Category Archives: Desserts

Mouth Watering Lemon Possett

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Lemon Possett is so easy to whip together, that only tossing a bag of Skittles at your guests could make for a simpler dessert. Take a bite of this deliciously light, lemon pudding and you would never guess that it only contains three ingredients: sugar, cream and lemon. 

Normally my go-to dessert is creme brûlée, if I’m in the mood to treat others with something fancy and elegant, but this zestier, unscorched cousin of the brûlée is quicker and sure-fire, without having to worry about finicky egg yolks or burning down the house with the kitchen blow torch. 

The secret to serving a possett is to keep it chilled until seconds before serving. Moments after biting into it, it will begin to melt, and if you leave room for conversation in between bites, you’ll be left with a ramequin full of lemony juice.  

The intense lemon flavour make this a very light dessert, perfect to pair with a dinner of seafood or chicken, or with heavier meals where maternity stretch pants are in order. So essentially, eat it anytime. 

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Oven-Baked Apple Pancakes

Today marked the end of my short-lived backyard apple season as the last apple plopped to the soggy grass. My two, now bare, apple trees remind me of autumn family trips as a child to an orchard in Oka, Quebec. I remember climbing up the trunk of each apple tree, like a simian, and entangling myself in the upper branches elatedly. I loved the pull and twist of the fruit, with arms outstretched. I loved the quick polish of fruit on my grubby shirt sleeve, back before washing one’s fruit came in style, and the ultimate, mouth-watering crunch that followed. My brother and I would leave the orchard with belly aches from having gorged ourselves greedily on fruit, and would sneak past the gates with bulging pockets bursting at the seams, like those pirates in movies who stuff gold doubloons in every orifice as the ship is sinking.

I’ve been trying to find a use for the late-fallen apples from my two apple trees that didn’t fall early enough to make it into the now-fermenting batch of cider. This year’s harvest has been used in a couple of pies, a recent fruit crumble and enough homemade apple sauce to supply my local Costco.

I also stumbled upon a variation of traditional stove-top apple flapjacks which I had to try. Apparently German in its roots, this “oven pancake” gives the pancake a puffy, shell-like appearance that is both filling and slightly reminiscent of a distant Canadian cousin, the Beaver Tail – my favourite Quebec export after Maple Syrup, Poutine and Blanche de Chambly beer. Enjoy!

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Summertime: Peach, Plum and Apple Galette

What better way to follow a post on homemade ice cream than with this mouth-watering variant of fruit pie. I had a craving tonight for something sweet and summery, with a crumbly crust that melts on the tongue, so conceded to this rustic fruit tart.

While I don’t have a bad word to say about traditional pie, its near relative – the galette – is a delicious alternative. It’s a dessert that one doesn’t typically see at a potluck, say, or a dinner party, so if you’re looking to jazz things up a bit and get your friends clucking in excitement by your end of the table, a galette may just do the trick. Or a nacho sampler, if that fails. Aesthetics aside, a galette is also easier to make than pie, as it only requires one bottom crust, which folds free-form over the filling and is then baked.

As a filling, I used plums, peaches and granny smith apples, but you can create these tarts using any combination of fruits, I’m sure, including blueberries which have just come in season here in the Pacific Northwest. Be sure to serve the galette warm with a generous dollop of creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream and you’ll be guaranteed an invite again to the next potluck.

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Homemade French Vanilla Ice Cream

A few months ago I subscribed to a BBC Podcast called the Food Programme, which I now listen to regularly while driving or when I’m really hungry and no food is available. One episode which I particularly enjoyed, on the joys of homemade Ice Cream, made claims that all-natural ice cream was richer, creamier and more decadent than commercial brands. A new kitchen gadget I had to have and Christmas was so far away. Unable to wait that long, I picked up a hand-crankable Donvier ice cream maker from my local kitchen store, on sale for $50. A bargain, for sure, as I did the math on the money I would save by eating a lifetime supply of frozen desserts that could be concocted at home in 20 minutes or less.

