Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

If your freezer is anything like mine that means you have, what appears to be hundreds of frozen bananas! For people who enjoy a nice slice of warm banana bread or a banana muffin this overstock of bananas is not a bad thing, but for those of us, myself included, who do not enjoy banana bread or muffins, this overstock can be a bit of a challenge!

I was actually on the search for a cookie with coconut and I came across this recipe by another blogger, which can be found here and decided that today would be a good day to tackle the banana mania that’s going on in my freezer!

I made a few changes to the recipe, such as adding salt. Why baking recipes neglect salt I do not know, you always want to add even just a pinch of salt to your baking especially if you are using unsalted butter, which I always do 🙂

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup of mashed banana (about 2 large bananas)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used mini)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In bowl of mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until light and fluffy again.

In a separate bowl, mix the banana and baking soda. Let sit for 2 minutes.
– I strongly recommend letting it sit as the acid in the baking soda reacts with the banana and really does make the cookies light and fluffy like the original recipe suggests!

Mix the banana mixture into the butter mixture.

Sift the flour, cinnamon and salt into the butter and banana mixture. Beat until combined.

Mix in the chocolate chips and coconut.

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Using a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scoop, scoop out batter onto a 9×13″ baking sheet.
– One recommendation I have is to put the batter you haven’t scooped out yet into the fridge until ready to be scooped out. If you don’t do this the cookies don’t hold their shape and melt rather than fluff up and bake…. Trust me 🙂

Bake for 10-13 minutes.

Here is the end result 🙂

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Hope you enjoy!

Chocolate Cupcakes

So it’s a nice quiet Wednesday when I get an invite to a birthday dinner for tomorrow. My cousin and I are going to her moms birthday together and on our way we are going to make a quick stop at the local Zhers to pick up some cupcakes for dessert….yea……over my dead body!!

I strongly dislike pre-baked cupcakes that are over frosted with over sweetened icing, so the only next logical solution was for me to bake them. Now I have no problems baking cupcakes, but honestly I suck at decorating cakes and cupcakes, however you know what they say, practice makes perfect!

My first step was to watch a couple of YouTube videos on how to pipe icing and then I proceeded to find an icing recipe that is stiff and forgiving for my “technique” or lack there of.

The cupcake recipe is from Williams-Sonoma (my favourite baking book given to me by my brother!) and the frosting is from Glorious Treats, found here.

Cupcake Ingredients

3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup hot water
11/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners.

2) In a small bowl, sift the cocoa powder into the hot water and mix.

3) Combine eggs and granulated sugar until well combined in mixer with the whisk attachment.

4) Add the butter, milk and vanilla, then the dissolved cocoa and then the butter.

5) Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into wet mixture and mix until combined.

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6) Spoon batter into each muffin cup, about half full.

7) Bake for 15-20 minutes, test by inserting a toothpick into the middle of a cupcake, if it comes out clean, they are done.

8) Let cool completely on wire rack and remove from pan.

Icing Ingredients

1 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt (only if using unsalted butter)
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
Food colouring (optional)

1) In bowl of mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter until completely smooth.

2) Add salt, if needed.

3) One cup at a time, sift powdered sugar into butter, beating after each addition.

4) Add vanilla.

5) Add 1 tablespoon milk.

6) Add the remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar beating after each cup.

7) Add 1 tablespoon of milk and food colouring ( if desired) and beat until mixed.

I filled an icing bag (ziplock bags work too) and fitted it with a piping tip, you can use anyone you wish.
I then started at the outer edge and piped in a circular motion towards the centre until cupcake top is iced.

Here is the end result!

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In the end, this cupcake event was not as terrible or as horrible as I imagined it to be, so I’m actually excited for my next cake or cupcake decorating!! 🙂

Hope you enjoy!

Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

In my world there are two types of people, those who like sugar cookies and those who like shortbread cookies.  I LOVE shortbread cookies, but could pass most sugar cookies put in front of me.

I have tried tons of shortbread recipes and in most cases I am left disappointed, so I decided to take the successful parts of all these recipes and combine them into one, to make a delicious, moist and rich shortbread cookie.

Just to keep things on the interesting side today I have also decided to try to incorporate the 2nd requested flavour by my mother for Christmas baking….the cranberry.

This recipe did work fantastically and will make it my go-to shortbread recipe, but the one thing I would change is the cranberry.  I bought dried cranberries from the bins you find at grocery stores or bulk barn, so most of the cranberries were dried whole.  What I will be doing next time is taking a knife to the cranberries and dicing them up finer, it is really hard to cut a whole cranberry with a cookie cutter I must admit!

