Baked Coconut Rum Balls with Kraken Rum

I am just terribly embarrassed, wouldn’t you know it, I fell again. These boots, that I love so much, will be the death of me. My knee that had just recovered is now bloodied and bruised. Ooph, what a day! The funny thing is, these aren’t boots with any real heel, they are just out to get me.

In less terrible and embarrassing news, I’ve been asked to be the media representative for the Vancouver Spring Sprint for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. I am pretty thrilled about the opportunity, and am still not sure what it will involve. So far, I know that I will be doing some interviews, and I’ve had to answer some questions, so there is that. And, I made rum balls with my favourite spiced rum, The Kraken Black Spiced Rum.

 BakedCoconutRumBalls

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Hot Cross Cookies!

With the excitement of both Gen and my new jobs I’ve been kind of in a mental flurry. I feel like I should be preparing for my first day next week but have no idea how to do that! I have organized my pens, gathered my schedule books, bought some new clothes and shoes, and have tried a bunch of casual work makeup looks. I’ve also signed off a stack of forms, giggled like a schoolgirl, and baked a lot of cookies. A LOT of cookies. We’ve been sending batches to Hospice Vancouver and that last batch (Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies) was perfectly timed as that very morning they received $950,000 to complete their funding drive! Now they can get on track, become fully staffed, and fill out the programs that mean so much to families like mine. Today’s cookies went to Gen’s work, as it was his last day at IGA! He starts his new supervisor position today!

An Easter favourite of mine has always been hot cross buns. I remember back when my sister was a newspaper carrier she brought home a batch of homemade hot cross buns from her supervisor’s house. They were fluffy, lightly sweet, with amazing spices. I am not in anyway a fan of currants, so the traditional buns have always fallen short on my enjoyment scale, there is only so much eating around those that you can do. Then! THEN! I few Easters ago I came across Cobbs’ chocolate chip hot cross buns and I was hooked! Add chocolate to pretty much anything and I am on board, AND they didn’t use currants! For the one Easter that I lived across from Cobbs I made a point to pick up few dozen of these amazing buns and haven’t had them since!

Hotcrosscookies

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Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Well, things are exciting! I have been offered an absolutely wonderful position! I start next week and will officially tell you about where I am working after that first day (I need to actually be there, pinch myself, and confirm that it is real… yes it is that fantastic). The position is in Vancouver and easily accessible from our apartment! So, Gen and I are both gainfully and fantastically employed. We will finally be able to start saving again! I can finally resume stalking properties and puppies (on the BC SPCA site… not in the park… there too).

CranberryOatmealCookies

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Double Dark Chocolate Guinness Cookies! A late St. Patrick’s Day offering

St. Patrick’s Day is always fun and is a really easy holiday to bake for: a generous dash of Irish Cream, a splash of Guinness, a finger of Jameson’s and you should be set. Unfortunately this St. Patrick’s Day I ruined that batch of fudge and failed to make successful repair cookies. To combat this failure I had a delicious pint of Jameson-infused beer and went about my day. Not that I was dwelling on the loss of that fudge or anything (maybe a little) but I still wanted to make an awesome treat with an Irish kick. Looking back at my first post, the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes, and remembering that I had told my trivia team that I would bring cookies, I thought, “I bet I could make Guinness chocolate cookies!” And off I went to bake my heart away.

GuinnessCookies

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Salted Dark Chocolatey Cookies