Ice cream makers, whether electric or hand-cranked, should be an indispensable tool in your kitchen, as they can whip together more than just ice cream: there are literally thousands of recipes for sorbet (a water-based frozen dessert containing no milk or cream), sherbet (dairy-based dessert, usually lower in fat, but sweeter than ice cream), frozen yogurt, or gelato (intensely flavoured Italian ice cream of a softer consistency). If it is liquid and somewhat able to freeze, chances are it can be made into an ice cream. Guinness ice cream, anyone?

Yes, I know French Vanilla is plain and boring, to some, and perhaps indicative of my personality type or some deep-seated mistrust of my mother, if you put any stock in Ice Cream Psychoanalysis. Truth is, it’s been my favourite since I was younger and I enjoy sprinkling it with chocolate chips when I’m feeling a little crazy. Don’t try to read too much into it.

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Hosting a Tea Party: Part Two – Chocolate Walnut Biscotti

You might think that Biscotti is a bit unconventional for a High Tea (and so did I), but it ended up being the perfect fit. These are crunchy enough that you can savour eating it through an entire cup of tea, but small and light enough that it doesn’t stop you from enjoying all of the other miniature goodies. They are very fast and surprisingly easy to make, and also offer many opportunities for personal variations. Enjoy playing around with the recipe and eating these with a good cup of coffee or tea.

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Hosting a Tea Party: Part One – Easy, Delicious Cream Puffs


the tea party spread in all its glory

I am not a connoisseur of many things. The nuances and subtleties of wine, beer, fast cars are all lost on me. I am, however, a lover of all teas irregardless of colour or origin. It was finally suggested to me that I host a tea party for friends, and I was very much up to the challenge. In my usual manner, I went to great lengths to create everything from scratch. In the end, I had quite the spread: cupcakes, blueberry scones, chocolate chip scones, sugar cookies, shortbread cookies, chocolate walnut biscotti, chocolate-dipped strawberries, miniature tea sandwiches and, of course, a plethora of tea. My favourite dessert I made was the one I was initially most intimidated by- cream puffs. Surprisingly, these were the most fun and the easiest to make out of all of them. Curiously, they were also the first dessert to be finished by the guests- in a mere 15 minutes!

I will hopefully share a few of the recipes (and photos!) from this great party, and these wonderful cream puffs will start it all off. Enjoyyour friends with this simple delicacy!

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

With the hot spell these last few days, lingering on from the sunny weekend, I’ve been staring longingly from my office window with wistful thoughts of approaching summer: a beach towel spread on a grassy field with a Nabokov novel, wine tasting on a wisteria-scented verandah, or evening bonfires with buttery corn on the cob and cold beer.  I’m sure the productivity graph for most of my colleagues has shown a similar plunge. The weather in Victoria doesn’t stay agreeable for long this time of year, reassuringly for those with deadlines to meet, so undoubtedly this splendid sun-euphoria will be short-lived.

In the meantime, I’m going to induce an early summer any way that I can. I will play Beach Boys music and hop around the kitchen as I dry the dishes. I will wear my sandals, even when I can’t feel my toes in the cold of early morning. I’ve cleared out the wasp’s nest from inside my barbecue, unused through the wet winter, and have baptized it anew with a salmon fillet and sumptuous steak with melted blue cheese. I’ve knotted up my gums with my first corn on the cob of the season (imported from California, but corn nonetheless). I also picked up a basketful of inexpensive berries at the grocery store on the weekend. My reserves of jam are pretty well stocked, so when I saw pints of strawberries on sale, I knew that strawberry rhubarb pie beckoned instead, the quintessential summer treat. My unruly rhubarb plant has been giving me grief each time that I pass nearby with the mower, jabbing me irritatingly, so making this recipe was a good excuse to trim it a little.

