Early Happy Easter? Dorie’s Cookies Meringue Vanilla Snowballs

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I was meeting up with some friends around Easter last year [yes, I am posting this a year late…], and I wanted to bring an Easter-esque treat that didn’t involve chocolate. Don’t get me wrong – I love chocolate more than the average person, but Easter tends to be pretty choco-ful and I wanted something a little different.

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Enter the Meringue Snowballs.

I figured if I made these “cookies” (can they really be called cookies?!) in pretty springtime pastels, they would fit with the Easter theme – and nary a cocoa bean in sight.

I have made meringue a few times before, and Dorie’s version is decidedly unfussy. It’s relatively quick, easy, and foolproof – at the expense of perfection. My meringues cracked a little and yours might too, but they still looked good and – most importantly – tasted like the perfect little sugar clouds that they are.

The ingredient list for meringues is short and sweet (hey… kind of like the final product!): granulated sugar, icing sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar, and a wee bit of sea salt. The Dorie’s Cookies cookbook offers some flavourful variations – mint chocolate chip! rose! green tea and pistachio! Wanting to add a little something – but not wanting to make a trip to the grocery store – I opted to make the Vanilla Snowball iteration (just add vanilla… easy as that).

Although the recipe is easy, you do have to be a little careful in the preparation. For one, the sugars must be sifted. Second, all of your baking gear must be perfectly clean – fat is the murderer of meringues, so be ultra careful when separating your whites from your yolks. I always break each egg individually before putting them in a communal bowl – that way, if you mess one up and break the yolk, you won’t contaminate all the other whites.

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The whites, cream of tartar, and salt get sent to the stand mixer, where they whisk away until they start forming soft peaks. At this point, all but one tablespoon of the sugar is slowly added until the mixture is stiff and perfectly shiny. (This is where I added the vanilla, too.)

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I always mix a little longer than I think I’ll need to – otherwise, I tend to end up with a mixture that is slightly too runny. I think I nailed it on this go. Once the mix is looking good, you gently – gently – fold in the last bit of sugar.

At this point, I divided the glossy goop into a few different bowls and played around with some of the colours. The book suggests spooning the meringue out onto your silicone mat-covered baking sheet, but I knew they were look prettier if I took a little extra time to pipe them. I didn’t bother washing out the bags between colours because I figured a little marble/tie dye effect would look kind of cool and very dip-dyed Easter eggy.

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Don’t these look like these dot candies from your childhood?

I couldn’t decide whether the tame the little cowlicks or to leave them as is. I tried patting a few down (I do this by wetting my finger and tapping the tops), but ultimately I decided to leave most of them up. I kind of like the look.

Slow and steady is the name of the meringue game: these puppies baked at 250 degrees for 75 minutes, then I propped open the oven door and left them in there overnight.

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They kept their colour nicely and didn’t brown at all.

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What do you think? I think they’re a cute – if not quite traditional – Easter option. Bookmark this one for next year, perhaps?

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Chef Michael Smith’s Triple Chocolate Brownies: The Second Best Brownies Ever

Let’s get one thing out of the way: the best brownies ever are the Outrageous Brownies from Purebread (which started in Whistler but now has a few Vancouver locations, too). It doesn’t matter if you get the banana ones or the raspberry ones or the regular ones, they’re the best – plain and simple.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the recipe for them. However, I do have the recipe for the second best brownies: Michael Smith’s Triple Chocolate Brownies.

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I first tasted these brownies as at book club meeting back in the late winter or early spring. There is another member of my book club who is very passionate about baking – in addition to talking book plots and characters, we like to swap recipes and drool-worthy baking photos and tips. She brought these triple chocolate brownies and they were amazing. She said the Michael Smith recipe was her go-to, so I decided to look them up and give them a go myself.

They were just as good when I made them, so I dubbed them my favourite recipe, too. (Until I can get a hold of the Purebread recipe…)

As the name suggests, this recipe uses three different sources of chocolate: regular chocolate (like a bar), cocoa powder, and chocolate chips. The result: a tasty triple threat that is moist, fudgey, and overall fantastic.

