Sweet: Victoria Sponge Cake with Strawberries and White Chocolate Cream

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Disclaimer: apologies for the crummy photos once again. I really need to pick up a new SD card and start using a non cell phone camera again.

[Disclaimer 2.0… I wrote this post nearly a year ago…]

Maybe you’ve noticed that the last several baking posts have been on the simple side. (Read: lots of cookies.)

I’m going to go ahead and blame pregnancy for my low baking mojo over the last little while. I’ve felt busy and a little low on energy, and I haven’t had it in me to spend a whole day in the kitchen. Beyond keeping up with our bread requirements (we need our daily toast!), I haven’t been experimenting much in the world of baking – for now, anyway.

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Having said that, I couldn’t resist stepping up my game a little bit when I received my reprinted copy of Sweet in the mail. This is a gorgeous cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh that I received from my parents for Christmas. The only problem: evidently, there were several typos, misprints, and translation issues in the original printing. I imagine this is a cookbook author’s very worst nightmare. And so, I had to wait for the publisher to send me a revised reprinted version – autographed, no less!

Sweet is equal parts mouthwatering, impressive, and overwhelming. It generally seems to veer more in the advanced territory – think high end restaurant dessert, not grandma’s baking. I decided to drudge up my inner pastry chef to attempt a recipe for a book club meeting. I decided on the Victoria sponge cake with strawberries and white chocolate cream. It looked relatively simple (relative being the key word here), not overly decadent, and above all – delicious.

 

The recipe is in the mini-cake chapter, but you can also do it as one single large cake, which is exactly what I did. I don’t make a lot of cakes, partly because I find them hard to share, partly because I just find them plain old hard (maybe because I don’t make them often enough). But nonetheless, I gave it a go.

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First up: the white chocolate cream. I had a heck of a time finding white chocolate in Squamish – I didn’t plan ahead far enough to order the good stuff online, so I settled on a bar of Lindt that I found at Nesters. Making the cream involves simmering the cream, then pouring the hot liquid over the chocolate and leaving it to melt before giving it a little stir. I don’t think my chocolate ever completely melted, to be honest.

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The whole thing cools for an hour, and you come back to it later by adding more cream and whipping the whole thing for a good, long while in the stand mixer.

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While the chocolate is cooling, you can start on the strawberries. True story: I baked this cake in early April and I had a HECK of a time trying to find strawberries in Squamish! I know it would have been ever better if I had waited for fresh, juicy strawberries from the Squamish Farmer’s Market, but I did the best I could with what I had. Making the strawberry layer is kind of like making jam: you boil the berries, some sugar, and some lemon juice in a saucepan. You are supposed to add an empty vanilla pod (which you use for the cake), but I only had vanilla extract – no pods here (extract is expensive enough!) – so I skipped it over.

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Cake time! First, you whisk eggs, sugar, vanilla (seeds, normally, but extract for me) and lemon zest over a double boiler. You really, really whisk it – continuously, for 5 minutes, which doesn’t sound long but man oh man, does it start to feel long after awhile. Then, the mixing gets kicked up a notch, as the ingredients take a turn being whisked in the stand mixture. They don’t give a timeline – they just say “until the mixture has tripled in volume and is no longer warm”, so I made sure to really give it time and let it cool down.

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Next, flour and salt get sifted three times (this is no joke!) before being gradually folded into the whisked egg/sugar mixture from the previous step. Once you’ve managed to incorporate it all without causing the whole thing to collapse, you drizzle in some melted butter, which gets (carefully, carefully) folded in, too.

Finally, the whole thing is ready to bake. They suggest about 25 minutes for a longer cake, and I left mine in for 30 – though I think I still pulled it out a little early because, as you can see, I had some minor collapsing issues.

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Once the cake has cooled completely (pro tip: don’t rush this step unless you are in the Great British Bake Off and time is money), you slice it in half and get ready to fill. Yeah – my slicing skills could use a little work.

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The layering process goes like this: cooked strawberries (so the jamminess can seep into the lower layer);

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then half the white chocolate cream;

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then fresh strawberries;

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then more cream;

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and finally, the top layer of cake.

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The entire thing gets dusted with some icing sugar. It’s pretty – but unfortunately for me, there wasn’t much room to hide my errors.

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It wasn’t pretty, but luckily, it was delicious. As suggested in the recipe, I served it up only a few hours after I baked and assembled it. I knew a mostly naked (i.e., not iced) sponge cake would probably dry out quickly, but it was nice and moist when we ate it.

Although this recipe was a little intimidating because it required a number of different recipes and steps, it ended up being pretty easy once I broke it down step by step. And man oh man, it was delicious. I hope I can muster up the energy to attempt a few more Sweet recipes over the next little while. I can’t promise they will be pretty, but I have a good feeling they’ll taste phenomenal.

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Woods Explorer Stories: Home Sweet Home on the Sea to Sky Marine Trail

I’ve been haphazardly recapping/journaling memories fromĀ  my 5-month, 14-leg trek across Canada back in 2015 – start here, if you’d like to catch up.

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Our final two legs took place in our very own backyard: Sea to Sky country. I can’t tell you how incredible it felt to get back home and sleep in my own bed (if only for a few nights). Having access to all my creature comforts was the most wonderful feeling – but my favourite moment was meeting up with friends on one of the first nights back. It was a very normal night – dinner at their house – and we swapped stories and caught up on life and what I’d missed over the past few months.

The best feeling was actually having stories to share with Cedric when I saw him later that night. I had loved spending time with him, but it was soooo good to spend time apart to recharge with our friends and to have our own experiences, if only for a few hours.

Our next adventure was one I was actually quite looking forward to: paddling the Sea to Sky Marine Trail in Howe Sound. I’d driven past the stunning Howe Sound more times than I can count, but I had never had the chance to experience it via kayak.

Let’s talk about marine trails for a second. When we paddled the Sound back in 2015, the Sea to Sky Marine Trail was still in the process of being “developed” – only it wasn’t so much the trails being developed as the campsites. There are a few campsites scattered on the shores of the coast and the Gulf Islands in Howe Sound, and how you make your way from site to site is pretty much up to you. So the moniker “marine trail” is a little misleading – the whole ocean is the trail.

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PERFECT WEATHER – so good.

In a typical leg, we would get a night or two at a hotel before the adventurous part began – this was to upload and send photos and videos (a task that took forever), to write blog posts, to do laundry, and to buy food and anything we might need for the adventure of the moment. On this leg, our home base was our actual home, so we had a bit more flexibility in terms of adapting to the weather. We ended up taking off a day later than anticipated, which meant that we enjoy perfect, blue skies the entire kayak trip. A++++.

The Sea to Sky Marine leg felt like a well-deserved vacation. We lucked out with mostly super calm waters, so we took our time and paddled leisurely, enjoying the sun. Remember – we’d just finished camping in Banff, where we’d slept in sub-zero temperatures and hiked in the snow. The sun and the sea felt mighty fine.

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The caption lies – this is Anvil, not Gambier

One night, we snagged a perfect campsite on Anvil Island. The tent pad was tucked away on a sandy beach, and there was only one other couple sharing the area. They were nice, but mostly left us to ourselves. We set up our Woods hammock (truly one of my favourite Woods pieces) and enjoyed leisurely breakfasts of toad in the holes. By now, Cedric had perfected his camp coffee-making skills, and our mornings were slow and wonderful.

This leg was not without its mishaps. On one day, the water was so calm that we didn’t need the skirts on our kayaks. Cedric set up the GoPro on the back of my kayak opening (I’m sure there’s a technical term) to get some footage, but I didn’t know it was there. At one point, I spun around to look over my shoulder – and promptly knocked the GoPro right into the ocean. It sunk instantly. That was not a great feeling.

On what was supposed to be our last night camping, we headed to our camping spot early. Cedric wanted to set up the tent right away to get a few photos, and as he went to put it up – something we’d done probably 60 times so far that summer – the centre pole snapped right in half. (I have to give it kudos – the tent was a prototype and went through some serious wear and tear on this trip.)

