Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Double Trouble Chocolate Chip Cookies

Double Chocolate chip cookie1

The trouble part comes from the fact, they can be slightly addictive.

I know its getting too hot here to be baking cookies, but sometimes a girls gotta do, what a girls gotta do.  I was having a massive chocolate craving, and I was feeling that pang of guilt having not blogged anytime recently

This recipe is an extra chocolatey modification of a family recipe for chocolate chip cookies that my Grandma W. has been making as far back as I can remember.  At every family gathering, there would be the big plastic rectangle container filled to the very top with these cookies.  I perched on the edge of a kitchen chair helping Grandma make them more than a few times(she always set aside a bit of chocolate chips for me to munch on, it was my favourite part!). 

The original recipe is from a yellowed old paper clipping, Grandma can’t recall exactly where it was taken from(as she has a huge stash of recipes clipped just like it).  When I married and moved in with my husband (4 years ago Thursday!)  I asked for the recipe and she simply jotted it down from memory.  I love when I make them, as it brings me back to being perched on that chair sneaking chocolate chips while Grandma showed me how to measure ingredients.

My husband actually had a hand in this adaptation, adjusting some of the amounts of sugar to his liking, as this was the first thing I taught him to bake (sometimes I think he even makes them better than me, but shhh, don’t tell).  There is just nothing sexier than a man who bakes (okay so that might just be my opinion) but I’m so glad that he quickly learned that recipes are fun to play around with.

Double Chocolate chip cookie3-2

This variation is thick, dangerously chocolately and nice and soft on the inside without falling apart in your hands.

Double Trouble Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes approx 3 dozen or so cookies


  • 1 Cup Butter
  • ¾ Cup White Sugar
  • ¾ Cup Brown sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Tsp Vanilla
  • 2 Cup Flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking soda
  • ½ Tsp Salt
  • 2/3 Cup Cocoa
  • 2 Cup Chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats, set aside.
  2. Cream butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well again, scraping bowl occasionally.
  3. Mix flour, baking soda and salt in bowl. Sift in cocoa powder. Gradually add dry ingredients to sugar mixture, mix just until combined. Mix in chocolate chips.
  4. Place by tablespoonfuls couple inches apart onto lined baking sheets. I like to leave mine heaped or rolled into a ball for a nice thick cookie.
  5. Bake in oven for approximately 8 minutes or until edges and some of the middle is set…cookies will continue to bake as you take them out of the oven.  Wait a couple of minutes before transferring to racks to cool.
  6. Once cool store in an airtight container.

The dough freezes well, as do the cookies themselves. If it’s very warm in your kitchen or you find the dough very soft, you can also chill the dough before baking.

Double Chocolate chip cookie2

You can add ½ cup chopped nuts when adding the chocolate chips. Feel free to change the flavour of chocolate chips, white or peanut butter would taste fantastic!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Most Delicious Orange Cake


When I was gearing up for the baking competition this past weekend, I came across a recipe for orange cake on one of my favourite blogs, Eating Out Loud.  I had the oranges all ready to make it, but just completely ran out of time.  So the oranges sat, kind of forgotten about and sad for the rest of the weekend while I took a much needed break from the kitchen.  Yesterday I was craving dessert, and seeing how I hate wasting food and the recipe looked simple, I decided to give it a go.  My expectations couldn’t have prepared me for how absolutely DELICIOUS this cake was going to be.  Its light and airy while still being so incredibly moist and flavourful.  The glaze has just the right amount of citrusy sweetness.


You can find the recipe here on Allen’s website Eating Out Loud.  I baked my cake in a 10 inch tube pan for approximately 50 minutes and it came out perfect.  You will notice a lack of zest in my cake compared to Allen’s, this is because Mr. BotC isn’t a fan of citrus zest so I omitted it from the frosting and only put about a tsp in the cake.  I would recommend using the full amount to get an extra punch of orange flavour, but its still fantastic cut back if you too have something not fond of zest.

Thank you Allen so much for this recipe, I will be making this again for sure!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

(Second) Best Whole Wheat Bread

Competition pic

Today’s weather was just gorgeous for a parade and a big festival!  I’m back from the Bread and Honey Festival baking competition, and I didn’t do too shabby!  I wrangled three 2nd place spots, winning with my pumpkin bread, butter tarts and whole wheat bread.

win ribbons

Unfortunately, I was so busy that I didn’t get pictures of a lot of the things I baked.  My kitchen table is still caked with flour and covered with various Tupperware pieces.  I did have an extra loaf of the whole wheat bread thankfully that I can actually show you (and extra shortbread cookies, the post will be coming soon!).
This bread has won me second place at the festival twice now.  Its simple and straight forward to make, is hearty without being overly dense and has a lovely flavour.  It is also 100% whole wheat, so on top of tasting great its healthy for you too!  This tastes great with a big bowl of homemade soup (or hey, canned - I won’t tell!).  If you don’t have a loaf pan, you can shape as if you are baking in a loaf pan and let rise and bake on a parchment lined baking sheet, as I have done on the loaf below.  If you use shortening instead of butter, this bread is completely dairy-free.

whole wheat bread 2 fixed

Looking for the recipe to make some beautiful bread yourself?  Check out 100% Whole Wheat Bread by RobinHood.ca

whole wheat bread fixed

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Iron Cupcake: Savoury- Voting Now Open!

