Tag Archives: baking

Saturday Sweets: Chocolate Soufflés

13 Aug

Happy Saturday!

Welcome to the 99th post, the one before the much anticipated 100th post!! Oh boy, I can hardly wait 🙂

Over here the sun is shining, the kids are finally healthy again, the airplanes are rattling the roof thanks to the nearby Airshow, and we’re about to get another look at our new house to take some measurements so I can start planning how to maximize work space and functionality in my new (still fairly small) kitchen!  A good day all ’round, and made even better by these chocolate soufflés.

I made these as part of  the blitz when my family was here, yet another delicious gluten-free dessert to add to the repertoire. This recipe came to me via my friend Kate, who is an amazing cook.  She made these with a delicious coconut cream topping for a Mexican-themed dinner night, after which I could not stop thinking about them and had to have the recipe.  Thanks for sharing Kate!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a great picture to show you since it was later in the evening when I made them and I was barely containing my desire to delve in long enough for one quick picture, let alone a variety.  I do apologize.

If you’ve been intimidated by soufflés (which I was), it’s time to take the plunge.  This recipe takes a few steps and a few bowls, but it is SO WORTH IT.  They can also be prepped ahead, refrigerated, and thrown in the oven when your guests are over so it will look really effortless 🙂  This is one of the chocolatey-est, richest, most decadent things you could imagine, but somehow totally avoids being overly sweet or cloying.  This is something you would order in a restaurant to share and then regret the fact that you hadn’t ordered two. If you eat it immediately out of the oven it will have a soft mousse texture throughout, and if you let it sit 10-20 minutes to cool it will set a bit more and just have a gooey, mousse-like centre. Either way, amazing.

This recipe makes 8, but it could easily be halved. Either way, this was one of the best things I’d ever eaten and I was so glad I was able to reproduce it with much less stress than I thought a soufflé would bring! Try ’em soon.

Chocolate Soufflés

 

 

(Gluten-free) 

1/2 cup butter
8 oz semi sweet chocolate (8 squares)
3 whole eggs plus 4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Grease 8 custard cups with some melted butter, stroking upwards with pastry brush to help soufflés rise high. Then coat with thin layer of sugar. Set in freezer to cool.

In a bowl over a saucepan of hot water, melt chocolate with 1/2 cup butter. Remove from the heat.

In separate bowl, beat whole eggs with 1/2 cup sugar. Whisk slowly into chocolate and add vanilla.

In another bowl, beat egg whites. Add remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 tbsp at a time, until stiff peaks form.  Fold slowly and gently into chocolate mix.

Spoon into custard cups (I used ramekins and only filled them half full so the soufflés rose only just above the high edges of the dish, which looked a little less impressive than in low custard cups where they can rise way above the dish, but the taste was the same :)). Level them off and make sure rims are clean. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 min. DO NOT open oven while baking or the soufflés will fall!

You can make them ahead and refrigerate for up to 2 days if they are covered, then bake when needed. 

Thanks again for the recipe, Kate!


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Saturday Sweets: Strawberry Chocolate Meringue Torte

6 Aug

I’ve been a little heavy on the recipes lately, but I have quite a backlog to get through of things I feel I just HAVE to tell you about!  And I’ve missed TWO weeks of Saturday Sweets installments and want to make it up to you.

Also, my family left today to go back to the faraway land of O-Ville, Ontario, so I don’t have the cheeriest of stories to share with you.

Unless you’re interested in the fact that we bought a house?

Well, technically that is largely untrue.  My in-laws bought the house, really, but we have our small share which allows us to live in a rather palatially large share.  Sounds fair, right?  For the first time I actually get to put my Interior Decorating diploma to good use on a home I can actually make decisions about!  I don’t have to confirm with a landlord if I want to paint a wall (which I ALWAYS do), I don’t have to hope no one will notice we screwed a planter box onto the side of the house, I don’t have to pay someone else’s mortgage for them, I don’t have to cram 4 people’s lives into less than 900 square feet…

On the other hand, I do have to care if my appliances break down or my roof leaks. I do have to clean like I might be there in two years facing the same (no doubt morphed) dirt if I don’t deal with it now.  I do have to commit to staying in one place for a reasonable amount of time.

I figure I can handle one big commitment per 5 year span, and between getting married and having 2 children over the past 5 odd years I’m just hoping the time frames don’t overlap anywhere, prompting a return to my post-wedding sleeptalking and day visions which made Carl (and my mother) question my sanity.

