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Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

I posted this recipe about 9 years ago so I felt it was time for an update and repost. Lemony desserts are a favourite here so whenever I have an extra lemon or two rolling around the kitchen, a lemony dessert makes an appearance.

Even though these squares are two layers, they come together quickly. The shortbread crust is tender and the coconutty custard topping is lemony and chewy. One could say they’re a match made in heaven!

Chewy Lemon Squares with Coconut

From Company’s Coming Squares by Jean Pare.

Makes 1 pan 23 cm x 23 cm (9×9 inch)

Ingredients, base:

  • 200 g all purpose flour
  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 114 g butter, cold

Directions, base:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Crumble flour, sugar and butter until mealy (you can save time and pulse this in a food processor, metal blades)
  3. Press into ungreased 23 cm x 23 cm (9×9 inch) pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

Ingredients, topping:

  • 2 eggs
  • 60 mL lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 20 g all purpose flour
  • 2 g baking powder
  • 75 g flaked, unsweetened coconut
  • 2 g salt
  • 5 mL lemon essence

Directions, topping:

  1. Beat eggs slightly. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Spread over par-baked shortbread base. Bake at 350° F for additional 30 minutes, until set in the centre and golden in colour.
  3. Cool and cut into squares, or bars.

The carmelized coconut on the top makes it moreishly chewy where the end pieces with more edges are coveted!

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Loaded Double Belgian Chocolate Cookies

Makes about 40 cookies using a 4.5 cm ice cream scoop

Ingredients:

  • 227 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 200 g brown sugar
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 10 mL pure vanilla extract
  • 360 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 150 g semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into chunks (chocolate chips work too)
  • 150 g milk chocolate chips
  • 50 g Skore bits
  • 100 g of dried, unsweetened cranberries or dried cherries

Directions:

  1. Cream the butter and the sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time until well incorporated, add the vanilla.
  2. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together and add to the butter mixture to form a batter.
  3. Fold in the inclusions (reserving a small amount to add after the cookies come out of the oven for presentation, if desired).
  4. Bake in a pre-heated 350° F oven for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies are slightly golden at the bottom.
  5. Add the remaining inclusions, if desired and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.

Notes:

  • I used a 4.5 cm releasing ice cream scoop, if you use the slightly smaller one, you will likely get about 60 cookies.
  • To help with portion control, I generally freeze the raw batter in scoops on a cookie sheet and bake as needed, 1 to 2 at a time (it drives JT crazy but he is grateful for the portion control).

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At the beginning of December, we had close friends come over for a lunch outside, it was still pretty warm with the heater and electric blankets plus we lucked into a super warm December afternoon. JT made his famous Bœuf Bourguignon and I made these Low Carb Icy Squares; they literally melt in your mouth. My friend recently lost 50 lbs on a keto diet and she wanted a little treat but didn’t want to overindulge and these fit the bill perfectly.

The paper cups are necessary because without them these little flavour bombs will melt all over your hands

Low Carb Icy Squares

For the original recipe, please click here.

Makes 36 little squares (each square is about 5 grams of net carbs)

Ingredients:

  • 480 ml heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 90 g butter
  • 1 tbsp espresso powder
  • 2 tbsp erythritol
  • 90 g dark chocolate with a minimum of 70% cocoa solids, chopped
  • 25 g milk chocolate, chopped
  • Gold sea salt

Directions:

  1. Boil the whipping cream and vanilla in a heavy-bottomed saucepan for one minute and then reduce the temperature to a simmer until the cream is reduced to about half of the amount (about 20-30 minutes). Stir occasionally.
  2. Reduce the heat even further and add the espresso powder, erythritol and butter and stir until smooth (make sure the erythritol melts completely).
  3. Place both chocolates into a bowl and pour the reduced cream over it and stir until melted.
  4. Pour the chocolate cream into a parchment-lined 20 cm square (8 inch square) baking pan (squared-off sides is preferred) and allow to cool in the refrigerator for a few hours. When ready to serve, sprinkle with gold sea salt and cut into 36 equal squares. Serve in tiny paper muffin cups.
  5. Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for 2-3 weeks.

Notes:

  • The original recipe did not call for the erythritol but because I added the espresso powder, it made it a bit bitter so I had to add it along with the milk chocolate, you could try omitting them both for a  2 g net carb dessert.
  • The better quality ingredients you use, the better the taste and in this recipe, it is worth it to splurge.

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Way back in November, 2019, I made a version of this cake in Arizona. It seems a life-time ago. We don’t know when we will be able to travel again so it’s nice to have some food memories to be nostalgic about. I made this for an outdoor brunch last July for a gluten-intolerant friend.

Gluten-Free Reduced-Sugar Orange Olive Oil Cake

Makes one 23 cm (9 inch) cake

Please click here for the original recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 100 g coconut sugar, divided
  • 80 mL EVOO
  • 5 mL vanilla
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • Juice of 2 oranges, divided
  • 150 g all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Icing sugar for dusting

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F
  2. Spray a 23 cm pan with non-stick spray and line bottom with parchment paper.
  3. Combine the eggs and 95 g coconut sugar and beat until light, fluffy and smooth.
  4. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and vanilla while beating.
  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 gluten free 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 sprinkled icing sugar just before serving.

The lovely syrup makes this cake lusciously moist.

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I am not a huge pumpkin fan. There I said it. I was around 19 years old when I first tried pumpkin pie and I just never got into it. Don’t get me started on the pumpkin spice craze! So pumpkin type desserts are never high on my list during the holidays. We had our Thanksgiving on October 12 and I wanted a dessert I could make in smaller portions (because, let’s not kid ourselves, stretchy pants can only stretch so far!) so I made this spice cake in very shallow muffin cups. If someone was still hungry, they could have two, and believe it or not, they did!

Our awning and natural gas heater have had some good use as the temperatures become more fall-like. Unfortunately, the combination of the heat and sun has dried out the awning; at one point after a good rainfall, as we were pushing the water off the awning, a fist went through it. I was able to glue the small hole together with a glue gun, but now we were aware that the awning is precariously brittle. Too bad that fat raccoon never got the memo. Sometime during the night, an 18 kg (40 lb) beast was climbing across said awning and unfortunately fell through it, causing a 50 cm (20 inches) hole. Poor thing must have broken its neck on the fall because I, unfortunately, found him dead as a doornail the next morning. We’ve never had to dispose of any dead animals before so I called the information number of the city. After a 20 minute conversation, which resulted with NO HELP what-so-ever, we decided to discard him ourselves (the city was backlogged 20 days for pickup so they suggested we dispose of him in our next garbage collection which happened to be 2 weeks from the date!) I found a company online who came out and did the dirty deed for us. JT was perfectly willing to do it, but I didn’t want him to, plus we had nowhere to dump the guy. UGH! A good bleach washing of the deck and 24 hours drying time in the sun, and no one was the wiser.

We lucked out for weather that weekend, as the temperatures progressively became warmer and warmer and Saturday October 12 turned out to be around 25° C (77° F)! The evening cooled off a bit, but our natural gas heater did the trick to keep us warm. We had the dinner with two, socially distanced friends and the evening was wonderful. I was so relieved it was warm enough for an outdoor dinner because our COVID numbers are on the rise again and I’m just not comfortable entertaining indoors.

These cakes are a remake from a blog post from 2010.

Ginger Spice Cakes Revisted

Makes about 24 mini spice cakes (60 mL (1/4 cup) muffin pans or 12 standard muffin-sized spice cakes

For the original recipe, please click here

Ingredients:

  • 75 g unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 200 g all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 160 mL boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 85 g packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg (if halving the recipe, use a small egg)
  • 160 mL un-sulfured molasses
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
  • Crystallized ginger, thinly sliced lengthwise, for garnish
  • Chocolate Ganache

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 60 mL (1/4 cup) muffin pan by generously buttering and flouring it*, tapping out excess flour, set aside.
  2. Carefully stir together the baking soda and boiling water (this will bubble up, so be careful), set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt, set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, and beat until combined. Add the molasses, fresh ginger, and reserved baking soda mixture; beat until combined. (The batter will look curdled but will come together once the flour is added.) Add the flour mixture, and beat until well combined.
  5. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups, filling each about halfway. Bake, rotating pan halfway through until a cake tester inserted in the centre of a cake comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack to cool completely. Place a piece of parchment under the wire rack while cooling
  6. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of Chocolate Ganache over each cake, allowing some drip down the sides. Garnish with a small chunk of crystallized ginger. Cakes may refrigerated, in air-tight containers, for up to 3 days; we suggest you bring them to room temperature before serving.

Silicon Muffin Cups 60 mL or 1/4 cup size.

Notes:

  • You may wish to save time and just spray the muffin pans with non-stick spray but I warn you, half of your cakes will stick to the pan. Buttering and flouring is the only way to go.
  • These have a very rich molasses flavour, which we like but some will find it too strong.
  • I made a semi-sweet chocolate ganache for these cakes and it was just the right foil for the rich, sticky cake.

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For special occasion desserts, I like to pop over to my long-time blogging-friend Liz, Skinny Chick Can Bake. Liz has the most beautifully presented desserts that I have seen from a home cook. Most of Liz’s recipes are also unfamiliar to me as I grew up in a European household. A dear friend was turning 70 in September and I wanted to make a special dessert to celebrate the occasion and this beauty did not disappoint. It has a lovely banana flavour but the pineapple isn’t flavour-forward other than providing some added moisture. It reminded me of banana bread but it was much moister than the standard quickbread. And that cream cheese frosting is one that dreams are made of.

Hummingbird Cake

For the original recipe, please click here.

Makes one 20 cm cake, about 16 servings

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 400 g flour
  • 300 g sugar
  • 6 g cinnamon
  • 6 g salt
  • 5 baking soda
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 375 mL vegetable oil
  • 7 vanilla extract
  • 540 g mashed bananas (use ripe bananas)
  • 228 g crushed pineapple, drained (about 1/2 a container)
  • 120 g chopped pecans, toasted for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees

Ingredients for the Frosting:

  • 500 g cream cheese, room temperature
  • 40 g butter, room temperature
  • 10 mL vanilla
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 500 g icing sugar, sifted
  • Pecans, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Begin by preheating the oven to 350° F and prepare three 20 cm round cake pans by lining with parchment paper and spraying with a non-stick spray.
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking soda together in a large bowl, set aside.
  3. Combine the eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla, mashed bananas and crushed pineapple and fold into the flour to make a smooth batter. Pour evenly into the three prepared baking pans.
  4. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack.
  5. Meanwhile, cream the cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and lemon juice and beat well until incorporated. Add the sugar a little at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently until all of the sugar has been incorporated.
  6. When the cakes are thoroughly cool, cut the dome off the top is there was one. Lay the first cake on a serving platting protected by parchment (in short rectangles so that they are easy to remove). Spread a thin layer of the icing over the first layer, place the next cake on top and spread again, add the final layer to the top. Crumb-coat the entire cake in a thin layer and refrigerate for 2 hours to set. When the frosting is firm, finish the cake with the remaining frosting or as desired.
  7. Decorate the cake with more pecans that have been toasted.

