Archives for category: Desserts

I’ll admit, I had this whole Culinary Creations post planned where I would display my masterful efforts at making red velvet whoopie pies, using this recipe.  Unfortunately they were not masterful at all – the dough was super sticky, the cakes were dry (and a little salty) and try as I might, I couldn’t get the cream cheese icing not to drip all over the place.  I probably didn’t do a good job of converting the weight measurements to volume measurements (because I whole-heartedly trust The Londoner’s baking expertise), but whatever the reason, I thought I’d save you the pointlessness of that post and just let you feast your eyes on this little burger-thing:

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^ That icing…ugh. Luckily, my sweet tooth was salvaged this morning:

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^ An acceptable pre-breakfast snack.

I’m feeling all cheery today. I’ve got my red pants on and pink glitter on my nails.  I love this “holiday” because it gives me a perfectly valid excuse to send out warm fuzzies, whether in a text or a homemade greeting card:

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Stay loving!

Caj

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…minus the ‘Yo.

Actually, minus everything except Nutella and banana.  FYI, yesterday was World Nutella Day, and I’m not one to let a holiday slip by without finding some small way to celebrate.

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This could not possibly be simpler:

  • 1 large frozen banana
  • 1/3 cup Nutella

Note: you can taste the banana a bit more than you can taste the Nutella, so if you’re like me and would prefer the Nutella to shine, I’d try a 1/2 cup.  Because chocolate and hazelnut.

You’ll make your life even easier if you slice the banana before freezing.  I popped the whole banana in the freezer like a noob, but it was actually pretty easy to peel and slice after running it under hot water for ~30 seconds.

Mix up in your magic bullet, top with some hazelnuts if desired (toasted and crushed would be heaven), and stick in your spoon!

Stay hungry,

Caj

There’s nothing quite like the first snowfall of the year.  Sure, by February the whole snow thing gets old (okay, by January), but the first snowfall just always feels so magical for me, and yesterday was no different.  I was home alone for the day, and perfectly content to hole up in my comfiest outfit (i.e., basically pajamas), right after some holiday shopping and a trip to Starbucks for a peppermint mocha.

Naturally, the next logical step was to bake something (semi-)festive.

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Sometime last week I was driving home from work wondering how biscotti was made, and when I arrived home I found that my mom had cut out a recipe for biscotti from the Globe & Mail.  It was the weirdest thing.  And so, with a whole afternoon in front of me, I set to work on Stephanie Eddy’s recipe.  Side note: these scones were also Stephanie’s brainchildren, and they are TO DIE FOR, so I knew I was pretty safe with these.

They weren’t hard to make–easier than I thought, actually–but the process was a little long, so I won’t bore you with the list of ingredients and instructions, especially because you can find them word-for-word in the original recipe.

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^ After the first round of baking.

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^ After the second round of baking and the all-important drizzling of white chocolate.

Now to dip one into a warm cup of tea!

Stay hungry,

Caj

OK, this is a winner.

I hosted a belated Halloween potluck on Saturday night and wanted to make some kind of festive dessert. After doing some browsing through Martha Stewart’s Halloween treat ideas (obviously), I settled for these, but substituted Skor bits for the nonpareils (because what are those and where do you buy them, and also because Skor bits).

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Here’s what I used:

  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 package of Skor bits (by Hershey’s Chipits)

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Here’s what I did:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 ºF. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
  2. Beat sugar and eggs together in a large bowl until soft and fluffy.
  3. Place chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl and and melt over a pot of simmering water. Once fully melted, add to sugar and eggs and stir until fully mixed in.
  4. Add vanilla, then flour and salt and mix thoroughly to combine.
  5. Pour batter into pan and bake for about 35 minutes. You want the brownies to be slightly undercooked so that the batter is moldable.
  6. Let brownies cool and then carefully trim off the crusty bits along the top and edges. Take a heaping spoonful of batter and roll it into a ball with clean hands. Repeat until you have used up all of the batter.
  7. Spread the Skor bits out in a cookie sheet and roll each ball in them until they are covered.
  8. Optional: stick a wooden dowel or lollipop stick into each ball and voilà, you have brownie batter pops!