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First, the chocolate. I discovered they sell Callebaut chocolate in blocks at Save on Foods in Squamish – hallelujah! Although Nesters has the best fancy baking stuff, Save on Foods has a better assortment (and a bulk section to die for) – they will be my new go to for baking goods. The recipe calls for 8 ounces of chocolate, which gets melted along with a cup of butter over a double boiler. Once everything is melted and mixed, the recipe says to whisk the whole thing to make it extra smooth. I’m not sure if this is really necessary, but better safe than sorry, right?

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Next up: the cocoa powder. The cocoa powder gets mixed with some flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Simple, right? Those are your dry ingredients.

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The chocolate chips come a little later – first, you have to mix 4 eggs with some brown sugar and a whopping tablespoon of vanilla. These wet ingredients then get combined with the melted butter/chocolate combo, which has had a chance to cool down. Then, the dry ingredients get incorporated, along with the chocolate chips (at last!)

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Hot tip: the Squamish Save on Foods also offers a few different types of chocolate chips in the bulk section, so you don’t have to buy a whole bag when you only need a cup, as is the case in this recipe.

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You’re supposed to bake the brownies in a 9 x 13 pan, but I opted to do two 8 x 8 pans instead. The directions say to oil the pans and dust them with flour, but I once learned a hot tip that involves using cocoa powder instead of flour for dusting pans used for brownies, chocolate cakes, and other chocolatey things, so that’s what I did.

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Though the recipe calls for 25 minutes or so in the oven, mine were for about 32 until I thought they looked sufficiently cooked through (without getting dried out – it’s a fine line).

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Here’s what I like about this recipe:

  • The ingredients are simple. Yes, it calls for 3 types of chocolate, but the rest of the ingredients are  things you probably already have in your kitchen.
  • You don’t need an electric mixer (yup, mine is still busted).
  • It’s a pretty straightforward recipe – then again, most brownie recipes are.
  • The brownies taste exquisite – I have to say, these brownies surpass the ones I’ve made from my Dorie’s Cookies cookbook and from the Bobbette & Belle cookbook.
  • Chef Michael Smith – I mean, how CAN’T you love the soft-spoken east coaster?!?!

Dorie’s Cookies’ Peanut Butter and Fudge Brownies: Good – But Not the Best

I am sad to report that my KitchenAid stand mixer is still broken.

[Update: I am happy to report that I got a new one for Christmas 2018!!! However, I am sad to report that this post has no photos. I’m publishing it anyway.]

Depending on when I actually come around to publishing this post (which, let’s be honest, could be half a year after I write it at the pace I’m going) […yep], that means I have been several months without my trusty mixer. Considering how much I love to bake, that is a big deal.

But the good stand mixers aren’t cheap (I need the high quality ones to handle my bread baking needs!), and between general life expenses and preparing for a baby (who, weird to think, might be born by the time I post this) [… yep], a new mixer isn’t in the cards for the time being.

While that may have slowed my meringue and macaron production, it hasn’t stopped my baking altogether. I’ve just started looking for recipes that require little to no mixing – anything I can do by hand is fair game. After all, isn’t that what our grandmas did?

The Peanut Butter and Fudge Brownies recipe from my Dorie’s Cookies cookbook didn’t seem to require too much mixing, and best yet, it reminded me of another recipe that I LOVE: the No-Bake Almond Butter Cup Bars from Minimalist Baker.

I can’t remember how I found that recipe but it is definitely is not my usual way of doing things. I almost NEVER use online recipes for baking (there is too much junk out there), and this is one of those “healthier” recipes that uses crunchier ingredients (think dates and maple syrup instead of regular white sugar, and a ganache made with coconut milk and coconut oil). However, it is super easy to make (hence the no bake) and easily accommodates the gluten-free folks in my life, so I have made it quite a few times and I LOVE it. It packs SUCH a punch. (Note that I use peanut butter instead of almond butter – and I make my own).

I figured that the Dorie’s Cookies recipe would be at least as good as the Minimalist Baker one – if not better, because it uses more decadent ingredients. As it turns out – I actually didn’t like it quite as much. It seemed a little less flavourful than the Minimalist Baker one – each layer was a little more subdued. But it was still a very delicious recipe (I mean, peanut butter + chocolate = how can you go wrong), so it’s worth discussing anyways.

