Sticky Toffee Pudding

One of my favourite desserts when it appears on a menu is sticky toffee pudding, particularly when travelling in the UK.

I’ve always wanted to make this dessert and on a vacation day over Christmas holidays, it seemed like a good time to try.  Shout out to my fellow chef Samantha for going on this adventure with me!

The sauce: 

  • 2 1/2 cups 18% cream
  • 1 tbsp spiced rum
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap mollasses
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

The cake: 

  • 6 ounces pitted dates, preferably Medjool (about 7-8 dates)
  •  1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup spiced rum
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions:

Sauce:
  • In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/4 cups of the cream with the butter, rum, molasses/syrup and sugar; bring to a boil. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until a deep amber caramel forms, about 30 minutes. Carefully whisk in the remaining 1 1/4 cups of cream.

Cake:   

  • In a small saucepan, simmer the dates in the rum/water over moderately low heat until the water is nearly absorbed and the dates are soft, about 15 minutes. Transfer the dates and any liquid to a blender and puree until very smooth.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly butter four 1/2-cup ramekins. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla, then beat in the date puree. At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients. Spoon the batter into the ramekins and smooth the tops. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean; let cool slightly.
  • Using a small serrated knife, trim the tops of the cakes level with the rims of the ramekins. Unmold the cakes and invert them onto a wire rack. Slice each cake in half horizontally. Wipe out the ramekins and spoon 1 tablespoon of the toffee sauce into each. Return the bottom layers of the cakes to the ramekins, cut side up. Spoon another tablespoon of the toffee sauce into the ramekins and top with the remaining cake layers. Spoon another tablespoon of the toffee sauce over the cakes and spread evenly. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until the toffee is bubbling around the edges.
  • Let the puddings cool for 5 minutes, then run a thin-bladed knife around the insides of the ramekins; invert each pudding onto a dessert plate. Rewarm the remaining toffee sauce and spoon some around the puddings. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

This recipe yielded 4 puddings and LOTS of sauce.  Leftover sauce meant trying something else so this morning I added 1 tbsp of sauce to my latte and oh my… was that a great decision.

 

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Chocolate meringue cookies

And the Oscar goes to….

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These cookies. Crispy on the outside, fudgey and chewy on the inside. *drools*

I’m heading out for an Oscar party this evening and wanted to bring something decadent and delicious, but also something that wouldn’t take up several hours of my weekend to make.

I found this recipe here

Made a few adjustments, as I usually do,  and damn, these cookies fit the bill.  Also? They’re gluten free!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 ½ cups PC chocolate chunks
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla paste
Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line 2 large baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.
2. Mix sugar, cocoa, and salt in a bowl. Stir in chocolate chips. Set aside.
3. Whip egg whites and vanilla until they start to form soft peaks.
4. Fold in dry ingredients until batter is just moistened. (Do not overbeat batter or it will stiffen.)
5. Drop batter by heaping teaspoonful onto baking sheets in evenly spaced mounds.
6. Bake cookies until tops are lightly cracked and glossy, about 13-14 minutes.

7. Let cool and then transfer to wire racks  using a spatula to cool completely. Careful, they may be soft and fragile.
8. Serve same day, or place in air-tight container for later.
Will make about 15ish cookies
Hooray for Oscar parties and hooray for these cookies!
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Brown butter salted chocolate chip cookies

It’s a bit of a February-blah kind of Sunday so I decided to try something new.

Making brown butter for first time:

 

Inspiration for this recipe was found here, though I made a few tweaks of my own.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup salted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1/2 cup salted caramel chips
  • 1 package of Farm Boy milk chocolate drops
  • Flaky sea salt

Instructions:

  • Make brown butter and set aside to cool.

  • Take salted caramels chips and run through food processor until they are finely chopped.

  • Whisk flour, baking soda, chopped caramel chips and kosher salt in a bowl.

  • In a separate large mixing bowl, pour brown butter in and mix brown sugar and granulated sugar. On medium speed, beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add eggs and vanilla and then slowly mix in dry ingredients. Once throughly mixed, fold in chocolate drops.

  • Let dough sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes to allow the flour to hydrate. Dough will look very loose at first, but will thicken as it sits.

  • Preheat oven to 375°

  • Portion into “ping pong ball” sized dough balls and place on a silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Space evenly and do not flatten.

  • Sprinkle with sea salt.

  • Bake cookies until edges are golden brown and firm but centers are still soft, 9–10 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Accurate representation of me trying these cookies once they were cooled:

Ontario fresh fruit cobbler

IMG_8754When friends give you rhubarb from their garden and the farmers market brings you fresh Ontario cherries and strawberries… you have to do something with them.

