Chocolate-Bottomed Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie

Chocolate-Bottomed Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie | Korena in the Kitchen

I made this chocolate, bourbon and maple syrup-laced pecan pie about a month ago for Canadian Thanksgiving after finally admitting that I don’t like pumpkin pie all that much – I mean, it’s OK, but I can think of probably a dozen other desserts I’d rather eat. And after tasting this pie, all I can ask myself is, “why was I holding on to pumpkin for so long?!” Gooey maple custard, crunchy pecans, a good dose of bourbon, and some dark chocolate to cut through the sweetness: now THAT is a pie worth making every year. It sounds like a lot of things going on in one pie, but they are all the perfect complement to one another. The only thing that could have used some work was my pie crust, which – to be honest – has never been the tender, flaky masterpiece I’ve always wanted it to be.

Chocolate-Bottomed Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie | Korena in the Kitchen

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Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread | Korena in the Kitchen

The bakery in the town I grew up in made a delicious cinnamon raisin bread, and on the occasions that I could convince my mum to buy a loaf, I would eat practically the entire thing myself, toasted and slathered with butter. Now, being an adult, I can, of course, go to the store and buy a loaf whenever the urge strikes – but in this particular instance, the urge also struck to make it myself.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread | Korena in the Kitchen

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Daring Bakers: French Meringue Macarons

French Meringue Macarons | Korena in the Kitchen

For the month of October we got to take on one of many bakers’ deepest, darkest kitchen nightmares: macarons. Our talented bakers Korena from Korena in the Kitchen and Rachael from pizzarossa made the intimidating task of mastering these French beauties a breeze.

I’ve fallen off the wagon with the Daring Bakers challenges over the past few months, but I jumped right back on this month to co-host a macaron challenge with my blog-pal Rachael. It was really fun to come up with this challenge together, capturing all our collective macaron wisdom into a Word document that we passed back and forth (I think we ended up on version eleven!), and deciding to create videos showing our macaron-making techniques (mine is here – recorded on my iPhone because my DSLR ran out of batteries, d’oh! –  and Rachael’s is here).

French Meringue Macarons | Korena in the Kitchen

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Apple Strawberry Custard Tart

Apple Strawberry Custard Tart | Korena in the KitchenI’m going to say it: fall is my favourite season. I know everyone loves summer because SUNSHINE, but I love fall because SWEATERS, and SOUP, and CRISP MORNINGS, and FIRES IN THE FIREPLACE. Fall fees like a relief after a long, hot, parched summer – at this time of year, the weather is still pretty gorgeous but we’ve had a bit of rain so everything is green again, just in time for the riot of fall colours as the leaves start to turn. Not to mention the absolute bounty of fall produce. I’ve been at the local farmers market every Saturday for the past three weeks, just soaking in the gorgeous fall veggies, filling my cloth bags to the brim with massive heads of broccoli and cauliflower, big orange squash, peppers, kale, chard, and salad greens. Of course there are apples, but to my surprise, there is also one stand that is still selling local strawberries in October!

Apple Strawberry Custard Tart | Korena in the Kitchen

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Perfect Plum Cake

Perfect Plum Cake | Korena in the KitchenSorry for the complete lack of posts this month – I have a pretty good excuse, I promise (more on that to come!). To make up for it though, I bring you cake. And not just any cake: a gorgeously pink-tinged cake full of plums, which are fast becoming my favourite fruit for baking.

I’ve always had a soft spot for cooked plums – I love how they sweeten as they slump into themselves and turn that gorgeous jewel-toned garnet colour – and especially plums in cakes. Earlier this summer I came across a recipe for a plum cake with – get this – plum caramel, and I started pulling out ingredients the second I finished reading those two words. Plum caramel is a genius combination of cooked sugar mixed with pureed plums instead of heavy cream, and it is every bit as delicious as it sounds. I highly recommend you make some, immediately.

