#Christmas #Recipes Tidings of Comfort & Joy

And here we are our second Holiday season in Toronto, Canada. Thankfully this one is a LOT less hectic than last years’ where it wasn’t so much Rudolph & Co. dashing around as it was me, trying to get unpacked and set up in our new home. As you could imagine not much time was left for baking the traditional festive wares, never mind experimenting and trying out new recipes!

This year however I’ve allowed myself the pleasure of being ahead of the game. A slew of expected visitors may have something to do with that. As crazy as it sounds having the tree trimmed and house decorated in November DOES free you up to do so much more. Or at least plan it!

The last Christmas spent in the UK, I created some food gift hampers to gift to friends and included some of my favourite festive foods. “Twinkling” caramel sauce (subtly spiked with rum); Crunchy spiced cookies; Christmas cake (with the emphasis more on chocolate than fruit) to name a few. This got me thinking as to what I would gift this year if given the opportunity. The first three recipes here would make ideal food gifts for those nearest and dearest to you.

Biscotti make such a great alternative to the stalwart festive cookie. Enjoy their crunchy texture studded with roasted hazelnut and cranberries with a hot cup of coffee while you put your feet up, taking a break from the looming festive onslaught. Stollen has always been my preference to the traditional Christmas fruit cake- maybe the inclusion of sublime marizpan has something to do with it? Here I’ve omitted the usual mixed peel in favour of apricots and cranberries- for no reason other than I personally hate the stuff. I find it too bitty and chewy for my liking. Fudge has always been a favourite of mine. Smooth, creamy and sweet it never fails to warm me. Bringing my ever present twist to things I’ve added some liquid smoke to lend a subtle smokiness which works so well with  the maple flavour of the fudge. Finishing it off with a gentle sprinkling of Kosher salt gives it a lip-licking quality that sings of pure indulgence. Not to mention making the finished treat visually reminiscent of the coats of baby deer in winter snow.

The fourth recipe I’ve included is not so much a food gift for other people but rather for yourself. I  know too well how frenzied and manic Christmas morning can be so I wanted to make something that might help alleviate some of the culinary pressure of that time. Preparing them the evening before is a massive shortcut that helps no end on the big day. Packed full of filling and flavours of cinnamon, apples, cranberries and pecans  they’re an extra special treat that’s sure to get the day off to a wonderful start.

I do hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I have, both creating and tasting them, and I’d like to wish you and yours a wonderful, peaceful  holiday season and happy new year. (Wow! never thought I’d be writing that so soon!)

Biscotti (3)

 

Hazelnut & Cranberry Chocolate Biscotti

Makes 20-24

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups All-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa, unsweetened
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cups of hazelnuts (filbert) , toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • All-purpose flour for dusting

Method

  1. Heat your oven to 150°C/300F
  2. Line a baking tray with baking parchment and dust lightly with flour
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with balloon whisk attachment,  beat the eggs with the sugar until pale and doubled in size.
  4. Fold in the vanilla and almond extracts
  5. Sift in the flour, cocoa and baking powder
  6. Add in the nuts and fruits and fold thoroughly until the mixture comes together a dough
  7. Tip out onto a lightly floured work surface and lightly roll out into a log shape. Divide the log into two, halfway along it’s length
  8. Place the logs on the lined baking sheet and with your hands lightly flatten logs to approximately 40mm wide x 20mm high
  9. Bake in your pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes or until firm
  10. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes. After this time cut the logs into slices (10-15mm thick) and  lay  them flat on a baking sheet (with cut-side uppermost) and bake again for 10-15 minutes or until crisp
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack
  12. These can be kept for up to a week in an air-tight container

 

Biscotti (6)


Stollen (4)

Alternative Stollen

Makes 1

  • 4 cups white bread flour
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fast action yeast
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 almond extract
  • 2/3 cups almonds nibs
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried lemon zest
  • 8 oz marzipan

To finish

  • 1/4 stick butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp icing (confectioners’)  sugar

