Tag: baking

Vanilla Latte Donuts

The world has really gone donut mad in the last while. First it was cupcakes, now donuts rule the counters at cafes and bakeries, and with good reason: they are super delicious and so delightfully versatile. Everyone is making them in a incredible flavor combinations. Yes, it’s really the donut’s time to shine and these Vanilla Latte Donuts are no exception.

I’m a certified coffee addict and I always find that coffee flavored treats are sorely lacking in most bakeries and coffee shops. If you’re a true coffee lover, you want to have a coffee flavored something sweet to go with your coffee. Coffee with coffee – you can’t go wrong. I take my coffee black, and I prefer straight espresso or espresso based drinks. If I indulge in a milky, sweet coffee drink, it will nine out of ten times be a vanilla latte. I love the soft sweetness of vanilla with coffee, it’s both familiar and comforting yet still exotic and interesting. Add a dash of chocolate and I’m in heaven. For these Vanilla Latte Donuts I have combined deep, dark chocolate baked donuts laced with strong espresso and dipped in a creamy coffee and vanilla glaze. A few milky white sprinkles add fun flair, reminiscent of the foam atop that perfect latte.

I’ve started with my favorite chocolate cake recipe and made some changes to it, yielding a denser, more donut-like texture and adding a big shot of dark espresso to the batter. The good folks at Gourmesso reached out and gave me the opportunity to try their selection of espresso blends so of course, I wanted to make something special that really highlighted coffee, for all the coffee lovers out there! (more…)

Quick and Easy Banana Bread

I’ll be honest, with the exception of one recipe  I haven’t had great success with banana bread over the years. It’s always stodgy and damp, not enough lift, and often not banana-y enough in flavor. Recently, there were 3 brown bananas on the counter and I debated tossing them into the freezer to keep browning for a banana bread or smoothie in the future but then I thought, screw it! And I made this recipe up as I went along. The result? The best damn banana bread I’ve ever made! Fast! No mixer! Easy to do with minimal ingredients! Honestly, it’s a winner.

Quick and Easy Banana Bread

3 very ripe bananas
1/3 C vegetable oil
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp hazelnut extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 Cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all the wet ingredients together until well combined. Add the dry ingredients in two parts, mixing just until combined with each addition. Scrape the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan then cool completely, out of the pan, on a wire rack.

Vanilla Bean Thumbprint Cookies

When I was in my teens I worked the counter at a small bakery. They made some amazingly delicious things, one of which were birdnest cookies: a sturdy yet crumbly shortbread cookie covered in toasted coconut and a deep red jewel of raspberry jam in the center. As much as I am a fan of coconut in all sorts of dishes and sweets I always felt like those “nests” were too rich. This version is less sweet, more petite and still jam-jewel studded with raspberry and for a different twist: marmalade. The vanilla bean freckles add to the flavor and charm and they disappear as quickly as you can make them ie: FAST!

Vanilla Bean Thumbprint Cookies

makes 6 dozen 1″ cookies

1 lb salted butter at room temperature

1 Cup (packed) light brown sugar

1Tbsp vanilla bean paste

4-5 Cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup jam(s) of your choosing (I used raspberry and marmalade)

Note before you begin: you can mix this dough by hand or with a stand mixer but I would not recommend hand mixers. This dough is very sturdy and requires kneading that handheld mixers can’t manage.

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Combine the butter and sugar and cream together. If you’re using a stand mixer, use the lower settings – the objective here is to specifically NOT incorporate air. Once the sugar is dissolved into the butter, add the flour one cup at a time. You will need slightly more than 4 cups and possibly as much as 5 of its a humid day. The dough should crack slightly when you press your finger into it but still be soft and pliable, not chalky. Once the flour is mixed in, knead the dough on a lightly floured board until it’s cohesive and smooth (about 3 mins with the dough hook on a stand mixer).

Scoop the dough with a 1Tbsp scoop and place flat side down on ungreased cookie sheets. I find I can get 2 dozen little scoops on each sheet. Using the end of a wooden spoon, press a divet into each lump of dough.

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Load up a pastry bag with jam (or a zip top bag with a snipped off corner) and squirt jam to fill each divet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes or until the  bottoms are tinged gold and the surface of the cookie looks matte.

Allow to cool on the pan.

Then, drizzle a glaze of 4 heaped Tbsp and 2 tsp lemon juice over top.

Dreamy Frozen Avocado Lime Tart

I make no secret of disliking the heat of summer. And that’s coming from an almost lifetime resident of Vancouver, a city with one of the mildest climates out there. It was 34C here today and it made me a bit kicky and punchy. When the heat hits I tend to like my dinners al fresco, my drinks extra icy and my desserts chilled. Honestly, you couldn’t pay me to turn on the oven today.

This is the return of my ultra coconutty, extra zesty, avocado lime pie, originally posted in 2013. I call it dreamy frozen avocado lime tart because it is just that: dreamy. It’s luscious and creamy with a sweet tart avocado mousse filling. It’s simple to make with a raw coconut and oat crust that comes together in about 5 pulses of a food processor. Painless to make, and really delicious. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s nothing like guacamole. I promise!
You’ll need to give it a deep chill, so make it in the morning for dessert. Don’t tell your guests what it’s made from and have them guess. They will be pleasantly surprised by the results. Enjoy!


Dreamy Frozen Avocado Lime Tart
makes 1 – 9″ no bake pie
for the crust, pulse the following ingredients in a food processor until well mixed:
1½ C unsweetened shredded coconut
½ C raw oats
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp coconut oil
Press the mixture into a 9 inch pie plate. It will be damp and soft and easy to press up the sides and bottom of the pan. Place crust in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
Wipe out the food processor and add to it:
the flesh of 4 ripe avocados
zest and juice of 2 limes
¼ C honey
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
Blend the above ingredients until very smooth. Scrape into the chilled crust and spread until smooth.
Garnish with ½ C coconut that has been toasted in a dry frying pan over medium heat until golden brown. (optional)
Chill 2 hours until very firm. Serve cold.
Makes 8 servings.

Swiss Tarts

The title “Swiss Tarts” may be a bit of a misnomer. All I know is that years ago when I first tried to make these, I was attempting to re-create a tiny frosted treat I once had. It was a firm little tart filled with soft, fragrant almond paste, topped with a sweet, snow-white glaze and the glowing dome of a perfect, glossy, half maraschino cherry. Some brief research online tells me that these are also known as Bakewell Tarts. Whatever they are, they have become a bit of a Christmas treat tradition in our house and they are only ever made for Christmas. Unfortunate, because they are very delicious. They are a labour of love if you make your own pastry. If you are at all inclined to skip that step (as I almost always do) they will turn out beautifully (and be so much quicker) if you go the route of frozen pastry shells. If you are a lover of almonds or marzipan, these little gems will undoubtedly make an appearance on your holiday dessert table.

For the pastry:

Prepare 1 recipe of pâte sucrée. Once the dough has chilled and rested, roll out  and cut into rounds the appropriate size for the tart or muffin tins you’ll be using. I used a standard mini muffin tin which meant that my rounds of pastry were 2 ½”. Your pans might be different, be sure to do a test.

Line the pan with the dough, pricking the bottom of each tart shell. Blind bake for 8 minutes at 350° or until the dough starts to appear dry and set, but uncoloured.  Remove tart shells from oven and allow to cool as you prepare the filling.

For the almond filling:

2 C blanched almonds

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tbsp flour

1 egg

1 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla extract (or paste)

In a food processor, pulse together the almonds, sugar and flour until the almonds are ground down to the consistency of cornmeal. Once they are well mixed, stop the machine and add the remaining ingredients. Mix until the paste comes together and is smooth, damp and glossy.

To assemble:

Spoon a small amount of cherry jam (or your favourite jam/preserve) into the bottom of each tart shell. Cover the jam with a mound of the almond filling, filling them about 3/4 full. (how much you use will depend on the size of your tarts.)

Bake at 350° for 22 minutes. The filling should be puffed and golden.  My preference is for nice flat tops, so I usually push them down gently with the back of a teaspoon. Cool completely.

Frosting and finishing:

1 C icing sugar

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp almond extract

maraschino or glacé cherries

Mix until smooth and pourable. The frosting should be a thick liquid, but still thin enough to slowly pool when poured. The surface will lightly crust when dried.

Maraschino cherries make a beautiful last minute decoration, but the moisture of the syrup will disrupt the smooth glaze.

Glacé cherries work well if you are decorating the tarts ahead of time.