Category Archives: Tutorial

Delicious Ways To Enjoy Homemade Yogurt

Homemade Yogurt via SweetRevelations

Remember a while back, I shared with you my recipe for DIY Homemade Yogurt?  I couldn’t believe then, how simple the process was, and how much I loved the idea of making this creamy, tangy staple for my family.  I’ve pretty much got the process down to a fine science now, making it faithfully every Sunday evening before bed, and waking up to the magic of fermentation each Monday morning.  If you’re making it too, you might find that you end up with more yogurt than you know what to do with, so I’m sharing with you some of the ways we enjoy this 2 ingredient gem.

1. For Breakfast

Use it in smoothies or smoothie bowls, with overnight oats, or on its own with nuts and honey or a swirl of jam.  Figs, honey and pistachios are my current morning favourite.   If you process your yogurt in small jars, breakfast to go is made even easier.

yogurt

2.  Frozen Yogurt

One of my most loved uses for extra yogurt.  There are endless options for Homemade Frozen Yogurt that don’t require an ice cream maker and you get the added pleasure of knowing exactly what ingredients are in there.  Here’s one of our summertime, or anytime, favourites.  Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Frozen Yogurt.  You’re welcome.

Peanut Butter Frozen Yogurt via SweetRevelations

3.  Cakes and Breads

If you’ve made and drained homemade yogurt, the remaining whey (the leftover liquid) can be used instead of water in bread making recipes.  Yogurt is also an easy substitution, cup for cup, for sour cream in most cake recipes.  This Blueberry Buckle Coffee Cake from King Arthur Flour, is one of our family favourites (I use 1/2 cup of yogurt and 1/4 cup milk in the batter).

Blueberry Coffee Cake made with Homemade Yogurt via SweetRevelations

4.  Yogurt Cheese {Labneh}

When you drain yogurt overnight or for several hours, the result is yogurt cheese.  It’s thick and tangy and has almost the consistency of cream cheese.  You can add fresh herbs and seasonings to flavor this easy spreadable cheese or eat it plain.  It’s delectable when spread on Rye Crisps with apple slices and pumpkin seeds (a drizzle of honey is super too!).

Homemade Yogurt via SweetRevelations

5.  Fast Dessert

Did dinner company arrive at the last minute?   You can throw together a super quick Eton Mess in no time flat.  Mix some thickened homemade yogurt with macerated strawberries (or strawberry sauce) and crushed meringue nests.  Layer in a dessert glass with fresh berries and cream.

Homemade Yogurt via SweetRevelations

Now that I’m using my own yogurt I don’t think I’ll ever go back to store-bought again.  I have the comfort of knowing exactly what’s in it and I can flavor it to my own liking.   I’m curious to know, do you make your own yogurt?  Is it something you might be willing to try?

Happy baking friends,

Renee

xo

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Filed under Breakfast, Cake, Extra Special, Ice Cream, Tutorial

DIY Homemade Yogurt

I have made an insane amount of Homemade Yogurt in the last while.  I didn’t realize until recently just how simple the process really is and how amazing the results can be.   I’m pretty late to this party because people have been making this for years and years.  It honestly never occurred to me and now I’m kicking myself that I didn’t try it sooner. Much like making my own breads, the satisfaction that comes from making my own yogurt is the same.    It’s essentially 5 steps: scald, cool, starter, incubate, refrigerate.

The very best part of the process is that all of the work is done while we’re in bed, with no special equipment.  In the evening, I scald some cream and milk, add some organic natural yogurt as a “starter” and wake up to a full jar of creamy yogurt.  It’s left in the oven all night to incubate and become thick and creamy and tangy.  I’ve been enjoying it late in the morning for a snack with some homemade granola and a drizzle of Date Syrup that a student made for me.

homemadeyogurt

The Date Syrup is a coveted jar because she took the time to write down her mom’s recipe, which is fairly detailed, and includes soaking the dates and boiling them down into a thick syrup.  This girl is a wonderful young lady, who I know is going to change with world.  She told me it’s a Middle Eastern tradition to eat it for breakfast drizzled atop Tahini with some bread for dipping.  It makes a lovely sweetener substitute and tastes divine when stirred into some homemade yogurt in the morning.   It adds just enough sweetness, without hiding the rich, tang of the yogurt.

