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sugar fix: winter blues apple crisp

11 Nov

Warm summer days seem so long ago: I miss the days of summer dresses, skirts and sandals. Although autumn is beautiful to look at, the shivering and frantic rubbing of hands isn’t exactly my idea of having a good ol’ time. For those days where I come home frozen through because I refuse to give up my favourite jacket that just isn’t warm enough anymore, I turn to this recipe to warm me up. This is my favourite recipe for delicious and simple apple crisp, and it is so versatile, too! You can use pears and bananas, or strawberry and rhubarb, or a medley of berries instead of the apples. You can add nutmeg, pecans or almonds to the topping, and interchange the chocolate chips with toffee or marshmallows.

This apple crisp is sure to make you happy! The apples provide that extra boost of vitamin C that you need during the dreary winter days. Vitamin C deficiency has been linked to stress and irritability. And if you feel like your mood swings are getting out of hand, then the oatmeal will lend you a helping hand. Mood swings are often because your blood sugar levels dip, since the oatmeal is high in soluble fiber, it’ll even out your blood sugar levels – and it’ll be smooth sailing from there. The chocolate not only tastes great, but chocolate has also been proven to contain a host of chemicals that send signals to your brain cell receptors to create a happy high. And of course, the smell of cinnamon has been proven to be so comforting to people that it’ll relax you instantly the moment the apple crisp starts baking in the oven.

I also baked my favourite vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese icing for a food segment I shot for school. Here’s the link to the how-to baking segment we shot! Check it out and let me know what you think =)

Enough of my rambling. Here’s what you came for!

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vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

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these are the cast members for The Sugar Fix - a short food segment I filmed for school

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cinnamon apple crisp with chocolate chip oatmeal crumble topping

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the apples are nice and soft, and just soak in the brown sugar and cinnamon

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 apples (or one per person)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar for apple mix
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar for topping
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

How-to:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Peel and cube the apples and put into a bowl. Add to the mixture the brown sugar and cinnamon, as well as the 2 tbsp of flour. The flour will bind the juices of the apples once they start baking, and will create a nice syrup.
  3. Transfer mixture into baking pan or ramekins.
  4. Now, combine the oat, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, walnuts and shredded coconut. Incorporate the butter into the mix. It’s best to use your hands to create a crumbly mixture.
  5. Top the apples with the crumble mix. Sprinkle generously with the chocolate chips.
  6. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the apples are tender to the touch.
  7. Remove and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. Top off with your favourite ice cream, sit back, and relax.

xo dessertchick

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hazelnut buttercrunch toffee brittle

26 Oct

I have finally settled back into my kitchen after being away from it for over two months. Since I’ve landed back onto Canadian soil, I have made the following: marble cake, key lime pie, lemon cheesecake tart, mini pecan pie, mini carrot cakes, hazelnut shortbread, buttercrunch toffee brittle and coconut bars. Sadly, I wasn’t able to take photos of any of these delightful goodies until I made the buttercrunch toffee because the charger of my beloved SLR is currently on its way in a FedEx package from Vietnam. Yes, the idiot that I am, I forgot the chargers for both my SLR and my point&shoot in Vietnam – although it is because of very mean and bitter and unfair customs officials in Vietnam who were very very very corrupt. But that’s a story for another day.

Let me now introduce you to this super easy yet oh-so-delicious, you-can’t-eat-just-one-or-four-or-five buttercrunch toffee brittle.  I found this recipe on Joy of Baking while I was supposed to be “interning” and being a good reporter, so shhhh, don’t tell anyone, okay? I found hazelnuts on sale the day after Thanksgiving, so I decided to slightly change the recipe by substituting the almonds with the hazelnuts. The layer of toasted hazelnuts at the bottom, followed by the buttercrunch toffee, and the chocolate and hazelnut sprinkles on top…it tastes fantastic! Also, I think this makes a really good gift idea – especially since Christmas is slowly creeping up on us now. Brittle is sold in stores in very pretty cellophane and fancy ribbons for a ridiculous price, and you can make your own (many!!!!) variations at the fraction of the price. Plus, you can then awe your friends with how amazing and talented you are at making these very pretty and yummy goodies.