Method

  1. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and lightly dust with bread flour. Set aside until needed
  2. Put the flour and sugar in a stand mixer bowl and stir to combine. Add the yeast on one side of the bowl and the salt on the other
  3. In a pan combine the milk, butter, lemon zest, orange zest and heat gently until the butter has melted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool and infuse. Stir occasionally to prevent the zests clumping
  4. With the dough hook attached and on a medium speed, add the cooled milk/ butter liquid in a steady stream. Leave the machine to knead for 6 minutes until smooth and pliable
  5. Whilst the dough is kneading, mix the nutmeg, cloves, vanilla and almond extracts, dried fruits and almond nibs together in a bowl
  6. Remove the dough from the stand mixer bowl and place the dough on top of the fruit mixture and knead from the outside into the centre. When everything has been fully incorporated, return to the bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise for 1-1 ½  hours in a warm place, until doubled in size
  7. Flatten the dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle about 45cm x 35cm. Shape the marzipan to about 25 x 15cm and place on top of the dough. Wrap the dough so it encloses the marzipan and place the full loaf on your prepared baking sheet, with the joining seam at the underside. Cover and leave to rise for 45mins – 1 hour until risen and doubled in size
  8. Preheat the oven to 190C /375F and bake for 40mins. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Brush the baked loaf liberally with melted butter, and dust with icing sugar. Leave to cool completely before serving
  9. This will keep for up to a week, wrapped and stored in an airtight container

 

 

Stollen (2)


Fudge (4)

Salted Smoky Maple Pecan Fudge

Makes 36 pieces

  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 3 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, chopped
  • 1 cup icing (confectioners’) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure Maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves, roasted and roughly chopped
  • Kosher Salt, to taste

Method

  1. Line and butter an 8-inch square baking pan or silicone pan with baking parchment, allowing the parchment to extend over sides of pan
  2. Mix the evaporated milk, brown sugar and butter in large saucepan. Bring to boil on medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring frequently, until mixture reaches 236°F on a candy thermometer (soft-ball stage). (Be patient- this will take about 30 minutes. Also DO NOT leave it unattended!)
  3. Remove from heat and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer. (Careful! The sides of the bowl will become VERY hot)
  4. Add the icing sugar, maple syrup, vanilla extract and liquid smoke and beat together with on low speed. Increase speed to medium; beat until thickened and smooth.
  5. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and fold in the chopped pecans. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Sprinkle the top of the fudge with kosher salt to your taste. (I usually use 2 good pinches, evenly sprinkled)
  6. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm. Use baking parchment to lift out of pan onto cutting board.
  7. Cut into 36 squares and enjoy!
  8. If stored at room temperature this will keep for up to a week in an air-tight container, if stored in the fridge it will  last for up to two

Fudge (1)


Cinnamon Rolls (5)

Christmas Morning Cinnamon Buns

Makes 12

For the dough

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, plus extra for greasing pan
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried lemon zest
  • 4 cups white bread flour
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon fast-action yeast
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the filling

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup fried cranberries
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup apple butter

For the glaze

  • 2 cups icing (confectioners’) sugar
  • 1/4 cup eggnog

Method

  1. Put the milk, butter, cinnamon, orange zest and lemon zest in a small saucepan and heat very gently over the lowest available heat until the butter has melted. Set aside and leave it to cool to a lukewarm temperature
  2. In a bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the flour and sugar. On one side of the bowl add the yeast, and on the opposite side add the salt
  3. Into the flour bowl add the cooled milk/butter mix and the beaten egg.
  4. With the dough hook attachment, knead this on medium for 8 minutes. It should become smooth, pliable and come together in a ball
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled, large bowl and cover tightly with lightly oiled cling film. Leave the dough to rise in a warm place for 1- 1 1/2hrs
  6. Grease with butter a 23cm x 33cm high sided baking tin and set aside until needed
  7. Prepare the filling by mixing together the brown sugar, cinnamon and softened butter in a bowl. Beat until well combined. Set aside until needed
  8. When your dough has risen, tip it out into a lightly oiled surface and roll out to 40x50cm
  9. To fill , spread the cinnamon butter (as evenly as you can) over the surface of the dough. Next spread the apple butter in an even layer. After this sprinkle on the dried cranberries. Once this is done, finally sprinkle on the chopped pecans
  10. Starting at the long edge, roll the dough into a tight log shape
  11. Trim the ends off the roll and then cut into 12 even pieces*
  12. Arrange the rolls in a 3×4 formation (cut side up) in your prepared baking tin. Cover loosely with oiled cling film and pop into the fridge. Leave to slow-proof overnight
  13. On the morning of baking, remove the tray of risen cinnamon rolls from the fridge 30 minutes prior to baking
  14. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F
  15. Bake the rested rolls in the oven for 30 mins. If the edges start to brown too soon, lightly cover the pan with foil
  16. When baked, remove the rolls from the oven and set aside to cool while you prepare the glaze
  17. To prepare the eggnog glaze, combine the icing sugar and eggnog in a bowl or jug. Whisk until well combined and smooth
  18. Drizzle the glaze over the still-warm cinnamon rolls and enjoy

A word of warning- these are very sticky and moreish…unwrapping gifts at the same time is not recommended!

*To cut the cinnamon rolls I use a length of either dental floss or fish-line. Loop it around the dough log where you want to make the cut, pull in opposite directions and there! You have a perfectly cut cinnamon roll ready for baking. Failing this of course, feel free to use a knife!

Cinnamon Rolls (2)


Mother Pic

This post is dedicated to my mother, Anne, who passed away earlier this year. The lady who inspired a thousand cupcakes and so much more.

“But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begins”

Mitch Albom

 

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#Recipe #Pumpkin Patch Cookies

Following up on my previous post with three delicious ways to use this season’s favourite, the pumpkin, here a couple of other recipes in the form of the humble “cookie”. Snickerdoodles are everyone’s favourite. The addition of pumpkin elevates them to another level of seasonal Fall goodness.  Autumn in a cookie! With the oatmeal cookies you a a much more rustic baked treat. These are a handful (literally!) and you’ll be all the better for it! The combination of soft-baked oats, pumpkin and Autumnal spices just begs for a tall glass of milk!

The recipes are ideal for baking with the little ones, however as always leave the oven work to the grown-ups. Get them rolling, scooping, drizzling and in no time at all you’ll have some very happy little tummies.

I hope you have fun baking and wish you and your families a very happy Halloween full of spooky, fun-filled goodness!

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Cookie Dough

Makes 36

  • 3 1/4 cups All-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree (make sure it’s 100%)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Sugar Crust Coating

  • 1/4 cup fine (caster) sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Method

  • In a bowl combine the flour, cornstarch, cream of tartar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and mixed spice. Mix until well combined
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (with paddle attachment), cream together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until combined. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl
  • Mix in egg yolk, followed by pumpkin puree and vanilla extract.
  • On a low speed,  add in dry ingredients (I usually do it a couple of heaped tablespoons at a time) then mix until combined.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl, wrap in cling warp and chill in the refrigerator for 30- 60 minutes
  • After the chilling time, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie baking sheets with baking parchment
  • In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup granulated sugar with 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
  • Scoop dough out 2 tablespoons at a time and shape into a ball
  • Roll the dough ball in cinnamon sugar mixture to evenly coat then transfer to prepared cookie sheets, spacing cookies 2-inches apart.
  • Bake in preheated oven 14-16 minutes
  • Remove and leave cool on baking sheet about 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

For the cookies:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup Quick Oats
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 sticks  unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups pumpkin purée (make sure it’s 100%)

For the glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons Ice-wine syrup (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie baking sheets with baking parchment paper
  2. In a bowl combine the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and nutmeg and mix until well combined
  3. Place the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until lightened in color and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl
  4. Add the egg and vanilla and beat on medium until incorporated
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the flour/oats mixture and mix until incorporated. Add half of the pumpkin puree and mix until incorporated. Repeat with the remaining flour/oats mixture and pumpkin puree
  6. Using a 1/4 cup, drop scoops per baking sheet (approximately 6-8) spacing them 2 inches apart on the prepared sheets. Reserve the remaining dough until needed
  7. Place both sheets in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back and continue baking until the cookies are golden brown on the bottom and around the edges, about 12 minutes more
  8. When baked remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Using a flat spatula, transfer the cookies to the wire racks to cool completely.
  9. Repeat with the remaining dough (you can use the same parchment paper). Leave all the cookies to cool completely before glazing

