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Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

We rented a different house this year in Arizona and the kitchen was much better equipped so I had a lot more fun with it. Needless to say, we entertained a lot; three sets of friends came down from Toronto and of course, our two sets of friends in Encantarra were repeated guests. I’m guessing I was the first one to give the kitchen a good workout, even the BBQ had not been used in the two years the house had been rented!

I made this cake the first week we were in Arizona. I found the recipe in a very outdated Phoenix magazine. The recipe was created by a 14-year-old boy. I loved the use of olive oil in it, plus I just adore orange cake. I modified the recipe a bit so that it better reminded me of a cake my dear Mom used to make.

Orange Olive Oil Cake

This recipe originated in the Phoenix magazine, May 2015 but I couldn’t find it online. I’ve converted it to metric and made some alterations.

Makes one 23 cm cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 175 g sugar, divided
  • 80 mL EVOO
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • Juice of 2 oranges, divided
  • 150 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50 mL Grand Marnier
  • Icing sugar for dusting

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F
  2. Spray a 23 cm pan with non-stick spray
  3. Combine the eggs and 150 g sugar and beat until light and smooth.
  4. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and vanilla.
  5. Add all of the zest and 45 mL of the freshly squeezed orange juice and beat until well combined.
  6. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix well.
  7. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat only until combined.
  8. Pour into the prepared 23 cm pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick tests clean. Allow to cool.
  9. Meanwhile, combine the remaining juice and sugar and bring to a boil until the sugar has melted into the juice. Cool and add the Grand Marnier.
  10. Turn out the cooled cake onto a decorative plate and slowly spoon the orange juice mixture onto the cake allowing it to be absorbed.
  11. Decorate with icing sugar.

This is a highly flavoured and scented cake that is kept moist by a delicious orangy syrup.

Would you care for a slice?

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As you know, we spent just over a month in Arizona again, and our friends house-sat for us. I made these tasty treats for dessert the night before we left, they absolutely loved them. The cornflakes replaced the graham crackers and we didn’t even miss them. I have made these treats a few times since then.

I often get my dessert inspiration from my dear friend Liz, that Skinny Chick Can Bake; this tasty treat came from her but I modified it to be gluten free. Although I’ve never tasted the original version, I can tell you hands down that this one is a real winner! If you like peanut butter and chocolate, give this super easy, tasty treat a go.

Gluten-Free Reese’s Peanut Butter Squares

Makes one 20 cm pan

Please click here for the original recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 15 mL butter, melted
  • 120 g corn flakes, pulsed to a powder
  • 170 g icing sugar
  • 195 g natural peanut butter
  • 6 g sea salt
  • 190 g semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 15 g butter or vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Combine everything but the chocolate chips and vegetable oil in the large container of your food processor and process until smooth and comes together.
  2. Press into a 20 cm square pan lined with parchment paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile add the chocolate chips and butter or vegetable oil to a microwaveable bowl and melt, stirring intermittently.
  4. Cool slightly and pour over chilled peanut butter pan, spread evenly. Refrigerate for an hour before slicing.
  5. Slice with a warm, dry knife, wiping between slices.

The winter light is quite evident here, but don’t allow that to dissuade you, these are very yummy.

The cornflakes add an incredible texture that make these taste just like Reese’s Peanut Butter Tarts, only better!

Notes:

  • I’ve used a variety of natural peanut butters (no sugar or salt) to make these, including crunchy, with no substantial difference to the outcome of this recipe.
  • To make this recipe vegan, try melted coconut oil. Although I have not tried using melted coconut oil, I’m certain it would work because there is not much in the recipe.
  • Once the recipe initially sets, you can bring the bars to room temperature to serve.
  • Try using other nut butters (such as Hazelnuts) to up the ante!

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It’s been a busy year and I’ve seen spending a lot of time in front of my computer. I don’t mind doing that type of work, but I do miss cooking and with that, getting my advanced blog posts ready to publish. In fact, I am nowhere near the advanced the blog posts I should be, in preparation for our yearly sojourn to Arizona. I have four posts ready to go but I should have 10! That makes me nervous because I may not have time to post while we are in Arizona; we have three separate group friends coming down for 5-7 days each! That means a lot of sightseeing and daily adventures and less cooking and recipe developing.