This recipe has three components:

  1. The brownies
  2. The peanut butter frosting
  3. The chocolate glaze

The Brownies

First up, the brownie base. It all starts with a little saucepan action, where you mix butter and melted chocolate over a low heat til it slowly becomes melty and delicious. Off the heat, you whisk in white sugar, vanilla, and salt by hand – no stand mixer needed (woohoo!).

Next, four eggs get added to the mix one at a time. Again, whisking by hand is the way to do it. This recipe advises to use cold eggs, which is noteworthy because I feel like room temperature eggs is the usual baking norm – cold is fine by me because half the time I forget to take the eggs out of the fridge anyways.

Once the eggs are mixed in, you gently fold in some flour with a spatula. You know what you can’t use to gently fold in flour? That’s right – a stand mixer! The final step – and, in my opinion, a very important one – is to fold in some chopped peanuts. I know not everyone loves nuts in their brownies, but I think the texture it adds is well worth it. Plus, the peanuts tie in nicely with the peanut butter frosting. Don’t skip this step.

So making the brownies is pretty easy and straightforward. The batter gets baked for about half an hour at 325 degrees. Don’t even think about adding the frosting before the brownies cool, or else it’ll turn into a melty, soaked up mess – delicious, surely, but not as pretty.

The Peanut Butter Frosting

The peanut butter frosting is what elevates this dessert from regular old brownies to something a little more special. Now, this section of the recipe begins with, “Working in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment” – discouraging! – BUT it then says “or in a medium bowl with a hand mixer” – better!

You know what’s even better than a hand mixer? A HAND! I used my brute strength and a mix of a whisk and a flexible spatula to “beat” a mixture of peanut butter (homemade) and room temperature butter, When it looked incorporated and smooth (probably not as pro as a stand mixer, but hey – I got a bicep workout), I mixed in icing sugar, a wee bit of sea salt, some nutmeg (which I’m not sure I would add in again – I didn’t love this flavour in the frosting), some milk, and some vanilla. Boom – icing complete.

If your brownies are fully cooled (no cheating!), it is now time to spread the peanut buttery frosting over the brownies.

I think that the frosting layer is the “weak” point of this recipe compared to the Minimalist Baker one. This layer of the MB recipe almond butter (peanut, in my case), a bit of maple syrup, and a bit of sea salt. It is ultra flavourful and nutty and delicious, whereas this frosting almost gets diluted by the icing sugar and butter.

The Chocolate Glaze

Because we can all agree that all baked goods are made better when coated in a layer of glossy chocolate, the final step to this recipe is adding a delicious layer of decadent chocolatey goodness.

The glaze is easy to prepare: butter + chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, similar to the first step in making the brownies. The whole thing gets poured and spread over the frosted brownies, then you have to let it sit in the fridge for a tantalizing hour and half before you can dig in.

The Verdict

I pretty much made these brownies for no real good reason – it wasn’t anyone’s birthday or anything, I just wanted to have something on hand for when I needed to satisfy my sweet tooth. I cut them into small squares and wrapped most of them in tin foil, then put them in a plastic bag and froze them. This made it easy to pop them into lunches or the like.

I actually enjoyed them more out of the freezer (and thawed) than fresh out of the oven – I think it gave the flavours a chance to settle in more or something.

I have to admit that I was a little disappointed overall at these brownies because I couldn’t help but compare them to my beloved Minimalist Baker recipe. However, those who tried them who HADN’T had the MB recipe seemed to really enjoy them. They certainly weren’t a bust or anything, I just don’t know that I will be quick to make them again.

Bobbette & Belle’s Decorative Sugar Cookies: Valentine’s Cookies from the Heart (puns!!!)

I know everyone thinks that their mom is great, but mine really is.

For example, she made my lunch for school every day until the day I graduated Grade 12. From time to time, she would surprise me with a decorated cookie in my lunch box (store bought – my mom is an exquisite cook, but a reluctant baker).

After high school, I moved across the country – and for special occasions, my mom would ship me holiday-themed decorated sugar cookies in the mail. She’d often include one for whatever roommate I had at the time, too. And sometimes, I even managed to save the extra one for the roommate and not eat it myself!

A few weeks before Valentine’s Day, I received a parcel in the mail with a couple of these beauties:

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Frankly, it made my day – and it inspired me to try my hand at baking my own special cookies for a few of my beloved Galetines.

