Category Archives: Dessert

Candy Bars!

I’m a sucker for anything that’s salty and sweet, and if you add chocolate to the mix it’s the best snack ever.   What I like best about these candy bars is that they use all real, healthy ingredients and are very straightforward to throw together. You do have to plan ahead a bit though and let the cashew, date, shredded coconut, maple syrup and peanut butter filling set for a few hours.  I skipped this step one time and they were messier and more crumbly than when you let them chill.

The recipe calls for almond butter, but since I didn’t have any I substituted natural peanut butter and I have zero complaints about how these turned out.  Coconut flour and coconut oil are also in the original recipe but again I substituted (a bit less) regular flour and peanut oil.  I’m sure there are many variations you could try and come up with an above average snack each time!

Candy Bar ingredients

Candy Bar ingredients

Start by blending the cashews (or whatever other nut you want to use) until they’re a fine meal.  Then throw in everything else (except the chocolate chips) and blend until a sticky dough ball forms.

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Spread the mixture into a parchment paper lined dish.  The parchment will make it much easier to free these treats from the dish later on, and you’re going to want fast, easy access.

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Set up a double boiler and melt the chocolate chips and oil, then spread the melted mixture on top of the cooled nut mixture.

I actually felt that this amount of chocolate while delicious, could be overpoweringly sweet at times.  Next time I think I’ll cut it in half and just get a hint of sweetness.  Gotta find that flavour balance!

Candy Bars!

Candy Bars!

Candy Bars Recipe

1 1/2 cups salted cashews
1 1/2 cups dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup almond or peanut butter
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips (or 3/4 cups if you want just a hint of sweetness)
1 1/2 tablespoons oil (coconut, peanut, canola, etc.)

  1. Grind the cashews to a very fine meal in a food processor.  Add the dates, peanut (or almond) butter, maple syrup, flour, shredded coconut, almond extract and pulse until you have a sticky ball of dough.
  2. Line a small sheet pan with parchment paper and press the cashew mixture out onto the paper, making a rectangle 1 inch deep.  Refrigerate mixture for a few hours until it’s firm.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the chocolate chips and oil in a stainless steel or glass bowl set over a pot of boiling water (make sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl).  Stir the mixture until it’s just melted, remove the bowl from the heat, and pour the chocolate mixture over the cold cashew mix.  Return the bar to the fridge and let it cool until the chocolate coating is set, at least 1 hour.
  4. Using the parchment, lift the bar out of the sheet pan and cut it into rectangles.  Serve at once or store in an airtight container

From:  It’s All Good

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Blueberry Popsicles

These popsicles could not be easier to make and are the perfect treat to pull out of the freezer on a summer afternoon, or for a healthy dessert one night. .  There are only 3 ingredients:  fresh or frozen blueberries, coconut milk and maple syrup.  Just blend everything together (I used my immersion blender – the food processor would have worked as well, but the the clean up is waaay easier), pour into popsicle molds, freeze for a few hours, and voila!  Very little work for a very high flavour return.

Blueberry Popsicle Ingredients

Blueberry Popsicle Ingredients

I also used a pitcher to hold all the ingredients instead of a bowl, since the spout factor was very convenient for pouring the mixture into the molds.

Blueberry Popsicle Molds

The only popsicle molds available at my local kitchen store are designed to make rocket pops – remember those?  I figured they would work just fine, but didn’t really consider it would be nearly impossible to get a non-phallic shot of the finished product…This is the next best thing!

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Blueberry Popsicles

Blueberry Popsicle Recipe

2 cups blueberries, frozen or fresh
1/2 – 3/4 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp maple syrup

Blend all the ingredients with a hand blender or in a food processor until smooth.  Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for 4-5 hours before eating.

From: It’s All Good

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Frozen Banana Ice Cream

Often when my brother Robb and I get together, kitchen shenanigans ensue.  On this particular occasion we made a giant batch of almond milk (more on that later) and were looking for ways to use it.  We decided to try Gwyneth Paltrow’s frozen banana “ice cream” and were not disappointed.  It’s only a handful of ingredients, and doesn’t require any fancy machinery, like an ice cream maker.  A food processor works just fine! Needless to say,  this turned out to be a very refreshing (and healthy) summer treat.

We started by slicing bananas and putting them in the freezer.

