Glazed Cherry Almond Scones

Fresh bread is my nemesis.  Warm out of the oven, it gets me every time.  It doesn’t matter what it is, biscuit, fresh loaf, cinnamon buns or scones there is no smell better than that of bread, in any form, baking in the oven.

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I find the whole process of kneading and rolling so comforting.  Always have.   For the past few days I’ve been down and out with a bad cold.  The constant coughing when I lay down has left me restless and unable to sleep.  So I find myself in the kitchen early in the morning rolling dough to feel better.  Yesterday it was these cinnamon buns, today scones.

It seems everyone in this house wins when mom doesn’t feel well!

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This is my favourite recipe that I’ve shared with you before.  It’s so incredibly versatile.  When you can use fresh fruit do so, it’s worth it.   Montmorency cherries and buttery flaky glazed bread under a blanket of almond glaze.  I’m feeling better already!  These are frozen cherries that I typically use for pie but they offer an amazing sweet and tart flavour to the scones.  The simple almond glaze is a must.   I tried this flavour recently at a local bake shop and was smitten with the combination!

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No butter or additional spread is needed.  Warm and glazed these scones are simply enough all on their own.  Bake some now and freeze the rest for another morning.  These would be an excellent make ahead item for Christmas morning!

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Glazed Cherry Almond Scones

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter, frozen
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup sour cream (full fat works best)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups frozen tart cherries
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • chopped almonds to sprinkle on top

1.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt.  Use a cheese grater to grate the frozen butter into the flour mixture.  Mix gently with a fork to coat the butter with the flour mixture.

2.  In a separate small bowl mix the buttermilk, sour cream and egg.  Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour buttermilk mixture in.  Mix gently to incorporate.

3.  Knead dough on a floured surface, maximum 1o times.  The idea is to knead very little to keep that butter cold.  Roll into a large rectangle, about 22 inches by 12 inches.  Spread whole cherries all over the surface of the dough.  Starting with the longest side, roll the dough up towards you into a log.  Tuck in the seam.   You should be left with a log about 22 inches long.  Pinch the ends together and press down on the log to slightly flatten it.   Keep the seam on the bottom.

4.  Cut the log in half.  Cut each half in half.  Cut each quarter in half.   You will be left with 8 squares.  Cut each square on the diagonal to make 2 scones, for a total of 16 scones.

5.  Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes or place unbaked scones on a parchment lined cookie sheet and freeze for at least an hour.  Place frozen scones in freezer bags for easy storage.  Bake from frozen.  Combine the powdered sugar, milk and extract and the glaze warm scones.  Top with chopped almonds.  Enjoy!

 

 

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Epic Double Chocolate Glazed Tart

This tart is so simple yet so rich and decadent.  A chocolate lovers dream!  Insanity on a plate!

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It’s so ridiculously simple and the presentation is fabulous!  It’s almost embarrassing to say how little time this takes to make.  I challenge you to skip that tired old apple pie and serve one of these tarts this holiday season.  You’re family and guests will thank you.

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Listen, if you’ve been hanging out with me for a while you know about my love affair with chocolate.  In all forms.  I’ve yet to meet a chocolate I didn’t like.

I would wrestle my own babies down the for last piece of dessert.  I used to steal the mini chocolate bars from their Halloween bags.  I have been carrying around a bag of Lindt Truffles in my purse for two weeks and I sneak pieces when I’m driving to work.  I hoard it.

I have no shame.

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I topped mine off with an easy Pistachio Brittle and some sweetened whipped cream but you could easily skip the candy and opt for some fresh berries instead.  The sweetened cream cuts the richness of the chocolate.   It’s essentially a truffle tart with a chocolate crust that gets even better the next day.   Quality chocolate is a must here dessert lovers.  When I had the bakeshop, we used the best we could get.  In brownies, cakes and ganaches it makes all the difference in the world.

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Are you a chocolate lover like me?  What’s your epic chocolate dessert?  Enjoy,

Renee

Chocolate Glazed Tart

*adapted from Epicurious.com

 

For the Crust:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups chocolate graham crumbs

For the filling:

  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the glaze:

  • 4 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons warm strong coffee

Equipment:

  • a 9-inch round fluted tart pan or a springform pan
Preheat oven to 350°F .

