Top 10 of 2014!

January 1, 2015

It’s cliché, but it is hard to believe another year is over.  I’m happy to say I met my goal and did a lot more baking this year than last year.  This year I tried many new things.  There were some amazing results and some horrendous flops!  I like to post about them all, because not everything turns out and that’s ok, frustrating, but ok.

Here are what I think to be my best of 2014 as well as a few honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

I have 2 honorable mentions this year.  The first being, I was a judge at a Butter Tart Taste off!  It was an amazing day and I was so honored to be part of it.

20140503_135753

Second honorable mention is for my favourite cake this year.  I really liked how the Camera Cake turned out

20140528_221331

Here is a list of what I picked as my favourites of 2014

10.   S’mores Cups

20140612_090954

These little delights are so easy and very so tasty.  I first had S’mores Cups at the Relay for Life.  One of our team members brought them and I was hooked.  I searched the recipe and made them as soon as possible.  I am not a fan of real S’mores, but these are great!

9. Snickers Popcorn

20140717_192120

This is something I wasn’t entirely sure I would like.  Amy and I were having a baking day, cheesecake was our main delight of the day.  We needed something that didn’t need to be cooked for a family dessert.  Amy picked Snickers Popcorn. Unreal!  It was delicious, and so addicting!  I could not stop. 3 days later when the humidity had got to it I was still wolfing it into me. Excellent and will make again!  It always helps to have someone else to bring you out of your baking comfort zone.  I would have never tried this, but love it!  Thanks Amy!

8. Toffee Cheesecake

20140724_134737

This Toffee Cheesecake was made with the toffee candy I make, kinda like a Skor bar.  This was really good.  I’d definitely make this one again.

7.  Strawberry Pie

20140629_124309

I am starting to get the hang of this pie thing, my crust is improving.  This was my first Strawberry Pie.  It was good.  It got rave reviews from the pie fans of the family, and I admit, I liked it too.

6. OCC #6

20140818_193454

I have been slacking on my Oatmeal Cookie Challenge.  I have been searching for a very long time for ‘my favourite’ cookie. This Oatmeal Cookie is definitely in the running.  It has a great texture, holds its height and had great flavour. The best part? This recipe makes one cookie! Give it a try.

5. Cherry Pie

20140714_154812

This pie was amazing! Hard to believe 2 pies made the list this year.  I’d say this was the perfect Cherry Pie. Hope I can duplicated it next year.

4. Pumpkin Cake

20141013_140940

I am not normally a fan of pumpkin stuff but this Pumpkin Cake was good!  What made it was the cinnamon cream cheese icing. Amazing combination.  It was a huge hit at Thanksgiving.

3. Toffee Chocolate Bars

IMG_6428

These were amazing! I found these Toffee Chocolate Bars on Pinterest.  The picture caught my eye and I knew I had to make it.  They were a huge success.  I loved them.  The gooey middle layer was fantastic and I loved the sugary base.  Definitely worth a try.

2. Pecan Pie Cheesecake

IMG_6797

This Pecan Pie Cheesecake was by far the best Cheesecake I have ever made! The sweet pecan filling went perfect with the creamy cheesecake top.  This got rave reviews and topped everyone’s list as their favourite cheesecake.  You must try it!

1. Christmas Pudding with White Sauce

IMG_6771

Even though I just made this a few days ago, it was by far the best thing I made this year.  Not only was the Christmas Pudding absolutely delicious, but it brought back a family tradition that I can to carry on for many years to come.

I hope everyone had a great year and here’s to a wonderful 2015 filled with many delicious sweet treats!

 


Nana’s Christmas Pudding

December 31, 2014

IMG_6771

As far back as I can remember, when we had Christmas dinner at my Nana and Pop’s (Dad’s side) one of many desserts would be a Christmas Pudding with White Sauce.  Nana liked her sweets as much or more than I did, if that is even possible!   Dad said growing up they always had dessert and he always found out what dessert was going to be before he ate dinner, as it would determine how much dinner he ate. haha!

A normal dinner at Nana and Pop’s there would be at least one, maybe 2 different desserts, but come holiday time I would not be exaggerating to say there would be at least 5 different desserts.  When I say desserts I mean a full on fancy cake or something to that extent not like just cookies and squares, though they were there as well.  So, I do get my sweet tooth honestly.

Nana died 14 years ago and we have not had a Christmas Pudding since.  For the past 3 years or so I have bought all the ingredients to make the Pudding and then threw them out in about April.  I would get busy for one reason or another and I just didn’t get made.

This year I was determined! I was going to make the Pudding!

I didn’t tell anyone I was making it, especially Dad.  I wanted it to be a surprise for Christmas.

I got this recipe from my Aunt who got all Nana’s recipes.  I don’t know where Nana got it from, it was just typed on a page.

This will be one of the few recipes I just show through pictures.  This recipe is special to me and I want to keep it a family secret.

Nana’s Christmas Pudding

The Pudding is not at all difficult to make, just time consuming.  It is cooked with steam.  If you do not have a steamer, you need a large pot that your bowl will fit into.   I did not have a rack to keep the bowl out of the water, so I made a tinfoil raiser.

 

20141221_125237

I got these bowls from Nana ass well.  This is what she made her puddings in.

20141221_125231

Prepare the bowl with shortening and flour

20141221_125220

The only instructions were ‘combine all ingredients’ so that is what I did

20141221_131708

20141221_132131

 

20141221_132249

Cover with parchment and tie with string

20141221_132612

I accidentally deleted the pictures of the putting in the steaming pot.

7 hours later…

20141221_182724

 

I made it a week before Christmas, because that is when I had the time.  I wasn’t sure how it would last so I froze it for the week.  I have since learned these things last for EVER, so in the fridge would have been fine.

White Sauce

I know no other name for this sauce only that Nana called it White Sauce.  It is amazing, well how I remember it when Nana made it at least.  It has a texture and taste of nothing I have had before. To be honest, I could just use a spoon to eat it, forget the cake!

I started to take pictures then there was a quick change in our plans.  Half was made at home and half at Gramma and Poppa’s.  The part at Gramma and Poppa’s I forgot to take pictures

IMG_6750

IMG_6754

Annnnnd complete! haha

IMG_6755

When I was finished making the white sauce I had to try it.  There is a picture of me when I was about 6 with the whole bowl of sauce and me with a big spoon full in my mouth, I was caught!  That is how good it is!!  I just hoped it was as good as I remembered.

It was PERFECT!  I nailed it! It tasted just like Nana’s! I was thrilled.  At this point if the Pudding didn’t turn out at least we had bowls of sauce.  Into the fridge for a few hours until dessert.

Now time to re steam the Pudding. Yes, back in the pot (which I forgot to take pictures of again!) for 2 hours to heat and moisten.

We are full of an amazing turkey dinner – Gramma outdid herself.

20141225_183331

18 pound turkey for 7 people = lots of leftovers for me!!

20141225_170050

Dessert time!

I am very nervous about getting the Pudding out of the bowl. Even though I prepared my bowl, I fear it will stick.

It worked! A huge sigh of relief.

IMG_6764

Now to put it all together.

Mom, Dad, Gramma and Poppa had eaten Nana’s Pudding all those years ago, so they new what it was going to be compared to.  That’s a high standard!

IMG_6769

Look at that! It looks perfect

IMG_6773

One word- WOW

This WAS Nana’s Pudding! I could hardly believe it. It was perfect!

The looks on Mom, Dad, Gramma and Poppa’s faces said it all.  They loved it and said it tasted EXACTLY like Nana’s.

The warm moist Pudding combine with the cold creamy White sauce was amazing!

IMG_6776

Not everyone likes Pudding, but we love it. I am so glad it worked and I will definitely be making it again.  Poppa said, ‘we won’t have to wait til next Christmas for another one will we?’  I guess that means he liked it.

Most importantly, I am glad Dad liked it.  A wonderful way to carry on his tradition and keep Nana’s spirit alive at Christmas.

I will admit, just like when I was little, I sat down with a bowl of sauce and a spoon ;)

IMG_6755

 

 


Pecan Pie Cheesecake

December 27, 2014

IMG_6797

This Christmas I was determined to make something different for dessert.  I always do a cheesecake and something else as there are a few people who do not like cheesecake.  I racked my brains, searched my books, looked on the web and I was stumped.  There were so many things I liked but nothing that would please almost everyone.  I eventually decided to ask those attending dinner what they would like.  Everyone I asked responded with Cheesecake!  Okay, okay!  I certainly don’t mind making it, I just assumed people would be getting sick of it.  Apparently not.

