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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Pies and Resolutions.

I mentioned in my menu that I would be making Blueberry & Apple pies for dessert. Before my dad called and canceled lunch, I had already made them. Since no one would be eating them at the now non-existent lunch, I ate them. I ate them all. And they were gooood.

I had some dough left over in the freezer from the tarts I made for the office, so I just used that for the crusts. I recently read something I never thought of before but will now do forever and ever: wax paper under the dough, wax paper over. No sticking to the rolling pin! No tearing! Amazing!

The filling was dead easy. Chop up some apples into equally sized pieces, juice 1 clementine into a pot, add a teensy bit of sugar, and the apples, and simmer until apples are not mushy, but just crisp - bordering mushy.

Add the blueberries, and stir about until they're the same texture as the apples. Remove from heat, fill pies with apple/blueberry mixture, top with a shape or a round of pastry, (or a full covering, but I didn't have enough dough for that), and bake until golden at 350F.

Best, simplest pies ever. I ate all six. By myself.

Every year, I try to make 10 resolutions that I stick to for at least a week or so. This year, they are:

Resolutions for 2008

1. Bake 52 Cupcakes

I would like to make 52 cupcake flavours throughout the year. Seasonal, Birthday, Whatever, just 52 of them. Can skip a week and do two the next week, as long as the year averages out.

2. Be healthy - cut down on things that make you sick, such as : cream, cheese, cream cheese...

Lactose intolerant people can't eat so much cheese. I love it, I do, but it makes me very ill. Cut down. Don't necessarily cut it out -- Though, if I'm being honest, I can have vanilla soy in my tea

3. Try new things

Doesn't matter what it is, really, just do it! Eat some crocodile jerky, try a new way of tying shoes, whatever.

4. Travel

Vegas in February, England in August?

5. Actually save money, not just think about saving it

This one is going to be tough. I'm so shit at saving money. But I'm all responsible like, i should at least try.

6. Get rid of things - unclutter. Not shoes, shoes can stay.

I will never wear that size 5 dress again, and I need to accept it. Also probably don't need earrings I've not worn since 1987, that book with no cover, and 5 sets of dishes.

7. Watch less TV, read more, go out more, knit more.

i don't actually think I will manage this one. I do love my TV. maybe I could sleep less instead.

8. Finish a knitted item. Just one! But finish it, ferrealz.

This would be nice. I generally just let my knitting fall to the side and forget about it for .. about two years.

9. Carry on with Vegetarian Day, twice a week.

Should be easy enough, since I'm doing it with others.

10. Wake up early, get a good start to the day. Consider breakfast.

I loved early mornings in the summer when I was little, cup of tea with my mum on the balcony out back.. It was so nice and quiet, and even if I did nothing it felt like a good day. Early is where it's at. No more sleeping til 4PM!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

For the Cupcake Hero challenge, I present my final Christmas menu dessert: Chocolate Mint Cupcakes.

Perhaps not the most 'original' mint pairing - I considered : Mint & Balsamic, Mint & Basil Mint & Lemon, Mint & Green Tea - chocolate and mint is more a classic pairing, and something I knew my family would eat.

I made 12 normal-sized cupcakes for the Fam, and 24 mini-cupcakes for some friends. I dusted them with green, mint flavoured sugar, and chocolate shavings.

Adapted from Cupcake Bakeshop's Dark Chocolate Truffle Cupcakes

25 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1 bar 99% Unsweetened Scharffen Berger Chocolate (9.7 oz / 275g)
1-1/2 cups butter
2-1/2 cups caster sugar
8 eggs
1-1/4 cups cake flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Chop chocolate, transfer into a bowl. Add butter to chocolate and place bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir until combined. Remove bowl from heat and add sugar. Allow to cool.

I now have a fancy stand mixer, so I transferred the cooled choco/butter to it. Then add sugar, mix until combined, and add egg one at a time, then the peppermint extract. Add in flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and mix until blended.

Scoop into cupcake tins/papers, and bake at 350F for 25 minutes


1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 tablespoon butter
about 1 section chocolate (99% unsweetened Scharffen Berger)

Bring whipping cream to a boil, remove from heat. Stir in chocolate until melted. Stir in butter, sugar, extract. Allow to cool.

