Thursday, December 29, 2011


Sometimes life is tricky, and sometimes I struggle with it. BUT I now know that I can make oreos, and sometimes just that is enough to make me feel like I rock at life. It's also a huge bonus to enjoy these cookies without all of the chemical preservative crap companies throw into their cookies. These cookies won't need preserving.

And because it is the season, you can also add a little bit of Christmas colour to them, and if you're lucky your icing will actually turn out Christmas colours, and you won't have a 1980's theme going on at your Christmas party, oh's the thought that counts right? If you're feeling particularly ambitious, a little bit of seasonal flavour with some mint extract - I'd highly recommend this.

Holiday Oreos
adapted from smitten kitchen

For the cookies:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Desired amount of food colouring and/or mint extract (use gel for brighter colours, I didn't have any on hand)


1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.

2) In a large bown mix together the dry ingredients until well combined. Add the butter then egg and continue mixing until the dough comes together in a mass. If you're using a hand held electric mixer this takes a while, in a stand mixer it happens a bit quicker and without so much mess, though I found the cookies to be a bit flatter.

3) scoop out teaspoon-sized balls of dough and place about an inch apart on your baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 9 minutes.

4) To make the filling cream the shortening and butter together. Add in the vanilla and sugar and mix on medium speed until well combined. To add the colouring and flavour I then divided the filling into three smaller bowls, and added the food colouring and flavour.

5) Once the cookies have completely cooled, match up like sized cookies. Using a piping bag, pipe about just over a teaspoon worth of filling on the cookies and form into a sandwich.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

guest post: cinnamon roll cookies

Hey all!  I'm back in action and over at Newfoundlander at Heart today posting about my first baking project back in Canada and as part of Margot's holiday cookie countdown.  Check it out.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Salty Chocolate Toffee Cookies

I just don't know what to say about these. After my first long workout in way too long, I just needed something chocolate and delicious and in cookie form. I found these and it took me about 3 minutes to get out the door to buy the ingredients I didn't have on hand - which given my normal sloth like state after a long work out is pretty remarkable. Pretty sure that I completely mitigated any positive impacts that the provided just in the baking process, but sometimes that's just the way it has to happen. Totally worth it.

slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound (!!!!) semisweet chocolate, melted
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups (packed) brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 chocolate-covered English toffee bars (I used Skor)
Flaked sea salt to taste


1) Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder in a small bowl while melting chocolate over a double boiler.

2) In a mixer combine butter and sugar until fluffy, add in the eggs, vanilla and chocolate.

3) Add in the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Let dough chill for about 20 minutes.

4) Preheat the oven to 350, spoon dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (this is particularly important if you don't want to spend half an hour cleaning your baking sheets when you finish). Bake for 12 - 14 minutes.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cranberry Pear Scones

Oh wow. Cranberry and pear....what an original combination.

I know. But seriously, it's popular for a reason. In the past I've used canned pears in my scones (purely due to laze), this time I used fresh pears, which added just a bit of crunch to the scone and was really just a whole lot of lovely.

If you wanted to add a little bit of ginger or cardamon that's probably a good idea.

Slightly adapted from: Nigel's Scones

3 C flour
3/4 c sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 c unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup fresh cranberries
1 pear - cut into small pieces

1. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder

2. cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Form a well and add in buttermilk. Use your hands and mix the ingredients together.

3. Add in the extras. Divide the dough into two equally sized rounds and cut each into 6 pieces.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes or until they just start to turn golden brown.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Maple Muffins

Can we talk about pancakes for a moment?

They are amazing. I will quite happily eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Throw some blueberries or strawberries and that's really all I need (note: don't ever take nutrition advice from me).

The down side though is that they aren't portable, sometimes a girl needs food for the road....and here's where these muffins come in. These muffins taste almost exactly like pancakes....just muffiny (that's a word, I promise).

Adding in anything that you would add to a pancake is probably a good a idea.

Slightly adapted from Sarabeth's Bakery: From my Hands to Yours
By: Sarabeth Levine

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup
3/4 cup unsalted butter melted
1/2 cup whole milk
1 egg
1 egg yoke

1) pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a muffin tray

2) Whisk dry ingredients. Whisk the maple syrup, melted butter and milk together, then whisk in the egg and egg yoke, Add in the dry ingredients and wet ingredients and stir together until smooth.