Notes:

  • Although the cake has a whopping 300 g of sugar, it is not excessively sweet, it’s the frosting that takes it over the top! I won’t kid you, it is sweet but not as sweet as it was in the original recipe.
  • I reduced the butter to about one-quarter of the original recipe, it still made a super-rich frosting.
  • Neither our friends nor we like super-sweet desserts so I opted to reduce the sugar from 6 cups to 4 cups in the frosting and added the juice of half a lemon to help cut it even more. The resulting frosting was still sweet but it didn’t make your teeth tingle. If you prefer an even less sweet frosting, I suggest you reduce the cream cheese by one quarter so that you require less the icing sugar thicken it up. As it was, 4 cups of icing sugar to 500 g cream cheese and 40 grams of butter made a light fluffy frosting but it needed refrigeration to keep stiff. It was a hot and humid day when I served this cake and my version of frosting didn’t melt but it wasn’t as stiff as frosting usually is.
  • I baked the three layers in a 20 cm (8-inch) round pans because I did not have 9-inch pans as Liz’s recipe calls for (hence the slightly longer baking time as they turned out somewhat thicker.
  • The original cake had coconut but I omitted it because our friends do not like coconut.

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In late August we had friends over for a wonderful outdoor dinner and I asked if they wouldn’t mind bringing dessert. I usually like to control the entire event, but summer is a lot more casual and dining al fresco has added more of a casual flavour to our entertaining, so I thought, why not. My friend made these chocolate brownies (with raspberry instead of cherry) from Donna Hay and I must say they were totally swoon-worthy. So rich and chocolatey and the preserves just added a lovely moist texture. I did not have raspberry jam but I did have a good handful of frozen cherries so I popped them into a pan with a drizzle of water and a spoon of sugar and cooked them, then I puréed them with my stick blender and further cooked them down to just less than 125 mL.

Just dollop the preserves on top and swirl a knife through to make this marble-like pattern.

Chocolate-Cherry Brownies

Makes 1 23 cm square pan. Original recipe by Donna Hay

Ingredients:

  • 114 g butter
  • 125 g unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 375 g sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 mL vanilla extract
  • 125 g all-purpose flour
  • 125 mL cherry preserves

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 23 cm square pan with parchment and butter or spray with non-stick spray.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate over low heat.
  3. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the flour and stir in.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Dot with spoonfuls of cherry preserves on top. Run a knife through to make a marbled pattern.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick still has a few moist crumbs attached when extracted. Allow to cool completely in the pan and cut into even squares, I got 16.

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We have been eating a lot more ice cream this year than any other year. In fact, I bet if I added up all the gelato and ice cream we have eaten since May, it will exceed my lifetime consumption! In one summer! JT has never been a big fan but for some reason, this year he is ravenous for it! I generally don’t like to keep ice cream or gelato in my freezer because it literally calls my name at all hours. Anyway, it doesn’t count if you eat it directly out of the container, standing up with the freezer door open. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Vanilla Bean Gelato

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes about 550 mL gelato

Ingredients:

  • 250 mL 2% milk
  • 250 mL 35% cream
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 65 g sugar
  • 16 g cornstarch
  • 10 g skim milk powder
  • 5 mL vanilla bean paste

Directions:

  1. Begin by mixing the milk and cream together. Reserve 65 mL of the milk mixture and make a slurry with the cornstarch, mixing until the starch is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.
  2. Combine remainder of the milk in a medium-sized saucepan with the egg yolk, sugar and the milk powder and heat slowly until it almost comes to a boil making sure the sugar and milk powder have completely dissolved.
  3. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and continue to cook on medium-low heat for 3 minutes, stirring continuously until thickened.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the cream to a bowl to chill overnight in the refrigerator.
  5. The day you wish to make the gelato, fold in the vanilla bean paste until thoroughly incorporated.
  6. Freeze the gelato according to directions on your ice cream maker.

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Several of our friends have July birthdays, as do I. We were invited to brunch (outdoors, of course) in early July and I offered to bake the birthday cake. This particular friend is not a traditional cake lover, no super-sweet icing or frosting for this guy, so I decided to find a nice European cake recipe with fruit, because they are always a hit!

This French Apple cake is made with rum and butter and is so delectable and moist, even though it has only 1 apple! I will definitely make this cake again for the non-cake lovers!

Super moist cake with little bits of apple and the lovely flavour of buttered rum.

French Apple Cake

For the original recipe, please click here. Note that I converted the recipe to metric measures and modified it a bit.

Makes 1 23 cm (9-inch) cake

Ingredients:

  • 114 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 130 g granulated sugar
  • 5 mL vanilla extract
  • 45 mL dark rum
  • 15 mL milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 140 g AP flour
  • 3 g baking powder
  • 3 g salt
  • 150 g baking apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1 cm cubes
  • Sanding sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare a 23 cm (9 inch) round pan by lining the bottom with parchment and buttering the sides.
  2. Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add vanilla, rum and milk and mix well. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well.
  4. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Add to the butter batter and mix until combined.
  5. Fold in the apples.
  6. Pour into the prepared pan and dust with the sanding sugar. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool the cake on a wire rack. When cool, run a thin knife along the sides to loosen and turn onto a plate. Flip right side up (sugar-side up).
  8. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature sprinkled with powdered sugar with whipped cream or Crême Fraiche.

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We have been watching America’s Test Kitchen to help us fall asleep, taking our minds off the news and the ugly reality of late. This recipe was on Season 20 and I was taken right away. We love lemon and this one definitely ticks a lot of boxes, it’s not sickly sweet and it IS sooooo lemony. If you like lemon, I urge you to make this tasty treat. Note that I did not love their pastry recipe so I substituted my tried and true Viennese Pastry recipe.

I decided to brulée the top just as my favourite French Bistro does with their Tarte au Citron (which incidentally takes two days to make!)

Lemon Olive Oil Tart

Please click here for the original recipe from America’s Test Kitchen.

Makes about six 8 cm pastry shells with a total of 300 mL lemon curd filling

Ingredients for the pastry:

  • 145 g all-purpose flour
  • 60 g sugar
  • 2 g salt
  • 114 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon rind

Pastry Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Put all ingredients into a food processor and process JUST until the dough sticks together (over-processing will cause tough pastry). Divide into six even discs and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Lightly flour your board and roll out the pastry to fit your preferred pan (I used 8 cm round pans). Dock the bottom with a fork several times.
  4. Blind bake the crust 30 minutes or until golden. You may need to reshape the pastry, mine got all puffy and misshapen because I didn’t refrigerate long enough and it was a super hot day.

Ingredients for the curd:

  • 70 g sugar
  • 10 g AP flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
  • lemon zest of one lemon
  • 130 mL lemon juice
  • 40 mL extra-virgin olive oil

Directions for the curd:

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a small, heavy-bottom pan and cook on low heat until it is 160F, and just slightly thickened.
  2. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve for a velvety finish. Refrigerate with an oiled parchment placed on top to prevent a skin.
  3. Pour into the prepared, hot shells and bake for 8-12 minutes until the centre jiggles a bit.
  4. Allow to cool completely before serving.
  5. Sprinkle with sugar and brulée the top, just as you would with crème brulée.

A tangy, tasty, lemon treat.

Notes:

  • Fresh lemon juice is essential for a clean, lemony flavour.
  • ATK felt that the olive oil helps the lemony flavour shine better than butter.

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We have been doing a lot of entertaining since our return from Arizona. I love feeding my friends, it really does make me happy. A few weekends ago we had a marathon weekend entertaining on Friday, Saturday, Sunday AND Tuesday! Fortunately, I was able to plan ahead and make a few things for a couple of the dinner parties considering both friends had gluten-free requirements. First, I made a batch of the original recipe with almonds then I recalled that my dear friend’s hubby is a nut-hater (the food kind) so I created a chocolate version of the recipe. It was wonderful. I served them with coffee.

The snow just doesn’t want to stop.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Tuiles of Sevilla (Tejas Dulces de Sevilla)

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 25 cm x 30 cm (10″ x 12″) sheet, cut to make cookies of various sizes

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 95 g sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 30 mL unflavoured oil
  • 50 g Gluten Free flour (I used this mix)
  • 15 g cocoa powder
  • 80 g milk chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 250° F.
  2. Beat the egg with the sugar until it reaches the ribbon stage, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and oil.
  3. Sift the gluten-free flour with the cocoa powder and salt together then fold into the egg mixture.
  4. Pour the entire batter onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and spread out until it is quite thin (about 3-4 mm (about 1/8-3/16 inch) works out to about 25 cm x 30 cm (10″ x 12″). Evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips onto the batter and gently push into the batter.
  5. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until evenly baked, turn the pan once about halfway.
  6. While still warm, move parchment onto a cutting board and cut into uneven shapes with a pizza cutter or break into natural shapes after it cools. Transfer parchment to a cooling rack and allow to cool. Cookies will firm up as they cool.
  7. Once cooled, store in an airtight container for about a week, but they won’t last that long!

Notes:

  • I use an offset spatula to spread the batter onto the parchment paper.
  • This recipe will work well with store-bought gluten flour too.

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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
  • 155 g sugar, divided
  • 80 mL EVOO
  • 5 mL vanilla
  • 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 135 g sugar and beat until light, fluffy 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:

  • 45 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:

  • 200 g AP unbleached flour (I had to add a bit more flour in March 2020)
  • pinch of salt
  • 135 mL water
  • 120 g butter, softened, divided into thirds

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 dough 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 1/3 of 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 with 1/3 of the butter the same way and fold the same way as previously.
  5. Roll out the dough a third time to 40 cm square and butter with the last third of the 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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Spring has been avoiding us in Toronto. We have had a few nice days of sunshine and relative warmth but for the most part it’s been rainy and unseasonably cold. It is depressing. If it weren’t for the gorgeous greenery exploding in anticipation of summer, you would think it is November.

