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Archive for December, 2010

Almond Biscotti

Remember how I told you that I’ve been drinking egg nog since mid-October? It was probably a bad idea to do that. I think I’m officially addicted. And now I’m face to face with the harsh reality that egg nog will be disappearing for a good 9 and a half months.

I’m already starting to get the shakes, and the sweats, my pupils are dilating (is that what they do?), and my legs have given out on me a few times. Or maybe that was from the excessive amount of food that I’ve been eating lately…shoot.

Regardless, I wanted to tell you about one of my favorite Christmas presents that I received this year. A frother. It’s incredible. Now I take my egg nog, heat it up and then froth it. The best.

I love drink foam. Root beer foam probably takes the top prize, followed ever so closely with egg nog foam, then chai tea foam and finally steamed milk foam.

Oh my gosh, root beer float foam. Huge craving, right now. Why do I do this to myself? P.s. check these out…she’s an absolute genius!

I digress. This biscotti is simple and delicious. Almond combined with a hint of orange rind. Amazing. Even better than the biscotti that I dipped in chocolate. In all seriousness, I’m 100% going to be making this again.

In the meantime I’ll be sitting here, watching the snow fall while frothing my last few mugs of egg nog.

 

 

 

 

 

Almond Biscotti

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3 1/4 cups flour                               1 tbsp baking powder
1/3 tsp salt                                      1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 sticks butter                           3 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla                                   1 tbsp orange zest
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted      1 egg white

Preheat to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt.

Mix sugar, melted butter, 3 eggs, vanilla extract, and zest in a large bowl. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir until well blended. Mix in almonds.

Divide dough in half and shape each half into 13 1/2-inch-long, 2 1/2-inch-wide logs. Transfer both logs to prepared baking sheet.

Whisk egg white until foamy and brush over the top and sides of each dough log.

Bake logs for 30 minutes. Cool logs completely on sheet on rack (25 minutes).

Using serrated knife, cut logs on diagonal into 1/2-inch-wide slices. Arrange slices, cut side down, on same baking sheet. Bake 12 minutes.

Turn biscotti over and bake for 8 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool.

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Time out. How the heck did this happen? When did Christmas Eve come and go? I don’t get it.

Sometimes I wish that I could push the pause button. Someone has invented that right? No? Well maybe that should be the next thing on my 2011 to do list…along with educating the next generation, finding a cure for cancer, promoting world peace and continuing to bake and blog on a frequent basis. No biggie.

Speaking of which…I made these a while ago after falling in love with how they looked. In this case looks aren’t deceiving. These look delicious and taste delicious too. What I really like about them is that the candy cane bits are small enough that they aren’t overwhelming. Normally I’m not a huge candy cane person but these did just the trick.

Should you have left over candy canes this would be a great way to use them up. If not, fear not, just make them without the candy cane pieces. Or just practise patience (which I am the absolute worst at) and wait until next Christmas?

 

 

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Cookies

1 3/4 cups flour         1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/4 tsp salt                1 cup sugar

3/4 cup butter           1 egg

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine flour, cocoa, and salt.

Beat sugar and butter in a large bowl until mixed. Beat in the egg and dry ingredients. Refrigerate dough 1 hour.

Scoop dough by tablespoonfuls and roll into smooth. Place balls on prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Using bottom of glass or hands, flatten each ball to 2-inch round (edges will crack).

Bake about 11 minutes. Cool on sheet 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely.

Filling

1 cup plus 2 tbsp powdered sugar      3/4 cup butter

3/4 tsp peppermint extract                  3 drops red food coloring

1/2 cup crushed red-and-white-striped candy canes or hard peppermint candies 

Beat powdered sugar and butter in medium bowl until well blended. Add peppermint extract and 2 drops food coloring. Beat.

Spread filling evenly over flat side of 1 cookie to the edges, top with another cookie flat side down, press gently to adhere. Repeat.

Place crushed candy canes on plate. Roll edges of cookie sandwiches in crushed candies (candies will adhere to filling).

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Birthday’s = cake. My birthday = this cake.

Among other reasons I was excited for my birthday because I had been wanting to try this cake. Did I mention that I love cheesecake? Did you notice that this cake is 2 layers of chocolate cake with a middle section of cheesecake? Did you realize that toasted coconuts and pecans top this cake? Do I need to say any more?

Delicious. This cake is amazing, but be warned, it will fill you up. This ain’t no light, I’m already full from dinner, just want a little nibble, sort of cake. It’s more of a, I’m celebrating my birthday, the family is coming over, I’ve gone for a run today so it’s okay, I deserve this, cake. 

Because my cheesecake pans are larger than my cake pans, the center of the cake ended up being wider than everything else. Hence the interesting shape of the cake. No problem though, it all worked out. Heck, it meant more cheesecake, as if I’m going to complain about that!? In all seriousness though, I should probably put smaller cheesecake pans on my wish list for next year.

