Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's the last day of March! The first quarter of the year is already gone. Time flies when you're having fun? Well, I don't know if I believe that. Maybe it's more like, time flies when you are so busy that the days all meld into one! It feels like non-stop go go go all the time. Last night was especially rough as Zach, my 3 year old, refused to sleep, cried almost all night and was basically the biggest brat I've ever seen. It took every once of my willpower not to completely lose my temper.

That being said, it's the perfect day for some good old comfort food. A chocolate chip cookie with a twist of malt (I used Ovaltine) and the texture of bakery cookies. Big, chocolatey and soft with just a touch of crispiness around the edges to complement the chewiness. One bite of these with my morning coffee almost made me forget the nightmare of a night I just survived.

One last thing - these are from a book called 400 Sensational Cookies by Linda J. Amendt. A seriously spectactular book with huge variety. It may become my new cookie bible!

Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 24 | adapted from 400 Sensational Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup malted milk powder (I used Ovaltine)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine all dry ingredients.
3. In a separate bowl cream together butter, shortening and brown sugar. When well combined, add vanilla and eggs.
4. Add dry mixture to butter mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
5. Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand so they are about 1/2" thick by 1 1/2" diameter. Bake for 12-15 minutes until edges are lightly browned.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

TWD: Coconut Tea Cake

Dorie describes this as a "dry" cake and I certainly found it to be dry but in a good way. I have used coconut milk numerous times in curries and other entrees but never in a sweet application, so this was a first for me. I was pleasantly surprised by the subtle flavor and velvetyness it gave this Bundt.

This recipe was chosen by Carmen Cooks. She has the recipe posted on her blog. I think after this TWD month I'm slowly becoming a coconut lover (okay... maybe at least a coconut TOLERATOR!)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fluffy Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls

It was such a treat eating thest hot from the oven. Warm, sweet, tender rolls oozing with buttery-nutty-cinnamonny goodness. The recipe for these delightfully soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls comes from the blog Coleen's Recipes.

The high liquid content of these makes them a little tricky (aka. sticky!) to work with but you don't really need to knead these so it's not so bad. These yummy rolls are well worth the stickiness. If you are knead-a-phobic, these are for you. However, even if you love kneading bread, you should still try these :)

1. The dough is light and fluffy, not "bready"
2. There is no kneading
3. They have the texture of a good donut
4. Covered, they stay keep for 2-3 days
5. They freeze beautifully

Fluffy Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 12

2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp active dry yeast or 1 pkg.
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour (divided)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Filling (combine first 4 ingredients)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Pinch of table salt
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons butter, softened

1. Mix the buttermilk, vegetable oil and sugar in a saucepan and heat on the stove until lukewarm (105-110 degrees). Remove from heat then stir in dry yeast. Let this mixture sit for a few minutes to let the yeast bloom.

2. Add 4 (of the 4 1/2 cups) of flour to the buttermilk mixture and stir well (no need to knead, just mix well). Dough at this stage will be extremely sticky and more like a thick batter. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place for an hour.

3. In a small, separate bowl, mix the final 1/2 cup of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. After the sticky dough has rested/raised for an hour, stir it down and add this final half cup flour mixture. Mix until well incorporated - this just takes a minute.

4. Turn batter (which will still be quite soft and sticky) out onto WELL-floured counter and roll the dough around a few times, coating the surface with flour so it is not so sticky. Roll (or pat) dough out into a rectangle that is about 1/2" thick. Spread dough surface with 2 tablespoons butter then evenly spread on the filling ingredients and top with nuts (pat the nuts into the sugar a little). Roll up, jellyroll style, keeping it as tight as you can. Pinch the seam shut tightly. Cut into 1 1/2" slices and lay them, cut side down, in a greased 9x13 baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.

5. Bake in pre-heated 375 degree F oven for about 20 minutes or until golden and sound hollow when you tap on them. Drizzle with a simple icing sugar/milk glaze while still warm.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

DB: Orange Cranberry Tian(ne)

This dessert has the same name as me!!! It's like play on my own name - Tianne (rhymes with Dianne) - or Tia for short :)

A tian is a baked French dish composed of many layers of vegetables and herbs. The name comes from the earthenware dish it was traditionally cooked in but tians can be made in any kind of deep dish such as a casserole, dutch oven or baking pan. The dish originated in the Alpes-Martitimes region of Southeast France and tians are popular across Provence and throughout France.

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

This was a lot of fun to make. Many little components went into it but preparation could be broken up over several days. A few of the tweaks I made:

  • Used half whole wheat flour for the dough
  • Topped the Tians with homemade cranberry sauce instead of orange segments (a great complement to the orange marmalade)
  • Used vanilla ice cream instead of whipped cream for some of them. I think I preferred the ice cream filled ones.

