Sunday, June 21, 2009

Butter Caramel Ice Cream

I feel as though I've completely neglected this blog! Apologies! As mentioned in the posts below - I've just started a new job and moved into a new apartment, so I've been busy! And not inspired to make anything new...yet.
As a result, my pictures have been carefully cropped and edited and they are enormous if you click on them. Sorry.

Before all the madness, I did make this lovely butter caramel ice cream, c/o the recipe from David Lebovitz, which can be found here. I have to admit - I am afraid of caramel. I've had it burn and crystalize on me before, so I'm familiar with the all-too common caramel catastrophes. But recently, I've had a run of good luck! And Mr.Lebovitz uses the 'dry caramel' technique - which is basically sugar, SANS water or any other element. And it worked great! What I didn't like about the recipe is that you pull the caramel off at a certain colour - and I'm very faithful to my candy thermometers and temperatures, so it was difficult for me to 'determine' what was the best colour according to his directions. I think it was pretty close.

I also used the 'dry' technique to make candied toasted pecans. Yum. Ooh. I have a picture of the spatula with strands of caramel coming off of it. Will post soon. I promise.

Until then....happy eatings!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Carrot Cake on Demand

It's been a busy week - I started a new job and continued the process of moving into my new place - my first 'own' place. Don't get me wrong - I rent, from my parents, of all people. I get a good break on the rent, it's still a lot, but they've been extremely generous. In the rush of new responsibilities and moving, I've completely ignored my food makin' and bloggin' duties. Look - I didn't even make my photos all stylin' with the curved edges. I just don't have time. I'm literally counting the minutes until I have to be in bed to be up at the crack of dawn to get ready for another day at the desk.

It's been a big change and at times in my first week, I've felt completely drained of my soul. Yes, I am an office drone. I wake up early, I go to bed ridiculously early, and I have no life. It's depressing - but I decided onThursday that I have to start maximizing those 4.5 sad hours I have between work and bed and make them worth it - this means getting back to my creative pursuits. I have boot stuffers and seat cushions to make now! And hopefully, I'll be able to keep up on the baking.

The mothership requested carrot cake - so I've done them up in typical cupcake fashion with the classic cream cheese frosting. The recipe is c/o the Joy of Cooking, the only substitution I made was fresh ground pepper for all-spice.

Carrot Cake
c/o Joy of Cooking
(yields two 9" rounds/8" squares/13 by 9" cake, 14-18 cupcakes)

Preheat oven to 350F.
Whisk together in a large bowl (or your mixer's bowl):
1 1/3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir in:
2/3 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
Mix until combined.

Mix in:
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup canned crushed pineapple, lightly drained.

Mix until combined, scrape down bowl. Pour batter into cake pans.
For cupcakes, bake 20-25 minutes, for cakes bake 30-35 minutes.
Cool and frost with Cream Cheese icing.

Beat in a medium bowl at low speed until just combined:
8oz cold cream cheese
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla

Add in thirds -
4 cups icing sugar, sifted

Add additional flavouring such as liqueur or citrus zest.

Mix until smooth.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


I received a wonderful (and unexpected) package in the mail the other day - a box of Swiss chocolates from a friend travelling in Europe! I was concerned after checking the box it was mailed in - it had obviously been opened slightly and inspected. I sent a quick thank you email to the friend and confirmed with her the contents of the box - I hope someone at Canada Post or Swiss Post (or whatever) is not snacking on chocolate meant for me.

Anyway! Back to the chocolate - it was a selection of 'award winning' chocolates and as soon as I bit into one, the sensation that tickled my tongue sent me right back to Europe. I couldn't put my finger (or tongue) on that flavour - something about it sent me back to Europe on a very strong sensory level. It was amazing. I checked the label on the box (which came with a handwritten 'made-on' date ) and the chocolate I so happily sank my teeth into was a 'Magic' = "Lavendel Caramel und Pistazien Marzipan, umhullt von dunkler Schokolade, veredelt mit einem Waldfrucht-Coulis-Rohrchen." I don't speak, read, or understand Swiss-German (I assume), but the keys to that description - lavender caramel and pistachio marzipan.

It was the lavender. Hands down. I spent some time in the Cote d'Azur and the smell of Provencal lavender seemed to be perpetually wafting through the warm summer air. It's not just 'any' lavender, it's that sweet French (or Swiss, in this case?) lavender that even when enrobed in chocolate and travelling halfway around the world, peut m'envoyer a France.

Merci beaucoup a ma bon amie pour la delicieuse cadeau! (apologies for my cobbled-together French)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

John Barricelli's Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I've had John Barricelli's recipe for Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies bookmarked for quite a while and I thought, "toooday's the day. I make those cookies. And fill that egg-cookie jar. Yum." Yes, I had that exact inner dialogue with myself. If you don't know who John Barricelli is, he's a wonderful baker/pastry chef who works in the Martha Stewart empire. He does the bits for Everyday Baking (never seen it on TV, myself) but I've seen him on Everyday Food and many, many times on Martha's tv show (old and new). He's great. He's also coming out with his first cookbook next year, and until it's published, I hungrily await.

I should note that for the recipe below, I did not have a whole cup of dried cherries. So I used a mixture of dried cherries, dried cranberries, white chocolate, dark chocolate with almonds (see last recipe), and Milsean toffee candy. And yes, it was deeeelicious. Unfortunately, all the ingredients didn't 'float' nicely on top, so I had to be creative with the positioning to show off all the ingredients.

Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies
c/o John Barricelli

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups oats

1 cup dried cherries

4 1/2 oz chocolate, chopped

1 cup toffee pieces, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Scrape down bowl. Sift together flour and baking soda and add into the butter mixture. Add oats, cherries, chocolate, and toffee. Doll out even portions of batter on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, around 13-15 minutes, depending on size.