That’s all I have to say after this Valentine’s Day.
You know when you plan to visit your Italians and surprise them with donuts, but instead you spend all day in the ER with your BFF because her eyeball is exploding, and then you sit in traffic for hours because Toronto has a congestion problem, and then when you finally arrive in suburbia you find out that one of your Italians took a sick day so you don’t even get to see him, and then a douchebag who used to like you, but doesn’t like you anymore, ignores you completely (cue Gotye soundtrack) and makes you sad when you’re supposed to be a strong independent woman like the Good Wife, and then you go to a bar (and by this time you’re starving) only to find out—Surprise! Happy Valentines Day! They’re only offering a $50 prix fix menu that you can’t pay for because you’re on a money diet, so, instead, you just sit under a cold draft drinking an overpriced warm draft feeling completely miserable?
Thank god for tequila.
So, that’s the backstory to these adorable little pastries.
But let me rewind a little.
So, Elyse had the fantastic idea that we take a day off, bake treats and go visit our Italians. Turns out Valentine’s Day was the perfect day, not only because I love my Two Dads the most, but because Macaroni Rascale’s love life is… how do I put this gently… in shambles? So showering him with love on the most romantic of days seemed like the right thing to do.
Plus, hugs from Bossman make us squee like schoolgirls. You haven’t been hugged until you’ve been hugged by a giant Italian man.
The night before, we gathered all our ingredients to make mini donuts. It was a long night, and there was a point when we suffered from a very serious hangry episode, but in the end we drank wine, ate greek food, chilled in my new condo and used my new stand mixer.
But those mini donuts we planned to make? They puffed up too much and formed a little hat like a cupcake. So… we renamed them Cupnuts. We made two types: one with a Nutella glaze and one with a vanilla glaze. Then we decorated the shit out of them.
We’re seriously thinking about signing up for Toronto Underground Market with these babies, because Toronto hipsters love when two things become one thing.
Especially when that thing has a cute name.
And especially when that name sounds kinda perverted.
Overall, Valentine’s Day wasn’t that bad. I spent it with the one I love the most: Elyse. And we ended up eating sausage and drinking beer and everything was fine.
I mean, there were long Freudian discussion about why I’m only interested in unattainable men who will dispose of me… and Elyse’s eye is still exploding…
Well, I guess healing takes time. Until then, how about a Cupnut?
CUPNUTS WITH NUTELLA OR VANILLA GLAZE
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour 1/2 cup sugar 1 1/4 tsp baking powder 3/4 tsp salt 1/2 cup buttermilk 1/2 tsp vanilla 1 large egg, lightly beaten 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
For the Nutella glaze:
1/2 cup Nutella, at room temperature 1/3 cup heavy cream
For the Vanilla glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 1/2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Assorted sprinkles, chopped nuts, coconut, chocolate, whatever your heart desires.
Preheat the oven to 425°F and grease the mini-donut pan.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, eggs and melted butter just until combined.
Fill each pan cavity approximately 1/3 full (or completely full for Cupnuts). Tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles and level out the batter.
Bake the donuts for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the tops of the donuts spring back when touched. Let the donuts cool in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer them to a cooling wrack to cool completely while you make the glazes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the Nutella and heavy cream until combined. If the glaze is too thick, whisk in an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream.
In another medium bowl, whisk together the confectioner’s sugar, milk and vanilla until combined. If the glaze is too thick, whisk in an additional milk. Use immediately, as it will start to harden.
Dip the tops of the donuts into the glaze, shake off any excess and immediately sprinkle with decorations.
When I first met Comrade he told me that he “Didn’t like sweets.”
1. That’s not a thing. 2. I’m a pretty open minded girl, but I gotta draw the line somewhere. (I have a baking blog for God’s sakes! I have pastry flour on all my clothes. I spend my money on unsalted butter over toilet paper. I’d rather get an offset spatula for my birthday than jewellery!) 3. Challenge accepted. (What can I say? I liked his face).
