Monday, November 24, 2014

Gingerbread Macarons

It's starting to get cold here, which can only mean one thing: winter!
I'm a real winter lover. It is one of my most favorite seasons for many reasons. First, snow. I get almost too excited at the sight of it. I love how it coats everything and when it falls so gently. As well as how the Christmas lights reflect off of it at night. It just really gets me in the holiday mood. And of course winter also means Christmas!


There's no denying that there's a scent to Christmas. Don't call me crazy, I know you can imagine smelling it now...
The smokiness of the fire place. The freshly cut Christmas tree branches. And how could I forget the aroma of the many foods? Pecan pie, turkey, eggnog, and most of all, gingerbread cookies.

I wanted to incorporate the taste of gingerbread into something else, to give it a new twist. So I thought, why not macarons! You guys seem to love when I post these guys, so I see to your demands. :)

Gingerbread Macarons

Shells

100g                     ground almonds
100g                      egg whites
200g                     icing sugar
4 tbsp                   granulated sugar
1 tbsp                   cinnamon (optional)
2-3 drops              brown food colouring (optional)

Grind the almonds in a food processor, sift the almonds and dispose of any large lumps. Measure them out again and add more if needed to acquire the 100g amount. Sift in the icing sugar and stir together.
In a large bowl whip the egg whites until foamy. Add the sugar a little at a time to form hard peaks. You should be able to hold the bowl upside down without any falling out. But don't whip too much or the shells will be hollow. Dump 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the egg whites and fold. Add the next 1/3 folding well and scraping down the sides. Add the last bit of the dry ingredients and incorporate until the batter drips off the spatula to form ribbons, but it's also not too runny. When dropped from a spoon, it should take 15-20 seconds to flatten out. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large round tip and pipe the batter onto a tray lined with parchment paper. Don't pipe too big 1" is enough. Let your cookies sit for a hour so they develop a dry skin, when you touch it, your finger should not stick. This will help form the "feet". Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, bake for 8-10 minutes in the middle rack of the oven. You can test by touching the sides, if they wobble they are not done. Let the shells cool completely.


Gingerbread Icing

1/2 cup                    butter
2 tbsp                      molasses
1/4 tsp                     ginger
1/4 tsp                     nutmeg
1/2 tsp                     cinnamon
1 1/2 cups                icing sugar
1/2 tbsp                   milk

In a medium bowl, beat the butter together with the molasses. Add the spices and continue beating. Add the icing sugar and beat, scraping down the sides. Lastly add the milk and mix. Transfer the icing into a piping bag fitted with a round tip. Pipe icing onto the backs of half the cooled cookies. Place another shell on top and press gently. Store in an air tight container in the fridge. Enjoy!


I hope you guys are having an excellent November and preparing for the Christmas rush! I wish you good luck on your shopping and getting things done in time for the holidays.

Elanne Boake

Monday, November 3, 2014

Apple Crumble Squares

 I'm back. I haven't posted since the beginning of last month. I've been too busy doing... nothing actually. Sometimes it's hard to get motivated. This is especially the case if you're a student or if you have a job. There can be a lot of work to get done, but you just don't feel up to it.


I'm back to give you a motivational boost in whatever you are doing, or whatever you are trying to accomplish! Everyone works differently, so don't feel bad if you are going slower than others. Once you finally decide to start, you will end up on right track. Just keep going and don't give up! Sometimes you just need a break, and that's okay too. Always remember to treat yourself kindly. :)
This has been a public service announcement.

Apple Crumble Squares

Makes 24 Squares

Crust

2 cups                            all purpose flour
1/2 tsp                           salt
3/4 cup                          butter, cold & cubed
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp            butter milk
1 egg yolk

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the 2 cups of flour and salt. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry cutter or fork until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the buttermilk and egg yolk, stir until it comes together to form a ball. Cover it with plastic wrap and place in the fridge while you make the filling.

