Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cakey Chocolate Sandwiches

After looking through Home for the Holidays, I knew these cookies would be at the top of my list to make. They're small and remind me of a cookie that I like but don't buy often because I can easily eat the whole package.

Cakey chocolate sandwiches are exactly what their name implies. Two soft cocoa cookies sandwich a simple vanilla icing which makes for a tasty treat. The cookies are soft and need to completely cool before filling. They're a bit fragile so if your icing is stiff, you can add tiny amounts of cream to soften it up otherwise your cookie will break.

I found these cookies tasted better the next day after the icing and cookies had time to mingle together. They don't taste anything like a purchased cookie and if you put a plate of these out for kids they'll disappear.

As 2008 winds down, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year! Thanks for reading and I'll see you on the other side!

Recipe: Cakey Chocolate Sandwiches

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cranberry Jewel Fudge

I hope all of you are having a great holiday season! I know I am because my oven is finally fixed! Yahoo!

So soon I will be back to baking but until then, I share with you some fudge that I made recently. It's no-bake and super easy. If you've never attempted fudge, try it will not be disappointed with the results. Use the best chocolate as possible so your final product is smooth and creamy. You can omit the cranberry topping and use one of the the variations in the recipe.

Happy days are here again..... :)

Recipe: Cranberry Jewel Fudge

Monday, December 08, 2008


What do you make when you're still waiting for your oven to be repaired and everyone around you wants something sweet? You make Haystacks is what you do.

No doubt you've heard about these cookies (which have been around for years) and know that they come in a multitude of variations. Most recipes include the dry chow mein noodles but I opted for corn flakes because I think they look neater.

They're really a kid-friendly no-bake cookie. Melt, stir, scoop, and chill. They were a little messy though, and more than once I had a stack fall apart on me. I pretty much left them in the shape of the measuring scoop I used because I was afraid to touch them - they're fragile before they firm up.

All in all, haystacks are an impressive, crunchy and easy treat to make and, as a bonus, the recipe makes a whole bunch. Make them smaller if you want more cookies and personalize them as you like. Topping with red, green and white sprinkles would definitely look festive on any cookie tray.

Recipe: Haystacks

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

All the way from Calgary?

Hi All!
I just wanted to let you guys know that I haven't abandoned my blog. Ever since I cooked turkey at Thanksgiving my oven had been kaput and giving me a horrendous error message on the display. It took a month for someone to look at it just to tell me that my touchpad is shot and a new one needs to be ordered from Calgary. This should take a week. I hope. I haven't been able to use my oven for over a month. It's depressing and I can't even coax myself to make no-bake/stovetop/frozen treats to post about. I just bought the newest Canadian Living "Home for the Holidays" magazine so I hope I'm back in action soon so I can get my bake on! Cheers!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

I've been waiting for a long time to make these muffins - two years, in fact. It wasn't until a friend of mine bought me a bottle of Bickford coconut extract that I finally had my chance.

What starts out as a deceptively plain cupcake recipe with the addition of coconut turns out to be one super amazing treat. The cupcake is lovely and turns out perfectly cakey. The special element that takes it to the next level is the icing.

I thought that a cream cheese icing might be too heavy for coconut cupcakes. Though I love it, I've only had it on carrot cake and it has that certain taste that just goes with that cake. Rather than do my own icing, I followed the recipe and wow! The icing was fabulous and I probably wouldn't have known it contained cream cheese if I didn't make it myself. It was smooth, sweet and completely yummy.

I loved these little cakes even though I was only able to make ten rather than the suggested twelve. They reminded me of the packaged coconut Billot Logs I used to eat when I was a kid but a thousand times better. If you love coconut give them a try. You won't be disappointed!

Recipe: Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daring Bakers September Challenge - Lavash

Here we are - another month, another challenge. The special thing about this month's choice is that it is the first time we've made something that is vegan and/or gluten free. The participants this month had the option to make lavash traditionally (with flour) or gluten-free. I opted to make my lavash with flour and was pleased with the results.

Lavash is an Armenian flat cracker bread that pairs well with pretty much any type of dip or spread. To make it, a yeasted dough is rolled paper thin and baked. It can be topped with spices, sesame seeds, salt and even cinnamon. I chose to use whole cumin seeds since I was going to use them with an eggplant dip.

The whole process was very easy and much like making pizza dough. I scored the dough into rectangles but you can leave the dough whole and break it into shards when it is finished.