Stay hungry,

Caj

 

While up north for Thanksgiving weekend, my sister and I were craving another pumpkin recipe. One can never have enough this time of year, right?

We adapted this recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip muffins from Skinnytaste. Disclaimer: the texture is not as cakey as your typical muffin–it may not even look like a muffin at all–but they taste so good that we decided that was alright.

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Here’s what we used:

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cups all purpose flour

*If you want your muffins to be more cakey in texture, the key would be to add more flour, though I’m not exactly sure in what proportion…chime in in the comments if you have any thoughts!

  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or if you don’t have that, random sprinkles of allspice, nutmeg, and more cinnamon like we did)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 large egg whites (you can just crack the eggs into a bowl and use a spoon to carefully remove the yolks)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Note: This amount of batter is supposed to make 14 normal-sized muffins, but barely even filled our 12-muffin tin. Consider doubling the recipe, or just make snack-sized muffins like ours!

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Here’s what we did:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Lightly spray a muffin tin with baking spray.
  2. Whisk together flours, sugar, baking soda, spices and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Mix together pumpkin puree, oil, egg whites and vanilla in a large bowl.
  4. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix, scraping the sides as you go.
  5. Once the batter is uniformly mixed, add the chocolate chips and stir until evenly distributed.
  6. Use a spoon to scoop equal proportions of batter into each cup of the muffin tin.
  7. Bake for roughly 25-27 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean (with the exception of some melted chocolate!).

The warm flavours and kick of spice are perfect with a cup of coffee.

Stay hungry!

Caj

Last October, my friends and I arranged a potluck and I (naturally) signed up to bring a dessert. I was so excited, browsing my go-to website for recipe ideas and settling on this recipe for pumpkin swirl brownies. Pumpkin AND chocolate? I was sold.

Since I was at school and had limited supplies (i.e., no electric mixer), the entire process took me roughly two hours. I was doubtful that my brownies would turn out like Martha’s, but they were just as pretty—and I like to think just as delicious! Unfortunately, the potluck was cancelled that night so I was the only one who enjoyed them.

This weekend, I am returning to Queen’s for homecoming (shout-out to my lovely hostesses Steph, Mairead and Angela!). When brainstorming for hostess gifts, I thought: what better gift than a pan or two of these yummy brownies?

I followed the recipe pretty much to a T (doubling it this time), but left out the hazelnuts because Steph has a nut allergy. My brother has one too, so I’m accustomed to making these kinds of sacrifices (kidding – they taste just as good!). Luckily, thanks to my mom’s store of kitchen supplies, it was less time-consuming this time around – but no less messy.

^ I didn’t save quite enough chocolate batter for the second layer – doesn’t matter though, the rest is on the bottom!

A word of advice: I recommend switching the order of steps 2 and 3, i.e., make and divide the batter before melting the chocolate and butter. In fact, mix the pumpkin batter first and save the chocolate-melting and -mixing until right before you are ready to layer the batter into the pan. The chocolate mixture changes consistency fairly quickly, becoming thicker and more difficult to work with – you’ll want to have everything all set up so you can work quickly.

^ Since I doubled the recipe, I had to bake them about twice as long (give or take). I like to ever-so-slightly undercook my brownies so that they are less cakey, more fudgy.

Serve with a tall glass of milk and enjoy!

Stay hungry,

Caj

I’m currently at Kyle’s house in Campbell River, and on Monday his mom set us the task of collecting the blueberries from the bushes in the backyard. We ended up picking this many:

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Naturally, something had to be done with this abundance of big round delicious berries. Being home alone in their house yesterday, I decided to make a blueberry pie as a thank-you gift for their hosting me.

As I always do in these kinds of scenarios, I turned to Martha Stewart for a recipe. Though, I opted for a store-bought crust rather than make my own “pâte brisée” (oops).