(Now you are probably questioning my sanity.  Don’t worry, I’m quite harmless.)

I don’t even know where to begin – probably largely due to the fact that my budget is about $12.  If I had unlimited money I think I know exactly where I would start – hire an interior decorator 😉  But seriously, we’re very excited about it, as it will give the kids lots of room to play, both inside and out, and with all that kitchen space just THINK how many recipes I can test and create!

In the meantime, before said O-Ville family left, I made this delicious gluten-free dessert for us all!

I inherited a daunting stack of old Cooking Light magazines from my aunt, via my mom, and thoroughly enjoyed going through each one and ripping out recipes to try at a later date.  As I work my way through them, I have to say I have yet to be disappointed by one, and since the magazine is called Cooking Light I feel like they must be healthy…and actually, a serving (an eighth) of this dessert comes in at less than 200 calories, according to the nutritional info provided in the magazine.  This torte was a big hit with adults and kids alike; I could easily have made two as it’s really light and fresh and inherently eatable.  And we all like our dessert.

My meringue could’ve used an extra 15 minutes since it was a muggy day, making it a bit harder to remove it from the parchment paper, but it didn’t affect the overall taste at all.  I’d actually never made meringue till recently and then I’ve made it several times in the last month after realizing how easy it is, so if you haven’t tried it this is a great recipe to start with!  If you’ve had pavlova, this is basically fruit pavlova in cake form, which looks impressive, even if it is hopelessly, deliciously messy to serve.  I wish I could’ve taken a picture of that for you but since this dessert traveled, and I have yet to become crazy/patient/bold enough to photograph food at other people’s homes (it’ll come), you can click here to see what the inside looks like.  Honestly, mine didn’t look nearly that perfect anyway.  Nobody complained.

Aside from making the meringue this is actually a very low-effort dessert, even if you make your own whipping cream instead of using store-bought “whipped topping”.  I think I would do that next time since I’m not the biggest fan of the special flavor those “edible oil products” impart, although I know that would really negate the light factor. But it is dessert, after all.  And it’s gluten free, and we all know gluten is what makes us chubby anyway, right?

Right.

P.S. This would be amazing with a combo of berries too, or just raspberries. Everything is good with just raspberries.

Raspberries, raspberries, you sweet red delights

I could eat you all morning, noon, eve and night.

You’re tart and you’re sweet (I know what that’s like)

We’re two peas in a pod, we’re that much alike.

Ahem. Focus.

Strawberry Chocolate Meringue Torte 

4 large egg whites

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1 cup sugar

2 cups (about 1 lb) sliced strawberries

1 tsp sugar

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250.

Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper and draw 2 8″ circles on the paper (I trace around a cake pan or put my handily-marked silicone pie mat under the paper to trace).  Turn paper over and secure with masking tape.

Beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar at high speed of a mixer until foamy.  Gradually add the 1 cup of sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.  Divide the mixture over the 2 8″ circles, spreading with the back of a spoon.  Bake for 1 – 1 1/4 hours or until meringues are crisp.  Sprinkle each meringue with 3 Tbsp chocolate chips and return to oven.  Turn off oven and let meringues stand for 5 minutes to soften chocolate.  Remove from oven and spread softened chocolate with a spatula.  Cool meringues to room temperature. Meanwhile, sprinkle strawberries with remaining 1 tsp sugar; cover and set aside.

To assemble, place 1 meringue on a serving platter, spread 1 cup whipped topping over it and top with half the strawberries.  Repeat with second meringue, second cup of whipped topping, and remaining strawberries.  Melt 1 Tbsp of chocolate chips in the microwave and drizzle over top.

Makes 8-10 servings.

Recipe barely adapted from Cooking Light magazine.

Nectarine and Cherry Cobbler

4 Aug

A couple weeks ago my lovely mother-in-law gave me a huge bowl of fresh Okanagan cherries, the best cherries around.  They needed to be used promptly due to ripeness, and thankfully this coincided with me needing to make dessert for 10ish people.

At my current rate of 5 lbs of lower-body weight gain per week, I couldn’t justify eating an entire dessert by myself this time.  Or really any dessert.  Ok, I can always justify eating some dessert, let’s be serious.  But the end of calorie-burning breastfeeding is always such a sharp reality check around here.  On the bright side though, it means back to the mall as, yet again, it seems nothing in my wardrobe fits just right.  I think Carl is starting to believe I do this on purpose, having my body change size and shape every 6 months or so, but I think men will just never understand the many stages of body shape that accompany the before-during-after-even later after of procreating.