Now to decide what flavour.  Suggestions were Turtle, Tuxedo, Plain, etc, all ones I had already made.  I like to try new things, then I can post about it, haha!  I headed to Pinterest, where I saw thousands of cheesecakes, but this one caught my eye.  Pecan.Pie.Cheesecake!

Photo from spicysouthernkitchen.com

Just look at that! Amazing!

pecan-pie-cheesecake-15

I eat with my eyes and as soon as I saw this I knew, this was the Christmas Cheesecake!  I had never made a Pecan Pie before, though it is on my bucket list, but figured I would give it a go.

Pecan Pie Cheesecake

Adapted from Spicy Southern Kitchen

Crust

1¾ cups vanilla-wafer crumbs**
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
⅓ cup butter, melted

**I used graham crumbs, not a fan of vanilla wafers

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine graham crumbs and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Stir melted butter in with a spatula.

IMG_6531

3. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-inch Springform pan.

IMG_6534

4. Bake for 6 minutes and let cool.

Pecan filling

1 cup sugar
⅔ cup dark corn syrup
⅓ cup butter, melted
2 large eggs
1½ cups chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Combine all Pecan-Filling ingredients in a medium saucepan. (I left out the nuts, and poured them over the crust, only because if I messed up with filling I didn’t want to waste the expensive pecans)

IMG_6538

IMG_6542

2. Stir well and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring continuously, until mixture thickens, about 8 to 10 minutes.

IMG_6544

4. Pour into prepared crust.

IMG_6546

At this point I am just about drooling, look at that!  Forget the cheesecake, lets cook this and eat it!

IMG_6548

Cheesecake filling

3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1¼ cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
⅔ cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. (Seemed low to me, I went with340ºF)2. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until smooth and creamy

IMG_6553

2. Add brown sugar and flour and beat until fluffy.

IMG_6554

I love the colour the brown sugar produced.  I had never thought of using brown sugar.  There are a few other ones I think this would be a nice addition to

IMG_6556

3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything mixes evenly.

IMG_6557

4. Add cream and vanilla and beat just to combine. Pour mixture over pecan filling. – I was worried pouring the cheesecake over the pecan filling would create a whole and not a layer, but the pecan layer had hardened up enough to hold it

IMG_6558

IMG_6559

5. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour. Turn oven off but leave cheesecake in oven with door closed for 1 more hour. (I cooked mine in a water bath as I always do)

Perfection! No cracks!

IMG_6580

6. Remove cheesecake from oven and run a knife around the sides to make sure they are not sticking. Let cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

IMG_6587

The next day I spruced it up a little, nothing exciting or over the top.  Placed a few pecans around the edges as a hint of what kind of Cheesecake it was.

IMG_6723

Dessert time!  Finally time to try it!  I am quite nervous before cutting it.  I had read some of the comments and some were undercooked and the filling poured out.  Others overcooked their pie filling and was hard as a rock.  It may look pretty but you just never know.

IMG_6729

It was perfect!  It didn’t ooze out nor did it turn to a rock.

IMG_6732

This cheesecake was perfection!  I will admit, I am my own worst critic.  I always pick apart my desserts thinking something could be better or should have done this different.  Not with this one! This was perfect.   The pictures do not do it justice.

IMG_6733

As I was serving it up, I could hear ‘mmmm’, ‘wow’, ‘OMG Erica!’ ‘Your BEST cheesecake ever!’. At this point I had not tried it yet, I always serve myself last.  When I made sure everyone had dessert (there was also an apple crisp for those cheesecake haters) I served myself up a big piece.  I had a piece and a half, Dad can’t have nuts so he just at the top part, I got his pecan crust.

IMG_6736

OH.MY.GOD!

With one bite, i think I went to heaven.  As soon as the fork hit my mouth angles started singing.  Quite literally, it was a ‘party in my mouth’.  I felt like Clark Grisswold from Christmas Vacation when he finally got his lights to work…

Christmas-Vacation-Clark-Griswold-Lights

I seriously had to pause for a moment to take it all in.