The brittle is pretty sinful on its own with a nice cold cup of milk, or a hot cup of coffee, but if you’re feeling like living life on the edge, eat the brittle with a homemade sundae or just a couple of scoops of your favourite ice cream. I’ve been eating ice cream like crazy as of late – mostly due to the fact of finding the CUTEST ice cream scoop on the face of the world. So really, the cow tells me to eat ice cream – and I’m not crazy, I promise! Anyhow, enough of my ramblings. Here is what you’re really waiting =)

a plate full of deliciousness

a plate full of deliciousness

crunchy brittle paired with ice cream - scooped with the coolest ice cream scoop ever

crunchy brittle paired with ice cream - scooped with the coolest ice cream scoop ever

crunchy layer of hazelnuts topped with buttercrunch toffee layer, smothered in milk chocolate and sprinkled with toasted hazelnuts

crunchy layer of hazelnuts topped with buttercrunch toffee layer, smothered in milk chocolate and sprinkled with toasted hazelnuts

notice the earring that the Cool Cow Scoop is wearing?

notice the earring that the Cool Cow Scoop is wearing?

okay, at this point, I was just having too much fun =)

okay, at this point, I was just having too much fun =)


Recipe

Tips (from Joy of Baking):

  • do not make the brittle on a humid day
  • use a wooden spoon to stir, since it is easier to clean than a metal spoon
  • have all your ingredients ready to go, especially the baking soda and vanilla
  • the vanilla adds flavour, while the baking soda aids in browning and allows for a lighter texture
  • store in an airtight container to prevent the brittle from softening
  • this recipe makes one pound of brittle (which is barely enough for you to enjoy AND to share with others =P)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups slivered almonds or chopped hazelnuts (or both!)
  • 1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 6 oz semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate

How-to:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Place almonds/hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Once the nuts are cooled, you should now chop them. The recipe calls for a food processor, but I found that it pulverized them too fine. I found it was easier and tastier when you just gave them a rough chop with a knife.
  3. Sprinkle half of the nuts into a 8×10 inch buttered baking sheet. Set aside.
  4. In a heavy saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar and water
  5. Have the baking soda and vanilla ready to go at this point.
  6. Bring the sugar mixture to a boil, avoiding over-stirring, until the mixture reaches 285F on a candy thermometer (soft-crack stage).
  7. Immediately remove the pan from heat, and add the baking soda and vanilla all at once.
  8. Immediately pour the mixture evenly onto your baking sheet over the almonds/hazelnuts.
  9. Sprinkle the chocolate over top. The hot caramel mixture will soften and melt the chocolate. Using an off-set spatula, spread the chocolate evenly over the caramel mixture.
  10. Sprinkle with the remaining nuts and refrigerate until completely cooled.
  11. Once cooled, you can break or cut the brittle into your desired sizes and shapes.
  12. Mangia ❤

xo dessertchick

nutella delight profiteroles

21 Sep

These profiteroles were my very first venture into making choux pastry – and it was frighteningly easy. If I had known this before, I would have attempted these much sooner. Now, I’ll be planning on making eclairs! These profiteroles are filled with fluffy, creamy nutella chocolate mousse, and are sinful to eat – especially during a hot day accompanied with some fresh fruit or, if you’re feeling dangerous, with ice cream.

one bite of this, and you'll forget all your worries.

one bite of this, and you'll forget all your worries.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 brick of cream cheese (250g), softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup whipping cream (liquid, not whipped yet)
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Nutella, melted in the microwave
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate, melted in the microwave
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 milk
  • 4 ounces (125g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 extra egg for eggwash

How-to:

  1. In a bowl or stand mixer, whisk whipping cream and 1/4 cup of the sugar until it forms into nice dense whipped cream, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the cream cheese and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar until creamy. Continue to whisk and add the honey.
  3. Add the melted Nutella and the melted chocolate into the cream cheese mix, and continue beating until well incorporated.
  4. Now, fold the whipped cream mixture into the Nutella mixture with a spatula.
  5. Cover up the bowl and refrigerate for an hour.
  6. In the meantime, you can tackle the choux pastry. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  7. Bring the water, milk, butter and salt to a slow boil in a pan, making sure to stir constantly so that the butter dissolves before the mix comes to a boil.
  8. The moment bubbles start forming, remove form heat and add all the flour at once, stirring quickly to make a very smooth paste.
  9. Place the pan back on the stove and, over low heat, stir the mix constantly until the dough forms into a ball and pulls away from the pan. This should only take about a minute.
  10. Transfer the ball into a bowl and let cool for at least 5 minutes. You’ll be adding the eggs, one at a time, and don’t want them to cook.
  11. Crack one egg at a time, incorporating each of them well into the ball of dough before adding the next.
  12. The final paste should easily be dropped onto the baking sheet, if it is too runny, add a little bit of flour until you get it right.
  13. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper or you silpad.
  14. Form the choux pastry by either piping mounds with a piping bag, or simply drop it onto the sheet using two spoons.
  15. Leave an inch between each mound because these babies expand.
  16. Make the egg wash by beating the egg with a pinch of salt. Brush egg wash on the choux pastry, making sure not to drip onto the tray or else it’ll burn.
  17. Bake the choux pastry in the oven at 400F for 6 to 7 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 325F and bake for another 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown.
  18. Remove baked profiteroles from the tray and let cool.
  19. Once cooled, cut each profiterole in half using a sharp knife – but don’t cut all the way through.
  20. Spoon the Nutella mousse into a piping bag, and pipe into the opening of each pastry, not filling it too much because you still want the top to be able to close somewhat.
  21. Continue with all of your profiteroles, and eat the remaining Nutella mousse =)

