Monthly Archives: March 2017

Spring Chocolate Pudding 

Spring is finally finally here ! It’s been a long time ! Even the cherry blossoms think so, they’ve been waiting to bloom and shine !  I used to garden a lot more, but ever since I have kids, I’ve been too busy growing two little humans and kind of abandoned my garden. This year, I want to at least plant some herbs, so I got some basil and cilantro seeds the other day and just put them in a couple of small pots. Well, I have to wait a while before my herbs grow.  So meanwhile, I made these cute little pudding pots to enjoy. They look very realistic !  And I was so happy that I could shoot the pictures in my backyard with some sunshine ! They would make a fun little snack for the kids at Easter ! Try to pick strawberries that are smaller and longer in shape so they would look more like little carrots.  

Makes about 6-8 servings 

For the candy coated strawberries

  • 180 g orange candy melts 
  • 5-10 mL vegetable oil
  • 8-10 strawberries (at room temperature)
  1. Wash and dry strawberries leaving the stems on 
  2. Melt candy melts in the microwave or over a double boiler according to package instructions 
  3. Add 5-10 mL of vegetable oil to achieve desired consistency if needed 
  4. Coat strawberries with candy melts, tap off excess, be careful not to break the stems 
  5. Place on a tray lined with parchment paper 
  6. Pour remaining candy melts into a piping bag 
  7. Cut a small hole at the end of piping bag 
  8. Drizzle over dried, coated strawberries 

For the chocolate pudding 

    • 30 g unsweetened cocoa powder 
    • 75 g granulated sugar 
    • 30 g cornstarch 
    • Pinch of salt 
    • 500 mL milk (whole or 2%)
    • 120 g semi-sweet chocolate chips 
    • 5 mL pure vanilla extract 

You would also need 8 regular-sized Oreo cookies for topping

      1. In a non-stick pot, mix together cocoa powder, sugar, cornstarch, salt
      2. Gradually stir in milk 
      3. Place over medium heat, stirring continuously until starting to bubble   
      4. Add chocolate chips, stir until thickened and chocolate all melted
      5. Remove from heat, mix in vanilla extract 
      6. Spoon into containers, let cool and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours (a skin will form on top of pudding, but that’s OK, as we will put crushed Oreo on top)

To assemble pudding, crushed Oreo into small pieces, put on top of pudding, place a coated “carrot” on top 

Candy coated strawberries recipe adapted from lifemadesimplebakes.com

Purple Yam Bread 

I love to make bread ! Yes, it takes time and patience, but it’s totally worth it. The smell of fresh bread is just so satisfying ! It makes your home feels……more homey ?! …..Does this even make sense?? I used to make the dough in a mixer, but not anymore. Mixing it with hand is actually easier, and your dough will be more even. I was really pleased with how this bread turned out. It’s sweet, tasty and it’s in my favourite colour… purple ! 

Two years ago, when my daughter was in grade 2, her teacher invited a chef/educator to teach the kids about food and how to make bread from scratch. I was one of the volunteer parents and that class was so fun ! The kids were super cute and hilarious. Some of them, like my daughter, jumped right into the “mess” , others were not too sure, frowning and saying “eew ! ” and “that’s gross !” the whole time. But at the end, when they tasted their own bread, they were all very delighted !  I think teaching kids about food and cooking at a young age is very important. It helps them (and ourselves) develop skills and healthy eating habits which hopefully last a lifetime. I have to admit, I am not doing enough. There were times when I should have cooked, but ended up just ordering take-out or “cooking” some frozen food. Well, as I told my kids, I am always teaching them and learning with them at the same time……So, mommy needs to do some more homework and learn how to cook healthier and more delicious meals! 