IMG_6741

The creamy top layer of cheesecake was so smooth and decadent. I really liked the almost caramel flavour that the brown sugar added to the plain cheesecake.

A few photos from the next day on white plates looks better

IMG_6789

The pecan pie layer was simply amazing!  It was sinfully sweet! I could have just pulled up a big bowl of it and been happy.  It was a perfect consistency.  It almost put me in mine of a perfect butter tart.  I am glad I went with the graham crumb crust, it went perfectly.

IMG_6797

The combination of the creamy cheesecake balanced out the sweetness of the pecan pie filling and it was absolutely delicious! Everyone love it! I was told several times that this was their new favourite. Already had requests for a repeat and a few want the recipe.

I’d say it was a success!  My only complaint is that there was not more left over! haha

Thanks you Christin from Spicy Southern Kitchen for such a wonderful dessert, it was the perfect ending to a wonderful Christmas Eve meal.


Daring Bakers go Dutch

December 27, 2014

20141219_172448

For the month of December, Andrea from 4pure took us on a trip to the Netherlands. She challenged us to take our taste buds on a joyride through the land of sugar and spice by baking three different types of Dutch sweet bread

 

I’m baaaaaaaaaack!  It’s been so long since I have participated, but I am back and committed to being challenged each month.

I was excited to try this months Daring Bakers challenge because it was something I had never heard of, a Dutch Sweet Bread.  I know a few people right from Holland, so I wanted to make it for them, memories from home.

I picked the second recipe.

Kruidkoek

Original recipe in metric. Servings: 12 slices

4 cups (500 gm) all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons (7 gm) baking powder
2½ cups (600 ml) (17-2/3 oz) (500 gm) brown sugar, firmly packed
2 teaspoons (10 gm) ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons (10 gm) ground nutmeg
2 cups (500 ml) milk

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F and line a 30cmx12 cm (12“x5“)  baking tin with parchment paper.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl

20141218_185713

3. Put the milk in a small saucepan and warm until it almost comes to a boil. Remove from the heat

20141218_184756

 

4. dd the sugar and whisk until the sugar has dissolved.

20141218_190218

5. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients whisk (by hand or using a machine) until the batter is totally smooth.

20141218_190544

6. Pour into the baking tin and bake in a preheated moderate 350°F oven for 90 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean

20141218_190731

The aroma coming from the kitchen while this was baking was amazing! I could hardly wait to try it!

20141219_172344

20141219_172456

Well, I am not sure if I did something wrong (I followed the recipe to a tee) or if it is supposed to be like this, but it was awful!  It looks nothing like the photo in the example.  Its texture reminded me of what it would be like to chew on the yellow part of those green and yellow scouring sponges. YUCK!

I have yet to get it to my Dutch friends, I see them January 1st.  I will update and let you know what they think, but as for me, not a fan.

Thank you Andrea for a great challenge! Looking forward to next month!


The Darning Baker Returns!

December 22, 2014

kitchen_w200x180

It has been a very long time since I have participated in the Daring Bakers Challenges, I’d say well over a year.  Life has been very busy and I wasn’t terribly fussy on the things that were being made.  There have been a lot of changes over at the kitchen.  New people have graciously taken over the task of running the site and have made some great adjustments.  One thing they did was reinstate the ‘3 strikes your out’ rule.  When I first became a Darning Baker you were only allowed to miss 3 challenges a year, any more than that and you were removed form the group.  Over the years this rule became a little lax, as did my participation.  This is a group I am proud to be part of and have been a member since 2009 and certainly do not want to be removed!  So, stay tuned on the 27th of each month for The Daring Bakers Challenges!

Check out a few of my favourites from the past

Biscuits

Sans Rival

Baklava – I hosted!!

Pasta Frolla

Nanaimo Bars

Looking forward to this years Challenges!

 


Horse Cake

December 19, 2014

20141212_071540

I was asked to do a horse themed cake for a 16th Birthday.  They showed me a picture very similar to this with a few colour changes.   Turned out ok.


Carrot, Carrot Cake

November 30, 2014

20141130_104704

This weekend I was asked to make a carrot cake into a carrot. Turned out pretty good.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 67 other followers

%d bloggers like this: