7.29.2013

#91) Lemon Poppyseed Sandwich Cookies with Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling


As I was bustling around the kitchen making these lovely little sweet treats, it dawned on me just how much I have missed baking over the past year.  Don't get me wrong, I simply adore the trips to the playground, the toddler cuddles, and the countless other adorable 'mommy' things that have been occupying my time lately... but there is something about a dusting of flour over the countertop, the smell of freshly baked cookies, and licking the icing bowl clean that makes me dance around the kitchen with a goofy grin on my face.

For my 'come-back' recipe I wanted to use some fresh summer flavours - lemon and strawberry are two of my favourites and I figured it would be even better to mix them together than to just use one.  The cookies have a crisp lemon flavour and they melt in your mouth.  The filling has the expected tang of cream cheese frosting balanced with the sweetness of strawberry jam.

Mr Treat has a very different opinion than I regarding how much filling is appropriate in a sandwich cookie.  His philosophy - less is more (let the flavours blend, not compete).  My philosophy - more is more (let the flavours scream from the rooftops that they are here!).  He won this time, but I will leave it to you to decide how much of this scrumptious frosting filling to sandwich between your cookies (note that I only used about half of the frosting this recipe made and am currently looking into how to use it up in another recipe before I devour it all with a spoon).

And although I wouldn't suggest handing over the platter of cookies to any kid, Toddler Treat thoroughly enjoyed the bite or two he stole from his momma's treat.



Cookies

Ingredients 

1 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
1 ½ cups icing sugar
1 egg, room temperature
2 tsp lemon zest (1 large lemon or 2 small lemons)
2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 tsp vanilla, or seeds of 1 vanilla pod
3-3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
2 tsp poppy seeds


Steps

Preheat oven to 400°F.
On low speed and with whisk attachment, cream together butter and icing sugar until pea-sized beads form. 
Change to paddle attachment.  Add the egg, zest, juice, and vanilla.  Scrape sides and bottom of bowl and mix on low to combine.
In a large bowl sift together 3 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt then add to the wet ingredients one cupful at a time. 
Mix until the dough forms a ball on the paddle.  Add a little extra flour if the dough seems sticky. 
Roll out on parchment paper to about 1/4" thickness (if your dough is slightly sticky you will need to dust with flour occasionally . Cut into desired shapes and bake for 7-9 minutes, or until slightly firm and lightly golden on the bottom.  Carefully remove from own and let cool completely on wire rack.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling
Ingredients

4 ounces cream cheese (half a block), chilled
1/4 cup butter or margarine, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons strawberry jam
Steps
With paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.

Add 2 1/2 cups of icing sugar, and beat until the sugar is incorporated. The mixture will be thick. 

With the mixer on low speed, add 2 tablespoons of jam and beat until well combined. Add more jam by the tablespoon if necessary to create a smooth texture. The filling, however, should remain thick.

Assembly
Transfer the filling to a pastry bag and pipe filling onto the underside of half the cookies. Top the filling of each with a second cookie.  Chill until the filling is firm.
*Yield will vary depending on thickness and diameter of cutouts.


7.08.2012

#90) Coco Chai Rooibos Chiffon Cake with Maple Meringue

Inspiration, according to Oxford Dictionaries, is "the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative."

For the first installment of Anna's Bake Off, Anna Olson has asked her fans to make her Earl Grey Chiffon Cake with Maple Meringue (or add your own creative flair).  She also asked that we keep tea time in mind for our photos and talk to her about what inspires us.  

Well, I went the creative route and made a couple little changes to the recipe.  First of all, I halved the cake recipe as husband and I have no will power whatsoever and would devour the entire thing between the two of us. I used David's Tea Coco Chai Rooibos (amazing!) as the flavor base for the cake, used some vanilla sugar I had kicking around, and I traded out the lemon zest for orange zest.  I also added some sugar shards as a garnish to finish it all off.


