Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nipple Cookies

Ok, so these are really spritz cookies with hershey kisses on top, but my mom makes these every year and an uncle of mine dubbed them nipple cookies so that is what my family has been calling them ever since.Can you blame us? they look like know....

Um...anyways, these are a really great holiday cookie, though they are labour intensive. The recipe makes a lot of little cookies, so make these for a crowd.
I think cookie presses are kind of a pain, and you could use a piping bag I guess, but the damn cookie press is traditional in my home. There is really a small margin of time where the dough is the perfect temperature and consistency to produce perfect little rosettes. You also need a slight hand, as too much pressure and too warm a room will inevitably produce cookie blobs that aren't really that nice.

You can vary the recipe by making half chocolate and putting white chocolate hugs or peppermint kisses on them instead , but I must admit I love the original vanilla shortbread topped with milk chocolate the best. The crisp buttery cookie base and rich milk chocolate just make these a wonderful cookie that almost always gets eaten within minutes of being set out...
And the name is all part of the holiday fun. Sort of.

Nipple cookies

• 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• ¾ cups sugar
• ¼ teaspoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup butter
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
2. Blend in 1 cup butter, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
3. Break into a measuring cup 1 egg. If it does not measure ¼ cup, add water up to ¼ cup line.
4. Stir the egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
5. Beat well, then chill. Put dough through a cookie press (or piping bag) onto an ungreased cookie sheet. If the dough becomes too soft, re-chill it slightly. Bake for 8-10 minutes in a 350 degree F oven.
6. Let rest for 1 minute on cookie sheet. Remove to wire rack and top each cookie with a chocolate kiss while still warm. The chocolate will melt and adhere to the cookies.

For chocolate dough:
Melt two ounces unsweetened chocolate into dough.

For half vanilla and half chocolate dough:
Divide dough in half and mix 1 ounce melted unsweetened chocolate into half of the dough.

To marble dough:
Mix chocolate and vanilla dough to make a swirl and press through cookie press.

“festive nipple cookies”
Top chocolate cookies with white chocolate or candy-cane kisses.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies

Adapted From: The Joy of Cooking

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pumpkin Cranberry Loaf

This quick bread is my new favourite thing to do with leftover pumpkin puree. I've made pumpkin muffins before and they are always dense and hearty but other than being hearty they generally are not the most exciting muffins around. But this moist pumpkin loaf with its generous amounts of orange zest, tart cranberries, a hint of vanilla , and warming spices has a more complex flavour and is just as satisfying as any of my muffin recipes.

This loaf is so tender, delicate, old fashioned and wintery. It is the perfect comfort food for this shitty Maritimes December day. It is raining! Not even a respectable snowfall..... but if rainy days mean I get to stay in and bake, I guess I cant complain that much...especially after a few slices of this pumpkin loaf.

Pumpkin Cranberry Loaf


Makes one 9x5 loaf

Time: 2 hours

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1-1/2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen

    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with butter.
    2. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices and set aside.
    3. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and stir in pumpkin puree, orange zest and vanilla. Stir in orange juice. Add dry ingredients in 2 additions and blend just until incorporated. Fold in cranberries.
    4. Spoon batter into a greased 9x5 loaf pan and bake in centre of oven for 60-75 minutes until a tester inserted into the loaf comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing.

Adapted from: Sugar by Anna Olson

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chocolate Peppermint Brownies

I was going through my vintage cookbooks again. I am fascinated by the strange food people ate in the 50s and 60's. Take this recipe from 1968, a pie made by mixing lime juice, marshmallows, and heavy cream into a graham crust studded with more mini marshmallows, green food colouring, optional. I would love to try this just to see how it looks! let alone to taste it.
However, while sifting through the outmoded and just plain grotesque, you will ocassionally come across a few gems, like these chocolate peppermint brownies.

A friend of mine from Lithography class mentioned her experiment of mixing hot chocolate and peppermint tea, and it gave me the inspiration for some chocolate mint brownies. I adore mint chocolate chip ice cream and chocolate peppermint bark, and I ate mentos by the handful as a kid but it always seemed wrong to put mint into anything that wasn't a full on cakes and brownies. However, my mind was changed after some free samples of the chocolate peppermint brownies at Starbucks.(I love when they give me free samples....its like they are feeding me to hang around, except that I already bought my 4 dollar latte)
The point of this long digression is that a pepperminty frosting over dense fudgy brownies is an inspired match. So when I was browsing my old cookbooks and found this recipe that calls for stuff I already have in my pantry, and no marshmallows in sight, I knew it would be great.