I haven’t baked madeleines in a very long time and I thought the orange flavour would mentally transport us to more summer-like weather and JT loves orange and chocolate. Sadly, they were not a big hit with the construction crew but that made JT happy because he was able to keep them for himself (it’s been a bit of struggle keeping JT from munching on the treats that I’ve made for the crew, wink wink). These baked up beautifully and without that strange little bump in the centre, which is a win for me.

Orange & Almond Scented Madeleines

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly grated orange zest (about 2 small oranges)
  • 128 g all-purpose flour
  • 48 g almond flour (finely ground blanched almonds)
  • 145 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly, divided
  • 80 g semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. With about 30 g of the butter, generously butter the Madeleine moulds and put it into the freezer.
  3. Melt the remainder of the butter in the microwave or small saucepan. Set aside to cool.
  4. Put about 2 tbsp of the melted butter in a frying pan and toast the almond flour (carefully, this burns quickly). Set aside to cool.
  5. In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat the whole eggs with the granulated sugar until the mixture is thick and pale and forms a ribbon when the beaters are lifted (15-20 minutes).
  6. Beat in the toasted almond flour and mix well so no lumps remain.
  7. Beat in the almond and orange extracts and the zest.
  8. Sift in the flour in 4 batches over the mixture, folding it in gently after each addition.
  9. Put about 250 mL of the batter into the cooled melted butter and incorporate well.
  10. Gently fold this butter-batter mixture into the remaining batter.
  11. Spoon the batter into twenty-four buttered Madeleine moulds and bake the Madeleines in the lower third of a preheated 375°F oven for 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden.
  12. Turn the Madeleines out on a rack, let them cool.
  13. Once cooled, dip into the chocolate if using right away, if not, Madeleines freeze well.

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The renovation is going well. We really like this contractor because he communicates frequently. He’s on site almost every day; he’s only missed one or two days and it was because his wife had a baby! The subs are also good, only a couple of them smoke and they have been reasonably good about not littering their cigarette butts (you’d be surprised).

However, I do have a couple of issues which we will take up with him on our project review at completion. It’ll be feedback to he can improve for the next project.

As you know, I bake for the guys almost everyday and these squares were part of my repertoire. The pastry is delicious but quite delicate so it’s a little finicky to roll out. JT thought the jam to crust ratio wasn’t high enough, but I like a buttery crust so it was fine with me. The jam caramelizes as it bakes and concentrates the flavour. I used a jam with double the fruit, but i think regular jam would work too. Needless to say, these didn’t last long.

Linzer-Style Squares

For the original recipe, kindly click here.

Makes one 23 cm 23 cm (9″ x 9″) pan

Ingredients:

  • 250 g butter, cold
  • 250 g flour
  • 125 g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • A pinch of ground cloves
  • A pinch of salt
  • 150 g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp Lemon zest
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 375 mL Jam (your choice)
  • 1 egg, whisked (for brushing the lattice)

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, combine the butter, flour, icing sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ground almonds, pinch of salt, lemon zest and egg yolk and pulse until it comes together. Form into a disk and cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a square pan with parchment paper.
  3. Divide the dough into 1/3 and 2/3 and push the 2/3 quantity of dough into the pan in an even layer. Spread the jam of your choice over the bottom layer of the dough.
  4. Divide the remaining 1/3 of the dough into 12 equal parts and roll into thin straws. Lay the straws on top of the jam layer in a lattice pattern. Brush the lattice with egg and bake for 50-60 minutes or until pastry is lightly golden.
  5. Cool completely and cut into even squares. Sprinkle with icing sugar if desired.

Notes:

  • This is not a traditional Linzer torte.
  • Linzer is traditionally made with red currant jam, I used strawberry because I had a lot of it on hand.

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I baked these apple crumble squares for the contractor and his team way back in early May. They inhaled them! I’m thinking this lot loves fruit so my next treats will focus on the fruity varieties. I found the original recipe here and made some modifications by cutting down the sugar because we don’t love sweet sweets. The pastry is lovely, just the right amount of caramelization and shortcrust texture, the apples are plentiful, soft and sweet and the crumble topping is just the icing on the squares, except it’s crumble and not icing! These are definitely going into my square repertoire. A real tasty treat.

Apple Crumble Squares

Makes 1 23 cm x 33 cm (9″ x 13″) pan

Ingredients for the crust:

  • 170 g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 115 g granulated sugar
  • 256 g all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • zest of one lemon
  • pinch salt

Directions for the crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 23 cm x 33 cm pan with parchment.
  2. Using a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in the flour, cinnamon, lemon zest and salt.
  1. This is a very soft pastry, roll between two sheets of parchment and press into the parchment-lined pan evenly and bake for 15 minutes.
  1. Remove from heat and cool as you are slicing the apples.

Ingredients for the Apples:

  • 5 medium apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • 45 g all-purpose flour
  • 65 g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions for the Apples:

  1. Combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon and mix well.
  2. Lay a thin layer of apples onto the pastry and sprinkle the flour, sugar and cinnamon over the apples and repeat until all of the apples and flour mixture are utilized.

Ingredients for the Crumble:

  • 65 oats, not quick
  • 100 g dark brown sugar
  • 65 g all- purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 114 g cold butter, cubed

Directions for the Crumble:

  1. Using a plastic blade in your food processor, combine all of the ingredients and pulse until coarsely combined. Sprinkle evenly over the apples and bake for 45 minutes or until apples are soft to poke through.
  2. Cool and slice into squares. Serve at room temperature.

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Our last trip to Europe was a culinary shopping success, but sadly failed miserably in the Fashion area, particularly shoes. My shoe shopping times were constantly thwarted by siesta, and when there wasn’t siesta, I just wasn’t in the mood. I guess it just wasn’t my time. That isn’t to say that there wasn’t shopping, because there was quite a bit of shopping to be had, and I did my fair share, in the culinary field.

I brought back a variety of things that will be revealed in due time but now I shall direct you to this very delicious dessert/snack of peach and coconut jelly squares made with agar-agar. I have been wanting to buy this stuff but I have only ever found flavoured product so when I spotted it at my favourite grocery store in Almeria, I was all over it. Figuring out what to do with it was another story, so many interesting recipes. But what I really needed was a test experiment to see what exactly the texture of jelly that agar-agar creates. You see, we had the most luxurious, smoked fish mousse at our favourite French bistro and I was determined to recreate it. I was fairly certain that it was not made with gelatin because the texture was way to creamy and easily spreadable. It was so silky and smooth spread across some toasted baguette, it was a wonderful textural and taste experience. Making this light dessert showed me the proportions I needed to make a smooth, yet spreadable smoked fish mousse.

This is a recipe modified from this tasty recipe. I used peaches because I had peaches at home (frozen from the previous spring). It’s refreshing and the texture is smooth and creamy but it also has a bit of a gelatinus mouthfeel.

Peach and Coconut Jelly Squares

Ingredients:

Peach Layer

  • 100 mL grilled peach purée (roughly about 2 peaches peeled and chopped)
  • 5 mL lime juice
  • 150 mL water
  • 2 g 1 agar-agar powder
  • 30 g monk fruit crystals 
  • 5 mL vanilla

Coconut Layer

  • 200 mL cup water
  • 1 tsp agar-agar powder
  • 45 g monk fruit crystals
  • pinch of salt
  • 200 mL coconut milk

Directions:

  1. Add the water to a saucepan and add the agar-agar, slowly bring to a full boil, and stir until the agar-agar has completely dissolved. Add the monk fruit crystals and stir until dissolved.
  2. Add the peach purée and vanilla and stir to combine well. Pour into the mould.
  3. For the coconut layer, add the water to a saucepan and add the agar-agar and slowly bring to a full boil and then stir until the agar-agar has dissolved. Add the monk fruit crystals and stir until dissolved, add the salt and coconut milk and stir to combine well.
  4. Once the peach layer has set (this happens as it cools, does not need to be refrigerated), carefully pour the coconut layer over it. Both layers should be warm so that they stick together.

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I’ve been baking like a mad woman for our contractor and team. They seem to really like it. I know that JT does! I’ve made tangzhong cinnamon rolls, rice crispy squares, carrot cake, pineapple upside down cake, chewy lime squares cherry squares, chocolate chunk cookies and so on. We put our Keurig just outside the construction zone with fresh Timmy’s coffee but I don’t think they drink coffee! So I added tea, still no takers! The younger guys don’t even smoke! Go figure!

The demo had moved along at a good pace, uncovering a mess of previous badly done renos. Fortunately, not difficult to fix, just annoying that it was done so poorly! The next weeks will tell if we will finish by the deadline of June 1, as we were hoping to have overnight guests on the 5th! Fingers crossed.

Just before we hunkered down, I had my gluten intolerant BFF and picky-eater hubby for brunch. I’d always wanted to make a cornmeal cake so I figured why not now! This one had a gritty texture but not entirely unappealing. I think next time I’ll use a finer texture or I’ll soak the cornmeal a bit.

Gluten-Free Lemony Cornmeal Cake

Makes one 20 cm (8 inch) cake

Ingredients:

  • 140 g cornmeal
  • 50 g almond flour
  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 30 mL fresh lemon juice
  • 150 g granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 120 mL Greek yoghurt
  • 5 mL pure vanilla extract
  • 120 mL lemon juice
  • 70 g sugar

Directions:

  1. Line a 20 cm (8 inch) round cake pan with parchment, buttered lightly. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Whip the butter until light and fluffy add the lemon zest. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well. Add 30 mL lemon juice, yoghurt and vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.
  4. Fold in the dry ingredients and pour into the prepped pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Meanwhile, combine 120 mL lemon juice and remaining sugar and cook on a slow boil until slightly thickened and sugar is completely dissolved. Reserve for cake.
  6. When cake is done, allow to rest for 10 minutes, then pour the lemon syrup over the cake.

Notes:

  • This cake has a lot of texture, similar to cornbread, it’s not bad, just different.
  • The lemon syrup adds a nice amount of moisture and lemony flavour to this simple dessert.

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We were recently invited to a friend’s home for dinner so I offered to make dessert. When I was perusing the net, looking for a tasty fruit dessert, I came across Tarte Tatin and realized that I had never made it for the blog! Fortunately, I had package of puff pastry in the freezer so I was halfway there, a quick trip to buy apples and I was done!

