Peach and Blueberry Pie

IMG_5392Hi! Remember me?

Yea, I know I’ve been away for a while…truth is I almost feel like a stranger to my own blog. It’s crazy how fast time flies. The reason I haven’t posted in so long is because in the midst of training for my first marathon and balancing school work and a social life at the same time, I lost my passion for baking. I stopped following all of my favourite food blogs, I stopped daydreaming about butter and flour and I pretty much lost interest in all things food-related. Scary, right?! My camera and stand mixer sat there untouched for a few months collecting dust while I found myself replacing my love for baking with a new-found love for running and working out. Those long runs gave me such an endorphin rush that I no longer needed baking to make me feel happy.

IMG_5400A lot has happened in the past couple of months. I ran my first half-marathon, I ran my first full marathon shortly after which I promised myself I would never run again, I went to Hawaii with my sister where I allowed myself to be briefly romanced by another surfer boy with a motorcycle (nothing quite like the Costa Rica romance, but I don’t think anything can really compare to that), I decided I missed running enough to incorporate short 5k runs into my exercise schedule, I lost my mind and signed up for another marathon (currently on week 7 of training), I baked this peach and blueberry pie and pronounced it the pie of the summer, I proceeded to eat the entire pie all by myself in under a week, and I decided this pie was too good to not share with you, thus bringing this blog out of hibernation. Life has been good.

IMG_5396I first saw this recipe 2 summers ago on Joy the Baker and immediately bookmarked it. The only problem was that summer (and the following summer) I was working at an overnight camp where I had no kitchen access at all. So this recipe stayed hidden away until finally this summer I saw the most beautiful, sweet-smelling peaches ever and instantly knew what I had to do with them. It might seem weird to bake a pie in the summer when it’s so hot out but really this is the perfect pie to celebrate the fresh flavours of summer. I wasn’t kidding when I said I ate the whole thing on my own and while I don’t recommend that so much during bikini season, I have absolutely no regrets. The pie dough comes together easily and makes for the richest, butteriest crust while the filling is just bursting with flavour and colour. So make the most of peach season and make this pie asap!

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Peach and Blueberry Pie

Yields: one 9-inch pie

Ingredients:
For the Crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
5 tbsp plus 2 tsp ice cold water
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

For the Filling:
About 3 pounds ripe peaches (I used about 6 peaches)
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 to 2/3 cups granulated sugar (depending on the sweetness of your peaches)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
scant 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, for topping crust before baking

Directions:
To make the crust, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.  Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture.  Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas. Stir together the ice cold water and vinegar.   Create a well in the butter and flour mixture and pour in the water and vinegar mixture.  Use a fork to bring to dough together.  Try to moisten all of the flour bits.  On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture.  It will be moist and shaggy.  That’s perfect.  Divide the dough in two and gently knead into two disks.  Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the filling, wash and slice peaches.  In a medium bowl, combine peach slices and blueberries.  In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, spices, flour, and cornstarch.  Pour the sugar mixture over the fruit, and gently toss together with a wooden spoon.  Stir in the lemon juice.  Place bowl of fruit in the fridge to rest while you roll the crust out.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place a rack in the center of the oven, and place a baking sheet on the lower rack, just below where you’re going to place the pie.  This will catch any pie drippings without making a mess of your oven.

Remove one of the pie dough disks from the fridge.  On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into about a 13-inch round.  Roll the dough a few strokes, then use your fingers to move the emerging circle around the floured surface.  This ensures that the dough isn’t sticking to the work surface.  The circle won’t be perfect, that’s ok.  Try not to get any tears in the rolled out dough, but if you do, they can be patched together with extra dough.    When you roll the dough and you can see it start springing back, that means that the butter is warming and the crust shouldn’t be rolled out anymore.  Gently lift the 13-inch round from the floured surface and center in the 9-inch baking dish.  Place in the fridge while you roll out the top crust.

Roll out the top crust just as you did the bottom crust, moving the dough across the floured surface every once in a while, and creating a roughly 13-inch circle.  Remove the bottom crust and fruit filling from the fridge.  Gently pour the fruit filling into the pie dish.  Carefully remove the top crust from the work surface and drape over the fruit in the pie dish.  With a small knife, trim the crust, leaving about 3/4-inch overhang.  With your fingers press the top and bottom crusts together and fold under.  Use a fork or your fingers to crimp the edges of the dough.  Cut five small slits in the top of the crust so the juices and steam can vent.  Brush lightly with beaten egg and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.

