Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas Baking Series #6: Mini Egg Shortbread Cookies

Wow....I This weekend was the weekend to END all weekends. It was like, 5 weekends mushed into one. First we had Hubby's Birthday Party on the Friday. I did a surprise "Build His Bar" theme for him so everyone brought him a bottle of booze to stock his bar. It's something he's always wanted to do, but we've just never been able to. Let me tell you, it is now FULLY stocked and he's PRETTY excited about it:

 Not to brag, but we also had an EPIC(ish) DIY photo booth, which people enjoyed immensely!  Add in some ugly Christmas Sweaters and silly props, and you've got yourself a party!

The next day, we had a family Christmas. Hubs and I were running on basically NO sleep, but we still had an amazing time. Lots of food, family and games. Loved it!

However, on the way home, we caught wind that there was an EPIC ice storm coming. I mean, we all knew something was coming, but we didn't know how bad it was going to be. When Jon and I FINALLY got home (and basically skated up the path to our house) we weren't too worried about the storm.

Turns was basically the apocalypse. There were trees down, power out pretty much everywhere and ice about 1/4" thick on the car. I was supposed to head downtown to meet with my Dad and sister, but I couldn't even get into my car. So, I took pictures instead.

After we DID unfreeze my car, we headed to a family Christmas. Hubs and I both had NO power in our phones, or house, or laptop and our car charger was missing. I've never felt so useless in my whole life. When we FINALLY got home last night around midnight....STILL NO POWER. It was cold, gross, horrible and cold. Luckily, the power DID go up around 5am, but I know the same cannot be said for MOST of the GTA, so I know we're pretty lucky to have power.

ANYWAY - what a mess. I'm epically exhausted and really just want to curl up with a big ol' glass of rum and eggnog. Oh, and eat these incredible cookies I'm about to tell you about.

These cookies are truly amazing. First, the shortbread is just to DIE for. It's everything shortbread should be. Then, with the addition of Mini Eggs? Heaven. I know Mini Eggs are more an Easter Treat, but they come in Christmas colours and that's why I'm adding this recipe to my Christmas Baking Series.

Also, this shortbread is amazing on its own, so it would be perfect to bring to any holiday party!

Mini Egg Shortbread Cookies

1 1/4 cup flour 
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 200g bag of Mini Eggs, crushed

Preheat Oven to 300 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, sift together the flour, cornstarch and icing sugar. Add the butter and mix together on low until a stiff dough is formed. 

Using a wooden spoon, mix in the mini eggs. It's OK if there are some large pieces and some smaller pieces. In fact, it's better when it is a mix of sizes!

Once mixed in, roll dough into 1" balls and placed on your prepared cookie sheets. Press down on the dough with your fingers to flatten. You should have about 24-25 cookies. 

Put in oven for 22-24 mins on the middle shelf. After about 20 mins, keep an eye on the cookies to see if they start to brown. Shortbread Cookies are tricky to judge because you don't really want them to go brown, so just keep checking them. 

 Do not bake for longer than 24 mins or else the candy coating of the mini eggs will be really sticky when you bite into them. 

Take them out of the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Enjoy with a cold glass of milk. These things will melt right in your mouth!


- Lisa
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Monday, 16 December 2013

Christmas Baking Series #5: Flourless Chocolate Cake

So, I don't know what it is about the month of March but for SOME reason, that's when everyone in my family & hubby's family decided to make babies. I swear, we have like 10 birthdays in the month of December IN MY IMMEDIATE FAMILY. Totally crazy.

Anyway, the first one up this month was my Dad's birthday. I like to make December birthdays separate from Christmas because it really does suck when you get jipped and have to celebrate both on one day. So we (my sister, her boyfriend, hubby and I) went over to my Dad's last night and made homemade pizza and wings.

