Friday, April 2, 2010

Moist Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

This is my last post for the day. I made these cupcakes a few weeks ago, and they were so worth it. I brought them to a friends apartment warming party. They were mostly gone by the end of the night.

This recipe is adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home, 2006, "Beatty's Chocolate Cake"
Moist Chocolate Cupcakes
Servings: 28-30 regular sized cupcakes

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt (or regular salt works)
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins with cupcake liners and lightly spray with cooking spray.
In an electric mixer bowl; sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Mix on low speed just until combined. In a liquid measuring cup, measure out the buttermilk, add the oil, eggs and vanilla. Stir to combine. Set the mixer on low again, and slowly add in the liquid mixture until just combined. Then add the coffee until just incorporated. Fill the tins with batter until just slightly over half full. Do not do more than this, for they will rise considerably. Bake for 14-16 minutes. The first batch I did took 15, the second took 14. Let the cupcakes rest in the tins on wire racks, for just a minutes and then take them out of the tins and put on the wire racks to cool completely. Now on to the frosting.

(don't worry if they sink a little in the middle) They're done if the toothpick comes out without raw batter)

This is without a doubt the best buttercream ever. I could just eat it plain, it is so so so so so good!

(this recipe is easily doubled. This was just about perfect for the amount of cupcakes I made.) 
Buttercream Frosting

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) salted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 pound powdered sugar (just about 3 1/4 cups)
2-3 Tbsp. cold milk (cream works too)

Whip the butters and shortening on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and mix a little more. Then turn down the speed and mix in the sugar a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. After all the sugar is added, add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. You may have to add more, depending on how thick you like your frosting.

I used star tips for decorating the cupcakes and tried to make it look like grass with little spring flowers. I think they are cute. And it was super easy. :)

Sour Cream Coffeecake

As part of my official non-diet week, I made coffeecake and took it to work on Monday. So yummy! I found this recipe on the King Arthur Flour website. And this time I will just post the link if you want to try it. And believe me, its worth it.

Here is the result. I hope you try it. I also did 1-1/2 times the cinnamon-sugar topping.

(Please ignore the out of season plate, it worked the best. lol)

Birthday Cake

 I just had my birthday this week, and yes...I made my own birthday cake. Usually its my favorite red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, but this year I decided to be different. Behold, the non-traditional birthday cake...
This recipe comes from "Baking By Flavor" by Lisa Yockelson. It is so worth all the work. 


Lemon Rind Soak (step 1)
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice (or bottled lemon juice)

Put all the ingredients into a small bowl and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes or more.
Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9" or 10" bundt pan.

Lemon Butter Cake Batter (step 2)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 sticks (14 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp. vegetable shortening
2 cups granulated sugar + 1 Tbsp. lemon zest mixed together
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
3 Tbsp. superfine sugar (granulated sugar pulsed in food processor until powder)

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt, set aside. In a mixer on moderate speed, cream the butter and shortening for 3-4 minutes. Keep at this speed and add the 2 cups sugar (premixed with the lemon zest), adding 1/3 of mixture at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. Next add the eggs yolks and the lemon rind soak and beat until just combined. Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour, mixing well after each addition. If you have a second mixer, use it for this next part, otherwise scrape the batter into a larger bowl and set aside. Next wash the mixer bowl thoroughly and put in the egg whites. Whip on high speed until white and frothy. Add the cream of tartar and whip until soft peaks form. Continue whipping, and add the superfine sugar a little at a time until all is added. Continue whipping just until firm peaks have formed, but be careful they don't become to stiff. Use a spatula and gently fold in 1/4 of the egg whites into the cake batter until just fully incorporated. Then add in the remaining egg whites, following the same careful method.  Bake for 55 minutes, or until cake tests done. I rotated mine half-way through.
While the cake bakes, continue with the next step.

Lemon Soaking Glaze (step 3)

1/2 cup freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice (or bottled)
1/3 cup plus 2 tsp. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. lemon extract

Put all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Then set aside until ready to use.
Once the cake is done, set the cake left in the pan on a wire rack, and let cool 10 minutes. Then invert the cake onto wax paper (on the wire rack). Spoon the lemon soaking glaze onto the cake, covering all of the cake. Let the cake cool for another 15 minutes.
Lemon Pouring Topping (step 4)

2 cups plus 3 1/2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
5 Tbsp. plus 1/4 tsp. freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice (or bottled)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

While the cake cools, mix together the topping ingredients with a whisk until fully blended. I found that there was too much topping, but tried to use as much as possible, even covering the cake twice. Drizzle the topping over the cake letting it drip down the sides. Let the cake cool completely and then slice and serve. It was super good and moist!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Silver Spoon-cancelled

I've decided to forgo the Silver Spoon challenges for now.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Practice Giant Birthday Cupcake

I am making a personal giant cupcake for my niece's 1st birthday coming up in April. I just purchased a giant cupcake pan that was on sale, so I thought I would try it out. I used Magnolia Bakery's chocolate cupcake recipe and frosted it with butter cream frosting. Yummy! Recipes for both cake and frosting coming soon!

Monday, March 1, 2010

February 2010 Daring Bakers Challenge: Tiramisu

This is the February challenge presented exactly as listed below. I did not make the Lady Fingers this time, although I have done so in the past. I made the tiramisu at the absolute last minute, so I couldn't do all of the challenge. I was impatient, I think, and didn't whip the cream enough. So my filling oozed a bit, although it tasted delicious. I would just eat the filling mixture by itself. Yum!
(I know, the picture isn't that great. Looks aren't everything.)

BLOG-CHECKING LINES: The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.


Mascarpone Cheese – Vera’s Recipe (Baking Obsession) for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese.

Savoiardi/ Ladyfinger Biscuits – Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home

Tiramisu – Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007

1.If you cannot find Marsala, port wine is considered a good substitute.
2.If you would rather not use alcohol in your tiramisu due to diet restrictions or because you want to serve it to children, you may replace the Marsala with an equal amount of espresso or coffee.
3.Many people, especially those who are not excessively fond of coffee, might find brewed espresso very strong. In this case, please feel free to dilute the espresso or coffee to the desired strength.
4.It is generally suggested that cream with 25% fat is best for making mascarpone, but 36% works just as well.
5.We both used lime juice. Deeba has a recipe for mascarpone posted on her blog here.
6.The mascarpone recipe below is for approximately 340gms of mascarpone. The tiramisu recipe requires only 1/3 cup/75gms so you may scale down the recipe to requirement or put the extra mascarpone cheese to other equally good use. (100gms cream will yield approximately 75gms mascarpone)
7.While using the double boiler to make the mascarpone as well as the zabaglione, always ensure that the bottom of the bowl on top doesn't touch the bottom of the lower one. It is important to use a stainless steel bowl to pour your cream into, while making the mascarpone.
8.Ladyfinger batter is very fragile so fold in the flour and yolks very carefully into the meringue so that the whites don't lose their volume.
9.It might be a good idea to decide the size of the dish in which you intend to set the dessert, and make the fingers to a size which would fit that dish. This makes it easier when assembling the tiramisu later. Do remember that ladyfingers/ savioardi puff up a little while baking.
10.Ladyfinger biscuits may be stored up to a week in an airtight container. We both made the savoiardi fingers 4-5 days in advance, and stored them in an airtight box in a cool place (or the refrigerator).
11.We both made the zabaglione & pastry cream the previous day, and assembled the tiramisu the next morning. I (Aparna) then froze my tiramisu for 7 days before decorating and serving it.
12.Placing the bowl (in which cream is to be whipped) and the beaters of the hand held electric mixer in the fridge for about 1/2 to 1 hour before hand makes the cream whip up very well.
13.Do not dip the ladyfinger/ savoiardi into the coffee solution for more than ONE second, or they might become very fragile & disintegrate. Extra soaking is likely to spoil the end product, making it soggy. I (Aparna) dipped my biscuits only on one side and found they soaked up more than enough coffee solution.
14.If you would like to de-mould your tiramisu from your dish (cutting can be easier and neater this way, you can line your dish with plastic wrap (leaving a little extra on the sides of the dish) and then start assembling your tiramisu. Once the tiramisu sets in the refrigerator, you can use the overhang to pull the tiramisu out of the dish.


We have chosen Baltimore pastry chef Carminantonio Iannaccone’s version of tiramisu for a couple of reasons.

•Firstly, his recipe is different from most other tiramisu recipes as he makes a zabaglione, an egg custard which is flavoured with Marsala wine (you may use coffee instead). Even more important is that his zabaglione is cooked so there is no risk from using raw eggs.

The recipes for this challenge are presented in the following order:

A. Tiramisu (includes zabaglione & vanilla pastry cream)

B. Mascarpone Cheese

C. Ladyfinger/ Savoiardi Biscuits


You MUST make your own savoiardi / ladyfinger biscuits and mascarpone cheese with the given recipes. You must also make the zabaglione and pastry cream using the given recipes.

If diet or health restrictions do not allow you to use these recipes, please go ahead and use one of the alternatives provided or other suitable recipes to make them, but please include links to the original recipe in your DB post.

Sponge cake may be not be used as a substitute. After all, a large part of this challenge is making those biscuits.


Tiramisu is usually made in square dishes and cut into squares to serve. If you want to be different, please feel free to give full rein to your creativity as to how you want to present, decorate and serve your tiramisu. Make it square, round, as individual servings, or whatever! However, your version of Tiramisu must contain the mascarpone cheese and the savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits you made.


Tiramisu is made up of several components which can be made separately and ahead of time and put together the day before serving.

Making tiramisu from scratch requires about 2 to 3 days (including refrigeration) from when you start making the mascarpone to the time the tiramisu is served. So this challenge requires some prior planning.

Please read the instructions as you need to begin making the mascarpone at least a day in advance.

The zabaglione & pastry cream also need 4 hours to an overnight for chilling, as does the main dessert. The flavours mature after an overnight rest, and the dessert can be kept refrigerated for 2-3 days.

Once assembled, the tiramisu can be frozen till you need to serve it, in case you are not serving it immediately.


(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )

This recipe makes 6 servings


For the zabaglione:

2 large egg yolks

3 tablespoons sugar/50gms

1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)

1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the vanilla pastry cream:

1/4 cup/55gms sugar

1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract

1 large egg yolk

3/4 cup/175ml whole milk

For the whipped cream:

1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)

1/4 cup/55gms sugar

1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract

To assemble the tiramisu:

2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed

1 teaspoon/5ml rum extract (optional)

1/2 cup/110gms sugar

1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese

36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)

2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder


For the zabaglione:

Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.

In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.

Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.

Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the pastry cream:

Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.

Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.

Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)

Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the whipped cream:

Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

To assemble the tiramisu:

Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice.

Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.

Now to start assembling the tiramisu.

Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.

Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.

Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.

To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.


(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)

This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese


474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.

It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.

Vera’s notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy.

Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.


(Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)

This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2" to 3" long) ladyfingers.


3 eggs, separated

6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar

3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)

6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner's sugar,


Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.

Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.

Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5" long and 3/4" wide strips leaving about 1" space in between the strips.

Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.

Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.

Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.

Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.

Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Challenge #2: February-month of the Antipasti and Appetizers

For this challenge there were a lot more recipes to choose from. So, believe me when I say, it was really difficult to decide. I have to post this challenge a few days early, because I am leaving for the Olympics in a day. I am so excited!!! And a great way to keep the excitement inspiration. The best. I decided to try something for the first time that I have always wanted make. I hope you join me in this first attempt for me, maybe a refining attempt for you. That's the fun in this, to try new things, or make them better.
drum roll please.......
(Technically this is a total of three recipes. If you want to try another filling, feel free. The first recipe is the only required part of the challenge)
(not technically a great picture, but it tasted delicious. I will definitely make this again!)

Crepe Batter (basic recipe)
servings: about 12
scant 1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
vegetable oil

Spoon the flour into a measuring cup and sift into a large bowl. Add the eggs and approximately 3-4 tablespoons of the milk to the flour. Whisk well. Continue to whisk, adding a little milk at a time until you have a fairly runny batter. (It will thicken somewhat upon standing.) Melt the butter in a double boiler, or in the microwave. Once the butter is melted, take the bowl off the heat and let cool almost completely.  Whisk the butter into the batter and add salt to taste. Continue to whisk for a few minutes. Let the batter sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour. If you have a crepe pan, use it, otherwise use a  7-inch non-stick skillet. Brush the pan with oil (or use a paper towel and wipe oil onto pan) and heat medium to medium-high heat. Pour in approximately 1 ounce/2 tablespoons batter into the pan. Turn and tilt the pan to cover the base evenly with crepe batter. (Work quickly) Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the bottom of the crepe is set and golden brown. Flip it over with a spatula and cook that side for about 2 minutes until golden brown and set. Carefully slide the crepe out onto a plate. Continue to do this until all the batter is used, re-oiling the pan after each crepe. If you want a sweet crepe, use sugar instead of salt.

Ham And Fontina Crepes
servings: about 12
2 tablespoons butter, plus extra
12 crepes (prior recipe)
generous 1 cup cooked cured ham, chopped
3 1/2 ounces fontina cheese, diced (7 tablespoons)
1 recipe Bechamel Sauce (to follow)
3 tablespoons Parmesan, freshly grated
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Lay out the crepes and sprinkle with the ham and fontina cheese. Roll up the crepes and place in the casserole dish in a single layer. Pour the Bechamel Sauce over the crepes, then sprinkle with Parmesan and nutmeg. Dot the crepes with the butter. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden and bubbling. You can eat a whole crepe, or cut them in half.

Bechamel Sauce
servings: about 4
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick of butter)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups milk (may need to use less)
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Place the butter in a small saucepan and melt it over medium heat. Briskly whisk in the flour. Pour in the milk, whisking constantly until it starts to boil. Season the sauce with salt and lower the heat. Cover the pan and simmer gently, stirring only occasionally. Do this for 20 minutes or more. The sauce should not taste floury. Take the pan off the heat. Taste your sauce, if bland, add more salt. The more the better, to me any way. If you find that your sauce is too thick, add more milk a little at a time until you reach the desired consistency. If the sauce is too runny, return it too the heat, and add in a pat of butter mixed with an equal amount of flour. If you would like a richer sauce, albeit a more fattening sauce, replace half of the milk with cream. Yum :) If you want to go the other way for a lighter sauce, replace half of the milk with water.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Caramel Sticky Rolls

I decided to have a Sunday morning brunch at my house this morning. My sister and her kids, and my dad came over for coffee, orange juice and rolls. These rolls are soooooooo good. And so easy to make. This is  a nice pull apart breakfast bread.

Caramel Sticky Rolls

3 tubes of biscuits (30 biscuits total), cut each biscuit in half
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the cinnamon and sugar together. This is going to make more than you'll actually use by about half. It's best to have more than you need for easier coating. Grease a bundt pan, one without a removable bottom. Coat each biscuit half in the sugar mixture and place cut side down into the pan. Set pan aside.
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
Small saucepan: Cook both the sugars and butter on medium/medium-high heat until the mixture comes just to a boil. Add the ice cream and stir until it is completely melted and mixed in. I used Breyers no sugar added Vanilla ice cream. So, low-fat doesn't matter. Pour this mixture over the rolls. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. Invert the pan onto a wider rimmed plate. Serve immediately.
Yum Yum! I hope you enjoy this. It is super easy to make.

Daring Bakers January 2010 - Nanaimo Bars (gluten free)

Our challenge this month was to be an ode to Canada and the Olympics. And if I haven't mentioned it yet, I am going to the Olympics on February 15th. I am so excited! So this challenge was especially fun to try. I have never made homemade graham crackers, let alone gluten free.These are super delicious! I would definitely recommend cutting the bars into 16 servings. Reason: they are rich bars and you don't want to eat more than that in one setting. Though it is tempting, these are not low-fat bars.
The recipe below is presented as it was on The Daring Bakers website.

"The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and"

For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.
Nanaimo Bars
For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)
For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar
For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter
1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.
Additional Information:
These bars freeze very well, so don’t be afraid to pop some into the freezer.
The graham wafers may be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Mine lasted about that long.
If making the graham crackers with wheat, replace the gluten-free flours (tapioca starch, sweet rice flour, and sorghum flour) with 2 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp of all-purpose wheat flour, or wheat pastry flour. Watch the wheat-based graham wafers very closely in the oven, as they bake faster than the gluten-free ones, sometimes only 12 minutes.
For the Nanaimo Bars, if making with wheat, replace the gluten-free graham wafer crumbs with equal parts wheat graham wafer crumbs!

I omitted the almonds and coconut in the bottom layer, because I do not like them in this type of dessert. I'm sure for those who like them, it would delicious in it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Challenge #1 - January: month of the Sauces

This should be a fairly easy challenge to start things off. Please post your comments and/or link to your finished challenge post.

Tomato Sauce
4 servings

9 ounces canned tomatoes, or fresh tomatoes that have been peeled
pinch of sugar
2 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp. olive oil
10 fresh basil leaves, torn
salt to taste

Use a small sauce pan. Add the tomatoes along with the can liquid to the pan. Add the sugar, garlic and salt. Cover and cook on low for about 30 minutes if using fresh tomatoes (45 minutes if using the canned tomatoes). Do not be tempted to stir during this time. Use a wooden spoon, and mash the tomatoes. Remove the pan from the stove and let cool, Stir in the olive oil and then add the basil leaves. This is best served with spaghetti.
I used 4 tomatoes. Take a large saucepan and fill it about 3/4 full of water. Bring the water to a boil. Put the tomatoes in the water and keep them in there just until the skins start to split apart. Remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and put them into a large bowl of cold water. This makes it really easy to remove the skin. Remove the center part of the tomatoes and any bad spots and proceed with the recipe as directed above.
The result was pretty tasty. I had to let the sauce cook for a while longer to get it down to a thicker consistency.

The Year of 'The Silver Spoon' Challenge (Italian Cooking At Its Best)

I have finally decided to create a monthly cooking challenge to last approximately one year. The goal: to make one recipe per month from "The Silver Spoon" cookbook, Phaidon Press. The one thing about this book, being a translated version of the original, the actual instructions on how to make the food leaves something to be desired. So, that leads me to the next point. I will only be including the actual recipe amounts and ingredients, the rest will be my interpretation of the actual instruction part of the recipe. I hope that this is something that not only I will for sure be participating in, but also anyone who wants to join in. It will be a lot of fun to share my story on how I handle each challenge and to compare to any other brave souls who try to do so as well. So please, I encourage you all, to join in and try something new!
There will be a link to this challenge in my labels section, titled "Silver Spoon".
The Rules:
There will be approximately 12 challenges for the year 2010.
One and only one recipe will be completed each month.
Every month, starting this January, the new challenge recipe will be posted on the 15 of each month, unless otherwise noted in a post.
Posting is to be completed by the 14th of the following month. I am hoping one month is long enough to complete each challenge.
Please feel free to post your completed challenge on your own blog, or other venue, and place a link in a reply to the Challenge post on my blog. You can just copy and paste the URL where you have posted. That way everyone who reads here can join in the fun. If you would rather just post a comment upon completing the challenge, that's great too. I would love to hear how it went, and to compare notes with everyone. And pictures of the challenge are more than welcome.
You can try 1 challenge, or try all 12, as I hope you do!
Coming up...Challenge #1

Friday, January 8, 2010


I have a project I have been thinking about doing for a while, thus why I have not been posting lately. Soon, very soon, you'll find out what i'm up to. An announcement will be posted on January 15th, 2010 going over the details of what is to happen. (I'll have to narrow down my options before then, so i'll be working very hard on this and hope to see you on the 15th!) I also hope for help on this, you'll find out why, and I hope its fun for you and me!