Cookies and Cream Blondies

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For the longest time, my favourite ice cream flavour used to be cookies and cream. My favourite kind of cake would be a fluffy white cake with oreo chunks. My DQ blizzard of choice would obviously be Oreo. I think the cookies and cream combination is a classic and I automatically assume that everyone loves it as much as I do, because really what tastes better than ice cream or cake or icing studding with chunks of Oreos? (Don’t tell me, I won’t listen)

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These blondies are super easy to make and are moist, dense and indulgent. Let’s just say there is no shortage of Oreo chunks in these! They smelled fantastic coming out of the oven and I immediately had to taste test one before it even cooled because I have a problem and because obviously I had to make sure they tasted fantastic before I went through the effort of taking pictures for you 😛

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Cookies and Cream Blondies

Yields: one 8×8″ pan

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 heaping cup chopped Oreos, divided

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray an 8×8-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on opposite sides so you can lift the bars out. Spray the parchment with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then add the egg and vanilla extract, beating until incorporated. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in two additions, mixing just until combined. Use a rubber spatula to fold in 3/4 cup of the Oreos.

Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and press into an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining Oreos over the top of the dough. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the bars cool completely in the pan. Use the parchment “handles” to lift the bars out and cut into squares for serving.

—SOURCE—
Tracey’s Culinary Adventures, adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof 

Leaving town

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Tonight is my last night in Vancouver. That’s right, after three short months I’m packing up my bags and heading (slightly) east! I got a job offer recently in my field (not pastry school, unfortunately) which may explain my absence from this blog the past few weeks. Apparently when you get a real grown-up job, there is a lot of paperwork to do. Also when you switch provinces, there is even more paperwork to figure out. To my BC/Canadian friends, I’m still staying close to Vancouver, I’m just going to be a few hours away in the beautiful Okanagan region which I could not be more excited about!!!

I’m going to really miss being a pastry assistant and making pretty tarts like these.

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And pretty cakes like these ones.

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I’m going to miss my favourite yoga instructor who somehow made my body do this in class. (I haven’t been able to do it on my own since, although I haven’t made much of an effort to contort my body into this shape since)

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Luckily it doesn’t matter where I am, my friends will can still look forward to receiving cool snapchats from me.

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I’m going to miss being able to eat ALL THE CROISSANTS in the world. My record is 5 croissants in 15 minutes. I’m not proud of that.

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Every time I felt guilty about my increased pastry consumption, I would tell myself I was carb-loading for my long runs.

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This one time I was really sad and my friend started talking to me and asked how my life was and I almost burst into tears. He ran across the street and was back in an hour with a Starbucks gift card and a handwritten card. People sure are nice here!

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Oh yea! There was that thing called Valentine’s Day. This day has never really meant much to me, I think because the 4 years straight I actually had a boyfriend he never did anything special or out of the ordinary, so it’s always just been a regular day for me. Although this year my roomie made cupcakes. Except that we don’t have a muffin tin in our house, so she just poured the batter into cupcake wrappers set on a baking sheet and baked them. They turned out wonky and lopsided, but I loved them.

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This past week has been really sad! I worked my last shifts and realized how lucky I was to have met some incredibly amazing people in just 3 months. There were lots of hugs and promises to visit, and a few surprise gifts from my new friends.

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My one friend appropriately picked out the journal above because sometimes I get really angry when people are rude and stupid and I find the need to vent about it to my friends. But now I can write down my feelings haha

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Uh, so I didn’t know that Purdy’s existed until I came to Vancouver. Over the holidays a lot of the regulars brought in mass amounts of chocolate gift boxes for us at work, which is how I gained a few extra pounds and rediscovered my love for all things chocolate.

When I worked my last shift at the french patisserie, a tiny part of me was relieved because it meant no more cakes, croissants and pastries. But of course my fabulous boss couldn’t let me leave without taking a few cakes home!

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“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” – A. A. Milne

The next time I update you on my life, I’ll be in a new town. New places, new faces. Here’s to new adventures!

Sweet Treat Ideas for Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day is 2 days away and there is no better way to show someone special just how much you care, than with baked treats straight from the heart!  If you are looking to start the day off just right, these single lady banana chocolate chip pancakes are perfect for both the single lady or the loved up couple (just double the recipe!).

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If you are really looking to wow your loved one first thing in the morning, and have a bit more time to spare, check out this Spiced Apple Cream Cheese Danish Braid. Most of the prep work can be done the night before and this danish braid is really worth every minute of prep time!

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Toasted coconut shortbread cookies. Do I really need to say more? These are one of my favourite cookies to bake and eat, and your friends will love you too.
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Tell your Valentine how you really feel with these personalized sweethearts-inspired conversation heart sugar cookies with royal icing. I’m sure they’ll get the hint 😉

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Cheesecake brownie bites are a cute, compact way to spread the love.

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Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Meringues are light, airy, chocolatey and absolutely perfect. Great for sharing as well!

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If those mini meringues weren’t satisfying enough, how about a strawberry pavlova? This would make for a fabulous, show-stopping dessert to end a romantic meal 🙂

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Who doesn’t love a good cream puff? These cream puffs filled with strawberry and mascarpone are richer and a bit more decadent than the usual cream puffs, but so good.

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A Valentine’s Day round-up would not be complete without the classic red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. A winning combination!

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Just in case you are looking for cake inspiration as well, I thought I would throw in 2 of my favourite cakes ever.  This chocolate layer cake with caramel swiss meringue buttercream pictured above, and this chocolate peanut butter torte. Definitely should be shared between more than 2 people 😛

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Even if you aren’t celebrating Valentine’s Day, can you really pass up the opportunity to bake something sweet and overindulgent? I know I can’t…xoxo

Day of Silence

 

BlogPhotowords cannot express.

Mini Cheesecakes with Apple Cinnamon Compote

IMG_4323I apologize for all of the sweet treats I’ve been sharing with you lately, I know my thighs aren’t loving it but I promise there will be more savoury recipes to come in the near future! In the meantime, I want to share with you these adorable mini cheesecakes. I recently had a friend over for dinner and I knew I wanted to have a great dessert to end our meal, but I didn’t want to make an entire cheesecake because there was no way we would finish it all! So I found these cute mini cheesecakes online and halved the recipe. I ended up using a standard sized muffin tin to bake these in and made about 9 mini cheesecakes with a half batch. This was the perfect dessert to end a nice meal! The cheesecake itself is lovely and rich with a hint of lemon flavour, and the apple cinnamon compote on top adds a nice colour and flavour to perfectly complement the cheesecake base. I know I will be making this again in the future and can’t wait to experiment with different toppings and flavours.

Mini Cheesecakes with Apple Cinnamon Compote
Yields: about 18 mini cheesecakes

Ingredients:
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 tbsp. zest of lemon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt

For the topping:
1 granny smith apple, diced
2 tablespoons butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
splash of apple juice or cider

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Combine crust ingredients in a mixing bowl. Press 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mixture into each bottom of 18 greased mini cheesecake pans or standard sized muffin tins.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar or 2 minutes until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer running, add eggs and yolk, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Mix in the flour, lemon zest, vanilla, and salt until just combined and smooth. Pour filling into crusts and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the centers have set.

Let the cheesecakes cool completely and then chill thoroughly before removing from pan.

To make the apple cinnamon compote, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. add the brown sugar, cinnamon and apple juice, and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. (if mixture seems too thick or clumpy add another splash of cider.) Add the apples and cook until soft. Remove from heat. Mixture will thicken as it cools.

Top each cheesecake with 2 teaspoons of apple compote and serve. (both cheesecakes and compote can be make ahead of time and assembled just before serving.)

—SOURCE—
adapted from The Baker Chick, from Tiny Food Party