Nacho Cupcake-1

You can now head over to No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner to vote for your favourite Iron Cupcake: Savoury Cupcake!  Just browse the entries and then look to the right sidebar, pick up to 3 favourites, and then hit the vote button at the bottom!  Every vote counts as a ballot which a winner will be randomly drawn. Voting is open through Friday, June 5 at 12 noon central.  The winner will be posted the night of June 6, before 11:59 p.m.

   My entry is the Nacho Sabroso Cupcake,  just in case of course you would like to vote for me!

Nacho Cupcake split1

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sugar High Fridays – Sweet without the Wheat


When I read that this month’s Sugar High Friday was to be desserts without any wheat, I knew I would be making something frozen using my much loved ice cream maker(I think I’ve become a little obsessed).   I came to love tea with honey and lemon as a child when my Czech next-door neighbour, who I visited often, would freshly brew it using a coffee maker.  I was curious how it would translate into a sorbet, and have been experimenting in balancing the sourness and tang of the lemon with just enough sweetness.

Sorbets have the added benefit for those with food allergies and sensitivities that not only are they gluten-free, they are also egg and dairy-free.  It came at a good time too, as I came down with a nasty bout of laryngitis right at the beginning of the Canadian Victoria day weekend (of course!).  Honey-lemon tea is known to soothe a raw and sore throat, and I discovered it works even better when frozen! 


Honey-Lemon Tea Sorbet

A true “iced” tea


  • 4                            Tea bags (I used Orange Pekoe)
  • 1/2 Cup               Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp                  Honey
  • 2 Cups                  Water
  • 2  1/2 Cups         Cold water
  • Juice from one lemon (approx. 1/4 cup)


  1. Boil 2 cups of the water and sugar together until sugar dissolves.  Take off heat.
  2. Add tea bags.  Steep for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove tea bags and add honey, stirring to dissolve.
  4. Mix in 2 cups cold water and lemon juice.
  5. Put in fridge to chill until thoroughly cold, at least 2 hours.
  6. Freeze in ice cream machine according to manufacture’s instructions.
  7. Keep in airtight container in freezer.  Will tend to freeze rock hard after a few hours, let thaw in fridge at least 10-15 minutes until softened. (If frozen in a microwaveable container, I have found putting it on 30 second bursts and checking works too, works well especially for the impatient like me).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

May Dinner and a Movie: Shirley Valentine (Loukoumathes)


This month’s  Dinner and a Movie, hosted by Marc of No Recipes and Susan of Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy, is the 1989 film “Shirley Valentine”.


Before this month’s D&M I had never heard of the movie, and when reading the summary about it on Wiki, I admit I was sceptical.   Its about a 40 something English woman who is treated like a door mat by most the people in her life, especially her brutish husband.  She basically lives to serve everyone else, so lonely and beaten down she talks to the wall in her kitchen.  When a friend wins two tickets to a resort in Greece, she makes a last minute decision to realize her dream of travelling, and takes off for new parts.  After her friend promptly ditches her for a man she meets on the plane she has to discover the island on her own.  She then begins to find out what she wants and what she actually needs.

Although I felt iffy about the ending, I was surprised how much the movie actually touched me.  It actually gave  me the push I needed to make a major change in my life that I had been avoiding for a very long time.

This is what brought me to my choice of recipe, Loukoumathes. 


In Greek these are λουκουμάδες, pronounced loo-koo-MAH-thes.  These little yeasted balls of dough are deep fried until puffed and golden and then drizzled with lots of honey and sprinkled with cinnamon.  A New years eve tradition in parts of Greece, I thought they were perfect for a movie based on change and getting a new start.  They are light and airy, and despite being covered in honey, they are not overwhelmingly sweet.  Adjust the amount of cinnamon you sprinkle to your taste, Mr. BotC liked it very liberally covered.  These must be serve immediately as they are fried, and will become soggy if left to sit.



