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The big day is here. The day I could not even conjure up in my head 10 months ago. You know, when a baby is 2 months old and she can’t do anything but eat, cry and sleep and cry and cry….And now the day is upon us and how she has changed! Smiles that melt your heart, laughter that makes you warm all over, physical abilities that make me burst with pride. Nothing is better than my Little Pea.
This carrot cake placed right up there though. Moist as all get out, quite spicy and that icing! That icing is the icing that I have been waiting all my life for. Smooth, cool, creamy, sweet and tangy.
I went for The Very Hungry Caterpillar theme. I saw this cake/cupcakes made up on Pinterest. I had it bookmarked for months. I must say that I am very pleased with how it turned out. I used marzipan instead of fondant for the head with a thin layer of the cream cheese icing underneath. I thought the taste was great! A little wobbly for my first time using a piping bag with the star nozzle, though.* My friend Patty once told me a Japanese saying – imperfect art has it’s own character. I think I’m going to go with that!
And of course LP inhaled it. I picked carrot cake because it is healthier than just regular cake, right? Because of all the carrots. So, if you just wanted to bake yourself up some healthy cake, this is the one for you. And go ahead and eat a whole bunch. All that beta carotene is good for your eye sight – wink wink.
Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Icing – via smittenkitchen.com
The recipe makes 24 cupcakes or two 9″ cakes. Just like Smitten Kitchen, I grated the carrots on the fine grater. I loved this since there were no thick strands of carrot, but grating was……..a pain. I made 1.5 batches of this recipe for the cupcakes and one 9″ cake.
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil
4 large eggs
3 cups grated peeled carrots
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 degrees celcius). Mix the dry ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside. Mix the oil and sugar together and then add one egg at a time and incorporate. Now add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix. Lastly, add the grated carrots and stir until just combined. Spoon into cupcake tins lined with paper cups 3/4 full. Bake for 14-18 minutes until a tester comes out clean. OR half of the batter into a 9″ buttered and floured pan and bake for 40 mins and repeat.
Maple Cream Cheese Icing
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (I used Mon Chou cream cheese)
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
Slice the butter and cream cheese into 1″cubes and put everything into a mixing bowl. Use a hand held mixer to combine until whipped and smooth. Add food colouring of your choice.
*Here is a handy tip for using a piping bag. It made my life soooo much easier.
Hi y’all! It’s Valentine’s Day and over at my house I just bought a grocery basket full of candy, chocolate, chips and pop. No baking over here folks. I know, brutal, but I am gearing up for Little Pea’s first birthday and I don’t want to kill my baking mojo before the big day. BUT, I did hunt something out for you on this sweetest of all holidays (or should I say celebration day?).
When I read this recipe, my mouth dropped open. Not only does this ice cream recipe have only 2 ingredients, it does not need an ice cream maker! That has been what has held me back all this time. I just couldn’t fit another appliance in the kitchen.
If you hurry and get it going in the morning, it will be all set up for the romantic or girls night or candy poppin movie watchin night you have planned.
Here’s the link to Cookies and Cups. Thanks for hooking a girl up, Shelly!
So there’s this huge trend of cake balls and cake pops on the web right now. I first saw them on Bakerella’s site and they are the coolest thing. She is a real artist when it comes to decorating these cake pops. You should really check them out. So, anyways, I wanted to make some, of course, but I hadn’t had an opportunity as of yet. And then along came my 30th birthday. What could be a better time than to try out a new “cake” than that. They are perfect because I could eat one after another, after another, after another…..
BUT, then I was all like, what flavour should I make? Should I use icing, should I use cream cheese, should I make red velvet? And then it came to me. You want to know when things “come to me”? When I am up in the middle of the night trying to fall back to sleep after I just spent 10 minutes calming LP down. I am just lying there, trying to fall back asleep and BAM! ideas are hitting me like comets! Things like what I should pair my new jeans with, what I should make for a Halloween costume, what thing I should crochet next and what kind of cake balls I should make for my birthday. Come on – you guys do this too. Don’t you?
Well, I got thinking about dulce de leche. How could I use this oowy gooey caramel-ness? A can of it has actually gone to waste in the back of my refridgerator once. This is blasphemy. I needed to come up with a way to slide it into my everyday life more often. And at 3am, BAM! use it in your cake balls, Kerry! And add some pretzels for saltiness and crunch!
I had my cake ball idea and here it is, come to fruition. Thanks middle-of-the-night- brain. You really help me out in tough times.
Dulce de Leche Cake Balls adapted from Bakerella.com
1 box white cake mix (prepare as directed)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup pretzels, crushed, plus extra for sprinkling
white and milk chocolate for dipping (1 bar each)
Start by baking the cake. This can be a boxed cake or a cake from scratch. When the cake is ready and cooled, crumble it into a mixing bowl. Add in the crushed preztzels.