xo dessertchick

easy peasy brownie whoopie pies

10 Sep

I’ve been storing these photos for a while now, because the summer was just too hectic in order to write up these posts. I’m trying to catch up now, so check back often for”new” updates of all the goodies I baked in the summer. I made the super easy brownie whoopie pies a couple of weeks ago, and they were delicious. I was a bit reluctant to make them because it requires you to buy marshmallow fluff – which is a very dangerous thing for me to have around my kitchen. I nevertheless couldn’t pass up the opportunity to combine marshmallow filling with dense brownies. So, tada! Let me present you my super delicious & super easy brownie whoopie pies. I adapted and slightly changed my brownie recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s recipe, since she is my hero.

The brownies basically look like those two-bite brownies and taste exactly like them – if not a bit fudgier and denser and…better. Homemade is best, isn’t it? Once they finish baking in your mini muffin pan, it’s simply a matter of letting them cool while you whip up the frosting. The assembly is as easy as 1,2,3. Cut, fill & top it up.

Enjoy!

so innocent looking.

You take a brownie....

...you cut the brownie in half...

...you cut the brownie in half...

...garnish with a generous dollop of cream filling...

...garnish with a generous dollop of cream filling...

....and top it all off with the brownie's other half.

....and top it all off with the brownie's other half.

Repeat process as often as desired....

Repeat process as often as desired....

...and chomp in.

...and chomp in.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp all-spice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate, chopped.
  • 2 tsp instant coffee
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow fluff
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

How-to:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Prepare your mini or regular sized muffin tins.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, all-spice and salt.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt the butter slowly over low heat. You don’t want the butter to burn on you.
  4. Once the butter is melted, add 1 cup of the semi-sweet chocolate and stir until fully melted. Add the instant coffee and continue to stir until everything is incorporated.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool down, between 5 and 10 minutes. One at a time, whisk in the eggs into the butter/chocolate mixture.
  6. Stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until just incorporated. Try not to overmix.
  7. Spoon the mixture into the mini muffin tins. You can fill the, 3/4 of the way up, since these babies don’t rise much.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes and let cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before removing them to a wire rack – otherwise your brownies will break. In the meantime….
  9. In a medium sized bowl, beat together the butter and confectioners sugar until light and fluffy.
  10. Add the marshmallow fluff and vanilla extract and continue to beat the mixture until it is fully combined.
  11. Spoon mixture into a piping bag.
  12. Cut the cooled brownies in half. Pipe a generous dollop of fluff onto the bottom half and then top with the remaining brownie half.
  13. Share & enjoy!

xo dessertchick

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

sprinkle-mania

16 Apr

Okay, I went a tad crazy. Just a little bit. I promise, I still am somewhat sane but I just couldn’t help myself when I saw the sale on the spice rack on top of the sale on sprinkles.

what an impressive sideview!

what an impressive sideview!

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Don’t judge me =)

xo dessertchick

cinnamon swirly sticks

7 Apr

Just because something is easy, doesn’t mean that it’s not tasty, and no, it doesn’t undermine you as a baker-wannabe! These swirly sticks are about as easy as it’ll get, especially since I used store-bought puff pastry. And I’d also like to point out that taking a few shhortcuts doesn’t make you a bad baker-wannabe either! So, you’ll need three ingredients if you’re able to pull yourself away from pretenses and use store-bough puff pastry. But if you like, you can of course make it yourself. Except then, it won’t be quick and easy, which was the whole point for this recipe =)

twist these babies as much as you'd like to get them looking pretty!

twist these babies as much as you'd like to get them looking pretty!

hmmm how can you resist such awesomeness?

hmmm how can you resist such awesomeness?

flaky puff pastry....

flaky puff pastry....

....crunchy cinnamon sugar. yum!

....crunchy cinnamon sugar. yum!

so this is what I'm currently munching on right now.

so this is what I'm currently munching on right now.

nom nom nom

nom nom nom

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 can of Pillsbury Crescents

How-to:

  1. Heat oven to 375F.
  2. Unroll dough, and separate into 4 rectangles. Mix together sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  3. Using a rolling pin, flatten out each rectangle, and squeeze together the pre-made perforations to seal them.
  4. Brush two of the rectangles with the melted butter and sprinkle about 1 tbsp of the cinnamon sugar mix onto each rectangle.
  5. Top each rectangle with remaining dough. Press edges together lightly.
  6. Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut each rectangle lengthwise into six strips.
  7. Twist each strip four or five times and place onto ungreased baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.
  9. Remove from baking sheet, brush tops with butter and sprinkle remaining sugar mixture on top.
  10. Let cool and snack away. Try to remember to share!

xo dessertchick