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Life in a slow place that quickly steals your heart.

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Tourment D’Amour – Love’s Agony or the tart that ended it all

With all the flavours of Guadeloupe like rum, lime, vanilla and coconut, this is a tart to make on a cloudy November day.

 Tourment d’amour, a tart-like cake that translates into the “agony of love,” has a back story that goes something like this.  A Guadeloupe island woman with a French flair invents the best tart you’ve ever tasted in anticipation of her lover’s safe return from sea. Dude is a bit late showing up from his fishing to eat this world-ending tart so she freaked and took her own life when he didn’t arrive on the day he said he would. He shows up, finds her a goner and an even bigger tragedy, the tart very stale. Although the story is sad, the treat is anything but. I made it for the Handyman husband. He was in luck as was I. He arrived home from the hardware store just as they were coming out of the oven. No Tourment… just the love.

Guadeloupe is a French island so while the flavours (vanilla, coconut, lime and rum) are pure Caribbean, the base components (pâte brisée pastry, pastry cream, and Genoise sponge cake) are classic French. For that reason, the recipe is mildly challenging, but like the story goes, sometimes love hurts a bit. The end product is a sweet, tropical treat encased in a flaky pastry crust—with a creamy coconut jam center.

Makes seven to eight 4 ½-inch tarts

Coconut Jam ingredients

Coconut Jam:
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup coconut water
1¼ cup shredded coconut
½ tablespoon vanilla extract

Pastry dough ingredients

Short Crust Pastry Dough (Pâte Brisée):
1½ cups all-purpose flour
3½ ounces unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
Pinch of salt
Ice water

Pastry cream ingredients

Pastry Cream:
2 cups milk
½ vanilla bean, cut lengthwise and seeds scraped out
¾ cup sugar, divided roughly in half
⅓ cup cornstarch
2 eggs
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons rum

Genoise ingredients

Genoise Sponge Cake
1 cup flour, sifted
⅔ cup sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Zest of one lime

Directions

Coconut Jam

 Add sugar and coconut water to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then stir in coconut and vanilla. Set aside and allow to cool.

Short Crust Pastry Dough

 Sift flour and salt into to the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add one to three tablespoons of ice water, and pulse until it comes together (dough should stick together when you pinch it with your fingers). Wrap with plastic and chill for at least an hour. Meanwhile, butter and flour seven to eight 4 ½-inch pans and then set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll chilled dough out with a rolling pin to about ⅛-inch thick. With a fork, make small holes in the dough. Cut the dough into circles a about an inch wider than the pans, and then carefully transfer the circles to the pans, lightly pressing the dough into the edges. Roll a rolling pin over the top of the pans to remove any excess dough. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

To blind bake: Preheat oven to 350° F. Add coffee filters or parchment circles to the pans and fill with pie weights (to prevent dough from puffing up). Place tart pans on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly golden. Remove pie weights and papers, and set aside.

Pastry Cream 

In a medium sauce pan, add milk, half the sugar, and vanilla bean seeds and pod, and then simmer on low. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk eggs, remaining sugar, and cornstarch until the mixture becomes pale yellow in color and ribbons when you drop a spoonful of it back into the bowl.

Once milk begins to boil, remove vanilla bean pod with a slotted spoon and then pour about a third of it into the egg mixture, stirring constantly. (This step is important to a good pastry cream. By tempering the egg mixture with this small amount of warm milk you will avoid having the eggs scramble.) Add mixture back into the sauce pan and continue to whisk until it starts to boil. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg and rum. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap that touches the surface of the pastry cream and refrigerate until ready to assemble the tarts.

Genoise Sponge Cake

 In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add eggs and sugar and mix on high speed for 10 minutes. Reduce to medium and mix for another 10 minutes. Stir in lime zest. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in sifted flour. Carefully fold in melted butter and vanilla extract until incorporated (do not over mix).

Some assembly required

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place pastry cream back into a stand mixer fitter with a paddle and beat until smooth again. Spoon equal amounts of coconut jam onto the bottom of each tart shell.

Divide pastry cream evenly among tarts, smoothing it overtop the jam.

