Chocolate Croissants

Remember how I wanted to make croissants from the previous post? Well, yesterday was the day I executed the plan:)
Being an absolute chocolate lover, I made chocolate croissants.

They turned out perfect. Buttery, light, only very slightly sweet. I served them to my girlfriends who were over at my house to watch a show and they were absolutely in love with my croissants. The process of making these was like a precious challenge. I have my share of failures at yeast baking but I did not want to mess this up! So I put all of my effort into each and every step and voila! Twelve beautiful golden croissants with bittersweet chocolate inside.

These croissants made my day. Will make them again very soon:) Hope you are having a nice, relaxing Wednesday afternoon.

Best of the best: Spelt Chocolate Chip Cookies

“I don’t know what to do!”

was the exact reaction I showed as soon as I took a bite into these cookies. I have never used spelt flour in baking. I’ve recently found about it, about a year ago, and ever since then I’ve had all the intention in the world to bake some goodies out of them, but I just never got around to buy some. Then, when I finally bought a small bag like almost two months ago, I didn’t initiate myself to take it out of the pantry and make something, anything.

Then, on one beautiful weekend morning, when I was brwosing through, as always,  my kitchen pantry, trying to look to see what I can do with what I have, it suddenly struck me that I indeed need to make something out of the spelt flour before I go back to school.

After a short Google search for “spelt chocoalte chip cookies” I came across one that looked quite interesting. This recipe uses a combination of maple syrup and brown sugar for its sweetness. Who doesn’t like brown sugary maple concoction with chocolate chips?  But I didn’t enough maple syrup in my fridge (I honestly had a spoonful of it left!). Then I remembered my agave nectar. How brilliant is that? Spelt chocolate chip cookies with agave nectar. I could just imagine how divine it would taste like, if it bakes well.

And it did. This recipe is more than perfect. I just adore it. I don’t really like eating cookies I make (maybe I will have a bite? that’s all) but I truly wanted to hide these from people’s eyes so that I can have them all. I ended up eating more than half of the batch. It was that delicious. The sweet, nutty taste of both agave syrup and spelt flour complimented each other perfectly. Chocolate chips are not the priority of these cookies. You don’t need that many chips. A chocoholic like me even thought that the cookie part was so much better than chocoalte chip part.

Just out of the oven

Just out of the oven

Big, yummiest cookies!

Big, yummiest cookies!

I even ate the dough:)

I even ate the dough:)

Pistachio Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies
Adapted from http://sweetandnatural.wordpress.com/2009/04/30/walnut-chocolate-chip-spelt-cookies/

Ingredients

  •  1 cup spelt flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup Sucanat
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (or agave nectar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon molasses (I omitted it)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  • 1/3 cup chopped pistachio

Direction

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda, Sucanat and salt.
  3.  In a separate bowl, stir together maple syrup, molasses, vanilla extract and canola oil until well combined.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. Place spoonfuls of batter on cookie sheets and bake for 10-11 minutes. Makes 12 cookies.

Farewell, in the most waffle-y way

 My program is famous for its international exchanged program in 3rd year. Almost 75% of students go on exchange to business schools around the world. It’s a very exciting time! I will be going, too. But not this semester but next one. So I’ve got some more days to spend in Canada. More specifically, in a small university town of Kingston.

One of my friends is about to embark her journey to France in two weeks! since I wont’ be able to see her for a year, we decided to have a small get-together at my house. Nothing fancy but everything fun.

What better ways to celebrate her departure than a nice weekend brunch waffle party?
While I was preparing the batter and all other things, she decided to have some fun with my camera.
Not only she loved it, she became instantly comfortable with it. So, here are some pictures my friend Suzanne took.

 

Measuring flour

Measuring flour

Pour it!!!

Pour it!!!

Fruit plates:)

Fruit plates:)

so pretty!

so pretty!

Ready to eat woohoo!!!

Ready to eat woohoo!!!

Chocolate Chip Addition
Chocolate Chip Addition

Later on we decided that we need some choc chip kick in our waffles and made whole lotta  waffles woozing with melted chocolate chips. They were absolutely gorgeous.

Waffle parties are so much fun compared to the amount of effort you put into it. You prepare the batter 30 min.before, slice up some fruits, buy some maple syrop and you are good to go. Moreover, these waffles make everyone feel like they are at a cool breakfast restaurant. Only better:) I know that there are some waffle irons that are inexpensive. I’ve had three waffle irons so far including this one. The two before were round belgium irons. They were good but I love this cuisineart iron so much. It can feed 4 people at a time so it is absolutely perfect for parties. I like my waffles brown, so I usually set the browning setting quite high and it works perfectly. Anyway, I wanted to share some of the fun I had over the weekend. I hope you enjoyed the pictures:)

Peanut butter, chocolate-y bliss

Exquisite.
Exquisite.
Nicely piled.

Nicely piled.

Duke loves peanut butter; he eats it twice a day and so do I.

Peanut butter is one of several weakest points in my everyday diet.  It is healthy; however, I have gone through far too many peanut butter jars in my past that I would be at least 5 pounds lighter if I were to eliminate all the PB I’ve eaten from my system. I would always keep a jar of PB handy in my dorm room during school year and  spread it on toasts, put it in lattes, oatmeals, fruits, but most of times just eat it in spoonfuls. And yes, my final exam stress would translate into many empty PB jars.

When I go grocery shopping, I always look for peanut butters and see if there are any new brands that I want to try. I think it is time that everyone diverted from the traditional Kraft PB: Look for all-natural ones. They are full of intense flavour, stickier texture in a very appetizing way, and smells nicer.  Every natural PB is slightly different from each other. Some are granier, some chewier, creamier, sweeter, etc. You just have to look for the “right-fit” to your mood and taste. And boy do I love that adventure!

But one activity that propels me towards the original PB is when I make these chocolate peanut butter squares becasue you want that sweet and salty taste in your squares, nicely combined with a whole lotta  chocolate chips!

These PB squares are ultimate and complete in every sense. The recipe is from one of my close girlfriends from high school. Whenever we (eight girls!) had sleepover at her house, we could always expect these PB squares to be with us in the basement. It’s sort of a tradition she established and it’s my favourite tradition.

Even my sister who does not care for peanut butter or chocolate approves this blissful creation.

So go ahead and make them. They are great for bakesales and sleepover and everyone will love them!

Oatmeal cookie mixture:
1 cup margerine or butter, softened
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
Peanut butter layer:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp butter, softened
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
Chocolate layer:
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (can substitute carob chips)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Oatmeal cookie mixture: Beat the margerine or butter with sugars until creamy. Add the eggs, milk and vanilla and beat well. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, oats, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until blended (no need to overmix).Crumble half of the cookie mixture into a greased glass 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Lightly press the mixture to spread it evenly, then pat down.
Peanut butter layer: Mix together all of the ingredients for the peanut butter layer until well blended. Drop all of this mixture by spoonfuls on top of the cookie layer, spreading it evenly. This is a very sticky process! Lightly press the peanut butter mixture into place by hand – you will need to wet your hands to keep the mixture from sticking to you, but a little water won’t hurt the bar!
Chocolate layer: Spread the chocolate chips evenly over the peanut butter layer.
Finish by crumbling the remaining half of the cookie mixture over the chocolate layer, gently pressing it into place. You will probably need to wet your hands for this layer too!
Bake at 350 F for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, depending on your oven and the level of chewiness you prefer. Cool, then cut into squares. Lift them out of the pan with a metal spatula.Makes 18 to 24 squares.

My Friend Kristen’s Peanut Butter Squares

Ingredients

Oatmeal cookie mixture:

  • 1 cup margerine or butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt (optional)

Peanut butter layer:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter

Chocolate layer:

  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (can substitute carob chips)

Direction

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Oatmeal cookie mixture: Beat the margerine or butter with sugars until creamy. Add the eggs, milk and vanilla and beat well. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, oats, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until blended (no need to overmix).Crumble half of the cookie mixture into a greased glass 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Lightly press the mixture to spread it evenly, then pat down.
  3. Peanut butter layer: Mix together all of the ingredients for the peanut butter layer until well blended. Drop all of this mixture by spoonfuls on top of the cookie layer, spreading it evenly. This is a very sticky process! Lightly press the peanut butter mixture into place by hand – you will need to wet your hands to keep the mixture from sticking to you, but a little water won’t hurt the bar!
  4. Chocolate layer: Spread the chocolate chips evenly over the peanut butter layer.
  5. Finish by crumbling the remaining half of the cookie mixture over the chocolate layer, gently pressing it into place. You will probably need to wet your hands for this layer too!
  6. Bake at 350 F for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, depending on your oven and the level of chewiness you prefer. Cool, then cut into squares. Lift them out of the pan with a metal spatula.Makes 18 to 24 squares.



Morning Challah Bread

People ask me since when I started baking. It was the summer of 2006 just before I was going into Gr.11.

I do not remember exactly what prompted me to bake. All I remember is my first attempt at making plain biscuits after I read a recipe from a blog. I put in too much baking soda that it was inedible.  My mom used to bake donuts, cut-out cookies, and cakes for us when my sister and I were young. However, as we got older, and as we moved to Canada, baking in my house was pretty rare.