 

For the glaze:

  1. Place all of the glaze ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth
  2. Place all of the cooled cookies on the baking parchment. Drizzle the glaze over the cookies in a pattern of your liking
  3. Let the cookies sit at room temperature until the glaze has set, about 20 minutes

#Recipe #Pumpkin Three-ways

Let’s get one thing outta the way. I kinda love October…in a BIG way! New food becomes seasonal, leaves turn amazing colours and  the temperatures become a little bit more bearable. Oh and there’s Halloween! If you’re a Halloween-hater or nay-sayer then I’m afraid we can’t be friends. It just ain’t gonna happen. It’s become my family’s steadfast tradition at this point – December belongs to reindeer, candy canes and Father Christmas; October is ghosts, vampires and all things nocturnally unspeakable! The Season of The Witch reduces me to giddy school-kid levels of excitement and anticipation. The opening staccato of John Carpenter’s Halloween theme giving me bats in my tummy (you see what I did there?) In the space of a couple of days I’ll transform our house from a 2.4 family dwelling in to a suburban Gothic haven.

However enough about that- you’d didn’t come here to read of my penchant for ghouls, ghosts and creatures of the night. It’s impossible for me to think of October and Halloween without thinking of pumpkin. Image can be a powerful thing and as soon as the calendar turns to October 1st, scenes of those orange orbs of rustic goodness flood my brain- pumpkin patches; Jack O’Lanterns; pumpkin pies. So it only seems fitting to present to you some recipes as an homage to the humble Cucurbita Pepo. As always I try to give you something a little different not so much in the Pumpkin Pie variety of recipes! All of these recipes use canned pumpkin. I have enough labour what with all the carving and excavating of pumpkins for Jack O’Lanterns  so I try to avoid it in other areas. When using canned pumpkin be sure to use those which are 100% pure pumpkin puree.

Pumpkin Madeleines (2)

Brown Butter & Tonka Bean Pumpkin Madeleines with

Chai Caramel Dipping Sauce

Madeleines
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon mixed spice
  • 1 Tonka bean, grated
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
Caramel Sauce
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/4 cups cooking cream (35%)
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon chai spice mixture

Pumpkin Madeleines (1)

To make the madeleines

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 12-shell madeleine pans with baking spray or cake release. (Or brush with melted butter and coat with flour, tapping out the excess flour)
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until it is a brown color, It will now start to have a “nutty” smell. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool (You’ll notice small brown/black particles. Don’t worry these are all part of brown butter!)
  3. In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, mixed spice and tonka bean. Mix to combine and set aside until needed.
  4. In a stand mixer bowl add the eggs and sugar and with the whisk attachment mix on medium-high until the mixture is light in color, thick, and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin puree and mix on slow until combined.
  5. After removing the bowl from the mixer, fold in the flour mixture gently by hand. Once the flour is completely added, gently pour in the cooled melted butter and fold it into the mixture until completely incorporated. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure no pockets of unmixed ingredients
  6. Pour the madeleine batter into a large piping bag (fitted with plain circular nozzle, or snip the end of the bag off)
  7. Fill the prepared trays with batter in each mould to 3/4 depth
  8. Bake the madeleines for 10-12 minutes or until puffed and golden
  9. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes and then move to a wire rack

*Keep in an airtight container for up to for 2-3 days. The madeleines can also be frozen for up to 2 months and then reheated in the microwave or in a 350F oven before serving.

To make the dipping caramel

  1. In a heavy-based saucepan combine the brown sugar and water. Heat until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Increase the heat and allow the sugar mixture to deepen in color, approximately 240F (Soft Crack on sugar thermometer)

*excercise care in these next few steps!

  1. Remove the saucepan with the melted sugar from the heat and add in the salted butter. Whisk briskly and carefully so that it melts and becomes incorporated into the sugar mixture. It may hiss and spit so please take care!
  2. Next add the cream in a steady stream and stir to fully incorporate. Again take care at this point.
  3. Stir in the chai spice mixture
  4. Pour into the small ramekins or mini-milk bottles to serve with the pumpkin madeleines

*The final caramel sauce will keep for up to 2 weeks in your refrigerator. I find it’s best if removed from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving to allow it the return to full “saucy goodness”. If you prefer it warmed, heat in a microwavable container in 10-15 second bursts until it at desired temperature

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Pumpkin Bread (1)

Cinnamon Cheesecake stuffed Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Loaf

Pumpkin Loaf
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground gloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups (caster) sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Cinnamon Cheesecake Filling
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup (caster) sugar
  • 4oz Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Pumpkin Bread (2)

To make the cheesecake filling

  1. In a bowl beat together the filling ingredients until fully combined and smooth
  2. Transfer to a piping bag and set aside until needed

To make the pumpkin loaf

  1. Preheat your oven to 325F.
  2. Prepare two 1lb loaf tines with cake release or grease with butter
  3. In a bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices
  4. In a stand mixer combine the sugar, butter and eggs and mix for at least 10 mins
  5. Add in the pumpkin puree and mix on slow until just combined
  6. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add in the flour mixture by heaped tablespoon at a time. Keep  the mixer going until just combined – make sure there are no white flour pockets. Scrape down the sides of the bowl at regular intervals
  7. Remove the bowl and fold in the chocolate chips
  8. Pour the mixture equally between the two prepared tins to 1/2 level
  9. Pipe a stripe of cheesecake mixture from the piping bag into each tine. Ensure that the cheesecake mixture doesn’t touch the sides of the loaf tin
  10. Once all the cheesecake mixture has been used, use the remaining pumpkin batter to fill up the loaf tins. Level the tops of the mixture
  11. Bake in the oven for 60-70mins until a skewer comes out clean
  12. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool in the tins until fully cooled. When cool wrap in clingfilm until needed

*These loaves get better over time- after a couple of days wrapped they develop a fudgy, sticky texture.

Pumpkin Bread (6)


Pumpkin Cookies (3)

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups golden brown sugar
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons ice-wine syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

Pumpkin Cookies (4)

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside until needed
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed, mix together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 10 mins)
  3. Add the egg, vanilla, ice-wine syrup, pumpkin puree and continue to mix until well combined
  4. Add the flour mixture a heaped tablespoon at a time until well combined, with your mixer set to low. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  5. Remove the fully mixed cookie dough from the bowl, divide into two and wrap in cling-wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least two hours or preferably overnight
  6. When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350F, line two cookie trays with baking parchment, and dust a work surface with confectioners (icing) sugar)
  7. Remove one of the batches of dough from the fridge and on the dusted work surface, roll to a thickness of 4-6mm. Cut out shapes using dusted cutter cutters. Lift the cookies with a spatula or palette knife and place on the lined cookie sheets.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking. I find it works best baking them a tray at a time, so that whilst one tray is in the oven you can cut and place the cookies for the second tray
  9. When baked remove the tray from the oven and let cool for 1 or 2 minutes before again using a spatula or palette knife transfer the baked cookies to racks to cool. Be aware that the baked cookies will be soft but they will firm up upon cooling

*The cookies can be kept in an airtight container for up to a week.

Pumpkin Cookies (2)

There you have it- three wonderfully, tasty ways to use the season’s stalwart staple…and not a pumpkin spice latte in sight. Enjoy!

Wishing you and yours a Happy Thankgiving and a sookily fun and safe Halloween from here in The Kitchen.

#Recipe #ChocolateChip Day

A food lover’s calendar is choc-full (pardon the pun!) of days on which to celebrate, indulge and extol the virtues of food stuffs galore. In fact I’m pretty certain that if you research hard enough you’ll find that every single day is bequeath to some food or ingredient somewhere in the world. Not that I’m complaining! On that note, May 15th is National Chocolate Chip Day here in North American waters. And without further ado I present not one but TWO culinary efforts in homage to that humble morsel of cocoa goodness.

