A few days after Halloween ended, we started seeing Starbucks advertising their holiday drinks already and the infamous Red Cups started popping up everywhere. Yup, it’s officially the holiday season and I am super PUMPED because I love the holidays 🙂
One of the treats I’ve always wanted to try but too frugal to buy are the Cranberry Bliss Bars at Starbucks. They look soooo goood but I typically don’t buy sweets from Starbucks due to their price point. When I stumbled across this recipe to make a replica version, I had to give it a go. Mind you, since I’ve never had the original Cranberry Bliss Bars at Starbucks, I can’t tell you if this is an exact replica but I can tell you it tastes delicious nonetheless!! I’ll be sure to add an update once I’ve tried it for comparison.
This delicious Cranberry Bar is kinda like a cookie bar – topped with a cream cheese frosting and garnished with chopped cranberries. The original recipe I followed asked for orange extract which I did not have and will probably not buy since I would rarely use it in baking. Instead, I opted for orange juice and some orange zest and it tasted awesome!
Once baked, I just cut them up into triangles though I could have just left them as squares… Recipe below!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13×9 inch baking tray lined with parchment paper
Beat together melted butter and brown sugar over medium speed with an electric/stand mixer until it comes together into a brownish slush. Add in the eggs, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add in ground ginger, baking powder, salt, and flour and mix until there are no dry lumps. Avoid overmixing.
Stir in white chocolate chips and dried cranberries by hand using a wooden spoon.
Spread the batter evenly onto the bottom of the lined baking tray. Bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes until set and golden brown at the edges. Do not overbake or your bars will become too hard. Allow bars to fully cool before frosting to avoid the frosting from melting.
To make the frosting, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add orange juice and vanilla extract and mix well. Top cooled bars with frosting. Sprinkle with chopped dried cranberries.
Refrigerate the bars for about an hour to allow everything including the frosting to set, and then cut them up into desired shapes and sizes.
Living in Toronto, we experience erratic weather changes. Although Fall officially began last month, we had temperatures close to 15-20 degrees Celcius for the past several weeks and recently, temperatures have dipped to around 5 degrees! It’s like we just skipped Fall and went straight to Winter…
Anyways, I’m not quite ready for Fall to be over yet so I recently started baking some Fall recipes. One of the few recipes I wanted to try were these White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies. Whenever one hears of cranberries, I feel like they immediately think about Fall – probably due to its association with Thanksgiving dishes (i.e. cranberry sauce)?
Anyhow, I was excited to make these as I usually make the standard Chocolate Chip Cookies. Wanting to switch things up a bit, I leveraged one of our favourite Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe from Serious Eats to use as the base recipe for this cookie. What I like about the Serious Eats recipe is that instead of using regular butter, they use Brown Butter which lends a nuttier, butterscotch flavour than regular butter. Browning butter requires patience and a lot of attention as if you don’t watch it, you might end up burning the milk solids which will affect the overall taste of the brown butter. I cook the butter on medium heat for about 8 minutes, whisking occasionally until it turns golden brown and it starts smelling caramel-y. I aim for this color.
Then, I place an ice cube in there and whisk to facilitate the cooling down process and stick it in the fridge until it has fully cooled. You’ll know it’s cooled when it turns opaque and the sides are starting to solidify.
I have not made macarons in YEARS!! So much so that the almond flour that I bought in bulk a year ago when it was on sale at bulk barn has gone stale and started smelling weird 🙁
I have been inspired to make macarons again this past weekend given I had spare time since I had no access to a car and was essentially house bound. I knew one of the items I’ve been struggling to succeed with is making macarons. They just never turn out right! They either look super flat because they spread too much, or they brown on top, or they stick to the tray and falls apart when I try to take them off. I made 3 batches this past weekend and only the last one was mildly successful. I decided to make matcha macarons since I had lots of matcha powder lying around and saves me from using food coloring
The results were meh. During my last batch, my shells did not spread so they kept their shape (thank goodness) but upon baking, I had a few burst on me and some were even lopsided.
Based on the several trials that I did, here’s what I learned based on the mistakes I made:
It’s better to slightly undermix than overmix because once the batter is overmixed, it gets really runny and you can’t control it from flowing out of your piping bag and spreading everywhere.
Stop folding the meringue into the mixture once you can start forming short ribbons with the batter that slowly sinks back in over time. It should look like thick goop and not have the consistency of runny cake batter.
Pipe macarons perpendicular to the cookie sheet (90 degrees). In other words, the piping bag should be straight and not at an angle. This will ensure a more even shape when it rises.
It’s better to bake the macarons at a lower temperature than at a higher temperature. Unless you really know your oven, try it on a slightly lower temperature setting. The recipe asks for 300F but realistically I should’ve done 275F because some of my macarons ended up bursting.