I had seen a recipe for Peach and Cherry Skillet Cobbler on Diethood that got me thinking about that combo.  I knew my skillet wasn’t going to be big enough and the recipe looked a little time-consuming given my last-minute nature, but the combination wouldn’t get out of my head.

Being averse to peeling peaches, again due to time constraints, I went with nectarines and left the skin on – they aren’t quite as sweet and delicious as fresh peaches but I love them nonetheless.  As we all know, smooth skin makes up for a lot of other shortfalls.

I highly recommend buying a cherry pitter if you’re going to be making anything with any amount of cherries (like, more than 2), or if you have children who can’t (or won’t) spit out pits.  I had to search good and hard to find said pitter, so if you’re looking, just start in a specialty kitchen store, skip the whole Walmart or Canadian Tire route since they may have everything under the sun but they do not have cherry pitters.  Cherry pitters have come a long way from the spring-loaded contraption I remember in my mom’s kitchen – they now come equipped with comfort grips, locking mechanisms, and handy clear splash guards!  I grabbed a new pair of tongs while I was at it which is equally exciting, since using full-length barbecue tongs in a little frying pan in a narrow kitchen is more than a little awkward.

Anyways, the cobbler!

There are apparently many ways to make cobbler, and people have strong feelings about what constitutes a “true” cobbler.  This version is the type with a biscuit top, and, while I liked it, I prefer the kind that are more like a cake with fruit all throughout.  Much as I love piles of fresh fruit, I also love my carbs – the same reason I always cut back the fruit in fruit crisps and double the amount of crumble topping.  Fruit to topping ratio is very important to me.  If fruit is your favorite part of a cobbler, this will be right up your alley!  

I also used the same fruit mixture, thickened with 1 Tbsp cornstarch in place of the flour, to make a couple gluten-free crumbles to accommodate food intolerances. (In case you’re interested, my gluten-free crisp for the two individual servings was just 2 Tbsp melted butter, 1/3 cup quick oats, and 1/3 cup brown sugar).

Nectarine and Cherry Cobbler

Fruit mixture:

4 cups sliced nectarines (about 4 nectarines)

3 cups cherries, pitted and chopped

1/3 cup orange juice

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp lemon zest

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 Tbsp flour

1 tsp vanilla

Biscuit topping:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

3 Tbsp brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp lemon zest

1/4 cup cold butter, cubed

1/2 cup milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Toss fruit mixture ingredients gently and dump into a 9×9″ or 8×11″ baking dish.  Bake for 20 minutes.  

Meanwhile, make biscuit topping. Whisk together dry ingredients, including lemon zest.  Cut in butter until crumbly.  With fork, stir in milk to make a soft, ragged dough.  Drop dough onto fruit mixture in about 9 heaping tablespoons, and sprinkle the whole top with an additional tablespoon or two of sugar.  Return to oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, until biscuits are golden and not wet underneath and fruit is bubbly.  Serve warm, ideally with ice cream 🙂

 

 

 

Biscuit recipe adapted from Canadian Living, fruit mixture is my own.

Hazelnut Mousse

1 Aug

I’ve been a little lax in the posting department lately since things have been busy around here!  My whole family is around since a new baby joined the family and my parents are here from Ontario and also celebrating 30 years of marriage, so we’re enjoying copious amounts of far-too-rare family time!

Naturally, this means lots of fabulous food, as I come from a family of great cooks, but far too little time spent photographing said food, or using real, shareable recipes to tell you about.  But I did recently make this mousse, which was too easy and delicious (if you like Nutella) not to share.

Also, I’m up to 94 posts now (can you believe it??) so I’m pacing myself before the 100th rolls around, since big, exciting changes are in store here at hiddenponies that I can’t wait to share with you all, and we (hint!) want to have things all lined up before the big reveal, and what better occasion than the hundredth post? Keep your eyes peeled 🙂

For now, calm your suspense and gather the whole 4 ingredients you need to whip up a batch of this light, fluffy mousse!  Carl figures he will never be able to eat Nutella on toast again after enjoying it in mousse texture. I’m not so easily thrown off my breakfast chocolate, but I do think I’ll have to make this again with plain dark chocolate spread since, good as this was, I’m not as much a Nutella fanatic as some people.  And really, dark chocolate mousse can only be an improvement on pretty much anything.

