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Amaretto Crunch Fudge

Amaretto Crunch Fudge

Here is another quick to whip up sweet to have on hand for your holiday candy platters and gift giving.  Not a true fudge, but equally tasty.  It passed my mother’s taste test and she has been a fudge master over the years!

To start, line an 8-9 inch square pan with parchment.  To a microwaveable container or in a double boiler, melt together:

  • 24 ounces white chocolate
  • 12 ounces milk chocolate
  • 1/3 cup Amaretto liqueur

until it can be whisked and smooth in texture.  Mix in:

  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup almond cookie pieces (or more, if you like!)

Pour mixture into pan, smooth with back of metal spoon.  Put in fridge to set, remove from pan and cut into cubes.

Now wasn’t that easy? Happy Holidays !! :)

Cookie Butter Clusters

Cookie Butter ClustersThese sweets are super easy to whip up and make a bunch.  If you can melt chocolate, you are good to go.

I have made a few variations on these (like my apple raisin slowpokes), but it is the holiday season and time for warm spices! And so these were a new addition to my candy platter this year.

This recipe uses cookie butter made from Speculoos cookies.  I used Cookinotti brand that was easy to find at the grocery store.  It is GOOD stuff.  I also used it in a cheesecake recipe this past year that I entered into a contest, so if you are looking for a more elaborate dessert, check it out !

On to the recipe.  Spread out parchment/wax paper over pans or a flat work surface in your kitchen.  Get your double boiler ready and melt:

  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 cup cookie butter

Once smooth, remove from heat and stir in:

Drop spoonfuls onto parchment/wax paper and allow to fully set before removing to container.  These do best in a cool environment, so I kept them in the fridge in a tin with paper between the layers.

For a peek inside:

cookie butter clusters2

Moroccan Spiced Brittle

Moroccan Spiced BrittleA couple of weeks ago I was making a big pot of  Moroccan carrot soup that had me thinking of the warm spices and ways to incorporate that into some of my holiday baking.  I ended up making a less peppery version of this Ras El Hanout to scent this nut filled golden brittle and was really pleased with the results.  The spices were subtle, and paired well with the nuts traditionally used in Moroccan cooking, particularly with the hint of honey in this recipe.  I took my inspiration for the base from Epicurious’ Fragrant Indian Brittle, another wonderful recipe.  And on to my twist!

Make the following spice blend (don’t worry, there are plenty of recipes to use up the rest):

  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground mace
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground anise seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Keep in a sealed container until ready to use.

When you’re ready to make your brittle, assemble the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup mild honey
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp spice blend
  • 1 cup blanched almonds
  • 1 cup walnut halves

Lightly grease a cookie sheet with a little butter or oil.  Set aside.  Bring sugar, honey, corn syrup, water, salt and spice blend to a boil in a heavy pot over moderate-high heat, stirring occasionally, then boil, continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture reaches the hard crack stage.  Remove from heat, stir in the nut mixture and immediately pour out on the prepared baking sheet.  Use the back of a metal spoon to stretch and move the hot mixture around on the pan to make a thin brittle.  Allow to fully cool before breaking into pieces.  Keep in a sealed container.

Partridgeberry Cheesecake Martini

Partridgeberry Cheesecake MartiniAfter seeing another cheesecake martini recipe, I was inspired to come up with a new twist on my own with a nod to Newfoundland flavors, and perfect for the holidays if I say so myself !  If you remember, a couple of days ago I posted a recipe for a beautiful red partridgeberry syrup, thinking ahead to use it in this sweet and creamy drink. You could, of course, use any berry syrup of your choosing for the same effect, whatever you like !

This base mixture will make enough for about 4 drinks, and can be whipped up ahead of time and kept in the fridge until you are ready to break out the cocktail shaker.  Blend together the following:

  • 1 tbsp white sugar ( a little more if you prefer a sweeter drink)
  • 3/4 cup vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 1 1/2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1-2 tbsp whipping cream (you’ll want to top this up to 1 cup total)

Keep in a sealed container until ready to use.

While other recipes I’ve seen called for graham cracker crumbs for the rim of this drink, I wanted something a little bit more festive, so I went with a shortbread cookie crumb.  To rim the glasses, I dipped the edges first in plain whipping cream, then into the cookie crumbs.

Now you’re ready to make the drink! For each drink you will need:

  • partridgeberry syrup or any berry syrup of your choosing
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese mixture (or more, if you prefer a less boozy drink)
  • 1/2 ounce vanilla liqueur
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • optional (not pictured): sweetened whipped cream

Drizzle some of the berry syrup inside the rimmed glass.  Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add the cream cheese mixture, liqueur and vodka and give it a few good shakes.  Strain into the prepared glass.  If desired, top with sweetened whipped cream.

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.

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