Category Archives: Dessert

Everything’s Coming Up Chocolate – My 5-minute Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake

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If you’re a busy person who needs a quick, stunning, and cost-effective dessert, then you’ll want to try this recipe tonight! I haven’t had much time lately for baking with all the event planning for Winnipeg’s 1st Annual Chocoholics’ Buffet 2013 – benefiting the United Way of Winnipeg. But if you know me, you already know that I’m a serious Chocoholic! “Hi, my name is Anna, and I’m a Chocoholic”, so it was time to bake up something chocolate to satisfy my craving last week because all my advent calendar of chocolate truffles are history.

You can literally give five minutes to create this cake, well maybe 10 - not including baking time - I promise!

You can literally take just five minutes to create this cake, well maybe 10 – not including baking time – I promise!

Last week, for a special LunchFor1 – plus 1 luncheon here at Chez Echols,  I whipped up my 5-minute Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake for my friend Juliana. Yes, I freely admit that I’m a cheater when it comes to baking cakes. Since the mid-80s I’ve been a devoted user of Betty Crocker’s Super Moist Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix – just ask any of my former co-workers – it’s my “go to” secret birthday cake weapon.

It's really that simple. 4 ingredients to make the cake + 3 ingredients to decorate it = Yummy Bliss mmmmm CHOCOLATE!

4 ingredients to make the cake + 3 ingredients to decorate it = Yummy Bliss mmmmm CHOCOLATE! Simple.

5-minute Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake

1 Super Moist Cake Mix*

3 Eggs

1/3 Cup Canola Oil

1 1/4 cup Water

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  1. *Follow the package instructions as they can be different for different cake flavours. Just dump everything into your mixing bowl.
  2. Beat on low for 30 seconds, then beat on medium for 2 minutes more.

    I like to use my KitchenAid whisk, but you can use a fork,
    a whisk, a hand mixer, or any stand mixer, of course.

  3. Spray your Bundt Pan generously with Pam and pour in your batter.
  4. Place into a pre-heated oven at 350*F for 35-45 minutes. Test for done-ness before removing.
  5. Let the bundt stand in its pan for 10 minutes, after you remove it from the oven.
  6. Turn out your cake onto your favourite plate.
  7. Let cool for another 30 to 60 minutes, or longer.
  8. Place 1/2 to 1 cup of the pre-made chocolate icing into a 1 cup measuring cup, and microwave for 20-30 seconds until your pre-made icing becomes pour-able.
  9. With a dinner fork, lightly punch shallow fork holes in the top, outer-sides and insides of your bundt cake. This allows the icing to seep into your already moist cake to make it extra delicious.
  10. Pour in a light drizzle back and forth over the top of your cake while turning the cake plate in a circle, and “paint” your cake with the icing.

Also works great with two different colour icing, like chocolate and vanilla!

This time I used some caramel sauce I had in the fridge along with the chocolate icing.
Then I decorated the top of my cake with small chunks of Skor bars.

Super easy – Super moist – Super tasty!

Click the above image to view Wine Enthusiast’s blog on Vday

VDAY TIP FOR MY GENTS… Hey guys – try this recipe to impress your lady with a special vday dessert at home… Simply bake a Super Moist brand vanilla cake mix the same as above. Use red and pink icing (or red & white) to drizzle over top the cake. Decorate the top with small heart-shaped sprinkles or small candies in the same colour scheme. I guarantee you’ll get “lucky” after dessert!!! Keep me posted! 😉 Watch for more Aphrodisiac Recipes coming soon! In the meantime, for more inspiration for February 14th – check out my Valentine’s Pins on Pinterest.

BTW this cake was even better the next day after it sat in my domed, cake server! PLUS, this recipe is totally freezer friendly too. My husband and I cannot possibly eat a whole bundt cake, so I’ll slice it into individual pieces and freeze it for a later treat. Remember my portion control suggestions from my WeightReleaseUpdate#2?