Then spoon cake batter on top, completely covering the pastry cream.

Bake immediately (so you don’t lose the airy quality of the batter) for 25 to 30 minutes (rotating pans halfway through) until cake topping is lightly browned.

Just saying, I think if it were me I would have waited 10 minutes and eaten them all myself.

As Canadian as maple pie

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Inspired by fond memories growing up in Quebec sugaring-off every spring, this salted maple pie is much, much tastier looking than its humble appearance would suggest. It’s like the sugar on snow served up beside a roaring fire outside the sugar shack only better because it is hugged by a flaky all-butter crust.

All-butter crust…because it’s the only way to go

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Ingredients for one 9″ crust

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces (use European butter if you can find it…it has a higher butterfat percentage which makes for a flakier crust)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons ice water

In a food processor, pulse the salt, sugar and 1 1/4 cups flour to combine. Add butter and pulse until largest pieces are pea-size. Transfer to a medium bowl and freeze about 5 minutes. (You can of course work by hand if you don’t have a food processor, using a pastry blender.)

In a small bowl, combine vinegar and water and sprinkle over flour mixture; toss with a fork to incorporate. Knead until dough comes together with just a few dry spots remaining. Flatten into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic. Chill at least two hours or overnight if possible.

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Let dough sit at room temperature 5 minutes to soften. Roll out on a lightly floured surface, rotating often and dusting with more flour as needed to prevent sticking, to a 12-inch round. Fold dough in half and transfer to a pie plate.  Lift up edges and allow dough to slump down into dish. You should have about a 1-inch overhang. Fold edges under and crimp. Place pie dish on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and freeze 15 minutes. This step is important to preserve your pretty crimps. Full disclosure, as you can see by my finished pie I forgot this step and kind of lost my crimps. Kind of crimped my style.

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Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat a sheet of foil with nonstick spray and place in pie crust, coated side down, pressing into bottom and sides. Fill with pie weights (or dried beans or rice) and bake until edge is pale golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool for five minutes or so and then carefully remove foil and pie weights and cool on a wire rack.

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Maple pie ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup real Canadian maple syrup, buy local if you can…I used Maple Roch from Summerland
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs plus one additional egg yolk at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extra or vanilla bean paste
  • one 9-inch blind baked and cooled all-butter pie crust
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • flaky sea salt for sprinkling

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Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350F

In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter and maple syrup. Whisk in the brown sugar, cornmeal and salt. Crack the eggs and yolk into another bowl and add the cream and vanilla and whisk to combine.

Slowly pour the egg mixture into the maple mixture and whisk to combine.

Place your pre-baked pie shell on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush the pie edge with the beaten egg. Pour the filling into the pie shell until it reaches the bottom of the crimps.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the edges are puffed and the centre jiggles only a bit when shaken. It will set more as it cools.

Cool for a good 4 hours and then sprinkle with flaky sea salt.

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Vanilla Naramata pears in orange wine syrup with gingerbread and whip cream

 

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Naramata pears and a lovely Chardonnay from Naramata Bench winery Singletree make a poached pear dessert that is both elegant and easy to make.

The aromas of pears poaching in fresh orange juice, orange zest, vanilla beans, Chardonnay and just-picked Naramata pears smells like fall preserving at its best. Add in the ginger and cinnamon scents coming from the gingerbread in the oven and you have an irresistible combination.

This poached pear recipe uses 24 pears and makes four freezer bags worth of desserts that can be thawed, warmed and served with my gingerbread, a sponge cake, or with sweetened mascarpone cheese, candied almonds, over ice cream or simply on its own.

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Best served with warm pears and warm gingerbread. Spoon some of the poaching syrup over the gingerbread and add a dollop of whip cream.

Vanilla Naramata pears in orange wine syrup

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Use local organic pears if you are lucky to live where they grow.

Ingredients

  • 24 small to medium just-ripe pears
  • 4 cups (1 litre) Singletree Chardonnay or a dry, light wine like a Pinot Blanc
  • 2 tbsp grated orange rind
  • 2 cups freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut into four pieces

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Vanilla beans are like gold these days Each bean was $9.

