Category Archives: Desserts Not Otherwise Categorized

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!

Custardy Apple Squares & How I Manage My Sweet Tooth

ready-to-be-eaten-all-up

If you’ve ever read basically ANY post on this site, you’ll know by now that I have a sweet tooth. I do looooove my sweets! I also like being healthy, so obviously I’ve got to balance the two things out: sugar vs. health — it’s a knockdown, drag-out battle! Which…health will win, because I manage my sweet tooth with one thing.

What is this magic thing that keeps my sweet tooth happy and my health at an even keel?

Fruit. That’s it. That’s the key.

Simple, yes?

The DH and I manage to eat at least 3 fruit bowls worth of fruit every week, no joke, and most of that is because of me. I wake up and eat fruit with my breakfast, often grab a piece of fruit when running out of the door to work, sometimes pack some fruit in my lunch on top of salads and definitely pack a homemade fruit salad in the DH’s lunch, come home after work and eat some fruit before dinner, and then eat looooots of fruit in the evening as snacks. High in fibre (which is important for me with my IBS), low(-ish) in calories, and full of taste and sweet, sweet sugar! Ah, fruit! How I do love thee!

Despite the strong relationship that I have with fruit, I still have a love affair with baked goods. How to marry the two? In recipes like my deeeelicious Harvest Apple Crumble (award-winning, yo’!) or in this week’s bake-a-long recipe, Custardy Apple Squares.

Those layers though!

Those layers though!

It’s autumn, and my bake-a-long group is baking an apple recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook. Basically, it’s apple slices covered in a leeeetle bit of batter (similar to crepe batter), and baked until puffy and golden.

It goes into the pan all lumpy and bumpy and comes out of the pan all layered and golden. Let it cool, slice it up, sprinkle with icing sugar, and eat with abandon! It’s surprisingly healthy, and yet surprisingly tasty — mostly due to fruit, sweet fruit!

So, there you have it. Got a sweet tooth? Satisfy it with fruit. Or baked goods containing fruit. Or…chocolate-covered fruit? Oh, yes, I think that would win!

Next Post: Homemade yoghurt, oh yeah!!! Way super-duper easier than you think. Like, seriously.

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday!

Mini Skor Cupcakes — Easy, Impressive, and (Most Importantly) Delicious!

Oh, baby, just look at the chocolate buttercream!

Oh, baby, just look at the chocolate buttercream!

The latest dispatch from the Anemia Front: After a week of diligently supplementing with iron pills, and eating large quantities of kale (via my yummy antioxidant smoothies), I feel like I’m finally regaining a modicum of energy back. Next steps including dosing myself with blackstrap molasses and cooking everything in cast-iron pans (iron leaches out into the food. Handy!) After a few weeks (months?) of this, I shall be…Iron-Woman! Able to bake cakes and crush spatulas with equal ease! Or something to that effect.

But in the meantime, I’ve gone through my photo files and pulled out a recipe to post. Mini Skor Cupcakes! I sent these in to the DH’s work a few months ago, and I believe they were pretty well received. I may have brought some in to my workplace as well. Or I may have eaten them. Can’t remember. Either way, I highly recommend making (and eating) some yourself!

The chopping up of deliciousness.

The chopping up of deliciousness.

Mini Skor Cupcakes

  • 1 batch chocolate cake batter (this is my absolute fave)
  • 1 batch buttercream frosting (I make my own using this recipe, minus the Oreos)
  • cocoa powder to taste
  • Skor toffee bits (I bought mine at Bulk Barn)
  • chopped up Skor bar (I bought a bag of Skor bites, and then chopped those up)

Bake the cupcakes (I made minis), and let them cool. While they are cooling, mix up a batch of buttercream frosting. Mix in enough cocoa so that it has the degree of chocolate taste that you want (I *think* I put in between 1/3 and 1/2 c.). Put in a piping bag and pipe using a 1M tip. Sprinkle some Skor toffee bits on top, and press a piece of Skor bar on top. Et voila, you’re done!

Nom, nom, nom, that is all.

Nom, nom, nom, that is all.

Aren’t they pretty? And best of all, yummy! Although surprisingly easy (bake, ice, sprinkle, and press), they do look rather fancy. Best to make a nice big batch — because these will go like hotcakes! (Except that they’re cupcakes. Mmm…cupcakes!)

Next Post: Chocolate cookies? Apple pie? Or homemade yoghurt and sprouted lentils? Healthy vs. sweet. Why can’t they be both?

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday (x 2), and A Proverbs 31 Wife.

“Esquimaux Pops” and Why Easier Sometimes Wins Out Over Fancier

slightly melty but oh so yummy

Slightly melty but oh so yummy! If you look closely at the photo, you’ll realize that I tasted the ice cream pops before I took the photo. Hey, quality control, right?