Filling

6 apples
2 tbsp                           orange juice
1 tsp                             vanilla
1/2 cup                         all purpose flour
1/2 cup                         sugar
1/3 cup                         brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp                       cinnamon
1/4 tsp                          nutmeg
1/4 tsp                          ginger

Peel, core and slice the apples into thin, small pieces. Place them in a large mixing bowl. Add orange juice and vanilla. Toss the apples so it coats them evenly. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, brown sugar, and spices. Pour flour mixture over the apples and toss them so they get evenly coated. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Now with the cooled dough. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface so that it's about 1/4" thick. Carefully transfer it to your 9x13" ungreased pan, by folding it in half and lifting it up into the bottom of the pan. Press down into the bottom of the dish and trim excess dough. Now place apple mixture on top of the dough, spread about evenly. Set aside. Now prepare the topping.

Topping

1/3 cup                         brown sugar
1/3 cup                         pecans
1 tbsp                           butter
1/2 tsp                          cinnamon

Chop the pecans into coarse pieces and transfer into a small bowl. Place the brown sugar, butter and cinnamon in bowl. Stir until combined and moist. Sprinkle over top of the apples. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the apples are soft when forked. Let them cool, then cut into squares. Enjoy!



These bars taste quite a lot like the apple pies from McDonalds. But with a little more texture and nuttiness. They are very light, and packed with spices.

I hope everyone is doing well, and getting things done the way you planned them. I wish you all the best November, and good luck in the new month. (Happy late Halloween)

Elanne Boake

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

The leaves are falling at last. It's fall again.
To me, fall means cozy sweaters, colourful leaves, pumpkins, cool days, and most of all the aromas of nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon.


These cookies have their good and bad sides to them. Good, as they are puffy, and soft, they take little time to bake, and are easy to make. Bad, as in they go stale really quickly and it makes way to many cookies! I know, how could there be such a thing as too many cookies.
I would suggest making this full recipe and freezing the other half of the dough for a later date.

Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

6 cups                   a.p flour
1 tsp                      baking soda
1 tsp                      baking powder
1 tsp                      cinnamon
1/4 tsp                   nutmeg
1 cup                     butter, softened
2 cups                    sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp                       vanilla
1 1/2 cups               sour cream

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Set Aside. In a large bowl cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating in between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Lastly add the vanilla and sour cream, beat. Add the flour and beat until fully combined. The dough will be slightly sticky. Lay out two pieces of plastic wrap and divide the dough into two portions, putting one ball of dough on each plastic wrap sheet. Spread into a rectangle, and cover with the wrap. Place in fridge for 2 hours or until less soft.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4" thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out the cookies and lay them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle cookies very lightly with cinnamon, then bake for 7 minutes. Let them cool and store them in an airtight container. They are best eaten the day of. Enjoy!


I hope you all are having a wonderful autumn season. These cookies were enjoyed by my dance class, they stated, "They taste like pillows!" So if that's not a good sign I don't know what is.
Happy Thanksgiving, (to those of you who aren't American) stay warm!

*Edit: This is my 100th post! Thank you for all the support, I couldn't have done it without you all.

Elanne Boake

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Salted Espresso Cookies

Guess who's back? That's right, it's me.
How was everyone's summer? Now it's back into the flow of work or school which can be a little stressful at times for everyone. Parents, teachers and kids alike.


I know I'm not too thrilled about going back. Having to get my butt off the couch and actually do something every day kind of bums be out. And I feel that no one likes waking up at 7:00 or even 6:00 every morning just to go places and be productive.
We all need a sort of kick start in the morning, which is where these cookies come in handy! Instant coffee mixed into the batter to give them their zing factor which can be a good or bad thing depending on how old you are. Might I not suggest these for school lunches.
But also, the salt contrasts very well with the coffee to even it out and give them their unique flavour!

Salted Espresso Cookies

8 oz.                          semi sweet chocolate
6 tbsp                        butter
2 tbsp                        instant coffee powder
1/3 cup                      a.p flour
1 tsp                          baking powder
1/4 tsp                       salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup                      sugar
1 tsp                           vanilla
1 tbsp                         sea salt (optional)

Melt the chocolate, the butter and coffee powder in a double boiler. Stir until smooth and melted. Take off the heat and let cool a bit. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. In a medium bowl whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla until light. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk until fully incorporated. Fold in the flour mixture until just combined. Cover in plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for 1 hour or overnight so you can bake in the morning before work. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a few cookie sheets with parchment paper. Drop dough onto cookie sheets about 1 inch apart and bake for 10-12 minutes. Top each cookie with a pinch of salt. Enjoy!