You can definitely see the winter light creeping in.

I modified and made this little recipe because during one coffee break JT mentioned that he would love to have a little biscotti to nibble on while we sit and enjoy our coffees. I like making biscotti because they are easy and are not overly finicky. This recipe came together quickly and more or less in one bowl.

Chocolate Chip and Almond Biscotti

For the original recipe, please click here.

Makes about 20 biscotti but it depends on how thickly you form and cut the logs

Ingredients:

  • 57 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 225 g brown sugar
  • 10 mL pure vanilla extract
  • 5 mL almond extract
  • 275 g all-purpose flour
  • 75 g almond flour
  • 20 g baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 165 g chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time and best until entirely incorporated. Add the extracts and beat.
  4. Whisk together the dry ingredients (omit the chocolate chips) and blend into the butter mixture.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Form into two even logs and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and flatten slightly. Bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Slice diagonally into 10 slices each and lay flat on the same parchment-line baking sheet and bake again for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool completely before serving.

Notes:

  • I shaped my logs too wide, next time I shall make them more slender and have twice the number of biscotti.
  • Biscotti store well in an airtight container but if it will take you more than a week to consume, I would freeze them until required. Defrost at room temperature.
  • I didn’t have whole almonds but this would have been lovely having a few whole almonds folded into the batter.

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This unusual cake was a contribution of a dear neighbour we had over recently for a dinner party. We were so blown away with the use of quinoa that we had to give it a try ourselves. The recipe is super easy and oh-so-chocolatey! The original recipe isn’t vegan or dairy-free but I did substitute melted coconut oil for the butter and lactose-free milk for the milk. For Vegan, you could use soaked chia seeds for the eggs. Let me know how it turns out if you try the vegan version.

Be ready to hand out the recipe, this cake is that good. I was pleasantly surprised with the frosting, very rich and chocolatey; the mild avocado flavour was not off-putting (unless you hate avocados).

Care for a slice?

Chocolate Quinoa Cake

For the original recipe, click here.

Makes a double layer 20 cm cake

Ingredients:

  • 300 g cooked quinoa (3/4 cup dry yields about 300 g cooked)
  • 120 mL whole milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 5 mL pure vanilla extract
  • 170 g unsalted butter, melted
  • 140 g coconut sugar
  • 90 g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 2 20cm round baking pans with parchment and spray with non-stick spray.
  2. Add all of the wet ingredients, quinoa, eggs, vanilla, milk with sugar, salt and cocoa to your large food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Add the baking powder snd blend until combined.
  3. Turn into prepared pans in equal portions and bake for 30 minutes-or until a cake tester comes out cleanly.
  4. Cool. Turn out of pans and frost with the frosting below.

Chocolate Avocado frosting

Click here for the original recipe.

Makes about 250 mL, plenty to frost the cake above

Ingredients:

  • 2 very ripe avocados
  • 45 g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 90-120 mL pure maple syrup
  • Splash of pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt

Directions:

  1. Add all of the ingredients into the cup of your immersion blender and blend repeatedly until entirely smooth.
  2. Frost cake as soon as it has cooled. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Notes:

  • If you blend all of the cake ingredients together for too long, you’ll get a brownie-like texture.
  • Flegg (vegan egg substitute) is ground flaxseed with water mixed until gelatinous.
  • For the frosting, I used 90 mL Maple syrup and it was sweet enough.
  • The original recipe suggests the icing will discolour if made too soon before serving but we didn’t think leaving it for a couple of days impacted the colour to a great degree after all it’s pretty chocolate-brown anyway!
  • Avocados must be super ripe to get the creamy texture of a buttercream. You may use frozen avocados.
  • The second time I made this recipe I used coconut oil instead of butter and it was lovely.