To this point, I have yet to master the macaron recipe but I feel like I’m getting closer. Mind you ingredients for macaron is not cheap – I bought a bunch of almond flour that’s probably only good for 2-3 batches and it ran me $15!! Luckily, although I did not achieve the perfect “Macaron shape”, at least the texture and taste was still good. It was slightly chewy and the shells weren’t hollow, yay!
So until next time… I have a bunch of macarons to give away now haha. See the recipe I used below – this is the Italian meringue method opposed to the French. Supposedly the Italian method tends to yield more consistent results so I may continue this route going forward.
60 grams egg whites (about 2 large eggs), room temperature
1 teaspoon matcha powder
180 grams white granulated sugar
45 grams water
60 grams egg whites (about 2 large eggs), room temperature
White Chocolate Ganache
1 cup white chocolate wafers/chips
5 tbsp whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 300F. Make the almond flour paste by sifting together almond flour, icing sugar, and matcha powder. This ensures a smooth paste so the shells won't appear lumpy. Then, mix in the egg white until it is thoroughly combined. It will form a thick paste - kind of like dough like consistency. Cover with plastic wrap so it doesn't get dry.
Then, add water and sugar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Do not stir! Allow it to come up to a boil and with a digital or candy thermometer, wait until it comes to 220F.
In the meantime, put the remaining egg whites in a clean, stainless steel bowl and prep it in the stand mixer. Once the sugar syrup reaches 220F, start whisking the egg whites until it is very foamy. When the syrup reaches 240F, turn the stand mixer to a slower speed and immediately take the sugar syrup off the heat and pour it into your egg whites. Once the syrup starts to hit the egg whites, you can crank the stand mixer to high speed and continue whisking until the sides of the bowl cools and the meringue reaches stiff peak. It should be smooth and glossy, kind of like shaving cream.
Take 1/3 of the meringue mixture and whisk it into the almond paste. Then, add in the remaining meringue mixture and fold to combine. Continue folding until there are no more dry lumps. When you life the spatula and you can form small ribbons with the batter and you see it sink right back in, it's ready. Do not overmix! Batter should not be runny but more like thick goop.
Put batter into a large piping bag with large round piping tip and pipe onto a parchment paper at 90 degrees from the baking sheet. In other words, pipe straight down and when you achieve the desired size, doing a quick flick to minimize the pointy tip of the cookie.
Once fully piped, allow to dry until a "skin" is formed. When the shells look matte, gently touch the shells and if they don't stick to your finger, it's ready to go in the oven.
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the shells look hardened and firm to the touch. Allow to cool.
In the meantime, prepare the white chocolate ganache. Bring whipping cream and vanilla extra to a simmer and pour over the white chocolate wafers/chips. Stir continuously until all chocolate has been melted. Allow to cool so that it thickens to a piping consistency. You may put this in the fridge to speed up the process but don't forget about it or it will harden all the way!
Once ganache is ready, put it into a piping bag and pipe onto the macaron cookies. Squish and repeat until done. Store in an airtight container in the fridge to maximize freshness 🙂
Recently we bought the Momofuku cookbooks – both the original and the milk bar one.
To be honest, both books have been gathering dust since we bought it a couple months ago – mostly because we were too lazy to get around reading it and most importantly, attempting the recipes. I did quickly glance over the recipes and I felt that quite a few of them were labour intensive but given Valentine’s Day was coming up, I felt now was a good time to put the book to good use. I planned everything out – I was going to make him a Momofuku themed dinner with this Compost Cookie being the final dessert. I’ll link to the other recipes I made once I post them 🙂
Now I’ve had the real compost cookie before and it was really good. I believe it is called the Compost Cookie because it has an assortment of mix-ins to the cookie. It’s not your standard singular flavour chocolate chip cookie. This cookie has ingredients such as potato chips, coffee grounds, rolled oats, chocolate chips just to name a few. Mind you I did leave out a couple of ingredients (mostly because I didn’t have them on hand but I was also desperately craving these cookies) but in my opinion, they turned out really well! In fact, we felt it taste very close to the cookies we got at the Milk Bar.
I did encounter some problems when baking it and that was the issue with spreading. The first time I baked these cookies, I followed the instructions to the T including the baking temperature and my cookies almost turned out like chips because they spread so thin. I tried it again but this time baking it at a much lower temperature and it turned out much better! It’s also important to bake the cookie dough when it’s cold and not room temperature.
Continuing with our holiday baking are these snowflake sugar cookies! The thing I love about sugar cookies is that they are so versatile. Sure… they may look and taste plain at first, but they are essentially a blank canvas for you to decorate! This christmas, I decided to make snowflake sugar cookies because quite frankly… my cookie cutter selection is quite limited so I worked with what I had.. I definitely want to stock up on more cookie cutter shapes next year!
