Panna Cotta

Panna CottaJonathan planned a dinner to celebrate our engagement two years ago.  One of my favourite parts was the dessert – a delicious panna cotta, which I have been meaning to make in my own kitchen for a long time!  Panna Cotta is a tasty dessert that is silky and creamy with a hint of vanilla.  Panna cotta in Italian translates to ‘cooked cream’ and that’s enough to make me fall in love with the dessert.  Jonathan chose it as a dessert for our engagement dinner because of its flavour, silky texture and the added bonus that it’s nut free.

I decided to make this dessert yesterday and it turned out wonderfully.  The little blue bowls I used were a bridal shower gift from my friends Emily and Allee and they were perfect for this scrumptious little dessert.  The recipe I used was from the Joy of Baking website.  I used the recipe because I wanted a video to show me how to make one of my favourite desserts.  I also didn’t want to waste whipping cream!  The recipe turned out perfectly and I will make this recipe again soon I am sure.  The panna cotta is garnished with homemade blueberry jam, but you can use fresh fruit.

Now that I have had success with this recipe I have many other ideas for little desserts.  A particular family favourite are parfaits!  My Dad used to make them for us when we were little and we loved them.  My Dad has a copy of the Jell-o cookbook, but I will make my own jelly using plain gelatin and fresh juice from the juicer.  I saw a recipe for half apple and half pomegranate layered jelly desserts and it looks irresistible!Panna Cotta

Makes 6 individual servings.

Ingredients:

1 package (1/4 ounce) (7 grams) unflavored powdered gelatin

1/4 cup (60 ml) cold milk

2 1/4 cups (540 ml) heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup (60 grams) confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Blueberry jam or fruit for garnish

Instructions:

For this recipe you will need 6 half-cup dessert cups (little bowls or wine glasses are my favourite).

  1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold milk in a small bowl.  Let the mixture sit for about 5 – 10 minutes. The idea is that the gelatin needs time to soften, swell, and become spongy.
  2. In a medium saucepan mix the cream and sugar.  Bring it just to a boil (or very hot with lots of steam coming off the top).  Stir well to dissolve the icing sugar.
  3. When the cream and sugar is very hot or just at boiling remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the gelatin mixture.
  4. Stir well until the gelatin is dissolved. If necessary, return the saucepan to the stove and stir over low heat (make sure you no longer see gelatin crystals). Stir in the vanilla extract at this point.
  5. Pour the cream into the dessert little bowls or wine glasses and place in the refrigerator. The panna cotta must chill for two to four hours, or until set.  Panna cotta can be made one to two days before serving.
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Keeping the bridesmaids happy – with brownies!

BrowniesThis morning my sisters Sarah and Victoria looked like they could use a little treat to keep up the momentum for wedding preparations.  There are three more sleeps til the big day!  Tonight, I am going down to have some sister time with  Laura, so I will come with gifts – brownies!

For the wedding day I am going to make raspberry and blueberry scones.  I am always up early and so these are a good project for me in the morning of the wedding.  I am also going to make some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for the groomsmen on Friday.  Everyone has been so wonderful and supportive and they deserve some delicious treats.

These brownies use Ghirardelli cocoa and my Mom tested them and said they are delicious!  After they cooled I putBrownies them in the freezer for about 20 minutes to firm up, then sliced them.  They sliced beautifully and had a fudge like texture to them.  My Mom’s comments were that they were not bitter or acidic and had a lovely balanced chocolate flavour with an even texture.  The recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen her wonderful Best Cocoa Brownies.  They also only used one pot and I put parchment paper inside the baking pan so there was very little mess to clean up.  I would bring these to a potluck or for a dessert at a dinner party.  They could also be sprinkled with a little icing sugar to make them look even more dainty.BrowniesBrownies

Best Cocoa Brownies
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet

Makes 16 larger or 25 smaller brownies (the size you see pictured yielded 25)

10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (65 grams, though some brands may weigh more) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt (or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaky salt, as I used)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (75 grams) walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. It looks fairly gritty at this point, but don’t fret — it smooths out once the eggs and flour are added. [Note, many people who have tried this recipe have found that this step works just fine in the microwave. Couldn’t test this because we don’t have one, but it sounds like it would work.]