  1.  Stir together the melted butter and chocolate crumbs and press evenly onto bottom and 1 inch up side of pan.  Bake until firm, about 10 minutes. Cool on a rack while you prepare the filling.
  2. Bring the cream for the filling almost to a boil, then pour over chocolate in a bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Gently stir until smooth. Whisk together eggs, vanilla, and salt in another bowl, then stir into melted chocolate.
  3. Pour the filling into crust and bake for about 25 minutes – the center will be slightly wobbly but the outside will feel set.Cool completely in pan (about 2 hours).
  4. Bring cream for the glaze almost to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in chocolate until smooth. Stir in corn syrup and coffee.  Immediately pour glaze onto tart and rotate tart so glaze coats top evenly. Let stand until glaze is set, about 1 hour.
  5. Serve with sweetened whipped cream and berries.

 

I found the easy Pistachio Brittle recipe here.

 

 

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Salted Caramel Pumpkin Ice Cream Cake

I think there’s some kind of unwritten rule somewhere that ice cream treats are not to be consumed in the fall and winter.  I’m pretty sure it’s in the same category as wearing white pants after Labour Day.

pumpkincake1Why not eat ice cream all winter long?  I’m sure I came up with the perfect cold weather flavour.  This sky-high Salted Caramel Pumpkin Ice Cream Cake screams fall.  You know what happens when I scream and you scream…. well, you get the idea.

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This is 7 layers of caramel and pumpkin spice goodness.  I’ve already introduced you to my most loved Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake which is featured again here.  Layered along with some premium store-bought Caramel Praline Ice Cream and topped off with Brown Sugar Whipped Cream and the most amazing Salted Caramel Sauce.   I made a small 6 inch cake, which many of you know is my favourite size.  It served 10 of us with 3 generous slices left over.

Aside from baking the cake, this really is fairly simple and quick to throw together.  It’s the freezing in between that takes the most amount of time.  I had some pumpkin layers already baked ahead so this was literally minutes to assemble.  I left it overnight and then iced with the whipped cream the next day.

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It really couldn’t be any prettier.   I think it deserves its spot on any Thanksgiving table or fall and winter celebration for that matter.  We need not be fair weather ice cream eaters right?

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Chime in:  Are you a seasonal ice cream eater?  Can you think of an ultimate winter or fall ice cream cake flavour combination?

Happy fall everyone,

Renee

Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

*adapted from finecooking.com

* grease and flour two 6 x 3 inch cake pans, set oven temp to 350 degrees

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  •  2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  •  1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  •  1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  •  1 tsp. ground ginger
  •  3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  •  1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  •  2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  •  2 large eggs, room temperature
  •  1/3 cup buttermilk. room temperature

1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally (butter will begin to foam a bit) until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes.  Let cool while preparing other ingredients.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt,nutmeg and cloves.  In a large bowl, whisk 1-1/2 cups of the pumpkin purée with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and buttermilk until well blended.   Stir in the flour mixture just until combined. Gently whisk in the brown butter until completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

3.  Bake the cakes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto racks, remove the pan bottoms or parchment, and cool completely.

Brown Sugar Whipped Cream

  • 2 cups cold heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

1.   In a medium bowl whip the cream until soft peaks form.  Add in brown sugar and cinnamon and mix well.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

 

Easy Salted Caramel

*Cooking  Channel TV

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp sea salt

1.  In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.  Increase the heat to medium- high and bring to a boil, without stirring.  Use a wet pastry brush to wash down any sugar crystals on the side of the pan if you need to.  Boil until the syrup is a deep amber color, about 7 minutes.

2  Remove mixture from the heat and very carefully whisk in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble a lot but keep mixing. Stir in the unsalted butter, and salt. Bring back to the stove on low heat and stir until you have a smooth sauce.  Allow the caramel to cool.   The salted caramel sauce will keep in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Reheat before serving.

Cake Assembly:

1 litre of premium Caramel Praline Ice Cream- allow it to soften slightly

1.  After cakes have cooled layer each cake into two layers (you should have four layers total). 

2.  Place a cake layer on the bottom of a 6 inch springform pan.  Cover with a layer (approx 1 1/2 cups) of ice cream, using a piece of saran on top to evenly distribute the layer with your hands.  Add another cake layer and ice cream layer.  I did this with two springform pans. Three layers in one and four layers in the other.  Freeze both pans for at least six hours.  Remove from both springform pans and place all the layers together to complete the seven layers on a cake board or plate.  Rewrap the whole cake with saran and freeze overnight.

3.  Remove the cake from the freezer and use the Brown Sugar Whipped Cream to ice the entire cake.  Cover the top with the Salted Caramel.  Return the whole cake to the freezer until needed.  The cake should sit at room temperature for a few minutes before serving (to soften the cake slightly but not long enough to melt the ice cream).

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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Pumpkin Custard {with Brownie Croutons}

I am a complete sucker for fall recipes.  I spend most week-ends in the fall baking.  Breads and pies, cakes and cookies.   I’m sort of ridiculous about it.   Possibly slightly obsessed.

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Pumpkin is right up there at the top.  My most favoured fall ingredient.  I’ve already shared with you that my mom makes the best pumpkin pie ever.   EVER.  And when I was in the bake shop, I baked a lot of these Brown Butter Pumpkin Cakes.  So moist.  So good.

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Most recently, I’ve been consumed with Pumpkin Custard and pudding recipes.   Which tastes exactly like pumpkin pie without the crust.   It’s literally five ingredients.   Topped off with some  whipped cream and the most delectable dark chocolate little brownie croutons ever.

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It feels sort of criminal to toast off brownie pieces until they’re in crouton form.  My family thought I was losing my grip on reality when I was putting the brownie pieces in the oven.  Until we took that first crunchie bite and realized there’s no need to feel conflicted!  They taste amazing and offer some rich chocolatey contrast to the smooth pudding.

So good and SO easy!

What’s your favourite fall dessert?

Pumpkin Custard

* taken from Blue Apron Blog
1 3/4 c pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 1/2 c heavy cream (reserve 1/2 cup for whipped cream)
1 c light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp Chinese Five-Spice

Pre-heat the oven to 300°F.

1.  In a medium mixing bowl combine all ingredients (except the reserved cream) and whisk until smooth.

2.  Divide the batter between four jars or ramekins.    Place jars on a cookie sheet and bake for 35 minutes, or until the middle is just set.  Serve slightly warm or let them cool and refrigerate until needed.  This is a great make ahead dessert!

3.   Whip the remaining whipped cream until soft peaks form and top the custards just before serving.  Garnish with croutons if desired.

 

Brownie Croutons

1.  Very little brownie is needed to make the croutons.  I used a brownie square, approximately 3″ x 3″ and cut it into small cubes.  Spread the cubes on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes at 275° , until toasted.   yum!

 

 

 

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Perfect Fresh Peach Scones {For Your Freezer}

I made these scones this morning.

I made these scones yesterday morning.

I probably will make these scones tomorrow morning.  And the morning after.

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I’ve been making scones first thing in the morning for a really long time.  When I had the bake shop, I baked thousands of scones at the crack of dawn.  Literally.  Hand rolled and cut, these were one of our most requested items.   Some with just a sprinkle of sugar on top and some with a sweet sugar glaze.

Who doesn’t love a fresh warm buttermilk scone straight from the oven?   Rolled and layered with chunks of fresh seasonal produce, it’s the perfect morning snack or tea time treat.

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The beauty of this scone recipe, is the versatility.  Switch out the peaches for fresh pears and some ginger.  Remove the cinnamon and add lemon zest and fresh blueberries.    Throw in some cinnamon and raisins.

It requires minimal mixing and next to no kneading.  The less you work it, the better.

I roll new flavours all summer long as produce comes into season.  Then I freeze unbaked scones on a cookie sheet.  Once frozen, I store them in a freezer bag and bake as needed all fall and winter long.

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I throw a few into the oven each morning as I’m getting ready for work.  Then a quick wrap with saran and the kiddo’s can grab a warm one on their way out the door.

Isn’t that the best way to start your day?

The recipe makes a generous amount of scones, bake some today and freeze the rest!

Do you have a favourite scone recipe?  I would love to hear about it!

Enjoy!

 

Fresh Peach Scones

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter, frozen
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup sour cream (full fat works best)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 medium fresh peach, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp melted butter and cinnamon sugar for topping (2tbsp sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon)

1.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon.  Use a cheese grater to grate the frozen butter into the flour mixture.  Mix gently with a fork to coat the butter with the flour mixture.

2.  In a separate small bowl mix the buttermilk, sour cream and egg.  Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour buttermilk mixture in.  Mix gently to incorporate.

3.  Knead dough on a floured surface, maximum 1o times.  The idea is to knead very little to keep that butter cold.  Roll into a large rectangle, about 22 inches by 12 inches.  Spread thin peach slices all over the surface of the dough.  Starting with the longest side, roll the dough up towards you into a log.  Tuck in the seam.   You should be left with a log about 22 inches long.  Pinch the ends together and press down on the log to slightly flatten it.   Keep the seam on the bottom.

