Festive Easy Fudge

The other day, I posted the instructions for how I make Candied Orange Slices, inspired by a Canadian Living recipe for a unique chocolate bark. I used my orange slices to make their bark, and it was fantastic, but….

I’m not a bark person, for the most part. I’m not really big on chocolate in general, and when I am, I prefer it not to be hard. Chocolate sauce on ice cream, fondue, fudge. It’s a texture/sensory issue, for me.

So, I decided that I would take the same ingredients that intrigued me about their recipe, and incorporate it into my basic recipe for quick fudge. I’ve always liked dried cranberries in it – hell, it’s been over 5 years since I posted my Easy Blood Orange Cranberry Dark Chocolate Fudge recipe!

… and it worked SO well. The semi sweet chocolate contrasts well with the sweetness from the candied orange and ginger, the crunch of the nuts contrast well with the chew of those two items and the cranberries. The bright flavour of the orange and heat of the ginger pops through in various proportions, with every bite of fudge tasting different from the last.

Also: it’s pretty! The yellow ginger, orange slices, green pistachios and red cranberries make this a very festive fudge – great to serve or GIVE for the holidays!

Enjoy!

Festive Fudge

1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1/3 cup chopped candied orange slices
1/3 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/3-1/2 cup chopped pistachios
Pinch of salt
3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips (about a bag and a half)
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

Before getting started, line an 8″ square pan with parchment paper, or grease generously with butter. Set aside.

Combine ginger, orange slices, dried cranberries, pistachios and salt, mix well, set aside.

Combine semi sweet chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. (Alternatively, combine in a microwave safe bowl and nuke for 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth)

Remove from heat, stir in remaining ingredients. Spread into prepared pan, chill until set.

To serve, use a very sharp knife to cut into squares.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Gluten-Free Chewy Chocolate Salted Caramel Cookies Recipe

Only one month to go until the official release date of my latest cookbook, Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking & Baking!

The books for pre orders and my Kickstarter backers have been ordered from the printer, the files are being converted to an e-book, and I just noticed this morning that Amazon has posted their listing for it! Exciting!

This book has been the biggest book project I’ve ever taken on. It started with a HUGE premise – that gluten-free cooking doesn’t have to be about compromising on flavour or texture. Sure, it’s been said before, but the follow through attempts I’ve seen have been lacklustre – GF food still has a reputation of being pretty awful for anyone who’s not actually GF.

I took the concept a step further – why shouldn’t gf cooking be as good OR BETTER than wheat flour cooking? With the variety of alternative flours available, each with their own unique flavours and properties. All of these flours have more flavour and have more nutrition that wheat flour, anyway – why shouldn’t we all make use of them?

Once you give up on the idea of using an all-purpose flour mix, the sky really is the limit! I’m still shocked over the pitas that taste like JUST Jimmy John’s bread – the loss of JJ was one of my biggest sadness issues when I had to go GF. THAT recipe (in the book) really made me feel like a miracle worker!

The thing is, using an all purpose mix for gluten free baking is kind of like using one spice mix for seasoning everything you eat – sweet AND savoury. Can you imagine that? Sure, it’ll work on some things, but definitely won’t be suited for others. Gluten free flours are the same way – some recipes call for more structure, some need more moisture retention. Robust savoury flavours really lift some recipes… and for others it would be overkill. By using different combinations of flours, you really let the flavours and properties of those flours sing!

Personally, I can’t see ever using wheat flour to bake cookies again, even for my non-gf friends. The complex – but fairly subtle, in some cases – flavours, the amazing textures… I’m pretty sure that every cookie recipe in this book has wrecked me for the wheat versions. Today, I’d like to share one of them with you. These cookies are everything you could ever want in a cookie… chewy, fudgey, dense, and full of flavour.

Gluten-Free Chewy Chocolate Salted Caramel Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 eggs
1 Tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup cocoa
2 Tbsp tapioca starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups soft caramel pieces *
Coarse sea salt

In stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla, beat until everything is fully incorporated and smooth.

In a large bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Slowly add this dry mix to the mixer bowl, and carefully mix until well incorporated and smooth. Chill dough for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll 1″ balls out of the cookie dough. Arrange dough balls on baking sheets leaving at least 2″ between cookies – they flatten out a fair amount. Gently press the tops of each slightly – flatten JUST enough to prevent the dough from rolling.

Bake for 11-13 minutes. Cookies will look puffy, but flatten out as they cool. Do not overbake! As soon as cookies are finished baking, lightly sprinkle tops with coarse sea salt, press lightly into top of cookies.

* We used baking caramel bits, that came as little balls… but if you don’t have those available, you can cut soft square caramels into quarters and use that.

Less into the salted caramel idea, and want to use the chocolate cookie as a base for something else? No problem, just substitute 2 cups of other “stuff” – chocolate or butterscotch chips, mint chips, dried fruit, nuts… whatever!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

“Con” Brownies

Today is day 4 of the week-long feature on convention food that I’m doing over on Facebook. So far, we’ve had “Convention” Sloppy Joes, Hotel Room Smoothies, and Roasted “Convention” Chili”.

So, with breakfast and entrees pretty much covered, here’s a look at a favourite con dessert / snack recipe I’ve been making the past few years – “Convention Brownies”. With these brownies, the two main con-related nutritional deficits I decided to tackle were protein and fiber.. and these have a fair amount of both!

Don’t worry, though… these don’t have the taste or texture of a nutritional supplement. They’re your basic wonderful gooey, fudgey chocolate brownie. All the goodness is hidden among all the fat and sugar, LOL!

Oh, and hey – if you use gluten-free oat flour, these are naturally gluten free. That’s the thing about upping the fiber and protein in something like a brownie… there’s just no room for something like all purpose flour. AP flour has basically nothing to offer for nutrition… so it’s the first to go when revamping a recipe!

“Convention” Brownies

1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup chocolate flavoured whey protein powder
3/4 cup oat flour
1/4 cup flax meal
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips or chunks
1 cup chopped nuts or other “stuff”

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare 9 x 13 pan ( or two 8 x 8” pans) with pan spray / shortening, or line with parchment or foil.

In large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients, whisking until everything is well incorporated. Add eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. Stir until dry ingredients are well incorporated and wet. Add chocolate chunks and nuts/etc, stir until evenly distributed in the batter.

Spread batter into prepared pan(s), Bake for 20 – 25 minutes for 8 x 8” pans, or 30-35 mins for 9 x 13” pan. Brownies are done when knife inserted into center comes out clean. Let cool completely before cutting into squares. Enjoy!

* If you’re not big on nuts, substitute 1 cup of chocolate chunks, chocolate chips, or… whatever. M & Ms. Reese’s Pieces. Andes Mint Chips. Whatever will make you happy!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Grownup Hot Chocolate & Hot Cocoa

The weather here has been pretty miserable for the last little while – TONS of rain, heavy winds, and pretty cold on top of it. Many of my friends have flooding in their homes, and I’m just super thankful we live up on the hill.

We spent yesterday morning running errands in that nonsense, and ended up soaked to the bone while grocery shopping in a walk-in fridge. Getting home from THAT, all I wanted to do was make a big pot of boozy hot chocolate.

As I whipped it up, I realized that I’d promised some friends my hot chocolate recipes a few months ago. Whoops. I’ve been super swamped with “Beyond Flour – A New Kind of Gluten-Free Cookbook“, and with costuming orders. It’s been a while since I posted anything at all – sorry about that! Things should clear up in a month or two, I expect you won’t be able to shut me up, then!

Anyway – hot chocolate. I actually have two recipes for you today, because I do differentiate between “hot chocolate” and “hot cocoa”. “Chocolate” using chocolate, and “cocoa” using cocoa. Easy, eh? 🙂

Both of these recipes are the way *I* like it – so ridiculously rich, that 1 coffee mug is enough. I would never be able to drink these in huge, gas station sized cups. It’s diabetes in a cup! When it’s cold and rainy, though – perfect. Feel free to thin them down with additional milk, if you’d like something a bit more … chuggable.

Also, while I advocate always having a baggie of vanilla beans on hand (they can be obtained from Amazon at reasonable prices!), I get that not everyone does. SO, if you don’t have a bean, just add one tsp of really good vanilla extract right before serving.

Grownup Hot Chocolate

Mini Marshmallows
Liqueur of choice*
3 cups milk
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 cup good quality chocolate chips
Pinch salt

Place a handful of mini marshmallows in each mug, top with about 1 oz of liqueur per mug. Allow it to soak while you prepare the hot chocolate:

In a saucepan, whisk together milk and brown sugar. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scraping the seeds into the pot – throw the bean into the pot when you’re done scraping it out!

Add chocolate chips and salt to the pot, then turn the heat on. Bring the mixture up to just barely a simmer, stirring frequently. Once the chocolate has all melted and is well incorporated, remove from heat.

Pour hot chocolate over marshmallows and booze, serve immediately!

Grownup Hot Cocoa

Mini Marshmallows
Liqueur of choice*
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
Pinch salt
1/4 cup hot water
3 cups milk
1 vanilla bean

Place a handful of mini marshmallows in each mug, top with about 1 oz of liqueur per mug. Allow it to soak while you prepare the hot chocolate:

In a saucepan, whisk together cocoa, brown sugar, and salt. Add hot water, whisk to form a thick paste. Slowly add milk, whisking to fully incorporate it.

Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scraping the seeds into the pot – throw the bean into the pot when you’re done scraping it out!

Bring the mixture up to just barely a simmer, stirring frequently. When hot enough, pour hot cocoa over marshmallows and booze, serve immediately!

* SO many liqueurs work in this, it really is whatever you want. I love Rumchata, Amarula, or Amaretto, while my husband leans more towards whiskey. Kahlua, any of the cream tequila liqueurs, pistachio liqueur, Grand Marnier – if it works with chocolate, toss it in!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

MasterChef Guest Post – Carrie Peterson’s Whoopie Pies

Today’s guest blog entry is from one of the closest friends I made from the whole MasterChef ordeal ADVENTURE – Carrie Landry Peterson.

In LA, she and Carrie Stevens shared the room next to mine. During our downtime, Carrie and I would hang out – Boozy disposable coffee cups in hand – and swap conspiracy theories and observations about the general nonsense that surrounded us.

Since getting home… well, things are more or less the same. Swap out a hot, humid hotel hallway for our respective homes, add a couple phones, and change out the paper cups for real glasses. You know, except when we’re feeling nostalgic!

Love this girl!

Hello Everyone! My name is Carrie Peterson and I’m an Airline Pilot who loves to cook!

By now, you all know that Marie appeared on the FOX show MasterChef! This is how she had, I mean..I had the pleasure of meeting her! Marie has asked me to share with you, my “wicked good” Whoopie Pie recipe.

Whoopie Pies you ask?!? Yup, this would be the dessert that I have made since the ripe age of 8! I can make these scrumptious desserts in my sleep. So what better dish for me to make on my MasterChef TV audition, right?!?! Right…

So here is a little history on my beloved dessert…The Whoopie Pie was created in 1925 by Labadie’s Bakery in Lewiston, Maine. It’s the official state treat, does your state have an official treat? No? Well, what are you waiting for? Get on it!!

I’m not sure what Marie has shared with all of you fabulous people about her experience on MasterChef. Lets just say…it was interesting! We have all made 99 new friends for life! We have also learned that boxed wine served in to go coffee cups is like a glass of heaven after a long day of filming! I wish we could share more with you… Like who won, but you will have to watch yourselves!! Sorry!

Ok, enough of my rambling on….may I present to you, my “wicked good” Whoopie Pie recipe.

WHOOPIE PIES

Cakes:

3 c sugar
1 c butter (room temp)
4 eggs
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla
6 c flour
2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 c milk

Filling:

1 1/2 c shortening
3 c confectioners’ sugar
1 1/3 c marshmallow topping
Dash of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 to 1/2 c milk

Preheat oven to 350′ or convection oven to 315′.

In a large bowl using a mixer, beat sugar, butter, and eggs. Add the oil and vanilla and beat again.

In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Add half of the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, stir or beat to blend. Add 1 1/2 c milk and beat again. Add the remaining dry mixture, blend until incorporated. Add the remaining 1 1/2 c milk and blend.

Depending on what size cake you would like (I make several sizes, depending on what it is for) you can use a large spoon or a measuring cup. Scoop your desired size cake batter on a cookie sheet (I line mine with parchment paper). Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

In a bowl using an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients except the milk and beat well. Add just enough milk to achieve a creamy frosting. Spread the filling on one cake half and top it with another cake half.

This recipe makes either 16 LARGE Whoopie Pies or 50 or so small Whoopie Pies.

Let me know what you all think!

Carrie xx

Gluten Free Glazed Chocolate Doughnut Holes

Gluten free doughnut holes – what else is there to say?

These are awesome. I created the recipe about a year ago, when going on a doughnut making binge – I was determined to make a gluten free version of each of my favorite TimBit flavors!

I may have procrastinated on posting that, but hey – better late, than never… right?

These are super easy to make, whipping up in just a few minutes. Most people won’t even realize that they’re gluten free – texture was great, too!

Enjoy! Oh, and if you’d like a little more variety in your doughnut hole offering, be sure to check out our Gluten Free Chai Doughnut Holes as well!

Gluten Free Glazed Chocolate Doughnut Holes

Vegetable oil for frying
1 cup milk
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 egg
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups gluten-free all purpose flour mix
1/4 cup cocoa
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp xanthan gum

Glaze:

1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
3+ cups Powdered sugar

Heat oil to 375F. You can use a deep fryer, or a heavy pan. If not using a deep fryer, pour oil to at least 3″ deep.

Whisk together milk, lemon juice, egg, and vegetable oil until well combined and smooth.

In a large mixing bowl, combine remaining (dry) ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring with a whisk until well incorporated.

Using two teaspoons, scoop out approximately 1″ balls of dough, carefully dropping them into the hot oil. (Do NOT splash yourself!). Cook for about 3 minutes, flip doughnut holes onto their other sides, cook for another 2-3 minutes. Cook a few donuts at a time, being careful to not over crowd your fryer / pot.

When doughnut holes are cooked, use a (metal!) slotted spoon to transfer them from the oil, to a pan lined with paper towels. Once all donuts are cooked, allow to cool for a few minutes.

Whisk together powdered sugar, water, and salt. Add powdered sugar, a cup or so at a time, whisking until thick (but still “dip-able”) and completely smooth. Transfer to a coffee mug or other narrow/tall vessel. Use a couple of forks to dip each donut hole – one at a time – turning to coat completely. Allow excess glaze to drip off doughnut before placing on parchment paper to dry.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Puffed Wheat Squares

With the new year still fresh on our calendars, you may be looking at finding “healthy” alternatives for desserts and snacking.

Well, this is… almost healthy. (Well, as long as you’re not allergic to wheat, anyway!) The bulk of this bar comes from the puffed wheat, which is very low in calories, anyway. I know, I know… it’sa stretch – but I feel a bit guilty blogging dessert recipes, with all the talk of resolutions out there!

I was feeling homesick and nostalgic lately, and decided to make a batch for my husband. This is actually a super popular bar back home in Winnipeg, and it seems to be mostly a Canadian Prairies thing. You know how you can get Rice Crispy squares pretty much anywhere here, even in the gas stations? It’s the same way with these bars back home. Even just that earthy, roasty aroma of the puffed wheat, as I opened the bag… Mmm. Memories!

These are super quick and easy to make, and are definitely “comfort” food.

Enjoy!


Puffed Wheat Squares

6 oz bag puffed wheat
1/2 cup butter
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Generously grease a 9x 13″ baking pan, set aside. Pour puffed wheat into a large, heatproof mixing bowl.

In a medium saucepan, combine butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, cocoa, and salt. Heat over medium until butter melts.

Once butter melts, turn heat up a bit and bring mixture to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in vanilla until well combined.

Pour hot chocolate mixture over puffed wheat, stir (carefully!) until all of the wheat is coated with chocolate. Dump mixture into prepared baking pan.

Using lightly greased (or slightly damp!) hands, firmly press mixture down into the pan, until compacted and relatively flat. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes will be included.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!

Homemade Crunchie Bars!

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted – sorry about that! Things have been utterly insane around here.

We’re still working on tornado repairs. We got our walnut back from the mill, and are about to start working on building kitchen cabinet doors, etc. Exciting – I can’t wait to see it finished – and to BE done!

In addition to that, yesterday we had the release of my first sewing manual in over a decade: “Spandex Simplified: Synchro Swimwear“. It’s been really amazing to see the evolution of this (and my other!) sewing manual. What started out as scrawled notes in a booklet and a black/white photocopied amateur publishing job over a decade ago is now a full color, photographic, professionally printed book. Love it!

No real time to breathe, though, as my next one – “Spandex Simplified: Sewing for Skaters” is coming up quickly, with a release date in just one month!

Whew!

Anyway, taking a moment to post a great recipe for you. As I’ve mentioned before, one of the crummy things about being an immigrant is the difficulty in obtaining a lot of the “homeland” foodstuffs that we love and miss. My homeland, Canada, in particular, has some really great candy bars. Mr Big, Sweet Marie, Wunderbar, Eat-More, Coffee Crisp, Crispy Crunch – Sigh! I’m not even much of a chocolate person, and I’ll find myself craving em from time to time.

So, of course – I’m in the process of creating make-at-home versions of each. Well, when I have a minute, here and there! My next goal is a replica Eat-More bar, which I should have time to look at in late September. Ouch. Anyway, here’s my recipe for homemade Crunchie bars – a bar popular not only in Canada, but in Great Britain and other countries. This is a chocolate coated sponge toffee, and has been a favorite of mine since I was a young kid. Enjoy!

Homemade Crunchie Bars Recipe

2 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup corn syrup
6 tbsp water
2 tbsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla
2-4 cups chopped chocolate of your choice. (I prefer milk chocolate for this)

Prepare a 9″ x 13″ cake pan with nonstick spray, or a light coating of vegetable oil or shortening. Set aside.

In a LARGE pot (it will bubble up like mad as it cooks!), stir together sugar, corn syrup, and water. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan, making sure that it does not touch the bottom of the pan. Bring mixture to a boil, and allow to cook until temperature reaches 300 degrees F (hard crack stage). From the time mixture starts boiling to the time it reaches 300F, do not stir.

Once mixture reaches 300F, remove from heat. Add vanilla and baking soda, beating to incorporate. The mixture will start foaming quite a bit when you add the baking soda (chemical reaction!), so using a LONG wooden spoon is a good idea. The sugar will be very hot, and will burn if you get any on your hand as you stir. Be very careful and work FAST. Continue beating the mixture until the foaming starts to slow down.

Dump foaming mixture into greased cake pan, spreading it out as evenly as possible. Allow it to cool for 15-20 minutes.

When the sponge toffee is starting to harden – but is still quite warm – use a serrated knife to score lines, about 1/4″- 1/2″ deep in the warm candy. These will be the shapes of your candy bars – I like to make them about 1.25″ x 3″, or so. Keep in mind that this is not an exact science, and you WILL have breakage in there.

20 minutes later, go back and re-score the lines you already made, gently cutting a little deeper than last time. Allow to cool completely.

Once toffee is cooled all the way through, remove from pan and gently snap along your score lines. If you don’t plan to dip them right away, be sure to store toffee in an airtight container – the sugar will attract water from the air, and the toffee can go soggy.

In a large bowl, carefully melt your chocolate using whatever method you prefer. I like to use a glass bowl, nuking for 30 seconds at a time in the microwave, many swear by a double boiler. So long as you don’t scorch it, it’s all good.

Using a fondue fork, candy dipping utensil, or (Clean!) fingers, gently dip each piece of sponge toffee, swirling around to coat fully. Allow excess chocolate to drip off before placing each piece on wax paper, parchment, or foil to harden.

Enjoy!

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes will be included.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Chocolate Dessert Ravioli

Within the next two weeks, I should have a skeleton of a kitchen – cabinets and counters, but no cabinet faces, doors, or trim. So excited!

In the meantime, however, I’m forced to dig through my archives – across several computers – for older photos and recipes that I have not yet posted. In today’s case, this recipe was featured in my first cook book, The Spirited Baker. The photos were taken prior to publication, with the aim of being the divider page for the “Fancy” chapter.

Well, I had a change of heart, went with that gorgeous photo of the truffles instead, and have been sitting on these photos ever since. Time to share!

Chocolate Dessert Ravioli with Raspberry Chambord Sauce

There are so many different ways to make a traditional dinner favorite – ravioli – into a new dessert favorite. Dough and filling types can be mixed and matched, cooking method can vary – baked, boiled, deep fried – and various different sauces can be used.

Dessert ravioli can be a little more labor intensive than some other recipes, but the effort is worth it! Dessert ravioli is something unique and unexpected. With a little creativity in presentation, it can really be a
showstopper for your guests! Try serving it in martini glasses, with a light drizzling of sauce.

Enjoy this recipe? Be sure to check out The Spirited Baker for more types of dessert ravioli, fillings, sauces… as well as many other tasty desserts!
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Your Questions Answered: Chocolate Fondues and Fountains

New Years Eve is just a few days away! One thing is certain, from reading Twitter, Facebook, and the net in general – melted chocolate is factoring into celebration plans in a BIG way!

In preparation for this blog entry, I put out the call for questions on Twitter and Facebook – and you guys had some good ones! Chocolate can be an incredibly finicky thing, so I’m happy to be able to provide some answers!

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