I will write about how my baking has progressed over the last three years in another post. Long story short, this journey that I started with couple of strong soda-tasted biscuits evolved to the point where I asked a bread machine for my 17th birthday.

But for some reason, I rarely had success in baking plain loaves of bread. The dough would be either too sticky or too dry. Some people talk about it as it is the easiest thing in the world- “why, you just put all the ingredients and press start on the machine!” but it was never easy for me. I was never really sure if my loaf will turn out okay or be a complete disaster.

Same was the case of this morning. I was reading some of the blog posts and read about this amazing recipe for Challah bread from AllRecipe.com. AllRecipe is great because of the number of comments and testimonies posted for each recipe. This definitely increases the chance of success!

According to Wikipedia, Challah is a “special braided bread eaten by Ashkenazi and by most Sephardic Jewson the Sabbath and holidays.” It is rather rich because the recipe calls for butter and a large number of eggs. Although this particular recipe only requires two eggs, the resulting bread was very dense, chewy and rich.

Challah- so beautiful

Challah- so beautiful

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons margarine
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Direction

  1. Add ingredients to the pan of the bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer.
  2. Select Basic Bread and Light Crust settings. Start.

Instead of baking the bread in the machine, I took it out after the first rise and braided it in six strands, watching the following video clip from YouTube: Braiding a Six Strand Challah at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22p3wIHLupc

As usual, I gave it a second rise of 50 min and baked it for 30 min at 350 degree oven.

The bread turned out fantastic. I would not have asked for a better recipe.

I can imagine myself making this bread many, many times in the future and perfect my skills.

Apple-pear crumble pie

My sister had a barbeque party this past weekend.
I love having guests over as that is my chance to experiment with many recipes from my archive without waste. For my little brother’s friends, I tend to make a lot of bars or cookies with ample chocolate and peanut butter, not so much different for my big sister. Therefore, I was going for another chocolatey recipe and at the last moment, I changed my mind as soon as I came across this super-easy recipe from Craft.

It is called an apple-pear crumble.
Luckily I had most of the ingredients on hands. Well, I guess that is why I chose this over other myriad ones:) Also, it was a beautiful summer day and I needed something fruity to complement the night for my sister and her guests!

It was a big hit, no, a HUGE hit. It was gone in no time and my sister was incredulous at how much her friends loved thsi dessert. It is not too sweet yet the natural sweetness of apple and pear with the cinnamon-ey crumb, enhanced by the subtle richness of the cream cheese base makes it a perfect finish for barbeque!

I am not proficient at making pie crust yet (J’m working on it!!!) so I used the store-bought pie crust, which saved a lot of time.

Sometimes I get annoyed by all those recipes from the Craft magazine that call for hundreds of their products. But a lot of them are so simple to make and taste good! What more would you want from recipes?

Enjoy this light fruit pie! It’s a must-try and I loved it so much that I intend to make another one tomorrow for my collegues at work.

 

Apple-Pear Crumble Pie
From Craft Magazine
Makes 10 servings

  • 3/4 cup crushed wafer cookies (about 24 wafers – Nilla Wafers are suggested)
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 ready-to-use refrigerated pie crust (1/2 of 15 oz pkg)
  • 4 oz (1/2 of 8 oz pkg) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 large baking apples, peeled, sliced
  • 1 large pear, peeled, sliced
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups thawed whipped topping
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Mix wafer crumbs, brown sugar and butter until well blended; set aside. 
  2. Place pie crust in 9-inch pie plate.  Spread cream cheese carefully onto bottom of crust; sprinkle with half of the crumb mixture.  Set aside.  Combine fruit in large bowl.  Add granulated sugar, flour and cinnamon; toss to coat.  Spoon over crumb layer in pie crust; sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. 
  3. Bake 35 minutes or until fruit is tender and crust is lightly browned, covering loosely with foil after 25 minutes if necessary to prevent crust from overbrowning.  Cool on wire rack.  Serve with the whipped topping.  Store any leftovers in refrigerator. 

Substitute: Try ground ginger in place of ground cinnamon.

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

I believe that it is very very HARD not to like maple syrup. It makes a perfect paring for just about anything from pancakes, waffles, cakes, cream..to just eating by itself.
Then, I came across this recipe at Nook & Pantry, rather I just saw the picture of these beautiful carrot muffins. They are topped with maple cream cheese frosting.
Here you can find the recipe.

I didn’t make any alteration to the cake and it really came out nicely.
The only problem to this cake (at least to my taste) was the icing. It somehow required more…sugar.
Yes, I guess I could have added more maple syrup. However, I was afraid that the icing would turn out too thin. Next time, I would add icing sugar to this as well as maple syrup.

Other than that, I recommend this carrot muffins to those carrot cake and maple syrup lovers!
Your family will love it:) ENJOY!