No Bake Chocolate Cheesecake 

Baking is one of my favourite things to do. But when it’s so hot outside, even the most devoted baker needs a break ! So I made these no bake cheesecake jars the other day. They are creamy, chocolaty, yummy and super easy to do ! 

As a food blogger, I am constantly looking for props that I can use without spending too much. Plates, cups, cutlery, baking tools, towels, etc. So, kitchenware stores, thrift stores, dollar stores and garage sales have become my favourite places to hang out. And I get super excited when I can reuse or recycle ! It’s like doing a makeover ! These cute little jars were containers of some petit pot yoghurts that I bought. They are perfect for individual desserts ! My only complain…..they’re too petit ! Cause these cheesecakes are so delicious and one is not enough !  

Makes about 8 servings

  • 12-15 graham crackers (or other cookies of choice)
  • 45 g unsalted butter,melted 
  • 120 g semi-sweet or dark chocolate, plus more for garnish 
  • 200 g cream cheese 
  • 120 g icing sugar, sifted  
  • 5 mL pure vanilla extract 
  • 240 mL cold heavy whipping cream 
  1. Crush graham crackers into crumbs and mix in melted butter 
  2. Spoon into containers, press down gently and refrigerate for later use 
  3. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave, cool slightly 
  4. Place one small mixing bowl in the freezer for about 20 minutes (for making whipped cream)
  5. In another mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla until smooth
  6. Add in melted chocolate, set aside
  7. In the cold mixing bowl, beat 120 mL of the cream until medium peak 
  8. Gently fold into the chocolate cream cheese until just combined 
  9. Spoon or pipe on top of graham cracker base (refrigerate if not serving right away)
  10. Just before serving, whip remaining cream to garnish, top with chopped chocolate 
Advertisements

Blueberry Galette 

Can’t believe summer is half-way through already ! I have been really busy, driving the kids around to different activities, keeping them occupied. If you are a parent, you would know, summer is actually busier than school days ! But they are having so much fun…..swimming, trampoline park, bowling, sleep over…..Although I am exhausted at the end of the day, seeing their happy faces makes it all worth it. Hey, kids are supposed to sleep in, play lots and eat lots during the summer, right ? With all the activities, meal times for us may not always be as regular and as healthy as I’d like. To balance that out, I make sure I stock lots of fruits at home. Luckily my kids are not picky eaters and love the summer fruits…blueberries, cherries, watermelon, peaches, etc.  And of course I use them to make desserts, like this blueberry galette. It’s basically a rustic blueberry pie and you don’t need to worry about making the crust neat and tidy. It makes a perfect summer dessert with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream !

Makes one galette

For the crust 

  • 90 g unsalted butter (cut into small pieces and chilled)
  • 100 mL ice-cold water
  • 200 g cake and pastry flour, sifted
  • 15 g granulated sugar
  • 2.5 g salt

For the filling 

  • 200 g fresh blueberries 
  • 30 g granulated sugar 
  • 7.5 mL lemon juice 
  • Zest of 1/2 small lemon 
  • 7.5 g cornstarch 
  • 10 g graham cracker crumbs 
  1. To make the crust, combine flour,sugar and salt
  2. Rub in chilled butter with hands until resemble coarse crumbs, there should be pea-sized lumps of butter
  3. Add cold water and mix until dough just starting to form
  4. Transfer to a lightly floured surface, and press dough together (Do not knead)
  5. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight (I actually doubled the amount of ingredients and kept half of the dough in the freezer for later) 
  6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375°F 
  7. Gently mix blueberries with sugar,lemon juice, lemon zest and cornstarch 
  8. Let sit for about 10 minutes 
  9. Roll dough out to about 0.5 cm in thickness 
  10. Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs in the middle leaving about 5 cm from the edge, the crumbs help to prevent a soggy crust 
  11. Spoon filling on top  
  12. Fold and pleat edges over part of the filling
  13. Brush edges with water and sprinkle with vanilla sugar or granulated sugar 
  14. Bake for about 60 minutes until golden and filling is bubbling (you can cover it with aluminium foil for the last 15 to 20 minutes to prevent crust from getting too brown)
  15. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream 

Peanut Butter Nice Cream Sandwiches

Summer is always busy for me….working, driving the kids, getting together with friends and relatives, etc. But it seems like everything I do revolve around food or desserts…..snacks, lunches, picnics, BBQ’s. Making something that are easy and healthy would be great when I am running a tight schedule. These Peanut Butter Nice Cream Sandwiches are super simple and most of us probably have all the ingredients at home already. Nice cream is a much healthier alternative to ice cream using frozen bananas. I added peanut butter, but there are many variations you can do, like cocoa powder, chocolate chips, berries, nuts, etc. You can also use other cookies or crackers for the sandwiches. Don’t think that you have to compromise on taste by making a healthier dessert because they are really really yummy ! They didn’t last long at all in my house !

