Vanilla Rhubarb Muffins

Summer is my favourite season…and not just because of the warm weather. It’s also the time of year when my grocery bill is cut in half because I can get most of my produce from my father’s amazing garden. Today, my dad gave me a huge bag of rhubarb. I still remember the first time I tasted rhubarb. I was about 9 or 10 years old and I was out playing with my French-Canadian friend next door when she asked me if I wanted a snack. I was thinking chips or cookies…but then she takes me to her backyard and yanks out a few stalks of rhubarb. She poured a little sugar into a bowl and it was snack time! Rhubarb dipped in sugar —  it’s actually pretty good. Rhubarb tends to grow quite rampant in the garden, and this is a great way to use some of it up. This muffin has a delicate vanilla flavour, the rhubarb melts into the batter as it cooks and adds an almost apple-like flavour. The use of mascarpone creates a very tender crumb. I like to sprinkle slivered almonds on top for added texture.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups rhubarb, finely chopped
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsps vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • Sliced almonds, to garnish (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt.  Toss in the rhubarb and stir to coat.  Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, mascarpone, eggs, vanilla and butter.
  4. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined. Do not overmix the batter!
  5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin.  Sprinkle slivered almonds on top.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
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White Chocolate Chip Cookies

White chocolate is the underdog of the chocolate chip world, mainly because some (misguided) people think it’s not really chocolate.  The main ingredient in white chocolate is cocoa butter, which is derived from the cocoa bean.  So white chocolate IS chocolate.  It’s also delicious in these fudgy cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 tbsp corn syrup
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips + more for sprinkling

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease cookie sheets with non-stick spray.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy — about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs, corn syrup and vanilla. Beat until fully incorporated.
  5. Turn mixer to low and slowly add in the flour mixture.  Beat until just combined.
  6. Stir in the white chocolate chips.
  7. Roll dough into balls and place about two inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Press a few white chocolate chips into the top of each cookie.
  8. Bake for 12-14 minutes.

*Yield: Approximately 24 cookies


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.

*Yield: 24 cookies


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