Dip cooled cupcake tops into warm ganache. Set aside.

The chocolate shavings were done with a very large knife. The peppermint flavoured sugar was done by wetting my fingers with the extract and rubbing them through (dyed green) sugar, then sprinkled over the cupcakes.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Menu

I had planned to make supper for my Dad, his girlfriend, my sister, her boyfriend, my dad's girlfriend's mother, and my boyfriend on Christmas day.

Unfortunately, it fell through, my sister couldn't make it, my boyfriend fell sick, my dad's gf's mom couldn't make it.. Here is what I was planning to make:

Christmas Lunch 2007


Figs wrapped in Parma Ham
Mince Pies (Tourtiere)


5-Spiced Goose
Herbed Butter Turkey

Allspice Gravy
Turkey Gravy

Sage Stuffing
Gingerbread Stuffing

Mashed Potatoes

Brussell Sprouts with Pancetta

Butter Biscuits


Mulled Cider
Apple & Blueberry Pie
Lemon Curd Syllabub
Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Eggnog Cupcakes from Baking Bites / Gingerbread Men

For the Secret Santa Exchange at the office, I made Gingerbread Men cupcakes what looked like staff members, and the Vegan 'Nog Cupcakes from Baking Bites.

Gingerbread Men Cupcakes
For Christmas, I got a cupcake pan shaped like Gingerbread Men (Thank you, K&E!!). To celebrate, I ate them.

Icing was white chocolate ganache, dyed colours that my partners-in-baking crime created. I suggested people treat them like a sortof Gingerbread Voodoo Doll, but I think most people just ate themselves, or their family members.

Cupcakes (based on this recipe)
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup mild molasses mixed with 1 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Sift together flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.

Beat together shortening, sugar, and egg until creamy. In 3 batches, alternately beat in flour mixture and molasses mixture at low speed until smooth.

Scoop into Gingerbread Man Moulds. Bake 25-30 minutes.

White Chocolate Ganache
2 bags white chocolate chips
1/2 cup whipping cream

Heat whipping cream to boiling, add chocolate chips. Stir until combined. Allow to cool, dye funky colours.

Eggnog Cakes

The Nog Cakes were by far my best cupcakes yet!

They came out moist and light and my oven didn't burn them, like it usually does!

The frosting, I used shortening, which I would have normally been against, but since I wanted them to be completely vegan, I went for it -- SO the right choice! I tend to associate shortening with what it tastes like on it's own - which is pretty gross. But add icing ingredients, and it's delicious! It also iced perfectly, I was dead pleased.

I followed the recipe exactly, here.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Turkey Day, Americans!

My friends and I at work are doing Thanksgiving lunch for the Americans who work with us. I made pumpkin pie, apple pie, pumkin rolls and apple crisp! Pictures soon :)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Chocolate Tarts

I made these a while back for the office, and just came across the pictures that were taken of them. These were so rich, so decadent, that you can really only eat half of one.

I used the recipe here for these - minus the blood orange, and made into mini-tarts. I prefer to use grams in recipes whenever possible, since I find it more accurate. My cheapo $5 kitchen scale changed the way I bake!

This pastry melts in your mouth so perfectly, it's fantastic. Three people at the office asked for the recipe -- always a good indicator of tastyness!

The Shells:

125 g plain flour
125 g unsalted & chilled butter
60 ml sour cream

Chop all the butter into 1"cubes. Weigh flour and put into bowl. Blend flour and butter until it resembles a large breadcrumb consistency. Add sour cream.
Turn onto a floured bench and pull together with your hands into a rectangle shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 20 minutes before rolling out and lining your tins.
Blind bake at 200C for 12 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and bake for a further 5 minutes.

Ganache Filling:

250 g dark chocolate
250 g pure thickened cream
10 g unsalted butter

Boil cream in saucepan. Once boiled pour over the chocolate to melt. Put aside for 3 minutes before stirring. Add butter to the chocolate / cream mix while still warm. Pour chocolate into pre-baked tart case and refrigerate overnight.