Frozen Banana Slices

Frozen Banana Slices

Throw the frozen bananas in a food processor with some almond milk, maple syrup and vanilla.

Frozen banana mix

Frozen banana mix

Pulse a few times until the mixture is just blended. mmmmmmmmm.

Frozen Banana Ice Cream

Frozen Banana Ice Cream

Mix some toasted, chopped pecans (or almonds, or whatever nut you have on hand) with maple syrup, a pinch of kosher salt and drizzle over top of the ice cream.  Downright delightful.

My only complaint is that it melts quickly and therefore makes it tough to get a decent photo, but that’s not really a huuuuuuge problem.

Frozen Banana Ice CreamFrozen Banana Ice Cream

Frozen Banana Ice Cream Recipe

4 Ripe bananas, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
1/4 cup finely chopped roasted almonds or pecans
2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
Pinch kosher salt
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1.  Freeze the banana slices in a single layer on a tray or plate lined with wax or parchment paper.  Once the slices are frozen, use them immediately or keep frozen in a zip-top plastic bag or airtight container for up to a month.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the nuts with 2 teaspoons of the maple syrup and a pinch of salt and set the mixture aside.
  3. Combine the frozen banana slices, the almond milk, the remaining 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, and the vanilla in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is the texture of soft serve ice cream, scraping down the sides as necessary.  Don’t worry if the mixture is not totally smooth at first – once the bananas start to break down and defrost in the food processor, they’ll give in and the “ice cream” will take shape quickly.
  4. Spoon the banana ice cream into bowls immediately and sprinkle each serving with a bit of the almond mixture.

From:  It’s All Good

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Sucre à la crème

Also known as maple fudge to us anglos, I first made this sucre à la crème as part of my french-Canadian themed New Years Eve dinner (also featuring tourtière!), so I’m sticking with the french name. But really, it doesn’t matter what you call it because it tastes amazing.

Here is what you need to create this treat:  brown and white sugar, maple syrup, whipping cream, corn syrup and vanilla.

Sucre a la creme Ingredients

Sucre à la crème ingredients

Throw everything into a saucepan, except for the white chocolate and vanilla.  Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan so you know when to pull it off the heat.

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Bring the mixture to a boil and heat until it reaches 115 °C (240 °F).  But don’t stir it at all or else it will get clumpy!

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Next, add the chocolate and vanilla.  White chocolate in your maple fudge? Ricardo says this is the secret to its creamy texture!  You don’t need much and it doesn’t change the flavour.  He’s absolutely right!

After the mixture has cooled in a cold water bath (I just plugged my sink and filled it partway with cold water), use an electric mixer to whip until smooth.  Then you get to lick the beaters 🙂

sucrealacreme

I’m embarrassed to admit that this is the best photo I have of the finished product.  What I’m not embarrassed to admit is that I didn’t get a good photo because it didn’t last very long.  Imagine fudge, but without any butter and yet somehow incredibly smooth, and full of melt-in your mouth sweet maple goodness.  A delightful winter indulgence :).

Sucre a la creme

Sucre a la creme

Sucre à la Crème Recipe

250 ml (1 cup) 35% 
cream
250 ml (1 cup) sugar
250 ml (1 cup) brown sugar
125 ml (1/2 cup) maple syrup
30 ml (2 tablespoons) corn syrup
28 g (1 oz) white chocolate, chopped (optional)
1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) vanilla extract

1. Line the bottom of a 20-cm (8-inch) pan with parchment paper, letting the paper hang over two sides and butter the other two sides.

2. In a heavy saucepan, bring all the ingredients except for the chocolate and vanilla to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Attach a candy thermometer in the center of the pan and simmer without stirring until the thermometer reads 115 °C (240 °F). Remove from the heat and add the chocolate and vanilla without stirring.

3. Place the pan in a cold water bath. Let cool without stirring, until the thermometer reads 43 °C (110 °F) or 20 to 30 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the water. With an electric mixer, beat until the mixture loses its gloss but is still soft, about 2 minutes.

5. Pour immediately into the pan and spread with a spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool for 1 hour at room temperature or 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Unmould and cut into 2.5-cm (1-inch) squares.