It’s been swelteringly hot here in Toronto this past week, with the humidex hovering in the low 40’s. This is just not my jam. I go from air-conditioned home to air-conditioned work and back again, and still it’s too hot for me. Which is why when I realized that my bake-a-long group was making “Equimaux Pops” this week (from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook), I was ALLLLLL over that!

I researched popsicle molds online and found some gorgeous ones, but in the end I settled for expediency and just bought one from the dollar store. I do not recommend this, as after this recipe, the mold is going straight into my garage sale/donation pile. Sometimes it’s worth it to invest in a nice piece of equipment. But I couldn’t justify the expense to myself for just one recipe, so a plastic dollar store mold had to suffice!

These popsicles are basically ice cream on a stick, but a grown-up version, tasting like alcohol and studded with chunks of chocolate. I was tempted to do as Dorie suggests and dunk them in a coating of hard crack chocolate (i.e. “magic shell”), as it would have made it so much yummier, but really, do you think I had the patience for that? Ha!

We interrupt this blog post for a Very Important Kitchen Hack: mix coconut oil and chocolate chips together, 2/3 unit coconut oil for every 1 unit chocolate chips, and you’ll have made yourself some chocolate shell! Bam, done!

Mixing up the yumminess!

Mixing up the yumminess!

The ice cream itself is made using raw eggs, so Dorie stresses that they have to be very fresh. Personally, I’m not too concerned with salmonella, as I’ve never seen someone get it in my lifetime, but I suspect a lot of people will be turned off this recipe simply because of the raw egg. The eggs are separated and the egg white whipped, while the egg yolk is mixed with sugar and other delicious things. Then they’re all mixed together with some whipped cream, and the chocolate chunks (I used mini chocolate chips) are folded in.

Freeze, release them from the molds, and enjoy!

We interrupt this blog post again for a Very Important Kitchen Instruction: to release popsicles from molds, run hot water over the mold or sink the mold into a bowl of hot water, until the popsicles can be pulled out. No wrestling with unwieldly molds, yay!

These ice cream pops are definitely a grown-up treat, as the alcohol flavour comes through splendidly (I used rum, and oh yeah, baby! is all I can say). Would I made this again? Probably not, just because they’re a bit of a pain to mix together and I think it’s much easier just to make ice cream using my standard whipping cream, rum, and condensed milk recipe.

That said, they did cool me off considerably when I ate them post-work for several evenings! Should I call it dessert or should I call it dinner? Eh, potato, potahto!

Next Post: Skor Mini Cupcakes? Bite-sized cupcakes of Skor delight! Probably. Unless something else delicious catches my eye.

Linking Up at Southern Plate, Stone Gable, and A Proverbs 31 Wife.

Look, ma! I’m fancy! Or at least my Meringues are.

Oh, sweet pile of sugar!

Oh, sweet pile of sugar!

In the baking world, as with most things in life, there are trends. The latest baking trend is fancy-pants meringues! Seriously fancy-pants, like plaid or Moroccan or cartoon hearts fancy-pants. Ok, so maybe cartoon hearts aren’t that fancy, but I think some of the designs are really…groovy! (I couldn’t resist. And here’s a meme just because that’s what’s going on in my brain right now. You’re welcome.)

groovy baby

What are they really? They’re edible transferable images for meringues.

How to use them?

  • You place the pretty coloured sheets on a baking tray
  • pipe the meringues onto the sheets
  • bake as usual
  • and then peel the meringues of the sheets.

And voila, your meringues are extra-fancy! It really is that easy.

I saw these debuting on some blogs last year and bought some for myself as soon as I could. The company I bought them from is overseas (this one), but I just found out that there is a Canadian one now (this one), so I plan to order from there next time.

Baaaby meringues! (sung to the tune of 'Baby Beluga', because I'm cool like that.)

Baaaaby meringues! (sung to the tune of ‘Baby Beluga’, because I’m cool like that.)

I think these are an easy way to make an event a bit fancy, say for a baby shower or a wedding dessert table, or just a holiday gathering. The meringues look extra pretty and hey, it’s a conversation piece too!

Would I buy some more? Probably, just because it’s fun and adds a nice touch. There isn’t any taste or change in texture, although the DH wasn’t particularly fond of them (he prefers my usual meringue recipe, instead of the one I used this time).

Do you have a favourite meringue recipe? Would you use these sugar sheets for your meringues? Let me know in the comments!

Next Post: Maybe about the AH-MAZE-ING bread recipe that I came across recently and made several times already, maybe about the myriad of canning that I did this week, maybe something else entirely. So many delicious things to write about!  

Linking to: Think Tank Thursday, Meal Plan Monday (x2), & Living Proverbs.