Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The Baking Medic has moved!

The Baking Medic has moved!

Come check out my new and improved site here:


See you there!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins with Oat Flour

Before we get to the baking, I'd like share a few photos from the cottage so far. A few days ago, the lake was like glass again so we took the boat out to go fishing (alas, no trout) and then across the lake to Hugo Bay.

I can't get over the brilliance of the colours of this lake.

Then, yesterday we "kids" took the car out to the Caves, out near Mile 25. There we hiked around the crevices on the rocky shore of the lake. I'd always just taken the clearly marked path, but it was beautiful to step off it and do a bit scrambling!

Where am I, you ask? Why someone has to take the pictures!

Before breakfast yesterday morning I spied one of the calendars that "Milk" releases. The recipes, of course, feature and encourage the use of milk, cream, and cheese in cooking. I found this recipe for banana chocolate chip muffins and immediately wanted to try it.

Banana chocolate chip muffins are not in and of themselves very interesting (but that doesn't mean they're not tasty!). But what sets these are part from being little muffin-shaped pieces of banana bread is the addition of oat flour. Yup, that's right: oat flour -- oats that have been ground so finely as to form a powder.

The original recipe came from one of the "Milk" calendars and called for half all purpose flour and half whole wheat. I, not having whole wheat flour, decided to instead use 3/4 all purpose flour and 1/4 oat flour.

The muffins have a good chocolate and banana taste, due to the cocoa and 2 large mashed bananas. They're also a treat studded with chocolate chips. These fit in the "sweet" breakfast or snack category, but I'd even go so far as to say that they'd make a good dessert.

So, without any ado, enjoy!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins with Oat Flour
adapted from the 2009 Milk Calendar


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup oat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 each, baking soda and salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2)
1/4 cup oil
1 cup chocolate chips.


1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 12 muffin tray or line with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, combine all purpose and oat flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together sugar and cocoa; wish in egg, milk, bananas, and oil. Pour over dry ingredients and add chocolate chips. Stir until just moistened.

3. Spoon evenly into prepared muffin try. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick, when inserted, comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. Or eat warm with a glass of milk!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Chocolate Fudge Chip Cookies

I am one lucky girl. Every summer, with two exceptions, I have been coming to northern Manitoba with my family. We have a cottage on Clearwater Lake, about 20 minutes out from the town of The Pas.

It is so beautiful here, in more ways than one. Firstly, the natural beauty is stunning. The waters of the lake are breath taking in their clarity -- you can see the bottom of the lake from the middle of the bay! At night, you can catch a glimpse of the northern lights or track the fiery journey of a shooting star against the black, black sky. It's quiet and peaceful and once a friend from London commented on the amazing (to her) fact that you could see an uninterrupted horizon in a 360 direction, without the smear of a jet stream across the sky's even surface.

Yesterday, my brother, his girlfriend, and I arrived in Winnipeg from Toronto then met my dad and drove up to The Pas. There was an interesting "landmark" that we encountered on our drive up: the giant Prairie Chicken next to the gas station in Ashern. I bet you don't see those too often!

Also, it was our annual 'four cottages' August long weekend dinner and we arrived just in time for the food. The Gemmil's spent the afternoon roasting an entire half pig on a spit! And there was a wonderful array of salads, potatoes, homemade applesauce, and meatballs.

And if that wasn't enough, my grandma and mum made both pumpkin and lemon meringue pie and Sally Gemmil brought the too-cute brownie bites topped with cool whip and fruit.
The baking medic also water skiis. How about that?

It certainly feels good to be back at the cottage. Summer just wouldn't be summer without a visit to Clearwater.

Anyways, this post is also about cookies. Chocolate fudge chip cookies to be exact. I mentioned a few days ago that my attempt at making chocolate fudge was only semi-successful. So, I pulled out Alton Brown's recipe for "the Puffy" chocolate chip cookie (one of my favourites) and decided that it would taste fantastic with the added richness of the fudge crumbs.

