… these chocolate-mocha-nut cookies will satisfy it. And if you’re like me, you crave chocolate on a near-daily basis. (This is why I exercise every day!) I was reminded of the awesomeness that are these cookies the last time I was on Salt Spring and Lynette’s mum, Elaine (of banana bread fame), made them… and I knew I had to make them myself, and soon! Luckily I already had the recipe, it just took me nearly two weeks to get my act together and actually make them! But the wait was worth it. They are SO GOOD.These cookies are super chocolatey, with a chewy, fudgy texture, a good hit of mocha, and a nice crunch from the nuts. One batch gave me 18 large cookies, and they barely lasted past the first day. Seriously, if they last longer in your house, I take my hat off to you and your iron-clad will power!The original recipe calls for walnuts, but I’ve had these cookies with almonds, and I made mine with pecans, so use whatever you prefer. The only changes I made to Elaine’s recipe were to toast the nuts and reduce the sugar by a little bit. I used chopped chocolate because I had a massive bar of dark chocolate in my baking cupboard, but chocolate chips are fine too. Now go make these!…
My good friend Markianna is getting married in August and she has asked me to make her wedding cake. I’m very excited and have been making all kinds of plans and doing wedding cake research – how to stack it, decorate it, move it, cut it… It’s a small wedding (only about 55 people) and the “inspiration cake” (above) is quite simple and rustic, so baking and decorating it should be fairly straight-forward.
It’s not like I have to make a 7-tiered cake to feed 360 (really, Martha has DIY instructions for this!):
Or paint a stained glass design on it:
Thank goodness for that.
No, for me, the overwhelming part is not the making or decorating of the cake. The overwhelming part is deciding on what kind of cake to make. The bride and groom have given me free-reign in the flavour department (one less thing for them to worry about, and apparently I’m “the expert”), but of course now I am paralysed with indecision about what flavours to choose. So, people of the internet, I am relying on you: please tell what kind of cake I should make!
Keeping in mind that I want the cake to look pretty when sliced (ie, colour contrast) and also that I want the outer layer of frosting to be white (I think!), the combinations that I have come up with are as follows:
1) Lemon cake with raspberry compote filling and cream cheese frosting (or plain white buttercream?)
2) Butter cake with caramel and chocolate fillings and vanilla buttercream frosting (or maybe chocolate?)
3) Coconut cake with chocolate filling and white buttercream frosting (or 7-minute frosting?), decorated with shredded coconut curls
4) Chocolate cake with mocha filling and vanilla buttercream frosting (or maybe chocolate?)
So which one should I make? Please leave your feedback in the comments!
These muffins are so good I made them twice. Once for myself, and again the next day for my friend Heather, who just had a baby girl. For the last seven and a half months of her pregnancy, Heather was sick every single day, and obviously had a really hard time eating anything. This would be my own personal hell. Thankfully, now that the baby is out, she can actually enjoy eating again. I visited her and baby Zephyra on the weekend, and when Heather told me to “bring food!” I was more than happy to oblige with these muffins.
The original recipe from Smitten Kitchen is for rhubarb struesel muffins, and I came across it about a week after I posted the recipe for strawberry rhubarb coffee cake made with whole wheat pastry flour – I had been dreaming of a muffin incarnation, and then this recipe appeared, using whole wheat pastry flour to boot! The first time I made them I used (frozen) rhubarb, and they were delicious: not too sweet, with a delicate, springy texture, a crunchy golden struesel layer on top, and a good tang from the rhubarb. Not to mention the fact that they smelled HEAVENLY while baking. The second time around, I used fresh strawberries and frozen blueberries, because Heather has two older kids and I figured berries might be more kid-friendly than slightly sour rhubarb. I also played around with yogurt instead of sour cream, and switched it up with the flours, using a combination of whole wheat and all purpose in place of whole wheat pastry flour. Both times, they came out perfectly, and I think I may have found my new favorite muffin recipe. I’m fairly confident that you could put any kind of fruit in these – fresh or frozen – and they would be fantastic. Thank you Deb at Smitten Kitchen for this recipe!!…
The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle. Check out the challenge details and all the other Daring Bakers’ interpretations of it at the Daring Kitchen.
