Friday, January 20, 2012

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies - Paleo Style

Oh how long has it been??????? Almost a year.
Let's just say life is busy.
Things have changed but now I'm baaaccckkk!!!

Over the past couple of months my fiancee and I have started a new lifestyle, working out and changing our diets. However, that being said you can't take away all the goodness, the yummy cheat snacks you crave while moving forward.
I have read a ton on the Paleo Diet in the last little while.
These are a nice treat to help with the cravings.

I take NO credit at all for this recipe. Yes, I went through the laborious task of making my own almond butter but it's well worth it.

The recipe can be found here:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

DB Challenge March: Yeasted Coffee Cake

When I saw this month's challenge I was pretty excited. I'm excited about anything resembling a danish form really. It's an emotion I experience of childhood memories of spending my school breaks in Florida, where I would always get a cheese danish anytime I could when we were out for breakfast.Apparently, as a child I thought that you could only get these wonderful gems of creamy goodness while on vacation...ahhh the innocence of youth.
I still scan every menu while in Florida where I now spend my son's school breaks. He's not really as much of a Danish fan, but that doesn't mean I won't try :)
I made 2 kinds of filling for these coffee cakes (danish)

1. Cinnamon brown sugar frangipane w/ pecans

3 tbsp butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar not packed
1 egg
1 c. ground almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c. pecans

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a bowl till smooth. Once the dough is rolled out spread the mixture over the dough, then sprinkle pecans over top. Roll according to instructions listed below and bake.

2. Blueberry/Raspberry with Honey sweetened Chevre

1/3 c. raspberries
3/4 c. blueberries
2 tbsp honey
1 small package of chevre, softened
1/4 honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

Put berries in a saucepan with 2 tbsp honey, boil until slightly syrupy then set aside to cool.
In a bowl mix chevre and honey and vanilla together till smooth.
Note* add more honey if necessary. The chevre can be quite sharp

Roll out the dough and spread chevre mix on dough, then follow with berries. Be sure to drain to juice that has collected from cooking, otherwise you mix will be too watery.
Continue with instructions to bake

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

Preparation time:

For the dough:

10 - 15 minutes preparation of the dough

8 – 10 minutes kneading

45 – 60 minutes first rise

10 – 15 minutes to prepare meringue, roll out, fill and shape dough

an additional 45 – 60 minutes for second rising.

Baking time: approximately 30 minutes


Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter

The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake


For the yeast coffee cake dough:

4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour

1⁄4 cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar

3⁄4 teaspoon (5 g / 1⁄4 oz.) salt

1 package (2 1⁄4 teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast

3⁄4 cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk

1⁄4 cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)

1⁄2 cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature

2 large eggs at room temperature

10 strands saffron for Ria’s version (Saffron might be hard to find and it’s expensive, so you can substitute with 1⁄2 - 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom or ground nutmeg. Or simply leave it plain like Jamie’s version)

For the meringue:

3 large egg whites at room temperature

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla

1⁄2 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

For the filling:

Jamie’s version:

1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped pecans or walnuts

2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar

1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate

Ria’s version:

1 cup (130 g / 5 oz.) chopped cashew nuts

2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar

1⁄2 teaspoon garam masala (You can make it at home – recipe below - or buy from any Asian/Indian grocery store)

1 cup (170g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips ( I used Ghirardelli)

Egg wash: 1 beaten egg Cocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes


Prepare the dough:

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1⁄2 cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.

In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted.

(Ria’s version: add the 10 saffron threads to the warmed liquid and allow to steep off of the heat for 10 minutes. This will give the mixture a distinct aroma and flavor and a yellowish-orange hue)

With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended.

Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes.

Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together.

Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 1⁄2 cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.

Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes.

The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.

Prepare your filling:

In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling if using.

You can add the chopped nuts to this if you like, but I find it easier to sprinkle on both the nuts and the chocolate separately.

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:

In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque.

Add the vanilla then start adding the 1⁄2 cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the Coffee Cakes:

Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Punch down the dough and divide in half.

On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 1⁄2 cm) rectangle.

Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges.

Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue (ex: half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate).

Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal.

Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down.

Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.

Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 1⁄2 cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.

Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.

Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown.

The dough should sound hollow when tapped.

Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table.

Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks.

Allow to cool.

Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Decade

Ever have one of those moments in your life where you stop and think, really??? It's actually been 10 years??
It feels like somedays it's been forever and others it was just yesterday.

This month my son turned 10.
My son is my whole life, my one, my everything. So let's just say whatever he wants or asks for he gets....within reason of course.
My son is my buddha, my calm in my storm. He is the epitome of zen, and old soul as I like to call him.
Ok, ok enough gushing and making you sick about how much I love him.

I always ask my son what he wants for his birthday dinner. Every year he picks usually the same thing. In fact the last 3 years has been the same.

The cake requests however changes every year. This year is a rainbow cake. It was supposed to be a rainbow sprinkle cake, but I decided to do one better. A whole cake that is a rainbow.

The recipe is simple.
1. A box of white cake mix...tisk, tisk I know it's not homemade
2. A large can of white frosting or your favourite buttercream recipe
3. A box of Wilton assorted colour gel food dye
4. Rainbow jimjams

I dyed 6 bowls of batter each colour of the rainbow and then poured into a greased 8 inch pan.
Basically pour 1 batter on top of the other it will spread naturally.

I got 2 cakes out of the batter.

Bake according to the box instructions.
Cool and then frost.
I covered the outside in jimjams.

Simple but effective.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

DB Challenge February: I "heart" Panna Cotta

Even though I am posting today I actually managed to finish this challenge early. Like super early. I am pre-writing this post because I am out of town at the moment. Today is actually Feb. 5th, 2011.

I was pretty excited when I saw this month's challenge.
1. because I have been wanting to get over my fear of this dessert and..
2. because I had extra gelatin left over from last month's challenge.

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

This challenge was nice because it offered a lot of freedom of expression.
I decided to go full tilt this month. I made 2 flavours of panna cotta.

The first:
Vanilla Bean & Wildflower Honey

The second:
Mexican Chocolate ( nice hints of chili and cinnamon)

The only thing I was pretty disappointed in was the florentine recipe. They looked good but really didn't strike me as the typical sugary, lacy, crispy texture I was used to. So I did go to a different recipe for the cookies.

The fillings were 2 kinds as well.
With the vanilla panna cotta I just did a Nutella filling.
For the chocolate panna cotta I did a caramel filling.

Vanilla Panna Cotta (Giada de Laurentis Recipe):

1 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon (one packet) unflavored powdered gelatin

3 cups whipping cream (30+% butterfat)

1/3 cup honey

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise an beans removed

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

pinch of salt


1. Pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk wait. Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.

2. Pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes. (I whisk it a few times at this stage).

3. Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, vanilla beans and pod and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn't boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes.

4. Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Take out vanilla pod, discard.Then pour into the glass or ramekin.

5. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

Add garnishes and serve.

Mexican Chocolate Panna Cotta:

1 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin

2 cups whipping cream (30+% butterfat)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp chili powder

1⁄2 cup sugar

3⁄4 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Pour milk into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the top, set aside for 2-5 minutes.

2. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir in cream, cinnamon, chili, sugar and vanilla. Bring to a low boil.

3. Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Whisk the milk/gelatin mixture into chocolate cream mixture. Whisk until gelatin has dissolved.

4. Transfer to ramekins, or nice glasses for serving.

5. Cover and chill at least 8 hours, or overnight

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Superbowl Eats

Any given Sunday you will find millions of people dressed in the NFL Sunday best tailgating outside the stadiums or pulling off spreads of finger foods in the comfort of their own homes.

This particular Sunday however is the stuff of legends. This Sunday, today is the be all and end all of football for the year. People plan their lived around this Sunday.
No you can't go to your best friend's, ex- husband's, mother-in-law's funeral. Today is SUPERBOWL SUNDAY.

I play on an indoor recreational soccer team here in the city for the wintertime and even today our team has forfeited our game in place of another.
What? you say, oh yes.

There is no greater day, maybe Christmas, then Superbowl Sunday where you get to make tons of little finger foods to sit with all your friends and hash it out about the underdog vs. the favourite, about whether or not it was a touchdown or whether the ref should have his eyes checked.

I "heart" Superbowl Sunday.

So today I will be posting a few things I have made in honour of this glorious occasion.

1. Pulled Chicken
3. Peel & Eat Shrimp

Thursday, January 27, 2011

DB January Challenge: Entremet

This month's dessert was a challenge in the truest sense. It was well thought out, multistep and original.

Right now the only pictures I have are of my jaconde because I am trying to stretch the challenge out to Saturday to serve this dessert for Chinese New Year. Hopefully my family will enjoy it.

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

Equipment required:


1⁄2 baking sheets or a 13” x 18” jelly roll sheet (rimmed baking sheet)

Mixer (optional)



Offset spatula

Regular spatula

Pastry comb (optional)


Spring form pan

Biscuit cutter (or ring mold, or cut PVC pipe, or whatever else you can think of to mold individual desserts)

Torte/ Entremets mold/ Springform pan/ Trifle dish (for larger desserts)

Cling wrap

Parchment paper

Gel, paste or liquid food coloring (optional)

Joconde Sponge

YIELD: Two 1⁄2 size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan


- 3⁄4 cup/ 180 ml/ 3oz/ 85g almond flour/meal - *You can also use hazelnut flour, just omit the butter

- 1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons/ 150 ml/ 22⁄3 oz/ 75g confectioners' (icing) sugar

- 1⁄4 cup/ 60 ml/ 1 oz/ 25g cake flour

- 3 large eggs - about 51⁄3 oz/ 150g

- 3 large egg whites - about 3 oz/ 90g

- 21⁄2 teaspoons/ 121⁄2 ml/ 1⁄3 oz/ 10g white granulated sugar or superfine (caster) sugar 2 tablespoons/ 30 ml/ 1oz / 30g unsalted butter, melted


1. In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later.

2. Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)

3. On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand. )

4. Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in

remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.

5. Fold in melted butter.

6. Reserve batter to be used later.

Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste

YIELD: Two 1⁄2 size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan


- 14 tablespoons/ 210ml/ 7oz/ 200g unsalted butter, softened

- 11⁄2 cups plus11⁄2 tablespoons/ 385ml/ 7oz/ 200g Confectioners' (icing) sugar

- 7 large egg whites - about 7 oz / 200g

- 13⁄4 cup/ 420ml/ 73⁄4 oz/ 220g cake flour

Food coloring gel, paste or liquid

COCOA Décor Paste Variation: Reduce cake flour to 6 oz / 170g. Add 2 oz/ 60 g cocoa powder. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together before adding to creamed mixture.


1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand held mixer, or by hand)

2. Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously.

3. Fold in sifted flour.

4. Tint batter with coloring to desired color, if not making cocoa variation.

Preparing the Joconde- How to make the pattern:

1. Spread a thin even layer of décor paste approximately 1/4 inch (5 millimeter) thick onto silicone baking mat with a spatula, or flat knife. Place mat on an upside down baking sheet. The upside down sheet makes spreading easier with no lip from the pan.

2. Pattern the décor paste – Here is where you can be creative. Make horizontal /vertical lines (you can use a knife, spatula, cake/pastry comb). Squiggles with your fingers, zig zags, wood grains. Be creative whatever you have at home to make a design can be used. OR use a piping bag. Pipe letters, or polka dots, or a piped design. If you do not have a piping bag. Fill a ziplock bag and snip off corner for a homemade version of one.

3. Slide the baking sheet with paste into the freezer. Freeze hard. Approx 15 minutes.

4. Remove from freezer. Quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the pattern of the Décor paste.

5. Bake at 475oF /250oC until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approx. 10 minutes. You can bake it as is on the upside down pan. Yes, it is a very quick bake, so watch carefully.

6. Cool. Do not leave too long, or you will have difficulty removing it from mat.

7. Flip cooled cake on to a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and

pattern showing! (The powdered sugar helps the cake from sticking when cutting.)

Preparing the MOLD for entremets

1. Start with a large piece of parchment paper laid on a very flat baking sheet. Then a large piece of cling wrap over the parchment paper. Place a spring form pan ring, with the base removed, over the cling wrap and pull the cling wrap tightly up on the outside of the mold. Line the inside of the ring with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping top edge by 1⁄2 inch. CUT the parchment paper to the TOP OF THE MOLD. It will be easier to smooth the top of the cake.

2. A biscuit cutter/ cookie cutter- using cling wrap pulled tightly as the base and the cling covering the outside of the mold, placed on a parchment lined very flat baking sheet. Line the inside with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping.

3. Cut PVC pipe from your local hardware store. Very cheap! These can be cut into any height you wish to make a mold. 2 to 3 inches is good. My store will cut them for me, ask an employee at your store. You can get several for matching individual desserts. Cling wrap and parchment line, as outlined above.

Preparing the Jaconde for Molding:

1. Trim the cake of any dark crispy edges. You should have a nice rectangle shape.

2. Decide how thick you want your “Joconde wrapper”. Traditionally, it is 1⁄2 the height of your mold.

This is done so more layers of the plated dessert can be shown. However, you can make it the full


3. Once your height is measured, then you can cut the cake into equal strips, of height and length. (Use a

very sharp paring knife and ruler.)

4. Make sure your strips are cut cleanly and ends are cut perfectly straight. Press the cake strips inside of the mold, decorative side facing out. Once wrapped inside the mold, overlap your ends slightly. You want your Joconde to fit very tightly pressed up to the sides of the mold. Then gently push and press the ends to meet together to make a seamless cake. The cake is very flexible so you can push it into place. You can use more than one piece to “wrap “your mold, if one cut piece is not long enough.

5. The mold is done, and ready to fill.

*Note: If not ready to use. Lay cake kept whole or already cut into strips, on a flat surface, wrap in parchment and several layers of cling wrap and freeze.