Tag Archives: brown sugar

Maple Fudge Brownies

Happy Canada Day!

Okay, it’s a bit early — but I’ve always kind of failed to see the reasoning behind posting a celebratory occasion recipe the day-of, simply because it doesn’t really give anyone time to actually make it, right?

Anyways, I love being Canadian.

I really dig where I live, despite the deary weather, high taxes, and reputation for overbearing politeness (we’re not all that polite to each other, really).

Can you believe that we’re among the top 10 most patriotic countries in the world? I guess a lot of us are flag-wavers after all!

I have this American friend who makes a hobby out of telling me all about how inferior Canada is all the time (it’s amazing to see how Canadian patriotism makes Americans bristle — oh, but guess who’s first on that list of most patriotic countries in the world?), but you can’t beat our poutine, our Timmy’s, or our insane penchant for busting windows and setting police cars on fire when one of our teams loses a Stanley Cup Final.

Yeeeah. About that last one… Canadians drink a lot of beer — that’s all I’ve gotta say that.

So, in honor of tomorrow being Canada Day, I bring to you my special “How Canadian Are You?” quiz! Let’s test your cultural knowledge!

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Upside-Down Hot Chocolate Pudding

First, a disclaimer: this isn’t really pudding (at least not in the “North American” sense).

This is a British-style pudding — the rich, gooey, and cakey kind.

The way you make this pudding is a little unusual — it starts as a stiff, doughy batter, then gets covered in a thick layer of loose sugar and cocoa powder, then drizzled with fresh coffee, and, as it bakes, it turns “upside-down”!

The moist cake bakes and puffs up and oozes with chocolate, while the bottom remains a sticky chocolate sauce.

It’s been ages since I’ve made this treat at home, but I decide that this Upside-Down Hot Chocolate Pudding was going to be the last dessert I would make for lunch service at school.

How bitter-sweet it was!

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Christmas Recipe Round-Up

I have to confess — while recipe round-ups are not normally my style, I felt like there was too much of a gap between my stöllen and my next post, so a wee bit of filler was in order.

Coming soon: cookies and big news!

So, I’m currently bogged down with cramming and exams — that just means that some of the delicious treats I made last Christmas get an extra minute in the spotlight — like these rich and velvety Mucho Mocha Shortbread.

That’s win-win, right?

Especially because I think some of these creative recipes, like Mandarin Cupcakes with Clove Buttercream, definitely deserve a second look.

I did crazy, mad, frantic, enthusiastic baking during my first few weeks of blogging, and it just so happened to be over the holidays!

xmastime08

It’s bitter-sweet to think about the lovely Pear & Cranberry Cake with Orange Buttermilk Glaze that hardly anyone ever looked at, simply because I hadn’t yet learned about networking, making fellow blogging buddies, or the glories of photographing with natural light.

Sad, but true!

I mean, these Cranberry-Pecan Sandies are the type of cookie that my coworkers pestered me to make again over and over (I just indulged them this last weekend — and they’re good as ever), but I just didn’t know how to make them shine in front of a camera.

Especially since I didn’t know anything about food styling or adding props to photos either.

The gold star embossed tissue paper behind these Toasted Coconut Icebox Cookies was about as complicated and intricate as it got with me.

Maybe a sad piece of shriveled holly bush managed to sneak itself into the frame when I photographed these Chocolate-Dipped Marzipan Cookies — but adding props like that didn’t happen very often!

Behold — a whole dish, napkin, and spoon! I had started to branch out!

A bowl full of nutmeg-dusted Cranberry Syllabub aside, the last year has been a serious learning experience for me — there’s more to making a blog work, to making food work, making writing work, than just churning out recipe after recipe.

You’ve gotta have a story to tell, a life to share, and a love of food to impart to the world!

This funny-looking Rum-Spiked Brownie Bits with Candy Cane Frosting has a story to tell, too — one about how half my coworkers wouldn’t touch these chocolately morsels because of the sluggish, speckled grey frosting on top.

That is, until someone had the guts to try this odd-coloured creation and declared it delicious!

Sometimes food blogging can be made pretty and easy and neat, like these Perfect Gingersnaps, and sometimes it’s so much stress that you want to tear all your hair out and sleep for an entire month!

I know that in my last post I said I fear the impending holiday rush — and, well, it’s still true.

But all your kind comments (and some like-minded facebook statuses from my friends) made me realize that it’s best to meet things head on!

Here’s to the holidays — the stress, the joy, the festive food, the amazing baked treats — and keeping your head screwed on as tightly as possible from now until the new year!

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Parkin & Cake Trials in Pastry School

So, here’s one of the reasons I’ve had cake on the brain:

Whadya think?

I think it looked okay-ish. Tasted great, but looked pretty amateur — I’ve gotta improve my masking and frosting skills.

Y’know, like, when you make something and you think, “This is pretty good…” and then not even 10 minutes later you think, “This is pretty good… but I should have done THAT!” — that’s totally how I felt about my cake project.

It’s comprised of a mocha sponge cake brushed with coffee syrup, layered with chestnut liqueur-infused ganache, and covered in chestnut whipped cream.

My chocolate-coffee-chestnut cake came into being because last week everyone in my class had to make their own cake project and present it to our chef for dissecting and tasting. While my creation definitely wasn’t the prettiest of the bunch, chef gave it top marks for taste and texture.

Besides — I know what I can do next time to make it look a lot better!

This parkin recipe I’m posting today is pretty much the exact opposite of what I was trying to do with my cake project — my cake was supposed to be elegant and sweet, while parkin is a down n’ dirty spice cake snack of the people.

I didn’t realize this before sifting through recipe books and planning posts for the month of November, but parkin is one of the festival foods commonly associated with Bonfire Night in England (which is, sadly, something I missed by about 10 days).

It’s weird timing that I would come across this recipe now, just because of the Occupy movement that’s been hitting major cities — little is it know that the movement actually started in Dataran, Kuala Lumpur, before igniting the high profile protest in Wall Street.

There’s even an Occupy protest happening in Vancouver right now, although I’m not totally sure what it’s supposed to accomplish.

While it would have been good to have a solidarity march for Wall Street or something, there’s not quite enough social inequity and crazy right-wing politicians in Canada to justify a full blown Occupy for any length of time.

Especially considering that the people who’ve pitched their tents on the Art Gallery lawn downtown don’t really seem to have any clear demands, other than to legalize raw milk — a stupid, irresponsible demand to which I’m 100% opposed.

Also, some of the protesters have been going to our local mayoral debates and heckling the candidates. I mean, good job, geniuses — the political change you want will come way faster if you interrupt democratic process.

Ugh.

The other weird thing about the Occupy movement is how the Guy Fawkes mask has been appropriated for the cause.

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Maple Bourbon Walnut Bars

The honey bourbon! It’s back!

But of course it is — if there’s anything I adamantly believe in, it’s that everything is better with booze. Yes, everything.

Boring pasta sauce? A dash of wine will fix that! Want a better tasting bread? Add a bit of beer to your dough! After dinner coffee? Break out the liqueur! Painful and awkward social gathering? Nothing a few drinks won’t fix!

Riiiiight.

I’ll stop there, lest I get another call from my mother (who reads my blog) and a lecture about alcoholism. But I’m not an alcoholic — gawd, mom, really! — and I say this with confidence because alcohol is something I only indulge in once or twice a week, and especially I only drink hard alcohol a few times a year — a YEAR!

That’s why getting a new bottle of liquor excites my inner 10-year-old!

Y’know… uh. If my inner 10-year-old self was old enough to buy booze and smart enough to know how to cook and bake with it.

Ahem. I swear I’m not an alcoholic — just a booze hound! Totally different, thaaaanks.

I’ve been having way too much fun playing with my JD Tennessee honey bourbon!

So far it’s been added to pumpkin honey bourbon cheesecake, pumpkin bread pudding, pumpkin pie, apple compote (made it at school) and, now, maple bourbon walnut bars. It’s totally perfect for fall baking, but that’s just me being a broken record.

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Adorable Acorn Cookies

Whoamigawd — normally I’m not one to toot my own horn, but these cookies are just so damned cuuute!

Sadly, as yummy as they are, these little morsels are not really made of acorn.

But I had this idea about collecting a bunch of acorns, shelling them, soaking them, roasting them, grinding them, and making acorn flour for actual acorn cookies…

Then I remembered that I’m not a squirrel. HA!

Yes — not only am I definitely not a squirrel, but the real squirrel (a chubby, black-furred little rascal) who lives out back of my apartment already beat me to all the acorns nearby.

It started taking the acorns out of the tree in mid-summer, actually — while they were still green. Ew. Eating a green acorn seems like the squirrel equivalent of a eating a bright green banana, but I guess the squirrel knows what it’s doing.

So, instead of acorns, these shortbread-like cookies are made with brown butter, ground walnuts, and vanilla. Then they’re dipped in chocolate and more walnuts.

See? Not being a squirrel has its advantages.

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