Monthly Archives: December 2015

Sparkling Jello

New Year is just 3 days away !  My daughter said I have to make something festive to celebrate. Last week, I came across a champagne and vodka jello recipe on Pinterest. Well…. I don’t drink and I can’t make something alcoholic for my kids, so I used Sprite instead and added some frozen berries to make it more colourful.  You can use any kind of clear carbonated drink you like.  Have a Happy New Year !

Makes about 12-16 mini jello cups, about 50 mL each

  • 2 envelopes or tablespoons unflavoured gelatin powder
  • 2 cups carbonated drink of choice (cold)
  • 200 mL water
  • 1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar if needed to adjust sweetness
  • Frozen berries, mangoes, or other fruits for decoration
  1. Sprinkle 2 envelopes of gelatin over 100 mL of water, let sit for a few minutes
  2. Add sugar to remaining water and heat until just boiled
  3. Pour hot water into gelatin mixture, stir until all dissolved
  4. Add carbonated drink, stir to mix, then pour into jello cups or bowls
  5. Add a few small pieces of frozen fruits to decorate
  6. Wrap and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours or overnight

 

 

 

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Cake Pops

This was another fun project that I did with my daughter.  She helped me make the cake balls and decorate them.  I am not a good artist, so I really admire bakers that can make beautiful and amazing cake pops, cookies and cakes.  This is just the basic recipe, you can decorate any way your imagination takes you !

To make cake pops, you need to prepare the cake, the frosting and the coating. You would also need cake pop sticks and a cake pop stand of or a styrofoam block for drying.   

Makes about 30 cake pops

For the cake

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1+1/3 cup self-rising flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 90 mL milk

For the frosting

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 120 gm cream cheese
  • 1+1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the coating

  • 24 ounces candy melts or chocolate
  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil if using candy melts

To make the cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF
  2. Sift self-rising flour
  3. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment,  cream butter and sugar until fluffy
  4. Add eggs, vanilla and milk
  5. Add flour in 2-3 portions, mix until blended
  6. Bake in muffin tins for about 20 minutes (toothpick should come out clear when inserted in the middle)
  7. Let cake cool completely

I used muffin tins because the cake would bake more evenly and it would take less time.  You can use a loaf pan, but bake it for about 35-40 minutes.

To make the frosting

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese together
  2. Add vanilla, then icing sugar in 2-3 portions
  3. Mix until smooth

To prepare the cake balls

  1. When the cake is completely cooled, break the cake into fine crumbs with fork or fingers
  2. Gradually add frosting, a couple of tablespoons at a time, mix and knead until you can roll mixture into balls
  3. Roll cake mixture into small balls, place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge for at least about 30 minutes

Meanwhile, start preparing the coating

To make the coating

  1. Melt candy melts or chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water 
  2. Stir in a little vegetable oil, if using candy melts,to get desired consistency and to make coating shiny

Finally ! To assemble the cake pops

  1. Dip cake pop sticks into coating about 1 inch deep
  2. Insert coated sticks into cake balls (you may need to gently reshape them into balls)
  3. Dip into coating, covering the whole cake pop
  4. Gently tap off excess coating
  5. Decorate with sprinkles while coating is still wet
  6. Stand them into a cake pop stand or a styrofoam block to dry

Orange Cranberry Cookie Bites

These cookies can be a delicious Christmas treat or you can have them anytime of the year! They have a rich butter flavour with a delightful orange taste.

Makes about 18-20 cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar + more for dusting
  • 1+1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 self rising flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon pure orange extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF
  2. Sift together flour, self-rising flour and salt, set aside
  3. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  4. Add orange juice,orange and vanilla extract
  5. Add flour mixture in 2-3 portions, mix until blended, scraping sides and bottom of mixing bowl
  6. Stir in orange zest and cranberries
  7. Spoon about 1 tablespoon each of dough and roughly shape into balls
  8. Place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, about 2 inches apart
  9. Bake for about 12 minutes, then decrease temperature to 325ºF and bake for about 10 minutes
  10. Cool on cookie sheets for about 5 minutes, then completely on rack
  11. Dust with icing sugar when completely cooled

I shape the cookies into bite sized balls.  You can also shape them in bigger balls and flatten gently with a fork.

Gingerbread Cookies

Every Christmas gingerbread cookie is at the top of my baking list.  The kids love to make and eat them.  My daughter and I spent a whole Sunday morning decorating them.  We had so much fun!

