Archive | baking

Triple Chocolate Cookies with Cherries & Cashews

Between us two, Jens & I consume a fair amount of chocolate on a daily basis. When they’re not in the form of bars, truffles or chunks, they are in something baked. These brownies have certainly been on rotation to help keep up with our quota, but there’s always room for more.

Triple ChocolateCookies with Cherries & Cashews

I had my heart set on this cookie recipe since I got Alice Medrich’s book last year. What’s stopped me from making them was the need to refer to another page in another section of the book for the chocolate wafer recipe. This stresses me so.

One evening a couple of weeks ago, the need to bake something chocolate-y overruled my cookbook pet peeve. I just wish it happened sooner. The original recipe called for pecans and sour cherries, but I stuck to what we had on hand at midnight: cashews and dried bing cherries. J would have preferred hazelnuts, but we were out of them, too.

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I debated about making my favorite homemade Oreos instead of trying something new–but this fruit and nut chocolate cookie might have just stolen my comfort cookie spot. Heck, they could even substitute for brownies.

Triple Chocolate Cookies with Cherries & Cashews

They keep well for 2 weeks, but tend to disappear. Just saying.

Give them a try this weekend. I already saved you the agony of having to go to another page to begin the recipe. [There must be someone else out there who doesn't like this.] I have it all right here. Ha.

This recipe was adapted from Alice Medrich’s “Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth-Cookies“. It’s my go-to cookie baking book.

Triple Chocolate Cookies with Cherries & Cashews
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookies
Active prep time: 
Cooking/Baking time: 
Total hands-on & cooking/baking time: 
 
These moist, chewy and brownie-like cookies with fruits and nuts make for an indulgent snack. Warm, these cookies go really well with vanilla ice cream. Milk “dunkability” tested, it will not get soggy and disintegrate. These pair surprisingly well with red wine, too.
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups (6.75 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup (2.4 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (7.8 ounces) sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened, cut in 12 pieces
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut in small chunks (chocolate chips or chunks would work, too)
  • 1⅓ cups (5.25 ounces) chopped toasted cashews (toasted at 325°F for 8 to 10 minutes)
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) dried cherries, chopped (I used bing)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, with racks on the upper and lower third of the oven. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Add flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a food processor and pulse. Add butter and pulse several times. Combine milk and vanilla in a small bowl and add through the feed tube. Process until the thick paste clumps together on the blade or around the bowl. Transfer into a large bowl and fold in the chocolate pieces, cherries and cashews with a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon.
  3. Drop half dome mounds of dough using a tablespoon measure, about 2 inches apart, on the lined cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cookie tops look dry but are soft (not mushy) when touched lightly with a fingertip. Rotate pans after 8 minutes, top to bottom and front to back. Transfer the cookies on parchment paper on racks. Cool completely before storing. These cookies are best stacked with wax or parchment paper in between cookies; will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Notes
Notes: These cookies break easily when they first come out of the oven. They will become crispy on the outside and softer inside once they cool. This recipe was adapted from Alice Medrich’s book, “Chewy Gooey Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth-Cookies” [http://gourmeted.com/chewygooeycrispycrunchy]

Posted in baking, chocolate, cookies, quick & easy2 Comments

Lemon Curd Rolls

The holidays have come and gone, and so has the beginning of the new year. Yet, you still didn’t hear from me. I’m sorry. Again. I’ve never really thought I’d be away from blogging this much, but it surely followed the theme of my 2011: There’s always a first time for something. I’ll spare you the excuses. I really am trying to get back in shape, at least when it comes to this website.** So a very late happy holidays (I hope it was memorable) and happy new year (of the dragon) to all of you! I hope we’ll pick up where we’ve left off just like old friends.

Just like old chums, here I am again at odds with Mistress Winter. She vacillates between the sublime, the dreary, and anything depressing or wonderfully surprising in between. Yesterday was dreamy, a touch warm for the season, just the kind of day for last minute lunch dates and making any excuse to go out (coffee run!).

Krystal in the sun.

Krystal the Cat shows her appreciation, lolling on the floor. I'd do the same if I were her. Cats do have quite an enviable lifestyle, don't they?

