Monday, February 28, 2011

easy scones

When I need whipping cream for a recipe, I can't help but buy the large 1L size, even if I just need a cup.  It just makes economical sense.  I know, I need help.  That means that as the best before date approaches, I'm scrambling trying to find something to make with the whipping cream.  I was happy when Julie posted this easy scone recipe that uses whipping cream instead of butter!  In five minutes, the batter was mixed and dropped onto cookie sheets.  The warm scones were perfect with homemade blueberrry jam.  They were so good, they didn't last very long.

The recipe can be found at the Family Kitchen.  Thanks Julie!

Monday, February 21, 2011

remembering geneva - pain au chocolat aux amandes

Hard to believe it's almost been 2 years since our last visit to Geneva.  My sister worked there for a few years and it's been one of my favorite places to visit.  The history, the lake, the chocolate, and of course, the food!  The one thing that stands out, besides all the chocolate, is the pain au chocolat aux amandes.  The day that we left for our swiss train ride, my sister ran to a nearby bakery and surprised us with these goodies.  Croissants filled with almonds and chocolate, sinfully delicious!  I've been addicted to these ever since.  She has even brought them over on a few of her visits.

I've been thinking about these lately and just had to have one.  We have some great bakeries in Calgary where one can easily find pain au chocolat or an almond croissant.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find one that sold the combination.  I figured I would try my hand at it, a perfect project when cooped up at home with a cold.

When searching for recipes, most called for marzipan as the filling for the almond croissant.  Not willing to leave my house, I threw a few things together to make an almond paste.  To make things a little easier, I pulled out one of my favorite ingredients from the freezer - puff pastry!  Come to any party of mine and you will be sure to find something made with this buttery dough.

The result was a wonderful substitution for the croissant from Geneva.  A flaky buttery crust filled with chocolate and a subtle hint of almonds. A delicious but dangerous snack to have around.

Pain au Chocolat aux Amandes

1/2 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
3 TB softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 TB flour

puff pastry
chocolate chips
egg whites, for egg wash
sliced almonds, for topping
icing sugar, for dusting

Combine the first six ingredients to make a paste.  Roll out the puff pastry and cut into rectangles, approximately 8 rectangles per sheet.  Spread almond paste on each rectangle.  At the edge of each rectangle, put a line of chocolate chips, roll over once and add another row of chocolate.  Roll the puff pastry to the end and place on parchment paper, seam side down.  Brush the tops of rolled pastries with egg wash and sprinkle with sliced almonds.  Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 40 minutes.  Dust each with icing sugar.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

dhokra (savoury steamed cake)

If you randomly stop in for a visit at my parents house, it is likely that my mom will quickly whip up some dhokra to serve with tea.  Dhokra, or dhokla as it is sometimes called, is a savoury steamed cake.  There are many different ways to make this, either with gram flour or with wheatlets (or sooji).  The cake has a sponge-like texture which is achieved with either baking powder or Eno.  This is our family recipe.  It is the perfect mid-afternoon or tea-time snack.  It is best served with some hot sauce, or if you're like me and don't like too much spice, ketchup.

Dhokra (Savoury steamed cake)

1 cup wheatlets (sooji)
½ cup Yogurt
2 TB oil
Few leaves of cilantro
¼ tsp garlic
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp turmeric
1 cup water (approximately)
1 heaping tsp baking powder
Dried parsley and red chili powder

Mix the first 7 items well with water.  Don't add the full cup right away.  You want an almost pancake-like consistency.  Then add baking powder.  Pour into two cake pans or 20 foil muffin cups.  Sprinkle parsely and chili powder on the top and steam for approximately 15 minutes.

Monday, February 14, 2011

sweets for my sweetie on valentine's day

Happy Valentine's Day!  With my birthday being next month and our anniversary the month after, we aren't big on store-bought gifts.  I remember our first Valentine's Day, I made my honey some home-made truffles.  Hard to believe that was eight years ago!  It was definitely time to make the truffles again.

People always seem impressed when you make chocolates but it really is so easy!  It's also messy, so be prepared to get your hands dirty.  My favorite combo is chocolate with roasted almonds but any topping will work - sprinkles, dusted cocoa, even icing sugar.

Chocolate Truffles

8 oz. chocolate chips or squares
1/2 cup whipping cream

chocolate chips, melted
toppings (nuts, sprinkles, cocoa, etc.)

Over a double boiler, melt the chocolate and whipping cream.  Refrigerate the resulting ganache for a few hours.  With a melon baller, scoop out little balls from the chocolate and refrigerate again.  Take the  scoops of chocolate and make them into round balls with the palms of your hand.  Dip the balls of chocolate first into the melted chocolate and then into the topping of your choice.  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

almond valentine's day cookies

Any excuse for my toddler and I to make cookies together, we take it.  With Valentine's Day around the corner, we just had to make cookies to celebrate.  Q gets up on the counter and helps pour things into the mixing bowl, watching as everything is incorporated.  His favorite part is decorating, especially when sprinkles are involved.

These are cookies from my childhood.  Almond cookies shaped into crescents.  Sometimes topped with icing sugar, sometimes dipped in chocolate and nuts.  Not too sweet, they are perfect with a cup of chai.

We dipped the ends of these ones into chocolate and covered them in heart-shaped sprinkles.  A delicious surprise for all of Q's little friends.

Almond Crescent Cookies

1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
1 1/2 cups flour

Beat the sugar and margarine until fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix.  Next add the almonds and flour until the dough comes together.  Make dough into a disk and refrigerate for 10 minutes.  Take rounds of dough and shape them into crescents.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Makes 1 1/2 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

chocolate fiber muffins

Chocolate - it's a huge weakness of mine.  It's rare for a day to go by without me having it in some form.  I was so happy when I rediscovered these chocolate fiber muffins. I found the recipe years ago and it was a favorite of mine, but somehow got lost and forgotten.  I recently found it on my old computer and it has been a staple the last few weeks.  Chocolate muffins that are good for you!  These are filled with fiber and have no butter or margarine.  These muffins are dense and filling and with their chocolately goodness, I don't know who likes it better, me or my toddler.  I substituted half the batch with mint chocolate chips making it a good substitute for my peppermint hot chocolate which I rarely have these days.  I wish I knew where this recipe came from - the creator of this recipe deserves A LOT of credit.

Chocolate Fiber Muffins

1/2 cup cocoa
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 TB baking powder
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups water
3 cups All Bran Cereal
2 egg whites
2/3 cup chocolate chips (or mint chocolate chips)

Put cereal in water and set aside.  Mix all dry ingredients with a whisk.  Combine cereal, dry mixture, egg whites and vanilla and mix well with a mixer.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes.  Makes 24 muffins.
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