I have long admired people who pipe and flood beautiful cookies, but I have never really given it a try myself. One of my goals for 2018 (besides measuring my ingredients by weight, not by volume) is to work at making my baking more “pretty”. [Note – yes, I wrote this blog post LAST YEAR for Valentine’s Day…] My baked goods usually taste wonderful (which is the top priority, I would argue), but they are sometimes lackluster from an aesthetic point of view. Prettily piped cookies seemed them to be a good exercise for flexing my beautiful baking muscles.

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I was surprised to find that my Dorie’s Cookies cookbook – a book devoted entirely to cookies – didn’t have a simple sugar cookie recipe. Too simple for Dorie, maybe. Luckily, my Bobbette & Belle cookbook has a recipe for Decorative Sugar Cookies. Theirs includes piped flowers, those little silver balls, and some edible gold paint. Mine would be simpler, but still pretty (I hoped).

All too often, sugar cookies are more about the decorations than the taste, but this is actually a wonderful, flavourful recipe. And it’s easy to whip together, too.

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First, you cream butter and sugar together until it is nice and fluffy. You add an egg and some vanilla, then mix in some flour/baking powder/salt.

That’s it! Those are all the ingredients! Easy peasy.

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The dough looks really crumbly, but if you pour it out onto some plastic wrap and smush it together, it comes together just fine.

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It has to chill in the fridge (literally and figuratively) for at least an hour before you can play with it, but one it has had a chance to rest, it is pretty easy to work with.

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I kept my shapes simple: two sizes of cookie cutter hearts.

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The cookies were baked until just barely golden (well… some of them were more golden than others), and while they cooled, I started working on the icing.

Making the icing was easy. Getting it to the right flooding consistency was HARD!

I kept it relatively simple by sticking to just two colours: white and pink. I filled a piping bag with each, only to discover that it was way too thick for proper flooding.

No problem – it’s easier to thin out icing than it is to thicken it, so I just squeezed out the bags and added some water. That should do it…

Not. The icing was still too thick to achieve the flood consistency. Impatience prevailed (the probable cause of my inability to make pretty baked things), and I started piping anyways. I decided to go for a minimalist approach and just outline the cookies. They looked nice, but plain.

I had heaps of leftover icing, so I started playing around with a few, and guess what? They kind of flooded! Only because I’d already outlined all of them (and the outlines were setting), it was impossible to achieve the perfect flood.

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Don’t mind old bite marks in the top right…

So I decided to just have fun with it – after all, that’s how you learn, right? I doodled on my cookies for at least an hour, then realized that my day was wasting away rather quickly and I still had a large to do list to accomplish. I ended up tossing quite a bit of icing, which was disappointing and wasteful.

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Next time, I’ll devote more time to piping. I haven’t given up hope and the cookies are so simple to make that I’m sure I’ll get the chance to give it another go soon.

Luckily, my Valentines aren’t too critical – they loved the cookies, so all’s well ends well.

Thanks for the inspiration, Mom!

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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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.

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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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Bobbette & Belle’s Classic Canadian Butter Tarts – Go, Canada, Go!

Disclaimer: I have a queue of draft posts that I have neglected for whatever reason. This one is from the Olympics back in February – but it seems fitting for Canada Day!


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For most of my life, I thought that I didn’t like butter tarts.

I think it’s because of the name and possibly because I was never quite sure what was in a butter tart (beyond butter).

Just under two years ago, I found myself at the Haliburton Forest & Wildlife Reserve. I was working on a second Woods Canada campaign. The first one had Cedric and I trek across the country, but the second one was an online reality TV style competition and I served as the shuttle driver/content writer/French speaker/general gopher (it was a weird but fun experience). Anyway, I can’t remember what we ate for dinner on this particular night, but I remember eating it outside and I remember that dessert was butter tarts.

At first, I passed. But then, the people who had taken one seemed to have an out-of-body experience, proclaiming that these were the best butter tarts they’d had in their entire lives. Well, that did it – I grabbed for one, and then I had an epiphany: I do like butter tarts!

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Despite my very positive first butter tart experience, I hadn’t had another one since until I recently decided to give the Bobbette & Belle recipe a stab. The occasion: a loosely Canadian-themed celebration in honour of the Opening Ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

I worried at the name of the pastry used for the butter tarts: pate brisee, which translates directly to “broken pastry”. I have found B&B’s pate sucree recipe (used in the Mixed Berry Tart and Mini Blueberry Hand Pies recipe) to taste delicious, but to be extremely finicky to work with.

