Archive | February, 2009

delightfully citrusy madeleines

26 Feb

Filming is tiring. Editing is tedious. But if the crew is fun, then it makes it all better. Well, almost. So, to make the best of all of this schlepping around in blizzards, I’ve decided to make madeleines to accompany the work and the complaining we all seem to be doing.

Okay, so maybe my intentions aren’t one hundred percent selflless: I re-discovered one of the cutest kitchen supply stores close to yonge&bloor, and just had to buy a madeleine pan. This is my first madeleine pan ever, so I was just itching to bake with it. Tia and Daisy pretty much just gave me an excuse to try something new!

I stumbled the net and surfed the net and contemplated the best recipe to use. What I ended up doing was making a fusion of two recipes that caught my fancy. One of them was from RecipeZaar and the other one was from 101 Cookbooks. The changes I made were  increasing the lemon zest, adding some orange zest as well as using all the juice of the lemon. These few tweaks ended up creating these delicious-as-sin madeleines!

Voilaaa!

"She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called 'petites madeleines'...

"She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called 'petites madeleines'...

"...which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim's shell"...

"...which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim's shell..."

"...An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses."

"...an exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses."

The quote is from Marcel Proust’s novel Remembrance of Things Past, and I found this on Joy of Baking, which also had a great madeleine recipe. I love this quote =)

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup butter

How-to:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Prep the madeleine pan by greasing it well with butter and then flouring it. I like to use my silicone brush to really get into those ridges of the pan. Nothing is worse than having a ruined madeleine that sticks to the pan.
  2. Melt the butter slowly in a pan until it browns, roughly 10 to 15 minutes. If you don’t have the time, just melt it slowly until it is completely liquid. The brown stage lends a very deep nutty aroma to the madeleines, but is not necessary. Strain the butter and let it to cool in the fridge until you need to use it later.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and salt on high until it triples in volume. For me, it took 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. While still on high, add the sugar in a steady stream. Mix for 2 minutes. This will thicken the mixture further to form thick ribbons, and it should be a very light yellow now.
  5. Now, slowly fold in the lemon and orange zest as well as the vanilla and the lemon juice. You don’t want to overbeat the mix or else the cakes will turn out tough.
  6. Sift the flour into the mixture gradually, probably in 3 or 4 batches, making sure to fold it in gently.
  7. Gradually add the cooled butter in until just blended.
  8. Spoon the batter into the middle of each madeleine form, leaving it in a mound of each form. This way, when the madeleines bake, they will get their signature bump in the middle.
  9. Bake them in the center rack for 10 to 14 minutes, depending on your temperamental oven. For me, it took 12 minutes for the edges to brown lightly. These cookies should be watched carefully as they can overbake quickly. You want the cookies to spring back softly, as they will develop a nice crust when they cool. After giving the pan a good rap on the counter to loosen them, remove them and let them cool down on a rack.
  10. Keep the madeleines in an airtight container. These are best when eaten right away and shouldn’t be kept for longer than 3 days. Not that you’ll have to worry about that – they’ll be gone in a second!

KnockOut knock-off girl scout cookie bars

24 Feb

Since my oven is still on the fritz, I decided to be as productive as ever today: hanging out with Opie & her Boy usually is one of my favourite things to do, but we don’t really get much done while lounging around. Yet, I managed to finagle them into baking cookies with mer. Correction: her Boy baked with me, while Opie was a true trooper and went on a journey to find us lots and lots of creamy caramel candies!

I found this recipe online at Baking Bites, and it made my mouth water. What could possibly top a shortbread-like crust, topped off with caramel and coconut goodness? This recipe was super easy, especially since it made bars instead of cookies, which eliminated the process of rolling and cutting out round cookies.

After some deliberation, the only change I made to the recipe was to add toasted sliced almonds because I absolutely looove toasted almonds.  Her Boy, however, decided it wasn’t caramel-y enough for him, so we added more on top – something that makes these bars very over-the-top and decadent , and should only be done for those who have a SERIOUS sweet tooth.

Mhhhmmmmm.

So without further ado, I present to our KnockOut knock-off girl scout cookie bars!

a tower of delight

a tower of delight

the cookie bar can barely contain itself with all that caramel

the cookie bar can barely contain itself with all that caramel

shortbread crust? check. coconut caramel mixture? check. toasted almonds? check. chocolate drizzle? definitely checked!

shortbread crust? check. coconut caramel mixture? check. toasted almonds? check. chocolate drizzle? definitely checked!

Recipe

Adapted from Baking Bites

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the topping:

  • 3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
  • 12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 10 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate

How-to:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract.
  3. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. The dough does not need to come together. Pour crumbly dough into prepapred pan and press into an even layer.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping
  5. While the crust is baking, you can now toast the coconut. You can either do that in the oven, alongside with the crust, or you can dry toast it in a pan on the stove on medium high heat.  Just make sure you are continuously stirring it while it is toasting, since they burn quite easily! Once done, remove immediately from the heat and pour coconut into a bowl.
  6. Repeat the same toasting process with the sliced almonds, and put them into a smaller separate bowl.
  7. Next, unwrap the caramel candies. Place them into a microwave safe bowl, add the milk and the salt. Cook on high for 3 to 4 minutes, always making sure to stir and mix the melting caramel with the milk. This will make sure that it won’t burn and that it will be velvety smooth.
  8. Pour melted caramel into the bowl with the coconut and mix well.
  9. Now, pour the caramel coconut mixture onto the crust and spread it out well. It’s very sticky, even if you’re using a spatula. I find that using a sheet of wax or parchment paper works very well. Just place it on top of the mix and use your hands to smooth it out.
  10. Next, put the chocolate into another microwave safe bowl, and melt it. Pour the mix into a ziploc bag, snip off the tip, and drizzle chocolate onto the topping. Sprinkle the almonds on top and finish off with a final drizzle of chocolate.
  11. And if you’re crazy like Opie’s Boy, drizzle more caramel on top
  12. Let everything cool down before cutting them into bars, and then prepare to enter a sugar high!

xo dessertchick

You’re the cream cheese icing on my carrot cake

20 Feb

It was the Boy’s 22nd birthday on Wednesday, and after wowing him with the snickerdoodles on Vday, I had to think of yet another way to surprise &delight him and his tummy. So, after much deliberation, I decided to bake him his favourite cake: carrot cake. However, since it was just going to be a small birthday dinner, I didn’t want to make a whole cake, so I turned that idea into birthday carrot cake cupcakes!

The recipe turned out really well, after some tweaking on my part, which were done purely according to mine and the Boy’s personal taste.

The best carrot cake I ever had used pineapple in the recipe, and although the recipe I found on AllRecipes.com got rave reviews, it missed the pineapple. So, I decided to add it and cut back on the oil, which worked our juuuuust fine. I also changed it from just using white sugar to using half brown and half white sugar. I added an extra teaspoon of cinnamon, as well as all spice, nutmeg and cloves, because I find it gives the cake more depth.

Oh, and I didn’t have pecans on hand, so I just omitted them.

Nomnomnom away!

simple yet elegant, and most importantly, delicious!

simple yet elegant, and most importantly, delicious!

and nothing says "happy 22nd birthday" like sprinkles!

and nothing says "happy 22nd birthday" like sprinkles....

....especially when they are candy coated chocolate sprinkles!

....especially when they are candy coated chocolate sprinkles!

Happy Birthday =)

Happy Birthday =)

Recipe

adapted from AllRecipes.com

This made 2 dozen cupcakes.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1  cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white and brown sugar, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and all spice. Stir in carrots. Fold in crushed pineapple. Pour into  prepared muffin pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer out and let cool completely.
  4. To Make Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Frost the cooled cupcakes however you see fit.
  5. Serve and prepare to make them stop eating after 3 cupcakes before they explode.

xo dessertchick

what does Monet do without his canvas?

17 Feb

He paints on the walls. Which is what I did. Sorta.

Well, for those who don’t know: my oven broke. As in, it’s kaputt. As in, no more cookies, right? Well, that’s where you’re wrong. And thank goodness for that, because a house without cookies, especially when it’s mine, is a very very sad house.

So here I present you with my favourite no-bake peanut butter cocoa drop cookies. They are delicious, soft, chewy and chok-full of chocolate. Mmmm-yum! And the best part is that they are so easy! And good for you, to boot!

who needs an oven? well, I do, but in the meantime....

who needs an oven? well, I do, but in the meantime....

the most delicious no-bake cookie ever

the most delicious no-bake cookie ever

They look quite dark in these pictures because a)  I used pure cocoa and b) my lighting in my kitchen is the bane of my existence. So in the meantime, you get the idea that they look ten times better than how they do in these photos.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 cups oatmeal – use quick cook oats, NOT instant oatmeal. This way, it’s almost healthy and good for you!

How-to

  1. Combine sugar, cocoa, milk and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Cook until the mixture starts to boil and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add vanilla, salt, peanut butter and oatmeal and quickly stir until combined.
  4. Drop teaspoons onto parchment paper and let cool.
  5. Eat and eat and eat. Yes, that’s it: only 4 steps to chocolate delight!

xo dessertchick

Snickerdoodle Love

14 Feb

For this year, the Boy and I decided to keep it on the downlow and make presents rather than buying presents. However, my only condition was that we HAVE to exchange cards because I’m a big sucker for them. So I baked his favourite cookies, the simple yet delicious snickerdoodle – but with a valentine’s day twist!

snickerdoodle dough rolled in crystal sugar and cinnamon

snickerdoodle dough rolled in crystal sugar and cinnamon

these cookies don't spread out too thinly!

these cookies don't spread out too thinly!

nothing says love quite like hearts made of chocolate

nothing says love quite like hearts made of chocolate

a box full of snickerdoodles = a heart full of love

a box full of snickerdoodles = a heart full of love

the Boy likes them =)

the Boy liked them =)

So I pretty much followed my tried-and-true snickerdoodle recipe that the Boy loves, but added a bit of red food colouring gel to get this very nice pink/coral colour – which isn’t very apparent in these photos because I’m still working on making myself a lightbox. Also, I only used half the amount of white sugar used for rolling the dough in, and substituted the remaining half with red sugar crystals. Since a little cinnamon goes a very long way, it doesn’t interfere with the pink theme I have going on.

If I could change one thing, I’d probably choose white chocolate to draw the hearts with, and perhaps work on my “chocolate-manship,” but I think these turned out very pretty and just as tasty as the good ol’ snickerdoodles. I googled the recipe a while ago, and absolutely fell in love with how simple yet tasty it is. The key to this is to make sure to chill the dough thoroughly before rolling and again before baking it, so the cookie doesn’t spread too much. This way, you guarantee that it’ll be nice and crispy on the outside but buttery and soft on the inside.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Mix butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar and eggs thoroughly in a large bowl.
  3. Combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
  4. Blend dry ingredients into butter mixture.
  5. Chill dough, and chill an ungreased cookie sheet for about 10-15 minutes in the fridge.
  6. Meanwhile, mix 1/2 cup sugar, and 3 teaspoons cinnamon in a small bowl.
  7. Scoop 1 inch globs of dough into the sugar/ cinnamon mixture.
  8. Coat by gently rolling balls of dough in the sugar mixture. Here, I like to roll and coat all of the dough, and then chill all of the prepared snickerdoodle dough balls in the fridge, and then bake them in batches while they are keeping cool. This pevents them from melting too much in the oven.
  9. Place on chilled ungreased cookie sheet, and bake 10 minutes. If you are pre-chilling them in the fridge before you bake them, then having a chilled cookie sheet isn’t essential.
  10. Let rest for 2 minutes tofirm up, and then carefully remove the cookies from the pan. Transfer onto a wire rack to let them cool off.
  11. Forget about portion control, and start eating them all!

I hope everyone will enjoy their valentine’s day, whether you celebrate it or just have a nice Saturday. Or as my friend likes to tell people, Happy Birthday! It’s Galileo’s birthday!

xo dessertchick

thank-goodness-it’s-reading-week cupcakes

14 Feb

Today’s Friday the 13th, and we had out last newscast before we finally commence for reading week. After all the stress or filming and editing, I thought it’d be nice to end on a sweet note. So here are the Valentine’s day/Reading week cupcakes that I decided to bake! I found the recipe on David Lebovitz’ site, so I used it as inspiration =)

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chocolate fudge cupcakes!

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decorated with raspberry buttercream frosting!

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and all topped with the cutest little sprinkles!

img_2002

better light....from inside my fridge

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 9 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup strong coffee
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

How-to

  1. Heat oven to 350F.
  2. Sift together cocoa powder, cake flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl.
  3. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, or by hand, beat together the butter and sugar about 5 minutes until smooth and creamy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Don’t forget to scrape down the sides!
  5. Mix together the coffee and milk. Stir half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, the add the coffee and buttermilk. Finally stir in the other half of the dry ingredients.
  6. Pour into lined cupcake pans, about 3/4 of the way full, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

  1. Place butter and jam in a mixing bowl or an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream until well incorporated, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until you reach desired consistency. If frosting gets too thick you can add a little milk to thin it out.
  3. Mangia!

xo dessertchick

blueberry lovin’

12 Feb

Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, currants, blackberries, cherries: yum yum yum. Sadly, they are not in season right now, and are ridiculously expensive to buy except for two weeks ago, when they had organic blueberries on sale for 3/$5 – which is when I made two blueberry lemon crumble pies!

Delicious, easy to make and even somewhat healthy 😉

I don’t have a very good picture, since people started eating it before I remembered to whip out my camera. But trust me on this one, people: it is utopia for your tastebuds! I got the recipe from allrecipes.com =)

delicious AND good for you!

delicious AND good for you!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cold butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Zest and juice of two lemon
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch

How-to

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.
  3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. (This took an extra 10 to 15 minutes in my oven.) Cool completely before cutting into squares.
  5. Nom nom nom.

xo dessertchick