Don’t be intimidated by having to make caramel, it’s very easy. You just need patience and concentration, never turn your back on it because that is when it will burn!

Simple Tarte Tatin

For the original recipe, please click here.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 6 to 8 large, firm-fleshed apples, we used Gala
  • 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 apples, core and quarter them. Sprinkle lightly with lemon juice and add to a large bowl, 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.

The caramel soaks into the puff pastry making a delicious crust and soft apples!

I made a little-grilled peach tarte Tatin with the leftover puff pastry, waste not, want not.

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I spied this spectacular dessert on my dear friend Liz, That Skinny Chick Can Bake social media account at the end of January and was immediately impressed. Flourless and full of chocolatey goodness, this cake ticked off so many boxes, I absolutely had to make it. Get out your pocketbooks because this cake has an enormous amount of chocolate (500 g plus the ganache!). Pull out all the stops and use the best chocolate you can afford.

This is an extremely rich cake. In fact, it is like eating a giant truffle. I would portion the slices a wee bit thinner but this made for a prettier picture.

My first attempt, I reduced the recipe to make two very small tarts. I went full-out low-carb, which meant replacing the sugar with erythritol and using unsweetened chocolate. It was actually fine for my taste but JT suggested a bit more sweetness would satisfy our dinner guests. My attempt at making a simple syrup from erythritol and water proved successful for a pomegranate syrup I had made (but had forgotten to photograph) so I applied the same formula to this recipe, increasing the water to accommodate the large amount of erythritol. I boiled down the syrup to 1 cup and I wouldn’t try boiling it down any more as it had begun to crystallize on the top.

The semi-sweet chocolate sacrificed much of the low carb aspect so I won’t even do the analysis. I may try increasing the erythritol and going back to unsweetened chocolate to see if that might bring the carbs back to a reasonable level, but I’m going to wait with that experiment until we recover from this version of this decadent dessert. If you have a special dinner, this dessert definitely fits the bill and the splurge. Thanks, Liz, I can always count on you for a decadent dessert.

La Bete Noir (Flourless Chocolate Cake)

For the original recipe, please click here.

Serves about 20 people

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 375 mL water
  • 150 g Erythritol
  • 128 g butter, diced
  • 388  g semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 112 g unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 6 eggs

Ingredients for the ganache:

  • 200 mL heavy cream
  • 226 g semisweet chocolate, chopped

Topping, as shown:

  • 25-30 g Pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 125 mL whipping cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare a 25 cm springform pan by covering the bottom and all the way up the sides with two layers of foil paper. Cut a circle from parchment and place it in the inside bottom of the pan. Place the pan into a large, higher-sided pan and set aside.
  2. Combine the water and erythritol in a small saucepan and heat until boiling, whisking until the erythritol has completely dissolved into the water. Continue to boil and reduce the volume to 250 mL. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Combine the butter with all of the chocolate and heat gently in the microwave until it is melted and smooth. Stir in the erythritol simple syrup. Cool slightly.
  4. Place all of the eggs into another bowl and beat until fully combined. Pour the eggs all at once into the chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth.
  5. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared springform pan. Fill the larger pan with boiling water to about 3/4 the way up. Bake on the centre rack for about 50 minutes or until centre has set.
  6. When ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. When sufficiently cooled, run a sharp knife along the inside edge to release the cake from the pan. Carefully remove it from the pan and allow to cool completely.
  7. Place an inverted glass on top of a clean piece of parchment and place a wire rack on top of the glass, set aside.
  8. Remove the bottom of the springform pan as well as the parchment from the cake and place it on the wire rack that is resting directly on the inverted glass.
  9. Make the ganache by heating the cream to almost boiling and pour over the chocolate. Mix until the chocolate is completely melted and smoothly combined with the cream.
  10. Pour the ganache over the cake and allow to flow over the top and sides evenly. Allow this to set at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
  11. Decorate the top with the chopped pistachios and serve with a dollop of whipped cream. Be prepared for guest requesting a take-away box for later (at least our’s did). It’s that good!!!

Notes:

  • This cake is extremely rich, so I increased the serving size from 16 to 20.
  • The original recipe did not mix semi-sweet with unsweetened chocolate, it was all semi-sweet.

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Late last summer, I did some prop shopping for a prop-stylist colleague who was swamped and needed a hand. It’s a lot of work, don’t get me wrong, the shopping bit is fun but there is a lot of schlepping! And you have to be extremely organized to be able to return some of the props that weren’t used! That being said, it’s a job I don’t envy, they earn every penny and then some. While I was waiting for a store to open, I stopped into an Italian cafe for a coffee and biscotti. The coffee was fine but the biscotti was atrocious, it was soggy! Imagine that. Such an unsatisfying treat. The worst. So I had to make my own! These definitely hit the spot!

Cranberry and Almond Biscotti Revisted

Makes about 30 biscotti

Ingredients:

  • 320 g AP unbleached flour
  • 4 g baking powder
  • 3 g salt
  • 340 g sugar
  • 125 g butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 7 mL almond extract
  • 150 g frozen cranberries, defrosted
  • 70 g almonds, toasted

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt and mix well. Fold in the cranberries and almonds (I used whole)
  3. In the large bowl of your stand mixer, combine the sugar, butter, eggs and almond extract and mix for about 4 minutes.
  4. Fold in the dry ingredients until entirely combined (I did this using my whisk attachment so I didn’t break up the cranberries.
  5. Divide the batter in half and shape into relatively skinny logs on the parchment, leaving sufficient space between the two as they will spread during baking.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden.
  7. Remove logs from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, slice each log into 1.5 cm slices. Place cut-side down on the baking sheet (reuse the original parchment) and bake for 10 minutes, flip and continue to bake for 5 more minutes or until lightly golden. Cool completely.
  8. Store in an air-tight container or freeze. Serve with coffee or tea.

You’ll need to bake these a little longer because the cranberries are moist.

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You guys know of our dear friends, Paul & T, they summer in Wisconsin and winter in Arizona. This year, they decided to sell their Wisconsin home and move permanently to Arizona. They were kind enough to invite us to the Lake House one last time. Because they are imminently selling their home in Wisconsin, we were not able to bring lasting gifts because their trip home to Arizona will be packed solid with whatever they move from their home in Wisconsin. Food is always a good bet with them, so I’ve been experimenting with recipes and this one, I must say is a winner. Don’t skip the drizzle, it just makes it OTT lemony. You have to love lemons to make this tasty treat, or at least, have someone that does. It probably works with lime too, although I haven’t tried it.

I used this recipe as my starting point, I just loved how they looked, with the drizzle and all. Plus, it sounded like they were really lemony, but I wanted to up the ante so I also added a splash of lemon extract as well as lemon zest to the cookie dough. BANG!

Buttery, melt in your mouth lemon shortbread that has balanced sweetness.

Lemony Shortbread Cookies

Makes 54 cookies, about 3 cm x 3 cm

For the original recipe, kindly click here.

To print this recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 227 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 86 g powdered sugar
  • 5 mL vanilla extract
  • 5 mL lemon extract
  • 5 g lemon zest
  • 240 g AP unbleached flour
  • 56 g cornstarch
  • 2.5 mL salt

Ingredients for the drizzle:

  • 80 g confectioner’s sugar
  • 15 mL fresh lemon juice
  • 5 mL lemon zest
  • water (to thin, if needed)

Directions:

  1. Combine the butter and confectioner’s sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, lemon extracts and lemon zest.
  2. Sift the flour, cornstarch and salt into the butter and mix until a smooth dough is formed. It will take about 1.5-2 minutes.
  3. Between two pieces of parchment, roll out the dough to a 33 cm x 23 cm rectangle and cut into little squares (I did 3 cm x 3 cm), refrigerate cookies on the cookie sheet for 30 minutes. They don’t spread much, so you needn’t leave more than 1 cm between each cookie.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Bake for 15-20 minutes, you don’t want them too golden because these are pretty if pale white.
  5. For the drizzle, mix the confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice and zest in a food processor and process until smooth and drizzle-able. If necessary, add water.
  6. Allow the cookies to cool completely before drizzling with the lemony mixture.
  7. Allow the drizzle to set at room temperature before stacking the cookies.

Notes:

  • I baked these on a super hot day, not sure why my version took so much longer than the original recipe.
  • I found the original drizzle recipe made way too much drizzle, it has a good lemon flavour and is intended to enhance the shortbread, not overwhelm it so I reduced the quantities by half.

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We were scheduled for a Progressive Dinner when we returned from Arizona. Our neighbours John and Nancy were the main-course hosts so they chose the theme: the Kentucky Derby. This group is a hoot and everyone chose something fun to wear that was indicative of the Derby. JT and Tom wore bow ties (JT made his bow-tie from a standard tie using this video, don’t you just love Google?!). Iona and I wore crazy hats and Nancy dressed up as a jockey, she is around 5 feet tall and really looked the part. Neighbour John dressed as a stable-hand, all in denim! It was a super fun night that ended somewhere around 2am!

People at the Derby seem to wear brightly coloured clothes and the guys always seem to sport bow ties.

I was responsible for dessert and I went a little crazy and did Mint Julep three ways: Panna Cotta, Macarons and Trifle! You may notice a sablé horse on the plate too but I didn’t like the recipe so it will be ignored. The desserts went over well, the bourbon was noticeable but not overwhelming, as was the mint. I doubt I’ll make these flavours again but it was fun for the night. And yes, we were served Mint Julep’s at Tom and Iona’s as part of our starters.


My crazy hat!

Kentucky Derby, Mint Julep Three Ways

  • Panna Cotta
  • Macarons
  • Trifle

Mint Julep Panna Cotta with White Chocolate Almond Crumb

To print the Mint Julep Panna Cotta, please click here.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 8 g Powdered unflavored gelatin
  • 50 mL Cold water
  • 700 mL Whole milk
  • 75 g Sugar
  • 2 g Tonka bean, finely grated
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 g small bunch Fresh mint leaves, including stems
  • 1/4 tsp Real Mint extract
  • 65 mL Kentucky Bourbon (to taste and optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves

Directions:

  1. Dissolve gelatin in the cold water. Set aside. Lightly rub vessels with a non-flavoured oil, set aside.
  2. Warm milk with sugar, grated tonka bean and cinnamon to 150° F (DO NOT BOIL), add mint leaves and allow to steep for 10 minutes Stir in gelatin until dissolved.
  3. Strain milk mixture through a fine sieve and discard mint. Into the strained mixture, stir in the mint extract and Kentucky Bourbon a little at a time, tasting each time until the desired flavour is achieved. Cool slightly.
  4. Pour into prepared vessels and chill for 2-4 hours or until set.

