Chocolate Espresso Brownie Cookies with Sea Salt

If Charlie Hunnam was a cookie this would be it. These are the perfect cross between a soft-baked chocolate chip cookie and an ooey-gooey brownie. The sea salt and espresso in this recipe enhance the deep chocolate flavour and strike the perfect balance of sweetness with just a touch of salty. This is one sexy cookie!

(P.S. If you don’t know who Charlie Hunnam is, do yourself a favour and Google image him. You’re welcome.)

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2  cups  semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • sea salt for sprinkling

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease baking sheets with non-stick spray.
  2. Using a double boiler, melt the unsweetened chocolate, butter and one cup of the chocolate chips. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs, sugar and espresso powder until very light and fluffy.  This may take several minutes.
  4. Reduce speed to low and very slowly pour in the melted chocolate mixture.
  5. Add the flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix until just combined.
  6. Stir in the remaining chocolate chips.
  7. Chill dough for at least 15 minutes.  This is a relatively soft cookie dough and it will be very difficult to form into balls unless it has been chilled.  Do not skip this step!
  8. Roll chilled dough into balls and place at least two inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Top with a few chocolate chips and a sprinkle of sea salt.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
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Luscious Lemon Cupcakes

I recently discovered Russian ball tips. My best friend, Valentina, thinks this sounds like something dirty and inappropriate — but they’re piping tips, people, so CALM DOWN. Anyway, I was itching to use my new gadgets, and with Mother’s Day coming up, this was the perfect excuse to make cupcakes. These cupcakes have a delicate lemon flavour with a very tender crumb thanks to the use of cake flour and the addition of buttermilk in the batter. I’ve paired them with a lemon buttercream frosting that’s super simple to make. This recipe can be easily doubled if you’re making cupcakes for a crowd.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • juice and zest from one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour

Frosting:

  • I cup butter, softened
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • zest and juice from one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and line muffin tin with paper baking cups.
  2. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, zest, salt and baking powder.  Mix until combined.
  4. Add the flour and buttermilk in batches, starting and ending with the flour.  Mix until batter is smooth.
  5. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in centre of a cupcake comes out clean.
  6. Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.
  7. For the frosting: using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter.  Whip it good (sorry…couldn’t help  myself.)  Whip the butter until it is very light, fluffy, and almost doubled in volume.  This will take about 10 minutes.
  8. Next, reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add in the powdered sugar, a half cup at a time.  Mix until the sugar is fully incorporated.
  9. Add in the lemon extract, juice, zest and salt.  Whip for an additional 5 minutes.  If the icing is too soft, add an additional half cup of powdered sugar.

*Yield: 12 cupcakes


Coconut Banana Bread

We eat a lot of banana bread in our house, so I’m always looking for ways to change up Our Favourite Banana Bread recipe.  Coconut pairs very well with banana and it kinda gives your traditional recipe a little tropical twist. The addition of coconut milk makes this loaf bread extra moist and flavourful. Oh, and as an added bonus, your house will smell incredible while this bread is baking!

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup spelt or whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp light coconut milk

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F and grease a 9×5 loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut oil, coconut milk and vanilla.
  3. Add the mashed bananas and stir until combined. Set aside.
  4. In another bowl, mix together the sugar, flours, shredded coconut, baking soda, salt and ginger.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until fully combined.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in centre of cake comes out clean.
  7. Cool bread completely before glazing.
  8. Make the glaze: in a small bowl whisk together the powdered sugar and coconut milk.  If the glaze is too thick, add a bit more coconut milk.  If it’s too thin, add a little more sugar. Drizzle glaze over cake.

 

 


Glazed Almond Ricotta Cookies

I love almond flavoured desserts. When I was a little girl, I was always fascinated by the perfectly-shaped and decorated marzipan fruit at the local Italian bakery.  I would glue my forehead to the glass window, just delighted by how closely the miniature marzipan fruit resembled the real thing. My dad would always buy me one…and I loved every almond-flavoured bite. When I last visited Sicily, I saw the most life-like frutta martorana — traditional hand-painted marzipan sweets — in the window of a bakery in Taormina. The artistry of these bakers is incredible. These soft, cake-like cookies have a very delicate almond and orange flavour. The orange glaze adds a nice citrusy pop, but you can also serve them with just a light dusting of powdered sugar.

 Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds or almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp juice and zest from 1 orange
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • one 300g container of ricotta (about 2 cups)

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp orange juice
  • slivered almonds, for decorating (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and grease baking sheets with non stick spray.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs and mix until fully incorporated.
  5. Add the ricotta, orange juice, zest and almond extract.  Mix well.
  6. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients.
  7. Roll the dough into balls and bake for 15 minutes. Cool cookies completely before glazing.
  8. To make the glaze: whisk together the powdered sugar and the orange juice. The glaze should be fairly thick so it doesn’t just run off the cookies. If your glaze is too thin, you can thicken it up by adding a little extra powdered sugar. Use the back of a spoon or a small off-set spatula to spread the glaze over the cookies. Allow the glaze to set for at least 3 hours before storing cookies in an air-tight container.

*Yield: Approximately 30 cookies 

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Fudgy Peanut Butter {Black Bean} Brownies

When I first started this blog I never imagined I’d be posting a recipe whose star ingredient is black beans.  Believe it or not, Black Bean Brownies are the most popular recipe on my blog. Maybe it’s because they’re delicious, maybe it’s because we feel less guilty about eating the entire pan….who knows? I decided to up the ante on my Black Bean Brownie recipe by adding peanut butter to the mix.  The gamble was worth it.  These brownies are super fudgy and the peanut butter just makes them more perfect. I highly recommend having your family and friends taste one BEFORE telling them they’re made with black beans.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (one 398 ml can, drained)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup oats, ground to a fine powder  (you can use a blender for this)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter + 1/3 cup for swirling into the batter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks or chips plus more for sprinkling

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9×9 baking pan with non stick spray.
  2. Using a food processor, combine all ingredients except chocolate chips and 1/3 cup of peanut butter.  Blend until completely smooth.  This may take a few minutes.
  3. Using a wooden spoon, stir chocolate chips into batter.
  4. Spread batter into prepared pan.
  5. Warm remaining peanut butter until it is an easily spreadable consistency.  Drop spoonfuls of the peanut butter onto the batter and swirl with a spoon.
  6. Sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top.
  7. Bake for 15-18 minutes.  Let brownies cool completely before slicing.

*Yield: 9-12 brownies


Chewy Maple Walnut Cookies with Crystallized Ginger

I was at my local farmer’s market recently when I came across a stand selling maple products.  It’s the tail-end of the sugaring-off season and the perfect time to be baking with maple syrup.  One of the products being sold at the stand was maple syrup chips.  These looked like they would work perfectly in a cookie recipe I’ve been tossing around in my head…and the vendor assured me the maple chips would not melt while the cookies were baking. These cookies are chewy and dense; the maple chips and walnuts add crunch, while the crystallized ginger adds a punch of heat and spice.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • I cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup maple chips, plus more for sprinkling

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and grease baking sheets with non stick spray.
  2. Blend oatmeal in a blender or food processor to a fine powder.  Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the crystallized ginger, walnuts and maple chips  Set aside.
  4. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs, vanilla and maple syrup.
  6. Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour, oats, salt, baking powder and soda.  Blend until fully incorporated.
  7. Add the ginger, walnuts and maple chips.  Mix until combined.
  8.  Roll dough into balls and bake for 11-13 minutes.  You can press a few maple chips and/or pieces of chopped ginger into the top of the cookies before baking — it adds more texture and makes them look prettier.

*Yield: Approximately 30 cookies

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Peach & Almond Coffee Cake

One of the first cakes I ever made was a coffee cake.  A few girlfriends and I were getting together to watch the much-anticipated season premiere of Beverly Hills 90210, and I decided we needed cake!  I’m still pissed that Brenda and Dylan broke up, but the cake was delicious and made everything ok. Coffee cake is perfect for beginners because it’s pretty foolproof and forgiving. What’s great about this recipe is that it’s very versatile — you can use almost any combination of fruit and nuts you like.  I love the combination of peaches and almonds, but pecans would also be great in this streusel topping.  You can also replace the peaches with apples, cherries or mixed berries.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream or plain Greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup canned sliced peaches, well-drained

Streusel topping:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds

Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-4 tbsp milk

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9 inch tube pan with non-stick spray.
  2. In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
  3. Make the streusel: In a small bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and almonds.  Using a pastry cutter — or your fingertips — cut in the butter until the mixture resembles large, coarse crumbs.  Set aside.
  4. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated.
  6. Next, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the sour cream.  Mix until just combined.
  7. Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Arrange the peach slices on top of the batter.
  9. Spoon the remaining batter on top of the peach slices in an even layer, making sure the peaches are entirely covered.
  10. Sprinkle the streusel over the top of the batter.
  11. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in centre of cake comes out clean.
  12. Allow cake to cool completely before removing from pan and drizzling with glaze.
  13. For the glaze: whisk together the powdered sugar and the milk.  Drizzle over the cooled coffee cake.

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