6.18.2016

#94) My Favourite Banana Bread

Look no further because this is my favourite banana bread recipe :)
Moist, delicious banana bread that is a definite crowd pleaser!

I like bananas.  They're healthy, easy to pack in a lunch box, remind me of warmer climates when it feels a new ice age is beginning, and they are one of the most versatile baking ingredients you can get your hands on.  Seriously, everything from banana breads, to cookies, to cakes, to burritos and everything in between! 




I started out with a recipe from a great cookbook called "Bride & Groom: First and Forever Cookbook" and made a few little tweaks here and there.  After giving this recipe a few tries, adding in some small changes, and sending it out to different taste testers, I have to say that this recipe is a winner!  Give it a try and let me know how you like ;)




Ingredients

2 ¼ cups flour
1 tsp salt  
2 tsp cinnamon (less if you prefer a “hint” instead of a “kick”)

¾ cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 cup butter, softened  

½ cup milk
½ tbsp vinegar
1 ½ tsp baking soda
2 cups mashed banana (about 5 small bananas)

*Don't be afraid to add some extras too, like a handful of chocolate chips or some toasted coconut :)

Steps

-Preheat oven to 350°F.  Mix together milk and vinegar and let stand while preparing batter.  Grease two loaf pans.
-Sift together flour, salt, and cinnamon in medium bowl.  Set aside.
-In large bowl, mix together oil, brown sugar, and white sugar.
-Add eggs and vanilla, mixing gently until incorporated.
-Stir baking soda into soured milk.
-Add 1/3 of dry ingredients to the mixer, followed by ½ of the milk.  Mix gently until incorporated.  Repeat.  Scrape sides and bottom of bowl.
-Add remaining dry ingredients and mashed banana.  Do not over mix.
-Pour batter into prepared pans and bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 1 hour.
-Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove and place on wire racks to cool.


Printable Recipe :)




6.06.2016

#93) Gingerbread Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache (for Gingerbread Day)

June 5th, 2016 - National Gingerbread Day
What better reason to dig out your ginger and molasses in June?

Did you know that yesterday was National Gingerbread Day in the US?  I had no idea until I stumbled upon Foodista's latest post.  But once I had this tid bit of info I was so happy!!!  Why?  Because it gave me an excellent reason to share one of our favourite recipes with you.  How else would I have found a legitimate reason to share a gingerbread cheesecake while the temperature is above freezing and Santa is nowhere in sight? ;)

This sweet and spicy cheesecake is full of deliciousness - gingersnap crust, spicy cheesecake filling, and sweet chocolate ganache.  It has been a hit every time I have made it and now that I've found some gluten-free gingersnaps at our local grocery store, hubby can once again enjoy one of his favourite desserts.  Give this recipe a try and let me know if it is a crowd pleaser for you :)



Crust

Ingredients 

1 1/4 cups crushed ginger snaps (*can be gluten-free)
1/4 cup melted butter

Steps

- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Mix crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of 9" springform pan.


Cheesecake Filling

Ingredients 

3 packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
3 eggs

Steps

- Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with mixer until well blended. 
- Add molasses, vanilla and spices; mix well. 
- Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.
- Bake 45 to 50 min. or until centre is almost set. 
- Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake. Cool completely before removing rim. 

Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients

4 oz. Baker's semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup whipping cream

Steps

-Microwave chocolate and whipping cream for 30 seconds; stir. 
- Repeat until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring every 30 sec. 
-Pour over cheesecake.



Printable Recipe :)




6.03.2016

Recipe Revisit: Bakeapple Blossoms (with White Chocolate and Maple Fleur de sel)

An update on a crowd favourite!
A simple shortbread cookie filled with a slightly tart bakeapple filling.


Every now and then I look through some of the older recipes here on my blog and I am a little disappointed with how underwhelming some of the photos are.  Many of these recipes were posted well before hubby and I had decent camera gear and good photo editing software, hence the poor lighting, bad colour, and unsharp images.  And every time I look through those old posts, the Type A personality (the one I try so poorly to hide) nags at me incessantly to redo the photos on nearly every single recipe posted before 2011.  But there are so many new and exciting recipes out there to play with, that I really can't see myself going back and pouring over all of those old ones.  That being said, there are some of those old recipes I go back to time and time again because they are crowd pleasers, old favourites, or just downright delicious :)

One of the most popular recipes on Sweet Treats by Dani is #51) Bakeapple Blossoms and its one I make over and over and over again.  I originally posted the recipe back in 2009 - before hubby was officially hubby, before our little cookie monster was even on our radar, before our first mortgage, and before decent camera gear and photo software.  It has always bothered me that such a unique and popular recipe had such mediocre pictures, so I gave Ms. Type A her own way this time.  I whipped up a new batch, put on some finishing touches, and snapped some new and improved pictures.  What do you think?

Then


Now


Bakeapple Filling

Ingredients

1 cup bakeapples
1/4 cup water
7 tbsp sugar (adjust according to the tartness of your berries)
2 tsp corn starch


Steps

-Boil berries with 3/4 of the water. Simmer for 3-5 minutes.
-Push the cooked berries through a fine sieve, discarding the seeds.
-Whisk corn starch into remaining water. Add cornstarch mixture and sugar to berries.
-Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Let cool completely.


Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients


1 1/8 cup butter, softened 
2/3 cup sugar 
1 tsp vanilla 
2 cups flour 


Steps

- Combine butter, sugar and extract in mixer bowl and beat until creamy. 
- Add the flour, scraping often until well mixed. 
- Refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Work together with hands upon removing from refrigerator.
- Heat oven to 350°F. 
- Shape dough into 1 inch balls and place them on silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet. 
- Use a tsp measure to make an indentation in the center of each cookie.
- Fill the indentation with a small dollop of your fruit filling.
- Bake for 14 - 18 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. 
- Place cookies in wire rack and cool completely.


*Drizzle with melted white chocolate and add a sprinkle of maple fleur de sel, if desired.



Printable Recipe :)



5.29.2016

#92) Flourless Chocolate Cake with Homemade Mint Ice Cream

Chocolate lovers unite!  
This is the desert to please any and all chocolate lovers worldwide :)

Although this cake is called "Flourless Chocolate Cake" it would be better named "Chocolate Truffle Cake" because it is like sitting down with your favourite, delectable chocolate truffle and a fork.  Rich, dense, creamy, and chocolatey.  And the mint ice cream on the side is the perfect pairing, with its light mint flavour from fresh mint leaves and peppermint tea.  It helps to cleanse the palette between the heavenly bites of creamy chocolate cake.


The cake itself is simply divine and I support all the claims made by the author in terms of ingredients, methods, etcetera.  My only complaint is removing the cake from the springform pan.  The book (Cook's Illustrated: All-Time Best Chocolate Recipes) made it sound so easy - flip it over on some parchment, peel off the bottom of the pan and the parchment round, flip over on to your cake stand.  Well, my cake did not want to let go of the bottom of the pan or the parchment round...  I had to cut out two slices of cake and gingerly remove them, with minor damage to the slices, before I could get my spatula under the parchment round to release the rest of the bake.  In hindsight, maybe I should have left a lip of parchment outside of the springform pan to give me something to hold on to when removing the cake, but I am not sure if that would cause issues with the water bath and possible water seeping into the springform pan.  Anyone out there have any tips on that?


Now let's talk ice cream!  Is there any better treat for a lazy almost-summer day?  I think not ;)  And what possible flavour could go with this decadent chocolate truffle cake than mint?  A perfect match, if I do say so myself. 


I am very new to the world of ice cream making - this is just my third batch.  However, I have learnt some valuable lessons is researching recipes and making a few of my own.

Lesson #1 - the type of dairy you use is crucial, as it will be the deciding factor when it comes to the texture of your ice cream.  Long story short, the higher the fat content, the creamier the ice cream.  I stick to whipping cream as it really does lend that stick-to-your-tongue creaminess I crave from ice cream.  But if you are looking to lighten things up a little you can certainly use half-and-half or even 2% milk, but it will make for an icier ice cream.


 Lesson # 2 - Do NOT walk away from simmering cream or cooking custard!  Unless you want ice cream à la scorched cream or scrambled eggs, stay next to those pots while they are on the stove.  Dairy is a bit of a diva and will go form a nice simmer to burnt in 60 seconds flat.  (And I am convinced it knows when you're not watching!)  And those eggs you just added to your simmering dairy?  I am confident their goal in life is to grow up and become scrambled eggs.  Keep your burner on low-medium heat and constantly stir your custard.  (And when in doubt, strain the cooked custard before you put it in to chill.)


Lesson # 3 - Patience is key.  Just like you want your dairy to come to a nice simmer in the beginning, you also want your nicely cooked custard to chill adequately before throwing it into the ice cream maker.  4 hours minimum seems to be the rule of thumb, but I always chill it in the fridge overnight to be safe.


Flourless Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

8 eggs, chilled
1 pound (16 ounces) bittersweet of semisweet chocolate (I used semisweet)
1 cup butter (16 tablespoons), softened (use REAL butter, not margarine)
1/4 strong brewed coffee, room temperature

Steps

Preheat oven to 325°F.  

Grease bottom and sides of 8" springform pan.  Line bottom with parchment.  (I would likely add a collar of parchment around the sides of the springform pan next time as well.)

Wrap outside of springform pan with two large pieces of aluminum foil.  Set in roasting pan.  

Boil full kettle of water.

