Easy Jam Tart

Easy Jam Tart

I’ve been meaning to make this tart from David Lebowitz’s blog.  It appeared to be simple (and it is) but with a je ne c’est quoi type of French ‘patisserie’ elegance. Comprendez vous?  I made it with a really nice jar of peach-apricot jam, but you can use any flavour you like. Blueberry, raspberry or strawberry would give it Canadian flair. I think a less sweet or low sugar preserve would work really well – it’s quite sweet with regular jam.  The crust is easier than pie, no rolling required.  Give it a try – serve with coffee…c’est bon. Continue reading

Lemon Ricotta Cake – gluten-free

Lemon-ricotta cake – gluten-free

This is a delicious and simple cake that translates perfectly into a gluten-free recipe.  The original recipe, which is so great, is here: Louisa’s Cake – however,  if you are looking for a moist and delicious gluten-free cake,  give this a try.  It is surprisingly moist and lemony – hard to believe it is gluten-free. Continue reading

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Makes 24 muffins

Here’s an easy and awesome recipe to have on hand. First of all, it makes a delicious, ‘loved by everyone’ muffin.  Secondly it’s easy,  and thirdly, it’s a big recipe and makes 24 regular sized muffins.  My mother came across this recipe a few years ago and everyone who’s tried the muffins and the recipe loves it. Don’t let the fact that  pumpkin is used throw you off, in fact, don’t bother to tell people it’s pumpkin until after their eyes open wide and they say “this is soooo good”.  Great to make when you have a crowd coming, or have to bring treats to a potluck.  *A good beginner recipe.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

from A Taste of Home

makes 24 regular size muffins (recipe can be halved)

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 can pure  pumpkin  (14 oz can or half of the big can (28oz) not pumpkin pie filling)

1.5 cups veg. oil (I used 1 cup of grapeseed oil and 1/2  a cup of extra virgin olive oil)

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

2 cups choc chips

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Prepare muffin tins and place muffin tin on a baking sheet.

In stand mixer or with hand mixer, mix eggs and sugar together until well blended. Add in pumpkin and oil. Mix well.

In separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt (dry ingredients).  Add dry ingredients  to pumpkin mixture. Mix just until well combined.  Fold in chocolate chips until well distributed.  Fill muffin tin (greased or with muffin liners) to top. Bake in 400 oven for 16-20 mins, until top bounces back when touched, or tester comes out clean.

*you will notice that when baking muffins or quickbreads, the mixing of the wet, then dry, then combining them with minimal mixing is usually the procedure used.

Mix wet ingredients together well

Combine dry ingredients, then mix into wet until just combined

Make sure dry ingredients are mixed in well, but don't overmix.

Fold in chcolate chip or chunks gently.

Fill muffin tins just to top.

Everyone LOVES these muffins.

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Chocolate Thumbprint

It’s cookie season– a.k.a. weigh- gain season – at least for me, as I simply cannot control myself when it comes to home baked cookies.  These are my favourite -a  not too sweet shortbread base with an excellent dense texture – then a pop of dark chocolate. Oh my. Love it. Easy too.

Chocolate Thumbprints

adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

makes 3 1/2  dozen

1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temp.

1 cup icing sugar

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup  (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)

2 tsp corn syrup

2 (additional) Tbsp butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment or silpats.

In bowl of electric mixer, beat 1 cup of butter, icing sugar, salt and vanilla on medium speed until smooth, scraping down sides.  Beat in flour. Start at a low speed, gradually increasing to medium as the flour becomes incorporated. Mix only until all flour is mixed in.

Form balls of dough with cookie scoop or your hands (about 2 tsp each). Dough will be a little crumbly so press it together.  Place balls one inch apart on baking sheets.  Bake 10 minutes, remove from oven, and using the end of a wooden spoon, make an indent in each cookie.  Continue baking until light brown on the edges. (about 7 minutes more). Remove from oven, and use the end of the spoon to press your indents once more.