White Chocolate Almond Crumb

Ingredients:

  1. 50 g white chocolate chips
  2. 5 mL Bourbon
  3. 25 g ground almonds
  4. 15 g coconut flour

Directions:

  1. Melt the chocolate with the bourbon on low heat, stir in the ground almonds and coconut flour, it will be rather thick.
  2. Sprinkle/spread relatively thinly on a Silpat and bake for 3 minutes in a preheated 350° F oven, until golden.
  3. Cool completely and crumble with a fork until relatively fine. Reserve for assembly.

Please click here to print this recipe.

Serves 6

The Blueberries

Ingredients:

  • 300 g Blueberries
  • 125 mL Bourbon

Directions:

  1. Combine the blueberries and bourbon and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or one day.
  2. Strain, reserving the blueberry bourbon. Set aside until assembly.

The Sponge

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 120 g sugar
  • 120 g all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Line a 23 cm x 33 cm (9″ x 13″) cake pan or jelly roll pan with parchment paper, carefully folding the corners. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Separate the eggs into two medium bowls. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, but not dry. Set aside.
  3. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and creamy and falls in a thick ribbon.
  4. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the pale egg yolk mixture.
  5. Sift about 1/3 of the flour into the egg yolk mixture, then alternate folding in with the egg whites being careful not to deflate the batter.
  6. Once all of the egg whites and flour have been folded in, the mixture will be thick. Pour carefully into your prepared baking pan and spread out evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until your cake tester comes out clean.
  7. Lift the cake out of the pan using the parchment edges and allow to cool completely.
  8. Measure your Mason jar diameter and select a round cookie cutter of similar size. Cut 12 rounds for the trifle and set aside.

Stabilized Mint Julep Whipping Cream

Ingredients:

  • 3 g unflavoured gelatin
  • 15 mL Cold water
  • 15 mL Bourbon
  • 1 mL mint extract
  • 125 mL whipping cream,
  • 8 g icing sugar
  • 2 g freshly chopped mint, as garnish

Directions:

  1. Dissolve the gelatin in the cold water, mix in the bourbon and mint extract, set aside.
  2. Whip the cream with the icing sugar. Add a bit of the whipped cream to the gelatin mixture and whisk well to combine. Strain this mixture if it’s lumpy. As you are whipping the cream, add the gelatin mixture and whip until well-combined.
  1. Layer one sponge round into the bottom of each mason jar, sprinkle about 5 mL to 10 mL of the reserved blueberry bourbon onto each sponge in the mason jar. Add about 15 blueberries on top of the sponge in each jar. Using a pipping bag, trop the blueberry layer with the stabilized whipped cream. Sprinkle lightly with the chopped mint garnish.
  2. Layer the second sponge on top of the whipped cream, sprinkle about 5 mL to 10 mL of the remainder of the reserved blueberry bourbon onto each sponge in the mason jar. Top with the whipped cream and finish with about 12-15 blueberries in each jar. Sprinkle with the remaining mint garnish. Tightly close lid and refrigerate until serving.

Mint Julep Macarons

Makes about 10 macarons (four ;-)for the cook!).

To print this recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 35 g blanched, finely ground almond meal or flour
  • 58 g icing sugar
  • 1 large egg white, room temperature
  • 25 g granulated sugar
  • A pinch of gel food colouring (I used green)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F. Line your baking sheet with parchment with circle-round templates beneath it (this is a more detailed account of this recipe).
  2. Combine the almond meal with the icing sugar and sift a few times, discard or reserve the larger bits for something else.
  3. In the small bowl of your stand mixer, whisk the granulated sugar and egg white together by hand and then beat on #4 for 2 minutes, #6 for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the pinch of food colouring now and beat for a final two minutes on #8.
  5. Pipe onto the prepared parchment onto the circle-rounds. Tap the baking sheet on the counter to remove any air bubbles and bake for 13 minutes or until feet have developed but the cookie does NOT brown. Cool on parchment and remove carefully. Fill with Mint Julep Buttercream (recipe below).
  6. Unfilled cookies may be kept in the freezer for up to one month in an air-tight container.

Mint Julep Buttercream

Ingredients:

  • 57 g butter (softened)
  • 200 g icing sugar
  • 2.5 mL mint extract
  • 25 mL bourbon
  • 2.5 mL brandy
  • Gel food colouring of choice

Directions:

  1. Combine softened butter with the icing sugar, mint extract, bourbon and brandy and beat until extremely light and fluffy.
  2. I wanted this buttercream to resemble the colour of bourbon so I coloured it with a little brown, red and yellow gel colouring.
  3. Fill a piping bag with the buttercream and fill each half cookie carefully. Top with the second half of the cookie. Store on its side in an air-tight container in the fridge. Cookies remain fresh for up to one week. Allow to come to room temperature before serving, but make sure the room isn’t too warm otherwise the buttercream will melt.

Mint Julep Four Ways Plating

  1. Sprinkle the white chocolate crumb on one side of the plate. Top with the mint julep pannacotta and garnish with small mint leaves.
  2. Add the macaron on its side and finish with the uncovered trifle. Serve with a shot of bourbon, or pass like we did (I just thought it looked nice for the photo).

The horse cookie was a sablée that did not work out as well as I had hoped. Recipe will not be forthcoming. Yes, I bought a horse cookie cutter!

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Recently, we spent the weekend in Niagara-on-the-Lake with dear friends. It’s not the first time we been to NOTL, but it’s the first time we spent a summer weekend there. It’s usually ridiculously expensive because it is tourist season but we found some lovely rooms above an Irish pub that’s one street away from the beaten path. The rooms are reasonably priced, a good size AND they give you two $25 gift cards for the bar! What a deal! The humidity had broken and the temperatures were manageable, it really was a lovely weekend. We ate a picnic lunch and then rented bikes for an hour or so along the bike path along side the Niagara parkway. If you’re ever down this way, I urge you to take a moment and enjoy the ride! Although I would strongly recommend you buy your picnic lunch elsewhere as the grocery store in town is ridiculously expensive!

I wish I had taken some of this silky, creamy orange gelato as it would have made a refreshing treat after the sunny ride!

Silky, Creamy Orange Gelato

For the original recipe, please click here.

This recipe makes about 500 mL gelato.

Ingredients:

  • 200 mL fresh orange juice (from about 3 good-sized oranges)
  • 45 mL fresh lemon juice
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 500 mL milk
  • 30 g skim milk powder
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into your frozen ice cream maker pot and turn on. Run as per manufacturer’s instructions (mine took about 35 minutes).

We are having a heat wave right now, so it’s a bit of a challenge keeping the gelato frozen. Yep, it’s that hot!

I also made lemon gelato which turned out exceptionally well, but, I forgot to take a photo because we took it to friends for dessert! I would have to say that the lemon was my personal favourite.

Dreamy, Creamy Lemon Gelato

This recipe makes about 500 mL gelato

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh Lemon Juice (from about 5 good-sized lemons)
  • zest of 1 lemon, very fine
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 250 mL skim milk
  • 250 mL heavy cream
  • 10 g skim milk powder
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into your frozen ice cream maker pot and turn on. Mine took about 35 minutes to a very creamy consistency, it will not freeze rock hard.

Notes:

  • The lemon gelato was a lot creamier than the orange version because of the 35% cream, and although I prefer less rich things, I think this is worth the splurge.
  • The lemon gelato did not freeze solid, whereas the orange did so I had to leave it out for a few minutes to serve.
  • I did add orange zest into the orange gelato but found it made it a touch bitter, so I adjusted the recipe. If you like bitter, try 5 g or less.

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I was instantly smitten with my dear friend Lorraine’s Fig and Sour Cream Custard Tart, the gorgeous figs and stone fruit offset by the luscious golden custard, I knew I had to make it right away. Fortunately, my best friend from university, Kimberley and her husband were coming for brunch a few days after I saw the post so (after I checked that she was OK with spelt flour) I made this romantic tart! Thank you, Lorraine, for the inspiration ❤️♥️!

I always like to reduce the fat as much as possible so I used Sklar, the incredibly thick Icelandic yogurt instead of full-fat sour cream. It has a similar piquant flavour and it does not have pectin to thicken it. It is high in protein, fat-free and lactose-free so it’s a win/win.

Icelandic Yogurt Custard Tart

Makes 1 23 cm tart (about 8 slices)

For the original recipe, please click here.

To print this recipe, please click here.

Ingredients for the tart base:

  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 180 g spelt flour
  • 15 g sugar
  • 2 g salt
  • 60-90 mL cold water

Ingredients for the Icelandic Yogurt Custard:

  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk (use part of this yolk for the crust)
  • 300 g plain Icelandic yogurt (I used this brand)
  • 170 g caster sugar
  • 15 mL  lemon juice
  • 5 mL vanilla

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the tart base ingredients except the water in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until it resembles coarse sand. Slowly add the cold water until the dough comes together. Create a disk and wrap in plastic wrap and rest for 1 hour, or if your kitchen is warm, in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 400° F.
  3. Roll out the dough to about 2 mm thickness and press into a 23 cm tart pan. Decorate with remaining dough or just leave plain. I decorated with the remaining dough and still had enough to make two much smaller, personalized tarts.
  4. Bake the tart shells for 20 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 250° F. Wrap the bottom of the tart pans in foil paper and set into a roasting pan with 4 cm sides.
  5. Whisk the custard ingredients together until smooth.
  6. Pour the custard mixture into each shell. Carefully pour enough water into the roasting pan to come up about 1-1.5 cm on the side and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until set. If the edges are browning too quickly, lay pieces of foil paper around the perimeter.
  7. Allow to cool and decorate with figs, sugar prunes, kiwi fruit and blueberries.

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We had just completed a gorgeous hike one weekend in February at Kortright Centre for Conservation. It was a warmer day and the sun was beaming beautifully throughout the hike. There were some muddy spots and some icy spots but it was totally manageable. This park is not manned this time of year, but, fortunately they leave the gate open for visitors like us. The park is not maintained during the winter but a good pair of hiking boots and you’re good to go. Click down to the end to see a few pictures of our hike.