Last week Nate and I agreed that we’d been eating like crap lately – too much sugary junk, not enough vegetables – and we made a pact to eat better. Then the next day I started making this Daring Bakers Challenge, which is definitely sugary and doesn’t contain any vegetables, unless you count cocoa or tequila as a vegetable.
They were both vegetables/plants, once upon a time, right? Right?!
Oh well. Our fridge is overflowing with lettuce right now, so we’ll make up for it in salads 😉
This is a complicated looking dessert that is actually fairly straight forward, once you get your ducks in a row. The original recipe comes from a restaurant in Seattle, and the yield was for 18 servings!! Thank you Audax Artifex for cutting it down to a more reasonable 6 servings – although this could have easily made 8 servings. It was so rich that only Nate and I managed to clean our plates – everyone else tapped out, so next time I’ll definitely serve smaller portions!…
I was looking through my baking cupboard yesterday and realized I had all of the necessary ingredients for these bars on hand: leftovers from a massive bag of marshmallows from a class camping trip, shredded coconut from making granola, pecans, and cereal. This morning when I actually pulled everything out and started to measure, however, I discovered that I didn’t have quite enough of anything. *Sigh*. By that point I was committed to making them, so half an hour and one trip to the store later, I *actually* had all of the necessary ingredients on hand and in the right amounts!
This recipe is courtesy of my trusted friend Martha, with a few tweaks by yours truly. They are essentially Rice Krispie Squares (cereal mixed with melted marshmallows and butter), however they are “churched-up” by the addition of toasted coconut and pecans. Originally the recipe called for cornflakes, but the first time I made them I used Kellog’s Just Right cereal, which has corn flakes, puffed rice, and toasted oats. They turned out really well and I have never made them with anything else. I also added vanilla, because everything is better with vanilla, right? Especially marshmallows!
I’ve been on a rhubarb kick lately. I bought about 4 kilograms of local rhubarb a few weeks ago and it’s now in my freezer, waiting to be used in something delicious. Seeing as the strawberry rhubarb pie I made at Easter didn’t quite satisfy my craving for slightly tart rhubarb-y goodness, I decided to make a coffee cake instead. This is based on a recipe that I’ve had in my little recipe notebook since high school – I think it is from making goodies for the concession at a school concert or something, but I have no idea of the original source. I took some inspiration from this recipe from a baking group called “Tuesdays with Dorie” (they are baking their way through a cookbook by Dorie Greenspan, of Julia Child fame) and modified the coffee cake to use strawberries and rhubarb, with some ground ginger in the cake and candied ginger in the fruit and brown-sugar struesel topping. I also used whole wheat pastry flour, which gives the cake a slightly “toasty” flavour and stands up well to the more assertive rhubarb flavour. You actually wouldn’t even know it was made with whole wheat because the cake was still moist and light.
The candied ginger I used was marked “mild” and I could have easily used twice as much to get a better ginger taste. I could have also used more ground ginger in the cake batter, and the recipe below is how I would make it next time, ie: with more ginger! If ginger isn’t your thing, feel free to omit it, however it is a really nice addition to the classic strawberry rhubarb combination.
One thing to note: you can use fresh or frozen fruit, but don’t mix it together with the sugar and lemon juice until just before you are really to sprinkle it over the batter, otherwise you will end up with a bunch of liquid in the bottom of the bowl that you have to discard because it will make your cake soggy :(…
Yesterday was Nate’s birthday, and I wanted to make him a cake. He suggested something lemony with cream cheese icing, so I came up with a layer cake filled with lemon curd and covered in white chocolate cream cheese icing. Sounds good, right?
In theory, it was good. It looked good. In reality, it could have been better in several ways. One thing is for sure, this cake was SWEET. Holy sugar headache, Batman!
Sometimes I get a little over-enthusiastic about trying something new, in that I start trying to re-invent the wheel. I Googled “lemon layer cake” and came up with several tried and true recipes (many of which used a 1-2-3-4 cake as a base), but did I go for one of them? Nope, I wanted to do it differently – better, I was hoping….
