Archive | June, 2009

taking a baking hiatus in one month!

24 Jun

Don’t let the title worry you!

On August 8th, I’ll be flying out of Toronto and into the heart of Vietnam, leaving behind good ol’ Canada for two months! I’m going to backpack from South to North Vietnam for the first three weeks, from Ho Chi Minh City until I eventually arrive in Ha Noi. Once in Ha Noi, the real reason I’m leaving for Vietnam will finally kick in: I’m interning at Vietnam’s VTV6 television news station for six weeks, as part the requirement for the final year of the Journalism Broadcast program at my university.

While I won’t be able to bake cakes or cookies, or indulge in my chocolate/oreo cookie addiction overseas, I decided that food is too big a part of my life to abandon for two whole months. While I won’t be able to bake and therefore update this blog, I’ve decided to keep a blog/diary/photoblog of my adventures in the motherland. You can follow my culinary travails at Chocolate Fool’s Tasty Vietnamese Tales, and read about my take on the Vietnamese people, culture, life and food.

I return back to Toronto on October 8th, and will then vicariously delve back into my baking (and updating this blog) again =)

However, between now and August 8th, I’m sure to update/post on Chocolate Fool at least 4 or 5 more times! Keep checking back for more goodies, and make sure to read about my Vietnamese tales!

xo dessertchick

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picnic-perfect strawberry oreo pies

24 Jun

Seriously, I have an Oreo addiction, and hereby I solemnly promise to hold off on any more Oreo recipes – right after this post! Summer has finally kicked in for us Torontonians, and the last thing you want to do on a hot and humid day is turn on the stove or the oven. That’s why this recipe is too simple and too delicious to pass up on – the total baking time is 10 minutes! And it’s even more tempting since it combines oreo cookies, strawberries and whipping cream in the deliciousness that is a picnic-perfect pie!

I got this idea from My Baking Addiction and just tweaked it a little bit to embrace the summer and my tastes. I used a salty graham cracker crust to cut through the sweetness, added cut strawberries and strawberry puree to the filling, and used mini oreos instead of the original ones.

These pies refrigerate very well and keep for at least a couple of days – if they last this long. Pop them into the freezer for an hour if you’re planning on taking them to a picnic, and these babies won’t melt on you! It’s light and airy, with the crunch and sweetness of Oreo cookies and strawberries. Enjoy alongside the harbour front!

one pie, two pies, three pies, four pies, all my pies!

one pie, two pies, three pies, four pies, all my pies!

but I guess I can share - if you ask nicely

but I guess I can share - if you ask nicely

serve by the poolside for a delectable dessert...

serve by the poolside for a delectable dessert...

....while sipping on your mimosas and catching up on gossip.

....while sipping on your mimosas and catching up on gossip.

or, take with you to a picnic by the lake...

or, take with you to a picnic by the lake as a cute dessert...

....and dig in while washing it down with refreshing lemonade!

....and dig in while washing it down with refreshing lemonade!

Recipe

Ingredients:

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp salt

Filling

  • 1 bag of mini Oreo cookies (roughly 2 cups), save 24 for decorations, and cut the remaining ones in half
  • 8 oz softened cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups whipped cream or 2 cups cool-whip
  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled and chopped into small pieces (save 2 for decoration)
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and pureed

How-to:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Stir together the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and salt. Press into two 9-inch pie crusts. I wanted mini pies, so I used four smaller pie pans – but I’m not sure of the exact size of them. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, and then let cool.
  2. In a bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, combine the cream cheese and sugar, until light and fluffy. Add in the strawberry puree and mix until well combined.
  3. Switch over to a spatula, and gently fold in the whipped cream or cool whip. Lastly, add in the cut oreo cookies and chopped strawberries.
  4. Spoon evenly into your two (or four) pie crusts and smooth down. Decorate with the oreo cookies you set aside, and top with half of a strawberry.
  5. Refrigerate or eat right away, the choice is yours! Or grab your picnic blanket and go outside with one of these pies!

xo dessertchick

lazy wednesdays marble chocolate ganache cake

20 Jun

I finally activated my Twitter account! I signed up for it ages and ages ago, but never got around to using it. Until Shannon & Erin doubleteamed me and showed me the wonder and magic that is Twitter. So, now you can follow my not-always-intriguing-or-interesting rambles at http://twitter.com/chocolatefool. The blog is linked to my twitter account, so the tweets should show up here on the side bar =) Oh, the wonders of wordpress!

