Friday, November 28, 2014

Classic French Madeleines

How have you been? I know it's been quite around here, it's been quite hectic at work. Worst of all, I met my nemesis, the flu. The flu kicked me down and knocked me out for a week. I'm still fighting the after effects, but I think I am finally winning.

The wedding plans are also coming along (mostly?). I don't think there's anything left for us to do this year. All the things that need to be booked ahead of time are done (I hope, I think?), so we just wait until we're closer to the date. I'd like to think we're ahead of schedule or at least on track! I wish I could tell you more, but I'm an odd believer that I'll jinx it if I do. Some things were too good to be true and then fell through, so I'll wait until it's all over before I say any more!

I'm still loving little madeleines though. These tiny tea cakes make good afternoon snacks. I hope you all get madeleine pans this holiday and make these tasty little morsels.
Classic French Madeleines
Recipe from Madeleines: Elegant French Tea Cakes to Bake and Share
(Makes about 24 regular or 48 minis)

1 stick of unsalted butter + 4 tablespoons for the pan
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
3 large eggs
2/3 cup of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest
  1. Preheat the oven at 175°C or 350°F.
  2. Place the butter in a microwavable bowl and melt on lower power for about a minute. Let it cool to room temperature. Butter up with the 4 tablespoons! Make sure you brush soften butter into all the nooks and crannies of the pan for easy lift up after.
  3. Using a mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together until it is light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add in vanilla extract and lemon zest, mix for another minute until combined. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Don't over mix at this stage, the flour just needs to be incorporated completely.
  5. Use a spoon or scoop to fill the pan molds until they're almost full. You can smooth out the batter if you like, but I find that it'll melt nicely into the mold in the oven's hot temperatures.
  6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes for regular sized madeleines and 5 to 6 for the mini sizes. They should puff up to show that signature madeleine hump and be golden in colour.
  7. Remove from the oven and let the madeleines cool. Eat them right away. Seriously, they're best when they're fresh!
I'm thinking these will make great gifts this holiday at the office. I've made macarons two years in a row, it's time to switch it up!
One more thing, don't skip the lemon zest, it gives the cakes such a great boost in flavour. Not to mention, the aroma!!

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Madeleines . . . the first time I had memorable madeleines was at Café Boulud. They were sitting in a warm nest of linen napkins, and even though I was full from the meal, I devoured them.

Little miniature tea cakes, madeleines are described as "small, shell-shaped cakes made of flour, eggs, sugar, and butter and baked in molds." I think we can all agree that we could use more madeleines in our lives, so I couldn't wait to look through a whole book about them!
Beautiful endpapers should always be acknowledged.
If I woke up to that basket of madeleines every morning, I would be happy and content. All would be right.
I quickly flipped to chapter three, dark and deluxe chocolate madeleines!

Madeleines: Elegant French Tea Cakes to Bake and Share
Written by Barbara Feldman Morse
Photographs by Steve Legato
ISBN 13: 9781594747403
ISBN 10: 1594747407
Publisher: Quirk Books
Hardcover: 224 pages

Let's give the dark chocolate espresso madeleines a try. The author mentions that this recipe was adapted from her award-winning recipe that is a mix between brownies, fudge, and dense chocolate cake.
I used a double boiler and a stand mixer to create the batter. A lot of butter, sugar, semisweet chocolate chips, espresso powder, eggs, flour, and cocoa powder went into this.
This particular batter was dark, thick, and shiny. It also doesn't rise much, so you can fill the molds to the top without worrying about overflow.
The espresso flavor really stands out, the only thing I wished was that my mold was more defined. I felt that they didn't produce enough of a shell imprint on the madeleines. So if you're on the search for madeleine pans, get ones with more defined edges!

If you're not picky on how they look, then it doesn't matter because they taste great anyways. Looking over the table of contents, I would want to try these recipes next: the classic French madeleines, lemon poppy seed, chai tea, peanut butter and jelly, sunshine, molten, peaches and cream, snowball, fresh lemon drop, browned butter pecan, gruyère and rosemary, brie-stuffed, caramelized onion and asiago, and banana foster. As you can see, there are savory and appetizer madeleines!

Disclaimer: A review copy of Madeleines was sent to me for review from Eric Smith at Quirk Books. Thank you! No incentives were used to produce a positive review of this book.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Chocolate-​Hazelnut Panettone

Shall we just take a moment to pause and think about how quickly the seasons are passing? In almost no time, December will be upon us and there will be snowfall, twinkling lights, and holiday classics. One that is frequently displayed in shops is the panettone. An Italian sweet bread made from a buttery and egg-rich dough. Traditionally, it’s made with dried fruit, but we’re going to indulge a little and add chocolate and hazelnuts instead.

To start, use a large microwavable bowl to pour in 2⁄3 cup of milk. Quickly warm it up in the microwave, ten seconds will do. Sprinkle one package (8 grams or 2 1/4 teaspoon) of active dry yeast on top. Cover with plastic wrap and let it stand for about ten minutes. Stir in 1 cup of all-purpose flour until you have a sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise and double in size for about an hour and a half.
Using your trusted Kenwood Chef mixer, whisk 4 egg yolks, 2 eggs, 2/3 cups of granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons of hazelnut liqueur, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon of salt together.

Notice the difference in colour of the batter in the top two photos. It should be a pale yellow, foamy, and doubled in volume. That is after five minutes of whisking on medium speed!

Cut the 3⁄4 cup of unsalted and softened butter into 1 tablespoon sizes. Whisk them one at a time until combined with the batter. Stir in the yeast dough you made earlier and 3 cups of flour.

Change out the whisk attachment for the dough hook. Set the speed to one and have it knead the dough for eight minutes. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, take the dough out and knead it on a floured surface for eight minutes.)
Then, let the dough rest for five minutes, press down on the dough, sprinkle with 225 grams (8 ounces) of semisweet chocolate chips and 3/4 cup slivers of skinned hazelnuts. Set the dough hook on low speed to slowly distribute the chocolate and hazelnut, for about a minute.

Place the dough in a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm, draft-free area for about two hours. It should double in size.
Press down on the dough and flour a work surface. Shape the dough into a ball by pinching the bottom to smooth out the top. Line the bottom and sides of your panettone mould or cake pans (I would recommend two 6-inch cake pans) with parchment paper. The sides should have a 1-inch overhang (to guide the dough to bake upwards for more height). Place the dough, seam side down, into the mould or cake pan. Cover and let it double in size again in about two hours.
Cut a 1⁄4-inch (5 mm) deep X on the top of the loaf.
Brush with softened butter. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for about 65 to 75 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let it cool for an hour.
Cut into wedges! We didn’t have any leftovers, but if you do, use it for French toast or bread pudding. This panettone has the right consistency to be transformed into a breakfast or dessert dish!

Recipe can be found here.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Canadian Living and Kenwood. I received compensation for it. There was no requirement to produce a positive review of this recipe. All opinions are our own.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Classic Cinnamon Apple Pie

Flaky, no fail pie crust? Challenge accepted.

I've never been great at making pies and this would be my first made-from-scratch pie without the help of a friend or family member. I'm glad it's a classic cinnamon apple pie, can't mess that up, can I? The instructions look easy enough.

Using a food processor, I combined 2 cups of all-purpose flour and 3/4 teaspoon of salt. The Crisco all vegetable shortening is already measured out into one cup.

Just toss that bad boy into the food processor with the flour. Give is a few quick pulses.

Stop when it resembles coarse crumbs. You're at a good place here.

Beat 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of cold water, and 1 tablespoon of vinegar together to blend. Pour this mixture into the crumbs. Again, give the food processor a few pulses until everything comes together. The dough is now moistened and ready to scoop out.

Shape the dough into a disc shape, wrap, and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes (of you can do this ahead of time and chill it overnight).

Can I say how much I love my apple peeler and corer? Made the job of slicing 8 Golden Delicious apples a lot easier!

Place the apples in a large bowl. Throw in 3/4 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and a pinch of salt and nutmeg.

Give everything a good toss.

Take the chilled dough out of the fridge and roll it on to a floured surface. You'll need it to be 2 inches wider than your pie dish to accommodate the sides.

Gently and carefully place the dough into your pie dish. Place cinnamon apple filling onto the bottom pie crust. Spread and pack it down firmly. It's okay if the middle is slightly higher, the filling will shrink when it bakes. Place the remaining dough on top of the pie and brush with a beaten egg yolk. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake on the bottom rack of your oven at 425F for 20 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to 325°F. and bake for about 60 to 65 minutes. The crust should be golden and the filling will be bubbly.

What do you think? I think it is picture perfect! Fine, my pie decorating skills and trimming could use some work, but it looks good! I'm quite proud of it! And not only does it look good, the crust is flaky and the filling is delicious. A successful pie made in the afternoon makes for a great after dinner dessert.

CRISCO® No Fail Pie Crust
From Crisco®
For one double-crust pie or two 9” (23 cm) pie shells

2 cups (500 ml) of Robin Hood® Original All Purpose Flour
3/4 teaspoons (4 ml) of salt
1 cup (250 ml) of Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening
1 egg
2 tablespoons (30 ml) of cold water
1 tablespoon (15 ml) of white vinegar
  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the shortening. Using a pastry blender, cut shortening into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. In a small bowl, beat together the egg, water and vinegar. Add to the flour mixture and stir with a fork until moistened.
  3. Divide the dough into 2 pieces and shape into a 4" disk. Wrap each with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. This will make it easier to roll out the dough.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out on disc of dough into an 11 inch circle. Carefully transfer to a lightly greased 9" pie plate. Fill with Classic Cinnamon Apple Pie Filling (recipe below).
  5. Roll out second disc of dough to an 11 inch circle. Cover the pie with the rolled out dough. Tuck the edges under and pinch to seal. Flute the edges. Bake according to directions for the filling.
Classic Cinnamon Apple Pie
Adapted from Canadian Living

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Portion Size: 10 to 12

8 firm cooking apples (such as Golden Delicious)
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
Pinch each salt and nutmeg
2 tablespoon of unsalted butter, softened
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon of coarse sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Peel and core the apples. Cut into 1/4" slices and put in a large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Sprinkle over apples. Toss the apples so all are coated with the sugar mixture.
  4. Transfer apples to the prepared pie shell. Pack the apples down and dot with butter. Top with the second circle of dough. Tuck the edges under and pinch to seal. Flute the edges of the pie dough.
  5. Whisk the egg yolk and brush on top of the pie. Sprinkle the sugar on top. Cut steam vents in the top.
  6. Bake on the bottom rack for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°F and bake until the bottom is golden and the filling is bubbly, about 60-65 minutes. Allow to cool on rack.
And now the contest:
Snap a photo of your favourite pie. Share it using #CLEasyAsPie and you could win a $4,000 baking experience! For more details, visit!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Canadian Living and Crisco. I received compensation for it. There was no requirement to produce a positive review of this recipe. All opinions are our own.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Cook the Cover: Canadian Living October 2014

Whether we like it or not, autumn is here. Chilly nights, jackets, leggings, and boots. Time to add on the layers when you step outside. Don't forget to boost your immune system, it's also the time of year you're most likely to catch a cold. I know I did, but I'm thankful that my sick days were kept to a minimum.

With September almost over, it's time to think of the lovely fall harvest. Soups and comfort food is on everyone's radar and don't forget that Thanksgiving is October 13 this year!

When I saw this month's cover, I panicked a little bit. Turkey? Such a huge undertaking! I've never roasted a turkey before! Aren't they tricky? What's the best way to fully cook the bird and not dry it out? I almost decided to skip this challenge, but then when would I ever get around to my first turkey attempt? What better way could there be than to have other bloggers go through the same cooking experience? Let's do it!

Lemon and Thyme Roast Turkey With White Wine Gravy
Shopping List: turkey, fresh thyme, garlic, dry white wine, sodium-reduced chicken broth, all-purpose flour, butter, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.

The shopping list was fairly easy. Most people already have garlic, wine, chicken broth, flour, butter, and your staples: salt and pepper in the kitchen. We only had to go find the turkey, thyme, and pick up a lemon. The short grocery list was another reason that I wanted to try this recipe. It's fairly straightforward and simple. No stuffing or bed of vegetables to tackle.
First up, make the lemon and thyme butter: In a bowl, melt the butter (a few seconds in the microwave), stir in the thyme, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
Next, remove the giblets and neck from turkey; place the neck in roasting pan. Fill the turkey's cavity with thyme and garlic (ahhh I placed my hand in there!!). Place the turkey on a rack in the roasting pan (thank goodness the turkey fit). That lemon and thyme butter? Brush it all over the turkey.
Roast in 325°F (160°C) oven, basting every 45 minutes. To baste, take the pan out. Using oven mitts, tip all the juices to a corner and gather with baster. Pour the juices over the turkey to keep it from drying out.
The turkey is ready when the thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast reads 170°F (77°C). This takes about three and a half hours.

Isn't it beautiful?? That lovely golden skin and my home smelled soooo good!
Take the turkey out and gently tip to pour juices from the cavity into the roasting pan. Transfer turkey to carving board and cover loosely with foil. Let it rest for half an hour.

To make the gravy, discard the turkey neck from the pan. In a small pot, bring wine to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk the turkey's juices with the broth and flour until smooth. Pour the wine into the roasting pan. Place the roasting pan on the stove and bring to a boil. Keep whisking as it'll thicken fairly quickly. Another first for me, making gravy from scratch!

Howard had the honours of carving the turkey (sneaking in bites now and then) and we set out sides for everyone to help themselves - buffet style. Mixed green salad, hasselback potatoes, stuffing, and cauliflower-broccoli gratin. The turkey and gravy still the star of the meal. The skin was delicious and we even ended up pouring the light gravy over the salad, stuffing, potatoes ...

I'm sure there are no-muss and no-fuss turkey recipes out there with no basting. But I think this is still a pretty easy and minimal prep recipe, plus the results were stellar. Give it a try if it's your first turkey! I would recommend having two timers on hand, one for every 45 minutes and one for the total cooking time. And the most important tool was the leave-in meat thermometer for peace of mind, you wouldn't want to carve the turkey and pop it back in the oven after finding it still cold!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Canadian Living and I received compensation for it. There was no requirement to produce a positive review of this recipe. All opinions are our own.
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