Monday, December 31, 2012

Easy 2 Layer Mint Fudge

This year I made fudge to go with our Christmas cookies this year. Fudge is not hard to make! The only think about making mint fudge, is that the flavour of it is powerful enough to make everything else taste minty, so I recommend storing it in a separate container. If you store it with your other goodies, they will taste minty.

If you can't find mint chocolate chips, you can add more mint extract to the semi sweet chocolate chips.

Easy 2 Layer Mint Fudge
Adapted from Taste of Home
Makes 36 squares

2 cups mint chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
green food colouring

Line a 8x8 or 9x9 pan with foil and butter it. I think my pan was 8x8.

I used the microwave because it's faster. In a microwave safe bowl, add the mint chocolate chips, 1/2 the milk and the vanilla and microwave for about 60 seconds on high. Stir it up. Heat it for a few seconds more if the chocolate isn't completely melted, but it should be. Pour this mixture into the pan immediately, and spread with an offset spatula. Work fast, it sets quickly. Put this in the fridge for a minute while you prepare the next layer.

In a microwave safe bowl, add the white chocolate chips with the remaining milk, peppermint extract and food colouring. Heat this for 45 seconds and stir. Pour this immediately over the first layer and spread with your spatula. Work quickly again.

Chill for about 1/2 hour and then using a sharp knife dipped in hot water (and wiped dry), slice into squares. Dip the knife if the hot water and wipe it dry before every new slice. I put the squares into paper cupcake liners and stored the fudge in the fridge until Christmas. I made it a few days before.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sugar Plums

I know I haven't been blogging much. I've been busy with Christmas stuff, but now that's all over for another year so maybe I can get caught up. I do have to start concentrating on my diet again in the new year though. In the meantime, enjoy this recipe for sugar plums!

This is probably one of the easiest recipes you'll every make, and a nice little sweet to go with your tea. All they really are is dried fruit and nuts. What do you think? Is this a healthier alternative to other sweets? Let's see. I've run the recipe through Spark People just for fun. This is the calculation for 1 sugar plum.

Calories 76.7 | Total Fat 3.3 g | Saturated Fat 0.3 g | Polyunsaturated Fat 2.3 g | Monounsaturated Fat 0.4 g | Cholesterol 0.0 mg | Sodium 0.6 mg | Potassium 124.5 mg | Total Carbohydrate 12.6 g | Dietary Fiber 1.4 g | Sugars 10.0 g | Protein 1.1 g

Oh, and I forgot to buy allspice, but the recipe called for 1/4 teaspoon so you can add it if you want.

To make these vegan, replace the honey with a vegan friendly sweetener.

Sugar Plums
Adapted from Savory Moments
Makes 25

1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
1 cup pitted and chopped dates
1/2 cup pitted and chopped prunes
1/2 cup pitted and chopped dried apricots
zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
pinch of fine sea salt
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup sugar (I used turbinado)

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it kind of turns into a ball.

I used my small cookie scoop, and then rolled the balls between my hands before rolling them in sugar.

I made mine a few days before Christmas and stored them in the fridge, although I'm not sure refrigeration is necessary.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chips

We made these delicious cookies as part of our Christmas Cookie selection this year. They were soft and chewy and did I mention delicious? I froze some and once they were thawed, they were just as soft as the day they were made.

The recipe made a lot of cookies though! It says 24 but we got 70, and they weren't small either! Next time we'll definitely have to cut the recipe in half. My cousin baked her little heart out this year, as you'll see in the images below. There were 3 of us baking this year and we had to send cookies home with everyone, but still couldn't get rid of them all. I dropped off a giant container of cookies to work a few days later, because I knew my co-workers would never say no to food. I wasn't there to see how it went though, because I was on vacation all week.

This is not all of it either! See below, Pavlina also made a few things to add to the collection.

I have already posted some of these recipes.
And I'll be working on posting some of the new recipes shortly.

Pavlina brought her Christmas Cake and a few other delicious treats! It took me days to be able to taste everything! I brought some home because there was no way I could taste everything on Christmas. I also made a cheesecake because I know it's my mom's favourite.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chips
Recipe from WebMD
Makes 70 cookies

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silicone liner.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

Beat butter with both sugars on medium speed for about 3 minutes until fluffy.

Scrape down the bowl and then add the eggs one at a time, beating until combined.

Add vanilla and peanut butter and beat again until combined.

Add the flour mixture and beat on low just until combined.

Use a wooden spoon to stir in the chocolate chips. You're supposed to chill it for a few hours now, but I must have missed that step. I'll leave that up to you.

Using small cookie scoop or spoon, drop the dough on to the prepared cookie sheets and flatten slightly with your fingers.

Bake for about 8 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges. They will brown quickly so watch them. I had a few trays that I forgot about and they got a little darker.

Let them sit on the pan for a few minutes until you're able to transfer them to the wire rack without breaking them. Cool completely before storing. I froze most of them right away.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Banana Gingerbread Cake with Vanilla Glaze

Well, there were more bananas that were begging to be baked into something. This time I chose to do a banana gingerbread cake and it was great! I used only half the amount of ginger because I didn't want it to be too overpowering. And I made this at my mom's house. So what does that mean? Well, my mom doesn't have a lot of the pantry items that I have in my own kitchen, so I had to leave out some of the spices. 

Banana Gingerbread Cake with Vanilla Glaze
Adapted from Delicious as it Looks
24 servings

2 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup molasses
2 large eggs
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon 2% milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Preheat the oven to 325F. Spray and flour a 9x13 cake pan (or a loaf pan).