Follow this simple Pie crust recipe for a no-fail two crust pie, or pick up one that is store bought if you want to save 10 minutes. But for the difference in taste and added crumbliness of homemade crust, I make my own from scratch every single time. Tonight, after the grilled steak and corn on the cob, why not turn on some Beach Boys and make room for dessert. Wouldn’t it be nice…

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Easy to Make Dark Chocolate Bowl

I was flipping through a cooking magazine the other day published by my favourite chef, Ricardo, a French Canadian cook with a penchant for preparing foods high in cholesterol, sugar and fat, or at least that’s the impression a reader would get from this one issue. The magazine features his take on all the (traditional) foods that I grew up with as a boy in Quebec, like hot chicken sandwiches smothered in gravy, poutine, mac and cheese, and chocolate donuts. As if this wasn’t incentive enough to pick up a copy, the remainder of the magazine paid homage to the splendours of chocolate and is replete with new and creative ways to rot teeth and keep dentists employed. One recipe in particular (if a recipe with a single ingredient even qualifies as a recipe) struck me as ingenious and I felt compelled to share it.

Those of you who work with me may already know I’m referring to a bowl made entirely of chocolate, like the one I brought in midweek to keep as far away as possible from my house. It is not as daunting as it appears and the method for creating it is so quick and easy that you’ll almost slap yourself after I reveal it. I feel like I’m giving away something esoteric, like a solution to the magic trick where a women gets sliced in half; but recipes, unlike David Copperfield secrets, are meant to be shared and enjoyed.

There are so many things one could do with the chocolate bowl, the least of which is devour it as is. They are also great to use for serving ice cream, cereal, or chocolate covered strawberries. I made the latter, as I had some melted chocolate leftover that I didn’t want to waste. I haven’t yet served hot soup in it, though I can pretty much guarantee your table cloth will need to be laundered. Enjoy!

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Best of Both Worlds: Chocolate Chip + Pudding Cookies

Combining your favourite desserts/ingredients to make a super-dessert is not always wise. It did not end well for the Bean Pie, nor for the Tuna Twinkie (yes, unfortunately, they’re real). Pudding and chocolate chip cookies, however, make a wonderful combination that will please even the toughest cookie critic in your life. These cookies are by far the easiest and most consistently loved dessert I have ever made, so I hope you enjoy them!

Tierney

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Homemade Doughnuts and Doughnut Holes

I wouldn’t be a true Canadian if I didn’t have a hankering for doughnuts. Between Tim Hortons and Dunkin Donuts, I was practically weaned on these caloric concoctions, and it was likely one of my first words. They are the ultimate comfort food, whether accompanying a hot cup of coffee and crossword puzzle on a lazy weekend morning, or savouring a bag-ful at an outdoor market in the summertime, fingers coated in cinnamon sugar. Mini carnival doughnuts are the most lethal and underestimated of the doughnut genus, as their diminutive size confounds the stomach –  the hand bypasses the brain on its way to grab another and the bag is empty before the brain finally catches wind of the ploy. When my mom sees a mini doughnut stand at the Saturday Saltspring Island Market, she’ll buy a dozen, quickly eat one, then shove the bag towards me with an emphatic “Get them away from me!”

After I made these at home one morning before work, I sampled one doughnut hole still warm, and immediately swallowed 3 more without chewing. My willpower is not strong enough. But who can resist a dessert that can also be eaten as breakfast? I wouldn’t recommend keeping leftovers at home, unless you’re planning on running a marathon in the days ahead. I brought a tupperware container to work and handed doughnuts out in meetings throughout the day, keeping them at the opposite end of the table from me. Enjoy!

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Mango and Coconut Sticky Rice

I first tasted this dish – known as Khao Niaow Ma Muang – in Kanchanaburi, a city in Thailand notable for its Bridge on the river Kwai, otherwise known as the Death Railway. Despite its murky past, where during World War II the Japanese forced Allied prisoners to build a railway from Thailand to Burma, the city is now very quaint: scenic river views, internet cafes, outdoor night markets and elephants that will pose for food or money.

It is most likely in Kanchanaburi that Sonia contracted Dengue Fever, though she wouldn’t know about it until a few days later once we had already left town. The mosquitos there were kamikaze-crazy and they marauded through the humid streets in thick swarms with an electric, infuriating hum. Oblivious to the impending “break bone fever” that was to come, Sonia and I both dined at a restaurant that resembled a tiki jungle hut,  where our guidebook recommended mango and sticky rice for dessert. Before then, I had never conceived of rice being eaten with mangos – and certainly not as a dessert. I haven’t tasted it again in a restaurant since returning home, though looking through photos of the trip recently a Pavlovian response ensued, which left me salivating and craving the sweet and salty sticky rice with a side of cool, freshly sliced mango. Enjoy!

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Angel Food Cake Jelly Roll


Finally, a dessert post! I’ve been told that there have been too many healthy recipes on this site recently and I have to agree; there hasn’t been a hint of chocolate in over a month and I’ve been getting the shakes from withdrawal. There is a long list of desserts that I’ve been dying to get to, including tiramisu, panna cotta with caramel sauce, deep-fried Mars bar and New York Style Cheesecake. I’m also always open to requests…

This jelly roll is sugary, yes, but made using Angel Food Cake, which is lighter and fluffier than a traditional Swiss roll; it practically eats itself. I love Angel Food Cake for the way it almost melts in the mouth and I would normally eat it in the summertime smothered in fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream. It’s not quite summer yet, though here in Victoria the lawnmowers are already whirring in activity, the daffodils are in full bloom and the cherry blossoms that line the streets are beginning to lose their petals in a florid flurry of pink.

I’ve included the basic recipe for Angel Food Cake, though if you are short on time and already feel like you’re being put to work enough by having to laboriously roll up the cake and daub it with jelly, then take a shortcut and pick up the angel food cake mix from the grocery store. Otherwise, it is easy enough to make from scratch. You can also buy store-bought jam or make your own; I used the homemade strawberry-raspberry jam I had made a few weeks ago. A tip, however: if you’re anticipating leftovers, the roll will soak up the moisture from the jam overnight and will likely be a bit soggy the next day – which is not ideal. It will taste much better within the first few hours of making.

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Double Chocolate Chip Maple Cookies

I’ve tried and tasted dozens of chocolate chip cookie recipes over the years and licked my fair share of batter from a spatula or bowl, though this is the winner hands-down. It is chewy, betcha-can’t-eat-just-one-addictive and is guaranteed to make you crave a cold glass of milk.

I’ve modified the recipe from one found in my very first cookbook, a dog-eared copy of Betty Crocker that my mom bestowed upon me the year I moved out. The pages are yellow and stained from the splatter of ingredients. The best recipes can always be found hidden between pages that have stuck together over time. My mom’s endearing, hand-written message on the inside cover always makes me smile. How did she know that I would eventually grow to love cooking, at a time when all I could muster up from my repertoire was grilled cheese and Kraft Dinner? Thanks Mom.

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Soft Maple Sugar Creams at a Quebec Reveillon

Whenever I think of maple sugar cream fudge, or sucre a la creme, I think of two things. First, of my mom guiltily sneaking samples from the fudge vendor at Saltspring’s Summer Market when my step dad isn’t looking. Being raised in Quebec, her favourite flavour is naturally maple. I also think of Quebec during the winter holidays, of the late night festivities during reveillon and of the doting French Canadian women who serve platter after platter of food and stare you down until your plate is wiped clean. The food is mouth-watering and worthy of a Lipitor commercial it is so artery-clogging. Sometimes, you’ll find a few unexpected menu items at these dinners, like Cheese Whiz served on hot dog buns or on white bread without crusts, or mini hot dogs in sauce. All in all, though, French Canadians serve up exquisite desserts that’ll leave you with a sugar high: you’ll get to splurge on homemade doughnuts and cakes drizzled in maple toffy and of course, my favourite, maple sugar cream.

If you haven’t yet had the privilege of being invited to a reveillon, I’ll describe one to you. Usually taking place around Christmas or New Year’s Eve, reveillon is an all-night, family-friendly house party with limitless food and alcohol, traditional music and plenty of cheek-kissing. When entering the person’s home and after the customary two-cheek kiss, the host will normally take one’s boots or footwear and toss them into the bathtub where they’ll sit with a dozen other pairs, likely the cleanest method of containing the slushy mess from outdoors. The newly arrived will make the tour of the room, exchanging pleasantries and many more cheek-kisses until their lips are well-chapped. Continue reading


How to Make Fortune Cookies


Gung Hay Fat Choy – Happy Chinese New Year everyone!

