Tag Archives: Desserts

Ina Garten Caramel Sauce

Combine in a heavy-bottomed pan:

  • ½ lb butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Bring to a boil
  2. Simmer for 1 minute.
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Pecan Bars (that are not too sweet)

I can’t even begin to express how good these are!   They freeze very well when wrapped in parchment paper, then sealed up in a heavy-duty ziplock freezer bag.

Crust:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup pecans, toasted and chopped coarsely
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 6 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Filling/top:

  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 Tbsp dark rum (don’t leave this out)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 ¾ cups pecans, toasted and chopped coarsely

For the crust:

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350F.  Line an 8” square pan with foil, then butter the foil.
  2. Process the flour, brown sugar, pecans, salt, and baking powder in a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 5 pulses.  Sprinkle the butter pieces over the top and pulse until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal, about 8 pulses.
  3. Sprinkle the mixture in the prepared pan and press firmly into an even crust using your fingers.  Bake until the crust starts to brown, 20 to 24 minutes.

For the filling:

  1. As soon as the crust finishes baking, whisk the brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, rum, vanilla, and salt together until just combined.  Whisk in the egg until incorporated, then pour over the hot crust.  Sprinkle the pecans over the top.  Bake until the top is brown and cracks start to form across the surface, 25 to 30 minutes.
  2. Let cool completely on a wire rack without removing from pan.  This will take about 2 hours.
  3. When completely cool, use the foil to lift out of the pan, and cut into squares or triangles.

 

 

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Low Fat Chocolate Cake

Not a cake lover — at all — but this is really delicious served with a scoop of ice-cream (which I also don’t like!).  This recipe produces a dense texture, rather than being a light and airy cake.

Preheat oven to 350F and grease an 8” springform pan.

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup hot strong coffee (or use water or orange juice)
  • 1/3 cup low fat yogurt or buttermilk

In a large bowl, beat together brown and granulated sugars, butter, eggs, and vanilla until well blended.  Add cocoa and mix until well incorporated

Combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder; add to bowl along with coffee and yogurt.  Mix just until combined, being careful not to overmix.  Pour into pan, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until tester inserted into centre comes out dry.  Let cool completely.

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Rona’s Dutch Almond Boterkoek

Rona brought this to the food bank for our coffee break, and it is absolutely delicious!  I could easily eat half a cake by myself, and I’m not a cake person; it is like a cross between a shortbread and cake texture.

Base:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. almond flavouring
  • 1 and 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  1. Cream butter and sugar. Add egg, and blend until well mixed.  Add the flavouring, and mix well.
  2. In a separate bowl, blend flour and baking powder together.
  3. Gently add the flour/baking powder mixture to the creamed mixture
  4. Spread into two 8″ cake pans.

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon peel, grated.
  1. Mix the topping ingredients together.
  2. Spread topping over base, wetting spoon as necessary.
  3. Sprinkle on:
  • 1/2 pkg. of sliced almonds.
  1. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  2. Score while warm into slices.

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Grandma Ruth’s Pecan Pie (from Great Aunt Shirley)

We have found great success using the America’s Test Kitchen recipe for pastry (which uses vodka for half of the liquid).  The following is Grandma’s pastry and filling recipe, verbatim.  One just needs one 9″ pie crust, unbaked, for this pie.

Pastry

  • 4 (41/2) cups flour (I use 4 and use the rest for flouring the board)
  • l  lb. Shortening (Crisco)
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • TBSP brown sugar
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • add enough warm water to make ¾ cup
  • 1 TBSP vinegar

Add salt and b. sugar to flour.  Cut in shortening with knife ( I usually do that by dividing it into four pieces). Add remaining liquid and mix with hands until dough no longer stick to the bowl.  Chill for about 15 – 20 minutes wrapped in saran wrap. This dough is quite soft and is very flaky when done.

Pie Filling

  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ tsp  salt
  • 1 egg (beaten), in a medium sized bowl
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • LOTS     pecan halves
  1. Bring sugar, salt, butter to a boil and remove from heat
  2. Whisking constantly, pour over beaten eggs
  3. Cool slightly and add vanilla
  4. Lay pecans in circle pattern (flat side down) until the whole bottom of crust is covered.
  5. Pour filling over the pecans.
  6. Bake 10 minutes at 400F then turn oven down to 375F and cook for 35-40 minutes.  The pecans will rise to the top.

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Fraser’s Birthday Brownies (for Fraser and Prasanth)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line an 8”x8” pan with 2 pieces of parchment paper, leaving overhangs on each side (one piece going each direction across the pan).  Have 3 eggs at room temperature.

NOTE:  Each layer needs to be completely cooled before the next layer is added!

Brownie Layer:

This is extremely fudgy, and great on its own.

  • 8 Tbsp butter ( ½ cup)
  • 8oz/227g bittersweet chocolate, chopped into pieces
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and cook it until it is fragrant and light brown.  Remove from the heat, and cool for 5 minutes or so.
  2. Add the chocolate and melt.  Stir until smooth.
  3. Add the sugars and mix well.  The mixture will have a grainy texture.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until the batter is glossy and thick.
  5. Add the vanilla, and then the salt and flour, mixing only long enough to incorporate the flour.
  6. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes; the edges should be firm, but the centre slightly soft, yet puffed.  Remove from oven and chill completely in pan (if you want to hurry it along, put it in the fridge or freezer until just firm).

Peanut Buttery Layer:

  • ¾ cup smooth peanut butter (the regular store-brand kind works well – save the organic for toast)
  • 8 Tbsp butter, room temperature ( ½ cup)
  • ½ cup icing/confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ tsp kosher salt

Place all ingredients into a food processor, then process until smooth.  Spread evenly onto cooled brownie bottom, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold and set.

Ganache Layer:

I use about half of this recipe, and store the remainder in the fridge or freezer for a few weeks.  If it firms up before you get a chance to spread it, just pop it into the microwave for about 5 seconds, or warm it in a bowl over some hot water.

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 10 oz/280g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp corn syrup (not usually part of ganache, but it works for these brownies)
  1. Place chopped chocolate into a medium mixing bowl.
  2. In a small heavy saucepan, heat cream until almost at a boil.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and add the corn syrup.
  3. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes.
  4. Gently whisk the mixture until completely smooth, trying not to add any air in the form of bubbles.
  5. Pour ganache into the brownie/peanut butter pan, making the layer as thick as you want it.  Let it set in the fridge.

Finishing:

Lift out the three-layer brownie by the parchment “handles”, and place on a cutting board.  Slice the slab into 16 squares, wiping the knife clean after every slice.  Wrap each piece very well, put into a container, and store in fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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Berry Muffins

I used to buy these muffins from a shop just around the corner when I was on my coffee break, or for lunch; the recipe is from the “David Wood Food Book”.  How I miss my exquisite lunches and sweets from that shop!  Not exactly nutritious, but one could use half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour, or use a Cornell Mixture.  This makes 6-8 muffins.

  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • ¾ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups blueberries, fresh or frozen OR add berries or fruit of your choosing
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease and flour muffin tin, or use paper muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the melted butter and sugar, then beat in the egg and vanilla.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add to the butter mixture, along with the milk.  Don’t worry if it’s a bit lumpy.  Add the berries and fold them in gently.
  4. Scoop into the muffin tins; bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until pale golden brown, and the top springs back when touched.
  5. Niall likes to make a glaze of freshly squeezed lemon juice and sugar for these — half a lemon, with sugar to taste, warm in microwave, then drizzle onto muffin or dip muffin!

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