Caramel Sauce

July 21, 2014

Another recipe with Guest Baker Amy!  Amy was out making cheesecakes.  As the first one was in the oven, check it out here, we started the caramel sauce needed for the second cheesecake.

Being in an adventurous mood I thought we would try making homemade caramel sauce.  I read many recipes and watched several videos, it looked really easy.  Very few ingredients and very little work.  All the recipes seemed to be quite similar, but I decided to go with one from ‘A Teaspoon and A Pinch‘.

When purchasing all of our ingredients, I did get a jar or caramel sauce ‘just in case’ things went terribly wrong.  We were optimistic we wouldn’t need it though.

Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce

1 c. sugar
1¼ c. heavy cream
¼ tsp. coarse salt or sea salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, optional

1. Measure out the heavy cream in a liquid measuring cup and add vanilla bean paste.  Microwave for one minute and set aside.


2. Spread the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place over medium-low heat, watching carefully.

We both watched the pot of sugar quite curiously as we did not believe it would melt down.



3. When the sugar begins to liquify around the edges, use a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon to gently stir it towards the center. Continue stirring very gently until all the sugar is melted, taking care not to over stir or allow sugar to clump up

I will admit we got very excited at the sight of liquid forming, we didn’t believe it would happen.


Mine did not liquify around the edge, it did so in the centre, then clumped.  This didn’t happen in any of the videos I watched!  I am thinking I am glad we bought the jar of sauce!


It stayed like this for quite some time before all the sugar melted


4. Once the caramel reaches a deep amber color, immediately remove the sauce pan from the heat.  We were optimistic, it was looking and smelling wonderful!


5. Carefully and quickly, stir in half of the heavy cream.


6. The mixture will steam and bubble violently. Stir until the cream is well incorporated

*this is when things start to go down hill rather quickly!

In the original recipe the author posts pictures and comments about what to do if the caramel hardens…


Of course mine did!! A giant clump of candy in a discoloured milky soup, mmmmm delicious!  Blah!


I followed the disaster directions which basically said to bring back to the heat and stir until the clump dissolved, which it did.  We are optimistic once again!


7. Stir in the remaining cream. Stir in the salt and optional butter. If any sugar has hardened, place the saucepan over low heat and whisk until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If needed, it can be rewarmed in the microwave or in a saucepan over low heat.  Makes 1 1/2 cups.


This looks nothing like the original recipe (or any other that I looked at)



It is grainy and gloopy,not runny at all.  IT was like lava, so we allow it to cool



When it had cooled enough to taste, I grabbed to spoons and we dug right in.

As I am tasting mine I glance over at Amy, she was wincing in pure disgust! It was quite funny.  It was horrible!  This time it is not just me being hard on myself wanting it to be perfect, it was awful!  Amy agreed.  Amy made a good point, she said usually you can eat a dessert maybe a comment about it being too dry, not sweet enough, but this is disgusting and inedible! (something to that effect anyway)

It went directly into the garbage! Ewww

Thank goodness I bought the backup jar of sauce ;)

Oreo Cheesecake

July 21, 2014



The weather has been fantastic for baking the past 2 weeks, low 20′s Celsius and no humidity!

On Thursday my cousin Amy came out to bake, I love having someone to bake with.  Our plan was to make 2 different cheesecakes and share them, we each picked a flavour.  We started with Amy’s selection, Oreo Cheesecake.  This is one I had been wanting to try for a very long time.  We went with the original base I always use and just added to it.


We both commented on how we really don’t like Oreo’s, but liked them in things.  I would never buy a bag of Oreo’s just to eat, I find them very boring, but put them in something like, cheesecake or ice cream and they are great!    Well, to be fair I don’t buy any cookies, if I want a cookie I make them.

Oreo Cheesecake


Chocolate Cookie Crumb Crust

1 1/4 cups Chocolate Cookie Crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 tbsp sugar

Combine crumbs, sugar and melted butter and press into a spring-form pan.

Bake the crust at 350º F for approx 10 minutes.   Set aside to cool.

*** Now is a good time to waterproof your spring from pan for the water bath.


This picture is from a previous cheesecake.  This time I bought heavy duty wide foil, leak proof!

I have made some small changes (not noted, somethings just have to be a secret) over the years to make it just right for me, but I still basically follow the recipe I got way back when I started with the Daring Bakers



I did not take pictures of the first part of the recipe, kind of forgot.  For step by step photos please see steps 4-7 here (sorry!)

3 sticks of cream cheese,  room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 bag Oreo Cookies
4 oz semi sweet chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF . Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. In a double boiler slowly melt chocolate – set aside to cool


3. Before you start on the cheesecake batter prepare your Oreo Cookies.  We smashed them with a meat wacker in a large baggie. Careful, the teeth on the meat wacker (I am sure there is a better name for it?) will pierce the bag!


4. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

5. Add the cooled chocolate and stir to combine



6. Stir in Oreo’s



7. Pour into prepared spring form pan



8. Place in a large roasting pan and fill with boiling water 3/4 the way up the cheesecake pan


9. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve

*****First time EVER mine cracked!!!!


I was furious!  Amy was trying to tell me it was ok, but seriously I was angry!  Why would it crack It has never happened before.  I stuck a knife down the crack to see what was going on and it was like soup! Raw!  NOOOOOOO!  Now I really start to panic.  Is it ruined? Did we waste all those ingredients? God help me if this has to go in the garbage!

Started boiling the water again and back into the oven it went for another hour!  Not even sure if it was possible to recook, especially after it had cooled in the oven for over an hour, but at this point it was our only option!

At this point we abandon the second cheesecake as we just didn’t have time.  We were heading back to Amy’s for a lovely dinner with our families.  If we would have done the second cheesecake dinner would have been about 9pm.

Because we were so far behind, as soon as ‘we thought’ the cheesecake was done we turned it off and headed in to dinner.  It would cool down in the oven and be fine until i got back home.  I was still furious and worried that it was not going to turn out.

When I got home I took it out of the oven and did the knife test again, in the giant crevasse (still annoys me that it cracked!) it was firm but still not completely solid.  I put it in the fridge and would deal with it in the morning.

The day got busy and plans changed, I did not get to it until later in the evening.  I took it out of the spring form pan, strictly to see if it held it shape.  It did!



I quickly put it back on and went to deliver it.  When I got there, I was going to leave the whole thing, but they insisted I take half.

I took the ring off again and started to cut it, praying that it was not a soupy centre…I must have looked very concerned, my Aunt and Uncle were laughing at me, saying it would be fine that I set my standards too high.  I said at this point my standards are “cooked!” As it was raw the first time.   I cautiously cut into it….


It was firm and cooked!


I completely forgot about pictures I was just so excited it turned out!  We all had a forkful and agreed it was a success! Whew!  What a relief, I would have gone crazy if I had to put that in the garbage!

When I got home I did remember to take a picture



It was quite delicious.  I would make an Oreo Cheesecake again.  I was really impressed how the Oreo pieces stayed throughout the cheesecake, unlike the chocolate chip one I made where they all sank.

Despite the near disaster, I had a great day baking with Amy, we will have to do it again to do the second cheesecake….stay tuned!








Cherry Pie

July 14, 2014



Another pie, this is the 3rd in 3 weeks!  I know, I have went on and on, in the past, about how I hated making pies.  Since then I have learned how to make a good crust, that seems to work out every time!  Everyone else in my family loves pie so they are always eager to try something new.


This time I wanted to make a cherry pie.  The cherries are amazing this year and I figured I would give it a try.  After buying and extra basket of cherries everyone told me, ‘you can’t make cherry pie with those cherries!’ What?!?! To me a cherry is a cherry, beyond the fresh ones at the market and the maraschino ones you get in the jar I really didn’t know there were more.  Apparently there are.  Rumor is that you can ONLY make a pie with sour cherries.  At this point I am a little flustered as I have no idea what I am going to do with all of these cherries!

When I got home I take to the web in search of some baking answers, “can you make a pie with sweet cherries?”  YES, YES you can!!! There were tones of recipes out there, also tones for the sour cherries.  I’ll show them!….I hope….

This one I did follow a recipe, with so many people rooting against me I figure I better follow something!

Sweet Cherry Pie

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Sweet cherries
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3  cup caster sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoons cream
Your favourite pie dough



1. Preheat oven to 425ºC

2. I never know how much fruit to use and many of my pie dishes are different sizes.  This is how I measure how many cherries to use.  This many!


3. Thoroughly wash and dry cherries


4. Using your favourite pie dough, roll out and prepare your crust (I forgot to get a picture of this step)

5. Stem and pit the cherries.  This was something I had never done before.  When I eat cherries I always just spit them in a cup (classy I know).  As there were so many of them I looked up different ways of going about it.  I was quite surprised to learn there is an actual cherry pitter! It’s quite the tool. As a gadget freak like myself I may look into it.  I settled on these 3, a knife, a piping tip and an orange peeler.  They made it look so easy.


The piping tip seemed like the best option to me, made total sense.

Using a very small tip (I used #2) place tip up and insert into stem hole


Press down until pit pops out the top…..Not quite! I felt the tip slip off


Tried a bigger one #5


Not much better


On to Plan B – the end of an orange peeler.  Just dig it out


It worked, but was very time consuming and messy


Plan C – My idea, a knife.  I treated it like an avocado.

Slice around the edges


Twist and pull apart


Pick out the pit



I thought I would be an hour doing this – with this method – max 15 minutes


6. In a large bowl combine cherries, almond extract, lemon, salt, sugar and corn starch


7. Pour into your prepared pie shell


8. Create a vented top, lattice or other

9. Lightly beat egg and cream. Bush over the crust



10. Bake at 400ºC for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350ºC continue baking until golden brown and centre is bubbling.

It’s far from pretty



11. Allow to cool to room temperature before cutting.  I am praying that the pie has set and I don’t end up with cherry soup!


YAAAY!  No soup!


Look at that!


I would like to say YES you can make a pie with sweet cherries!  This pie was delicious!  I’ll be honest, I have nothing to compare it to because I have never had cherry pie but I can’t imagine it any better.


The crust was rich and flaky and the filling was delightful.  Even though they were sweet cherries there was still quite a bit of tang, but not too much it was the perfect balance of sweet and tart.  The pie set perfectly, a slight run but not soupy.

I think I am getting the hang of this pie thing.  I may, and that is a big may be converted to a pie person.  I ate the entire piece!





Squished Potatoes

July 12, 2014



Hold on to your hats! This is not a desserts! It is a rare occasion that I post something that is not sweet, but in my defense my Mom made them.

I have seen photos of potatoes like these everywhere, Pinterest, Food Blogs, magazines, etc.  They looked delicious and easy, and in order for me to cook something it has to be easy or I don’t want it.  Weird, as I wold spend an entire day in the kitchen baking something…

The ‘new’ potatoes are starting to arrive on the market, you know the little wee ones with tones of dirt still on them.  My Mom, who is a big of a potato freak, gets very excited when they first arrive.  I was invited to my parents for dinner last week and when she said we were having little new potatoes I told her about this idea.  Now don’t get me wrong, I do love a good potato, but boiled potatoes are just boring!  Much to my surprise Mom loved the idea and we made a batch for dinner.  She was much less thrilled when I announced I would be taking pictures for a post, haha.  It slows things down and I make her stop and wait till i get the right picture.

I never read any of the recipes, just looked at the pictures, so we made this up as we went along.  I called them Smashed Potatoes.

Smashed Potatoes

very small potatoes, preferably new
toppings of your choice! We used bacon and Cheese

1. Wash your potatoes ensuring all dirt is removed

2. Boil potatoes until just cooked, don’t over cook


3. Drain potatoes and place on a baking sheet


4. With a potato masher, squish each potato to desired thickness


5. Top with toppings of your choice.  The possibilities are endless! We used bacon and cheese.  You could use onions, BBQ sauces, spices, herbs, butters, different cheeses, WHAT EVER!



6. Bake in oven or broil until cheese is melted, or your toppings are done.



These were delicious!  It was like a cross between a potato skin and a loaded baked potato.  I can’t wait to make them again!



July 9, 2014



Sometimes I need someone to remind me that more is not always better.   Usually when I make something I go for rich, decadent, ooey and gooey and over the top.  When my Mom asked me to make her scones I immediately asked “What kind?” With every attempt to persuade her into a flavoured scone, she still wanted plain!  Ok, Ok!  We all love the scones I have made in the past so I stuck with the recipe, I just omitted all the extras.


Adapted from

The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Barefoot Contessa, Episode: Big Breakfast, from Food Network

4 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 extra-large egg beaten with 2 tablespoons milk or water, for egg wash


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Combine 4 cups flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, the baking powder and salt  in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.


3.Blend in the cold butter at the lowest speed and mix until the butter is in pea-sized pieces.



4. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and quickly add to the flour/butter mixture.


5. Combine until just blended. Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and be sure it is well combined.


6. Flour your hands and separate into 3 discs (usually I do 2 discs, but I get complaints that they are too big!) and cut into triangles



7. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment


8.  Brush with egg wash and bake 20-30 minutes or until the edges are golden and the centres are done.



These were delicious!  I will admit, as much as I love having extras in my scones these were fantastic.  They were, dare I say, so flavourful! I could taste the buttery goodness.  The texture was amazing, a little lighter than the flavoured ones.

I usually don’t put anything on my scones, I like to enjoy the flavour that they are, but because these were plain I thought I would give it a try.

Butter – was a little too much as there is already 3/4 of a pound in the recipe!


Jam – too sweet


Honey – not a fan


I still prefer to eat them plain and enjoy their natural flavour.  Thank you Mom for bringing me back to the basics.  I will be making these again!

Strawberry Pie

July 9, 2014


It is a wonderful time of year here in Ontario, all of the fresh local fruit is hitting the farmers markets.  Due to the very long winter we had this year, the crops are a little later than usual.  I was quite pleased with this years strawberries, they were delicious!

With my new found talent of making pie crust I thought I would give Strawberry Pie a whirl.  I had never made one before, so why not, eh.

Having never made a strawberry pie I took to the web to look for a recipe.  After reading about 80 (quite literally) recipes and debates over how to thicken the pie, which I might add some people have very strong feelings about, I decided to just wing it.


My Strawberry Pie

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp, heaped corn starch
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg white
Your favourite pie dough


1. I had no idea how many strawberries to use, so I used this many.  Just heaped the pie plate.


2. Hull, wash and slice strawberries


3. In a large bowl coat strawberries with 1/2 cup sugar.  Toss to make sure each berry is coated.


4. Transfer to a sieve, for about a half hour, and allow some of the natural juices to drain – this makes for a less soupy pie


5. Return berries to the large bowl, combine, corn starch, salt and castor sugar – stir well to coat berries


6. Dump into your prepared pie dish



7. Be creative and add a vented top to your pie.  I make them different every time.  Brush edges with egg whites to seal the crust.  Brush top crust and sprinkle with sugar, optional


8.  Bake at 425ºC for 15 minutes.  Lower temperature to 350ºC for approximately 35 minutes or until crust is golden to your desired ‘doneness’



Looks delicious!  This pie was for dessert when my grandparents came for dinner.  I was a bit nervous as I had never made one of these before and my Gramma used to make quite a few pies.  Poppa is a bit of a pie connoisseur, he loves his pie, so this one had some high standards to live up to.  I actually made a second dessert as back up in case this was a flop!

No flop here! This pie was as delicious as it looked.  Crust was perfectly flaky and tender.  The strawberry filling was great, it had a perfect consistency (according to Gramma).  Gramma said it was like the pies her Mom used to make, :) Poppa said it was delicious and took the rest home.  I thought it was good. I am not a huge pie fan, or fruit in my dessert, but I ate a small piece so must have been good.   We were so into it, I forgot to take a picture after it was sliced!

Raisin Pie, Again

July 9, 2014



I have not posted in quite some time, not because I have not been baking but because I was without my laptop!  Man, that was rough!  It is amazing how much I rely on this thing.  Anyways, all back up and running and excited to post what I have made.

We have been experiencing some ridiculously hot weather of late, 35ºC+ and I do not have air conditioning, makes for a hot house when baking.  Luckily it cooled down for a few days and I was able to make a few treats.

I asked my Poppa what he would like and he requested his favourite (and mine), raisin pie.  As mentioned in the initial Raisin Pie post, the recipe is secret, but I tried something new with the crust so I posted again.

Now that I am good at making crust I don’t mind making pies at all, in fact it is kind of fun, it is a whole new world for me.

As nice as it looks I strongly dislike doing a lattice top on my pie.  Cutting all the strips the same, weaving and lining up…blah.  In an attempt to make it look nice and still have the ventilation needed I used a cookie cutter and just placed the dough randomly on top.  I made it close to Canada day so I went with the Maple Leaf.


I also made a few tarts.  I wanted some of the pie, but hate giving away a pie with a few pieces out of it, just looks tacky, haha.  This seemed like a good solution.


I love how it still bubbles right out of the oven


Looks pretty good


Tarts came out pretty good as well


Filling was perfect


Oh my goodness these were delicious!  The crust was bang on, tender and flaky.

Looking forward to the fresh fruit season, the pie possibilities are endless!!!


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