The best part about all of this? Because the cake is so decadent, the pieces need to be cut fairly small. As a result, 4 days (and counting) after the fact I’m still enjoying my birthday cake. It’s one of those gifts that keeps on giving. Those are my favorite! 

Thanks to everyone who made this birthday so memorable. Know that you are loved and appreciated!

German Chocolate Cheesecake

Adapted from Bake or Break

Cheesecake

2 1/2 packages cream cheese (20 ounces)      1 1/3 cups sugar

3 tbsp corn starch                                            1 tbsp vanilla

2 eggs                                                              2/3 cup cream

Preheat oven to 350F.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch round cheesecake pan.

Beat the cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar and cornstarch until creamy. Add the remaining cream cheese. Beat in the rest of the sugar, vanilla and eggs (1 at a time). Combine with the cream until just blended.

Spoon the mixture into the cheesecake pan. Bake for roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the edges are a light golden brown.

Cool for 2 hours in the pan, cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.

German Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cups cake flour       1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda        1/2 tsp salt

4 ounces chocolate         1/3 cup water

3/4 cup butter                 1  1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs                             1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup buttermilk           1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Grease the bottom and sides of two 9 inch round cake pans and line the pans with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

In a pan melt the chocolate and set aside to cool.

Beat together the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks one a time, beating well. Mix in the melted chocolate and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk.

Beat the 3 egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Fold the whites into the chocolate batter.

Divide the batter equally between the 2 cake pans. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Coconut Frosting

1 & 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans 4 cups flaked coconut, plus extra for sprinkling

2 cups sugar              2 tbsp flour

1 cup cream               1 cup milk

1 cup butter               1 tbsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F.

On a baking sheet spread the nuts and coconut out and toast until golden (5 minutes). Be sure to toss. Cool.

Combine sugar and flour in a pot. Add the cream, milk, butter and vanilla. Stir until combined. Stir constantly over medium heat until thick and golden brown (12 minutes).
Remove from heat and stir in toasted nuts and coconut.

Refrigerate 30 minutes, or until thick.

Assembly

Place one layer of chocolate cake, top side down, on a platter. Spread with some of the coconut frosting. Place the cheesecake top side down on the prepared layer. Spread with frosting. Top with remaining chocolate cake, top side up, and frost the top of the cake and sides of the top layer. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Fine. You caught me. Guilty as charged.

Yes I have been drinking egg nog since stores started carrying it in October for Thanksgiving. I can’t get enough of the stuff. Egg nog chai tea latte, warm egg nog and milk, egg nog baked goods, heck, I even drink the stuff straight out of the carton. I’ve never made it from scratch though…I think I might have to change that one day soon, like in January, when the stores stop selling it and I’m left with withdrawal symptoms.

In the meantime, I’m going to bask in the glory of drinking egg nog on a near daily basis. Did I mention that I started my birthday with a warm mug of egg nog, courtesy of 3 amazing friends? The best.

Normally I find that when I try baking egg nog treats they don’t end up tasting like egg nog. Then came these muffins. They taste like egg nog. I think it’s because of the oats, which soak in the egg nog and pick up all of the flavour. 

Throw in some cranberries and you have a delicious holiday muffin…or in my case a delicious October, November and December muffin. Because really, you can never have enough egg nog.

 

 

 

Cranberry Egg Nog Muffins

1 cup oats                      1 cup egg nog

2 eggs                            1/3 cup melted butter

1 tsp almond extract      1 1/2 cups flour

1/4 tsp nutmeg              1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp baking powder    1 cup sugar

1 cup chopped cranberries

Preheat oven to 400F.

Pour egg nog over the oats and let stand. Add the eggs, melted butter and almond extract.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and spices.

Pour the liquid mixture over the flour mixture. Stir until just moistened and add the cranberries.

Bake 20-25 minutes.

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Nanaimo Bars

Normally it is better to bake than to buy.

But not when it comes to Nanaimo Bars. At least that’s what I’ve always thought.

I’ve never had a homemade Nanaimo Bar that did justice to the store bought Nanaimo Bars…until the other day.

I decided to do some major Christmas baking to distribute to some amazing women/co-workers who have made my life so much easier and enjoyable these past few weeks. First on the list was Nanaimo Bars. These couldn’t have been any simpler to make. No baking required, just some mixing and pouring. The hardest part was probably resisting the temptation to eat the crust base before spreading the next two layers on top. But I managed to struggle through and the result was incredible.

Add these to your list of Christmas baking goodies. Add these to your list of frequently baked items.

Oh, and remember that it is better to give than to receive. (especially when it comes to baked goods…at least that’s what my waist line keeps reminding me)

 

 

 

 

Nanaimo Bars

Adapted from Eclectic Cook

Bottom Layer

½ cup butter                                     ¼ cup sugar
5 tbsp cocoa powder                        1 egg
1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs      ½ cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut 

Combine the butter, sugar and cocoa powder in a double boiler and heat until melted.