Instructions

Wash pears and peel leaving the core and stem intact. Immerse in ascorbic acid water (I used Fruitfresh) to keep the pears from turning brown.

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In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the wine, orange rind, juice and sugar. Bring to a gentle boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, add vanilla pieces and gently boil for 5 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, ease pears gently into the syrup. Cover and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, gently rolling pears over a couple of times. Pears should not be soft but should show some resistance. Remove saucepan from heat and let cool.

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_MG_5161.jpgPack 6 pears and 1 piece of vanilla bean into a freezer bag and cover with 2 cups of syrup. Squeeze out air, seal and place on a baking sheet so pears remain in a single layer in the bag. Freeze. Remove from baking sheets once frozen hard.

Gingerbread

This traditional gingerbread fills the kitchen with its spices. It freezes well if wrapped and sealed in an airtight bag.

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Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup dark molasses
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 farm-fresh egg (from your own chickens if you have them!)
  • 1/2 cup softened butter

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350F and butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

In the bowl of a mixer, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt.

In another bowl, combine molasses, hot water and applesauce. Using mixer on low speed, pour molasses mixture into the dry ingredients all at once and beat. Add egg and butter and beat until combined. Increase speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.

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Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake in pre-heated for 55 minutes to one hour, or until toothpick inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes, remove from pan and serve with a vanilla Naramata pear in orange wine syrup and a dollop of whip cream.

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Black tea with lemon cake

This cake is a sunny little gem to serve on a hot summer day. It’s dressed up for a party with candied lemon, a rich buttercream flecked with vanilla bean and the surprise of a hit of flavour in the black tea buttercream filling. I’ll have an iced black tea with lemon and lots of ice in a frosty glass to go with it please.

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There are five steps to making this triple layer six-inch cake: candied lemons, lemon butter cake, Swiss meringue buttercream, black tea buttercream and vanilla bean buttercream.

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Candied lemon ingredients

  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced and seeded
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar

Directions

Prepare an ice bath and set it aside.

Place 1 1/2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Blanch the lemon slices in the boiling water for about a minute, then use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the ice bath.

Reduce the heat to bring the water to a simmer. Add the sugar and stir to dissolved. Return the blanched lemons to the pan and simmer for about 30 minutes. Place the lemons on a wire rack to drain. Let them dry completely on a piece of parchment pater for 2 to 4 hours, or overnight.

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Lemon butter cake ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg yolks (thanks to my chickens!)
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour three 6-inch cake pans and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

Place the sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl and rub them together with your fingers until fragrant.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar mixture and mix on medium-high until the butter is light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

Turn the mixer to medium-low and add the vanilla and egg yolks, one at a time. Scrape the bowl.

Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix on medium for no more than 30 seconds after the last bits of flour are incorporated.

Evenly divide batter among the three pans and bake for 22 to 24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Let them cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from the pans.

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Black tea infusion

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 black tea bags

Directions

Place one cup of water and the sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and add the tea bags. Simmer for about 8 minutes. Remove the tea bags and continue to cook until the syrup has reduced to about 1/4 cup, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. You will be adding 3 tablespoons of this infusion to some Swiss meringue buttercream to make the filling.

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Vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups unsalted butter (very important that it be at room temperature or it won’t combine properly) cubed
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions
Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer. Whisk them together by hand to combine. Make a double boiler by filling a medium pot filled with water over medium-high heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the pot. The bottom of the pot should not touch the water.

Whisk intermittently and heat the egg mixture to 160F (candy thermometer) or until it is hot to the touch. Carefully fit the mixer bowl onto the stand mixer and whip with the wire attachment on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes, until it holds medium-stiff peaks. The bowl should be back to room temperature at this point. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle.

With the mixer on low, add the cubed butter, a few tablespoons at a time then the vanilla. Once incorporated, turn up the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the buttercream is silky smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.

Black tea buttercream

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix 1 1/2 cups of the buttercream until silky smooth. Add 3 tablespoons of the black tea infusion and mix until combined. Transfer to a separate bowl and set aside. Wipe out the mixer bowl.