As for my inspiration, well, can you see the springtime tea pot in the background there?  Well that springtime tea pot represents my spring baby, who made his début just 10 weeks ago.  In such a short time this little bundle has changed my life incredibly and he has come to inspire me in so many ways.  His adorable giggles are proof that I can do the hardest job in the world and that alone inspires me to throw myself headfirst into any other challenges that come my way.  Boiling syrup - why not?  Making meringue - no problem!  This kid's momma can do anything :)  (Well, she can try to anyway)

Just an FYI - this was my very first attempt at a chiffon cake and seeing as I had never made one before, I didn't have the proper tube pan in the kitchen.  Although the end product was delicious, because I couldn't cool the cake upside down, there was a certain airiness missing.  So my advice to all you chiffon cake newbies - get the right pan!

Coco Chai Rooibos Chiffon Cake

Ingredients

1 1/2  tsp Coco Chai Rooibos loose tea
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp  boiling water
4 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup + 2 tbsp pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar, seperated
1/4 cup vanilla sugar
1 1/4 tsp  baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 egg yolks, room temperature
1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1.5 oz  milk chocolate, chopped and melted

Steps

- Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Keep an 10-inch tube pan ungreased.  (I used 8-inch round pan - not the best idea I ever had)

- Steep the tea in the boiling water, until the water cools to room temperature.  Remove tea diffuser.

- Whip the whites with the cream of tartar until foamy, then add 2 tbsp of the sugar and continue whipping until the whites hold a medium peak.  Set aside.
- Sift flour, remaining sugar, vanilla sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl or into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment.  Add cooled tea, vegetable oil, egg yolks, vanilla and orange zest.  Whip this mixture on high until it is thick, about 4 minutes.  Add the melted milk chocolate and whip in on low speed.  Fold in half of the whipped egg whites by hand until they are incorporated, then fold in the remaining whites (the batter will be quite fluid).

- Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top of the cake springs back when gently pressed.  (With the right kind of pan...) Invert the cake pan onto a cooling rack and cool the cake upside down in its pan.  To extract the cake, run a spatula or knife around the outside edge of the cake, then tap the cake out onto a plate.

Maple Meringue

Ingredients 

2  egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp  cream of tartar
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup  pure maple syrup

Steps

- Whip egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy, then add sugar and whip to a soft peak.  

- Bring maple syrup to a boil and cook uncovered and without stirring until it reaches a temperature of 242 F (softball stage) on a candy thermometer.  

- While beating on medium speed, carefully pour maple syrup into meringue by pouring it down the side of the bowl (this will help prevent splashing of hot syrup) and continue whipping until mixture has cooled but is not quite room temperature, about 3 minutes.

- Use a spatula to spread the meringue over the entire surface of the cake (use a small spatula or butter knife to frost the cake inside the center hole).  


Sugar Shards

Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Steps

- Combine sugar and water in sauce pan.  Heat and stir on medium-low until sugar is dissolved.

- Boil, uncovered, on medium-high for 5-10 minutes, without stirring, until deep golden brown color.

- Pour onto greased baking sheet and let cool for 20 minutes.

- Use knife to break into shards. 

- Use tongs to garnish cake with shards (to avoid pesky finger prints on your pretty sugar shards).

7.02.2012

#89) Strawberry Surprise Mini Cupcakes

Wow!  So much to share...  and not just the delicious little cupcakes in the picture :)


Husband and I have welcomed our own little sweetie into the world!  Our little man is already 9 weeks old and is perfect in every possible way :)  He has changed our lives in so many ways, but it seems like things are just how they were always meant to be - a truly amazing feeling.  It blows me away how much he changes each and every single day... before you know it he'll be making sweet treats of his own, maybe like these cute little cupcakes :)

Now, for anyone who reads my recipes, you know I am a chocoholic at heart - there's no denying it.  So the thought of a simple vanilla cupcake doesn't really excite me all that much, but throw some homemade Strawberry Rhubarb Apple Jam in the middle of that thing and I am all over it!  Top it all off with some fluffy Strawberry Rhubarb Frosting and I will devour it :)  So that's just what I did.  Give it a try and let me know how many you chow down before sharing!

Vanilla Cupcakes

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup vanilla sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup Strawberry Rhubarb Apple Jam, recipe found here

Steps

-Preheat oven to 350F.  Line mini cupcake pan with paper liners.
-Cream butter and sugars.
-Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
-Whisk together dry ingredients in small bowl.
-Alternately add dry ingredients and milk, stirring to incorporate after each addition.
-Divide half the batter between 24 mini cupcake liners.
-Spoon 1/2 teaspoon of jam into each liner.
-Cover jam with remaining batter.
-Bake for 7-9 minutes.
-Let cool completely.  Frost and enjoy!

*makes 24 mini cupcakes

Strawberry Rhubarb Frosting

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup icing sugar
2-3 tbsp Strawberry Rhubarb Apple Jam, depending on personal taste

Steps

-Cream butter.
-Slowly beat in icing sugar.
-Stir in jam.

4.21.2012

#88) Cocoa Bliss Chocolate Cake

Okay guys, we've got less than two weeks left to go until our little bun comes out of the oven!  It sure is a very exciting time for us and we couldn't be happier, but I have a feeling if you asked my husband what the hardest part of having a pregnant wife is, he would surely say something about all the munchie missions I have sent him on in the last 9 months.  I have asked for everything from chips to burgers to slushies...  But for those of you who know me well, you know that I have asked, even begged, for chocolate cake!  And this hasn't been one of these one-time only, limited time offer cravings either - this one pops up every other week.  (My poor husband!)  So, knowing my weakness for homemade versus store-bought cake, he offered to make me a decadent, over-the-top chocolate cake full of whipping cream, cream cheese, and butter...  Oh yeah, I am that lucky ladies!  But sometimes its the simplest things in life that bring the most pleasure, so we worked together and made this very simple yet very satisfying chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  No fancy ingredients, just all the good ones :)  Try it out the next time you are craving chocolate cake and you won't be disappointed, I promise!

                                                       Photo by souRIRE photography


Chocolate Cake 

Ingredients

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder (the better the cocoa, the better the cake!)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk (I used half evaporated milk and half water)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (don't skimp, trust me its worth every drop)
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup boiling water

Steps

-Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans.

-Mix together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.

-In a small bowl gently whisk together eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla.  Add to dry ingredients and mix on medium until well-incorporated.

-Stir in boiling water (don't worry, the batter really is supposed to be that thin).  Pour batter into prepared pans.

-Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool in pans for about 10 minutes, then remove and let cool on wire racks.  Let cool completely then slather on the icing :)


Chocolate Icing

Ingredients

1/2 cup margarine, melted (I didn't have any butter in the fridge)
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Steps

-Stir together melted butter and cocoa.  Add about 1 cup of icing sugar then half the milk.  Stir to incorporate.

-Add the remaining icing sugar, milk, and vanilla.  Stir to combine.  (At this point I like to give my Kitchen Aid a good work out and let it whip that frosting for several minutes to make it as fluffy as possible - so delicious!)

*Be sure to check out this week's "Sweets for a Saturday" here: http://sweet-as-sugar-cookies.blogspot.ca/2012/04/sweets-for-saturday-66.html

3.17.2012

#87) Chewy Oatmeal Crunchies & an Announcement

I haven't been around much lately, have I?  Not since July!  I have a laundy list of excuses to explain my absence, if you're interested...

Let's see...  where to start???  Well let's start with August...

August - travelled to best friends' wedding :)  brought parents back to the Big Land :):)  (didn't leave a lot of computer time)

September - new job, oh and (warning, big announcement coming up...) first trimester exhaustion = zombie

*That's right, we've got a bun in the oven!!!!!  And well, he's almost ready to make his début (6 more weeks).

October & November - I worked and I slept, that is all.  Who knew a baby the size of a pea needed so much of momma's energy?????

December & January - tried to catch up on some of the regular things I had missed out on in October and November (husband, friends, dog, etc.)

February & March - oh this is a fun one... Sick leave due to pregnancy-related, severe hip and pelvic pain (this makes buzzing around in the kitchen pretty much impossible...  these cookies would not exist if it wasn't for husband's help, trust me.)

So there you have it, my plea for your forgiveness.  I promise to do better from now on, really, I do!  Please accept these cookies as my sincere apology.  They are chewy and crunchy all at the same time, thanks to the rice crispies (who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?).

PS - Stay tuned, I think there might be another sweet treat in the near future, if I can walk tomorrow, that is :)




Ingredients

2/3 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla
2 cups rolled oats, old-fashioned (not instant)
1 cup flour
1 cup rice crispies
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Steps

-Pre-heat oven to 375F.

-Beat butter and brown sugar unitl fluffy.

-Beat in egg and vanilla.

-Add dry ingredients.

-Stir in chocolate chips.

-Spoon heaping tablespoonfuls onto greased or lined cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.

-Bake for 10 minutes or until golden.  Let cool on pan for 2 minutes, before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

*makes about 3 dozen cookies.

7.29.2011

#86) Starwberry Rhubarb Apple Jam

While I was thinking abut what to write for this post it dawned on me it is really all about generosity - the generosity of others to be more specific.

See, all the major players in this post - the strawberries and rhubarb in the jam, and the bread in the photo - were all given to me.  The strawberries and the homemade whole wheat bread are from my generous mother-in-law, and the rhubarb was a gift from one of husband's co-workers (those Rhubarb Pie Cupcakes I sent him to work with must have been ok :p).

The other "invisible" key player in this post is the food science lesson I learned thanks to Christina over at Form V Artisan.  She has a couple of posts where she generously explained the science behind making strawberry jam - all about negatively charged pectin and candy thermometers - the whole bit.  So I took what I learned from her and applied it to my own jam concoction, and I have to say, it worked out just as she said it would!

So you see, all you need sometimes to be inspired to get in the kitchen is the generosity of others!

Now on to the recipe - it was my first attempt ever at homemade jam...  I usually leave the jam making to my aunt who generously brings some to Newfoundland for me each summer.  But I decided I am a big girl now and it is time to figure out how to do it myself.  The jam has a great texture - thick, smooth, and sticky :)  Husband would have liked some more fruit chunks, but what can I say, I like smooth jam so I mashed away at the fruit while it was cooking :)  There is a touch too much cinnamon so next time (yes, there will be a next time) I will add maybe just half.  And oddly enough, the one little apple I added for extra pectin packed a lot of punch.  Next time maybe just half an apple.

So there you have it - my first ever homemade jam!  Hope you enjoy :)

Ingredients

2 2/3 cups rhubarb, chopped (if frozen, let thaw first)
1 cup strawberries, chopped (if frozen, let thaw first)
1 granny smith apple, peeled and chopped into small pieces
1 1/3 cup sugar (don't skimp! see this post)
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Steps

-Add rhubarb, strawberries, and apple to a large pot and put over medium heat.  Stir occasionally until some liquid has been released (3-5 minutes).
-Add sugar and cinnamon and bring to a boil.  Let boil for 3 minutes, then add lemon juice.
-If you have a candy thermometer, attach it to your pot and continue to boil, stirring occasionally until you get to 220F.  (If you do not have a candy thermometer, continue to boil, stirring occasionally until mixture is thick and resembles syrup - about 15-20 minutes.  You will see the bottom of the pan as you stir.)
-Transfer to sterilized jar(s) and let cool completely before refrigerating.

*I got two small jars of jam, which would be about one large jar.  If you double, triple, quadruple, etc this recipe be sure to do so precisely.

7.25.2011

A Blog Birthday and an Epic Fail


A few days ago Sweet Treats turned 3!!! (Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Sweet Treats, Happy Birthday to you.)  So I thought it would be a cool idea to run a poll here and on our facebook page to see which one of our favourite recipes we should revisit for the occasion.  Surprise, surprise - peanut butter balls won!  (Chocolate and peanut butter - always a favourite!)

But just revisiting a recipe wasn't exciting enough.  I thought it would be really fun to put a new spin on an old favourite.  So what can you do to a peanut butter ball, I wondered...  Add BACON of course!!!
In theory - great idea.  In reality - kind of a fail.

I made the peanut butter ball filling as per usual and then added 6 strips of crumbled bacon.  I thought for sure the bacon flavour would add that nice smoky, salty layer to the peanut butter...  Um, no!  The bacon got totally lost in the peanut butter and all I was left with were peanut butter balls with added calories :(

Even though the recipe didn't work out the way I had hoped, I am still very happy that Sweet Treats has been around for three whole years and look forward to future blog birthdays.  And I am very thankful for all the readers across the world who take the time to stop by Sweet Treats every now and again.  Keep it coming - I will have new treats soon, I promise...  Strawberry rhubarb jam anyone???  Stay tuned!

Speaking of birthdays, I have one coming up very soon and can't decide what kind of sweet treat to celebrate with.  Suggestions?