I hope you had a wonderful holiday with your family and cherished friends and JT and I wish you the very best for 2016.
MerryChristmasHNY

One of the things I’ve noticed as a child of immigrant parents is that my generation doesn’t hold as much to tradition as the previous generation did. Case in point, every Christmas my dear Mom would make Beigli, a traditional Hungarian Christmas treat; she would not make it any other time of the year, even though she loved it. I, on the other hand, will make anything as long as I can find the ingredients. Except Beigli. Beigli is an acquired taste; it’s not horrible or weird, it’s just not something Canadians are used to eating so, I generally only make it if we have other Hungarians around. This past Christmas was the second year we were invited to my cousin Lucy’s place for Angyal so I decided to make her Beigli. Beigli is a yeasted buttery dough rolled with a ground poppy seed mixture or a ground walnut mixture. My Mom put raisins in the poppy seed version but I don’t recall them in the walnut ones. This is only the second or third time I have made these treats, the two other times were well before this blog so it was more than eight years ago. Hungarian pastries are not sickly sweet and have only a little sugar in them, so if you are a sweet tooth, these are not for you. You may also wish to avoid the poppy seed Beigli if your work does any type of drug testing.

Beigli

Makes 1 30 cm (12 inch) each Poppy Seed (Mákos) and Walnut (Diós) Beigli

Original recipe from my dear Mom

Ingredients for the Dough:

  • 133 mL milk, warm
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 8 g instant yeast
  • 33 g icing sugar
  • 350-400 g AP flour
  • 167 g butter, room temperature
  • 3 eggs, divided
  • 1 egg white
  • pinch of salt

Directions for the Dough:

  1. Mix the warm milk, granulated sugar and yeast in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Using the scraper paddle of your stand mixer, rub the butter into 350 g of flour. Switch to the dough hook.
  3. Add 2 lightly beaten eggs, icing sugar and the salt to the yeast and mix well. Pour into the flour butter bowl and knead for a few minutes until the ingredients are combined and the dough becomes shiny and smooth (you may need to add a bit more flour so it’s not shaggy). Cover with a clean cloth and set aside for 2 hours in a warm, draft free spot.

Ingredients for the Poppy Seed Filling:

  • 200 mL milk
  • 200 g poppy seeds, ground
  • 33 g semolina
  • 133 g icing sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 67 g raisins

Directions for the Poppy Seed Filling:

  1. Combine the ground poppy seeds, semolina, icing sugar and lemon zest and mix well.
  2. Bring the milk to a boil, remove from heat and stir into the poppy seed mixture. Add the raisins and mix well. Set aside to cool completely (don’t worry, it will thicken as it cools).

Ingredients for the Walnut Filling:

  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 200 mL water
  • 200 g walnuts
  • 67 g panko
  • 30 mL water
  • 1 lemon, zested

Directions for the Walnut Filling:

  1. In the bowl of your food processor, process the walnuts, breadcrumbs and zest until finely ground. Set aside.
  2. Combine the water and sugar in a heavy bottom pan and bring to a boil without stirring. Continue to boil until it reaches 110 °C (230 °F). Remove from heat and immediately stir into the walnut mixture, adding the water and stir well.

Beigli Assembly and Baking

  1. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Roll each portion into 1/2 cm thick rectangles (about 11 1/4″ x 12″). Spread the entire amount of the filling evenly onto each rectangle, leaving about 1 cm wide border all around.
  2. Roll the dough from the long side and pinch the side to seal. Turn the ends into the roll.
  3. Place on a cookie sheet. Repeat for the other filling, brush both rolls with the remaining beaten egg. Allow to rest for one hour.
  4. Whisk the egg white and brush the rested rolls. Set aside for 30 more minutes. Pre heat the oven to 375° F (190° C).
  5. Once rested, lightly poke the sides of the rolls with a fork to avoid the dough breaking. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and baked through.
  6. Serve the rolls sliced into 1-1.5 cm slices.
Diosbeigli_7888_

A delicious, not too sweet, Christmas treat.

makosbeigli_7884_

As a kid, I always preferred the walnut beigli, but I think I like the poppy seed better now!

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LemonSquares_4249

If I hadn’t said these were Vagen, you wouldn’t have known.

 

These chewy lemon squares are a family favourite that I’ve been making for years. To be honest, I’ll probably make the vegan version from now own, these were THAT good. As per the non-vegan version, these are very lemony, so you must LOVE lemon.

For the non-Vegan version, please click here.

Vegan Lemon Squares

LemonSquares_4252

Chewy and lemony all at the same time.

 

Original recipe adapted from Company’s Coming, Squares by Jean Pare.

Makes 1 pan 9″ x 9″

Ingredients for Shortbread Crust:

  • 1  1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil

Directions for Shortbread Crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F (177°C). Line a 9″ x 9″ square pan with parchment (it makes it easier to lift out to cut).
  2. Crumble the margarine and coconut oil into the flour, sugar until mealy (you can save time and pulse this in a food processor, metal; blades).
  3. Press into a prepared 9×9 inch pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

Ingredients for Chewy Lemon Topping:

  • 2 vegan eggs (I used this recipe: 2 tbsp ground flax seeds + 6 tbsp warm water (whisk together and allow to sit for 5 minutes))
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon oil
  • 6 drops yellow food colouring (optional)

Directions for Chewy Lemon Topping:

  1. Stir together all of the ingredients. (I successfully left this on the counter while the shortbread pastry was baking and it seemed to thicken even more!)
  2. Spread over shortbread base evenly. Bake at 350° F (177° C) for additional 30 minutes, until set in the centre and golden in colour.
  3. Lift out of the pan using the handy parchment. Cool and cut into squares, or bars. Serve at room temperature.