Unfortunately all of the service buildings are closed this time of year, and after an hour-long hike and ingesting 500 mL of water, one might need facilities, so we decided to stop at a Starbucks on our way home. I usually like to purchase something when I use the facilities in a place but it was well into the afternoon and I really didn’t want a cup of regular coffee and ordering a decaf at Starbucks is about the most painful experience I have ever endured so I avoid it at all costs. Instead, we ordered an oatmeal cookie which they had unfortunately sold out of so, we shared one of their Ginger Molasses cookies. It was so delicious that I wanted to replicate the recipe and bake some at home. JT and I are HUGE ginger fans and I prefer to use fresh ginger whenever I can, so in this lovely recipe, I quadrupled the ginger and used fresh and I added a small amount of candied ginger chopped roughly. These definitely satisfied my ginger craving! Do you ever feel obligated to purchase something if you use a restaurant’s facilities?

Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

Makes about 72 x 20 g cookies.

For the original recipe, please click here.

To print this recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 284 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 450 g white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125 mL molasses
  • 20 g fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 570 g all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 3 g salt
  • 23 g baking soda
  • 6 g ground cinnamon
  • 1 g ground cloves
  • 50 g candied ginger, chopped
  • 50 g white sugar for rolling

Directions:

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  2. Add the molasses and fresh ginger and beat well.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves and whisk to combine well.
  4. Add to the butter mixture and beat until well combined.
  5. Refrigerate the batter for 1 hour.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F.
  7. Make 20 g balls and roll in the sugar and position on the parchment lined baking sheet leaving about 5 cm between each cookie (don’t be tempted to flatten, it will flatten out on its own in the heat of the oven). Bake for 10-11 minutes, remove from the oven but leave them on the baking sheet because they will finish baking on the sheet. Remove cookies from the baking sheet once they have all but cooled completely.
  8. Enjoy with coffee or tea or a glass of bubbly!

Notes:

  • 11 minutes was absolutely perfect in my oven, the cookies hardened up perfectly sitting on the hot cookie sheet on the counter.
  • I always test-bake 1 or 2 cookies before I decide on how big to make the entire batch, it also gives you a solid idea of how long to bake them perfectly.
  • Weighing the cookie dough will give you more evenly-sized baked cookies. I can almost eyeball them after making a few balls, but I still like to weigh them for consistency.

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Orange Cake

Several years ago I had a conversation with a long-time blogger friend, A-Boelyn about our Mothers’ orange cake, it was a recipe I had been searching for, for many years. You see, I had lost my dear Mother’s recipe and sadly it had been my favourite cake. I am certain Mom clipped the recipe from the newspaper (so many of our favourites were found this way) but alas it has been lost for many decades. This recipe was my birthday cake request, time and time again. Its moist crumb and delicious flavour was void of heavy icing, it just showcased the beautiful orange in its glory, and a bit of booze, should you wish to indulge! I no longer recall the exact flavours of my dear Mother’s cake but if I had to guess, this recipe comes pretty close, we Europeans love the use of ground nuts in our cakes! And the flavour of this cake brings me back to my childhood, memories of Christmas marzipan! The texture is not light and airy like a sponge but rich and thick like marzipan. It’s not a cake you want a huge slice of, a small slice will satisfy your sweet tooth and leave you wanting more, and that is exactly what I want of a cake.

Orange Cake

Original recipe by David Lebovitz

Makes one 25 cm (10 inch) cake

Ingredients:

  • 3 oranges, zested
  • 300 g sugar
  • 200 g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 240 g almond flour
  • 110 g AP flour
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F. Prepare a 25 cm (10 inch) springform pan by buttering all sides and lining the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Add the sugar and orange zest into the large bowl of your food processor and process until zest is chopped into tiny bits and thoroughly incorporated into the sugar. Leave the processor because you will use it again later.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar-orange mixture until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Add the eggs one at a time and beat thoroughly.
  4. Add the flour, almond flour and salt into the food processor and pulse until well mixed.
  5. Add half of the flour mixture to the egg and butter mixture and mix until well incorporated. Add the remainder of the flour mixture and mix only until well incorporated. It will be thick.
  6. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and using a spatula, spread out evenly.
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Spoon the orange syrup mixture over the hot cake until it is all absorbed. Cool in the pan.

Ingredients for the syrup:

  • 180 mL orange juice, from the zested oranges
  • 75 g sugar

Directions for the syrup:

  1. Combine the orange juice and sugar and bring to a boil in a non-reactive pan until the sugar has entirely melted. See step 7 above for directions.

This is an extremely moist and dense cake, it reminded me of orange marzipan.

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JT and I have been on a huge adventure. I’ll let you in on it next week. But just before, a dear friend’s daughter flew in from Vancouver and we invited the family over for tea and strudel and this is what I made.

Apple & Cheese Strudel

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Make 3 medium-sized strudels (about 30 cm or 12″ long)

To print recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 260 g ricotta
  • 100 g Icelandic or Greek yogurt
  • 35 g raisins
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 25 g icing sugar
  • 5 mL vanilla
  • 1 egg, gently whisked
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 (~550 g) apples, peeled, cored and finely diced
  • zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 20 g brown sugar
  • 5 g cinnamon
  • 50 g almond flour, divided
  • 9 sheets of phyllo pastry
  • 45 g butter, melted
  • Icing sugar for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (177° C).
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Combine the ricotta, yogurt, raisins, lemon zest, sugar, vanilla, egg and salt and mix well. Set into the refrigerator whilst preparing the apples.
  4. Combine the apples, lemon zest and juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, 15 g almond flour and mix well.
  5. Prepare 3 sheets of phyllo pastry by brushing each sheet with the melted butter and sprinkling with almond flour, set aside. Continue with remaining 6, making stacks of three sheets.
  6. Pour 1/3 the ricotta mixture into the centre of each stack of prepared phyllo and top with 1/3 of the apple mixture. Turn in the ends and roll tightly.
  7. Brush each roll with the remaining melted butter and bake until golden, about 30-40 minutes.
  8. Serve warm sprinkled with icing sugar.

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Is it a cake, fruit custard or pie?

I was invited to a BBQ at the marketing firm I work with and, of course, I couldn’t go empty handed! I spotted Lorraine’s recipe for an apple cake she made for Mr. NQN’s birthday and was immediately intrigued. Everyone loves cake and everyone loves apples (I hope) so I dove in head first and made her lovely cake. I modified the recipe to be gluten free (I didn’t know everyone at the BBQ and wanted to be safe and inclusive) and I used coconut sugar instead of superfine white sugar and increased the apple volume because I bought 5!

Thanks Lorraine for this tasty inspiration.

One of those peeler gizmos would have come in handy.

It’s really more apples than cake.

I made JT a tester.

The Imposter Apple Cake with Salted Coconut Caramel Sauce

For the original recipe on Lorraine Elliot’s beautiful blog, please click here.

Makes 1 cake, 20 cm (8 inch) diametre. Serves 6-8.

Please click here to print this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium apples (about 750 g, I used Galas)
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 100 g (2/3 cup) super fine coconut sugar
  • 150 mL (5 oz) milk
  • 30 g (2 tbsp) butter, melted and cooled
  • 120 g (3/4 cup) gluten free flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 50 g (1/2 cup) slivered almonds, toasted (reserve until ready to serve).

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (170° C).
  2. Line the bottom of a 20 cm (8 inch) round cake pan with parchment and spray generously with non-stick spray.
  3. Prepare a bowl with cold water and 2 tbsp lemon juice, set aside.
  4. Peel the apples and slice very thinly using a mandoline. Immerse the slices into the cold lemony water.
  5. Combine the eggs and sugar and beat until thick. Add the milk and melted butter and beat until well combined.
  6. Sift the flour, cinnamon and salt and add to the wet ingredients. Beat just until combined and lumps are gone.
  7. Drain the sliced apples and dry slightly. Fold the apple slices into the batter to coat well.
  8. Pour into the prepared pan and bake uncovered for 50-55 minutes or when a cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Cool completely before serving.
  10. Top with toasted almonds when serving.

Ingredients for Salted Caramel Sauce

Makes 200 mL (3/4 cup) caramel sauce

  • 90 g  (3/4 cup) coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice
  • 5 mL (1 tsp) water
  • Good pinch of sea salt
  • 125 mL (1/2 cup) 18% cream
  • 20 g (heaping tablespoon ) butter

Directions:

  1. Heat cream and salt in a microwave proof container until very hot but not boiling, set aside.
  2. Combine coconut sugar, lemon juice and water in a microwave safe container and mix well (I used a 250 mL (2 cup) glass measuring cup).
  3. Microwave sugar mixture for 1-3 minutes in 15-second intervals (45 seconds did it for me) until sugar bubbles up but does NOT BURN, sugar crystals should be completely dissolved and you should begin to see it turn to a darker amber colour.
  4. Remove and set on a dishcloth for 30 seconds or until it reaches the colour of dark caramel.
  5. Slowly pour in the hot milk, being VERY careful as this will bubble up, whisking to incorporate.
  6. Stir well and then add the butter and stir until completely dissolved. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The caramel sauce really makes this dessert.

Notes:

  • This is not a very sweet cake and therefore, the coconut sugar caramel sauce is perfect for it.
  • Want to jazz it up even more? Add a dollop of cream fraiche or whipped cream on top.
  • The original recipe put the almonds on top of the raw batter and bake it altogether, but I found that almonds went soggy after 1 day in the refrigerator so next time I make this tasty cake, I will not add the amonds until I am ready to serve (recipe has been amended with this change).

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In early August, JT and I had the honour of giving Dave (Fine Dining at Home) a foodie tour of our fair city. You see, Dave is a Captain of a Jet and was flying to the Big Smoke, so obviously, we wanted to take him on a foodie tour. It’s been a tour, a long time in the making, as soon as Dave mentioned that his airline would be flying to Toronto several months ago, I started making a list of things to do…it was long and heavy so the day before Dave’s arrival, JT and I sat down and made a lean list with opportunity to be spontaneous. Dave was a great guest, being very flexible to what we were going to do; it was a super hot and humid day so I also altered the tour to be more air conditioned car oriented than walking, even though we did our share of walking too!

It was a hot, humid day.

