Celebration Baking

August 10, 2014

20140809_184750

I am always looking for an excuse to bake.  Today’s excuse? Erica’s Edibles has had over 100,000 views! What?!? I can’t believe it!

Back when I started blogging, honestly, I didn’t think anyone other than my parents and maybe a few friends would have read.  It is so exciting that people actually look at what I bake!

Now the big decision is to pick a recipe!  There are so many I have Pinned and saved that I want to make.  I tried to find one that would please everyone, no peanut butter and chocolate (crazy I know! My parents hate that combination) and no coconut!  This was hard as just about all of my favourite included chocolate peanut butter or coconut.  I had to start a new search.  The recipe I chose was from The Bitter Side of Sweet, Chocolate Pretzel Pecan Shortbread Bars.  The name pretty much says it all.

Chocolate Pretzel Pecan Shortbread Bars

Crust

2 cups flour
⅓ cup brown sugar
½ cup pecans, chopped
1 stick butter, cold

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Prepare a 9 x 13 pan by lining with a piece of parchment paper. Then spray the parchment paper.

3. Mix the flour and brown sugar together

20140808_155340

4. Cut into mixture the butter till it looks crumbly

 

20140808_155604

20140808_160216

5. Stir in pecans. Spread into pan and bake for 10 minutes (I got a little worried at this point, seems a bit dry to bake)

20140808_160629

 

6. When done allow to cool while you prepare the filling (still looking kind of dry)

20140808_161713

Filling

1 cup sugar
1 cup white Karo syrup
½ cup butter, melted
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup pretzels chopped

Directions

1. In a large bowl combine sugar, syrup and butter

20140808_162751

2. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs

20140808_161919

3. Add to sugar mixture and stir.

20140808_162943

4. Pour over shortbread and spread evenly

20140808_163222

20140808_163300

5. Evenly spread pecans

20140808_163445

6. Top with layer of chocolate chips

20140808_163636

7. Finish with layer of chopped pretzels *tip* When I tried to chop the pretzels they were bouncing everywhere! I found it much easier and less messy to put them in a baggy and break them up

20140808_162330

20140808_163738

8. Press the pretzels down lightly into the batter

20140808_163822

9. Put back in oven and cook for 30 minutes or until middle no longer jiggles, *mine took nearly an hour

20140808_173657

10. Cool at room temperature.

11. Then chill bars for 4 hours or overnight. ENJOY!

The next day

They look fantastic!

20140809_184411

20140809_184718

These were OK.  I found them to be a little on the dry side.  Between the pretzels and the shortbread crust, don’t plan on whistling a tune.  The centre was not bad, could have been sweeter and didn’t have a lot of flavour.  Everyone that had them said they were good, but I was unimpressed.  I wouldn’t make them again.


Banana Muffins

August 6, 2014

20140803_140947

 

My freezer was starting to look like I was stock piling bananas for monkey’s at the zoo.  I love bananas, but there is a point where they just get too ripe, blah!  As soon as they go beyond being edible (for me) I throw them in the freezer, I hate wasting them.

As much as I wanted to make my ‘go to’ banana cake, I knew if I did I would have, more thank likely, eaten the entire thing! It has happened!  Trying to be adventurous I went looking for a new banana bread recipe.  Not having much experience with making banana things I really didn’t know what I was looking for.  I find banana bread is either really good or is just awful, there isn’t much of a middle ground for me.  Usually they are very bananay (is that a word?) and wet, almost rubbery, or they are flavourless and dry! I want something in the middle, flavourful and moist.

After reading many recipes I realized I should not have taken ALL of the bananas out of the freezer!  Most recipes were calling for 3 or 4 bananas, I had 8 that were semi frozen, so I chose 2 recipes to try! Problem solved!