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I’m pleased to report that the pate brisee is much easier to handle. I love the technique it uses to integrate cold butter with flour/sugar/salt: it calls for the butter to be grated in to the dry ingredients, so you barely have to handle it in order for the pastry to come together.  Brilliant!

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An egg and a little cold water gets added to the dough, then it is mashed into a disc and refrigerated for about three hours. The waiting is always the hardest part!

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Next up: blind baking the pastry. I rolled out my dough and used a 4 inch round paper template (which I printed off from the internet) to stencil and cut out dough circles. The recipe states, “Make sure the pasty expands half an inch above the edge of the muffin cups to allow for shrinkage.” Mine were too small to do this, and although they turned out fine, I might use larger circle templates in the future for a more even tart.

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The blind bake involves putting a cupcake paper over each tart, then filling it with beans and baking for 15 minutes. As always, add a good 10+ minutes to Bobbette & Belle recipes – mine were in about 25 before they started to get a nice golden colour.

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While the shells were cooling, I got to work on the filling. At last, I solved the mystery of what goes into a butter tart. In a word: sugar. In several words: sugar, butter, honey, corn syrup, cream.

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Making the filling is easy, namely because it doesn’t require a candy thermometer – you just have to cook it on the stove top until the sugar is dissolved.

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Once the sweet stuff has melted, you carefully mix in an egg, vanilla, salt, and sugar mixture, finally whisking in some vinegar (which I’m sure does something scientific to make it all come together).

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The recipe calls for straining the mix, which I did, though I’m not sure it did anything. Oh well, better safe than sorry. The glorious filling gets added to the shells, then then whole she-bang bakes until the filling jiggles slightly. As you can see, the filling gets kind of puffy and doesn’t look very butter tart-like – but the whole thing settles as it cools.

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The recipe opener says that the butter tarts should have a filling that has a slightly runny centre – specifically, the words “oozing” and “look like lava” are used. I was incredibly pleased when I cut a test tarte in two and saw flaky pastry with a slightly oozing middle. They were perfect.

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The tarts were very well-received at the Olympic shindig, by Canadians and non-Canadians alike (we had Brits, an Aussie, and a Kiwi in attendance as well – a truly international affair!)

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The pastry and the filling both pull their weight equally here. Each recipe is perfection, and together, they are unstoppable. Like a male and female figure skater in the pairs competition. Or the doubles luge. Or… something.

Butter tarts: I’m officially a fan.

Dorie’s Cookies Classic Brownies – Far Better than a Convenience Store Treat

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I thought the brownie looked very small and lonely on a plate, so I put it on a coaster.

We live dangerously close to a convenience store. When the craving for something sweet hits, it can be awfully tempting to run over and get a candy or a chocolate bar.

When this happens, I often feel myself underwhelmed with the same old mediocre-tasting options – sometimes I just go back home because nothing is calling to me. When I do find something I like, most of the time the enjoyment is merely fleeting. Blaaaaah.

Here’s an alternative I prefer: something easy to whip up – preferably something deliciously decadent – that involves little to no grocery shopping and that takes long enough to make to build anticipation, but is fast enough to enjoy within the hour.

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The Classic Brownies recipe from the Dorie’s Cookies cookbook that I’ve been dipping into is the perfect recipe for this. While I wouldn’t say this is the best brownie I’ve ever had (that honour goes to any brownie from Purebread – all hail Purebread!), it certainly hits all the criteria I listed above.

You probably already have butter, sugar, eggs, salt, flour, and vanilla on hand in your pantry. If you do, you’re most of the way there. The only other two ingredients needed are chocolate (bittersweet or semi-sweet) and optional walnuts. We opted for the walnuts, and I’m glad we did. I don’t trust people who don’t enjoy nuts in their brownies. (Unless, of course, those nuts would kill them or something.)

I always like it when a recipe starts by telling me to preheat the oven – that means there won’t be much waiting around. So far, this recipe is off to a solid start, right?

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With the oven doing its thing, the next step is to melt the butter and chocolate over a double boiler, then once it’s just about finished, you take it off the heat and stir in the sugar. Then the eggs go in, followed by the salt and vanilla.

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The last step is the flour: unlike the previous ingredients, which get mixed in with no abandon, the flour needs to be gently folded in. The last items to get added to the batter are the delicious (and optional) walnuts.

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If you’re reading between the lines here, folks, you’ll realize that this recipe does NOT require a stand mixer (or an electric mixer of any sort). THIS is what a call the perfect quick recipe – minimal waiting, minimal dishes.

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Pre-baked…

Finally, the brownies get baked for 27 to 29 minutes – I put mine in for 29 and they were perfect. These brownies are dense and squat – they’re not the prettiest, to be frank, but I like that they’re firmly in the brownie category, not in the cake category.

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Post baked (droooooool)

Of course, the brownies are delicious while warm, but we managed not to devour the entire pan straight out of the oven. I can attest that they are indeed good after a few days if you take care to store them in a tupperware.

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While I appreciate these no-nonsense brownies for what they are, I am a little intrigued with some of the variations proposed for them:

  • Rum raisin (not so much)
  • Chopped-chocolate brownies (with chunks of chocolate inside – yes, yes, yes)
  • Ginger brownies (sounds weird but probably delicious)
  • Orange brownies (as an avid Terry’s Chocolate Orange fan, sign me up)
  • Cinnamon-mocha brownies (could be interesting)
  • Peppermint brownies (saving this for Christmas)

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Dorie’s Cookies’ Vanilla-Brown Butter Madeleines: A Two-Bite Cupcake

There’s something about madeleines that seems so wonderfully precious to me. Maybe it’s because they share a name with the little French private school character. Maybe it’s because they require their own special pan for baking. Maybe it’s because they’re just so gosh darned dainty and cute that it’s a wonder they haven’t blossomed into macaron-territory popularity. (Mark my words: madeleines will be the on-trend dessert of 2019 or 2020).

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My own history with madeleines is somewhat hazy. Until Christmas morning, I didn’t own madeleine pans, so I never got the chance to try to bake my own. Until now, my exposure had been limited to some store bought ones I tried when I was around 10. I can’t remember especially liking them – but I also can’t remember not liking them.

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Nonetheless, I was eager to put my new pans to work and decided to test them out with the most simple and classic of madeleine flavours: vanilla-brown butter, from my Dorie’s Cookies cookbook.

Here’s the thing with madeleines: Dorie stresses that they should be consumed as shortly after being baked as possible. I was preparing these for an evening book club meeting, so I started to bake them just as the sun was going down. This means that the pictures get progressively worse – sorry for that. Is anyone else counting down eagerly until the days get long again?

Step one is to prepare the special madeleine pans by greasing them and flouring them. Check and check. Next, you whisk the dry goods together: all-purpose flour and baking powder. So far so good.

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Now, the butter. The butter gets melted and swirled on the stove top for a little while – after all, this recipe is called vanilla brown butter. When the butter is amber-esque and smells nutty and delicious, it gets pulled off the heat.

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Meanwhile, you mix white sugar with eggs, vanilla, salt, and honey – the wets.

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For those keeping track, we now have three bowls going on: the butter, the dry, and the wet. It is now time to unite them as one: you gently stir the wet with the dry, then fold the butter, bit by bit. Finally, you add a bonus ingredient. The bonus ingredient is a tablespoon of either Scotch, bourbon, dark rum, or milk (… one of these things is not like the other…). I had some bourbon left over from the sticky toffee pudding I made somewhat recently, so I threw it in there – and you know what? The boozy kick was pretty noticeable, considering it was only a tablespoon! I’d like to see how the taste differs if I use milk instead.

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The batter then gets poured into the mad-pan. The recipe says it yields 12 madeleines, but mine made 20 (bonus!!). They bake at a high-ish temperature (400 degrees) for a short-ish amount of time (12 minutes), then you have to tap them out of their shells right away.

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Aaaaand this is about where the sun had totally gone down and the pictures really suck.

(I’m not sure why it’s so urgent, but the recipe told me so. Maybe because they would keep baking and they’d dry out quickly? Who knows.)

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I decided to kick my madeleines up one final notch by dipping them ever so slightly in some melted dark chocolate. This was not part of the recipe directions, but it was the right call – otherwise the madeleines may have been just a bit too plain.

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The last step: a dusting of icing sugar (this step was called for by the recipe).

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I tried to get an inside shot so you can get a sense of the texture. Kind of springy, kind of bouncy – very tasty.

Now, I don’t know exactly what madeleines are supposed to taste like, but I’ll do my best to sum it up and someone can let me know if I made them correctly. They kind of taste like a mini two-bite cupcake – they’re light, and they have a nice springy texture. They’re not overly sweet, but they’re not terribly exciting either. Or maybe that’s just because I picked a boring flavour. The good news is that I’ve got some more exciting varieties to try both in this cookbook and another. Stay tuned – exciting madeleines coming your way soon.

Dorie’s Cookies “My Newest Chocolate Chip Cookies” Recipe Review

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A picky comment – the photography in Dorie’s Cookies is not my favourite. But as I continue to bake (and photograph) my own cookies, I’m realizing it is kind of hard to photograph cookies in exciting, unconventional ways. Respect to food stylists!

It is no secret that Cedric is a fan of chocolate chip cookies.

As I have previously explained, in our household, we like to make a batch of cookie dough and freeze individually portioned cookies so that when the need for something sweet hits, we simply have to throw a few cookie pucks in the oven and voila: instant fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies.

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Recently, our freezer stash dwindled down to dangerously low supply levels and I decided it was time to make a new batch. Naturally, I knew I had to try a chocolate chip cookie recipe from my new Dorie’s Cookies cookbook – but which one?

I should have known that a cookbook devoted entirely to cookies would contain more than one chocolate chip cookie recipe – it is, after all, a classic. Here were my options:

  • Kerrin’s Multigrain Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • My Newest Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • My Classic Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Two-Bite One-Chip Cookies

I opted for “My Newest Chocolate Chip Cookies” – Dorie’s latest remix of her original “My Classic Best Chocolate Chip Cookies” recipe.

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So what’s different about this recipe? Most chocolate chip cookie recipes vary only very slightly – but even the smallest change in sugar/butter/flour ratio, type of sugar used, cooking temperature, and cooking time can have radical effects. (Yes, chocolate chip cookies can be radical.) This particular recipe features a blend of all-purpose and whole-wheat flour and white and brown sugar for optimal chewiness. It uses baking soda, not baking powder, and it calls for a couple of unconventional spices (for chocolate chip cookies at least): nutmeg and coriander.

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I didn’t have any coriander on hand (isn’t coriander cilantro? do I really want that it my cookie?), but Dorie says that we can use our discretion when it comes to including or omitting the spices. I kept the nutmeg but left out the coriander.

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This recipe is as quick to make as any chocolate chip recipe is, though it calls for at least an hour in the fridge before baking. I rolled up most of my dough into individual cookies to freeze for later, but I did bake a few so that I could give this recipe the review it deserves.

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The recipe says to bake for 9 to 11 minutes. I left mine in for 10, and they looked perfect coming out: pale in the middle (chewiness galore!), brown on the edges. The pictures in the cookbook look a little darker than mine, but after I let mine sit for a few minutes, they were the perfect texture. If I had let them get darker, I think they would have been too crispy for my liking.

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Right out of the oven

The greatest challenge with chocolate chip cookies is knowing that they taste even better if you let them sit for a little while and cool fully – but also knowing that there is nothing better than a still-hot cookie with chocolate that oozes. I compromised: I ate my cookie straight out of the oven, and I left two cookies to cool fully for Cedric to sample when he got home.

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We both really liked this cookie. I’ll have to try a few more of the freezer ones before I make a final judgment call, and I’m definitely looking forward to trying some of the other chocolate chip cookie recipes in this book (the Kerrin’s recipe includes buckwheat flour and kasha – I don’t even know what kasha is!)

One final note on chocolate chip cookies: some people wonder if there is really such thing as a bad chocolate chip cookie. Oh, but there is – and for some reason, cafes and bakeries often serve substandard versions. As a kid, I loved the Tim Horton’s and Subway ones, but now the texture bothers me and so does the crystalized sugar taste. One local cafe (I won’t name names) serve puck-like chocolate chip cookies that are too hard and crumbly; another is disappointingly bland and low on actual chocolate.

So yes, it is possible to botch the chocolate chip cookie. And no, that is not a concern with this recipe – thankfully.