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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.