The sun-worshiping cat and I were relishing every bit of this. I worked on the couch, the glass door ajar to let some fresh air in, computer on my lap, kitty on the area rug an arm’s length away. The radio announcer’s voice echoed from the kitchen, reminding us, “Enjoy the last day of sunshine (for the week), folks.” I did catch a glimpse of the sunset as I walked down Burrard street later in the afternoon to get some gelato, the buildings juxtaposed next to the snow-capped mountains from afar. I can’t complain about the view at all. And today we expect rain. Day after day of rain.

For those of you who don’t live in Vancouver (or the Pacific Northwest, really), let me explain by saying that our rains could be overbearing. I like baking in winter specifically to scare the doldrums away. So for the next few days, I’d like to propose baking some lemon curd rolls:

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Here’s a zesty alternative to a favorite comfort food, the cinnamon rolls. Lemon curd squeezed between soft pillows of yeast-based dough and topped with melting lemon curd cream cheese glaze. It’s a welcome treat even if you’re not a lemon curd fan, and perfect for sharing.

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I’ve made these a few times and we always finish it among family members. I suggest on preparing more as they do go fast. The citrus flavors could be deceiving, not too filling, that sticking to one roll might be a challenge.

If you make the lemon curd yourself (recipe below), you’ll have an extra jar to keep. You can top up the glaze with even more curd, or you can keep it for future consumption. I like having emergency lemon curd at hand. Why not?

So here’s the to the rainy days. I’ll be ready for you.

** Twitter, on the other hand, is another story. It’s easier to share what I’ve been up to in delimited semi-comprehensible outbursts. You can easily ping me there.

LEMON CURD ROLLS

he Lemon Curd Rolls recipe was inspired by my friend Tracy’s recipe for Sticky Lemon Rolls, and the Lemon Curd recipe adapted from the website, Earthbound Chronicles. The recipe for the glaze is a Gourmeted original.

Yields: 12 rolls in a 9”x13” glass or ceramic pan

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
  • ¾ cup milk, warm (whole, 2% and 1% are ok to use)
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, soft (mayonnaise-like)
  • 4 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup white granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • zest of 1 ½ lemons (leave the remaining ½ lemon zest for the filling)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

Filling

  • ¾ cup white granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ cup lemon curd
  • 3 tablespoons butter, soft
  • zest of ½ lemon

Glaze

  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup (6 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup lemon curd** (Recipe included at the end)

Preparation:

1. Prepare the dough with a stand mixer: Place warm milk in the stand mixer bowl and sprinkle with yeast; leave it for 5 minutes. Using the paddle attachment, stir in the butter, sugar, and 1 cup of flour. Add the salt, nutmeg and lemon zest. Stir in the eggs, vanilla and enough of the remaining flour to create a soft and sticky dough. Depending on the humidity of your kitchen, you might only need 4 cups of flour in total. Switch mixing with a dough hook once it more or less comes together as one mass; knead for 5 minutes, or until dough is elastic and pliable. You can test by pressing a finger against the dough and it bounces back quickly.

OR Prepare the dough by hand: Stir all the liquid ingredients and sugar in a large bowl using a wooden spoon. Add a cup of flour at a time and mix. Once it comes together to from one big piece of dough, transfer onto a floured surface. Knead by hand for 5 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle additional flour if the dough gets too sticky.

2. Tuck the dough into one big ball (pinch together at the bottom) and spray or massage with vegetable oil, just enough so the surface doesn’t stick. Turn the dough in the same bowl you used for mixing to grease it. Cover with plastic wrap and towel. Leave to rise in a dry and warm area of your kitchen for an hour. You can also place it in your unheated oven.

3. Prepare the filling: Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl until a thick homogenous paste forms.

4. Form the rolls: Lightly grease a 9”x13” rectangular baking dish with baking spray or butter. Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and pat with your fingertip to spread into a large rectangle, about 10” x 15” in size. Spread the butter evenly on top of the dough, leaving at least half an inch space from the edges. Pour the filling and spread evenly using the back of a spoon. Roll the dough along its length; pinch the end of the dough with the roll (not the sides where you see the spiral pattern) to keep it from popping open. Cut the dough evenly into 12 rolls using a sharp serrated knife or a length of dental floss by wrapping and tightening it around the dough until it cuts through the dough [see photo here]. You can also use a sewing thread if you like. The string method keeps the dough from flattening out during slicing.