6. Store in an airtight container. The squares of fudge can be made in advance and freeze very well.

From: Ricardo

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Tori Toffee

Ohhhhh this stuff is deadly.  As in, I ate the leftovers for breakfast….Soooooo good.

This sweet, gooey goodness came into my life about a week ago when I got to spend a most excellent 36 hours with old friends (some new ones too!), lazing around a lake in the Muskoka’s.  This toffee was ridiculously easy to make – especially since I didn’t.  This is my friend Tori’s recipe and she did all the hard work.  But she also attested to how easy it is to make.  I’d say easy as pie, but it’s way easier than pie! Oh, and this tastes like a skor bar.  IT TASTES LIKE A SKOR BAR!

Here’s how you get this in your life:  Start with a few sleeves of salted soda crackers.  Love that salty-sweet combination!

Salted Soda Crackers

Then you create that magical combination known as melted butter and brown sugar.

Tors mixing up the melted butter and brown sugar

Bring this mixture to a boil…

Bubbling melted butter and brown sugar

Pour this delightful mixture over top of the soda crackers, and spread it around until everything is evenly coated.

Melted butter and brown sugar smeared on soda crackers

Now bake it until wonderful and bubbly and golden!

Golden brown toffee

This golden brown colour is very good news for your taste buds.

Chocolate Chips on top

Sprinkle chocolate chips on top while still hot, then let the chocolate get melty and smear it all over the surface.  Allow to cool and firm up, then just try not to eat this in one sitting.  You have to save leftovers for breakfast!!

Melty, Chocolate Toffee

Tori also recommended breaking up candy canes and sprinkling them on at Christmas time! I would imagine you could break up other delicious things to sprinkle on top as well…..Reese’s pieces perhaps…? The possibilities are endless!

Tori Toffee Recipe
1 Sleeve salted soda crackers
Equal part melted butter and brown sugar
1 bag chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with the soda crackers.
  3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the brown sugar and stir to combine.  Bring mixture to a boil.
  4. Pour the butter and brown sugar mixture over top of the crackers, and spread with spatula to evenly cover the crackers.
  5. Bake in oven until golden and bubbly.
  6. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over surface.  Allow chocolate chips to get warm and melty, then spread to coat entire surface.  Cool until butter mixture and chocolate set.  Eat!

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Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake

The crust on this cheesecake is unreal.  Take your already delicious graham cracker crust and add chopped pecans.  The toasty flavour of the pecans after being baked in the crust, combined with the extra crunch they add, make this cheesecake far, far above average.  And things only get better as you move upwards;  the pumpkin flavour is smooth and savoury, and then there are CANDIED PECANS ON TOP!! Just marvelous.

I don’t have step by step photos for this one since my mom is the one who whipped it up over the holidays.  But it was gone in no time and I would happily eat it again, so I thought I better share it!

Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake

Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake Recipe

Cheesecake

¾ cup graham crumbs

½ cup finely chopped pecans

3/4 cup brown sugar, divided

¾ cup granulated sugar, divided

¼ cup butter, melted

1 ½ cups canned pumpkin

3 eggs

1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp ground ginger

3 pkg (250 g each) Philadelphia Brick Cream Cheese, softened

1 tbsp cornstarch

Praline

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbsp water

1/2 cup chopped pecans

  1. Mix graham crumbs, nuts, ¼ cup each brown and granulated sugar and butter, press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan.  Refrigerate 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Whisk pumpkin, remaining brown suger, eggs and spices until well blended.  Beat cream cheese, remaining granulated sugar and cornstarch in large bowl with mixer until well blended.  Add pumpkin mixture, mix until just blended.  Pour over crust.
  3. Bake 45-50 minutes or until centre is almost set.  Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake.  Cool completely before removing rim.  Refrigerate 4 hours (if possible). Meanwhile, prepare Praline.
  4. Bring suger and water to boil in small saucepan on medium-high heat, stirring constantly.  Continue boiling, without stirring, 5 to 7 minutes or until syrup is thickened and begins to turn golden brown.  Remove from heat and stir in nuts.
  5. Spread onto parchment-covered baking sheet.  Cool.  Break into bite-size pices.  Top cheesecake with whipped cream and Praline just before serving.

From:  what’s cooking?

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Chocolate-Mint Melt Aways

If you want some serious Christmas-time indulgence, look no further.  These cookies aren’t called melt aways for nothing – they are smooth, creamy, mint-chocolatey cookie goodness that melts in your mouth.  There really isn’t anything specifically christmas-y about them (except for the mint/christmas flavour association), but they do take a bit of time to prepare, so Christmas just feels like a good excuse to make them.

In order to make sure they turn out as tasty as possible, don’t skimp on the chocolate.  Make sure you get high quality white chocolate (like Lindt), it makes the cookies noticeably better.  Oh, and if you can bring yourself to share a few, get ready to make a whole bunch of new friends!

Chocolate Mint Meltaway Ingredients

Mix vanilla and peppermint extracts, butter, flour and icing sugar to make the dough.  If you have hand held beaters, this step is no big deal.  But if you dont, (like me!) you have to use a fork and a bit of elbow grease.  And be prepared for the occasional arm cramp if you lack upper body strength like I do.  Although, this risk is greatly reduced if you actually remember to pull the butter out of the fridge a few hours in advance.  Soft butter is so much easier to mix by hand.

Cookie Dough

For the piping stage, you can buy plastic piping bags at bulk barn for about 35 cents each.  They’re pretty heavy plastic too, so I’ve been able to reuse mine.  Or get a big ziploc bag and cut off one of the bottom corners.  Voila!  Piping bag, McGyver style.

Piped Cookies

Bake them @ 350 for about 12 minutes, until the edges start getting golden brown.

Cookies

Meanwhile, prepare the layer of mint ganache that will eventually meltaway.  Whipping cream, butter, peppermint extract and high quality white chocolate to be exact.

White Chocolate Mint Ganache

Spread some of the ganache on the flat side of the cookie, then put them in the fridge to set for at least half an hour.

Layer of White Chocolate Mint Ganache

Next time I will do dunking stage in two batches, leaving the cookies in the fridge for as long as possible.  I learned the hard way that if the cookies are sitting at room temperature for too long, the ganache gets melty and runs with the chocolate coating.  Everything will still taste amazing, but they won’t look as fancy!

For the chocolate coating, melt some semi-sweet baker’s chocolate and vegetable shortening and dunk the ganache coated side of the cookies in. That’s right, MORE CHOCOLATE!!

Chocolate Dunking

Lay them dunked side down on a foil covered cookie sheet, and put them in the fridge to set.  Keep them refrigerated if at all possible, or else they might melt away on the table instead of your tongue 😦  So maybe not the best cookies to leave out for Santa.  Oh well, more for you!

Chocolate Mint Meltaways

Chocolate-Mint Melt Aways Recipe

Cookies:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp peppermint extract
½ cup plus 2 tbsp powdered sugar
1 ½ – 2 cups all purpose flour

Ganache:
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp whipping cream
2 tbsp (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
9 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), chopped

Coating:
9 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tbsp solid vegetable shortening

For Cookies:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter 2 large rimmed baking sheets.  Using electric mixer, beat butter, vanilla extract and peppermint extract in medium bowl until light and fluffy.  Beat in sugar.  Beat in 1 cup flour.  Stir in remaining 1 cup four.  Spoon half of the dough into pastry bag fitted with large star tip.  Pipe 2 ½ inch long ovals with solid (not hollow) centers on prepared baking sheet, spacing cookies ½ inch apart.  Repeat with remaining half of dough.  Bake cookies until golden brown at edges, about 12 minutes.  Let stand on sheets 5 minutes.  Transfer to paper towels and cool.

For Ganache: Bring cream and butter to simmer in heavy small saucepan over low heat.  Add white chocolate; stir until melted and smooth.  Mix in extract.  Refrigerate ganache just until firm enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil.  Using small metal icing spatula (or spoon), spread 1 tsp ganache over flat side of 1 cookie.  Place cookie, ganache side up, on prepared sheet.  Repeat with remaining cookies.  Refrigerate until ganache is firm, about 30 minutes.

For coating:  Stir bittersweet chocolate and shortening in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth.  Remove chocolate coating from over water.

Holding 1 cookie on sides, dip ganache side into chocolate coating and shake cookie to remove excess chocolate.  Return cookie to same foil covered sheet, chocolate dipped side down.  Repeat with remaining cookies.  Chill until coating sets, about 30 minutes.  Remove cookies from foil.

From: Bon Appetit

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