Monthly Archives: February 2017

Dark Chocolate Chunk Whipped Shortbread, AKA The Diet-Buster

The title says it all. (More, please!)

I don’t usually publish two posts one day after the other, but I made some shortbread today and it was too good not to share right away! My mom is turning 70 this week, and we’re having a celebration. I planned to bake a cake and asked her what cake she would like. Turns out, she’d rather have shortbread! Fine by me, so I researched some shortbread recipes and tried a few out.

First I made traditional Scottish shortbread from a recipe given to me an online friend, and then decided I’d like to supplement that with a whipped shortbread. Traditional shortbread is a sturdy and solid cookie, fyi, and whipped shortbread is made of super-fluffy dough and ends up being an airy and crumbly cookie. Technically both are shortbread, but they’re very different beasts!

I came up with this whipped shortbread recipe because I had some dark chocolate I wanted to bake with, and because I know that corn starch is often the secret ingredient to make a nicely crumbly shortbread. It’s best to use icing sugar in this recipe, as regular sugar is too grainy to give that melt-in-your-mouth effect. And, whipping your butter and then whipping your dough, gives this cookie a super-light airiness that’s just perfect for an afternoon tea.

Next-level fluffy batter! It’s…(wait for it)…so FLUFFEH!

So! Let’s make us some shortbread, shall we?

Dark Chocolate Chunk Whipped Shortbread

  • 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 1 tbsp. corn starch
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar 
  • 1 c. butter, soft
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 dark chocolate bar (I used Lindt 80% cocoa), chopped

Beat butter until fluffy and lighter in colour (the butter lightens in colour due to the addition of air via the beating).

Add in other ingredients (except for chocolate chunks) and beat dough for 5-10 minutes. Will be super-duper fluffy (like, woah, fluffy!), and the dough will lighten up in colour. 

Stir in chocolate chunks.

Drop in rounded spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet (ungreased because these cookies have enough fat in them already! I used a silicon baking sheet to make clean-up easier). FYI, the cookies will flatten out as they bake, so you do need to have the dough in large rounds on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 12-15 minutes in a 350 degree oven, or until the edges of the cookies are brown.

Let cool for a minute in the pan, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

Cookies, anyone? Maybe with a glass of milk? Or a cup of tea?

And one last note, if you like sturdier shortbread, add in more flour and/or omit the corn starch. You do you, boo!

These are super-fluffy shortbread and will totally melt in your mouth. Plus, the combo of dark chocolate and buttery crumbliness is just too good! My mom loved them (and so did the rest of my family, including the chocolate-abhorring DH), so I’m sure you’ll love them too! Just…don’t make them if you’re trying to watch your weight, because they are way too good to only eat one. (I may have eaten four. Or five. Eh, you only live once, right?)

Next Post: Three-Ingredient Blue Cheese Pasta! An easy, yet fancy-pants weekday dinner, for when you want gourmet food in the time it takes to order fast food. Stay tuned!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday and at Happiness is Homemade! And at Meal Plan Monday – Cookie Edition!

Spinach Salad w/ Faro & Roasted Grapes: Memories of Meals Past + Salads I Have Known & Loved MASHUP

Lunchtime at my workplace! Salad, with a side of soup.

Know what time it is? It’s time for a Memories of Meals Past Post! (Also know as a ‘What-I-Ate-And-You-Can-Too’ post.)

As much as I love baked goods, I also like being healthy. As such, I like to balance my sugar/baked good intake with lots of whole grains and veggies. (And fruit, because my sweet tooth has a say even when I’m menu-planning healthily.)

So, that’s whole grains, veggies, and fruit. What can I make with those ingredients? And ideally it has to incorporate salad, since a) healthy and b) salad helps keep my IBS symptoms at bay. Hmm…oooh, ooh, I know!

Spinach Salad with Faro, Caramelized Onions, & Oven-Roasted Grapes! In other words, I took a Martha recipe and modified it slightly (Queen of Substitutions style) and voila! Lunch is served!

How did this recipe come together?

  • I boiled the faro (a type of whole wheat kernel, essentially) with a bunch of dried rosemary (this gave it a lovely flavour)
  • I caramelized the onions in a pan
  • I roasted the grapes (with a bit of salt)
  • I mixed it all together with some baby spinach
  • I added Martha’s vinaigrette
  • I ate it, dear reader. Actually I packed it for lunches for several days, and it was yum.

What did I switch up? I didn’t use concord grapes because it’s the wrong season for that and I’m not going to fork out an arm and a leg for imported concord grapes. Plus, I used spinach because arugula wouldn’t stay fresh once mixed with the vinaigrette. The spinach wilted a little, which was fine by me, as wilted spinach is still considered all foodie, and anyway, Martha’s specified arugula wouldn’t have held up to being packed in a lunch container.

The verdict? Nice. Nicer than the individual ingredients make it sound. But not uber-spectacular. Nice enough to make again? Yeeeees, but the biggest take-away for me from this recipe was that boiling faro with rosemary makes it AWESOME! And slightly chewy and better than rice, both in health benefits and taste. So, up with healthy grains! And salad. Because, really, health is precious. (As is sugar. Cue…*my precioussssss*)

Next Post: Sugary goodness in the form of easy yet delectable Chocolate Chunk Whipped Shortbread? Or Three Ingredient Blue Cheese Pasta? That’s right, it’s time for some carb-y goodness!

Short-Cut Cinnamon Buns, Because Yummy Shouldn’t Be Laborious

Too good to eat only one. And made so quickly, too!

Cinnamon Buns! I love them. I eat them. I used to hate making them, because of the long process: make the dough, let the dough rise, punch it down, let it rise again, roll it out, roll it up, cut it and let it rise, and fiiiiiiinallly bake it and eat it. And that’s not including all the steps for the filling. Ugh. Am tired just thinking about it. Generally, if I wanted cinnamon buns, I had to make them in the morning for dessert in the evening, or at the very least, make them the night before.

But no more!

I came up with a super-easy short-cut version! In my version, there’s only one rising of the cinnamon buns before baking, and frankly, you *could* skip that too (the buns would just be much more dense and not as fluffy).

The secret?

Start with my Easiest Pizza Dough in the History of Ever! Then you spread cinnamon butter all over it, roll it up, pop it in a pan to rise (only 1x!), and bake it. I can start these before dinner and have them for dessert! 

Short-Cut Cinnamon Buns

  • 1 batch pizza dough
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened to just beyond room temperature

Make the dough. Let it rest at least 10 minutes before rolling it out into a lasagna pan sized rectangle.

Mix softened butter with sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla until it is properly mixed and essentially a cinnamon spread. Spread butter on rolled out dough.

Roll up dough, length-wise. Use dental floss to cut roll into two inch slices (see technique below).

Place in a lasagna pan and let rise in a warm place until the dough has expanded and the side of the buns are sticking together.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Let sit until cool. If you like icing, mix up some icing (icing sugar, milk, vanilla extract, cream cheese is optional) and drizzle on top. Eat and enjoy the sticky, yummy, cinnamon buns!

Don’t they look yummy! (Spoiler alert: they ARE yummy!)

KITCHEN HACK

How to cut delicate doughs (or soft cheeses)? With dental floss! Yup, you read that right! You slide the thread underneath the dough/cheese and cross the end of the string overtop, and then pull. It slices easily and without compressing the dough or cheese all flat. I first did this when I made swiss rolls as a teenager, and it is such an easy technique to get perfect slices! Obviously, you don’t use flavoured floss, and the thinner the floss, the better. Try it out yourself!

KITCHEN HACK #2

Want to make fluffier cinnamon buns? Add in a tablespoon of corn starch to the dough when you’re making it, as in this recipe for Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns. The corn starch takes up space without sticking to itself as flour does, which makes the dough that much more tender. This technique is good for all sorts of baked goods!

But back to my cinnamon buns. You could make these cinnamon buns taller and more like commercial buns if you make them in a 9×9 pan as opposed to a lasagna pan, and cut them in 4 inch buns (i.e. taller). Personally, I’m happy with the small buns, because…portion control. Of course, that just means that I need to eat two servings, amirite?

Next Post: A Memories of Meals Past post, combined with a Salads I Have Known and Loved post. That’s right, we’re about to get all ancient grains up in this blog!

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday, Nifty Thrifty SundayClever Chicks Blog Hop, The Art of Homemaking, and Happiness is Homemade!

Dutch Chocolate Pudding (& How to Clean a Burnt Pot without Scrubbing)

Elegance, thy name is chocolate pudding. Now let’s chow down!

I’ve been craving dairy recently, and if you’re a returning reader of my blog, you’ll know I’m always up for some chocolate. So I decided to combine the two and make a batch of my grandmother’s chocolate pudding.

My Oma (Dutch for grandmother) gave this recipe for Chocolade Vla (chocolate pudding) to my mom and my mom made it for special occasions, often topping it with whipped cream and chocolate eggs to make chocolate pudding nests for Easter. I think any day is a great day to eat chocolate pudding, so I’ve made this dish three times in the past two weeks. And since the DH isn’t fond of chocolate, I’ve eaten it all! I have no regrets though. It’s quick to made, and I think it’s actually not that unhealthy. It’s basically thickened, sweetened, flavoured milk. You doubt me? Check out this recipe!

Dutch Chocolate Pudding (Chocolade Vla)

  • 2 1/3 c. milk
  • 3 tbsp. corn starch
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Heat 2 c. milk to just-before-boiling in a double boiler (around 170 degrees). In a bowl, mix the corn starch, cocoa, sugar, and salt together, and add in the remaining milk and stir until blended. Whisk into the heated milk, and cook on medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Pour into bowls and let cool. Serve with whipped cream (if that’s your thang) and chocolate shavings (definitely my thang!).

Pourable pudding, poured into a glass custard cup, and topped with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. And a Dutch (Delft!) teaspoon to boot!

FYI, “vla” is *slightly* different from traditional North American pudding (or even British-style custards), in that it’s slightly more liquidy. If you prefer a thicker pudding, add an additional tablespoon of corn starch. Oh, and definitely use a double-boiler to make this! It’s what my Oma recommended, and she was a smart cookie.

As for me, I have little patience for things like double boilers. I mean, they’re useful, I should use them, but…they take so long to boil! Ugh. Just like when I’m heating milk for yoghurt, I tend to turn up the burner to high to get to the cooking part more quickly. Should I? No. Do I? Yes. Does it burn on the bottom? Unfortunately it does, all too often.

Which is when I pull out my little kitchen trick. That’s right, it’s a…KITCHEN HACK!

HOW TO CLEAN A BURNT POT WITHOUT SCRUBBING

Boil a little water in the pot with a bunch of baking soda. The burnt bits will float right off, and the rest will wipe off with no scrubbing! That’s right, that’s all. It’s really just too simple!

So I do recommend using a double-boiler, or cooking the pudding low to medium heat. Yes, it takes a few minutes longer, but it saves you a burnt pot. As for me and my house…I suspect I will keep turning up the heat and cleaning those pots! Ah well. At least I have chocolate pudding!

Next Post: Maybe something healthy? Or should I post my Shortcut Cinnamon Buns recipe? Let me know in the comments!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday!