Tag Archives: #comfortgoodie

Here’s to a Low Stress Baking Adventure!

23 Sep

Sugar Cookies, Turtle Cookies and Caramel Apple Slices

Ok – so you all remember the stress and exhaustion that was last week’s baking adventure? No? Enlighten yourself… The Great Carrot Cake Meltdown of 2012

Now that we’re all caught up, I can tell you about this weekend and you will understand how, on Friday afternoon, I was telling John, “Maybe I need to take a break from the baking for a week, I am really tired out, and we only just finished doing the dishes from last week.”

But I persevered, ever onward, toward the delicious taste of Turtle Cookies and Sugar Cookies, and I am happy to report that this weekend’s experience was, overall, so much better! (less burnt cakes, no tears, no fighting, less freaking out my friends – you get the picture)

I had a new baking assistant, Erin, (since last week’s is still out on stress leave – get well soon Niki), and she was fabulous!

So here goes explaining how we successfully made three delicious desserts in less than 3 hours!

Sugar Cookie Squares

We started with the sugar cookie base because I knew it would be easy and need to cool off for a while, allowing us to move onto the new recipe. *I should note that this is the second time I’ve made these bars – you know they’re good when you go back for a second taste!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg white
1 1/2 Tbsp sour cream (I just do 1 heaping Tbsp)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 recipe vanilla frosting, recipe follows

Vanilla Frosting
Ingredients:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp half and half
1/2 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
Several drop food coloring (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 13″ x 9″ baking dish, set aside. In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy about 3-4 minutes. Stir in egg and egg white. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until blended. Slowly add dry mixture and stir until well combine. With buttered hands, gently press (so gently almost patting) mixture into buttered baking dish. Bake 17 – 20 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and edges are lightly golden. Cool completely, then frost and cut into squares.
Taken from Cooking Classy

A few notes on the recipe – it will tell you to mix the sugar and butter with a mixer – maybe it’s my mixer or the butter isn’t soft enough, but I usually end up doing this with my hands to get the right consistency.

When spreading dough  over bottom of pan –  you might think there is no way there is enough dough to spread and cover the whole pan – but it works, just keep pressing and patting it out.

 Turtle Cookies

These were a little more involved than the sugar cookies, because there were a few steps to them. Taken from Pixelated Crumb

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, separated, plus 1 egg white
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups pecans, chopped fine
14 soft caramel candies
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions:
  1. Combine flour, cocoa, and salt in bowl. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. Add egg yolk, milk, and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.
  2. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk egg whites in bowl until frothy. Place pecans in another bowl. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, dip in egg whites, then roll in pecans. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Using 1/2-teaspoon measure, make indentation in center of each ball. Bake until set, about 12 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking.
  3. Microwave caramels and cream in bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Once cookies are removed from oven, gently re-press existing indentations. Fill each with 1/2 teaspoon caramel mixture. Cool 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Try not to devour them all at once.

Caramel Apple Slices

If you are like me, and made a lot of extra caramel  – cut up an apple and drizzle the sauce over it – yum!

Another Day, Another Visit to Il Mercato – Chocolate Caramel Tart

14 Sep

Chocolate Caramel Tart

This is just a quick post – a rave really – of the chocolate caramel tart at Il Mercato.

It is full of the tasty, sweet goodness that is a soft crumb crust filled with  “mousse-like” chocolate, a caramel layer and topped with skor pieces!

Rich, smooth and creamy – I mean look at the caramel layer dripping out!

I enjoyed every bite as my friends looked on, unwilling to join in on my fun – something about being too full, after our, once again, fantastic meal. I always make the extra effort to save room for dessert, too bad they don’t have the same discipline, right?

Check it out yourself: Il Mercato, Bedford

My Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Remember – next time you eat dessert – take a picture of it and send it to me!

Weekend Baking Adventures – Complete Success!

12 Sep

Sorry for the delay in posting my photos of this past weekend’s adventure in baking!

I should say that neither of the recipes I made required actual baking, but I’m going to call it that anyway!

First up …

Pecan Pie Bites

Overall Rating (from myself and a few invested partners) – a solid 8 out of 10!

Would I make them again? You bet! I plan to this Christmas!

These were great – the perfect pairing of salty and sweet. Great for a dessert tray, potluck, party or just to have around the house!

Quick Notes on the Recipe:

  • It was easy and quick
  • No–bake
  • 1 bowl needed – so easy clean up
  • Don’t forget to toast the pecans

So you mix all the dry ingredients, then add the wet and it kind of looks like this… (which had me worried at first)

It was so sticky it made rolling them pretty much impossible because it just all sticks to your hands and doesn’t really form a shape!
(Imagine the scene: Me: ”Oh god John, what is happening? Did I miss something? This does not seem right! Something has happened, I must have forgotten an ingredient! Murmur murmur…
John: “How could you miss something, there’s like 4 ingredients, reads recipe, nope you’ve got it all.” Takes spoon and starts scooping. Me: “Oh, that works well, what a great idea!”)

*Try This* Use a melon baller or rounded tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop the mixture onto the pan and don’t even bother to try to roll it right away.

Once you’ve got them placed on the pan (or as your helpful assistant is scooping them), run your hands under water (which you’ll need to do to get the goog off of them from all the hand mixing earlier) and go back to the dollops with wet hands – this will help with actually making the balls round!
I promise, wet hands is key (also helps to wet the sugar which was still a bit grainy at that point)

Put them in the freezer for minimum two hours.

After two hours set up a double boiler and melt chocolate – please note – I used semi-sweet chocolate chips and they worked just fine. Also don’t be afraid to melt a lot of chocolate because the first few I did, got a generous amount of chocolate and the last few dips were lighter on chocolate because I was running out.

Sprinkle coarse salt and return bites to fridge or freezer.

Official Recipe and Directions

Ingredients

2 1/2 c pecans, toasted and chopped
1 c graham crackers, crushed
1 c brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 c bourbon, brandy or spiced rum
1 tsp vanilla
7 oz dark chocolate bark
1 tsp coarse sea salt (optional)

Directions

1

Combine first four ingredients in large bowl. Add maple syrup, bourbon, and vanilla. Use your hands to make sure all the ingredients are mixed thoroughly.

2

Form balls by scooping a tablespoon size amount of mixture and rolling in hands to form balls. Place balls on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Tip: After all balls are made, roll balls again with slightly water damped hands. This will make balls smooth before dipping in chocolate.
Place balls on cookie sheet in freezer for 2 hrs.

3

Melt chocolate bark in a double boiler or microwave per directions on package.
Dip frozen balls into chocolate, then place on the parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

4

Optional: Sprinkle a few grains of course sea salt on balls before the chocolate sets.

5

These freeze well. Take out of freezer and let sit for 15 minutes. They are also good frozen!

I’ll post part 2 tomorrow – Colourful Cake Bites
Enjoy! I hope you like them as much as I did!
Let me know if you’ve tried these and tell me what you think in the comments!

A Fantastic Night at The Bicycle Thief!

28 Aug

Alright so, picture this… A beautiful Saturday evening on the Halifax waterfront, sun is setting, people smiling, boats docked at the wharf, the cutest dogs off on an evening walk and me and my family watching it all pass us by as we dine outside on the patio at The Bicycle Thief.

What a great way to spend a night in Halifax!

I can’t say enough great things about this place, the food, service and ambiance were all top notch in my books!

I had shrimp in white wine cream sauce, pork ribs, tomato basil salad, veal parmesan and seafood linguine. (ok, well I had a taste of it all but didn’t eat whole portions myself! We’re share-ers in my family, our waitress caught onto that too!)

Just when I didn’t think I could fit another bite after courses of delicious food – they came with the dessert menu’s…so let me tell you about the desserts!

Coconut Cream Pie

This is not your average coconut cream here people! It starts with a chocolate crust, which has a lovely saltiness to it, topped with ever so creamy coconut filling and another cream topping!

If you are looking for a twist on the traditional coconut cream pie – this is an excellent choice!
Highly recommended! Great for sharing!

My Rating: 8 out of 10 – a return favorite
*should also note that this is the second time I’ve ordered it – you know its good when you choose it again on a return visit!

But wait… there’s more!

Peanut Butter Gelato Fudge Sundae

Now this was a first try for me on several accounts.

I had never had peanut butter gelato before, chocolate and other kinds, of course, but never peanut butter. I am a huge fan of the peanut butter chocolate combo though.  Also, I had never really considered ordering a sundae for dessert at such a fine restaurant (you know, sundae’s are usually saved for Friendly’s, or Swiss Chalet etc.)

This sundae is several scoops of peanut butter gelato, layered with homemade peanut brittle, peanuts and hot fudge. Can I just  say…MIND BLOWN!

It is all kinds of awesome! I loved it, and it was a hit with everyone at the table. The peanut brittle was a sweet crunchy surprise, it added to the gourmet factor.

My Rating: 10 out of 10

A sure bet for those who love the peanut butter chocolate combo!

Image

Red Velvet Cupcakes – love their cream cheesy goodness!

24 Aug

Earlier this week I was at work and had a pretty distinct feeling that it was a cupcake kind of day. (you know… the kind of day that just needs a quick jolt of fun and sweetness!)
I was in luck because it wasn’t just any cupcake kind of day – it was a Wednesday –  one of the days Susie’s Shortbread’s makes Red Velvet cupcakes- only one of of my favorite kinds of cake! Things were looking up!

One email  to another cupcake loving friend later, and we were off to Susie’s at lunch with orders from colleagues to bring a few back for them.

Red Velvet! Yum! I love the cake, but combine it with cream cheese icing and you have a delicious combo!  Aren’t bakers these days brilliant?

I considered getting one for another day, but held back, knowing that it wouldn’t be long until it felt like a cupcake kind of day again soon!

Where to get it: Susie’s Shortbread’s, Halifax, NS
My Rating: 8 out of 10
Have you had this too? What did you rate it – tell me your rating  in the comments!