Was this foreshadowing some kind of incompatibility? Nope. Turns out we’re quite the dynamic duo in the kitchen. Comrade is an inspiring chef. Let him loose in the grocery store and he’ll put together flavour combos for a meal that will blow your mind. Then I’ll serve a sugar-butter delight for a one-two punch that will leave you in food coma for days. That’s my definition of a power couple.
You’d think having two people in a tiny mid-town kitchen with no counter space would result in someone getting stabbed with a fork. This is easily avoidable if you: clean as you go, drink wine, play catchy tunes, and grab a handful of ass whenever you can.
We were making dinner for his sister, her husband, and their two adorable babies, whose little angelic faces had a tendency of blooming up at me and melting my heart. (I made these yogurt banana pops for the babies. Babies fucking love sprinkles.) It was my first time meeting his sister. I don’t know if she liked me. But she liked my cheesecake and that’s close enough.
And by the way, my pie totally won over Comrade.
…Or… maybe Comrade won over my pie?
Either way, make this cheesecake and you can win over your friends and family at your next shindig.
MINI CHEESECAKE WITH RASPBERRY SAUCE
Graham Cracker Crust 1 cup graham cracker crumbs or crushed digestive biscuits 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar 55-65 grams butter, melted
Cheesecake Filling 2 - 8 ounce packages of full fat cream cheese, room temperature 2/3 cup ) granulated white sugar 1/8 teaspoon salt 2 large eggs, room temperature 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1/2 cup plain yogurt, room temperature
Raspberry Sauce 1/4 cup of water 6oz raspberries 2 tsp brown sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) and place oven rack in the centre of the oven. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a small bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press a heaping tablespoon of crumbs onto the bottoms of the 12 muffin cups. Cover and refrigerate while you make the filling.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the cream cheese on low speed until creamy and smooth. Add the sugar and salt and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract, and yogurt and beat until incorporated. Remove the crusts from the refrigerator and evenly divide the filling among the 12 muffin cups.
Bake for about 18 - 22 minutes or until firm but the centres of the cheesecakes still wobble a little. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Let cool and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or even overnight.
To make raspberry sauce add raspberries, water, and sugar to a small sauce pan over medium-high heat, reserving a few raspberries for garnish. Bring to a boil and then simmer for ten minutes or until it starts to thicken. Place in refrigerator to cool completely.
To serve, gently peel off the paper liners and place on your serving plate. Serve with raspberry sauce and fresh berries. These cheesecakes can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for several days.
Doesn’t that sound depressing? Well it wasn’t. Not even a little. It was madly delicious.
For my birthday I wanted all my favourite flavours to come together in a sweet and salty showstopper. That meant pretzels. That meant chocolate. That meant peanut butter. That meant heaven on a cake stand.
I couldn’t even find the cake of my dreams on the internet, so I invented my own, and unveiled the rich and decadent manifestation of pure pleasure at my birthday party.
At first I thought I would invite everyone out to [super awesome hipster bar] to drink an obnoxious amount. But then I thought, “No. I want to throw a dinner party.” Dinner parties are a very important part of white people culture, after all. So I invited everyone over to get obnoxiously drunk in my itty-bitty apartment instead.
I asked my Comrade, “Are you nervous to meet all my friends? All at once? In a really tiny space where there’s no escape?”
He said, “No. I’m excited”
I was surprised, “Really?”
"Do you want me to be nervous?"
"I’m more concerned about what we’re going to put on the menu."
It took ALL day. I learned that Comrade is a really slow chopper. He learned that I will spaz the fuck out if we don’t follow a recipe exactly. In conclusion, turns out that wine and handsome Russian men are really good at curbing my stress levels in the kitchen.
And by the way, he admitted that if the friend situation got hairy, he’d jump off the balcony. We’re only on the fifth floor after all. And he’s a strong man.
PEANUT BUTTER FILLING 8 ounces cream cheese, softened 1 cup chunky peanut butter 1/2 cup sugar 2 tsp pure vanilla extract 1 cup well-chilled heavy cream 3/4 cup salted roasted peanuts, chopped Kosher salt
CHOCOLATE TOPPING 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped 1/2 cup heavy cream
GARNISH Crushed pretzel and peanuts
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and grease a 20cm springform tin and line the base with baking paper. Place pretzels in a food processor and pulse to a fine crumb. Add sugar and melted butter and pulse to combine. Press mixture into the bottom of the prepared tin, pressing tightly into an even layer. Bake for 10 mins or until just going golden brown on the edges. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the cream cheese with the peanut butter, sugar and vanilla extract until blended. In another large bowl, using the same beaters, whip the chilled cream until firm. Fold one-third of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture to loosen it, then fold in the remaining whipped cream and 1/2 cup of the chopped peanuts. Spoon the filling into the crust, smoothing the surface. Sprinkle lightly with salt and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.
Place a heat proof bowl over a pot of boiling water, combine the chocolate with the heavy cream stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted and the cream is hot. Remove from heat and allow to cool, stirring occasionally until barely warm.
Spread the chocolate topping over the peanut butter filling and refrigerate until just firm, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of chopped peanuts and pretzels around the edge of the pie. Carefully run a thin knife around the pie crust to loosen it, then remove the springform ring. Using a sharp knife, cut the pie into wedges. Run the knife under hot water and dry it between each cut.
Make Ahead The pie can be covered and refrigerated overnight. Garnish with the chopped peanuts before serving. Serve the pie chilled or slightly cooler than room temperature.
If you want to bake an authentic Irish dessert for St. Patty’s day, look no further. These cookies are made with Guinness.
I know what you’re thinking, “Hey, that’s not authentic. That’s a racist stereotype.”
And to that I will say, “So? these cookies are fucking delicious. And racist stereotypes are funny.”
Can’t argue with that.
Just like buying a guy a pint at the pub, these cookies are going to make you a lot of friends. They have three different types of chocolate chips AND beer. That’s a combination that will win anybody over.
Ever since I went to Hip and Urban Girl’s Cookies + Champagne party (which I haven’t written about yet because I’m lazy) I’ve been obsessed with cookies. I just want cookies… all the time.
I also want beer all the time, which makes these cookies such a wonderful invention.
Now, if you’re an Irish girl like me, pouring two tall can of Guinness into a pot and boiling it until it’s reduced to only 1/3 cup of syrup will probably break your heart.
But don’t worry. Getting drunk off the fumes and biting into one of these warm cookies will definitely start the healing process.
TRIPLE CHOCOLATE GUINNESS COOKIES makes about 3 dozen cookies
Guinness Syrup 2 (12-ounce) bottles of Guinness extra stout 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
Triple Chocolate Cookies 2 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 teaspoon espresso powder 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 3/4 cup granulated sugar 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar 2 extra large eggs 1 extra large egg yolk 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract 2 cups white chocolate chips 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips 1/2 semi-sweet chocolate chips
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce the Guinness and the brown sugar, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until thick and syrupy and measures 1/3 cup, about 30-45 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix until combined. With the mixer on low, gradually add the cooled beer syrup, mixing until combined. Gradually add the dry mixture until no flour is visible. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours, preferably overnight. Well wrapped or stored in an airtight container, dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To freeze, scoop the dough into portions and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, then place in a freezer safe plastic bag for up to one month.
Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out portions of the cookie dough with a 1/8 measuring cup (2 table spoons) onto the prepared baking sheet spaced 3 inches apart. Bake the cookies until the edges are set, about 15-17 minutes (a minute or two more if frozen). Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
I stayed up till 3am decorating these little bastards.
I’m not usually a fan of decorating. Pipping, sprinkles, fondant flowers… it’s not for me. Maybe I’m too impatient. Maybe I just suck at it. Either way, it doesn’t matter, because I’m a pie girl. I don’t think there’s anything prettier or more elegant or more romantic than a pie.
Sugar Cookies are different. Sugar cookies I can decorated for hours. Simple and childlike, it’s like baking a colouring book. There’s something really soothing about that.
