Tag Archives: desserts

Strawberry Hand Pies

I am a home baker, so besides the couple of pastry classes that I have attended, I have never really had any formal training. When I just started baking as a teenager, pie is something that I felt very tricky and difficult to make and I would never be able to do it. To me, making pie was not “as easy as pie” ! But, as I became more experienced, I realized it is actually not that hard. I had a few failures, but it wasn’t a “mission impossible”.  So, gathering my failures and tips from my classes, I have learned a few things: 

  1. Making hand pies or mini pies to start if you haven’t made pies before. The dough is the same, but it’s easier to roll and to control the baking time. And I think it’s more fun ! 
  2. Use very cold butter. I put the cut butter and in the freezer for about 15 minutes before using.
  3. There should be small lumps of cold butter in the dough. So rubbing in the butter by hands would be better than pulsing with a food processor as you will have larger lumps. In the oven, the butter melts creating pockets, the moisture in the butter evaporates, expanding those pockets, hence flaky crust. 
  4. Do not knead the dough, just press it together. The lumps of butter that you want for flakiness will melt if you handle the dough too much.
  5. Let the dough rest in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight before baking.  This allows the butter to firm up and the gluten to relax, which makes rolling easier. 

I hope these tips will help if making pies is on your list ! Once you manage the crust, there are so many possibilities….all the berries, apples, peaches, pears….Mmmmmm, yummy ! 

Makes about 8-10 hand pies

For the pie dough

  • 180 g unsalted butter (cut into small pieces and chilled)
  • 200 mL ice-cold water
  • 400 g cake and pastry flour, sifted
  • 30 g granulated sugar
  • 5 g salt

You will also need 1 egg for brushing top of pies and more sugar for sprinkling 

  1. 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

For the strawberry filling

  • 500 g fresh strawberries (wash, hull and cut into halves or quarters)
  • 60 g granulated sugar
  • 15 g cornstarch
  1. Coat strawberries with sugar and cornstarch
  2. Cook over medium heat until soft and jam-like
  3. Cool to room temperature 

To assemble the pie

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to about 0.5 cm thickness (If the dough is too hard, let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes)
  3. Cut into 8 cm x 8 cm squares (dough scraps can be reused, but try to press them back together instead of kneading, and reuse as little times as possible)
  4. Place bottom squares on a baking tray lined with parchment paper
  5. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of strawberry filling in the middle
  6. Brush egg wash around edges of top squares, and place over bottom squares (egg wash sides down)
  7. Press edges to seal then press down with fork
  8. Cut a small opening on top of pies to let air out during baking
  9. Brush top with egg wash and sprinkle with vanilla sugar or granulated sugar
  10. Bake for about 30 minutes, then cover top with a foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes
  11. Serve warm

 

 

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

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 

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


 

 

Coconut Cream Tarts

Coconut is such a versatile fruit.  You can pretty much make use of every parts of the fruit, even the husk can be used to make flowering pots or carpets !  Coconut milk and oil are extracted from its meat and are widely used in many cuisines.  I love coconut milk. It matches really well with many ingredients, sweet or savoury. This was originally a pastry cream recipe. I substituted some of the milk with coconut milk. The shredded coconut gave the tarts extra texture and the lime zest just brighten everything up.  Don’t throw away the leftover tart shell trimmings. They make great butter cookies. Just gather the trimmings to form a dough, roll it out to 1/8 inch in thickness, cut with cookie cutters and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350°F !  It’s nice when no food is wasted ! 

Makes about three 4 inch tarts 

For the tart shells

  • 120 g cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 75 g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 180 g cake and pastry flour, sifted
  1. Mix together cold butter and sugar using a wooden spoon until no more lumps
  2. Add egg yolk, mix until blended
  3. Add flour 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. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350ºF
  6. Knead dough until pliable
  7. Roll dough out to about 1/8 inch in thickness on a floured surface, dock with a fork
  8. Place inside slightly greased tart molds, trim off excess dough 
  9. Bake for about 12 minutes till golden, let coolBaked Tart Shells