These are dead-easy for the result. I highly recommend them.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Chococococococonut Cake

Everyone's favourite CS manager at the office turned 32 today. Of course, I had to bake something. There was a top-secret plan to discover her favourite flavour, but unfortunately my Spy couldn't gather any intel. I had to rely on someone overhearing her say that coconut was the best thing ever.

Fortunately, chocolate and coconut actually are her favourite flavour, so it was all good.

I took Chockylit's recipe here, and modified it to be 1. cake, 2. more coconut flavoury, 3. less coconut texturey. I hate the texture of coconut, y'all.

Reviews include "That was a fabulous cake"; "You made this?"; "You should quit your dayjob and become our official baker", and my personal favourite :This is the best cake I've ever had." from the birthday girl herself. Aww.

I've never made a cake before. It was seriously time intensive. Possibly because I spent hours on the internet trying to learn how to ice corners. Apparently, you use an absolute tonne of icing. I only had 2 lbs of butter, so it was a bit see-through. Yes, only 2 lbs of butter.

The taste of this cake is phenomenal. I'm not just saying that cos I made it, it really was fantastic. Just right chocolatey, just right coconut, just.. right.

Cake (**Make 2**)
3/4 cup butter

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cocoa
2 tablespoons unsweetened fine coconut

1-1/2 cups coconut milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, mix together: flour, baking soda, cocoa, coconut, and salt.
In a small bowl, mix together coconut milk and vanilla. Set both bowls aside. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar, beat until seriously fluffy. Then add the eggs one at a time. Beat for at least 60 seconds after adding each egg. Add some of the flour mixture to the butter/egg/sugar. Add about half of the milk, and combine. Repeat. Finish with the flour mix. Pour into a baking pan and bake for about 35 - 40 minutes at 350F. This makes one layer -- you'll need two. I made them separately, because I ran out of eggs in the middle and had to go to the store again. Also I have a tiny, tiny stove, and wouldn't be able to fit two cake pans in at once even if I did have enough eggs. This also explains why I was up til three in the morning making a bloody cake.


3/4 cups butter
2 1/2 cups icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)

1/4 c unsweetened fine coconut

I detest the texture of coconut, so I pureed it. You probably don't have to. Mix the ingredients together. You want it dead stiff. Use more icing sugar if you need to. I was trying to keep the EXTREME SWEETNESS down, but failed a bit. It's really, really sweet.
2 Cups of butter

1/4 - 1/2 cup coconut milk
4 cups powdered sugar

Beat the ingredients together - aim for light and fluffy.

When you take the cakes out of the oven, let them cool a bit, then immediately unpan them. I did not know this, and fridged them while still in their pans. This apparently made them fall in love with the pan and want to never, ever leave it. Fortunately, they were the best pans ever, and the cakes came out in one piece.

Once they're cooled, fridge or freezer them. This will make them easier to handle and easier to ice. Which is really important, cos icing is dead hard.

Trim the tops of the cakes with dental floss, so that the top is flat. Spread on filling. Have a friend help you position Cake1 over Cake2. rest cake 1 gently on top of Cake2, move around so that it's centered and whatnot.

Ice the cake like in that video, above. If desired, have your company's graphic designer add a Fred Perry logo. Enjoy!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hallowe'en Plans

We're having a little do at the office to celebrate my favourite holiday on Wednesday, and I have to decide on treats.

I'm kindof set on these cos really, that's the best thing I've ever seen. I'd also like to Frankenstein or Witch up the sweet pea cupcakes -- because everyone should taste them and go "Sorry, there's peas in this? But it's so good!"

Raspberries are on offer at my grocer, so I'll be doing raspberry filling instead of cherry (also cos I don't like cherries) for the bleeders. I'd like to do a third/chocolatey variety as well. I have some glow-in-the-dark ants, so maybe those on some chocolcate cupcakes? Unknown. We shall see.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Someone has already asked for my recipe for the cupcakes. HAHAHA.

I served them at the office, as I usually do, and they went over very well. Soukia said they were my best cupcakes yet! Go me!

I've also been pointed toward these. I need that!! Hallowe'en is my favourite holiday, so I need it a lot!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Success: Pumpkin bread pudding cupcakes with apple chai glaze

Cupcakes are a sucess!