5. Place the rolls cut side up in the baking dish in 3 x 4 arrangement. Cover the dish with a kitchen towel and allow to rise for an hour, or until it has doubled in size. [Want to bake them later? Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for up to 24 hours. When you’re ready to bake, remove the pan from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for an hour before popping in the oven sans plastic wrap.]

6. Bake the rolls: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the rolls for 35 to 40 minutes, or until slightly golden on top.

7. Prepare the glaze while the rolls are baking in the oven: Whip the cream cheese with a hand beater or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment for about 3 minutes. Add the confectioner’s sugar and mix until smooth before pouring the lemon curd. Beat for a minute, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula at least once.

8. Glaze the rolls right out of the oven. Spread at least half the glaze on the rolls as soon as you get them out of the oven. Save some for topping up individual servings.

Easy Lemon Curd

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • zest of all the lemons

Preparation:

1. Cream butter and sugar on medium speed in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and yolks, and mix until combined. Pour lemon juice and mix. Resulting mixture will not be homogenous and will have butter curds – don’t worry.

2. Pour into a heavy bottom pan and cook over medium heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula until it thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the curd reaches 170°F. Don’t allow it to boil or it will curdle. It is done when it coats the back of the spoon or spatula, and when you wipe it with your finger it will leave a trail. Transfer to clean bowl and set aside. Add confectioner’s sugar and beat until smooth and free of lumps.

3. Transfer into a heatproof glass bowl and cool before using as filling.

Posted in baking, bread, coffee buddy, dessert, snacks7 Comments

Easy Fudge Brownies

While it’s a no-holiday-rush week for us Canadians this week (unless you’re getting ready to shop in the US like me!), I feel the “pain” of my friends in the US as Turkey Day approaches. Been there, done that last month. I love the holiday shared with friends and family, but it could be so stressful and tiring when you forget to come up for air and remind yourself that everything will turn out fine.

Speaking of coming up for air, if you won’t be one of the busy bees who will be knee deep in the kitchen for hours, why not make this for your Thanksgiving dinner host?

Fudge Brownies

Drop it off a day or two before the big day and tell them you appreciate all their efforts. Trust me, these babies and a glass of wine are better than a dehydrating dose of Red Bull. And the best thing about this recipe is that you have brownies in under an hour — including a prep time of less than 15 minutes! Using just one bowl and wooden spoon!

Even if you’re not celebrating Thanksgiving, I mean really…who needs a reason to bake brownies?

Fudge Brownies

EASY FUDGE BROWNIES
Adapted from the book, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich (Artisan 2010)

This has to be my favorite effortless brownie recipe: it takes less than 15 minutes to prepare by hand with just a bowl and a wooden spoon, and bakes in 25 minutes or so. It comes out perfect every time – a thin top and bottom crust that complements a smooth fudge middle layer. Now this may or may not be due to the special “ice bath” quick-cooling method of this particular recipe, but I’ve done it each time and it works!

Yields: one 9”x13” pan of chocolaty goodness

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces (226.8 grams) unsweetened chocolate chopped (or use chips)
  • 2 ½ cups (17.5 ounces) white granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup (4.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cup (4.66 ounces) walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven at 400°F with the rack positioned in the lower third of the oven. Line a 9″x13″ metal pan with aluminum foil.
  2. Place butter and chocolate in a large glass bowl and melt in the microwave twice for about 45 seconds, and for 20 seconds each thereafter. Stir with a wooden spoon after each interval until chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
  3. Stir in vanilla, sugar and salt. Add each egg separately; making sure it is incorporated in the mixture before the next addition. Fold in the flour and beat vigorously until the batter is smooth and glossy. Stir in the nuts (optional).
  4. Pour the batter into the pan and level. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, until brownies begin to darken along the sides of the pan and pulls away from it. Insert a toothpick in the middle of the pan to test for doneness (only a fine crumb will stick to it). After 20 minutes of baking, prepare the “ice bath”: Fill a roasting pan or jellyroll pan with ice cubes and water.
  5. Once the brownies are done, remove from the oven and immediately place in the ice bath to cool completely. Lift the brownies in foil and transfer onto a cutting board.

Storage: Keep in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.

Posted in baking, chocolate, dessert9 Comments

Dorie’s Perfection Pound Cake | Look Ma, No Need To Tweak!

March has whizzed by. April is beginning to blur . It has been a very busy springtime.  As I’ve mentioned earlier, we’re organizing Bake For The Quake, an event where  bakers, collaborative sponsors, and the supportive Vancouver community come together to raise funds for Japan. There’s no question it’s almost like a second job to organize a charity bake sale event and I won’t even pretend for a second that we know what we’re doing, but we are doing the best we can. Just a couple of days ago there was a strong aftershock that rocked Japan at 7.1 magnitude on the Richter scale, with a few fatalities. Now more than ever, they need our help. So we continue to work hard for this cause. If you’re able and so inclined, please consider donating directly to our fundraising page (it will automatically go directly to Doctors Without Borders). We would also appreciate your help in spreading the word — you might have a friend or family here in Vancouver. Every tweet, link, and word passed along helps. Ah, and we have printable posters for download that would be perfect for posting at your local cafe spot, restaurant, community centre, school, or local community board — just ask for permission first before putting up. :)

Before these all happened, I signed up for an Introduction To Pottery course at the local Shadbolt Centre for the Arts — what this really means is that my schedule for the next 2 weeks is f*****d a balancing act of fragile porcelain. The first class was 3 nights ago and wow, was it ever a humbling experience to make what resembles like mere child’s play:

It doesn’t help that I was practically brain dead from exhaustion. It was a good 3 hours of fortitude, with my patience being counted to the minute. My classmates were a funny bunch, so that is definitely a plus.

I’m not even sure why I’m sharing these embarrassing items to you, but I’m hoping that in a few weeks time, just like when I started cooking, baking, and taking photos, it will eventually become better. One just have to stick with it long enough to make progress.

So while my pottery skills leave a lot to be desired or emulated, this Pound Cake recipe by Dorie Greenspan, is true to it’s name: it is perfection. No tweaking necessary.

I couldn’t ask for anything more after a long day if I’m looking for a non-alcoholic happy hour. Pound cake + tea = instant relaxation. Its soft crust and moist buttery cake goes well with jam. Or if it’s that kind of day, even vanilla bean and dark chocolate ice cream.

If you’re looking at your calendar and you have a busy week ahead, my best advice would be to make this on a Saturday and keep it for the week to nibble on. It will last at room temperature for 5 to 7 days and even those tight deadlines and running around like a chicken without a head would melt in an instant as soon as you take a bite of this.

DORIE’S PERFECTION POUND CAKE
Adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2006)

A tender buttery cake with a soft crust to banish a stressful day. This delightful cake will keep for up to a week at room temperature and is lovely to eat with jams and even ice cream.  - Joy

Yields: one 9”x5” or 8.5”x4.5” pan

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (or 2 1/4 cups cake flour – creates a more tender crumb)
  • 1 teaspoon baking poder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven at 325°F with the rack positioned at the center of the oven. Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan or an 8.5″ x4.5″ loaf pan with butter. Place the pan on an insulated baking sheet or 2 stacked baking sheets.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar on high speed in the bowl a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Continue until mixture is pale and fluffy, about a full 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle, and reduce the speed to medium.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 to 2 minutes with each interval. Don’t forget to scrape the sides of the bowl and beater to create a homogenous mixture. Add the vanilla extract.
  5. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until flour is in. This can also be done by hand by folding the flour into the batter with a rubber spatula.
  6. Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and smooth and level the top. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Check if it is browning too rapidly, and tent a foil over it if so. If your pan is 9″x5″, the cake needs to be baked for a total of 70 to 75 minutes. An 8.5″x4.5″ pan of cake would require a total of about 90 minutes.
  7. The cake is done when a thin knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Transfer cake pan onto a cooling rack and let it rest for 30 minutes. Carefully run the back of a bread knife between the cake and the sides of the pan to loosen out the cake before inverting out and propping it right side up directly on the cooling rack. Cool to room temperature before wrapping.

Storage: Wrapped in clear plastic wrap, this cake will keep for 5 to 7 days at room temperature or up to 2 months in the freezer.

Posted in baking, cakes, coffee buddy, dairy, dessert, make-ahead, snacks7 Comments

Danish Water Kringle | A Game in Wrestling with the M-Word

A friend and I were just discussing the virtues of butter. To be more precise, I was oozing with my love for butter and in a mission to convince her (friend, not butter) that it is worth the sacrifice of fat when it comes to baking. Forget about the fat, think of the flavor! Omg, do it for the children. [Hmmm...children of the dairy fat?] Jokes aside, I told her I would rather use real butter and eat in moderation than let the integrity of the recipe suffer.

Oh, here it comes….words I would have to eat.

After all my Hail Butter! Hail Butter! I found another test of my love for it. Imagine seeing the LA Times recipe for Water Kringle and searching for the butter in the recipe and being face-planted with more than half a pound of…M-MM…M-Margarine. And not a single trace of butter.  Oh, my.

What’s a girl who’s never bought it or touched it in over a decade to do? Run out for some before her midnight baking spree? I put on my stubborn hat and told the recipe that it will have to do with butter. And while I was at it, I also took the liberty of omitting the vanilla custard or thick custard crème. Just because…

Sometimes I offer my sacred flours to failure experimentation. Behold, Exhibit A:

Water Kringle Deconstructed

Lightly flavored cinnamon bread with delicious brown butter cinnamon praline never looked so good, yet disappointing and humbling. I didn’t even continue to make the frosting and proceeded to gnaw at my defeat with a cup of coffee. Yes, the filling escaped! ACK!

All the hard work and mess of a counter looked so promising, too.

This weekend, we shall meet again, Danish pastry. I’ll come armed with margarine and custard. If you guys want to bake along with me, the recipe is here.

So what are you planning to make this weekend? Are you trying to conquer a particular recipe like I am?

Posted in baking, coffee buddy, dessert, experiments5 Comments

Jan Hagels | Cinnamon Almond Wafers | Dutch Almond Cookies

You know the type…the type of recipes that don’t quite wow you, but are worthy to take note of because it has the beginnings of something much better. This is one of those recipes. It’s like a flaky sugar cookie spread on a cookie sheet and topped with cinnamon sugar and sliced almonds. If you do not have a sweet tooth and/or need something to go with your light tea, then this could be one of the better contenders for you sugar-limited bite.

Fresh out of the oven and with just a glass of warm water (can I remind you that I bake after midnight and that I drink water before bed?), it was good! The next morning, the taste was almost like a buttery version of graham crackers, plus the cinnamon and nuts. I like it. Some didn’t care for it. It’s not something they would ask from me again, and definitely not something they would look forward to receiving. My  nephews, on the other hand, enjoyed noshing on them. I know these mostly sound too unfavorable for these cookies, but I do believe that given a few changes, this could be everybody’s new favorite cookie before they even realize it was the one they looked down upon.

So why am I even mentioning this to you if this is not “the best” yet? Two reasons:

(1) You might actually like it as is! Jan Hagels is a traditional Dutch cookie that is close to the hearts of a lot of people. I’ve looked online and it seems that these little cookies have been part of a lot of families’ holiday traditions. Like I said earlier, if you are not too much into the sweet stuff, this could be all the sugar quota for dessert or snack you will need. And…

(2) Perhaps you would like to try it and find inspiration into transforming it into another recipe. I, for one, think that a variation of this could make for a great crust under fruit or nut bars. I’m even thinking of making it into a sandwich cookie. The dough itself could hold a host of different flavors, and sturdy enough to hold crushed nuts (yum). I’m all for experimenting with food and within the next few weeks I will have a date again with this recipe, hoping for a spark of yumminess.

I almost forgot to tell you that what lured me into baking these at 2:00 am was how easy it was to make. The ingredients are easy to find, if they’re not already in your pantry, and you could possibly even make it with kids. This cute Ikea baking set comes to mind just for the occasion.

At the end of the day or week, when the cinnamon lover in you is looking for a quick and easy bite, give this recipe a try. Wrap them up in parchment with a box of tea for a dear friend. Pack them up to share at work. Or on a day like today, when you’ve had enough of Valentine sweets, these Dutch Almond cookies would be a welcome break from all that!

   Get the recipe for Jan Hagels

Posted in baking, cookies11 Comments

New York Style Crumb Cake

Before I picked up the new “Baked Explorations” cookbook, coffee and crumb cakes meant the same thing to me and I order them faithfully at coffee shops. Color me surprised when I read that there is something called a New York Style Crumb Cake, and it must never, ever, be confused with coffee cake. Honestly, I thought the crumbs were just a matter of preference! Until, of course, I saw the recipe. For sure I thought it must be a joke that the crumb part had more than 2 cups of sugar. Who does that on purpose? During this time of the year when eating healthy seems to be at its height, whoa, I was on sugar death watch alert. But. I trusted the recipe. I gave the authors the benefit of the doubt and let them have it their way with their cake. The sacrificial lamb. And should this had been a failure, you will never hear of it from me because I will give away the book.

As you can tell, it ended well and the crumb cake survived the scrutiny of family and friends, again and again. The crumb was a toss for me — although it was delish, others thought the base cake itself was the true winner and they would have it any day — flavorful, filling and moist even after 3 days. It actually tastes like puto, the light brown steamed rice cake that we eat in the Philippines. I’ve made many variations of this crumb cake and even so far as ‘ruining’ the crumb, slashing it in half and playing with my own ingredients. In all its incarnations in the kitchen, it had withstood the test of many variations. And that, my friends, is a good thing. Because no matter what you prefer, this cake will work for you.

The recipe makes a large cake and begs to be packed on its merry way to a lot of willing bellies. Go ahead, don’t be shy! It’s a total charmer. In fact, yesterday, a soaking wet Vancouver day, I met up with a few friends and gave a few slices to each of them. They were heartily received and from the messages I’ve received today — they were all devoured and enjoyed to the fullest.

Go forth and bake and share! Have a great weekend!

If you’re looking for something beefy to cook this winter weekend: check out my Asian Style Beef Chili with Garlic Fried Rice! And get a chance to win $100 from Canadian Beef, too!

   Get the recipe for New York-Style Crumb Cake

Posted in baking, books and publications, cakes, coffee buddy, sweets20 Comments

Cherry Clafoutis | This Ain’t No Pitted Party

New year, new recipes to conquer. I love trying something new. I’ve been on the lookout for a genuine Black Forest Cake recipe so I can compare it with the bastardized version I grew up with and I found one in a German cookbook I found at the library late last year. For some reason I thought I would need fresh cherries when I saw them at the market. Rarely do I buy fruits that are out of season, but I felt compelled to break my own rules sometimes for the sake of baking expeditions. When I got home and looked at my recipe again I guess I only needed bottled sour cherries! I was left with a rather expensive bag of cherries.

What to do…what to do with more than a pound of cherries? And they weren’t sweet enough to enjoy eating.

I turned to Twitter and sure enough my ever reliable friends had a lot of suggestions. In the end, the cherry clafoutis won.

Chef John pointed me to his video recipe and insisted I leave the pits be. Ken sent me the recipe he uses (from Martha, I believe) and it for pitted cherries, vanilla bean and kirsh (love). I created a compromise clafoutis: using whole cherries with kirsch custard, AND baking a small dish with pitted cherries to test if there really is a different. I also followed John’s method of pre-baking a layer of custard to keep the cherries from sinking down to the bottom of the pan. Brilliant!

Light, fragrant, mildly sweet bites of fluffy custard with fresh bursts of cherry goodness. And I have to say, the unpitted cherry owned the pitted cherry clafoutis by a landslide. Forget for one moment that you will bite into seeds. It’s a tiny price to pay for the great flavor.

Oh, and by all means, please use fresh vanilla beans if you can. Absolutely divine.

I can’t wait to bake more! Shall we make a pact and get ready to bake clafoutis come cherry season? Next time, I’ll take Barbara‘s recommendation and try Julia Child’s recipe. I’m also counting on the Tartine recipe I have from their book as well!

   Get the recipe for the Cherry Clafoutis

Posted in baking, coffee buddy, dessert, healthier choices5 Comments

Chocolate Donuts and a Donut Pan Giveaway!

Oh, boy. There are no excuses. I didn’t have time. The holidays just crept up on me and I didn’t even get a chance to do my annual holiday mail signup! I’ll set up a New Year’s one — that’s the plan. :) What little extra time I have, here it is…in Vegas before my flight back in the cold north.

I love my donut pan that’s about the size of a quarter baking sheet. I’ve always wanted to bake donuts, but my prior experience with a popular recipe I found online was a complete disaster. A bread is NOT a doughnut. These ones though were cake-y (my preference). They dry up after a day, BUT if you enjoy it the day of, it’s a pleasure to eat.

Baked Chocolate Donuts with Mocha Frosting

And I did mention it’s baked, right? No need to deep fry!

Baked Chocolate Donuts with Mocha Frosting

I have to “blame” my fellow Leo, Tracy of Shutterbean.com for luring me with her donuts a few months ago. Hey, no regrets, I’m baking these babies again soon for the holidays. Perhaps I’ll try a more fruity version since I already have so much chocolate in mind.

Baked Chocolate Donuts with Mocha Frosting

The recipe came from the packaging of the donut pan, and I’m glad it worked out for me. Hope it does for you, too!

And I know what you’re thinking: “But I don’t have that pan, Joy!” So here’s what I’ll do: I’m giving a pan each to TWO lucky winners. ‘ll keep the rules simple: just leave a comment or (re)tweet this post, and I’ll be picking the 2 winners on the 27th of December. This is only open to those with US and Canada mailing addresses because shipping would be too expensive outside of North America. I feel so bad about this, but next time I’ll have something else for international readers.

Oh, and if you think the donut pan will be rarely used in your kitchen aside from donuts, fear not! Make donut shaped rice crispies, small portion donut-shaped brioche french toast with the hole filled up with fruits, donut-shaped granola bars, and so much more. I love “playing” with food, and this is no different. It won’t be a white elephant in your kitchen, I promise.

Hopefully I’ll post again before Christmas. :) HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Chocolate Cake Donuts
Adapted from the Norpro recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325°F with the rack in the middle. Spray a small donut pan with cooking oil.
  2. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Mix eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl, until thick, scraping the sides at least once.
  4. Combine milk and butter in a small bowl. Pour and combine with the egg mixture alternately with the flour mixture in 3 increments, until smooth and soft.
  5. Fill donut pan 2/3 full for each donut. Bake for 8 minutes until the donut tops dome up. Cool in the tray propped on a cooling rack and carefully remove after 5 minutes. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
  6. Frost with your choice of icing or sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar for a lightly sweet treat.

Posted in baking, chocolate, coffee buddy, dessert, giveaways, snacks25 Comments

Light Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

The first cake I ever baked in North America was carrot cake. I remembered then that we only had a fine grater, and can you image grating so many cups of carrot through that? Laborious! I kept thinking that it better be good, while staring at my orange-soaked hands. Guilty of mass carrot murder. But, you know, we love carrot cakes and this is what you make for the love of it.

What makes this different and so much better than my previous attempts was that it’s surprisingly light, and still amazingly good. Sometimes, a heavy carrot cake just puts me off because I can only have a couple of bites and I feel like that’s it for me for the rest of the month.

But this…this I can eat again and again.

Once you make it, I’m sure you’ll agree.

It’s great for Fall or anytime of the year, really. :-)

Get the recipe for the Light Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Posted in baking, cakes, cheese, coffee buddy12 Comments