Sounds too hard? Don’t have that much time? Try my 3-2-1 Mug Cake recipe by clicking here. I LOVE making quick strawberry shortcake desserts for Jeff and I by using this easy method! Mug cakes work awesome at the cottage as well… sigh… Summer seems SO far away right now!

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What is your secret cake recipe?
Please click Leave a Comment below and feel free to share it with me and my readers.

Healthy Chai Tea Coconut Loaf

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Healthy Chai Tea Coconut Loaf

I don’t know about you, but at this time of year I want to trim down a bit while at the same time enjoying some of my usual favourites in new and healthy ways. Everyone loves a piece of breakfast loaf, however those recipes usually contain tons of fat, carbs and therefore calories – and let’s not mention how much worse the Starbucks, Tim’s and coffee shop treats are for you. However, this recipe has a nice blend of spice, sweetness, fibre all wrapped up in a really great,moist taste. This is a figure-friendly recipe that I absolutely love as it uses no butter nor oil. The batter smells heavenly even before you bake the loaf!

This is a simple, quick and healthy loaf to make

This is a simple, quick and healthy loaf to make

Chai Coconut Loaf
(yields 9 slices)

DRY:
1/3 cups of Quick-Cook Rolled Oats
(or whatever type of oats you have on hand)
1 cup Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Fresh Ginger, minced*
3/4 cup Splenda Brown Sugar (or 1-1/2 cup regular brown sugar)
1/2 cup Shredded Coconut, unsweetened

You probably have most of these ingredients on hand in your cupboard right now

You probably have most of these ingredients on hand in your cupboard right now

* TIP: I like to peel my fresh ginger and freeze it in a Ziploc bag.
For recipes like this it makes grating a 1/2 teaspoon very easy.

WET:
1 cup Chai Tea, steeped 5 minutes
1/3 cup Applesauce, unsweetened
1 tablespoon Vinegar
1/2 unsweetened Almond Extract
1 teaspoon Vanilla

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1. Preheat oven to 350*F

2. Place all dry ingredients in large mixing bowl, and stir together.

3. Add all wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Combine until just mixed as this is a quick bread so you don’t want to over-mix, or you will get a hard, tough loaf.

4. Grease loaf pan by spraying it quickly with Pam.

This loaf does not rise very much, so feel free to fill the pan right up

This loaf does not rise very much, so feel free to fill the pan right up

TIP: Dress up this loaf for Brunch by doubling the recipe, and baking it in a Bundt Pan. Simply adjust the baking time accordingly.

5. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into it comes out clean.

6. Slice and serve as-is without butter or margarine as the flavour is great. It’s best served warm by the way. It’s great after a 10-second refresher in the microwave.

Lots of fibre and tasty goodness in this 'slice of health'

Lots of fibre and tasty goodness in this ‘slice of health’

This loaf freezes wonderfully too! You may want to double this recipe and make two loaves, because you will love this guilt-free treat as a breakfast item or snack. TIP: I freeze the slices individually for quick breakfasts on the go.

What is your favourite loaf to bake?
How do you think you could make your usual version more healthy?

3-2-1 Mug Cake: A Super Easy Mid-day Dessert

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I love cake, don’t you? I just don’t love all the dishes it takes to bake one. And with just the two of us… one cake is WAAAAAY more than we need to eat in any given week.

Earlier in the year I found out about how to make Mug Cake at home. Now I can make CakeFor1 or two, and here’s how you can too!

Take one Betty Crocker Super Moist Cake Mix and one Betty Crocker Angel Food Mix in any flavours or combinations you want. I chose chocolate, but we’ve already used up the vanilla! Mix them together in a large resealable container.

So simple! Mix together two cake mixes and have it ready to go - anytime.

So simple! Mix together two cake mixes and have it ready to go – anytime.

1. Use a regular sized coffee mug.

2. Add 3 tablespoons of your “Mug Cake Mix”.

Easy Chocolate Mug Cake in 3-2-1

Easy Chocolate Mug Cake in 3-2-1

3. Add 2 tablespoons of water, and stir until combined with a spoon or small whisk.
You could also use milk or any liquid I’m sure.

4. Microwave on high for 1 minute.
Caution… don’t try to bake more than 2 mugs at a time though.

Microwave for just one minute and voila! You've got cake.

Microwave for just one minute and voila! You’ve got cake.

5. Let cool for one minute, but be ready to eat it right away as it does not like to hang around to be eaten later.

6. Garnish with whatever you have on hand. I used white chocolate chips and chocolate sundae syrup.

7. Tuck your container of 3-2-1 Mug Cake Mix back in your cupboard for future use.

An amazingly simple dessert that even a non-baker can make in minutes

An amazingly simple dessert that even a non-baker can make in minutes

Suggestions for garnishes and flavour combinations…

* Use vanilla cake, strawberries and whipped cream from a can to create very fast Strawberry Shortcakes. Also great with ANY fruit or berry!
* Use prepared icing, which keeps so well in your fridge, to frost your Mug Cake.
* If you have an Epicure Selections Frother, you can make thick, fat-free whipped cream out of Skim Milk. Flavour it with any liqueur you have on hand, like Frangelico.
* Add bananas, butterscotch and a small scoop of ice cream for a unique Sundae-style Mug Cake.
* Use canned cherry pie filling, chocolate whipped cream and chocolate shavings to create a Black Forest Mug Cake.

How will you top your Mug Cake?
Please feel free to share your own personal combinations below.

Cookies for Lunch? Why Not!

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I just sent my dear hubby off to work after having him home for five days straight. To kick off our holiday season, I loaded him up with a couple dozen of my Orange-Infused Madeleine Cookies for his co-workers to enjoy today.

Delicious little shells of scrumptious orangie-goodness - perfect for the holidays!

My delicious, little shells of scrumptious orangie-goodness – perfect for the holidays!

I should preface this recipe with the fact that I chose to bake these cookies for my 1st Annual Cookie Monster Christmas Cookie Exchange, which I hosted last Sunday. I actually needed a minimum of 12 dozen cookies, but I ended up with many more!

Here’s my funny (but long-winded) tale… skip to the bottom for the recipe, if you’re in a hurry.

– I first baked a 2-dozen test batch, in which I found I needed to add more orange flavouring. Thankfully I had a very willing 3-year old taster who readily gobbled up a dozen that afternoon.

– Then when baking a double batch a few days later, I only got 6-dozen cookies from the recipe. No problem, but I was out of eggs… and low on butter.

– A few days later while baking a second, double batch (after buying more eggs), I forgot to add the melted butter at the end, and left it cooling in the freezer. However, I got some very tasty French macaroon-like cookies as a bonus, and will definitely repeat that mistake again in the future… with a piping bag and macaroon filling handy!

– Finally I completed the task that same day with the last 6-dozen that were thankfully perfect.

BUT… I ended up with TWENTY dozen cookies in the end. More for sharing!
See I told you it was a long story… 🙂

Sometimes great things come out of little mistakes… but only sometimes.

Before attempting Madeleine cookies, you need to make an investment in a couple of molded-cookie pans. I picked mine up at my favourite local kitchen store, D.A. Niels on Berry Street here in Winnipeg. They had a wide selection of choices – at different prices points. I liked the idea of the smaller shell-shapes (for $9 each) as opposed to the larger $25 pans.

Non-stick Madeleine pans are the better choice, I think.

Non-stick Madeleine pans are the better choice, I believe.

Orange-Infused Madeleine Cookies

yields: about 24 small cookies

2/3 cup Flour

½ teaspoon Baking Powder

½ cup Butter, melted and cooled

2 Eggs

1 teaspoon Orange Extract
*Grand Marnier would also work

1 teaspoon Orange Zest, finely grated

1 cup Powdered (Icing) Sugar

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1. Preheat your oven to 350*F, and set your oven rack into the higher middle position.

2. Using a Madeleine pan, spray your pan(s) lightly with Pam.

3. Sift together flour and baking powder in small bowl – set aside.

4. In the mixer’s bowl, beat eggs, orange extract and orange peel on high for 5 minutes.

5. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, and beat another 5 minutes.

6. Turn down your mixer to low, and gently fold in your flour mixture. Mix until just combined.

7. Fold in your cooled, melted butter, then mix gently on a slightly higher speed for about a minute, until smooth.

8. Spoon the mixture into the cups, filling about ¾ full, or you’ll end up with an overly mounded cookie. Wipe any excess batter off of the sides of the pan before baking.

I use a gelato scoop to maintain consistent sizes. Don't worry they will spread.

I use a small gelato scoop to maintain consistent sizes. Don’t worry your batter will spread while baking.

9. Bake approximately 8 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.

10. Cool in the pan for 2 minutes. Loosen cookies with a knife, then invert the pan on a rack to cool the cookies fully.

And for the finishing touch a little bit of snow

And for the finishing touch a little bit of snow…

11. When cool, sprinkle the tops with powdered sugar. I used an old-fashioned flour sifter to do this, but you could also use icing sugar in a sieve.

If you’ve made Madeleine Cookies before,
what flavours have you used?

Please feel free to share your experiences in the Comments area below.

Belgian Chocolate Bourbon Balls

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To commemorate the series-ending of Desperate Housewives I’ve brought out a favourite no-bake cookie recipe that is a perfect Adults-Only dessert idea. My Belgian Chocolate Bourbon Balls are a super addition to any cookie baking day you may be planning as they are super easy to make while the other cookies bake away in the oven.

Recently I made them for an Easter alternative cookie just to shake up the dessert selections. They were such a hit, and freeze so well, that I decided to make them once again for the Manitoba Food Bloggers Bake Sale benefiting Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day. I dedicate this recipe to my mother, who always went the extra mile for my Bake Sales throughout the years.

Using just 6 Easy-to-Source Ingredients

Prep all ingredients in advance using your food processor

Once you add the melting Belgian chocolate using a mixer the dough consistency will look like this

My “Martha” and I make very consistent sized balls together

And just because there isn’t enough sugar content in these already… don’t forget to roll them in sugar to finish them off perfectly

Place on parchment paper lined pan and freeze for a couple hours before you place them in an air-tight container for future use as needed

Chocolate Bourbon Balls make a great gift too!
(photo credit to http://shelzolkewich.com/)

And now for the recipe so that you can get started!

Anna’s Belgian Chocolate Bourbon Balls
Yield: 4 dozen balls

2 1/2 cups Vanilla Wafers, crumbled
(1 box Nilla Wafers, or make from scratch)

1/2 cup White Sugar

1 cup Pecan halves, finely ground

6 oz. Belgian Chocolate wafers, melted

1/2 cup Jim Bean Bourbon

3 tablespoons Light Corn Syrup

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1. Add all dry ingredients to mixing bowl.

2. Carefully melt the chocolate wafers in a double boiler.

3. Remove chocolate from stove, stir in bourbon and corn syrup.

4. Add chocolate mixture to the dry ingredients and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

5. Roll dough into uniform 1-inch balls, and then roll them in sugar to coat. I love to use my OXO Gelato scoop for perfect sized balls every time.

6. Place balls in air-tight container and store at room temperature for up to 45 days. Or freeze on flat baking sheet for 2 hours, and place in air-tight container.

And for an interesting variation…

If you double or triple the recipe, and happen to run out of steam part way through rolling the balls,
you can refrigerate the dough which will make it crumbly.
And Voila! L.M.F.A.O. Bourbon Chocolate Crumble is born!

Place the mixture back in food processor to make a fine crumble that is perfect to use on sundaes,
on pancakes, over fruit, on yogurt, or even in a layered cake filling.

Enjoy!

You too can make Creme Brulee at home – it’s super easy!

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You too can make Creme Brulee at home – it’s super easy!

My husband’s #1 favourite dessert has always been Creme Brulee, and a couple of years ago after being together for almost a decade I decided to teach myself how to make it for him as a birthday surprise. And it’s REALLY simple actually!!! With just 4 ingredients, and a bit of patience, you too can be enjoying this overpriced restaurant dessert at home. Don’t be daunted… it’s super easy to make!

The first two steps in creating at-home Creme Brulee can be a bit costly…

1. You need to buy yourself a good Brulee Torch. Yes, you can technically use a normal everyday blowtorch I suppose, however… you need a very, very delicate hand. A better idea is to invest in a kitchen-friendly torch that you can actually store in one of your kitchen drawers. We picked up a Fox-Run torch from a local kitchen store for about $30. They run on butane by the way, so don’t forget to pick some of that up too as they do not come pre-filled and ready to go. AND… PLEASE READ YOUR TORCH AND BUTANE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY BEFORE USING.

2. You will also need ramekins (see below). You can usually pick up a basic set of 12 for under $20. OR you can opt for the fancier, restaurant-style, shallow ramekin (not shown) which can run you about $3 each.

You only require a pot, a whisk, and a stand or hand-held mixer – in a pinch you could even hand-whisk too

Always buy fresh eggs for ease of separating, and leave them at room temperature for 30 minutes

Using your hands is even easier than using a tool for separating eggs

Use a light hand when scraping your vanilla bean and avoid the husk/skin – you just want the easy to scrape seeds

Add your vanilla bean scrapings to cream and heat gently

Hubby’s 2nd favourite dessert is Lemon Meringue Pie, so I always plan to make it the next day so that I can use up the leftover egg whites. Egg shells get crushed a bit and added to our compost pail – waste not, want not

If you are using a mixer be careful not to over-froth your mixture. Mix low and slow

Another advantage to using normal-sized ramekins is that they fit perfectly in a 9×13 baking pan for their water bath

Creme Brulee doesn’t expand, so you can fill the ramekins to the top for more yummy goodness in each dessert

You can cut down the cook time by placing two water baths side by side. No need to bake separately in a normal oven, just allow some space between the pans

If you bake without covering the pans with foil they will come out this dark. Sometimes I use foil to distinguish the variations in flavour for half the batch

See how much they shrink in the ramekin. Make sure you fill them right up, and be careful how foamy you get your mixture

Creme Brulee BEFORE the torch – Sorry I forgot to take AFTER photos because Hubby was too excited to eat his dessert right away – next time I’ll try to snap some…

This is the recipe that I use – it’s is a pretty standard one…

FOR THE CREME:
9 egg yolks
3/4 cup superfine white sugar (i.e. Roger’s Berry Sugar)
1 L whipping cream
1 vanilla bean

FOR THE BRULEE:
1 tablespoon of superfine white sugar per ramekin (i.e. 6-12 tbsp)

My How-To’s

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Carefully separate egg yolks from their whites using either an egg separator, or your hand.

PLANNING TIP: Hubby’s 2nd favourite dessert is Lemon Meringue Pie, so I always plan to make it the next day so that I can use up the leftover egg whites – waste not, want not! Place your leftover egg whites in a sealed container in the fridge for tomorrow’s healthier egg-white omelets, or for any type of meringue project.

3. Using a paring knife, split your vanilla bean down the middle length-wise, scraping out the seeds with the back of your knife.

BY-PRODUCT BONUS: If you also cut your leftover vanilla bean in half width-wise you can then add it to a bottle of vodka. Shake the mixture daily for a week, and leave it at room temperature to infuse the alcohol and make homemade vanilla vodka. I love using this for making my chocolate-martinis!

4. Pour your whipping cream into a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, and add your vanilla bean scrapings, whisking often.

5. Bring cream to a brief simmer, but do not boil the cream or it will overflow and make a mess of your stove-top.

6. While your cream is heating, use your mixer and a large bowl to cream together the 9 egg yolks and 3/4 cup superfine sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and thick.