    I could definitely see making these for the holidays. The color and presentation were beautiful and I like how versatile this dessert is. Thanks for a great challenge! I found this short version of the recipe to be a helpful guide to making the Tian.
  • Friday, March 26, 2010

    Chewy Chocolate Twists

    These yummy little twists feature a ribbon of chocolate filling studded with melty chocolate chips. They're just the right shape and size for easy snacking. The white sugar (instead of brown sugar) gives the filling a nice 'chew' to it as it caramelizes in the oven. Another yummy recipe from Marcy Goldman of Better Baking. This woman is quickly becoming my hero with her awesome recipes. She calls this one "Chewy Chocolate Sticks" and also uses raisins in the recipe.

    This is my first time using this shaping method and I will definetely be using it again. It elevated a regular cinnamon bun-style bread into an elegant pastry. I often find that when you pair chocolate with bread the chocolate taste gets a little lost but not with these twists! It came though loud and clear - a great companion to the buttery, soft bread.

    Chewy Chocolate Twists
    adapted from Marcy Goldman | Makes 24

    1 recipe (using approx 4 cups flour) bread dough or sweet dough

    1/2 cup butter, softened
    1 cup white sugar
    1/4 cup cocoa powder
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    3/4 cup chocolate chips

    1. Combine all the filling ingredients except for the butter. After the first rise, roll out dough into a large rectangle about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Spread softened butter evenly over dough then sprinkle evenly with filling. Roll up as though you were making cinnamon buns.

    2. Instead of leaving it in the classic bun shape, slice the dough into buns then take each piece, flatten it slightly and give it a few twists before placing it on the pan. Space them a few inches apart as they will rise and expand. As you twist them, they will want to unroll a bit, but be persistant! Cover loosely with a towel and let rise 30 minutes (or up to 45 for lighter, puffier twists. I personally like them denser and chewier).

    3. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Cool fully then store airtight.

    Thursday, March 25, 2010

    Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

    I've heard lots about flourless chocolate cake and flourless cookies but somehow the skeptic in me has always talked me out of trying these recipes. For me baking is flour, sugar, eggs, butter (and a few extras) but the main component is usually flour. Today I was looking through the pantry and found myself with a whole bunch of peanut butter with at "best before" date rapidly approaching. After madly searching for recipes that use up a lot of peanut butter, I came across this one from Bon Appetit.

    I'm so glad I got over my "flourless fear" because these cookies are amazing. There's nothing to take away from the full flavor of peanut butter. They are thick and hearty and melt in your mouth. I liked them so much I wrapped them up in cellophane to give to friends so I wouldn't eat them all myself! Peanut butter lovers, you cannot go wrong with these. Maybe I'll try out that flourless chocolate cake in the near future!

    Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
    Makes 24 | adapted from Bon Appétit Sept 1999

    1 cup peanut butter
    1 cup golden brown sugar
    1 large egg
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Mix in chocolate chips. Using moistened hands, form generous 1 tablespoon dough for each cookie into ball. Arrange on 2 ungreased baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart.

    2. Bake cookies until puffed, golden on bottom and still soft to touch in center, about 12 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to racks; cool completely.

    Wednesday, March 24, 2010

    Honey Pecan Bars

    Similar to pecan pie bars only with an added twist from the honey. The crust is crumbly and buttery like shortbread and the pecans and filling bake up into a crunchy/sticky/chewy layer. As they bake the pecans toast lightly and their flavor is enhanced. I find the presentation to be the nicest when the pecans are left whole rather than chopped.

    Honey Pecan Bars
    11" x 14" Pan | Adapted from Jill Snider

    1 cup butter
    1 cup flour
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 egg

    3/4 cup butter
    1/4 cup honey
    4 tablespoons sugar
    3/4 cup brown sugar
    5 tablespoons whipping cream
    2 cups pecans

    1. Lightly grease a 14 x 11-inch jelly-roll tin.

    2. Sift flour and salt into a bowl, Stir in sugar, then rub in butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Press degrees mixture into tin and prick pastry all over with a fork. Chill for 10 minutes.

    3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

    4. Bake pastry for 15 minutes, then remove from oven, leaving oven on. Heat butter, honey and sugars in a saucepan until melted, then bring to a boil without stirring for 2 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in cream and nuts. pour over base, return tin to oven and bake for 25 minutes. Cool in tin.

    5. Run a knife around pastry edge, invert on to a baking tray, place another tray on top and invert again. Cut into squares.

    Tuesday, March 23, 2010

    TWD: Dulce de Leche Duos

    Jodie of Beansy Loves Cake decided on Dulce de Leche Duos for TWD this week. I am thrilled to bits with this recipe. They were a huge hit with my son too. He's not much of a cookie eater but he polished one of these off in no time at all! Our grocery store gives kids free chocolate chip cookies but he always turns the offer down. Thanks Jodie for an amazing selection - one that I will be making again and again.

