Chocolate Irish Cream Brownies

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Turns out these are a fan favourite.  I love them.  My friends love them. My boyfriends loves them. But my thighs – they hate them. OH WELL.

 

Chocolate Chip Irish Cream Brownies

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1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 bag semi sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur

1/2 cup baking cocoa

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 tsp coarse salt (or regular)

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup granulate sugar

2 eggs

4 tbs espresso coffee (optional)

splash of milk

Directions:

1. In a saucepan, cream together butter, and cocoa.

2. Preheat oven to 350F.

3. Remove chocolate mixture from heat – then mix in eggs and vanilla

4. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder,and salt.

5. Add Irish Cream and optional coffee to wet chocolate mix at this point.

6. Incorporate dry mix into wet mix slowly.

7. Grease shallow baking pan – I use glass for best results.

8.  Just before pouring batter into pan, add desired amount of chocolate chips.  My mantra – the more, the better!

9.  Bake in oven for about 15 – 20 minutes.

TIP: Every oven is different, so for best results, check on brownies frequently and use a toothpick as an indicator of when it is ready (toothpick comes out clean, but not crumbly).  And remember, things fresh out of the oven will continue to bake as it is cooling down.

Best served warm with some vanilla bean ice cream on top, or slather with your favourite cream cheese frosting recipe!

xoxo

Wine-Poached Peach French Toast

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So this is what a computer looks like! I must apologize for my absence – between work, summer festivities and lack of access to a working computer, I’ve gotten a case of lazy-blogger. But I’m back, and filled with more fun summer recipes and fantastic Eats and Beats news to post about!

My next recipe comes to me with the inspiration of a juicy fruit dish that reminds me a little bit of Autumn mixed with sweet summer taste! Delicious just by themselves, topped over ice cream, coconut pie, or in this case, warm french toast – poached peaches are an aromatic dream full of spicy herbs and red wine goodness that is sure to be a crowd-pleasing accent to any outdoor party!

Wine-Poached Peach French Toast

Peaches:
6 ripe peaches, quartered
4 cups wine of your choice (I used a Rosé wine)
1/2 cup of sugar
2 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks /OR 1 table-spoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
aluminum foil
optional: 3 mint leaves, preferably chocolate

French Toast Assembly:
4 slices thick, texas-style toast
4 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons milk
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon butter

Serves: 4 slices delicious french toast!

1. In a medium size pot, bring water, wine, sugar, cloves, and cinnamon sticks (and mint leaves) to a slight boil. Turn down the heat to medium.
2. Add in peaches, stir to coat. (I like to leave the skin on, but your more than welcome to peel the peaches)
3. Cover pot with tinfoil, and poke a couple small holes.
4. Let poach for about 20 – 25 minutes.
5. Remove foil, and transfer to a bowl to cool down.
6. Set aside in the fridge to save for a dessert or to snack on later! If not, read on : )

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7. In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs and add the salt, cinnamon and milk
8. Melt butter in a medium skillet until it just starts to bubble on medium heat.
9. Cooking two at a time, coat slices of bread in egg wash mixture. I like to leave mine soaking for about 20 – 30 seconds.
10. Cook both sides of bread in the skillet – adding more cinnamon on top if you prefer – until golden brown.
11. Transfer desired slices to plate and top off with handful of poached peaches! I love the peach juice to coat mine, but a dollop of maple syrup and whipped cream is a sweet touch to your dish!

Happy Eating!!

Frozen Banana and Peanut Butter Bites

Frozen Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Happy May! Finally, the warm weather is here, and what better way to cool off then with a crispy, cold, healthy snack! Everyone loves bananas. Everyone loves peanut butter. When you combine the two in a frozen bite-size snack – ultimate goodness! These are my Frozen Banana and Peanut Butter Bites : ) Topped with cinnamon and brown sugar, this makes the perfect sweet, and healthy, summer-time snack!

Frozen Banana and Peanut Butter Bites

2 Ripe Bananas
2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 1/2 cups Smooth Peanut Butter

Serves: 12 Sandwiches

1. Slice the bananas into thin pieces – this should amount to about 24 slices.
2. Place half the banana slices spread out on a baking sheet.
3. Dollop about half a teaspoon of peanut butter onto each slice. I use a piping bag for a more accurate effect, but to each their own.
4. Top off each banana slice with another to make a perfect little sandwich! Sprinkle each bite with cinnamon and brown sugar.
5. Place uncovered in the freezer for about half an hour, or when ready to eat. Placing these in the freezer will not cause the banana to freeze, but to simply harden. This is much less messy, and far more delicious!

Enjoy!

Baking 101: Baking Powder Vs. Baking Soda

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(image courtesy of google images)

Sugar. Check. Flour. Check. Eggs. Check. Baking Soda – We have a problem.

I can’t tell you how many times I have underestimated my pantry stock (also reason #287 why you should have all your ingredients prepared before starting to cook or bake), and thus, have come to a fork in the road when I am missing a key ingredient. This is most especially crucial when it comes to baking, which comes down to basic chemistry in order to produce a successful result. But once question I have asked myself numerous times, and have been asked in return, is what is the difference between baking soda and baking powder, and can I substitute one for the other? The answer lies in science.

Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. When baking soda is mixed with something acidic (such as buttermilk or yogurt) and moisture, a chemical reaction occurs in which bubbles of carbon dioxide form. Under the hot oven temperature, heat expands this process and this is what makes baked goods rise. Because this reaction occurs as soon as the ingredients are combined, recipes that call for baking soda must be baked immediately or they will fall flat.

Baking powder also contains sodium bicarbonate, but the acidifying agent, cream of tartar is already present. Two types of baking powder are available for baking use – single-acting baking powder and double-acting baking powder. Single-acting baking powder is activated by moisture, and therefore must be baked immediately after combining. Double-acting baking powder releases the carbon dioxide in two stages. The first, when the ingredients are combined at room temperature; and the second, when it reacts to the hot heat of the oven. Essentially, mixtures with double-acting baking powder can stand out longer before baking.

So when do you use baking powder or baking soda?

It all comes down to taste and ingredients. Baking soda has a bitter taste, and needs to counteract with an acidic ingredient like buttermilk or yogurt – this is especially found in cookie recipes. Baking powder on the other hand has both a base AND an acid, and in effect has a neutral taste – this works best with ingredients with neutral-taste (like milk) in recipes such as cake and biscuits. Because the ingredients directly affect the chemical reaction, it is possible to use baking powder when the recipe calls for baking soda, but it is not beneficial to use baking soda when it calls for baking powder because the recipe most likely lacks the acidifying ingredient. It is possible to make your own baking powder with baking soda by adding cream and tartar.

Happy Baking!

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

Finding the sweet spot for the perfect chocolate chip cookie can take a lot of time and practice – too dry, too wet, too flat, too puffy, not enough chocolate chips, too many chocolate chips (as if such a thing exists). This recipe is one I have used for years and find to be the closest thing to cookie heaven!

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped chocolate
pinch of salt

Serves: 30 Cookies

1. Pre-heat oven to 375°F.
2. Making sure the butter is at room temperature, cream together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract with a mixer.
3. Add in the flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt.
4. Next, fold in chopped chocolate.
5. Beat together until all the ingredients are combined evenly.
6. Chill mixture for a few hours in the fridge, or even overnight if you’d like.

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7. Next, take chilled mixture out of the fridge and roll into small balls about 1 inch to 1.5 inches in diameter (see above).
8. On a greased baking sheet, bake cookies for about 10 – 12 minutes, or until slightly golden brown.
9. Let cool for about 10 minutes, and enjoy with a tall glass of cold milk!

TIP: For more chocolate-y goodness, add in 1/4 cup melted dark chocolate into your mixture when you cream the sugar, vanilla, butter and eggs together. Then, proceed to add the dry ingredients as normal. Yumm!

Easter Chick Cookies

Image courtesy of Diamonds For Dessert

Image courtesy of Diamonds For Dessert

Happy Easter everyone! I found the most adorable Easter cookies while browsing Pinterest today, and I had to share this recipe, brought to you by Diamonds For Dessert! A perfect balance of lemon and honey, these little chick sugar cookies are bound to be a huge hit at your Easter festivities. These cute, bright chicks will put anyone in the holiday mood! Enjoy : )

Easter Chick Cookies
by Diamonds For Dessert

1/8 cup (2 tbsp) butter, room temperature
1/4 cup honey
1 egg, room temperature
the zest of 1 lemon
1 cup + 2 tbsp flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp lemon extract (optional)

1/2 cup shredded coconut, ground finer in the food processor
yellow gel food coloring
orange candy melts
black nonpareils

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
2. Add the food colouring into a little bit of water to dilute it. Slowly, and in increments, add the water to the shredded coconut to change the colour – the goal is to dye the coconut, but not to make it too wet. Set aside.

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(image courtesy of Diamonds For Dessert)

3. Melt some orange candy melts, and with toothpicks, draw 30 little chicks’ feet (seen above)! You’ll only be using 24 for 12 chicks, but extra ones for back-up never hurts. Set aside and let dry.
4. Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl, then set aside. In another bowl, combine the butter and honey. Then, add the lemon zest, egg, and OPTIONAL lemon extract. Meanwhile, mix in the flour mixture with the egg/zest mixture until a dough forms.
5. wrap the dough, and chill overnight or until firm.

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(image courtesy of Diamonds For Dessert)

6. After chilled, divide the dough into 24 pieces.
7. With each piece, divide into two balls – one using 1/3 of the dough for the head, and the other 2/3 for the body. Essentially, one piece should be smaller than the other.
8. Next, with the bigger (body) ball, make a small indentation in the middle with your finger, and rest the smaller ball (head) on top of the body like seen above. This is to ensure that they are firmly attached. MAKE SURE you do this properly, or they will separate during baking and fall apart.
9. In each head, use the black nonpareils to make two small black eyes.
10. Next, roll each chick in the coloured coconut and bake on parchment paper for 16 minutes, or until slightly brown. Let cool.

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(image courtesy of Diamonds For Dessert)

11. Finally, you can put on the last decorating touches. Brush away any coconut from the eyes, and melt the rest of the orange candies. Using a toothpick, dab a small beak onto the heads.
12. Next, use two of the chick feet you made with the other candy melts and place them about 1cm apart on the bottom of the chick bodies. You can use melted candy to hold in place, or if you have any extra icing around, you can attach them with a dab of that.

A big thank-you to Diamonds For Dessert for this adorable Easter recipe! Click here to view more lovely desserts from her site!

Tea For Two! Or Three.. Or Four..

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(image courtesy of annabellestearoom.com)

This week, I visited the cutest little tea room in Kingsville, Ontario with my girlfriends and was amazed at just how quaint and authentic it really was! Located on beautiful Lake Erie, owner Susanne wanted to create a space fashioned with delicate antiques and Victorian charm; tea cups with intricate color and detail sit upon rustic shelves to create the most gracious atmosphere; and brass fixtures are fastened to old, refinished fireplaces situated at the back of each cozy room.

jkp

But Annabelle’s old charm is not the only attribute that makes this place one of my favorite Eats. With a menu of over 95 different aromatic teas to chose from and an elegant dining menu fixed with scrumptious tea sandwiches, authentic quiches and soups, and delicate pastries served with the most delicious cream and fruit preserves, it was hard to choose what to try first! Sitting at the intimate table with my girlfriends gave me an authentic feel for the Victorian Era.

If you have a chance to visit the area, I would highly recommend Annabelle’s Tea House for a charming outing, baby shower, wedding shower, children’s birthday party, or just a lunch-date!

Visit the site here for more information and reservations!

How To: Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown-Butter Sauce

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In my quick learning of how to make Gnocchi, me and my mother were talking about what kind of potatoes to use, seasoning, etc. We then threw out the idea of Sweet Potatoes….genius?! So today I took on the task of incorporating Sweet Potatoes in place of my usual Russet Potato recipe. Let me tell you…amazing. Sweeter than I imagined, and definitely a meal fit more for dessert, but none the less, delicious. Whether your craving a sweet dessert or just want to mix up your dinner routine, this savory Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown-Butter will knock your socks off!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown-Butter Sauce

3 Sweet Potatoes
1 teaspoon of salt
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 – 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
Handful of chopped parsley

Serves: 5 – 6

1. Boil the three Sweet Potatoes until ready to be mashed (15 – 30 minutes).
2. Drain potatoes, and let cool enough to handle.
3. Peel potatoes completely, put into glass dishware, and chop into large cubes.
4. MASH potatoes completely until the mixture is as lump-less as possible. The best way to do this is with a potato ricer, but a masher or fork will work just fine – just takes a little arm work!
5. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix flour and salt together.
6. Add the two egg yolks and teaspoon of olive oil to the potato mixture.
7. Next, add the flour and salt mixture to the potato/egg/oil mixture, and fold in well!
8. Knead into a ball until dough is firm and pliable, but not wet.

It should look like this:
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9. Next, pull off a lemon-size piece of dough, and roll into thin rope about an inch wide. It should look like this:
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10. Then, cut 1/2 inch – 1 inch pieces off of this rope (I like my gnocchi bigger, so I use 1 inch pieces).
11. Sprinkle down flour onto your working surface, gently roll your piece in some flour and grab your fork. Its time to indent! Most people making gnocchi on a more recurring basis use a Gnocchi roller, but you can use a fork just as easily. It just won’t look as clean and pretty. Your eating it anyways..
12. So, hold your Gnocchi in the palm of your hand, and gently roll your fork around the piece to make multiple ridges. If the dough is too wet, the fork will stick -but if there’s too much flour, the dough will be too dry for anything. Gnocchi is about a good balance. A quick look at what this will look like after:
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13. Next, put on your pot of boiling water and toss the gnocchi pieces in.
14. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat butter and brown sugar until mixed and starting to thicken.
15. Gnocchi is easy to tell when it’s done, because it will rise right to the top! Spoon out Gnocchi with a slotted spoon and toss into skillet.
16. Add parsley and toss Gnocchi until completely coated. I like to let the Gnocchi crisp a little on the outside. It gives it a little sugary crunch.
17. Serve!

A Little Love; A Little Lava..

Molten Lava Cakes
(image courtesy of onceuponachef.com)

While my camera is out of commission at the worst possible time, I thought I would make my very first post about a book that inspired me in a way that you can only read about in movies; a book that blends together visions of the perfect city, perfect love life, and perfect chocolate cake. Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard is a book I not only refer to for authentic French Cuisine, but for when I want to close my eyes and pretend for just a second I’m strolling through the Passage Vivienne. If you haven’t visited her blog, I highly suggest you drop whatever you are doing, grab a glass of wine, get into a hot bubbly bathtub, and READ IT. I don’t doubt many of my posts will focus on this culinary marvel.

Out of all the delectable recipes to follow each chapter of her book, there is one in particular that gets my chocolate-infused blood boiling. Her Molten Cake recipe will make any chocoholic bow down to it in all its glory. Perfect for date night or a quiet night in with the girls, this recipe is sure to wow you and your guests!

Individual Molten Chocolate Cakes

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 ounces dark chocolate (Bard prefers at least 70% cocoa)
A pinch of sea salt
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour

Serves: 6

1. Preheat oven to 450°F
2. Melt the dark chocolate and unsalted butter in the microwave or in the top of a double boiler (I use a pot with an inch of warm water, and melt my ingredients in another pot on top of the water), and add a pinch of the sea salt.
3. During this time, beat together the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until foamy and light.
4. Add the egg mixture to the melted chocolate, and whisk quickly to combine the ingredients.
5. Add the flour to the chocolate/egg mixture and stir to combine. The mixture will be thick.
6. Divide the batter evenly between the molds. (Bard suggests foil molds stacked to preferred thickness, or to use small buttered ramekins.
7. Bake 7 minutes for a liquid-chocolate center; 8 minutes for a gooey chocolate center.
8. GENTLY pop out of molds.

I like to top mine with powdered sugar and a couple raspberries to add some tartness to balance the sweetness of the chocolate. Also, a big, tall glass of cold milk is essential to the perfect bite.

TIP: If your making the batter ahead of time, you CAN refrigerate it, but make sure you bring the batter back up to room temperature before you bake.

Once again, a big thank you to Elizabeth Bard for her inspiring book and delicious recipes. You can check out her blog at elizabethbard.com.