 

Ingredients

 

1 cup cold butter

1/2 cup icing sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup corn starch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup dried cranberries (this can be switched out for anything, such as mini chocolate chips)

 

1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2) Cut butter into slices and put into the bowl of mixer that is fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat the butter until smooth, but not creamy.

3) Sift icing sugar into the butter and cream.

4) In a small bowl sift the flour, cornstarch and salt together.

5) With the mixer on speed 2 incorporate the flour mixture into the butter and sugar mixture.

6) Add the vanilla and cranberries, only mix until ingredients are combined, do not over mix!

7) Scrape down the bowl and with your hands from the batter into a ball of dough.

– This should only take a minute, it will combine fairly easily.

8) Divide dough into 4 pieces.

9) Working with a quarter at a time (while the other quarters are in the fridge) roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface.

10) Using any cookie cutter of your choice, cut out your cookies and place on a 9×13 baking sheet.

11) Freeze baking sheet lined with cut cookies for a few minutes to allow the butter to come back down in temperature.

Do not skip this step!  If you want a nice flakey and buttery cookie you will want to take the extra few minutes and cool down the cookie dough.

12) Bake for 12 minutes.

Here is the final product:

 

Hope you enjoy!

 

My very first Beavertail experience!

For the very first time in my life I have made it to Ottawa!

Ottawa, I must say, is stunning.  Jeff and I toured the streets and were absolutely impressed with every corner we turned and all the history that was there to be absorbed!

I am almost ashamed to admit that, as a Canadian and on top of not being to our nations capital until now, I have never had a beavertail.  Even Obama has had a beavertail before me!!!

What is a beavertail you ask?

Well you are not alone, I asked the same thing to my very best friend Rachel who was adamant that I eat one of these things…good thing I listened!

A beavertail is a pastry that is shaped like, surprise surprise, a beavers tail.

Beavertails is a small shop found in the heart of the Byward market, but you can smell the sweet smell of frying pastry a mile a way!

note: as you can see Jeff is already starting to eat!

So we walk up to the booth to order our very first beavertail.  We had just eaten breakfast so I order the simplest one, brown sugar and cinnamon, but Jeff very quickly put the kibosh to that!

What we ended up ordering by his doing was the banana and chocolate beavertail….I HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!!!

A few short minutes later, Jeff and I had tackled our first beavertail and were delighted to find such a delicious treat!

All in all this was a HUGE success and if the only thing I ended up doing in Ottawa was tasting one of these beavertails, I would have been ok with that 🙂

Thank you again Rachel for the suggestion….now I have to figure out how to make these at home! 🙂

Lemon Meringue Bars

So it is November 20th and I have broken one of the rules I live by….absolutely NO Christmas stuff until December 1st.

Not only have I managed to get all of my Christmas shopping done (by some sort of miracle!), Jeff (the husband :)) has put up the Christmas lights and I have officially started my trial runs for Christmas baking!

Every year my mom holds a big gathering for Christmas Eve and with this gathering I am tasked to bake for 30+ people who all seem to like different things, which I sometimes think is them playing a practical joke on me just to see how many things I will bake! My mom will be coming over December 15th for a baking day – aka – mom comes over uses me for my Leroy (since I refuse to let him leave the house and be borrowed…yes I am aware that this is a mixer), makes a HUGE mess with melted chocolate and ends up then cleaning my kitchen out of pity for me, however, I look forward to this time spent with mom every year!

Since I am a bit of a perfectionist and tend to get slightly upset if things do not go my way in the kitchen, I decided that I would do some practice runs of what we are going to bake for Christmas and look like a pro when my mom and I are actually baking for the Christmas Eve extravaganza!

My mom has suggested that we bake something with lemon and something with cranberry which is subject to change of course, based on my practice runs. Tonight I have decided to tackle the lemon portion of her request.

This recipe is a Martha Stewart recipe, the original can be found here, with a few slight changes. I do not enjoy lemon zest in my dessert so I removed that from the recipe and added another 1/8 cup of lemon juice. I have also added the cream of tartar to the recipe for the meringue because I find that this gives the meringue that nice shiny gloss 🙂

Ingredients:

1 cup butter

1 3/4 cups, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup, plus 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 whole eggs, plus 4 egg whites

2 1/4 cups, plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

 

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2) Put butter, flour, confectioners sugar and salt in bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until well blended.

– Just a friendly reminder to sift the dry ingredients, confectioners sugar has tones of little clumps!

3) Transfer mixture to a 9×13 baking sheet. Press batter evenly into baking sheet and chill in freezer for 10 minutes.

– I really didn’t think there would be enough batter to spread across the baking sheet, but I guess Martha really does know what she is doing 🙂

4) Bake until golden, 20-22 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

– Not going to lie, I missed this step so I had to adjust all my baking times, NOT a recommendation I would make!

5) Whisk together whole eggs, 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and lemon juice.

6) Pour over crust. Bake until filling is set, 18-20 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

7) Put egg whites, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and cream of tartar in the clean bowl of the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high until stiff peaks form.

8) Using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread meringue over filling, swirling to create soft peaks. Bake until meringue begins to brown, 8-10 minutes.

9) Let cool completely. Cut into bars.

Now I am fully aware that meringue does not hold up for much longer than 3 days in the fridge, let alone 2 weeks in a freezer, so I do have a plan to make this recipe work based on the 2 weeks I have between baking and Christmas Eve.

What I’m going to do to make this work is bake the crust and the filling, cut into squares and then freeze. The day before or day of serving, bring the bars up to room temperature, make the meringue, pipe onto squares and bake for the remaining 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Here is the final product:

Hope you enjoy!

Deb Perelman Book Signing!

SO SO SO Excited!

I had the immense pleasure of going to the Deb Perelman book signing last night in Toronto!!

Deb and I!

For those of you who do not know who Deb Perelman is, you should!  I was introduced to the Smitten Kitchen blog, found here, by Jessie a friend of mine and a huge baking enthusiast as well!

Jessie always told me that she felt like Deb was a part of her family and that her and her sister talk about her like she is “Aunt Deb”.  I never quite understood how, without knowing a person, you could feel that way about someone, until I started following the Smitten Kitchen blog!

Not only do I love the fantastic recipes that are posted on the blog, I also love the story that is delivered with the recipes.  Deb will take you on her journey of how she came up with the recipe to attempts taken, to the corrections made and finally to the end product, which is always a stunning dish that is absolutely delicious!  While taking you on this journey she makes you feel like you are right in the kitchen with her!

After following the blog for going on two years now, I was super excited to hear that she was making a cook book and to top off that excitement, she was coming to Toronto for a book signing!!!!

Jessie and I immediately determined that this was an event we were attending and I couldn’t be happier.  We went to the book signing last night where Deb was interviewed and the audience had the chance to ask questions, our question was chosen of course 🙂

We asked her if she preferred to bake or to cook, part of her response, which both Jessie and I can relate to, was that she bakes to receive favours.  This is something that Jessie and I are all too familiar with as we will both bake, bring it into work and then ask for a favour….no shame!

Last night was a great experience.  I was able to meet Deb, the face of Smitten Kitchen, hear her talk about cooking/baking as her passion, receive tips for blogging and finally, to top off this awesome night, I met her in person, took a picture with her and she signed my cook book!!

I strongly recommend you take a look at her blog and try out some of her recipes, I can guarantee you will not be disappointed!

Enjoy!

 

Moms Chocolate Chip Cookies

For as long as I can remember my mom has been baking these chocolate chip cookies!
This was not an easy feat for our family as we all like our cookies a different way, some like a more crispy cookie, while some (ME!) prefer a nice soft and chewy cookie, this recipe gives you both!
I am not sure where my mom got this recipe, but I’m sure it didn’t come out of a book considering when I asked her for this recipe she simply closed her eyes for a second, then looked up and spouted out the recipe…just like that! When I then asked her to confirm the measurements of the ingredients her response was “ya about that, I never really measured, it’s not an exact science you know”.
What I do know is that my mom has the great ability to adapt to what her family likes, being the very loving mom she is, so for that I thank her for this very versatile recipe that’s filled with hundreds of happy memories!

Ingredients

2/3 cup of softened butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2) Beat the butter, white sugar, brown sugar and egg together in the mixer on speed 4, until smooth and fluffy.

3) Add vanilla and beat in just until mixed.
– I’m not entirely sure why the vanilla gets mixed in last, but this is what my mom did, so I will continue this “tradition” 🙂

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4) Add the flour, baking soda and salt just until combined.

5) Add the chocolate chips and mix only until they are incorporated.

6) Scoop dough onto baking sheets in 1 1/2 inch balls.
– I use an ice cream scoop for this, a very quick way to get the dough onto the sheets!

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7) Bake for 8-10 minutes
– If you like a softer cookie, bake for 8 minutes, for a more crispy cookie bake for 10 minutes.

8) Let cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to completely cool.

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This cookie recipe is a great base for other cookies such as oatmeal chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies, which is what makes it so versatile.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!