Makes 4 mini loaves (dimensions of pan: 5.75 x 3.25 x 2.25 inches)

For the yam paste

  • 4 medium purple yam
  • 60 mL milk
  • 30 mL condensed milk
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Wash and cut yams in halves
  3. Bake on a tray lined with parchment paper for about 45 minutes until fork tender
  4. Cool and peel skin off
  5. In a food processor or blender, blend yam, milk and condensed milk into a paste
  6. Keep in fridge until ready to use

For the bread dough

  • 540 g bread flour
  • 4 g instant yeast
  • 5 g granulated sugar
  • 250 mL milk
  • 60 mL honey
  • 1 egg
  • 30 mL vegetable oil
  • 3 g salt

You will also need 1 egg for brushing top of bread

  1. Dissolve sugar in warm milk, add yeast and let sit for about 5 minutes until frothy
  2. Put flour and salt in a big mixing bowl, gradually mix in 1 egg, yeast mixture, honey and oil with hands until dough starts to form
  3. Transfer to a floured surface, knead until smooth and stretchy
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double in size, about 1-2 hours (You can speed up the process by putting it in a not-heated oven with a small pot of hot water on the lower rack. The moist and warm environment makes the dough rise quicker)
  5. Punch air out, cut dough into 4 equal pieces (about 250g each)
  6. Roll each dough flat, spread a layer of yam paste on top 
  7. Roll doughs up with yam paste inside 
  8. Seal openings by pinching edges together 
  9. Place each dough separately in lightly greased and floured mini loaf pans
  10. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again for another hour 
  11. Preheat oven to 350ºF
  12. Score top of doughs with knife or scissors 
  13. Brush top with egg wash
  14. Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes until golden

Tools that I used 

Chicago Metallic 59440 Commercial II Non-Stick Mini Loaf Pans, Set of 4

You can get the mini loaf pans through the Amazon website by clicking the above link. I will receive a small compensation if you purchase the item. 

Frozen Banana Pops

I love bake, cook or do crafts with my kids whenever they are free, especially my daughter. Spring break is here and it’s a perfect time to have some fun together.  I love to do them with my son too, but I think he has “outgrown” that stage…Well, he would still cook some noodles for himself as he loves them. These banana pops are super easy and they made a great healthy snack. It can get a little messy with the melted chocolate but that’s the best part mom, right ?!  Our favourite topping is the maple roasted pecans,  you can find the recipe here…..Carrot Spelt Muffins with Maple Roasted Pecans

Makes about 12-16 pops

  • 300 g semi-sweet or dark chocolate 
  • 3-4 bananas (Do not use bananas that are too ripe, otherwise they will be too soft to work with)
  • Toppings of choice (sprinkles, roasted nuts, shredded coconut, etc) 
  1. Place toppings in separate dishes 
  2. Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water, cool slightly 
  3. Slice bananas into big chunks 
  4. With the help of a fork, coat banana chunks with melted chocolate, tap off excess 
  5. Roll in desired toppings 
  6. Place on a tray lined with parchment paper 
  7. Insert popcicle sticks 
  8. Freeze until frozen 

Checkerboard Cookies 

Making these checkerboard cookies may seem complicated, but once you made the dough, it’s pretty easy. It’s a fun recipe to get the kids involved. They can help measure and assemble. They can also make them in other patterns, like pinwheels or stripes. It’s like playing with clay or play dough, and they can learn about math and geometry at the same time !  (Another reason for me to bake more, yeah !) You can freeze the dough logs for up to 1 month, so you can have freshly baked cookies whenever you want ! 

Makes about 16 checkerboard cookies

For the vanilla dough

  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 150 cake and pastry flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the chocolate dough

  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 140 g cake and pastry flour
  • 10 g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

You will also need 1 egg white for assembling cookies

  1. Mix together cold butter and sugar using a wooden spoon until no more lumps
  2. Add egg yolk and vanilla, mix until blended
  3. Add flour and salt (and cocoa powder for the chocolate dough) all at once, mix with the wooden spoon, then transfer onto a table or counter and gently knead dough together (just work until ingredients are mixed in)
  4. Wrap with plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours or overnight
  5. Knead dough until pliable
  6. Roll out 2/3 of each dough to about 0.8-1 cm in thickness 
  7. Cut into 0.8-1 cm wide strips and assemble into checkerboard pattern, brush egg white between pieces to help sticking 
  8. Roll out remaining 1/3 of each dough to about 3 mm in thickness
  9. Brush with egg white and wrap sheets around checkerboard logs 
  10. Trim off excess dough.
  11. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours  
  12. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325ºF 
  13. Cut cookies and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper
  14. Bake for 8-10 minutes 

Notes: The dough scraps can be re-rolled, but not more than twice or it may crack. You can also gather them together, roll into a log and make some marble cookies! 

Originally recipe by Chef Marco Ropke at the Vancouver Pastry Training Centre 

Matcha (Green Tea) Mousse Cake

I wish Spring is here soon ! Our winter here in the west coast has been pretty cold and snowy. Well, I guess I shouldn’t complain, the kids did have a lot of fun playing in the snow and compare to many other places in Canada, this is very mild. To welcome Spring and St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I should make something green. And of course matcha is the first thing that comes to mind. This recipe is what I call a 2-in-1. The mousse cake has two parts, but each of them can be a dessert on its own ! You can use the cake batter to make cupcakes or mini loaves.  And for the mousse, you can pour it into nice little bowls and refrigerate, which is exactly what I did with the leftover !

Matcha (Green Tea) Mousse

Matcha (Green Tea) Mousse

For the mousse cake itself, I made one layer of each, but you can definitely stack them in multiple layers if you like. I also added some chopped dark chocolate on top but it’s optional, cause I believe everything (almost everything) tastes better with chocolate ! And hopefully this Spring dessert can bring some warm weather soon ! 

Matcha (Green Tea) Mousse Cake

Makes one 6-inch cake

For the cake

  • 4 large eggs (separated)
  • 120 g granulated sugar (20 g for meringue)
  • 75 g cake and pastry flour
  • 5 g matcha (green tea) powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice 
  1. To make the cake, preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Lightly grease an 8″ x 10″ x 1″ baking tray and line bottom with parchment paper
  3. Sift together flour and matcha powder, set aside
  4. In a mixing bowl, beat together egg yolks and 100 g of sugar until pale
  5. Add vanilla and the flour mixture, mix until blended
  6. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer with whisk attachment, whisk egg whites and lemon juice until frothy
  7. Increase speed to high and slowly add in 20 g of sugar
  8. Whisk until medium peak is formed
  9. Gently fold meringue into cake batter, 1/3 at a time, do not over mix
  10. Pour into baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes
  11. Let cool completely, then cut into a round disc to fit cake mould (I used a cake ring, so I just cut it with the ring)Matcha (Green Tea) Mousse Cake

For the mousse

  • 500 mL whipping cream (cold)
  • 250 mL milk (preferably whole milk)
  • 120 g granulated sugar
  • 15 g matcha powder
  • 10 g gelatin powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Chill the mixing bowl in the fridge for at least 30 minutes
  2. Sprinkle gelatin over about 1/4 cup of milk and let sit for a few minutes to bloom
  3. Heat and stir remaining milk, sugar and matcha powder in a pot over medium heat until sugar melted and just starting to bubble
  4. Add gelatin mixture, stir until all dissolved
  5. Turn heat off, add vanilla 
  6. Strain mixture through a fine mesh and let cool to room temperature
  7. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment and the chilled mixing bowl, beat cold whipping cream until medium peak is formed
  8. Gently fold the whipped cream into milk mixture, 1/3 at a time, do not over mix

To assemble

  1. Place a lightly greased cake ring on a tray lined with parchment paper
  2. Place cake disc (smooth side down) at the bottom
  3. Pour mousse on top of cake and smooth top with a spatula 
  4. Refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours to set
  5. Sprinkle top with finely chopped dark chocolate (optional)

NotesIf you have trouble removing the ring, you can freeze the cake for about 1-2 hours, put a knife or an angled spatula in hot water, wipe dry, then run it around the cakeMatcha (Green Tea) Mousse Cake