One thing I love about Vancouver, particularly our location in the middle of downtown, is that you encounter such a variety of people all the time. Yesterday I popped into Marketplace IGA, I was standing in front of the dairy case, making world-ending decisions about whether I should or shouldn’t buy cottage cheese when a man with a walker insisted on moving me from my place to do the same. It was clear that his cottage cheese needs were more urgent so I wandered off to ponder other purchases. When I meandered back to the dairy case, mind made up, I was approached by an older lady. I quickly moved out of her way, assuming that she too couldn’t wait for cottage cheese, when she lightly grabbed my elbow. I turned around and she, in the sweetest, most elderly, heavily-French accented voice asked for my assistance. She guided me over to the yogurts and asked if I could help her. She was gazing hopefully up to the top shelf, and I realized, she can’t reach! This sweet, petite French woman really wanted the strawberry yogurt but she was about a foot short of laying her hands on it. I snagged her a tub and she enthusiastically thanked me. Day made. I got to be a friendly giant!
Then, as I wandered home from the store, enjoying the sunlight and mild weather that the few-blocks walk afforded me, I decided to take the alley behind our apartment instead of wandering up past the construction site and around the corner. This is regularly a busy alley, with a restaurant and bank on one end and a business and two apartment buildings making up the rest, so I’ve never felt worried about it. Well low and behold, in the middle of the day in a nice part of town(‘s alley… okay makes sense), I come across two flanneled gentlemen clearly exchanging drugs, money, and whatever else. Curses Vancouver, from sweet little French lady to nefarious flanneled gentlemen in the span of 20 minutes! Anyway, I nonchalantly cruised past them, glancing back only to check for cars while crossing the alley to my building. What can you do, not everyone is content to be outside in the sun, some people just need to flannel up and make mischief.

Please don’t take away from the story above that I am against flannel. I support flannel in the appropriate time and place, though really those gentlemen weren’t helping flannel’s cause.

SaltedChocolateCookies

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Almond Butter Cookies

The weather in Vancouver has been really wonderful. We had two gorgeous days on sunshine throughout the week and then yesterday started crummy with a straight 5-6 hours of rain but wrapped up on a blue-skied, sunny note. Today is another sunny one, so I am going to have to wander outside for some vitamin D and fresh air. I love being able to wander outside in the middle of February in just a sweater. No boots, hat, mitts, or scarf needed! I certainly don’t miss the snow and will be sad to leave Vancouver if ever needed. The snow that comes with practically every other city in Canada is not something I embraced. I’ve paid my snow dues, 18 years in the Yukon and 6 in Calgary! I deserve a little West Coast weather pampering, and have made sure to take full advantage.

All that said, I am looking at some Toronto positions that would be worth the move back into the big white. If they come around to be the real thing, I am going to have to mentally prepare for a winter unlike any I’ve experienced with snow AND humidity.

Anyway, I felt the other day like I needed to make something. I kind of neglected Not Crocker last week as I picked up a couple temp assignments that required me to bus it out to Richmond. By the time I got home I kind of flopped on  the couch in a trance-like daze and Gen kindly made up some dinner for me. I did attempt a pork and rapini dish yesterday to very little success as the rapini over-powered the pork. I choked a bowl down and thankfully Gen finished up the rest. We all have our cooking failures!

Almondbuttercookies

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Cookie Swap Official Recipe! Hot Chocolate Sandwiches filled with Pink Peppercorn & Cardamom Marshmallows

HotChocolateCookies

I wanted to do something fancy for my contribution to the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I mean really, it’s hosted by the wonderful Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen. The blogs that participate are all filled with beautiful food, designs, and ideas. I have been craving hot chocolate lately and have begun to master the art of marshmallows, so it seemed like a cookie combo made in heaven. Also, I love cardamom and happen to have a bunch of different peppers on hand, so there we go!

Not to wax on about the cookies or the event, or any of that jazz… but I am SOOOOOooooo excited to be part of this. I know that part of building a great blog and following is networking with the community but I’ve been so busy the last 8 months that I haven’t really had a chance to develop those relationships. This is my first step of getting in there with the big, fancy blogs and wave my little Not Crocker flag, saying “Hello, I like to cook and bake too!” I hope that Bailey of Sugar Haven, Aimee of Aimee’s Oven, and Heather of New House New Home New Life liked them! I learned a lot, particularly that I was one sandwich short, so I baked up three icebox cookies to create the one ugly, franken-cookie in each batch… there has to be one… right? Merry Christmas Cookie Swap!

Something that I’d love to know, what is YOUR favourite Christmas treat? 

Quick note before baking, you will have to make the marshmallow in two batches so that it doesn’t totally firm up before you fill all the cookies.

