Category Archives: Cookies

Apple Speculaas Crumble, and How to Rescue a Cake-Wreck

speculaas-apple-crumble-with-banner

Have you ever heard of CakeWrecks? People post pictures of cakes gone wrong, whether it’s a bad icing job, or a cake that never rose. (Personally, I prefer PinterestFail.) Today, however, I managed to a) bake a cake wreck and then b) rescue said cake.

How? Ah, read on, dear reader!

This week, my bake-a-long group is baking Apple Speculaas Crumble from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook. As I have some Dutch heritage (what, my last name didn’t give it away?), as soon as I read the title of the recipe, I was excited! Speculaas is the Dutch version of ginger cookies, delicately spiced, and buttery-rich. To bite into it is to love it. I grew up eating these cookies, whether they were purchased from our local Dutch food importer, or sent in a Christmas package from relatives. I even have a Speculaas cookie mold on display in my bookstand! (Because where else would you display a cookie mold, but in a bookstand? I mean, really!)

In the last few years, it seems like the cookie is everywhere, albeit under the name of Biscoff, and often in jarred spread form. I’ve never tasted it, but I know the spread has its own following and has inspired many a baker. It’s supposed to taste all deliciously spicy and buttery with caramel notes. Eh, I’ll stick with the cookie proper!

But how does speculaas relate to my cakewreck? Well…I wanted to bake a cake for the DH to take into his work this week. I had the day off today (thank goodness, as I had an IBS attack yesterday at work and needed a day to recover) and decided today was the day. I made a sherry cake (this recipe) using some almond cream sherry that I had sitting around. I didn’t have a cake mix, as the recipe calls for, because I try to reduce my consumption of processed foods, so I made my own homemake cake mix instead (this recipe). The batter? Was odd. Too granular, for one, and just…not right. Oh, and did I mention that I was two eggs short? I didn’t have any ground flax seed to turn into a flax egg, so I just crossed my fingers and tossed it all into the pan. Oh, and I misread the instructions and mixed the streusel right into the batter.

Needless to say, it did not turn out. It baked up beautifully in the bundt pan, and when I turned it out on the cooling rack, it was gorgeously golden and fragrant, but after it cooled, I sliced it…and had to use a bread knife to get through that now hardened caramelized crust. Only to find that the centre hadn’t set. Ugh!

I tasted a crumb. It tasted exactly like speculaas! Ah, sweet serendipity! Because this apple crumble was next on my baking list. I scooped out the unrisen insides (I thought about keeping them for a speculaas-flavoured cake pop, but nixed that idea when I realized I had run out of freezer space), tossed the golden, crunchy cake rind in the blender, and blended up that baby!

Apples and cranberries and cookies, oh my!

Apples and cranberries and cookies, oh my!

Those crumbs? Turned out fantastic! I’ve now got two sandwich bags of speculaas-flavoured cake crumbs in my freezer, which I will use in the future to make a gingersnap-style cheesecake crust, and I used the rest of the crumbs in the apple crumble.

The apple crumble is just apples tossed with some dried fruit/nuts (I left out the nuts) and sugar, and then topped with a mixture of butter and crumbled speculaas cookie. Or in my case, butter and crumbled cake rind.

As I type this, my apple crumble in baking in the oven, filling the condo with a deliciously seasonal scent. Oh why is it not ready yet?!?

The verdict: As a replacement for actual speculaas cookies, my cake crumbles were perfect! As for the apple crumble…I prefer my own award-winning recipe. Dorie’s version is still delicious though — I plan to bring it into my work tomorrow. I expect it will disappear quite quickly!

Next Post: Those lentil sprouts! They have sprouted, and are about to be eaten in an effort to balance out my cake crumb consumption. Stay tuned!

French-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies and the Squish Factor

*stares at cookies as though hypnotized*

*stares at cookies as though hypnotized*

This week, my bake-a-long group is making Edouard’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, aka French-style chocolate chip cookies, from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook. What are French-style chocolate chip cookies, you ask? Apparently, ones where some of the flour is subbed out for hazelnut or almond flour.

But…I used up the last of my almond flour weeks ago, and I’ve never, ever come across hazelnut flour at my local bulk store, so…what’s a gal to do?

Substitute, you say? You betcha! With what? Huh. Good question. More flour?