3. Evenly distribute the batter into 12 muffin cups and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to 375 and bake for 15 more minutes or until done.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

the tea cosy, brighton, uk

I am super late posting this and I apologize.  It's been the busy middle of the semester but I am out of the woods for a bit.

My one regret with this place is that I didn't try it sooner!  This quirky little tea spot is sooo amazing.  It's a definite must if you are ever in Brighton.  The Tea Cosy is absolutely covered from floor to ceiling in kitschy knick knacks and Royals memorabilia.  It was so over the top, which made it eve more enjoyable.

Last Sunday, I decided it was time to take a break from paper writing and do something fun, so Lenzie, Chad and I headed downtown to do a bit of shopping.

We stopped in here for some food and tea and it didn't disappoint.  The sandwiches that Lenzie and I got were oozing with cheese and tomatoes.  The tea pots were all covered in their own unique tea cosy and the dishes were an eclectic mix of China.  I was in heaven!  I'm such an old lady at heart.

Plus, the scones were seriously delicious and came with raspberry jam, my favourite!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Second Ugliest Cake to Ever be Made

Lets start with a trip back in a time where boxed cake and icing in a jar were two things that were considered 'tasty' and a perfectly acceptable thing to serve at a friends birthday party. Up until a couple weeks ago, that was the last time that I baked a cake. And it was horrendous.

At the request of the birthday girl (who happened to be Caitlin), I made a chocolate cake with rainbow chip icing. The cake, I suppose was all right - in the way that boxed cakes are. The icing was...well it was what it was. Things really went down hill with the combination of the icing and cake proved to be a little bit tricky though and it ended with the cake pretty much just falling completely apart. I was however able to use the icing as glue and kind of put the cake back together into some cake-like form.

Fast forward to a couple of weekends ago, and my friend Dana's birthday. I decided that I wanted to make a cake....completely forgetting my last experience with cake baking and icing. I consulted Dorie (Greenspan - my baking hero), picked a recipe and got to work. The actual baking of the cake was pretty easy....and then I got to the decorating and it became less easy. In the end though I suppose once you put fire on top of it, it isn't that ugly?

At least the cake remained intact throughout the entire process, so progress has been. I should say that this cake is delicious and totally worth making, even more so if you have cake decorating skillz (or even just skills).

Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake

Taken from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking: From my home to yours"

For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yokes
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

For the Icing:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate melted and cooled
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup powdered sugar

1) preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans.

2) whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix together butter and sugar until well mixed, then add the eggs followed by the egg yokes one at a time. Add the vanilla. Combine dry ingredients.

3) Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans and bake for 26 - 30 minutes. Allow to cool before icing.

4) For the icing, beat the butter until soft, then add in melted chocolate, vanilla and powdered sugar. Decorate the cake as desired.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chocolate Pomegranate Cookies

Welcome to November....ughhh. It really is the worst (ok, maybe March is the worst, but November is pretty miserable). It's too cold, but not so cold that you can do fun wintery things, and everything is dead and grey. Oh and Movember....I think it's fantastic that men are raising money for cancer. I just find it very confusing, generally speaking mustachioed men are kind of creepy, so how will I know if you're a creeper or you care about fighting cancer (an admirable attribute)? And if a guy isn't growing a mustache, does that mean that he's an asshole?

But I'm trying to focus on the positive things in life, because well really I've got it pretty good and I know I should stop being such a Wally Whiner.

Pomegranates are one of those things, and November, as miserable as it is, marks the beginning of pomegranate season . You should be able to tell by the name, but in case you can't these cookies are delicious.....I would recommend upping the pomegranate anrils just a titch...but other than that these are Amazing (yep, captial 'A').

Chocolate Fudge Pomegranate Cookies
From How Sweet it is

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup pomegranate arils
Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt, then pomegranate juice and mix until combined.
Fold in chocolate chips and arils. Refrigerate dough for 2-4 hours (or more). When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350, roll into balls and set on baking sheet.
Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Let cool completely.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

the rose, oxford: review #3

When I began my search for tea houses in Oxford the Rose kept showing up near the top.  Well, that and a fancy hotel, but we didn't have the time nor the budget for that.  Of course, we were too busy touristing as usual (I hope you're enjoying these picture heavy posts).

covered market

After reading reviews, I was hesitant to give my business to this place.  The Google reviews in particular had many comments about rude and unfriendly staff.  Service is very important to me.  Don't get me wrong, I like good food and that is a key part of going out but I am fairly competent in the kitchen, so when I do go out, it's all about the experience and a big part of that is service.

Despite the bad reviews, we decided to give it a try because the food-focused reviews were all fabulous.  One thing that held true was the deliciousness of the scones.  I think these were my favourite thus far on our mini-tour of UK tea shops.  They also gave you two small scones which was nice and made it easy for sharing.  Chad's friend Megan is currently doing her PhD at Oxford and came to meet up with us which was very fun!

I will say, our server was quite pleasant and the service was fast but the lady who seemed to be running the place did seem a bit off-putting and cranky.  Not enough to keep me from it if I were ever back in Oxford.  So try it out!

P.S. Also while in Oxford we went to the Bear, one of the oldest pubs in the UK dating back to 1242.  It was such a neat little cozy spot and the food was great.  The ceilings were really low and I took this funny picture of the boys.  Konstantin and Chad are both over 6 feet and had to crouch a little to get around.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake

Oh man......this is just as good as it sound. The worst thing about this is, and I guess cheesecake in general, is that you have to wait to eat it once it's cooked. It also doesn't photograph well (clearly)....but this is more than made up for with taste.

One of the best things about this is that there's lots of cream cheese, which is good for you. It's totally full of calcium. There's also apples, another thing that's good for you. And you know what they say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. This cake if practically the most nutritious thing you'll ever eat.

Taken from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking: From my Home to Yours"

For the Crust:

30 gingersnap cookies (these will be ground up in a food processor - you should have about 2 cups)
2 tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 tbs melted butter

For the apples (I used honeycrisp):
4 tbs butter
4 apples, cut into eighths
2 tbs brown sugar

For the filling:
3 8-ounce packages of cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
6 tbs sugar
3 tbs apple cider
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream


1) To make the crust, either bash the heck out of the cookies, or use a food processor to grind these up. Mix in the spices and melted butter. Butter a 10-inch springform plan. Dump the crumbs and butter in the pan and use your hands to press the crumbs down and up the sides of the pan. But the pan in the freezer for about 5 minutes while the oven preheats to 350 degrees. Once the oven is preheated, bake the crust for 15 minutes, once cool, wrap the pan in aluminum foil and place aside.

2) For the apples, melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, toss in the apples and sprinkle with brown sugar. Cook the apples until they are golden brown (about three minutes). You may want to do this in batches.

3) Using a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until it's smooth. Add in the sugars and mix until combined. Add in the other ingredients.

4) Pour in about 1/3 of the batter into the pan, add in the apples and then the rest of the cake batter.

5) Place the pan into a roasting dish, add boiling water to the pan until it reaches about half-way up the cake. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, then place a aluminum foil tent over the cake and bake for another 45 minutes to an hour. Bake until the cake is firm, if the centre of the cake still moves a bit, that's ok. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours - these will be longest 6 hours of your life.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chewy Pumpkin Cookies

I have an addiction...

To pumpkin.

But acceptance is the first step towards overcoming it....the only problem is I don't want to. However, lucky for you this recipe involves pumpkin butter, which I made and now have a huge surplus of, so now I can have a little fix everyday and you won't feel like an enabler by reading this blog. We all win. And I promise, the next thing I make won't be pumpkin.

Recipe (slightly adapted from How Sweet it is):

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 Tbs cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp ground ginger
3/4 cup melted unsalted butter (cooled)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yoke
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin butter
1 1/4 cups chocolate chips

1) whisk together flour, cornstarch, salt, baking soda and spices in a medium bowl.

2) In a stand mixer or with an electric mixer combine melted butter and sugars until well combined. Add the eggs, vanilla and pumpkin butter and mix until well combined.

3) Gradually add the dry ingredients, once well combined refrigerate dough until chilled, about 45 minutes.

4) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, roll the dough into tablespoon sized balls and bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating the tray half-way through.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

hands of bath tearoom: review # 2

My second tea experience in England was when we visited Bath and Stonehenge on an International Students' trip.  I was wishing that I had done a bit more research before we got there because we just wandered around until we found a suitable tea house that could seat all six of us.  In the end it worked out well though.

Once again we began our day by touristing it up (this is now officially a thing), both at Stonehenge (above) and then in Bath (below).

After walking around for quite a while, we all decided we needed a rest and found Hands of Bath Tearoom close to the central square in town.  It also claimed to sell the famous Bath Bun (which I will get to in a minute).