Hot Chocolate Cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 oz dark chocolate, melted
  • 2 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, and baking soda.
  2. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until you have a sandy texture with few lumps.
  3. Whisk together the melted chocolate, heavy cream, and vanilla until a sort of ganache forms. Drizzle the ganache into the dough and mix well to combine.
  4. Divide the dough in half. Knead the first half on a cutting board until it stick well together. Roll the dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches thick and wrap in wax paper. Do the same with the other log. Freeze the logs for 1 hour until very firm.
  5. Heat the oven to 350°F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Using a very sharp knife, slice the log into 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick slices, keeping consistant. Place 1-inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 12-15 minutes, turning halfway through.
  7. Cool the cookies on racks, they will crisp up as they cool down. You can definitely eat them all now, they are pretty tasty, but definitely hold off, make marshmallows, and make sandwiches!

Pink Peppercorn and Cardamom Marshmallows (make two batches to fill cookies)

Adapted from Pots and Pins recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 envelope of Knox unflavoured gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pink peppercorns, ground
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS

  1. In your large mixer bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water, set aside.
  2. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil, allow to boil gently for 1 minute.
  4. Remove the syrup mixture from heat and stir in the vanilla, ground peppercorns, and cardamom.
  5. Briefly whisk the gelatin mixture on high speed. Gradually pour hot sugar syrup into the gelatin, beating on low.
  6. Once all of the syrup has been incorporated, increase the mixer speed to high and beat until the mixture is thick and shiny, 8-10 minutes.
  7. Move quickly and dollop 1 tablespoon of filling onto one cookie and top with another, pressing down enough to move the marshmallow to the edges. The marshmallow sets quickly, so don’t slow down. If it starts to set as you are filling, it will still work, it just wont look perfect.
  8. If you have extra marshmallow, pour it into a flat dish and cut up later for hot chocolates and coffees and snacking.

Massive Step-by-step

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, and baking soda.
  2. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until you have a sandy texture with few lumps.
  3. Whisk together the melted chocolate, heavy cream, and vanilla until a sort of ganache forms. Drizzle the ganache into the dough and mix well to combine.
  4. Divide the dough in half. Knead the first half on a cutting board until it stick well together. Roll the dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches thick and wrap in wax paper. Do the same with the other log. Freeze the logs for 1 hour until very firm.
  5. Heat the oven to 350°F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Using a very sharp knife, slice the log into 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick slices, keeping consistant. Place 1-inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 12-15 minutes, turning halfway through.
  7. Cool the cookies on racks, they will crisp up as they cool down. You can definitely eat them all now, they are pretty tasty, but definitely hold off, make marshmallows, and make sandwiches!

    Stacks of cooled cookies.

  8. In your large mixer bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water, set aside.
  9. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  10. Bring mixture to a boil, allow to boil gently for 1 minute.
  11. Remove the syrup mixture from heat and stir in the vanilla, ground peppercorns, and cardamom.

    Well that doesn’t look like marshmallow!

  12. Briefly whisk the gelatin mixture on high speed. Gradually pour hot sugar syrup into the gelatin, beating on low.
  13. Once all of the syrup has been incorporated, increase the mixer speed to high and beat until the mixture is thick and shiny, 8-10 minutes.

    Oh, there it is!

  14. Move quickly and dollop 1 tablespoon of filling onto one cookie and top with another, pressing down enough to move the marshmallow to the edges. The marshmallow sets quickly, so don’t slow down. If it starts to set as you are filling, it will still work, it just wont look perfect.

Probably one of my best photos. Huzz-freakin-ah!

Again, check out the great blogs I got to connect with through this awesome cookie swap! They deserve lots of love:

Sent to:
Sugar Haven
Aimee’s Oven
New House New Home New Life

Received from:
Oven Adventures (sent amazing cinnamon chip cookies that smell like coziness)

I ♥ Fresh Food (sent vanilla chai short bread, delicious for dunking)

The Bacon Eating Jewish Vegetarian (it’s a mouthful, so are her delicious Cinnadoodles!)

