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Partridgeberry Syrup

Partridgeberry SyrupThis is a simple, holiday-worthy syrup to make and keep in the fridge for when guests drop by or for a sweet taste at the end of a simple winter supper. It is great over ice cream. I also have other plans for this recipe, as you’ll see in my next post.

Super easy to make if you have frozen partridgeberries on hand, as I did. Simply add the following to a saucepan over medium heat:

  • 1 pound partridgeberries
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water

Once everything comes to a boil, reduce the heat somewhat and allow the mixture to simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the berries have released their juices and the mixture is reduced somewhat.  Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve.  Funnel into a squeeze bottle and voila, done !

Cherry Blossom Bundt Cake

Cherry Blossom Bundt CakeThis rich chocolate cake, packed with peanuts and coconut, hides a tunnel of cream cheese and maraschino cherries and was inspired by, you guessed it, the candy bar of the same name.  This one went to a bake sale in aid of a Christmas families program we have at work, so while filling a few bellies, it also went towards a good cause.  Doubly sweet !

On to the recipe.  For the cake:

  • 1 cup butter, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups vanilla greek yogurt (I used 0% as that’s what I had on hand)
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Grease your bundt cake pan, ideally with coconut oil for a little extra flavor.  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Using your mixer, cream together butter, both sugars and peanut butter.  Add coconut extract, then eggs, one at a time.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add this mixture to the butter mixture in three additions, alternating with the yogurt.  Lastly, mix in coconut, chopped peanuts and chocolate chips.

Make your cherry filling with:

  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup quartered maraschino cherries

Blend together sugar, cream cheese, egg and extract (I used my stick blender), then stir in cherries.

To assemble the cake, add half of the cake batter to the prepared bundt pan.  Use the back of a spoon to make a little furrow in the centre of the batter, to which you will pour the cream cheese mixture.  Try not to overflow towards sides/centre of pan, but don’t worry, as it will still bake into the cake.  Put remaining cake batter over top and smooth out.

Bake cake for an hour to an hour + 20mins, depending on pan type.  I used my stoneware pan which I find takes a little longer baking time.  Use a toothpick or what not to test the cake at one hour, if it comes out clean, you can take the cake out of the oven.

Cool cake in pan for about 20 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.  Allow to cool considerably before making the chocolate ganache topping:

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 7 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp coconut extract

Warm the cream in the microwave for about a minute.  Add chocolate and allow to melt enough to whisk together.  Add peanut butter, return to microwave if necessary in 30 second intervals until melted and creamy.  Whisk in coconut extract.  Allow to sit to cool slightly, then pour over top of cake.  Keep in a sealed container until ready to serve.

Mint Mocha Truffle Cake

Peppermint Mocha Truffle Cake (2)Has it snowed yet in your neck of the woods?  Yesterday, after a fairly balmy week (sneaky), we got ourselves a big old snowstorm – a sure sign that winter has arrived.  Time to dig out the mittens and boots, and time to dig out some cozy winter recipes for sharing !

I have to say, that while I enjoy the whole pumpkin spice thing, I REALLY love a peppermint mocha on a chilly day.  Goes great with shopping ! So this cake was inspired by that favorite drink, but also by the infamous Bete Noire that I have made time and time again for various occasions.  Was pleased with this seasonal update, and hope you are too.

Note that it is best to start this cake the day before you intend to serve it.  Start by making a mint coffee syrup:

  • 1 cup hot espresso
  • 1.5 tbsp instant coffee
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed mint leaves

Brew your espresso and mix with the sugar and instant coffee until it dissolves.  Place mint leaves in a sealable container and pour the coffee mixture over top.  Press the mint leaves somewhat with a muddler or the back of a fork.  Place in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.  Remove and strain through a fine sieve.  Set aside until you are ready to make the cake (if making ahead of time, allow it to come to room temperature before using).

Prepare an 8 inch springform pan by buttering sides and bottom and lining bottom with a circle of parchment.  I also wrap the outside of pan in foil to contain leakage. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place a small metal bowl in oven filled with water (small enough to leave room for the cake alongside).

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp butter
  • 18 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • coffee-mint syrup

Place a saucepan over low heat.  Add butter and allow to melt.  Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk in coffee-mint syrup.  Slowly whisk in eggs until the mixture is fully blended.  Pour into prepared pan.  Place in oven and bake for about 50 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool, while making the chocolate ganache topping:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

Warm the whipping cream in a saucepan or in the microwave for a minute. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth.  Pour over top of cooled cake while still in pan.  Refrigerate cake in pan until everything is set, a few hours, or if you like, overnight.

When ready to serve, run a knife around inner edge of cake, release sides of springform.  Run a cake spatula or knife carefully under bottom of cake/parchment, and transfer to serving platter, removing parchment in process (you can also serve it directly from the pan)

Serve with:

  • lightly sweetened whipped cream (if you want to take a decorated cake to a party, you can simply stabilize the cream and pipe large dollops around the edge of the cake, then sprinkle with the candy)
  • chopped white chocolate mint candy/bark (I used candy cane Hershey’s kisses)

If you enjoy these flavors, you can also try my Peppermint Mocha Cheesecake.

Strawberry Shortcake Toffee

Strawberry Shortcake ToffeeI like to sometimes turn candy into desserts (see cherry blossom everything!) and desserts into candy, like my apple crisp toffee.  This sweet treat is another one along those lines, and whipped up in time for a co-worker’s retirement get together, and inspired by strawberry shortcake, of course.  This candy is like a hint of summer, in the chilly days of fall !

  • 1 1/4 cups butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 cup coarse crumbs from shortcake biscuits (I used Peek Freans), plus 1-2 extra for topping (finer crumb)
  • 1 cup chopped dried strawberries (kitchen scissors work well to do this)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces white chocolate, chopped

Prepare a baking sheet with butter.  To a heavy saucepan over low-medium heat, melt butter, then add both sugars, water and corn syrup.  Increase heat to medium and cook for up to 20 minutes to “hard crack stage” while regularly stirring and scraping bottom of pan.  Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla, then add the biscuit crumbs and the chopped dried strawberries.  Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet and press with back of metal spoon to distribute thinly.  Distribute the white chocolate over top of the hot toffee and allow to sit for a minute or so, until the chocolate has melted enough to smooth over with a spoon to fully cover the toffee.  Sprinkle with remaining biscuit crumbs, and allow to fully set before breaking into pieces.  Keeps well in a sealed container.

Like this recipe?  Be sure to check out my other toffees !

Pumpkin Spice Latte Toffee

Pumpkin Spice Latte Toffee (2)Thought I’d whip up a seasonal candy for Halloween this year ! Inspiration of course comes from the spiced lattes so many people look forward to this year, and a new take on a favorite toffee recipe I have been making and reinventing for ages now.  I kept it simple and nut free for this recipe, but I’m sure it would be just as tasty with some walnuts or pumpkin seeds mixed in.

  • 1 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tbsp coffee powder
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice mix
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 12 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate

Butter a cookie sheet and set aside.  In a heavy bottom saucepan over low-medium heat, melt the butter, then add both sugars, water, molasses, coffee and pumpkin spice mix.  Stir until sugars dissolve, increase heat to medium and cook for 16-20 minutes or until mixture reaches the hard crack stage (keep a glass of iced water nearby for this purpose).

Remove from heat, stir in pumpkin puree, making sure it is evenly distributed.  Pour toffee mixture onto buttered cookie sheet.  Sprinkle white chocolate over top of hot toffee, let stand for a minute or two until you can start to spread it over the toffee.  Melt the ounce of semi-sweet chocolate and drizzle it over top of all.  Use a knife to make a slight marble pattern.

Allow candy to set, then break into pieces to serve.  Can be kept in a sealed container. Enjoy!

Kale and Yellow Eye Bean Soup

CreamyKaleandYellowEyeBeanSoup_zps7d686ecbIt has been raining here for days and the temps have taken a noticeable dive, so that means comfort food.  I am so not ready for the colder weather, but I am always ready for a tasty bowl of soup.  For this recipe I used my garlic and kale from Wysmykal Farm as well as yellow eye beans from Webster Farms.  Paired with a gooey grilled cheese (with a hint of hot honey horseradish mustard from LaHave Bakery), it made for a heart-warming dinner on a chilly evening.

This is pretty quick to whip up if you have cooked beans on hand.  If you are looking for a further shortcut, you can also use any white canned bean, just drain and rinse.

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dry rosemary
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, halved
  • 3 cups vegetable (as I used) + 1 cup water during boiling
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 head of kale torn, ribs removed (about 6-8 cups)
  • 1 cup cream
  • 4 cups cooked yellow eye beans, divided
  • salt and pepper, to taste

In your saucepan, combine olive oil, rosemary and garlic over low-medium heat.  Cook for a few minutes until the garlic starts to turn golden.  Add stock, bay leaf and kale, and boil until kale is tender, adding additional cup of water if your stock reduces too much.

Remove from heat, remove bay leaf.  Add cup of cream and 1 cup of the cooked beans.  Either in your blender or with an immersion blender, puree this mixture.  Return to low-medium heat, add remaining 3 cups cooked beans.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes about 5-6 servings

Smoky Apple Cheese Dip

IMG_0899_zpsd28538ddThis autumn inspired dip is perfect for a entertaining a small crowd on chilly evenings, or if you choose a smaller serving, the rest can be frozen for rewarming whenever you like. The dip should be served warm to hot, and works well in a fondue pot as well.  Serve it up with cheese-dip vehicles such as bread chunks, broccoli spears, crackers or chips, or even roasted potatoes.

I used some regional favorites in this dip, with Bulwark Cider, an apple from Belliveau Orchards and gouda from Dutchman’s Farm.  The resulting dip was boozy, semi-sweet, smoky, cheesy awesomeness if I say so myself!

I make this one in the microwave, but you can also do it up stovetop.  It will make around 3 cups.

  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup finely diced apple (I used a small honeycrisp, which when cored and peeled, gave me around this much)
  • 1 cup hard cider
  • 2 cups smoked gouda, shredded
  • 2 cups aged white cheddar, shredded
  • 2 tbsp white flour
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp chipotle powder (depending on your heat tolerance)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

In a larger microwave safe dish (I used my 8 cup glass measuring bowl), combine the diced onion, apple and cider.  Boil the mixture in 5 minute intervals until the onions are translucent and the liquid had reduced somewhat (about 12-15 minutes).

While this is cooking, combine both cheeses with the flour.  Once the onion mixture is ready, whisk in handfuls of the cheese mixture until it starts to melt together.  Return to microwave for about 5 minutes.  Whisk again.  Return to heat for another 2 minutes or so until creamy.

At this point I gave the dip a couple of blitzes with the immersion blender for a smoother texture but you can leave it chunky.  Whisk in the sour cream, season with the chipotle powder to taste and it is ready to serve!

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