Whip all 8 eggs together on medium speed until doubled in volume; about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine chocolate, butter, and coffee in top of double boiler.  Over simmering water, allow chocolate, butter, and coffee to melt together, stirring occasionally.  Do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl.

Remove chocolate mixture from heat and fold in 1/3 of the whipped eggs until few streaks are visible.  Add remaining whipped eggs in two additions, mixing until homogenous.

Transfer batter to prepared pan.  Set roasting rack on oven rack and fill with  enough boiling water to come about halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake 22-25 minutes or until cake registers 140°F (mine took the full 25 minutes).  Edges will be just set and the centre may look underdone.  Don't worry, it will continue to firm up as it cools.

Cool completely in pan.  Wrap pain in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Before removing from the pan, run a knife around edges to loosen the cake form the sides of the pan.  Invert cake onto a sheet of parchment and remove the bottom of the pan and parchment round.  Reinvent cake on to your cake stand.  (Like I said, this method was problematic for me and if anyone has any tips I am all ears!)


Mint Ice Cream

Ingredients

2 cups whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
Mint leaves (I used one small bunch from our mint plant and about 1 tbsp of peppermint tea leaves)
6 eggs yolks
1/2 cup sugar (could be reduced, in my opinion)
*a pinch of salt could be used here as well to round out the sweetness

Steps

In a saucepan (preferably not non-stick) , bring cream and milk to a simmer.  Remove from heat and add your mint and/or tea leaves.  Cover and let steep for 2 hours.  (I've done some reading on the topic of flavouring ice creams with tea leaves and 2 hours seems to be enough time to let the flavours marinate and it won't take you all day to get the custard finished.)

In another saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar.  Strain your flavoured dairy mixture into the yolk mixture.  Whisk until combined and set over low-medium heat.  Cook, whisking frequently, until custard forms (run your finger through the custard left on the back of your spoon - if a clean line remains, its custard).

Strain custard into an airtight container and refrigerate overnight.

Churn ice cream according to your ice cream maker's manufacturer's instructions.  Freeze to harden (I had mine in the freezer for about 3 hours.)

*Hubby and I found the mint flavour a little grassy for our tastebuds.  We found it was very enjoyable with the cake, but not so much on its own.


Printable Recipes :)



5.23.2016

And we're back!

After months and months of trying to reclaim this blog, I have finally found my way in and can't start sharing sweet treats here with you all again :)  I am beyond excited!!!!  Check out my Facebook page and Instagram profile for a look at what I've been up to lately ;) 












7.29.2013

#91) Lemon Poppyseed Sandwich Cookies with Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling


As I was bustling around the kitchen making these lovely little sweet treats, it dawned on me just how much I have missed baking over the past year.  Don't get me wrong, I simply adore the trips to the playground, the toddler cuddles, and the countless other adorable 'mommy' things that have been occupying my time lately... but there is something about a dusting of flour over the countertop, the smell of freshly baked cookies, and licking the icing bowl clean that makes me dance around the kitchen with a goofy grin on my face.

For my 'come-back' recipe I wanted to use some fresh summer flavours - lemon and strawberry are two of my favourites and I figured it would be even better to mix them together than to just use one.  The cookies have a crisp lemon flavour and they melt in your mouth.  The filling has the expected tang of cream cheese frosting balanced with the sweetness of strawberry jam.

Mr Treat has a very different opinion than I regarding how much filling is appropriate in a sandwich cookie.  His philosophy - less is more (let the flavours blend, not compete).  My philosophy - more is more (let the flavours scream from the rooftops that they are here!).  He won this time, but I will leave it to you to decide how much of this scrumptious frosting filling to sandwich between your cookies (note that I only used about half of the frosting this recipe made and am currently looking into how to use it up in another recipe before I devour it all with a spoon).

And although I wouldn't suggest handing over the platter of cookies to any kid, Toddler Treat thoroughly enjoyed the bite or two he stole from his momma's treat.



Cookies

Ingredients 

1 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
1 ½ cups icing sugar
1 egg, room temperature
2 tsp lemon zest (1 large lemon or 2 small lemons)
2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 tsp vanilla, or seeds of 1 vanilla pod
3-3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
2 tsp poppy seeds


Steps

Preheat oven to 400°F.
On low speed and with whisk attachment, cream together butter and icing sugar until pea-sized beads form. 
Change to paddle attachment.  Add the egg, zest, juice, and vanilla.  Scrape sides and bottom of bowl and mix on low to combine.
In a large bowl sift together 3 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt then add to the wet ingredients one cupful at a time. 
Mix until the dough forms a ball on the paddle.  Add a little extra flour if the dough seems sticky. 
Roll out on parchment paper to about 1/4" thickness (if your dough is slightly sticky you will need to dust with flour occasionally . Cut into desired shapes and bake for 7-9 minutes, or until slightly firm and lightly golden on the bottom.  Carefully remove from own and let cool completely on wire rack.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling
Ingredients

4 ounces cream cheese (half a block), chilled
1/4 cup butter or margarine, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons strawberry jam
Steps
With paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.

