Category Archives: dessert

Ho Ho Ho, Holiday Treats!

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It’s that time of the year again – cookie madness! My little tin above features gingerbread people, red velvet whoopie pies with peppermint cream cheese filling, ginger chews, peanut butter and shortbread (two kind: regular and cranberry lemon zest. Most of the above recipes can be found on my last year’s post with the exception of a few new ones. This year I tried a few new recipes and they are cookie-monster-approved! How do I know? I live with one 😉
Here’s a few for now, more to come.

1. Almond Snowballs
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Word of warning, these delicate cuties are a little hard to form – will require some patience and finesse. Be gentle with them while handing the balls, prior to putting them in the oven – they may crumble easily. Having said that, the same crumbly-ness helps to make it more delicious!

Snowball Recipe

2. Soft Snickerdoodles
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Fresh out of the over, they guys remind me of mini cinnamon sugar donuts from the fair! Nice and chewy as promised!
Snickerdoodles Recipe

3. Sugar cookies
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This makes a pretty large batch. I decorated half with sugar sprinkles and saved half to decorate with icing sugar.
Sugar Cookies Recipe

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12 Days of Christmas Cookies

ONE. Gingersnaps2012-12-03_10.23.50
Another favourite recorded in grandma wood’s recipe book from aunt Karla

TWO. Cranberry Lemon Shortbread2012-12-06_20.27.01
Original recipe calls for orange zest but I used lemon instead.

In addition, I also formed them into three 1″ diameter logs of 6-10″ length. After which, I froze them for about an hour before slicing them into <1/4" thins. For these bite size pieces, they were ready in 8-10 mins. Keep a close eye on them, they overbake easily – don't wait for them to brown to take them out of the oven.

THREE. Chocolate Crinkles2012-12-07_14.41.49
Recipe from Joy of Baking

For the chocolate lovers! I used Baker’s semi-sweet chocolates and medium amount of icing sugar to coat. Don’t be shy with the icing sugar, the ‘cookie’ itself is not very sweet. I would describe this as a brownie-cookie, soft on the inside; best eaten first out of the oven just because they’re nice and warm. This was the first time I’ve tried these cookies and I didn’t get around to forming and baking them until the next night but they have quickily become one of my favourites – for taste, ease and looks!

FOUR. Ranger Cookies20121209_124414
Recipe and tips found here

FIVE. Gingerbread20121209124902657

For houses and men decorating – great fun and yummy cookies too!

SIX. Sugar cookies2012-12-09 14.04.57
I can’t remember which recipe I used for this particular batch but this one looks pretty reputable. Again, these don’t require browning and bake quickily, be careful not to overbake.

SEVEN. Peanut Butter cookies
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I reduced the recipe in half and still managed to make 4 batches ~ 40 rounded teaspoonsfulls (which baked and ended up being ~2″ diameter cookies). These guys took exactly 10 minutes, came up puffy (like the photo) but deflats into your regular looking peanut butter cookies. Super moist and chewy, delish!

EIGHT. Chocolate Filled Pecan Thumbprints
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NINE. Almond Dark Chocolate Toffee
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TEN. Lavender Macarons with Chocolate Filling
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ELEVEN. Cornbread
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TWELVE. Banana Loaf

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Recipes and more cookies to come!

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Boy Oh Boy!

For a baby boy shower…

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Fondant decorations of feeties, safety pins, pacifiers…

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diapers…


bibs and so much more!

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finished blue velvet cupcakes

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and mini mocha cupcakes ❤

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Recipes to come soon!

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Thanksgiving Bonanza

For thanksgiving this year, we hosted our first family gathering at the Leung-Wood house. A total attendence of 14 people (plus left overs for a some who couldn’t attend), it was daunting. After weeks of prep, I was proud to present a menu aimed to satisfy all my guests. Everything from chicken stock for mash potatoes to bread for stuffing and biscuits was homemade.

No need for appies when you have a full entree and dessert lined up, so let’s get to it.