Speaking of Shannon and Erin, we had a lovely lunch the other day that Erin cooked for us. Shannon made corn, Erin made burgers, and I brought a modified version of the pecan praline caramel crack(er) bars. We sipped iced tea while catching up, and watching the dreary weather through Shannon’s kitchen window. This summer is taking it’s sweet time arriving in Toronto. Last summer was filled with lots of laughter, picnics, ice cream and sangria for my best friends and myself. This year, sadly, everyone is busy making lots of money for various things such as rent, school and internships. We don’t get to see each other as often, or even get a chance to talk endlessly on the phone, but I’m fairly certain that we each know that we can count on each other. I love my soulmates, Opie & Savo, and wish every day could be a sangria-by-the-harbour-front kind of day.

By some fluke, Savo and I had a day off and all to ourselves, so after some sleeping in, we decided we’d bake a cake. The recipe was going to produce a pretty, velvety smooth and rich chocolate vanilla zebra cake, but although we followed instructions, our cake did not come out with zebra stripes =( It ended up being very chocolate-heavy which probably distorted the stripes and resulted in a marble cake instead. Hey, I’m not complaining though – chocolate is chocolate is chocolate. I think I’d probably leave out the lemon zest that was called for, but keep everything else the same. We were also going to drizzle the semi-sweet chocolate ganache with melted white chocolate for a dramatic effect, but had a little mishap….and thereby kept the cake classy and simple. The chocolate ganache and vanilla ice cream made everything better, though. After an adventure with Savo’s devil mixer from hell (it looked/sounded/worked like a chainsaw rather than a handmixer), and making a huge mess in the kitchen, these pictures make it all worth it. Savo is a photographer, and these photos are all his. Thanks to him and his kitchen with awesome windows (and natural light! something that my kitchen doesn’t have) we ended up with these amazing photos – which he emailed to me and allowed me to use. Now that is love!

vanilla & lemon

vanilla & lemon

mixing in the sink to avoid making a huge mess with savo's mixer from hell

mixing in the sink to avoid making a huge mess with savo's mixer from hell

black & white yumminess

black & white yummines

we thought we did it right...

we thought we did it right...

it looked like the zebra cake would work out!

...it looked like the zebra cake would work out!

covering the cake in simple ganache

covering the cake in simple ganache

action shot!

action shot!

simple & delicious chocolate cake

a simple & elegant exterior....

...with a turbulent yet tasty inside

....and yet, no zebra stripes =(

IMG_3996

thank goodness ice cream and chocolate ease disappointments

IMG_3997

even though there are no zebra stripes, it's still pretty!

in the end, it still tasted good

in the end, it still tasted good

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups pastry flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp dark cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream

How-to:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, with a hand mixer or stand mixer, combine the eggs and sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and creamy.
  3. Add in the oil and milk and continue beating until well blended. Add the vanilla extract.
  4. In a second bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet batter. Don’t overbeat the mixture.
  5. Divide the batter into two equal parts. Add the cocoa powder to one bowl, and mix well.
  6. Grease a 9-inch pan with oil or butter, and line bottom with parchment paper.
  7. Now, taking turns, scoop a ladle-full of yellow batter and cocoa batter into the pan. Pour a ladle-full of yellow batter into the centre of the pan, and then pour a ladle-full of the cocoa batter right on top of the yellow batter. Continue alternating the two batters until you’ve finished both bowls.
  8. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife arounf the inside of the pan to loosen the sides, and gently invert onto a cooling rack. Let cake cool for another 20 minutes.
  10. In the meantime, melt the chocolate and heavy cream in the microwave or over a double boiler. Once it has reached a smooth consistency, spread it all over the cake and try to make it look pretty. If you like drizzle white chocolate over top for a dramatic (and yummy) effect. Enjoy by itself or with vanilla ice cream!

xo dessertchick

pecan praline caramel crack(er) bars

15 Jun
I am a HUGE fan of Deb from Smitten Kitchen. I love the photography, the food, the desserts, the blog posts, the desserts and the desserts. Have I mentioned I love Smitten Kitchen? When I saw this recipe a while ago, I bookmarked it, gave it a thumbs up, added it to my favourites, emailed myself a copy and the link, and wrote it into my blackberry as a reminder. As you can see, I really really really wanted to make this. And let me tell you – this was the best decision I have ever made in my entire 21 3/4 years that I’ve been alive. Deb from Smitten Kitchen has dubbed them, tongue-in-cheek, as chocolate caramel crack(ers) because these babies truly are addicting. As in, once you try one, you won’t and can’t stop until you have finished every single crumb – or until someone has the courage to try to sneak them out from under your nose.
I didn’t have matzo crackers, so I opted for salted soda crackers, which were fantastic! I adjusted the recipe ever so slightly: I used a bag of pecans that I bought a week ago, and made praline to sprinkle on top of these crack(er) bars, as well as the toasted almonds. Hmm, I don’t know about you, but I love the taste and smell of toasted, crunchy, sugary pecans and the nutty toasted flavour of sliced almonds. Oh, and I drizzled more chocolate on top for good measure. The combination of the chocolate, nuts  and caramel crack(er) bars and you’ve got yourself a winner and a one-way-ticket to heaven. This recipe was ridiculously (and dangerously) easy. Proceed, read on, and make these crack bars, at  your own risk. =)
a whole sheet of insanity

a whole sheet of insanity

how can you go wrong with so much goodness in one bar?

how can you go wrong with so much goodness in one bar?

yumminess comes in all shapes and sizes...

yumminess comes in all shapes and sizes...

...either giant wedges of crack(ers)

...either giant wedges of crack(ers)...

...or neat little squares of crack(ers)....

...or neat little squares of crack(ers)....

...one (or two or three) will never be enough.

...one (or two or three) will never be enough.

So just resign yourself to eating the whole bowl.

So just resign yourself to eating the whole bowl.

And don't tell your friends about them.

And don't tell your friends about them.

That way, you can have your crack(er) bars AND the crumbs all to yourself.

That way, you can have your crack(er) bars AND the crumbs all to yourself.

Recipe

(adapted from Deb at Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

  • 40 salted soda crackers
  • 1/2 cup  butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds slices
  • 2/3 cup pecans
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar

How-to:

  1. First, let’s make the pecan praline. In a pan, toast the pecans over medium heat while watching and stirring carefully. Once you can smell the pecans toasting (about 5 to 8 minutes) add in the sugar, and mix well. Stir continuously, making sure the sugar melts thoroughly and doesn’t burn. The goal is to caramelize the sugar without turning too dark and bitter. It should turn nice and brown and smell like delicious caramel. Spread onto a sheet of parchment paper and refrigerate until you’re ready for it later.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet completely with foil, and then line the base of the foil with parchment paper, cut to fit.
  3. Line the bottom of the baking sheet with crackers, covering all parts.
  4. In a medium heavy-duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once it has begun boiling, let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring it well. It will thicken a bit as it cooks. Remove from the heat and add the salt and vanilla, and then quickly pour it over the matzo or crackers. You’ll want to spread it quickly, as it will begin to set as soon as it is poured.
  5. Bake the caramel-covered crackers for 15 minutes, watching carefully as it will bubble and the corners might darken too quickly and/or burn. You can reduce the heat if you see this happening.
  6. Take your praline out of the fridge and break into small pieces.
  7. Remove your caramel-covered crackers from the oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand five minutes, and then spread them evenly across the caramel. An offset spatula works great here. Now, sprinkle the chocolate with the praline pieces and the toasted almonds. If you want, drizzle more chocolate on top.
  8. Once completely cool (just pop it into the fridge for 20 minutes), break it into pieces and store it in a container.
  9. Test out your willpower by eating only once – and then watch your willpower fail you.

xo dessertchick

where-the-hell-is-summer very berry crumble bars

11 Jun
You know, I love myself a good sale. I’ll spend money that I don’t have if I see an amazing sale, and will go out of my way to stock up on whatever is on sale. Sadly, while others may look to clothes, shoes and purses, I have averted my eyes from such material things (and to save my poor over-stuffed closet!) and turned my hawk eyes towards the best prices for butter, chocolate and flour. Needless to say, when I went to the market and saw that blueberries, strawberries AND raspberries were on sale for only $1.88, I nearly fainted. I. Could. Not. Help. Myself. And proceeded to buy 3 pints of each. Since berries spoil quite easily, I couldn’t find a better excuse to make these delicious (and pretty healthy!) fruit crumble bars.
They are an adaptation of my blueberry bar recipe, and served as an excuse to finally take decent pictures of them since last time, I had a crappy camera and people ate them too quickly. I bought whole wheat flour last week, and have been trying out different recipes to see whether it makes a significant difference in taste & texture. I found that the whole wheat flour worked really well in these bars, as did the brown sugar I was given as a present. The taste is very buttery, even though there isn’t a whole lot of butter in here, considering the amount of bars the recipe yields. The berries really shine through, and are given an added kick with the lemon juice and lemon zest that’s incorporated throughout. Serve this from the fridge, or warmed up with some vanilla ice cream! Yummm!
a sea of berry goodness

a sea of berry goodness

have a crumble bar with a cup of tea....

have a crumble bar with a cup of tea....

....or with custard and strawberry sauce.

