Marshmallow Squares

Welcome to my last post of 2018!

I took a little bit of a break from the blogging world for the past few weeks for a few reasons. One was my own sanity. I have been extremely busy the past four months, and that will not stop when January starts again.

As for the end of our 2018, we hosted a bit of a party, and I made two desserts. I made my Lemon Squares, and these. So good!

Next month, we are finishing up the first semester of this school year, my grade 12’s are writing diploma exams, I go to Edmonton to mark exams, and then we get right into the second semester. The life of a teacher is never boring!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas holidays! Ours was busy. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day driving around Southern Alberta, and are in the throes of planning a New Year’s Party that is about to get into full swing in a few minutes.

For Christmas, my mom gave me a cookbook full of a bunch of desserts. I spent a few hours looking through the cookbook, and this was one of the recipes that stuck out to me. It looked simple, and I had everything in my pantry. The perfect dessert.

This recipe came from the Company’s Coming 150 Delicious Squares book in the Company’s Coming Sweet Treats 2-in-1 Cookbook. It was extremely simple to make, the perfect kind of dessert.

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9×9 pan of squares

For the crust layer:

1½ c. flour
¾ c. butter, softened
1/3 c. brown sugar, packed

For the marshmallow layer:

1 envelope (¼ oz.) unflavoured gelatin
¾ c. cold water
¾ c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
¾ c. icing sugar
½ tsp. almond extract
½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. (6-8 drops) red food colouring (or any colour)

Line a square 9×9 pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, butter, and sugar for the crust layer until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Press into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a wire rack completely before filling with the marshmallow layer.

To make the marshmallow layer, in a small saucepan combine the cold water and gelatin, and let sit for 1 minute. Add the sugar and salt, and heat the saucepan on low until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat.

Whisk in the icing sugar, and transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Chill the large bowl, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until very thick. Mine took about 25 minutes.

Remove from the refrigerator and beat in a mixer with the whisk attachment until foamy. Add in the almond extract, vanilla, and the food colouring, and beat on high for about 10 minutes, until mixture is thick and soft peaks form. Spread evenly over the cooled bottom layer.

Chill for at least 6 hours or overnight, and cut into squares and serve.

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Creme Brulee Cookies

Holy moly these cookies are good!

You have a classic sugar cookie base, some cream cheese icing, then dip in sugar and torch it. Yes please. These sound like a lot of work, but they aren’t. They take up a little more of your time than a conventional cookie, but these babies are so worth it.

The only thing I did differently from the original recipe was double the cookie dough. That meant I wasn’t as generous with the cream cheese frosting, but I felt that the frosting amount I put on was perfect. Any more and I felt it would become tooth-achingly sweet, and even I have my sugar limits. (GASP, I know.)

Either way, these cookies, as I said before, take a little bit of extra work, but the result at the end is incredible. The sugar caramelizes and gets deliciously crusty and golden brown. Then you get the snap of the sugar breaking – almost as satisfying as having a REAL creme brulee.

I have a kitchen torch, so I used that to brulee, but you can use your broiler – you just have to keep a VERY close eye on your cookies so they don’t burn.

Either way, go make these! You deserve it!

Ingredients

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies

For the cookies:

¾ c. butter, softened
½ c. brown sugar, lightly packed
½ c. sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt

For the frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1¼ c. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ c. sugar (for finishing)

To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars until well combined and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla, and whip again until evenly combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix on low speed until evenly combined.

Scoop out by the tablespoonful onto the lined baking sheets. Flatten dough balls slightly (not too much). Bake in the preheated oven for 7-8 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cool on pan for 1-2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the cream cheese frosting, combine the cream cheese, icing sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and beat on low until icing sugar is combined and smooth.

When cookies are cool, spread with the cream cheese frosting. Fill a small bowl with the sugar, then dip the cookies, icing side down, into the sugar. If you have a kitchen torch, torch the cookies to caramelize the sugar. If you don’t have a kitchen torch, set your oven to broil and broil the cookies until the sugar begins to caramelize, about 1-2 minutes. If you broil, you MUST watch your cookies carefully, or they will burn completely!

Wait until the torched sugar cools a bit, then enjoy!

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze

This cake has it all. It is rich, it is light, it’s fluffy, moist, chocolatey, and most of all, it hits the spot like nothing else. So good!

The other night, I was really craving a dessert, but I didn’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. I looked up easy desserts, and this cake came up. I actually used two different recipes to create this recipe together. The cake I got from here, and the glaze from this website. Together, it worked perfectly to create a moist, fluffy bundt cake with a luscious chocolate glaze.

It’s also a win-win because the cake whips up in one bowl, just like the glaze! Such an easy recipe. You can’t go wrong at all! It seriously only takes about 10 minutes to put together, not including baking time. Go make this cake!

Paul even said that this is the cake he imagines Bruce Bogtrotter from Matilda eating. I tend to agree. This is a beautiful cake that will satisfy any and all chocolate cravings you might have, and it’s so simple, you have no excuse that you can’t have cake in an hour!!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 10-inch Bundt cake

For the cake:

2 c. sugar
1¾ c. flour
¾ c. cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 c. strong brewed coffee
1 c. buttermilk
½ c. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla

For the glaze:

2 tbsp. melted butter
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
1¼ c. icing sugar
2-3 tbsp. warm water
1 tsp. vanilla

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a Bundt pan or tube pan. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in the eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and whisk well to combine.

Pour into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely before glazing and serving.

To make the glaze, in a medium bowl, combine the butter, cocoa powder, icing sugar, and vanilla. Whisk into a thick paste. Add the water, a half tablespoon at a time, whisking until it reaches the consistency that you want: a thick, yet pourable, glaze.

Transfer the cooled cake to a serving plate, then slowly drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drizzle down the sides.

Slice, and serve!

Classic Cream Puffs

I’ve been intimidated by cream puffs for a while now. I thought they had to be extremely hard, because of the fluffy pastry and the cream filling.

I was so very wrong, and I am happy at how wrong I was! These cream puffs are actually quite simple, and that is a dangerous thing. With how easy they are to make, I have a feeling that I will be making many more of these bad boys.

The base of a cream puff is the pate a choux, or choux (pronounced shoe) pastry. It is a light, airy dough of (I believe) French or Italian origin. The dough is quite basic, only having a few ingredients.

I mean… it’s so easy! I was blown away by how easy the dough was. The hardest part (for me) was filling the piping bag with the choux pastry. I followed this recipe pretty much exactly, and just filled the cream puffs with a basic vanilla whipped cream. However, now that I know how easy choux pastry is to make, you might start seeing a lot of experimentation… eclairs, other cream puff fillings, the sky is the limit now!

Ingredients

Yield: Approx. 2 dozen cream puffs

For the choux pastry:

1 c. water
½ c. butter, cut into cubes
Large pinch kosher salt
2 tbsp. sugar
1 c. flour
4 large eggs, room temperature

For the cream filling:

1½ c. heavy cream, cold
3 tbsp. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.

To make the pate a choux, in a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, sugar, and salt over medium high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine, until butter is melted and the mixture is coming to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium, and immediately add the flour into the butter mixture, stirring constantly to make sure the flour becomes evenly incorporated. Continue to stir over medium heat until the dough begins to pull away from the sides and form a ball. This should take about a minute.

Take off the heat and transfer the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes (so you don’t cook the eggs when they are added).

With the mixer on low speed, add in the eggs, one at a time. Do not add the next egg until the previous one is completely incorporated. The batter will look smooth and glossy when it is ready after all the eggs have been added.

Fill a pastry bag with a large round tip, followed by the choux pastry. Hold the pastry bag over the prepared pans, and squeeze the pastry bag until you have a small round of dough about 2 inches wide. Swirl the tip and stop the pressure to finish piping, and continue until all dough has been piped, about 2 inches apart from each other. Pipe no more than 12 dough rounds onto a baking sheet. If they have little peaks on top, tap the peaks down gently with a wet finger.

Place one pan at a time (I learned the hard way – only cook 1 pan at a time in the center of your oven or you will burn the bottoms!) in the preheated oven, and immediately turn the heat up to 450°F. The increase in heat helps them puff more.

Bake at 450°F for 10 minutes, WITHOUT OPENING THE OVEN DOOR, then turn down the heat to 350°F for 13-15 minutes, until pastry is puffed and golden brown.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.

To make the cream filling, combine the cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip together until stiff peaks form. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a small or medium round tip with the whipped cream.

Take a small paring knife, and cut small “x’s” in the bottoms of each cooled dough puff. Push the pastry bag with the cream filling into each puff, then squeeze a generous amount of whipped cream inside. Don’t overfill, or they might explode on you! You can feel the cream puffs expand slightly when they are full.

Sprinkle with icing sugar for garnish, and serve.