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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Raspberry Pecan Coconut Pie


So I have been slacking on the blog front lately.  Slacking on all fronts really.   I feel like I haven't baked in weeks.  Although I did make 3 Coconut Salted Caramel Chocolate Pies for a lady at work, I haven't baked anything new.  I think I have thrown myself into pre-vacation mode where I don't really want to do anything.  I also seem to also be choosing to venture outside and enjoying this wonderful weather we have been having (off and on).   I have also spent barely any time on twitter, pinterest or blog reading.  I am now trying to catch up on days worth of my dashboard, bloglovin et all to find out what I have missed over the last week. Uggh..so behind.

Since my plans for excessive mini egg baking have gone out the window with my trip I wanted to give you an awesome Easter pie.  

Raspberry Pecan Coconut Pie
(adapted from Anna Olson)




INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 homemade or premade pie crust
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan peices
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries

INSTRUCTIONS:
1) Bake the pie crust as per blind bake instructions.  Let cool and place the pie crust on a baking tray. 
2) Preheat oven to 325F. Combine eggs, brown sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix together well. 


3) Add flour, baking powder, salt, coconut and pecans


4) Fold in raspberries.  Pour the mixture into the crust. 


5) Bake for 45 minutes, until evenly browned and set.   Allow tart to cool completely.   Store in the fridge up to 4 days.


This is a  great combination of ingredients.  It's like a pecan pie with coconut and raspberries.   The raspberries just make this so nice and fresh for the spring.

MEG's RATING: D-EEEEE-LICIOUS













Thursday, March 22, 2012

Apricot Pistachio Oatmeal Cookies


So I have finally booked my trip to Barbados and we are leaving in less than two weeks.   Talk about last minute.   The price didn't change for the last few weeks so we decided to sit on it for a while.  I have also just been on the fence about booking since the weather has been so nice.  In the end it is not just the weather , it is the getaway, no distractions, no work,  just relaxing.   So I am now looking forward to the pool, reading, the turtles, and maybe the shopping.    The nice thing about booking late is that you also don't have a long countdown to get there, my countdown is only 10 days.   Sweet.

Unfortunately this cuts into my Easter baking plans as I will lose a full week of potential creations.  Hopefully I can squeeze in some baking this weekend.  I already have one idea in my head.  I do also want to bake some treats or granola bars to bring with me on the trip.   These cookies might be one of them.

Oatmeal Cookies with Apricots and Pistachios
(adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
INSTRUCTIONS:
1) Preheat oven to 350F.  In a large bowl or your mixer bowl beat butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. 
2) Add in eggs one at a time beating on low. 
3) Combine flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon in a small bowl, then stir into wet mixture.
4) Stir in oats, apricots and pistachios.  
5) Using a small ice cream scoop, add the rounds to a parchment/silpat line baking sheet.   Bake until cookies are turning golden on the edges, 10-12 minutes.   Let cool on a wire rack, store in a airtight container.

I think these are the best oatmeal cookies I have ever made. I don't know what else to say.  I am going to make them again this weekend.

MEG's RATING : D-EEEEE-LICIOUS






Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cookie Pudding Bars



I am going to catch you up on an old story to get to me these pudding bars.   My sister works as a food and beverage manager in a nursing home.   Last spring there was a purchasing seminar, at least I think that is what is was, where the guest speaker was Anna & Michael Olson.    At this point in my life had never seen her speak before.   I also assumed there was an opportunity to meet her.   My sister was kind enough to get me into this event for the few hours to see them speak. They spoke for about an hour on focusing on menus using local, seasonal ingredients.  It was very informative and Michael is very funny.
Now my sister and I had a little mis-communication.  She informed me that I could by a cookbook there to get signed. However the cookbooks she saw were for a giveaway and could not be purchased.   Crap,  I was there with no cookbook for Anna to sign.  What was I to do?   Luckily since my name was technically registered at the seminar my name was in the draw for the cookbook and wouldn't ya know it my name was called.   I got my signed cookbook and a photo.   Good day.


What does this story have to do with pudding bars?   Meeting Anna & Michael Olson, nothing.     At the conference though I managed to pick up a large bag of instant pudding mix.   Up until last week I still hadn't used it,  I also wanted cookies.  Problem solved.    I also got to start to dig into baking with Easter candy, which remember I love love.   Easter M&M's are so much prettier than regular M&M's.

Here is hopefully one of many Easter candy love recipes.


Cookie Pudding Bars
(adapted from Kraft Canada)

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 pkg. (1.7 oz.) Vanilla Instant Pudding
1/2 pkg (1.7 oz) Chocolate Instant Pudding
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups spring time M&M's

INSTRUCTIONS:

1) Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray with non stick spray an 8 inch square pan.   In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt.
2) In a large bowl or mixer bowl beat together butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla.
3) Add flour mixture to eggs, beating on low until just combined.  Split the mixture in half.
4) Using a wooden spoon to combine,  add the chocolate dry pudding mix to one half and the vanilla to the other. Split the M&M's and stir into both.
5) Place one of the mixtures in random chunks into the prepared pan.   Add the remaining mixture in chunks around the other mixture.  Using a knife or spoon blend the two mixtures together to create swirls and blends.
6) Bake 18 to 20 min. or until golden brown. Cool in pan 5 min  Remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Cut into squares.

The bar form is much easier than the cookie if you are going for the swirl effect but they can be made into cookies as well.    Just make sure your consistency of both doughs is the same or you will have uneven cookies.

MEG's RATING : D-EEEE-LICIOUS!





Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Irish Coffee Caramel Ice Cream


Anyone still recovering from daylight savings? I am not quite recovered, but probably my fault  for going to a movie last night and then staying up to watch my PVR'd "The Voice"  I then sadly had to wake myself up just after  6 to get ready for work.   YAWN!   I did see "Friends with Kids" last night and it was actually quite cute and funny.

Despite my loss of sleep I am quite happy about the additional daylight.  We got fairly lucky this year in terms of a winter in Southern Ontario.   We had very few major storms and temperatures were never really that bad for that long.   There is still something to be said for more hours of daylight though.  Moderately cold darkness is still no fun.   I mean we all need a little more Vitamin D in our lives.   I can also use the additional day light for photography.   Those few extra hours of daylight after work make such a difference.  I know longer need to try a fiddle around with my clamp lights or save all my baking for the weekend.   I have flexibility again and that I like.

This wonderful yet scary surge of warm weather is already kicking in my cravings for ice cream.  Uh-oh!  At least with the extra daylight I can go for longer jogs.  Win, Win.  

Irish Coffee Caramel Ice Cream 


INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/4 cups skim milk
  • 1 heaping tbsp glucose
  • 4 tbsp xylitol or granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup Irish cream
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 heaping tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup dulche de leche
  • 2-3 tbsp chocolate shavings. 


INSTRUCTIONS:

1) In a medium-large sauce pan, heat on medium milk, heavy cream, espresso powder, Irish cream, glucose and 2 tbsp xylitol.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat.
2) In a medium bowl, whisk together yolks, cornstarch and remaining xylitol/sugar.
3) Slowly, while whisking pour in half of the milk/cream mixture to temper the eggs.  
4) Add the egg-milk mixture back into the sauce pan with remaining liquid.
5) Turn heat back up to medium, whisking constantly until liquid begins to thicken.  Do not let the mixture boil or the eggs will curdle.
6) Once thickened remove from heat and run through a sieve into the medium bowl.
7) Cover the liquid directly with saran wrap and place the medium bowl into a large bowl with ice water.  Refrigerate until cold.
8) Run through your ice cream maker/attachment as per instruction.   I have the kitchen aid mixer attachment and ran for 20-25 minutes, adding chocolate shavings in the last few minutes.  The ice cream will be off the walls of the canister.


9) Place into a freezer safe container and swirl in dulche de leche.  May I also recommend some toffee bits.


If you like Irish Coffees you will love this.  Creamy, sweet and smooth. Mmmm.caramel.  Sometimes I find with homemade ice cream it has the tendency to freeze very hard.    This ice cream even after a few days was easily scooped.

MEG's RATING : D-EEEEE-LICIOUS!











Sunday, March 11, 2012

Chocolate Salted Caramel Pie (ie.Best Pie EVER!)

(Note : This photo is the dulche de leche version)




After I made the original version of this pie the first time I was always looking for another reason to make it again.   I was also thinking I need to change it.   The crust on this pie is so easy and I love that it is gluten free.  So over the last year the one thought that would never leave my head was adding a caramel layer to the pie.  However, over the year I got side tracked with other recipes.

One fine day a week ago...there was a reason.  Yippee!  It was the birthday of my good friend Katie who I work with and I wanted to bake her a birthday treat.   I had to do a little re-con and ask her husband secretly through facebook what she loves for dessert.   His response was anything coconut, red velvet, lemon and salted caramel.   Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner, I can make the pie.  I was so excited I could barely keep it a secret from her.

The original version of this pie (sans caramel) is the most viewed item on my blog.   Trust me when I say this,  this version is SOOOOOOO much better.     I also actually made two versions of this pie one with salted caramel and one with salted dulche de leche.   I wanted to see what version might be better, there is a clear winner.
coconut, salted caramel, chocolate, pie, bestpie


I made some changes to the crust from the previous version aswell, the original had way to much coconut.

Chocolate Salted Caramel Pie

(Loosely adapted from Martha Stewart)
Makes one 9-inch pie.


INGREDIENTS:

Crust
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp xylitol or granulated sugar
Filling


Chocolate
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (72% cacao)
Caramel
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp sea salt
or exclude all of the caramel ingredients and use homemade dulce de leche --> Recipe

INSTRUCTIONS:
1 Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a food processor, process butter and 2 cups of unsweetened coconut and xylitol until mixture starts to stick together, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Combine this mixture with all the remaining coconut,  using your hands to bring together


2 Press coconut mixture into bottom and up sides of pie pan to form crust, leaving top edges loose and fluffy. Cover the crust lightly with tin foil over the edges, and cut a hole in the center.  Keeping the edges covered to prevent burning. Bake until center begins to brown, 10 to 15 minutes; remove foil and bake until edges are browned, 4 to 5 minutes more. Transfer crust to a wire rack to cool completely.


3) Make the caramel sauce.   Place sugar and water in a sauce pan or small dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Allow the mixture to boil until mixture begins to darken, watching carefully so the mixture doesn't burn.
I always keep a pastry brush and small cup of water close by, and occasionally brush the sides of the pan to prevent crystallization.  If you noticed uneven browning, you may have to give the pan a light swirl.


4) When the mixture has turned to a medium amber add the heavy cream, whisking constantly.   The mixture will expand and bubble from the steam.   Add sea salt and stir to combine.


5) Allow the caramel to cool for approx 15 minutes before pouring into the cooled coconut crust.


6)) Make the chocolate filling:  In a small sauce pan bring cream just to a boil.  While cream is heating up, place chopped chocolate into a medium heatproof bowl.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for 10 minutes to allow chocolate to melt.  Stir to combine and melt remaining chocolate.  The mixture should be smooth and completely melted. Pour onto the caramel layer, smooth out if needed.  Refrigerate until filling is set, 1 hour or up to 1 day. 



If you are using the dulche de leche, omit the caramel steps and pour half can of dulche de lech over the coconut crust and top that with the chocolate.



I think this may be my favorite pie of all time. The people at work were two thumbs to both versions.  I even got a note left on my desk with the statement "AMAZING PIE".    If you have to choose between the salted caramel and the dulche de leche I would choose the salted caramel version.  It is less creamy but salted caramel just has that extra UMPH vs. dulche de leche.

Make this for your Easter dinner, your family won't be disappointed!!

MEG's RATING: D-EEEEEE-LICIOUS.   (That is one E above the limit!)





Pi Day Pie Party

Friday, March 9, 2012

Five Friday Pin up - Mar 9

Does anyone watch the Finder?  It is my new favorite show and I highly recommend it.  Smart, funny and very entertaining.   Check it out, it was on Thursday night but I think it is moving to Fridays.  And that is all I have to say about that.

On another note : TGIF and TGTGWIS  (Thank god the good weather is coming)  We have a small dip in the temperature for the next day or so but Sunday and the days following it are promising sunshine and double digits. Hello walks outside, driving with the window down and patio season.  I think this weekend may also involve uncovering the BBQ. Yippee!  Spring also means Easter.  Which means Easter candy and my obsession with it.  Mini eggs, eggies, reese eggs they all make me very happy and now I can freely bake with them.  Time for some Easter recipe creation.

My hubby is back from work travel so this weekend will involve a dinner/movie date and a nice Sunday walk. As well as the usual baking, blogging I must must start to go over all my taxes.  I never got to those last time I said I was supposed to.  My giant envelope of receipts is haunting me.

Don't forget to turn your clocks ahead Sunday morning if you are supposed to and enjoy more sunlight at night!

It has been a while since I spread the blogging word on what I recently got hooked on, so I did my 10 favorite pins of the last few weeks.

1) Salted Caramel Macaroons by 52 Kitchen Adventures : http://pinterest.com/pin/149744756330070754/

2) Nutella Baklava by Epicurean Mom : http://pinterest.com/pin/149744756330070786/

3) Butterfinger Blondies by Six Sisters Stuff : http://pinterest.com/pin/149744756330094433/

4) Whole Wheat Baked Banana + Chocolate Doughnuts by Top with Cinnamon : http://pinterest.com/pin/149744756330130016/

5) English Muffin Bread by My Baking Addiction : http://pinterest.com/pin/149744756330073522/

6) Creamy baked rigatoni with butternut squash and goat cheese by Foodess : http://pinterest.com/pin/149744756330154864/

7) Creamy chicken avocado and goat cheese salad by The Healthy Foodie :  http://pinterest.com/pin/149744756330144507/

8) No Bake Lentil Granola Bars by Once Upon a Cutting Board : http://pinterest.com/pin/149744756330155152/

9) Gluten Free Oreos by Gluten Free Girl : http://pinterest.com/pin/149744756330094422/

10) Samoa Bundt Cake by Betsy Life : http://pinterest.com/pin/149744756330154921/


Have a SWEET Weekend!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chocolate Guinness Cake



My hubby is gone to Ottawa for work this week so I am left to my own devices.  You would think I might be more productive with the house to myself.   But I am not.   I just avoid everything I need to do.  I come from work, get my work out and then curl up in my bed, catch up on my PVR (Personal Video Recorder) and blog. Completely avoiding any house productivity.  I think I can largely blame the PVR for that.   It is a great device but a dangerous device.   How easily can you get trapped, recording everything.  Then what happens... you get interested in more shows, new shows, cooking shows.    Until the warm weather comes back I am allowed to do this.

St. Patrick's Day is coming.  That always means one thing, time to bake with alcohol. It's a bakers rule.   First up...Guinness.  It also happened to be my brother in laws birthday, who likes beer. So I killed two birds with one stone.  Blogging can be so multi-functional.   Sometimes I don't know what I would do with all my baking if I didn't have functions or people to bake for.  You can only indulge in so much yourself.   It's nice to giveaway the goods.