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Vanilla bean buttercream

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the remaining Swiss meringue buttercream with 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste.

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Talk about sticker shock. Vanilla is going up in price and vanilla bean paste is expensive but goes a long way and can easily replace vanilla beans in your recipes.

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Some assembly required

Level your cakes and choose a layer for the bottom. Spread on half of the black tea buttercream with an offset spatula. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat with the remainder of the black tea buttercream, ending with the third layer. Frost the cake with the vanilla bean buttercream and decorate with candied lemons.

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Naramata Bench Honey Lime Tartlets

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The honey for these deliciously sweet and tangy tarts is as local as I can get it. It comes from Tim Bouwmeester, owner/operator of Desert Flower Honey on the Naramata Bench (next to Hillside Winery). Buying local is always a good thing. Buying honey locally is an even better thing.

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Bit of a honey rant

Most honey comes from China, where beekeepers are notorious for keeping their bees healthy with antibiotics banned in North America because they seep into honey and contaminate it; packers there learn to mask the acrid notes of poor quality product by mixing in sugar or corn-based syrups to fake good taste.

None of this is on the label. Rarely will a jar of honey say “Made in China.” Instead, Chinese honey sold in North America is more likely to be stamped as Indonesian, Malaysian or Taiwanese, due to a growing multimillion dollar laundering system designed to keep the endless supply of cheap and often contaminated Chinese honey moving into North America, where tariffs have been implemented to staunch the flow and protect its own struggling industry.

All the more reason to pick up some local honey next time you are at the farmer’s market.

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The recipe is in three parts: Pastry to make the crusts, the filling and whipped cream for topping the tarts.

Pastry ingredients

You will need eight 3 3/4-inch mini tart pans with removable bottoms.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbsp. ice water

IMG_4861.jpgDirections

Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine flour, butter, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles pea-sized balls. Add egg yolk and ice water and pulse just until the mixture comes together and forms a ball. Don’t overdo it or your pastry will be tough.

Divide the dough into eight small balls and roll each out into a circle with a rolling pin on a lightly floured board. Place your rolled out circles inside the tart pans and using your fingers press the dough up the sides of the eight 3  3/4-inch pans. Place the pans on a cookie sheet and bake about 12 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

IMG_4859.jpgFilling ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. corn starch
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. lime zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter cut up
  • 1 Tbsp. local honey
  • 1 cup sour cream

Directions

In a medium saucepan stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in the heavy cream, lime zest and lime juice. Cook and stir over medium heat until gently boiling. Cook and stir another few minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and honey until the butter is melted. Stir in the sour cream. Spoon filling into baked tart shells. Chill at least an hour.

Whipped Cream ingredients and directions

Makes about 4 cups. (Halve the recipe by reducing the cream to one cup leaving all the other ingredients the same if you only want enough to finish off these tartlets.)

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup icing sifted icing sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • dash of salt

Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl with the whip attachment and beat on medium until soft peaks form.

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Some assembly required

Either add a spoonful of whipping cream to the top of tarts or fill a pastry bag and pipe the whipped cream on for a fancier tart. Garnish with some lime zest.

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Life changing brownies

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Hyperbole? Nope. This is hands down the best recipe for rich, chocolatey, gooey brownies with the classic crackly brownie crust that makes a brownie a brownie. Simple to make, the secret lies in the ingredients, the careful whisking and folding and the bake.

Like all baking, top quality ingredients are key. Don’t skimp and use everyday chocolate chips. It’s about 11 ounces (325 grams) of the highest quality of dark chocolate you can find, a cup of butter, five farm fresh eggs and a dash of espresso. What is not added is important too including no baking powder or baking soda.

They have a good bit of height given that they don’t have any leavening agents, so they aren’t thin, gooey and smooshed like some brownies (this is a good thing). They have substance and heft when you bite into them.

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 11 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72 per cent cacao) coarsely chopped (I use Lindt)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter cubed
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 5 large free-range eggs, at room temperature (important)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13 inch glass or light-coloured metal baking pan.

In a bowl, sieve together flour, salt and cocoa powder and then whisk together.

Put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder in a large non-reactive metal bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth. Turn off the heat but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until combined, then remove the bowl from the pan.

Add the room temperature eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir. Do not overheat the batter or the brownies will be more cakey than gooey.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula (not the whisk), gently fold the four mixture into the chocolate until just a big of the flour is visible. It is important not to overmix.

Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes rotating your pan half way through. Insert a toothpick into the centre to check for doneness. It should come out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. An over-baked brownie won’t be a gooey one so carefully monitor the baking time.

Let the brownies cool. OK, maybe skip this step if you can’t wait.

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Sweet salty chocolate cake with an almond bark crown and a secret sauce

IMG_4647.jpgThis rich and satisfying little chocolate cake has a secret sauce that makes it unforgettable. The salty component of this beauty comes from tamari (Japanese) soy sauce and it’s in the cake batter and the crunchy almond topper. Easy to make, this six-inch cake is perfect for eight small slices or four huge ones.

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  1. Tamari almonds
  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 1 tbsp tamari or Japanese soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil, eg grapeseed

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place almonds on a baking tray. Pour over tamari or Japanese soy sauce and oil and mix through evenly. Spread almonds evenly in dish and roast until fragrant and crisp, about 15 minutes. Cool before storing in a sealed jar. They will keep for several weeks.

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2. Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder sifted
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk

Directions

With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 350F. Butter the sides of a 6-inch springform or cake ring and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, oil, soy sauce and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients alternately with the milk until smooth. Spoon into the prepared pan.

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IMG_4616.jpgBake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes. Unmould and let cool completely on a wire rack. Clean the ring or springform ring.

3. Almond Crisp

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Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp tamari almonds, coarsely chopped from step 1

Directions

Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Place the ring of the springform pan on the prepared sheet.

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the brown sugar and soy sauce. Simmer for 30 seconds and remove from the heat. Stir in the flour. Working quickly, pour into the ring and spread into a thin layer. Sprinkle with the almonds.

Bake for 10 minutes in a 350F oven. Let cool completely on the baking sheet, then unmould.

4. Ganache

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Ingredients

  • 170 grams good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2/3 cup 35% heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

Directions

Place the chocolate in a bowl. In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Pour over the chocolate and let melt for one minute without stirring. Using a whisk, stir until smooth. Stir in the butter. Cover and refrigerate for a half hour or until the ganache is spreadable.

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Some Assembly Required

Slice the cake in half horizontally to obtain two layers. Spread the ganache onto each layer and stack them. Top with the almond crisp.

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Butterscotch whiskey tarts

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There is a hint of nostalgia that comes as you eat these tarts. It’s from your mum’s instant jello pudding days. But these beauties made with cream, milk, fresh farm eggs, bourbon vanilla bean and whiskey are very much a cut above.

You’ll notice that I add a splash of whiskey, (not scotch but rye in this case) but the tart’s pudding filling is not likely named after ‘scotch’. One theory is that the name ‘butterscotch’ is a derivation of ‘butter-scorched’. Others say it that it meant ‘scotching’ or cutting, which they did to slabs of buttery, creamy caramels when making candy.

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Ingredients

(18 tarts)

  • 6 farm-fresh egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey (some dad nostalgia here too…he used to rub whiskey on my teething gums and have a dram himself)
  • 3 Flake bars for decoration
  • 18 frozen tart shells (I usually make my own pastry but elected to go the easy route…if you are feeling ambitious homemade pastry shells will make the tarts even more delicious. An oat wheat pie crust would be even nicer…)

 Directions

Bake the tart shells following package directions.

Put the egg yolks in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the granulated sugar with a 1/4 cup of water and stir gently with a spatula being careful not to splash the sides of the pan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, then increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the mixture begins to turn a dark amber colour. Swirl the pan but do not stir. Remove from the heat, let stand one minute then stir in the cream. Pour the caramel into a small bowl and set aside.

In another saucepan, combine the brown sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir in the milk and whisk to combine.

Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the saucepan with the milk and toss in the vanilla bean into the milk as well. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the caramel. Whisk together until combined, then pour a third of the mixture over the eggs. Keep whisking the eggs and add another third of the hot milk mixture. Transfer the egg mixture back to the saucepan with the milk mixture and whisking constantly, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes, or until very thick.

Remove from the heat and add the butter and whiskey.

Keep whisking for about a minute to cool the pudding slightly. Let sit for about 15 minutes, then remove the vanilla bean.

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Here there are with some other boozy homemade pals. The lemon tarts are topped with amaretto meringue and the chocolate ganache are have a splash of Legend Manitou.

Some assembly required

Whisk the pudding one more time until smooth. Divide the pudding equally among the baked tart shells and sprinkle with some crumbled Flake bar. Cover the tarts and refrigerate for about two hours before serving. Store any leftovers, tightly covered, in the fridge for up to two days.

 

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Mallomars or Whippets cookie hack

 

IMG_3984.jpgThis recipe for the humble chocolate-covered marshmallow cookie that has a cult-like following in New York and Quebec is made in three steps: a shortbread cookie base, homemade marshmallow and a chocolate coating. The advantage of making them yourself are their freshness and the quality of the chocolate you can dip them in making them even more addictive than the store-bought versions. If you make them with kids, be warned the marshmallow step can turn into a sticky situation. The recipe makes about two dozen cookies.

A bit of delicious history

Mallomars’ origins are in New Jersey in 1913. Kraft, whose Nabisco division markets Mallomars, says the first buyer was a grocer in West Hoboken, which was consolidated to form Union City in 1925. Their New York-area roots are the reason Mallomars sales are so heavily concentrated in the Northeast.

But they are made in Toronto, the home territory of Whippets, which arouse the kind of passion among Canadians that Mallomars arouse among New Yorkers. Whippets are made by Dare in Montreal.

Part of the cult following of Mallomars are their availability only from October to April as the cookie melts in the summer months. (Maybe just a marketing ploy at this point but it’s their story they are sticking to.) Mallomars get a mention in When Harry Met Sally they are so iconic.

An international treat, a marshmallow topped biscuit dipped in chocolate is sold as chocolate fish in New Zealand, chocolate teacakes in the UK, Konfesksiya in Turkey, Flodebolle in Denmark, Krembo in Israel, Schokokuss in Germany, Brunberg’s Kisses in Finland, Melo-cakes in Belgium. Looks the world knows a good thing when it tastes it.

 

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Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) salt
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) vanilla extract

Directions

In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture has the texture of sand. Add the egg and vanilla. Pulse again until the dough just begins to form. Shape into a disc with your hands and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 180 °C (350 °F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to about 3-mm (1/8-inch) thick. Cut 30 cookies using a 4 ½-cm (1 ¾-inch) round cookie cutter. )I used a small drinking glass of the right size in place of the cookie cutter.) Place the cookies on the baking sheet.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool.

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Marshmallow

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) powdered gelatin
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) water
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) light corn syrup (You can substitute golden corn syrup in a pinch as I did…the marshmallow still comes out a nice white colour.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) vanilla extract

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Directions

In a small saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let bloom for 5 minutes. Add the sugar. Melt over low heat, stirring until the sugar and gelatin have dissolved. Pour into a bowl. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 10 minutes.

With a pastry bag fitted with a 2-cm (3/4-inch) diameter plain round tip and filled with meringue, top each cookie with a dome of meringue. Work quickly filling the pastry bag and piping as the marshmallow will get hard to work with as it sets.

Let cool for 30 minutes at room temperature.

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Chocolate Coating

Ingredients

  • 8 oz (225 g) good quality dark chocolate (70 per cent) , chopped

Directions

In a bowl, over a double boiler or in the microwave oven, melt 140 g (5 oz) of chocolate. Remove from the double boiler and add the remaining chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is smooth. If necessary, put back over the double boiler for a few seconds if the chocolate does not melt completely. Be careful not to overheat the chocolate, it might bloom when cooled.

Dip the cooled cookies, marshmallow side down, in the chocolate, flip and remove from the chocolate with a fork. Shake to remove any excess chocolate.

Place the cookies on a lightly oiled wire rack or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Serve at room temperature.

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Milk is the perfect companion for these nostalgic cookies.

 

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