And it is, an elegant 3 layer brownie, consisting of: a fudgy dense brownie base, a white slick of peppermint frosting and a crackly chocolate topping. These would have been great at a 1950s dinner party, let alone a dinner party today, served on pretty platters with some peppermint tea or hot chocolate. These are really tasty, the main flavour here is the chocolate, the peppermint is refreshing but subtle. These are best served cut into tiny one inch squares for a little something sweet and refreshing after a nice dinner, because they are very rich. You could tint the peppermint layer green which would be so retro, but I decided that I would be serving it to people who may be a bit squeamish about food colouring and opted for white. I brought these to school and even got requests for the recipe!

Chocolate Mint Brownies

Time: about 1-2 hours plus chilling time
Makes 24-30 bars depending on how you cut them, these are rich so cut them small!

• 2/3 cup butter
• 3 ounces(squares) unsweetened chocolate
• 2 cups brown sugar
• 3 eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1-1/4 cups flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• ¼ teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter and chocolate together in the top of a double boiler; remove from heat. Add brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla; blend well. Sift dry ingredients; add ad blend into chocolate mixture, mixing well.
2. Spread evenly in greased 9x13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-35 minutes, until brownies are firm to the touch and will bounce back when lightly pressed. Cool thoroughly. Chill and glaze.

Mint frosting
• 2 cups powdered sugar
• ¼ cup softened butter
• 2 tablespoons milk or cream
• ½ teaspoon peppermint extract

1. Beat all ingredients until smooth; if desired tint with food colouring. Spread on bars; chill

Chocolate glaze (I just used about 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips melted for this step)

• 2 squares semisweet chocolate
• 2 tablespoons butter

1. Melt chocolate and butter; dribble over cooled firm frosting. Spread gently with spatula until surface is covered. Cool, cut into bars. Yield 24-30 bars depending on how small you cut them.

The Beta Sigma Phi Desserts Cookbook, 1968

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Coconut Lime Curd Scrolls

This summer, I made quite a lot of lime curd to use in tarts and cupcakes, I usually keep lime or lemon curd in the freezer to use for last minute tart recipes or on scones.
This recipe is adapted from Baking Bites and seemed like a good way to use up odd amounts of lime curd, my change was to use homemade lime curd instead of lemon.
These were nice, I think would add a bit more curd next time, the scrolls could have been tarter and I think the lime curd was spread a little thin in spots. Some pinwheels were limier than others (I had to eat them all to discover this, you see), but in general, these were a good scone, pretty, pinwheel, need no embellishment. The scroll dough was a nice basic scone type dough, and next time I plan to try the nutella version. These spirally scones were toasty on the outside tender in centre, good with fresh berries for brunch or breakfast.
The best part is eating them warm from the oven when the coconut gets toasted and crunchy, while the scone stays tender.

Coconut Lime Curd Scrolls
this recipe was adapted from baking my only change was to use my homemade lime curd in place of lemon curd.

time: 40 minutes
makes 12-14 scrolls

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, cold
  • 1/2 cup lime or lemon curd, homemade or storebought
  • 3/4 - 1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Rub in butter using your fingertips, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. The largest should be about the size of a large pea. Alternatively, you can combine these ingredients in a food processor and pulse to achieve crumbs, then transfer to a large bowl.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in cold milk, gradually stirring with a butter knife or a fork until a soft dough forms.
Sprinkle dough with flour and turn out onto a lightly-floured surface. Knead lightly until smooth, then roll out to a 12×14 inch rectangle. If dough gets too soft or sticky, even with the extra flour, put in fridge to chill for 15 minutes.
Spread lemon curd over dough, leaving a 2cm border along the longer edges, but going all the way to the end of the short edges of the rectangle. Sprinkle coconut generously over the lemon curd.
Starting with a long end, roll up dough in a jelly-roll fashion. Using a sharp, serrated knife to gently cut the roll into about 12 even slices. Use a damp paper towel in between slices to keep knife clean and press gently to avoid squishing the roll. Lay scrolls flat on prepared baking sheet, allowing about 1 inch or so between each.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until scroll are light gold. Stand for 5 minutes on tray before gently pulling apart. Serve warm.

Lime curd


Makes: about 1/2 cup lime curd

Time including chilling: 50 minutes

Active time: 8 minutes

  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime rind
  • ¼ cup key lime or lime juice ( about 1-1/2 regular limes)
  • ¼ sweetened condensed milk
    1. In heatproof bowl, whisk together egg, egg yolk, sugar, lime rind, and lime juice; cook over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until thick enough to mound on a spoon, about 8 minutes.
    2. Strain through a sieve into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on surface; refrigerate until cold, about 45 minute. Stir in condensed milk.

Adapted from Canadian Living June 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Baked Apples with Warm Apple Cider Caramel

One of my goals this fall was to try baking things with apple cider. I really felt like an apple dessert this week. So, flipping through my cookbook I came across this recipe for warm cider caramel baked apples and decided that i needed to make them as soon as possible.
While these were baking my kitchen was filed with the warm, fragrant, heady smell of apples. Another dimensions of flavour and texture is added in the filling, a sweet mixture of orange zest, pecans, golden raisins, and cinnamon.