Menu items included:
1. Biscuits with gravy
2. Cornbread with honey butter*
3. Pan fried brussel sprouts with bacan and garlic*
4. Mushroom gravy green bean casserole
5. Candied yam topped with marshmallows
6. Roasted garlic mash potatos with bacon and cheddar
7. Cranberry apple stuffing with english sausage (ok, you got me, I didn’t stuff my own sausage; but I did bake my own cranberry walnut bread and stew my own chicken stock)
8. Brown sugar maple honey glazed ham with bone in
9. 18lbs turkey*
10. Fresh cranberry sauce
11. Gravy
12. Pumpkin pie
13. Pecan pie*
14. Pumpkin coffee cake
15. Cranberry Orange short bread

*I was particularly please with these dishes!

Biscuits
Recipe was from Joy of Baking website. Easy to follow and came out great. I ended up with about 16 biscuits, 2″ diameter cookies, 1/2″ in height before baking. I baked a batch a week or so ahead of time, let them cool for about 2 hours and threw them in a ziplock before they were stored in the freezer. The morning of, I pulled them out of the freezer to defrost. Just before dinner I heat them up on the top rack for ~5mins at 400F to warm and brown the crust a touch.

Cornbread with honey butter*

Pan fried brussel sprouts
The recipe from Epicurious was fantastic as is. The only change I would have made was to make more, the dish ran out after the first plating! I didn’t add in pine nuts in mine though.

Roasted garlic (for mash potatos)
The secret to my garlicy mash was to roast whole garlic and make garlic butter out of it ahead of time to let the garlic infuse with the butter (then potatoes). To roast the garlic butter, chop off the head of the garlic, leaving skin on, pour 1 tablespoon of grape seed oil (grape seed oil has a higher smoking point), and wrap it tightly in aluminum foil before baking it at 400F for 45 mins. Let them cool down before squishing them out of their pods – ready for butter!

Cranberry apple stuffing with english sausage
For cranberry walnut bread recipe, visit my previous blog.
1. Toast ~ 10 slices of bread in toaster or oven until crisp on both sides. Cut into cubes.
2. Dice 1.5 cups yellow onions. Brown onions and 1 lbs of pork sausage links (casing removed). Breaking up big chunks into bite size pieces.
3. Add 1 stalk of diced celery, 3-1/2 tablespoon sage, 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, 1 teaspoon thyme and 2 cups of peeled and diced apples. Cook for 5-10mins until well mixed.
4. Mix in 1 cup of dried rough chopped cranberries with two cups of chicken stock. Place into roasting pan and wrap with aluminum foil.
5. Bake in oven at 300F for 1-1/2 hours. Add more stock as necessary (until desired tenderness).

Brown sugar maple honey glazed ham with bone-in
With one oven and over 10 dishes to cook and/or reheat, I knew I had to purchase a precooked ham. This was actually just half a ham.
To prepare, I pulled it out of the fridge an hour ahead to let it set to room temp. So by the time it got it’s turn in the oven, it didn’t have to heat up as much (good way of saving yourself a few extra minutes – oven space is precious during big feasts). Before going in the oven, I covered it was brown sugar and wrapped it tightly with aluminum foil to reheat @ 325 ~ 15-20mins. Then, I uncovered it, made slits of cross hatching and smouldered it with maple syrup and honey. Put it back in the oven @ 400 for another ~ 20mins to broil. Tender and flavourful. Yum!

18lbs turkey
Original method of cooking came from my aunt, who taught my mom, who taught me. (It’s that good!) Bathed it with 3 pots of boiling water (outside and inside the cavity, after removing giblets and such). Lightly pat it dry with a paper towel. Lathered it in butter (brought to room temperature to ease greasification process. Toss it in the oven @ 325F for 8-10mins/lb. When ready, insert chopstick into thickest part of turkey (breast and drumstick); juices run clear, you’re golden. Cover with aluminum foil and cloth to let the moisture settle and run back into the meat; otherwise, all the juices will leak as soon as you make your first cut. I let mine sat for 2 hours. It was the juicest turkey I’ve ever had and still hot!

Fresh cranberry sauce
Dissolve 1 cup white sugar into 1 cup orange juice. (I used orange juice to add some sweetness and cut the tart with some tang). Add 12oz (1 bag) of fresh cranberries, cook & stir until cranberries begin to break down. Voila!

Pecan pie
I made this a couple days ahead of time. After cooling it completely for a few hours, I popped it in the freezer until the morning of. The day of, I pulled it out of the freezer and let it defrost at room temp while tightly wrapped in Suran. By dessert time, it was ready for us to devour.
I was actually told this was the best pecan pie he/she (can’t remember) has ever had!
Refer to previous blog for crust recipe

Pumpkin coffee cake

Cranberry Orange short bread

More to come…

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Birthdays and Birthdays!

Twas a busy busy week of baking and decorating. I had an order of 4 dozen cupcakes for a 3 year old boy’s birthday due Thursday night and my nieces’ 3rd birthday on Saturday! Tried all new recipes but luckily to say, they turned out better than expected 🙂

For Zach’s cupcakes, I used a orange cake with white icing decorated with a mish mosh of shavings and crumbs.
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Some of Zach’s birthday cupcakes

After the warm up, came the real challenge. Every year (for the past few years), I’ve been making birthday cakes for the twins. And after every year, I try to top my last. This year, the theme was ‘Minnie Mouse Boutique.’ So at least that’s all figured out. But even then, I was struggling between making the face of minnie as the cake, a mini minnie sitting on top of the cake, or a minnie cake. After looking through ideas online, nothing sparked my interested. Then finally, I decided to go for the gusto.
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I’ve worked with fondant before, but this was my first attempt for making a large scale doll. I knew fondant wouldn’t be stiff enough, so to make the head and body, I knew I needed something stiff. So I tried using rice krispie & special k mixed with marshmallow for the first time.

Recipe for the head and body:
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
32 large marshmallows (~ half the bag)
1 teaspoon of water
6-1/2 cups of rice krispie/special k
Crisco

Use oil to line bottom of microwavable bowl, add marshmallows and water then microwave for 20-30seconds. Stir and repeat until melted. Add 6 cups of cereal and mix until desired texture (add another 1/2 cup if needed).

Cover hands with crisco to keep it from sticking. Form balls, lightly wrap it with suran wrap and let it sit to cool before moulding further.

After resting, mould until desired!

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After shaping, I covered the head with modeling chocolate.

Recipe Chocolate clay:
~10oz chocolate (coarsely chopped chunks or chips)
1/3 cup light corn syrup

In a microwavable bowl, heat the chocolate in microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat until melted, not bubbly (~ 3 to 4 times).

Stir syrup in until mixed (do not over mix). Place a 1″ thick layer on parchment paper to cool ~ 1 hour. Then, mould as you wish!

The clay is quite soft, so for the clothes, I used fondant for some structure.

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After making the head and body, I put them together for a quick check for proportions – perfect.

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Then I made the cake. I used a lemon pound cake. I wanted 4 layers, so I used pound cake for it’s density. Covered with fondant… ready for tomorrow’s final assembly!

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Final touches on minnie including lashes, doka dots on her clothes, trimming and cuffs.

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Ta da!

Fresh Blueberry Pie

After picking 14lbs of fresh blueberrys at the farm yesterday, a blueberry pie was requested. I’ve watched enough cooking shows to understand the process, but tackling a flakey homemade pie like grandma used to make (well, someone’s, not mine – neither of my grandmas made pies) was daunting, but I was up to the challenge!

After looking through grandma Wood’s cookbook recipes, I wasn’t sure which pie shell to use (she had about 3). So the search for the perfect recipe continued. After about an hour of internet browsing, I finally settled for one for the sake of getting on with it.

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Fresh out of the oven!

We didn’t have enough lemon juice nor zest. Instead, I used 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, a 1/4 teaspoon of zest with 1 tablespoon of water. However, even at that, we found the pie to be too lemony at the end – not overwhelming, just different (perhaps we are just not lemony people). Instead of cutting out stars, I rolled out another 12″ diameter circle and tucked the edges before pinching it to close. To release steam, I used a pair of snippers and cut 1″ slits on top before putting it in the oven; worked like a charm and used everybit of pie crust. To top, I used brown sugar and some cinnimon over the egg wash before baking. To bake, I didn’t have a proper pie dish and used a cake pan (made it slightly difficult to take out, with the right angle edges), but reduced the baking time to 17 minutes @ 400F, then 30mins @ 350F (glass dishes typically take another 5 minutes). After cutting into it, 12 hours later, found the filling to be runnier than expected, darn those juicy rype berries. I may look into tweaking the fruit filling with some kind of starch next time.

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12 hours later, our first slice 😀

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Delicious!

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Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sammies

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What’s better than soft and chewy peanut beutter cookies? Well I suppose I already gave away the answer, but yes, sandwiching them with ice cream!

Soft and chewy peanut butter cookie recipe can be found here.

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After letting them cool fully on a baking rack, I scooped up some vanilla ice cream and started building. After building, I returned them in the freezer to cool and avoid the ice cream from oozing out while you bite into it.

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Took a bite (no oozing), yummy as expected!

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Lemon tartlets

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Summer and lemons just seem to go hand in hand. For a summer BBQ, I made bite size lemon tarts for dessert. I used Grandma Wood’s “Never Fail Pastry.” I’ve tried the recipe before and quite liked it so here we go again! (Ironically enough, I did actually failed because I started off by dividing the ingredients into portions of 1/4 and forgot to follow though. In the end, I used the entire portion but the mixing was all thrown off. Either way, the tarts turned out well.)

Never Fail Pastry
Grandma

5 cups flour
1 lb lard
1 tsp salt
1 slightly beaten egg
1-1/2 tbsp vinegar
Cut lard into flour. Add sald. Combine egg and vinegar in measuring cup fill with water to 1 cup. Mix into flour mixture. Combine well. Roll out for pies, tarts, etc. Should make 4 double crust pies or more. Can be frozen.

For the filling, I used the lemon filling recipe from Epicurious and it was fantastic, as is.

To top the tiny little tarts, I layered on about 1 tbsp of whipping cream and topped them off with a raspberry. The raspberries were quite heavy for the whipping cream (perhaps I didn’t shake the bottle enough), and found that the whipping cream slowly got crushed. I’d recommend putting the whipping cream beside the raspberry or eliminating it as a whole. The lemon filling was so good!

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Pillowy Marshmallows

I was looking at the latest issue of “Edible Vancouver” magazine at my cousins’ house the other day when I was introduced to the idea of making my own marshmallows (recipe from magazine – I didn’t actually use this one).

After putting it on the back burner for a few weeks, I decided they would be a perfect fit for my friend’s upcoming babyshower this weekend – so I did! Like the baby, these treats are delicate, fun and sweet. The recipe I used is from Epicurious.

Tips & things:
– They were set aside at room temperature to cool overnight, 11.5 hours to be exact.
– I didn’t have a candy thermometer and just waited 12 minutes for the sugar mixture to boil.

Personally, I found them to be slightly sweet, but I haven’t received complaints from anyone else who’s tried them yet. In fact, someone asked me to make one for him with the size of 1′ x 2′, so he can rest his head on it when he goes to sleep. Others said they are comparable (if not better) than store bought!

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Set aside uncover to cool overnight

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Close up of its delicateness…

I am not a messy baker to begin with, but despite my efforts, I found splatters of marshmallow everywhere from my socks, to my pants to my appliances nearby. But perhaps my hand held electric mixer was too aggressive for the job, or that I needed an XXL bowl – not sure. Great recipe, easy to follow. I recommend a stand mixer to give your arm a rest!

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Angel Food Cake

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We had angel food cake at a friend’s birthday a few months ago and that’s when I remembered how delicious and delicate it was and that I’ve never attempted to make it before. So then I did.

Few quick facts about this cake: no butter (good, ‘check’), no oil (good, ‘check’) and small amount of flour (good: ‘check’). However, it uses 10-12 eggs (1-1/2 cup whites only).
Angel food cake recipe

I wasn’t going to comment much on this recipe, I followed it closely and turned out wonderful and angel food cake pretty much speaks for itself, but I have heard that sometimes the cake will deflate. Few tips: temperature, whip, fold, cut and flip. Temperature: don’t be afraid to leave the eggs in room temperature for 30 minutes prior to whipping (ie. don’t use them straight out of the fridge). Whip: (or lack of whipping) don’t overwhip – once the stiff peaks are formed, stop yourself. Fold: add in the flour and icing mixture 1/4 cup at a time and fold it in. Cut: after carefully spooning your mixture into the pan trying your best to avoid air pockets, cut the cake from the center outwards ~ 15 to 30 times to remove air pockets. Finally, flip: after baking your cake, flip the cake upside down (still in pan) resting the legs of the pan on top of a cooling rack to increase air flow. This will help decompress and keep it fluffed up.

I baked mine for 40 minutes (without peeking) and it was excellent.

Icing recipe

I served it as a birthday cake. At the end of the night, there were 3 pieces left, so I wrapped them up to keep them fresh. But before long, they were finished in no time – no need to wrap!

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