Tag Archives: Saturday sweets

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!


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.

Saturday Sweets: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

9 Jul

Can you believe it?  Yet another peanut butter cookie recipe!  You may recall my warning about the 2 kg tub of peanut butter needing to be used – sometimes I hyperbolize, but this wasn’t one of those times.

These are the oldest recipe I know for peanut butter cookies, as my mom has been making them for as long as I can remember.  They never fail to disappear quickly, and they are probably also my most forgiving cookie recipe.  When we lived in our tiny apartment in Ottawa and the kitchen was also 32,000 degrees these were the only cookies that turned out fine without refrigerating the dough first.  They freeze and thaw amazingly, and they travel really well – you can pull a mushed cookie out of your backpack a week after making them and it will STILL be soft and chewy and delicious.

To me this is the classic peanut butter cookie, even if it doesn’t have fork prints on top.  I remember from when I was a kid and a teenager hearing people ask my mom for this recipe, and since she was willing to share it with them I feel she will be proud to have it passed on to many more.  These are really JUST as good as the Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies I rave about, and feel a little more indulgent since you can’t talk up the oatmeal component.  I recommend trying them as soon as you get your hands on the necessary ingredients.  And I highly recommend doubling the recipe.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1/2 smooth peanut butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream butter, peanut butter, sugars, egg and vanilla.  Stir together dry ingredients, then blend into creamed mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Spoon onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes, until just set; these aren’t the same even slightly overdone. Cool slightly before removing to racks to cool completely.

And just for fun, for those of you who’ve seen my kitchen in all it’s windowless glory, I thought I’d take a picture that let you see where I actually photograph the food you see…the photographs are nothing to write home about, I know, but natural light is all my little camera really likes, so my food and I go outside 🙂

Quite scenic early morning light, isn’t it?

Enjoy!

Saturday Sweets: Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

2 Jul

Well, I told you I would make some more cookies so then I had to!  After going to the beach, of course – first beach trip of the season! K-fer got his first mouthful of gravelly sand, and badly wanted to go back for more…I think I’m going to be one of “those” who carts along a pack and play on the next trip 🙂

These flourless cookies started as an experiment since I wanted a filling, nutritious snack to bring to my gluten intolerant sister who just had a baby and shouldn’t have to worry about making her own snacks for quite awhile.  I didn’t have any fancy gluten free flours though, so it had to be completely flourless, which I was skeptical about, both in terms of texture and taste.

Turns out I needn’t have worried!  These hold together nicely, stay chewy the way I like, and actually taste just like a peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookie should taste, so even if you don’t have to avoid flour they’re worth a try, and it doesn’t get much easier than one bowl, with all the ingredients thrown together at once!  …Although they still aren’t quite as good as my favourite Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies.  If you need them gluten free, just double check your oats and make sure they’re gluten free…I know the No Name brand say they may contain wheat, but you can get some that list ONLY oats in the ingredients (like Quaker brand) or are actually certified gluten free.

Aren’t the polka dots cute?  I want a dress like this.  I actually have one, but wore it too many times pregnant and it no longer fits nicely non-pregnant; who woulda thought, right?

But I digress.  I always seem to do this thing where I buy peanut butter on sale like a crazy person since it is one thing I’m picky about buying brand name, and end up with several kilograms needing to be used up and going crazy on peanut butter baking, so I’m happy to have one more peanut butter recipe in the repertoire.

Thanks to our new little deep freezer we don’t have to eat all this peanut butter goodness as quickly as usual, but be forewarned, there may be a bit of peanut butter trend in upcoming recipes.  Also, because I like to throw chia seeds in all kinds of things, I added 2 tbsp to these for myself, so feel free to do the same or don’t be crazy like me, all “I can make these cookies healthy” and such.  Or DO be crazy like that but add ground flax seed.  Or spinach.  No, that would be too crazy, don’t do that.  Maybe peanuts?

Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 cups oats

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/3 cup coconut

1 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

4 tbsp butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips and blend thoroughly.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop onto baking sheet about 1″ apart (they don’t spread much while baking), and bake 12-15 minutes.  Let sit on cookie sheet for a couple minutes before transferring to racks to cool completely.  Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Recipe loosely adapted from Carrots ‘n’ Cake.

Saturday Sweets – Chocolate Toffee Squares

25 Jun

Saturday sweets on an actual Saturday!

This recipe is an old favourite in the Kampen family, originally from a little pamphlet you could pick up in the grocery store near the flour.  Now they are a favourite in my own family too.  Carl likes anything with chocolate and Skor bits involved, and sweetened condensed milk is one of my true loves.  This time I made them with whole wheat flour and some chia seeds instead of sliced almonds so we could feel somewhat healthy enjoying them (ok, and I didn’t have white flour left, or sliced almonds…I had a bagful of whole almonds but have you ever tried to slice those things thinly?  Yikes.)  They tasted just as good, if not better, anyway- I think I actually prefer the taste and texture of the whole wheat flour in this crust.

They come together so easily, and freeze really well to have something handy for unexpected company, and the topping ingredients are flexible so if you don’t have all the “right” ingredients you can make them anyway!  I’m posting the traditional recipe to give you an idea, but feel free to adjust to your taste.  Chocolate chips, dried cranberries and sliced almonds makes a delicious alternative topping, as do a combination of white and semi-sweet chocolate chips, and you can add healthy things like whole wheat flour, chia seeds or ground flax without ever tasting a difference.

