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Pumpkin Earl Grey Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

26 Oct

Are y’all sick of pumpkin yet?

I hope not.

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Because these are not your everyday, garden variety pumpkin goods.

The unique twist is the Earl Grey (my fave). The traditional spices that are used for most pumpkin recipes (i.e. cinnamon, nutmeg, clove etc) are not necessary here. The tea gives the cupcakes a nice, subtle bergamot hint.

And cream cheese icing. Come on.

Pumpkin Earl Grey Cupcakes (Makes 16)

Adapted from Honest Cooking 

Cakes:
1 cup milk
4 Earl Grey tea bags
2 cups all purpose flour
1.5 cups sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups pumpkin puree (I used canned)
1 cup vegetable oil (sunflower)
4 eggs

1) Steam/heat milk and steep tea bags for 10 minutes until concentrated.
2) Mix dry ingredients ( flour, sugar, baking powder, salt)
3) Separately, mix wet ingredients (eggs, oil, pumpkin, vanilla)
4) Press teabags with the back of a spoon to extract all the flavour, and remove. Add milk/tea to wet mix.
5) Mix wet and dry (do not over mix)
6) Spoon into muffin tray with cupcake liners, about 3/4 full or 1/3 cup.
7) Bake at 345 for 15-20 minutes

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Cream Cheese Icing

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature)
3 250 gram packs of plain cream cheese (or 750 grams if in bulk)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1.5 cups powdered sugar (or a bit less if you like things less sweet, like I do)

Blend together adding powdered sugar slowly. Blend until smooth, and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Dust with cinnamon.

NOTE: I’ve made this icing without the butter and it is still mighty tasty! If you’re looking to lighten them up, feel free to omit.

We are now serving these at The Beet (2945 Dundas St W), so if you’re feeling peckish and too lazy to bake, let us do the work for you!

xo

M

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Easy Wild Berry Crumble with Cardamom Crust

9 Dec

This is what a half eaten crumble looks like. Sorry, I was not swift enough with my photography! It was super tasty though.

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The beauty of this crumble is that you can whip it up quickfast for an easy dessert while entertaining. Assembly is fun in that non-precise way I tend to enjoy. The crust is also optional, so if you’re really pressed for time, just skip it altogether.

Crust
1.5 cups all purpose or pastry flour
1/2 cup butter at room temp
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
Pinch salt
Green cardamom pods (approx 8-10)

1) Mix flour and salt
2) Seperately, cream sugar and butter together and slowly add egg
3) Meanwhile, crack open cardamom pods and dry roast inner seeds for 3-4 minutes (do not burn). Crush with mortar and pestle and add to flour.
3) Slowly add flour mixture to butter/sugar until ball is formed
4) Flatten into a disk or baking dish, chill.

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Cardamom has a pretty distinct flavour, but mixed with the berries it’s subtle. It added just a little something extra to the overall dish. And since I was serving this as part of an(other) Indian dinner (surprised?) I thought it would tie it all together nicely.

Berry Crumble

1/2 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup oats
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small squares
4-5 cups mixed berries (I used frozen- blueberries, cherries, blackberries)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
Pinch of salt

1) In a large bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, salt and oats. Mix. Cut in the butter.
2) In another bowl, combine berries, 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Toss evenly to coat.
3) top crust with berry mixture, and then top that with oat mixture. Ensure cold butter is evenly distributed on top layer.
4) Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes until top is golden and fruit is bubbly.
5) Remove from oven and sprinkle with more brown sugar for crunch and some sea salt for flavour. Serve warm.

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Health food this is not. But delicious this is yes. ‘Tis the season and  yadda yadda yadda.

Cha cha cha Chia! Chocolate Peanut Butter Chia Pudding with Sea Salt

27 Feb

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When you’re not consuming any sugar (and I mean any- including fruit, honey and agave), things can get intense. I’m talking cravings. I generally don’t have a strong sweet-tooth, however at times I do intensely desire chocolate. How cliche!

This recipe was the result of such urges.

It is perhaps the most wholesome dessert in existence, or at least that I can think of right now…chia, peanut butter ( no additives) raw cocoa, stevia, vanilla, avocado, coconut milk, sea salt. Simple.

If you are unfamiliar with chia, it is known as a “superfood” (ugh. For lack of a better term) These versatile little suckers are rich in Omega 3 fatty acid (apparently 8x more than salmon!) and are a complete protein, containing all 8 essential amino acids. Chia seeds are additionally a very high source of antioxidants, Vitamin C, potassium, iron, fibre and calcium. They conveniently lack any discernible flavour, so can easily be added to almost anything.