The first recipe I tried was adapted from Perfect Banana Bread from Your Cup of Cake

Banana Bread

2 eggs beaten
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ cup oil
1 ¼ cup mashed ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cup sugar
1 ¾ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Directions:
** If your bananas are frozen take them out of the freezer with plenty of time to thaw, I forgot to do this!  I also did not peel the bananas before freezing them.  As my hands are freezing while I tried to peel/cut the peel off of the bananas I hear Gina, as she dashes to the freezer at work, “always peel the bananas before freezing!” I know understand!!**
20140803_122156

1. Preheat oven to 340ºF

2. Prepare your loaf pan or muffin tins

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs.

20140803_131058

4.    Pour milk into a measuring cup, not quite measuring 1/3 and add lemon juice to the milk to let sit for 2 minutes.

20140803_130011

5.    Add oil to eggs and beat again.  Add milk and vanilla and beat again.

20140803_131122

6.   Mash bananas thoroughly and add to eggs, oil and milk.

20140803_131343

7.    In a separate bowl, sift sugar, flour, baking soda and salt together.

20140803_131406

8. Slowly stir into wet ingredients.  Mix only until incorporated.

20140803_131549

9.   Pour into prepared loaf pan or muffin tins

20140803_131852

10. bake until tooth pick comes out clean, approx 35 mins

20140803_135944

11. Let cool until able to handle then remove and cool completely on wire rack

20140803_141013

These are delicious! I was not thrilled with their appearance, but the taste won me over.

20140803_141026

The centre was perfectly moist. The crumb was just right, not dry and not rubbery, as some banana muffins are.

20140803_141320

The banana flavour was spot on.

These muffins got rave reviews, everyone loved them!  The only thing that could have made them a tad bit better is chocolate chips! :)

Thank you Lizzy of Your Cup of Cake!

 


Flower Cupcakes

July 30, 2014

20140726_175704

I was asked to made a flower pull apart cupcake cake, for a little girls 6th Birthday.  They sent me a few ideas and this is what I came up with. Hope she liked it!


Caramel Sauce Success

July 28, 2014

20140724_134141

Last week we tried to make caramel sauce and it was a complete disaster! It was so bad it went right into the garbage, yes it was that bad!

I needed the caramel sauce for a my Toffee Cheesecake.  I did buy a container of caramel sauce at the store, just in case, but I just could not bring my self to use it.  I mean, I put all that time and effort into making a homemade cheesecake, why would I go the easy route and use mediocre caramel sauce?  That would be like getting a brand new car only to bring it home and paint it with a roller brush, not gunna happen!

I am determined to find something, at this point, at least edible!

As with everything there are a million recipes all claiming to be the best!  Baking is very personal, it all comes down to personal taste preference and memories.  You could have 10 people each with a very different idea of what a chocolate cake, butter tart or anything should taste like.  Most often if it isn’t like the ones they had growing up, perhaps family recipes, it just wont cut it.   I am very much one of those people, I will admit.  I think things should taste and be done a certain way or I don’t like it.  Dessert is something you should take time to enjoy.  If I am going to indulge I want to truly enjoy it. If it’s just ok, I will probably pass.

As much as we like to stick to what we know, it is good to be daring and try new things, you just may find a new favourite!

I found this caramel recipe on the Food Network, by Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman.  She has some great recipes.

Caramel Sauce

1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup cream
4 tbsp butter
pinch of salt

Directions

1. Combine brown sugar, cream, butter and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. (I miss read the instructions and only but cream and sugar in)

20140723_174806

2. Cook while whisking gently for 5 to 7 minutes, until it gets thicker.

20140723_174903

20140723_175100

(I now reread the instructions to find out when to add butter and salt, only to find out I was supposed to add it all at the same time! I quickly threw it in and hoped for the best)

20140723_175506

*2, continued.  Still on step #2, the butter may have cooled it down, or just takes longer on each stove, but I am up to about 20 minutes of warming and string to get it thicker

20140723_183308

3. Turn off the heat, cool slightly and pour the sauce into a jar.

20140723_183352

Refrigerate until cold.

20140723_183527

The next day….

 

20140723_183442

Oh my goodness – Look at that!

20140724_134050

Creamy, smooth and thick!

20140724_134842

 

OH. MY.GOODNESS!  This is fabulous!

20140724_134146

THIS is delicious! It is so smooth, very creamy and delightfully sweet! I will never buy caramel again, this is my new go to caramel sauce.  I made it to drizzle on the Toffee Cheesecake I made, but seriously it is good enough to eat with a spoon!  I kept going to the fridge to ‘stir’ the sauce, just so I could lick the spoon.

20140725_160202

The possibilities are endless for this sauce.  It would be fantastic just over ice cream, on a brownie an apple crisp, dipping apples or heck as I said, just have a spoon of it!

Thank you Ree for such a wonderful recipe!

 

 


Butter Tart Tour – Buns & Sweets

July 25, 2014

20140725_110833

Stop # 18 on the Butter Tart Tour was at Buns & Sweets in Bridgenorth.  Buns & Sweets was just recently added to the tour.  I had been here about 6 or 7 years ago and often wondered why they were not on the tour, as I remembered they were quite good!  Besides the wall (literally) of butter tarts, including raisin, walnut, pecan and plain, Buns & Sweets also has a wide variety of breads and buns.  We purchased some of their Cheese and Garlic bread sticks, which I highly recommend.

The Tart

First Impressions – looks delicious, excellent colour, crust looks amazing

20140725_111025

Look at that filling! Slightly runny and lots of it!

 

20140725_111108

The Verdict

- crust was tender, flaky and delicious
– filling had an excellent consistency
– perfectly sweet (quite sweet!)
– 9.5/10

Now THAT is a butter tart!  I would highly recommend Buns and Sweets, their tarts are amazing!  I also bought some raisin butter tarts, excellent!

Thank you for adding them to the tour, a wonderful addition!


Toffee Cheesecake

July 25, 2014

20140724_134737

 

This cheesecake was supposed to be made when I had the baking day with my cousin Amy, but we ran out of time because of a couple of baking disasters!  I was going to wait to make it when she came back, but my Mom was having company for supper and needed a dessert.  Such a shame I will have to make another!  I love making cheesecake!

I often struggle coming up with ideas for desserts.  If someone tells me what to make no problem, but coming up on my own I draw a blank.  I am about as creative as a stick.

For this cheesecake I decided to make it Toffee!

Toffee Cheesecake

Graham Crust

2 cups Graham Crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter

1. Combine sugar and Graham crumbs

20140723_133921

2. Add melted butter and stir until combine

20140723_134450

3. Pour into spring form pan and firmly press.  I put some crust up the edges this time, just for something different

20140723_134940

4. Bake at 350ºF  for 10 minutes and set aside

Cheesecake

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

Directions

1. Preheat oven 350ºF

2. Start boiling water for water bath

3.  Before starting the cheesecake prepare the Toffee.  I used the Toffee that I make, but the recipe is top secret!   I wanted to have different textures so I cut up the Toffee a few different ways.

20140723_135448

I wanted to have some Toffee throughout the cheesecake but I wasn’t sure if it would ‘stay afloat” as the chocolate chips all sunk to the crust of my  Chocolate Chip Cheesecake, so I put some in the mini chopper.  I wasn’t even sure if it would break it up, but I gave it a go!

20140723_135506

Not too bad – kind of looked like the Graham Crumbs

20140723_135552

I also just roughly chopped some of the Toffee

20140723_140817

5.  Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer – beat until smooth

20140723_140126

6. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg.

20140723_140304

 

7. Add heavy cream and vanilla, blend until smooth and creamy.

20140723_141005

 

8. Stir in Toffee crumbs

20140723_141132

9. I placed bigger chunks of Toffee on the crust

20140723_140908

10. Pour batter onto crust

20140723_141236

At this point I remembered I should have prepared the pan, wrapping it in parchment paper and foil – harder to do with the batter in the pan.  Try to remember BEFORE you start the batter

The Toffee seems to be afloat!

20140723_141721

11. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan

12. 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.

Looks like the Toffee didn’t sink!

20140723_190715

The next day

20140724_133928

I tried to spruce it up a little with pieces of Toffee, I failed miserably, looks awful….