....or with custard and strawberry sauce.

or pack it for a picnic or for friends.

or pack it for a picnic or for friends.

just remember: the more bars you eat, the more of your daily servings you'll get ;)

just remember: the more bars you eat, the more of your daily servings of fruit you'll get 😉

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup cold butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Zest and juice of two lemon
  • 2 cups fresh/frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh/frozen raspberries
  • 2 cup fresh/frozen sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup brown 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, raspberries and strawberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for an hour, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.
  5. Nom nom nom.

xo dessertchick

dynamite cookies and pretzel fudge

8 Jun
When I think about being a kid, I think about eating fudge. Whether it’s just plain and simple chocolate fudge, or ooey gooey rocky road fudge, or the delicious peanut butter fudge – just the thought of those overly-sweet and melt-in-your-mouth treats makes me want to be five years old again.
Work has been a pain lately, so between avoiding summer school and dealing with people who want their lattes, I decided to make fudge as some much-needed therapy and anger management. It’s a lot easier, cheaper and satisfying than seeing a shrink 😉
Instead of keeping it simple, I thought I’d try something new! Let me present you my double decker dynamite fudge:  cookies and cream fudge on top, and salty pretzels sandwiched in dark chocolate fudge. These babies are best enjoyed in small dosages, but make the toothache soo worth it.
Enjoy!
a bowl of in-your-face sweetness

a bowl of in-your-face sweetness

cookies & cream meets sweet & salty

cookies & cream meets sweet & salty

seriously, oreo cookies can go into absolutely anything

seriously, oreo cookies can go into absolutely anything

all wrapped up nicely to share with your friends...

all wrapped up nicely to share with your friends...

...but sometimes, sharing can be hard ;)

...but sometimes, sharing can be hard 😉

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Baker’s dark chocolate squares (225 grams)
  • 1 package Baker’s white chocolate squares (225 grams)
  • 2 cans of condensed sweetened milk (250ml each)
  • 20 cookies of your choice – mine were Oreos
  • 25 salted pretzels

How-to:

  1. Microwave the dark chocolate with one can of condensed milk for 2 to 3 minutes, or until chocolate is nearly all melted, stirring thoroughly after each minute.
  2. Spread the mixture into a square 8-inch pan (lined with parchment paper), and top with pretzels (leave them whole, when you cut the fudge later, you’ll end up with an even amount of pretzels throughout), making sure to press them slightly into the fudge.
  3. Repeat melting the white chocolate with the second can of condensed milk.
  4. Break the cookies into quarters, and stir into the white chocolate mixture. Spread that on top of the dark chocolate and the pretzels.
  5. Refrigerate until firm – about 2  hours. Cutting is easiest with a knife dipped into hot water.
  6. Eat (and maybe share) 🙂

xo dessertchick

crazy chocolate coconut banana cake

3 Jun

This shit is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s.

Well, now that I got that clicheed pop culture reference out of the way, let me tell you about this gem of a cake. The emphasis is on the word cake, because this ain’t your regular dry, with only a hint of banana, let’s-eat-it-with-butter banana loaf. Every single slice, bite and morsel of this cake is jam-packed with honest-to-goodness banana, chewy coconut and semi-sweet chocolate pieces. This is one of those times where the bananas truly shine through, and don’t take a backseat to whatever flour and egg mixture you add them to. This cake is heavy and moist, and fills you right up – you could basically have this and a cup of coffee in the morning, and you’d never think about those terrible heavy clumps of dough called muffins again.

Let me tell you this: bananas are not my favourite fruit. They don’t even make it on my top 10 favourite fruits, yet I got out of my way to buy bananas just to let them turn brown and splotchy on my counter. I buy bananas, knowing that I won’t ever eat them as is, just so I have an excuse to make this banana cake.

I’ve been making this recipe for a while now, and although I look towards Anna Olsen’s White Chocolate Banana Loaf recipe as a guideline, you’ll see that even the word guideline is very loosely applied here. My recipe is pretty much entirely different every time I make it, depending on my mood and what state my cupboards are in. So, take a look at my recipe, take a look into your pantry, and then just start mashing up your bananas and throwing whatever you heart desires into your mixing bowl. Just make sure there’s chocolate involved 😉

Because I use a lot of bananas, the amount of sugar you have to add in is virtually nonexistent considering the amount of dense, heavy deliciousness you’ll end up. I also used whole wheat flour instead of white flour, so you could tell yourself that this is actually “healthy” and go about your day happy and fulfilled. Enjoy!

pretty plain looking, with just a light dusting of powdered sugar

pretty plain looking, with just a light dusting of powdered sugar

but on closer inspection....

but on closer inspection....

...it's not that plain anymore!

...it's not that plain anymore!

look at the gooey chocolate chips and the delicious coconut flakes!

look at the gooey chocolate chips and the delicious coconut flakes!

(healthy) comfort food at its finest!

(healthy) comfort food at its finest!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5-6 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup (or more) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar

How-to:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a bundt cake pan.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, all-spice and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with banana.
  4. Fold in coconut and chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon batter into pan and spread evenly.
  6. Bake for 50 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a plate.
  8. Dust with icing sugar right before serving.
  9. Munch away without guilt =)

xo dessertchick