But back to business. When baking sugar cookies, it’s best to be overprotective. They’re only in the oven for 8-10 minutes, depending on the size, so keep an eye on them and when the edges start to brown, yank ‘em out. Or the bottoms will burn and you’ll be sad.
It’s the last day before the Christmas holidays, it’s not even 10 am, and I’m already sugar high and tipsy on Baileys. God damn, why does everyone at my agency bake so good. And so much. Our production manager baked five different types of shortbread. FIVE. I mean, it would have been rude not to try them all, right? But try explaining that to my thunder thighs.
So every Christmas I go balls out. Last year I exhausted myself (and won a contest!) with peppermint whoopie pies, peanut blossom cookies, mocha white chocolate shortbread, candy cane cookies, sugar cookies, and gingerbread men.
So I held back a little this year. A little. When it comes to Christmas, I like to keep it classic and stick with cookies. No frou frou macarons. No pretentious cakes. No candy bar monstrosities. Just tradition and nostalgia. I put together little packages for my coworkers and each one contained:
I was carrying this pie on the TTC this morning and thought to myself, “Does this pie look delicious or does it look like someone hurled into a pie shell?”
Maybe it’s a pie only a mother could love, but it all ends up the same in the end, right? Besides, it tastes phenomenal.
This is like Pecan Pie for the distinguished gentlemen. Grandpa taste buds only. A classic with a sturdy upgrade. It’s spiked with dark rum and made with crystallized ginger, which is such an unexpected ingredient; chewy like dried fruit, seriously potent, and covered in sugar.
This pie was for the Macaroni Rascal’s 35th birthday, who goes nuts for pecans and sugar goo. But I was almost embarrassed to bring it in because I burnt the crust. (It’s not my fault! My oven is haunted. I can’t wait for the day that I can buy myself a big glorious kitchen.) It was so dry and flaky that Abrubipityboo asked, “Why’d you make your pie with a phyllo pastry?” Ugh, just take away my 50’s style apron, I don’t deserve it. But, in the end, it was a success, because this baby was gone by lunch time.
Also, I’m officially declaring a new meal of the day: Breakfast dessert.
Wake up in the morning, eat your cheerios, drink your coffee, and once the most important meal of the day is out of the way, help yourself to breakfast dessert. That’s how you start the day off right, motherfuckers.
PECAN PIE WITH RUM AND CANDIED GINGER
2 cups pecan halves (7 ounces) All-purpose flour, for dusting 1/2 recipe Pâte Brisée 1 cup lightly packed light brown sugar 1/4 cup light corn syrup 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 1/2 teaspoon salt 3 large eggs 2 tablespoons rum 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast for about 8 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool.
Increase the oven temperature to 400°F. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 13-inch round. Transfer to a 9-inch glass pie dish and gently press it into the pie plate. Trim the overhanging dough to 1/2 inch. Tuck the edge of the dough under itself and crimp decoratively. Line the dough with foil, shiny side down, and prick all over with a fork, piercing the foil and pie dough. Freeze for 15 minutes.
Fill the pie with pie weights or dried beans and bake in the lower third of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and weights. Return the crust to the oven and bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a heatproof bowl, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt. Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with 1 inch of simmering water and whisk in the eggs 1 at a time. Cook, whisking gently, until the filling is warm to the touch. Remove from the heat and whisk in the rum.
Arrange the pecans in the pie shell and scatter the crystallized ginger on top. Pour the filling over the pecans. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the filling is jiggly but not cracked; cover the edge of the crust with strips of foil halfway through baking to prevent over-browning. Let the pie cool on a wire rack.
Do you have a sweet tooth? Well, you won’t after you eat this cake, because all your teeth are gonna fall out.
This masterpiece is made with two pounds of butter and more than 6 cups of sugar. It’s got rum, it’s got corn syrup, it’s got whipping cream, it’s got diabetes written all over it. And damn, diabetes, you’re delicious.
I don’t have a stand mixer so I made this cake completely by hand, (with the assistance of a sad hand mixer that I thought was going to die on me) and it was exhausting! I don’t recommend it unless you’re a badass. Although… I am developing a sweet baker’s bicep.
Also, I carried this cake around on the TTC for an hour. It’s like 5 pounds! I need a nap, now.
So, I made this cake for Bossman’s 40th birthday. He’s a butterscotch guy. He told me a story once about how his favourite flavour is butterscotch (some tart tried to sell him caramel ice cream instead of butterscotch. No dice, sweetheart. It’s not the same!) and I stored it away in my baker’s brain. You’ve got to know your audience: Dad is cheesecake, Mom is strawberry rhubarb and classic pies, Sarah is lemon, Macaroni Rascal is pecan pie and other corn syrup relatives, Abrubipityboo is chocolate and peanut butter, and of course Polish Prince is pumpkin.
Bossman was so excited when he saw his cake that, when he hugged me, he nearly broke my ribs. And this cake is SO good. I almost skimped out on the pecans, but I’m really glad I didn’t, they add an excellent dimension to the dense cake and super sweet butterscotch buttercream. I highly recommend that you make this sugarbomb showstopper for your next big soiree.
Man Rating: Marry me.
CAKE 1 1/4 cups butter, softened 2 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed 2 tablespoons canola oil 4 large eggs 2 tablespoons dark rum 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 4 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1 1/2 cups sour cream 1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 325F degrees and grease two 9-inch cake pans with butter and flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Beat in the oil until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the rum and the vanilla.
Add the flour mixture to the batter in two additions, alternating with the sour cream. Mix in the chopped pecans until combined.
Divide the cake batter among the pans, filling about 2/3 full. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until it is golden brown and a cake tester inserted emerges clean. Transfer both the cake to a wire rack to cool completely.
BUTTERSCOTCH BUTTERCREAM 1 pound butter, softened 2 cups dark brown sugar, packed 1 cup heavy cream 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoons dark rum 2-2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
Melt 8 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it turns deep golden brown and fragrant, about 6 minutes.
Add the brown sugar, cream, and salt, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook for 3 minutes longer.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat it at high speed until the bowl feels cool to the touch, 8-10 minutes.
Beat in the rum.
With the mixer running on medium speed, add the remaining butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until incorporated. Continue to beat the mixture until it is smooth and creamy. Add enough confectioner’s sugar to the mixture to achieve a thick and spreadable consistency. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
BUTTERSCOTCH SAUCE 3/4 cup dark brown sugar 6 tablespoons butter 1/2 cup light corn syrup 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup heavy cream
Place the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves.
Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove the mixture from the heat and mix in the cream. Return the saucepan to the heat and cook for 2 minutes more; let cool to lukewarm.
Once everything is completely cooled, place a layer of frosting on one top of a cake, followed by a thin layer of the butterscotch sauce. Place the other cake layer on top, and spread a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake. Refrigerate for at least one hour (this will help “glue” crumbs down and serve as a nice, smooth canvas for you to apply the “real” frosting later.) Once set, finish frosting the cake. Drizzle with butterscotch sauce and garnish with extra pecans.
COFFEE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES with BAILEYS IRISH CREAM FROSTING
Last night I bought a cupcake out of a truck.
It was Nuit Blanche. I was intoxicated. I was freezing. I was pretentious. I was being my usual self, when I saw, to my delight, Curbside Bliss Cupcakes. There’s something about a bakery that’s so damn charming and romantic I can barely stand it. And this one was on wheels!
Okay, so the fact that it’s a truck takes away some of the whimsy, but whatever. I was down to cupcake.
(DTC.That’s what the kids say.)
Long story short: it sucked. You could taste the sugar particles in the frosting. The chocolate cake was bland. I’ve eaten more glamorous cupcakes made from a box mix. (That’s right. I went there. BOX MIX.)
So, why don’t I have truck?
Because I made these cupcakes and they were bad ass. The chocolate cake was moist and fluffy, and the frosting was so sweet, and bursting with so much Baileys flavour, it could stop your heart.
I bring up the baking biz because these cupcakes were actually commissioned for a coworker. My first time baking for pay! But as it turns out, baking for money has an extremely low, if any, profit margin.
So why don’t I have a truck? Um, probably because I don’t know how to make 60 cupcakes in 11 minutes?
But I’m pretty sure mine are actually worth $2.75 each.
COFFEE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 cup buttermilk 6 heaping tbsp cocoa powder 1 cup unsalted butter 1 cup coffee 2 cups sugar 2 cups flower 1/2 tsp salt 2 eggs 1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a small bowl dissolve baking soda in buttermilk and set aside.
In a saucepan, melt butter and cocoa powder at a low temperature, stirring occasionally. When smooth, add coffee.
In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour and salt. With a hand mixer on low speed, beat in the cocoa mixture and egg. Add buttermilk mixture and vanilla and continue to beat until smooth.
Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Is it odd that I treat myself by baking something new? Buying life supplies has really gotten in the way of buying baking supplies. Socks or cream cheese? Shampoo or semi-sweet chocolate? Tampons or unsalted butter? When you’re an independent woman you’ve got to prioritize.
Anyway, we had a company barbeque this week. It was thrown by Italians, so instead of hamburgers, there was pasta. It also rained that day, so instead of socializing in a backyard, we just had free food and beer at the office.
…So, it was like every other night!
The point is, it was an excuse to bake something.
At first I was overwhelmed. What to bake? What to bake! I have a never ending to-do-list and I wanted to splurge on ingredients.
Then I realized my hand mixer is broken. Which meant whatever I was going to bake had to be made completely by hand.
(By the way, I’ve been pulling 14 hours at the office and didn’t have any time to make this pie and ended up whipping it together over my lunch break. No big deal.)
So, I wanted to try something a little different than a basic pie. This recipe really jumped out at me. It’s a little more time consuming, but worth it. The flavours are complex, warm, and so delicious. (Although, I realized, even though it’s an unexpected combination of ingredients, all pies look the same with a lid. Dang.)
As I was scooping pie onto the Polish Prince’s plate he said, “Not so much, what if I don’t like it?”
Oh how I laughed and laughed.
PEAR, FIG & WALNUT PIE 1 recipe Pâte Brisée 3/4 cup Marsala wine 6 black figs, stemmed and quartered 3 stars of anise 3 lbs (about 6) barlett pears 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted 1 lime, juiced 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/4 tsp salt 3 tbsp. cornstarch 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 1 egg yolk 1 tbsp. heavy cream Sanding sugar, for sprinkling
Bring wine, figs, and stars of anise to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer, 8 to 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer figs to a large bowl. Cook reserved liquid over medium-high heat until reduced to a syrup, about 3 minutes. Discard stars of anise. Pour syrup over figs.
Meanwhile, on a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 disc of dough to a 13-inch round. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim dough, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Refrigerate or freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Roll out second disc to a 13-inch round. Lay dough round on a sheet pan and refrigerate or freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
Peel and core pears, slice into 1/4-inch thick wedges. Add pears, walnuts, lemon juice, granulated sugar, salt, and cornstarch to figs and syrup and stir until combined. Spoon into dough-lined pie plate, piling high in centre. Dot with butter, and lightly brush the edge of the dough with water. Drape second disc of dough over rolling pin, centre over the filling, and gently press the dough around the filling to fit. Trim the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold the edge of the top crust under the bottom one, and crimp to seal. Combine yolk and cream together. Brush mixer all over the dough, and sprinkle the pie generously with sanding sugar. Freeze the pie until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, with rack on lower level.
Transfer pie plate to a parchment or foil-lined rimmed baking sheet, and bake until just golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F. Bake until juices are bubbling and crust is deep golden brown, about 1 hour (if edges brown too quickly, cover with foil). Let pie cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.
What do you do when a man gives you peaches? You make peach pie, of course. And you tell a lot of dirty peach jokes.
So, it was a Monday morning when the Polish Prince waltz into the office wearing cobalt skinny jeans and carrying three litres of peaches plucked from a tree in his backyard (Hipsters everywhere bow before this man and make him your king!) And who were the peaches for? Little ol’ me. Did the Polish Prince just want pie for breakfast? Probably. But for a baker it’s like getting a dozen long stem roses. (Except better? Because you can’t eat roses. Well, you shouldn’t). Talk about knowing the way to my heart.