Makes about 24, depending on size of cookies
Total time = 90 minutes

For the cookies

  • 2+1/4 cake and pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup fancy molasses
  • 1 egg
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and the 4 spices, set aside
  3. Using and electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until fluffy
  4. Add egg and molasses, mix until blended
  5. Add flour mixture in 2-3 portions, mix until dough starting to form
  6. Transfer dough to a floured surface, press together to form a ball
  7. Wrap with plastic wrap and put in fridge for about 1 hour for easy handling
  8. On a floured surface, roll dough into about 1/8″ thickness, cut with cookie cutters. 
  9. Gather dough scraps together, roll out and cut into shapes again
  10. Place cookies on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper
  11. Bake for about 8 minutes
  12. Cool on cookie sheets for about 10 minutes them completely on rack
  13. Decorate with icing and candies when completely cooled

For the icing

  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 4 teaspoons corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons water
  • food coloring for icing
  1. Sift icing sugar
  2. Add milk, corn syrup and vanilla
  3. Add water, a few drops at a time to get the desired consistency
  4. Add food coloring
  5. Mix until smooth

Use a thicker icing to outline the borders, let dry, then use a thinner icing for the middle.  The icing is almost transparent, so you will need to add white food coloring to make it white.

Peppermint Chocolate Cups

These cute chocolate cups are perfect for a party dessert or as Christmas gifts and they are so easy to make.  You can put them in any moulds you want and decorate them.

Makes about 12 mini cups

  • 12 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate
  • 5 drops peppermint oil
  • 6 mini candy canes
  1. Melt chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water at medium heat
  2. When chocolate is melted, remove from hot water, add peppermint oil, stir until smooth
  3. Spoon or pour into silicone moulds
  4. Let cool for about 30 minutes
  5. Crush candy canes and sprinkle on top of chocolate
  6. Cool until completely set, remove from moulds

Chocolate Macarons

Macacron is one of the trickiest recipe I have ever made. My first time was a disaster ! The shells were flat and stuck to the cookie sheets ! The color was dull and uneven. After reading many many recipes and trying a number of times, I finally succeed ! It helps if you plan and organize what you need before you start. Here are some tips:

  1. Some recipes recommend aging the egg whites, I tried both aging and using them straight from the shells and didn’t really notice a big difference. One important thing though, they must be at room temperature before whisking.
  2. Colouring can be tricky. I just used cocoa powder here. If you want other colours, do not add the cocoa powder and add colouring powder or paste.
  3. Prepare the piping bag, line a medium bowl with the bag. This helps to pour the batter into the bag.
  4. Print or draw some circles on a piece of paper, about 1+1/2 inch in diameter, place it underneath the parchment paper on the cookie sheet to help piping the batter. Just make sure you remove it before baking.
  5. For easy fillings, you can use Nutella or any kind of jam.

Makes about 12 macarons

  • 3/4 cup icing sugar
  • 100 g finely ground almond
  • 1+1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 75 g egg whites (from 2 large or 3 small eggs)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Powder or paste food coloring if desired
  • Fruit jam (I used raspberry jam) or Nutella for fillings
  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF
  2. Sift ground almond, icing sugar and cocoa powder
  3. Using an electric mixer with whisk attachment, whisk egg whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until frothy
  4. Add sugar slowly
  5. Increase speed to high, whisk until a stiff peak is formed (the meringue at the tip of the whisk should be glossy and won’t drip back)
  6. Gently and quickly, fold in almond mixture in 2-3 portions until just blended, don’t over mix (batter should flow like lava)
  7. Pour mixture in a piping bag with 3/8″ round tip
  8. Pipe batter into circles on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, about 1+1/2 inch in diameter and 2 inches apart
  9. Tap cookie sheets on counter a couple of times to remove air bubbles
  10. Let sit at room temperature for at least about 30 minutes (remember to remove paper with pre-printed circles)
  11. Bake for about 8 minutes
  12. Let cool for 5-10 minutes on cookie sheets then completely on rack
  13. Sandwich with your favourite fillings

Peppermint Mocha

I love my coffee. Not only because I need a little caffeine boost, I actually love the aroma of it. But it can get costly if I have to buy a coffee everyday, especially the fancy ones. Why not try making them at home! It maybe easier than you think! This peppermint mocha is just in time for the holiday season too!

Makes 2 servings
Total time = 10 minutes

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee
  • 2 -3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream and crushed candy cane for topping
  1. Heat milk in a non-stick pot over medium heat
  2. Stir in cocoa powder, coffee and sugar until dissolved, turn heat off
  3. Add peppermint and vanilla extract
  4. Top with whipped cream and crushed candy cane if desired