The final product came out very nice. I had no trouble with rolling out the dough. The crackers were crunchy and tasted exactly how you would imagine a cracker to taste. I enjoyed this challenge and would consider trying to make them again as my family liked them and patiently waited until I took a picture before devouring every last one.

Thanks to Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and co-host Shel of Musings From the Fishbowl for this easy and fun challenge. Check out their websites for the complete recipe and check out the DB blogroll for hundreds of different interpretations of this recipe.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Blueberry-Brown Sugar Plain Cake

With the summer behind us and fall quickly approaching, I'm posting one of the last summer berry recipes I made this year. Blueberry-Brown Sugar Plain Cake is aptly named and quite tasty for something seemingly so humble.

What it is, is a type of crumb cake without all the fancy toppings - no streusel or crumble to be seen. What you end up with is a fairly thin cake theoretically studded with blueberries. As you can see from the picture, the blueberries settled to the bottom of the cake. I did make it in a slightly larger pan than called for in the recipe so this may account for the sinkage.

Regardless, the cake was moist and tasty with a little hint of caramel-ly flavour from the brown sugar - perfect for snacking or with tea. If desired, you could dust it with some icing sugar for a little pizazz but it really is fine all by itself.

Recipe: Blueberry-Brown Sugar Plain Cake

Thursday, September 11, 2008

And the Winner is...

Hi All,

I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that I missed yesterday's deadline (sorry!) but the good news is that Carole R. is the winner of the Loblaws basket! Congratulations.

Please e-mail me (click "Email me" on the right side at the bottom) so I can get your details.

Thanks to all of you who entered!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Eat Well Save More

Recently, Loblaws, Fortinos and Zehrs launched the "Eat Well Save More" program. When I was contacted about the program, I was interested in letting you all know about it because I do quite a lot of shopping at the bagless Loblaw Superstore. Now, more than a thousand prices on items customers buy most at Zehrs, Fortinos, Loblaws, Loblaw Great Food and Your Independent Grocer locations in Ontario have been reduced. In addition to the already low prices at Real Canadian Superstore and Loblaw Superstore consumers will continue to see lower prices on even more items.

What it means is that many of the products you already buy are even more affordable.

Loblaw comparison shops weekly tens of thousands of items to ensure they offer the best prices to consumers. Loblaw strives to offer key items on the everyday shopping list at great value and for shoppers, this means not having to compromise on quality.

To find out more about Eat Well Save More and what items are part of the initiative , check out the weekly flyers at Loblaws, Zehrs or Fortinos.

Thanks to the nice people at MS&L Digital, I received a basket of products that are part of the Eat Well Save more program. If you too would like to receive a basket, just leave a comment and I will randomly choose a winner on Wednesday Sept. 10, 2008.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Daring Bakers August Challenge - Éclairs

After a whirlwind summer, I have finally have the time to participate in a DB challenge. Éclairs were chosen for August and I was excited to get my hands dirty, so to speak.

Éclairs consist of a choux dough, pastry cream filling and chocolate glaze. The whole process is not hard but takes time to make sure things aren't rushed.

This challenge was a huge learning lesson for me. Even with the best of efforts, the finished product ended up being disappointing. My choux ended up a little flat and eggy but the other components were great. They were still able to be sliced and filled. I'm glad I tried them, now I just have to perfect them.

Thanks to Tony Tahhan and MeetaK for choosing something that we love to eat but not necessarily love to make. You can check out the DB blogroll to see what everyone else made and I'm pretty sure someone there has the complete recipe available for your reading pleasure.

Have a great long weekend!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Orange Bundt Cake

Here's another Bundt cake that I made recently. This orange cake may share the same shape as my previous cake but it is quite different in a couple ways.

Firstly, the preparation method is different. For this cake, which is very delicate, you have to incorporate the whites and yolks separately. Yolks are mixed with the butter and sugar and the whites are whipped and folded in afterward. This makes for a lighter, airier cake.

Secondly, the moistness and flavour of the cake are almost completely dependent on an orange glaze that is prepared in a saucepan and poured over the cake twice - once while in the pan, and then over top when it is unmolded. The recipe given for the glaze is generous and I used it all even though I didn't think I needed it. It soaked into the cake nicely and gave the cake a shiny-ish wet look and a sticky feel.

One thing I noticed is that this cake didn't rise really, really high - just high enough. A light dusting of icing sugar made it look pretty. Even though the cake came out just fine, I would bake it a little less to get a lighter brown crust. All in all, the cake was not a bad one - it just had a finickier preparation than most other bundt cakes. Some may not like the sugar syrup in the cake, others may like the sweetness it gives. So as the French say, chacun à son goût!