Obviously replacing a ground almonds with flour is not going to have the same results — flour binds differently than ground nuts. But if it comes down to a) having chocolate chip cookies tonight, fresh out of the oven, or b) NOT having chocolate chip cookies tonight, well, I think we all know what I’m going to choose!  The answer is clear, is it not? Chocolate chip cookies forever! (*sung to the tune of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, except with more glee*)

So I added in more flour to replace the ground nuts, but only about half the quantity, as at that point, the dough seemed dry enough. I also added in about 1/4 c. ground flax. (In my mind, the benefits of the flax seed compensate for the butter, sugar, and chocolate. I’m sure you agree.)

I still followed the rest of Dorie’s instructions. Except for the part where she says to let the dough chill in the fridge. Um, no? I need cookies ASAP, people! Forget that!

I did, however, follow her instructions for baking. I baked for 8 minutes, and then used a spatula to SQUISH them flat! Oh joy! (Technically, Dorie says to flatten with spatula. I interpreted this as ‘squish with intent’.) I have a colleague who loves to shred things; she just finds it so satisfying. That’s how I feel about squishing things — it just satisfies my inner toddler!

That texture, tho!

That texture, tho!

The cookies turned out rather nice! The squishing definitely added something to them, as otherwise the high flour content meant that they wouldn’t flatten. I’m sure if one follows the recipe, they’ll flatten much more easily, probably due in part to the higher fat content.

The recipe says that it will make 5o cookies, and indeed that is the case. I’m sending these in with the DH to his work tomorrow, but…only 40 cookies worth. The DH taste-tested two of cookies right out of the oven. And the other eight somehow managed to hop into my mouth when I wasn’t looking. I’m not complaining though! (My scale might complain, but me? Complain about chocolate? Nuh uh.)

I’ll probably try to make these cookies again, this time with the nut flour. I think it would add such a lovely nutty note to the standard chocolate chip cookies. Want to see how others make them? Check it out here!

Next Post: Sprouting green things? Low sugar yoghurt? Or…sugary, buttery, bites of goodness? Stay tuned!

Linking Up at Southern Plate for Meal Plan Mondays!

Memories of Meals Past: Holly Jolly Ginger Cookies

Almost too pretty to eat!

Almost too pretty to eat!

There’s nothing quite like the scent of gingerbread drifting from a kitchen, to make it feel like the Christmas holidays have finally arrived. While I do have a gingerbread recipe handed down to me from my mother, it is sometimes a bit more work than I care to do. In which case, these super-quick and easy ginger cookies from Canadian Living magazine are spot on!

So that’s what today’s Memories of Meals Past post is about: Ginger Molasses Crinkle Cookies! Except that I added a pinterest touch — holly decorations piped onto the cookies in melted chocolate. Hence my new name for them, Holly Jolly Ginger Cookies!

I made these to bring to a Christmas dinner that a friend was hosting, and I think they turned out pretty nicely. Interestingly enough, if one replaces the egg in the recipe with a flax egg, they’d also be vegan! (Assuming one uses vegan ‘chocolate’ for the holly decorations, of course.)

Want to make some yourself? Here’s the recipe.

As for the decorations, they’re surprisingly simple to make. Melt some red chocolate wafers and place in a plastic baggie. Do the same for some green chocolate wafers. Snip the teensiest bit of one end of each baggie, so that you have created a ghetto pastry bag!

On each cookie, draw two lines in green chocolate, almost like a V, but without them touching at the bottom. Then, while the chocolate hasn’t set yet, use a toothpick on ONE of your green lines (i.e. half of the V) and drag out three points from the left of the green line and three points from the right of the green line. You’ll end up with a holly leaf. Do the same for the other half of the V (i.e. the other green line on the cookie). Finally, dot three dots of melted red wafers just below the two holly leaves.

And voila, Holly Jolly Cookies! Enjoy!

Next Post: Oh the delicious things I have to make! Or have made and just need to post about. Garam Masala Chickpea Filled Samosas vs. Chestnut & Chocolate Tart. How can I choose?

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday! And…a year later, again!

Toffee Pecan Refrigerator Cookies

Deliciousness, thy name is sugar + butter!

Deliciousness, thy name is sugar + butter!

I love the holidays, especially Christmas! I love baking delicious things, including rum-basted Christmas cake; I love decorating my home with hand-stitched Christmas quilt and homemade ornaments; I love putting out stockings and filling them up with little treats; and I love celebrating with everyone that I hold dear all in the same place.

Of course, all this fun stuff is also a lot of work. Which means there’s no time for slacking off, and definitely no time to be lying in bed with a respiratory infection, coughing as though I’m doing an impression of a barking seal (or as the DH says, a little elephant).

And yet, that’s what I was doing these past few days, which is why I couldn’t bake for the DH’s office Christmas party, or finish my holiday baking, or indeed do anything except drink hot liquids and rest.

But I still have a recipe for you! (Am I not an awesome food blogger? BTW, the only correct answer here is yes.) Last week I made some Toffee Pecan Refrigerator cookies to put in some Christmas cookie tins for friends as well as for a get-together I hosted with some friends. They’re cram-packed full of toffee bits and chopped pecans, and if they were dipped in chocolate, would taste a bit like a toblerone bar. Oooh, brilliant thought — why not sandwich them together with chocolate ganache? *drools on computer* Want to make some?

Roll 'em up!

Roll ’em up!

Toffee Pecan Refrigerator Cookies

  • 1 pkg. toffee bits (I used Chipits)
  • 1 1/2 c. pecans
  • 3/4 c. butter (room temp.)
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Toast the pecans until they smell fragrant, then cool and chop them up. Mix the sugar, butter, and egg until fluffy. Add in vanilla extract. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together and add to the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Stir in the toffee bits and pecans.

Roll into 2 logs, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in fridge for 1 hour to several days. Remove wrap, slice into 1/4 inch rounds, and place on a greased cookie tray or silicone mat-covered tray. Bake at 350 degrees until golden on the bottom, 10-15 minutes. You will notice the toffee bits will bubble, so keep an eye on them so that they don’t burn. Cool, and enjoy!

Slice and bake. Easy-peasy!

Slice and bake. Easy-peasy!

You can also freeze the dough when it’s in log form, and then defrost, slice, and bake. Easiness! And on that note, back to bed for me. Enjoy your holiday season, everyone!

Next Post: I’ve got a back-up of delicious things to show you once I’m feeling better: Garam Masala Chickpea samosas, baked spring rolls, and of course, delicious sweets! Stay tuned!

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday! And again!

Stained Glass Cookies & A Case of the Kitchen Grumpies

On the left, the first try. On the right, the best of the rest. In the middle, an attempt to make the cookie Dorie describes.

On the left, the first try. On the right, the best of the rest. In the middle, an attempt to make the cookie Dorie describes.

Usually I post my bake-a-long recipes on Monday night or Tuesday evening at the latest, but this week’s recipe got away from me, so I’m posting it on a Wednesday. The recipe is Stained Glass Cookies from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi — doesn’t it sound nice?

Well. They taste nice too, assuming you bake the cookies long enough for the dough to properly cook but not long enough for the crushed candy ‘glass’ to burn. It’s a fine line, and one I may have criss-crossed over a few times while making this recipe. Dorie says that in France, sometimes herbs and seeds are used in addition to the crushed candy. (Um, is it just me, or does that sound blech?!?)

It didn’t sound like a complicated recipe when reading it. One uses a basic dough, then cuts out an shape and an inner shape, and fills the inner shape with crushed hard candy.

Candy crush, oh yeahhhhh!

Candy crush, oh yeahhhhh!

Dorie writes that you should stick the dough in the freezer for an hour before cutting out the shapes. Eh. Usually when Dorie says to chill a dough in the fridge, I stick it in the freezer to cut down on chilling time. So you know what my reaction to chilling dough for an hour in the freezer will be, don’t you?

That’s right…

ain't nobody got time for thatt  - Chilling dough for an hour? Ain't nobody got time for that!

So I just stuck the dough in the freezer until firm. Hey, almost perfect is good enough, amirite?

I cut out the (semi-)frozen dough using different cookie cutters, from mittens to small crinkle-edged circles to large crinkle-edged circles. I tried different thicknesses of dough. I tried heaping the crushed candy. I tried spreading the crushed candy. I tried sprinkling sugar over the cookies before they went in the oven, a la Dorie. I tried sprinkling sugar AFTER the cookies were out of the oven, a la Margaret-forgot-and-is-trying-to-fix-the-cookies. (Which works, fyi — so new kitchen hack learned, whoo!)

I worked for over three hours on this recipe, crushing the candies, rolling out the dough, sticking the dough in the freezer, cutting out the shapes, sprinkling the candy in the cookies, sprinkling sugar on the cookies, rolling out the scraps, rinsing and repeating.
So pretty. Also pretty much a pain to make.

So pretty. Also pretty much a pain to make.

Ugh. They’re pretty, I suppose, and kind of tasty, but the headache of trying to figure out the right combination of parts was a pain in the patootie. I actually have a literal pain in my neck from making these finicky cookies.

Will I make them again? To me, the labour of making the cookies isn’t worth the output, so… (wait for it) …

I AIN’T GOT TIME FOR IT!

Next Post: I developed a delicious cucumber salad with Asian flavours recently, so maybe that. Or maybe finally the grind-your-own Garam Masala spice that I keep teasing y’all with!