Slowly drizzle the liquid mixture over a beaten egg, whisking constantly.

Stir in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut and almonds. Press the mixture into an ungreased 8×8 pan.

Middle Layer

½ cup butter                                3 tbsp whipping cream
2 tbsp vanilla pudding powder     2 cups icing sugar

Beat together the butter, whipping cream and vanilla pudding powder. Add the icing sugar one cup at a time. Continue beating until light and fluffy. Spread over the first layer.

Top Layer

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips    2 tbsp butter

In a pot melt the chocolate chips and butter. Immediately pour over the middle layer.

Refrigerate.

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Dike dates are one of my favorite things. Back in the high school days, when we first got our drivers licenses, my friends and I would pile into someone’s car and drive down to the dike to watch the airplanes take off and land. We loved every second of our new found freedom, gossiping about the latest happenings and the older boys that we were in love with.

Come to think about it, nothing has changed. I still love my friends and I love our dike dates.

On our latest outing I brought some biscotti that I had made for us to dip in our purchased coffees. I thought that the treat would be one of the highlights of the night. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Near the end of our evening the cops showed up to where our car and 2 others were parked. Make out patrol we figured…is our city really that boring? Wrong again.

Turns out we were in the middle of a take down since the car two down from us had been stolen. The cop ordered the male out of the car so that he could arrest him but instead of giving in our friend decided to book it right in front of our car…then followed the cop who was screaming for back up. Being the brilliant girls that we are we decided that it would be a good idea to open our doors so that we could hear what was going on. Smart, right? Plan B was even better so we decided to make our way home…passing at least 10 cop cars on our way.

Good friends? Duh. Great biscotti? Yes. Most eventful dike date EVER? Hands down.

This biscotti will forever remind me of that epic night. Hopefully you will have other memories attached to it…although a stolen car and a police chase will always take the cake.

Cranberry White Chocolate  Chip Almond Biscotti

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

½ cup dried cranberries       ½ cup boiling water
3 cups flour                        2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt                           4 tbsp butter
1 cup sugar                        3 eggs, plus 1 egg beaten
1½ tsp vanilla                     1½ tsp almond extract
½ cup white chocolate chips

2 tbsp butter                       1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chip

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Place cranberries in a small bowl, and add boiling water. Let stand 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.

With a beater beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. One at a time add the 3 eggs. Add the vanilla and almond extract. Combine with the dry mixture, and mix on low speed until combined.

Add the drained cranberries and white chocolate chips.

Divide the dough in half and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll each piece into 16-by-2-inch logs and transfer to a prepared baking sheet (Parchment paper on the baking sheet).

Brush the beaten egg over the logs and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for roughly 25 minutes. Cool the logs for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

Using a serrated knife, cut the logs crosswise on the diagonal into ½-inch-thick slices. Place a wire rack on a large rimmed baking sheet. Arrange slices, cut sides down, on the rack. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool.

In a double boiler melt the butter and chocolate chips. While the mixture is still warm dip the ends of the cooled biscuits into the chocolate. Place on a baking sheet and allow to cool.

*Note: This recipe made roughly 4 dozen biscotti. Storing the biscotti in the freezer works well.

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Buckeyes

Happy December! I’ll admit it, I love December, the month of my birthday, the build up to Christmas, Christmas itself, tons of baking, egg nog, holidays and plenty more. As sorry as I am to see the pumpkin go, I’m at peace and ready to move on, onwards and upwards as I always say!

I was invited to a Wine and Cheese evening at a friend’s house a few weeks ago. It was a really fun night and being a good friend I didn’t arrive empty-handed. Did I bring wine? No. Did I bring cheese? Maybe, sort of, not really. What I did bring was something even better. Dessert. More specifically Buckeyes.

What more could you ask for? Peanut Butter, cream cheese (see, I did bring “cheese”) and graham crackers all dipped in chocolate. Not only did these taste good, but they also looked great too. Better than your average peanut butter balls? In my opinion, yes.

Thank you Smitten Kitchen for making such delicious goodies and being so willing to share on a frequent basis. If I had to choose a new mother I would choose you…you wouldn’t make me get fat…right?  

  

  

 

 

Buckeyes

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/4 cup cream cheese                   1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter

1 cup graham cracker crumbs       1/4 tsp salt

3 cups icing sugar                         10 tbsp melted butter

6 tbsp cocoa                                  2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp shortening  

Beat the cream cheese and peanut butter together with a beater.

Add the graham cracker crumbs and beat for 10 seconds. Add the sugar and butter and continue beating until combined (mixture should be sturdy and dry).

Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Once chilled shape the peanut butter mixture into teaspoon sized balls. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.

 In a pot, melt the cocoa, butter and shortening. While the mixture is still warm dip the shaped balls into the chocolate using a large skewer or fork.

Chill the finished buckeyes in the fridge until ready to serve.

* Note: The chocolate coating is not a hard/crisp shell, it is more of a soft covering.

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