Wednesday, 29 February 2012

It's Snowing!

We thought Winter was over and Spring was in the air. 
Were we ever wrong! Snow came tumbling down and we had to switch back to boots :(

Ischl Tarts

For these cookie sandwiches, there are 2 doughs. The bottom cookie is a spiced dough and the top is a normal sugar cookie dough.

1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2-1/4 cup all purpose flour

Spiced Dough

In a small saucepan, melt 1/2 cup of butter over medium heat until butter turns light brown (about 12 minutes). Remove from heat and poor into a medium mixing bowl.
Chill until butter solidifies (45 min)
Then, beat the chilled butter with an electric mixer for 30sec. 
Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar + 1 egg yolk + 1 tsp Vanilla + Cinnamon + ground cloves + 1/8 tsp salt.
Beat until combined and then add 1 cup of the flour and mix until combined.
Cover dough and chill for 1 hour.

Plain Dough

Meanwhile, beat 1/2 room temperature dough with an electric mixer for 30sec.
Add remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar + 1 egg yolk + 1 tsp vanilla + 1/8 tsp salt.
Beat until combined and add 1-1/4 cup of remaining flour and beat in until combined.
Cover dough and chill 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Roll each dough to 1/8 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.
Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter and for the Plain Dough, Cut out 1/2 inch shapes in the cookie (So you will be able to see the jam once you assemble the cookies). 
Do not cutout those shapes in the spiced dough.

Place the cutouts on cookies sheet about 1 inch apart.
Bake about 8 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Spread about 1 tsp of jam on the bottom of each Spiced cookie and top with plain cookie. 
Sift powdered sugar on cookies before serving.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Vegetarian pizza

I posted earlier in the year my homemade bacon and pepperoni pizza. Well here's one for the non meat eaters (you know who you are). 

Blue cheese

Just brush the pizza dough with a generous coating of olive oil. Then, scatter thin slices of fresh pear and dollops of blue cheese. Sprinkle some fresh basil and finish off with lots of freshly ground pepper (and a pinch of salt). 
You can also add thin slices of red onion if you want. If you slice them thin enough, they caramelize in the oven.

A Break from these Carbs (Part 3)

photo from here

I've realized I've only posted once this month but I haven't really had time to bake since it was midterm season so here is a little something I had to write a couple of years ago for English class. It's a description about my ride home on the bus through Mile End and Parc x. Enjoy.


              I love riding the bus. It is much better than the stuffy and dark metro. I always try to sit by the window so I can see outside. There is always a line up to get on the 80. I watch people with their hoods up and their scarves around their face. I smile as I see a dog waiting outside for its owner. Its nose on the ground searching for whatever animal was there last night. Men in big, furry, black hats walk across the street as if they’re late. You can almost hear the heels of their leather shoes go “toc-toc-toc” on the sidewalk. The bakeries and butchers pass by in a blur one after the other. As people get on and off the bus with their bags, the smell of Fairmount bagels floats around our heads. My stomach growls with hunger. Bikes zoom past us and in and out of cars unafraid of the traffic. The streets go by me one by one; Bernard, Van Home, Beaubien. I’m almost home.

            As I get off the bus, the air hits my face and my eyes water with the cold. I must walk ten minutes to get home and I’m impatient to escape this cold. I pass many food stands outside. Oranges, bananas and avocados line the sides of the streets. My eyebrow goes up as I walk past. It is too cold for fruit outside. Car horns honk as I run across the street on a yellow light. I fiddle with the lock. It takes a couple of minutes for me to unlock the door and I burst in. I feel my fingers once more. 

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Tuesday, 7 February 2012

4 Tier Chocolate Cake with Fleur de Sel Caramel Filling

This is the perfect cake for special occasion. I made this cake for my brother's birthday. I've also been seeing a lot of the caramel-fleur de sel combination a lot these days different desserts: from cookies to cupcakes. It's the new baking trend for 2012 apparently. 

If you want to try out this cake just remember that the caramel filling and the chocolate ganache must be made a day before the cake because it must chill in the fridge overnight so plan ahead!!


Caramel Filling

1 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Large pinch of fine fleur de sel* plus additional for assembly

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1 1/2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee
  • 1 1/4 cups almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped



  • Stir sugar, 1/4 cup water, and corn syrup in deep medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium; Bring to boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber, occasionally brushing down pan sides with wet pastry brush, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cream (mixture will bubble). Whisk in butter, then crème fraîche or sour cream, lemon juice, and pinch of fleur de sel. Cool completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.


  • Place chocolate in large bowl. Bring cream to simmer in medium saucepan. Pour cream over chocolate; let soften 1 minute. Whisk until chocolate is smooth. Cool, then cover and chill overnight. DO AHEAD Ganache can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled. Bring to room temperature before using.


  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. 
  • Sift sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into large bowl. Add milk, eggs, and melted butter. Using electric mixer, beat at low speed for about 2 min. 
    Stir 1 cup hot water and espresso powder in small bowl to dissolve. Add to batter; beat until blended (batter will be thin). Divide batter between pans.
  • Bake cakes about 32 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks 10 minutes. Cut around cakes; turn out onto racks and cool completely.


  • Using long serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half. 
    Place 1 layer on platter; spread with 1/2 cup room-temperature ganache. Spoon 3/4 cup ganache into pastry bag fitted with 1/4-inch plain round tip. Pipe ring of ganache around edge of layer. Spread 1/4 cup room-temperature caramel filling evenly inside ring. Sprinkle caramel with large pinch of fleur de sel, then 1 tablespoon almonds. 
    Top with second cake layer, ganache, ganache ring, caramel filling, fleur de sel, and almonds. 
    Repeat with third cake layer. 
    Top with fourth cake layer, cut side down. Spread remaining ganache over top and sides of cake. Press remaining almonds onto sides. 
    Cover with cake dome and chill. Let cake stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.