We started our day with the St. Lawrence Market, Toronto’s oldest market; it is made up of two stories of food and food related independent stores. While there, we had to have Toronto’s world famous Peameal Bacon on a bun (also known as back bacon or Canadian bacon) at the infamous Carousel Bakery. We loaded up our sandwiches with condiments and sat outside on picnic tables to have our breakfast! It’s a serious sandwich and I could only finish half of it! Then we toured the market, taking in the smells and sounds of Toronto’s culinary marketplace. We ended our tour in Placewares, one of my favourite kitchen stores in the city. From there, we detoured and walked along Front Street to see the new dog fountain (I know it’s not food, but it was along the way). We walked to Brookfield Place where we showed Dave the worlds largest underground pedestrian walking path, called PATH! Path sure comes in handy in the middle of winter when temperatures could be as low as -20° C because of wind chill! It’s basically a system connecting one food court to another under almost every building in downtown Toronto!

The dog fountain, they are all dog statues

Then we headed back to the car and did a little car tour of the city on our way to The Distillery District where we walked around the old distillery grounds and popped into Vom Fas, where I found a rather unique spice called Tasmanian pepper berry, that I had to have! While at The Distillery, we thought we would do a beer tour of Mill Street Brewery but sadly their tours only begin at 4pm and we didn’t want to wait around so I googled another brewery in the city and found that Steamwhistle did tours every 30 minutes. So off we went, unfortunately, the tour was very hot in some places which made it rather uncomfortable and made us sleepy, particularly with the free beer they offered. We decided that we needed lunch and we took Dave to our favourite French bistro, Le Select. By the time we finished lunch, we were all ready for a nap. We dropped Dave off at the hotel and beat the rush hour traffic home.

Dave generously gave me some gifts: Tonka Beans and a delicious bottle of Hungarian Tokay, dessert wine.

What are Tonka Beans? And, why can’t you buy them in the U.S.? They are the black seed of a South American tree that have a similar flavour to vanilla but more complex. Apparently they are poisonous if consumed in large quantities and are illegal in America! In 1995, Health Canada deemed them unacceptable as an additive in food and drugs but they are not illegal here! I guess Canadians are less likely to eat a tree full of them 😉!

A few months back, I had commented on a beautiful Tonka Bean panna cotta dessert that Dave had posted on his blog, hence the thoughtful gift, so I knew I had to make my interpretation. If you follow Dave’s blog, you will know that he makes rather fancy, labour intensive and multi-layered food and this lovely dessert was no exception; I, however, do not have the patience, so I cut it down to something I could do again, without being too labour intensive. Thank you Dave, for your generosity and inspiration. I thought the Tasmanian Pepper Berry that I picked up at Vom Fas would be a lovely accompaniment to the Tonka Bean Panna Cotta. The pepper berries have a distinct peppery flavour with hints of fruit and best of all, it lightly colours what you make a pink colour! I knew the panna cotta would be a winner.

Tonka Beans are mostly aromatic but there is unmistakable vanilla flavour with a subtle flowery, smoky cinnamon. It is rather complex and works well with both sweet and savoury applications. I can certainly see this as a flavouring in butternut squash soup or even a beautiful risotto.

Tonka Bean Panna Cotta on Chocolate Crumble with Almond Tuile

Makes 400 mL of panna cotta (I used 4 x 100 mL forms)

Tonka Bean Panna Cotta Ingredients:

  • 400 mL 1% milk
  • 25 g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 Tonka bean, finely grated
  • 5 Tasmanian pepper berries, chopped roughly
  • 8 g (1 packet) gelatine

Directions:

  1. Reserve about 25 mL milk and add the gelatin powder, stir, set aside.
  2. In a thick-bottom small pan, add the remaining 375 mL milk, sugar, Tonka Bean and Tasmanian pepper berries and heat until lightly boiling, stirring constantly.
  3. Strain through a fine sieve and pour the dairy mix into the gelatin dairy and stir until gelatin has entirely dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature, then pour into vessels and refrigerate until set (4-6 hours or overnight).

Chocolate Crumble Ingredients:

  • 9 g butter
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 15 g coconut sugar
  • 16 g ground almonds
  • 8 g coconut flour
  • 6 g cocoa powder

Directions:

  1. Melt butter with the salt and pour over the sifted remaining ingredients and mix well. Spread evenly on a Silpat covered baking sheet and bake at 350° F for about 5-8 minutes. Allow to cool, then crumble.

Almond Tuile Ingredients:

  • 50 g sugar
  • 25 g sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. Caramelize the sugar, add the almonds and cook a bit more until the almonds are toasted.
  2. Spread thinly onto a Silpat and cool until hardened.
  3. Break into smaller bits and pulse in a food processor until sugar and almonds have broken down (I left a few in slightly larger chunks).
  4. Spread out onto a Silpat sheet and bake again for about 6 minutes in a 350° F oven, remove and cool slightly, cut or score while warm or break into uneven bits after it has hardened.

Assembly:

  1. Sprinkle a bit of the crumble onto each plate.
  2. Place the panna cotta on top of the crumble. Decorate with the tuile.

Notes:

  • This dessert is a celebration of flavours and textures; the chocolate crumble brings intense chocolate flavour and wonderful texture, juxtaposed to the smooth and creamy, exotically flavoured panna cotta. And then there is the tuile, easier to eat than brittle because it won’t break your teeth. Crumble, creamy, crunch. This is definitely a keeper recipe but I’m going to toss the moulds, they were not impressive!
  • Dave’s version had a fruit jelly cube and a chocolate mousse which I’m sure made it out of this world, but I was too lazy to add the two additional layers, even so, it was restaurant worthy!

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Dulce de Leche Tiramisu

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 1 round 18 cm (7 inch) round dessert

Ingredients:

  • 6 churros (I bought mine from here)
  • 125 mL (1/2 cup) strong coffee
  • 30 mL (2 tbsp) Tequila (I used this one)
  • 415 mL (14 oz) dulce de leche (I made this recipe), divided
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 125 g  (1/2 cup) cream cheese, softened
  • 5 mL (1 tsp) cinnamon, divided
  • 237 mL (8 oz) whipping cream, stabilized (see below)

Directions:

  1. Cut the churros in half lengthwise. Cut each end about 6 cm (2 inches) long. Lay cut churros into a pan large enough to hold them in one layer.
  2. Combine the coffee, tequila and 15 mL (1 tbsp) of the dulce de leche and mix well. Pour half of this mixture over the cut churros and set aside for 10 minutes, turned occasionally.
  3. In the meantime, in a double boiler or bain-marie, combine the remainder of the coffee, 30 mL (2 tbsp) dolce de leche and 2 egg yolks and mix well. Set over hot water and beat with a hand mixer constantly until doubled in bulk and thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. Cream the cream cheese until smooth and slowly add the thickened egg mixture and beat until fluffy and well combined.
  5. In a 18 cm (7 inch) springform pan, begin to line the edges with the churros, placing cut side down so the nice curly side is up. Line the bottom of the churros with the remaining middle cuts (this will also help hold the churros on the sides up!).
  6. Reserve 30 mL (2 tbsp) dulce de leche. Add the remaining dulce de leche sauce to the bottom of the tiramisu directly on top of the bottom layer, spread as evenly as possible. Sprinkle with 2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) of cinnamon. Spoon the cream cheese mixture on top and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the remainder of the cinnamon.
  7. Whip the cream with the final 30 mL (2 tbsp) dulce de leche until incorporated. To stabilize, see notes below. Spoon the whipped cream over the cream cheese mixture and swirl naturally on top.
  8. Chill well to cut nice slices. To serve, sprinkle with additional cinnamon if desired.

Notes:

  • No need to stabilize the whipped cream if you are eating this treat right away, only if you plan to keep leftovers.
  • To stabilize whipped cream, melt 1 tsp of gelatin in about 3 tbsp cold water, nuked until gelatin melts completely, cools to room temperature but does not set, whip into the whipping cream.
  • You may use whole churros, you’ll need to buy 12.
  • The churros I purchased were 6 for nine Canadian dollars, which I found to be pricey. I will make my own next time (and there will be a next time!). This recipe looks good!

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Last month we hosted dessert for our fifteenth(?) progressive dinner. Our neighbour, John selected Georgia State as the theme because of the Golf that was going on (what golf?) at that time so food had to be a Georgia favourite or something connected to the PGA. Of course, I went straight to the expert, my dear friend Betsy of Bits and Breadcrumbs for her advice and she really came through for me, Thank you, Betsy. I made three mini desserts, one of which, the Chocolate Pecan Pie is traditionally served at the Open, the other two were Southern favourites, Peach Crumble (recipe below) and Chess Pie, that I really just wanted to make. All of the desserts are miniatures because we always tend to over do it at these progressive dinners and I served them all in the living room at the coffee table, take as many or as few as you wish. I followed some tried and true recipes for the Chocolate Pecan Pie and the Chess Pie (see links above) and I loosely followed Betsy’s recipe for the crumble. Hope you don’t mind, Betsy, I combined a few ingredients from various southern recipes on your blog and I think I scored a hole in one! And that concludes my golfing puns!

So, let me tell you about our dinner! For the first course, Tom and Iona (read Iona) did a bunch of things, we began with an Arnold Palmer (with vodka)! I’d never heard of this concoction before this past February when we were in Arizona visiting friends, it was very tasty! Then, the food: Iona made Pimento Cheese sandwiches (OMG, so GOOD!), jalopeño Poppers (baked) and a wonderful bean and rice dish served in a glass. Then we had the main course, it was Mike Weir’s (Canadian) signature Master’s Dinner (I had no idea the winner can choose the dinner menu!) It was Elk and Arctic char (that’s a fish), with Canadian beer (I had some of his wine!). And, of course, there was dessert! We also set up a little putting green for fun!

 

Mini Chocolate Pecan Pies and Mini Chess Pies. How many would you have?

The putting green was quite successful!

Bourbon Peach Crumble: Progressive Dinner #15(?)

Makes 4 60 mL (2 oz) ramekins and 4 30 mL (1 oz) ramekins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups roughly chopped peaches (I used frozen because it is not peach season)
  • Bourbon, to cover peaches for soaking
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar (reduce if your peaches are sweet, mine were not)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp soaking bourbon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Ingredients for the crumble:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp toasted pecan pieces
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp Skor® bits
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Chop the peaches into wedges and then into thirds so they fit better in the ramekins.
  2. Add the peaches to bowl with a cover, and pour the bourbon over it so it covers all of the peaches, Soak peaches overnight in the fridge.
  3. The next day, strain the liquid from the peaches reserving 30 mL (2 tbsp), reserve the remainder for another use.
  4. Preheat the oven to 175° C (350° F).
  5. Spray the ramekins with non-stick baking spray.
  6. Combine the flour, cinnamon, reserved bourbon from soaking liquid, vanilla and salt and mix well. Sprinkle over the strained peaches and stir well to coat.
  7. Add roughly 15-30 mL (1-2 tbsp) of the coated peaches to each prepared ramekin.
  8. Combine the brown sugar, toasted pecans, oats, flour and cinnamon and mix well, cut in the butter until the butter is well mixed. Top each ramekin with about 15 mL (1 tbsp) of the crumble and then sprinkle about 1.5 mL (1/4 tsp) Skor bits over the top.
  9. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly to serve or reheat when ready to serve. Serve with stabilized Bourbon Whipped Cream (to stabilize whipping cream, please click here).