Well, the renovation is complete. What should have taken 4-6 weeks ended up almost 5 months! This was a better experience than the first; our contractor was younger and had excellent communication skills which made the process much smoother. Basically, we took about 1/3 of our master bedroom and added an ensuite and walk-in closet and we also updated the main bathroom. We contracted the cabinet maker to make the built-ins on the wall across from the bed. JT and I installed the crown moulding. The master bath has all the amenities: fog-free mirror, heated floor, heated towel rack, flush-mount rain shower and so on. I am still on the hunt for a carpet for the bedroom. Here is a short video of the project.

 

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Peach Tarte Tatin

You know you have a winning dessert when the same friends ask you to bring the same dessert you brought to their home the last time. This is that dessert. It really ticks all of the boxes, local, delicious, fresh peaches, crispy and chewy puff pastry and last but not least, smooth sweet caramel. You just can’t go wrong!

Peach Tarte Tatin

For the original recipe, please click here.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 6 to 8 large, firm-fleshed peaches, we used Ontario Peaches
  • 100 grams granulated sugar
  • 75 grams butter, cubed
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 30 mL cognac
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 sheet all-butter puff pastry, about 250 g (store-bought is fine), defrosted in the refrigerator 

Directions:

  1. A day or so before you wish to serve this dessert, peel the peaches and remove the stone and cut them in half. Sprinkle lightly with lemon juice and place on a paper-lined cooling rack, cover with a clean kitchen towel and store in the refrigerator to allow to dehydrate a bit.
  2. In a cast iron or non-stick pan, add the sugar and cook over medium-low heat until caramelized. DO NOT STIR but you may swish the sugar in the pan as it begins to turn golden to cook more evenly.
  3. Add the butter and swirl until melted and combined with the sugar, add the pinch of cinnamon salt and the cognac and continue to swirl to combine.
  4. Turn the heat to low and add the apples in a circular pattern keeping in mind that the part you can see is actually the bottom of the tarte.
  5. Cook the apples for about 8 minutes on medium-low. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375° F.
  6. While the apples are cooking stove-top, untouched, cut the defrosted pastry in a slightly larger circle than the pan and put into the freezer for 5 minutes.
  7. Remove the pan with the apples from the heat, and top with the pastry, tucking in the sides all the way around.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes.
  9. Turn out, upside-down onto a serving platter and serve warm.

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At the time I wrote this post, the last week of June, we were still not finished our renovation. Someone mentioned it might be because of my treats. Whatever the reason, it is rather frustrating. A trade might come in for a few hours and then leave. I can see other things that can be done in the meantime, but it’s usually just one thing at a time. Our last reno was the same, so I guess it is “normal”. Still frustrating.

In the meantime, I am scouring the web for new recipes and this one stood out for me. My friend Liz of That Skinny Chick that can Bake is my GoTo for outrageous treats. Her blog is filled with decadent sweets, beautifully presented and photographed. As I was cruising through her beautiful blog, I came across her Caramel Butter Squares and WHAM! I knew what my next treat would be. Plus I had a jar of Argentinian Dulce de Leche in my pantry, it was a done deal.

I converted Liz’s recipe to metric measures because I find it much easier. The Dulce de Leche caramelizes in some parts and is a bit runny in others. It really is dreamy. We will see how the guys like it.

Douce de Leche Butter Squares

For original recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 227 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100 g sugar
  • 100 g powdered sugar
  • 15 mL vanilla
  • 280 g flour
  • 8 g salt
  • 230 g Dolce de Leche sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Prepare a 23″ x 23″ cm (9″ x 9″) pan by lining with parchment and spraying with non-stick spray.
  2. Cream the butter with the sugars until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla.
  3. Beat in the flour and salt on low speed until entirely incorporated.
  4. Portion about 1/2 of the flour mixture into the bottom of the pan and press evenly to all sides. Bake for 20 minutes. Refrigerate the remaining pastry.
  5. After you have baked the base pastry, pour in the Dolce de Leche sauce and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Crumble the remaining pastry onto the top, being careful not to cover entirely.
  6. Bake for an additional 25-30 minutes or until the topping is golden.
  7. Allow to cool completely and cut into squares or bars.