20140724_134737

At this point I deliver the cheesecake to my Mom and Dad’s.  It is killing me not being able to try it!  Guess I will have to wait ANOTHER day for the verdict and try it myself.

The following day

20140725_160302

Oh my…

20140725_160246

It was worth the wait!

20140725_160202

Toffee cheesecake is amazing!  It was rich and creamy and a subtle sweetness. There was a little crunch of the candy amongst the smooth creamy cheesecake.  I was afraid it might be to sweet (for some) but it was not, just right.  The caramel sauce put it over the top!

It got rave reviews from Mom, Dad and their company.  This was definitely a success


Snickers Popcorn

July 23, 2014

20140717_192129

* Please excuse the look of this post!  Not sure what is wrong, but the spacing is not cooperating, everything looks crammed together*

Another recipe with Guest Baker Amy!  I love when my cousin Amy comes out to bake!  As mentioned in previous posts this days main focus was 2 cheesecakes but only one was accomplished, check it out here. We also attempted a caramel sauce, what a disaster you can see it here.

We decided on this recipe while we were in the grocery store buying the cheesecake ingredients.  We were going back to Amy’s place to have a nice dinner with both of our families.  We needed dessert, but it had to be something that was ‘no bake’ or stove top as the oven was busy with cheesecake!    Amy found this one on Six Sisters’ Stuff, it sounded delicious!

* Unless you are feeding a crowd (10+ people) I would half this recipe, it makes a lot!

Snickers Popcorn

4 quarts popped corn (about 1 cup kernels)
1 cup salted butter
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup salted peanuts
30 fun size Snickers bars chopped up
3 oz melted chocolate chips
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
2. Chop up Snickers bars into bite size pieces
20140717_160730
3.Pop your popcorn and put popcorn and peanuts in a big brown paper grocery bag. We didn’t have a paper bag, so we went with a big bowl and a pot
I had to go up to the attic to get the popcorn popper, had not used it in forever!  Popping the popcorn was a whole new adventure in itself, haha!
20140717_153953
It was like we were back in 1999 when I was babysitting her, we always had popcorn watching movies.  We were both watching it for the first kernel to pop!
20140717_153945
There it is! But do you notice a problem?
20140717_154044
As the popcorn started to shoot out the top of the popper we had kernels and popcorn all over, it was snowing popcorn!  No idea where the little lid/butter melter is.  We had to improvise ….
20140717_154131
4.  Seperate into bowls big enough to stir and add nuts
20140717_161918
5. Over medium heat boil butter, brown sugar, salt and corn syrup for 5 minutes (stirring constantly).
20140717_160101
20140717_160634
6. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda.
20140717_161928
7. Pour over popcorn and stir
20140717_162023
We gave it a try – it was a little soggy, yikes!
20140717_162321
8. After the popcorn is coated well, spread onto a cookie sheet. Spread chopped Snickers over top of popcorn and put in oven for 5 minutes.
20140717_162818
9. Remove from oven and drizzle melted chocolate over top of popcorn.
20140717_164426
Look at that!!!
20140717_164621
When it cake out of the oven it was nice and crunchy, way better than any caramel corn I had ever had.  In fact I don’t even like caramel corn.  This was amazing!
20140717_192120
The crunch of the baked caramel sauce and the sweet of nut chocolate were an excellent combination.  It wasn’t overpowering sweet at all (others mentioned as I never thing anything is too sweet).  It was a huge hit for dessert, not much left of the tray.  It was so addicting, we seriously couldn’t stop, had to move away from the table.
20140717_192139
I would definitely make this again.  The only thing I would change is the addition of salt.  My Uncle suggested as we were eating that it would be awesome with some salt.  He was right!  We put a few shakes on and it got even better!  The salt really enhanced the flavours and who doesn’t love sweet and salty things?  I would put it on just before the bake so it stuck to the popcorn.
Thanks for picking an awesome recipe, this one will definitely be a redo!
*If not eaten immediately…can be stored in an airtight container.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 62 other followers

%d bloggers like this: