26 May

Feels Like Summer

This weekend, to me, was the first weekend that we’ve had this year that really felt like summer. Part of it is the days getting longer, but mostly it’s the gorgeous—albeit a little hot for my liking—weather.

Matt was out of town for a couple of days so I had Friday night and all day Saturday to myself which, if we’re being honest, was kinda awesome.

I spent Friday night on a walk by the Detroit River with my friend Tina.

Detroit River

The riverfront is one of my favourite things about the city of Windsor.

I spent Saturday morning weightlifting and teaching yoga and the afternoon ripping out ugly bushes and stone from the landscaping. I’ve been wanting to get rid of them for a long time and it was one of those things that I can only pull off when the husband is away—that is, spontaneously doing a major house project, just because.

Here’s a photo of part of that project. I know a before picture would be nice, but I didn’t think too much before going to town on the overgrown shrubbery. Any suggestions of what I should plant here? It’s full shade.

landscaping

I made sure to take some time to just chill on Saturday afternoon by online shopping while sipping my first Greek Frappe coffee of the season.

Greek FrappeCheers to deliciousness!

Also because the husband was out of town I ate cookie dough for dinner on Saturday night. True fact.

And I might have had some cookie dough left over to actually bake cookies too.

Winning Chocolate Chiip CookiesLOVE this recipe

Overall, a pretty sweet weekend and that was only Friday and Saturday!

How was your weekend?

14 Aug

Kourabiethes

It’s time for the next Baking Partners Challenge!

Previous themes included Cake, Chiizukeiki (also a failure), Super Soft White Bread, Macarons, Pie, Christmas Cake, Kaiser Buns, Cupcakes, and Cookies.

This month’s theme is World Cookies.

We all know how much I love cookies, so I was excited for this challenge. We had the option to make Dutch Speculaas (which was obviously enticing for me because they are my favourite cookie), Italian biscotti, Chinese almond cookies, or Greek kourabiethes. I decided on the kourabiethes for the simple reason that I had all the ingredients on hand.

Crescent Cookies (2)

What are a Kourabiethes?

Kourabiethes, Koo-rahb-YEH-thes, are traditional Greek shortbread cookies made with toasted almonds. They may have been imports from the Middle East because of their similarity to Iranian Qurabiya or because their crescent shape, which is said to date back to the Turkish occupation to represent the Turkish flag.
They are an integral part of important celebrations like Christmas, Easter, and weddings because they traditionally required serious effort; the butter and sugar would have been beaten together manually for over an hour!

I made these for my birthday this year and shared them with the yoga class that I taught in the park in the middle of a downpour (but luckily under a pavilion).

The Good

The miracles of modern technology (ie. mixers) mean these cookies are really easy to make. They’re tasty in a subtle way that’s not too indulgent but satisfies the sweet tooth. They went quickly in our house (though not as quickly as the ANZAC biscuits which I made at the same time). I certainly ate a lot of them.

The Bad

I need to invest in multiple shiny metal baking sheets. I always run into the problem that when I use a shiny metal sheet my cookies come out perfect and when I use a dark metal sheet for the same time and temperature the cookies come out slightly burnt. The baking sheet makes a difference you guys!

The Variations

The recipe I worked with was flavoured with orange zest which doesn’t seem to be a very common flavour for kourabiethes. With a little googling I found most recipes used brandy for flavour and a few recipes listed rose or orange blossom water as an ingredient. I’d be interested to try them with brandy next time.

Crescent Cookies (1)


Kourabiethes

Recipe Source

Ingredients

250g butter, softened
2 1/2 cups pure icing sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 orange, rind finely grated
1 egg, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup almond meal (ground almonds)

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 shiny metal baking trays with parchment paper.

Using an electric mixer beat the butter, 1 cup icing sugar, vanilla, and orange rind until pale and creamy. Add egg and beat until well combined. Sift flour and baking powder over mixture. Add almond meal. Stir until dough comes together.

Roll out one tablespoon of dough into an 8cm-long log, and bend to form a crescent shapes. Repeat with the remaining dough, placing each cookie on baking tray, allowing room for spreading.

Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden. Stand for 5 minutes on trays until firm but still warm.

Place the remaining sugar in a bowl. Coat warm biscuits, 1 at a time, in sugar. Place on a wire rack to cool. Sift any remaining icing sugar over biscuits when cool.

Crescent Cookies (3)


BakingPartners

05 Aug

Four Things

French Press

I’m really digging my French press. Matt bought it for me for my birthday and it’s been getting a lot of use so far (as I try really hard not to develop a caffeine addiction). I don’t own a ‘real’ coffee maker– only an espresso maker and a percolator– so this is another non American-coffee making contraption to add to my collection. I love how convenient it is for cold brew coffee too, which is awesome for the summer time (although I’m still not giving up my Greek Frappes)

ANZAC Biscuits

And then there’s this recipe for ANZAC Biscuits. These cookies are popular in Australia and New Zealand and, more recently, my house. It’s weird that every time I make these they turn out slightly different, but regardless they’re always awesome. Oatmeal, coconut, butter– what’s not to love?

Fire Roasted Corn Chowder

It’s sweet corn season again (yay!), that means making and eating lots of my favourite soup: Fire Roasted Corn Chowder. I literally get giddy with anticipation just to eat this soup, I like it that much. Yesterday when I announced: “I’m going to fire up the barbecue and make some soup!”, I was greeted with looks of confusion and judgement. But that’s okay, because sweet corn chowder is one of those summertime things that makes me happy.

Wheel Pose

I’ve been teaching yoga! Every Saturday morning since I graduated teacher training I host a vinyasa yoga class in Brunet Park in LaSalle and so far it’s been going pretty well. It’s mostly my friends and family, but I’ve got a few other regulars as well. I’ve been putting a lot of effort into planning challenging and meaningful classes and I’m really starting to become more comfortable teaching and starting to find my voice as an instructor. I hope to start teaching in a studio one day soon.

21 Jun

A Day in the Life – Yoga Teacher Training Edition

5:15 5:20am Wake-up, make/pack breakfast, rush out the door.

6:00am Follow the Yogi Ashtanga class led by Jonny Kest in Birmingham.

Center for Yoga Birmingham

7:15am Wipe myself down with some baby wipes, change out of my sweaty clothes, and head to Starbucks to eat breakfast and kill time until my next class.

Killing TimeHot coffee and meditation reading on the mean streets of Birmingham, MI

9:00am Move my car from street to the parking garage to avoid having to pay the meter. Kill some more time outside the studio before the 9:45 hot vinyasa class.

Killing Time (2)

9:45am Hot Vinyasa class led by Jonny Kest

Pre-Yoga Class (2)Post Yoga Class
Pre and Post Class

11:05am Drive back home for a much needed shower and a lunch break. Some variation of beans and rice seems to be my food of choice these days.

LunchIs this 2 handfuls?

12:45pm Leave the house for the West Bloomfield studio for lecture.

1:00pm Yoga nap (seriously? it’s just a nap people. Why does everything have to be “yoga”?) or meditation. I opt for meditation so I can get my 20minutes out of the way. I have some really vivid visions about tapestries (literally) which gives me a great idea for a yoga class theme.

1:20pm – 4:00pm We go over the essence of a good vinyasa flow, get together with groups and make up our own variation. My group is all people who are already teachers so I contribute very little.

Then one person from each group leads everyone in the flow and we offer feedback about what we liked or didn’t like. Feedback can get tedious and nit-picky, but can be pretty helpful.

Practice Teaching (5)Testing out our flows.

4:00pm Jonny gives us a lecture on body energy or “prana” (I don’t like to call it prana cause it sounds too new age-y to me.)

5:00pm Class dismissed (on time for once!). I head to Kroger for some groceries. I leave $30 poorer and thoroughly disappointed with their cookie selection.

Grocery ShoppingGrocery shopping loot.

5:45pm Let out my roommates dogs.

Angel & Aurora

6:00pm Start making dinner and doing dishes. This time it’s beans and pulses (not beans and rice) so I’m getting more creative. (This is a super delish recipe for Lentil and Chickpea Salad, by the way)

Dinner Making

7:00pm Eat.

7:20pm-9:30pm Homework, with a tea and cookie break somewhere in there. Side note: the British are totally onto something with Hobnobs.

Homework

Tea and CookiesCookie on the left: Hobnobs (AMAZING!), cookie on the right generic Kroger brand (boring).
Not photographed: at least 3 more cookies that I devoured.

9:30pm Blog.

10:00pm Bedtime routine (you know the drill). Set the alarm for 5:15. Goodnight!

27 May

New York City Cookies

Cookies!

I fucking love cookies

Matt and I stopped twice for cookies as we toured around New York on Friday because I really, really love cookies.

First stop: Levain Bakery.

Levain Bakery Harlem

Levain’s cookies are widely known and their CCCs even one of the 10 chocolate chip cookies worth travelling for according to National Geographic.

We bought 4 cookies for my cousins who we were staying with for the weekend and ate one ourselves: a Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie from Levain

The cookie is huge! And for $4 it damn well better be. You could easily share it 3 ways. Maybe it has to be that big to get the amazing consistency that they manage to achieve: a very thin and crispy outside layer with a chewy fudge-like inside that has more in common with cookie dough than cookies (mmm… cookie dough).

I wish I bought some to take home with me. In the meantime I’ve been researching Levain bakery copycat recipes. These ones looks promising.

Next stop: Bouchon Bakery.

The cool thing about Bouchon Bakery is that they have their own cookbook so you can make a lot of their recipes at home and save yourself some dough (pun intended). But if you’re like me and everything you make looks ugly, then maybe you’d like to indulge in a pretty macaron or cookie from time to time.

Bouchon Bakery Display Case

I’ve made Bouchon’s homemade oreos before, multiple times in fact because they are so good. I’ve made Thomas Keller (the genius behind Bouchon)’s Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe as well and I’ve had the recipe for their homemade nutter butters pinned for far too long now without having made them.

So when we found ourselves in busy Rockefeller Centre in need of hydration and a snack we stopped at Bouchon Bakery which was also on my list of bakeries to visit in New York (yes, I literally have a list).

Better Nutter Bouchon Bakery

I ordered a Better Nutter, their take on the nutter butter, for $4 (apparently $4 is the going rate for a cookie in the Big Apple).

The Better Nutter was even bigger than the Levain bakery cookie (though, functionally, I can’t see why) so even sharing it Matt and I only managed to eat half. It was really good though. The peanut butter frosting is tasty and the oatmeal/peanut butter cookie is soft and delicious.

I’m definitely going to get another cookie at their Las Vegas location when I’m there this fall.

Which is better?

If someone offered me one or the other I’d choose Levain. Though I love Bouchon’s twist on the classic store-bought cookies, I really like cookies with chips in them and the cookie dough texture of Levain’s cookie. I wish I had one right now.

15 Feb

Coconut Cardamom Macarons

It’s the 15th of the month, that means it’s time for this month’s Baking Partners Challenge. The theme for this month is Macarons.

Coconut Cardamom Macarons (10)

I know you guys, I gave up sugar for Lent but luckily for me I whipped these up a few weekends ago when I was still indulging in the white stuff.

I think I’ve only eaten macarons twice in my life and neither time was I all that impressed, so naturally I wasn’t excited for this challenge; I’d rather be eating macaroons instead (mmm… macaroons). But in a way I was excited because otherwise I probably would have gone my whole life without making macarons and that would have been a damn shame.

They were enjoyable, delicate, and eating them felt really indulgent though that last part may be because making them myself allowed me to fully appreciate all the effort that went into making these fickle little sandwich cookies.

I did a bit of research on macaron making before diving into it since I’ve heard they can be a bitch to make. I read blogs and books and magazines and watched the Sandwich Cookie Episode of Bake with Anna Olson more times than I care to mention.

Finally I was ready to start.

Coconut Cardamom Macarons (3)

What is a Macaron?

Basically it’s a fancy sandwich cookie. The cookie part is made from almond meal, sugar, and well beaten egg whites to make a sweet biscuit that’s crisp on the outside but chewy on the inside. They’re so delicate that they pretty much have to be sandwiched together to hold up.

The filling is usually a jam or curd or ganache but I went with a buttercream which was really rich and very sweet (too sweet for some, but not for my sugar loving family).

The recipe I used was Martha Stewart’s recipe for French Macarons not to be confused with her recipe for Parisian Macarons which is somehow different in ways I fail to understand. (Are Parisians not French, Martha?)

The Filling

Now of course a macaron is nothing without its filling and Martha has a number of recommendations that are just as complicated (if not more so) than the macarons themselves.

I liked the sound of Martha’s coconut filling because it is a Swiss meringue buttercream filling with coconut flakes stirred in . . . and I myself am equal parts buttercream and coconut fanatic.

I’ve never made Swiss meringue buttercream before since it involves complicated things, like double broilers and candy thermometers, of which I like to steer clear. So before starting I consulted my sister, the buttercream guru. (Legend has it she once made 18 different buttercream variations to find the perfect recipe.) She confirmed that Swiss meringue is a bit time consuming but figured I could manage it without experience. And manage it I did.

The Swiss meringue buttercream took a bit more attention than other frostings, but it had a nice smooth consistency that’ll get me making it the next time I tackle a cake.

Coconut Cardamom Macarons (2)

The Cookie

With a successful buttercream under my belt (Quite literally. I ate a lot of it by the spoon.) I moved on to tackle the main event – the cookies. Making them wasn’t as complicated as I thought. I followed the recipe exactly, using a few extra tips that I learned along the way and I got good results.

The only issues I had were:

1) Piping perfect circles took a bit of practice and I was practically out of batter by the time I got the hang of it.

2) It was difficult to get the baking time right. I wish that I would have baked them maybe one minute longer because many of them were too soft and stuck to the parchment when I tried to pry them off.

The Result

Immediately after I made a batch, I wanted to make another. I wanted to get them perfectly right (ie. perfectly round and baked slightly longer) and I wanted to try adding a different flavour to the cookie and I wanted to experiment with different fillings. I liked the buttercream a lot, but if you’re not a fan of super sweet things , then try a ganache or a citrus curd filling instead.

Obviously I’m going to be making these again. . . in 40 days.

Tips and Techniques

Here are a few posts I found useful when it came to making my macarons.

Macaron Troubleshooting

Top 10 Macaron Myths

Sandwich Cookie Episode of Bake with Anna Olson

Nick Malgieri takes on Macarons: The Preliminaries, The Shells, The Filling

The Recipe

Coconut Cardamom Macarons (9)

Coconut Cardamom Macarons

From Martha Stewart

Ingredients

For the Filling:

1 egg white
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

For The Macarons:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup almond flour (aka ground almonds)
Pinch of freshly ground black cardamom seeds
2 large egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar

Directions

For the Filling:

Place egg white and sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat, and whisk on high speed until mixture is cool and stiff peaks form, about 6 minutes.

Leave meringue in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, on low speed, mixing after each addition. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes. Stir in the coconut.

For the Macarons:

Preheat the oven to 375F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Pulse the cardamom, confectioners’ sugar, and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift the mixture 2 times (don’t skip this step, sometimes there are big chunks of almond in the almond flour and you don’t want those).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add the sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Sift flour mixture over whites, and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on the baking sheets, dragging pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks.

Tap bottom the of each backing sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let the cookies stand at room temperature for 15 minutes to 30 minutes prior to baking so that a sheen forms on the cookie and you can touch it with your finger without the batter sticking.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 8-10 minutes. After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees, heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees.

Let macarons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. (If macarons stick, spray water underneath parchment on hot sheet. The steam will help release macarons.)

Sandwich 2 same-size macarons with 1 teaspoon filling. Serve immediately, or stack between layers of parchment, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months.


BakingPartners



17 Sep

Bran Flakes Cookies

Branflakes Cookies (1)

Okay, I’m a little bit late to the Baking Partners challenge this month. It was supposed to be posted on Saturday. Woops.

I got caught up doing really important things this weekend like drinking enough wine to get me dancing to a live Bon Jovi cover band, sipping Starbucks as I waited in Canadian Tire for some terrible news about the state of my car’s suspension system, and (sort of, but not really) watching football. You know, important stuff.

Anyway, this month’s theme was cookies. There were three cookie recipes to choose from, or you could make all three. Given that I’m trying to whittle my middle I opted to only make one type, and I opted to try to healthify it.

The recipe in question is for Cornflake Cookies, supposedly (based on my comrades results) it is a crunchy cookie filled with coconut and raisins and crusted with crushed cornflakes. I made a few swaps to the recipe and I got an entirely different result. I think.

Substitution 1: Coconut

First off, the recipe calls for dessicated coconut. Earlier in the week I had cracked open a fresh coconut, shaved the insides into flakes with a vegetable peeler and toasted under the broiler. I figured it would be a shame to use store bought shredded coconut in these cookies, so I used these flakes instead.

Tip: Stick with shredded coconut, but toast it.

The toasted flavour was amazing in the cookies, but the large flakes didn’t really combine well into the dough. Next time around, I’ll used shredded coconut but I will toast it first to bring out the nutty flavour.

Toasted Coconut Flakes

Substitution 2: Sugar

In sticking with the coconut theme, I decided to substitute coconut sugar for granulated. This was among my free swag from Swanson and I wanted to give it a try in baking.

I thought this made a decent sub for regular sugar. It had a nutty taste and though it didn’t cream together with the butter as well as white sugar does, it didn’t affect the texture of the cookie, which is something I worry about when I sub different sweeteners during baking.

Coconut SugarCoconut Sugar

Butter creamed with coconut sugarButter Creamed with Coconut Sugar

Substitution 3: Raisins

This recipe only called for 2 tablespoons of raisins. I found this volume to be absurdly low so I amped it up a bit, to 1/4 cup. Still not enough. In the end I was lucky if I found a raisin in the cookie at all. I would definitely ramp up the raisin count next time.

Tip: Add 1/2 – 3/4 c raisins to the cookies. Even that will be a modest amount.

Substitution 4: Flour

Since I’m trying to steer clear of white carbs I swapped all purpose flour for whole wheat. This also ups the protein and fibre content of the dough which makes the cookies chewy since protein and fibre bind to water.

Tip: The fibre in whole wheat flour makes it absorb moisture more easily than all purpose flour, this could make the cookie dough a bit drier. If the dough is too dry to work with, try adding a tablespoon of milk.

Substitution 4: Cereal

While we’re talking fibre, I figured I’d up the fibre content even more by swapping out regular corn flakes for bran flakes. Now that’s a high fibre cookie.

Branflakes Cookies (9)Rolling the cookie dough in crushed bran flakes

Branflakes Cookies (10)Ready for the oven

Results

I baked the cookie for only 12 minutes instead of the 15-20 recommended and it yielded a very nutty flavoured cookie that was chewy but had a crunchy exterior from the bran flakes. In the end I really liked it.

The only changes I would make would be to add a lot more raisins and to use the shredded coconut called for in the recipe.

Branflakes Cookies (12)

Bran Flakes Cookies

adapted from Baking: Common Sense by Murdoch Books

Ingredients

125 grams softened butter
3/4 c (165grams) sugar coconut sugar
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 t vanilla extract
2 T 1/2 c raisins
1-1/2 c (135grams) toasted shredded coconut
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
2 c (250grams) all purpose whole wheat flour
2 c crushed cornflakes bran flakes

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F, line two baking trays with baking paper.Sie ve the flour with baking soda and baking powder.

Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl,using electric beaters until they turns light and fluffy.

Gradually add the egg, beating thoroughly after each addition, add the vanilla and beat until combined.

Now add the raisins,coconut, give a stir. Fold the flour mixture with a metal spoon and stir until the mixture is almost smooth.

Put the crushed cornflakes in a shallow dish, then drop tablespoon of this cookie mixture onto the cornflakes and roll into balls.

Arrange on the trays, bake for 15-20minutes or until they turns golden.

Cool completely and arrange it in an air tightened box.

Branflakes Cookies (11)

Check out some of the other Baking Partners post at the link up here.

18 May

Chewy Espresso Chocolate Cookie

Espresso Chocolate Cookies

I’ve been back to baking a lot of cookies again. It’s track & field meet season and Matt likes to bring cookies for his fellow coaches so it seems like I’m making a batch of cookies each week.

This week I made two.

I picked up a Food & Drink magazine from the LCBO and they had a recipe for Espresso Chocolate Cookies in it and I wanted to make they right away. They were loaded with chocolate chips, dried cranberries, pecans, and shredded coconut, and they had a fudgy chew to them which was an awesome texture.

Matt like them a lot too, even thought they had a strong coffee flavour and he’s not a fan of coffee, and he wanted to make some for the track coaches at the WECSSA meet. 4 of his throwers are going on to SWOSSA next week– Go Team!

This version of the cookie is a bit different. I didn’t have any more baking chocolate for the cookie base so instead I used more butter and I mixed cocoa with the flour. Also, I left out the cranberries and swapped the pecans for walnuts and basically made these cookies more friendly on the wallet.

They turned out quite good actually! Matt preferred them to the original batch I made. They were very chewy with a strong espresso flavour and lots of chocolate chips.

Good thing I was paying attention, because I’m going to want to make this recipe again, and probably soon.

Espresso Chocolate Cookies

Chewy Espresso Chocolate Cookie

(makes 20-24)

Ingredients

½ lb salted butter at room temperature
¾ c sugar
¾ c brown sugar
½ t baking soda
½ t baking powder
1 ¾ c AP flour
¾ c Dutch process cocoa powder
1 T espresso
2 eggs
½ t vanilla
1 ½ c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c chopped walnuts
½ c shredded coconut

Directions

Cream the butter in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until it’s soft, white, and fluffy.

Beat in the sugars together with the butter on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add in the vanilla, and eggs (one at a time),

In a separate bowl stir together the baking soda, baking powder, flour, and cocoa powder until well combined.

Scrape the sides of the bowl of the mixer, add in dry mixture a little bit at a time. Mix until incorporated then add the nuts, chocolate chips, and coconut just until mixed.

Scoop cookie dough and form into a ball about the size of a golf ball. Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet and flatten the balls slightly with your fingers.

Bake at 350*F for 10 minutes or until the top is just set (not shiny).

The cookies should still be very soft and look underbaked. Let them cool on a rack before eating.

15 Apr

Homemade Fig Newtons Recipe

It’s time for another Eating the Alphabet recipe link-up where each month we make a recipe featuring a fruit, vegetable, legume, or whole grain from a different set of letters of the alphabet.

So far I’ve done:

(A or B): Buttercup Squash and Artichoke Pasta
(C or D): Grenadian Oil Down with Cassava (Favourite)

This month is E and F so I decided on figs!

Homemade Fig Newtons

 

Figs are one of my favourite fruits. They’re amazing when they are fresh in the summer months because they have a great texture is both smooth (from the flesh) and crunchy (from the seeds) at the same time.

Dried figs are satisfying in their own right because of their intense sweetness (one of the main reasons that I love them).

Even the leaves from the fig plant used in cooking, often as a parcel for roasting meat or seafood. I’ve never tried this before but it sounds pretty intriguing.

Homemade Fig Newtons

Aside from their deliciousness, figs are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps to control blood pressure, and one of the highest plant sources of both fibre and calcium.

There are several different varieties of figs, but the more common ones are Black Mission which have a deep purple skin and Calimyrna which have a green skin (and are my personal favourites).

Fig Newtons are one of my favourite cookies (or should I say, ‘fruit and cake’) so this recipe appealed to me. Since figs aren’t in season right now, I made this recipe with dried Calimyrna figs that I picked up at the grocery store. The result was delicious. Matt and I nearly ate the batch in 3 days. Nearly. The cookie part is more of a cookie than ‘cake’ like a traditional Fig Newton, but I quite liked it.

I will make this recipe again.

Information Sources: 1, 2

Homemade Fig Newtons

Homemade Fig Newtons

adapted from Scientifically Sweet and Our Italian Kitchen
makes 20

Dough:

1/2 c butter
1/2 c sugar
1 egg yolk
2 T milk
1/2 t orange blossom water
1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking powder

Jam:

1 package (8 oz) dried figs, chopped
1 1/2 c water
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 c brown sugar
juice of 1/2 lime

Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add in the egg yolk and orange blossom water.
In a separate bowl stir the flour with the baking powder and add this dry mixture to the butter mixture a little at a time, mixing on low speed until the dough starts to come together.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours).

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the jam ingredients over medium-high heat until bubbling. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 to 35 minutes, until it is thickened to a gel and very little liquid remains. Cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8”x8” baking dish.

On a floured surface, roll the dough out to a 8” x 16” rectangle, about 1/4” thick. Cut the dough in half (into two 8” squares) with a pastry cutter or pizza cutter.
Lift one square gently off the floured surface and place it into the baking dish. You want the dough to just cover the bottom of the dish so trim off any excess.
Spoon the filling on top and spread it over the dough evenly.
Place the second square of dough on top of the jam and again cut off any excess.

Bake for 22-25 minutes, rotating the baking dish halfway through, until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before cutting into squares with a sharp serrated knife.


 

09 Feb

Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

Breakfast Cookies

So I found this recipe online for something called Carnival Cookies filled with popcorn and chocolate chips. I had made a pact with myself last month to stop baking so many goddamn cookies after overdosing on cookie dough in the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies bake-off.

And then I saw these gorgeous little creatures with the super-cute name that don’t call for any butter or sugar and I decided to give them a go.

I like them, but they’re not sweet enough or rich enough. Most of the sweetness comes from the banana and the chocolate chips. They’re not really cookies, ya know?  They don’t deserve the moniker and, no, I don’t think everything rolled into a golfball shape and baked should be called a cookie.

Matt came home and tasted one and immediately asked, “What are these?”

“Ummm… they’re like cookies, but they don’t have any sugar?” It was definitely a response in the form of a question.

And then he grabbed another—the one with the most chocolate chips because it tasted the best.

I ate two of these this morning for breakfast without feeling all that guilty, and they were surprising more filling than I expected. So I changed the name of them from carnival cookies to breakfast cookies so

1) I don’t fool myself into thinking I’m going to be eating a delicious dessert
2) I do fool myself into thinking it’s cool to eat some for breakfast

Plus, I changed a bunch of ingredients so I have some liberties with the recipe title.

Chocolate CHip Breakfast Cookies

Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

adapted from Carnival Cookies

makes 20

Ingredients

2 really big ripe bananas, mashed (or 3 normal sized bananas)
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 T. all natural peanut butter
1/2 c. rolled oats
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. semolina flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. mixed spices (incl. ground pepper, clove, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom)
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. chopped walnuts
3/4 c. chocolate chips
1 1/2 c. popped popcorn

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the mashed bananas, vanilla, peanut butter, and oil. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, flours, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix to combine.

Fold in the chocolate, nuts, and popped corn.

The dough may be looser than most cookies. Heap 1 tablespoon worth of cookie dough on to your palm and shape golfballs. Place about 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Bake for approximately 15-18 minutes until golden, rotating the baking sheet 180deg halfway through baking.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.