The rest of the recipe was very simple and took only a few minutes to carry out! Because I had bought a Tender Flake without a top crust, this “pie” is really more accurately called a blueberry tart. In retrospect, I really should have used this recipe. Oh well!

This was literally all I had to do:

Step 1. Mix 6 cups of blueberries in a large bowl with 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup corn starch and 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Step 2. Spoon the mixture into the crust so that it is completely filled to the brim, and slightly higher in the middle.

Step 3. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 400º, with oven rack in lower third.

Step 4. Bake for an additional 40 minutes at 350º, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until the blueberry juices are bubbling and the crust is golden-brown.

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Step 5. Enjoy on its own, or with vanilla ice cream/frozen yogurt!

This was the perfect combination of sweet and tart. Suffice it to say that the pie was gone in a couple of hours (if you don’t count the piece Kyle saved for breakfast).

Stay hungry!

Caj

For this week’s new recipe, I decided to try Stephanie Eddy’s strawberry scones from May 7th’s Globe & Mail. I had wanted to make them for Mother’s Day, but after my 10k we all just wanted to eat so we had challah french toast instead. Mmm. I decided to make the scones later in the week.

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My mom requested that I leave the basil out of the glaze, and I decided just to forget the glaze altogether. I was a little intimidated by the recipe when I set out because I’d never made scones before, but it ended up being way quicker and easier than I thought. Granted, I actually had a zester and a pastry cutter in my kitchen, so that saved me a lot of time.

The hardest part was folding the dough/patting it into a 1-inch circle, because it was SO sticky and kept sticking to my hands. You definitely need the flour on the counter, and I used a spatula to pat down the dough which I also dipped in flour. The final product was pretty, though! I had high hopes…

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…And for good reason. After baking for roughly 17 minutes, the scones were a perfect golden brown on the outside, fluffy on the inside and smelled like lemony-buttery goodness. I obviously ate one on the spot and it tasted like something you would buy at Starbucks. SUCCESS!

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Excuse me while I go enjoy another with some tea.

Stay hungry!

Caj

Recently, my friend Sarah and I were discussing how underrated the date square is. You sometimes see them in coffee shops, but you never hear people talk about them. I think they’re kind of seen as an old lady treat, but they are DELICIOUS, and I vow to bring them back and make them young, hip, and fresh again. Yeah that’s right. Date squares will be the new trend in desserts just like cupcakes, macarons and donuts before them (okay, probably not).

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For this recipe I went with my tried-and-true fave: Martha Stewart. I just left out the lemon zest because I’m not really a fan of eating peel.

I used “deglet noor” dates for the date paste, which ended up being a lighter brown than the paste in the traditional date square (though the squares do look very much like Martha’s!).

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Step 1: mix the crumble and pat 2/3 of it into the bottom and sides of the pan.

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Step 2: pour the date paste over the bottom layer. Looks SUPER unappetizing here, apologies.

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Step 3: add remaining crumble on top. I also threw in some chopped walnuts. Note: you should pat it down, not just sprinkle it like I did, otherwise it will go EVERYWHERE when you try to cut/eat it. (This also happens if you’re like me and too impatient to wait for them to cool before you cut them.)

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I might try a different kind of date next time, but these are great for this time of year because they taste like a mix between a traditional date and a peach when cooked. Yum!

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Stay hungry!

Caj

For my friend Tory’s birthday this past weekend, I decided to satisfy my baking urges by making carrot cupcakes. We both love carrot cake (who doesn’t?), so why not make it in a cute little bite-size form?

I used this recipe from Ina Garten, minus the raisins. Maybe I baked them for too long without realizing, but to be honest, they were more of a muffin than a cupcake – kinda crispy on the outside, and I prefer cake to be more…moist (ugh). But if carrot muffins are what you’re going for, these were really good and would be perf for breakfast (I would know)!

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Because I was pressed for time, I used store-bought cream cheese icing, but in the future I’ll definitely stick to making my own – homemade always tastes better. I also added mini eggs (and Disney princess candles) because, well, duh.

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Still getting there on the presentation front.

Stay hungry!

Caj