Category

Baking

Category

Spicy Double Chocolate Mexican Cookies

Around this time last year I made a few different kinds of cookies that Bogdan took to work. Honestly, these chill-chocolate cookies were included as sort of a last minute afterthought. Now, a year later, I had to really dig deep to remember the other types because the chocolate-chili Mexican cookies were by far the crowd favourite. You see those ones on the end? They’re cream cheese frosted pumpkin spice cookies. The ones on the other side are lemon & walnut shortbread. I still don’t get why the chili-chocolate were so much more popular!

DSC_0066 (4)

I’m noticing more and more lately that people won’t necessarily be impressed by whatever I think is most exciting. For example, a little while ago I posted my Harvest Biryani With Chickpeas, Dried Cranberries, and Pepitas and my Pumpkin Spice Steel Cut Oat Brûlée (again, as an afterthought) at the same time on Instagram (see my feed to the right!). I thought people would like the Harvest Biryani way more…the pictures were striking, it had much more going on and was (relatively) a bit more complex than the Oat Brûlée.

Wrong.

The Oat Brûlée was way more popular.

Back to a year ago. There were a few requests for this recipe at the time. One, in particular, was from one of Bogdan’s co-workers. Bogdan reminded me so.many.times.  The conditions just weren’t ever right: I was in exams, I didn’t have the right vanilla, or cocoa powder…it was summer and too hot to bake spicy chocolate cookies….

Finally, a whole year later, this post is dedicated to you, patient coworker. I’m sorry for delay but it had to be perfect!

I changed the recipe up a bit to make the cookies a little more moist. The chocolate is now inside of them instead of on top but you could easily drizzle more chocolate on top if you like. Also, I used white and bitter-sweet chocolate because it was what I had on hand. I think if I were to do this again I would try bitter-sweet and milk chocolate. Up to you how you do it. The white was really good too.

These cookies are really chocolatey and fudgey with enough spice to really make them pop. I also recently picked up some Vietnamese cinnamon from the girls at Dirty Girl Farm. It has a very bright and rich cinnamon flavour compared to conventional cinnamon. Makes a big difference. Definitely recommended if you can get your hands on some.Ingredients

115 grams / 4 oz / 8 TBSP (one stick) salted butter (softened)

64 grams / 2.25 oz / 1/2 cup granulated sugar

32 grams / 1.12 oz / 1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract (my go-to is vanilla bean paste)

1 egg

160 grams / 5.6 oz / 1 + 1/4 cups AP flour

1 tsp baking soda

32 grams / 2oz / 1/2 cup cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

90 grams / 3 oz / 1/2 cup each of white & bitter-sweet chocolate chips

1.5 tsp ground cayenne pepper

1 tsp ground cinnamon (my favourite is Vietnamese cinnamon)

32 grams / 1 oz / 2 TBSP granulated sugar with 1/2 tsp cinnamon for edges (optional)

 

Method

In a large bowl cream together the softened butter and sugars until smooth.

Add egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated.

In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt.

Use a spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until incorporated.

Add the chocolate chips and mix.

The dough should be chilled before baking. I recommend taking out a sheet of plastic wrap, piling your dough on in a rough log shape and then fold over the plastic wrap and shape it into a nicer log. Place in freezer for about 15-20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F / 175 C.

Mix the cinnamon sugar to coat the edges on a plate and then remove the log from the freezer. Slice into 1 cm thick pieces and run the edges through the cinnamon sugar, then place on a parchment lined baking sheet. You can also cut the log first into larger pieces and run the entire thing over the cinnamon sugar and then cut into 1 cm thick segments. Up to you.

P1130872

Bake for about 10 minutes or until the centres of the cookies are still soft but not jiggly. The ideal amount of time for me is 10 minutes for fudgey soft cookies, but conditions can be different so keep an eye on them the first time you make them. If you prefer your cookies crisp bake an additional 2-3 minutes. I also like to bake a test cookie before baking all of them just to make sure it’s to my liking. You could start with less spice, bake a test cookie, and add more if you wanted. If you do bake a test cookie just remember that the cooking time will be different for one cookies versus an entire pan full. Reduce time by 1-2 minutes.

