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! ;)

Sunday, 19 July 2009

zomg, how did this happen?!

How has it been over a month since I last posted?

I feel rather like a delinquent and a liar. This is not to say that I haven't been baking --quite the contrary. I've been baking more than ever, just too /insert good reason here/ to do any writing up of my recipes and posting. Well, today I finally found the motivation to spruce up the layout a bit. After all, I've tons of new photos, why not show them off a bit? ;)

So, now the question remains as to when I'll get around to posting my recipes. See, I had it in the back of my mind that they might come in handy this fall when I'm at uni, dirt poor, and too tired to bake anything. So, I think I'll post a few of them up over the next few days and stash a few in reserve for those days when you just can't be assed to turn on the oven.

So what shall it be, folks? Cake? Brownies? Cheesecake? Cupcakes?

Hmmm. Perhaps we'll do this chronologically-ish and start with the "Birthday cake".

I made it for my brother and I's 19th birthday (I have to say I made it for my brother, because really, who bakes their *own* birthday cake?). I found the cake recipe on Allrecipes, and encouraged by it's stellar rating and postive reviews, I decided that I'd try it for my birthday cake. I also liked that it used oil and not very much of it at that. Oh man, did this cake not disappoint!

It was moist, velvety, with rich chocolate flavour. I won't post the recipe for the icing. It was okay, but the cake definitely outshone it. I tried to make some sort of white chocolate icing, based on Nigella's sour cream chocolate icing (which rocks, btw). However, something went awry and I had to add so much icing sugar to get it thick enough to spread on the cake. Still, it was tasty and the cake was beautiful with the chocolate flowers.

I made the flowers about a week before my birthday. They keep well in the freezer and should be kept cold until you are ready to artfully arrange them on top of your cake. Otherwise, they will soften and become very difficult to handle.

So, without further ado, my very awesome, chocolate birthday cake!

Black Magic Cake
adapted from Allrecipes.com

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans or one 9x13 inch pan.
  2. In large bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center.
  3. Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pans.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling on a wire rack. Fill and frost as desired.
Perhaps a little later I will post a recipe for chocolate flowers, but I think I have already linked back to the blog where I originally found the recipe.

Cheers and enjoy!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Oh, Sugar (cookies)!

So, I’ve officially started my summer job! That’s exciting. ☺ Yesterday was full of safety videos, but today was definitely interesting. I’m learning how to do all sorts of testing for bacteria and other infectious diseases from samples from patients that are sent into the lab. Tomorrow, I’ll get to try one myself! (Under the watchful eye of my supervisor of course. :) )

But don’t worry, these weren’t made anywhere close to the lab. In fact, I made them on Monday for a BBQ that I was going to and also to practice my piping again. The recipe is originally from The Repressed Pasty Chef, a great blog that you should definitely check out. I made a few changes: I forgot to add the salt to the cookies (oops!), but I used salted butter, so they still taste all right. I also just used butter and not butter and shortening in the icing. They turned out great, and they’re definitely a crowd pleaser. You can be as fun and creative as you like with the icing, especially if you’ve got a piping bag. Some I topped with designs, others with zigzagging icing trails and sprinkles, while some were cut in two and slathered with icing.

This recipe makes a lot of cookies, so I’m going to take them in to work tomorrow. I’ll let you know how they’re enjoyed!

PS. Sorry for the lighting, I iced these at night and just couldn't find a bright enough room to get a decent picture. Trust me, they taste lovely though.

Sugar Cookie Bars
Adapted from The Repressed Pastry Chef

1 cup butter; room temp.
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
5 cups flour
1 tsp salt (I forgot this, but used salted butter. Turned out fine.)
1/2 tsp soda

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg. Add vanilla & mix well. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt & soda & stir with a whisk to combine. Add to wet mixture and mix just until combined. Spread on a greased baking sheet (use a 13 x 18 pan). Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 min, until light golden brown or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and frost.

1 cup butter; room temp
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
4 cups powdered sugar
5 Tbsp milk
food colouring (if desired)

For frosting combine butter and shortening until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla and salt. Add powdered sugar in 1-2 cup increments until combined, then add milk & mix until smooth and spreading consistency. Cut up your cookies and ice as desired. Eg with piping bag or spread on top.

Cheers and enjoy!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

And now for something completely different.

There’s no denying that this is mainly a baking blog. In the past month and a bit I’ve whipped up cakes, brownies, and cookies – all with delicious results.

Today I’ve got something a little different. A couple years ago, I was vegetarian for a long time. Why I started eating meat again is another story, but hummus was a staple of my diet. Hummus is a Middle Eastern spread made from chickpeas, tahini (sesame seed butter), garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and some salt and pepper thrown in there for good measure. Tonight, we were looking for a quick, tasty, and healthy appetiser so we opted for this classic. Usually I just toss in the chickpeas etc and give a quick blitz in the food processor – no measuring required. Today, though, I’ve put some approximate measurements, but feel free to play around. You may think it needs more garlic, or it isn’t lemony enough for your taste.

That’s the beauty of hummus: it’s healthy, fast, and versatile.

As a little aside, whilst we were sitting outside enjoying the mild weather in front of the fire, my dog treed a raccoon. Here's a snapshot that the little guy. :)

Easy Hummus:
Makes about 2 cups

1 19 fl oz can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp tahini
2 ½ tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup water
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

Combine all of the ingredients and puree until smooth in a food processor. Add the water slowly to make sure it doesn't get too soupy.

Serve with fresh veggies or chips/crisps for a snack, or for a light lunch with pita bread and veggies.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Home at last!

So I'm finally back home in Canada. I was supposed to be back last Saturday, but I arrived on Monday. There's a story in that. The long and the short of it is that the airline overbooked my flight twice so I volunteered to kick about Glasgow for a few days. Now I've $900 in travel vouchers, which is basically me home for Christmas paid for! Yay!

Look how green and summery it looks!

Anyways, it's been about a week since my last post... Not a lot of opportunity to bake when you're packing and sitting around in an airport. So I finally got around to making some cookies. These are one of my favourites and just screams childhood to me. I think the recipe must be from the back of an old, old packet of chocolate covered raisins. I've made it countless times and it always turns out great.

The cookies don't spread out much, are best when loaded with chocolate covered raisins, and stay chewy. The recipe also has a fairly small yield, so you won't be loaded down with a 100 cookies, nor will you be waiting around the oven for ages as each batch has to get cooked.

So, without further ado, my favourite oatmeal cookies recipe:

Chocolate Covered Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg

1 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cups chocolate covered raisins

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a medium sized bowl, beat together the sugar, butter and vanilla until they're creamy. Add the egg and beat. Then, slowly in portions, add the flour mixture. Stir in the rolled oats. Stir in the chocolate covered raisins.

Scoop out rounded table spoons of batter onto and ungreased baking sheet. (Note: I used stonewear baking sheets, but metal ones would work fine too) Bake for about 10 minutes until the tops are just browning. They should still be slightly squishy if you want your cookies to remain chewy.

Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 2 minutes before transferring them onto a rack to cool fully.


Makes around 30 cookies.

Monday, 25 May 2009


So, these are truly the brownies that have used up all of my spare ingredients. I have no more sugar, no more cocoa powder, no more eggs, and only a little bit of flower left. That being said, I still have at least half a bottle of vegetable oil kicking about. I’m afraid it will be consigned to the gathering heap of abandoned food on the counter of the annexe kitchen.

As well as baking these to use up the last of my ingredients, a large group of my friends also have their last exam tomorrow. I plan on greeting them outside with goodies and a huge hug. The poor guys have been studying like mad for their biology of organisms exam, whilst I’ve been free since last Wednesday.

I got the original recipe from Baking Bites, the food blog that got me interested in food blogging. I have to say, that although these brownies are undoubtedly good, I’m not sure if they’re my favourite. Now, please let me explain myself.

There is nothing wrong with this recipe, at all. But I made some changes because of the equipment and ingredients I had on hand. So perhaps this is what has made the difference. First of all, the recipe called for butter. Like I said, I had a large amount of vegetable oil to use up, so I decided to opt out of buying butter and just use the oil. Most websites said that this was a perfectly legit substitution.

Secondly, I did not put as much cocoa powder in as the original recipe suggested. It said to add a 1/3 cup and I probably had just over a ¼ cup left. This is possibly why the brownies are “good” but not “omg, I could eat a whole pan” good. I love the rich, rich taste of cocoa and dark chocolate. These brownies are to my dream brownies as milk chocolate is to dark chocolate. Don’t get me wrong; I love milk chocolate. But I was hoping – perhaps a bit inanely considering I didn’t have that much cocoa powder – for a darker taste.

Thirdly, the recipe called for crushed up mint Oreos. Sadly, as a student in Scotland, mint Oreos are a) hard to find and b) out of my pathetically cheap budget. Instead, I picked up some bourbon biscuits, which consist of a dollop of chocolate icing sandwiched between two chocolate biscuits. Perhaps the mint flavour is what is missing?

Lastly, I had a 9”x13” pan at the beginning of the year. Heck, I can remember using it in March. But I had a look in my bag of baking/cooking supplies and lo and behold, it has evaporated. So, I had two options: not make the brownies (not really an option at all), or use my two 8” cake tins. Obviously, I opted for the cake tins. The recipe indicated that the brownies should be done after 35 minutes. Mine were in there for 50 minutes and the insides are still quite fudgy. Granted, the surface area of the two cake tins is about square inches smaller than that of the 9”x13” pan.

So, all in all, I’d say these are a fudgy, chocolatey brownie for those with a serious sweet tooth. The edges are crispy, whilst the centre is like eating fudge – something that made them a bit tricky to cut cleanly. Still, I’ll see how they’re received tomorrow and give them another taste to see how they have fared the day after.

Edit: I have to say, they are good the next day. The centres have solidified a wee bit, so that they’re at the nice stage of fudgy and not the undercooked stage. They were much enjoyed by all of my much-relieved-to-be-done-first-year-uni friends. Still, I wish there was a bit more of a cocoa-y “oomph” – like the centre of a dark chocolate truffle (divine!).

Bourbon Cream Biscuit Brownies

Adapted from Baking Bites

Peppermint Cookies n’ Cream Brownies
1 cup vegetable oil
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups roughly chopped Bournon cream biscuits (approx 18)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two 8" cake tins with baking paper.
In a medium-large saucepan over low heat, melt together oil and chocolate, stirring occasionally. Whisk in sugar, salt and vanilla, then turn off heat. Whisk in eggs one at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Stir in flour and cocoa powder until mixture is uniform. Stir in Bourbon cream biscuits and pour batter into prepared pan. Crush 3-4 additional cookies finely and sprinkle on top of batter, if desired.
Bake for about 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs, but not coated with batter.
Cool brownies in pan for about 20 minutes, then lift brownies in the foil out of the pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Makes 36 brownies.

So, what do you think? Should brownies be sweet and fudgy, like the best bits of a chocolate bar? Or like the inside of a dark chocolate truffle. Mmmm. I think you know my vote already. ;)

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Let’s go bananas!

Well for a start, I’ve got plenty of reason to want to go bananas right now… Yesterday was my final exam of first year uni! Take that organic chemistry! Take that molecular biology! ^.^

O the joys of not having to revise any longer. In truth, perhaps I should be grateful for this year. I have a feeling the workload is going to get a whole lot bigger next year when I start medicine.

And so as I said, my first year here at St Andrews is winding down. Heck, people have already started to go home! So, these cupcakes are a bit of a tribute to the year. Something sweet, chocolatey and a wee bit bananas (get it? ;) ) to share with all my friends who’ve made these past 9 months some of the best of my life.

Since I myself am going home in just under a week and a half, I was a little wary of buying a whole bunch of baking supplies. So these are made from donations of various friends looking to pawn off unused flour etc. So, a big thanks to Andrea for the plain flour, Hannah for the whole wheat flour, Andy for the brown sugar, Sam for the milk, and Craig for the mushy bananas. See, I hardly had to buy anything for these!

The recipe is adapted from the Wholewheat Banana Cake recipe I found on baking bites. As I said, baking supplies are mostly reliant on the good will of others, so I didn’t have brown sugar. Instead, I added ½ cup of caster sugar and ¼ cup of maple syrup, and then reduced the milk from ½ cup to a ¼ cup. Lastly, I bought some plain chocolate, chopped it up and threw it into the batter.

I broke a few rules with the icing. I looked at a few recipes online to get the general idea of what went into caramel icing. Then I just through everything together and went by taste and consistency. So, my directions are a bit vague when it comes to the icing, as I didn’t really measure! It still turned out great, although I didn’t quite have enough to cover the last few cupcakes.

Over all, none of the flavours dominates completely over the others. Upon first bite you get this wonderful melange of the banana mixed with the creamy, brown sugar icing and then a delightful surprise when you come across a chunk of chocolate. I’d definitely use dark or plain chocolate with these, and not milk – the cupcake and icing are plenty sweet enough, and the darker the cocoa flavour serves to cut it a bit. (Trust me this is coming from someone with the biggest sweet tooth in the world!)

These cupcakes are so good that they’re just fine without the icing. The maple syrup I added doesn’t come through too strong, but there is a hint of it. But only without the icing, otherwise all you taste is the banana, caramel, and chocolate flavours (not that that’s bad in the least!)

Mmm. Banana cupcakes with chocolate chunks and caramel icing! What a delicious way to finish the year!

Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Chunks and Caramel Icing
Adapted from Baking Bites

¾ cup of whole wheat flour
¾ cup of plain flower
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
½ cup of caster sugar
¼ cup of maple syrup
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
2 large ripe bananas, mashed (approx 1-1 1/4 cups)
¼ cup milk (any kind)
2 tsp vanilla extract
150 g or so of plain chocolate, chunked up into bite sized bits

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together caster sugar, maple syrup and eggs until well combined. Whisk in oil, mashed bananas, milk and vanilla extract. Add in dry ingredients and stir until no streaks of flour remain visible. Chop up your chocolate (or you could use chocolate chips) into small chunks and stir into the batter. Carefully spoon the batter into each cup until about 2/3 to ¾ full.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cupcakes cool (if you can wait that long!) and then frost with caramel icing.

Caramel Icing

All amounts are approximate. Feel free to use your own version of the recipe or play around with the proportions.

½ cup of butter
2/3 cup of brown sugar (I used Demerara sugar because that’s what Andy had)
1/8 -1/4 cup of milk
A few cups of icing sugar (Sorry I can’t be more specific. I just dumped the sugar in the bowl until I got a nice thick consistency.)

Heat the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan on low to medium heat. Continue until it begins to bubble and has thickened slightly. Remove from heat and add half of your ¼ cup of milk. Dump in a good amount of icing sugar. Mix thoroughly with a spatula and keeping adding bits of milk and icing sugar as desired.

I made a piping bag out of greaseproof paper and applied the icing by snipping off the end. Apply as much icing as desired and enjoy!