 

On most legs, this would have been disastrous – but on the Sea to Sky leg, we weren’t too bothered. Since we’d started setting up camp early, we had plenty of time to head back to Porteau Cove where our car awaited us. The waters were a little choppier, but we made it back without trouble and spent the night sleeping in our bed. I didn’t complain!

The final leg of the Woods Canada trek was kind of an odd one. We were supposed to go to Victoria to hike part of the Trans Canada Trail there, but the powers that be decided to leave us in Whistler to do some hiking around there instead. While I would have loved to spend time on the Island, the concept of being back home was still so novel that I didn’t mind.

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Fun fact: this photo was printed in GIANT in the Globe and Mail last summer for 2017 celebrations

We had one gloriously sunny day, which we spent hiking Panorama Ridge. The rest of the days were typical fall in the Sea to Sky weather: grey, cloudy, and endless amounts of rain. I was so grateful to have had wonderful weather on our kayak trip.

We continued to go on hikes, but we kept them relatively mellow – Ancient Cedars trail for the epic tree photo op; some runs on the local trails (oh, how I had missed running!); hikes up the gondola on Whistler.

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Perks of running during our Woods Explorer trip: I finally got some good running photos taken. Thanks Cedric!

It was a strange week – we were home, but our Woods Explorer journey wasn’t over yet. We still had to go back to Toronto for a week or so of media, debriefing, and wrapping up the whole adventure. It was a weird state of being in between – the setting was familiar, but we still weren’t in our regular routines.

This leg wasn’t the most novel or exciting, but what I loved about it is that I had time specifically carved out for playing outside. In regular life, it is easy to get caught up in work and appointments and errands and chores, that sometimes I find it hard to dedicate the time to enjoying everything that is around me. It was wonderful to have a couple of uninterrupted weeks where my sole purpose was to explore and document the process.


I guess that wraps up my Woods Explorer stories! It may have taken three years, and even though the memories aren’t all fresh, I’m glad I’ve organized them somewhere where I can look back on them for years to come. In hindsight, I am so, so grateful for my time as a Woods Explorer:

  • My absolute favourite thing was discovering various corners of our country. I’ve never felt so Canadian or so connected, and our time with Woods really made us want to continue exploring Canada (which we have been lucky enough to do).
  • From a relationship point of view, a trip like this either fuses you together or tears you apart. Luckily for us, it was the former. We both learned a lot about our own (and each others’) strengths and weaknesses and, though it took a few trials and errors, we figured out how to come together to form a wonderful, effective team.
  • It felt like a grand adventure – a last “hurrah” to close out my 20s full of epic memories that I’m sure I will be recounting when I’m in a retirement home.
  • Finally, it made me feel very comfortable in my own skin. I had moments where I felt invincible, and just as many where I felt challenged and out of my element. In the midst of living a spontaneous, on-the-fly life (which is very much unlike my regular life), I feel like I settled into myself in a way that, today, allows me to feel very happy, confident, and satisfied. That’s a very good feeling.

The end!

My Recipe-less Stab at Peppermint Bark… from 2017

Oh, my poor blog! I have woefully neglected this thing and truthfully, I don’t have plans (or time) to resuscitate it any time soon. It turns out that balancing a new baby, a job, a relationship, many friendships, hobbies, fitness, and a household is a lot of work. Maybe one day I will bring it back – but in the meantime, I have a number of old posts that I wrote but never posted that I shall schedule for the coming days. I hope the archives help people down the road who are keen on reading a recipe review or a race recap.

 


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Fun fact: I made this recipe TWO YEARS AGO. I wrote the draft for this post ages ago but wanted to wait til the holidays to post it. Then, I forgot all about it.


Let’s talk peppermint bark. The best peppermint bark that I have ever experienced is the classic Williams Sonoma variety:

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It is SOOOOO GOOD – and so very expensive. At $30 to $50 a tin, it is an outrageous indulgence in the midst of a season of outrageous indulgences. Thus, it usually gets left off my shopping list.

I have tried various knock-offs of the Williams Sonoma bark, but most taste kind of stale, with candy cane that feels too chewy rather than nice and crunchy. The best alternative at a reasonable price (about $10 USD) I have found is the Trader Joe’s version – it’s worth the cross-border trip.

As I snacked my way through the Trader Joe’s tin, I had the thought that every baker has when they’re eating something delicious: “How can I make this?” Peppermint bark seems easy enough, so I decided to tackle it myself without a recipe.

First up, the crushed candy cane. I had a bunch of candy canes – my challenge was now to smash them down to teeny tiny pieces while minimizing the amount of effort and mess involved. Cue the food processor.

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Unwrapping the individual candy canes was a bit of a static-y mess, but it was smooth sailing afterwards. I only had to pulse the candy canes a few times to get them to a satisfying crumble.

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Inevitably, my crushing produced a fair bit of fine candy cane dust. That wouldn’t have quite the right look on my crumble, so I sifted it out and later stirred it into my chocolate for a bonus peppermint touch.

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I couldn’t find white chocolate in large quantities, so I decided that my version of candy cane bark would consist of a dark chocolate layer and a milk chocolate layer rather than the traditional dark and white layers.

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I chopped up 500g of dark chocolate, then put about 80% of it into my homemade bain marie (my aluminum mixing bowl hovering over – not in – a shallow pot of simmering water).

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When the chocolate was melted, I removed it from the heat and stirred in the remaining solid chocolate that I’d left behind, piece by piece. I took a chocolate course many moons ago, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had to temper chocolate. (As it turns out, I didn’t quite nail it – my chocolate developed that telltale chalk-ish colour over time. But hey – it still tasted good.)

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I spread my chocolate out on a parchment-line cookie sheet (much like I did in my English Toffee post), then left it to harden. I then repeated the process with the milk chocolate layer.

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After spreading the milk chocolate over the now-solid dark chocolate layer, I sprinkled the crushed candy cane over the mixture to set. I had lots of candy cane, so I used a “the more the merrier” approach. It is, after all, Christmas.

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My last step was to melt a bit more dark chocolate and drizzle it over the slabs of chocolatey candy cane goodness.

After the whole she-bang had a chance to set, I chopped it into somewhat irregularly shaped chunks and placed the pieces into cellophane bags, tied with a ribbon. I put the bags into a big Ziploc freezer bag and sealed them up until I was ready to distribute them at Christmas. They were a little worse for wear after a cross-country plane trip, but you know what?

They tasted delicious – because they TASTED LIKE CHRISTMAS!

 

Another Year, Another Squamish Days 8K Run – This Time at 29 Weeks Pregnant

At the start of the year – before I got pregnant, but hoping it would be a possibility in 2018 – I set out a goal to finish 5 races before the end of year. Over the August long weekend, I ticked off my fifth (and final) race at the Squamish Days 8k run – mission accomplished!

The Squamish Days 8k is a personal favourite. It takes place over my very favourite weekend to be a Squamptonian: the Squamish Loggers Sports Festival. This year, we attended the kettle boil on Thursday night (verdict: underrated and fun, especially when paired with the chili cook-off) and the Sunday World-Class Open Loggers Sports Show (verdict: as entertaining as ever, but SO HOT) – and of course, I ran the Squamish Days 8k for the third time in as many years.

The Squamish Days 8k is a well-run, small town, unpretentious race. The route is a simple out-and-back. It’s all paved and while one generally wouldn’t describe it as overly scenic, it is flat, fast, and is a great distance – a challenge for experienced runners who really want to push it, but friendly enough to accommodate first-timers and third-trimesterers.

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My friend and I fell into the latter category: I was a day into my 29th week of pregnancy, while she had never run more than 4k before and was attempting her first ever race. I had no doubt she would finish in one piece, and I had been keeping up with runs in the 5-10 k range, so I knew I’d be just fine – albeit a little slower than years past.

I first ran this race back in 2016 in the early days of my first marathon training program (and the day after tackling the Red Bull 400 – an excellent and very unique race that should be on your bucket list if you like such things) in a decent 41:44, and cracked the 40 minute barrier last year by squeaking in at 39:55 (which is average for a Squamish runner but REALLY FAST FOR ME). I had a hunch I’d be a litttttle slower this year (ha), but (spoiler alert) I still managed to cross the finish line in the forties.

It was a hot morning – what else is new? – but check-in at the local high school was easy and we had a cheer squad of 3 to keep us entertained until the race kicked off.

I mentioned in my last race recap that I appear to have hit an automatic maximum speed – I simply cannot exert a whole lot of power at this point, so I just cruise along at a moderate, steady pace. I like to think that this made me an excellent pacer for my first-timer friend! We had never run together before, but we spent the race chattering away and the kilometers seemed to tick by pretty steadily (each KM is marked in this race, which is nice).

My #1 concern with this race was the lack of bathrooms along the route. I’m at the point where I need to stop at a port-a-potty on even just a 5k run, so I was a little nervous about this. I’m not sure whether it was the company, conversation, or race day excitement, but miraculously, there were no emergencies en route. That in itself was a major success!

I won’t lie – the last couple of k on the open road beneath the beating sun were REALLY HOT! We were sweating like mad as we crossed the finish line (with our cheer squad going strong and a TON of cute dogs to motivate us).

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Post-race celebrations took place inside the gym, where I enjoyed copious amounts of watermelon and waited for them to post the time results. Here is my insider tip: don’t leave early – your odds of winning a draw prize are very high! My friend was actually the very first prizewinner announced and she walked away with a snazzy pair of 7mesh running socks. I won two tickets to the Loggers Sports event that afternoon, which we were planning on attending anyway.

Our final time: chip time 48:49 and 48:50, gun time 49:01 and 49:02, which placed us 98 & 99 out of 129 runners. I guessed we would finish around 50 minutes – pretty close! I appear to have bested my friend by 1 second, which we determined was based on the fact that my bib, pinned to my belly, protruded further out and hit the timing mat slightly ahead of hers. The perks of pregnant running, folks!

This year, I discovered that the run offers a STROLLER RUN category!!! And you BET I’m going to be running it with my baby next year (will this count as her second time running it?) Only 2 people raced in this year – but the girl who placed first ran it in 40:20, which is most impressive. Think I can crack Top 3 next year?

(Actually, based on the number of pregnant women swarming Squamish, I bet the field will be a little deeper next year!)

Dorie’s Cookies’ Chocolate and Walnuts Bars – the Not Brownies

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A little while ago, I made a brownie-with-walnuts recipe from the Dorie’s Cookies cookbook, which was very delicious. However, here’s something intriguing I noticed: another recipe in the same chapter was for something called “chocolate and walnut bars”.

Chocolate brownies with walnuts. Chocolate and walnut bars. How different could they be?!

The only way to resolve this kind of riddle, of course, is to bake both and experience each recipe firsthand. So, with the brownies already ticked off my list, it was time to tackle the rather un-inspiringly named Chocolate and Walnuts Bars.

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There are three things to know about this recipe. One: it calls for a lot of chocolate – 12 ounces total, between the cake and the glaze. Two: it calls for a lot of eggs – 8 total. For one recipe. Three: it calls for a lot of dishes.

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Not discussed: the many dishes used in the mise en place.

First dish: the heatproof bowl in which you melt some of the chocolate.

Second dish: a small bowl in which you place some chopped (but not melted chocolate) and some chopped (… but not melted…) walnuts. These two ingredients get mixed together. Chocolate and walnuts for the Chocolate and Walnut bars – makes sense, right?

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Third dish: the food processor bowl (a.k.a. my least favourite dish for cleaning purposes) in which you process some of the walnuts alongside some flour. Then, after dumping out the walnut-flour (fourth dish), the butter gets pulsed with some sugar, salt, and eight whopping egg yolks (one by one).

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Third dish continued: the food processor bowl in which you combine all the components (so far): the melted chocolate, the walnut-flour, and the eggy butter sugar (already in third dish – are you keeping track here?).

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Fifth dish: a stand mixer bowl in which you whip up egg whites – eight of them (you guess it!) – into a foamy opaque cloud of goodness, which turns into a stiff, glossy mixture after adding some sugar. [Note: okay, busted – this post is from FEBRUARY, back when my mixer worked. #rip]

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The whites are then added to the rest of the ingredients (see: third dish) in two ways. First, you plain old mix a quarter of the whites into the chocolate and stuff – then the rest of the whites get folded in properly. We’re chasing after a light and fluffy texture here, folks.

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Now, it’s baking time: the cake gets baked for 25 to 28 minutes (I think mine was more like 30 – I used the toothpick test to make sure it was fully cooked). Then, it’s time for…

Sixth dish: You didn’t think we were done with dishes, did you? Dish number six is a saucepan, in which cream, sugar, and water comes to a boil to make the base of a delicious topping.

Seventh dish: Almost there now, folks. Dish number seven is another heatproof bowl in which chocolate is placed, then the boiled cream-sugar-water is added while it is still hot. The heat melts the chocolate into a glorious, shiny, decadent glaze. Pouring this over the cakey part is incredibly satisfying.

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And that’s how you make Chocolate and Walnut Bars. Now, it’s time to discuss how Chocolate and Walnuts Bars differ from walnut brownies:

  1. Colour: the C&W bars are much lighter in colour than the rich, fudgy brownies.
  2. Texture: while the brownies are very dense, the C&W bars benefit from the folding of the eggs whites. Dense is the opposite of what these are: think fluffy and airy like a delicious cake.
  3. Chocolately bits: The addition of the un-melted chocolate chunks (see second dish) is DELIGHTFUL. It’s like bonus chocolate chips in an already wonderfully chocolatey dessert.
  4. The glaze: Oh, the glaze! While the brownies were a quick-and-easy icingless recipe, the C&W bars get a gorgeous glaze (at the expense of extra dishes). The glaze takes it to the next level – do not skip under any circumstances.

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Here are my final thoughts about the Chocolate and Walnut bars: these are not meant to be bars. This recipe is really meant to be a torte of sorts. It should be baked in a round dish, then served topped with delicious raspberries. I feel like Dorie had this amazing recipe and was like, “Hmm, how can I fit this into my latest book? I know – bake ’em in a square pan, cut ’em up, and call ’em a cookie.” Don’t get me wrong – it’s delicious – but it definitely feels like a cake in disguise.

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MEC Lower Mainland – Trail Race 4 – Rose Park, Squamish Race Recap

Ah, yes, the succinctly named MEC Lower Mainland – Trail Race 4 – Rose Park, Squamish trail running race — I ran that!

This race took place a few weeks ago in my own backyard. I took part in a 15K MEC trail race last year in West Vancouver, but for reasons I cannot remember, I had to miss the Squamish stop on the MEC trail race circuit.

This year, I had the race on my radar, but I held off signing up for awhile because the date coincided with my leap into the third trimester of pregnancy and I just had no idea how I would feel. Luckily, not only are the MEC races outrageously affordable ($15 – which includes a timing chip and all that), but unlike many races, prices don’t go up as you get closer to the race, meaning you can make a decision the week of, as I did.

The bulk of my runs this year have been solo, but there is one girlfriend I have enjoyed running with about once a week or so since the early days of my pregnancy. She had signed up for the MEC Race and gave me the push I needed to finally pull the trigger. There are two distances in this race: a 5k or a 10k. We signed up for the former.

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A 5k romp in the woods – no biggie, right? WRONG! We had heard that this particular course featured some serious elevation, and folks – the rumours are true! I don’t typically run around Smoke Bluffs – in fact, the only time I’ve really run there was during last year’s Squamish 50 23k, which had me cursing the never-ending uphills – and MAN, was it steep.

The 5k route is said to have about 230m elevation gain, which doesn’t seem so bad. Except the course is kind of a lollipop shape, so that 230m elevation gain is concentrated in just half of the race. Now, the first 0.5 km or so of the race takes place on a paved path that leads from the start/finish at Rose Park to the trail head at Smoke Bluffs. What I’m saying is that the 230m elevation gain basically occurs in only 2km of trail, so it’s a lot steeper than the numbers would suggest at first glance. (The 10k features an elevation gain of 410m, for what it’s worth.)

If you’ve been around Squamish this summer, you already know that it has been relentlessly hot – I’m taking 30+ degrees day in, day out with little to no rain at all. Most of my runs have wrapped up by 8/8:30 AM to beat the heat, but this race didn’t start until 9:20 (the 10k runners took off closer to 9). I was a little concerned about the heat, but it was early enough not to be atrociously bad and the shaded trails kept us pretty cool overall.

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Picking up our bibs was pretty straightforward, and we swatted tiny biting bugs until it was time to take off. I haven’t been doing much trail running since June – the road has just been easier and offers fewer tripping hazards for a pregnant solo runner – but I have to admit, it was nice to ditch the pavement for the dirt for a change. Once you enter Smoke Bluffs, the trail starts off as a not-too-steep gravelĀ  trail, then eventually transforms into a narrower, more technical dirt trail.

It climbs. And climbs. And climbs. While we were able to run some of the gravel uphill, I had to walk most of the climbing dirt bit – and man oh man, did my calves ever burn. I tried to pick up the pace whenever the trail flattened out a bit, but the breaks in the climbs were usually very short lived. There was a lot of power hiking over kms 0.5 – 2.5. This part of the run felt a lot longer than 2km.

Of course, what goes up must come down, so the second half of the race is a nice treat for those who like to careen down steeps. I took it pretty conservatively on the downs, as I didn’t want to risk twisting an ankle or tripping over a tree root. The consequences of a fall right now seem a little more serious than usual.

We didn’t do this run to smash a personal record or anything, but I have to admit that as we returned to the paved trail and tackled the last half k to the finish line, I still had some energy and I wanted to really give ‘er. But it was strange: I already seemed to be at my maximum capacity. For whatever reason (smaller lung capacity? extra weight? blood pumping all over the place?), I couldn’t seem to move any faster than I already was – which, believe me, was nowhere near record breaking speeds. I wasn’t overly bothered by this – after all, I expected to slow down as the weeks went on – but it was certainly a big shift from the St. John’s half-marathon I ran just a month and a half earlier.

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The finish line was simple but sufficient: bananas, water, and electrolyte beverages were free for the taking. My favourite part, however, was the girl who dunked a towel into ice water and mercifully wrung it out over our sweaty heads.

In the end, we ran the 5k in a reasonably respectable 46:12 (chatting the entire way – not bad!), which placed us 16th and 17th out of 39 women (not sure how we ranked overall – the results are organized by sex). For the record, the fastest lady finished exactly 10 minutes faster than us in 36:12 – just to give you an idea of the terrain we were dealing with.

So that’s how that all went down. At the beginning of the year, Cedric and I made a list of goals that hit on various parts of our lives. In the fitness/sport category, I made a goal of running 5 races in 2018. This one was #4 – and though it was pretty short but sweet, it was perfect for where I’m at right now. Besides, now I have a time to beat for next year!

I Shall Never Eat Biscotti Again: Dorie’s Cookies Chocolate Chip Not-Quite Mandelbrot

Bad news: I’m pretty sure I can never make biscotti again.

mandelbrot-12

And these cute looking “Chocolate Chip Not-Quite Mandelbrot” cookies are to blame.

You see, I whipped this batch of cookies up for a book club meeting I had early in my first trimester juuuuust as my food aversions were starting to hit. [PS – I am posting this during my third trimester – my lagging blog post trend continues.] Thankfully, this stage only lasted a week or two – but at the expense of my love of biscotti*.

*These are technically not biscotti. They are technically not even Mandelbrot, which is what the recipe is supposed to be modeled after. But they are an awful lot like biscotti – twice baked and everything – and so the entire biscotti genre of cookie shall suffer.

I enjoyed eating the ends and broken bits of the cookies as I was baking them, but as soon as the whole thing was done, suddenly they seemed awful to me. I can’t explain why – all I know is that when I brought them to book club, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with them, and the thought of them today makes my stomach turn a little.

It’s not the recipe’s fault – I promise! Everyone else who ate them said they are fantastic.

Anyways, this blog post is devoted to the memory of biscotti. I didn’t eat you very often, but I will probably never eat you again for the rest of my life.

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