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes is Medrich’s suggestion but it took me at least 10 minutes longer to get them set. Let cool completely on a rack. (I go further and throw mine in the fridge or freezer for a while; it’s the only way I can get them to cut with clean lines.)

Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

A day of pie! Chicken Pot Pie and Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb PieThere is a rhubarb plant at the Chapman house, so I decided to make a classic strawberry rhubarb pie.  So, I went out to pick some ruby red fresh rhubarb.  The recipe I used was from Smitten Kitchen (one of my favourite blogs).  The pie turned out extremely well (super tasty) – but a little watery in the centre.  I am still working on perfecting the perfect strawberry rhubarb pie. My Mom who has been making pies forever would not have made a mistake like this, but like she always says, “practice makes perfect.” As I was preparing the pie filling I saw some blueberries in the freezer, so I added half a cup to add extra colour.  So, it wasn’t entirely ‘strawberry rhubarb.’  When I make this pie again, I will add only 1/2 cup of sugar or 2/3 cup – the berries had tremendous natural sweetness and it would have been nice to allow the slightly tart rhubarb flavour to shine.Strawberry Rhubarb PieLattice Pie Crust Top

The recipe for the crust however, was a success, it was flakey, buttery and crisp.  I even decided to get fancy and do a lattice top pattern.  I brushed the top with an egg wash and sprinkled it lightly with sugar.  It came out of the oven looking beautiful.  I enjoy the challenge that pie baking presents, getting the filling and crust perfect, as well as decorating, so the perfect pie challenge continues.

Chicken Pot PieThe next pie I made was a savoury dinner pie and is a classic!  The recipe is from the Canadian living website and it is one of my favourites.  The filling with fresh thyme and white wine is truly divine!  Fresh carrots, baby red skin potatoes, celery and peas come together to create a classic dinner.  Not to mention puff pastry (yum)!  When I make this for Jonathan it usually makes two pot pies – one of which can be frozen.  Served with a fresh salad it is a perfect dinner or lunch.  I read somewhere that chicken pot pie is a great dinner for entertaining because:  it looks like you have slaved away all day making it, divides up easily, usually good for picky eaters and by the time your guests arrive all the work is done. The pot pie comes out looking like a piece of perfection with flaky buttery crust – and you get to eat gourmet chicken pot pie with your friends and catch up.Chicken Pot Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Filling

3 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds, untrimmed) rhubarb, in 1/2-inch thick slices
3 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) strawberries, hulled and sliced if big, halved if tiny

½ cup blueberries

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for brushing on the top)

Mix together sliced strawberries, sliced rhubarb, blueberries, white sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, salt and flour.  Set aside.

All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough (From Smitten Kitchen)

Makes enough dough for one double-, or two single-crust pies.

2  ½ cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

½ cup cold cold water, use ice cubes if necessary

1.  Pulse together dry ingredients in food processor or use hand dough cutter.

2.  Add butter and pulse again.

3.  Slowly add cold water, pulse until it comes together in a nice dough.

4.  Divide the dough in two and refrigerate for 1 hour

Putting the Pie together:

1.  Roll our first dough for the bottom crust.  Lightly poke the dough at the bottom with a fork.

2.  Crimp the sides of the piecrust.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes or place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

3.  Pre – bake the crust at 400 for 10 minutes with aluminum foil and baking weights.

4.  Let crust cool then add fruit mixture.

5.  Roll out second pie dough.  Slice with pizza cutter into 1 inch to 1 ½ inch strips.

6.  Alternate length and width wise the lattice strips.

7.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle lightly with sugar.

8.  Reduce oven temperature down to 350 degrees and bake for 40 minutes.

Chicken Pot Pie (from Canadian Living)

Ingredients

3 cups (500 mL) chicken stock

1 cup (250 mL) drywhite wine

2 cups (500 mL) chopped carrots

2 stalks  celery, chopped

2 cups (500 mL) cubed peeled potatoes

bay leaf

1 Pinch each salt and 1 tsp pepper, 1-3 tablespoon rosemary

1 lb (454 g) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed

1/3 cup (75 mL) butter

1/3 cup (75 mL) all-purpose flour

1/3 cup (75 mL milk

1 cup (250 mL) frozen peas

1/2 pkg (397 g) frozen puff pastry, thawed

Preparation

In large saucepan, bring chicken stock, wine, carrots, celery, potato, bay leaf, rosemary, salt and pepper to boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add chicken; simmer, uncovered, until no longer pink inside, 10 minutes. Skim off any foam. Strain; set aside chicken stock. Set aside chicken mixture; discard bay leaf.

In saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour; cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. Whisk in reserved stock until smooth. Bring to boil; cook, stirring, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in milk; cook for 2 minutes. Add chicken and vegetable mixture into your dish, add peas, add extra rosemary and pepper to taste; stir to coat.) Use large casserole dish or smaller ones if you are making two.

On floured surface, roll out pastry to fit top of dish plus 1-inch (2.5 cm) extra all around; trim edges. Brush edge of dish with water. Centre pastry over filling; gently press overhang to adhere to dish. Brush with egg; slash 4 steam vents. Bake in 400°F (200°C) oven until golden, puffed and filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Cream Puffs

Today I decided to take on a new baking challenge.  Cream puffs can be difficult, but if you follow the directions carefully they are a delicious treat.  The texture is light, fluffy, sweet and creamy.  I will be seeing Jonathan tomorrow and I will try my best to save a few for him. (Yes, they are that good!  I ate four after I had finished arranging them on the plate.)

The recipe I used was from the Joy of Baking – a classic resource for all kinds of recipes.  I followed the directions and out of the oven came perfectly golden little puffs of pastry.  An added touch was a new bottle of Madagascar vanilla extract that I used for the cream filling.  The flavour was delicious!  For a garnish I chose fresh raspberries that added colour and complimented the flavour of the cream puffs perfectly.

My best tip is to watch the puffs carefully so they do not burn.  After you have turned the heat down to 350F if the puffs look golden and crisp after 20 minutes, you can turn off the oven and leave the door ajar for them to cool.  I doubled the recipe below because 12 cream puffs is not enough, especially if you love sweets and pastries!

Ingredients:

Choux Pastry:

1/2 cup (65 grams) all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon granulated white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) (57 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/2 cup (120 ml) water

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Glaze:

1 large egg

Whipped Cream:

1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream (double cream) (35-40% butterfat)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated white sugar, or to taste

Garnish:

Powdered (Confectioners or icing) sugar

Instructions:

Choux Pastry: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly butter or spray the pan with a non stick vegetable spray.

In a bowl sift or whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.

Place the butter and water in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. (Make sure that the butter melts before the water boils to reduce the amount of evaporation.) Remove from heat and, with a wooden spoon, add the flour mixture, all at once, and stir until combined. Return saucepan to the heat and stir constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth ball (about 1-2 minutes). Transfer the dough to your electric mixer, or use a hand mixer, and beat on low speed to release the steam from the dough (about a minute). Once the dough is lukewarm start adding the lightly beaten eggs (dough will separate and then come together) and continue to mix until you have a smooth thick paste (dough will fall from a spoon in a thick ribbon). Spoon or pipe 12 small mounds of dough onto the baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. With a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the dough with a lightly beaten egg. 

Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Continue to bake for a further 30 to 35 minutes or until the shells are a nice amber color and when split, are almost dry inside. Turn the oven off, poke a couple of holes in each puff and, with the oven door slightly ajar, let the shells completely cool (and dry out). 

Whipped Cream: In a large mixing bowl place the whipping cream, vanilla extract, and sugar and stir to combine. Cover and chill the bowl and whisk in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. When chilled, whip the cream just until stiff peaks form. 

To Assemble: Split the pastry shells in half and fill (or pipe) with whipped cream. Place the top half of the pastry shell on the whipped cream and dust with powdered (confectioners or icing) sugar. Leftover Cream Puffs can be stored in the refrigerator.

Apple Pie

Jonathan was hiking the Bruce Trail this weekend near Orangeville for a friend’s bachelor party. Left to my own devices, I decided to bake an apple pie!  As per usual, I consulted my Martha Stewart cookbook and found a wonderful recipe.  The crust was perfectly flaky and buttery.  With the Granny Smith apples I picked up at the grocery store, I went to work.  Pies require  a lot of commitment because you have to refrigerate or freeze the dough many times to keep it cool.  It is the temperature control that helps keep the crust light, buttery, and flakey.  You also have to wait for it to bake for about an hour and 15 minutes.  After that it must cool completely for approximately 2-3 hours for it to set properly.  However, this pie is worth it!

To help me eat the pie, my friend Lauren came over for a cup of tea.  It was great to catch up and talk about wedding planning.  Lauren is going to be one of my bridesmaids.  She also has a wonderful eye for architecture and design, so I was showing her some pictures of the wedding venue for next summer.  I really hope to keep the set up simple, play around with lighting, simple elegance, the architecture of the restaurant and the urban Toronto landscape.  Jonathan and I are hoping to get some pictures of us with a streetcar in the background, in front of his old subway station (Spadina) and maybe even outside of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) building where he worked the first summer that we started going out for dinners together.

After Lauren and I had been chatting for some time, it was 10:00pm and Jonathan arrived in Aurora looking like he had been hit by a hurricane.  He regaled us with tales of the hike, complete with mosquitoes the size of cats and humid temperatures.  He was going to drive back to Peterborough that same evening, but I insisted that he stay overnight and drive in the morning.  As I said goodnight to a very sleepy and slightly delirious Jonathan, he proposed to me (for a second time, and I said yes for a second time), which he must have done because he felt lucky to have survived the hiking expedition.  In the morning I told him about his second proposal with some tea and a big piece of apple pie.

He said it was the best apple pie he’s ever had.

Cream Cheese Pie Crust Dough

Ingredients (double recipe and divide into two disks for top and bottom crust)

  • 2 teaspoons cold water
  • 1 teaspoon cold cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 4 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into small pieces

Directions

  1. Combine water and vinegar in a small bowl. Combine flour and salt in another bowl. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut butter and cream cheese into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining.
  2. Add water mixture to dough in a slow, steady stream, stirring, until mixture just begins to hold together. (Alternatively, pulse ingredients in a food processor.) Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and wrap. Press dough into a disk using a rolling pin. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight. (Dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw before using.)
  3. Roll dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Trim edge, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Turn overhang under so that edge is flush with rim. Flute edge. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Apple Pie Filling

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 2x Cream Cheese Pie Crust Dough
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 3-4 pounds, Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Directions

  1. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one cream cheese dough disk into a 13-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate. With a sharp paring knife, trim dough flush with the rim. Freeze again until firm, at least 30 minutes.
  2. Roll out remaining 2 discs of pate brisee to about 1/8 inch thick. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and freeze until firm, at least 30 minutes. Remove from freezer; using a 2 1/4-inch leaf-shaped cutter, cut out about 65 leaves and place them in a single layer on baking sheet. Place in refrigerator until firm.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and heavy cream; set aside. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Remove pie shell from freezer, and fill with apple mixture. Dot with butter.
  4. Remove leaves from refrigerator, and score with a paring knife to make veins. Lightly brush the edge of the pie shell with water. Brush the bottom of each leaf with water; beginning with the outside edge, arrange leaves in a slightly overlapping ring. Repeat to form another ring slightly overlapping the first. Continue until only a small circle of filling is left uncovered in the center.
  5. Carefully brush the top of the leaves and pie edge with the reserved egg wash, and sprinkle generously with sanding sugar. Freeze or refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.
  6. Place pie plate on a baking sheet, and bake until crust just begins to brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling, 35 to 45 minutes. If the crust begins to get too dark, drape a piece of aluminum foil over the top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Canada Day Cupcakes

July 1st is Canada Day! I hope everyone gets outside and relaxes this weekend.  What better way to relax than with cupcakes? These are delicious little jewels that have a fun, bright, and cheery colour.

Bright red cupcakes for Canada seemed like the patriotic dessert to make.  The bright red colour and the swirls of white buttercream icing represent our country quite well – it is a sweet place to live!  As a Canadian, I enjoy many rights and freedoms.  Including the freedom to make as much buttercream icing as I please!

Canada is a wonderful place to live (for reasons other than an abundance of buttercream icing) because of the quality education, equality, the many opportunities available, and its peace and democracy.  One should never take freedom and democracy lightly – it should be celebrated not just on Canada Day, but everyday.

For the little flags I went on the internet and printed out some flags, and then taped them to toothpicks.  In the Globe and Mail today I saw fondant Canadian images, which also look like great fun.  However, I did not have time to make fondant today.  So, show your patriotic side this weekend and let the Canadian flag wave proudly – whether it is atop a boathouse, in a city park, at a BBQ with friends and family or proudly sitting atop a cupcake. Happy Canada Day!

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1-2 teaspoons red food colouring

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten

1/2 cup pureed strawberries

Instructions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set out cupcake papers and set aside.

2.  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3.  In a food processor puree one cup of strawberries that will be reduced to about ½ a cup.  With a strainer, strain the puree to get ride of the seeds.

4.  In your mixer combine the sugar, canola oil, vanilla extract and eggs.  Then add in the buttermilk and strawberry puree.  Add lemon zest.  Slowly add in the flour mixture.

5.  Spoon the batter into the cupcake pans and bake until the cupcakes spring back when touched lightly in the center.

6.  Cool before icing.

Buttercream Icing

Ingredients

Preparation

In large bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. Alternately beat in sugar and cream, making 2 additions of sugar. Beat in vanilla. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate in airtight container for up to 24 hours; let come to room temperature, about 1 hour. Beat slightly before using.)

 

Lemon Tart

Well, I decided to go for it – yummy, sweet lemon curd in tart form.  The crust tastes like a sugar cookie, but a bit firmer.  I decided to sprinkle it with icing sugar and then pipe a bit of whipped cream on top.  It turned out beautifully – I think I’ll make this for Jonathan’s family the next time I visit!

I squeezed the lemon juice myself – unfortunately, I spilled some of it in the process, so it was a good thing I bought a number of lemons.  My sister Sarah watched as all the flour, dough, lemon rinds and lemon juice was transformed into the lovely tart.  Usually Sarah doesn’t like the things I make because they don’t involve chocolate, but she tried a sliver of this and admitted that she loved it.

The tart wasn’t ready until after dinner last night, so the family will try it tonight. Last night’s dessert was the fudge my Mom made as a test run for Laura’s wedding favours. She made both white and semi-sweet chocolate fudge. It was delicious – and has been quickly disappearing from the refrigerator.   Mom systematically tested the process in order to calculate how many batches will be needed.  It will be quite the assembly line in our kitchen the day the wedding favour fudge is made, assembled, decorated and put into boxes.

All of this lovely lemon flavour and wedding fever for Laura’s impending nuptials gets me thinking about my wedding next year.  I saw shortbread cookies as a wedding favour – perhaps I’ll bake lemon flavoured shortbread cookies for mine?

Pate Sucree Pie Crust Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 3 large egg yolks

Directions

  1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add butter, and process just until mixture resembles a coarse meal, about 10 seconds.
  2. With machine running, add 1/4 cup ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Drizzle in egg yolks, and process just until dough holds together without being wet or sticky, about 30 seconds. Test dough by squeezing a small amount together. If it is crumbly, add a bit more ice water.
  3. Divide dough in half. Pat into discs, and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour.

Lemon Curd Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 egg yolks, beaten
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (COLD and cut into small pieces to melt faster )
  • 1 tablespoon lemon rind, grated

Directions:

1.  Beat the egg yolks thoroughly and add to saucepan on low heat.

2.  Add the sugar and lemon juice, stir to combine, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 10-15 minutes.  Do not hurry the process.

3.  Cook until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon.  Remove from heat and immediately pour through a sieve.  Stir in the cold butter pieces, which cools down the mixture quickly.

4.  Add the rind, continue stirring until well-blended.

5.  Transfer to a bowl and wrap with plastic wrap directly on lemon curd.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assembling the Tart

  1. Once you have made the tart crust and refrigerated it for an hour, roll it out to fit a 9 inch fluted tart pan.  My tart had extra crust, so you could make a mini pie?
  2. Poke the bottom of the tart with a fork and wrap with tin foil.
  3. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes.  Then let cool completely.
  4. Spread the cooled lemon curd filling evenly on cooled tart crust and then bake for another 25 minutes until it is slightly brown on top and not as jiggly in the center.
  5. Let cool completely before dusting with icing sugar and topping with whipped cream.

Whipped Cream Topping

1 cup of whipping cream

1 tablespoon of icing sugar

Refrigerate for 30 minutes prior to whipping.  Whip with a hand blender until soft peaks start to form.  Add whipping cream to piping bag if you wish to pipe on the topping.  Remember that whipped cream is only good for one day.

White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Icing

Some people have hobbies like fishing or jogging, my hobby is baking!  Today I made these cute cupcakes and played around with the new set of piping bag accessories that I bought.  Overall I was very impressed with the way the cupcakes turned out – raspberry and white chocolate are a killer combination.  Seriously, these cupcakes are delicious!

Now, in the pictures the cupcakes look a little crumbly, the white chocolate and the sugar makes these cupcakes a bit stickier and thus, they stuck to the pan.  I also don’t have cupcake liners with me in Waterloo, where I am visiting Jonathan.

While making these cupcakes I was wondering why Martha Stewart doesn’t have a version of this cupcake on her website or in her cookbook.  I suppose white chocolate was overlooked with all the recipes for devil’s food cake cupcakes and triple chocolate cupcake recipes.

The recipe I ended up using was from this website.  I used it because it makes 12 cupcakes, which seemed better than having 24 extra cupcakes in the freezer.  The white chocolate cupcake recipe that I used had a subtle and yet decadent flavour.  The raspberry icing made the cupcakes delicious – who can resist such a pretty cupcake?

Ingredients

  • 3 oz. White Chocolate (I used Baker’s White Chocolate, 2 of the prepackaged cubes)
  • 1/2 cup Light Cream or Milk (I used milk)
  • 3/4 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/8 tsp. Salt
  • 2 Eggs, Large
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup Butter, Softened

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place twelve cupcake holders in a muffin pan.
  2. Melt the chocolate with cream over a double broiler (or in the microwave, but be sure not to burn it) and let cool.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, cream-chocolate mixture, and butter.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and continue to beat at a low speed until blended.
  6. Pour the batter into the cupcake holders about 3/4 full.
  7. Put the pan in the oven and let bake for 25-30 minutes.  (Found my cupcakes only took 18 minutes.)
  8. After the cupcakes are firm on top, let them cool on a muffin rack for 30 minutes and ice them with your favorite frosting.

Icing

Cream together 1/2 cup of softened butter, 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon of milk and 1-2 tablespoons of seedless raspberry preserve or jam.  Add the raspberry preserve in last and use your judgement with the consistency of the icing.

Butterscotch Pudding

The recipe for butterscotch pudding came from Desserts for Two, one of my favourite blogs. Dad generously donated a teaspoon of his McClelland’s Scotch Whisky to make this creamy and flavourful dessert – and my family absolutely loved it! Homemade pudding made from scratch is just so silky and delightful.  My Dad grew up eating Jell-O brand pudding, and he loved my version, especially since I’m sure Jell-O doesn’t use real scotch!  The flavour from the scotch, vanilla, milk and fresh whipping cream was to die for – it was perfectly creamy and heavenly.  I would even venture to say that it is better than strawberry mousse.  Perhaps I will have to experiment with other pudding flavours.

My family is a bit larger than just two people so I increased the recipe from the Desserts for Two website.  I put the pudding into fancy cups that are probably about a half-cup serving size, so it was enough for eight people to enjoy this rich dessert.  Now, a really important part of the recipe that you should not ignore is that once you have made the pudding, make sure the plastic wrap touches the pudding so that it is air tight – this way, a pudding skin does not develop.

After a short four hours, a delightful treat awaits!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon McClelland’s Scotch (or regular whiskey)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • extra cream for topping

Instructions

  1. In a medium glass bowl, add the brown sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir lightly with a whisk to blend.
  2. Then, slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the cream and whisk vigorously to dissolve the sugar and cornstarch. Add the last of the cream slowly, still whisking.
  3. Add the milk slowly and whisk very well to ensure all the dry ingredients are dissolved.
  4. Pour the milk and cream mixture into a saucepan and turn the stove onto medium. Bring the pudding to a simmer while constantly stirring with a wooden spoon. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the saucepan during cooking.
  5. Once the pudding starts to gently simmer, turn the heat to low and cook another 1 minute. Turn off the heat, and then stir in the butter, vanilla, and scotch.
  6. Pour the mixture into dessert cups, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. If you don’t like a pudding skin, press the plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding before chilling.

Blueberry Bundt Cake – with Cream Cheese Icing

Bundt cakes are wonderful desserts because they are sweet, but not too sweet.  For this recipe you will need a bundt cake pan that has the circular shape and hole in the middle.

This recipe is unique because it has blueberries and yogurt in it.  I did a cream cheese icing instead of the usual bundt cake drizzle of milk and icing sugar mixture.  The recipe turned out wonderfully and I will definitely be making this again.  It only lasted two days in my house – it was good as a dessert at dinnertime and an afternoon snack.  The cake was moist and flavourful.  My Mom said it was my best dessert yet.

Garnishing the cake my Mom had the suggestion to get some fresh mint leaves from the backyard – luckily the mint had started to grow.  Fresh blueberries were used to decorate this delightful cake.  Berries are my favourite garnish!

My favourite moment from the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is when the groom’s mother brings a bundt cake, and the Greek mother-in-law has difficulty saying “bundt cake.” The ‘d’ in bundt cake is silent and it is pronounced ‘bun-t cake.’  Wikipedia explains the origin of the word ‘bundt’ as such: “The German word bund in bundkuchen originated either from bundling or wrapping the cake’s dough around the pan’s centre hole or because a bund is a gathering of people.”  Once you master this cake you will be surprised by its comforting flavour and simplicity.  I’m sure it will disappear from your kitchen quickly.

For the Cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 teaspoon for dusting blueberries
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup vanilla yogurt
2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Nonstick cooking spray or margarine for greasing the pan

For the Cream Cheese Glaze:
1 (4 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon milk

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk 2 1/2 cups flour with baking powder and salt; set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of yogurt.
3. In a bowl, toss blueberries with teaspoon flour to coat them.  This is so the berries will not all sink to the bottom of the pan.  Gently fold blueberries into batter.

4.  Coat a 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan with cooking spray or grease the pan lightly with margarine. Spread batter in prepared pan.
5. Bake cake on bottom rack of oven until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes.

6.  Cool in pan 20 minutes. Invert onto a rack; cool completely, topside up.  Tap the top of the bundt cake pan with a wooden spoon to make sure the bundt cake comes out evenly and does not break apart.

7.  For the cream cheese icing, mix butter and cream cheese until evenly combined.  Slowly add in icing sugar, milk and vanilla extract.  The consistency will be thinner than cake icing and thicker than milk and sugar drizzle.  Add more milk to thin out the icing if needed.

8. Ice the bundt cake with the cream cheese icing and decorate with fresh blueberries.  Add a few leaves of fresh mint for garnish if available.