DIYyogurt

 

In the morning, I take the jar out of the oven and put it in the refrigerator to continue to firm up.  After an hour or two, I drain it in cheesecloth until nice and thick, which is exactly how Greek Yogurt is made.  Sometimes I can’t wait and choose to eat it warm and slightly thinner with some fresh fruit puree stirred in.   It’s absolutely heavenly.  If I drain it for quite a while I’m left with a tangy yogurt cheese (also called Labneh), which has the same consistency as cream cheese and is outstanding when spread on rye crisps.  Who knew there were so many options!

yogurtdraining

My first attempt to make it was a complete disaster, and it never set up properly.  But, I’m nothing if not persistent and I tried again until I was happy with the results.  Fresh dairy is key and I’m an advocate for using premium local dairy when I can.  It just tastes better and it’s better for my family and my community.  I use Organic Whole Milk and sometimes, when I have some left over, I use cream to make it just a little more decadent.

 

jarsofyogurt

The hands on prep time is about 30 minutes.   The longer it’s left to incubate, the tangier it is.   Be prepared because this doesn’t have the store-bought added sweetener taste that you might be used to.  It’s slightly tangy and any sweetness is added by you.  Try honey or agave.  Use fresh seasonal fruit.  Stir in some lemon curd (insanely good) or jam.  Make frozen yogurt.  Stay tuned because I made the most sensational Eton Mess with it that I’m going to share soon!

The possibilities are endless.  Just try it!   I urge you to try it.  If you’re a yogurt loving family like we are this is a win-win situation.

Happy Summer Everyone!

Renee

 

 

Homemade Yogurt

  • 4 cups Whole Organic Milk (or sometimes I sub in one cup of cream for the milk)
  • 1/4 cup Organic Plain Yogurt with Active Cultures (a MUST)

 

1.  Fill a quart sized mason jar half way with boiling water and cover lightly with the lid.  Set aside while you do the rest of the prep.  Turn the oven light on.

2.  In a large pan, heat the milk to 190° on medium heat.  This might take some time but avoids burnt milk at the bottom of the pot.  I find that if I take my time bringing the milk to temperature, my yogurt is not grainy.  Whisk often as the milk is heating.  Once to temperature, remove from heat and let milk rest until it comes down to 120°.   You can set the pot in a few inches of cold water in the sink and whisk continually to help the temp come down faster if you’re pressed for time.  Whisk in the yogurt.  Whisk well to spread all of those active cultures around.

3.  Empty the water from the mason jar and pour the milk mixture in.  Cover with the lid.  I like to wrap the jar in a towel at this point.  Place the jar in the oven with the oven light on.  Leave overnight- some have results in as little as five hours but I prefer the overnight method.  In the morning transfer the yogurt to smaller containers if desired and refrigerate.  It will firm up more in the refrigerator.  If you like really thick yogurt, strain it in some cheesecloth that is suspended from a deep bowl (in the refrigerator).  The yogurt will become thicker after an hour or so but leave it until it reaches your desired consistency.  Leave it overnight for some Yogurt Cheese.  Refrigerate the yogurt as you normally would.

Note:  1.  Keep a 1/4 of yogurt from your new batch to use as a starter for your next batch!

2.  No worries if there is a clear liquid on top.  That’s pure whey and is excellent when substituted for water in bread making.  Refrigerate it and use it in smoothies.   Some swear by watering their plants with it too.

3.  Sometimes I don’t even bother with the mason jar.   I have used the blue pottery bowl you see in the pictures with a smaller plate placed on top.  The results have always been excellent!

jarofcream

 

 

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Filed under Breakfast, Extra Special, Sauces and Syrups, Tutorial

Easy Gingerbread Snowmen Cookies

Happy Saturday everyone!

If you’ve been following me for a while then you know that my job during the day is working in a classroom with 9 of the most amazing children.  They’re all so different and have taught me some sort of lesson about myself or life in general.  I truly enjoy being with them each day.

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The past few weeks in our room have been all about the holiday season and the magic of winter.  We recently did a snowman art project and I thought it was so cute that I copied it in cookie form for them.  They were pretty impressed and I was too~ it was incredibly easy!  How cute are these snowmen cookies who are gazing up at the snowflakes falling from the sky?  Pretty whimsical and a great gift idea or classroom party snack.

Did you know that you can place a fondant decoration on top of hot cookies right out of the oven and they will mold perfectly on top?  Nothing else required!   The longest part of the cookie prep is making the fondant decorations for the top.   After that, things move pretty smoothly.

First off, here are the items you need:

pieces[1]

  1. Gingerbread recipe (see below)
  2. Round cookie cutter
  3. White, blue and orange fondant
  4. Fondant roller
  5. Black sugar pearls – I used 4 mm
  6. Card stock with snowflakes painted on (if you’re giving the cookies as gifts)- I used white food colour gel and the back of a paintbrush

 

Start by rolling out your cookie dough and using the cookie cutter to cut out all of your cookies.  Place them on trays in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.  Use the fondant roller to roll out the white fondant (a bit of Crisco on the counter top stops it from sticking).  Use the same cookie cutter to cut out as many white circles as you have cookies.  Place them under some Saran or a fondant mat to keep the fondant from drying out (single file).  Meanwhile, start the scarves.  Roll out the blue fondant and cut two strips for the scarf, using a knife to cut the end tassels.  Put a little bit of water on your finger and rub it on the bottom side of the scarf to help it adhere to the white fondant (very little water is needed).  Place the scarf on the white circle as shown in the picture below.  Cut the corners to keep the snowman round.

pieces 2[1]

Roll out the orange fondant and cut out some carrot noses with a knife.  Keep all fondant under the Saran to keep it from drying out.  Now you can start baking and assembling!  As soon as the cookies come out of the oven start placing the snowmen on top.  Once you’ve covered the whole tray of hot cookies with the fondant rounds, you can start pressing in the black pearls for the mouth.  Carrot noses will stick on with just a smidge of water.

collage[1]

Tah dah!!  Looks great right?  For packaging I simply placed a cookie on a piece of blue cardstock with some little white dots (I had some snowflake sprinkles to add too) and then in a cellophane wrap.  I must tell you that the cookies were a big hit although they need to be handled with care as the noses can be fragile.  When I do them again I will move the noses down just a hair so that they aren’t sticking out as much.

finished[1]

And that’s it.  A fun baking project that you can do with your own children or just to give to the very special children in your life!

plate[1]

Now go forth and create my little snowflakes!  Use your imagination and have fun!

Renee

 

Gingerbread Cookies

*Martha Stewart

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  •  2 teaspoons ground ginger
  •  2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  •  3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 /2 teaspoon finely ground pepper
  •  3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  •  1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  1. Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in spices, salt, eggs and molasses.   Add flour mixture and mix on low until just combined. Divide dough in half and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick. Cut into circles with a 2.5″ cookie cutter. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate until firm or ready to use.
  4. Bake cookies until crisp but not dark, about 8 minutes. Cover immediately with fondant tops.

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Homemade Vanilla Extract

I wish this blog was scratch and sniff…I really do.

vanillabeans4

 

This is my coveted jar of homemade vanilla that I’ve been using for over 4 years.  The smell is so intense and the flavor in baked goods is bar none.  It’s a simple mix of vodka and vanilla beans that I’ve been adding to and refilling for quite some time.   It is by far one of my best ingredients and the scent can be associated with so many amazing things.  Moms cookies, vanilla bean cake, homemade ice cream and marshmallows.  The list goes on and on.

vanillabeans2

A while ago when I was teaching basic baking classes to some young boys, they always argued over who got to pour the vanilla in.  It’s such a tiny part of most recipes but the flavor it imparts can’t be denied.  It enhances everything else in the bowl.  It’s essential!

vanillabeans1

It’s also an easy gift to make.  If you started a jar of vanilla extract today you could have a some pretty awesome Christmas gifts for December!  It really only needs a couple of months to steep, but the longer it sits the better.  Keep the bottle in the pantry and give it a shake every now and then.  There are loads of vanilla extract printables on line (like the one below from tidymom.net) and you can cross a whole mess of people off your Christmas list ~ in July everyone!  That’s the best part!

vanillabeans3

What’s your favourite vanilla memory?

Homemade Vanilla Extract

  • Use 3-4 whole vanilla beans per cup of vodka.  Split the beans in half, place in a sealable jar and pour vodka on top!  Place in a cool dark place for 2-3 months before using.  Give the jar a shake every now and then.  I continue to add beans that I have used in baking (however not if they have been steeped in any kind of milk or cream), and adding more vodka when low.

 

 

 

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Filed under Extra Special, Sauces and Syrups, Tutorial

Valentine Rose Cupcakes ~ Tutorial

Want an easy but really impressive dessert for Valentine’s Day?

valentine rose

No joke, just a few hours prep the night before and these can totally be on your candle lit table the next evening.  You know, between you and your Valentine… *gush.*

Heck, buy the cupcakes and you’ve saved yourself a step.

Although, I do recommend trying these or these or even these if you really want to impress the socks off someone.  See?  This is getting risque already….

I’ve added a picture tutorial to show you how simple this really is.

rosetutorial

All you need is some coloured fondant (for best results mix with a little gumpaste), 3 piping tips or circle cutters (different sizes), and a ball tool.  You don’t even really need the ball tool.  Remember here , when I showed you how to make rose petals with just your hands and some parchment?

1.  Gather all of your supplies.  Colour and roll out your fondant nice and thin.

2.  Cut out your circles.  You will need about 6 of each size.

3.  Using your ball tool, or fingers, thin out the petals as much as possible.  Try to create some ruffles or movement.

4.  Let your petals dry out over night on a flower former.  Or, use a dish covered in foil like I did here.

5.  The next day, begin with the largest petals and start layering on your cupcake.  Try to do some overlapping.

6. Voila!   Aren’t you pleased with yourself?

You could make a few large roses and then add some ribbon roses on the rest.

Happy Valentine’s Day friends!

valentine rose 2

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Dogwood Flower Tutorial

Remember last week when I said I would post pictures of how I made my Dogwood Flower out of White Modelling Chocolate?

When you see how simple this really is, you won’t believe it!

First, make your modelling chocolate and let it sit for a day or so at room temperature.  The recipe can be found here.  Get all of your supplies ready.

Then roll out some White Modelling Chocolate and cut it out with your Dogwood Cutter.

Now, I have two different steps here, because not everyone owns a flower veiner.  I didn’t until just recently.  I used to use my little paint brush or a sucker stick or a toothpick to make vein impressions.

You can gently press the flower onto the veiner.

Or, you can use whatever tool you have handy to achieve similar results!

Place your formed flower in a little bowl that you have covered in foil.  This is an easy way to make a flower former for drying.

You can use your paintbrush to help you form the flower petals and give them some movement.

I am using just a tiny bit of brown and red dust, mixed together, to lightly brush the tips of the petals.   Can you see the cupcake in the distance?

I think it’s watching me.  Waiting for its turn….

I have some teeny chocolate balls, that I rolled, in a dish getting ready for centre stage.  I rolled them and then lightly dusted them with green lustre dust.

Here’s a little dollop of melted white chocolate that I am using for glue.

The little balls have been added to the centre of the flower.

It’s starting to take shape now!

The branches I made with dark modelling chocolate.  Remember here when I made my Dark Chocolate Roses?

Everyone is lined up, awaiting assembly.   I let mine dry for a full day on the counter before assembling.

This icing is a beautiful sage green Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  Delicious!

Tah dah!  Finished product. 

How easy is that?  And so impressive.  And so yummy.

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Dark Chocolate Roses

Last week I was researching places to buy the best modeling chocolate for a special project I am working on.    It didn’t take me long to figure out that it can be fairly expensive and that most bakers make their own.

Remember here, when I made Garden Party Cupcakes and added gumpaste flowers?  Well they sure do look beautiful, but that’s where it ends.  They aren’t really edible just lovely to look at.  Modeling Chocolate however, looks decadent and tastes yummy too.  It’s essentially like playing with the best smelling and tasting play dough ever!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a few obsessions:

1. Dark Chocolate

2. Swiss Meringue Buttercream

3. Beautiful Cupcakes

This is like the culmination of all of  my favourite things!

I’ll follow-up with the recipe for the cupcakes in another post.  It was my first time trying small batch baking because I just wanted a few cakes to show off my lovely roses.

The recipe is really simple, just two ingredients as a matter of fact!

Melt 6 oz good quality bittersweet chocolate over a double boiler (I used Callebaut) .  Mix until no lumps remain.  Let the chocolate cool for just a few minutes before adding 1/3 cup light corn syrup. Mix thoroughly until combined. The chocolate will start to form a hard ball that is difficult to stir.   I put my chocolate in a resealable freezer bag and I left it on the counter over night to harden up.

It was quite a hard lump in the morning….

No worries, just a little kneading to do!  I used cocoa powder to lightly dust my hands and work surface.

Ok, all set!

Everyone has different ways of making fondant/gumpaste and chocolate flowers.  I did find that I had to work quickly as my hands were quite warm.  Guess what happens to chocolate when your hands are too warm?

I rolled out about 10 little chocolate balls, maybe 1/4″ in diameter.

Forgive some of my shots, I had to work quickly!

First I made a cone shape for the center of the rose.

Then, I put each ball under some parchment paper and flattened it out with my fingers to start to form petals.

See?

I let the petals sit for a few minutes to harden a little.  It made them easier to work with.

I wrapped each petal around my rose, being careful to over lap each piece.

Even these rosebuds look sweet.  You could stop here and these would be just fine too.  Somebody would be delighted to eat it!

Or you could keep adding until your little chocolate rose heart is content.

Not bad for my first attempt at a tutorial!

Let these sit on the counter until firm.  Keep these in an airtight container until you need them.  Store leftover modeling chocolate in an airtight container as well.  Use it to make any number of decorations as it dries fairly firm.

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