  • 1 pk -Active dry yeast or 30 grams compressed yeast
  • 1 c Milk; lukewarm (110 F)
  • 1 tb granulated white sugar
  • 1 Egg; beaten
  • 1/4 c Butter; melted
  • 2 Cups All purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Honey; warmed
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Oil (of your choice) for frying
  1. In small bowl stir yeast into 2 tablespoons of the lukewarm milk.  Let sit 2 to 5 minutes until yeast is mostly dissolved.
  2. In large bowl mix together remaining milk, sugar, egg and lukewarm melted butter. Add dissolved yeast.
  3. Sift flour and salt and gradually stir in mixed liquids. Beat until smooth and continue beating for 1 minute.
  4. Cover bowl with warm damp cloth and leave in a warm place for 1-1/2 hours until batter doubles in bulk with bubbles on the surface. I like to put the bowl into a cold oven, and place a pan full of boiling water at the other end, and then shut the oven door. This gives me a beautiful rise every time.
  5. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper, and then with a layer of paper towel
  6. In small pot over very low (minimum) heat, set honey to warm while frying the dough, until nice and fluid.
  7. Remove cloth from bowl of dough, stir dough well then drop teaspoonfuls into pot of deep, hot oil (375F) 4 to 5 at a time. Do not crowd puffs or they tend to stick together. 
  8.   Turn puffs to brown evenly and remove with a slotted spoon to drain on lined baking sheet.  Watch very closely as each puff only takes about a minute to cook.
  9. When all are drained, arrange on serving plate. Drizzle each with the warmed honey and sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve hot.

Adapted from The Greek Cookbook by Tess Mallos


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Iron Cupcake: Earth - Battle Savoury!

This will be my first Iron Cupcake: Earth challenge, and I’m so excited!  Faced with the challenge of making a savoury cupcake;  that is, something you would have for dinner instead of for dessert, I tried to break down favourite dishes that might translate in cupcake form.  After lots of brainstorming, where I learned the internet is not teeming with ideas for savoury cupcakes, it came to me – Nachos.

Nacho Cupcake-1

Everyone has their own way of doing them; some like grated cheese, some the ooey-gooey processed cheese sauce.  The garnish possibilities run the gamut, from sweet (tomatoes) to salty (olives) to a little bit of heat (jalapenos).  This is my interpretation of nachos, in easy to eat cupcake form.  A cheese cupcake in a crispy tortilla cup, spiced with taco seasoning, dotted with green onions and filled with a thick salsa  and frosted with a swirl of sour cream.  Frosting is garnished with a sprinkling of finely diced tomatoes and sliced green onions and finally topped with a homemade tortilla chip.

Nachos Sabroso Cupcakes

Tortilla cups

  • 4 Large tomato tortillas
  • cooking spray or vegetable oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400F (200C)  for the cupcakes.
  2. Lightly grease 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray or vegetable oil.  Set aside.
  3. Using a 4 inch cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out 12 rounds from tortillas.
  4. In large pan over medium-low heat, warm tortillas, one or two at a time, until pliable.
  5. As you remove tortillas from heat, gently fit into muffin cups, pleating if necessary.  Careful as the tortillas may be hot!
  6. Set aside and proceed to making cupcake batter.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp taco seasoning (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded old cheddar cheese
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted


  1. If you haven’t done so yet, preheat oven to 400F (200C).
  2. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda and taco seasoning;  stir in cheddar cheese and green onions.
  3. In small bowl, lightly beat eggs; stir in sour cream and butter.  Add to dry ingredients, all at once, stirring just until moistened.  Divide batter evenly among the 12 tortilla lined muffin cups.
  4. Bake 18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes in cups on wire rack.  Remove and let cool completely.  If making tortilla chips, leave oven on.

Tortilla chips (for garnish)

  • 1 flour torilla
  • 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400F unless oven is still on from making the cupcakes.
  2. Slice tortilla into 12 wedges and place on lined baking sheet.
  3. Brush top side of tortilla wedges lightly with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Bake for 5 minutes, rotate baking sheet and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until tortillas start to crisp but do not turn brown.

Topping and Assembly

cupcake with well

  • 1/2 cup thick salsa
  • 1 500 ml container sour cream (2 cups)
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 12 tortilla chips (homemade or store-bought)
    1. Using sharp knife, cut out small circles into the middle of the cupcake, careful to not go through to the bottom (picture above).  Reserve caps.  Fill each cupcake with a 2 tsp of salsa, and gently replace cap.  If necessary, cut bottom of the cap to make room for the filling.
    2. Using a spoon,  swirl sour cream on each cupcake.
    3. Garnish with finely chopped tomato, green onion slices and a tortilla chip and serve immediately.