Recipe: Orange Bundt Cake

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Classic Banana Bundt Cake

Baking with bananas is something we all do whether we want to or not. I've done it a few times here on my blog and will probably continue to do so in the future. It can't be helped - I will always have ripe bananas in my freezer waiting to be mashed and turned into something delectable.

Case in point is this wonderful banana bundt cake. By using your basic pantry staples and some super-ripe bananas you too can create a perfect cake. It's moist and banana-y in just the right way. It reminds me of cakes that belong on the diner counter waiting to be sliced and distributed to hungry patrons. I, however, have not had the pleasure of growing up with diners and soda fountains but I imagine this cake would feel right at home under a glass dome.

To make this cake taste its best, you must use bananas so ripe they seem like liquid and can 'pour' out of their skin. I know this sounds unappetizing, but trust me, your tastebuds will be happy. So will anyone who eats this cake. It's the best banana cake I've made in ages.

Recipe: Classic Banana Bundt Cake

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Baker's One Bowl Brownies

Brownie recipes come in all shapes and sizes. Some are cakey, some are chewy and some have all different kinds of add-ins that make them extra-special. Usually, if I wanted to make spur-of-the-moment brownies I was always lacking in some essential ingredient but, with these one bowl brownies, as long as you have the basics, you can eat brownies.

The recipe is not a fussy one and one thing that I like is that the recipe makes a 9 x 13-inch pan - more than enough to enjoy and share with friends. They are super dense and moist as long as they're not overbaked. For me, this means about 25 minutes. They're not thick or cakey and go perfectly with a cold glass of milk. If you want something fancier, use them as a base for ice cream sundaes and, as always, make them yours by adding in nuts, chocolate chips or top with a favourite chocolate icing.

If you're like me and brownies are sometimes a hit-or-miss affair, give these a try. They're easy, don't cost a whole lot to prepare and are perfect for the budding baker.

Recipe: Baker's One Bowl Brownies

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blueberry Crumble Bars

Here's another blueberry recipe to try out. Blueberry crumble bars are exactly what the name implies - juicy blueberries nestled underneath a sweet brown sugar crumble. If you're looking for a dessert the is reminiscent of blueberry pie without actually having to make one, this may be for you.

The bar consists of a brown sugar crust which is simply mixed in a bowl. The blueberry filling is easy to pull together since the fruit requires no cutting, peeling or slicing. Wash, toss and you're done. The crumble is my favourite part of the whole bar. I love the sugary crunchiness it imparts which goes well with the juicy berries. In less than an hour, you have a pretty tasty treat.

Overall, I give these bars a thumbs up. The only issue I have is with the crust which I found to be very thin. When patting it into the pan, I had barely enough to cover the whole bottom. Call me old fashioned but I like a substantial crust that holds the filling without falling apart. If I had doubled the recipe maybe I would have got what I wanted but no matter. I also found the texture of the crust to be crunchy in a maple candy sort of way. A little bit grainy. It was by no means inedible and would have probably tasted fabulous crumbled on top of creamy vanilla ice cream.

Recipe: Blueberry Crumble Bars

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Crunchy-Top Blueberry Muffins

Summer berries are finally here and in Ontario and that means berry desserts are on the menu. They may not all be local but there presence is welcome nonetheless.

I made these muffins a while back for a senior kindergarten graduation. The recipe calls for full-sized muffins but I made mini ones to fit in little hands. I also left off the crunchy topping since all it is only sugar and orange rind.

The feedback I got was that the muffins were yummy and my own family, who ate the not-so-perfect ones, really liked them and asked for more. Unfortunately, that's about all I can say about them because I didn't write anything down about the final product and summer holidays have seemed to give everyone in my house temporary memory loss.

All I can say was that they were a breeze to make and bake and if you try them maybe you'll have more to say about them than me!

Recipe: Crunchy-Top Blueberry Muffins

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Simply Sensational Chocolate Chip Cookies

In our house, June not only marks the beginning of summer but the end of the school year. Things are slowly coming to a close in class and with only eight days left, there is much anticipation for the upcoming holidays.

Throughout the year, my youngest has kept a reading log that I scrupulously kept updated my the minute (literally) with the goal being 2500 minutes for the year. Well, he made it and as a fun celebratory activity, his teacher had a baking party for the class and made these Simply Sensational Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I made and baked these cookies the day he brought the recipe home. The only thing I would have liked to have had was more regular-sized chocolate chips. I had to use mini ones which was okay in a pinch. What I liked about these cookies was that the oatmeal was blended giving the cookies a smoother appearance, but still textured, and the addition of grated chocolate gave the cookies more flair.