While people get back into the groove of things I think I will enjoy these cookies.
If you are looking for a few snacks to pack for school lunches, I would try some of the following recipes:
Marbled Brownie Blondie Bars, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge, Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Elanne Boake

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Squares

I'm back! It's good to be home. I missed my computer and bed a lot. Typical for an internet dwelling person like me.
I recently took a trip out west to Calgary, to visit my friend who had just moved there. I must say it was so different there compared to Toronto, I didn't feel like I was in Canada! First of all the streets were numbered which really screwed me up. You would think that numbers would be easier, but not for me. Also, they had a surprisingly different amount of wildlife, like magpies and giant hares (they were bigger than cats), as well as in the country; grizzly bears and elk.


Needless to say, it was an amazing trip and I'm glad I could spend it with one of my best friends. I hope I can go back soon to visit, it's probably one of my favorite places now. My friend's Mom was kind enough to give me some items for photography like the plate you see before you. :)

While I was there I was able to whip up a batch or two of these squares for my friend's family. They were a success with them, so I figured I would smuggle a few through the airport to take them home to photograph for the blog. And here they are! Might I mention they were a great snack on the plane ride back!

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Squares

Makes one, 9x11" pan

Crust

1/2 cup                           butter, softened
1/4 cup                           sugar
1 cup                              a.p flour
1/8 tsp                            salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer. Combine until mixture just begins to stick together to form a coarse crumble. Dump out into a greased 9x11" pan and press into the bottom to form an even layer. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Filling

3 eggs
1 1/4 cup                        sugar
1/2 cup                           peanut butter
1/2 cup                           a.p flour
1/4 tsp                            vanilla extract
1/3 cup                           mini chocolate chips

Combine all the ingredients for the filling except the chocolate chips in a large bowl and beat until incorporated. Add the chocolate chips last and mix into the batter with a spoon. Once the crust has baked, pour the filling over it and spread it out to form an even layer. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top has just puffed an settled. Don't bake for too long! Let cool then cut into squares, enjoy!


If you ever get the chance to visit Calgary, or even Canada in general, I would go for it. I find it amazing. I might be bragging because it's my home but, I'm sure anyone would agree that it's a beautiful place with so much greenery and wildlife to offer, that it is a must see.

Elanne Boake

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

S'more Brownies

Last week it was cold. I'm not talking a two degree difference, they were calling it a polar vortex, in the summer. It would drop to almost 10 degrees every night! It really started to feel like fall, I even wore sweaters for a few days. I wasn't in the summer "mood" at all.


Suddenly bam, it's summer again. I'm sweltering over here. And we don't have the air conditioning on just to add to the heat.
I guess this is what it feels like to be made into a brownie. For example, you are a pound of butter, you're chilling in the fridge then bam, you feel the heat. I mean technically when us humans are being being baked we won't exactly taste great after, sweaty and all... and probably dead.

S'mores Brownies

Makes one 8"x8" pan

2 1/2 cups                                 a.p flour
1/3 cup                                      cocoa 
1 cup                                         butter
3/4 cup                                      sugar
3/4 cup                                      brown sugar
1 tsp                                          baking soda
1 tsp                                          vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup                                         chocolate chips
1/3 cup                                      graham cracker crumbs, coarse
1 cup                                         marshmallow fluff

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 8"x8" pan. In a medium bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl beat the butter, vanilla and sugars. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the flour bit by bit. Stir in the last of it by hand and add the chocolate chips and graham cracker crumbs. Spread about 2/3 of the batter into the bottom of the pan. Spread the marshmallow fluff on top. Now use the rest of the batter and pat it down on top of the marshmallow fluff. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool and then cut into squares. Enjoy!


Hopefully it's not too hot where you are or not too cold. In any case I hope you are handling your strange weather. Oh, and make these brownies, because s'mores.

Elanne Boake