Not back yet, but here is some tasty filler. Coconut Cream Pie, by request from Not Crocker’s padre (recipe for Gingersnaps included)

Dad’s doing fairly well, as well as he can. He’s certainly got his sense of humour. He has a steady flow of visitors each day, and more importantly, a steady flow of scotch. Today, his son-in-law brought him a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label and we all enjoyed the smooth delicious blend of ridiculously expensiveness. I am looking forward to another paper cup with a scotch rock (granite frozen to cool the scotch without watering it down) and a splash of the good stuff tomorrow.

Dad asked the other day, for some pie, specifically apple… and then pumpkin…and finally coconut cream. So coconut cream pie it is! Kel and I got to making it that night and we had it the next day, the longer the flavours mellow, the better. And wow, super delicious. I really can’t think of a time when I’ve had coconut cream pie, and I’ve stayed clear of banana cream pie for the most part because it seems like one too many smooth textures, I need some textural variation. Well, coconut cream pie has some chewy bits of toasted coconut, a nice gingersnap crust and two different layers of creamy goodness. The pictures aren’t great because I am still in the midst of the Great Camera Fiasco of 2012. I left my battery charger up here in the Yukon in July. Mom and Dad were supposed to head south mid-August, so I made-do with the cord. Then all of this madness happened and I had to come north, a month after I left it here. Well, I get off the plane and tell mom how excited I am to charge my camera battery (it’s the small things, clearly) and she tells me that she mailed it the day before. Curses! Anyway, the iPhone photos can’t take away from the scrumptious pie. Make it. Love it. Tell me all about it.

Coconut Cream Pie

Lightly adapted from Anna Ols0n. 

INGREDIENTS 

Gingersnap Crust

  • 3/4 cup + 1/3 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsps baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cardamon
  • sugar, for coating

Coconut Filling

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cups coconut milk
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, lightly toasted**

Cream Topping

  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp skim milk powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut, lightly toasted **

DIRECTIONS

  1. The first step is to bake your gingersnaps.
  2. Heat oven to 350 °F.
  3. Cream 3/4 cup butter (reserve the 1/3 for later) and sugar together until light and fluffy. Stir in molasses and beat in egg.
  4. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and spices and stir just until blended.
  5. Roll spoonfuls of dough into balls and roll in a shallow dish of white sugar. Place 2 inches apart on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet and press flat with the palm of your hand, or a fork. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. Remove from baking sheet to cool. If you just want gingersnaps, stop here. Eat cookies.
  6. To form the crust: grind cooled cookies in a food processor, or by hand (good luck!) and measure out 2 1/2 cups of crumbs (we used all but 6 cookies, which we munched on the next day). Melt the 1/3 cup butter and mix into crumbs. Press into a 9-inch pie pan (we also put some into a 4-inch tart pan so Dad could have his individual pie at the hospital) and chill until ready to fill.
  7. For filling: stir sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a heavy-bottomed saucepot. Whisk in coconut milk, whole eggs, and egg yolks. Heat custard on low while whisking constantly for 5 minutes.
  8. **Turn oven to 400°F, spread coconut in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, stir on pan and toast for another 3-5 minutes until light brown. Some darker toasted shreds are totally ok. Reserve 1/4 cup for sprinkling on top.
  9. Back to the custard! Increase heat to medium and continue whisking until custard thickens and becomes glossy, about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and strain. Stir in vanilla, butter, and toasted coconut. Stir until butter has melted. Pour immediately into chilled pie shell, let cool on the counter for 15 minutes, then chill completely before topping with cream, at least 4 hours.
  10. For cream topping: whip cream to a medium peak, and whisk in sugar and skim milk powder. Top coconut custard with whipped cream, and sprinkle remaining toasted coconut on top as garnish.

Coconut custard.

