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  • Crisp maple shortbread cookies Crisp maple shortbread cookies

    Crisp maple shortbread cookies

Crisp maple shortbread cookies

  The recipe for these gems comes from the latest issue of Chatelaine but you can also find them here. Unlike other more traditional shortbread recipes, these were just buttery enough, just light enough that you can eat more than a couple without feeling like you are going to keel over from the sheer weight of the butter. And the maple glaze is the perfect touch to elevate a, let’s face it, often boring and overexposed cookie. Add this to your repertoire and you won’t be sorry.Best of all? This isn’t one of those recipes that produces a sorry output of a whole 20 cookies. I got dozens of cookies out of this batch and froze most of them for the holiday season. (I already took a few out to see how they freeze and after spending some time at room temperature, they are as good as new).Admittedly, these cookies […]

  • Cook’s Illustrated perfect chocolate chip cookies Cook’s Illustrated perfect chocolate chip cookies

    Cook’s Illustrated perfect chocolate chip cookies

Cook’s Illustrated perfect chocolate chip cookies

  A few days ago it was a miserably rainy day and all I could think about was whipping up a batch of warm, gooey, chewy, chocolate chip cookies. Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles my son actually sat in his high chair long enough for me to make these cookies and bake them (all the while I fed him his dinner – yes, I’m a good multi-tasker). I came across this recipe a few weeks ago, during my online travels searching for the perfect chocolate chip cookie (see my previous posts on David Lebovitz’s chocolate chip cookies, and Amy Lewis’ ultimate chocolate chip cookies). On one of the forums discussing the best chocolate chip cookies, there was a heated debate in which several people praised the Cook’s Illustrated recipe for perfect chocolate chip cookies. I was intrigued because in this recipe, unlike traditional chocolate chip cookies, you must brown the butter, a step […]

  • Bourbon and orange pecan pie Bourbon and orange pecan pie

    Bourbon and orange pecan pie

Bourbon and orange pecan pie

  I have already made this four times in as many weeks. You’ve heard me whingeing about my lack of time before, so what’s the deal? I tore this recipe out of one of my favourite magazines, “Real Simple.” And sure enough, this recipe is real simple. What’s the secret? Well, as the labour and delivery nurse told me while I was delaying getting the epidural during my labour “Don’t be a shero.” After having a child I no longer try to be a shero. If there are shortcuts, I might just take them. The shortcut here, purists don’t stop reading, is using a ready-made pie crust. I used frozen Tenderflake. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no substitute for a homemade pastry crust. And I have made homemade pastry crusts to great success other times, but this shortcut was too tempting to refuse. And the shocking thing is that every time […]

  • Amy’s ultimate chocolate chip cookies (and ice cream sandwiches) Amy’s ultimate chocolate chip cookies (and ice cream sandwiches)

    Amy’s ultimate chocolate chip cookies (and ice cream sandwiches)

Amy’s ultimate chocolate chip cookies (and ice cream sandwiches)

  One of my mommy pals, Amy Lewis, sent me this recipe when I posted a request on Facebook asking for my friends’ favourite chocolate chip cookie recipes. She says it’s a combination of two or three recipes that she came up with while she was on the quest to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie. “Looking back at it, it seems like a weird recipe but I do remember that these cookies were out of this world. It makes A LOT of big cookies, so you can always freeze some dough,” she told me. She wasn’t kidding, I ended up making something like 60 cookies. And there wasn’t a bad batch in them. In fact, I ended up with so many cookies that I decided to make my own homemade ice cream sandwiches just in time for my baby boy’s first birthday. They were a BIG hit. So big, in […]

  • French pastries day 2: Guimauves and madeleines French pastries day 2: Guimauves and madeleines

    French pastries day 2: Guimauves and madeleines

French pastries day 2: Guimauves and madeleines

  Day two of my French pastries course at the Bonnie Gordon school started quietly enough. We were to finish decorating the macarons we made the day before, and we were to bake the canelés batter sitting in the fridge. But in the middle of our demo on guimauves, I realized what I dismissed as a mere headache was quickly becoming a migraine, an ailment I had avoided since becoming pregnant and having my baby. At lunchtime, I swallowed a couple of pills thanks to a classmate, had a decent meal, drank some strong espresso and pretty soon the edge of my migraine had worn off. Thank goodness. Because making passion fruit, raspberry, and strawberry guimauves (French for marshmallows) is no laughing matter. You have to be vigilant every step of the process. But really, it’s not has hard as you may think. Once again, I will not supply the recipe […]

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  • French pastries course day 1: Macarons and canelés French pastries course day 1: Macarons and canelés

    French pastries course day 1: Macarons and canelés

French pastries course day 1: Macarons and canelés

  You’ve heard me say it a kajabillion times so I won’t draw this out for too long. I love macarons. But try as I might, I was unable to reproduce these heavenly confections in my own oven. So when Toronto’s Bonnie Gordon’s School of Confectionary Arts offered a two-day French pastries course teaching how to make macarons, among other things, I leapt at the opportunity. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, I cleared it with my husband and mother to see if they could cover watching my son for the two days before registering. And then I leapt. I had taken a one-day course at the school previously, if you may remember, but last time it was a cupcake workshop. Though I was comfortable in the setting, this two-day course seemed more intimidating. It was led by chef Charmaine Baan, formerly of Susur, Splendido and Prego Della Piazza, who also […]

  • Christmas tree cupcakes Christmas tree cupcakes

    Christmas tree cupcakes

Christmas tree cupcakes

  Maybe one day I will be able to look back on these cupcakes as a learning experience. For now, though, all I associate them with are sobbing over a double boiler of separated green buttercream while holding my baby in one arm and a wooden spoon in another. I made these chocolate cupcakes with coffee-flavoured buttercream for Christmas Eve with the in-laws. I thought I had everything under control. To maximize my time, I made everything in batches. Cupcakes one day. Buttercream, another. I planned to decorate and pipe the buttercream just before leaving for the party. I had even done my own mise en place with all my dragees and other decorations.I thought to myself: Buttercream is invincible, right? If it separates, or “curdles” just heat it again in the double boiler and whizz it about in your trusty KitchenAid mixer to make it smooth again, right? Wrong. […]

  • Cookbook Review: Two Dishes Cookbook Review: Two Dishes

    Cookbook Review: Two Dishes

Cookbook Review: Two Dishes

  When you are a new mom and you can barely find the time to wash your hair much less figure out how to calm your wailing two-month-old who just developed an ear infection and fever, the last thing you want to do is try cooking new recipes. I’ll be honest here: It was not an easy couple of weeks in our household.My son is now about two months old and going through what the experts say is the peak of fussiness. On most days, I’m lucky if I can find the time to warm the instant oatmeal in the microwave. Despite all this, I managed to make four recipes from the new cookbook “Two Dishes” (McClelland & Stewart) by Linda Haynes and Devin Connell : coconut French toast with pineapple maple syrup, lemon and Parmesan orzo mac and cheese with chicken meatballs, Nana’s heavenly rice pudding, and Cheeky Monkey […]

  • Company’s Coming: Top ten last-minute desserts Company’s Coming: Top ten last-minute desserts

    Company’s Coming: Top ten last-minute desserts

Company’s Coming: Top ten last-minute desserts

  We’ve all experienced the familiar panic of an unexpected visitor. The phone rings, so-and-so is in the neighbourhood, and they’d like to drop by later in the day. “Only for a coffee,” they insist.But if you’re anything like me, serving only coffee would go against every hostess philosophy I’ve ever subscribed to.If you have a few tricks up your sleeve, your guests need never know that you were sweating under pressure.First and foremost, before you start to hyperventilate, open up your pantry and freezer and see what you have. Vanilla ice cream is a great start, as you’ll see from my top ten list below. Or maybe you have a box of cake mix. Why not use that heart-shaped muffin tin you bought ages ago and make mini cakes? Sprinkle them with confectioner’s sugar, carefully place a couple of ripe raspberries on top, and no one will be the […]

  • Lemon meringue cupcakes Lemon meringue cupcakes

    Lemon meringue cupcakes

Lemon meringue cupcakes

  I am the first to admit I have avoided making lemon meringue pie all my life out of fear of using a culinary torch, and also of making a meringue. Past attempts to make meringues have been unsuccessful and resulted in goopy masses of egg white and translucent liquid. However, with my trusty KitchenAid mixer, a new torch and a butane refill, and oodles of spare time as I wait for my baby to arrive, I decided to make a go of it. Yet again, this is another recipe from Martha Stewart’s “Cupcakes” book , as were the tiramisu cupcakes from a previous post; and the chocolate-spice cupcakes as well.I made this recipe in two parts; I made the lemon curd one day before the cupcake and frosting and let it chill in the refrigerator.A friend of mine came over to make the cupcake batter and frosting with me, […]