Archive for the ‘Desserts’ category

Coconut Layer Cake

May 17th, 2011

This year was my first mother’s day with only one grandma.  Since it was also that same grandma’s birthday two days after the holiday, I decided to throw a special little party for her, my mom and my godmother.  Coconut is my grandma’s absolute favourite, so I scoured my cookbooks and the internet for just the right dessert.

Coconut Layer Cake

Everyone came over for afternoon tea and I served a fancy coconut layer cake with tea or blueberry lemonade.  The cake recipe came from Martha Stewart and the lemonade recipe can be found below.  The cake was a two day preparation, but still simple enough for a layer cake.  I’d never made seven-minute frosting before, but was quite pleased with how easily it came together and how lovely it looks once spread over a cake.  Turns out it was my great-grandmother’s signature icing, so maybe I have it in my genes.

Coconut Layer Cake

Blueberry Lemonade

1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 – 1/2 cup berry sugar
1 large bottle spring water

Using a blender, liquify the blueberries in lemon juice.
Add the sugar, starting with a 1/4 cup and increasing to taste.
Pour the blueberry concentrate into a large glass pitcher and top with spring water.

Happy (belated) Nutella Day!

February 7th, 2011

Nutella on buttermilk biscuit

Oh, Nutella.  Another year has come and gone, and once again, I’ve missed your special day.  I was going to make it up to you by wrapping you in pasta or swirling you through a Bundt cake, but at the end of the day I decided nothing quite shows off your flavours like a sweet buttermilk biscuit.  (except possibly a steaming hot crepe, but only when in Paris)  To make things special enough, I’ve placed you lovingly on one of my fancy china plates.

The most important thing about making perfect, high-rise biscuits is the temperature of the butter.  Michael Smith goes so far as to suggest freezing, then grating the cup of butter, but in the middle of winter, when it’s -18 outside (and it doesn’t feel that much warmer inside unless you’re snuggled up in bed or near the oven) I find that butter straight out of the fridge will work just fine.

2 cups white flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 cup buttermilk
Nutella!

In a large ceramic bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
Cut the butter into chunks, then work it into the flour using a pastry blender.
Add the buttermilk and gently work the dough into a ball.  You may need to add another tablespoon or two of buttermilk.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface.  It should be about an inch thick.
Cut out the biscuits using a round biscuit-cutter or the top of a juice glass.
Arrange the biscuits on a baking sheet and bake at 375ºF for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Once the biscuits are out of the oven and cool enough to handle, cut them in half and top them with a generous spoonful of Nutella.

Cranberry cake

January 17th, 2011

Epiphany cake

With Christmas being as busy as it was this year, I didn’t get around to making my mom’s traditional cranberry cake until well into the new year.  Maybe we can call it a late Ukrainian Christmas cake.  Or if I’d made it without the green cherries, an early Valentine’s fruit cake.  Hmmm… I may have to make another one next month, maybe with a little splash of food colouring for extra pinkness.

1 cup white sugar
1 egg
3 tbsp butter, softened
hot water
juice and zest of 1 orange
1 cup fresh cranberries, cut into halves
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 cup red and green cherries, cut into halves
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder

Cream together sugar and egg using an electric mixer.
Put butter into a 1 cup measure, and fill remainder with hot water.
Add butter and water to creamed mixture along with the orange zest and juice.
In a small bowl, coat fruit in 1/4 cup flour.
Add fruit, remaining flour and baking powder to creamed mixture, stirring gently until blended.
Pour batter into a greased and floured large Bundt pan.
Bake for 1 hour at 375ºF, checking at 45 minutes for doneness.

Cranberry Almond Biscotti

December 23rd, 2010

Boxing Day coffee and biscotti

I haven’t done much in the way of Christmas baking this year.  I had plans to make shortbread, gingerbread, sugar cookies, maybe even some chocolate bark, but none of those came to pass.  The one thing I’ve managed to get in the oven is a double batch of biscotti.  I like to give these cookies as gifts and I also like having enough around so that I can enjoy a nice slow coffee break on the mornings when I don’t work.  My two no-fail recipes come from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking book.   She’s a cookie goddess – I’ve never had a recipe of hers fail.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for 3 minutes.
Add the eggs and continue to mix on medium-high speed for another 2 minutes until very smooth.
Mix together the dry ingredients, then slowly blend into the creamed mixture.
Stir in the almonds and cranberries by hand.
Turn the soft dough out onto the counter and form into a log.
Split the log in two, then flatten out each half on the baking sheet until it’s about an inch and a half thick.
Bake for 15 minutes then remove from oven to cool for 30 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 300°F.
Slice the logs into 3/4 inch pieces and arrange cut-side-up on the baking sheet.
Bake for another 15 minutes.
Allow to cool completely before packing in an air-tight container.

Things That Are Awesome

November 7th, 2010

Wonton soup

1. A steamy bowl of soup made with vegetarian wontons from my local Asian supermarket.

Brown rice casserole

2. Finding inspiration for the coziest of November casseroles.

Cranberry shortbread square

3. The perfect use for a crapload of cranberries.

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