Category Archives: Blatherings

Rewind! Chocolate Bubble Eclairs & an Apple Update

Plated for your chocolicious delight!

Plated for your chocolicious delight!


Guess what? Remember when I posted about how I had entered the Apple Crisp Recipe Competition for the Canadian Baking and Sweets Show? And how I was a finalist? It took place this past Saturday, and…I won! I came home with a gorgeous gift basket of cupcake-baking supplies as well as a cookware set worth $500. Was very exciting! The recipes of the finalists were sent out to a third party kitchen to ensure that they were replicable, and the judges tasted the dishes in front of the crowd at the show. The DH was there when I won, and he is just the sweetest guy. He’s so proud of me! I mean, I’m proud of me too, but I recognize it was just one contest. The DH? Sent emails to my family, his family, and his coworkers, and mentioned it in phone calls to his friends. Like I said, isn’t he just the sweetest? I do heart that man!


And speaking of sweetness, I just made some Chocolate Bubble Éclairs for the latest in my online bake-a-long with the Baking Chez Moi group. Although technically they weren’t BUBBLE éclairs. But I’ll get to that in a minute!

Whenever there are three Tuesdays in the month, the third Tuesday is time for a “rewind” — whatever recipe you missed or wish to redo, that’s what you do. I had made the Crackle-Topped Bubble Éclairs previously, but while the crackle topping was fabulous, the éclairs fell once out of the oven. My takeaway from that trial was that one must leave the éclairs in the oven longer that one thinks, until they look almost too brown.

So that’s what I did this time! And they turned out great! Except that I didn’t pipe them close enough so they turned out to be more cream puff than bubble éclair. Oh well! I used pearl sugar on top as opposed to the crackle topping that I did last time, and I’m rather pleased with the result. Although I ran out of eggs, so I didn’t do an egg wash prior to sprinkling on the sugar. They still turned out pretty perfectly!

I'm really happy with how these turned out!

I’m really happy with how these turned out!

I filled some with regular Whipped Cream, and some with a sort of Dark Chocolate Expresso Whipped Cream. I melted some 90% Dark Chocolate with some butter and milk and once cooled, blended it with some whipped cream and instant coffee granules. If you don’t like your sweets too sweet, this is the filling for you! You can really taste that almost bitter dark chocolate — these were definitely my favourites!

I’ve packed them away for the DH to take to work tomorrow (20 dark chocolate expresso ones and 20 whipped cream ones. Oh ok, 19 and 21! I couldn’t resist one last chocolate one *grin*). I know that éclairs/cream puffs/whatever you call them are best the same day, so I hope they hold up until the DH gets to work tomorrow. Eh. Worst case, they’re just not as uber-fresh as right now. I think they’ll still taste nice on a coffee break, right?

Next Post: Am dreaming of my favourite bok choy dish, but will likely my long-promised homemade peanut butter cups and wine jelly bonbons. Mmm…they’re all so good, how can I choose?

Memories of Meals Past: Let Them Eat (Baby Shower Themed) Cake!

Ignore the wobbly letters; focus on the cute animals! #squee #yum #nomnomnom

Ignore the wobbly letters; focus on the cute animals! #squee #yum #nomnomnom

I’m at that age where the invitations one gets for life-stage events tends to be mostly for baby showers. Which is fine by me, because I love babies! And yes, I say that recognizing that I don’t have a baby and therefore am speaking from a non-sleep-deprived viewpoint. But I think babies are always A Good Thing!

And speaking of Good Things, I made a baby shower cake for a friend last weekend, hence this Memories of Meals Past post, using the inimitable Martha’s recipe for a basic vanilla cake. I baked the first layer and prepared the animal themed fondant cake toppers, and then realized that I needed to bake a second layer for the cake. So I was still up and baking at 1 am the night before the shower. Needless to say, I was tired the next day. But also satisfied, because I rather liked my cake. Was kind of cute, I thought!

I made some homemade marshmallow fondant using this recipe from Wilton, but frankly, I’ll try another recipe next time. I found the fondant wasn’t as pliable as I’d like (I like to sub in some cornstarch for some of the icing sugar — I find it easier to mold), even though it was super-fun to play with. It’s basically grown-up playdough, that you eat; what’s not to love? And how did I make the animals? I just googled pictures of animal themed fondant cake toppers and went from there. It’s easier than you think, so I urge you to try it.

I made the fondant on a Thursday, baked the cake on a Friday, and made the cake toppers in the wee hours of Saturday morning. I froze the cakes overnight on Friday (err, Saturday really), and the next morning, whipped up some homemade buttercream frosting (using coconut oil instead of shortening in it, which gave it a fabulously coco-nutty flavour).

As I told my mom, it looks homemade, but homemade with love! And I think that’s really the best kind of cake that there is. Wouldn’t you agree?