Although a great excuse to head down to your city’s Chinatown for some Dim Sum, Chinese New Year is also a celebration of the beginning of spring after a long dreary winter, and a time to get together with family and friends and then complain about the weather. Children are taught to be on their best behaviour,  particularly on the first day of the new year, as they are told that what happens that first day, whether in action or in thought, will decide the course of the year.  This is a nice and refreshing change from the typical North American tradition, where January 1st usually begins with a hangover and two Aspirin.

The great thing about the Chinese New Year is that it doesn’t carry with it the same burden or pressure for self improvement, with lists of resolutions and tiresome commitments. This means no new gym memberships. No vices to break. No need to stop swearing while I drive, to cease biting my nails, or to refrain from drinking directly from the milk carton. Already this is a holiday that I’m warming up to.

To celebrate the Year of the Rabbit, I cooked and ate my first rabbit ever. I also went snowboarding for the first time and stayed mostly on the bunny slopes, though admittedly the connection with the Chinese zodiac is a bit of a stretch.  In attempt to recognize the tradition at home, I decided to create my own fortune, by inserting prophetic pearls of wisdom inside homemade fortune cookies that looked close enough to the ones brought out on the bill tray at Don Mees. To carry on the tradition that was always used in my family, don’t forget to use the words “in bed” after reading your fortune aloud.

May the Year of the Rabbit bring you good fortune, happiness…and no gym memberships.

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Mouth-Watering Apple Galette

I’ve made a lot of apple pies over the years, but tonight I felt like making Apple Galette – a slightly different variation of a classic dessert with a French twist. It tastes similar to apple pie and isn’t really any more time-consuming to prepare, though the galette’s presentation is much more elegant.

Whenever I think of apple pie, what comes to mind isn’t exactly Thanksgiving or holidays as one might expect. I’m usually brought back to the memory of two vociferous budgies I once owned and to an old friend from my days at the Royal London Wax Museum. I used to bake this friend apple pies in exchange for his frequent bird-sitting services whenever I went on vacation.

The year that I started working there, I had just finished reading The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins and was intrigued by its Napoleonic villain, Count Fosco, whose eccentric habits included taming canaries and perching them on his shoulders to sing sweet songs in his ear. Young, misguided and easily impressionable, I thought that taming canaries would also be a sure-fire way to impress a prospective girlfriend I had invited for dinner that very weekend. I convinced myself how smitten she would be with my feathered menagerie of yellow friends and also with me as their modest but proud father/trainer; so I coaxed my roommate to drive me to the pet store that afternoon. Ignorant of birds and lacking a substantial budget, I ended up with two cacophonous budgies who squawked without pitch or melody all day long, much to the dismay of my neighbours, instead of ending up with the sweet-sounding canaries I had hoped for. The girl never did end up coming over and the only trick I was ever able to teach my budgies was to eat from my hand, a far cry from the Cinderella scene I had envisioned.

Whatever apple pie means to you, whether budgies, family dinners or the gratuitous scene from American Pie, try this apple dessert out instead as a break from the ordinary.

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Mini Cinnamon Buns (Monkey Farts)

Okay, admittedly the name of this dessert requires some explanation to those that don’t know me from my childhood days in Montreal. When we were kids, my brother and I fell in love with a type of cinnamon bun that our friend’s mom used to placate us with. They were small, bite-sized cinnamon buns which she affectionately called Monkey Farts. My brother and I had coincidentally also coined this same term to the very hilarious sound that one makes when doing the one-armed chicken dance with one hand cupped under the arm pit of the flapping arm. What can I say, it was the 80’s and we were easily entertained. Needless to say, this food and its juvenile moniker were very appealing. Years passed and monkey farts, like other childhood memories, passed from my ageing consciousness…until when recently at a bake sale at work I tasted something nearly identical to my childhood treat. Heads turned when I yelled out “Monkey Farts” in a room full of suits.