To make the dulce de leche, there are a couple ways I have done it. One: you can remove the lable and put the can in water on the stove and simmer it for 4 hours. The water should be about one inch from the top of the can. Two: you can empty the can into a sauce pan and cook it on low heat while constantly stirring until it turns golden in colour. The first method resulted in a darker brown dulce de leche and was super easy. There is a small risk of the can exploding and it takes forever. The second method was also easy, but the mixture does not get as dark. I went with the second method because it was quick. Do not let the dulce de leche sit and cool, since it will become very hard (if using the second method).
Add the dulce de leche to the cake and pretzel mixture and stir to combine. Now take 1 tbsp of the mixture and roll into balls. Place on a baking sheet and then into the fridge or freezer to set.
When they are set, it is time to get the chocolate ready for dipping. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. I peirced one ball at a time with a skewer and used a spatula to coat the ball with chocolate. Place on parchement paper or silpat when completely covered. Sprinkle immediately with the extra crushe pretzels. If you are doing some white and some dark chocolate, start with the white and then just throw in the dark chocolate. You won’t have to wash out the double boiler in this case!
Have any of you ever been to Brazil? I have not – but funny thing – I have two very special Brazilian friends. How did I swing that? Well, they were both here in the Netherlands in the exact same predicament as myself. Our husbands followed their schooling dreams to the TU Delft and we followed right along side. This kind of left us three women in the lurch. What should we do while we were here? Who will we find for friends? Well, we all made our way to a little group called the International Neighbours Group. The ING. I know, it is the same as the bank, which makes it very confusing where talking about it.
The ING is a group sponsored by the university for foreign students and their families. Every Wednesday there is a handicraft group. Naturally, since I am keen on handicrafts, I was all over this. And that is where I met Josie. We found out that we lived in the same building and that she actually lived directly over top of me. She was my answer to who I was going to be friends with. We had coffee dates, we shopped together, we celebrated birthdays together and she was the first one I told about Little Pea. After one year, she returned to Brazil and I was devestated.
Then along came Renally, another Brazilian. I actually met her through Josie before she left. Renally was fun, sweet and outgoing. Who knew Brazilians were so friendly! We became fast friends and did everything together. She supported me through my whole pregnancy and was even there when I was in labour. Then, after her year was up, she moved back to Brazil. I was heartbroken, but she has already been back to visit!
These two ladies introduced me to the Brazilian culture. They taught me not to be so shy and to reach out to people. Josie and Renally will always be in my heart as those who were there for me in what could have been a very lonely life here in Delft. Luckily, after their tutelage, I have made some other spectacular friends here in their absence.
Here is a recipe that Renally left for me to try. Brigadeiro – a traditional birthday candy. Super easy and chewy delicious!
ps. I am working on getting a recipe from Josie for Brazilian cheese bread, stay tuned…
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp cocoa (plus extra for coating)
sprinkles (coloured or chocolate)
mini cupcake paper cups
Start by melting the butter in a pot on medium heat. When melted, add in the milk and stir. Next add in the cocoa and stir until combined. Continue to slowly stir with a wooden spoon while heating. The mixture will eventually thicken. Keep cooking until you can draw your spoon through the mixture and you can see the bottom of the pan. The mixture should not fold back over the line from the spoon. (see photo)
Remove from heat and let cool until you are able to handle it. With a spoon, scrape out about 1 teaspoon scoops and roll into balls with greased hands. Roll balls in sprinkles or extra cocoa. Place balls in the mini cups. THis recipe makes about 20 brigadeiro.
Look at this little foodie! She sure would like to take a big bite out of her half birthday cake. Don’t worry, we didn’t let her. She’s just starting her solids with rice cereal. Yum! Ummmm, I mean bland. I would want a big bite of this cake too if I were her. She managed to get her hands right in it and squish it up. Good girl.
This cake is something I have been whipping up recently. I wanted to make those cupcakes with the cream cheese centers and chocolate cake outsides. You know the ones? I found a recipe online and they are called Black Bottom Cupcakes. To my surprise, while I was making them, I realized that there was no milk or eggs in the chocolate cake. Crazy! Well, Wacky, actually. That’s what it is called. Wacky cake. This cake was apparently invented during the second world war when there were shortages of those ingredients. Anyways, this makes the cake super easy to whip up and super easy to eat the batter with no salmonilla worries. So, I’ve made them into cupcakes and now I made a cake!
I just poured most (we ate some 🙂 ) of the batter into a mold and baked it until the tester came out clean. I mixed up a glaze and poured it over top for a thin icing. Voila – the easiest chocolate cake ever. Seriously – just as easy as a box.
Chocolate Cupcakes or Cake
This makes 12 cupcakes or 1 small cake. It is moist and super chocolat-y.
1.5 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp instant coffee (optional)
1 cup water
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Make a well and add the wet ingedients. Mix with a whisk and pour into cups or into a small cake pan. I used a small bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees farenheit for 30 minutes or until the tester comes out clean.
For a glaze, put 1/2 cup icing sugar in a bowl add 1/2 tsp vanilla. Then add water 1 tsp at a time until it forms a glaze. If you want to ice some cupcakes, mix together some icing sugar and cream cheese. Easy peasy!
This year for Christmas I got a cookbook from my brother-in-law. Smart man. It’s one from the Barefoot Contessa. I have always loved watching her on the food network and jotting down her recipes, but you can’t find those recipes online. You gotta get the book. So, I haven’t made too much from her, but now I’ve got the book….so you might be seeing a few in the near future.
The first one is a gooder. I have made it several times already and everyone who has had it really liked it. It sure doesn’t last long on the table. Dutch etiquette is the reason I have made this so many times. Here’s the rule: if someone is dropping by or coming over, tea and/or coffee and something to nibble on are a must. It is considered rude not to have something to share. Since I don’t love the preservatives in the cakes sold at the grocery store, I try to always bake something of my own.
You wouldn’t believe the aisle of cakes at the supermarket here. It is shelf over shelf of twinkie-like confections. Super moist pound cakes, frosted individual cakes, pastry filled with almond paste, waffles and finger cookies. It is an aisle devoted solely to the rule stated above. Funny how our etiquettes infiltrate the grocery store. I heard the reason that not too much baking goes on here is because it used to be considered bad taste to serve your own baking. Something bought was the way to show your guests that you care. I don’t know if that is still the reason or if it is just habit now. Anyways, I actually feel the exact opposite. Something fresh from the oven is like a warm hug for guests – saying, “Thanks for coming over!
Anyways, if you are having friends over for a chat or you are out visiting someone in their home, it is a pretty nice “rule” to follow. Trust me – people will definitely appreciate this super moist cake if it is lightly sitting on a plate next to their tea.
Blood Orange Yogurt Cake – adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home
Ina Garten published this recipe using lemons instead of blood oranges. I had a net-full of blood oranges and switched it up using them instead. I must say that I preferred the tartness of the lemons to the sweetness of the blood oranges, but I am sure you could make this with any citrus you have on hand and it would be delicious. She also pours on a glaze, but I omitted it since I think the cake can stand alone without any added sweetness.
1.5 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup sugar (for the syrup)
3 large eggs
2 tsp grated blood orange zest (2 blood oranges)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice (from the oranges you zested)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees farenheit (180 celcius). Prepare a loaf pan by greasing and flouring it.
In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In a larger mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, orange zest and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet. Then add the oil and fold in with a rubber spatula. At first it will look like there is no way to combine the two, but keep folding and the batter will combine and be a beautiful shiny pale yellow colour. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
While the cake is in the oven, combine the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and the 1/3 cup freshly squeezed juice in a sauce pan. Warm it on the stove until the sugar is all dissolved. Let cool. This is your syrup.
When the cake is out of the oven, let it rest for a good 10 minutes. While it is still warm, run a knife along the edges and tip it out gently onto a plate. I poked the top with a skewer but Ina says you don’t need to. Drizzle the syrup over the top of the cake. Do it slowly so that it will leak into the cake and not just flow over it. Let it sit in the juices to soak up all the goodness. Serve by itself or with whipped or iced cream.
We are super lucky here in Delft since there are 3 market days a week. The booths go up the night before and the vendors set up the next morning rain or shine. They even go in the winter! Well, winter here isn’t quite winter like I know it in Canada, so that may not be saying much, but they do set up on the super windy rainy days which is quite brave. There are stands selling many things including: fruit, veggies, cheese, clothing, bathing suits, yarn, material, candy, specialty foods, spices, electronics and of course, flowers.
The one thing I am missing here is the fudge stand. I’m sure they have some little cubes at the candy store, but it is just not the same. In Calgary, I would frequent the Grassroots Northland Farmers’ Market on Tuesdays. There was the bread lady, the kettle corn and the fruit and veggie stand with athletes doing the selling. We always went for our regulars, but ever few weeks the fudge stand, Meg and Mom Fudge, would catch my eye. Buy 2 and get 1 free or something like that. What a deal! I couldn’t help but try a sample or four of their handmade fudge. Maple walnut, mocha, OH and chai. Mind blowing. The lady told me to put it in the freezer and take it out when I wanted some. She even suggested to melt a cube into coffee. Good idea.
Needless to say, I had a small stash in my freezer through the whole summer. Since it wasn’t in front of my face, I would forget about it and then bike home from training as fast as I could on the days that I remembered it was sitting there, chilling, just waiting for me to take a tender bite of the rich sweetness. The good thing about fudge is that you don’t need to eat a lot at once to be satisfied. If you do eat too much at once, you get what I call “sweetness in the belly.” Sounds good, but it is gut rot from too much sugar. Not nice.
Before the holidays I found this recipe on Cookies and Cups, my go-to sweets site. The pictures alone made me want to make this candy. Since I am treating these last few weeks of pregnancy as the chance to make everything I won’t have time to make after the baby, I got down to business. It was surprisingly easy! And the result is rich melt-in-your-mouth fabulousness with some oreo cookie crunch for texture. Now I just need that chai fudge recipe…
Cookies and Cream Fudge – Cookies and Cups
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup marshmallow fluff
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups white chocolate chips or bars chopped up
2 cups crushed Oreos
1 cup coarsely chopped Oreos (for the top!)
Start by preparing all your ingredients. This comes together quite quickly and you don’t want to be caught frantically stamping Oreos on the floor while you are worried that your mixture is going to set. Not like I did that or anything. Prepare a 9 x 9 inch pan (or there-abouts) with tinfoil and spray it with cooking oil so to prevent sticking.
For the fudge, start by melting the butter and sweetened condensed milk together in a pan on low to medium heat stirring occasionally. When the mixture comes to a boil, turn heat down slightly and simmer while continuously stirring for 2 minutes. During the boiling you might experience some separation. Don’t worry, it will turn out in the end! Remove from heat. Add chocolate and stir until it is all melted. Next add the vanilla, marshmallow fluff and crushed Oreos. Stir to combine. Pour out into prepared pan.
Finally, take your coarsely chopped Oreos and sprinkle them over the top pressing them down lightly into the mixture so that they stick. Slide the dish into the fridge and wait about an hour until it is set. Waiting overnight ensures a strongly set fudge. Yum!
If you bucked up and made your own pumpkin puree for that Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, then good on you! Also, you may have a tiny bit leftover. Ok, maybe you have a boatload left over. I sure do. So, without a freezer to store that goodness up, I had to come up with some pumpkin puree recipes.
Turns out, I really like pumpkin containing recipes. I have this pink notebook that my Mom wrote all my favorite recipes in for me when I moved away from college. The cover is ripped off then taped back on, there is a phone number scrawled on the front and inside, the first few pages are graced wit my Mom’s gorgeous handwriting and then the rest are from yours- truly (trying to copy that cursive of hers). The pages are well used, there are stains everywhere on it, but that just shows how much I use it. Nothing like the homecooked stuff Mom makes. Through the years I have added many recipes. Some I have never even made (what?!), others I come back to often.
The pumpkin recipes are ones that I have added to the “pink book”. I have 3! And trust me, I needed 3 recipes to use all this stuff up 🙂
Number 1. Pumpkin Swirl Brownies. I am not a huge fan of brownies, I know – who am I?, but that is just a fact. These brownies really get me going, though. They are swirled chocolate with a warm spicy pumpkin batter. They are moist and lovely. They are by Matha Stewart and blogged about on several other blogs. Check out this one for the recipe. Mine were gone before I got the camera out!
Number 2. Pumpkin Cookies. These hail from a ways back. I don’t even know where they come from, but according to my handwriting, looks like it was from around 2001-2002. I know, I can date my own writing. Can’t you? These cookies are a little more like muffin tops. They are light, fluffy and spicy. Yum! Substitute the raisins with chocolate chips and you will get that sweetness you might want in a cookie. Or try this number.
0.5 cup softened butter
1.25 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 tbsp apple sauce
2.25 cups all purpose flour
0.5 tsp ground ginger
0.5 tsp cinnimon
.25 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
Mix wet and dry seperately and then combine. Drop by the spoonful on a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper). Bake at 350 degrees farenhiet for 12 minutes.
Number 3. Pumpkin Muffins. These guys are so right for the morning or for a snack or right before bed or warmed up and spread with butter…. Did I mention that I love these? It says here in the book that I got the recipe from a program called Fuel For Gold back at the Olympic Oval, but I remember them most from my last roomie – Tobes! I can’t eat these without thinking of her.
2 cups whole wheat flour
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp groung ginger
.25 tsp salt
1.5 cups raisins (can substitute in chocolate chips)
1 398ml pumpkin puree (about 1.75 cups puree)
2 cups buttermilk
1.25 cups raisins or chocolate chips
Mix the dry and wet seperately and then combine. Bake at 375 degrees farenheit for 18-22 mins. Makes 24 muffins. If you want to frost with cream cheese icing: combine 1 cup icing sugar with 1 block softened cream cheese.
Now get baking! And if you make this all and you still have some leftover, ahem, then bake another pumpkin pie.