Next Post: Veggies. Seriously. (Of course as I type this, I’m snacking on homemade chocolate granola. Now if only I could invent chocolate vegetables….Hmm. Food for foodie thought!)

Memories of Meals Past: Danish Butter Cookies

Crunchy bits of buttery delight!

Crunchy bits of buttery delight!

Every now and then I like to send in some of my baking to the DH’s workplace. I like to bake for the experience of it, to try out a new recipe or a new technique. But as much as I like to eat my baking, I also like to fit into my clothes. So I bake and then I send it off with the DH to work! Makes me happy, makes the DH happy, and apparently also makes his colleagues happy. Win, win, yes? *grin*

And speaking of baking, the latest baking I’ve done is to try out a Danish Butter Cookie recipe than I found on Pinterest the other night. (And in this household, insomnia = Pinterest surfing = lists of recipe I want to try = too many baked goods for me and the DH to eat by ourselves.)

I love those Danish butter cookies that come in those blue tins. I’m sure you know the ones I mean! I could happily crunch through a dozen of those with a glass of milk. So when I found this recipe, I was very happy! This is the fastest recipe for cookie dough that I have ever come across — you literally dump everything in a mixer, mix it for a minute, and you’re done. I considered using a cookie press, but ended up just using a piping bag with a star tip. It took some squeezing to get the dough out of the piping bag, but once I got the hang of it, it came out just fine.

I did have to pipe a double layer of dough in order to get the shape I wanted, as they do sort of melt and spread in the oven, but once I did that, it was great.

The flavour is nice, but not QUITE as buttery as I’d like it to taste. That said, there’s an entire cup of butter in it, and any more and the cookies wouldn’t hold their shape.

My rating? Four whisks up! Because it’s easy to mix, and pipe (would be super-easy in a cookie press), and bake. And it has a nice delicate crunch! You could easily top these with coarse sugar to really get that butter cookie look, but I like them as it.

Milk and cookies, anyone?

Next Post: Something with vegetables, for realz. My fridge is full of vegetables and my Pinterest sleuthing has inspired me!

Baking at Midnight: Hand-Painted Fondant Cookies & DIY Sanding Sugar

Edible watercolours! So pretty!

Edible watercolours! So pretty!

One of my friends once asked me why I didn’t turn my love of baking into a career. My answer was that while I love to do it for relaxation now, if I did it to make money, it would be stressful. (Also likely lowly paid, but that’s another issue.) I like to learn new things and new techniques, and if I was running a business I would probably be making the same things quite often.

Fun bites...of dough!

Fun bites…of dough!

The DH would be quite happy if I made his favourite meals over and over and over and over but that would be soooo boring for me. I like experimenting and trying to improve my skills and just plain LEARNING! I love learning! Oh that dopamine rush! 🙂

No cutter? No problem!

No cutter? No problem!

Case in point, fondant! I made fondant once, perhaps 5-10 years ago, and having learned how to do it and having done it successfully, I had no impetus to do it again. But lately I’ve been seeing a lot about decorating with fondant and especially about icing cookies with fondant, and then I had some marshmallows left over from a camping trip (and we all know my waste not, want not philosophy), so it was a perfect time to make some marshmallow fondant! At 8 pm on the day I returned from a camping trip. Baking urges; I get them.

Basically play dough made out of sugar. Kid fun goes grown-up!

Basically play dough made out of sugar. Kid fun goes grown-up!

I made a batch of the marshmallow fondant, and then I made fondant roses! I’m happy with them, although they’re not perfect. I had run out of icing sugar while making the fondant, but being the queen of substitutions, I made my own icing sugar by grinding granulated sugar in my spice grinder. Apparently I didn’t grind it finely enough, so it wasn’t as easy to work with as I had expected. Still, roses!

Then I stuck the leftover fondant in the fridge for a few days.

wet back of fondant and press on top of cooled cookie

How to: brush the back of the fondant with water and press on top of cooled cookie.

But leftover fondant? I had to do something with that! So I made fondant covered cookies for the DH to take to work. So much fun! I used this recipe, and then rolled out the fondant on a cornstarch covered surface and cut out circles. I wet the circles of fondant on the back, and then stuck them on the cookies to dry. Once they were dry, I sanded the edges using a zester, to get that professional look. And honestly, it makes a BIG difference!

Painting with water-down gel food colouring.

Painting with water-down gel food colouring.

Obviously I had to decorate the cookies somehow. So…more learning of new techniques and experimentation! I tried stamping the fondant covered cookies using watered down gel food colouring and a stamp. I tried painting them with a brush. I tried dipping them in homemade coloured sanding sugar. I stuck silver dragees on them. At 1 am in the morning, I finally decided enough was enough and I should probably get some sleep.

Designs limited only by your imagination!

Designs limited only by your imagination! Or your artistic ability.

I let them dry overnight and left them out for the DH to bring to work the next day. Apparently they were a hit. Yay! I love when people appreciate my baking!

Enough with the ramblings and the pictures, though, let’s get to a recipe! Here’s a quickie one for when you run out of coloured sanding sugar at, say, 1 am.

Oh sugar, sugar! (sing it with me now)

Oh sugar, sugar! (sing it with me now)

Coloured Sanding Sugar

  • granulated sugar
  • food colouring
  • plastic baggie

Put the sugar in a plastic baggie and add a few drops of food colouring. Zip the baggie closed and squish the sugar around until the colour is uniform. Open baggie and let dry. You can use it right away, but it’s better when it’s had a chance to dry overnight. And voila — customized sanding sugar! Particularly good for getting pastel colours of sugar.

I actually made this sanding sugar a year ago for a cookie bouquet that I had made for my mother, so obviously it keeps well! Mmm…sugar. So many delicious things to do with it!

Next Post: Baking at Midnight, Part Deux — Tie-Dye Cookies and Fun Bites. Or my updated version of old-school Schoolhouse Rolls! Both are yum.

Memories of Meals Past: Greek-Style Pulled Pork with Tzatziki Sauce over Greens

I'm a staunch vegetarian, but occasionally I will cook with meat for the DH. Now that's love!

I’m a staunch vegetarian, but occasionally I will cook with meat for the DH. Now that’s love!

Today is #tbt Thursday, and for once I am not writing this in the evening, as I’m at home with a nasty sore-throat-turned-cold-turned-G.I.upset. Aside from that bit of TMI, I do have a lovely recipe recommendation for my memories of meals past feature!

But first, a story.

The DH and I are still relative newlyweds (married just over a year, swoon!) and we’re still very much in the honeymoon phase (which I hope never ends. Does it? Please tell me it doesn’t!). I do sweet things like make his favourite meals, including m.e.a.t. which I cannot bear to handle raw (I’ll tell you the story some time about the chicken soup I could not finish making), and he does sweet things like surprise me when I am sick.

What did he do this time? Oh, he’s so cute! I was lying sick in bed and he came home after shopping for groceries after a verrrry long day at work (he works long hours, my cutie-pie does), and saw how sick I was. I had texted him to ask him to pick up some tomato soup while shopping, but he couldn’t find the brand I had asked for so he hadn’t bought any. When he came home and saw how miserable I was (*cough*hack*moan*), he turned straight around and went out into the cold Canadian night to go to a different store to find the soup I wanted. I was so touched! He came back and made me my favourite soup and then surprised me with a carton of high-end ice cream (brownie AND cookie dough ice cream. Does he know the way to a baker’s heart or what?). It was just what I needed!

And then half an hour later he popped back into the room where I was lying feeling wretched, with a package of Dutch cookies (stroop wafels), my favourite, just to make me smile.

And then half an hour later he popped back into the room where I was lying feeling miserable but well-fed (hey, it’s ‘feed a cold’, right?) with a bouquet of flowers for me. I was so touched, I may have swooned upon my sickbed. Isn’t he just the sweetest?

And the next day, when I was bonding with my bathroom over my illness (oh cold porcelain, how you do soothe the raging nausea!), he was in the kitchen doing the dishes. Which may not seem particularly sweet, but as I’ve mentioned before, neither of us like doing the dishes. It’s little things like that that melt my heart, you know?

Anyway, I’ll stop cooing over the DH long enough to share today’s Memory of Meals Past, which is Greek-Style Pulled Pork with Tzatziki Sauce over Greens.

I still have some ham in my freezer from that epic ham I wrote about previously, so last week I pulled some of it out and marinated slices of it in a souvlaki sauce for 48 hours. Then I roasted it in the oven at 450 degrees until it was all crispy brown at the edges and bubbling away in the garlicky sauce. I shredded it in a bowl using two forks, and served it on a flatbread over some mesclun mix baby greens. I mixed up a tzatziki sauce using this recipe and while I was expected a dip, it turned out to be more of a sauce. So I poured it over the whole dish, and served it to the DH. He rolled it up like a burrito and ate the whole thing with gusto. Then asked for more. So I recommend you try it out yourselves! I know that ham is not really the cut of meat one usually uses for pulled pork, but whatevs, I’m the Queen of Substitutions. And I’ve used the tzatziki sauce as a salad dressing, and while you’ll want to eat some parsley after to freshen your breath, it really is delicious as a salad dressing!

There is STILL more ham in my freezer, so I’m sure you’ll see more recipes involving ham in the near future. (And likely more swooning over the DH, just so you know!)

Next Post: Probably Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie. Although right now I’m still sick so all I really want to eat is crackers with ginger tea. Mmm…bland crackers, the blander, the better. Sometimes that just hits the spot!