Monthly Archives: December 2008

  • Sticky toffee pudding Sticky toffee pudding

    Sticky toffee pudding

Sticky toffee pudding

  I’m sure the protests will roll in, but I’m a much bigger fan of British puddings than Italian desserts. Despite the innate passion of the Italian people, there is something much more indulgent about a good old warm English pudding, dripping with cream, loads of moist cake.As they are in everyday life, English desserts are straightforward – what you see is what you get. And so when I was writing my Christmas menu, I didn’t realize until later that I planned to make not one but two English desserts: cherry chocolate trifle, and sticky toffee pudding.My parents beseeched me: Please make something light for dessert. They’re keen to keep their cholesterol and weight down. But I told them I had been waiting to make sticky toffee pudding all year. Because it’s that kind of dessert – rich, multi-layered, dense, interesting depth of flavour, that you crave on Christmas Day. […]

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  • Nigella’s cherry chocolate trifle Nigella’s cherry chocolate trifle

    Nigella’s cherry chocolate trifle

Nigella’s cherry chocolate trifle

  I bought this glass bowl just to make this trifle for Christmas. If chocolate custard and sour cherries and chocolate pound cake don’t spell Christmas dessert, what does? In my mind, Christmas dessert should be indulgent, should be creamy, should be luscious, moist, decadent. Should make you feel guilty. Hence – cherry chocolate trifle. I must admit, I’m a sucker for Black Forest cake, so the ingredients in this pudding were a no-brainer. Even if you don’t like Black Forest cake, however, chances are you’ll fall head over heels over this one.If you don’t have a trifle bowl, like I didn’t, try a large glass bowl. As long as your guests can see the layers of gooey, luscious, decadence, it will do.Here’s the recipe, as created by Nigella Lawson. You can also find it in her book “Nigella Feasts”: Ingredients:2 (approximately 12 ounces each) chocolate pound cakes 1/2 cup […]

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  • Spiced apple walnut cupcakes with brown sugar buttercream Spiced apple walnut cupcakes with brown sugar buttercream

    Spiced apple walnut cupcakes with brown sugar buttercream

Spiced apple walnut cupcakes with brown sugar buttercream

  These spiced apple walnut cupcakes, with brown sugar butter cream frosting, and dulce de leche filling, hit the right spot during the holidays.It was my first time making butter cream, and despite my apprehensions, it worked. I’m not a big fan of butter cream but this brown sugar version is a nice alternative, it masks the strong taste of butter and is easy to work with. As the pastry chef who once taught me put it, “butter cream is virtually indestructible.” The trick is to know when the egg white sand sugar aren’t tripling in size and to start over before adding the more-expensive ingredient – the butter.As for the decorations, I used red sprinkles, dragees, and couverture chocolate, piped into heart shapes.   Cupcake ingredients (adapted from recipe provided at Bonnie Gordon’s School of Confectionary Arts): 1 cup all-purpose flour3/4 tsp baking powder1/2 tsp cinnamon1/4 tsp baking soda1/4 […]

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  • Star of Bethlehem cupcakes Star of Bethlehem cupcakes

    Star of Bethlehem cupcakes

Star of Bethlehem cupcakes

  I made these cupcakes for our annual cousins’ Christmas party and had high hopes they would turn out like the ones in Susannah Blake’s book “Cupcakes” — which contains some great ideas for amateur bakers, by the way. But as the clock continued to tick ever faster and I realized I was going to be late for the party, it quickly became obvious that the frosting – a standard one made of icing sugar, egg whites, and lemon juice – required more patience and time that I had.Rather than wait for the cupcakes to cool, I added a dollop of the icing on the cupcakes, and seconds later, the icing was quickly spreading of it’s own accord. I had been aiming for only a small dollop in the centre of the cupcakes, but the too-hot icing began to drip. I caught some of the drips, but I wish I […]

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  • Festive cheesecake pops Festive cheesecake pops

    Festive cheesecake pops

Festive cheesecake pops

  These were my contribution to the holiday potluck at my workplace and they were well-received. As one of my co-workers put it, anything on a stick is good. Indeed.I flagged this recipe for cheesecake pops just about as soon as I cracked open the cookbook “Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey,” by Jill O’Connor. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, this book is just dreamy. It makes me want to want to roll around in flour and dark brown sugar until I finish every single recipe in the book. Recipe adapted from “Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey”Ingredients: 5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature2 cups sugar¼ cup all-purpose flour¼ teaspoon salt5 large eggs2 egg yolks2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract¼ cup heavy creamBoiling water as needed8-inch lollipop sticks1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, […]