Combine  bananas, milk, oil, molasses, eggs and sugar in a bowl. Whisk until well combined.

Combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, salt and baking soda and stir into the wet mixture just until combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Cool the cake completely before adding the glaze.

To make the glaze, simply mix all the glaze ingredients in a bowl, and spread over the cake. You can add more milk or sugar depending on how thick you want your glaze to be.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chocolate Banana Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Somehow I always have brown bananas sitting around. My kids like bananas but they never seem to eat them all no matter how many I buy. I usually only buy about 6 at a time. I like mine when they’ve just passed the green stage, but I don’t like to eat them once they’ve gone completely yellow, or even worse, when they start to get spotty.

The ganache was extremely rich. It almost reminded me of a mousse, and I definitely felt guilty eating it. I brought this cake to work and put a caution label on the container that the ganache may cause diabetes. A joke of course, but it really was very sweet. The good thing is that I decided to cut ½ cup of sugar out of the cake batter beforehand. You really don’t need to add as much sugar when you’re using ripe bananas, because they’re already sweet. That worked out well in the end.

Ganache is also very easy to make though, and I will definitely make it again, only next time I’ll be using milk chocolate chips instead of semi sweet, because milk chocolate is my favourite. But it’s up to you. If you like dark chocolate I’m sure you could use that too. Or white chocolate chips might also be nice in this recipe.

Chocolate Banana Cake with Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from Joy of Baking
24 servings
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups cake (or all purpose) flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed bananas (I used 3 medium – very ripe)
1 cup cold water
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
8 ounces semisweet chocolate (or any chocolate you like)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preheat your oven to 350F and spray/flour a 9x13 baking dish. I didn’t use parchment and my cake popped out of the pan perfectly.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt with a whisk (or sift it together).

In another bowl, beat together the eggs, bananas, water, milk, oil and vanilla just for a minute. Stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture with a wooden spoon just until combined, and then pour into the prepared pan. It’ll seem a little runny but it’s okay.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely before removing from the pan.

While the cake is cooling, make your Ganache. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside.

Heat the cream and butter in the microwave for about 1 ½ minutes or until it just starts to bubble. You can do this in pot too. Mix it up and pour over the chocolate. Stir the chocolate with a whisk until it’s melted into the hot cream. Now set this aside to cool completely. Once cool, beat the mixture for several minutes until it gets thick and creamy. I beat mine by hand with a whisk and it took about 5 minutes or so. I was too lazy to pull out the mixer, but I bet it would be faster!

Now, if you want to leave your cake whole then just remove it from the pan and spread the Ganache over it. If you want to get a bit fancier like I did, cut the cake into squares (I also cut off the edges) and pipe the Ganache on. I liked the look of the coloured sugar, but I used sprinkles on some pieces as well.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Cookie Round-up

Are you still trying to decide what to make for your cookie trays? I think I know what I'll be putting on mine this year. The past few years my cousin has been taking over half the cookie baking. We discuss who will make what each year. I'm still not 100% sure what I'm going to make yet, but time is running out! And some stores are out of cream cheese. Can you believe it?!

Here are some delicious cookie recipes that you might want to consider.

Chewy Coconut Cookies
Healthy Breakfast Cookies
Banana, Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Cookies (no sugar, no flour, no eggs)
Eat Shrink and Be Merry Peanut Better Gingersnaps
Raisin Cookies
Robin Hood Chocolate Chip Cookies
Best, Big, Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Emelia's Fiesta Cookies
Spooky Witches Fingers
Almond Spritz with Raspberry Jam
Angel Crisps
Gingerbread Cookies
Cranberry Hootycreeks
Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies
Chocolate Almond Wrapped Dried Fruit Biscotti ( Whole Wheat )
Double Duty Chocolate Chip and Raisin Cookies (Whole Wheat)
Saffron Infused Cinnamon Raisin Biscotti
The Best Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Chip Rugelach Cookies
White Chocolate Raspberry Slice Cookies
Sugar Cookie Cutouts
Kourabiedes (Greek shortbread)
Brownie Roll-out Cookies
No Bake Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Oatmeal
Small Batch Mint Chocolate Cookies
Small Batch Peanut Butter Cookies
Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies
Small Batch Brown Sugar Cookies
Soft Sugar Cookies

Friday, December 7, 2012

Soft Sugar Cookies

Apparently the Crazy Cooking Challenge has ended, but I must have missed that bit of information somehow. That's a shame. I really enjoyed participating every month. This month we were scheduled to make sugar cookies, so I did.

If you like sugar cookies, then you'll probably like these. Even though I added some nutmeg to the recipe, I still found them a little blah. Every year I make a batch of rolled sugar cookies for the kids to decorate, but I always put them on the cookie trays I'm giving away so I don't have to eat them! They really look pretty, but I'd rather have something more decadent. So here you go, a recipe for soft sugar cookies, that taste like sugar cookies! I adapted this recipe from Allrecipes.

Soft Sugar Cookies
Makes 48 cookies

2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
extra sugar for rolling

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a bowl and set aside.

Combine the butter and sugar in a mixer and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes until creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix for another minute. Then I added the dry ingredients all at once and mixed just until combined. Remember to scrape down the bowl now and then.

Take walnut sizes scoops of dough and roll them into balls. Roll the balls in sugar and place them on the baking sheet about 2" apart. Flatten the balls just a little with your hand.

Bake for 12 minutes or until they start to turn golden around the edges.

Let the cookies cool for a minute on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire wrack.