My “Triple Chocolate Peppermint Cookies” are chocolate, chocolate, chocolate lovers dream! Crumbly mint chocolate cookie studded with chocolate chips, enrobed in a smooth, dark chocolate case. Absolute perfection with a glass of ice-cold milk. Girl scouts eat your hearts out!

The second cookie that we have, “Choc Chip Short Oat Cookies” are a wonderful hybrid between buttery, crumbly shortbread and a classic oatmeal cookie. Easy to bake they’re also a handy one to have ready should you be looking for an afternoon activity with little hands.

Triple Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Peppermint Cookies 1

Ingredients (makes apx 50)
Chocolate Cookies:

1 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

1 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1 cup chocolate chips, semi-sweet

Chocolate Peppermint Coating:

16oz chocolate, semi-sweet, broken into pieces

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Method:
Making the cookies:
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar until well combined (apx 10 mins) Add the vanilla extract, peppermint extract, salt, and cocoa powder. Mix until the cocoa powder is well combined and there are no pockets of cocoa dust
  • Add the flour and mix until you have crumbly dough
  • Gather the dough into a ball, and knead it together on a counter for about 3-5 mins It should become somewhat smoother. (Don’t worry if it’s still a little crumbly)
  • Divide the dough in 2, flatten into disks, and wrap in cling wrap. Chill in a refrigerator for 15-20 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line two baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment
  • Roll dough out to a thickness of 6mm. I used a rolling-pin with guides to get a consistent thickness. A trick I found that works really well is to roll the dough out between two sheets of baking parchment. Not only are the cookies easier to lift, it also saves on counter top mess and cleaning up!
  • Cut out cookies (I use a 2 “ cutter) and place, spaced apart, on the pre-lined baking sheets
  • Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the trays for 3-5 mins. Then careful remove to wire racks and allow to cool completely
  • When your cookies have cooled completely prepare your chocolate coating

Peppermint Cookies

Making the coating:
  • In a bowl set over hot water in a pan, slowly melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally
  • Add in the peppermint extract and stir to combine. It may look like it’s caused the chocolate to separate and become grainy but fear not! Keep stirring and it’ll come right in the end.
Finishing the cookies:
  • With a fork in each hand, gently drop the cookies one at a time into the chocolate coating
  • Using the forks, flip to coat all sides. Lift the cookie out of the chocolate with one of the forks and allow any excess chocolate to drip off the cookie back into the bowl
  • Place the freshly coated cookie on a parchment lined counter, and repeat
  • Allow the cookies to cool at room temperature until ready. They’ll be ready in a couple of hours but I find it best to leave them overnight. They can be stored in an airtight tin for 3-5 days. (Use baking parchment to separate the layers and prevent sticking)

Peppermint Cookies 3

*When dipping the baked cookies you’ll get to a point where it becomes too awkward to flip and properly coat the cookies in the melted chocolate. I transfer the remaining chocolate to a piping bag and drizzle it over the remaining cookies.

Peppermint Cookies 4

Choc Chip Short Oat Cookies

Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients (makes apx 48)

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups cake flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup quick-cooking oats

12oz chocolate chips, semi-sweet

Method
  • Heat oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment
  • In large bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and powdered sugar until light, fluffy and well combined
  • Add in the flour, baking soda, vanilla and oats., and mix until well combined
  • Stir in chocolate chips
  • On pre-lined baking sheets, drop dough by teaspoonfuls. Space them apx 2 inches apart
  • Bake in the preheated oven for between 11 to 13 minutes
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the trays for 5 mins
  • After 5 minutes carefully transfer the baked cookies to wire racks and allow to cool completely
  • Enjoy!

#Recipe Baking with kids…not literally!

