Archive | May, 2009

lemon almond toffee biscotti – homemade is best

21 May

I work at Starbucks, and even though the pastries are pretty mundane, I found myself buying the biscotti like there was no tomorrow. Between the sugar overdose and the plastic-taste, the biscotti really had nothing to boast about. I figured I’d give making biscotti a try, since I do love to curl up with a cup of coffee or tea, a cookie and a book. And biscotti are the cookie’s healthy cousin. Sort of.

Anyhow, it turns out that biscotti is uber easy, and took no time at all to prep – the baking time is longer than making cookies, but the pay off is huge. The basic recipe stays the same for all biscotti, and you can just mix and match what kind of flavours you want. I chose to go with lemon, almonds and toffee because those were the ones I had on hand =)

Oh, and I did dip them in chocolate and then drizzled them in more chocolate. Just because I could.

more pretty martini glasses courtesy of my parents

more pretty martini glasses courtesy of my parents

plain and yummy: almond, toffee and lemon

plain and yummy: almond, toffee and lemon

less plain and even yummier: chocolate dipped and chocolate drizzled!

less plain and even yummier: chocolate dipped and chocolate drizzled!

up close and personal with my favourite sin: chocolate

up close and personal with my favourite sin: chocolate

coffee & biscotti - what a match

coffee & biscotti - what a match

a sneak peek to what's awaiting you!

a sneak peek to what's awaiting you!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 8 tbs unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • zest of two lemons
  • 3/4 cup whole almonds with skin
  • 1/4 cup toffee pieces
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

How-to:

  1. Toast almonds in a 475 degrees F oven for about 8 minutes. Coarsely chop the almonds, set aside and allow to cool.
  2. Combine sugar, butter, lemon zest, and vanilla extract in a large bowl, then add in almonds and eggs. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt until just combined.
  3. Cover and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Using moistened hands, halve dough and form 2 loaves on an ungreased large baking sheet.
  5. Bake until pale golden, about 30 minutes. Carefully transfer loaves to a rack and allow to cool 15 minutes.
  6. Cut loaves into 3/4-inch slices with a serrated knife. Arrange biscotti, with a cut side down, on a clean baking sheet and bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. About 10 minutes in, flip biscotti over.  Transfer to rack to cool completely.
  7. Dip in chocolate and/or start eating them.

xo dessertchick

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Daisy’s Strawberry Brownie Cheesecake Cups

21 May

Yes, yes, I know that it’s been a very long time since I posted something new. But life has been busy, between school, work and living life. It was Daisy’s birthday last Saturday, so I thought it would only be fair to do her dessert wish. The birthday was a blast, and I finished these babies up, so all she now has to do is trek downtown and pick them up for some yumminess. She said she wanted “hmmm.. some kind of delicious cake (cheesecake?) with DARK chocolate, strawberries and.. custard.”

After tossing a few recipes and ideas around, I thought I’d make these super adorable, delicious, and not-too-heavy brownie cheesecake cups which are then topped with a creamy strawberry mousse. I decided to substitute the custard wish with the mousse, since she said she’d eat anything I bake anyway =)

I modified my favourite brownie recipe, added the cream cheese topping and swirled away to make these as pretty as possible. I have decided that my min muffin tins are one of the best inventions in the world, since EVERYTHING looks way cuter in mini form. It’s ALL about looking cute and tasting yumm. The strawberry mousse was easy, and adds a nice splash of colour – not to mention the tastiness.

Bon Appetit, mon amis!

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such pretty swirls

big brownie cup or small brownie cup? you pick!

big brownie cup or small brownie cup? you pick!

fresh strawberries = strawberry mousse = love

fresh strawberries = strawberry mousse = love

so it's official: anything topped with strawberry mousse tastes ten times better

so it's official: anything topped with strawberry mousse tastes ten times better

after digging through my cupboards, I found these cute cocktail glasses, begging to be photographed

after digging through my cupboards, I found these cute cocktail glasses, begging to be photographed

these ones are for Daisy - aptly sprinkled with daisy sprinkles =)

these ones are for Daisy - aptly sprinkled with daisy sprinkles =)

care to have a taste?

care to have a taste?

hmm what better combination than dark chocolate, cheesecake and strawberries?

hmm what better combination than dark chocolate, cheesecake and strawberries?

and for those who are not huge on strawberry mousse!

and for those who are not huge on strawberry mousse!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 oz of unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of flour
  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp of salt1 (8 oz) low fat cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup of sugar300 g fresh strawberries
  • 3 1/2 ounces water
  • 5 1/2 ounces caster sugar
  • 4 tsp powder gelatin
  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream

How-to:

  1. Melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth and remove from heat.
  2. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add flour, baking powder and salt; mix just until all ingredients are moistened and mix is smooth.
  3. Spread brownie mixture into prepared baking pan.
  4. For the topping beat the cheese, egg and sugar until smooth. Dollop the cream cheese mixture on top of the brownie batter. Swirl together using a toothpick.
  5. Bake for 25 to 33 minutes or until brownies just begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely.
  6. Wash and hull the strawberries and place in a sauce pan. Add the water, caster sugar, and gelatin and simmer until all the gelatin dissolves. Cool the mixture thoroughly and blend the mixture in a blender or food processor until the mixture is pureed.
  7. Beat the cream in a separate bowl until just thickened, not soft or stiff peaks! Be careful not to overbeat the cream which will result in a stiff mousse. Fold in the strawberry puree mixture and mix until well blended.
  8. Scoop into a piping bag, and top each brownie cheesecake cup with strawberry mousse. Keep refrigerated and share!

xo dessertchick

quadruple chocolatey melting moments cookie sandwiches

3 May

Move over, triple chocolate chip cookie! Move over! A new cookie has come to town, and it’s going to own y’all old-fashioned, traditional cookies! Well, at least that’s my opinion on how this showdown would go down between these melting moments (with a new twist) and any other ordinary chocolate cookie. Yes, tradition and simplicity has its time, but tonight was not it. My kitchen senses demanded that I attempt these melting moment cookies after a failed attempt that I did not dare blog about. Let’s just say that rocks would have been tastier than those cookies. Anyhow, this time, they were indeed MELTING and not shattering my teeth, which is always an indicator of success! These cookies are taken from Donna Hay’s Modern Classics 2 (I’m currently in love with her book!) but with a twist! Since I still had almond meal left over, I substituted 1/2 cup of flour for 1/2 cup almond meal. I added a teaspoon of cinnamon for some added depth, and then of course the major changes: dark chocolate shavings inside the batter (because shavings melt easier in your mouth!), semi sweet chocolate dipping for one half of the cookies, white chocolate dipping for the other half of the cookie, and a rich chocolate ganache that is probably in sandwich heaven between two melting moment cookies.

Bon appetit & you’re welcome =) Also, I do not take responsibility regarding the breaking of diet vows and such!

melting moments: naked and simple

melting moments: naked and simple

do dip in chocolate! the chocolatier, the merrier!

do dip in chocolate! the chocolatier, the merrier!

For some....this may be adventurous enough...

For some....this may be adventurous enough...

....but for others, this is the holy grail!

....but for others, this is the holy grail!

Behold the ultimate melting moment cookie sandwich!

Behold the ultimate melting moment cookie sandwich!

hmmm the money shot!

hmmm the money shot!

Recipe

Meltin Moments Ingredients (adapted from Donna Hay’s Modern Classics 2)

  • 6 oz butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup chocolate shavings (or mini chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate for dipping
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate for dipping
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Combine butter, icing sugar, and vanilla in bowl until light and fluffy.
  3. Stir in flour, almond meal, cornstarch and cinnamon until combined.
  4. Place the mixture into a piping bag, and pipe 1inch rounds onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a silpad. Allow some room for spreading.
  5. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until golden.

Chocolate Ganache Recipe can be found here.

Final Assembly

  1. Melt semi sweet chocolate and white chocolate in separate bowls. Use double boiler or microwave.
  2. Dip half the cookies in the semi sweet chocolate, and the other half in white chocolate. Lay on parchment paper until cooled and dry.
  3. Spread the chocolate ganache onto one side of the melting moments, and top off with another, making sure it’s always white & semi sweet chocolate covered melting moments together.
  4. Eat, eat, eat!

xo dessertchick

velvety smooth strawberry lemon curd tart

2 May

Since these past couple of weeks have been taunting and teasing us with wonderful spring/summer weather, only to literally rain on our happiness, I’ve decided that enough is enough. Let’s try to beckon and plead for summer to come – there is no need for pride anymore, because it’s May and there should be May weather! School’s out for me (only to have summer school start again in two days) and I’m itching to go buy summer dresses, a new bathing suit and start planning picnics by the lake.

Nothing spells summer to me more than the smell and taste of fresh strawberries while drinking a nice cold glass of lemonade. This strawberry coulis lemon curd tart is the perfect combination of sweet strawberries and tart lemons, all enveloped by a nice buttery tart shell. This dessert is really easy to put together, but it does require some assembly time because you need to wait for the coulis, the curd and the chocolate to cool down. I adapted a couple of recipes, but my most prominent influence was Donna Hay’s shortcrust recipe for the tart shells, and SophistiMom’s lemon curd recipe (which she adapted from Ina Garten). The coulis sauce (and the chocolate additions, of course) I winged myself, because I didn’t want it to be overwhelmingly sweet.

In the end, even if summer doesn’t come just yet,  I think I’m going to sit in front of my window, with a pot of flowers, a glass of lemonade and one of these tarts – in my bathing suit.

since strawberries are in season, why not take advantage and invite summer to come already?

since strawberries are in season, why not take advantage and invite summer to come already?

so pretty and simple, strawberries are one of my favourite fruits.

so pretty and simple, strawberries are one of my favourite fruits.

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cooking down the fresh berries to turn them into yummy strawberry coulis

shortcrust tart shells - home to the extreme yumminess

shortcrust tart shells - home to the extreme yumminess

shortcrust shells & strawberry coulis are a match made in heaven.

shortcrust shells & strawberry coulis are a match made in heaven.

...but don't forget about the lemon custard!

...but don't forget about the lemon curd!

nothing says love better than a strawberry heart on a tart.

nothing says love better than a strawberry heart on a tart.

what would a dessert be without at least a little chocolate?

what would a dessert be without at least a little chocolate?

did you know you can pretend to be artistic with coulis sauce? =P

did you know you can pretend to be artistic with coulis sauce? =P

strawberries, lemons, and chocolate. this is what life should be like!

strawberries, lemons, and chocolate. this is what life should be like!

this makes me smile =)

this makes me smile =)

getting ready for the first bite...

getting ready for the first bite...

....look at all that yummy goodness contained in that small tart!

....look at all that yummy goodness contained in that small tart!

....ready?

Ready?

Just make sure to wear a bib, because this could get messy!

Just make sure to wear a bib, because this could get messy!

Recipe

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (from Donna Hay’s Modern Classics 2) – makes about 12 mini tarts or one 9inch tart

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp superfine caster sugar
  • 5 oz cold butter, chopped
  • 2 -3  tbsp iced water
  1. Whizz together the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor until mixture looks like fine bread crumbs.
  2. While motor is running, add enough iced water to form a smooth dough, and process until just combined.
  3. Knead dough lightly, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350F.
  5. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface until 1/8 inch thick. Cut out circles to fit the tart tin(s) and press down, making sure to make them look pretty =)
  6. Place parchment paper over the crust, and fill with baking weights/uncooked rice/dried beans and bake blind for 10 minutes. Remove the weights, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until pastry is golden.

Strawberry Coulis

  • 1 cup strawberries, cut up in small pieces ( make sure to reserve some slices for decorations!)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cornstarch for thickening
  1. Melt butter and sugar in a pot until syrupy, but not browned.
  2. Add in strawberries and continue simmering for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Using an immersion blender, give the berries a good whirl until smooth.
  4. Dissolve cornstarch in some cold water, and mix it in with the strawberry sauce. Return to heat and cook until it starts to thicken.
  5. Pour into bowl and refrigerate until you’re ready for assembly.

Lemon Curd (adapted from Sophistimom)

  • zest of 3 lemons
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • juice of 3 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
  • pinch of salt
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together zest, butter, and sugar.
  2. Incorporate eggs one at a time and mix until smooth.
  3. Add in lemon juice and salt.  Mixture will be curdled.
  4. Pour mixture into a large saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes.  Lemon curd will come together and thicken.
  5. When it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, remove from heat.  Strain into a glass bowl and allow to cool.  Refrigerate or freeze until you need it.

Final Assembly

  1. If you want to add chocolate, melt chocolate and just drizzle it in an abstract pattern on parchment paper or your silpad. Let cool, remove carefully and set aside.
  2. Spoon  a teaspoon-full of strawberry coulis into bottom of each tart shell. Top with a tablespoon of lemon curd.
  3. Top each tart with a slice of the reserved strawberries and your chocolate decorations. Let refrigerate for another hour so that curd will set.
  4. Mangia!

xo dessertchick