    Nacho Cupcake split2

    This month’s winner will receive the following fabulous prizes:


    Last and certainly not least, don’t forget the corporate prize providers: HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS, http://www.fiestaproducts.com, HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, http://blog.hellocupcakebook.com, JESSIE STEELE APRONS http://www.jessiesteele.com; TASTE OF HOME books, http://www.tasteofhome.com; a t-shirt from UPWITHCUPCAKES.COM http://www.upwithcupcakes.com/. Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers, http://www.1800flowers.com

    I will let you know when the voting opens, and I encourage you to vote for your favourites, even if its not mine! (of course that would be awesome too!)

  • Thursday, May 14, 2009

    Oatmeal Cookies


    Oatmeal Raisin stacked3

    Have you ever made a recipe, for the sole reason of using a certain ingredient that you have in abundance in your kitchen?  This was the case with raisins in my kitchen this week, especially for the fact that Mr. BotC does not like to eat them in anything (but on their own is fine…to each their own!).

    Oatmeal cookies were never my favourite, I found them boring and more often than not, dry and rather tasteless.  Having so many raisins on hand though, oatmeal raisin cookies kept coming to mind since I just plain couldn’t think of anything else creative to use them in except raisin bread, and I haven’t had the time to devote to yeast bread this week.

    Oatmeal raisin split open2

    These cookies really surprised me, in a really good way.  The aroma from the spices when they are baking wafts through the house, and they come out of the oven a lovely golden brown.  I tried one while still (very) warm and I thought I was in heaven.  I was so happy they were still just as delicious today.  They raisin variety is soft and chewy, with a spice flavour that doesn’t take over the cookie. 

    Oatmeal Raisin stacked1

    Since Mr.BotC does not like raisins in anything, I made half raisin, and half chocolate chip.  I found when adding chocolate chips instead of raisins to this recipe they were not as soft and chewy(without the added moisture of the raisins) but my husband and his co-workers weren’t complaining.  I sent at least half the batch (both raisin and chocolate chip) with him to work, and they were devoured.  I’m so glad his work loves home baking, or I would really be in trouble!  (Since I’ll eat them all myself…The lack of will power when it comes to baked goods is almost embarrassing, I can’t be the only one right?).

    Oatmeal chocolate chip3

    I’ve included a note at the bottom of the recipe for the chocolate chip or if you too would like to do half of each. 

    Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

    Makes approximately 36 cookies

    • 1 cup butter, softened
    • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup white sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3 cups rolled oats
    • 1 cup raisins (or chocolate chips*)
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
    2. Place raisins in bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside.
    3. In a mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. In large bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt; stir into the sugar mixture.
    4. Drain raisins.  Stir the raisins and oats into the rest of the cookie dough.  Mixture may be very thick.  Resist the urge to add more liquid! 
    5. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased parchment-lined cookie sheets.
    6. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until light and golden. Do not overbake.  Let them cool for 2 minutes before removing from cookie sheets to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

    *If adding chocolate chips, you may wish to omit the spices.  I added 1/2 tsp of cinnamon just for a bit of flavour.  This of course is up to you.

    For half chocolate chip/half raisin:  Follow recipe as directed until step 3, except do not add cinnamon and cloves to flour mixture. Mix in oats.  Divide dough in half, adding 1/2 tsp ground cloves and 1/2 tsp cinnamon to one half, add raisins.  In other half, add chocolate chips and 1/4 of cinnamon.  As dough is very stiff, make sure to mix spices in very well, using a strong spoon or your clean hands.  Bake as directed. 

    Recipe adapted from Beth's Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies submitted by Beth Sigworth to Allrecipes.com.

    Monday, May 11, 2009

    Love Muffin(s)

    Chocolate chip muffin2

    My favourite kind of recipes are those that can be reinvented over and over, with just a quick change up of ingredients.  This is what I have done with great results with my blueberry muffin recipe, prompted by a lack of fresh blueberries and an abundance of chocolate chips one day.  Its so fast to whip up, using just one bowl –who doesn’t love less mess?!  You don’t even need to turn on a mixer, just a spoon or spatula will do, as the less you work the dry ingredients, the less likely you will end up with tough, dense muffins.  These are great for breakfast or for filling that late night hunger (I can’t be the only one that stays up so late they get too hungry to go to sleep right?).  I especially love them a bit warm, with the chocolate still gooey, but were still good two days later stored in an airtight container.  I think these would be great with mini chocolate chips too, but for some reason seem to be tricky to find in a grocery store lately.