I will admit that these cookies did not turn out how I had imagined them. My visions included puffy, cakes cookies dotted with pieces of warm fudge. I had not antipitated that the fudge crumbs would melt. As a result, my cookies flattened out almost completely! Still, they have a slightly crispy edge and a nice chewy centre. Not to mention a lovely chocolate, fudgy taste. They were an accidental hit! Unfortunately, as I don't know when I'll next be making fudge, I don't know when I'll next get a chance to make these cookies.

Still, if you've got some fudge crumbs kicking around, give these puppies a try; you won't be disappointed!

Chocolate Fudge Chip Cookies
adapted from Alton Brown's "The Puffy"

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cups milk chocolate chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate fudge crumbs


Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the butter, sugar, and brown sugar in the mixer's work bowl, and cream until light and fluffy. In the meantime, sift together the cake flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside.

Add the eggs 1 at a time to the creamed mixture. Then add vanilla. Increase the speed until thoroughly incorporated.

With the mixer set to low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and combine well. Stir in the fudge crumbs and milk chocolate chips. Chill the dough. Scoop rounded tablespoons of batter onto greased baking sheets. Bake for 10-12, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool and store in an airtight-container. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack, or you risk disemboweling you cookies! (Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, becuase you'll of course have to eat the "dead" ones.;) )

Friday, 31 July 2009

I love Birthdays!

So, this Sunday is head hancho at the office's birthday. My boss asked if I wouldn't mind baking a cake for him. Of course, I said I would do it in an instant.

I pondered briefly the age old question of "chocolate or vanilla?" before deciding on Dorie's Perfect Party Cake. The cake is a classic, and I've made it twice now with success. The first time I made it as cupcakes and this time I baked it in a 9"x13" pan. The cake cake out a bit flatter than I expected, but I also recall that the cupcakes didn't rise a whole bunch either.

That being said, there was plenty of cake to go around and I sliced the slab of cake in thirds and stacked them on top of each other. That, combined with the great buttercream icing recipe I borrowed from The Repressed Pastry Chef (great blog, check it out!), is one heck of a cake! The one thing I will say about the buttercream is that it used Crisco as well as butter. I'm not sure if I'm a huge fan of the shortening taste in my icing. It makes it taste more like a "commercial" cake. Still, it was delicious and I managed to slather practically a whole recipe of her icing onto my cake.

So, without further ado, Dorie's Perfect Party Cake and Em's Favourite Buttercream Icing (Click on the link for the icing recipe.)

Dorie's Perfect Party Cake

adapted from Dorie's Baking: From My Home to Yours

(for 2 9inch pans)
2 1/4 C cake flour (Substitute: add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to a cup, then fill until level with all purpose flour)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 C whole milk or buttermilk (I used 2% -- turned out fine)
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp grated lemon zest (I omitted this)
1 stick (or 1/2 C or 4 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp pure lemon extract (I added vanilla extract instead -- if you use the lemon, go with buttermilk)

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-x-2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To Make the Cake: Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.

Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter, and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and will aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula (or one 9"x13" pan).

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (I baked mine for 25 min), or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch- a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (The cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)

Cheers and enjoy!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

A Tale of Three Fudges

Fudge. Even the name sounds decadent. It’s rich, it’s creamy, and it’s sweet enough to send any kid swinging from the rafters. It’s also one of my favourite confections of all time.

I find it very interesting to see how fudge has evolved, or at least our methods of preparing it. Some recipes take hours to make, as you painstakingly dissolve the sugar and cream, boil it to the soft ball stage, then let it cool, before giving it a thorough beating. This past week, I attempted no less than three different fudge recipes, each one slightly different and with varying results.

Firstly, I attempted a maple fudge recipe. This recipe used maple syrup, not maple extract and relied on condensed milk for its creaminess. This recipe was very tasty and plenty sweet enough, however I think I heated the mixture too fast. The condensed milk seemed to separate from the sugar/syrup solution. I thought it was all lost, but I decided to see it through. Funnily enough, it really came together when I was at the beating stage. The texture was still a little lumpy, and a wee bit soft, but my co-workers had no trouble gobbling it up!

The second type of fudge belongs to the “good old fashioned” genre. It relies on sugar, unsweetened chocolate, and cream which is boiled to the soft ball stage. You then have to let it cool undisturbed until it reaches the “lukewarm” temperature, about 110F. I’d say that this was my favourite of all the recipes. The texture was melt in your mouth smooth, and it was deliciously rich and chocolately. However, never forget that candy make is a very delicate process. Whilst I was beating the fudge, I turned away for literally a second. When I returned my gaze to the bowl, I was horrified to discover that the fudge that I’d been slaving away for over an hour and half had solidified and was no longer capable of being poured into the prepared pan. With a sigh, I let it cool completely in the pot before scraping out what I could.

I have a large tupperwear container full of fudge crumbs, which I will most likely use in a blondie/cookie recipe in the near future. The crumbs themselves are divine so I don't think that this attempt was a complete failure.

The third type of fudge that I made I would deem to be the “modern” fudge. It took about 20 minutes of preparation and uses chocolate, condensed milk, and marshmallows as it’s base. As a result, it had a much firmer and chewier texture than the other two types of fudge. It was good, but I definitely prefer the chocolate one to this one. Still, if it’s a question of spending 2 hours making fudge, or 20 minutes, I’d take this recipe. I modified the recipe slightly, as I didn’t have marshmallow crème. Instead, I used 10 oz of marshmallows (as directed) and added about a table spoon of corn or golden syrup. I also substituted white chocolate for semi-sweet and swirled a few cranberries on top.

All three of the fudges were very well received! It must be noted though, that if you decide to attempt to make fudge that is anything other than the marshmallow based fudge, a candy thermometer is an invaluable piece of equipment. Like I said earlier, fudge making is a finicky process that requires both finesse and practice. Luckily, you probably won’t be hard pressed to find those willing to eat your trial runs! ;)

I certainly had fun tackling fudge making. It’s certainly something I’ll try again in the future and I’ll be careful not to turn my back for a second on these tricksy confections!

Here are the links to the recipes I used: Maple Syrup Fudge, Chocolate Fudge (This website also has some really neat info about the science behind candy making -- highly recommended), and Marshmallow Fudge.

Happy fudge making and enjoy!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares

The combination chocolate and peanut butter is not a new concept. Since the mid-1920s, people have been enjoying the indulgent (but oh so delicious) Reese's peanut butter cups.

These were a creation inspired the flavours of the famous peanut butter cups -- my first baked good recipe made up entirely by myself. It must be said, that I was partly motivated by the sizeable bag of biscuits that my brother had brought home from work. He is a stock boy at a bulk food store, and since the majority of the cookies were broken, his manager was planning on throwing them away. I think he had me in mind when he salvaged the bag of cookies.

So, equipped with a bag of mostly broken biscuits and a craving for chocolate and peanut butter, I came up with these: Krissy's Chocolate and Peanut Butter Squares.

The bars themselves are quite simple. They have a no-bake crust made of crushed cookies, cocoa, sugar, and butter, which is slathered with a peanut butter icing. To top it off, melted chocolate is drizzled on top for a nice crisscrossed (or should I say starcrossed) effect.

I found that the peanut butter icing was fluffier than I expected it to be, perhaps as a result of beating it with my electric mixer. If I make these again, I might try reserving some cookie crumbs and mixing them in with the peanut butter icing to see how that effects the texture.

Anyways, enjoy my first original recipe!
Krissy's Chocolate and Peanut Butter Squares


2 cup cookie crumbs
2 T cocoa powder
3 T sugar
½ cup melted butter

1 ½ cup peanut butter
1 cup icing sugar
1 t vanilla

2 oz chocolate, melted

Line a 8" square baking pan with aluminum foil. Using a food processor, add the cookie pieces and blitz them until they are only crumbs. In a midsized bowl, combine cookie crumbs, cocoa, and sugar and stir until ingredients are evenly mixed. Add melted butter and stir until well combined and all of the crumbs are moistened.

Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Place in the fridge until needed.

In another bowl, beat together peanut butter, icing sugar and vanilla. Spread on top of crumb base.

Melt chocolate in microwave, using 20 second intervals. At the end of each interval, take the bowl out and give the chocolate a good mix. When the chocolate is melted, drizzle it over the top of the peanut butter icing.

Place chocolate peanut butter squares in fridge for at least 30 minutes or until you are ready to enjoy your chocolate and peanut buttery treat!

Makes 16 servings

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookies -- No Swine Flu!

Yes, although these are "Mexican" Chocolate Chip cookies, there is nothing remotely swine flu-esque about them. (Perhaps that joke was a bit in poor taste, but when you work in a lab that deals with swine flu samples daily, the words "Does not contain swine flu extract" might be a little more appropriate. ;) )

In fact, these cookies were delicious. I baked a batch yesterday and brought at least two dozen cookies in with me this morning. When I went to see how many were left, only two lonely cookies remained. Even they found their way into my coworkers' tummies soon after.

So, a huge resounding success. I found the original recipe whilst browsing the blog, Cookie Madness, a blog with absolutely dozens of decadent, mouthwatering cookie recipes. There is a reason the blog is called cookie madness!

What caught my eye about this recipe was that not only was in listed in the "Top 5 cookies of all time" section, it wasn't just your plain, old chocolate chip cookie. Don't get me wrong though, I looooove chocolate chip cookies -- but lately I've been in very much of a cinnamon mood. And this recipe spiced up it's traditional counterpart by including not only cinnamon, but a wee bit of cayenne pepper as well. But truly the star of this cookie is the chopped up chunks of (in my case), Abuelita.

Abuelita is a brand of Mexican hot chocolate, and does not come as a powder. Instead, it is packaged as a series of disks which can be broken into pieces and dissolved into hot milk. The chocolate itself contains spices, most prominently cinnamon, and is made with granulated sugar. I speak from experience when I say that it makes some delicious hot chocolate, and would be an awesome complement to these cookies.

I think Abuelita can be found at most grocery stores, although I have to confess I'm not sure. We had some on hand in the pantry, but I do not know if it was a stowaway from my parents trip to Mexico a few months back or if we managed to find it in Canada.

Hopefully you will be able to find some Abuelita or other bricked Mexican hot chocolate, for drinking or for these cookies.

As for the cookies themselves, they surprised me a bit by flattening out as they baked. I suppose I was lulled into thinking I'd get nice round, puff ball cookies since the last two batches of cookies I've made have been Alton Brown's The Puffy and the Chocolate Covered Raisin Oatmeal cookies.

Still, they stayed soft and chewy -- even after they'd cooled to room temperature. The warm cinnamon flavours, mixed with dark chunks really stole the show. However, I found that the yield of this recipe was way too low. It was estimated to give about 32 cookies; I know I baked about 42 and I was not being stingy on cookies size. Still, I guess it depends if you want bakery-style giant cookies, or cookies that you won't feel guilty about going for seconds.

Lastly, if anyone has any experience in regards to metal baking sheets vs stone where, I'd be interested to hear your opinions! I found that the stonewear sheets gave me a flatter, more spread out cookie. The metal sheet cookies seemed to remain a wee bit puffier.

Any ideas?

Anyways, without further ado...

Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Cookie Madness

Mexican Chocolate Chunk Cookies Made With Ibarra

MAKES 32 COOKIES (more like 42)

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 slightly rounded teaspoon cayenne pepper or black pepper (I used cayenne pepper)
8 oz unsalted butter — room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla (regular is okay)
8 oz dark chocolate — cut into chunks
4 oz Ibarra chocolate — chopped by hand

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and pepper.

Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl using high speed of an electric mixer; Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then vanilla. Add flour mixture and stir until absorbed, then mix in chocolate chunks and chopped Mexican chocolate. Refrigerate dough for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto sheets, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake cookies until golden brown and set - 10-12 minutes. Let stand on sheets 3 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool.

Oh! Perhaps just a little further ado. My dog was barking at me as I was taking the photos of the food. I think she wanted a cookie too! ;)