Campfire Bars – Butter Baked Goods

My mom’s 60th birthday was yesterday, December 21st and we kicked it off (and her time in Vancouver) with a surprize visit from my sister, a trip to Cavalia’s Odysseo and dinner at Sula. It was an incredible day, and truly it was also a celebration of my mom’s retirement which began on Thursday! Odysseo was incredible, the horses were beautiful and so well trained. There were often 20 horses on the stage and as many people, moving around without problem. The acrobatics were incredible, as is to be expected from a Cirque du Soliel show. The set was incredible, with a hill climbing up the back, the set was like a real field. It’s hard to describe the vastness of the set, but trust me, it was amazing and I would recommend anyone to go.

Also, and probably most importantly, after my sister, mom, and I finished our dinner, Kellie went up to pay for her part while I went to the washroom. Kellie mentioned that I, her sister, would be paying the other half. The cashier said, “Oh nice, are you all sisters?” Well my mom was just tickled! She does look young for 60, and clearly they thought she was young enough to be a sister to us, her daughters in their 20’s! There mom, now EVERYONE knows!

CampfireBars

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Magic Bars… Double Brown Sugar Cookie Bars

Honestly, I am in a bit of a state. I cannot believe that we are a week away from December and just over a month from Christmas. Oy, this fall has flown by. I need to finish getting Christmas presents. I need to tell people what I want for Christmas. I need to make stacks and stacks of gingerbread houses for my gingerbread house party. I need to make my Food Blogger Cookie Exchange cookies and send those out. I need to do SO MANY THINGS.

At least it is sunny, my paper is coming along nicely, and I live in a city I love. Mom gets here for a visit in less than a month, and I am going to do some awesome tub renoing (redoing the caulking) next weekend, which I am strangely excited for. So things are moving quickly, but stuff is happening and that is great. Also, I had my contract extend at the NFB for another session, so that’s great news as well, and I am happy to get to stick around.

Magicbars

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Almond Puff

Oh sunshine and daylight savings, I love you both. Waking up this morning at 7:45am to sunshine and feeling well-rested was GLORIOUS. I’ve been happily working away at my thesis, and pondering a trip to Fort McMurray to visit my sister and her family. Hopefully I will get to go this coming weekend, in lieu of my trip for Thanksgiving. It would be so nice to see my sweet little nieces in person again, as well as meet my new dog niece and of course see my sister and my brother-in-law.

As I sit here, typing up this beloved recipe, smelling the ham and black beans Gen has cooking on the stove, and anticipating my piece of almond puff after dinner, I feel so crazy lucky to be living in Vancouver, doing something I enjoy. I mean, I’d feel luckier if all the people I love were in the immediate vicinity, but as it is, life is good.

Almondpuff

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Fruit Pizza, like Momma Crocker makes it

Oh Vancouver and your fickle weather. Our summer seemed over a couple weeks ago as it started to cool off and the days became, almost suddenly, shorter. The fall feeling of sloth and the need to hunker down all cozy-like washed over me and while I was sad that we were losing our sunny mornings, I was happy for the coolness. THEN, well, then last week was a glorious burst of heat and sunshine again. I was caught unprepared because the mornings still felt like fall and I’d throw a sweater on to go to work, our office is cool, and then I’d leave the office in the evening and step out into a hot summer day.

But now we are back to fall. We are into day two of thick fog, though it only started in the afternoon yesterday. I like it, it is like a blanket over the city, tucking us in for a little nap. I mean, I am not going to like it come Monday when the fog-muted sun fails to wake me, but right now, on this quiet Sunday morning, I am digging it.

Looking back on summer, I am excited to share a childhood favourite of mine, that also happens to be an adult favourite too. The recipe was given to my mom by my wonderful Auntie Janice. She’s shared a few recipes with us that I will be using on here eventually, because they are all incredibly tasty (including a Grape Salad and a cheese ball that I distinctly remember being awesome).  Quick segue, my Aunt Janice and my mom are in Florence right now! Which is unthinkably exciting. They are having a lovely time, I got to speak with my mom yesterday. They are great friends and I am so happy that they are on this adventure together.

FruitPizza

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Saskatoon and Fruit Pies… an experiment of sorts. A wonderful experiment.

Living in berry country is great. Our friends, the Taylors have Saskatoon bushes out at their house on the lake and a couple weeks ago Natalie, their daughter, called to let us know that she had picked a batch of berries for us. Huzzah! Pies were to be made! We made these pies for Dad’s party, as they were another favourite of his. They were supposed to be straight Saskatoon berry pies but we realized that we didn’t have enough Saskatoons. So they were going to be Saskatoon and blueberry pies… but when Kellie and I got to baking we realized we didn’t even have enough of those two combined… so we frantically looked around the kitchen and assessed the fruit situation. We had oranges, bananas, five measly plums, and two apples. Huzzah! We quickly dismissed the bananas and oranges (whew) and started cutting up the rest of the fruit. We ended up with enough Saskatoon and blueberry filling to fill the first pie, I scooped out four scoop of that filling to round out the Saskatoon Blueberry Plum and Apple Pie. Both were huge successes and Mom really couldn’t tell the difference in them, the Saskatoons really took over the flavour profile perfectly. Enjoy!

Saskatoon Pie with variations

INGREDIENTS

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Klondike Pastry (makes enough for the crust and tops of two pies)

  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 lb (2 cups) shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 3/4 cup cold water

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Saskatoon and Blueberry Pie (makes one 9-inch pie)

  • 7 cups fresh or frozen Saskatoon berries
  • 1 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

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Saskatoon, Blueberry, Apple, and Plum Pie (yes, it is many things) (makes one 9-inch pie)

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen Saskatoon berries
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 apples, sliced and chopped
  • 4-5 small plums, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1  cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 425°F.
  2. Prepare your Klondike Pastry:
    • 
    In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, salt, baking powder, and brown sugar. Cut in your shortening until you have pea-sized bits throughout.
    • In a small bowl, whisk together your egg, vinegar, and cold water.
    • Pour your egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix only until a dough forms, don’t over mix. Split dough in half, roll out each half to desired thickness, lay into your pie plate, press lightly to fill and cut around the edges. Re-roll left over dough to form the top. Cut a shape out of the top layer before laying it onto the fruit mixture.
  3. Onto the fruit! In a large saucepan, simmer berries (and apple and plums, if doing that version) with the water for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir the lemon juice into the fruit mixture, allow to cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and sugar, stir into the berry mixture.
  6. Pour the filling into your pie crusts. Place the top layer over the pie, pinch to seal the edges. If desired, use a pastry brush to brush the top with some milk and sprinkle with sugar.
  7. Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F  and bake for an additional 35 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown.

Delicious berry filling (pre-realization that we needed WAY MORE FILLING)

The first pie, gloriously filled.

The second pie, the four-fruit filling pie.

This Saskatoon berry shape is old and well used.

Pre-baking.

Post-baking.

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.

Dark Chocolate Mousse!

I love chocolate, particularly dark chocolate and this mousse is a celebration of my love! It takes a few bowls, but is totally worth it. It is light and airy, mousse-style; rich and indulgent, dark chocolate-style. I like to top it with some fresh summer berries, a dollop of lightly-sweetened whipped cream, or a quick drizzle of liqueur. I served this to a small party of friends I had over last night, quote of the night came from Tobias who said, “THIS IS THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER PUT IN MY FACE.” I think that is what he said, other friends, correct me if I am wrong.

Dark Chocolate Mousse

From this submission.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 6 tbsp prepared, strong coffee
  • 225 g dark chocolate (I prefer in the 70% range) (7oz)
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream

Directions

  1. In a saucepan, dissolve sugar in coffee over medium heat. Set aside.
  2. In the top of a double boiler over hot, (not simmering or boiling) water, melt the dark chocolate, stirring constantly, until smooth. When completely melted, whisk in the 1/4 cup of cream and the coffee/sugar mixture. Stir until smooth. Allow to cool.
  3. Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gently fold in 1/2 cup of the cooled chocolate mixture. Pour this latter mixture back into the chocolate mixture, folding gently.
  4. Beat chilled cream to soft peaks, and fold into chocolate mixture, very gently until totally mixed.
  5. Pour mousse into a large serving bowl, or 8 individual dessert glasses. Cover with plastic wrap, chill for 4 hours or overnight.

Step-by-step

  1. In a saucepan, dissolve sugar in coffee over medium heat. Set aside.
  2. In the top of a double boiler over hot, (not simmering or boiling) water, melt the dark chocolate, stirring constantly, until smooth. When completely melted, whisk in the 1/4 cup of cream and the coffee/sugar mixture. Stir until smooth. Allow to cool.

    Melting away on my makeshift double boiler.

  3. Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gently fold in 1/2 cup of the cooled chocolate mixture. Pour this latter mixture back into the chocolate mixture, folding gently.

    Looks like bad news but it will come together! The key is slow folding!

    Tah dah! Eggs and chocolate, well combined!

  4. Beat chilled cream to soft peaks, and fold into chocolate mixture, very gently until totally mixed.

    Ready for the big chill. This doesn’t look like a lot, but it is a very big bowl!

  5. Pour mousse into a large serving bowl, or 8 individual dessert glasses. Cover with plastic wrap, chill for 4 hours or overnight.

Warning: May cause extreme happiness.

Cookie Dough Dip

Another cookie dough related post! This was the second dip I brought to my friends’ party, the first being the glorious, much loved Buffalo Chicken Dip. This dip was also well-received, served with simple cookies and some apple slices. It is sweet but not too sweet, fluffy, and distinctly tastes of a lovely cookie dough. Wanted to try this type of a sweet dip, enjoyed it, may make it in the future.