Montage

We’ve now been resident here in Toronto for 5 months and things have pretty much settled. My husband has found his pace with his job, our kids have made a smooth transition to a new school, heck we even seemed to have navigated the whole “Daylight saving hours” thing without too much trouble. The only fly in the ointment is me trying to start Mr. Mom’s from scratch again. Whilst a brand new audience awaits from my take on baked goods, it also means a whole bunch of people who no NOTHING about you. And that’s an uphill climb! (If you do happen to work in the foodie sector and would like a food writer, or baker to work with  please do check out my Collaborations page here.)

Anyhoo I digress! As I mentioned above, our kids have (surprisingly) takenthe move to a new country in their stride with little or no tears and tantrums. This week had them on their “March Break” from school- seems to be the equivalent to a UK mid-term break. As well as taking them to the obligatory art galleries and museums (I don’t know who enjoyed it more!) I decided to introduce them to the world of baking. Now I’m not talking anything major- they’re not quiet ready for the cook’s torch or bain maire yet! However you’d be amazed how some simple stirring, cutting, and participation can ignite eagerness.

Here are some of the recipes that took place in Mr. Mom’s kitchen this week. Whilst they range from the sweet to the savory, they are all big on fun, flavour and involvement from little flour-caked hands. I’ve  also included some tips on getting kids involved in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong- I’m not including this because I consider myself some kind of childcare expert and these are rules by which you should abide. They’re simply meant from the point of my being a dad who wanted to get his children involved in baking and these ways worked for me. I’ve left where to get your kids involved to your discretion as you know them best after all.

Some tips/tricks:

  • Put on some music. Not loud enough that you have to shout over it but loud enough for background. It helps to have something to pass lengthy tasks like kneading or blending. Also think sing-along or random exclamations of “Knead to the beat!”
  • Get the children to find and fetch the ingredients. Framed as a “Baking Treasure Hunt” I’ve seen it help reading skills and memory.
  • Weighing is a surprisingly enticing activity which always draws willing volunteers.  If they overshoot the mark when pouring, it’s no biggie (despite their possible panic!)

So now on to the fun stuff- the recipes! These are a selection of what ended up on the cooling rack…

No Bake Chocolate Cookies

Pumpkin Bread

Sugar Cookies

Simple White Loaf ( and how this can be used to make Pizza)

 

Mud Puddles (aka No Bake Chocolate Cookies)

pic 4

 

Ingredients

200g caster sugar

125ml semi-skimmed milk

115g salted butter

4 tablespoons cocoa, unsweetened

1 tablespoon good quality vanilla extract

1 pinch salt

120g gram crunchy peanut butter

225g Jumbo Oats

225g Quick Oats

Method
  • Line baking sheets with baking parchment
  • Bring the sugar, milk, butter and cocoa to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, then keep on a rolling boil for 1 minute
  • Remove from the heat. Add the oats, peanut butter, vanilla and salt, and stir to combine
  • Drop spaced tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet
  • Leave to cool at room temperature for min 1 hour. After this they’ve set enough tp pick up and eat. I find they usually taste better and are easier to handle the next day
  • These can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days

 

Pumpkin Bread

pic 3

Ingredients

250g all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

400g caster sugar

170g unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs

1 can (425g)  pumpkin (make sure it’s 100% pumpkin puree)

pic 2

Method
  • Preheat your oven to 160c or 325F.
  • Prepare two 1lb loaf tines with cake release or grease with butter
  • In a bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices
  • In a stand mixer combine the sugar, butter and eggs and mix for at least 10 mins
  • Add in the pumpkin puree and mix on slow until just combined
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low and add in the flour mixture by heaped tablespoon at a time. Keep  the mixer going until just combined – make sure there are no white flour pockets
  • Remove the bowl, pour the mixture equally between the prepared tins and level the top
  • Bake in the oven for 60-70mins until a skewer comes out clean
  • Remove from the oven, remove from tins and leave to cool on a wire rack. When cool wrap in clingfilm until needed.
  • These loaves get better over time. After a couple of days wrapped they develop a fudgy, sticky texture which goes really with the warming spicy flavor (similar to McVities Jamaican Ginger Cake for those of you who know it?)

