Tag Archives: food blog

Halloween Monster Cupcakes 

I used to make my kids’ Halloween costumes when they were younger….fairy, witch, Thomas the Tank Engine, Ash from Pokemon, etc. Even though they don’t fit anymore, I still keep them in a box ! Maybe I am collecting too much “junk”, but they really brought back a lot of fond memories…..This year my daughter wants to be a grim reaper again, but scarier than the last two years. Yes, you read it right, it’s my daughter, not my son, and for the third time ! This was her on Halloween night two years ago ! She was only 8 ! Most 8-year-old girls would probably want to be a princess or a fairy, well….. not my girl ! 

Me? I am just going to make monster cupcakes ! These chocolate cupcakes with vanilla butter cream taste really yummy and are not scary at all ! They actually look quite adorable ! Happy Halloween ! 

Makes about 18-20 cupcakes 

For the chocolate cupcakes

  • 150 g all-purpose flour 
  • 150 g cake and pastry flour 
  • 50 g unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 6 g baking powder 
  • 3 g baking soda 
  • 3 g salt 
  • 200 g granulated sugar 
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten 
  • 180 mL buttermilk 
  • 60 mL vegetable oil 
  • 5 mL pure vanilla extract 
  • 180 mL boiling water 

For the butter cream frosting 

  • 240 g unsalted butter 
  • 480 g icing sugar, sifted 
  • 5 mL pure vanilla extract 
  • 30 -60 mL milk 
  • Gel food colouring 

You will also need candy melts, licorice sticks, candy eyeballs, etc for decoration

  1. To make the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350ºF
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt 
  3. Mix in sugar
  4. In another bowl, mix together eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla 
  5. Pour wet ingredients (except boiling water) into dry ingredients, mix until just blended 
  6. Gradually stir in boiling water, 3-4 tablespoons at a time, until just combined, batter will be runny 
  7. Pour into slightly greased cupcake cups and bake in tins for about 16-18 minutes 
  8. Cool completely before frosting 
  9. To make the frosting, use an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, start creaming butter 
  10. Gradually add in icing sugar, beat until fluffy
  11. Add vanilla, then milk, a little at a time, to desired consistency 
  12. Separate into batches, add gel food colourings
  13. Decorate cupcakes as desired 

Keep in refrigerator if not consume right away

 

 

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Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cake 

For Thanksgiving this year, I want to make something that I haven’t made before and is easy to put together. So I made this Pumpkin Cake ! I kept it light by using vegetable oil in the batter and just a small amount of butter in the frosting. I figured everyone might be running out of stomach space after a hearty turkey meal ! The maple walnuts are optional, but they are REALLY good and make the cake a lot more flavourful ! My daughter is usually my taste tester, but this time I got my mom to try it …..and she ate 2 big pieces of it, I guess that means it’s approved ! Happy Thanksgiving !

Makes one 8-inch square cake

For the cake 

  • 150 g canned or homemade pumpkin puree 
  • 200 g cake and pastry flour
  • 3 g baking powder
  • 3 g baking soda
  • 2 g salt
  • 5 g ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 90 mL vegetable oil
  • 90 mL buttermilk
  • 5 mL pure vanilla extract 

For the frosting 

  • 250 g cream cheese, softened
  • 60 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100 g icing sugar, sifted
  • 2.5 mL pure vanilla extract 

Optional toppings

Mix about 60 g walnuts with a tablespoon of maple syrup and toast in a 350°F oven for about 8 minutes.

  1. To make the cake, preheat oven to 350ºF
  2. Line bottom of baking tray with parchment paper, lightly grease and flour the sides
  3. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking power, baking soda, salt and spices
  4. Mix in sugar
  5. In another bowl, mix together eggs, oil, buttermilk and vanilla
  6. Add wet ingredients into dry ingredients, mix until just blended
  7. Fold in pumpkin puree
  8. Pour into baking tray and bake for about 25-30 minutes, let cool 
  9. Evenly trim off top and sides with a serrated knife 
  10. To make the frosting, beat together cream cheese and butter until creamy
  11. Add icing sugar and vanilla, beat until smooth
  12. Spread over top of cake
  13. Top with toasted walnuts if desired 

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 

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 

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. 

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