When soaked, chia seeds form a gelatine, making ground chia useful as a thickening agent. Or a cute green pet. Your choice.

Ingredients

Makes 4

1/2 cup chia seeds
3/4 cup unsweetened peanut butter
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon raw cocoa
1 cup coconut milk (full fat is best)
1/2 small avocado (or 1 banana)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon stevia (or 1 tablespoon raw honey, melted)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Coarsely ground sea salt to garnish

Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. Taste for sweetness/saltiness/chocolatey-ness and adjust according to preferences.

Divide into four small bowls and chill for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes or so.

Garnish with fresh mint (pictured), shredded coconut, salted peanuts or sliced bananas and serve immediately.

I think if I was not on this cleanse, I would make the recipe with banana and honey over avocado and stevia. (I warned you that things were going to get creative around here!) These puddings are pretty filling and packed with protein.

Confession : I may have eaten this and only this for dinner one time. And then again for breakfast. Don’t judge.

Italia, Salone Del Gusto, and a Pomegranate Pear Birthday Cake

28 Nov

So, Italy was a whirlwind, last minute adventure with the lovely Michelle.

We ate lots, drank lots, and traveled North to Torino to attend Salone Del Gusto, 2012. It is a massive trade show. We attended wine and espresso tasting seminars, and consumed more salami samples than I care to admit.

Rome to Turin to Florence to Tuscany and back, we had a dreamy time.

In honour of Miss Michelle’s birthday this weekend, and our trip, I baked this cake with an Italian twist. It turned out to be molto deliziosa!

Pear Cake with Pomegranate and Ginger Buttercream Icing 

(Based on this recipe for Pear and Pistachio cake, my original plan, but alas, I could not locate any in time!)

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 4 sticks of butter, browned
  • 6-8 unripe pears, shredded
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups coconut sugar (also can use brown sugar)
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 cups chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease, flour and add parchment paper to two 9″ pans.
  2. In a small  saucepan, melt butter over low heat. When it has completely liquefied, turn heat to medium to brown the butter. It will bubble, and brown bits will form on the bottom of the pan, and smell nutty. Be careful not to burn, or butter will taste bitter.  Set aside to cool. You should have 1½ cups.
  3. Core the pears, leaving the peel on, and shred using the large side of a box grater or the medium-size grating attachment on a food processor. Gather shredded fruit into a triple thickness of cheesecloth or paper towels, and squeeze the liquid from the pears.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg at medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Then drizzle in brown butter and add vanilla. Add flour, and stir until just incorporated. Stir in shredded pear and walnuts gently. Divide the batter evenly between pans.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cakes have puffed and are lightly browned. Remove to a rack and let cool entirely before peeling away the parchment paper.
  6. Stack cooled cakes and generously spread icing between layers. Add fresh pomegranate in between the layers for a fresh pop. Garnish with more pomegranate and pear chips.

*Note- the recipe above is originally  for a three layer cake, not two.  I decided to only use two of the three layers because they were a) pretty thick and b) I didn’t think I’d have enough icing. Three layers would have been HUGE.  I would suggest putting 1.5 cups of the batter aside and make some cupcakes with it instead of the third layer!

Icing 

(I did not use the icing recipe from the site mentioned above, although I tried unsuccessfully twice to mix egg whites with butter- disaster!)

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  1. Beat room temperature butter on medium speed until soft, add icing sugar gradually until smooth.
  2. Increase speed and add vanilla, milk,  and gingers for about 3 minutes.
  3. Adjust flavour if you’d like more sweetness. This is not an overly sweet icing.

Pear Chips

  • Thinly sliced pears
  • 3/4 cups water
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees, line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Combine sugar and water until dissolved over medium heat, and add lemon juice.
  3. Slice pears vertically and let stand in water for ten minutes as soon as its cut
  4. Remove from syrup, and let excess drip back in the pan
  5. Bake for 1.5 hours, or until very dry, flipping half way through.
  6. Snack on these, or garnish the cake with them!

Here is my (rather unfortunate) photo of this lovely cake!

It tasted great!

Happy Birthday Michelle, and thank you for the memories!

I miss Italy already, and can’t wait to return.