It was quite the fiasco. My sister and her boyfriend are Gluten Free, so they had to make their dough separately (which took about 1 hour longer than normal because they kept forgetting the special ingredients like Xyantham Gum, Potato Starch and Eye of Newt or whatever). Here they are reading pictures of the recipe for the dough on a phone. Quite entertaining:
Anywho, since it was a birthday celebration, I wanted to make a cake that my Dad would enjoy and that the gluten challenged could digest. Then I remembered this FABULOUS flourless chocolate cake. It's SO GOOD. It's dense, but not too dense. It's sweet, but not too sweet. It's soft and moist and just...yum. Plus, it doesn't taste like it's gluten free because there is no substitutions necessary since there is no flour in it! It's a WIN-WIN for all! (Also, I only have 2 pictures of it because I was on my way out the door right after it was made!)

Basically, the reason why I'm including this as a "Christmas Baking Recipe" is because you could bring it to ANY holiday party and it will be a crowd pleaser OR you could cut them into squares and give them as gifts. It's so totally decadent which is perfect for this time if year! Plus, it goes well with Egg Nog (which is how WE enjoyed it)

Flourless Chocolate Cake
original recipe from Epicurious

4 oz bittersweet chocolate 
1/2 cup salted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cocoa powder 
Sprinkle of cocoa powder and icing sugar

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8" round baking pan. If you have, a spring form pan, that would work perfectly. If not (I don't) cut a round of wax paper to line the bottom of your baking pan and butter that as well. 

In a double boiler (or a metal bowl over simmering water in a pot) melt the chocolate and the butter together until smooth. Remove the bowl from the pot/double boiler (CAREFUL, IT'S HOT!) and use a whisk to mix in the sugar. Add the eggs and combine well with the whisk. Sift the cocoa powder into the mix and stir until JUST combined. 

Pour the batter into your baking pan. Place pan in the middle of the over for 20 mins. The original recipe calls for 25, but I found that baking it that long dried out the edges of the cake a bit. You want the top to form a thin crust so make sure you're watching after the 20 mins is up. 

Take out of the oven when ready and cool for 5-10 mins. You can either serve it like that OR flip it over onto a cake stand or serving dish. Sift some cocoa powder and icing sugar on top.

Enjoy with a cold glass of milk, egg nog or a glass of red wine. Mmmmmm.

- Lisa
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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Mostly Wordless Wednesday

Feeling a little down today and came across this...kind of REALLY put things in perspective and was exactly what I needed to read:

Monday, 9 December 2013

Christmas Baking Series #4: Twix Bar Chocolate Chip Cookies

The theme for my Christmas Baking post this week is COOKIES. I know this time of year Cookie Exchanges are a popular thing, so if  you're involved in one (or you just want to make an AMAZING cookie), this is a recipe you'll want to try.

The cookie dough itself is really, really good and I think would make a great base for ANY cookie. Then, when you have the added ooze of the Twix caramel and the crunch of the cookie bar, you've got one heck of a cookie!

Twix Bar Chocolate Chocolate Chip
original recipe from Averie Cooks
3/4 cup butter (salted or unsalted, up to you)
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt (if you use unsalted butter)
1 1/2 cups chopped Twix Bar (about 3 full sized chocolate bars)
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, combine the sugar and butter, egg and vanilla until nice and fluffy. 

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour, cornstarch and baking soda (and optional salt) and mix until JUST combined. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the Twix and chocolate chips. You could mix the Twix in by using the stand mixer, but I prefer the bigger chunks of the Twix bar that you get by hand combining them.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. If you bake the cookies with warm dough they will be thin and spread out.

When ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Using a cookie scoop or a tablespoon, make cookies into 2" balls and place onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten the dough either with a fork or the palm of your hand. I could fit about 9 on each baking sheet.

Bake in the oven for about 8-9 mins. Keep a close eye on them as you'll want to take them out JUST as they start to brown on the edges. It's OK if they're still a little soft in the centre. Let cool on the baking sheet for about 5 mins then transfer to a wire cooking rack.

Repeat until you have used all the dough!

Mmmmm. Gooey.

Happy Cookie Exchanging! What is YOUR go-to cookie exchange recipe?

- Lisa
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Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Christmas Baking Series #3: Candy Cane Oreo Cheesecake Truffles

I just had an AMAZING weekend. I mean, it was seriously, seriously awesome. Not only did I get to check a few items off my Winter Bucket List AND reached one of my goals for 2013, but I got to reconnect with old friends, spend time with hubby and the fam and just relax a bit. It was one of those perfect winter weekends. Oh, and I also made these amazing truffles as part of my Christmas Baking Series, but we'll get to that in a sec.

So we have this one set of family friends. Our parents have known each other forever, and so have the kids. We make a point at LEAST one time a year to get together and visit. Usually it is over the holidays when things are TOTALLY crazy and hectic, so the visit is short but sweet. THIS year, we manages to wrangle all the girls together to meet downtown for drinks and giggles. We met up in the Distillery District which was PACKED because of a Christmas Market, so the only place we could find to eat was OUTSIDE. It ended up being awesome and we had a totally valid excuse to drink hot chocolate and Baileys (check that off the bucket list) A totally awesome afternoon.
Moms and their girls!
On Sunday, it was hubby's family Christmas with the WHOLE fam jam. His family is crazy huge. With 10 Aunts and Uncles, plus their kids and their KIDS kids, there are A LOT of people. They are loud and fun and I love them. I am so so grateful to have married into such a wonderful family. Hubs and I also got the added "luck" to be Santa and Mrs. Claus for the kids, which turned out to be super fun.
THEN to top it all off, I came up with this concoction below and made some SERIOUSLY amazing truffles. I've been making basic Oreo Cheesecake Truffles for quite some time now, but when I was shopping on the weekend I found CANDY CANE OREOS...
SO, I formulated these Candy Cane Oreo Cheesecake Truffles in my head and they are FANTASTIC. Like, seriously amazing. They are cheesecakey and candy caney and truffly. I could eat these all day.

Candy Cane Oreo Cheesecake Truffles
By: ME!

1 regular sized pack of Candy Cane Oreos OR Regular Ones
20-30 mini candy canes
1 brick of cream cheese (8oz)
1 tsp peppermint extract
3 cups milk chocolate chips

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

In a food processor, combine the Oreo cookies and 15 candy canes (NOTE: If you don't have the Candy Cane Oreos, combine regular Oreos with about 20-25 mini candy canes) I have a tiny food processor so I had to do mine in a couple batches. 

In a large bowl, combine the crushed candy canes/Oreos with the cream cheese and peppermint extract. You could be fancy and use a mixer, but I just got in there with my hands. I find it combines more evenly when I do it that way. 

When everything is combined (it will look like dirt) roll the mixture into 1/2" balls and place them on your baking sheet. You can really make them as large or small as you want, but I like this size. There is enough oomph to them, but they aren't too big. When you're done rolling (should make about 36) put the baking sheet into the freezer for about 15-20 mins.  

Before you take out the balls (is it sad that I giggled when I wrote that?) take the rest of your candy canes (you only need 5-6) fold them up in wax paper and smash them with a hammer. Next, put about 1.5 cups of the chocolate chips into a microwaveable bowl and heat for 1 &1/2 min in the microwave, taking out at 30 second intervals to stir. Do this until chocolate is completely melted. Line another baking sheet with aluminum foil.

One by one, dip the truffle balls into the chocolate and make sure they are totally coated. Using a fork, scoop out the truffle from underneath. This allows the chocolate to drip through the fork. Place the truffle on the baking sheet and sprinkle with the crushed candy cane. Continue until the chocolate in the bowl starts to cool. Add the remaining chocolate and repeat the melting & dipping process.

When you're done, place the truffles in the freezer. If you have any left over chocolate, mix in the rest of your crushed candy cane (or crush more), mix and pour onto a lined baking sheet and put in the freezer. VOILA - Candy Cane Bark (winter bucket list item # 2 checked off!)

Enjoy with a COLD glass of milk. THE BEST.

- Lisa
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