I also just thought of another St. Pat's recipe while I was sitting her typing.  I think I can call that productive.  ;-)

Chocolate Guinness Cake
(Adapted from Nigella Lawson)

INGREDIENTS: 


Cake
  • 1 cup Guinness or Stout Beer
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 75g cocoa
  • 400g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 275g unbleached all purpose
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking soda
Icing
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp light cream cheese
  • 150g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • Green food paste
  • Chocolate shavings

INSTRUCTIONS:
1) Preheat the oven to 350F, spray and line with parchment a 10in springform pan.
2) Pour the Guinness and cubed butter into a  large saucepan, heat until the butter's melted.


3) Whisk in the cocoa and sugar and remove from heat.


4) In a a large bowl, Beat/Whisk together the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the beer butter mixture, and whisk to combine. 
5) Whisk in the flour and baking soda
6) Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack.
7) When the cake is completely cool. place on a flat platter or cake stand and make the icing. 
8) In a large bowl or mixer bowl , whip/beat the cream cheese until smooth, add the icing sugar and beat to combine. Add the cream and a few toothpick drops of food colour and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. 
9) Spread the icing on top using an offset spatula in a light airy way.  Sprinkle with chocolate shavings.

This cake is so moist and delicious.  You definitely get the malt beer flavour in the cake, its subtle but nice. The cake has a great balance of sweet and bitter.    As usual all cream cheese icing is the best accompaniment.

MEG's RATING : D-EEEEE-LICOUS!


You might also like these Guinness Chocolate Cookies.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bacon Apple Cheese Bread


If you eat meat chances are you love Bacon.   If you don't love it, you still may realize its power.  The power of Bacon?  I know it seems crazy.   I am not vegetarian but I don't eat a lot of meat and I don't eat a lot of bacon. I do know what it can do.  It's salt, fat and sometimes sweetness all in one.  Bacon in desserts has been on the rise lately and popping up everywhere, especially with chocolate.   Even just bacon dipped in chocolate is becoming popular.

I actually work at a company that produces bacon.  I know a lot of bacon lovers and knew this would get eaten up at work in no time. I also happen to get some free bacon now and then, and I am always looking for some new uses.   I have been eyeing this bread in one of my magazines for two years now.   Every time I open it I think... ooh I need to make that and then I don't know.   Well my wait is no longer, that extra bacon in my fridge is going to be put to use.


Bacon Apple Cheese Bread
(Adapted from Holiday Baking)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 strips of maple bacon, diced - only used 3/4 of the pieces in the bread.
  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour or gluten free mix
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Vegetable oil - add to bacon fat to make 1/2 cup
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup Xylitol  (if you don't have Xylitol, omit honey and use 1/2 cup granulated sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large apple (Mutsu or Crispin), peeled and shredded
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded white old cheddar cheese

INSTRUCTIONS:

1) Saute bacon in a medium skillet on medium heat until crisp.  Use a slotted spoon to separate the bits from the liquid.   Transfer the bits to a paper towel and pour the liquid into a measuring cup.  Add enough oil in the cup to equal 1/2 a cup.   
2) Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray with non stick spray a large loaf pan.  In a small bowl combine flour, salt and baking soda and whisk together.  Set aside.
3) In a large bowl combine the oil, honey, xylitol and whisk together until well combined.  Add apple, applesauce and buttermilk. 



4) Fold in/Gently whisk dry mixture into wet until almost combined.   


5) Fold in cheese  (reserving a small handful for the top of the bread) and bacon.


6) Pour battered in prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes.  Sprinkle the top of the loaf with the remaining cheese and then bake another 10 minutes, a wooden skewer will come out clean.   Let loaf cool in pan for another 10-15 minutes, then remove from the dish and let cool completely before slicing.   Store in a sealed container or tightly in saran.

I am such an idiot!  How could I wait so long to bake this.  Even the fact that I accidentally under baked it, it was still amazing.   This is not a dessert bread, it is a nice brunch bread.  Serve it up with some soup and salad and you are good to go.


MEG's RATING : D-EEEE-LICIOUS!

bacon, cheese, bread, loaf, apple, brunch, lunch







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