PS: Bogdan’s favourite joke now is that he has to put in requests for things a year in advance. Ha ha.

SaveSave

Classic Tarte Tatin

I have a confession to make. This is my third time trying to make this tart. The first time it sort of fell apart. The second time it burned. I was so determined to make it and I’m still not really sure why. It seemed so chic and…classically French.

What makes a tarte tatin what it is is the process of cooking the apples underneath the pastry and then flipping it upside down…or right-side up. I gave up on the classic for a little while and tried my hand at potato leek with thyme. I got the hang of it!

P1130776

In order for it to work you need a buttered non-stick skillet (about 9 inches / 23 cm ) and precise cooking – see below. Once I knew how to make one type of tarte tatin, it was only a matter of trying my hand again at the classic. It’s really fun to make and the fact that you flip it upside down makes it a bit more forgiving as far as pastry skills go.I really prefer making my own pie dough. It tastes better and isn’t full of artificial fillers. Check the ingredients on any store bought dough you’re considering before buying. The recipe here is adapted from the recipe in The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friburg. I cut the recipe in half, reduced the salt and changed the method a little bit.


Pie Dough


Ingredients

350 grams / 12 oz bread flour

1 tsp salt

225 grams / 8 oz cold salted butter (very cold)

70 grams / 2.5 oz lard or vegetable shortening (very cold)

Approximately 1/3 of a cup ice water

 

Method

** A well known pie dough making hack is to grate frozen butter or lard. This is a great idea and makes the process much easier. However, know that if you do grate it you should refreeze for 10-15 minutes in case it’s warmed up from your body heat or the friction of the grater.

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and lard and quickly mix without handling it too much until just incorporated.

Sprinkle on the ice water and mix just until the dough comes together. It should still look chunky.

Flatten with a rolling pin, cover and let rest in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. My preferred method is to roll it out on a large sheet of aluminum foil, then fold over the edges and put it into the freezer as is. When I take it out I can flip it upside down and lay it onto the apples then peel off the foil with little damage to the dough.

When the dough has chilled enough, you’re going to use it to cover the apples. I used a 9 inch  23 cm non-stick skillet that was about 2 inches / 5 cm high. You’ll probably have some dough leftover if you use the same size…maybe make a hand pie? If you go larger, remember to also make more filling.

**Makes about 700 grams / 1.5 lbs of pie dough.


Tart


Ingredients

5-6 medium sized baking apples like McIntosh or Gala

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 TBSP salted butter (melted) + a bit more to butter the pan

1 tsp cinnamon (I’m obsessed with Vietnamese cinnamon at the moment)

Dash of salt

 

Method

Preheat oven to 375 F / 190 C with a rack in the upper 1/3.

Peel and core the apples then slice them into 1 cm wedges.

Toss them in a bowl with the sugar, butter, cinnamon and salt.

Arrange them in a buttered non-stick skillet in whatever way looks nice to you. I did a sort of swirl on the outside and another swirl going in the opposite direction on the inside.

Cover with the pie dough above or store bought. I like to gently push the edges down to envelope the apples.

Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes or until pastry has turned golden.

Allow to cool for 10 – 15 minutes and then place a plate over the tart and, using both hands, flip both upside down so the tart slides onto the plate. It should slide out without any issues.

Garnish with powdered sugar, toasted walnuts, or salted caramel.

so. good.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Heirloom Tomato Tart with Gruyère & Thyme

It was such a pleasure making this tart. Bogdan and I met up with some friends at Eastern Market on Saturday and there were beautiful heirloom tomatoes everywhere. I didn’t have any plans for them but I had to have some. Just look how beautiful they are. Slicing them for this tart was almost as good as eating the finished product. The smell of sweet fresh tomatoes filled my kitchen and I couldn’t have been happier.

