Category Archives: Baking

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!

 

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!

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!

Simple White Bread

Sunday has arrived and with that all of the things that need to be done around the house!
I always bake two loaves of bread every Sunday for the week ahead. The reason I bake my bread rather than picking it up at the grocery store is because of the ingredient list…why does a loaf of bread from the store have 20+ ingredients while homemade bread has a total of 9 ingredients (including the topping!)

I started baking bread from the day I got Leroy and have never looked back!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons butter
2 packages of active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
1 1/2 cups warm water
5 to 6 cups flour
Milk for brushing top of bread
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds (or whatever seed(s) you would like)

1) Place milk, sugar, salt and butter in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Cool to lukewarm.

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2) Dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed mixer bowl.
– I fill my sink up with hot water and put the mixing bowl right in. If you choose to skip this step you will most likely end up with clumps of yeast that, from experience, are hard to dissolve!

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3) Add lukewarm milk mixture and 4 1/2 cups flour to yeast mixture.

4) Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer. Turn to speed 2 and mix about 1 minute (until ingredients are combined)

5) Continuing on speed 2 add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix until dough clings to hook and cleans the side of the bowl, about 2 minutes.
– This takes a bit of “intuition” when adding the right amount of flour, but the more you make this dough the easier it becomes, that I can promise 🙂

Here is dough that needs more flour:

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Here is dough that has enough flour:

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6) Kneed dough on speed 2 for another 2 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Dough will be slightly sticky.

7) Place dough in a greased bowl, turning over to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place away from draft for an hour, or until dough doubles in size.
– The best place I have found for dough to rise is in the oven with the light on. This is a trick I actually learned from my brother who happens to make fantastic pizza dough!

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8) Punch dough down and divide in half.

Here is the dough after its first rise:

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9) On a floured surface, roll each half into a 9×14 rectangle.

10) Starting at the short end, roll the dough tightly.

11) Pinch the ends and turn them under. Place the dough seam side down, in a loaf pan.

12) Place loaf pans in a warm place (back in the oven with just the light on) and let rise for another hour or until doubled in size.
– I don’t cover the dough this time around because I find that when you take the towel off you may deflate the dough.

13) Brush milk on the top of each loaf and sprinkle with sesame seeds (or any seed of your choice)

14) Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

15) Remove from pans immediately and let cool on wire racks.

Here is the finished product!

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Hope you enjoy!

Chocolate chip marble pound cake

Ok it’s time to get down to the baking!
I have decided that I am going to make a chocolate chip marble pound cake on my Thursday night. How did I come to the conclusion you ask?

Simple….

I promised my husband during our trip to the grocery store that if he forgoes the preservative/additive filled “granola bars” I would bake him a delicious pound cake….I made this promise two weeks ago…so I think it’s time 🙂

After searching a few recipes I have settled on a combination of a few and it’s now time for Leroy (my mixer) and I to get to work!

Before I get into the baking of this pound cake I want to share two rules of baking that I live by:

1) READ the recipe all the way through before you start!
– I have been caught red handed not following this rule while making a dessert the day of a dinner party.. Only to realize that a part had to set in the fridge for 12 hours…. Whoops 😦

2) Set out all of your ingredients before you start!
– when you do this you will be able to tell very quickly if you don’t have an ingredient on hand.

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Ingredients:

Vegetable oil spray to grease pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted and softened butter + 3 tablespoons melted
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream OR milk
1/3 cup chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Spray an 8×4 loaf pan with vegetable oil spray, line with parchment paper and spray the paper.

3) In a medium bowl sift the flour with the baking powder and salt.
**note – I always recommend sifting dry ingredients together, it removes clumps and makes a batter smoother! **

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4) In another bowl, combine the melted butter with the cocoa until smooth.

5) In the mixer, combine the softened butter with the sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix until smooth.

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6) Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

7) Add the cream or milk and mix until smooth. (I prefer milk…why add calories with cream when you can add calories with chocolate chips!)

8) Transfer 1 cup of batter to the bowl with cocoa mix and add chocolate chips. Stir until smooth.

9) Spoon half of the remaining (plain) batter into the pan and smooth out. Spread the chocolate batter in the pan, smooth out, then cover with remaining plain batter.

10) Using a butter knife, cut swirls in the batter.

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Bake the pound cake for 25 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for another 25 minutes.
Cover loosely with foil and bake for a final 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached (as well as a bit of chocolate from the chocolate chips :))
Let the pound cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Here is the final product:

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Not as marbled as I would like, however my husband is now a happy and fed man 🙂

Hope you enjoy!