Butter Tart Squares

Here is a Canadian classic… in square form! These are even easier than making butter tarts, because you just make one big batch. Paul was a little out of sorts, because he firmly believes that raisins belong in butter tarts, but I didn’t have any on hand, so I took the “optional” directive for the raisins.

These are so easy to make, and how could you go wrong with such a classic treat? I found the original recipe here, and as I said, the only thing I changed was to leave out the aforementioned optional raisins.

I made these for a New Year’s Party, and had a ton leftover, so we decided to freeze them and have them later. These were a hit, so go make them!

Ingredients

Yield: Approx. 3 dozen squares, depending on cut side

For the crust:

2 c. flour
4 tbsp. icing sugar
1 c. butter, cold and cubed
1-2 tbsp. cold water

For the filling:

½ c. butter
3 c. brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tbsp. vanilla
¾ c. golden raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour and icing sugar. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter until pea-sized lumps of butter remain. Add water as needed to get mixture to hold together when you squeeze a lump of it.

Transfer mixture to prepared pan, and press into a firm layer. Bake for 10 minutes.

Prepare the filling by melting the butter in a microwave safe measuring cup. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and the brown sugar. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and whisk until smooth. Add in the vanilla and the vinegar, and whisk again. Stir in the raisins, if using.

Pour the filling over the baked crust and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the filling center is almost set – just a slight jiggle.

Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, and refrigerate for several hours before slicing and serving.

Saskatoon Berry Pie

This is a Canadian pie flavour if you ever saw one!

Our neighbours stopped by the other day with a bunch of fresh Saskatoon berries because they picked too many. What a great present!

I’ve never really worked with Saskatoon berries before, but Paul is a big fan of them. I have discovered that I love the flavour of them, but the texture throws me off a bit. So, I made a pie, ate a piece, and promptly cut Paul a bigger slice.

Since it’s fresh berry season, find some of these Saskatoon berries, and make this pie! I found the original recipe here, and didn’t change anything at all. I should have put a bit more cornstarch in the recipe, but like I said, this was the first time I have baked with Saskatoon berries, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Either way, the flavour is great, and Paul really enjoyed the pie. If it has the Paul seal of approval, it’s a winner!

Ingredients

1 9-inch pie

1 recipe Flaky Butter double pie crust
4 c. Saskatoon berries
1/3 c. water
2/3 c. sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. butter
½ tsp. almond extract
1 egg
1 tbsp. water

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a pie plate with the pie crust.

In a medium saucepan, add the Saskatoon berries and the 1/3 c. water. If you are using fresh berries, you may need a bit more water. Bring to a boil.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Add to the berries, and stir until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is thickened.

Add the butter, lemon juice, and almond extract, and stir until butter is melted. Let cool.

Pour cooled filling into the pie plate, then cover with the top crust and crimp edges. Cut holes for ventilation.

Whisk together the egg and the water, then brush the egg wash over the pie.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

Cool, slice and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Nanaimo Bars

Happy Canada Day!

I was feeling in the mood to celebrate Canada Day, and I figured what better way to celebrate than making a treasured national dessert.

I had no idea how easy Nanaimo bars are to make, and I’m kind of kicking myself for not making them sooner. I like Nanaimo bars, but I find that they can be a bit rich, so when I indulge, I usually only have a small piece. Paul loves them, though, and he doesn’t get them very often. These are also no-bake! How fantastic is that! There is a little bit of stove-top use, but really, that’s about it. For the recipe, I actually went to my mom, and to the plethora of cookbooks I have in my kitchen. I found a recipe in a Company’s Coming cookbook, and my mom (bless her heart!) actually sent me to the City of Nanaimo website, where they HAVE A RECIPE FOR THESE! Crazy, right?

The Company’s Coming cookbook was the 150 Delicious Squares book, (where these Marshmallow Squares originated from), and here is the link to the City of Nanaimo website. I compared them to see how different they are, and they are almost identical, so I took a few things from the cookbook, and a few things from the website to create (hopefully) a perfect version of a Canadian classic.

Happy Canada Day from me to you!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9×9 inch pan (24-36 bars, depending on cut size)

For the bottom layer:

½ c. butter
1/3 c. cocoa powder, sifted
¼ c. sugar
1 egg, beaten
1¾ c. graham cracker crumbs
¾ c. shredded unsweetened coconut
½ c. finely chopped almonds

For the middle layer:

2 c. icing sugar
½ c. butter, softened
3 tbsp. milk or cream
2 tbsp. vanilla custard powder (I used Bird’s brand)

For the top layer:

2/3 c. (or 4 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp. butter

To make the bottom layer, melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add in the cocoa and sugar and stir until smooth. Add in the beaten egg. Stir until mixture thickens. Remove from heat.

Stir in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and almonds. Press into an ungreased 9×9 square pan. Set aside in the fridge to firm up.

To make the middle layer, beat the butter with the icing sugar and custard powder until smooth. Add in the milk or cream as needed. Spread evenly over bottom layer. Set aside in the fridge to firm up.

To make the top layer, in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate chips, stirring often. Remove from heat when chocolate is almost fully melted, and stir until smooth. Spread evenly over middle layer. Smooth out, and chill in the refrigerator until top layer is set.

Slice and serve.

Olive Oil Cake with Limoncello Mascarpone Cream

I have to be honest. I didn’t come up with this combination.

I was visiting a friend of mine in Lethbridge, and we went on a dinner date to a new Italian restaurant in town. We split one of their desserts: an olive oil cake with a limoncello mascarpone cream sauce. It was absolutely heavenly.

Well, my friend Jericka told me I HAD to try and recreate the cake at home, and I was up for the challenge. I mean, it was just an olive oil cake. The cream part was a little more complicated. I wasn’t sure about all of the meshing of the flavours, but then sure enough, Jericka found a recipe for just the cream we were looking for.

The original recipe for the cake was found here, and the recipe for the cream was here. Not going to lie, I made a few changes that I have reflected below in the recipe. Looking at the comments for the cake, I reduced the amount of olive oil ever so slightly, and switched out the orange flavourings for lemon. For the cream, I just used the cream part of the recipe, and whipped it by hand for about 5 minutes. I didn’t want a full-on whipped cream, so I stopped when it was thicker, at just barely soft peaks.

The cake and the cream paired perfectly together, and reminded me exactly of the cake I was attempting to recreate. I call that a success!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9 inch round cake or 1 10 inch Bundt with cream

For the cake:

2 c. flour
1¾ c. sugar
1½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 c. olive oil
1¼ c. milk
3 eggs
1½ tbsp. grated lemon zest (or ½ tsp. lemon extract)
¼ c. lemon juice
¼ c. limoncello liqueur

For the cream:

¾ c. chilled whipping cream
4 oz. mascarpone cheese
3 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. limoncello liqueur

To make the cake, preheat oven to 350°F. Liberally grease a 9 inch cake pan that is at least two inches tall. If you don’t have a pan that tall, use a springform pan or a Bundt pan. Make sure every corner is sprayed down with oil. If using a circular pan, line the bottom with parchment. If using a Bundt pan, use A LOT of oil to make sure that the cake comes out. (Mine stuck a bit… just warning you.)

In a medium bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, milk, eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest (or extract), and limoncello. Add in the dry ingredients, and whisk together until just combined.

Transfer batter to cake pan, and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven, and cool in pan for 30 minutes. Remove from cake pan, and allow to cool completely.

To make the limoncello cream, in a medium bowl, whisk together the cream, sugar, limoncello, and cheese. Whisk vigorously until mixture thickens to soft peaks, about 5-7 minutes.

To serve, slice cake, and top with cream.

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.