Oozy, boozy goodness. I intended for the sauce to drip and bake down the sides. No, really, I did!

Notes:

  • For the mini tarts, I used Martha Stewarts cream cheese pastry recipe, but I doubled it. You can freeze left over pastry dough.
  • I made 1/2 of this chess pie recipe and I netted about 20 tarts various sizes (although I only show the tear-drop shape in the photo. If I make this again, I’ll make half of the recipe.
  • I made 1/4 of this pecan pie recipe (I melted 10 g of semi-sweet chocolate, allow to cool, into the recipe) and netted about 14 small tarts (muffin tin-sized).

We added a few tee’s and golf balls but it was too dark for a pic.

MiniMeringueTarts_Rev

This shot is part of a creative collaboration I recently did with a professional photographer and prop stylist for our portfolios. I also served the little bite-sized lemon curd meringues for the progressive dinner just because you can’t have too much dessert! Photograph by Paula Wilson and Props by OK Props, Oksana Slavutych.

 

 

 

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Swedish Apple Cake

Due to the overwhelming response on social media last Saturday, I am re-posting the recipe for this show stopper apple cake (plus I made a few changes since the first time I made it in 2013). I originally found this cake on my friend Charles’ blog, Five Euro Food (in hiatus right now), I had made it for Easter dinner for the outlaws. It was quite the success the first time, so I’m not really sure why I haven’t made it since. Way back in 2013 I had to alter the original recipe because we had diabetic and hypo-glycemic guests and you know how I hate to make two different things, so I was happy to convert Charles’ recipe to fit the circumstance. Last Saturday did not present such issues, so I revised the recipe again and liked it even better.

The recipe depends on the sweetness and flavour of the apples and I must say that the humble Macintosh really shined. As you read the recipe, you will notice that it has exactly 17 g (1 tbsp) brown sugar so don’t expect a super sweet cake, but those of you who like dessert, but not overwhelmingly sweet, will love this version. Of course, the Skor bits add sweetness and a touch of caramel flavour within the sliced apples, in the topping adds some lovely texture. Of course, you may omit them if you cannot find them (or you could buy them on Amazon).

Swedish Apple cake

This is all about the apples.

Appelkaka Remake, A Swedish Apple Cake

Makes one 16.5 cm (6.5 inch) cake, serves 4-6, depending on the slice size
To make a 23 cm (9 inch) cake, double the recipe

Ingredients:

  • 800 g (1 3/4 lb), about 8 small Macintosh Apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • lemon juice
  • 17 g (1 tbsp) brown sugar
  • 120 g (1 1/4 cup) oats
  • 50 g (1/2 cup) almond flour or meal
  • 2 g (1 tbsp) cinnamon
  • 35 g (1/4 cup) Skor bits, divided
  • 60 g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 395° F (200° C).
  2. Line a 16.5 cm (6.5 inch) spring form pan with parchment.
  3. To the small bowl of a food processor add, brown sugar, oats, almond flour, cinnamon, 1 tbsp of the Skor bits and butter; pulse until it resembles a coarse meal.
  4. Take about 1/2 of the oat mix and press firmly into the bottom of the prepared springform pan.
  5. Peel and finely slice the apples, a splash of lemon juice will prevent them from discolouring.
  6. Carefully arrange about half of the apples on the oat mixture, sprinkle with half of the remaining Skor bits, then finish layering the remaining apples and press down firmly.
  7. Sprinkle the remainder of the oat mix with the remainder of the Skor bits on top, just like a crumble.
  8. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the apples are luciously soft (test with a toothpick).
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes (updated):

  • I used macintosh apples (sold in a bag) from no frills, they are the perfect baking apples.
  • Slice the apples using a mandolin, believe me, it makes it a lot quicker and far less tedious (but watch your fingers!).
  • I used large oats which were not instant, instant would probably work as they are used to absorbed the liquid the apples release.
  • If you don’t use Skor bits, try a squeeze of organic honey!

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bananacreampie_first

We’ve been doing enormously well on our path to better health so when we had friends over for dinner recently I asked JT what dessert he wanted and he said banana cream pieBanana cream pie is definitely NOT diet food, but you need a treat every once in a while.

There are many recipes out there and JT was specific that he didn’t want chunks of banana so I had to improvise by adding puréed bananas and increasing the thickening agent to make up for the added liquid ratio. I used Martha’s recipe as a starting point. This pie is not overly sweet and it packs a lot of banana flavour. It’s best to make this dessert the day before to allow it to set.

Banana Cream Pie

Makes one rectangular pie about 12 cm x 36 cm (14 inch x 4.5 inch)

Ingredients for the crust:

  • 3/4 cup cookie crumbs (I save mine from broken cookies in a freezer bag)
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup oats (not instant)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp Skor® bits

Directions for the crust:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Combine everything but the butter and Skor bits in the small bowl of a food processor. Slowly drizzle in the butter. Fold in the Skor bits.
  3. Press into a 12 cm x 36 cm (14 inch x 4.5 inch) rectangular tart pan (preferably one that has a removable bottom to make it easier to release).
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool completely before filling.

Filling Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe bananas (about 1 cup puréed)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups half & half
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • Whipping cream

Filling Directions:

  1. In a heavy-bottom saucepan or double boiler, combine cornstarch, sugar, egg yolks, half & half, and salt and mix well. Set over simmering water or medium to low heat and whisk until thoroughly thickened.
  2. Cool over an ice bath and when cooled, whisk in the vanilla and puréed bananas. Set plastic film over the top of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until set.
  3. Whip the butter until light and slowly add the cooled filling to incorporate butter evenly.
  4. Combine bananas and lemon juice and purée until smooth. Whip into the prepared pudding.
  5. Spoon into the prepared pastry crust and set another plastic film over the top. Refrigerate.
  6. Serve slices of the pie garnished with stabilized whipped cream and sprinkled with Skor® bits.

Notes:

  • Cookie crumbs are usually trimmings I save from bars, broken cookies and such. I save them in a zip-lock baggy in the freezer and blitz them in the food processor for pie crusts. I got the idea from Momofuko’s Momofuko’s Crack Pie Recipe, plus it gives us a good reason not to eat the trimmings! (Method in my madness!)
  • The Skor® bits add a lovely crunch and flavour to the crust, omit without repercussions if you wish.
  • The bananas do oxidized a bit, so I modified the instructions to include the puréed bananas just prior to adding to the crust.

bananacreampie

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saltedcaramelsemifreddofirst

Here in Toronto, we have a lovely grocery store chain called Loblaws; you may have heard of them through their widely distributed President’s Choice (PC) products, a high-end food product range created by Dave Nichol. What has this got to do with my recipe today? Patience grasshopper…

In recent years, Loblaws has rebranded themselves and have created a truly upscale grocery shopping experience; their stores are beautiful and inspiring. The Toronto flagship store is the Loblaws at the old Maple Leaf Gardens and they merchandise product in a visually appealing way, so much so, that a long-time shopper like me, ends up adding a few extras into my grocery cart when I shop there! In addition to an inspiring shopping experience, Loblaws offers cooking classes! Some of the cooking classes are demonstration-style and for $10 (Canadian) we watch a real Chef cook a couple of recipes to make a meal, and at the end of the demonstration we get to eat the results! And, because they promote several PC products, we are given a $10 Loblaws gift card to use at our leisure! Win/win in my opinion.

In December, they offered a special cooking class focusing on a few new premium Black Label PC products, but they only advertised it to regulars at the cooking classes. It was a bit more expensive ($15 Canadian) but SO WELL WORTH IT! I went with a bunch of friends and we made an evening of it. We cooked up some pretty amazing things that evening, Crispy Sesame Rice cakes with PC® Tuna Tataki, PC® La Belle Rivière Cheese, Cranberry and Pear Stuffed Roasted Turkey Breast with Peri Peri Kale with PC® Hollandaise Sauce. I enjoyed the turkey and Kale so much, I made it for JT for Christmas Day dinner. The pièce de resistance was the Avocado Lime and Coconut No-Bake Cheesecake, but our Chef decided to make it a semifreddo instead and he won me over. As you know, I am not much of a dessert eater, but the semifreddo was too difficult to resist, I polished off my entire slice! I have since made the semifreddo version of this tart and sweet dessert without the crust and it was very well received. Just after the holidays, I had an avocado on its way out so I thought I’d recreate the dessert using a caramel sauce I made for a Christmas party and froze the leftovers, the recipe below, Salted Caramel Semifreddo with Skor Bits is the result. I served it for a dinner party last week. It’s not much of a calorie saver (duh, caramel sauce!) but it’s a nice treat from time to time, plus did I mention it has Skor® bits?

saltedcaramelsemifreddo

This small slice bangs a lot of flavour.

Salted Caramel Semifreddo with Skor® Bits

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes about 500 mL (about 2 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 160 g cream cheese (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 ripe avocado (mine was on the smaller side but larger will work too)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 85 g (about 1/3 cup) caramel sauce (or to taste)
  • sea salt
  • 2 tbsp Skor® caramel bits

Directions:

  1. Combine cream cheese, avocado, lemon juice and caramel sauce in the small bowl of your food processor (I used my Cuisinart Smartstick mini processor attachment).
  2. Prepare your freezer-safe containers by spraying them with non-stick spray and lining with parchment if possible (round containers may prove difficult).
  3. Evenly sprinkle sea salt and Skor® bits on the bottom of each container and pour the cream over. Cover and freeze overnight.
  4. Using the parchment to lift out the semifreddo (or dip ever so slightly into warm water), put it on a cutting board and slice or plate. Drizzle with additional caramel sauce and sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Serve immediately.

saltedcaramelsemifreddo2

I used gold sea salt to make it more festive!

Note: I was not renumerated in any way for this post, it is simply my opinion of an entertaining event in Toronto that is not too expensive.

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