Tag Archives: Dessert

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.

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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.

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!