Add 2 1/2 cups of icing sugar, and beat until the sugar is incorporated. The mixture will be thick. 

With the mixer on low speed, add 2 tablespoons of jam and beat until well combined. Add more jam by the tablespoon if necessary to create a smooth texture. The filling, however, should remain thick.

Assembly
Transfer the filling to a pastry bag and pipe filling onto the underside of half the cookies. Top the filling of each with a second cookie.  Chill until the filling is firm.
*Yield will vary depending on thickness and diameter of cutouts.


7.08.2012

#90) Coco Chai Rooibos Chiffon Cake with Maple Meringue

Inspiration, according to Oxford Dictionaries, is "the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative."

For the first installment of Anna's Bake Off, Anna Olson has asked her fans to make her Earl Grey Chiffon Cake with Maple Meringue (or add your own creative flair).  She also asked that we keep tea time in mind for our photos and talk to her about what inspires us.  

Well, I went the creative route and made a couple little changes to the recipe.  First of all, I halved the cake recipe as husband and I have no will power whatsoever and would devour the entire thing between the two of us. I used David's Tea Coco Chai Rooibos (amazing!) as the flavor base for the cake, used some vanilla sugar I had kicking around, and I traded out the lemon zest for orange zest.  I also added some sugar shards as a garnish to finish it all off.


As for my inspiration, well, can you see the springtime tea pot in the background there?  Well that springtime tea pot represents my spring baby, who made his début just 10 weeks ago.  In such a short time this little bundle has changed my life incredibly and he has come to inspire me in so many ways.  His adorable giggles are proof that I can do the hardest job in the world and that alone inspires me to throw myself headfirst into any other challenges that come my way.  Boiling syrup - why not?  Making meringue - no problem!  This kid's momma can do anything :)  (Well, she can try to anyway)

Just an FYI - this was my very first attempt at a chiffon cake and seeing as I had never made one before, I didn't have the proper tube pan in the kitchen.  Although the end product was delicious, because I couldn't cool the cake upside down, there was a certain airiness missing.  So my advice to all you chiffon cake newbies - get the right pan!

Coco Chai Rooibos Chiffon Cake

Ingredients

1 1/2  tsp Coco Chai Rooibos loose tea
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp  boiling water
4 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup + 2 tbsp pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar, seperated
1/4 cup vanilla sugar
1 1/4 tsp  baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 egg yolks, room temperature
1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1.5 oz  milk chocolate, chopped and melted

Steps

- Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Keep an 10-inch tube pan ungreased.  (I used 8-inch round pan - not the best idea I ever had)

- Steep the tea in the boiling water, until the water cools to room temperature.  Remove tea diffuser.

- Whip the whites with the cream of tartar until foamy, then add 2 tbsp of the sugar and continue whipping until the whites hold a medium peak.  Set aside.
- Sift flour, remaining sugar, vanilla sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl or into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment.  Add cooled tea, vegetable oil, egg yolks, vanilla and orange zest.  Whip this mixture on high until it is thick, about 4 minutes.  Add the melted milk chocolate and whip in on low speed.  Fold in half of the whipped egg whites by hand until they are incorporated, then fold in the remaining whites (the batter will be quite fluid).

- Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top of the cake springs back when gently pressed.  (With the right kind of pan...) Invert the cake pan onto a cooling rack and cool the cake upside down in its pan.  To extract the cake, run a spatula or knife around the outside edge of the cake, then tap the cake out onto a plate.

Maple Meringue

Ingredients 

2  egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp  cream of tartar
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup  pure maple syrup

Steps

- Whip egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy, then add sugar and whip to a soft peak.  

- Bring maple syrup to a boil and cook uncovered and without stirring until it reaches a temperature of 242 F (softball stage) on a candy thermometer.  

- While beating on medium speed, carefully pour maple syrup into meringue by pouring it down the side of the bowl (this will help prevent splashing of hot syrup) and continue whipping until mixture has cooled but is not quite room temperature, about 3 minutes.

- Use a spatula to spread the meringue over the entire surface of the cake (use a small spatula or butter knife to frost the cake inside the center hole).  


Sugar Shards

Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Steps

- Combine sugar and water in sauce pan.  Heat and stir on medium-low until sugar is dissolved.

- Boil, uncovered, on medium-high for 5-10 minutes, without stirring, until deep golden brown color.

- Pour onto greased baking sheet and let cool for 20 minutes.

- Use knife to break into shards. 

- Use tongs to garnish cake with shards (to avoid pesky finger prints on your pretty sugar shards).