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  • Cappuccino cupcakes with dulce de leche filling Cappuccino cupcakes with dulce de leche filling

    Cappuccino cupcakes with dulce de leche filling

Cappuccino cupcakes with dulce de leche filling

  These mouthfuls of chocolatey, coffee-flavoured, bites of goodness are not for the faint of heart.If even a smidgen of sugar makes your heart pitter-patter, you may want to gaze longingly at these cupcakes from afar.OK, who are we kidding? If you’re anything like me, you’ll barely be able to resist sinking your teeth into the unadorned fresh-out-of-the-oven cupcakes.It was all I could do to save these for my sister’s dinner party instead of eating them before the frosting had barely settled. And who could blame me?The freshly ground espresso in the cupcake batter perfectly complements the syrupy caramel goodness of the dollop of dulce de leche while the chocolate frosting will fulfill even the most rabid of sweet tooths. Recipe for cappuccino cupcakes (adapted from recipe provided at Bonnie Gordon’s School of Confectionary Arts) Ingredients:1 cup all-purpose flour1 tbsp finely ground coffee1 tsp cinnamon1/2 tsp baking powder1/4 tsp baking […]

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  • Butterscotch pudding Butterscotch pudding

    Butterscotch pudding

Butterscotch pudding

  When I began collecting bone china tea cups – Aynsley, Royal Albert, and Limoges – I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t just put them in storage, dust them once a year and gaze at them longingly. So I’ve been on the hunt for a recipe to showcase in my beautiful tea cups.And finally I found the perfect recipe for butterscotch pudding while perusing pastry chef David Lebovitz’s scrumptious food blog.It’s the perfect solution when you’re entertaining several people and don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen away from your guests. Not only can you create individualized portions but you prepare them in advance. Then once it’s time for dessert, all you need to do is pull them out of the fridge and accept heartfelt compliments.Lebovitz tells his readers that if they are the kind of people who want to press plastic wrap on top […]

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  • Part two: What’s cooking for Christmas? Part two: What’s cooking for Christmas?

    Part two: What’s cooking for Christmas?

Part two: What’s cooking for Christmas?

I admit, I’ve been neglecting the blog, but with good reason. With the Canadian parliamentary crisis, and my book publishing course drawing to a close, all of my active brain cells have been otherwise occupied.Here’s my promised update on my “What’s Cooking for Christmas” series for CTV.ca’s holiday guide.With just a couple of weeks to go before Christmas, if you’re still desperately rifling through gravy-splotched recipes, here are some new ideas: Try award-winning cookbook author Bonnie Stern’s latkes recipe. Or maybe you have no time? Try the “Surreal Gourmet” Bob Blumer’s five-minute turkey dinner. If you’d like to inject some Asian flavour into your holiday meal, try globe-trotting gourmet Naomi Duguid’s Thai sticky rice. You must have heard of food writer Jennifer MacLagan by now. In her latest book “Fat” she makes the case the maligned “greasy killer” is not only delicious but good for you. She shared with me […]

  • Cupcake Decorating 101: My Designs Cupcake Decorating 101: My Designs

    Cupcake Decorating 101: My Designs

Cupcake Decorating 101: My Designs

  When I signed up for an all-day designer cupcake decorating class at Bonnie Gordon’s School of Confectionary Arts, it was all I could do not to tell everyone who crossed my path. Her wedding cakes have been featured in countless magazines and Hollywood movies and I’d been drooling over her cakes for years. While I can say I am confident with my baking abilities, I was always intimidated by decorating.I did my best copying the finished product in my cookbooks, but I stayed away from pastry bags, and tips, and coloured buttercream. No more! Not only did I come home with seven beautiful cupcakes, but a bag full of gel food colouring, a cupcake turntable, piping and decorating tips, and even fondant and gum traganth. In this class, we learned how to make: spiced apple cupcakes, cappuccino cupcakes, coloured fondant, chocolate glaze, chocolate frosting, and of course, the ever-elusive […]

  • Cupcake crazy Cupcake crazy

    Cupcake crazy

Cupcake crazy

  Today, I spent way too much money on cupcake wrappers. Three dozen wrappers for – wait a minute, I don’t want to admit it. Let’s just say, enough to buy a nice pair of jeans. The whole selection is available online at Paper Orchid. Stay tuned, I promise to post photos as soon as I use these. I also picked up the black filigree wrappers and the watermelon-coloured flower design wrappers.