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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

bridal mania pt 3 – cute as can be desserts

15 Sep

This is the last in the trilogy of bridal mania posts. I just wanted to show you guys the cute mini versions of my strawberry Oreo pies that I made. They were so much fun to make, and probably the easiest dessert for this bridal shower. I simply doubled the recipe, bought a bunch of disposable mini tart shells and pressed the graham cracker crust into them. Then just scoop the filling into each tart shell and top off with half a strawberry.

The Oreo truffles I usually make are smaller but Shirley asked me to make them a bit bigger for the bridal shower. So, I obliged and it made the dipping a bit more difficult – not to mention the fact that the hot kitchen made it impossible for the chocolate to set. I ended up making these in shifts and putting them into the fridge until they set. It took a bit longer than usual, but they are soo worth it.

In the end, it was a lot of fun to have an excuse to bake these many goodies. I think the selection was pretty good: refreshing strawberry oreo pies, decadent oreo truffles, rich buttermilk chocolate cupcakes and moist buttermilk vanilla cupcakes. Delicious.

a taste of summer: mini oreo strawberry pies

a taste of summer: mini oreo strawberry pies

a taste of decadence: giant hand-dipped oreo truffles

a taste of decadence: giant hand-dipped oreo truffles

a taste of everything: the bridal shower desserts

a taste of everything: the bridal shower desserts

xo dessertchick

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

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

terrilyn’s picture perfect pie

30 Apr

This week, it was Terri’s turn to have her dessert request made. She chose caramel, marshmallow and chocolate (as long as it wasn’t dark chocolate). I didn’t want to make a cookie, since I’ve been making plenty of those as of late, and I didn’t want to make tarts, since Caitlin got those already. So, after much deliberation, I came to the decision that she would get a decadent, sweet-til-it-kills-you pie. This is Terri’s Picture Perfect Pie, since I had way too much fun snapping shots of it while cutting and arranging it on a plate. The pie is made with a toffee shortbread crust, filled with melted marshmallows and a gooey caramel filling, and then topped off with a thick and rich chocolate ganache layer. And then, for good measure, broken pieces of (homemade!!) toffee adorned the pie. Yum! Have a look at what Terri will be eating for the next little while!

see how the toffee shortbread crust can barely contain the caramel?

see how the toffee shortbread crust can barely contain the caramel?

ready for a slice of caramel infused heaven?

ready for a slice of caramel infused heaven?

if this is what heaven looked like, there'd be no crime

if this is what heaven looked like, there'd be no crime

getting ready for lift-off

getting ready for lift-off

between the marshmallows and the caramel oozing out...

between the marshmallows oozing out...

...and the caramel following suit...

...and the caramel following suit...

...and the thick layer of chocolate ganache - I don't know which part is my favourite...

...and the thick layer of chocolate ganache - I don't know which part is my favourite...

...good thing I don't have to choose! I'll just have the whole damn pie =)

...good thing I don't have to choose! I'll just have the whole damn pie =)

Recipe

Toffee Shortbread Crust:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup toffee crumbs (recipe found here, and you just give it a whiz in the food processor until they look like graham cracker crumbs)
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Cream together the sugar and butter until well combined.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until completely smooth.
  4. Add the flour, toffee and salt, and mix until just combined.
  5. Pat the dough into a fluted 8 or 9 inch pie pan.  Bake the crust at 15 minutes or until lightly brown around the edges.

Marshmallow Layer:

  • 1  cup of mini marshmallows OR 1/2 cup marshmallow fluff
  1. When the pie crust comes out of the oven, sprinkle with mini marshmallows and return to the oven for 4 minutes until they melt. Using a spoon, just spread the mixture around, and set aside.
  2. If using the marshmallow fluff, there is no need to return to oven. Simply spread it onto the base after the crust has cooled, and set aside.