Yes, you can survive an entire day on cream cheese icing alone, and then again with some carrot cake

14 Aug

This has been a unique summer for me. Although I’ve been engaged in many of the things I love- going to yoga, concerts, travelling, biking, camping, drinking and dancing ( a stellar combo, as opposed to doing other abhorrent things while drinking, like driving or facebook-ing), something important has been missing (not including Scott, of course). And by the neglect of this blog, I’m pretty sure you can guess what that is. Guys, I’ve just been too effin’ busy and carefree to think about things like groceries and cooking. I’m sorry. It also doesn’t help that I work in a restaurant and eat dinner there often. (Someone deserves food blog of the year for that last paragraph alone!)

When August rolled around, the specific and important task of providing my dad with a birthday cake finally added some motivational impetus, as well as careful thought and time management, which blissfully seem to have gone out the window as of late. And he is a crazy-good cook. No pressure, but  I had to create something good.

Because it was to be a surprise, and I was to bring the cake to the restaurant via public transit, I wisely decided not to make this incredible, yet melty, cake again.I can’t remember how I decided on carrot cake, except for the fact that they are generally judged more on tasting good than presentation,  and nothing in the world rivals a good, old fashioned tangy  cream cheese icing. That and I was pretty sure my dad would like it.

The scary thing about cakes is that is is hard to test them before you serve them. This was a dinner for eight, and I was a little nervous that it would be dry or bland. But I knew the icing was good because I kept tasting it. Much to my dismay, I “tasted” so much that I had to go back out to the store and buy a whole other package of cream cheese when I realized that the bowl was half empty. What the?!

Shame.

The cake was phenomenal by the way, and moist as ever.

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I loosely followed this recipe from Ricardo Cuisine.com but used coconut sugar instead of brown, upped the spice, added raisins, and topped with these pearlescent white currents and cinnamon.

Classic Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing 

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 3/4 cup canola, corn or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 4 cups of peeled and grated carrots
  • 1 cup  chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup fresh white currants (or red, yellow or fruit of choice)

Icing

  • 2 250 g packages of cream cheese ( probably more like 1.5, but keep some extra for “tasting”, obvs)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Icing sugar to taste (approx 1/2 cup).
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 F, and line two 8 inch spring form pans with parchment paper (do not grease pans)

2. In medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt and set aside.

3. In separate, larger bowl, combine wet ingredients- eggs, oil, OJ, and sugar and whisk.

4. Gently stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients slowly. Add carrots, walnuts and raisins.

5. Divide the batter equally between the two pans and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick (or fork, or knife) inserted into the center comes out clean.

6. Allow to cool in the pan before releasing the cakes.

As for the icing, simply mix that good stuff up with a handheld blender until smooth. Maybe wait to do this last, if you’d like to avoid gorging on the stuff while the cakes are baking. Just a lil’  ol’ diet tip from me to you!

7. Once cool, layer the cakes with the icing and currants. I put currants in between the two layers for added busts of tartness.I think that the tart and the sweet and the creamy worked together beautifully, but it should be said I’m not a huge fan of really sweet desserts. Top with a sprinkle of cocoa or cinnamon. No need to get too cute with it!

Here are some impromptu instagram-y photos to document the event.

I think he liked it!

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Happy Birthday to my amazing D! Love you lots.

And happy summer everyone, I hope it has been as good to you as it has to me!

Amsterdam Part Two, oh, and the World’s Best Birthday Cake

17 Jun

This is my favourite  image of what can only be described as “the best night of my life”. Yesterday, back in Toronto, Christina and I were reminiscing and agreed that if we suddenly died that night, we would have died  feeling happy and complete (I’m glad we survived, though).

After dawdling away the afternoon, we left Rotterdam in quite a rush to catch the 5 pm train to Amsterdam. We were meeting Christina’s friends Clare and Wayne at the station, and together we were going to see a show. Woodkid was playing at the gorgeous Paradiso, a converted old church that is now a spectacular music venue with amazing acoustics and mezzanines abound. Riding the train while blatantly drinking beer was a fun novelty, but probably only because we are from Ontario, the land of puritans.  Case in point: would you ever see a public work of art like this in Canada? 

Gnome with a Butt-plug (srsly).

As soon as we got to the central station, we rented these bikes for the night. It was a swift process, and the bikes were smooth and sturdy. Very easy to ride, but  a dead-giveaway that we were tourists, and thus are  probably the un-coolest bicycles ever.   But whatevs. I felt very comfortable riding side saddle with Christina. We had been practicing all week on her (less sturdy)bike in Rotterdam, which at times was not quite so graceful.

Immediately, we were tearing down the canals. It was a bit difficult to stay together, because of all of the bike traffic. Despite some scares and close calls (“oh god, where did they go?”) we somehow managed to stay as a pack. Scott snapped the top photo at a stoplight. So fun!

We had some drinks in another ancient looking pub that had the steepest, windiest staircase down to the washrooms that I had ever seen. Holland is the land of steep, narrow and twisty staircases apparently.

He looks serious here, but I promise we were actually having tonnes of fun. I really like this photo, though.

We made it to the venue just in time, Woodkid was just starting. We found a great spot near the back that was a bit raised for a better view. A bottle of wine and some plastic cups seamlessly accompanied us into the show somehow . The sound, lights, vibe and energy were incredible. Woodkid is originally a French music video director  that has just recently begun a solo career as a musician.  He has an EP out now, and an album expected to be released in the fall.  His music is extremely epic, dramatic and a bit dark, and included an amazing band with a horn section and huge, thundering drums.  You should check it out! We danced a lot.

The show was over pretty early, but we were pumped up and had a whole night in Amsterdam stretched out ahead of us. Euphoric.

Woodkid at the Paradiso.

All I can say about the rest of the night is that we biked around, barhopped, chilled out by the canals, and indulged in what Amsterdam had to offer. It was an amazing time.

Scott was flying to Singapore on his birthday, and I was sad that we could not spend it together. I made him a special birthday dinner a little early. His favourite dish of mine, salmon en croute, with new potatoes and garlic asparagus.  It turned out fabulously, and thanks to the help of Christina, baking wonder, the pastry was just right.

For the birthday cake, I made this incredible, rich and decadent peanut butter cheesecake. This is way outside my usual realm of healthy cooking, but holy *^&#! It was so worth it. And it didn’t even require baking!  (Recipe at the bottom of this post).

Bottom crust = cookie crumbs with butter, melted dark chocolate, and salty crushed peanuts.  They must be salty. If not, you are cheating yourself out of something really special.

Filling = cream cheese, peanut butter, whipped cream, vanilla, condensed milk, lemon juice, sugar.

Makeshift birthday candle.

So creamy, sooo delicious! We could not stop eating it over the next two days, sneaking cheeky bites here and there when no one was looking.  Later, eating a casual dinner and then this leftover dessert together on the kitchen floor will always remain such a fond memory of Holland.  Happy times.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake  Inspired by this recipe from In Jennie’s Kitchen.

  • 12 ounces cookies (crushed) ( I used something similar to Graham Crackers)
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 6 ounces melted dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 8 ounces of plain cream cheese
  • 1 up salted peanut butter (creamy)
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Blend cookies until they turn to fine crumbs. Add melted butter and mix well with fork. Press mixture into the bottom of a spring form pan, about 1 inch thick. 
  2. Melt chocolate and pour over cookie crumb base. Spread evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle crushed peanuts over top and refrigerate while preparing the filling. 
  3. Pour whipping cream into a bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Return to fridge until ready to use. 
  4. Beat cream cheese and peanut butter together until smooth. Reduce speed and slowly incorporate icing sugar. Add the lemon, vanilla and condensed milk and blend well. 
  5. Slowly fold in the whipped cream, and then pour the filling into the pan. Sprinkle with cocoa or desired garnish. 
  6. Refrigerate overnight, or at least three hours before serving. 
Nothing is better than peanut butter and chocolate, salty and sweet. Try this out, you will not be disappointed! Also good for those who are gluten-free. 
Word of warning: this is NOT a good cake to make if you have to transfer it for a length of time without a fridge. It gets quite “melt-y” when it is warm! Not so pretty, but delicious nonetheless!
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A Rare Sweet-Something

4 Jan

Avocado and Chocolate Pudding

I’m not huge into baking or sweet things, nor do I make desserts very often, however, this was one of my recent favourites! I kind of made it up with the inspiration of something I saw online. The original intent was to top it with whipped cream and more berries, but they looked so nice at this stage that I decided to quit while I was ahead (truthfully it tasted better with the additional cream, so next time I will work it into the final “design”, instead of serving it on the side). Luckily, my best friend who lives in Holland brought back some of those awesome caramel-wafer-waffle cookies which were amazing dipped into the fresh whipped cream.

If I knew last night I’d be starting this blog the very next day, I would have at least taken some better photos!

Due to popular demand (or at least said  best friend):

( makes 6 servings)

  • 4 small avocados
  • 2 bananas
  • 3/4 cup raw cocoa
  • 2-3 tablespoons agave syrup
  • some whipping cream
  • some sour cream (more sour cream than whipping cream- did not measure, sorry! Just enough to achieve a nice consistency in the food processor)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 small cap-fulls of vanilla extract (the real stuff)
Garnish with fresh berries and pear.
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