Combine chocolate, 2 tablespoons of butter and corn syrup in a small metal bowl over a saucepan with an inch of simmering water. Mix and remove from heat after chocolate is melted and smooth.Cool slightly, then fill indents with chocolate. (I use a baby spoon).  Set aside to for chocolate to firm up.  Store in airtight container for 3 days at room temperature, or freeze in layers in containers. They freeze really well.

dough will have a crumbly texture, but will come together when pressed with hands

after 10 minutes of baking, make indent, then return to oven

re-indent the cookies after they come back out of oven

melt butter, corn syrup and chocolate in top of double boiler

YUM YUM YUM

Baked Apple Dumplings

Baked Apple Dumpling filled with Pecan Streusal and topped with ice cream

I’d never even heard of apple dumplings until about a year ago from my friend Laurie,  who has a French-Canadian background. So naturally, I assumed it was a French recipe — with all it’s appley, sugary, buttery goodness wrapped up in pastry.  Further research has done nothing but confuse me, so varied were the theories on it’s origin.  Well, whatever, I was obsessed with recreating my girlfriend’s grandfather’s recipe, since she refused to give me any idea how they were made.  Various publications have helped me to come up with this procedure/recipe.  It involves a few steps, so I suggest making your pastry the day before. (feel free to double this recipe all the way through if you want to serve 8). 

Anyway, it’s a special offering. All the components come together to create a delicious, comforting and all around awesome dessert– pecan-streusal filled apples wrapped in a flaky pastry dough, baked and served with a sweet cider sauce, topped with whipped cream or ice cream. Um, hello.

Here’s to Grandpa Latendre. Maybe she’ll let me see the recipe now.

Good For Almost Anything Pie Dough

From Baking, From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Makes one 9-inch single crust

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) very cold (frozen is fine) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
2 1/2 tablespoons very cold (frozen is even better) vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
About 1/4 cup ice water

Directions
1. Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don’t overdo the mixing – some pieces should be the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley.

2. Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 3 tablespoons of the water. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour, If, after a dozen or so pulses, the dough does not look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water as necessary, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. Big pieces of butter are fine. Scrape the dough out of the work bowl and onto a work surface.
3. Shape the dough into a 8 x 4 square,  and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour before rolling out.

mix ingredients in processor - do not overmix

add liquid and mix until dough forms, then knead a few times until it comes together

Apple Dumplings

adapted from Cooks Country Magazine

serves 4

2 Golden Delicious apples (large), peeled, cored and split in half horizontally (see picture)

4 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1 tsp cinnamon

Topping

1 egg white, beaten slightly

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp granulated sugar

Directions

Heat oven to 425 F.  Mix together brown sugar, butter, pecans and cinnamon. Peel and core apples, and slice horizontally (across it’s equator).

Roll out square of dough on lightly floured surface into a 12 inch square. Cut each 12 inch square into four 6 inch squares.  Brush edges of each square with egg white and place apple, cut side up in center of square. Pack butter/nut/sugar mixture into each apple half. Crimp together the edges at the top, and cut a vent hole.

Place parchment paper on baking sheet. Arrange dumplings on baking sheet, brush top with egg white and sprinkle with ‘topping’ sugar and cinnamon mixture.  Bake until dough is golden brown – 20 minutes or so.  Cool before eating (about 10 minutes, or you’ll burn your tongue). Serve with Cider Sauce and whipped cream or ice cream. See recipe below.

Cider Sauce

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup cider

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbsp butter

Directions

Bring all ingredients except butter to a boil in a saucepan and boil for 15 minutes, or until reduced to 3/4 of  a cup. Remove from heat and whisk in butter.Pour over baked apple dumplings. Dollop with whipped cream or ice cream. Enjoy.

prepare pecan steusal, cinnamon sugar and egg white

after peeling, coring and slicing apples, place on dough squares

fill apples with streusal filling, brush edges of dough with egg white

wrap apples, pressing together seams and cut one or two vent holes

place dumplings on baking sheet, brush with egg white, sprinkle with sugar

bake for 20 minutes or so, until golden brown

serve with cider sauce and ice cream or whipped cream. YUM