4.  Brush the scone log with the melted butter.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Cut the log in half.  Cut each half in half.  Cut each quarter in half.   You will be left with 8 squares.  Cut each square on the diagonal to make 2 scones, for a total of 16 scones.

5.  Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes or place unbaked scones on a parchment lined cookie sheet and freeze for at least an hour.  Place frozen scones in freezer bags for easy storage.  Bake from frozen.  Eat warm!

 

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Apple Cranberry Bread Pudding

Are any of you returning to work or school this September?  This whole house is, including me.  My boys are headed off to their first year of high school to join their sister.  I’m returning to the classroom to spend time with some of my favourite young people.

Fall is my favourite time of year.  Even though I do love the summer holidays, I love getting back into routine and the first crazy days of the school year.

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I start baking all of those warm comforting desserts with the spices and flavours that scream autumn.  First of the season apples are out and I’m all over it.  We have plenty of orchards and markets around here.  I usually make several apple pies ahead for the freezer.  In the dead of winter, there’s nothing better than an apple pie that reminds me of the warm, breezy days of fall.

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Bread pudding is a simple and versatile dish that can be eaten as a warm gooey breakfast  treat or comforting satisfying after dinner dessert.  I filled mine with thinly sliced apples, cranberries and walnuts then topped them with a dollop of local Apple Butter and a drizzle of caramel sauce.   Outstanding.

It’s full of fruit and nuts so it has to be good for you right?

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Enjoy the rest of your summer everyone.

 

Apple Caramel Bread Pudding

*makes 7-8 3.5 inch ramekins or one large 9 inch pie plate

  • I used half of a slightly stale sour dough loaf, ripped into chunks
  • 2 small apples, peeled cored and very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of cloves
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 2  cups half and half cream
  • 3 eggs

Butter ramekins and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350°

 

1.  Rip bread into chunks and place in a large bowl.  Add apples, nuts and cranberries and mix well, set aside.  In a medium bowl, mix all remaining ingredients.  Pour over the bread and apple mixture making sure to soak all of the bread.  Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes or so until all of the liquid has soaked in.  The mixture can be used right away or refrigerated for a few hours until ready to bake.

2.  Fill each ramekin with the bread pudding.  Place the ramekins in a larger container (I used a 11 x 15 cake pan, a roasting pan would work too) and fill with an inch of hot water.  The water bath ensures the bread pudding bakes with moist heat.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.

3.  Serve warm with caramel sauce, Apple Butter, or fresh whipped cream.

 

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Peanut Butter Parfaits ~ To Go!

These are by far my top “to go” dessert.  Rich chocolate cake, layered with crunchy peanuts and smooth peanut butter buttercream.  It’s my favourite layer cake all prettied up in a simple jar ~ to go! For me, the flavor combination is to die for.   This week I packed a few up to throw in our cooler as we made our way to Music City for 5 days.

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Five days camping in sunny Tennessee, touring  Music City with a sweet peanutty treat to enjoy after dinner each night.

Without the kids.

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I’m not sure which part of those two sentences was my favourite.   Don’t  get me wrong, I love my babes, but a week away with my number one grown up is pretty awesome.  And pretty rare.

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Whenever I make cupcakes and buttercream, I always throw the extras in the freezer.  It’s so easy to whip something up on short notice.  Swiss Meringue Buttercream is a snap to make and freezes beautifully.  These parfaits take minutes to assemble (put the cupcakes in frozen!), can be thrown in a cooler or fridge and they travel amazingly well.  Use regular jars or invest in some Weck Jars, that look great and offer the most perfect serving size for dessert (see here).  I can’t tell you the countless times I have used them for serving.

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During the time I ran the bakery this peanut butter buttercream was always one of our most requested.  It’s so light and creamy and tastes like a cloud of whipped peanut butter.  If you’re a peanut butter lover like me, this is a must try!

I’m including the recipe for the Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  Just layer your parfaits with your favourite rich chocolate cupcake (one of my favs is here) and some chopped peanuts.  Or, to really switch it up, layer it with Banana Cupcakes made from this recipe here, my Best Ever Banana Cake.  Just as awesome.

 

Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups of unsalted butter at room temperature, cubed
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (or more to taste)

1. Fill a saucepan (large enough to fit your mixing bowl just a few inches) with two inches of water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to med-low so water continues to simmer.

2. In your stand mixer bowl, hand whisk the egg whites and the sugar just until combined. Place over simmering pot and whisk for approx 4 mins until the egg whites are hot (about 150 degrees). The sugar should be dissolved by this time as well. Place bowl on stand mixer and attach the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until whites have increased in volume, are thick and glossy and the outside of the bowl is just slightly warm to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes!).

3. Remove whisk attachment and replace with paddle attachment. Beat on low-speed until mixture is completely cooled. Increase speed to medium and add butter pieces one at a time. Scrape the bowl and continue to beat until buttercream is glossy, smooth and thick. It may separate at first, but continue beating and it will emulsify. Add vanilla flavouring, a pinch of salt and peanut butter and beat until combined. Use immediately.  Will frost about 24 cupcakes.  Icing can be frozen for up to two months, just allow it to come back to room temperature and re-whip for 5 minutes.  It may look curdled but keep whipping!

 

Assembly of Parfaits:

1.  Bake your favourite chocolate cupcakes.  This is one of my most loved recipes here.

2.  I find using a piping bag (or a Ziploc bag with the corner cut off), is the best way to get the icing neatly in the jars.  Simply pipe a small layer of icing in the bottom of the jar and top it with an unwrapped cupcake.  Layer again with icing, some chopped peanuts and another cupcake.  Top with a dollop of icing and chopped peanuts (if you’re not planning on closing the jars), or top with some chopped peanuts and put the lid on the jars.

2. Parfaits can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.  Simply bring to room temperature before eating (otherwise the icing is hard like butter).

Happy summer and enjoy!

 

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Brownie Bottom Frozen Vanilla Mousse

Remember last week when I told you my vanilla extract was celebrating it’s birthday?

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I used some of that intense vanilla to make a Frozen Mousse dessert that was out of this world!  It’s a combination of two of my favourite things: a sweet frozen mousse and a rich brownie layer.  This is a fancier version of an ice cream sandwich, an indulgent, airy version of an old classic all dressed up for a party.  Literally, I’ve left off the top layer and added some farm fresh berries and shaved dark chocolate.

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The beauty of this dessert is that it can be made in a large 11 x 15 pan to serve a big crowd.  I made it in the morning and left it in the freezer until our company arrived later in the day.  It was the perfect surprise to bring out on a hot July day, everyone eager for a cold treat.  For the toppings use whatever fruit is in season and some premium chocolate or toasted nuts.

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The brownie layer is a recipe taken from here, the Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches I made a few years ago for my twin boys birthday.  Now both towering well above me, they are still ice cream, mousse loving guys over a layered birthday cake any day.  It’s a small but mighty chocolate-y layer that gives each bite rich brownie flavor.

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The mousse layer is smooth and light.  It’s full of vanilla bean seeds, fresh whipped cream and whipped egg whites.  All of the whipping creates a mousse that is airy and fluffy.  Even when frozen, the mousse is still light and creamy.

Have you got a favourite cold and sweet frozen summer treat?  Tell me what it is!

Happy summer everyone!  Enjoy!

Renee

Brownie Bottom Frozen Vanilla Bean Mousse

  • 1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 84 g  unsweetened chocolate, about 3 squares,  coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp  salt
  • 1/4 tsp  vanilla
  • 2   eggs
  • 1/4 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • whole vanilla bean, split and seeded
  • grated premium dark chocolate and fresh raspberries for serving

Brownie Layer:

1.  Spray an 11 × 15 in. pan with non-stick spray then line with parchment paper. Place chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave on medium until chocolate melted, about 2 min. Stir halfway through.

2.  Stir sugar, salt and vanilla into warm chocolate mixture. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until blended. Stir in flour just until mixed. Scrape into prepared pan. Spread batter over parchment using an offset spatula to create a smooth, even, very thin layer.

3.  Bake in centre of oven until brownie appears shiny and is firm but slightly undercooked, no more than 8 min. Remove from oven and cool completely in pan, about 30 min.

Mousse Layer:

*adapted from the Food Network

1.  Set a stainless steel mixing bowl set over a pot of simmering water (do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl, about an inch of water), whisk together the egg whites and sugar. Continue to whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch (there should be no sugar grit left when rubbed between your fingers). Remove from the heat and, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the mixture with the whip attachment until white and fluffy and completely cool.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the cream, vanilla and vanilla seeds, and whip until soft peaks form.  Gently fold the whipped cream into the beaten egg whites until completely mixed in. Spread the mousse over the cooled brownie layer and freeze for at least 3 hours.  Cut  and serve with grated chocolate and fresh berries.

 

 

 

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Homemade Vanilla Extract

I wish this blog was scratch and sniff…I really do.

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This is my coveted jar of homemade vanilla that I’ve been using for over 4 years.  The smell is so intense and the flavor in baked goods is bar none.  It’s a simple mix of vodka and vanilla beans that I’ve been adding to and refilling for quite some time.   It is by far one of my best ingredients and the scent can be associated with so many amazing things.  Moms cookies, vanilla bean cake, homemade ice cream and marshmallows.  The list goes on and on.

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A while ago when I was teaching basic baking classes to some young boys, they always argued over who got to pour the vanilla in.  It’s such a tiny part of most recipes but the flavor it imparts can’t be denied.  It enhances everything else in the bowl.  It’s essential!

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It’s also an easy gift to make.  If you started a jar of vanilla extract today you could have a some pretty awesome Christmas gifts for December!  It really only needs a couple of months to steep, but the longer it sits the better.  Keep the bottle in the pantry and give it a shake every now and then.  There are loads of vanilla extract printables on line (like the one below from tidymom.net) and you can cross a whole mess of people off your Christmas list ~ in July everyone!  That’s the best part!

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What’s your favourite vanilla memory?

Homemade Vanilla Extract

  • Use 3-4 whole vanilla beans per cup of vodka.  Split the beans in half, place in a sealable jar and pour vodka on top!  Place in a cool dark place for 2-3 months before using.  Give the jar a shake every now and then.  I continue to add beans that I have used in baking (however not if they have been steeped in any kind of milk or cream), and adding more vodka when low.

 

 

 

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Filed under Extra Special, Sauces and Syrups, Tutorial

Hot Milk Cake All Glammed Up

Hot Milk Cake is a recipe that’s been around for years.  It’s an old-fashioned cake that whips up in minutes and needs merely a sprinkle of powdered sugar to be fabulous.  It get’s its name from the addition of steaming milk as the last step in the batter prep.  I often make it in the summer as a quick snacking treat and serve it after dinner with fresh berries and cream.  It’s a delicate vanilla- infused sponge cake without all the effort.

hotmilk cake

That’s definitely my kinda cake.

hotmilk cake2

I steep a whole vanilla bean in the hot milk for a while before adding it to the batter.  The end result is a bean speckled cake that is sweet and light.  The batter itself tastes exceptional and is so versatile.  I’ve used it in bundt pans like here, as cupcakes like here, as a base for trifles and even just in a regular old 9 x 13 pan for convenience.

hotmilk cake1

I glammed it up this week-end for a patio dinner.  By glam I mean breaking out the bundt pan and adding a glaze.  Sweet, dark, juicy local cherries are in season and I knew this would be the best vehicle to showcase them.  They are one of this families favourite summer fruits and the season doesn’t last very long. Strawberries and blueberries are a second favourite but the cherries add a burst of summer flavor and sexiness to the cake.

hotmilk cake 3

Yup, that’s right, I just called my cake sexy.

hotmilk cake 4

The addition of the White Chocolate Glaze just puts it over the top.  I found the recipe while searching on-line and I’m so glad I tried it.  It’s made with the best white chocolate you can find and mascarpone cheese.  Sounds crazy but the end result is a smooth and creamy glaze that’s out of this world.  There was a wee bit left over and I greedily dipped the remaining cherries in it for a snack.  Wow.

Happy Summer Everyone!

Hot Milk Cupcakes

*adapted from Taste of Home

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • one vanilla bean split and scraped
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1-1/4 cups whole milk
  • 10 tablespoons butter, room temperature, cubed
  • 250 grams mascarpone cheese
  • 8 oz white chocolate, chopped

1.  In a large bowl, beat eggs on high-speed for 5 minutes (don’t skimp on this step!) until thick and lemon-colored. Gradually add sugar, beating until mixture is light and fluffy and increased in volume. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour, salt and baking powder; gradually add to batter just until combined.

2. In a small saucepan, heat milk, vanilla bean, seeds and butter just until butter is melted and mixture begins to bubble slightly at the side of the pan. Steep for 20 mins or more. Reheat if needed (should be steaming slightly).  Remove vanilla bean.  Gradually add milk to batter, a few tablespoons at a time; beat just until combined

3.  Pour into greased and floured 10 inch bundt pan.  You can also use a 9 x 13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees until cake springs back when touched.   Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.

4.   Heat the mascarpone in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (just until runny).  Remove from heat and add chocolate.  Stir until combined and smooth.  Let the glaze sit for a few minutes to cool before pouring over the cake.  Top with your favourite berry!

 

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Filed under Cake