Notes:

  • Liz’s recipe calls for an 8″ square pan, but I had quite a bit of pastry left over so I upped it to 9″. In fact, the second time I made this, I used a 9″ x 13″ pan and it was excellent.
  • You may use premium caramel sauce, as Liz’s recipe does.
  • You may also use 300 mL caramelized sweetened condensed milk. Learn how to make caramel from sweetened condensed milk here.
  • Liz also has a recipe that includes chocolate chips.

For these squares, I used Caramelized Sweetened Condensed Milk. They were pretty darned tasty.

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It seems that our contractor and subs are all foodies this time around! From our first gen Slovanian contactor to the Greek plumber, Costa Rican electrician and Croatian cabinetmaker they all LOVE food! In fact, our cabinetmaker has more food pics on his phone than I do!

This food-centric group plays into my baking very well! In fact, to reciprocate, our contractor, Marko brought us Portuguese Custard Tarts as a gift and they were awesome! I knew on first bite that I had to make them. What makes them awesome is the flaky, crispy, yet chewy pastry. It’s a laminated pastry, like a croissant but much easier to make. Although they require a little planning ahead, they are totally worth it. Do yourself and your family and make this recipe, you won’t regret it.

Portuguese Custard Tarts

Makes 32 mini custard tarts

For the original recipe and an excellent video, please click here.

Ingredients for the pastry:

  • 145 g AP unbleached flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 135 mL water
  • 120 g butter, softened

Directions for the pastry:

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, salt and water and knead until it begins to come away from the bowl. It is a shaggy dough.
  2. Remove from the bowl and flour generously (it is very sticky). Form into a square as best as you can (it is a very wet dough). Cover with plastic wrap and rest it for 10-15 minutes.
  3. On a generously floured surface, roll the dough out to 40 cm  40 cm square. Brush off any excess flour from the top. Gently spread the softened butter on 2/3 of the dough to about 3 cm from the edge. Fold the unbuttered third over the buttered middle and fold the other side over that (exactly like you would working croissant dough).
  4. Turn the dough 90° and roll out again to a 40 cm square, generously flouring as needed. Brush off excess flour and repeat buttering the dough the same way and fold the same way as previously.
  5. Roll out the dough a third time to 40 cm square and butter the entire surface leaving about 3 cm all the way around the edge. Roll the dough tightly from one end to the other, cut the roll into two and wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Ingredients for the custard:

  • 20 g AP unbleached flour
  • 25 mL milk
  • 125 mL milk (two separate quantities of milk)
  • 87 mL water
  • 120 g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 3 eggs yolks

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour with 25 mL milk and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Heat 125 mL milk until almost boiling. Slowly pour into the flour and milk slurry and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
  3. In a small, heavy bottom saucepan, combine the water, sugar and cinnamon stick. Without stirring, heat until the sugar has melted and it has reached 225° F. Remove the cinnamon stick carefully. Pour into the milk-flour slurry until and whisk until smooth. Whisk this mixture for about 10 minutes to cool significantly.
  4. Whisk the egg yolks together and whisk them into the cooled slurry. This mixture keeps refrigerated for 1 day until the pastry has rested in the refrigerator.

Making the tarts:

  1. Preheat the oven to 550° F or the highest temperature your oven will go. The trick is to bake these super hot for a short time.
  2. Lightly butter mini muffin tins.
  3. Slice the rolled dough in about 1.5 cm slices and place each one into a buttered muffin cavity. With slightly wet fingers, push the dough up into the sides of the tin making sure the bottom doesn’t become too thin. Fill 3/4 full with the custard mixture.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes ir until the custard tops become blistered slightly and the crust has baked to a crisp pastry.
  5. Cool and serve.

Notes:

  • I have also made these tarts using store-bought puff pastry and although they are good, they are not the same as homemade laminated pastry. If you have the patience, do the homemade version, it is better.

 

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