 

Sugar Cookies

pic 5

Ingredients

350g unsalted butter, softened

400g caster sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract

620g all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Icing sugar for dusting and rolling

 

 

Method
  • Preheat oven to 200C or 400F
  • Line cookie sheets with baking parchment
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl
  • In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until smooth (mix for at least 10 mins)
  • Beat in eggs, one at a time,and vanilla
  • With the mixer on a slow speed, stir in the flour mixture one heaped tablespoon at a time until well combined and a dough formed
  • Tip the dough onto clingfilm and wrap tightly
  • Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight)
  • Dust a surface with icing sugar, sprinkle the dough with icing sugar and roll out the dough to a thickness of apx 5mm (*use icing sugar to prevent sticking to surface and rolling-pin)
  • Cut out shapes using cookie cutters and transfer to prepared baking sheets
  • Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 mins
  • Remove and use a wide spatula or palette knife to transfer the soft cookies to wire rack to cool. They’ll firm up upon further cooling.

* I made 50/50 blend of vanilla and chocolate sugar cookie by removing half the dough when refrigerating it and leaving half in the bowl. To this I added 50g unsweetened cocoa powder and 100g unsweetened chocolate chips. Mix until well combined then refrigerate and make as per the rest of the recipe.

 

Simple White Loaf

pic 12

Ingredients

500g Bread flour

12g fast action yeast

10g salt

40ml light olive oil

320ml warm water

pic 10

Method
  • In a bowl combine the flour, yeast (to one side) and salt (to opposite side)
  • In bowl combine olive oil and water
  • Pour the water/oil mixture into the flour bowl in a steady stream
  • With your hand in a “Claw” shape mix from outside of the bowl towards to centre. Continue until all the mixture comes together into a dough ball and the bowl sides are clean
  • Lightly oil a surface with olive oil and tip out the dough onto it
  • Knead the dough for 10 mins until it becomes smooth and elastic
  • Transfer the kneaded dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with some lightly oiled cling film. Leave to rise until doubled in size
  • Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and dust with bread flour
  • Again lightly oil a surface and tip out the risen dough
  • Punch and knead the dough, for about 5 mins, until all the air has been expelled from it (called “Knocking Back”)
  • Shape with your hands into a long oval shape and transfer to the prepared baking sheet
  • Cover loosely with some damp kitchen paper or oiled cling film and leave for 40-60 mins until risen
  • Preheat your oven to 225c or 435F
  • Once the dough has risen, lightly spray with water, slash the top of the loaf, dust with all-purpose flour and place it in the preheated oven. After doing this place a dish filled with 1 pint of water in the bottom of the oven (this creates a crust)
  • Bake for 25mins, at which point reduce the temperature to 200c or 390F and continue to bake for a further 15-20mins
  • Remove the loaf from the oven (careful of the steam!) and leave to cool

Pizza adaptation

I’ve also used this recipe to make pizzas which the kids absolutely go crazy for. I’m not sure that it’s as much for the taste of it as it is for the whole “I’ve made this!” boost to their confidence. To use this for pizza making follow the steps until the “Knocking Back” stage.

pic 9

  • After knocking back the dough divide into equal pieces (I usually get 4-5 good size pizzas from this quantity of dough).
  • Preheat your oven to 250C or 475F (with baking sheets or pizza stones in)
  • Sprinkle a surface with a 50/50 combination of all-purpose flour and semolina
  • Dust the dough with some of the flour/semolina mixture. Flatten and stretch the dough until thin into which ever shape works best for you- circle, oval or rectangular. It just depends on what fits with your oven
  • Dress to your (and your kids!) taste with toppings. All of the following are good- tomato passata (as sauce); cheese shreds; bacon; tuna; pepperoni; chicken; fresh herbs; fresh mozzarella; thinly sliced figs…thre list can go on!
  • Carefully remove and dust your baking sheets or pizza stone with flour/ semolina mixture
  • Transfer your pizza(s) to baking sheets or pizza stone and bake for 10-12 mins until ready
  • Remove from oven, brush the exposed sides with extra virgin olive oil and servepic 8

So there’s a brief selection of some o the tasty goods from my kitchen. I hope you enjoy baking them, getting your kids to pitch in and tasting them as much as we have.