Friday, June 29, 2012

Canada Day Cookies!!

Canada Day is fast approaching, and while I had been thinking about it for several weeks already, shockingly I had not thought of what sort of red & white/Canadian goodies I could make for the day! Only 2 days ago did I realize I had not thought up a thing to make, and of course Canada Day being so important, I went into quick-thinking/slightly panicking mode. I started flipping through my recipes, scanning the internet, and looking through other blogs that I read. Unfortunately, what added to my panic was that instead of finding one or two things that I thought might be perfect, I found too many! The hard part was then to narrow it down.

Originally I wasn't going to make cookies, as they can take a very long time. These ones took for-ever, as I decided to try my hand at making some a little more detailed. My whole day off was spent working on them, but I am immensly proud and so excited to show them off! There may be an abundance of pictures on this post... I can't help it!

This Canadian Mountie is my absolute favourite one! Although you can tell there's a little bleeding between the black and ivory on the face.... I got a little too eager and couldn't wait any longer... same with why the green one in the corner got a bit smushed.

There may be some other Canada Day goodies in the mix, but I don't know if I will be able to get them on the blog before Canada Day! Such is life... this is what happens when you start things last minute. I will try, and if I don't make it, at least you know they'll be up soon and you can use them for next year.

If you're interested in making yummy sugar cookies, check out my post here for ingredients and directions.

 Happy Canada Day my fellow Canadians!
Pin It

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Blueberry Muffins

As Sean and I were doing some grocery shopping the other day, we noticed that blueberries were on sale: 2 pints for $5.00. We hummed and hawed over it for awhile, not convinced that they would be great or that they were worth spending the money on. So I thought, well, let's buy them and if they're a total flop, I'll just put them into blueberry muffins. Let me tell you, those were some of the tastiest blueberries I've bought from a grocery store at this time of year! We consumed 1 pint all in one sitting, and although I debated on eating the second pint just as they were, I decided I would stick with making muffins and buy more blueberries if they were still on sale (which sadly, I think they are not).

It turned out to be a great decision to use the second pint for muffins! I did a simple search for blueberry muffins online and found this one. After reading the reviews, it looked promising enough, so I gave it a shot. The muffin batter is fairly plain, so it really allows the blueberries to shine through and be the star of the dish. Using unripe or mushy blueberries would not have been ideal for this recipe. I thought about omitting the crumble on top, simply because I was feeling lazy, but then realized that I had some leftover crumble in the freezer from muffins I made a few months ago. It turned out to be a good choice, as the crumble was like the icing on a cake (maybe not quite as awesome as icing on cake...). To make the muffins slightly healthier, I chose to sub in some whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour. I've reflected the changes below.

Yield: 8 large muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (alternatively you could use all white flour, or add in more ww flour to your liking)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 cup milk (you may need to add more than this- I ended up just dumping some extra milk in without measuring because the batter was too think. I likely added at least a few tablespoons extra)
1 cup fresh blueberries
For the crumble:
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/8 cup butter, cubed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line muffin cups with liners.

Combine the flours, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a medium sized bowl. In a separate small bowl, mix together the vegetable oil, egg, and milk (start with 1/2 cup milk). Mix the liquid mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. If the batter is very thick and more like a cookie dough batter, slowly mix in milk until the batter is whisk-able. Fold in the blueberries. Fill muffin cups full to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.

To make the crumb topping: Mix together the sugar, flour, butter and cinnamon. Use a fork to smash the butter into the other ingredients, until it resembles a course crumble.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the oven, or until when a toothpick is inserted it comes out clean.

Pin It

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Classic Whoopie Pies

Whoopie pies have been on my to-do list for months now, they just never made it to the top of my priorities. Finally though, I had a full weekend to myself- no volunteer commitments, no school work to do, nothing to do but relax and do what I wanted! The weather was beautiful and hot, and I was able to make it out to the beach with some friends of mine, and out for food and drinks afterwards! And the second day was full of laundry, shoe-shopping, and Ribest with the boys. Funny thing is, I went out to Ribfest 2 days in a row now, and I don't even eat meat! It was a lovely weekend, and now unfortunately I'm back to the grind and heading into work today. Saturdays (my Mondays) suck.

These whoopie pies turned out pretty great, with only a few flaws. For one, mine do not look picture perfect. I don't have a cookie scoop, just a regular spoon, so what resulted was more oval-shaped cookies rather than round cookies. For two, I only had 2 left to photograph because I gave the rest away before I could. For three, it is unbelievably hot in my apartment. If I haven't said so before, I live in a small apartment where all the windows are facing the sun, all day long. I'm up on the 8th floor and only have 1 window that actually opens. Which means, when it's 45 degrees outside with humidity, it's 55 degrees in here. I have an small old AC, but running it on high all day long only takes the edge off and it ramps up my hydro bills big time. So all of that is to say that the icing was so soft due to the heat, that when I tried sandwiching them together, they kept sliding off. I had to strategically position them in various locations so that they would stay. Originally I thought it was a complete failure, but after a few hours the icing had firmed up a bit and managed to stay together.

These cookie sandwiches are yummm-y! Lots of chocolate flavour, light and fluffy as clouds, with a deliciously sweet filling. The cookies are like soft cake.... cake cookies! The recipe I took from Annie's Eats was enough to make 24 sandwich cookies, which I definitely didn't need. So I cut the recipe in half, but still ended up with 16 cookies that were huge!! I would have actually preferred the cookies to be a bit smaller, so if I were to do it next time, I could half the recipe and still likely get 18-20 sandwich cookies out of it. Keep that in mind!

Yield: about 16 sandwich cookies

For the cookies:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tbsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the filling:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
Half of a 7½ oz. marshmallow fluff container
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Combine the flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl and whisk together. Set aside. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar. Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the egg until fully incorporated. Blend in the buttermilk and vanilla extract. Mix in the dry ingredients, blending just until combined.

Using a 1-oz dough scoop (or a spoon if you don't have one), drop the batter onto pans lined with parchment paper, about 12 cookies per pan. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Allow to cool on the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining batter.

To make the filling, place the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Blend in the confectioners’ sugar until incorporated. Beat in the marshmallow fluff and vanilla until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.

Once the cookies are completely cooled, match them up in pairs by size. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (or if you don't have a plain tip, just leave it tip-less and it will work just as well) with the marshmallow filling. Pipe a dollop of marshmallow filling onto the flat side of one cookie of each pair, and sandwich the cookies together, pushing the filling to the edges. Store in an airtight container.

Source: Cookies and Filling from Martha Stewart (via Annie's Eats)

Pin It

Saturday, June 16, 2012

DIY Iced Coffee

I LOVE iced coffee, but oddly enough, I do not love hot coffee at all. I like lattes, and frappucinos, and all the hot drinks that ultimately make the concoction taste far far away from plain coffee. Regular coffee? Yuck. You will never catch me drinking coffee with cream and sugar in it, I just do NOT like the taste of bitter coffee. And unfortunately, too much coffee gives me a zinging headache, so I have to be careful with my consumption. But iced coffee, particularly McDonald's iced coffee... bliss. Dollar drink days in the summer= happiness. Probably because flavoured iced coffee is sweet and watered down and just how I like it!

So I decided to make my own. It's SO much better when you can say I made this myself. That, and ultimately it's saving money and a lot of plastic cups from going in the garbage (recycling!).

This is probably the easiest thing I will ever post on this blog.

Yield: 8 quarts (about 7 1/2 litres)

1 pound coffee grounds of your choice (I used a dark roast, which resulted in a very very strong coffee base... not the most ideal for me!)
8 quarts cold water (1 quart= slightly over 4 cups)
1 very large container
Fine mesh strainer
Cheese cloth or coffee filters
Containers to put the strained coffee in, such as saved 2 ltr pop bottles

Combine the cold water and coffee grounds in a large container that can be covered. Stir the grounds a bit so all of them get coated with water. Now sit back, and let it sit for 8 hours or overnight! This is the cold-brew method. It removes the acidity from the coffee that you would get from hot-brewing, and results in a much smoother product (so I've read... since I don't drink coffee regularly I really have no idea, but it tastes good to me!)

Once your grounds have soaked for the 8 hours, here comes the fun part (not)! You must strain out the grounds from the water. Do this by slowly pouring, or ladling the mixture into a fine mesh strainer that is lined with a cheese cloth or a  coffee filter. If using a cheese cloth, double or triple up the layers. More layers equals less chance of very fine grinds getting through. If using a coffee filter, you'll have to change it out for a new one every once in awhile. Sorry, I don't have a picture for this step!

Pour the strained coffee into bottles or containers that may be sealed, and put it in the fridge to cool. Once it's cool, it's ready to be drank!

Add lots of ice to a cup...

Fill cup about 3/4 full with coffee...

Top up with whatever you want! Cream, milk, flavoured syrups...
My favourite so far that I've found is a combination of milk with a mixture containing sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk (touches that sweet spot in me!). What you do is combine a can of sweetened condensed milk and a can of evaporated milk, shake it up and there you go! Make sure to keep it refrigerated in the mean time.

Give it a good shake or stir and you're all set. Easy peasy. And delicious. Pin It

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Shirley Temple Cupcakes

Why, you ask, did I choose Shirley Temple cupcakes out of all the cupcake recipes that are on my to-do list? Well, I had a half left-over jar of maraschino cherries from the Cherry Chip cupcakes I made as favours for the bridal shower 2 weeks ago. As they sat in the fridge, I wondered what use I could put them towards, as they surely would end up hiding at the back of the fridge for ages until it was decided they would be thrown out, unless I made something specifically for them. So, as I was browsing Pinterest not too long ago I saw a picture of the cutest cupcakes ever with cherries on top and I figured, most likely regardless of the recipe itself, the cuteness factor alone determined that I would be making those cupcakes.

And can I just say, I am quite impressed how my photos came out this time, and I can't even tell you why that is because I honestly don't know. The cupcakes were a little on the denser side, but still quite moist. Make sure you eat them when they're at room temp, as this softens them up a bit. Also, I found the icing a bit sweet for my taste. Often American Buttercream can do this for me (which is why I MUCH prefer IMB, but I didn't have the time, and figured the sweetness factor was more in line with Shirley Temples). I was browsing Pinterest again last night and saw an icing that has caught my eye more than once; icing made with flour and regular sugar. I'm curious about this and am thinking about trying it in the future!

Yield: 12 cupcakes
1 and 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup Cherry 7-Up, at room temperature (or regular 7-up with maraschino cherry juice added)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon maraschino cherry juice
Red food coloring
maraschino cherries (if you would like to hide one in the middle of the cupcake)
Buttercream Frosting:
3/4 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch salt
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon maraschino cherry juice

12 maraschino cherries for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare a cupcake pan with your desired paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1 and 1/2 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or just a regular bowl if you don't have a stand mixer and are using a hand beater), combine the butter and sugar together and beat, on medium-high speed, until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add half of the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Add the 7-up, mixing mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until just combined. Add the extracts and mix thoroughly, but not too much! You don't want to over beat it.

If you're going for the Shirley Temple look, where grenadine sits in the bottom of the glass, place about 1 cup of the cupcake batter in a separate small bowl and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of flour, maraschino cherry juice, and red food coloring (to your desired tint). Then evenly distribute the dyed batter among your liners, smoothing out the batter as you go.

Once the red batter is in place, evenly distribute the remaining cupcake batter among the cupcake liners, making sure not to mix the two batters. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan before removing the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the frosting:
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the pinch of salt, sifted powdered (confectioners’) sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, lemon juice, and maraschino cherry juice, adding more powdered sugar as necessary for your desired piping consistency.

Pipe as desired onto your cooled cupcakes and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Source: slightly adapted from Simply-Gluten Free

Pin It

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cherry Chip 'Rose' Cupcakes

Hello again everyone, this is Part II of my posts for Emily's Surprise Bridal Shower, and there is yet one more to come! Luckily, this one will be relatively short, as it calls for a recipe I have already used and posted. As Cherry Chip- the kind out of the box- is the bride-to-be's favourite cake since childhood, we thought it only fitting to send people away with a Cherry Chip Cupcake favour as a thank you for attending the Bridal Shower. However these are not the box kind- I just can't bring myself to use box mixes now that I've started to make cakes from scratch. This Cherry Chip cake recipe is wonderfully light and fluffy, with lots of cherry flavour and chunks of maraschino cherries. You can find the recipe and directions in this post, although I used a different icing this time. What I would note is that even though I 1.5x'ed the recipe, I still only got 32 fairly small cupcakes, so I'd imagine that using the original amounts of the recipe would only produce 20-22 cupcakes if you were trying to make them a little bigger. They don't rise a significant amount, so you can fill the liners fairly full.

In my previous post where I made a full Cherry Chip cake, I paired it with a classic Vanilla Italian Meringue Buttercream. This I think is best suited with this cake, but as I was in more of a time crunch I decided to use a classic whipped American Buttercream.

For this you will need:
1 1/2 cups softened unsalted butter, or 3 sticks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4-5 cups sifted powdered sugar
1-3 tablespoons buttermilk, depending on stiffness preference

Place the butter into a stand mixer bowl and using the whisk attachment beat butter until light and creamy, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the salt and vanilla, and mix until combined. Add the powdered sugar in 2 separate amounts, mixing until combined both times. Allow the icing to be beaten for an additional 4-5 minutes to help make it fluffy. Depending on how stiff the icing is at this point, add in enough buttermilk to thin it to the consistency you would like. I used about the full 3 tablespoons. If you don't have buttermilk, heavy or half-and-half cream works as well, but I find that the buttermilk helps to cut the sweetness down a little bit. Beat the icing again for another minute until thoroughly combined.

To make the icing look like roses is actually a fairly simple and quick technique. Line a piping bag with the icing, and use a 2D tip, which is a closed star. Position your hands and the bag at a 90 degree angle (so completely straight and upright) from the cupcake. Starting in the middle of the cupcake, squeeze the icing out and slowly pull up. When you have a small mound, start to circle the middle. I find going counter-clockwise is most natural for me, but either way works. Keep circling the cupcake until you reach the outside, and then slowly ease off the pressure and allow the icing to come to an end. To see it done, you can check out this youtube video here. I used Wilton Sugar Pearls on top to make it look like dew drops... slash just to make them look prettier!

Every cupcake was then put in individual boxes, tied with a ribbon and a thank you note was attached. I printed off the thank you template from the website How Does She, and used a brilliant circle cutter I recently purchased from Michaels, which made cutting all the circles out much quicker and neater!

Friggen cute, right?!

Pin It

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bridal Shower Sugar Cookies

It's finally come! Well passed actually- my best friend's bridal shower that I'd been looking forward to for 2 months because of the opportunity to bake and create beautiful things! It was one jam-packed weekend home-exhausting-but wonderful. Top things on the agenda: baking cupcakes and the cake for the shower (as I had done the cookies earlier in the week already), setting up and going  to the shower of course, having Sean's parents come to my family's house for lunch to meet my parents for the first time, looking for apartments for when we move in August- and ideally setting up an apartment if we liked one, getting my hair cut and colored, and seeing friends somewhere in there!

Well, I did it all, including some laundry and family time, but it made for a very long weekend. The surprise bridal shower and parent meeting went off without a hitch, everybody loved my baked goods, and we found a place to live! The apartment searching was stressful- we saw 3 different places on Sunday morning and 1 we liked, but we weren't convinced it was what we wanted to go with. So Sunday afternoon after Sean's parents left we worked like mad to find a few more places that we could view on Monday morning before heading back home. We set up 3 viewings, and the plan was to leave for home at around 1:00.

The first apartment we viewed Monday morning I really liked, as it had quite a large kitchen with lots of counter space and cupboards. Unfortunately, Sean wasn't a fan of the living room layout. The second apartment we saw Sean really liked, but I was unhappy with the kitchen as it was significantly smaller. However, it was still a beautiful apartment. After much discussion, and then further discussion with my own parents, we decided to go with the second apartment. We made another trip into town to bring in all the paperwork and ended up leaving for home almost 5 and a half hours later than originally planned. We arrived home at around midnight, but found out the following day that we got the apartment! I'm so excited! I needed to share all of that because I can't stop thinking about our new place and how much more room we'll have, how much nicer it is, and how much closer I'll be to family! Yay!

Anyways, back to the bridal shower!

These are made from my favourite sugar cookie recipe, that has almond rather than vanilla extract in the cookie itself and vanilla extract in the icing. You can find full instructions on how to make them and all ingredients required from this post.

Because I've been so busy lately, what I did was bake the cookies about 2 weeks prior to the wedding shower. I wrapped up about 3 cookies at a time in plastic wrap, and put several bundles in a large freezer Ziploc bag. Then I put the bags in a plastic container before going into the freezer. This ensured that no moisture was lost from the cookies and no freezer burn happened. And you know what, I didn't notice that they had been frozen, and certainly nobody else did. Now to be clear, the cookies were put in the freezer before being iced. I've read that this is a big no-no, although because I've never tried it I can't say for sure. 6 days prior to the shower I took them out and decorated them over 2 days. Once dried, they were sealed up again and placed in the fridge so they wouldn't soften due to the humidity in my apartment. One great thing about sugar cookies is that they last for quite a long time and you don't need to worry about them losing their freshness.

Each wedding gown was completely unique, and it was so much fun creating different looks! And the funny part is that I created the one on the very bottom left, with the pink pearls, thinking of the bride-to-be. And sure enough, it was the first cookie she grabbed! Now that's knowing your best friend :).

Here's a sneak-peak at what's to come in the next post or two:

Pin It