    Chocolate chip muffin1

    Chocolate Chip Muffins

    Using an ice cream scoop is fast and gives you perfectly proportioned muffins with a nice rounded top

    Makes 8 muffins

    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup white sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 egg
    • 1/3 cup milk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 cup chocolate chips


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
    2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture.  Mix in vanilla. Fold in chocolate chips.  Using ice cream scoop, place one full scoop in each cup or liner (if not using a scoop, just put large spoonfuls).
    3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until skewer inserted in middle comes out clean.



    Adapted from "To Die for Blueberry Muffins" submitted by Colleen to Allrecipes.com.

    Saturday, May 2, 2009

    Butter Tarts

    Butter tarts2
    If you’ve ever been North of the border, you may have come across these little tarts, with their syrupy sweet filling, most likely with raisins,  in tender pastry.  Butter tarts are one of few foods that are uniquely Canadian, and beloved much like our Tim Hortons.  Growing up my father used to buy them and you had better be sure you didn’t take your sweet time getting your share, or you were out of luck!  I have had an incredible craving for one of these the last two weeks, and finally got around to making them.  I think I realize why I haven’t made them more than once or twice before, because I’ve eaten half a batch myself in just two days…so I should warn they may be slightly addictive!
    My first batch I sent along with my Mr. BotC to work, and he said he left them at the front desk for whoever wanted one.  When he walked by the desk at 9:30am they had vanished (he got there at 8:30am).
    butter tarts3
    It seems many of my American friends have never had the opportunity to try these, but they are actually rather simple to make, and oh so delicious.
    The following recipe is reprinted and adapted with permission from Lennie Locken of Eat Write Create and Alphabet Soup Studio, who was kind enough to share the original recipe at RecipeZaar.

    Award Winning Butter Tarts
    Back in the 1970’s there was a national contest held in Canada to determine who had the best buttertarts, this recipe is the winner, originating from Wilkie’s Bakery in Orilla, Ontario.
    • pie pastry (enough to fill 16 muffin cups – I used a double recipe of  this Pâte Brisée from Simply Recipes, which I highly recommend *)
    • 1/2 cup raisins
    • 1/4 cup soft butter
    • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 pinch salt
    • 1/2 cup corn syrup
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    1. Prepare muffin pans by rolling out pie dough and cutting 4-inch (approx) circles, I used a fluted cutter for the scalloped edges; ease dough circles into ungreased muffin cups; set aside in fridge until ready to fill.
    2. In a small bowl, place raisins and cover with hot tap water; let stand on the counter for 30 minutes.
    3. In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, mix together the soft butter, brown sugar, salt and corn syrup; stir well until sugar is dissolved and butter is creamed.
    4. Add egg and vanilla and mix well.
    5. Drain raisins.
    6. Retrieve tart shells and divide raisins equally into all shells; then divide butter mixture into all tarts.  Don’t fill tarts all the way to the very top, as the filling does bubble up quite a bit, and will get everywhere!
    7. Bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes; filling will be lightly browned but still bubbling.
    8. I like mine runny, enough that it oozes out a bit when you bite into it, only firm enough so much that it runs down your chin and hands.  If you prefer a firmer filling, baked for the full 20 minutes.
    9. Let cooked butter tarts cool in pans for 10 minutes after removing from oven; then carefully remove and place on racks until completely cool.
    *If making your own pastry, make sure to not overwork the dough.  The pastry should be tender and light, just enough to contain the filling within.  The second batch, shown here,  I overworked in my haste to finish them so they were a bit tough, but still are every bit as tasty(and didn’t stop them from ending up in my mouth!.

    Thank you again so much Lennie for allowing me to share this wonderful recipe!

    It has come to my attention that people have been stealing photos from this blog post and using it to post with other butter tart recipes on their blogs, or in some cases to actually sell their own butter tarts.  All the photos on this blog are mine and from the recipe listed unless otherwise credited.  If you would like to use my photo, PLEASE ask first, and only use it if you are using the actual recipe with it (which is not my own, and I asked permission to post, so you should too).  If you see these photos anywhere else, and not posted by me, or linked back to me, they have been stolen from this page.

    Thursday, April 30, 2009

    Two-Bite Brownies


    This blog post proves there is (almost) always a silver lining, even when a recipe decides to go pear shaped.

    Today I attempted to make vanilla cupcakes with a brownie centre, using my very favourite brownie recipe.  Well, it didn’t pan out(pun intended). 

    The vanilla cupcakes, a new recipe, were just plain bad.  Dense (more than a muffin), dry, and pretty much tasteless.  The brownie section was dry in some parts, and completely uncooked in others.  I was thoroughly disappointed, especially since I had just spent the afternoon mucking up the kitchen, and there was half a pound of butter down the drain.

    I know, you’re wondering where does the silver lining come in.

    Well I had a bunch of brownie batter leftover, but not enough for a full pan, so I had just quickly put the rest into greased mini muffin tins, and slipped them in the oven alongside the cupcake pan.

    These turned out to be the little stars of the show.


    These are my usual brownies, but this is the  first time I’ve ever made them mini, thinking they would end up tough and hard.  Instead they developed this wonderful chewiness (don’t take me wrong, its not like chewing chocolate bubblegum I promise!). The texture when baked in the pan is very fudgy, not cakelike, which might be why they didn’t end up drying out which I was afraid of.  If you would rather bake these in a pan then as minis, I’ve included a note at the bottom with directions.  These are very good even unfrosted, but I found as minis, they were almost elevated to miniature brownie cupcakes with a touch of frosting.

    Two Bite Brownies

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Frosting

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 ounces chocolate, melted (two full chocolate baking squares)
  • 1 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • Enough milk to make creamy consistency (approx. 2 to 4 tablespoons*)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  Grease two mini muffin pans and set aside.

    In large bowl combine melted butter,  sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder.  Drop by teaspoonful into greased mini muffin pans.

    Bake in preheated oven for approximately 10-15 minutes (check at the 10 minute mark). Do not overcook.  Let set for 5 minutes in pans, then gently remove and cool on racks.  Store in airtight container.

    To Make Frosting:  Combine melted chocolate and butter.  Add icing sugar and mix.  Mixture will be crumbly.  Add just enough milk to make a smooth and creamy consistency. 

    *As icing sugars can differ in starch content, even depending on humidity, this amount can differ.  If you accidentally add too much milk or the frosting is too runny, you can slowly add more sugar.  Pipe or spread on cooled brownies.

    Note: To make in an 8 inch square pan: spread brownies in the greased and parchment or foil lined 8 inch pan, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, checking at the 15 minute mark.  Let cool in pan on a wire rack.

    Recipe adapted from “Best Brownies”  from  Allrecipes.com



    My 6 year old nephew loves the store-bought two bite brownies, that come in the brown folded bag.  He hates cake with a passion so I dress them up for his birthdays.  I would love to see if these(without frosting of course) would pass his discriminating taste buds.

    I am still on the look out (and desperate) for a fantastic vanilla cupcake recipe.  If you have one you could point me to or would like to share, please let me know!

    Sunday, April 26, 2009

    Lactose-Reduced Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

    About a week or so ago, after many months of searching, my husband brought home a much welcome baby.
    Cuisinart ice cream maker 
    Its the Cuisinart Pure Indulgence Yogurt, Sorbet and Ice cream maker.  I’m in love.  It just happened that the day it arrived home in my husband’s arms, was the day my copy of David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop arrived on my doorstep fresh from Amazon.

    If you are a lover of frozen treats, I implore you to get your hands on an ice cream maker and this book.  His witty style fills the pages, along with gorgeous photos.  There is almost every icy treat you can think of…custard and non-custard based ice creams, sherbets, sorbets, frozen yogurts and even granitas.  There is an entire section at the back for “sweet accompaniments” which include cones and bowls, marshmallows, sauces, truffles, peppermint patties, and chocolate chip cookie dough,  all that are suitable for being swirled into ice cream.  I know, what am I doing with an ice cream maker and a book about ice cream, being lactose intolerant, right?  The section on sorbets has an impressive 33 different recipes, all dairy free.  There are also sherbets and frozen yogurts, which I’m in the process of testing using lactose-free dairy.
    This is where the Blueberry frozen yogurt comes in.

    blueberry sorbet-1

    The one thing that Mr. BotC absolutely loves(besides me of course)  is blueberries.  He also loves yogurt.  You wouldn’t know it though, because it is very rarely in the fridge…all because I really, really don’t, and he has to be prodded into buying things that only he will eat.  I used to eat it as a small child, but the older I got, the more I was put off by the sourness, the tang that I think makes people love yogurt.  I know that it is good for you, and all in the name of trying to push my boundaries a bit, I decided I would try out the Blueberry fro-yo in the sake of my husband (and because then it wouldn’t sit untouched in case I truly couldn’t stand it!). 

    I have read that regular yogurt is well tolerated by some lactose intolerants, but being that I haven’t eaten it since a child I didn’t feel like testing that theory.  We set out to find some lactose-free yogurt, and among the dozens of varieties offered, there was only one that was lactose-reduced, by 90%.  Unfortunately it only came in 1%, as every recipe in the book calls for full fat dairy products, to prevent iciness.  I threw caution to the wind as this was the only option available.

    After my husband devoured a few spoonfuls, he sighed, “you could sell this”.  You just can’t hear that often enough.

    blueberry sorbet-2

    Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

    Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

    • 1 heaping cup *strained lactose free/reduced yogurt (3 cups normal yogurt-I used one 750g container of Astro BioBest 1% Lactose Reduced yogurt) –see note on making strained yogurt
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 3 cups wild blueberries, frozen (you can also substitute fresh)
    • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
    In a blender or food processor, blend together the yogurt, sugar and blueberries.  Press the mixture through a strainer to remove the seeds. Stir in the lemon juice.  If you’re using frozen blueberries, you can proceed directly to the next step as the mixture will be very cold.  If using fresh, chill for at least an hour.
    Pour the chilled mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's directions.  It can be served immediately if chilled enough to your liking or transferred to an airtight container and placed in the freezer.

    *Straining yogurt makes it much thicker and richer.  I found using the brand of yogurt I did, that I needed about 3 cups (750g container) of normal yogurt to make 1 heaping cup of strained yogurt.  Simply put a colander or mesh strainer over a bowl (you don’t want it to sit directly in the bowl, as you need it to drain), line with cheesecloth or strong paper towel and then pour the yogurt on top, wrap the cloth/towel around the yogurt and place another bowl, or something moderately heavy on top for pressure.  Leave 6 hours or overnight in the fridge to strain.

    blueberry sorbet-3

    Being that Mr.BotC knows more about how yogurt and blueberries should be, I asked him if he found it icy.  He shook his head emphatically “no”.  Being as he is my tester for all the recipes posted here, he will eat said food, and then offer up what was good (or bad), or what could be done to improve it.  This though…all that was left was a bowl that was swiped clean (and my husband isn’t really a bowl licking kind of guy!).  He even said it was better than a popular ice cream shop near his parent’s cottage, and he loves their products.  He couldn’t tell that the yogurt was almost lactose-free.
    And what did I think?   It wasn’t half as sour as many fruit fro-yos I’ve sampled, and had a nice smooth finish.  The lemon juice really brightens it up, and it wasn’t overly sweet.  I am looking forward to trying this out when the blueberries come into season in the summer.  As a yogurt skeptic I still  don’t think I’m at a place where I could eat big bowlfuls, but I actually did thoroughly enjoy a scoop or two, sans stomach ache.
    I am now really looking forward to playing around with chocolate and vanilla flavours…the bowl is in the freezer just waiting for me;)

    Monday, April 20, 2009

    Dinner & a Movie: Wedding Crashers –Look at Them Melons… Sorbet

    Dinner and a Movie is co-hosted by Marc of No Recipes and Susan of Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy, where a new movie is picked each month to watch and inspire you to create a dish based on said movie.  I’m excited as this is my first month participating, and this month’s movie, Wedding Crashers, proved to be quite a challenge!

    I wanted to stay away from anything “wedding-y”, as I figured that would be too easy, but food isn’t a large feature of the film…unless you count Owen Wilson’s character sickening his love interest’s fiancé with Visine! (my Visine is staying safely in the medicine cabinet, thanks!).

    One of the actresses in the movie is Jane Seymour, playing the part of Kathleen (“Kitty Kat”), the mother of the Crashers love interests.  She is not so much the cooking-baking, knitting, book circle type of mom though.  She likes the drink, and although married, takes a heated interest in Owen Wilson’s character, John. 

    In the scene that inspired my dish, Kathleen walks into the room where John is putting on his shoes and announces to John she’s had certain “aesthetic” work done.  She refuses to let him leave amid his protests until he inspects the work for himself.  Of course, with him being amazed how “realistic” the aesthetic work is,  he doesn’t give the response she had hoped for, and with disgust calls him a pervert and storms out!  Given that Jane Seymour was 54 when this scene was shot, where in Hollywood anyone past 25 seems to be deemed “over the hill”,  I say kudos for her!  So without further ado, and without need for further explanation, my recipe:


    Honeydew Melon Sorbet


    • 1 pound, 5 ounces diced honeydew melon, seeded and peeled (about 3/4 of a large melon)
    • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 1 cup white granulated sugar


    Place the seeded and peeled melon in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add the lemon juice and sugar and process for another 30 seconds. Place the mixture into the refrigerator until the mixture reaches 40 degrees F; if you don’t have a thermometer, this will most likely take a couple of hours, you want the mixture thoroughly cold.

    Pour the chilled mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's directions.  It can be served immediately if thick enough or transferred to an airtight container and placed in the freezer.

    (Adapted from Alton Brown, Good Eats, episode: Melondrama)


    This sorbet has a gorgeous bright flavour, and a creamy texture that would have you believing it contained dairy of some kind.  The sugar can be adjusted based on the sweetness of the melon you choose and your personal preferences.  When choosing a honeydew, you want to get one that feels heavy for it’s size and is a creamy yellow colour…green most likely means it is not mature yet.  You also want to avoid any with overly soft or brown parts.  California honeydews are not in season right now (our melon was from Costa Rica) so I would care to bet this would taste even more delicious when they are.


    This went perfect with the gorgeous warm weekend we just enjoyed, inspiring the coming days (and not soon enough!) of summer.


    You can check out the April Dinner and a Movie Round up for all submissions over at Marc’s blog.  Hope to see you at next month’s Dinner and a Movie!   Happy Eating!

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Super Easy Easter Nests

    pretzel nests1

    I know that by this point, most of you are probably in a sugar filled haze and maybe ready to swear off chocolate forever regretting one(or 10) too many Easter eggs.  But before I can lay this wonderful chocolate-filled holiday to rest, I wanted to share an extremely fast and easy candy of sorts that would be perfect for the kiddos(or just for those of us that need something cute, tasty and better yet – fast).

    First I lined a cookie sheet with parchment so the nests wouldn’t stick.  Then I simply broke some pretzel sticks into smaller pieces  into a bowl and mixed with enough melted milk chocolate to cover evenly.  The whole point being that you want the pretzels to stick together in a little bundle.  I then dropped small circles of the mixture onto the parchment, using the spoon and clean fingers to press it together (as you will find some pretzels will try to make a run for it).  Before the chocolate set, I nestled a couple of Cadbury Micro Mini Eggs onto the top.  These would be really cute with some small jelly beans as well. Pop into the fridge to set, and once completely set you can store in the fridge in an airtight container. Ta-Da!

    pretzel nests2

    Mr. BotC had never tasted chocolate covered pretzels before and was most pleasantly surprised that he liked it.  The saltiness of the pretzels really balances out the sweet of the chocolate.  You could of course add extra goodies to the mix such as coconut, peanuts, dried cranberries or marshmallows.

    pretzel nests3

    Hope everyone has had an enjoyable Easter weekend!

    Sunday, April 12, 2009

    Hoppy Easter and Cake Pops!

    Cupcake pop1 Phew I’m exhausted!  Lots of spring cleaning and baking this weekend, along with making a full roast chicken dinner with all the fixings today.  Friday I made the bachelorette cake, and a certain specific area of the cake was refusing to cooperate as the kitchen and my hands were just too warm.  Finally  I got everything to stay put and It was picked up Saturday with no problems.  I was told today it was the centre of the party!  I would love to post pictures but unfortunately for obvious reasons I can’t ;)  Which reminds me, I have leftover Twinkies if anyone is interested!  Since this party was only for about 12 people I had leftover cake, and hating to waste food I knew the perfect way to use it.

    I have been admiring the gorgeous cake pops over at Bakerella for some time, and have been just looking  for an excuse to attempt the sweet gems.  Easter and leftover cake gave me the perfect reason!  Bakerella has generously included her instructions for cake pops and Cupcake Bites on her site, which was really useful, because it was trickier than it looked!

    I started with the cupcake pops, using the method of chocolate peanut butter cup moulds.  I made up the cake balls (crumble prepared cake, mix with frosting, and ta-da!) and popped them in the freezer.  While they chilled I melted milk chocolate chips and poured in the mould for the base.  I then took out the cake balls and pushed them into the chocolate mould and stuck them back in the freezer. 

    When the chocolate was set, I popped them out of their moulds (which you have to do very carefully I found out, or the cake balls will break off from the base very easy!)  I stuck lollipop sticks right through the chocolate bottoms, and then put them in the fridge to firm up once again.

    Candy Melts package

    While they chilled I mixed white and red compound chocolate to make pink for the top.  When they were chilled and firmed up  I dipped them in the pink chocolate.  This was the tricky part, as its hard to keep the chocolate from dripping down everywhere and coating the cake ball evenly.  I found spooning the chocolate over the one side to be helpful for completely coating it.  Then you patiently leave them to set, before digging in.


    Cupcake pop2

    Cupcake pop4 eaten

    I also tried simple cake pops by shaping them into eggs (although I must admit they only bare a very vague similarity to eggs!)

    egg pops4

    egg pops3

    I had a lot of fun with the Wilton sprinkles I found at Michaels…


    Although decorating them made me appreciate how truly talented Bakerella is!

    egg pops1

    egg pops2

    My sister brought my niece and nephew over today for an Easter egg hunt around our living room and a sugar-high filled afternoon with the Wii.  My sister and niece loved the pops, though my 6 year old nephew didn’t partake because he hates cake (apparently that IS possible!).   They are rather sweet depending on your cake/icing combination but very yummy…as my niece can attest to, as she had two while my sister was busy (Sorry sis!)

    Hope you all had a Happy Easter!