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!

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.

Nanaimo Bar Tart


Well, another original recipe. This recipe came about quite suddenly. Paul and I had been talking about tortes and tarts, and my mind just started wandering when Paul went to work.

I wondered if a Nanaimo Bar Tart could possibly work, and started thinking…. I took a shortbread recipe for the crust, and changed it up a bit, as well as using the custard powder and turning it into a thick custard, topping it off with a smooth chocolate topping.


I threw it all in the fridge to set up. That was the hard part – waiting for it to set to make sure that everything tasted good and worked together. However, the waiting and experimentation paid off, because WOW did taste good!

The tart turned out very good, but very rich, and already I’m cursing the slightly-bigger-than-normal piece that I cut for myself and finished with gusto because it was just THAT good. Either way, if you are a Nanaimo Bar fan, then this tart should be right up your alley!

Enjoy an original recipe! 🙂

Ingredients

Yield: 1 8-9 inch tart

For the tart shell:

1 c. butter
1¼ c. flour
¾c. coconut
½ c. sugar
¼ c. cocoa

For the custard layer:

¼ c. plus 1 tbsp. custard powder
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. sugar
2½ c. milk

For the chocolate layer:

½ c. butter
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium microwave safe mixing bowl, melt the butter. Add in the flour, coconut, sugar, and cocoa. Mix together until combined, and press into the tart pan and up the sides, trying to make as uniform and even as possible.

Bake the tart shell in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, and set aside to cool while making the filling.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the custard powder and sugar, then gradually pour in the vanilla and milk while whisking to create a cohesive sauce with no lumps. Whisk over a medium heat until a full boil and the custard thickens, whisking frequently. Once the custard thickens, pour into the cooled tart shell and let thicken and cool.

In a small microwave safe bowl, combine the butter and chocolate chips and melt on short bursts, combining until smooth.

Once the custard has thickened more, and formed a skin on top, pour the chocolate over top of the tart and even out, being careful not to mix the custard into the chocolate.

Let cool and set completely, in the fridge or on a wire rack, then slice and serve. Store in the refrigerator.

Lemon Loaf

Well, this humble lemon loaf serves as two milestones on the blog now. Firstly, this is my first post of 2017! Happy New Year everyone! I hope you were able to ring in the new year with loved ones, and that 2017 has been treating you well so far. I’m back to work now, and I have to say, I missed it. Sure, I loved having two weeks off, but by the end of the two weeks, I was going a little stir-crazy. I guess that’s what happens when you love your job!
Secondly, this lemon loaf post is my 100th post on the blog! How exciting! I’ve brought you 100 recipes so far, shared them with you all. I wanted to make a beautiful Pumpkin Chocolate Ganache cake for the 100th post, but cakes require lots of planning, and this lemon loaf just sort of came to be. These kinds of posts are all over the blog, the “I’ve been meaning to write a post and I just made something really good today, so why don’t I just put it on the blog?!” Either way, I am overdue for a cake recipe, and I am sure the cake I planned on will make an appearance soon. 🙂


This lemon loaf also got some rave reviews, and if you are a Lemon Loaf lover, this recipe is for you! Soft, moist loaf cake with a lemony glaze that is just right. I found the original recipe here, and the original author labelled it as “Better than Starbucks Copycat Lemon Loaf”. Well, I have to say, this lemon loaf is pretty darn good.

This Lemon Loaf is also so easy! It’s a one-bowl recipe, and can be whipped up in no time.

Go make some today! Chances are you have most, if not all, of the ingredients in your pantry!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 loaf

For the loaf:

3 eggs
1 c. sugar
1 c. sour cream or Greek yogurt
½ c. canola or vegetable oil
2 tbsp. lemon zest
1-2 tbsp. lemon extract (I put 2 tbsp.
1½ c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt

For the lemon glaze:

1 c. icing sugar
3 tbsp. lemon juice (or slightly more or less, for consistency)

 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a loaf pan, or coat with Miracle Cake Release.

In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs, sugar, and sour cream and whisk well until combined. While whisking, drizzle in the oil. Add in the lemon zest and lemon extract (and note that you CAN’T use lemon juice instead of lemon extract in the loaf cake – it will alter the flavour or consistency), and whisk again.

Add in the flour, baking powder and salt, and whisk until just combined. Some lumps in the batter is okay, you just don’t want raw flour that you can see in the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 50-52 minutes, or until top is domed and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. I started checking the loaf around 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow loaf to cool in pan for 30 minutes before turning onto a wire rack.

Place a piece of parchment paper under the cooling rack, and in a small mixing bowl, whisk together the icing sugar and lemon juice. The more juice you add, the thinner the glaze will be, so don’t add it all in at once. I made a thick glaze that I had to help move across the top of the loaf cake and slowly drizzled down the sides.

Slice and serve. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.