When I took the TTC home that eve, some crotchety old man in a scooter puttered by while I fussed through my ridiculous purse looking for my metropass. The man stopped. Reversed. And then tried to steal a peach out of my carton! When I made a very impressive “What the fuck, crotchety old man?” expression, he scoffed, “I’m just teasing you!”
Um. No thank you, sir. I did not give you permission to tease my peach.
PEACH CRUMBLE PIE 1/2 Pâte Brisée recipe 3 pounds peaches, halved, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch slices (8 cups) 2 tablespoons light-brown sugar 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
BROWN SUGAR CRUMBLE 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and levelled) 1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly flour a rolling pin and work surface and roll out dough to a 12-inch round. Place in a 9-inch pie plate, fold overhang under, and crimp edges.
In a large bowl, toss together peaches, brown sugar, and flour until combined.
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, and oats; using your hands, work in butter until large clumps form.
Transfer peach filling to pie shell, then sprinkle crumble evenly over top. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until juices are bubbling and topping is golden, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.
Let cool on a wire rack 1 1/2 hours before serving.
If you still have your innocence, or you’re easily offended by lewd humour, turn back now. In fact, why are you even here? This ain’t yo’ grandma’s baking site and I have some uncouth wisdom to share.
Here it is: The quickest way to a man’s heart is baking and blow jobs.
So when I seriously offended the Macaroni Rascal and needed a quick fix back to his heart - while still remaining a fucking lady - I knew what I had to do.
(… Bake. In case that wasn’t clear.)
The Macaroni Rascal loves gooey buttery treats. Back in December I made him a Pecan Pie for his birthday at his overzealous and endearingly boyish request, and Butter Tarts are sort of like Pecan Pie’s cute Canadian brother, so I knew I was wandering into forgiveness territory.
Why was he so angry with me? There might have been an incident or “assault” involving a Glade aerosol can. But let’s not dwell on the past. Let’s look forward to the sugary future.
These butter tarts are awesome. I made half of them with chocolate, which might have been an error in judgement, but the plain ones got rave reviews.
Now, I’ve been on baking hiatus since May because I moved into my new apartment and I’ve been busy buying actual groceries and life supplies. But, at last, I’ve popped my kitchen’s baking cherry. Here is the result of that delicious affair:
BUTTER TARTS 1/2 Pâte Brisée recipe 1/4 cup soft butter 1/4 cup packed brown sugar 1 pinch salt 1/2 cup corn syrup 1 egg, lightly beaten 1/2 teaspoon vanilla Options: 1/2 cup of raisins or chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 400ºF
Roll out the pie dough and cut out round or fluted circles with a with a 4-inch cutter. Fit dough circles into muffin cups and set aside in fridge until ready to fill.
If you’re using raisins, place them in a small bowl, cover with hot tap water, and let stand on the counter for 30 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix together the soft butter, brown sugar, salt and corn syrup with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved and butter is creamed.
Add egg and vanilla and mix well.
Retrieve tart shells and, if you’re using any optional ingredients, divide them equally into all shells; then add butter mixture.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. Filling will be lightly browned but still bubbling.
Now. Do you like your butter tarts runny or firm? If you like them runny, the type that dribbles when you bite into one, bake them for 15 minutes. If you like them firm, bake them for the full 20 minutes and even a couple more if you wish.
Let the butter tarts cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove and place on racks until completely cool.
Last year for Christmas, my uncle bought me this strange contraption. It peels, cores, and slices an apple in like… 20 seconds. It’s AMAZING. I love it. You need about 12 apples to make an apple pie, and if you’re peeling and coring every one manually, you’re going to start hating life pretty quickly. I did it once and thought, “Yeah. That’s enough apple pie for me.” But now what excuse do I have?
I’m pretty sure it was my uncle’s plan all along.
Rating: Great pie!
(That’s what all the boys say. Ba-doom tssh! )
APPLE PIE All-purpose flour, for dusting Pâte Brisée 3 pounds (about 12) apples, such as Empire, Granny Smith, Gala, Cortland, Winesap, or a mix 3 tbsp all purpose flour 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 1/2 cup sugar 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp salt 2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 1 egg yolk, for egg wash 1 tbsp heavy cream, for egg wash sanding sugar
Preheat oven to 450º F with rack set in lowest position. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disk of dough to a 13-inch round, about ⅛ inch thick. Fit dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Place lemon juice in a large bowl. Peel, core, and cut applies into 1/4-inch-thick slices; halve crosswise, and add to bowl with lemon juice (to keep them from turning brown) as you work. Add sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt; toss to combine.
Combine egg yolk and cream to create your egg yolk.
On a lightly floured surface, roll our remaining disk of dough to another 13-inch round, about 1/8-inch thick.
Remove your dough-lined pie plate from refrigerator. Fill with apple mixture, gently packing apples and mounding slightly in centre; dot with butter. Lightly brush rim of pie shell with egg wash. Lay your second circle of dough over apples; press along moistened rim to seal. Using kitchen shears, trim overhang to 1 inch.
With floured fingers, fold overhang under itself to form a thick rim; pinch between thumb and forefinger to form a uniform edge around the rim of the pie plate.
To crimp edges: With thumb and index finger of one hand, gently press dough against knuckle of other hand; continue around pie. (Deep indentations anchor dough on rim and prevent it from sliding down sides of pie plate during baking.)
With a floured paring knife, cut 5 to 6 slits in top of pie, radiating from centre.
With a pastry brush, douse your pie with the egg wash and sprinkle generously with sanding sugar. Put your pie in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Place pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes; reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake until crust is golden and juices are bubbling, 60 to 75 minutes more. If edges brown too quickly, cover with aluminum foil.
Cool completely, at least 3 hours, before serving.
I made these pumpkin cupcakes for his birthday party. Also known as “The 34th annual drinking contest” where all the winners are really losers. The next morning I woke up dying of thirst but everything hurt so bad I couldn’t muster up the strength to walk one minute to the kitchen sink. So I just lay on (the wonderful) Nancy’s couch thinking things like, “Dammit, I shouldn’t have done that.”
(Which is Hungover for “Dammit, that was fun.”)
One of my favourite parts of the night was when Nancy pinned me down and forced one of these delicious cupcakes into my face. Bitch is strong. I’m pretty sure there’s a slutastic photo of me with frosting all over my face… With ladies licking it off? God, we’re obnoxious. (EDIT: There is!)
We also bounced on the trampoline! (Which is a fantastic idea when you’re full of beer and vodka). And some handsome police officers stopped by around 4am to tell us to shut the fuck up.
We also broke the trampoline…
Anyway, I don’t think I “won” the contest, but I was definitely in the running.
The important thing is that these cupcakes are yummy. I doubled the recipe to make 24 and sprinkled half with toasted walnuts. They’re a great alternative to pumpkin pie. They’ve got a super moist pumpkin flavour and the frosting is killer. KILLER.
Rating: EAT YO CUPCAKE, BITCH.
PUMPKIN CUPCAKES 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 1 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp baking soda 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp ground ginger 1/4 tsp ground cloves 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 1 cup granulated white sugar 2 large eggs 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 3/4 cup solid packed, canned pumpkin puree
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place rack in the middle of the oven. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or spray each cup with a non stick vegetable spray.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground spices, and salt.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and pumpkin puree, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
Fill the muffin cups evenly with the batter using two spoons or an ice cream scoop. Place in the oven and bake for about 18 - 20 minutes, or until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the centre of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter and beat until incorporated and smooth. Add the vanilla extract and confectioners sugar and beat until fluffy (2-3 minutes). Pipe or spread the frosting on the cupcakes.
OPTIONAL GARNISH 1 cup walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Place the nuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 - 10 minutes or until brown and fragrant. Cool completely and then chop coarsely.