I love free-styling in the kitchen when I’m presented with ingredients I know will mesh well together, but I don’t neccesarily have a recipe to go on.  So I made this up as I went and oh man, did it turn out well.  *DISCLAIMER* sometimes the free-styling goes horribly wrong.  Not with the one, but it was touch and go for a while when it wasn’t baking in the middle. Read on… 

Here’s what I came up with –

Filling :
– 6 stalks rhubarb, washed and chopped into small pieces
– 1 quart of strawberries, washed and halved
– 1 quart of cherries, pits out, washed and halved
– 1/4 cup cornstarch
– 1/2 cup lemon juice
– 1/2 cup caster sugar (super fine white sugar)

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Cobbler (cake): 
– 2 cups all purpose flour
– 2 tsp baking powder
– 1 tsp sea salt
– 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
– 2 tsp pure vanilla
– 1 1/4 cups milk
– 3 tbsp cold butter

Prepare:

Preheat oven to 350C

Take your prepped fruit and put in large mixing bowl. Mix in lemon juice and sugar and then toss in cornstarch. Set aside

In large bowl, take flour, baking powder, salt and sugar and mix well. Slowly incorporate milk until full mixed.  Stir in vanilla.

Cut butter into 6 equal squares (1/2 tbsp each) and place into your baking dish evenly. (I used a casserole dish with a lid)

Pour cobbler mix over butter.

Pour fruit mixture over cobbler mix

Put in oven, uncovered, for 30 mins.  Check at 30 mins mark, if brown on top but still uncooked in middle, put lid on and bake for additional 20 mins until you can draw a knife out cleanly

Serve with vanilla ice cream as a dessert OR bring it to work and eat it cold as a treat after lunch.

 

Vegan Sprinkle Sugar Cookies

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I wanted to try this recipe as someone I’m visiting tomorrow is veggie/vegan. There is also a nut allergy, so I couldn’t use anything with nut butters in it.

Thanks to my now 50 mins commute home with lots of wifi on the subway, I read several recommended vegan blogger sites this week and settled on trying these cookies.

Shout out to theMostlyVegan.com for this recipe! I made a few tweaks here and there, but the core of this recipe remains.

Makes approx 16 cookies.
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp flaked sea salt
  • 4 tbsp sprinkles (I used CakeMate sprinkles as they are made with carnauba wax instead of beeswax)
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup Turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup safflower oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the sprinkles to the flour mixture and toss to coat, set aside.
  2. In a mixer, stir together sugar with oil, water, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla until smooth and incorporated.
  3. Add wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir until well combined. Cover and chill dough in fridge for 1/2 hr.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Use a Silpat or Parchment paper lined cookies sheets. Remove dough from the refrigerator and use a cookie scoop. Press down gently on the mounds with a spoon to flatten slightly. Fill one sheet with 12 cookies and use remaining dough on second sheet.
  5. Bake for 9-13 minutes. The cookies should rise a little bit and be lightly browned on the bottom
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the pan for 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining sheet.
  7. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Salted caramel chip and chocolate chunk cookies

Today I had choir practice (shout out to the Altos!) and I never like to show up empty-handed to someone’s house, so I made some cookies to bring along. They were certainly a hit with many recipe requests, so here it is. (And if you’re in Toronto and want to hear some fantastic people who make beautiful music together, check out SoundCrowd)


Ingredients (makes approximately 2 dozen cookies):

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup caster (super-fine) sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 package PC Chocolate chunks
  • 1 package Chipits Sea Salt Caramel chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350C

In small bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda and then set aside

In a mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Reduce speed to low and add salt, vanilla and eggs. Mix until full incorporated (about 3 minutes)

Slowly add flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time until combined. Add chocolate chunks and caramel chips. Texture of the dough should be thick and creamy

Put dough in fridge (or in winter months out in the balcony) for 20 minutes until chilled.

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat, use a cookie scoop and place cookies on tray, about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 10-14 minutes, depending on your oven. Watch for the edges to turn crispy golden brown. When you see this, they’re good to go. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool thoroughly. Or until you can no longer resist them and you just have to have one while they’re still warm 🙂

Cherry Coconut cookies

So this happened at work on Monday:

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That’s Prince Harry (or “the Ginger”, as he’s referred to in my household), Prime Minister Trudeau, Mayor John Tory and members of the Canadian Sledge Hockey team.  Harry was in town to talk about the Invictus Games, which Toronto will play host to in 2017.

As Ryerson welcomed British royalty to campus, I wanted to make something British in his honour.  Hence, the Cherry Coconut cookies were whipped up on Sunday night.  Although, in my haste I forgot to take a picture.  I know, I know… for shame as a cooking/baking blog.  However, I can confirm that I have had MANY requests for this recipe after I brought these cookies into the office on Monday.  So here it is:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter – room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup refined white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups glace (sugared) cherries*, finely chopped
    (*you can generally find these in Canada at the Bulk Barn)  You can also use a ‘fruit mix’ which is usually used in fruit cakes and has cherries, ginger, orange peel and lemon peel for a different taste)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Combine your dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, baking soda, and salt) and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream the butter, brown and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients, then mix in the coconut and cherries.
  4. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet and press with a spoon or fork. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
  5. Bake for 10-13 minutes in the preheated oven, until the edges are golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks.

Enjoy with a nice cup of tea.

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Chocolate Eclairs

On your marks, get set…. BAKE! 

Recently, I’ve found my new favourite show and it’s called the Great British Bake Off.

Yes, I know it’s been around for years, but I’ve only just discovered it for the gem it is.

While watching the show I took mental notes of recipes I’d like to try.

Today, I decided to give the dreaded choux pastry a try.  I say dreaded because over and over again, I’ve seen bakers try this recipe and fail miserably.

As Paul would say: tumblr_nb0xibItKH1qf5tr5o1_500

Ingredients:

For the choux pastry
1/3 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of water
pinch of salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, sliced
2 eggs, beaten

For the filling
1 cup whipping cream
4 tsp icing sugar
1 vanilla bean, shaved

For the icing
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup 2% milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.

     

  2. Put 1/2 cup water into a medium-sized pan with the salt and butter and heat gently until the butter has completely melted – don’t let the water boil and begin to evaporate. Quickly bring the mixture to the boil and tip in all the flour in one go. Remove the pan from the heat and beat furiously with a wooden spoon – don’t worry, the mixture will look messy at first but will soon come together to make a smooth heavy dough.

  3. Put the pan back on a low heat and beat the dough for about a minute to slightly cook the dough – it should come away from the sides of the pan to make a smooth, glossy ball. Tip the dough into a large mixing bowl and leave to cool until tepid.

  4. Beat the eggs in a bowl until combined, then gradually beat them into the dough with an electric whisk or mixer, or a wooden spoon, beating well after each addition. (You may not need all the egg.) The dough should be very shiny and paste-like, and fall from a spoon when lightly shaken.

  5. Spoon the pastry into a piping bag fitted with plain nozzle and pipe onto your baking tray

  6. Sprinkle the tray, not the pastry, with a few drops of water, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Then, without opening the door, reduce the oven temperature to 325F and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden-brown and crisp.

  7. Remove the tray from the oven and carefully make a small hole in the side of each éclair to allow steam to escape. Return to the oven and bake for a further five minutes, or until the pastry is completely crisp. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
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  8. For the filling, whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla bean in a bowl until just stiff. TIP! I freeze my bowl before using it to whip cream.

     

  9. Once the éclairs have cooled, cut down the length of one side of each éclair and pipe in the whipped cream.
  10. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or a bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water (do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water) and allow it to cool slightly. Dip the tops of the éclairs in the chocolate and let the chocolate set before serving
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And VOILA!  They may not be the prettiest thing I’ve made, but DAMN these are good.  I’m pretty sure even Mary Berry would be proud.

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Original recipe from BBC here

Apple-Rhubarb slow cooker crisp

It’s January.  There’s a slight chill in the air.  And by slight chill, I mean it’s snowing and I’m cold. giphy-1

But cold Sunday afternoons call for baking something warm and hearty.  Cue the Apple Rhubarb crisp.

While doing groceries yesterday I noticed that honeycrisp apples were available. Honeycrisps are my favourite apple for baking, as they are just the right amount of tart and sweet.  I also had some rhubarb in the freezer from when it was in season in the summer, so I decided to experiment with slow cooker baking.  This was a first for me. I’ve been making apple crisp for years and am generally pretty good with my measurements, so here’s what I tried:

Ingredients:

  • 5 Honeycrisp apples (diced)
  • 2 cups of diced rhubarb
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tbsp of granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups of large flake oats
  • 1/4 cup apple juice

Topping:

  • 3/4 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter, cold
  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:

Place diced apples and rhubarb into slow cooker.  Mix dry ingredients (spices, sugar, and oats) in a small bowl.  Pour apple juice and lemon juice over the fruit.  Add dry ingredients and toss fruit in the mixture until fully coated.
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Mix topping ingredients in a medium bowl, cutting the butter into the dry ingredients. I found its easiest to use a fork to help fully incorporate the butter.  Once mixed, spread topping over the top of the fruit.
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Put on the lid, set slow cooker to low and leave for 4 hours. With 1 hr left, take the lid off so the topping can crisp up a bit.IMG_9395

Might I suggest a serving with a little vanilla ice cream?   Really happy my first foray into slow cooker baking worked.  🙂 Enjoy!IMG_9396