Chocolate Mint Sugar Cookie Bars


Hello friends!

I think lately I’ve been baking as a form of procrastination. I have a lot of school work to do, and I don’t always want to do it. (But I always get it done, don’t worry!) Every once in a while, lately on weekends, I’ve been deciding to bake up a storm. These sugar cookie bars came about on a bit of a whim, and I’m so glad they did!


Chocolate and mint is not for everyone, but Paul and I are huge fans! The nice thing about these bars is they don’t take very long to mix up. Call me a simple woman, but I’m all about things that don’t have me spending all day in the kitchen. (I love those recipes too, but I need to be in the mood to make them!)

I found the original recipe here, and while I didn’t have Andes mint bars, I decided to top them off with chocolate chips, because why not. If you are a fan of chocolate and mint together, I guarantee these will hit the spot!

Ingredients

Yield: Approx. 24 bars

For the cookie base:

½ c. butter, softened
½ c. brown sugar
½ c. sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. milk
2 c. flour
½ c. cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt

For the mint frosting:

½ c. butter, softened
½ tsp. mint extract
6 tbsp. heavy cream
¼ tsp. salt
4 c. icing sugar
green food colouring (optional)
mint chips/chocolate chips (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar, and sugar until combined. Add in egg, vanilla and milk. Beat again.

In a medium bowl, add the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, and whisk to combine evenly. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until a cohesive dough is formed.

Press dough evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 14-15 minutes. Do not overbake.

Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat the butter, mint extract, and heavy cream together until smooth and fluffy. Add in the salt, icing sugar, and food colouring and beat until smooth and creamy.

Spread over cooled bars and garnish as desired. Slice into squares and serve!

Cinnamon Pie


Happy belated Pi(e) Day!!

I know, I know, I’m a few days late, but this pie was worth the wait. It is definitely reminiscent of Christmas time and the holidays, but cinnamon is such a wonderful flavour. I found this recipe, and couldn’t resist. The pictures on the original recipe made this pie look so fluffy that I had to make it.

Honestly, it was so simple to make as well! It does need cream cheese and heavy cream (which I don’t personally keep on hand at all times, but some people do!), but other than that, it took about 10 minutes to whip up the filling. Please, please make your own pie crust, because homemade pie crust is about a thousand times better than the stuff you can buy from the store.

Take the time to celebrate Pi Day in your own way. This pie is a good start!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9-inch pie

1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 c. packed brown sugar
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1¼ c. heavy cream
¼ c. flour
3½ tbsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 recipe pie crust

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out pie crust and line pie plate. Trim crust and crimp edges. Refrigerate until needed.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the cream cheese and brown sugar until combined and fluffy. Add in the eggs and beat well.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the cream, flour, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and nutmeg. Whisk until combined and smooth.

Pour the filling into the pie crust, and bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until the center of the pie seems set when jiggled, but not completely firm. Bake for another 5 minutes or so if needed.

Cool completely, and chill. Dust with powdered sugar before serving, and serve with whipped cream if desired.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Okay. I haven’t made a cake in a long time, and I did so because two of my beautiful friends celebrated their birthdays and they are both a big fan of red wine!

I’m not the biggest wine fan myself, so I had a little help in choosing the wine to bake with, but if that is deterring anyone who is like me, and not a huge fan of wine, you can still make this cake! I found that the wine did not overpower the cake at all, and it added a nice flavour.


I found the recipe here, and I am quite pleased with it. I made my own vanilla buttercream instead of the icing suggested (because mascarpone is ridiculously expensive), and I’ve included that in the recipe below. It still worked very well together, but if you like mascarpone, go for it!

Enough chatter. On to cake!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 8-inch cake

For the cake:

¾ c. cocoa powder
1¾ c. flour
1 tsp. espresso powder
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
½ c. vegetable oil
1¾ c. sugar
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. red wine – I used Yellow Tail Cabernet Sauvignon

For the frosting:

2 c. butter, at room temperature
3¾c. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt

For the red wine reduction:

1 c. sweet red wine
4 tbsp. sugar

For the cake, preheat oven to 350° F. Brush 3 8-inch cake pans with miracle cake release or line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, espresso powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine eggs and oil. Add in sugar, beating to combine, until mixture turns pale. Reduce speed to low, then add in vanilla and milk.

Add in dry ingredients, mix until just combined, then add in wine and combine until smooth.

Divide batter into pans evenly, then bake in preheated oven 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks completely before icing.

For the red wine reduction, in a small saucepan combine the wine and sugar. Bring to a boil, then continue to simmer on medium-low heat until wine reduces to about ¼ c. It may take about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature before using on cake.

For the vanilla buttercream frosting, in a mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add the sugar 1 cup at a time. Add vanilla and salt, and beat until smooth and combined.

To assemble cake, place cooled cake layer on a cake stand or board. Top with a generous layer of icing (doesn’t have to be too thick, but should still be there). Place second cake layer, repeat layer of icing, and finish with top layer of cake.

Ice the top and sides of the cake, getting the sides as smooth as possible. The original recipe had a “naked cake” look (meaning scant icing around the sides), and I decided not to do that. Drizzle the red wine reduction over the top of the cake. Slice and serve.

 

 

Sourdough Crackers


Hello friends! Sorry for the silence around this part of the internet lately. It’s been a little hectic to say the least. With all the marking, planning, et cetera that comes with being a teacher, this past month I’ve been finding it a little hard to make time for baking at all!

I have these crackers, that I decided to make on a whim because I knew that I needed to use my sourdough starter. I hate to throw the discard part of the starter away, so I’m always on the hunt for new recipes to try using the discard starter.

Of course, I was browsing through Pinterest this morning, trying to figure out what to use my starter for, and these crackers jumped out at me. I’m not sure why, but I was drawn to them. They looked good. They sounded good. I had to try them. It also didn’t hurt that they had a five-star rating on the original recipe, found here. I did change one thing. The original recipe called for butter, but of all the 5 star reviews left on these crackers, so many reviewers said to use oil instead. I took their advice, and they worked out beautifully.

So, if you think that homemade crackers are too complicated, you are wrong! I have made homemade graham crackers in the past (which I need to do again and put on here!), and these crackers took me all of 10 minutes to mix together. After that, you chill the dough, roll, top, cut and bake. Sounds complicated, but very easy. I promise.

**As an update, I have made these crackers quite a few times now, and I have tried various different combinations of herbs and seasoning. Just adding salt for a plain sourdough cracker works well, as does salt and pepper, and adding in shredded cheese to the dough to make cheese crackers. The options are limitless! I have heard (haven’t made them yet, but plan to!) that cinnamon sugar, and garlic and parmesan is also good on or in these crackers! Experiment and have fun!**

Let’s get cracking!

(Sorry… I couldn’t resist…)

Ingredients

Yield: Approx. 100 crackers

1 c. flour (can use Whole Wheat flour)
1 c. unfed sourdough starter
½ tsp. salt
¼ c. olive oil (or butter)
2 tbsp. dried herb of choice (I used rosemary)

Mix together the flour, starter, salt, oil and herbs until a cohesive dough forms. Split dough into two halves. Pat down into even rectangles, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill at least 30 minutes (or longer), until dough is firm.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

*Rolling out the dough for the crackers can be done two ways – pasta rollers or rolling pin. I will put instructions for both ways.*

If using pasta rollers, lightly flour pasta rollers and pass one piece at a time through the rollers on setting 1. If you want a thinner cracker, go to setting 2 or 3. Place on a piece of parchment paper on a cutting board.

If using a rolling pin, place a piece of parchment paper on your work surface, then lightly flour the parchment, your rolling pin, and the top of the dough. Roll the dough out to about 1/16″ thick. Try to get it as even as you can. Transfer the parchment paper to a cutting board.

Lightly brush the rolled dough with olive oil and coarse salt (sea salt, kosher or flake salt works), and prick the dough all over, evenly, with a fork.

Cut the dough into 1¼ inch squares. Using a pizza wheel works well.

Bake the crackers for 13-20 minutes, turning to prevent over-browning. Take them out when the crackers begin to brown around the edges. Transfer to a cooling rack, and store in an airtight bag for 1 week or freeze.