The theme is re-invention, so I decided to take my two favourite desserts and cupcake them up. What is my favourite dessert? Pumpkin Pie, and Apple Crisp. Okok, those are two things. But I bet they would go really well together. Wouldn't they? They would.

My first attempt at pumpkin cupcakes was a failure, unfortunately, and I decided to go with something different: bread pudding. Pumpkin bread pudding.

I left spices out of the cupcake bit entirely, because I wanted the chai in the apple glaze to really shine. I'm glad I did, but I was a bit underwhelmed by the pumpkinnyness of the pudding. I would probably up the amount of pumpkin* -- or add a bit of filling to it -- next time.

*I ended up with a quarter cup or so of pumpkin purée left over, I plan to try to make a pumpkin glaze as well. I'm told, though, that I like my food a bit richer/more flavourful than most people. YMMV.

Apple Chai Glaze

6 - 8 medium apples
1 cup sugar
1 cup chai tea

Chop up your apples, and skins on put them in a bowl. I chopped them into quarters and then the quarters into about 1" pieces.

Add your cup of sugar, and pop them in the fridge for one hour to mascerate. When you take them out, there will be a load of liquid mixed in with the apples, and they'll be a bit browned.

I did this in my slow cooker. Turn it to medium and let your apples cook for about an hour. Then add one cup of brewed chai tea, and cook for another hour or so. If you're doing this on the stovetop, cook it to a temperature of 220F, then turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, until the apples are soft enough to blender.

Go to town with your blender, hand blender thingie, or food processor. You want as few chunks as possible.

Boil some canning jars, and fill them with appley goodness. This makes about 3 1-cup jars.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding


3 eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup cream
1 loaf bread
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup margerine (or butter)

In a bowl, mix the margerine, sugar, eggs, pumpkin, and cream, then add the bread, cut into 1" cubes, until completely combined. I like it a bit dry, so I ended up adding another 4 slices of bread I had in the pantry in addition to the loaf.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350C. As it turns out, my oven temperature gauge is about 50 degrees off. So I got an oven thermometer! You can see it hanging from the bottom of the rack, there. $4 for perfect cupcakes, a steal.

When a toothpick comes out clean, they're done. Let them cool for about 10 minutes.

Top the cooled cupcakes with a tablespoon or so of the apple chai glaze & enjoy.

Attempt #2

My second try at cupcakes for the round-up is in the oven. Here's hopin'!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Attempt the First: Fail

I was certain I had the best idea ever for my Cupcake Round-Up entry: Pumpkin cupcakes. Who doesn't love pumpkin cupcakes?

(Canadian) Thanksgiving had just passed, leaving me with a hankering for some pumpkin pie. I'm always out to try new cupcakes, so I decided to modify the Sweet Pea Cupcake recipe from Vanilla Garlic to suit a pumpkin pie taste. Brilliant, yea? No.

I started out with my ingredients:

500g all purpose flour

3 Tb egg replacer
3 Tb water
1 can pure pumpkin
1.5 C sugar
1 t vanilla
1 Tb lemon juice
1 t baking powder
1 t each nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon

It mixed up all nice. Look at the colour! Nice! I was pleased. Everything shaping up quite well, I thought.

I filled the tins, and popped them in the oven at 350, for +/-20 minutes.

In the meantime, I would make the crust-like topping - the best part of pumpkin pie is the crust, yeah? Yeah.
Doesn't that look good? 1 part butter, 1 part brown sugar, 1 part flour. Mix until crumbly and delicious. I tasted it, it was awesome. I love you, topping stuff!!

I crumbled the delicious topping over the cupcakes, took them out of the oven, waited til they cooled, and got ready for a delicious pumpkin pie cupcake.

Don't they look good? Good colour! Bright and pumpkinny. Yum!

Once they were cooled, I settled in to try one, peeled away the wrapper... Or, at least, tried. It was stuck solid. The bottom? Burnt. The middle? Goop. The top was the best part! How misleading!

The whole lot (24 cupcakes!) wound up in the bin.

I do have another idea for the round up, so look for a success post (hopefully!!) later this week!

Monday, October 8, 2007

First Post

I was inspired to enter the Cupcake Roundup that Garrett and Cheryl are hosting this year. To that end, a blog.

They're unintentionally vegan, and in the oven now.