We both had cream tea, and then Chad ordered carrot cake as well. The scone was really yummy.  It was moist but not cakey and was a really good size as well.  Chad and I both agreed that they were better than the scones we had at Cream Tea which I still enjoyed.  The preserves were not quite as good, more generic than the others but still did the job.

 Chad loved his carrot cake and I will agree that the cake was very delicious. It was moist and had a nice spicy flavour but I personally found the icing to be too sweet.  The cream cheese flavour did not shine through the way I like it to.  Our friend who had never had cream cheese icing before loved it though.

Finally, I ordered a Bath Bun to go.  I saw signs for this around town and figured it must be the thing to get but after doing a bit of research when I got home, it seems as though the Sally Lunn bun would have been the thing to get for a true Bath experience.

The Bath Bun  is a rich, sweet yeast dough shaped round that has a lump of sugar baked in the bottom and more crushed sugar sprinkled on top after baking (from the Wikipedia page).  Mine also had currants and more sugar on top.  I ate it heated with butter and although it was yummy, the lump of sugar was a bit much for me.  The Sally Lunn bun is scented with lemon and doesn't have the lump of sugar in it.  Perhaps I will have to try it one day but missed out on this trip.  There was a giant line coming out of the Sally Lunn place.  

There are a ton of places to have tea in Bath, I couldn't get over how many there seemed to be but alas, we only had a few short hours and I think we made a good choice.  Our next trip is to Oxford and this time around I am my research ahead of time to find the best places to go and baked goods to eat.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pumpkin Cupcakes

I have a confession. The first time I attempted to ice a cupcake using a piping bag it was horrendous, really just the worst thing to happen to a top of a cupcake. Ever. Seriously, after trying with two cupcakes I gave up and reverted to just using a spatula and smearing the icing on top. Which, while not necessarily bad (and in my opinion is a totally under-rated decoration method), it just does not have that ne sais quoi.

I decided it was time to try again. My friend Rob's birthday was last week so I brought mini-pumpkin cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese icing. Delicious.

The cake was moist, and the icing was the perfect mix of chocolate-cream cheesy- sweetness. AND they didn't look that bad either.....I mean not great, but progress has been made.

One thing I will say though, is that mini cupcakes requires a kind of patience I do not think I have, the constant turning of trays and filling of cups in the baking process was enough to drive me mad. But maybe I just need to be better at life. However, the mini-ness of them was totally worth it, if only it provides an extra excuse to eat more than one.

Pumpkin cupcakes - slightly adapted from Annie's Eats

For the cupcakes:

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 cups pumpkin puree

1 cup sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup canola or vegetable oil

4 large eggs

For the frosting:

1 cup cream cheese

5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

2½ cups (or to taste) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Sift together dry ingredients (except for the sugar) in a medium bowl and place aside.

3) Mix together the pumpkin, sugars, eggs and oil. Once well combined, add in the dry ingredients gradually.

4) Bake mini-cupcakes for about 20 minutes, rotating the tray half-way through.

For the frosting:

1) cream together the butter and cream cheese, gradually add the cocoa powder and icing sugar, and then decorate as you wish.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

cream tea: review # 1

When I found out that I had been accepted to school here, I wondered what I would do with my blog.  As you all know, Heather is now on board to keep the posts happening but I also decided it would be fun to do reviews of local cafes, bakeries, etc. here in Brighton.  I'm hoping to continue with these, so if people have any suggestions on how I can make them better, let me know.

Royal Pavilion in Brighton

When I googled places to have tea in Brighton, Cream Tea was near the top and as my friend Chad and I were walking around town last weekend, I spotted it.  We were both hungry after a full morning of touristing it up (see above) so we both went with the afternoon tea.

This cost 8.50 GBP and you got a sandwich, pot of tea for one and a scone with cream and preserves.  Both of us got smoked salmon, cream cheese sandwiches.  These were pretty good.  The bread was fresh and arugula added a nice touch of flavour.

I had a traditional English breakfast tea and Chad had some sort of fruit tea.  It was such a lovely vibrant pink colour.  My tea was their own blend and it had a really nice flavour and was steeped nice and strong, which I like.

After our sandwiches we enjoyed our scones.  The scone was quite nice, a teeny bit dry but still yummy slathered in cream and preserves.  The preserves were my favourite part and sadly, I am not even 100% sure what they were but they were really yummy and a bit runnier which I like.

For our first tea in Brighton, this place delivered.  We got to sit outside in the sun which was so nice, but the inside looked cozy as well.  I would go back for sure, but not before trying all the other tea houses in Brighton.  ; )