Cookie Dough Dip

Adapted from this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 – 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Cream together cream cheese and butter.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and mix until well-combined.
  3. Serve with light cookies (in flavour, try to find sturdy cookies, this dip is fluffy but still needs a strong cookie, the ones I picked were a little delicate) or apple wedges. Also, nearer the end of the night, some were eating this with carrots which they claimed tasted like carrot cake… so, to each their own. This dip is good to make the day before, it stayed fluffy and smooth overnight.

Whipping it all together.

Gen is doing some stellar hand-modelling.

Flan, super easy recipe from Nigella Lawson

I was pretty hesitant of this recipe when I first read it, because canned milks freak me out… but it is AWESOME. The flavour and texture are spot-on. My El-Salvadorian dude loves it and is disappointed when I don’t make it (or make it at someone else’s house and don’t have any to bring home… sorry Gen!). It is super easy, but it does take some patience, it needs to set for four hours, or overnight. But it is worth it.

Flan

Recipe found through this great blog, originally from Nigella Express 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Pour the sugar into a 9″ metal pie plate (must be metal, you are heating this directly on the stove). Place the pan over low heat until the sugar begins to caramelize, becoming liquid, syrup. Swirl the sugar every now and then as it melts. Press the larger chunks of unmelted sugar down to encourage their melting. Your spoon will be coated in hard caramel, run it under hot water to clean it after. The sugar will begin to caramelize-just before the sugar reaches the color of maple syrup, take the pan off the heat and place it on a cool surface. This process isn’t kind to your pie pan, it doesn’t wreck it, but it will likely discolour after a couple times. I used two reusable pie plates when I was over at my friend’s and they worked well.
  3. Swirl the caramel up the sides of the pan and set aside
  4. Boil a kettle of water (for the water bath).
  5. Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, and vanillas.
  6. Place your pie pan into a roasting pan (or another deep oven-safe dish)
  7. Pour the milk mixture into caramel-coated pie pan (it will go right to the top, this is why you put it in the roasting pan first).
  8. Pour the boiling water into the roasting pan, up to 1 inch deep.
  9. Carefully slide the whole shebang into the oven (some might slosh, that’s cool). Cook for 45-50 minutes, until set. It may still seem wobbly after 50 minutes, but don’t leave it longer.
  10. Let the flan cool on the counter, out of the roasting pan. When cool, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 4 hours, or overnight.
  11. Eating time?! Place a large plate over the pie pan, carefully and quickly flip it over and let the flan fall out (you might have to run a butter knife down the side to encourage movement). Cut in wedges and spoon the syrup over each slice.

Muffin Pudding (hmm, sounds weird) Muffin Bread Pudding (better?)

Well I am not sure how to properly title this. I had a heck of a time googling around to see if it had been done, done successfully, or was being warned against. I found all of the above but little other information. Bread pudding is one of my all time favourite desserts, which is weird, I know. Something about the creamy custard and the rich flavours. It just floats my boat. Anyway, yesterday was Gen’s birthday, so I felt the need to make every meal a fancy feast. My whole plan was to bake some brioche on Friday, slice it up and make french toast casserole on Saturday. Well that’s not how things panned out. I made a mess of the bread, we wont even speak of it. It tastes fine but it is under cooked and very dark… I need to go into a bread baking workshop, I am not doing it right. Anyway, so this morning I was out of luck for that dish, though I did make some delicious omelets with the left-over Jalapeño Popper Dip from the night before. But as I was making pizza (recipe tomorrow), I looked over at the leftover Coffee Cake Muffins and had a brain wave. I kind of winged it, but it turned out delightful. Not too sweet, the sugar in and on the muffins did the trick.

The pictures are not great because I wasn’t entirely sure that this was going to turn out. Also, I switched from the 9 x 13 pan to a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish that was deeper so the custard could reach more of the muffins. It was nice using already so tasty muffins because it meant I had to do little in the line of flavouring to make this tasty. You could certainly use other stale muffins, but the flavours will change substantially depending on the muffins you use. These had a nice hint of nutmeg and cinnamon, and they were studded with the walnuts I had used in the crumb topping. Awesome.

Muffin Bread Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 7 slightly stale muffins, in this case my Coffee Cake Muffins
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp sugar (more if your muffins are less sweet)
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

Directions

  1. This pudding needs 15 minutes soaking time, follow the directions, let soak for 15 minutes and then bake.
  2. Break muffins into medium chunks and spread on a baking sheet, place in 350°F oven to toast for 8 minutes.
  3. Put the milk into a small pan with the vanilla. Bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat, add the lemon zest and allow to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, butter a medium casserole dish and put the muffin chunks into it, dot with the butter.
  5. Beat the eggs together with the sugar until combined. Beat the milk, nutmeg, and the cream into the egg mixture. Pour over the muffins, add any nuts or fruit you might want, and leave for 15 minutes.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top.
  7. Place on middle rack and cook for 20-30 minutes. The pudding is done when it is browned on top and set. Serve with half-whipped cream (whip until it just starts to thicken)

Muffins crumbled with butter, then I realized this dish was not going to work.

Perfect!