Monday, 30 January 2012

Citrus Strawberry Scones


Today, I wasn't feeling well enough to go into work. However, I needed to do something productive... so naturally, I baked. The downside of this is that I may have "infected" these delicacies, the upside however is that it means I will need to consume them all.... damn.

Scones are an old favourite, specifically because they're sweet enough to eat as dessert but not too sweet to eat for breakfast. And they're conveniently easy to make... you don't even need an electric mixer. On top of all this, troubleshooting is pretty easy too... if it's too crumbly, add a bit more cream. If it's too liquidy, mix in a bit more flour. Thus, they basically work out every time (unless of course you add wayyy too much cream or flour, they may be difficult to undo)

In the past, I've made raspberry white chocolate scones, chocolate chip scones, blueberry scones and lemon scones. I thought it was time for these. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do...

Makes: Approx. 10 scones
(slightly adapted from le petit brioche)
Ingredients: Scones
2 cups all purpose flour + extra for dusting counter/hands
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
zest from one orange/lemon/grapefruit
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cut into cubes
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 cup diced strawberries

Ingredients: Glaze
3/4 cup powdered sugar
5-6 tsp of orange juice (but lemon or grapefruit juice would be good too!)

1. Preheat oven to 400*F.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest in a bowl, stir well to incorporate.Using a pastry blender or by pulling two knives in opposing directions, cut butter into the flour mixture until it is fine crumbs.
3. Beat egg and combine with cream. Slowly add egg+cream mixture to the flour mixture while stirring. A dough should start to form. Before the dough is completely formed, add the diced strawberries. Continue to mix. If it's too wet, add a bit more flour and mix a bit more, if too dry, add a tsp of cream at a time until it becomes more doughy.
4. Place dough on lightly floured surface and knead it into a ball. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper. At this point, you have several options depending on the shapes you want your scones to be. You can A) roll out the dough with a rolling pin and cut out perfect circles with a cutter, you can B) roughly form the individual scones by hand or C) put the entire lump of dough on a baking sheet and cut into wedges after baking. I chose B but have also done C before. I'm not enough of a perfectionist (or have enough patience) for A.
5. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, but check after 15. Depending on the size of the scones and moisture of the dough & individual ovens, times will vary. Scones should be firm to the touch, totally cooked through and slightly browned on top.
6. Remove from oven, place on a cooling rack and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes while preparing the glaze.
7. Mix the powdered sugar and juice together to make the glaze, drizzle it over the scones.


Friday, 27 January 2012

Creme Brûlée

First attempt at this amazing show-stopping dessert now that my beautiful friend Tara has bought me a kitchen torch and ramekins for my birthday!! Who knew something this delicious could only contain 4, simple ingredients? Srsly. You need to try it. Apparently you don't even need a torch (although, let's be honest, how bad ass is a kitchen torch?) To top this all off, you can even add your own flavours to the creme brûlée, such as orange, chocolate, lemon, cinnamon, or my personal favourite... coconut.

However, tonight I just made plain, simple, beautiful creme brûlée. And I will make it again in a heart beat. 

Can you guess what the four ingredients are?....

2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla (or a vanilla bean, seeds scraped)
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar + extra for the "brûlée" part 

1. Preheat oven to 325*F.
2. Heat cream and vanilla in a saucepan until it reaches a boil. Remove from heat and cover, allowing to sit for up to 10 minutes.
3. In the meantime, whisk egg yolks and sugar together until well combined and a pale yellow colour. 
4. Very slowly add the hot cream to the egg & sugar mixture, while continuously stirring. NOTE: it is important to do this slowly, because if it is added too fast it may basically cook the eggs...gross.
5. Once well combined, pour into 4 ramekins. Place ramekins in a large baking dish and pour enough hot water into the dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. 
6. Bake for 40-45 minutes. They will still jiggle/ripple when taken out of the oven. 
7. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours (for up to 3 days, if covered)
8. Take ramekins out of the fridge 15-20 min before serving. Sprinkle approx. 1 tbsp sugar evenly over the surface of each one. Using a kitchen torch (eeeee!) burn the sugar until it turns into a crispy even layer.

enjoy. :)

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Mocha cupcakes with Baileys buttercream

Today is my birthday! And last night many many people came over to celebrate it with me! I know it seems a little sad/desperate to make my own birthday cake(s) but I enjoy baking for people so much that I needed to use it as an excuse. For Christmas, my aunt bought me a Martha Stewart cupcakes recipe book, and it's quickly becoming a new favourite reference. There are so many delicious recipes I have to try! To kick things off, I made mocha cupcakes. Then I thought the perfect addition to mocha would have to be baileys.... so I made baileys buttercream. Huge success. Here's the recipe:

Mocha cupcakes

2 1/4 cups cake flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream, room temp
3/4 cup fresh brewed espresso (I just used very strong coffee)
1 tbsp instant espresso powder (I didn't use this, not sure where to find it)

1. Preheat oven to 325. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cake flour and cocoa. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter until smooth and light. Add the brown sugar and eggs; beat until fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add the vanilla, baking soda, and salt; beat to combine thoroughly. 

2. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of sour cream, and beating until just combined after each. Mix together brewed espresso and espresso powder; add to batter, and beat until smooth.

3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three quarters full. Bake, orating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centres comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, about 22 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months in airtight containers.

Baileys Buttercream

5 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks), room temp, cut into cubes
6 tbsp Baileys
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar

1. In a medium metal bowl add the egg whites and whisk with a pinch of salt to break up. Add the sugar to the egg whites and whisk till incorporated. Place bowl over a pan of simmering water. Continue to whisk until the sugar has melted into the egg whites. When you rub it between your fingers it should feel smooth not gritty.

2. Once it is smooth transfer to the bowl of an mixer and whisk on med high for 7-10 minutes until has almost tripled in volume and the bowl is cool to the touch. It should resemble marshmallow fluff in texture and have very stiff peaks.

3.  Add the butter gradually while continuously mixing on medium speed. It will look like it curdles after this (kinda like scrambled eggs) but continue to mix it and it will smooth out. Add the Baileys and vanilla, then gradually add the powdered sugar. Mix until just combined.

4. Spoon the frosting into piping bags and decorate your adorable cupcakes! (I used a 1M tip)

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Starbucks ripoff's continued: Cranberry Bliss Bars.

I have this thing for coffee shop food, it's always so good. A couple years ago I became so addicted to raspberry white chocolate scones from second cup that after a few weeks of spending $4.00 a day on them, I decided it was probably time to find a recipe and give up the store-bought ones. And luckily I easily found one and they've been a staple recipe ever since. Upon thinking about what other Starbucks imitations I've had over the years, I've made a great lemon poppy seed loaf a couple times and my mom makes some damn good ginger molasses cookies (that my roommate & housemate can also attest to)

Skip forward a couple years and you'll see that two posts ago I whipped up some drink syrups to make gingerbread and toffee lattes, hot chocolate, or whatever else you'd like. Then I stumbled upon this recipe a week or two ago of Starbucks' cranberry bliss bars (recipe below).... and this makes me wonder how many other coffee-shop imitations I can make. My list so far of things I need to imitate?

Oatmeal maple scones from Bridgehead.
Mini vanilla bean scones from Starbucks.
Morning buns from Bridgehead. 

Any more suggestions?? Let me know! Here are the bliss bars :)

Cake/Blondie layer:

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, cubed
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened (I forgot to buy this, so I used a container of spreadable cream cheese that Rob had, and it worked just as well)
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 ounces white baking chocolate, melted
1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper.
Prepare the blondie layer:
2. In a medium bowl, melt butter for one minute in the microwave or until melted; stir in brown sugar. Pour the butter and sugar into a large bowl and let cool to room temperature. Use an electric mixer to beat in the eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; gradually add the dry mixture to the butter mixture. Stir in the cranberries and chopped chocolate (batter will be thick).
3. Spread the blondie batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (do not overbake). Cool completely on a wire rack.
Prepare the icing:
4. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until combined. Gradually add half of the melted white chocolate; beat until blended. Frost brownies. Sprinkle with chopped cranberries. Drizzle with remaining melted white chocolate. Let the frosting set (speed this up by throwing them into the fridge) then cut into bars- square or triangle-shaped. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. (Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything)

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Vanilla coconut birthday cake

In honour of new years, and my friend Tara's birthday, I decided to make a cake! After researching a zillion different cake recipes, I came across one that didnt seem too simple nor too complex (the ridiculously simple ones scare me a bit, there has to be a it tastes like shit but looks great....i opted for quality & appearance)

In the end though it wasn't all that complicated, except between the cake and frosting i used 10...TEN egg whites. and i'm not about to eat all those leftover yolks, so you can see how cake making can be a bit pricey and sometimes pushing absurd (i came across some recipes that asked for 10 egg whites just for the cake alone...forget the frosting). On that note I also stumbled across one that had a full 5 cups of butter in it between the cake and frosting....needles to say I avoided that one.

But I am happy with my choice of recipe and with the icing! Which is the first time I've mean swiss meringue buttercream. I like that it looks so glossy, and tastes pretty great too. The link to the recipe I used for the cake is here, however I used a Martha Stewart frosting recipe, which is for you below:

**In the layer between the cakes I added shredded coconut in with the frosting.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream


  • 1 cup sugar + 2 tbsp
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
**I added a tsp of coconut extract as well, however in retrospect I probably would have done with 1/2 tsp. Too much extract and it tastes like sunscreen.


  1. Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers; it should feel completely smooth.
  2. Beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don't worry if the buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and beat just until combined. 
  4. Beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes. If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. Or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.

For the roses on the cake, it's a lot easier than it looks. You just use a 1M tip and pipe swirls starting in the middle and working your way out. After you've piped the roses, fill in the gaps in between with swipes of frosting using the same tip.