I have been meaning to share my favorite pie crust recipe here for a while now, but every time I’ve made it lately, I’ve been experimenting with it somehow, with varying degrees of success. For Easter I decided to experiment once more with a hazelnut pastry for strawberry rhubarb pie, and I have to share this variation on the pie crust recipe because it was so good. For the strawberry rhubarb filling, I used this recipe from Simply Recipes, which was a good starting point, but I have some changes I’d make for next time. First, less sugar – 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of fruit was too sweet for my taste. I like a bit of tart rhubarb flavour, and this was quite sugary. Second, more fruit – probably 4 cups of rhubarb and 2 of strawberries. Third, the recipe used instant tapioca for the thickener, which gave the filling a kind of tapioca-pudding texture (little tiny gelatinous balls). Nate said he couldn’t tell, but I wasn’t loving it – not that it tasted bad, I would just prefer a smoother texture from, say, corn starch. And fourth, I would add some lemon zest along with the orange zest to the filling. So once I have all that figured out and perfected, I’ll share my recipe. In the meantime: hazelnut pastry!
This is a super easy-to-make pie crust, made in a slightly different way than usual: instead of cutting cold butter in to flour, you actually cream the room-temperature shortening/butter, then stir in the flour until the dough looks ragged. I know – I was skeptical the first time I made it too, but it was so easy to work with and turned out SO flaky and delicious that it has become my go-to pastry recipe for everything that needs a crust. The only thing it doesn’t work for is single crust pastries that are blind-baked (pre-baked) before filling (like a quiche), because the large amount of fat in the dough causes it to melt and shrink down the pie plate. But for pies that you fill before baking (especially double crust), it is fantastic. I also like that it is easily made entirely by hand – you don’t need a food processor to make good pastry!
I had a strawberry rhubarb pie a few years ago that was topped with a sort of almond struesel, which gave me the idea of adding nuts to the pastry. I like the assertive flavour of hazelnuts, and thought they would pair well with strawberry and rhubarb, so I ground some up and substituted 1/2 cup of the flour for the ground hazelnuts. When I added the water, I ended up with a slightly wetter dough, but by sprinkling it with flour and folding it several times on a floured surface, I got a dough that was just the right consistency and baked up really nicely into lots of light, flaky layers.
I recently joined an online cooking challenge group called the Daring Bakers (their website, the Daring Kitchen, is also home to the Daring Cooks). Every month members are challenged to make a certain recipe, showcasing their creativity and skills to interpret it. The members keep it a secret (no blog posts or online mention of the challenge) until the 27th of the month, when everyone posts a write-up on their blog, recounting their kitchen adventure with that month’s challenge recipe. April was my first Daring Bakers’ Challenge, and it was a good one!
The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!
I have to admit that I was a teensy bit disappointed because mousse isn’t exactly a challenging baking recipe, and the previous months’ challenges had definitely employed more advanced baking skills (including a Jaconde sponge/entremet and a yeasted meringue coffee cake, both of which I want to try out at some point!). However, the edible container part was intriguing, and gave me a chance to try two things that I have wanted to make for a long time: tuile cookie cups and chocolate cups using water balloons. I got over my initial disappointment pretty fast after that, because I love maple syrup (and coincidentally, I had just bought a litre of it for a relatively good price!) AND because Evelyne suggested incorporating bacon into the edible container – and who doesn’t love bacon? Plus the maple/bacon combination is just so delicious…
In grade 7/8 Home Ec, we learned how to make scones and sew boxer shorts. I have never in my life ever sewn another pair of boxer shorts, but this scone recipe is probably the most-loved recipe I have: I use it a lot and the scones (or baking powder biscuits, whatever you want to call them) always turn out perfectly. You can use whole wheat flour if you want or add chopped herbs, grated cheese, dried fruit, fresh or frozen berries, chocolate chips… endless delicious possibilities.
The important thing with making scones is not to over-mix when adding the milk to the dry ingredients, and also not to over-knead the dough before cutting it. The best way to think about it, in both instances, is as more of a folding action, rather than a stirring or kneading action. This gives you light, flaky, perfect scones.