Place pie in the oven and bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes.  Reduce the oven heat to 375 and bake for 45 to 55 more minutes.  Remove from the oven when crust is browned and golden, and the juices are bubbling.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 2 hours before serving.  Place covered in the fridge to store.  Pie lasts up to 3 or 4 days.

—SOURCE—
Joy the Baker

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Blueberry Cream Cheese Danish Braid

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I feel that with something as good as this blueberry cream cheese danish braid, I should keep the talking to a minimum so you can hurry up and get to the recipe asap. I’m still going to talk about how seriously amazing this danish braid is but I won’t be offended at all if you skip right to the end of this post 😛

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It all started when I had a craving for pastry. I’ve made croissants and chocolate croissants before so just thinking about those made me really want something perfectly flaky and buttery crisp. I wanted to play around with different flavours and fillings though, so it wasn’t long before I thought of this spiced apple cream cheese danish braid and decided that I wanted to make a blueberry version.

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Making pastry dough can be a little daunting if you have never tried it before, but it really isn’t hard at all! The only thing to keep in mind is there is a lot of waiting time in between when your dough is chilling in the fridge. I planned this danish braid ahead of time so that I could make the dough and the fillings the night before, and so all I had to do the next morning was roll out the dough, assemble and bake!

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Knowing that I had this beauty of a treat to look forward to was the only thing that kept me running home after a long 27km run…but let’s not go there, my hip hasn’t quite recovered from that just yet!  My longer runs usually leave me pretty drained once I’ve gotten back home, but I definitely had enough energy to put this braid together and pop it in the oven. And ohmygoodness. Fresh from the oven, each slice is made up of delicate layers upon layers of buttery goodness that envelopes a sweet blueberry pie-like filling perfectly complemented by a cream cheese filling with a lemon tang. All of that coated in a light and sweet sugar glaze.

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The best part is that even if you have leftovers, this still tastes so good the next day and the day after. I kept mine chilled in the fridge and even enjoyed it chilled, but it also tastes just as good after a quick zap in the microwave or if you have more time, after a few minutes in the oven.

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This would be the perfect treat to serve for a breakfast where you really want to impress! So go out there and knock some socks off! Actually, if it’s breakfast at home, then your household might not be wearing socks. Unless they are one of those weird people that wears socks when they sleep. I’m shuddering thinking about it.

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Also, the braiding of this danish might make it a little tricky to cut perfectly straight pieces. But that’s totally okay, because if you’re quick enough you can just snag a bigger piece. 😉

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Blueberry Cream Cheese Danish Braid

Ingredients:

For the Danish dough:
1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1½ tsp. instant yeast*
¼ cup sugar
¾ tsp. salt
1/3 cup whole milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the butter square:
12 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

For the cream cheese filling:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ tsp. finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsp. sugar

For the blueberry filling:
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp water

For the glaze:
1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 tsp. milk, plus more as needed

For the drizzle (optional):
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp. milk, plus more as needed

*Instant yeast = rapid rise yeast = bread machine yeast

Directions:
To make the dough, combine 1¼ cups of the flour in a bowl with the yeast, sugar, and salt.  Place the milk and egg in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook.  With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and knead until a smooth ball of dough forms, about 7-8 minutes.  (The dough should be sticky but if more dough sticks to the bowl than the dough hook, add the remaining ¼ cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time as needed.)  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the butter square, toss together the butter pieces and flour on a clean work surface.  Smear the butter back and forth using a bench scraper against the work surface until they have combined into a smooth homogenous mixture.  Wrap the butter mixture in plastic wrap and use the edges of the plastic to form it into a 5-inch square.  Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour.  Lay the chilled dough on the work surface and roll into a 9-inch square.  Place the butter square diagonally on top the dough and remove the plastic wrap.  Fold the corners of dough over the butter so that they meet in the middle of the butter square.  Pinch the ends of the dough together to seal.  Using a rolling pin , tap the dough from the center outward until the butter begins to soften and become malleable.  Gently roll the dough into an 11-inch square, re-flouring the work surface as necessary to prevent sticking.  Fold the outside edges of the dough in toward the center in thirds, one overlapping the other, like a business letter.  Repeat this process folding the other direction to make a square.  (This completes two turns.)  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.  Roll the dough into an 11-inch square once more and repeat the two turns as before (business letter, then square).  Wrap in plastic wrap again and chill once more for at least 4 hours.  (At this point the dough can be refrigerated overnight).

To make the cream cheese filling, combine the cream cheese, lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl.  Mix well until smooth and blended.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the blueberry filling, combine the blueberries and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Mash about half of the blueberries as the mixture gets heated, and bring it a boil. Once the mixture is bubbling, lower the heat to medium and add the cornstarch mixture, stirring until it thickens. Remove from heat and let it cool before using.

When you are ready to shape and bake the danish, preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  On a large, very well floured sheet of parchment paper roll the chilled dough into a 14-inch square.  Spread the cream cheese filling evenly down the middle third of the dough.  Lay the blueberry filling over the top of the cream cheese mixture (you may not end up using all of the filling*).  Using a pizza cutter or a paring knife, cut the outer thirds of dough into ¾-inch strips so that the cuts are diagonal to the filling.  Alternating sides, fold the strips of dough over the filling, crisscrossing the strips over the center, until the entire Danish is braided.  Transfer the braid, still on the parchment, to a baking sheet.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and rise at room temperature until slightly puffy (it will not double), about 30 minutes.

Bake until the braid is golden brown, 22-26 minutes, rotating halfway through baking.  To make the glaze, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.  Add more milk 1 teaspoon at a time as needed to thin the glaze.  Transfer to a cooking rack and brush with the glaze while still hot.  Cool to room temperature.  To make the drizzle, combine the confectioners’ sugar and milk in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.  Add more milk 1 teaspoon at a time as needed to make it a drizzle-able consistency.  Drizzle over the finished braid.  Slice crosswise and serve.

*leftover blueberry filling is excellent served over yoghurt, pancakes or waffles, ice cream, in smoothies, the options are endless!

—SOURCE—
based off of this Spiced Apple Cream Cheese Danish Braid recipe

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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I’ve decided that a week (and a half) is a perfectly acceptable length of time to mope around, contemplate buying a plane ticket and running way, and consume an embarassing number of microwavable chocolate mug cakes in order to get over the feeling of having a giant hole in my heart. But now I’m back to reality and back to normal! Thank you so much for your love on my last post. Your sweet comments meant the world to me and I adore you. Which is why I want to share with you this carrot cake with cream cheese frosting!

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I really love carrot cake, especially with cream cheese frosting. It’s one of my favourite flavour combinations, yet for some reason up until now I had never baked one myself! To be honest I think I was a little scared to try out a recipe and be disappointed. More often than not, the carrot cakes I’ve tasted have either been too dry, too dense or lacking in flavour. I was so happy with the way this cake turned out though. The carrot cake itself is plain and simple, yet so moist and fluffy. I love how the grated carrots add a lovely pop of orange colour as well. The cream cheese frosting is perfection and if you’re like me and bake your cake in a bundt pan then you will have leftover frosting to snack on 🙂

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Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

For the cake:
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups grated carrots

For the frosting:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound (16 oz) powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract


Directions
:
Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix together the sugar, oil and eggs in a large bowl. In another bowl sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to first mixture and combine. Then add carrots and stir in gently. Pour into a greased and floured pan (bundt, sheet cake, 9 x 13 pyrex) and bake at 350F until cooked through, 25 minutes (sheet cake) to 50 minutes (Bundt pan), depending on the pan you use.  Cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, in a large bowl, cream togetherbutter and cream cheese. Add sugar and vanilla and blend together very well until creamy. Spread on cooled carrot cake. Enjoy!
—SOURCE—
slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I know, I can be pretty mean sometimes. Fresh off of your Valentine’s sugar overload, and I’m sharing chocolate chip cookies with you that not only have brown butter in them but are also stuffed with Nutella. For real?! I don’t think I can ever go back to a plain chocolate chip cookie ever again. Browning the butter (which in case you didn’t know is a favourite pastime of mine) really takes the cookie dough to another level by adding an intoxicatingly nutty scent and flavour that is perfectly complemented by a dollop of Nutella. I can’t get over how much awesomeness is packed into each cookie.

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Piping out the Nutella in advance and freezing it makes it much easier to put these cookies together. I will warn you though that frozen Nutella doesn’t stay frozen for long, so work quickly and keep half of the Nutella dollops in the freezer until you need them. Enjoy!

Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yields: about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
Chocolate hazelnut spread (such as Nutella), about ½ cup
1 cup (16 tbsp.) unsalted butter
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. coarse sea salt, plus more sprinkling
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. greek yogurt or sour cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:
Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper.  Place chocolate hazelnut spread in a plastic bag toward one corner of the bag.  Twist so that it does not squeeze out of the top.  Snip one corner off the end of the bag.  Pipe small dollops of the spread onto the wax paper, about 1-1½ teaspoons each.  You will need about 2 dozen.  Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer and let sit until firm, about 2 hours.

Place the butter in a medium to large skillet over medium heat.  Melt the butter completely.  Continue to cook, whisking frequently, until the butter foams, bubbles slightly, and begins to brown.  Continue whisking until the butter is evenly browned, being careful not to burn.  Remove from the heat and let cool.

Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugars and the brown butter.  Mix on medium speed until well blended and smooth.  Blend in the egg and egg yolk, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Blend in the vanilla and greek yogurt.  With the mixer on low speed, blend in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Chill the dough briefly, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Use a medium dough scoop (about 2 tablespoons) to scoop a portion of cookie dough.  Press an indentation into the center of the dough ball to create a bowl shape.  Place a dollop of the frozen Nutella in the indentation and pinch together the edges of the cookie dough over the top to completely seal it in the center.

Place the shaped cookies on the prepared baking sheets, 2-3 inches apart.  Bake until the cookies are golden brown and set, rotating the pans halfway through, about 14 minutes total. Let sit a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Repeat with the remaining dough as needed (if you can resist eating it.)  Be sure to replace the remaining Nutella dollops in the freezer while waiting for cookies to bake.  It softens fairly quickly otherwise.

—SOURCE—
Annie’s Eats, from Ambitious Kitchen

Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

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Despite the fact that I easily have hundreds of recipes bookmarked for future reference, sometimes I come across something that instantly catches my eye and makes me feel the strongest urge to run to the kitchen and start measuring and mixing ingredients together. I wouldn’t say that this happens regularly mainly because I like to think that I am able to exercise some sort of restraint, but reading about these cheesecake stuffed chocolate chip cookie bars honestly made me dizzy with excitement. I mean seriously? Whoever thought up this combo is a genius in my eyes. These bars manage to combine chocolate chip cookies and cheesecake, two of my very favourite things in the world, into one dessert. These bars are great chilled, at room temperature, and even after a quick zap in the microwave for melty chocolatey goodness. You really do get the best of both worlds with these bars 🙂

Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Yields: a 9×13″ pan, about 20 bars

Ingredients:
For the Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer:
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

For the Cheesecake Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9X13-inch pan with aluminum foil and lightly coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

For the cookie layer whisk the melted butter and sugars in a large bowl until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour, salt and baking soda, folding into the dough with a rubber spatula; do not overmix. Fold in the chocolate chips until combined. Press half of the dough onto the bottom of the prepared pan. It will be a thin layer, so use lightly moistened hands to press the dough into a thin even layer, filling in any holes with a bit of cookie dough from the bowl.

For the cheesecake filling, mix the cream cheese and powdered sugar together with an electric mixer on medium-high until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined. Spread the cheesecake filling over the layer of cookie dough in the pan.

Using the remaining cookie dough, flatten tablespoon sized amounts of cookie dough in your hands into flat disc shapes, about 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick. Place these discs over the top of the cheesecake layer, pressing very lightly to adhere them to the cheesecake layer. It’s ok if there are small spaces; the entire top doesn’t need to be completely covered just make sure it is mostly covered with cookie dough.

Bake the bars for 35-40 minutes until very lightly browned on the edges. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate until chilled, 1-2 hours. Cut into squares and serve. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

—SOURCE—
slightly adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Sweethearts Conversation Heart Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

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When I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of life being like a box of chocolates, your boyfriend getting in trouble for not booking that restaurant reservation sooner, a dozen red roses, meaningless store-bought cards, and those chalky sweetheart candies that come in pastel colours and are have cheeky quotes stamped onto each one.

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I can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of conversation heart candies, I’ve always associated the flavour and texture to that of a TUMS antacid tablet so not really something I would enjoy eating mass quantities of. However I have always loved reading each individual one and chuckling at the bolder statements.  Enter these sugar cookies! They resemble the traditional sweethearts but taste so much better.

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I actually had a lot of fun making these and picking out what I wanted to write on each one. I’m planning on bringing these in to the hospital tomorrow for my department so I kept my statements on the safe side but you can be as bold or creative as you like. Tell your Valentine how you really feel! 😉

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The recipe for the sugar cookies and royal icing, along with a detailed royal icing tutorial can be found here or here if you want a less detailed royal icing tutorial! Have fun and get creative!

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

IMG_0069Is it too early to start showing you pictures of desserts with frosting that looks so rich and dreamy you just want to reach through the screen and have a taste? Or is it too late to share any recipes that feature pumpkin? The answer as I have so clearly decided is no and definitely not! Who says you can only enjoy pumpkin from October till December? I’m pretty sure canned pumpkin is available in grocery stores year round and while pumpkin pie in the summer may seem a bit absurd and probably the last thing you would crave in the sweltering heat, right now there’s a whole lot of snow on the ground (at least where I am) and all I want is the comforting flavour of pumpkin cake topped with just the right amount of the silkiest cream cheese frosting. Plus I went to the gym today so that totally justifies this dessert!

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients
For the cake batter:
4 eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the frosting:
8 ounce cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin puree. Beat on medium heat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients for the cake batter. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat until just combined. Transfer batter to the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack; cool completely.

Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Beat until smooth. Spread atop the bars and cut into squares.

—SOURCE—
Espresso and Cream, adapted slightly from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

Cranberry Orange and Pecan Coffee Cake

IMG_4339 Merry Christmas! I hope that everyone has really been enjoying their holidays so far and that you are spending lots of time with your loved ones! We woke up to a light dusting of snow truly making it a white Christmas, hooray!  I wasn’t planning on posting anything today but I was flipping through all of my current drafts and realized with horror that I hadn’t shared this cranberry orange and pecan coffee cake with you yet. I feel a bit guilty not sharing this with you sooner, because this coffee cake is a real game-changer. Every slice screams out happy holidays, for real. Oranges and cranberries brighten up things up and pack a lot of flavour, pecans keeps things nutty and down-to-earth, and the sweet sugary glaze wraps it all together. This is my Christmas gift to you! Enjoy, and then go watch Les Miserables – an incredible take on the musical/novel that will leave you covered in goosebumps for the entire movie.  Happy holidays!IMG_4335

Cranberry Orange and Pecan Coffee Cake

Yields: two 9×5-inch loaves

Ingredients:
For the Cake:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into medium chunks
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

For the Topping:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

For the Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp. milk

Directions:
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.  Line loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving a few inches of overhang on each side.  Grease the parchment paper and dust with flour on all sides.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add chunks of butter and work the butter into the flour with your fingers.  Try to blend the butter into each bit of the dry ingredients.  The mixture will resemble a coarse meal.

In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla extract.

Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients.  Stir together to incorporate.  Add the cranberries and pecans and fold into the batter.

To make the topping combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until crumbly.

Divide the batter between the two loaf pans.  Sprinkle each loaf with topping.  Place in the oven and allow to bake until the cake is golden brown and the center is cooked through.  Insert a skewer into the center of the cake to ensure that it’s cooked through, about 50 to 60 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Use the parchment paper to life the loaves from the pan and allow to cool further on a wire rack.

For the glaze whisk together 1 cup of powdered sugar and just over a tablespoon of milk, then drizzle over the cooled coffee cake.

Cake can be stored, well wrapped at room temperature, for up to 5 days.

—SOURCE—
Joy the Baker

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

Nutella Cherry Almond Fudge

IMG_4319One of my favourite things about the winter holidays is having an excuse to accomplish excessive amounts of baking and putting together tins and boxes of baked goods for friends and loved ones. I’ve actually never tried making fudge before, simply because I’ve never really had an affinity towards it. If I don’t like it, I don’t bake it! This is probably why it will probably be a few years before you see any sort of gingerbread recipe on this blog. I’m sorry to admit that just the idea of anything gingerbread flavoured makes my stomach turn…  If you haven’t already started your holiday baking or if you weren’t planning on it, I hope this nutella cherry almond fudge will change your mind. It definitely changed my perspective of fudge!  This fudge is so decadent, these creamy bite-sized pieces will melt in your mouth, and each piece has the perfect combination of sweet and slightly tart dried cherries, nutty and crunchy almonds and of course, Nutella!  And if you’re still looking for a reason to make this fudge, let me tell you now that it is ridiculously easy to make and you will end up with a lot of fudge!

Nutella Cherry Almond Fudge
Yield: 64 1-inch pieces

Ingredients:
½ cup almonds
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread, such as Nutella
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ tsp. salt
½ cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 300˚ F.  Place the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes until lightly toasted, flipping almonds halfway.  Once the almonds have cooled, transfer to a cutting board and chop coarsely.Line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with foil and grease lightly with butter.  Set a heatproof bowl over a pot with a few inches of simmering water (do not boil).  In the bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, chocolate, Nutella, butter, and salt.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is fully melted and smooth.Remove the bowl from the heat.  Add the toasted hazelnuts and dried cherries to the bowl and fold in until evenly combined.  Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and spread into an even layer.  Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 3-4 hours.

Use the foil to lift the fudge from the pan.  Remove and discard the foil.  Use a large chef’s knife to slice the fudge into 64 1-inch squares.  Store in an airtight container.

—SOURCE—
adapted from Annie’s Eats,

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