The soft yet firm baked apples are surrounded by a sticky caramel sauce that is made by adding reduced apple cider to the bubbling caramel.
I was particularly proud of accomplishing this recipe because the caramel sauce did not turn black or give me terrible third degree burns or scorch the pot or do any of those horribly scary things that caramel is wont to do. ( burning sugar scares the crap out of me, can you tell?) In fact all it did was bubble and hiss when I added the reduced cider and then its insatiable rage fizzled out and I was left with a dreamy, apple-y caramel.
All that and there's only a few tablespoons of butter in the recipe! Of course that particular asset was nullified since I accompanied mine with ice cream .
These baked apples are fairly hands off dessert that comes together fast using pantry staples. They are a wholesome comfort food dessert, which is just what an overworked undergrad like me needs.

Baked Apples with Warm Cider Caramel

Time: about 1 hour, 15 minutes hands on time
Makes: 4 baked apples

• ¼ cup pecans
• 4 large cooking apples,(Northern Spy, Pink Lady, Ida Red)
• ¼ cup golden raisins
• 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
• 1 tablespoon grated orange rind
• 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
• ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
• ½ cup apple cider or juice

Cider caramel
• ½ cup sugar
• 2 tablespoons orange juice
• ¼ cup reduced reserved apple baking juices

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes or until fragrant. Remove from baking sheet and cool. Chop pecans and reserve.
3. Peel skin from the top third of each apple. Use a melon baler or paring knife to core the apples, leaving about ½ inch of the bottoms intact to hold the filling.
4. Combine pecans, raisins, brown sugar, butter, orange rind, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl. Toss to combine well. Use a small spoon to stuff filling into apples, pressing in with fingers to compact filling. Set apples upright in a small baking dish or pie plate.
5. Pour apple cider over apples. Cover baking dish tightly with foil, and bake for 45 minutes or until apples can be easily pierced with the point of a knife.
6. Remove apples from oven and drain apple cider juices into small pot. Keep apples covered in a warm place while you make sauce.
7. Place pot over medium-high heat and simmer for 4 minutes or until, juices are reduced to about ¼ cup. Reserve.
8. For caramel, heat sugar and orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat, and stir until sugar is moistened. Allow mixture to come to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes or until sugar has turned golden. Standing back slightly, pour in the reduced apple cider, (the caramel will bubble and spit vigorously). When the bubbling has subsided somewhat, stir to incorporate the juice and the caramel. Don’t be tempted to stick your finger into the sauce to taste it until it has cooled slightly, as molten sugar is painfully hot. Pour sauce over and around apples. Serve warm with ice cream.

Adapted from: LCBO Food and Drink Holiday 2006

Monday, November 23, 2009

Walnut Brown Sugar Rugelach

Rugelach are really the quintessential Jewish holiday cookie. They show up at just about every Jewish holiday. I made these for Hanuka one year. They are a good basic version of the recipe. These are not too sweet, but they are certainly addictive. My hypothesis is that the addictiveness of baked goods directly corresponds to the amount of butter and cream cheese in the recipe. Both of those ingredients make these cute little rugelach tender and flaky. They are delicate enough for a fancy brunch, or just for a teatime treat, they are exactly like the kind found at Kosher bakeries.

Brown Sugar and Walnut Rugelach

Makes 32

Prep time: 25 minutes

Total time 55 minutes plus chilling


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

    1. In food processor, blend butter, cream cheese, granulated sugar, salt, and vanilla until well combined. Add flour, and pulse just until a dough forms. Divide dough in half; flatten into disks, and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least two hours and up to 2 days, or freeze up to 3 months (thaw before baking).
    2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with racks set in upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In small bowl combine egg with 1 teaspoon water to make an egg wash.
    3. Working with one disk at a time, roll dough on lightly floured surface into an 11 inch circle about ¼ inch thick. Brush circles with egg wash; sprinkle with ½ cup of the walnuts, ¼ cup of the brown sugar and ¼ teaspoon of the cinnamon.
    4. Using sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut each circle into 16 equal triangles. Starting from the wide end, roll up each triangle of dough; place on baking sheets seam side down. Brush rolls with egg wash. Repeat with remaining dough and topping.
    5. Bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Transfer rugelach to a wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted From: Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine, December 2007

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Marshmallows, Crushed Pineapple and Cherries, Oh My?!