    I filled half of them with chocolate ganache and the other half with dulce de leche. Both were equally yummy. This was the perfect opportunity to use my homemade dulce de leche - made in the slow cooker. Click here for the "how to". It couldn't be easier or more rewarding. Really. It's the most impressive thing that's come out of my slow cooker.

    The buttery cookies (even sans filling) are fantastic. Once in the oven, they 'magically' transfrom from cookie dough blobs into beautifully round circles. Make sure you leave enough room for them to spread because boy do they ever. Baking them on a silicone mat ensures that the bottoms don't get too crisp and also makes for easy removal. These tender cookies are slightly sweet - the perfect canvas for a multitude of different fillings. I did both chocolate-frosting filled and dulce de leche filled. Can't decide which ones I prefer. Next time (and there will definitely be a next time), I'll try a whipped cream cheese frosting. Yum!

    For once I don't recommend underbaking them because they need a bit of structure to support the filling. If they are too soft on the bottom as some of mine were, they are a little trickier to fill.

    I know, I know, we aren't supposed to post the recipe here for TWD, but I just had to make an exception and share it here because I loved these so much.

    Dulce De Leche Duos
    Makes 24 sandwich cookies | Dorie Greenspan

    2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    3/4 cup store-bought dulce de leche, plus more for filling
    3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
    1/2 cup sugar
    2 large eggs

    Getting ready: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

    Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

    Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat butter at medium speed until soft. Add the Dulce de Leche and both sugars and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Don't be concerned if the mixture looks a little curddled, it will smooth out when the flour mixture is added. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter.

    Spoon the dough onto the baking sheets, using a heaping teaspoon of dough for each cookie and leaving 2 inches between them.

    Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The cookies should be honey brown with a light sugar crust, but they will be soft, so remove the sheets from the oven but don't touch the cookies for another minute or two. Then, using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to room temperature.

    Repeat with the remaining dough, making sure you cool the baking sheets before spooning the dough onto them.

    When the cookies are completely cool, spread the flat bottoms of half the cookies with a small amount of dulce de leche, and sandwich with the flat sides of the remaining cookies.

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    Blueberry-Apple Crumble Pie

    This rustic looking pie is a flaky pastry shell filled with tart apples, studded with juicy blueberries and covered in a shower of buttery, cinnamony crumbs. I halved the recipe and made this in a 6" spring form pan because I didn't have enough apples. I'm starting to think that maybe I prefer crumb-topped pies to pastry topped ones. I've always been a sucker for streusel/crumb toppings and this one with the pecans in it is a keeper!

    Blueberry-Apple Crumble Pie
    9" Pie | Gourmet, Nov. 2009

    pastry dough:
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    3/4 stick cold unsalted butter, 1/2" pieces
    2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
    Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
    3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

    crumble topping:
    3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

    2 pounds apples (about 5), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
    8 ounces fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries
    1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

    Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Drizzle 3 tablespoon ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated.

    Squeeze a small handful: If dough doesn't hold together, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring until incorporated. Do not overwork dough or pastry will be tough.

    Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather all dough together (using a pastry scraper if you have one) and form into a 5-inch disk. If dough is sticky, dust lightly with additional flour. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

    crumble topping:
    Stir together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips until large clumps form, then stir in pecans. Chill until ready to use.

    fruit filling:
    Stir together apples, blueberries, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and lemon juice in a large bowl.

    Assemble pie:
    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F with rack in lower third.

    Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round, then fit into pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang under and crimp decoratively. Transfer fruit filling to pie shell and dot with butter. Loosely cover with foil and bake until apples droop slightly, about 30 minutes.

    Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Sprinkle crumble topping over filling and bake, uncovered, until crumble is browned, filling is bubbling, and apples are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour more. Cool completely, 2 to 3 hours.

    *Dough can be chilled up to 3 days.
    *Pie can be made 1 day ahead and kept, loosely covered, at room temperature.

    Friday, March 19, 2010

    Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

    These bars are full of nostalgia. They are a flashback to elementary school lunches - peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on white bread! Of course, this was before schools stopped letting kids bring anything with peanuts in it to school because of allergies. I was never a big fan of peanut butter when I was a kid but as I got older I began to fully appreciate its deliciousness.

    After mixing up this simple recipe (which is easily doubled for a crowd) I pulled this hearty, nutty treat from the oven. The hardest part was letting it cool fully before digging in. With 2 1/2 cups of peanut butter in the dough, the main flavor here is peanut butter with a layer of jam for just the right touch of sweetness. The crowning glory on these heavenly bars are the roasted peanuts on top. Salty, sweet and nostalgic.

    Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars
    9 x 13" pan | Adapted from Martha Stewart's Holiday Cookies 2001

    1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
    3 cups flour
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    2 large eggs
    2 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 1/2 cups raspberry jam
    2/3 cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped

    Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line a 9-by-13-inch pan. Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. On medium speed, add eggs and peanut butter; beat until combined, about 2 minutes.