I’ve seen quite a few tomato tarts on Pinterest lately and they all look so wonderful. I decided that would be the best way to highlight the tomatoes while also making something really eye-catching. You know what’s amazing about food? The sheer variety of preparation methods that can transform virtually the same ingredients from a margherita pizza to a rustic tomato tart. It’s incredible.

So about this tart. It looks really impressive but it’s surprising how simple it is to make. I made my own pie dough (recipe & instructions below) but you can substitute store bought if you prefer – that would make it even simpler. I think I used about 250 grams / 8.8 oz of tomatoes.  I used the small ones because I liked the look of it but you can also use large ones or even both. They have to be sliced thinly then laid out on a paper towel lined surface and sprinkled with salt so they release water and you don’t end up with a runny pie. It’s really easy to over-salt so just remember while you’re salting that what you sprinkle on the tomatoes to release water will also end up in your tart.

Gruyère and thyme has been my favourite combination lately. I bought a little thyme bush from the farmers market a couple weeks ago and I’ve been using it in everything. The combination of gruyère and thyme is a classic. It lets the tomatoes shine while still adding a bit of interest. I garnished with a small sprig of basil just for appearances but you could also fully substitute basil and pecorino for the gruyère and thyme.

You’ll notice that there aren’t a lot of ingredients in this tart. Simple preparations like this are meant to highlight the quality of the few ingredients used. In this case, the tomatoes were really the star of the recipe and their quality and taste was noticeable. Try to take advantage of the harvest heirlooms available at farmers markets this time of year. Also, if at all possible don’t shy away from making your own pie dough. Not only does it taste infinitely better than store bought, but it also isn’t full of preservatives, stabilizers, colours and whatever else  store bought doughs are always full of (have you ever looked at the ingredients? It’s scary). The flour you choose makes a big difference too. My personal favourite (for almost everything I make) is Antimo Caputo Chef’s “00” Flour, however, for pastry it’s best to avoid a high gluten flour and use an AP instead. As always, unbleached is always better.

Unless you have somewhere you can buy all natural pie dough, make it yourself. It’s part of the experience. The secret is just to keep all the ingredients super cold – then it’s (almost) fool-proof. Also, this particular dough is made with a combination of lard and butter, which provides an ideal flour-to-fat ratio. If you don’t have or prefer not to use lard it’s best to substitute vegetable shortening instead of more butter because all butter can make for a mealy pie dough that’s hard to work with.

The recipe here is adapted from the recipe in The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friburg. I cut the recipe in half, reduced the salt and changed the method a little bit.


Pie Dough


Ingredients

350 grams / 12 oz unbleached AP flour

1 tsp salt

225 grams / 8 oz cold salted butter (very cold)

70 grams / 2.5 oz lard or vegetable shortening (very cold)

Approximately 1/3 of a cup ice water

Method

** A well known pie dough making hack is to grate frozen butter or lard. This is a great idea and makes the process much easier. However, know that if you do grate it you should refreeze for 10-15 minutes in case it’s warmed up from your body heat or the friction of the grater.

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and lard and quickly mix without handling it too much until just incorporated.

Sprinkle on the ice water and mix just until the dough comes together. It should still look chunky.

Flatten with a rolling pin, cover and let rest in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. My preferred method is to roll it out on a large sheet of aluminum foil, then fold over the edges and put it into the freezer as is. When I take it out I can flip it upside down and lay it into my tart shell then peel off the foil with little damage to the dough.

When the dough has chilled enough, press it into a tart shell. I used a very shallow (about 1 inch / 2.5 cm) tart pan that’s 10 inch / 25 cm across. I had a small handful of dough leftover so I think this would be enough to cover a 2 inch deep pan as well (especially if you don’t make the crust as thick as mine was).

Blind bake the tart dough (without anything in it) at 375 F / 190 C for 15 minutes. You can use pie weights or beans if you choose but I generally don’t.  You can move on to the tart recipe at this point.

When finished baking, remove from heat and assemble following instructions below. Leave the oven on.

**Makes about 700 grams / 1.5 lbs of pie dough.


Tart


Ingredients

250 – 300 grams fresh heirloom tomatoes (either cherry or full sized)

1 prebaked pie or tart crust

1 TBSP fresh thyme + a bit more for garnish (fresh really makes a difference but if you have to use dry then substitute 1 tsp dried thyme for 1 TBSP fresh)

100 grams / 3.5 oz grated gruyère + more for garnish (after baking)

Method

Thinly slice the tomatoes (as thin as you have the patience for) and lay them out on a paper towel lined surface. Sprinkle with salt and let them sit for at least 30 minutes so they release water and you don’t end up with a runny pie. It’s really easy to over-salt so just remember while you’re salting that what you sprinkle on the tomatoes to release water will also end up in your tart.

Take your tart or pie shell and sprinkle 1/3 of the thyme, then 1/3 of the cheese and layer on enough tomatoes to cover. Repeat for 2 more layers, using the rest of the ingredients. I had a few tomato slices leftover that I just ate as they were. If you have leftovers or not enough, adjust accordingly The tart should be relatively full so if you use a 2 inch tart pan then you’ll need to double your filling. PS: The top of the tart should be tomatoes and not cheese because the cheese will harden unpleasantly.

Bake at 375 F / 190 C for 15 – 20 minutes or until crust is a nice golden colour and tomatoes have dried.

Remove from heat and allow to cool 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with more thyme and gruyère.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Soft & Chewy Spiced White Chocolate & Pumpkin Seed Cookies

P1130760

soft. chewy. crunchy. sweet. salty. spicy. chocolatey. warm. mouthwatering. totally perfect.

These cookies are ah-mazing. Think of a cross between a ginger snap and a white chocolate macadamia nut. I tested the recipe 3-4 times over the course of a week to get it just right. Friends and family were my willing guinea pigs and they absolutely loved these cookies. There’s a bit of extra salt to counter the sweet and the spice and I think that’s what makes them so good.

P1130625

Complexity is my goal with baked goods. I always use salted butter in sweet baked goods and then add pinch or two more because it compliments the sweetness so beautifully. As far as desserts go, there are few things worse for me than cloyingly sweet desserts with nothing to balance the sweetness. Those are one note wonders. The mark of really good homemade baked goods is exactly that – they aren’t just sweet. These cookies have such amazing flavours from authentic vietnamese cinnamon, fresh ginger and spicy cayenne combined with sweet white chocolate and salty roasted pumpkin seeds.

Please just trust me and make these for your next fall get together. Everyone will love them and you.

On a related note, I picked up some Vietnamese cinnamon recently and I’m totally obsessed. It has a noticeably different flavour from conventional cinnamon. The only way I can describe it is that it tastes more like a cinnamon heart and less like apple pie (but not at all in a processed candy heart kind of way!). If you can get your hands on some it’s definitely a must-try for your fall baking.

P1130665

[col1]

Ingredients

115 grams / 4 oz / 8 TBSP (one stick) salted butter (softened)

64 grams / 2.25 oz / 1/2 cup granulated sugar

32 grams / 1.12 oz / 1/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

2 tsp vanilla extract (my go-to is vanilla bean paste)

1 tsp fresh grated ginger

210 grams / 7.4 oz / 1.5 cups plus 2 TBSP AP flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper

Generous pinch of salt (I used about 1/2 tsp) + more for topping (kosher is especially nice if you have it)

60 grams / 2 oz  / 1/2 cup roasted salted pumpkin seeds plus an additional 30 grams / 1 oz / 1/4 cup for topping

130 grams / 4.6 oz / 3/4 cup white chocolate chips

[/col1]

[col3_2]

Method

In a large bowl cream together the softened butter and sugars until smooth.

Add egg, vanilla and ginger and mix until incorporated.

In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cayenne and salt.

Use a spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until incorporated.

Add the pumpkin seeds and white chocolate and mix.

