Tag Archives: party

Triple Chocolate Candy Cane Biscotti

I’m enjoying the last few days of hustle and bustle around here as we get ready for the holidays.   Lots of baking to do, lots of presents to wrap and all of the other preparations that go along with it.  All three kids are in the house at the moment and I love every minute of it.

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Without a doubt, baking Christmas Biscotti is on my list of things to do.  When I had the bake shop I gave a ribbon wrapped bag of biscotti to every customer that came in on Christmas Eve.  Even now I like to attach a little bag to the presents I give out.  It’s a great little gift and something that can be prepared well ahead of time.  This one is a Triple Chocolate Candy Cane Biscotti.  A twice baked batch of crunchy chocolate goodness full of Lindt Bittersweet chunks and drizzled with melted White Chocolate.  Sprinkle some crushed candy cane on top and catapult yourself right to the top of the nice list!

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This recipe is super chocolatey without being really sweet.  These are definitely dunkers and I would put them in the extra-crispy category too.  I always have some flavour of biscotti in the house and I’ve gotten into the habit of eating a piece or two with my tea after dinner.

Come to think of it, I usually keep a piece or two in my lunch bag too.  And I often snag a piece to have with my coffee when I’m driving the boys to the hockey arena.

Geez Louise, I have a slight cookie and coffee addiction it seems.

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I hope that you have a wonderful holiday, wherever you may be.  I feel very lucky to have the time at home with my family and friends ~ and you!   As always, thank you for another great blogging year.  Your comments and support continues to amaze me.

Blessings for a great 2015!

Renee

 

Triple Chocolate Candy Cane Biscotti

*adapted from David Lebovitz- David does not use butter in his recipe, you can certainly omit it.

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of butter, melted
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks
  • 4 oz. white chocolate for drizzle
  • crushed peppermint candy canes to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1.  In a medium bowl combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla and peppermint extract and mix until combined.  Add the flour mixture and mix just until combined.  Mix the chocolate chunks in by hand.

2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Divide the biscotti mix into two logs directly on the cookie sheet (you can just form one wide log if you want long cookies -about 6 inches wide).  The logs should be 1.5 inches high and about 3 inches wide.  If you wet your hands slightly it’s easier to form and smooth out the dough.  Make two even logs.

3.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and turn the oven temperature down to 300 degrees.  Let the biscotti cool on the cookie sheet for about 10 minutes.   Transfer the dough to a cutting board and cut the biscotti into slices (3/4 inch wide).  A serrated knife works best.  Place the cookies upright back on the cookie sheet, leaving about 1/2 and inch between each cookie.  Bake them for an additional 30 minutes until crisp.

4.  Melt the white chocolate over a bain marie.  Drizzle the cooled biscotti with the melted chocolate and sprinkle with candy canes.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

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A Retirement Party and Nautical Cupcakes

My dad is officially retiring at the end of the month.  And it’s his birthday on Tuesday too.  We had a surprise gathering and picnic lunch for him today.  All the kids and grandkids arrived at the party wearing matching t-shirts with the name of his boat on them…”Knot Done.”  So named because he is retiring and turning 65 and there are lots of things he still wants to do with his life.  Genius.

You can say a lot of things about my dad but you could never say he wasn’t a hard worker and a dedicated employee.   He is the true definition of giving 200% to a task.  I know he is very well-respected by his colleagues.  He is a problem solver.  He is a leader.  He is a teacher.  His kids think he’s pretty awesome too!

This picture is an oldie.  Taken from an old employer.

My dad does woodworking as a hobby too.  He’s meticulous and accurate and he’s taught me a thing or two about working in the shop!  Even as an adult I get very excited when dad and I are working on a project together.  I cherish those times that he’s teaching me something.

For a good part of my life, dad has had a boat.  He comes from Nova Scotia so being on the water is second nature to him.    I decided to use a nautical theme for his retirement/birthday party cupcakes.

Thank you dad for teaching me the value of hard work and dedication.   You are one of the most influential people in my life.  I hope you enjoyed your party!

These are Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  The fondant is Homemade Marshmallow Fondant that I made here.  I did add some Gum-Tex to the fondant before working with it because I wanted the decorations to dry harder than they normally do.  Fondant is so easy to work with and colour.  You just need the imagination!  Give yourself lots of time however, as I made these a week in advance so they would have lots of time to set up.

Vanilla Bean Cupcake recipe to come shortly!!

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Tangy Mini Lemon Pies and Your Mama Was A Snowblower

Look at how adorable these things are!  They look like tiny white kisses.  And a burst of yellow is just what this cool, grey day needs.

I can’t believe I’m not turning these into cupcakes, but today is a special post for a special person.  My step-dads birthday is today and this is one of his favourites!  I wanted to make something just for him because he’s really a super nice guy.  And here’s the best part…..I cheated on the pastry and the lemon curd so assembly was super quick and easy.   Not that he doesn’t deserve tarts made from scratch, but I only had an hour after work and this was so simple and tasty.

He has a nickname for literally everyone I know (even my friends 25 years later…) and he’s moved me countless times (that was the last time I promise…).   He has quirky, weird sayings for everything (I can’t tell you how many times I heard “your mama was a snowblower” growing up!) and the grandkids all think he’s a hoot.  He has a big heart and he’s good to his family.

Thanks for helping me out so many times.  And for being the guy that I call when I’m lost.  Hope you have a great birthday today!

Mini Meringue Lemon Pies

1.  First, use your best recipe for pie pastry, double crust.  Store bought pastry works just as well!  Roll out pastry and cut circles out with a 2″ biscuit cutter.  Press pastry into a mini muffin pan and generously prick each mini pie with a fork.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes or until golden.  Remove pies from the oven and allow to cool for approximately 10 minutes.

2.  Fill each mini pie with lemon curd.  Lemon pie filling works just as well too.

3.  In your stand mixer, whip 3 egg whites, 1/4 tsp cream of tartar and 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp of sugar.  Whip until stiff peaks form.  Pipe onto lemon filling.  Broil for a few minutes until meringue is golden.  Serve immediately.

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Milk Dud Cupcakes

Remember this?

I posted these back in August with the promise of a recipe!  I have received a few e-mails wondering where that recipe might be….sorry I keep forgetting!

Have you ever had a Milk Dud?  Chewy, stick in your teeth caramel covered in milk chocolate.  One of my favourite combinations (one of my dentists favs too I’m sure…)  I’m eating some as I type as a matter of fact.  It’s really the icing (again) that is the star here.  Take some smooth and creamy Swiss Meringue Buttercream, my absolute favourite, and beat in some homemade Salted Caramel Sauce.  Screaming your name yet??

Honestly, I could’ve bathed in this icing it’s that yummy.  Don’t judge me, it really is that good.

I really apologize for the lack of photo’s but these literally went like hotcakes and I didn’t have a chance to take any extra’s.

I was left with one giant box of Milk Duds that I have been hiding in the back of the pantry for a month.  I have a teenager who is more obsessed with chocolate than me (if that’s possible) and often my goodies just “disappear.”

Since the caramel really is the star here, I will be posting the recipe for the icing only.  My advice is to use your best rich chocolate cake recipe.

Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream

*adapted from Sweetapolita

1 3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup heavy cream

pinch of sea salt

2 cups unsalted butter cubed, at room temperature

5 large egg whites

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

pinch of salt

Making Salted Caramel Sauce:

*make this first to set aside to cool while you make the Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

1. Place  1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the
water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stop stirring and cook until caramel is amber, gently swirling the pan from time to time. Remove from heat, and slowly add cream, whisking by hand until smooth. It
will be splatter, so be careful. Whisk in sea salt. Let cool.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

1.  Fill a saucepan (large enough to fit your mixing bowl just a few inches) with two inches of water.  Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to med-low so water continues to simmer.

2.  In your stand mixer bowl, hand whisk the egg whites and the rest of the sugar just until combined.  Place over simmering pot and whisk for approx 4 mins until the egg whites are hot (about 150 degrees).  The sugar should be dissolved by this time as well.  Place bowl on stand mixer and attach the whisk attachment.  Whisk on medium until whites have increased in volume and the outside of the bowl is just slightly warm to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes!).

3.  Remove whisk attachment and replace with paddle attachment.  Beat on low-speed until mixture is completely cooled.  Increase speed to medium and add butter pieces one at a time.  Scrape the bowl and continue to beat until buttercream is glossy, smooth and thick.  It may separate at first, but continue beating and it will emulsify.  Add vanilla flavouring, a pinch of salt and salted caramel sauce (to taste) and beat until combined.  Use immediately.

Garnish with a Milk Dud

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End of Summer, New School Year

The party is over at our house.  Today is the last day of freedom and tomorrow a new school year begins (for me too!).  No more lazy mornings on the deck with coffee, staying up super late reading a good book or keeping pj’s on allll day long if you feel like it.  I really love summer and my only wish was that it was just a little longer (say… 10 months longer….)

My kids are away today, all doing something fun for their last day of holidays.  I left them a little surprise for their return….

Just a little thank you for being great kids and hanging out with me this summer.  For putting my bait on the hook for me, for going for bike rides with me, for walking the dog with me, for playing endless games of Scrabble and SkipBo with me and for staying up late around a camp fire sharing funny stories and things about your life with me.

It’s a new school year and things will soon become hectic and busy.  Instead of saying “come sit by the pool with me” I’ll be screaming “for the last time get out of bed or we’ll be late!!”

Nothing says summer like ice cream and this is a fun and whimsical dessert.  Would be perfect for a birthday too!  I used my favourite Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream (here) and a new Vanilla Cake recipe (below).  Just colour icing to suit and have fun!  I used a piece of 29″ x 12″ yellow foam board with ribbons glued to the bottom.  This idea is from My Cake School Blog, which is full of fabulous resources.

Pure Vanilla Cupcakes

  • adapted from Form V Artisan
    Makes 18 cupcakes
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup full fat sour cream
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup buttermilkPreheat oven to 350°F. Line 18 standard muffin cups with paper
    liners.1.  In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, sift together flour,
    baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add sugar and mix on low-speed until well
    blended. Add softened butter and beat on medium-low speed until butter is coated
    with flour and mixture resembles dry crumbs, about 3 minutes. Increase speed to
    medium and beat 30 seconds longer.2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract until smooth. Add to the flour mixture and
    mix on medium-low speed until moistened and the batter begins to form webs along
    the sides of the bowl and the beater, about 45 seconds. With mixer on low speed,
    gradually add milk and beat until batter is smooth, about 20 seconds. Scrape
    down the sides of the bowl and mix until batter is light, airy and creamy
    looking, another 15-20 seconds on medium to medium-low speed. Do not over
    mix.

    3.  Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling them about
    two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into the
    center of the cakes comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Transfer cakes to wire
    racks to cool completely.

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Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches and a Birthday (or two!)

Yesterday my boys turned 11.  Hard to believe that 11 years ago they were so tiny (just a little over 4 pounds when we brought them home!) and now I wear their shoes when I need to go outside for a quick second.  They are both very different personalities (one’s neat and tidy and one’s a whirling dervish!) but also so similar in some ways.  Both have a great sense of humour and both are sporty social guys who are really loyal to their friends.  They’re good boys.   I can’t really take credit because I think they were just born that way…perfect to me.

I have to say though, something happened, maybe ‘in utero’ as they say….

I don’t know what I did….

I don’t know how it happened…I question it all the time…..

My boys don’t really like cake.  They don’t really have a sweet tooth which probably in the long-term is fantastic for them, however for me it continues to be a puzzle.

So, for birthday dessert one of my sons requested Homemade Brownie Ice-Cream Sandwiches.  Pretty easy to do, but a little tough to decorate with candles….

I found the recipe in Chatelaine Magazine and have made it many times over the summer.   There are so many options for flavours!  The sandwich part is a brownie baked on a cookie sheet.  Easy easy!  And so rich and yummy.

I did make some cupcakes too (I can’t help myself…) just for blowing out candles.  Some were a yummy Milk Dud flavour and some were Devils Food Chocolate with Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream which I’ll be sure to share in a later post!

Brownie Ice-Cream Sandwiches

  • 84 g  unsweetened chocolate, about 3 squares,  coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp  salt
  • 1/4 tsp  vanilla
  • 2   eggs
  • 1/4 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 2 L  vanilla ice cream or flavour of choice, in rectangular box

Preheat oven to 350°.

1.  Oil a rimmed baking sheet measuring about 11 × 17 in., then line with parchment paper. Place chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave on medium until chocolate is almost melted, about 2 min. Stir halfway through.

2.  Stir sugar, salt and vanilla into warm chocolate mixture. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until blended. Stir in flour just until mixed. Scrape onto prepared sheet. Spread batter over parchment using an offset spatula to create a smooth, even, very thin layer.

3.  Bake in centre of oven until brownie appears shiny and is firm but slightly undercooked, about 8 min. Remove from oven and cool in pan, about 30 min. Run a knife along edges of pan. Cut brownie in half, making two long rectangles. Place pan in the freezer for 5 min. Remove from freezer. Gently lift brownie and, using scissors, cut the parchment, separating the rectangles.

4.  Place 1 brownie top-side down on a cutting board. Peel off parchment. Open box of ice cream. Slice off 5 1-in. slices and arrange on top of brownie on board until it’s completely covered. Peel parchment from bottom of remaining brownie and place on top of ice cream. Pat down firmly. With a sharp knife, score top of brownie into 16 rectangular pieces.

Freeze for at least 3 hours, until very firm. Remove from freezer and, using a serrated knife, cut into 16 sandwiches, using the scored lines as a guide. Individually wrap each sandwich in plastic wrap. Sandwiches will keep well in the freezer up to 1 month.

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Garden Party Cupcakes

Today I met up with some girls from work for lunch.  In just a few weeks summer will be over and we’ll be back to our jobs at school!  I offered to bring dessert (of course) and as if my co workers haven’t had enough of my cupcakes, I brought some!

Pretty ones this time (well, I think they’re all pretty…).  Perfect for a garden party!  Treats for a nice bunch of ladies who deserve a bouquet of summer flowers every now and then.

I think these would be welcome at any gathering.  How about a rose or two?

Do you have a picture of cupcakes fit for a garden party?  I would love to see it!

I must say that as good as they looked, they tasted even better.  Blueberry Cakes with Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting.    A very moist cake, bursting with fresh local blueberries and a tangy, creamy frosting.  I am a die-hard fan of Swiss Meringue Buttercream.   I rarely make any other kind of frosting.  Nothing compares to the creamy, light texture and sweet taste.  It’s what takes cake to a gourmet level!

Blueberry Cupcakes

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups vanilla sugar, regular white sugar is fine too

4 eggs, room temperature

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups of fresh blueberries

Heat oven to 350° and line 2 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.

1.   In a small bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  Set aside.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and well combined (2-3 minutes).  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating each egg until well incorporated.  Beat in lemon juice.  Add the dry ingredients 1 cup at a time and alternate with the milk and vanilla.   Mix the last addition of flour until the ingredients are well incorporated but do not over mix!  Gently fold in blueberries.

3.  Fill cupcake liners until 3/4 full.  Bake for 18-20 minutes until cake tester comes out clean.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes then move to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream

from Martha Stewart

5  large egg whites

pinch of kosher salt

1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar

4 sticks unsalted butter, very soft

1 1/2 tsp lemon extract

1.  Fill a saucepan (large enough to fit your mixing bowl just a few inches) with a few inches of water.  Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to med-low so water continues to simmer.

2.  In your stand mixer bowl, hand whisk the egg whites, sugar and salt just until combined.  Place over simmering pot and whisk for approx 4 mins until the egg whites are hot (about 140 degrees).  The sugar should be dissolved by this time as well.  Place bowl on stand mixer and attach the whisk attachment.  Whisk on medium until whites have increased in volume and the outside of the bowl is just slightly warm to the touch.

3.  Remove whisk attachment and replace with paddle attachment.  Beat on low-speed until mixture is completely cooled.  Increase speed to medium and add butter pieces one at a time.  Scrape the bowl and continue to beat until buttercream is glossy, smooth and thick.  It may separate at first, but continue beating and it will emulsify.  Add lemon extract and beat until combined.  Use immediately.

I use a 1M Wilton tip for icing swirls.

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Got Milk?

The only time I really drink milk is when it’s dressed up like this…

After work today I rushed home to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies for my daughters class party.  Much to my surprise, someone has been in the fridge and the chocolate chip bag has only a few morsels laying in the bottom.  I think it’s time to install the ‘fridge-cam’ that I have seriously pondered inventing.  For the amount of time I spend in the kitchen, I have no idea how my chocolate supply keeps going missing!  I had no other choice but to use chocolate chunks!

Oh my goodness, these warm cookies were so yummy with a huge glass of cold milk…. I had to keep counting them to make sure I would have enough for the party!

Super easy to make too..

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

*adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup butter (unsalted)

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 cups good quality semi-sweet baking chocolate, cut into chunks

1.  Pre-heat oven to 375°.  In mixing bowl beat butter and shortening until combined, approx 1 min.  Add 1 cup of the flour, both sugars, eggs, vanilla and baking soda.  Mix until well combined.  Add the last cup and a half of flour and beat for one minute.  Stir in the chocolate chunks.

2.  Drop dough by rounded tablespoon on to parchment lined cookie sheet (about 2″ apart).  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden at the edges.  Cool on a baking rack.

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