    Whisk together salt, baking powder, and flour. Add to bowl of mixer on low speed; combine. Add vanilla. Transfer two-thirds of mixture to prepared pan; spread evenly with offset spatula. Using offset spatula, spread jam on top of peanut-butter mixture. Dollop remaining third of peanut-butter mixture on top of jam. Sprinkle with peanuts.

    Bake until golden, about 40-45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    St. Patty's Day Cupcakes and Fluffy Old-Fashioned Frosting

    Yesterday I was totally in the St. Patrick's day mood. I wore green, drank green Powerade, brought my coffee in a Green travel mug and baked these yummy mini cupcakes. I was lucky and found a bag of just green colored M&M's so I didn't have to pick through the multi-colored pack like I usually do. The mini-cupcakes are just plain yellow cake from the classic Betty Crocker Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know to Cook Today cookbook. It's my go-to cookbook. Easy recipes, fast to throw together and It's never failed me yet.

    If you are looking for a fluffy, not too sweet, very smooth frosting, try this one that I adapted from It uses flour to thicken it (so you don't have to use as much sugar). I had to make an adaptation because it was too thin the way the original recipe was written, but I LOVED it after I added a bit of icing sugar to give it some body.

    Fluffy Old-Fashioned Frosting
    Generously frosts 12 cupcakes | adapted from

    3 tbsp flour
    1/2 cup whole milk
    1/2 cup real butter
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1 1/2 cups icing sugar *(my addition, not in original recipe)

    Whisk together the flour and the milk. Heat in a small sauce pan on medium heat. Whisk continuously until it starts to thicken. I think this is the critical point for any of you who have had problems with this recipe. I have a feeling people are under-cooking this part. Let it cook, while stirring, until it looks like pudding (you should be able to see the bottom of the pan when you stir it). Even though it's thick, you can still it through a mesh strainer (just whisk the mixture in the strainer to push the thick stuff through) and then let it cool completely to room temp. or chill it in the fridge. It needs to be cooled completely. If you don't let it cool completely, it will melt the butter and you'll have runny frosting.

    It an electric stand mixer, beat the butter and the sugar for a minute or two until well combined and fluffy. You'll want to use the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, not the flat paddle. Then while beating, add in the thickened milk mixture and the vanilla. Beat on the highest speed you can get to without it spraying all over the place for 7 minutes. Yes, 7 whole minutes, maybe even 8 or 9. I know that seems like a long time, but that's when the magic happens!

    You will be scared because it will look like a weird goopy mess at first and you'll wonder what on earth you did wrong. Keep beating and something amazing happens. It goes from that goopy mess to something thick, velvety smooth, and perfectly fluffy.

    *The orignal recipe didn't call for icing sugar but I needed to add about 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar at the end to get the consistency I wanted.

    1. Use real butter, and a good name-brand. Cheap butter does weird things.
    2. If you beat for the 6-8 minutes and the mixture still looks strange, beat longer and at a higher speed if you can. It should come together, but it takes a little patience!
    3. Store at room temperature in a sealed container. Frosting may separate in the fridge, but you can store it overnight if left at room temp and in a well sealed container.

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    All-Canadian Butter Tart Bars

    Desserts such butter tarts make me proud to be Canadian. Butter tarts are flaky pastry shells filled with a sweet, chewy, buttery, gooey, nutty mixture. They are similar to the American pecan pie or British treacle tart, but in my opinion, so much better :)

    The definition of a "perfect butter tart" can be controversial especially when it comes to the filling. Firm or runny? Raisins or currants? Pecans or Walnuts? With or without coconut? I personally prefer them in bar form rather than tart form. For one, it's easier and faster to press the crust into a pan than roll it out to line individual tart pans. My favorite combination is walnuts, raisins, no coconut and the filling just firm enough to hold together as a bar but still gooey enough to melt in your mouth.

    Definitely give these a shot. They couldn't be easier. Once you've tried them in their "true" form, feel free to experiment and add chocolate chips, peanut butter, dates or craisins. For me, I'll stick to the classic. For another Canadian specialty, try these Nanaimo Bars.

    All-Canadian Butter Tart Bars
    8" pan | Adapted from "A Century of Canadian Home Cooking"

    1/3 to 1/2 cup butter
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 cup flour
    1/4 cup ground pecans (optional)

    2 eggs, beaten
    1 cup packed brown sugar
    2 tbsp melted butter
    2 tbsp flour
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp vanilla
    3/4 cup raisins
    1/3 cup chopped pecans
    1/4 tsp salt

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    2. Base: Cream together butter and sugar. Add flour and ground nuts if using. When blended together and crumbly, press into the bottom of a greased 8" square dish. Bake 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from oven but leave oven turned on.

    3. Topping: Combine all ingrrdients together well and pour over lightly browned base. Return to oven for approximately 30 minutes. Edges will pull away slightly from the pan and centre will be no longer jiggly.

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    TWD: Soft White Chocolate Cranberry Tartlets

    Rachelle of Mommy? I’m Hungry! chose Soft Chocolate and Raspberry Tart on page 354 of Baking: From my home to yours. Check out her blog for the recipe. Or see my adapted version below.

    I took quite a few liberties with this week's pick, using Dorie's original recipe as a starting point. I used ground hazelnuts in the sweet tart dough, swapped the chocolate for white chocolate and the raspberries for cranberries. These remind me of Christmas, both in appearance and in taste. Mmm... cranberry hazelnut white chocolate bark. I must make some of that soon. It's already been 3 months since Christmas, which means another 9 to go before I can step back into mass holiday-dessert-baking mode.

    I was so happy to see this recipe come along so I could use my new tartlet pans from the dollar store. Surprisingly, there are tons of neat baking things at my dollar store. My 12 tins only cost $3 whereas in a baking supply store they'd probably be $3 each! I'm glad I made these small since they were quite sweet and rich. Definitely yummy but best in small servings. I can see why she used dark chocolate in hers, but no regrets here! This girl loves sugar.

    I am posting the recipe since I changed it so much from the original. Just in case you happen to be a white chocolate lover like me. Even though she says to serve them warm, I prefer them cold straight from the fridge.

    Soft White Chocolate Cranberry Tart
    One 9" Tart | Adapted from Dorie

    5 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    1/4 cup butter, cut into 4 pieces
    2 large eggs, room temperature
    1 large egg yolk, room temperature
    3/4 cup dried cranberries
    1 9-inch shell Sweet Tart Dough with Nuts (below), fully baked and cooled

    Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

    Set a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, add the chocolate and heat, stirring occasionally until melted. Remove from the heat.

    Meanwhile, bring the cream, and butter just to a boil. Pour the cream-butter mixture over the chocolate and let it stand for 30 seconds. Working with a whisk or a rubber spatula, gently stir the liquid into the chocolate-start stirring in the center of the bowl and work your way out in ever-widening circles. When the mixture is smooth, stir in the eggs and yolk. Rap the bowl against the counter to break any bubbles that might have formed.

    Scatter the berries over the bottom of the crust, then pour the chocolate ganache over them. Bake the tart for about 30 minutes-the filling should not jiggle if you tap the pan and a knife inserted into the center of the tart should come out a little streaky. Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool to room temperature before serving.

    Serving: There are some people who like this tart ever so slightly warm, but the flavor and texture don't really come into their own until the tart is cooled to room temperature. Serve it cold and it will lose its lovely creaminess. Whatever temperature ends up being your favorite, do serve the tart with whipped cream or creme fraiche.

    Sweet Tart Dough with Hazelnuts
    one 9-inch crust | Dorie Greenspan

    1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup ground hazelnuts
    1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons)
    very cold butter, cut small
    1 egg yolk

    Put the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter in and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in— some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

    Butter a 9" tart pan. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Don't be too heavy-handed—press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes before baking.

    Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees F. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Then fully bake the crust: bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

    Storing: Well wrapped, the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, I prefer to freeze the unbaked crust in the pan and bake it directly from the freezer—it has a fresher flavor. Just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    Blueberry Peach Yogurt Muffins

    Almost every recipe that contains yogurt warns you NOT to use fat free yogurt. Well, this time I rebelled and I used *gasp* fat free yogurt in these muffins and they turned out great!

    I've noticed that muffins with some kind of topping always look more elegant and professional. I usually try and top my muffins with either a smattering of rolled oats, nuts or streusel.

    These muffins were delightfully light, fluffy and so so moist (probably from the addition of orange juice in the batter). Best of all, they rose sky high and kept their wonderfully domed shape even after they had cooled. I was quite impressed by their appearance and was definitely proud to bring these in to work.

    Blueberry Peach Yogurt Muffins
    Makes 12 | Adapted from Canadian Living, Apr. 2004

    2 1/4 cup flour, divided
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    1 tbsp baking powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    2 eggs
    1 cup yogurt, peach/vanilla/plain (I used fat free)
    1/4 cup orange juice
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    1 cup blueberries
    1/2 cup diced peaches (I used canned)
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts, divided
    1 tbsp sugar for topping

    In large bowl, stir 2 cups flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. In separate bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, juice and oil; pour over dry ingredients. Toss blueberries and peaches in remaining 1/4 cup flour (to prevent the color from bleeding). Add this fruit-flour mixture and 1/4 cup walnuts to the batter and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix.

    Spoon into greased or lined muffin cups, filling to top. They will be quite full but that's OK! Topping: combine 1/4 cup walnuts with 1 tbsp sugar. Sprinkle topping over the muffins, pressing walnuts in slightly so they stick.

    Bake in centre of 375 degrees F until golden and tops are firm to the touch, about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes then transfer to rack to cool completely.

    Friday, March 12, 2010

    Apricot Orange Yeasted Coffee Cake

    Sweet yeast dough is my ultimate favorite thing to bake. It's like a blank canvas, screaming to be painted on with a multitude of fillings. It's an invitation to go crazy with shaping ideas. From giant cinnamon buns to teeny individual rolls, it's so versatile.

    I don't like fresh apricots but give me the dried ones and my oh my am I a happy girl. Here I paired them with orange and used them to fill this yeasted coffee cake. It might sound complicated but it's really not. It starts out like a cinnamon bun but then you cut it lengthwise instead of crosswise. See my Cinnamon Chocolate Twist for a picture of how it's done.

    There is a lot of filling in this recipe and it might seem like too much at first but once it's baked the filling gives a lovely moistness to the cake and you get a taste of the sunny orange/apricot flavor in every bite with texture contrasting crunch from the slivered almonds on top. The orange glaze melts into the cake enhancing its moistness even more.

    Apricot Orange Yeasted Coffee Cake
    1 - 9" Cake | Dough adapted from Flo Braker

    Sweet Yeast Dough
    About 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/3 cup whole milk
    1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
    1/4 cup water
    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
    2 eggs, room temperature

    1/2 cup sugar
    1/3 cup water
    1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
    1 orange, peeled and pith removed
    Zest of 1 orange
    1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1 tsp vanilla

    1 tbsp orange juice
    Approx 1 cup icing sugar
    2 tbsp sliced almonds for sprinkling

    1. Dough: Stir together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer; set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter over low heat just until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat, add the water, and set aside until warm (120-130 degrees F) about 1 minute. Add the vanilla extract.

    2. Pour the milk mixture over the flour-yeast mixture and mix until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition just until incorporated. Stop the mixer, add 1/2 cup of the remaining flour and resume mixing on low speed until the dough is smooth, 30 to 45 seconds. Add 2 more tablespoons flour and mix until the dough is smooth, soft, and slightly sticky, about 45 seconds.

    3. Sprinkle a work surface with flour and center the dough on the flour. Knead gently until smooth and no longer sticky, about 1 minute, adding an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons flour (only if necessary) to lessen the stickiness. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover the bowl plastic wrap and rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 45-60 minutes. Press the dough gently with a fingertip. If the indentation remains, the dough is ready for the next step. While the dough is rising, make the filling.

    4. Filling: In a small sauce pan combine water, sugar, oranges and apricots. Cook on low until apricots are softened, adding more water if necessary, stirring frequently until thickened and reduced. Remove from heat and stir in zest, vanilla and cinnamon. Cool then transfer to a blender or food processor. Pulse until pureed.

    5. Shaping: roll into a 30-by-9-inch rectangle. Spread filling evenly. Beginning at the long end, roll up tightly, as for a jelly roll. Pinch the seam to seal. Some filling will probably ooze out but you can just scrape it up and put it on top of the coffee cake afterwards once it's in the pan.

    After you roll it up, cut it in half lengthwise, giving you two long 30-inch pieces. Carefully turn the halves so that cut sides face up. "Braid/twist" the two halves together and join the ends, pinching them to form one ring, keeping the cut sides up so the filling is visible. Transfer the ring to a greased 9 or 10" spring form pan. Scoop up filling that oozed out during the rolling process and put it over the cake. Cover and rise for 30-40 minutes until it almost reaches the rim of the pan.

    6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees or other method of testing for doneness. You might need to turn the oven down to 325 degrees F or tent with foil if browning too quickly. While cake is baking make the glaze by combining all the orange juice and icing sugar to reach desired consistency. Set aside. When cake is done remove from spring form pan, cool slightly and drizzle with glaze and slivered almonds.

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    Espresso 3-Bite Fudge Brownies

    Coffee has been making an appearance in my baking quite a lot lately. It is a flavor that I have come to love crave. Today coffee got paired with the humble brownie for an amazing pick-me-up: chocolate and coffee and lots of both! I call them 3-Bite brownies because they're like the slightly bigger and bolder cousin of 2-Bite Brownies.

    Feeling adventurous (or maybe just supertired!) I upped the ante by adding 2 Stok caffeine shots. Each non-dairy creamer-sized serving (13 mL) has the caffeine of 1 shot of espresso with only 10 calories. When you add them to your coffee you can't taste them but you sure can feel them! Tip: If you want to try them without buying a whole case, they have them at 7-eleven right beside all the International Delights creamers and syrups at the coffee bar.

    I baked these in silicone muffin liners. After they were baked I froze them for about 30 minutes so they popped out of the liners easily. If you dislike coffee or prefer a milder brownie, use water instead of coffee and omit the coffee powder.

    Espresso 3-Bite Fudge Brownies
    Makes 12 | Adapted from Canadian Living

    3/4 cup regular cocoa powder
    1 teaspoon baking powder (heaping)
    3/4 cup butter, melted
    1/2 cup hot, strong brewed coffee or espresso
    1 tbsp espresso powder or instant coffee granules
    1 tablespoon vanilla
    1 1/4 cups sugar
    2 eggs
    1 1/3 cups flour
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
    1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

    Chocolate Frosting (optional, recipe link below)

    1. reheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.

    2. In a medium bowl combine cocoa, coffee powder and baking powder; mix to combine. Add hot coffee; mix well with a wooden spoon to dissolve. Add melted butter, sugar and vanilla. When combined then stir in eggs with a wooden spoon. In a sepasrate bowl whisk together salt and flour then add in the chocolate mixture(batter will be on the thin side). Mix in mini chocolate chips and/or walnuts.

    3. Fill each of the muffin tins almost to the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until muffins are done (toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it) don't over bake! (might take a little longer, depending on how full the tins are. Cool then frost with Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting.

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Papa John's Chicken Club Pizza and Pizza Crescents

    My 3 year old started preschool last week, right after his third birthday. I've now got to pack him lunch (aww!!!) This might sound odd, but paking lunch makes me feel like a 'real' mom. I love waking up early to put an ice pack and juice box into his insulated lunchbag along with a little treat - fruit snacks or mini brownies or a smartie cookie. I'm sure the novelty of packing lunch will wear off eventually but for now I'm loving it. It makes grocery shopping even more fun looking at things he might like to eat and all the little "snack packs" of his favorite foods.

    I had a little ball of extra pizza dough which I made into mini pizza crescents for Zach's lunch. He loved them! And so did I. Just roll out the dough thinly into a circle, spread lightly with pizza sauce, sprinkle with cheese, cut into wedges, roll up and bake.

    In my opinion, the sauce can make or break the pizza. It's so easy to go wrong with sauce as I know personally. Too sweet, too sour, too tangy, too thick, too thin, too bland, too salty. However, I am happy to announce that as of today, my search is over! I have tried so many different recipes out there from America's Test Kitchen to Wolfgang to Cooking Light. They all were missing something and I had to keep looking. This recipe is perfect in taste and consistency. I double the batch and freeze it or use as dip for breadsticks.

    Papa John's Pizza Sauce
    1 cup

    1 (10 3/4 ounce) can tomato paste or puree
    1/4 cup water
    1 tsp sugar
    1 tsp olive oil
    1/4 tsp lemon juice
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp oregano
    1/8 tsp basil
    1/8 tsp thyme
    1/8 tsp garlic powder
    1/4 tsp onion powder

    Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Freezes well.

    Papa John's Chicken Club Pizza
    Toppings for 1 - 14" pizza

    1/3 - 1/2 cup Papa John's Pizza Sauce
    1 cup Grilled Chicken Breast, chopped (or rotisserie chicken breast)
    1/2 cup Crumbled Bacon
    1/2 cup Ham, chopped
    1/2 cup Diced Tomatoes
    2 mushrooms, sliced
    2 cups Mozzarella Cheese

    Spread sauce on semi-baked pizza dough. In a bowl toss all topping ingredients together and sprinkle evenly on top of pizza crust. Bake on a pizza stone (if you have one) at 450 degrees F until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown, 8-10 minutes, maybe more.

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    TWD: (Jam) Thumprints For Us Big Guys

    Mike of Ugly Food Dude selected Thumbprints For Us Big Guys on page 164. Check his blog for the recipe.

    Jam thumbprints - an oldie but a goodie. Isn't it funny how foods go in and out of style just like clothes do? I used to see these more often but lately they seem to be a thing of the past and only make appearances at Christmastime. Maybe it's time for a thumbprint revival!

    I think they are also called birdsnests in other parts of the world? My mom saw them and said, "Oh, birdsnest cookies!" Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Oh yes. Whether you call them thumbprints or birdsnests, they are just as yummy. My favorite is raspberry jam but the platter looks pretty if you use different colored jams like blackberry or apricot.

    Monday, March 8, 2010

    Sweet Muffins

    I am so glad I stumbled upon this book, The Sweet Melissa Baking Book. It has a lot of easy to follow recipes that produce great results, such as this recipe for sweet muffins. This recipe, like many of the others in this book, lends itself nicely to variation and improvisation. There's another baking group out there called Sweet Melissa Sundays, kinda the same idea as TWD and as tempted as I am to join, I don't think I can make the time committment necessary right now. Boo... maybe in the future though.

    I chose the peach version of this muffin. The delicious, perfume-like smell of orange zest filled my kitchen and when they came out of the oven I was impressed by how much they rose. I've always had problems with my muffins appearing squat and flat and nothing like the storebought variety.

    Sweet Muffins
    Makes 12 | Sweet Melissa Baking Book

    2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
    1/3 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
    2 large eggs, at room temperature
    1/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
    1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature (more or less depending on juiciness of fruit)
    Zest of 1 lemon
    1 cup fresh fruit, cut into 1/4-to-1/2 inch pieces
    1 tablespoon vanilla sugar* or granulated sugar, for sprinkling

    Before you start: Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with muffin papers (or butter and flour the cups or spray with nonstick vegetable cooking spray).

    1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, and salt. Set aside.

    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, and eggs until smooth–no lumps. Whisk in the heavy cream and milk until combined.

    3. Add the zest to the flour mixture and with your hands, gently rub the mixture together, releasing the oils and breaking up the bits. Add the fresh fruit and gently toss with your fingers to combine. Make a well in the center of the bowl. Pour the butter mixture into the center of the well and, using a rubber spatula, gently pull the flour mixture into the center of the well until just combined.

    4. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each cup until full. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until lightly golden and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack and sprinkle with sugar. Let cool to warm.

    Fresh Peach Muffins: Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the flour mixture. Decrease the milk by 2 tablespoons. Use 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest to rub into the flour mixture. Add 1 cup peeled diced fresh peaches to the dry mixture, and proceed with the batter. Fill the prepared muffin cups and sprinkle on cinnamon sugar, if desired. Bake as directed.

    Strawberry Muffins with Fresh Lemon and Rosemary: Decrease the milk by 2 tablespoons. Use 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest and 3/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary to rub into the flour mixture. Add 1 cup diced fresh strawberries to the dry mixture, and proceed with the batter. Fill the prepared muffin cups and sprinkle on vanilla sugar, if desired. Bake as directed.

    * To make vanilla sugar, combine the salt and scraped pod and seeds of 1 vanilla bean with 8 cups of sugar. Rub them together with your hands. Store in an airtight container.

    Saturday, March 6, 2010

    Sponge Cake with Mango Mousse Filling

    I think this cake ended up being 6 inches tall! It was truly statuesque. The sponge cake recipe from the Joy of Cooking is a staple in my recipe repertoire. It's great on its own but it is also versatile as it complements any filling.

    I took my inspiration for the mango mousse filling from those Asian bakery-style cakes with mango or strawberry mousse fillings. The sponge cake wasn't quite as light as Asian cakes but the mousse was excellent. I highly recommend using canned mango puree/pulp (in the ethnic foods aisle, indian food section) as it is usually sweetened already so you don't have to worry about adding any extra sugar to the mousse. This stuff is so good. You can use the extra mango pulp for smoothies, ice cream, milkshakes or in my favorites: Mango Cheesecake.

    Have your egg whites at room temperature before starting this cake, the secret to perfect sponge cake is to beat your egg yolks until very thick and lemon-coloured.

    Never-Fail Sponge Cake
    Makes 2 - 9" rounds | Adapted from JOY

    6 egg yolks
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    3 teaspoons vanilla
    2 teaspoons lemon juice
    1/3 cup room temperature water
    1-2 tablespoons lemon or orange zest (optional)
    6 egg whites, room temperature
    1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Set oven rack to middle position. Line the bottoms of two 9" round pans with parchment. (I wanted a taller cake so I used two 7" pans and had some leftover batter for a cupcakes) Leave sides ungreased.

    2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl beat egg yolks until thick and lemon coloured (the egg yolks must be thick - beating time should take about 5 minutes or more). Add in sugar, vanilla and lemon juice; beat until thoroughly blended and no sugar granules remain (about 5 minutes).
    Add in sifted flour mixture alternately with water; beat until just blended.

    3. In a large bowl beat room temperature egg whites with cream of tartar until quite stiff; gently fold into the flour mixture. Transfer to the ungreased pans. Bake for 25-35 minutes. Cool completely in the pans upside down on cooling rack before removing.

    Mango Mousse Filling
    approx 3 cups

    1 1/2 cups whipping cream
    1 cup mango puree (I use canned puree)
    Sugar to taste (if mango puree is not sweetened)
    1 tbsp gelatin powder
    2-3 tbsp hot water

    1. Dissolve the gelatin powder in hot water. Add more water as needed but try not to water it down too much. Add liquified gelatin to the mango puree and mix well.
    2. With very cold beaters and bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Strain mango-gelatin mixture and add to the whipped cream. If there are large chunks of gelatin left in the strainer put them in a bowl and microwave just enough to melt. Add to the bowl and continue to beat to a mousse consistency.
    3. Use to fill the cake or transfer to pretty serving dishes. Refrigerate.