Makes 12 sandwiches  

  • 4 ripe bananas 
  • 100 g smooth peanut butter 
  • 30 mL milk (or you can use almond or coconut milk) 
  • 24 squares graham crackers 
  • 60 g melted chocolate for drizzling (optional)
  1. Peel and cut banana into small pieces 
  2. Freeze for 3-4 hours or overnight 
  3. Lay half of the graham crackers on a square or rectangular pan lined with parchment paper 
  4. In a food processor or blender, blend together frozen bananas, peanut butter and milk until smooth 
  5. Spoon on top of graham crackers in pan, smooth evenly with a spatula 
  6. Arrange the other graham crackers on top
  7. Freeze until set 
  8. Cut into squares and top with melted chocolate or other toppings as desired 

Mango Pudding 

Mango Pudding ! One of my favourite Asian desserts and it’s surprisingly easy to make ! Many recipes that I found use mango-flavoured jello, but I think it tastes much better with fresh mango puree and it has no artificial colours or flavours. The two common types of mango that are seen in grocery stores here in Vancouver are Haden and Atualfo. Haden has bright orange and yellow colour and is more round in shape. Ataulfo, which I used, is yellow and skinnier. You can use either type for the pudding, I am just more used to Ataulfo. One fun thing about making pudding is you can make it into any shape you want ! Put it in a fancy glass like I did, or in some flower-shaped silicone moulds. It makes a nice dessert for summer or any parties ! Enjoy ! 

  • 200 g fresh mango, pitted and diced (about 2 medium-sized mangoes)
  • 240 mL whipping cream 
  • 1 envelope of gelatin powder (7 g)
  • 150 mL water (50 mL cold, 100 mL boiling)
  • 60 g granulated sugar (adjust to taste)
  1. Puree mangoes and press through a fine mesh with a spatula 
  2. Mix puree into whipping cream until blended, set aside 
  3. Put gelatin powder in about 50 mL of cold water to bloom
  4. Dissolve sugar in 100 mL of boiling water 
  5. Add bloomed gelatin to sugar-water, stir until all dissolved then let cool to room temperature 
  6. Mix together mango mixture and gelatin mixture 
  7. Pour into desired containers and refrigerate until set 

Maple Cookies for Canada 150 

Yesterday was the last day of school and my son just graduated from elementary school ! Time really flies ! It seems like my little boy has turned into a young man overnight. I still remember his first day of preschool. He was a little scared and worried and so was I. 10 years later, he has become a positive, energetic young man eagerly entering a new stage of his life. I am 10 years older, still a little worried about what’s ahead of him. I encourage him to be kind and genuine, and try his best in everything he does. At the same time, I feel that I am growing and learning together with him, how to be a better person, a better mother……I found this quote for him and myself from Dr. Seuss, ” You’re off to great places, today is your day. Your mountain is waiting, so….. get on your way !” ……Okay, it’s time to get back to baking, otherwise I am going to cry….in a happy way.

This year is very special for all Canadians, it’s Canada 150th birthday ! There are celebrations all over the country. In our area, we have the Steveston’s Salmon Festival, concerts, ship boarding, fireworks and lots of food of course ! It’s going to be so much fun ! I am showing my Canadian spirit with these Maple Cookies ! Not only are they in the shape of a maple leaf, they are made with maple syrup ! Happy Birthday Canada !   

Makes about 16 depending on size

For the cookies 

  • 120 g all-purpose flour
  • 120 g cake and pastry flour 
  • 1 g salt 
  • 120 g unsalted butter (slightly softened)
  • 60 g sugar 
  • 2 egg yolks 
  • 60 mL maple syrup 
  • 5 mL pure vanilla extract
  1. Sift together both flours and salt, set aside 
  2. Using a wooden spoon, mix butter and sugar until blended 
  3. Add egg yolks and vanilla, then maple syrup
  4. Mix in flour mixture, then transfer onto a table or counter and knead gently until dough just come together 
  5. Wrap with plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours or overnight
  6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325°F
  7. Roll dough flat to about 0.5 cm in thickness 
  8. Cut with cookie cutter, place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper 
  9. Bake for about 10 minutes 
  10. Cool completely before icing 

For the icing 

  • 45 g meringue powder
  • 500 g icing sugar, sifted 
  • Pinch of salt
  • 90 – 120 mL warm water
  • 5 mL pure vanilla extract
  • 10 mL corn syrup 
  • Gel food colouring
  1. Mix meringue powder with about 45 mL of water, let sit for a few minutes 
  2. Stir in vanilla and corn syrup 
  3. In another bowl, mix icing sugar and salt together 
  4. Whisk in meringue powder mixture using an electric mixer or a hand whisk 
  5. Slowly add in more warm water until shiny and desired consistency (thicker for outlining and thinner for filling)
  6. Add gel food colouring 


Classic Madeleines 

Madeleines are something that have been in my mind for a long time. These elegant looking mini cakes are so buttery and tasty. They are not difficult to make, you just need a little patience as both the batter and the molds have to be chilled before baking. And yes, you do have to buy the Madeleine pan to get that shell-liked shape, but for about $20-$30, it’s worth it. Well, I guess that’s from a baker’s point of view ! My kids often tell me I spend too much on my baking stuff, but hey, these are my toys, plus I don’t buy expensive clothes, handbags or jewellery like other people do ! Most importantly, I am doing something that makes me happy ! And when mom is happy, everyone’s happy ! 

