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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!

Greek Brunch Bake

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This recipe, much like my Tunisian Squash Casserole last year, was borne from the need to use up my CSA vegetables in a way that gives me a few tasty, convenient, and individual meals for the freezer.  I get a half share of vegetables from Wysmykal Farm every week, and even as one person who loves her veggies, I sometimes have a hard time making my way through it all before the next pick up.  I hate waste but thankfully love to cook on the weekends, so I often make big pots of catch-all soups, roast and freeze the root vegetables and squash, and make stuff like this. I love being able to pull a slice of this out of the freezer on mornings when I’m in a rush (which is most mornings, because let me tell you, I am NOT a morning person) and it gives me a nice portion of protein and vegetables to start my day .  It also makes for a nice lunch or dinner with a little salad or soup.

Of course, as a large recipe, this dish is also perfect for when you have a crowd for brunch. You can always cook up your vegetables ahead of time and whisk it all together the day of.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove (or two small) garlic, minced
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 -1/2 tsp salt ( depending on your tastes, and if you decide to use kalamata or regular canned olives)
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup packed, cooked spinach, chopped (I cooked mine from two fresh bags of spinach), drained from any liquid
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (I used Holmestead)
  • 1 cup sliced black olives

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a rectangular baking pan and set aside.

Over medium heat, cook onion, garlic, green pepper and herbs with olive oil until vegetables are softened.  Remove from heat. Season with a few grinds of fresh pepper and salt to taste. Stir in tomatoes and chopped spinach.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, chickpea flour and milk.  I like to give it a few mixes with the stick blender to do away with any lumps.  Stir in feta cheese and olives. Stir in vegetables, then pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes. Baking time will depend on the depth of your pan.  Mine was larger, and resulted in a thinner slice, so was baked around the 30 minute mark.  I got 9 slices from this dish.

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Partridgeberry and Apple Cheesecake

IMG_3320This cake was served along with the Pumpkin Truffle Cheesecake I made for Thanksgiving, and was a great way to incorporate a bit of local flavour as an alternative to a cranberry dessert.  Much like cranberries, partridgeberries (lingonberries) are bright red and tart, and happen to be a favorite of mine.  They are often cooked with apples into jams and pies and such, and so were a natural pairing for this cake. It was a hit at dinner !

I made this cake by preparing the separate partridgeberry and apple purees before assembling the crust and filling, but if you wanted to try a shortcut, you could try the cake with a ready made partridgeberry jam and un-spiced apple sauce.  A note of caution however, I’ve found some commercially produced partridgeberry jams start with sugar and apples before you ever get to the berries in the list of ingredients, so if you want that pure flavor as I did, I’d recommend following these steps.

For the partridgeberry puree:

  • 1 1/2 cups partridgeberries (I used frozen)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

Place all in a saucepan over medium heat.  Allow to cook until the berries have popped and released their juices and the mixture has reduced to a jammy thickness.  Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, then puree with a stick blender or alternative. Can be made a day ahead and kept in a sealed container in the fridge.

For the apple puree:

  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

Repeat the same process as for the partridgeberries, over medium heat until reduced, then puree with blender. Cover until ready to use.

For the cake, start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 9 inch springform pan by lining bottom with parchment and lightly greasing sides if not using a non-stick pan.  Make crust by combining the following:

  • 2 cups crumbs from shortcake cookies
  • 2 tbsps white sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Press along bottom and up sides of prepared springform pan. Set aside as you make the batter:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 8 ounce packages cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs

In your mixer, blend the white sugar with the cream cheese until creamy.  Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time, scraping sides of bowl once or twice to keep the mix creamy.

Divide this mixture in half (you can eyeball it, but it’ll turn out to be approximately 2.5 cups each).  Whisk partridgeberry mixture into one half, and the apple mixture into the other.  Scoop large spoonfuls of each batter into the prepared crust, alternating them as you fill the pan.  When all batter is in the pan, use a knife to swirl the mixtures a few times, taking care not to disturb the crust.

Bake cake for 50-55 minutes or until centre no longer jiggles/appears wet. Combine the following:

  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

And pour this mixture over top of cake while still in oven. Bake 10 minutes more, then turn off oven, leave door ajar and allow to cool slightly before removing to fully cool (place in fridge for several hours to completely cool)

When ready to finalize cake, run a knife around inner edge of pan, release the springform sides, lift cake from bottom of pan to serving platter, removing parchment in the process.  I find a larger offset spatula helpful with this step.

As an optional step, whip together:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 package of whipped cream stabilizer
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

And with a star-tipped icing bag pipe an edging of rosettes.

The cake will look like this (poorly executed photo) when cut:

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If you are interested in trying another dessert with these flavors, I also have a go-to partridegerry-topped cheesecake that I have made a number of times in the past.

Pumpkin Truffle Cheesecake

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Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone!  I have returned from the long weekend that was spent, where else, but in Newfoundland with family.  My sister hosted Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday that was originally expected to have about 20 in attendance, so some big desserts were in order, and this cake was one of two new recipes that made their debut at the table, the other being a partridgeberry apple cheesecake that I will post later.  If this cake looks a little familiar, it’s because I took my inspiration in part from the infamous Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake that I have made numerous times.  It too is delicious!

I like to oven roast my pumpkins and squash for baking, and because I was in the area, a trip to Lester’s Farm Market was in order.  I think half the people in the St. John’s area were in the store on Friday, and it is great to see so many people out on a crisp autumn day supporting a local business.  I chose a smaller pumpkin and also picked up some of my favorite goat cheese before heading home to start the prep for this cake.  You can of course always substitute canned pumpkin in this recipe (not pumpkin pie filling) to save yourself a little time.  If you chose to, just cut a small pumpkin in half, set the oven to 350 and place the halves in a pan with a little water and cook until softened.  I don’t even bother to scoop out the seeds until afterwards.  Easy!

You’ll want to allow yourself some time to make this cake, parts of which you can make ahead of time to lessen the stress.  But I promise it is worth the effort and will feed a crowd for sure.  On to the recipe!

Prepare a 10-11 inch springform pan by lining bottom with parchment.  I also like to line the outside with a little foil to catch butter drips.  Set aside, and prepare crust:

  • 9 ounces chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 7 tbsp butter, melted

Mix together and press along bottom and up sides of prepared pan.  Set aside and prepare ganache:

  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 20 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup spiced whisky (I used Spicebox)

Warm whipping cream in a saucepan on the stovetop or in the microwave at short intervals.  Remove from heat and mix in chocolate, whisking until melted and incorporated into the cream.  Stir in the whisky until blended.  Pour two cups of this mixture into prepared crust and place pan in freezer for at least one hour, or can be left overnight.  Reserve remaining ganache, covered (can be lightly rewarmed later).

When ready to make the full cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the pan from the freezer, and set alongside as you make the batter:

  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp spiced whisky
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 8 ounce packages of cream cheese (room temperature will ease blending)
  • 2 tbsp cake and pastry flour

Mix together the pumpkin, brown sugar, whisky, vanilla, eggs and pumpkin pie spice.  Set aside.  In your mixer, combine the white sugar with the cream cheese, beat until fluffy.  Mix in flour.  Scrape sides of bowl, mix again.  Slowly add the pumpkin mixture to the running mixer bowl and beat until creamy and incorporated, taking care not to overbeat the eggs (i.e. don’t leave that sucker running for 5 minutes straight! ;) )

Pour the cheesecake batter into the pan and bake for 60 minutes or until the centre no longer jiggles.  Combine the following:

  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp spiced whisky

Pour this over top of baked cake, return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes at 350.  Turn off oven and allow to cool slightly with the oven door ajar before moving can in pan to fully cool (transfer to fridge to cool overnight, which is what I did).

Once cake is fully cooled, run a knife along inner edge of pan, release the springform sides and remove cake from bottom to serving platter, removing parchment in process.  When ready to decorate, place remaining ganache in an icing bag with a star tip.  Pipe a lattice pattern on top of cake, then edge the cake with rosettes (side view).

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Cake will easily serve 12-14 if not more (the cake is very rich) and appears as such when sliced:

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Cinnamon Apple Toffee Crunch Ice Cream Cake

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Even though the crisp fall temps are starting to creep in and bring on thoughts of warm spiced dishes, who says we can’t enjoy ice cream for a little while longer? After all, fall has JUST barely arrived, so this is a perfect crossover dessert.  And of course, because it is apple season, this cake is right on time.  Ice cream cakes are also a great make-ahead dessert, or just kept in the freezer for when company drops by or there’s an emergency sugar craving! Just wrap it well in a few layers of foil until you’re ready to go.  This one made its debut at a BBQ this week, where we enjoyed some of the last few warm days of late summer weather.  I hope you enjoy it too.

You will need a round 9-10 inch springform pan for the dessert.  Start by making the toffee, and in preparation, lightly butter a cookie sheet and set aside.  Combine all of the following at low heat in a metal saucepan:

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Once butter is melted and sugars have dissolved, increase heat to medium.  Cook this mixture until it reaches the hard crack stage (it helps to keep a glass of iced water on hand for testing).  Stir throughout cooking time.  Remove from heat and pour onto prepared cookie sheet and spread thin.  Allow to fully cool before breaking into small pieces and then crushing into smaller bits (I just put it in a baggie and gave it a few whacks with a metal spoon).  You want a nice mixture of crumbs and chunks.

Next, prepare your apples:

  • 3 larger apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I used gravensteins from Belliveau Orchard )
  • 1 tsp salted butter
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Place a non-stick saute pan over low-medium heat.  Add butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and vanilla extract, stir to combine and allow sugar to melt into butter.  Increase heat slightly and add chopped apples.  Cook this mixture until apples have softened and released some juices.  Set aside as you assemble cake.  NOTE: toffee and sauteed apples can be made ahead of time and kept in a sealed container (separately of course ;))

Now you’re ready to assemble your creation!  You will need the following, in addition to the toffee and apples:

  • 1 cinnamon loaf cake (you can make your own, but in this case I went with a fluffy store bought cinnamon, crumb-topped cake, as I find this texture easiest to cut in the final product)
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup butterscotch chips
  • 4 cups vanilla ice cream,, softened
  • 1 cup frozen whipped topping, softened
  • additional whipped topping, to decorate

Slice the loaf cake into 1/8-1/4 inch slices.  Place HALF the slices on bottom of springform pan, pressing down slightly and pinching together/filling in any gaps. If desired, wrap a little tinfoil around the outside of the pan to catch any drips.

Warm the whipping cream over low heat in saucepan or in microwave.  Add white chocolate and butterscotch chips and whisk until smooth.  Remove from heat. Pour HALF this mixture over cake slices. Place in freezer for about an hour until the chocolate mixture is set.

Combine vanilla ice cream, 1 cup whipped topping, apple mixture and about 1 cup of the crushed toffee.  Spread this mixture over chocolate layer in pan, return to freezer for about 2 hours until ice cream mixture is set.

Top ice cream layer with remaining cake slices, pressing down slightly. Spread remaining chocolate mixture over top of cake, return to freezer for another hour before removing to pipe an edging of frozen whipped topping and sprinkling with remaining toffee crumbs.  Return to freezer for several hours or overnight.  When ready to serve, leave at room temp for a few minutes before releasing the sides of the springform pan, use a good sharp (or even slightly warmed) knife to cut and serve.

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Want a spoon? :)

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