Notes:

  • I was concerned that the flax would impart a flavour but the coconut and lemon flavourings were enough to mask it. To be honest, you can’t tell that these are Vegan.
  • You can use other Vegan egg alternatives, I just can’t predict how this recipe will behave with them. The blog I linked it to explains real egg behaviour in baking very well so you can make informed decisions on alternatives.

LemonSquares

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VeganSpanakopita_4208

In converting a recipe to Vegan, I generally try to keep in mind all the flavours AND the textures in the non-vegan version. When I decided to make Vegan Spanakopita I became very excited until I remembered that there was crumbled feta in my recipe. Crumbled feta is not Vegan, so I began to think…what oh what can I use to replace the flavour and the unique texture this delicious cheese brings to the table. Yes, I could have omitted it altogether, but then it wouldn’t be as delicious!  Some time ago, I’d made a note to marinate tofu in ‘feta’ flavours like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, salt, oregano and olive oil…so I did a little experimentation and came up with this version. It’s actually pretty tasty on its own, but I needed it for this recipe so there won’t be marinated tofu on the buffet table, but this spanakopita more than makes up for it. I don’t think the non-vegans will mind this version. But there will be pulled pork and bacon wrapped dates just in case ;-)!

Vegan Spanakopita

A kitcheninspirations original recipe.

Makes about 50, 6 cm (about 3 inch) triangles

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced thinly
  • 5 cloves garlic ~20 g, finely minced
  • 500 g zucchini grated (about 2 medium-sized)
  • 300 g spinach
  • 3-4 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 350 g marinated tofu, drained, roughly chopped (recipe below)
  • About 8-10 sheets phyllo
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

Directions:

  1. Heat canola oil in a large dutch oven. Add the sliced onion and sweat it out a bit, add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the grated zucchini (click here for some clear steps on making this dish) and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until it has totally wilted.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the fresh dill, oregano and roughly chopped marinated tofu. Set into a fine sieve and allow to cool and drain.
  3. Once completely cool, prepare the phyllo sheets by cutting them into 3 cm or 2.5 inch strips and lightly spraying each one with canola oil. Use two strips per triangle. Place one heaping teaspoon of the cooled filling onto one end and start folding into a triangle. Brush or spray lightly all over with the canola oil.
    VeganSpanakopita_4196

    A heaping teaspoon of filling goes at the end.

    VeganSpanakopita_4197

    Begin folding into a triangle and continue until the length is used up.

    VeganSpanakopita_4198

    The nature of the folds covers in the filling very well.

    VeganSpanakopita_4200

    A tidy little triangle.

  4. Bake at 350°F for 12-14 minutes if saving for the freezer or 116-18 minutes to serve immediately.
  5. To reheat, place a single layer of the triangles onto a baking sheet and reheat in 300°F for 10 minutes or until golden.
VeganSpanakopita_4209

The oil makes the phyllo very crispy.

Marinated Tofu

Makes enough for one batch of Spanakopita (prepare 1-2 days ahead to allow tofu to absorb the marinade flavours)

Ingredients:

  • 350 g extra firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground mixed peppercorns

Directions:

  1. Place the drained tofu on a cutting board over a sink so it’s tilting a bit into the sink. Place another cutting board on top and a heavy cast iron pan. Leave for 30 minutes to drain.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, water, EVOO, oregano, sea salt and peppercorns and mix well.
  3. Once drained, dry off the tofu and cut into 1 cm cubes. Place into a glass container and cover with the marinating liquid. Marinate in the refrigerator, shaking the jar intermittently over 1 to 2 days. Drain to use.

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The thing that’s quite a challenge in Vegan baking is not being able to use eggs. I can understand and convert recipes to use Vegan margarine or even substituting coconut oil but the egg thing is a biggy because of the science behind the egg’s participation in the recipe. At first I avoided egg recipes because they are just too difficult to convert but then the blog Vegan Baking came to my rescue, again. Although this recipe does not contain eggs the next one will. Substituting coconut oil for butter was an easy conversion because the cookie already had coconut in it — it was a no brainer. True Anzac lovers might miss the butter, but if it means not being able to indulge at all, I think it’s worth the slight difference in flavour. I hope you like it too.

VeganAnzac_4202

I wasn’t disappointed with the coconut oil substitution.

Vegan Anzac Biscuits

Makes about 22 cookies (I used a 4 cm ice cream scoop)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup flaked quinoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoons Lyles Golden Syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus a bit baking soda
  • 1/8 cup boiling water

Directions:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350° F (177° C)
  2. Line baking sheets with parchment or some other non-stick surface (this is a greasy cookie).
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, flaked quinoa (I ran out of oats!), sugar, and coconut oil and stir well with a wire whisk. Set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt coconut oil with syrup. (I do this in the microwave on 30% so the oil does boil over and make a mess)
  5. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water, and add to butter mixture. Stir to combine. (Be careful; if the oil is hot, it will bubble up considerably.)
  6. Add oil mixture to dry ingredients, and stir to well combine. This will be a very crumbly mixture.
  7. Using a 4 cm ice-cream scoop (be sure to pack the scoop tightly so the mixture doesn’t crumble), drop onto prepared baking sheets, about 4 cm apart. Flatten cookies slightly with the palm of your hand.
  8. Bake until bottom and sides golden brown and firm but not hard, about 10-12 minutes (larger cookies will take longer). Coconut oil seems to have a lower burning point so watch because they’ll go from raw looking to too dark in an instant!
  9. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
VeganAnzac_4201

It’s still the same chewy texture we’ve all come to know and love.

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