Makes about 22-24 

  • 120 g unsalted butter + 30 g for greasing tray, melted 
  • 90 g all-purpose flour 
  • 90 g cake and pastry flour 
  • 3 g baking powder 
  • Pinch of salt
  • 150 g vanilla sugar or granulated sugar 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • Zest of one lemon 
  • 15 mL lemon juice 
  • 5 mL pure vanilla extract 
  • Icing sugar for dusting 
  1. Melt butter in a sauce pan or microwave, cool slightly 
  2. Brush madeleine moulds with about 30 g of melted butter, coat with flour, tapping off excess
  3. Place coated pan in freezer for at least one hour 
  4. Sift together flours, baking powder and salt, mix in sugar, set aside 
  5. Using an electric mixer, beat together eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla until frothy, about 5 minutes 
  6. Fold flour mixture into egg mixture 
  7. Gently mix in 120 g of melted (and cooled) butter, 2-3 tablespoons at a time until just blended 
  8. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight 
  9. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375°F
  10. Drop about 1 tablespoon of batter into each mould without spreading it out
  11. Place madeleine pan on another large baking tray and bake for about 12 minutes until edges are golden 
  12. Cool in moulds for a few minutes then completely on rack 
  13. Dust with icing sugar, best to eat within 2 days 

Recipe adapted from Mark Bittman, “How to Bake Everything” 

Tools and Books 


  
Chicago Metallic 26631 12-Cup Nonstick Madeleine Pan

How to Bake Everything: Simple Recipes for the Best Baking

You can get the Madeleine pan and the cookbook through the Amazon website by clicking the above link. I will receive a small compensation if you purchase the item. 

Buttermilk Scones and my day at Vista D’Oro Farm 

A couple of weeks ago, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I had the opportunity to participate in a jam making workshop at Vista D’Oro farm in Langley, B.C. It was organized by Appetite by Penguin Random House and Food Bloggers of Canada. Lee Murphy, the owner of the farm, also the author of the cookbook, The Preservatory, patiently taught us her techniques of making artisanal preserves from fresh fruits. We cooked and created some very special blueberry and rhubarb preserves. We then had a tour of the winery with Lee’s husband, Patrick, enjoyed some wine tasting and a yummy snack platter at the patio, with cheese, bread, sausages and jams of course ! It was a wonderful experience and we all went home with a big box full of jams and The Preservatory cookbook !

I also brought home with something else….. something that I saw in Lee and Patrick. It’s the love, the enthusiasm and the passion that they put into their farm, their preserves and their wine. And I truly think that’s what make their products unique. Being able to do what you love and love what you do is a blessing, and I think we should really embrace those opportunities in life and make the best out of them.

So……to make the best use of the jams I got, I made these buttermilk scones. They match perfectly with the fruit preserves. They taste best when they are fresh and warm. So if you cannot consume the whole batch, you can save part of the dough in the freezer.

Makes about 16 scones

  • 180 g all-purpose flour
  • 180 g cake and pastry flour
  • 15 g baking powder
  • 3 g baking soda
  • 1 g salt
  • 100 g vanilla sugar granulated sugar plus more for sprinkling
  • 120 g cold unsalted butter (cut or grate into small pieces)
  • 2 eggs (1 for dough, 1 for egg wash)
  • 150 mL buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt
  3. Mix in sugar
  4. Rub in cold butter with fingers until resembles coarse crumbs, there should be small lumps of butter in the dough
  5. Lightly beat 1 egg and buttermilk together and add to dry ingredients, mix until just combined 
  6. Transfer to a generously floured surface, gently knead and press until dough just come together, handle the dough as little as possible 
  7. Roll flat to about 1/2 inch in thickness
  8. Cut into discs, about 2 inches in diameter, and place on baking trays lined with parchment paper
  9. Beat the other egg with about 2 teaspoons of water 
  10. Brush top of discs with egg wash and sprinkle with vanilla sugar or granulated sugar
  11. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden
  12. Serve warm with your favourite jam 

Lee Murphy’s new cookbook, The Preservatory, is a wonderful resource for making and using preserves. The book is divided into 2 parts. Part 1 includes recipes for preserves using seasonal fruits with the addition of spices, herbs and wine. Part 2 contains recipes using the preserves, it covers everything from an appetizer to a dessert. Wow ! Jam is a lot more than a PB&J sandwich ! Lee also has a wonderful scone recipe in her book, which is slightly different from the one above, but her scones were super tasty too ! 

 

The Preservatory: Seasonally Inspired Recipes for Creating and Cooking with Artisanal Preserves

You can get this beautiful cookbook through the Amazon website by clicking the above link. I will receive a small compensation if you purchase the item.