I would definitely make these cookies again with more chocolate. They were not flat nor too rounded and baked well even though I had to refrigerate some of the dough. Bake them longer for a crispier cookie but I like my cookies crisp on the edges and chewy on the inside. To make them even more fun for kids, use M & M's which is what I think I'll do next time.

Recipe: Simply Sensational Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Buttery Jam Cookies

If you're looking for a simple and tasty cookie to have with tea, these jam cookies are for you.

I intended to make these cookies with apricot jam, as the recipe suggests, but by the time I got around to making them, the apricot jam was gone and boysenberry had taken its place. This dark jam turned my cookie dough purple and I realized that, esthetically, a light-hued jam would have looked much better.

Nevertheless, I made my purple cookies while the small people around me gave me their observations on what the dough looked like, which unfortunately I cannot reproduce here. Despite their wacky colour, the cookies came out just fine. They did not spread a lot and the dough was stiff enough that I was able to roll them into even-sized balls. They were soft with a cakey texture and not overly buttery, as their name suggests.

They don't look glamorous but they're good for snacking. Give them a try with any jam of your choice.

Recipe: Buttery Jam Cookies

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Daring Bakers May Challenge - Opera Cake

The lovely founders of the Daring Baker Empire, Ivonne and Lis, chose the challenge for the month of May along with two new members Fran and Shea. In true DB style, they decided on the Opera cake - a three layer almond jaconde, layered with buttercream, mousse and chocolate glaze. In true Canadian Baker style, I left this cake to the last two days before the clock struck midnight. Good thing I gave myself the extra day because I needed it.

After having completed the cake, I can say that if you tackle all the components one by one, you'll be fine. I had never baked a cake in a jelly roll pan before and was eager to see how it would turn out. I pulled it off without a hitch which was quite gratifying.

Assembling the cake is not difficult either. Each layer of cake is brushed with soaking liquid and covered with buttercream. Unfortunately I didn't buy enough white chocolate to complete the ganache/mousse layer so I topped my cake with strawberry buttercream and a white chocolate glaze. My glaze dripped down the sides of the cake whereas I have seen some cakes by uber-talented DBers with nary a drip in sight. I guess I need to practice!

Overall, I'm happy that I made this cake. It challenged me and when making a new type of dessert with different techniques I'm never sure if I'm doing it right until I'm finished. Well, its not the most polished cake but I'm pleased with how it turned out. Definitely edible and sweet, sweet sweet!

To see the complete recipe, visit Cream Puffs in Venice and to see all the amazing, different and imaginative cakes by the DB army, check out the blogroll.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fruity Soda Bread

Soda bread is a type of quick bread that can easily be made in a matter of minutes. It is usually made as a large circle and scored on the top with a knife. What makes it quick is the use of baking soda as a leavening agent rather than yeast.

Soda bread can be made savoury or sweet as in the picture. It makes a great meal accompaniment and its texture is reminiscent of a scone. It is best eaten within a few days and can be toasted and slathered in butter or jam.

This recipe produced a bread that was soft on the inside and crusty on the outside. Once cooled it sliced really well, though the dough was too soft to be scored before baking. Soda bread could also be made in smaller portions but you have to remember to shorten the baking time accordingly. Making soda bread is also a great way to use up the mish-mash of supplies in your cupboard. Only have a few raisins, currants and candied fruit? No problem, make a soda bread and your odds and ends will make something spectacular.

Recipe: Fruity Soda Bread

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Almond Biscotti

Biscotti is a large coffeehouse chain staple. Everywhere you go, there are those huge glass jars layered with these perfectly identical Italian cookies ready to be dunked into hot beverages across Canada. I never really enjoy these commercial biscotti because I find them more rock-hard than crisp and dry as they should be. Perhaps because of this aversion, I don't make them very often at home but when asked by Mr. CB, I relent.

Biscotti is a double baked cookie. After making the dough (which is sticky) it has to be shaped into logs and then baked. Afterwards, they're taken out of the oven, cooled and sliced. From there, you pop them back in the oven to golden them up and get them crisp. I have tried different recipes, some of which brown more quickly than others, but I found with this Canadian Living recipe the biscotti turned out perfectly. They were nicely golden on the outside and, when cooled, were crunchy, dunkable and thoroughly enjoyable.

Recipe: Almond Biscotti

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Daring Bakers April Challenge - Cheesecake Pops

This month Deb from Taste and Tell and Elle from Feeding My Enthusiasms chose a fun challenge for all of us to try - Cheesecake Pops.

What are these little confections, you ask? They're frozen cheesecake balls that are dipped in your choice of chocolate and dressed up any which way you like. I dipped my pops in three types of chocolate and used a variety of sprinkles.

The cheesecake baked up great. I had no problems with it. The cheesecake tasted very yummy and was not heavy at all. Even though scooping and rolling was a little messy, the balls froze well. Dipping was a breeze too. I found it was easier to spoon the chocolate over the balls than dip them directly into the melted chocolate.

If you ever want to make something novel for a party or occasion, these would not be a bad choice. They're fun and imaginative and you can customize them any way you like. I know some Daring Bakers even flavoured their chocolate. I enjoyed this challenge immensely and the cheesecake is definitely a keeper, even if you only make one-third of the recipe.

To see the recipe, please visit Elle or Deb and to see all the other Daring Baker creations, please go to the blogroll.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I first saw the brownie-mint patty combination in a Maida Heatter cookbook. She put a layer of mint patties between the brownie mixture and, since I enjoy the mint-chocolate combination, it sounded quite delicious.

Fast-forward a few years and and I have finally gotten around to making a similar version using plain old Coolmints. I would have bought the suggested York Peppermint Pattie Bites had I read the recipe through completely. No worries though - I just chopped them up, followed the directions and was rewarded with a chewy, minty brownie.

I liked how some of the pieces held their shape and provided a nice contrast to the brownie dough. I did end up with a thin layer of mint filling covering the bottom of the brownies which was not a problem at all when it came to getting eaten. These brownies formed a nice thin crackly top and were best eaten once they were completely cool. (They are fragile otherwise.)

Enjoy with some cold milk, or turn them into brownie sundaes as Dorie suggests. Either way, this is one super-cool treat!

Recipe: Brrrrr-ownies

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Honey-Wheat Cookies

I was pretty excited to see a recipe for a wheat germ cookie in my new cookbook. Up until now, wheat germ had been chilling in my fridge (it has a high oil content and can go rancid if stored incorrectly) only used once in something way back when. Finally, something that showcased this healthy product on its own rather than being cursorily sprinkled on yogurt or muffins. (Plus, it let me get rid of my stash.)

Give yourself some time to make these as you need to let the dough chill for at least 2 hours. The recipe is straightforward with no baking gymnastics required. Once chilled, the cookies are rolled in more wheat germ and baked.

What you end up with are perfectly uniform cookies a little bigger than the size of a Toonie. They are nutty, chewy and tangy (from lemon zest) all at the same time. I used PC Organics Pure Honey and I think the flavour would change depending on what type of honey you use. These cookies went over well in my house (with adults anyways) and are a perfect match for tea. Definitely a healthy treat keeper.

Recipe: Honey-Wheat Cookies

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops

Do you like Maltesers - those crunchy chocolate-covered balls of yumminess? If you do, then these cookies are made for you.

These Whopper (or Malteser) Drops are hearty, chocolatey cookies filled with bittersweet chocolate, malt balls, malt powder and cocoa. They are intense and slightly cakey but wholly satisfying.

If you're wondering about malt powder, you can substitute Ovaltine, a powdered drink mix. When I was younger I tried hot Ovaltine and thought it was pretty much the anti-hot chocolate but, as I've grown, I have come to see the benefit of this malty beverage. I still don't drink it but, its esteem has risen in my eyes since I can bake with it.

Also, try to find bittersweet chocolate. It gives the cookies a certain 'poshness' that semi sweet chocolate would not be able to. The bitterness goes well with the malt and sweetness of the balls. When I make these again I would leave the Maltesers whole since they sort of disappeared in the cookie dough. Try them out - they're not pretty but they're good!

Recipe: Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops

Monday, March 31, 2008

Daring Bakers March Challenge - Perfect Party Cake

This month's DB challenge was hosted by the marvelous Morven at Food Art and Random Thoughts. She had us all make a the Perfect Party Cake from Dorie Greenspan's Baking from my Home to Yours. (This is why I bought the book in the first place but I couldn't spill the beans on why I bought it.)

The party cake is different from others as there are no egg yolks in the mix and the ingredients are not added in like most other layer cakes. I will spare you from the methodology as you can read it in the recipe, but what you end up with is a lovely, moist snow white cake.

I would have liked my cakes to rise a bit more so I could do the proper 4 layers but I measured them and they were between 1-2 cm thick. I didn't want to destroy them so I left it as a two layer cake.

There was quite a lot of room for experimentation with this challenge and I decided to frost my cake with sweetened whipped cream and fill the cake with more whipped cream and blueberry jam. Since the cake is lemony, the blueberry flavour worked really well. Overall I liked this cake very much and so did those who ate it. To see all the interesting variations please visit the Daring Baker Blogroll. To see the recipe go to Morven's blog and check out her cake creation. Thanks Morven for a great choice!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Muffins

One book that I've been reading about for quite some time on baking blogs is Dorie Greenspan's Baking From my Home to Yours. I've heard nothing but rave reviews so I finally bought it from which, by the way, was much cheaper than buying it directly from Chapters.

This book is serious and heavy. Dorie writes with a friendly familiarity and the book is really gorgeous. The recipes are accessible and you can imagine yourself making them all. It's the perfect 'go to' book when you need something fabulous for any occasion.

Case in point are these Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Muffins. I have a friend who recently moved into the area so I made these for her. I didn't have to look long to find the perfect "Welcome to the Neighbourhood" treat since Breakfast Sweets is the first chapter. They're not too sweet and really chocolately. They're especially good warm when the chocolate chunks are still soft and melty.

So if you're in the market for a new baking book, check it out. You won't be disappointed.

Recipe: Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dixie Bars

I don't know why these squares are named Dixie Bars. I did some cursory investigation on the Internet but didn't really find much about their history. All I could glean was that this is a Southern American treat and that's about it. I have never been to the Deep South so I can't vouch for their authenticity but these bars sure are good.

First, you start with shortbread-like crust. Do not brown it a lot otherwise it will become as hard as rock. Mine was gently browned but could easily have been taken out five minutes earlier. This is all the baking that's required - the rest is just chilling.

The filling is the real show stopper of this bar. After cooking down condensed milk you get a toffee coloured mixture that is then mixed with pecans and poured on top. I always think the mixture looks caramel coloured in the pot but when I spread it on the base, I realize it's not that dark after all. You have to remember to watch it while stirring - it will burn if you forget it. After chilling, you top with melted chocolate and wait for it to set before digging in.

These bars remind me of Twix Bars, just with nuts. I really enjoy the chewy centre and the three components go together very well. They're rich and indulgent and perfect for those with a real sweet tooth.

Recipe: Dixie Bars

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cranberry Coconut Muffins

Cranberries again, you ask? Well since I still had about one-third of a package of frozen berries, the answer would be yes. It's also March Break here and muffins always come in handy during the day when small people come to you saying, or yelling, "I'm hungry!".

I pretty much made this recipe as written except that I added a very small handful of mini chocolate chips. I figured they would go well with both cranberries and coconut as well as provide some sweetness to balance the tart cranberries. They mixed up nicely and turned out light and fluffy. They don't come with much of a muffin top though and are relatively flat. I don't really mind, though a nicely rounded muffin is always preferable. (To me anyways.)

They're kid friendly and freezable like most muffins. If I wanted to freeze them I could bury them in the four feet of pristine white snow in my backyard but you can just put them in your freezer.

Recipe: Cranberry Coconut Muffins

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Cranberry Pear Bars

These Cranberry Pear Bars were not on the menu for today. I didn't have all the ingredients for what I originally intended to make so when I saw a frozen package of cranberries in the freezer, I decided to do something with them instead.

I have posted quite a few recipes like this one where an oat base is topped with fruit and then sprinkled with reserved base mixture. This recipe is even easier because you can whizz everything up in a food processor or you can use a pastry blender. The cranberry filling is similar to making cranberry sauce except you don't let it get as thick or as sweet as the turkey topper. I suppose you could use regular cranberry sauce, the choice would be up to you.

The overall bar is quite wholesome and healthy tasting. It is definitely not sugary sweet and the tartness of the cranberries shines through. I think some cinnamon in the oat base would be a great addition to make it more flavourful but on the whole, it is quite a nice bar. They slice very cleanly and can be frozen so you can enjoy them for much longer than you first anticipated.

Recipe: Cranberry Pear Bars

Friday, February 22, 2008

Chocolate Caramel Bars

Looking for something sweet and gooey? Well, look no further than these Chocolate Caramel Bars. They are oozing with gooey and sweet sweet sweet.

Start with melting down some creamy vanilla caramels. (Try not to eat them all.) Make an oat-based crust and, while it prebakes, stir your caramel mixture until it is a smooth golden liquid. It may take a few attempts to melt the caramels in the microwave but it eventually works. Pour chips or chopped chocolate on the base and then pour the caramel sauce. Finally, top with the oat mixture and bake for 20 minutes.

If I were going to make these again, I would line my pan with foil or parchment for easy removal. These bars were sticky! Also, try to let them cool completely so they firm up and cut nicely. Popping them in the fridge after they've cooled is not a bad idea. Overall I liked them enough. They taste much better chilled and firm. If you like your caramel soft and warm, ice cream would be an excellent accompaniment to this toothsome bar.

Recipe: Chocolate Caramel Bars

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Peanut Butter Shortbread Rounds

As I sit here, snow is falling outside my window. The weather has not changed a bit since last week. To warm myself up, I combined two things I love and made one scrumptious cookie.

Peanut Butter Shortbread Rounds are the ultimate shortbread cookie. They are soft, tender and melt-in-your-mouth heaven. Really, you don't have to chew if you don't want to. When you touch the cookies, you can feel the butter. By baking them at a lower temperature, they bake for longer and do not brown like regular cookies. Using natural peanut butter for this recipe is best since you get unadulterated peanutty flavour but I suppose you could use regular PB but I can't vouch for how they'll taste.

These gems are not time consuming to pull together so just give yourself time for rolling, chilling and baking and you'll be fine. They may look unassuming but they have lots of flavour. If you want to make them more interesting, roll the cookies thinner (1/8 inch) and sandwich them together with jam or melted chocolate. If you do that, then why not drizzle some chocolate over top? They would look fabulous and be even more perfect for sharing with the ones you love.

Recipe: Peanut Butter Shortbread Rounds

Friday, February 08, 2008

Coconut Custard Squares

I've seen enough snow this winter. We just got through another huge snowfall and the snowbanks are as tall as me. I like winter because I know Spring is around the corner but I don't like shoveling rock hard ice off the driveway. If you find yourself in a similar predicament, I suggest baking with tropical ingredients to make it seem warmer than it really is.

I've wanted to make these Coconut Custard Squares for a while and finally bought a new 9-inch pan for the occasion. The bar is a layering of sweet pastry crust, coconut filling and cashews for the topping. No special skills are involved for the crust. You just pat it into the pan. The filling is also quite easy to whip up. Just remember to pour it evenly otherwise you'll have some squares that are more custardy than others. The cashews add a nice touch but do not necessarily add any crunch.

The squares are quite nice and the custard is very subtle in it coconutness. It is surely creamy and pleasing to eat. The crust is not overwhelmingly sweet and the bars cut very cleanly. They taste much better the next day after they have been thoroughly chilled.

Recipe: Coconut Custard Squares

Friday, February 01, 2008

Flourgirls Bakery

The cupcake craze has come to Milton! Years ago, you could first see the trend emerging in New York at Magnolia Bakery. They created these colourful sugary confections to the delight of customers and tourists alike. Since then, the cupcake has never looked back. It gained popularity because it appealed to those desiring a single-serving dessert, are easy to eat and come in all different types of flavours. Now the cupcake has come to my backyard.

Flourgirls is a new bakery that opened in late 2007. What started off as a home-based business has now become a cozy spot for those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth, have a coffee and chat with friends. Patrons can delight at a display case filled with full-sized and miniature cupcakes. The day I went there were many to choose from and I picked Lemon, Raspberry, Marisol (dulce de leche) and Mocha cupcakes. (All of the cupcakes were chocolate, except for the Lemon which was vanilla.)

First of all, I can definitely say that children will love these cupcakes. I barely had enough time to take some pictures before they were ravaged upon by my family. I chose a Marisol cupcake for myself and throughly enjoyed the half that I ate. The icing was ultra light, smooth and velvety. It was buttercream at its best. The cake was moist and fluffy creating a overall tasty cupcake.

So if you're ever in Old Milton, do check them out. They also sell cakes and other baked goods that are listed on their website

14 Mill Street Unit 103
Milton, ON
6 cupcakes sell for $13.65 (tax included)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Daring Bakers January Challenge - Lemon Meringue Pie

This month's Daring Baker Challenge was hosted by yours truly. In true DB form, I chose something I had never made before and was not at all certain would turn out nicely. As the host, I should have picked something awfully easy (Ha!) but instead I chose to have our baking conglomerate make a Lemon Meringue Pie.

LMP is not difficult to make. There is a crust, filling and meringue. There was a lot of chatter on the DB blog beforehand about the curd filling with some bakers vouching for its fabulousness and some for its lacklustreness. It is with all these thoughts swirling in my head that I made my pie.

I consider myself a competent baker. With the pie, the crust and meringue came out very well but my filling was a little soft. It would have made a lovely spread for crumpets and two days later it had firmed up quite a bit. I would have liked to make the pie again as some members had no problems with it but I ran out of time. I am a true believer of emotions affecting baking because almost 100% of the time it shows. It just goes to show that not all recipes are a walk in the park and that, if you're the host, you're not exempt from baking problems. Sigh. (I have taken a picture of the cut pie and when I find my USB cable I will post a picture.) I consider this challenge not have been a complete failure. I did learn a lot about cornstarch and its properties and about weepy meringue, which I didn't have. (Yeah!)

So I want to thank all the Daring Bakers who chose to participate this month. There were lots of different results - some great and some not so great. If you follow the exploits of the Daring Bakers, please check out our blogroll to see Lemon Meringue Pies from around the world.

Recipe: Lemon Meringue Pie

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

If you're looking for something super chocolatey, these cookies are for you. They take a little bit of work and a ruler, but the end result is definitely quite worth it.

If you think of the chocolate Peak Freans sandwich cookie, these are similar, though not exactly the same. The cookies are dark with an intense cocoa flavour. They're softer than store-bought cookies and instead of being filled with icing, they're held together by a delicious chocolate ganache. If that wasn't enough, one end is dipped in the ganache and then into sprinkles. Pretty darn tasty if you ask me. Add a glass of cold milk and you have the best snack ever. (Well, if you're seven and in grade two, you do.)

So if you're going to make them, just take your time and read the instructions. Even though I measured perfect 10 x 10 squares, some cookies came out wider than others. And when you're done, you get to lick the extra ganache off the spoon. Yum!

Recipe: Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Oatmeal Apple Cookies

I think there is no limit on what you can do with a basic oatmeal cookie. Eat them plain or dress them up - either way, they're one of my favourite cookies.

These oatmeal apple cookies are no exception. I ended up making them because I wanted to use up some apples that were better suited for baking rather than eating. After throwing in the optional walnuts and raisins, I had a pretty hardy, quasi-healthy cookie. The addition of fresh apple added a nice texture complement to the crunchy nuts and chewy raisins. Each bite was different which made these cookies anything but boring. They went over well in my house but I believe these cookies are best eaten soon after they are made, not a week later.

On another note, I would like to thank all of you that read my little blog. This month is Canadian Baker's 2nd Anniversary and what a two years it has been. In 2006 I had no idea how vast and amazing the food blogging world was and now in 2008 I am proud to be part of this virtual community. It has been a great ride and I've met some wonderful people all because I wanted to share my baking with others. Once again, thanks for your support. You guys are the best.

Recipe: Oatmeal Apple Cookies

Friday, January 04, 2008

Pumpkin Chocolate Bread

If you're looking for something easy to make with pumpkin puree, definitely think about making Pumpkin Chocolate Bread. It's quick, virtually mess-free and tasty!

I don't make quick breads as much as I used to. I like making them since you pour everything into a pan and forget about it for about an hour. The only thing that bothers me is that, because of the loaf's density, my crust always comes out looking a little more done than it should. It gives the overall deceiving appearance of being overdone while, in fact, its not.

This loaf was no exception. The exterior is dark and browned while the inside is moist, flavourful and studded with chocolate chips. They serve this loaf at Island Lake Lodge in B.C. to the delight of skiers. It's perfect on a cold winter's day with a hot drink to warm up after an afternoon of snowman building, sledding and snowballs.

Recipe: Pumpkin Chocolate Bread

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Orange Sour Cream Bundt Cake

I apologize for being MIA for so long. The holidays were busy and fun but left little time for posting. Finally, I have some down time and can concentrate on blogging!

I made this cake about three weeks ago for no particular reason other than I wanted to make a plain 'homey' cake but don't let the simplicity of the name deceive you.

When made, this cake is moist and full of orange flavour. The egg whites are added in separately so you get a nice light cake that tastes even better if you serve it with the syrup and blueberries. It's the kind of cake that looks inviting on a cake platter waiting to be shared with friends.

You can also make this cake in six mini 1-cup Bundt pans. Just halve the batter and bake for only 30 minutes. Either way, you'll have some great cake to enjoy!

Happy New Year!

Recipe: Orange Sour Cream Bundt Cake