The dough should ideally be chilled before baking. I recommend forming balls before chilling because it’s a little easier. This recipe makes about one dozen average sized cookies or 10 large ones. Form balls and stack on a plate with parchment paper in between then place in freezer for about 15-20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F / 175 C.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until the centres of the cookies are still soft but not jiggly. For me the perfect time is 10 minutes but conditions can be different so keep an eye on them the first time you make them. For me 10 minutes makes soft and chewy cookies. If you prefer your cookies crisp bake an additional 2-3 minutes. I also like to bake a test cookie before baking all of them. If you do the same just remember that the cooking time will be different for one cookies versus an entire pan full.

[/col3_2]

 

SaveSave

Mini Cheesecakes Two Ways: Eggnog & Nutella

278 fotor

 

We were invited to a holiday party and of course it was the perfect excuse to bake something exceedingly decadent (that we wouldn’t have to eat on our own). I’ve wanted to make eggnog cheesecake since I first experimented with cardamom creme brûlée cheesecake bars a few months back. There’s something about the combination of sweet creaminess and spice that elevates dessert to another level of complexity. This cheesecake is made with my always reliable and almost-as-good-as-beans bourbon vanilla bean paste. I used actual eggnog, but also added rum extract and freshly grated nutmeg in the mix and as a garnish for an extra pop of flavour. The resulting mini cheesecakes are everything you would expect from eggnog cheesecake and more. Generally, my preferred method for cheesecakes is Chicago style (i.e. soft and creamy center) and that’s exactly how these are made. The soft center makes them taste all the more decadent. The cookie crust is a traditional graham cracker base with sugar and a generous dash of salt to give it some complexity. I grated a bit more nutmeg in and also added just a tiny pinch of fresh grated ginger. I was iffy about the ginger because it can be a really overpowering flavour but just a pinch of it added a spicy note that complemented the other components very nicely.

My initial recipe was just for eggnog cheesecake, but never being one to shy away from experimenting with flavours I decided to split my composition in two and play around with some ingredients. Everyone always loves anything with hazelnut chocolate, or more specifically, everyone loves anything to do with Nutella. I once made three different donuts: salted dulce de leche, maple candied walnut, and buttered apple cider. I decided at the last minute to make a chocolate one frosted with Nutella and garnished with slivered dark chocolate with hazelnuts. It was by far the favourite of the night. My friends still talk about that Nutella donut whenever I mention that I’m baking anything. So, to return to my point, I’ve had good results with Nutella and hazelnut chocolate so I thought, why not put it in a cheesecake for a party? I added a generous amount of Nutella to the cheesecake composition and tasted along the way to make sure it was coming through. When they came out of the oven I slivered some dark hazelnut chocolate on top for some dimension and texture. If you want creamy chocolate cheesecake these are it. If you’d like a more decadent dessert you could also frost them with Nutella and then sliver the hazelnut chocolate, like I did for the Nutella donuts. In any case, these hazelnut chocolate mini cheesecakes are full of richness and flavour. The crust is graham cracker with cocoa, sugar, and again a generous pinch of salt for depth.

I made my mini cheesecake in two batches. For the first batch I pre-baked the crusts for 5 minutes. For the second batch I didn’t pre-bake. I definitely recommend pre-baking. It caramelizes the sugar in the graham cracker composition and makes for  crisp sweet candy crust that adds a nice textural element and also tastes really different. It’s just one small extra step that really goes a long way. Overall, although I wouldn’t call them “super easy” these mini cheesecakes looked a lot more difficult to make than they were. Once the basic cheesecake mix is prepared it’s just a matter of adding flavourings and baking. Unlike a traditional full size cheesecake you don’t really have to worry about cracking so they aren’t as finicky as far as temperature is concerned. I took mine right out of the oven and on to the balcony to chill with no adverse effects.

Also, the party was great 🙂

DSC_0027_Fotor

[line]

Mini cheesecake two ways

Total time: 45 minutes

Bake time: 15 minutes + 5 minutes for crust optional

Equipment: mini cupcake pan and mini cupcake liners

Makes approximately 30 mini cheesecakes

[line]

Graham cracker crust

[left]

Ingredients

♦ 1 cup graham cracker crumbs

♦ ½ cup butter

♦ 2 TBSP sugar

♦ 1 tsp salt

Pinch of nutmeg optional

Pinch of ginger optional

1 TBSP cocoa powder optional

[/left]

[right]

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325.