On a recent trip to Ontario, My mom and I went to an antiques mall and bought a vintage cookbook. In the car on the way home, I read some of the recipes aloud for fun. I love vintage cookbooks because some of the recipes, particularly those from the 50’s are horrendous. Almost all of the recipes in this book (The Beta Sigma Phi Baking Book) used marshmallows, crushed pineapple and maraschino cherries. Imagine a concoction of melted marshmallows, crushed pineapple, and maraschino cherries folded into whipped cream…it sounds quite bizarre.
But it seems I spoke too soon, the next day I was baking and Mom, told me I had given her a craving for something with pineapple and maraschino cherries in it. We did a quick search through some of her older cookbooks and found this recipe for tropical bars---a shortbread base with a sticky topping of brown sugar, coconut, pineapple and maraschino cherries.
A quick trip to the grocery store was all we needed to get the cherries, the only ingredient not already in the pantry, and we had a really retro style bar cookie in no time.
Ok so this isn’t quite as terrifying or “out there” as the marshmallow confection I described earlier but it’s still sweet, sticky, fun and retro.
And of course my other buy from the antiques mall had to make his way into the photo!
Say hello to Monsieur Ananas! I miss Telefrancais!
Les ananas n’est danser pas! But these bars are very excellent and will have you longing for the days of marshmallows and maraschino cherries.

Tropical Bars


Time: about 1 hour

  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract
  • ½ cup sifted all purpose flour
  • ½ baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • ¼ cup cut up maraschino cherries
  • ½ cup well-drained crushed pineapple

    1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 inch square cake pan.
    2. Sift 1 cup flour and ¼ teaspoon salt into bowl. Add ¼ cup brown sugar and blend lightly. Add butter and work into dry ingredients first with a fork and then with fingers until mixture is crumbly.
    3. Press firmly into into bottom of prepared pan. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven.
    4. Beat egg thoroughly. Add 1 cup brown sugar gradually, beating well after each addition. Beat in rum extract.
    5. Sift ½ cup flour baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt into mixture and stir to blend. Stir in coconut, pineapple and cherries. Spread over hot pastry layer and return to oven. Bake about 35 minutes or until well-browned. Cool in pan and cut into bars.

From: Mennonite Relief Sale Cookbook: A Collection of Traditional and Family Favourites

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pumpin Raisin Scones

When the Internet revealed to me that pumpkin scones existed I knew I would track down a recipe and devour these elusive scones with relish.

Pumpkin is one of my food obsessions. It bridges the gap between sweet and savoury and you can use it in just about everything. At the risk of sounding like Forrest’s good friend Bubba—you can make pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin soup, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bars, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin bread and these here pumpkin scones.

behold the scone circle of unity:

Pumpkin just screams fall. It is the quintessential autumn food, and it melds perfectly with other traditional autumn flavours, be it spices like cinnamon and ginger, or herbs like sage and rosemary.

While I’m not so keen on the whole “back to school” season, I’ve always seen fall as a renewing season. Spring and summer are more for shedding the baggage of winter but fall is the beginning, the time to start preparing yourself for a new year and the trials of a new winter.

Anyways this digression into my love of fall is related to these pumpkin scones because to me scones mean tea parties! And tea parties are rarely ever Fall themed. Now why is that? As far as I am concerned Afternoon tea should occur year round. This recipe is my attempt to rectify this dire situation, as these scones are fall personified; they represent the gentler aspects of fall. They are tender and soft, flecked with fall spices and studded with raisins. These scones are a great addition to a teaparty menu or just on their own with a chai latte. (Or a regular latte, whatever you like) I like these best dusted lightly with confectioner’s sugar and served with honey and butter. They are the perfect addition to a crisp fall afternoon.

Pumpkin Raisin Scones


Prep time: 20 minutes

Bake:12-15 minutes

Makes: 8-12 scones

  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup chilled butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • ½ cup raisins
  • extra milk for brushing
  • granulated sugar and icing sugar for sprinkling

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a mixing bowl combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and salt. With a pastry blender cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the centre of dry mixture; set aside.
    2. In another bowl, combine egg, pumpkin, and milk. Add egg mixture all at once to dry mixture. Stir in raisins. Using a wooden spoon, stir just until moistened.
    3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Quickly knead dough by folding and pressing gently for 10-12 strokes or until nearly smooth. Pat dough into an 8-inch circle. Cut into 8-12 wedges.
    4. Place wedges 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush tops with milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Remove scones from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with icing sugar. Serve scones warm with honey and butter.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chocolate Pear Tart

Chocolate pear tart

Sigh, midterms. Lithography and my other classes leave me no time to bake...luckily this tart takes no time to whip up. The recipe comes together in the food processor, and takes minimal effort. The hardest step in this recipe was peeling the pears!
It's a perfect recipe for midterm-addled students. I definitely needed the chocolate this week
this isn't a tart in the sense of having a crust or filling, it is more like a fudgy brownie with pears arranged ever so artfully on top. It is an elegant version of brownies, baked in a 9-inch tart pan so it has pretty fluted edges.

This recipe s flourless, it uses almonds instead which makes for a delicate flavour that offsets the delicate floral pears, and mellows the intensity of the chocolate. The tart is meant to have a fudgy texture with a slight grit from the ground almonds. I accidentally overloaded the tart with pear slices despite my better judgement, and it took much longer to bake and didn't look quite like i'd hoped. tasted good, so i forgive it. Although the recipe called for 3 pears, i think one or two would be more than enough.Do not overload this with pears. I blame my midterm stress-addled brain, i needed chocolate and the stress of it all was getting to me. Nonetheless I would make this again, moving forward with the benefit of my experience, and moving on to new baking mishaps in the future. This is why it helps to have some chocolate on hand. Or a recipe for a very simple tart.

Chocolate Pear Tart
makes 1 tart
time: 1-1/2 hours

• ½ cup butter, room temperature
• 1 cup whole blanched almond
• ¾ cup sugar
• 3 large eggs
• 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon almond extract
• 3 firm, ripe Bartlett pears (I really only needed one or two pears depnding on rthe sze)
• ½ lemon (optional I didn’t need it)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush a 9-inch tart pan with a removeable bottom with butter.
2. In a food processor, combine almonds and sugar; process until very finely ground. Add butter, eggs, cocoa, vanilla, salt, and almond extract. Process until combined. Spread mixyure evenly in prepared pan.
3. Pell halve, and core pears; cut lengthwise into ¼ inch thick slices, rubbing them with ½ a lemon to prevent discoloration as you work. Arrange slices on chocolate mixture, slightly overlapping, WITHOUT pressing in. Do not, overload the tart with pears, the batter will take too long to bake, and will not look as pretty.
4. Place pan on a baking sheet; bake until top is puffed and a toothpick inserted in centre of chocolate mixture comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, 45-50 minutes. Transfer tart to a wire rack, and cool completely in pan.
5. Remove tart from pan and serve.

adapted from: Martha Stewart Everyday Food Holiday 2007

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cranberry Clafoutis with Creme Anglaise


I learned about clafoutis through the internet and and wondered what it would taste like. I have to admit that the funny sounding name was another factor in my interest. They just look so simple and yet so impossibly elegant, homey and yet European, and very French.

This version combines the techniques of France with the ingredients of Canada. Rather than traditional cherries (though I supposes you could put anything in a clafoutis) I used fresh cranberries for a tart wintry flavour, as opposed to the summery cherry original.

This recipe comes from Canada’s Best Chef’s Flavour Series: Cranberries part of a series of cookbooks sold in souvenir stores all over the maritimes. I’ve found that these books have remarkably reliable recipes, considering they come from chefs whiose recipes are often fiddly or require a professional kitchen.

Clafoutis is something like a dense yorkshire pudding/ pancake studded with fruit. Clafoutis type batters such as crepes amaze me because although they are not heavily sweetened but when they are fresh from the oven they have a sweetness and faint caramelized flavour that is almost magical. Really that’s what I love about baking, that such simple nondescript ingredients can become so much more than the sum of their parts.

The juicy cranberries provide a playful contrast to the smooth texture of the clafoutis batter. When you take a bite The cranberries offer a tart burst of sweetness that is particularly suited to a rich dessert like this.

I just wish I had one of those fluted white tart tins rather than my plain old pie plate because I just think their stunning minimalism would make for a much prettier presentation. (yes I am picky about such things.)

This crème anglaise is a basic recipe that everyone should know how to make in a pinch. I’ve made this using one less egg yolk and it still turns out well. It is a custard that is meant to be runny and tastes like unchurned vanilla ice cream, which is essentially what it is. My basic recipe is a great complement to fruits, soufflés etc.

In particular I think the creaminess and vanilla flavour are a nice counterpoint to the tart cranberries and adds depth to the “plain” clafoutis batter.

Cranberry Clafoutis

Serves 6
Time: about 40 minutes

• 2large eggs
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• 6 tablespoons heavy cream (35% M.F./ whipping cream)
• 6 tablespoons milk (1 % is ok)
• ¾ cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
• 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
• icing sugar for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Using an electric beater, beat the eggs and sugar until frothy. Whisk in cream and milk. Add flour and mix until batter is smooth. In a separate bowl, roll cranberries in 2 tbsp sugar.
2. Spray a 10-inch pie plate or gratin dish with vegetable spray or grease with butter. Pour batter into the pan, then sprinkle with sugared cranberries. Bake until golden brown, about 30 -35 minutes. Cool in pan and dust with icing sugar. Serve warm with creme anglaise or vanilla ice cream. Serves 6.

From: Cranberries:Recipes from Canada’s Best Chefs by Elaine Elliot

Classic Crème Anglaise

  • ½ cup whipping cream or 18% cream
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 or 3 egg yolks
  • ½ tsp vanilla

    1. In a small saucepan, heat together the cream, milk and 1 tbsp of the sugar over medium heat until bubbles form around the edge.
    2. In bowl, whisk the egg yolks with remaining sugar; whisk in hot cream mixture in thin stream. Stir back into pan; cook stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 2-3 minutes.
    3. Strain into clean bowl; stir in vanilla. Lace plastic wrap directly on surface; refrigerate in airtight container until cold, at least 1 hour. Makes about 1-1/4 cups.

To make ahead: refrigerate in airtight container for up to 3 days.

From: Canadian Living Magazine June 2008

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

In Lieu of Pie.....

So thanksgiving has come and gone and I didn’t get pie… but I got my pumpkin fix anyhow (and really, my mom is better at pie making anyways, hi mom!). Instead, This recipe from the Autumn 2009 LCBO Food and Drink intrigued me. As luck would have it I had all of the ingredients in my pantry to make this pumpkin butter shortbread torte. Think of it as a sexed up version of pumpkin pie. Tender shortbread flavoured with orange zest and Chinese five spice powder, gets sandwiched with a sweet and spicy pumpkin butter full of fresh ginger. The shortbread gets baked into disks and layered with the pumpkin butter then left to chill so that the cookies soften into a cake-like texture, and the orange and spice flavours meld together into something far tastier than the sum of its parts.

But lets talk about its parts anyways.

The cookie layers: The orange five spice shortbread, was a simple shortbread that came together easily. My only change to the recipe was to substitute milk for the cream. The dough tasted really good, with the bright orange zest being a good counterbalance to the warm spices and slight fennel aftertatse. The cookies had a good texture and I would love to make these on their own as individual cookies. The only issue is that the original recipe said the dough would make 7 layers for the torte and I only got 6 layers, which were quite thin. Not that I am complaining, 6 layers is a lot of cookie. I don’t own a 8 inch tart pan, mine is 9 -inches so I did not get pretty fluted edges for my layers because I had to trace around a circle to get my cookie layers even. I think that next time I make this, I might try making mini tortes using my 3-ich tart rings or even pumpkin butter sandwich cookies. The baking time was originally 12 minutes, I had to reduce to 10 minutes because the cookies were quite thin and my oven is crazy hot. Some of my layers got a bit browned on the edges. Of course, those layers ended up being placed on the bottom when I assembled the torte, but that is our secret.

The pumpkin butter:

Pumpkin butter tastes like a cross between pumpkin pie and a spicy jam. It is sweet and thick and spicy, liberally flavoured with fresh ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange juice.

The recipe called for 4 cups canned pumpkin. I suppose fresh would work, but canned is more convenient, and I find has less liquid in it and I decided that it might be better for the torte to have a firmer filling. The pumpkin and spices get cooked together for 40 minutes to intensify their flavour.

3 cups of pumpkin butter gets used for the torte, which means you will have extra. That’s ok because this stuff is also great on my cranberry scones or, you know, by the spoonful.

When it comes together, this torte is tall, sleek and modern and if you make this spread out over a couple of days, takes very little effort. I threw together the pumpkin butter and shortbread dough the night before, baked the cookies in the morning, assembled the torte before running off to class, and it was ready for that evening.

The layers softened up nicely, the torte easily sliced open to reveal sexy pin-striped insides. It has the nostalgic flavour of pumpkin pie, but the exotic hint of citrus and anise, made it much more mysterious and elegant than mere pie, the ingénue of pumpkin desserts.


Pumpkin Butter Shortbread Torte

Makes about 5 cups pumpkin butter (3 cups get used for the torte the rest is great on scones)

Makes 6-7 shortbread discs (you could probably make smaller cookies out of these)

Serves 12


Pumpkin butter:

  • 1 (796 ml) tin pure pumpkin puree or 4 cups
  • ¾ cup orange juice (about 2 oranges)
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Shortbread layer

  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons half and half cream or milk (I used 1% milk)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • icing sugar for dusting

    1. For pumpkin butter: stir all ingredients together in a heavy bottom saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature before chilling completely. Makes about 5 cups of which 3 cups will be used for the torte.
    2. For the shortbread layers: beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg, orange zest and cream. In a separate bowl, sift flour, 5 spice powder, baking powder, and salt and add to butter mixture, stirring until, combined. Shape dough into a log, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.
    3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    4. Cut dough into 6 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 piece of dough to just over 1/8th inch thick. Use the fluted edge of an 8-inch remove-able bottom tart pan to cut out a large disc, reserving scrap pieces of dough. Transfer the disc to a parchment lined baking tray (you can use the flat bottom portion of the tart pan to lift the disc. Repeat with remaining discs of dough , rolling a seventh disc with the scraps (for some reason I didn’t have enough left over for a seventh cookie layer I only got 6 really thin ones). Bake for 10-12 minutes (fitting up to 2 cookies per baking sheet) until just the edges brown. Let cool before assembling.
    5. To assemble torte, lay one shortbread disc onto a plate. Spread about ½ cup pumpkin butter evenly over disc and top with another shortbread disc. Repeat until all layers are assembled. Chill for at least 6 hours or overnight before slicing, so that the layers will soften and slice evenly. To serve, dust top of torte with icing sugar.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cinnamon Chocolate Cigarettes

I made these cigarette cookies to go with my coffee ice cream. I wanted a delicate light cookie that would complement the flavour of the coffee without being too heavy. These also use up the egg whites that were leftover from the ice cream.
These cookies are a but tricky:
When mixed the batter is very thin, but it thickens up a bit as it sits at room temperature. I found that the batter was easiest to handle when it started to thicken up. these are essentially tuile cookies that you roll around a chopstick or dowel to create the distinctive cigarette shape.
Making these cookies was somewhat like making crepes, you need to do a few before you get the hang of it.
These use almost no ingredients and the batter only requires a whisk, but the shaping and rolling is fussy and time consuming and will burn your fingertips. Seriously. These roll best when hot. I found after a few batches you establish a rhythm for making these: dollop, spread, bake, remove from oven, roll, ow.ow.ow.ow. fingertips burn, place on baking sheet to cool. Baking these cookies is all about playing through the pain.
If you persevere, the end result will be elegant little cookies to pretty up some ice cream , or a cookie tray.
Some of these didn't quite crisp up as much as I thought they would. They were more like oven baked crepes, but after I dipped the tips of the cookies in chocolate I put them in the fridge and they did harden somewhat to the crispness I expected.
I wasn't sure how these would turn out, but was pleasantly surprised by the subtleness of the cinnamon. The cookies themselves had that sugary slightly caramelized taste like crepes and pizzelles and the mild dark chocolate was just enough to balance the flavour of the cookies with the coffee ice cream and give just that hit of chocolate to pull everything together.

Cinnamon Chocolate Cigarettes
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
Time: about 1-1/4 hours
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5-1/3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  1. Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick liner (now's the time to break out the silpat), or butter a baking sheet.
  2. Whisk together egg whites, confectioner's sugar, flour, butter, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl until well combined. Working in batches of 4, drop level teaspoons of batter about 3 inches apart onto lined baking sheet, then spread each dollop of batter into a 3-inch round with a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
  3. Bake the cookies until edges are golden, 6-8 minutes. work quickly when forming cookies; they must be piping hot. Lift one cookie off sheet with a long flexible spatula, then roll it around a pencil or chopstick to for a narrow cylinder. press pencil or chopstick against work surface, seam side down, for a few seconds to seal seam. Immediately slide cookie off pencil or chopstick onto a rack to cool. (If cookies become too brittle to roll, return to oven for 1 minute to soften.) Make more cigarettes with remaining batter in same manner. Cool completely.
  4. Line baking sheet with parchment or wax-paper. Melt chocolate in a meta bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove bowl from heat. One at a time, dip 1/4 inch of each cookie into melted chocolate, letting the excess drip off. Place cookies on lined baking sheet. Let stand at room temperature until chocolate sets. these cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
adapted from: The Gourmet Cookbook

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Coffee Ice Cream

I was left with some fresh coffee beans that I wasn't really going to use up because I don't drink coffee. I think I am the only fine arts student who isn't a caffeine fiend. I know people who take their coffee so seriously they even bring french presses to the studio!

In any case, I just don't like to drink coffee. Strangely enough though, I don't mind coffee flavoured desserts as long as they are fairly mild. Coffee goes well with chocolate,vanilla and even spices such as cinnamon and those flavours mellow the bitterness of the coffee somewhat when combined in dessert recipes.

I made this coffee ice cream to use up those coffee beans. The whole beans are infused with milk and cream for an hour, then mixed into a custard as for any ice cream and then given a small dose of vanilla to round out the flavour.

This ice cream tastes vaguely like Tim Horton's Ice Caps (go Canada!) only creamier and with a slightly stronger coffee taste.

I ran out of eggs so while the original recipe uses 5 yolks I only used 4. I think that was enough because the ice cream is very rich as it is. My apartment smelled like a Starbucks, while I let the beans infuse. Even unchurned, the custard tasted like a very sweet and rich latte.

I made cinnamon chocolate cigarette cookies (pictured) to go with the ice cream because I thought the flavour and light cookie would be a good contrast to the rich coffee ice cream, but more on that later. For now just enjoy ogling the caffeinated creamy goodness that is coffee ice cream.

Coffee Ice Cream


Time: about 1-1/2 hours plus churning in the ice cream maker

Makes about 1 quart of coffee ice cream

  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups whole coffee beans
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon instant coffee (optional)

    1. Warm the milk, sugar, whole coffee beans, salt, and ½ cup of the cream in a medium saucepan. Once the mixture is warm, cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.
    2. Rewarm the infused-coffee milk mixture. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm coffee mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
    3. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Press on the coffee beans in the strainer to extract as much of the coffee flavour as possible, then discard the beans. Mix in the vanilla and finely ground or instant coffee and stir until cool over an ice bath. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Leibowitz (which I don't own yet but is definitely on my wish list!)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sweet Potato Bread with Golden Raisins

I had an overabundance of sweet potatoes sitting on my counter that I had neglected to use up. I originally intended to roast them but they were starting to get sprouty and impatient. Ugh I hate when vegetables sprout weird looking bits. Shudder. Anyways with my excess of sweet potato I decided I was going to try making a sweet potato yeast bread. Potatoes are often added to yeast breads because of the way the starch interacts with the yeast to create a very tender end result. But pureed sweet potatoes are another possible addition to yeast doughs, although I’m not sure they have quite the same effect on the texture of the bread. I haven’t made a yeast bread in a long time although they are one of my favourite things to bake, so I pulled out this recipe that’s been languishing in my untried recipe folder for a while. (yes, folders as in physical folders with real pockets. I’m old school )

This is a nice rustic feeling bread. It combines all of the very autumn flavours of sweet potatoes, brown sugar, cornmeal, raisins and citrus.

This bread is so beautiful and festive. It is a dark orange colour on the outside, but when sliced, reveals a golden yellow interior dotted with plumped golden raisins. It’s beautiful gold on gold.

The bread is slightly sweet, but with enough character to stand up to a savoury meal. It has a subtle sweet potato flavour that is brightened by the sharp taste of the raisins and the scent of citrus zest. This bread has a nubbly texture from the cornmeal in the batter. The cornmeal contributes to its rustic character and lends some yellow colour to augment the colour of the sweet potato puree. It is rich because of the addition of eggs to the batter (although there is no fat per se added to the batter) and the brown sugar used in the batter complements and brings out the caramel notes of the sweet potato.

The raw dough is slightly sticky but as long as you keep your hands liberally floured it doesn’t take much work as far as yeast raised breads go.

When baked, the bread smells like a cross between baked sweet potatoes and cornbread. This very rustic harvest bread has a tender close-crumb, and is crusty and chewy on the outside. This would be great for a thanksgiving type meal.

This tastes good with goat cheese, and I’ve also served it to sop up the gravy from a meat meal. It is good for breakfast toasted with honey and butter. But I really think this would be great with some melted brie and cranberry chutney as a Thanksgiving themed panini.

Sweet Potato Bread with Golden Raisins

Makes 2 loaves, about 2 8-inch rounds

No dairy involved!

Time: 4-5 hours including resting time

  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 4-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (2 packages)
  • ¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sweet potato puree (homemade or canned)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal
  • 5-6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • grated zest of 2 lemons

    1. Place the raisins in a small bowl. Add ½ cup of the warm water and let stand until ready to use.
    2. Sprinkle yeast in a large bowl. Add a pinch of the brown sugar and add remaining 1-1/2 cups of warm water. Stir just to mix. Then let stand 10 minutes or until bubbly.
    3. Whisk eggs and sweet potato puree in a large bowl until smooth. Add it to the yeast mixture and whisk just until blended. Add remaining brown sugar, salt, cornmeal, 2 cups of the flour and lemon zest. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add flour ½ cup at a time while beating with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. ( You may not need the entire amount of flour. The amount of flour needed will depend on the weather and the type of flour you use. Do not add too much flour or the bread may become tough and dry. You can incorporate more flour as you need the dough if necessary.)
    4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl turning to coat and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm draft free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
    5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Drain raisins, discard any remaining liquid, and pat dry with paper towels. Toss with 2 tablespoons flour to coat. Set aside.
    6. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (or oil and sprinkle lightly with cornmeal, parchment is easier) Gently deflate dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the raisins into the dough just enough to distribute throughout. (I like to flatten the dough a bit, press the raisins evenly over the surface and then roll it like a jelly roll and knead normally, but this is just an idiosyncratic technique I’ve made up)
    7. Form dough into 2 rounds, each about 5 inches in diameter. Place loaves 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Cover with tea towel and let rise in a warm draft free place about 30 minutes. Use a sharp knife or razor blade to cut 3 or 4 3-inch slashes in the bread so that it can expand and rise as it bakes.
    8. Place in centre of oven. Immediately lower oven temperature to 375 and bake 40-50 minutes or until loaves are lightly browned and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. (Note: Do not overbake or the bread will be dry. if you plan to freeze the bread underbake by about 5 minutes.) Remove from pan, place on wire racks. Let cool at least 30 minutes before slicing. Or, wrap in plastic wrap, place in Ziploc bag; freeze for up to 3 months.

Mary Egelbreit’s Home Companion Dec 2004/Jan 2005