Chocolate Toffee Squares

1½ cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

¾ cup butter or margarine

1½ cups semisweet, milk chocolate or white chocolate chips

¾ cup coconut

¾ cup Skor toffee bits

½ cup sliced almonds

1 can (275 – 300 mL) sweetened condensed milk

DIRECTIONS: 

Lightly grease a 9×13” pan.  Combine flour and sugar.  Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.  Press firmly into prepared pan.  Bake at 350º for 12 minutes, until light golden.  Meanwhile, combine chocolate chips, coconut, toffee bits and almonds.  Set aside. 

When crust is done, pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crust.  Sprinkle with chocolate chip mixture.  Press down firmly.  Bake another 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Cool completely before cutting into bars.  

Recipe adapted from Robin Hood.

Saturday Sweets: Caramilk Cookies

21 Jun

I know, it’s not actually Saturday today but I did MAKE these on Saturday so I figure they count for my haphazard series…or was it Friday?  

Yup, I think it was Friday.  Sorry.  

I think if you make them you’ll forgive me – after all, they are a chewy chocolate cookie wrapped around a piece of Caramilk chocolate bar, so how wrong could they go?  

Carl got this recipe from the chef father of one of the volleyball girls he coached in Ottawa, and I think it is the first time in his life he ever asked for a recipe.  Being a big cookie fan like he is, he had these at a team gathering and immediately knew he wanted me to be able to re-create them for him at home.  While I don’t make them as often as some of my cookie recipes, it has nothing to do with their deliciousness, and everything to do with my laziness.  I tend to like recipes where I can mix everything together in 5 minutes flat, plop ’em onto the cookie sheet and throw ’em in the oven.  Productivity!   Good smells! Snacks!  Hooray!!

This particular dough has to be made ahead and then thoroughly chilled so you can shape it around a Caramilk square (or chunk of Mars bar, or Snickers, or whatever your favourite may be), and then the balls are rolled in sugar, before finally, FINALLY, you can put them in the oven.  Also, to make sure your chocolate bar chunk isn’t too far away from the edges you want to make the cookies as eensy as possible so the first bite reaches the center surprise, and eensy cookies means OODLES of cookies, which means SCADS of time.  

Ok, between making the dough and shaping the cookies maybe you’ll spend half an hour on these cookies.  And you could make the dough a day or two ahead and keep it in the fridge.  So really, ignore my drama.  You can do it.  I’m sure I’d be hard pressed to find others as lazy as me.  Or, you can rush things like me and get your hands covered in sticky chocolate dough and be reminded yet again that patience is indeed a virtue for which to strive.  Or get bored halfway through and throw chocolate chips or chopped oreos into the rest of the batter and proceed as you would for regular cookies…not actually a bad route since then it looks like you took the time to make cookies TWICE since there are two flavours!

The original recipe for these was called “Muriel’s Chocolate Bar Cookies”, but since I altered it slightly and have absolutely no idea who Muriel might be, I have renamed it the rather more self-explanatory Caramilk cookie, but as I mentioned earlier, feel free to use other chocolate bars you might have handy, although Caramilks do break into handy little squares and all the stickiness stays well-contained for the rolling process.  Chilling your chocolate bars is also a good idea to keep them from melting in your warm little hands while shaping the dough around them.

CARAMILK COOKIES

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

¾ cup packed brown sugar

¾ cup white sugar, plus more for rolling cookies in

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

⅓ cup cocoa

1 tsp baking soda

Cubes of Caramilk bar (about 4 bars)

 DIRECTIONS:

Cream together butter and sugars.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa and baking soda and then mix into the creamed mixture.  Chill mixture until firm – I sometimes make the batter and leave it in the fridge overnight.  It will be all melty in your hands if you don’t chill it.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350º.  Place some dough in your hand (about a teaspoonful) and shape it around a chocolate chunk.  Make them fairly small so the chocolate chunk isn’t too far away from the edges once it bakes.  Roll the ball in a bowl of white sugar and place on greased cookie sheet.  Do not press down, they flatten as they cook.  Bake for 12-13 minutes.

Saturday Sweets: Almond Fudge-Topped Shortbread

4 Jun

I may have missed a week but I intend to make Saturday Sweets a regular occurrence, since Saturday in my mind is a day made for a bit of baking, what with Sunday coming up and all kinds of other chores piled up from the week to put off a little longer.

I love fudge and I love shortbread.  Putting the two together can only be a good thing!  Although based on yesterday’s experiences sweets are the last thing I should be eating…recap of fitness level revelations to follow on a later date.  Let’s just say I have the lung capacity of an 80-year-old smoker, and things like this delicious recipe can’t be helping.

Anyways, make sure your chocolate is good and melted or it will be a challenge to spread it without tearing the shortbread crust, and that would be sad.

Almond Fudge-Topped Shortbread

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

½ cup icing sugar

¼ tsp salt

1¼ cups flour

1 package (350g) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 can (300 ml) sweetened condensed milk

½ tsp almond extract

½ cup sliced almonds, toasted  (or whole almonds if that’s what you have handy and don’t feel like slicing the slippery suckers, or leave them off entirely if you just love smooth fudge and shortbread)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º.  Grease 9”x13” baking pan.

Beat butter, icing sugar and salt in large bowl until fluffy.  Add flour; stir until well blended.  With floured hands, press evenly into prepared pan.

Bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Shortly before end of baking time, melt chocolate chips with sweetened condensed milk in heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until chips are melted.  Remove from heat; stir in almond extract.  Spread evenly over baked shortbread.  Sprinkle with almonds; press down firmly.  Refrigerate 3 hours or until firm.  Cut into bars and store covered at room temperature or in the fridge…I like my fudge cold, so the chocolatey taste doesn’t hit me immediately, and I get the pleasure of letting it melt till it hits me 🙂

Happy Saturday 🙂

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