For the coconut cream

  • 400 mL canned coconut milk 
  • 100 mL milk 
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 75 g granulated sugar 
  • 40 g cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut 
  • Zest of 1/2 lime 
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  1. Mix coconut milk and milk together until smooth 
  2. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and 1/2 cup of the milk mixture together until no more lumps
  3. Heat remaining milk in a pot over medium heat until just boiled
  4. Whisk 1/2 of boiled milk slowly into egg mixture to temper, then pour everything back into the pot
  5. Heat until just starting to bubble and thicken, whisking constantly
  6. Remove from heat, mix in shredded coconut, lime zest and vanilla extract, let cool
  7. Spoon coconut cream into baked tart shell, spread evenly with a spatula, dust with icing sugar 
  8. You can keep them in the fridge for 2-3 daysCoconut Cream Tarts

Chocolate Souffle 

I think Valentine’s day is a perfect time to make chocolate souffle. It brings a sweet ending to your romantic dinner. I first learned it at a pastry course and it’s actually pretty easy. All souffles will rise in the oven and fall shortly after they are taken out. That doesn’t mean that you fail, it’s just the way they are. Some recipes have a higher ratio of egg whites, some add cornstarch and milk or cream. These methods may make the souffles higher and stay in shape a little longer. After trying a few recipes, I found this one, adapted from the book “How To Bake Everything” by Mark Bittman is the simplest. It uses equal parts of egg yolks and whites, so you won’t need to worry about what to do with the extra yolks and the souffles came out both rich and airy. Have a sweet Valentine’s Day!

Makes about 4-6 servings

  • Butter for greasing ramekins 
  • 80 g granulated sugar, plus more for coating
  • 90 g dark chocolate (70%), chopped 
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar 
  • Icing sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Grease ramekins with butter, then sprinkle sugar over to coat, tap off excess 
  3. Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water, let cool slightly 
  4. Whisk together egg yolks and 30 g of granulated sugar using an electric mixer until light yellow and mixture falls in a ribbon over surface 
  5. Mix in melted chocolate until combined 
  6. Clean and dry the whisk
  7. In another mixing bowl using the electric mixer, whisk egg whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until frothy
  8. Increase speed to high and slowly add in 50 g of granulated sugar
  9. Whisk until a stiff peak is formed
  10. Gently fold egg whites, in 3 batches, into egg yolk mixture
  11. Pour into ramekins and place on a rimmed baking tray 
  12. Put tray into oven, pour about one inch of hot water into baking tray
  13. Bake in hot water bath for about 20 minutes (Do not open oven door during baking)
  14. Dust with icing sugar, serve immediatelyChocolate Souffle

Tools and Books 

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KitchenAid K45SSWH Classic 4.5-Quart Bowl Stand Mixer, White

How to Bake Everything

How to Bake Everything: Simple Recipes for the Best Baking

You can get these items through the Amazon website by clicking the above link. I will receive a small compensation if you purchase them.

Heart-Shaped Meringue Cookies 

My daughter wrote me this poem couple years ago for Valentine’s Day and it’s been on the wall beside my bed. I thought I would share it here. Valentine's poem

“What is love?  What is special?  It’s Mom
No matter what she is, I love her
No matter what she looks like, I love her
With a balance family, she is the Best Mom Ever! “

This is definitely the sweetest poem I’ve ever read ! My daughter is such a lovely girl.  She is creative, funny, outgoing, but also very sensitive. I love her so much ! Of course I love my son too, but I guess it’s unlikely a twelve year-old boy would write his mom a poem….. 😁 To treat my two little sweethearts, I made these heart-shaped meringue cookies.  They are light, crunchy and super easy to make.  

Makes about 16 cookies

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 30 g granulated sugar or vanilla sugar
  • red food colouring (I use icing colours) 
  1. Preheat oven to 225°F
  2. Using an electric mixer with whisk attachment, whisk egg whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until frothy
  3. Add food colouring
  4. Increase speed to high and slowly add in sugar
  5. Whisk until a stiff peak is formed
  6. Transfer into piping bag with star tip
  7. Pipe onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper
  8. Bake for about 40 minutes, depending on size of cookies, they should be dry to touch
  9. Turn off oven and leave cookies in oven for at least 2 hours to dry
  10. Remove from oven and cool completely

Note : When baked, the cookies will turn golden slightly, changing the colour of them  

Heart-Shaped Meringue Cookies

Before baking

Heart-Shaped Meringue Cookies

After baking