"if you wish to be glamorous, become a cake baker" -The Joy of Cooking

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Peppermint bark

Instead of buying peppermint bark this year I decided to make my own, which I think tastes better than any store bought kind and is an easy and quick treat to put together

For the bark you will need 300g dark chocolate

break up the chocolate into a bowl and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water

I used Lindt 70% cocoa

you will need 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

For the topping I used 6 candy canes, you can really use whatever peppermint candy you have

I placed the candy canes in a freezer bag and crushed them with a rolling pin

Once the chocolate is melted, add the peppermint extract, stir until nice and smooth and pour onto a lined baking sheet.  I used a 1/2 sheet pan lined with a silpat

here is another type of bark I made using melted white chocolate that I topped with pecans and dried cranberries

Sprinkle the chocolate bark with the crushed candy canes and then place in the freezer until hard

then roughly break apart and place in a wax paper lined tin

I love the combination of peppermint and chocolate and this bark is perfect!

Merry Christmas eve!! xox

Friday, December 23, 2011

More christmas baking

I think this is the oldest cookbook I have in my house and its a little gem. Every year we have to make some shortbread cookies for christmas and this very old book contains the recipe we always go to.  Just butter, sugar, flour and vanilla.  thats it 

I tried to find the copy wright to see how old the book was but only found this date that my mother wrote in it

Here are some of my cutters.  I love the message in a cookie.

Christmas sprinkles, dragees, nonpareils and coloured sugar for the cookies

To make the shortbread add 1 cup of softened butter with 1/2 cup of icing sugar  and mix until just combined, you don't want to beat the butter and sugar too much or else your cookies will spread out a lot during baking and not really hold their shape.   Then add 1 tsp vanilla and 2 cups sifted flour and mix until it just comes together.  

Turn out the dough on a floured surface and bring the dough together to form a ball.  Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and let the dough rest in the fridge for 1 hour

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and use your favourite cutters and sprinkles.  Here I used the stamps to create messages on the cookie.  LOVE IT!

Next I made chocolate chip cookies, but not just the regular kind but cranberry, white chocolate and pecan.  I used a recipe from Nigella's Christmas  but you can take any chocolate chip cookie recipe and add in your favourite chocolate, dried fruit and nuts

I love white chocolate

Dried cranberries.  so christmassy and chewy and tart

I formed the cookie dough into a ball, and cut the ball in half and rolled them into logs.  I wrapped them in plastic and let them rest in the fridge for 1hr

After they rested in the fridge I sliced them and baked them 

 Here is a really nice chocolate chip cookie recipe I found in the paper.  It's titled the Ultimate Chocolate chip Cookie.  You can add in the festive ingredients to make them more christmassy if you like

3 2/3 cups Flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder and salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips ( white chocolate, pecans, cranberries I added about 1/2 cup of each to my cookies)
sea salt

  • in a medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and table salt
  • in a large bowl (or stand mixer) beat butter and two sugars for 3 mins
  • add eggs, one at a time 
  • add vanilla and beat for 5 mins until light and fluffy
  • add flour mixture and mix on low until just combined
  • fold in your chocolate ( and any other add ins)
  • refrigerate for 24-36 hrs
  • Roll dough into generous 2 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets
  • flatten tops gently and sprinkle with sea salt
  • bake at 350 for 17-19 minutes
  • store in an airtight container
makes 16-18 cookies

Happy baking!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas baking

I've been super busy baking...but a lazy blogger.

Here is what I have been up to.

I absolutely love Nigella Lawson and Nigella's Christmas is one of my favourite books of hers.   So I had to try this recipe for her easy fruit cake.

To prepare your pan you have to line the bottom and sides with a double layer of parchment paper, making sure the parchment comes up higher than the pan

The fruit in the fruit cake consisted of prunes..pitted and chopped



Put the fruit with the butter, sugar and spices, coffee liquor and cocoa powder in a saucepan then bring to a boil and simmer for 10 mins

Let the fruit mixture cool a bit then you add in the eggs, flour, ground almonds

The finished cake.  

Next I made some homemade vanilla bean ice cream.  I used the recipe from David Lebovitz's book Ready for Dessert, www.davidlebovitz.com for the recipe

vanilla bean

split lengthwise and then scrape out the beans

the beans, pod and milk infusing .....heaven

Beat the egg yolks while slowly adding the hot milk to temper them...then you add it back to the pot and cook until the mixture coats the back of your spoon/spatula 

I love hazelnuts and decided I would add them to some biscotti dough.  I toasted them in a dry pan and then roughly chopped the nuts

along with some chopped dark chocolate

This recipe comes from a very old copy of Homemakers magazine and we've been using it for years in my house.  To make the biscotti preheat your oven to 350, in a mixer beat 3 eggs with 1 1/4 cups sugar and 1/3 cup  olive oil

Then in another bowl, mix together 2 3/4 cups flour, 2 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt and add the flour mixture to the egg mixture to create a soft, sticky dough

I added chopped toasted hazelnuts and dark chocolate here.  The good thing about these cookies is you can add whatever you want to them.  Add almonds and lemon zest or just chocolate or leave them plain.  

next roll the dough into a ball

cut the ball in half

Then roll each half into a log and bake at 325 for 25-30min. Take the logs out of the oven and let cool for a couple minutes, then slice and place them back onto the cookie sheet and bake again at 300 for 20-25 minutes.