This is probably one of the easiest and quickest cinnamon bun recipes you’ll try – you don’t need yeast and you don’t need to let the dough rise. Enjoy the recipe….and for good measure try doing the one-handed chicken dance around your kitchen with a mouthful of cinnamon bun. Continue reading


Dark Chocolate Dessert Risotto

I’ve had this recipe in mind since before Christmas, but have been waiting for the right moment and the right people to test it on. It’s based on a recipe that my friend Nathalie forwarded to me, though I’ve personalized it with several other ingredients, including beets to compensate for using less sugar and to give it a richer, darker colour, as well as some coconut milk and rum for additional flavours. So much for my resolution to eat better in the new year.

When my friends Daniel and Danielle invited me to Sunday dinner tonight, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to bring this dessert. Daniel is one of the best cooks I know – each dinner party is always replete with bold, flavourful meals, good Italian wine and lots of laughs. But as he was making chicken tikka with some of his home-roasted and ground marsala spices, I knew that any accompanying dish I contributed to the evening would have to be worthy enough as a following act.

Don’t be scared off by the thought of eating rice for dessert – it’s like rice pudding, but with sinful chocolatey goodness. I guarantee this will be a hit!

Serves 6. Preparation and cook time: 30 minutes

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The Best Low Fat Banana Bread You Will Ever Have

Mmmm. Best eaten warm.

The best banana bread ever? And low fat, to boot?

Yes, I know that is a tall claim. But I swear by this recipe. The only problem with it is my inability to stop myself from single-handedly eating both loaves within 24 hours (I fail every time). Interestingly, I actually hate bananas. I don’t like eating them on their own, but I am able to stand them if I add minimal amounts of it to bread. Therefore, my banana bread is light on the banana, but heavy on the bread. I always add a package of chopped walnuts, but whatever works best for you. I prefer to bake them in mini loafpans, because there is some forced portion control (not that it does any good in my case). But smaller is also just cuter. In any case, regardless of load size, enjoy! Continue reading


Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

I don’t remember ever eating ginger molasses cookies growing up, though I do recall there always being a full, sticky carton of molasses in the cupboard. My brother and I used to dip a finger in to taste and then make a face, never learning apparently. It wasn’t until I first tried this cookie, years later at the local Starbucks, that I became a ginger junkie and a lover of molasses. Also, of late, whenever I go back to Quebec for a visit I get spoiled by family to the traditional French Canadian meal galettes de sarasin, or Buckwheat pancakes, which are rolled in pork and lard and dipped in nearly half a container of molasses it seems – these are to die for! Molasses redeemed!

I work with a great group of cooks and bakers on my office floor who are forever fattening the rest of us up with delicious treats – particularly around the holidays when different sugary platters beckon me every time I walk by the kitchen. Today someone brought in the chewiest homemade ginger molasses cookies I’ve ever sampled, so I immediately swiped a couple more and tried to greedily conserve my small stash throughout the day. Thanks Gaylynn. Bon Appetit! Continue reading


Mango Blackberry Brulee

I invited some friends over for a Moroccan tagine dinner tonight and was warned that one of them couldn’t eat gluten. There were a few desserts I wanted to make that stayed with the Moroccan theme, but was challenged to find one that I liked without that pesky gluten. In the end I settled on something completely different – a creme brulee variation. I’ve been eyeing up some ramekins (smallish oven-proof cups) to add to my kitchen collection and thought that a brulee would be a good excuse for the purchase and a nice way to break them in. It would also allow me to use the closest thing to a power tool in the kitchen: a brulee torch. Yes, I have home insurance. Continue reading


Christmas Snowy-Lava Cookies

Christmas with lava? This might seem a bit unconventional for most, but I have spent a good many years of my childhood Christmases in Hawaii. These wonderful lava cookies are soft and moist, like a great brownie. They are super simple and fast to make, but their appearance is unique and festive and make a great party-host present (which is what I made them for in this particular case).

This is going to be your best friend for this recipe. Don't be afraid to use it liberally.

You will need:

  • 1 & 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • a helluva lot of icing sugar, for rolling:) Continue reading

Wild Berry Sorbet

Blackberry sorbet...or what's left of it

Ingredients:
**ice cream maker required
8 cups fresh washed or frozen berries  – this recipe used blackberries
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vodka (optional)

Directions:

Blend the berries, water and lemon juice until the mixture is smooth. Add the berry mixture to a large saucepan and stir in the sugar – mix well. Bring the mixture to a boil and immediately remove it from the heat. Give the mixture a chance to cool at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes, and then press it through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any small seeds, especially if you’re using blackberries. Discard the berry solids (i.e. seeds) and mix the puree with the vodka (optional). Allow the mixture to cool and then freeze it in an ice cream maker according to the directions for the particular machine you’re using.


Mexican Dark Chocolate Espresso Truffles – Ole!


Sometimes I wish I drank more often.

No, really. I feel like if I did, I would have this wonderful pantry full of liqueur to use in my baking recipes.

This recipe calls for (an irritatingly small amount of) Kahlua, and it just didn’t seem worthwhile for me to buy some to only use 1 tablespoon of it. Why are these truffles Mexican? Not because they are spicy, but because I made them in honour of a Mexican friend of mine. They are a perfect sweet treat to have with an after-dinner cup of tea or coffee ( or, if you are so lucky, Kahlua?). Enjoy!

You will need:

12 ounces (or, 1.5 cups) of bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1.5 tablespoons instant espresso powder

3/4 cup whipping cream

(optional: 1 tablespoon Kahlua)

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

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How to Make Perfect Muffins

For the longest time none of the muffins I made ever looked like the ones sold by a baker or handed to me by the local barista at Starbucks. Mine were the Ugly Betty of baked goods. Growing up, as well, I didn’t live in a house of positive muffin role models; we used to buy the Quaker muffin mix where all that was needed was water, like sea monkeys, and voila….a runt, mini-me version of a muffin would emerge.

I’ve since come across a muffin recipe in the March 2006 issue of Fine Cooking that makes bountifully large, delicious muffins every time. I’ve included it below with a few minor  tweaks of my own. Continue reading


Cinnamon Apple Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

3 cups peeled apple, shredded

1/2 cup raisins

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar Continue reading


Easy Cinnamon Shortbread Squares

This recipe is one that I’ve been hounding my mom to share with me for a while. She used to make this for my brother and I when we were much younger and the recipe she scanned and sent me had the food splatter marks to prove its age. I do love regular shortbread cookies, don’t get me wrong, but they are usually so light and fluffy that they dissolve on the tongue in seconds and are gone. These shortbread squares have more of a brownie consistency, but with the buttery goodness of shortbread. I made the mistake of making this batch with no one else home during a day of little willpower and ended up eating the equivalent of a 1/4 cup butter over the time it takes to watch an episode of Glee. They are highly addictive. Word of advice: eat one or two and then bring the rest of the batch to work. Continue reading


Crepes

Although very popular in France and Quebec, crepes and creperies (crepe houses) are only now starting to appear on the West Coast. I prefer to make my own, though, as they are inexpensive and very simple to make. They are also multi-purpose, serving as breakfast, lunch, or dinner depending on what you fill them with. Although some people have been known to eat them with shrimp or fish, my preference is with fresh fruit, peanut butter, chocolate chips or whipped cream. Continue reading


Rice Pudding

When I found out that my step dad liked rice pudding, I believe I gave him a look of disbelief. This didn’t sound like something he would eat: he comes from an old-school British background and relies on typically bland food staples, like butter on toast or boiled vegetables – rice pudding seemed too far out of his comfort zone. Apparently though, rice pudding has a long-standing place on British dinner (or breakfast) plates from as far back as the Tudor period. In fact, a little Googling revealed that nearly every culture in the world has some variation of rice pudding in their diet. I had tasted the black rice porridge version in Thailand a few years ago, called Khao Niao Dam, without realizing what it was – and it was delicious. I’ve included this “worldly” rice pudding recipe for my step dad, who in my regard has now moved slightly up the foodie rungs.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup uncooked white rice

2 cups milk, divided, or cream

1/3 cup white sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg, beaten

2/3 cup raisins

1 tbsp butter

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

1. In a medium saucepan bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

2. In another saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups cooked rice, 1 1/2 cups milk or cream, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat until thick and creamy, 15-20 minutes.

3. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup milk, beaten egg and raisins. Cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly.

4. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Serve warm.


Julie’s Fudge

Ingredients:

3 cups brown sugar

1 cup carnation milk

Approximately 1/8 cup butter

 

Directions:

1. Bring mixture to a boil. Everything must be melted together.

2. Bring to “Soft Ball” stage on candy thermometer

3. Remove from heat and add 1 tsp vanilla extract

4. Allow to cool slightly then beat until fudge thickens and it loses its gloss

 


Diane’s Bacardi Rum Cake

Cake:

1 cup chopped pecan or walnuts; 18 1/2 oz yellow cake mix

3 3/4 oz package Jello Vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix.

4 eggs

1/2 cup cold water

1/2 cup cooking oil

1/2 cup rum (amber)

 

Glaze:

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup water

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2  cup rum (amber)

 

Directions – Glaze:

1. Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

2. Remove from heat and stir in rum

 

Directions – Cake

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Grease or flour 10 inch Rectangular or Bundt pan.

3. Sprinkle nuts on bottom of pan.

4. Mix all cake ingredients together and pour batter over nuts.

5. Bake 1 hour then cool. Invert on serving plate. Prick top with fork or toothpick.

6. Drizzle and smooth glaze evenly over top and sides. Allow cake to absorb and repeat until glaze is used up.

 


Shortbread Cookies

My step dad loves this recipe for shortbread cookies and I agree they’re both delicious and addictive (translation: fattening). If you enjoy this recipe, also take a look at my mom’s cinnamon shortbread square recipe.

 

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F

2. Mix butter and sugar in large bowl. Stir in flour. If dough is crumbly, mix in 1-2 tbsps of extra butter)

3. Roll dough 1/2 inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes by hand. Place 1/2 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake about 20 minutes or until set. Remove from sheet to let cool.


Praline Bars

Ingredients:

24  graham cracker squares

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup chopped pecans

 

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350ºF.

2. Arrange graham crackers in single layer in ungreased jelly roll pan, 15 1/2×10 1/2×1 inch.

3. Heat brown sugar and butter to boiling in 2-quart saucepan. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.

4. Pour sugar mixture over crackers; spread evenly. Sprinkle with pecans.

5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until bubbly; cool slightly. Cut between graham crackers into bars.

 


Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup margarine or butter, softened

2 teaspoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

1. Beat cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla in medium bowl with electric mixer on low speed until smooth.

2. Gradually beat in powdered sugar on low speed, 1 cup at a time, until smooth and spreadable.


Carrot Cake

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 cups shredded carrots (roughly 5-6)

1 cup coarsely chopped nuts

 

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of rectangular pan. Lightly flour.

2. Mix sugar, oil and eggs in large bowl until blended; beat 1 minute.

3. Stir in remaining ingredients except carrots, nuts and frosting. Beat 1 minute by hand. Stir in carrots and nuts. Pour into pan.

4. Bake for 40-45 minutes for rectangular pan or 30-35 minutes for round pan, or until toothpick comes out clean inserted in centre. Cool on wire rack.

5. Frost with cream cheese frosting.

 

 


Simple Pie Crust Recipe

Two-crust pie

2/3 cup plus 2 tbsp shortening

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

4-5 tbsp cold water

 

Directions:

1. Cut shortening into flour and salt by crisscrossing 2 knives, until the pieces are pea-sized. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Use your fingers to combine until all flour is moistened.

2. Gather the pastry into a ball. Divide pastry in half and shape into 2 rounds.

3. Roll pastry into circle roughly 2 inches larger than an upside down pie plate, using a rolling pin. Place into pie plate and firmly press against bottom and sides.

4. Fill with your favourite fruit or filling and bake as directed.