Perfect Plum Cake | Korena in the Kitchen

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Orange Rosemary Pecan Zucchini Bread

 

Orange Rosemary Pecan Zucchini Bread with Orange-Honey Butter | Korena in the Kitchen

Unlike most gardens at this time of year, my garden is NOT overflowing with zucchini. All summer I’ve had two zucchini plants busily putting out flowers, but zucchini have both male and female flowers which need to be cross-pollinated in order for the little baby squash at the base of the female flower to grow, and my plants just couldn’t seem to coordinate their schedules to have both kinds of flower blooming at the same time. My potential zukes never got past this stage before shriveling up and dying (very depressing). And now the plants are succumbing to dusty mildew, so my homegrown zucchini dreams are over for this summer. Sadness.

Orange Rosemary Pecan Zucchini Bread with Orange-Honey Butter | Korena in the Kitchen

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Daring Bakers: Charlotte Royale

Rhubarb and Custard Charlotte Royale | Korena in the Kitchen

For the June Daring Bakers challenge Rebecca from BakeNQuilt.com challenged us to make Charlotte Royale and Charlotte Russe from scratch. Savory or sweet Charlottes were definitely tasty showstoppers.

As a kid, I remember seeing the Charlotte aux Bluets recipe in the Canadian Living 20th Anniversary Cookbook and thinking that it was the pinnacle of sophisticated and elegant desserts, so you could say that doing this month’s challenge was sort of like ticking an item off my bucket list. The Charlotte (Royale or Russe) is a chilled dessert based on Bavarian cream or mousse, either molded into a domed shape and covered in slices of jelly roll (Royale), or spooned into a loose-bottomed cake pan and fenced in around the edges by lady fingers (Russe). I had plans to make both versions this month, but only managed to get the Royale completed. Russe is still on my list!

Rhubarb and Custard Charlotte Royale | Korena in the Kitchen

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Sourdough Plum and Almond Cream Galettes with Thyme

Sourdough Plum and Almond Cream Galettes with Thyme | Korena in the KitchenAs much as I love making pies, the simplicity and ease of a galette is pretty hard to beat. No fancy equipment needed, no special skills or pastry techniques – just a good pie crust recipe and some perfectly ripe fruit. It’s still pretty early in the season for local fruit around here, so I used plums from California. I absolutely love the tart, jammy flavour of cooked plums, and they are just gorgeous when baked: the gradient from yellow flesh to reddish-purple skin is so pleasing. I added a little bit of fresh thyme (plums love thyme, believe me) and some almond cream underneath the fruit, because it helps to soak up some of the fruit juices that inevitably leak out of a galette, and also, YUM.

Sourdough Plum and Almond Cream Galettes with Thyme | Korena in the Kitchen

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Daring Bakers: Lamingtons

Classic Lamingtons | Korena in the KitchenFor the May challenge Marcellina from Marcellina in Cucina dared us to make Lamingtons, an Australian delicacy that is as tasty as it is elegant.

The story goes that these little treats came about after a serving maid dropped some squares of sponge cake in chocolate icing, and her boss, Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland, suggested that rather than throwing them out, she roll them in coconut “to avoid sticky fingers”. I’m not entirely sure that this story is water-tight, however, as the Lamington is also claimed by New Zealand and is known as cupavci in Bosnia. But regardless of who came up with them, they are a good idea.

Classic Lamingtons | Korena in the Kitchen

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Mini Vanilla-Orange Creamsicle Cheesecake

Creamsicle Cheesecake | Korena in the Kitchen

This year for his birthday, Nate requested a creamsicle cheesecake. I’ll admit that the creamsicle combination of creamy vanilla ice cream with orange isn’t usually my first choice – especially when there is creamy vanilla ice cream with chocolate to be had instead – but since it was his birthday, I acquiesced. Compared to the chocolate caramel bacon insanity cake from his birthday a few years ago, it was a relatively simple request.

Creamsicle Cheesecake | Korena in the Kitchen

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