7. Remove your saucepan from the heat when the liquid is hot to your fingertip touch.

8. Very gradually add the hot vanilla cream into your yolk and sugar mixture on a low-speed setting or while also using a whisk.

NOTE: Do not add your hot cream too quickly, or the eggs will cook and you’ll have to start again. Slow & steady wins the race!

9. Spoon the custard into clean, dry ramekins. I like to fill each ramekin to just below the top rim as they do shrink down about a 1/2 inch.

10. To make a water bath, place ramekins in a roasting pan or 9×13 baking dish, and fill the pan with enough warm water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

11. Bake uncovered for about 35 to 40 minutes (depending on your oven) until the custard is barely set around the edges – it should still have a tiny bit of jiggle.

NOTE: You may want to cover the pan loosely with foil to prevent over-browning either right from the start or about halfway through.

12. Remove pans from the oven, and then remove each ramekin from its’ water bath. Cool to room temperature, about an hour.

13. Transfer all of the ramekins to your refrigerator, and chill for at least 2 hours. And I’ve even kept Creme Brulee in the fridge up to 4 days uncovered, because there is no way that Jeff and I can eat 12 Creme Brulees in one day! Though Jeff would love to try I’m sure.

TIP: Our torch likes to sit and rest for about 30 minutes after it’s filled, so plan ahead when you’re ready to fire it up.

14. To Brulee: Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the superfine sugar into each chilled ramekin, ensuring that it is evenly spread over the custard.

15. Hold your torch slightly above the sugary surface to gently brown the sugar. With patience it will form a nice even, lightly-browned crust.

JEFF’S TIP: My hubby is best at doing the brulee work actually, and he suggests moving the flame in a circular motion around the inside edges of the ramekin and then back and forth through the middle so that the crust is evenly caramelized. This may take a little practice to get it just right… just remember you need to MELT the sugar, without burning it.

16. Allow each ramekin to cool slightly, but serve the dessert at once. I like to include some fresh raspberries on the side.

YIELD: 12 ramekins, as shown

FAQ’s

First let me reiterate that I am not a professionally-trained chef, nor do I attest to being an accomplished pastry chef. I’m just a very “curious cook” who enjoys trying new culinary adventures.

Can you use vanilla extract? Yup probably. The classic Creme Brulee only uses vanilla for flavouring, so I usually try to hunt down a REAL Vanilla Bean. Thankfully they are getting easier and easier to find at your local grocery store these days for about $6 for two beans.

Do you need to use such a high-fat dairy product to make Creme Brulee? Honestly, I’ve always assumed that heavy cream in a recipe means  35% whipping cream. But I’m sure that you could use Half & Half, or a lower fat product. However it IS dessert, and it’s not like you’re making this every day or every week. So in our household – it’s a calorie splurge. Enjoy!

What variations are possible with this recipe? You’re only limited by your taste preferences and imagination as there are also many variations on the traditional Creme Brulee. In the past I have personally tried other versions using…

– Dark Chocolate (3 oz. good quality shavings added to warm cream on stove-top),

– Orange Peel (3 slices of organic orange peels allow 15-30 minutes of additional steeping time),

– Liqueurs such as Frangelico or Grand Marnier by simply ‘spiking’ half the batch with an ounce or two.

Plus I have tried Chai Creme Brulee too during my chai-obsessed phase at some restaurant and it was yummy too. There is also Ginger, Green Tea, Cinnamon, Coffee, Maple, Lime, etc. etc. etc. – go ahead and use your imagination and your favourite flavour(s)!

However, ol’ fashioned vanilla is still my hubby’s #1 favourite, though I may have to one day try Glenlivet Scotch in a batch and see what he thinks – hmmmm

Please let me know what variations you’ve tried by sharing them in the Comments section below!

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Now that I have mastered one dessert fav… tonight I’ll be attempting my first ever Dark Chocolate Souffle
courtesy of Ciao! Magazine’s article on Pastry Chef Richard Warren of Winnipeg’s Fort Garry Hotel.

Hopefully mine come out as nice as these… fingers crossed – we shall see!