Hazelnut Mousse

1/2 cup hazelnut chocolate spread, such as nutella

2 tbsp water 

1 tbsp butter, softened

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

12 toasted hazelnuts, halved (optional)

Directions:

In heatproof bowl over saucepan of hot (not boiling) water, melt chocolate spread with 2 tbsp water until smooth; stir in butter. Keep warm. (I’m lazy and did this step in the microwave and it made no difference).
 
In separate bowl, whip cream; fold one-third into chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining cream. Divide among four small serving bowls. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Garnish with hazelnuts if using, or a dollop of whipped cream…or a piece of toast, and call it breakfast!
Recipe barely adapted from Canadian Living.

Lemon Rhubarb Streusel Scones

22 Jul

Yumyumyum. This was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had.  I threw together a variety of recipe ideas/measurements/ oven temperatures with a few ideas of my own based on what was in the fridge and hoped for the best. I should really do that more often if it’s going to work out like this.  Of course, I know it can’t always work out as beautifully as this, so I should really quit while I’m ahead.  Because I feel very, very much ahead after this.

All I knew going in was that I wanted a sweet scone with a streusel topping since I love streusel toppings almost as much as I love my children.  And I had rhubarb in my fridge that needed using.  And on the back of that wildly delicious Raspberry Lemon Cake I couldn’t wait to use some more lemon zest.  

These would be so perfect with tea or coffee, if you’re into that kind of thing, and they make a perfect breakfast, lunch, or snack.  They are low fat and low sugar and still deliciously sweet and soft with a perfect crunch in the topping, which is then further topped with a little icing glaze.  To top all that off, they’re super easy and can be made with whatever fruit you have in the house!  Blueberries or strawberries would be fantastic with the lemon zest, but really, so would cranberries, or raspberries, or even dried fruit!  I love flexible recipes. And I love these scones.

Carl, after being talked into trying one, declared them a “flavour sensation” and considered them worthy of afternoon tea and evening snacking, a category usually reserved for ice cream and chocolate.  These are one of those recipes I’ll be making again as soon as I run out, and possibly before.  While I don’t munch rhubarb stalks like celery the way my mom does, I sure am enjoying experimenting with it this summer and can’t wait ’til Sunday now that I know even more fresh rhubarb is finding it’s way into my church mailbox – you know who you are, lovely rhubarb gifter, and you are awesome!!  Maybe some scones will have to find their way into your mailbox 😉

Lemon Rhubarb Streusel Scones

Scones:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or all purpose)

4 Tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup cold butter or margarine, cubed

1 cup chopped rhubarb

1 tsp lemon zest

1 cup (250 mL) low-fat sour cream

1 beaten egg yolk

Streusel:

1/4 cup quick cooking oats

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted

1 Tbsp all purpose flour

Glaze:

1/2 cup icing sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla

2 tsp milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

For scones, in large mixing bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter (with pastry blender or your hands) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Toss rhubarb and lemon zest with flour mixture.

Whisk together egg yolk and sour cream, make a well in the center of dry ingredients and add sour cream and egg all at once.  Stir with a fork until combined (dough may seem dry).  Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently about 10 times, until fairly smooth.  Pat dough into a 9″ circle and transfer to parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

For streusel, combine all ingredients.  Gently pat streusel into surface of dough and cut circle into 12 wedges.  Do not separate the wedges.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cooked through and topping is lightly browned and crisp.

For glaze, combine all ingredients and drizzle over scones.

Unbaked scones (above): score into wedges but do not separate.  After baking (below), let scones cool slightly before drizzling with glaze and cutting into wedges.

Store scones in airtight container for 2-3 days at room temperature or in the fridge.  For best storage, freeze scones and reheat individually for 30 seconds for a fresh-tasting treat anytime.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Scone recipe adapted mainly from Canadian Living, streusel recipe from an old Cooking Light magazine.

Raspberry Lemon Layer Cake

19 Jul

Raspberry and lemon has to be one of the best combinations out there, and this cake is no exception.  

Every now and then I see something or think of something  that I just know will be perfect and delicious and exactly what I feel like eating when the moment arrives to eat it.  This was definitely one of those times and this cake is firmly filed under “make again, and make often“.  I highly recommend giving it a try while all those gorgeous fresh raspberries are still around!  I only wish I had gotten a better picture of the whole cake, but it was raining and dark when it was done and I couldn’t wait to cut into it – my guests may have mutinied, and mutinous parents are bad news for bloggers. 

And, which is unlike me and is taking great restraint for my rambly nature, we’re going straight to the recipe, because this cake is really so good I don’t want to distract you with anything else that might slow your immediate run to your kitchen or grocery list to get this cake into production.

Raspberry Lemon Layer Cake

CAKE:

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 tsp each vanilla and coconut extract (almond extract would also be delicious if you don’t have coconut)

Zest of 1/2 a lemon

1 1/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup milk 

FROSTING:

2 oz cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 cup icing sugar

Zest of 1/2 a lemon

1/2 tsp vanilla OR coconut extract (use coconut if garnishing with coconut, otherwise stick with vanilla)

GARNISH:

Lots of fresh raspberries! I used about 2 pints.

Optional: additional lemon zest and/or plain sweetened shredded coconut or lightly toasted coconut

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut a circle out of parchment paper to line the bottom of an 8″ or 9″ round cake pan.  Lightly grease pan, set parchment paper in bottom and set aside.

In large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, extracts and lemon zest and mix well. Alternate mixing in flour and milk, making two additions of each.  Beat until smooth, then pour into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan, then let cool completely on rack before frosting.

For frosting, beat cream cheese until smooth.  Slowly add whipping cream while mixing and mix well to eliminate lumps. Add all remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.  When smooth, turn mixer to high and whip for 2-3 minutes, until fluffy and light, like a thick whipped cream.  

Slice cake horizontally in half and spread half the frosting on the bottom layer (I’m terrible at cutting things horizontally anywhere near the center, as you can see in the picture. I’ve pretty much given up buying unsliced bagels for the same reason.)  Set top layer on bottom and cover with remaining frosting, making it heavier in the center as the raspberries will push it further to the edge.  Top frosting with a pile of fresh raspberries, and garnish with additional lemon zest and/or coconut, if desired.

Yum, yum, yum.  Moist, fresh cake, tart, sweet frosting and one of nature’s miracles: razzzzzberries.  Downright zingy.

Recipe adapted from Lauren’s Latest, where you can also find fabulous pictures and a beautiful story!

Saturday Sweets: Chewy Gooey Granola Bars

16 Jul

Granola bars that aren’t really all that healthy are one of my favourite things.  In highschool I ate so many chocolate-covered granola bars that I started having a Pavlovian-type response to the end-of-day bell; it rang, I craved a chocolate granola bar. There is something so wonderfully sneaky about those chocolate-covered granola bars: because you know there are oats in there, you can completely avoid the guilt that comes with chowing down on a regular old chocolate bar.

This homemade version is kind of like that – it has a lot of healthy stuff involved, but also a fair share of unhealthy ingredients.  Good thing all the healthy things remove any potential guilt, not to mention the fact that homemade is BOUND to be healthier because you aren’t using chemicals (right?).

Pop quiz: What is gooey and chewy and deliciously salty-sweet and still totally healthy?

Answer: Nothing.

I know, some of you were thinking fresh caramel corn, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but just because it is popcorn based and popcorn is low-fat, caramel corn is not healthy.

But these granola bars are DEFINITELY worth making, totally healthy or not!  They are not the kind of granola bar you want to take hiking, because their chewy gooey-ness makes them slightly fall-apart-y.  Clearly this is a post full of my best vocabulary.  It’s hard to find words to properly describe the sweet, salty, chewy, oat-y goodness of these bars – I suppose that’s why I never made it as a food critic.

I’ve made these with any number of ingredient combinations depending what’s around, and they always turn out delicious, so feel free to throw in your favourite dried fruit, nuts and seeds to up the health factor even more, but don’t skip that corn syrup even if it is the devil in liquid sugar disguise.  It is yuummmmmmmy, and makes everything stick together, and since we all know cooked honey is more than kinda awful, don’t even think about substituting it – if you’re using honey, make a different recipe 😉

If you need them gluten free, just make sure you have gluten-free oats and don’t throw in the wheat germ.  Obv 🙂

Chewy Gooey Peanut Butter Granola Bars

1 cup brown sugar, packed

⅔ cup peanut butter

½ cup corn syrup

½ cup butter or margarine, melted

2 tsp vanilla

3 cups quick cooking oats

⅓ cup wheat germ or ground flax seed

Options (Use all, some or none):

2 tbsp sesame seeds or sunflower seeds

2 tbsp chia seeds

1 cup chocolate chips

½ cup raisins or dried cranberries

½ cup coconut

½ cup chopped nuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl, combine brown sugar, peanut butter, corn syrup, butter and vanilla.  Stir in oats and wheat germ.  Fold in any other options you have chosen.  Press evenly into lightly greased 9×13” pan.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until light brown, but still gooey-chewy looking.  Cool completely before cutting into bars or squares.

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