Caramel Filling (adapted from In The Night Kitchen):

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Stir sugar and water in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves.
  2. Increase heat and boil until syrup is amber color, brushing down sides with wet pastry brush and swirling pan occasionally, about 8 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat. Add cream, butter, vanilla and salt (mixture will bubble up).
  4. Return pan to very low heat; stir until caramel is smooth and color deepens, about 5 minutes.
  5. Refrigerate uncovered until cold but not firm, about 20 minutes.
  6. Once cooled, spoon over the marshmallow layer, and spread out smoothly. Set aside.

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1/2  cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate
  1. Melt the heavy cream and chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals.
  2. Mix until smooth and totally dissolved.
  3. Spoon over the caramel layer.
  4. Sprinkle with chunks of homemade toffee.
  5. Refigerate for at least an hour, and keep in fridge until serving it.
  6. Make sure not to wear white clothes while eating this – and remember: share!

xo dessertchick

caitlin is my favourite tart

23 Apr

Okay, I’m not calling Caitlin a silly tart. However, I did promise her that I would make something especially for her so that the goodies cater to her exact taste and whim. Here, I present you with Caitlin’s Toffee Chocolate Ganache Custard Tart. Yep, a very long name, so I’m going to call these Caitlin’s Party Tarts. Because Caitlin is always the life of the party, and these are her tarts.

The tarts have a flaky, buttery crust. The custard isn’t too sweet, and goes well with the semi-sweet chocolate ganache. The homemade toffee adds a crunch and a nice sweetness to this bite-sized dessert.

They are very easy to make, and the longest process was just the assembly. Baking takes 10 minutes, and then it’s just a lot of chilling and taking pictures! Voila!

mini muffin pan = mini tarts

mini muffin pan = mini tarts

homemade toffee in three sizes: giant toffee pieces

homemade toffee in three sizes: giant toffee pieces

toffee chunks

toffee chunks

tiny toffee sprinkles

tiny toffee sprinkles

plain jane: naked custard tart

plain caitlin: naked custard tart

jane with her party hat: chocolate ganache custard tart

caitlin with her party hat: chocolate ganache custard tart

caitlin's the life of the party: toffee chocolate ganache custard tart

caitlin's the life of the party: toffee chocolate ganache custard tart

too many tarts, so little time

too many tarts, so little time

no matter how beautiful - it's the inside that counts

no matter how beautiful - it's the inside that counts

we may look different, but in the end, we're all the same: tasty

we may look different, but in the end, we're all the same: tasty

Recipe

Ingredients:

Toffee (or you can just buy toffee bits):

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Crust:

  • 1 can of Pillsbury Crescents or make your own puff pastry. I’ll post my own puff pastry recipe soon.

Custard:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons milk or cream
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder or vanilla pudding powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered confectioners or icing sugar

Ganache:

  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp milk

How-to:

Toffee (adapted from Scrumptious Photography):

  1. Melt the butter, sugar, water and salt together in a saucepan over low heat.
  2. Continue heating and stirring until the mixture reaches 300F.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
  4. Pour hot mixture onto a sheet pan lined with parchment or a silpat.
  5. Let the toffee cool to room temperature and break apart into pieces as small and uniform as you can get them.

Crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Unroll Pillsbury Crescent dough. You will have 8 large triangles initially. Cut each triangle into 4 smaller triangles so that you end up with 32 mini triangles. Stuff each one into a small mini muffin pan indent. Make sure that you press up on the sides, so that it’ll be able to cup the custard and chocolate.
  3. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and don’t freak out when your cups look like little balloons instead. Using a spoon, just squish the dough puffs into the shape of a cup, and return to oven for another 2 minutes.
  4. Remove and let cool.

Custard (adapted from Dishing Up Delights):

  1. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter. Beat in the remaining ingredients. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more milk.
  2. Spoon the filling slowly into each cup, making sure not to overflow them. Let cool in fridge for 15 minutes.

Ganache:

  1. Combine chocolate and milk and microwave at 30 second intervals for 2 minutes. Stir until smooth, and top each custard tart with ganache. At this point, you should probably cover about two tarts at a time with ganache and then follow up immediately with toffee sprinkles, or else the chocolate will cool and the toffee won’t stick.
  2. Let assembled tarts cool in fridge for another 15 minutes, and the start chowing!

xo dessertchick