Sunday, July 27, 2014

Maple Chocolate Walnut Bars

At that same barbecue I told you about in my last post, I dropped my phone from all of 2 feet and shattered its screen. Ugh! So rude. So, my pictures were more limited in the next two bake fests. You can find the original recipe I worked from here.

But, anywho, this recipe was quite popular. Like, extremely so. These bars were popular to the point of church ladies asking me to scribble it down, then they made many copies, then had to make more copies because they ran out.

I believe "heaven on earth" was used.

I'm not sure I would go that far, but they definitely turned out delicious! It honestly tastes like really moist, well-flavored Thanksgiving pie. Seeing as how Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, it's definitely a huge A+ in my book!

Maple Chocolate Walnut Bars
1-1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold butter
2 large eggs
1 (14 oz.) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1-1/2 teaspoons maple flavoring
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup (6 oz. pkg.) dark chocolate chips

1) Heat oven to 350 F. Combine flour, sugar and salt in large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in 1 egg. Press evenly into an ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
2) Bake 23 minutes. Beat sweetened condensed milk, remaining 1 egg and maple flavoring in medium bowl. Stir in walnuts. Remove crust from oven. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over partially baked crust. Top with walnut mixture.
3) Bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes or until golden.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blueberry Ginger Slab Pie

I had a barbecue at my father's to attend this past weekend where I was invited to bring a dish, so I've got an extra item to add in! I actually made two things, but one really didn't turn out well so I just saved that for Evan and I to nom on (if you'd like to make chorizo scotch eggs (sounds awesome, right) and let me know how they turned out and what the secret is, you can find the recipe here). 

I ended up making a blueberry slab pie which, I must say, turned out really well. It isn't very often that I take over sweets to their get togethers where they are excited about me leaving the extras. I got the recipe from Food52, which is an amazing resource for the at-home kitchen. Seriously, if you aren't on their newsletter list, I highly recommend it! Their recipe includes an awesome sounding rye dough recipe as well, which I forewent this round but definitely mean to try next time. You can find the original recipe here.

I was very liberal with measuring out the flavoring ingredients and I also grated everything with a very large grate setting. I like chunks of ingredients in my food. I don't think I've ever finely chopped anything in my life. 

Blueberry Ginger Slab Pie
1 package pastry dough
5 cups blueberries (about 2 1/2 pints)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 pinch salt
Zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg for egg wash

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Get your pastry dough out to thaw a bit while you work.
2. Gently toss the blueberries, sugar, flour, salt, lemon zest, ginger, and vanilla extract in a bowl until well combined. 
3. Place the first piece of dough on the prepared baking sheet and pour the blueberry mixture on top, leaving a generous border of at least 1 1/2 inches around the edges. Lay the second piece over the blueberry filling in one piece, and fold the bottom crust up over the top and seal the edges very well by pressing firmly with the tines of a fork. You could also, of course, cut the top pastry piece into strips and create a lattice. Cut a few vents in the top. Brush the top of the pie with a beaten egg and generously sprinkle it with sugar. 
4. Bake the pie until the crust is deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool slightly before cutting into squares and serving with ice cream or whipped cream.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cinnamon Roll Cake

So, I'm running behind. So? I'm still overly enjoying this indulgent project.

This is the best recipe I've done so far. Even with my haphazard style of combining ingredients (there are several ooooh's in the middle of every session when I realize what I was supposed to do . . . yes, I do read every recipe first) this recipe turned out just about perfectly. In fact there is only one piece of advice I have for you heading in to this: when you begin cutting the strips to roll the thing up, cut the strips much less wide at first, like maybe start at an inch wide and slowly work toward the two and a half inch wide strips the original recipe instructs you to do. 

Speaking of which, the original recipe can be found here, at The Baker Chick. 

Without further ado, here is the best cinnamon roll recipe you have ever tasted in your life. 

Cinnamon Roll Cake
For the dough
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 (.25 ounce) package instant yeast
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 egg
For the filling
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter (1/2 a stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract if you don't have)
For the icing
1/2 a stick of butter (4 tablespoons)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
a few drops of milk (if needed)

  • In a glass measuring cup, warm the milk and butter in the microwave until warm with the butter melted.
  • Whisk together 2 1/4 cups of flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Add the milk mixture, egg and water, and mix until combined (dough will be very sticky.) Add the remaining cup of flour gradually, folding it in with a spatula (or gently kneading with your hands).
  • When the dough comes together in a soft ball, knead on a lightly-floured surface until smooth and elastic (when pressed with a finger tip the dough should bounce back).
  • Return the dough to your bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  • For the filling:
  • Melt the butter and stir in the vanilla. 
  • Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  • To assemble:
  • Roll the dough on a floured surface into a rectangle measuring about 9x13. Brush the dough with almost all of the butter and pour the rest into the bottom of a 9-inch pie dish (or something similar.)
  • Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the dough and gently press it in.
  • Using a pastry wheel, pizza cutter or knife cut the dough into [1 inch strips, working up to] 2 1/2 inch strips. Start with less thick strip and roll it from one end to the other forming a swirl. Set that roll onto the next strip with the seam-side down and roll the strip onto it.
  • Repeat for 2 more strips, at which point the roll is probably too large to continue forming this way. Gently place it in the middle of the pan. Carefully pick up the remaining strips and swirl them around the roll in the pan. The roll won't fill the whole pan but it will after rising and baking.
  • Cover the pan with your damp cloth, and proof in a warm place for 30-45 minutes or until doubled in size.
  • Bake in a 350F oven for 20-24 minutes or until golden brown.
  • For the icing:
  • Cream the butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla and some milk if icing is too thick. Beat until light and creamy.
  • Spread on warm rolls and serve.

  • Notice how tall it got in the middle? All the weight of rolling the cake squished the middle out. Redoing this recipe, I would definitely cut the middle into smaller strips.

    Friday, July 11, 2014

    Mini Pear Pies with Blue Cheese

    It has been a while since I actually made these, but I took a short hiatus to crank some important stuff out elsewhere. I found this recipe online, at You can see the original here.

    These were pretty darn simple to make and still left me feeling satisfied that I had actually put in work to make them so, unlike the times when I buy crescent dough and stick a slice of apple with butter and cinnamon in them. The pear pies were quite a satisfying dish to make, and even more so to eat. Although, I will say, blue cheese is apparently an acquired taste, which I found out the hard way (by piling it on in a huge mound atop my pear). To avoid the instinctual bodily reaction which I had in response to it, I advise you begin with just adding a little of the blue cheese mix, and go from there.

    Mini Pear Pies with Blue Cheese
    Serves 6 pies
    3 firm pears
    Lemon juice from half lemon
    Half box of ready made puff pastry, thawed
    2-3 tbsp milk
    80-100 g blue cheese
    1 tbsp bourbon
    50 g walnuts

    1. Preheat oven to 400°F
    2. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
    3. Peel, half and seed the pears. Carve out a place for the topping with a teaspoon and save the carved pulp.
    4. Brush the pears all over with lemon juice.
    5. Place pears flat-side down on pan lined with parchment paper.
    6. Cut 6 rectangles just larger than the pears from the thawed puff pastry. Place a piece of pastry over each pear and cut away excess with a sharp knife. Using knife, poke holes in pastry. From the excess, shape leaves and stems to add to each pear.
    7. Brush pastry with milk.
    8. Bake for 15-20 min or until golden brown.
    9. Meanwhile, combine blue cheese, bourbon, and pureed (or smashed) peach pulp, stirring until well combined. Stir in half of walnuts.
    10. When the pears are slightly cooled remove from pan, spoon on blue cheese spread and enjoy!

    Friday, June 27, 2014

    Italian Pastry Twists

    I'm just going to come out now and say that this recipe was obnoxious. I'm not sure where things went wrong, but they went wrong quickly and I couldn't seem to get control back!

    First of all, how can you screw up fried dough? Everyone loves it... it's immensely bad for you so how could you not love a funnel cake engulfed in powdered sugar? Oreos engulfed in dough. Ugh. However, these examples are not the way this story goes.

    My dough ended up being so thick that I thought I somehow doubled the amount of flour it called for, but even after doubling the wet ingredients it was still too thick! Plus I had double and triple checked how much I was supposed to put in. WHAT HAPPENED!? Well maybe I really did just screw it up and wasn't paying attention. Try out the recipe and let me know! This really is minimal effort and you fry the dough so it literally just takes a few minutes. This recipe comes from The Ultimate Cookie Book by Catherine Atkinson. Me mum acquired it when we lived in the UK for a spell.

    Italian Pastry Twists

    Yield: a hell of a lot more than I got out of it, which was about 8 pieces
    2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1 egg
    pinch of salt
    2 tbsp granulated sugar
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    2 tbsp melted butter
    4 tbsp sherry oil for frying (I used Crisco)
    confectioners sugar for dusting

    1. Sift flour into large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add the egg, salt, sugar, vanilla extract and melted butter.
    2. Mix with hands until the mixture starts to come together. When the dough becomes stiff add enough oil to make the dough soft and pliable. Knead until smooth and then wrap in plastic wrap and chill for about an hour.
    3. Roll out the pastry thinly on a lightly floured surface and cut into 40 strips each about 7x1/2". Tie each strip loosely into knot.
    4. Heat oil in pan to 375°F and deep fry the knots in batches, for 2-3 minutes until puffed up and golden.
    5. Drain the pastry twists on a paper towel, dust generously with powdered sugar and serve either hot or cold.

    This was as close as I could come to getting the dough rolled out thinly! Then it took a lot of manipulation to get it to do what I wanted with the knot.

    And there you have it. It's going to take me a little while before I'm recovered from the trauma of this so that I may try once again to fry up some Italian Twists. Let me know if those measurements work out for you, or may try just adding in the flour to the wet ingredients until you have something workable and let me know how much flour it took!

    These actually were still pretty tasty, although pretty thick. Of course, anything sprinkled with powdered sugar at the very least tastes better.

    Good luck and enjoy!

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

    Honey Baked Peaches

    When I picked out this recipe I thought "sure! this sounds simple enough." However, since I'm in the horrible habit of not reading through a recipe before I judge it, it was much more difficult than I had anticipated. It wasn't so much that it required any certain skill level... it was more of an experience thing. For example, I had never pitted a peach before. Wow. Let me just tell you, it's much more difficult than I had anticipated! However, I'll share a few of the things I tried which seemed to work. If you have any advice for my future endeavors, please share! I cut this recipe to one third of its size to serve 4.

    This recipe was found on Food


    10 ripe peaches

    1 tbsp honey

    ½ cup almonds

    1 tub mascarpone

    ¼ cup pouring cream

    1 tsp vanilla extract

    ¼ cup water

    170g caster sugar

    1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Slice peaches in half  (follow groove in peach) and remove stones. Use a spoon to help pry open the fruit, and microwaving for 10 seconds can also help. Place peaches cut side up on baking tray and drizzle with honey. Bake for 20 to 30 mins until softened.

    2. While peaches are in the oven place almonds on second baking tray and place in oven for 5 -7 mins with peaches. When roasted, remove almonds and place onto clean baking tray lined with baking paper. Set aside.

    3. While peaches and almonds are baking combine mascarpone, pouring cream and vanilla extract in small bowl and chill in fridge until required.

    4. Place water and sugar in saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer, swirling pan intermittently (but do not stir!), until sugar has dissolved and mixture turns light-mid golden brown (approx 15 to 20 mins), then quickly remove from heat. Immediately pour hot toffee over roasted almonds, coating evenly. Leave praline to cool and harden. You can place your praline in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling. Place in food processor and blend to a mid-fine texture.

    5. Remove peaches from oven and spoon praline into center stone holes of each peach half. Arrange 3 peach halves per plate and top with mascarpone cream.

     First of all, my almonds got a little over toasted. Instead of the 10 minutes the original recipe recommends, I would remove them after 5 to 7 minutes.

     I left the peaches in the oven after I turned off the heat to continue cooking and stay warm while I completed the remaining tasks.

    Despite the overly toasty almonds this still turned out really well. It was crunchy, creamy and juicy and the almonds even added a bit of bitter to all of the sweet which was very interesting. I'm not sure I would do this recipe again, except the mascarpone cream which turned out to be absolutely amazing. I may have to invent some other dish to utilize it.


    Sunday, June 8, 2014

    Martha Stewart's Bread Pudding

    I have always been a little bit in awe of Martha Stewart. I used to say I was going to be the next Martha Stewart minus the prison time. She has just been such a great DIY inspiration for so long in so many people's homes. Out of the hundreds of Stewart recipes I have collected, I decided to try out her Maple-Pecan Bread Pudding

    This is another very simple recipe to pull off. There's a bit of mixing and that's about it for the preparation. I substituted walnuts for the pecans, and mixed the maple syrup in with cheaper syrup. These instructions are pretty exactly the same as Martha Stewart's with a few add-ins. 

    Maple Walnut Bread Pudding
    Yield: 8 servings

    Butter, room temperature, for baking dish
    1 baguette (8 ounces), thinly sliced
    2 cups half-and-half
    2 large eggs
    2/3 cup pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B), plus more for serving
    1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
    Heavy cream, for serving (optional)

    • Instructions:
    • 1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 2-quart baking dish and set aside. Arrange bread on two large rimmed baking sheets; bake until dry (but not browned), about 15 minutes. Let cool.
    • 2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together half-and-half, eggs, syrup, vanilla, and salt. Add bread to custard and toss. In prepared dish, stand slices upright in rows. Pour any remaining custard in bowl over top and let stand 10 minutes.
    • 3. Sprinkle bread pudding with walnuts and bake until center is hot and most of custard is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly. Serve with maple syrup and cream, if desired.

    I have to say this was quite awesome. My mother, who claims to not like maple syrup, even seemed to really enjoy it. The pudding was very moist yet firm and not sloppy. It was very well flavored and I am really quite a fan of this recipe now. I have a tendency to never repeat recipes (there are so many, I have to try them all!) but I can already say that I would consider using this one multiple times.