Icebox Cookies. Or, how to use your egg yolks after making meringues

These are made with a rich dough that can be rolled in or topped with whatever you like. I just baked up a small batch plain so I could easily dip them in some hot chocolate and coffee. They are a beautiful cross between a sugar cookie and shortbread… more on the sugar cookie side of things. This is a great way to use up excess egg yolks after making meringues, or chocolate mousse. But, if you want to make these first, at least you also know what to do with your whites! I like icebox cookies because they are essentially cookies anytime, whip up a recipe throw the cookie log in the freezer, slice and bake and you’ve got fresh cookies in 15 minutes. If you think ahead… I didn’t… you can roll them in coconut, chocolate, nuts, etc. and have fancier versions ready for when guests surprize you!

Icebox Cookies

This recipe makes about 2 large logs of dough… I am not a log-forming master, so you can probably make many more small logs.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • tasty flavour additions: 1/2 tsp cardamon or 1 tbsp orange zest or swap 1/4 tsp of vanilla for a flavoured extract like almond or roll the log immediately after forming it, in chocolate shavings, crushed walnuts, shredded coconut, or sprinkles.

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy.
  2. Add yolks and beat well, scraping down the sides. Add vanilla.
  3. Add flour (and flavours if wanted) and mix until just combined.
  4. Separate in two and roll into logs. Roll the logs in desired toppings. Wrap the logs in plastic and freeze for at least two hours, but feel free to leave them longer, until you want them! Slice off one, or two, or twenty cookies and bake!
  5. Heat oven to 350°F. Cover a baking sheet in parchment paper.
  6. Unwrap log, and place on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, slice off 1/4 inch cookies.
  7. Arrange cookies on your baking sheet, 1 inch apart and bake until pale golden, 13 to 15 minutes.
  8. Serve with coffee, milk, hot chocolate, or just a smile.

Poorly shaped, expertly sliced cookies.

Delicious

From the cover photo, because its such a lovely shot.

 

Black Bottom Meringues— Chocolate meringues with dark chocolate and espresso bottoms

Alright, alright, the bottoms are less black than brown but brown bottom sounded questionable, so I went with it. These are easy meringues with a dark chocolate and espresso ganache for the bottoms. The ganache mellows out the sweetness of the meringue, it is a lovely pairing. I mentioned my friend Angela in the last post, and I will mention her again! These meringues were made in celebration… in mourning… of her imminent departure. Angela is leaving us Vancouver folk for the wilds of the Sunshine Coast, she is moving on to bigger and better things, though we think she’ll come back to us, we’ve got all the beer here!

Black Bottom Meringues

INGREDIENTS

Meringues

  • 6 large egg whites (save your yolks for icebox cookies: to be posted this weekend)
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 2/3 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Ganache

  • 2 squares of dark bakers chocolate (or 2 oz of dark chocolate of your choice)
  • 2 tbsp of room-temperature espresso or very strong coffee
  • 3 tbsp of whipping cream

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 175°F.
  2. Cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a large metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water, not touching the water, and not boiling water.
  4. Whisk the mixture constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth and warm to the touch (roughly 3-4 minutes). Remove from heat and beat the whites until stiff, glossy peaks form (this is most easily and quickly done with a mixer, but I am sure it could be accomplished by hand).
  5. Add the vanilla and stir to combine.
  6. Using a sifter (or a mesh strainer in my case) sift the cocoa over the meringue and stir until no streaks remain. I am not usually this particular about sifting stuff, but my cocoa was lumpy as all hell, so I did it and it worked beautifully.
  7. Scoop the meringue into a pastry bag or a large ziploc with a corner snipped off. Squeeze out quarter-sized dollops onto your parchment paper.
  8. Bake for 2 hours, until they lift from the pan easily, mine took a little extra time because I wanted them quite dry. If you want them a little chewy, check after 1.5 hours. Allow to cool completely.
  9. While the meringues are cooling make the ganache.
  10. In a small pan over simmering water, melt the chocolate taking care not to scorch it.
  11. Add espresso and cream and stir to combine, it will come together… trust me.
  12. Once meringues have cooled smooth a layer of ganache across the bottom, place meringues bottom-up on a baking sheet as you go. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the ganache to set.
  13. Serve.

The meringues are starting to stiffen.

Folding in the cocoa powder.