Melt butter.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Optional ingredients

If making two flavours, divide your mix equally into two parts after combining the first four ingredients. For eggnog cupcakes add grating of nutmeg and pinch of fresh ginger. For hazelnut chocolate add cocoa powder.

Put approximately 1½ tsp of mix in each cupcake liner and flatten down with your thumb.

Pre-bake at 325 for 5 minutes.

[/right]

[line]

Cheesecake

[left]

Ingredients

♦ 3 packages of cream cheese (8oz each)

♦ 1 cup of sugar

♦ pinch of salt

♦ 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

♦ 2 eggs

Additional Ingredients

hazelnut chocolate

♦ 5 TBSP Nutella

♦ hazelnut dark chocolate (I used Ritter Sport)

eggnog

♦ ½ cup eggnog

♦ 1 tsp rum extract

♦ grating of nutmeg (approximately 1/4 tsp)

[/left]

[right]

Preparation

Bring cream cheese to room temperature. This step is very important or the mix could be clumpy. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer to cream together cream cheese and sugar until smooth.

Add pinch of salt and vanilla and mix.

Add one egg at a time, mixing each until just incorporated.

If making two flavours, divide equally into two bowls.

For hazelnut chocolate cheesecake, add nutella and mix until incorporated.

For eggnog cheesecake, add eggnog, rum extract, and nutmeg and mix until incorporated.

Spoon approximately 1 TBSP into each liner (chocolate into chocolate crust and eggnog into nutmeg crust – in case its not obvious :p) It’s alright if the mix reaches the very top of the cupcake liner, it will rise but then will also fall again back into the liner.

Very important – before baking make sure you gently but firmly hit your pan onto a counter or other hard surface a few times to remove any air bubbles. If you don’t do this – you will be sad and so will your cheesecake.

Bake at 325 for 15 minutes.

Remove cheesecake from oven. Garnish immediately so your garnish sticks. Garnish eggnog cheesecake with a grating of nutmeg. Garish hazelnut chocolate cheesecake with slivers of the hazelnut chocolate bar. I used a knife and just scraped bits off right onto the cheesecake. If you try to put it on a plate first it clumps together and makes a mess.

If you have time, allow cheesecake to cool at room temperature for 1 hour and then cover with aluminum foil and place in the fridge until ready to serve.

If you don’t have time (I never do) cover with aluminum foil and place directly in fridge.

Enjoy!

[/right]

 

 

 

 

SaveSave

Bacon, Egg, & Broccoli Muffins

Around week 2 of our Whole30 Bogdan and I started getting really sick of eating plain old eggs every morning. We were also getting even more sick of having to make plain old eggs every morning. So one afternoon I made these egg muffins so I wouldn’t have to worry about breakfast the next morning. I separated my eggs and beat my whites to stiff peaks in order to make a light and fluffy muffin but honestly, on a cost-benefit basis it really doesn’t add much. Just be aware that the yield here is for 26 mini muffins but if you don’t separate your eggs it may be much less. You can multiply the calories per muffin by 26 then divide by however many muffins you make. Just for the math inept.

Enjoy!

paleo bacon, egg, and broccoli muffins

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 26

Serving Size: 1

Calories per serving: 35

paleo bacon, egg, and broccoli muffins

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup broccoli cut into tiny florets
  • 1/2 cup paleo bacon, diced and cooked until crispy
  • 1 TBSP dill, diced finely
  • S&P to taste
  • 1 TBSP ghee (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Cook diced bacon on medium heat until crispy
  3. Combine all ingredients in a bowl
  4. Grease your mini muffin pan with ghee or alternatively use mini muffin pan liners
  5. Spoon mixture into pan
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until set
  7. Allow to cool and pop out of pan
  8. Will keep at least a week in the fridge

Notes

Mini muffin pan Mini muffin liners (optional)

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave