Banana, blueberry and apple oat muffins

After such a long hiatus since my last post, it seems only fitting that this is a recipe my almost 18 month old son loves as well. I’ve recently allowed him to try some of my baked goods and he loves them. I wanted to create a ‘healthier’ (ie, less sugar, more fruit and fiber) version of my banana muffins; a recipe I will eventually blog someday. I decided that adding oats, halving the sugar, and including two other fruits were the key. You could just as easily add in another berry/fruit to the mix, just keep your proportion of wet to dry in mind: no one likes a soggy muffin!  I also plan on taking these to work as an on the go breakfast for myself; what better way to start off your day than a delicious, and healthy, muffin?

Ingredients:

3 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
½ Tsp Nutmeg
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup Rolled Oats
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
3 Large Eggs
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
6 Ripe Bananas, peeled and coarsely mashed (you can freeze over ripe bananas, then use them later)
1/2 Pint Blueberries
3 Royal Gala Apples, diced

Tools:

Muffin tray
Muffin papers
Mixer
Extra bowl

Method:

Pre heat your oven to 325 F.

Beat your sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend.

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Next, add your pre mashed banana.  Dice your apples, peel on, nice and small then add them to your other ingredients.

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Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, oats, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl to blend, then add your dry ingredients to your wet.  Finally, stir in your blueberries carefully to avoid mashing them.

IMG_7022-3Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Bake your muffins on the middle rack at 325 until the tops are golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out with no crumbs attached; about 25 minutes for medium and 30 for large muffins.

Enjoy!

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Soft chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese icing

I haven’t written a blog post in a long time, in fact this is only my second post since my wonderful son was born in early October.  Although I’ve still been baking and cooking up a storm, I just haven’t found the time or energy to write a post.  It seemed fitting that this be my first post in a long while as this cake is one of my mainstays.  It’s everything a chocolate cake should be, but often isn’t: moist, incredibly chocolatey, but not too sweet.  I’ve been making it for years and it’s become one of my husband’s favourites.  I make variations of this recipe, sometimes using chocolate milk or liquor (Khalua) in place of the coffee depending on who my audience is.  I’ve even added pureed raspberries to the mix which gave a delicious fresh fruitiness to the cake.  This cake is delicious with chocolate chips added, however they often sink to the bottom because it is so moist.  My favourite way to serve it is with my incredibly rich cream cheese icing (from my Moist Spiced Carrot Cake recipe).  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup cold brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk (I just use a cup of milk and a tsp of lemon left to sit until it curdles)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Kitchen mixer (or a large bowl and whisk)
Muffin pan
Muffin papers

First, preheat your oven to 350 F and line your muffin pan.  Sift together your dry ingredients then make a well in the center of your mix.

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Add your wet ingredients into the well in the center.

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Mix well.

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Pour your batter into the muffin papers, being careful to leave some space at the top: this recipe expands in the oven.

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Bake about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.  Transfer immediately to a cooling rack while you prepare your icing.

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1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 ½ cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat your cream cheese and butter on high until smooth then reduce the heat to low and slowly beat in the icing sugar and vanilla.  Add your icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time to avoid a mess.  Increase the speed to high and continue to beat until your icing is smooth and fluffy.

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I was making these particular cupcakes for a birthday so I decided to colour the icing.  Whenever I colour any icing I use Wilton gel food colouring; you only need a few drops and it doesn’t thin out the icing.  I always add the colouring after the icing is finished, adding a little more until the desired effect is reached.  I’m definitely not a cake decorator and value taste over aesthetic, but it is nice to see a little swirl of colourful icing on top of a yummy cupcake.

The final result!

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Raspberry chocolate ripple cheesecake

I made this cake for my Mother’s birthday by combining three of my favourite things: cheesecake, chocolate and raspberries.  The basic recipe for the cheesecake is my Mom’s: she’s been making it since I was a child and I’ve always loved it.  I changed it up a little bit when I started making it a few years ago: instead of the usual graham crust, I make mine a bit spicier with ginger snaps, cinnamon and nutmeg.  I decided to add fresh fruit to the cake because it’s summer and it seemed appropriate, but you could just as easily switch it up or omit the fruit all together (the way my Mom normally makes it).  The final touch is the chocolate ripple, it’s a very easy technique that I’ve been helping with since I was little but it makes your cheesecake look beautiful and taste delicious.
2 cups ginger snap cookie crumbs (I like ShaSha Co. brand cookies when I can’t find a traditional Swedish brand)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup melted butter
3 packages of Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp almond essence
3/4 pint raspberries
2 ounces semi sweet chocolate
Sauce pot
Stove safe bowl
Spring form pan
Baking pan
Food processor

First, pulse your cookies in the food processor until they are fine crumbs.  If you don’t have a processor, you can always place the cookies in a ziploc bag and roll over them with a heavy rolling pin.  Mix your cookie crumbs in a bowl with the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon until thoroughly combined then press into your spring form pan.  Refrigerate while you prepare the cheesecake filling.

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Next, beat the cream cheese until smooth then add your sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond.  Continue to beat until there are no lumps, scraping the sides occasionally.

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Rinse your raspberries and carefully fold them into your cake mixture.

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Pour your cheese cake filling over your prepared crust and set aside.  Preheat your oven to 325 F.  Melt your chocolate over a bain marie (half fill your sauce pan with water and bring to a boil with the stove safe bowl on top).  Once your chocolate is melted and silky, drizzle over your cheesecake.

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Using a butter knife, carefully draw an abstract design through the chocolate and cake: as much or as little as you’d like.  The key to a beautiful cake is a light hand; you want to just barely break the surface of your cake with the tip of your knife.  Once your design is finished, place your spring form on a baking tray to catch any cake drippings.

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Bake your cake for 70-75 minutes until firm, then cool on a wire rack until room temperature.  Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

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Flourless double chocolate cookies

I came up with this recipe for a friend who is intolerant to gluten.  My husband and I were hosting some friends for a bbq and I decided that ice cream sandwiches were the perfect easy to eat summer dessert.  I made a double batch of my chewy cookies, half chocolate chip and half cinnamon sugar (blogged in my earlier post “The BEST chocolate chip cookies”) and wanted to make something my friend could eat as well.  I searched the internet for flourless cookie recipes and found that most either showcase peanut butter (to which my brother, who was attending, is highly allergic) or an incredible amount of sugar.  It was almost as though the chocolate cookie recipes I found simply substituted the quantity of flour that would normally be used with icing sugar.  Given that these cookies are flourless they need something to bind together the batter; adding more sugar is simply not the answer.  Several recipes mentioned the addition of cornstarch which reminded me of my Pesach macaroons (to which I add potato starch).  Adding the starch helps these cookies to stay together and creates a beautiful cracked top similar to that found on a good brownie.  This recipe could be easily adapted for Pesach by substituting potato starch for corn starch and ensuring the rest of your ingredients are Pareve.

2 1/2 cups icing sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 egg whites
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Mixing bowl or Kitchen Aid mixer
Cookie scoop
Baking sheet
Silpat or parchment paper

First, preheat your oven to 350 F then sift together your dry ingredients until well blended.  Press through any clumps to ensure even blending: this cookie is all about texture.

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Add your egg whites, egg and vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined.  The mixture will be very gooey, don’t worry.

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Finally, fold in your chocolate chips by hand.

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Drop by the tablespoon onto parchment or Silpat baking sheets.  Leave several inches between each cookie to allow for spreading.  Bake for 15-18 minutes until the tops crack and appear dull.  This batter is extremely sticky and will adhere even with a Silpat so gently remove them from your baking sheet as soon as they come out of the oven and transfer immediately to a wire rack.

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Enjoy with a large glass of milk!

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Caramelized peach upside down cake

I recently offered to bake for a friend’s baby shower.  When I asked her what dessert she’d like me to make, she replied that she had been craving fruity pastries instead of chocolate.  I decided to make this cake because it’s deceptively straightforward despite looking impressive.  Even though peaches weren’t exactly in season when I made this cake, the process of caramelization brings out the sweetness of the fruit.  In fact, slightly under ripe peaches are ideal for this recipe as they hold their shape better in the pan.  You have the option of blanching and peeling the peaches before slicing, but I prefer the look of them whole.  If you are making this cake for someone with a nut allergy, you have the option of substituting additional vanilla extract for the almond.  I prefer the taste of almonds with the peaches but it’s your choice.

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 peaches, pitted and cut into 6 wedges each
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 Tsp vanilla extract
2 Tsp almond extract (or 1 tsp extract, 1 tsp Almond Cream liquor)
3/4 cup milk
Spring form pan
Baking pan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly butter your spring form.  Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium skillet over medium heat then add 3/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon water and cook, stirring occasionally, until smooth and deep golden brown, approximately 8 to 11 minutes.  Remove your mixture from the heat as soon as it caramelizes.

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Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and tilt to coat the bottom.

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Arrange the peach wedges snugly in the bottom of the pan in a single layer, cutting to fit if needed.  I like to start at the outside with the peaches facing in one direction, then move inside, turning them to the other direction for aesthetic effect.

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Next, combine your flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.  Beat the remaining 7 tablespoons butter and 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  Add your eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition then beat in the vanilla and almond extracts. Finally, beat in the flour mixture in 3 batches; alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Beat in each addition until just incorporated.

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Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake with a pan underneath in case of drips.  Bake until golden, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

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Transfer to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes then invert onto a plate and let cool completely.

Enjoy!

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Rich and creamy chocolate mousse

Chocolate mousse is one of my husband’s favourite desserts so naturally I’ve made this many times.  This mousse is light and airy, while still being incredibly decadent.  It is extremely easy to make and takes very little time to prepare, but you must make it in advance.  I decided to make this for Mother’s Day because my Mom loves chocolate.  This dessert is best served with something to cut the decadence slightly: I normally serve it whipped cream and fresh berries.  This time I decided to do something slightly different and make a chocolate crisp as decoration.  Another way to make this dessert a bit fancier is to serve it in wine glasses, you could obviously use a bowl just as easily but I like the look of a stemmed glass filled with mousse.

¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips or pastilles (I like to use PC Black Label semi sweet chocolate because it melts very smooth)
1 tbsp Khalua (you can also use milk or espresso, if you like the coffee flavour)
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup whipping cream
½ tbsp sugar
Extra whipping cream for decoration
Oven safe bowl
Small pot
Mixing bowl

First, melt your chocolate and Khalua in a double burner.

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Once your chocolate has melted, stir a small amount of it into your egg yolk to temper it.  Next, add your yolk to the melted chocolate and stir approximately 2 min until thickened.

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Remove it from the heat and stir in your vanilla extract.  Cool, stirring several times.

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While your chocolate mixture is cooling, beat your whipping cream and sugar until soft peaks form then fold it into chocolate mixture.

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Scoop your mousse into wine glasses and refrigerate 2 hrs-overnight.

6 ounces white chocolate (Baker’s)
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate (Baker’s)
Silpat sheet

Melt your white chocolate in a double burner then smooth onto a Silpat.

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Next, melt your semi sweet chocolate in the double burner and drizzle it onto the white.

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Place your Silpat in the freezer for at least an hour before breaking up the chocolate and using it to garnish your mousse.

Before serving your mousse, whip a cup of cream with a few drops of vanilla extract until stiff peaks form then add to the mousse.  Garnish with the chocolate and serve with fresh berries.

Enjoy!

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Sinfully delicious flourless chocolate torte

This torte is not for the faint of heart or someone who just ‘likes’ chocolate.  The cake is so rich and chocolatey you won’t be able to eat more than the smallest piece.  That said, it is absolutely delicious and will freeze beautifully for those times when you just need an indulgent treat.  Not only is this dessert incredibly rich and indulgent, it also is one of the easiest cakes that I make.  This is one of my mother’s recipes and has always been a go to on Pesach when leavened foods are forbidden, however I have made it for birthdays and special occasions as well.  The vanilla whipped cream is optional, but I find the slight sweetness really compliments the almost bitter chocolate flavour of the torte.

1 lb semi sweet chocolate (I like using Baker’s, 2 boxes)
1 cup milk
Small sauce pan
Glass bowl
Spatula

Preheat your oven to 350 F and butter your spring form pan.  Next, break up your chocolate into chunks and melt it and the milk in a double boiler. When the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat and let cool for 5 min.

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Pinch salt
1 ½  cups butter, must be at room temperature
6 large egg yolks
Mixing bowl
Spring form pan (I use a large pan to ensure the cake with be thin because it’s so rich)
Baking pan

Once your chocolate has cooled, pour it into a mixing bowl.  On low, mix your chocolate and alternate tablespoons of butter and egg yolk until thoroughly mixed.  Make sure your batter is completely smooth, the last thing you want is to bite into a tiny blob of butter during dessert!

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Butter your spring form so your cake won’t stick.  Next, pour your mixture into the prepared spring form and bake for 25 minutes until glossy but still jiggly.  Make sure to place your spring form on a baking sheet to prevent the oil from dripping onto the oven elements.  Your cake won’t look quite done but don’t worry, it will set in the fridge.  Let cool for several hours at room temperature then chill overnight.

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Small carton of whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Add your vanilla to your whipping and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.  Do not over beat your cream or you’ll end up with a buttery substance instead of delicious fresh whipped cream.

Delicious!

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