Decorating sugar cookies is quite the art – one I have yet to perfect. Just recently did I get the consistency of the royal icing just right so that it doesn’t run all over the cookie upon piping it. What I still currently struggle with is having the right control when piping the outline. In essence, I have trouble staying inside the lines when coloring -_- Luckily, there were enough cookies that by the time I decorated the last few, I finally started to get the hang of it!
This sugar cookie recipe is my go to. It usually makes a pretty large batch but I try to either halve it or just freeze the rest for another occasion. These sugar cookies are not only perfect for the holidays, but can be great for bake sales or any other occasion where you have an excuse to be creative. For instructions, see below.
Tis the season for holiday baking! I love to bake all year round regardless of the time of year but I feel extra festive during Christmas 🙂
One of my favourite holiday treats are gingerbread cookies. I love the kick that the spices have to offer and the opportunity to decorate them make it extra fun. While I was browsing Pinterest (my muse and inspirational god), I stumbled across gingerbread bars and thought “Oh how cool is that, I’ve never really made a cookie bar before” and given all the Christmas dinners we have coming up, now is the best time to make them.
These gingerbread cookie bars have the texture of a chewy brownie and the flavour of a gingerbread cookie. They actually taste fine on their own but if you want to be extra festive, the cream cheese frosting serves a a beautiful canvas to your holiday garnishing/decorations. I opted for the christmas-y sprinkles and crushed candy canes.
We have a lot of friends who don’t like cream cheese (or frosting for that matter) so I decided to half the batch of cream cheese frosting so that some bars have it while others don’t. It worked out really well!
I would’ve eaten more bars but today was full of non-stop eating. However, I always have an extra stomach just for dessert and was able to squeeze in a small piece but I just wish I had space to eat more 🙁
This is going to be a tough month with all the christmas dinners and gatherings – I’ll be busting at the seams 24/7. Does not help that my gym membership is also expiring end of this year…. O_O
To find out how I made these bars, see recipe below which I adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything.I increased the amount of ground ginger by 1/2 tsp as I personally like it more gingery. I also halved the cream cheese frosting recipe listed below given a number of our friends don’t like it.
This weekend was beautiful in Toronto. For the past month or so, it has been super gloomy and rainy, which sucks because it makes summer less enjoyable. All we want to do is have drinks on the patio or have bbq with friends.
It actually worked out really well that our friend decided to have us over for a bbq this weekend since we haven’t really hung out in a long time. It was like 30 degrees celcius, super sunny, no cloud in the sky – just perfect summer weather. We were tasked to bring some desserts so first thing Saturday morning, I opened up my Bobbette & Belle cookbook to get inspiration on what recipes to make. It also gave me an opportunity to try new recipes as well. I decided to make these ginger cookies as well as my Apple Cinnnamon Coffee Cake.
These cookies actually turned out really well. The first time I made it, the cookies were too crunchy because I cooked it for 15 minutes as per the original recipe. The second time round, I undercooked it a bit for about 12 minutes, and let the dough rest for about 3 more hours in the fridge and it was perfect. These cookies were a bit strong in the ginger/clove flavour in my opinion but you can adjust accordingly.
Overall, I got good feedback on my coffee cake and cookies at the bbq and had lots of fun catching up with friends. Now I have extra cookies leftover so I guess i’ll be bringing them to work 🙂
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.
In a separate stand mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy (approximately 3 minutes). Add the egg and beat to combine. Slowly dad the molasses and mix until well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl at least once.
On low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter mixture, mixing until combined. Do not overmix as it will make the cookies dense. Put the cookie dough in saran wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour, the longer the better.
When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silpat
Scoop small pieces of cookie dough and roll it into a small ball (approximately 1-2 inches) and roll it around in the granulated sugar. Press it out flat slightly on the silpat/parchment paper to give it its cookie shape.
Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes if you want softer, chewier cookies. If you like them a bit crunchier, bake it for 15 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before you dig in. Store in airtight container.
It’s been a long hiatus and it’s good to be back. Ever since we moved downtown I feel as though I haven’t had as much time to bake as I used to. I kept coming up with excuses such as not having time after work or being too busy during the weekends to do so. Ultimately I think I just got lazy. That’s when I decided to get back to the blog as that was when I was most motivated to bake because I enjoyed taking pictures of my creations and sharing it with others.
The last creation I made was chocolate chip cookies and it was quite the hit! I remember having an itch to bake something sweet and seeing as what I already had in the pantry, one of the things I could easily make was chocolate chip cookies. It took me less than 30 mins to make and the result was chewy but soft cookies as that is how we prefer them.
The recipe I’m about to share with you is a personal favourite. You can adjust the baking time depending on whether you want your cookies to be on the crispier side or the softer/chewier side. The thickness of the cookies will affect the cooking time as well so if you make thinner cookies, they will cook faster and likely be more crispy. If you make them thicker, they’ll be chewier but also take longer as well.
The weather is getting warmer and the sun is finally coming out! I swear I haven’t seen it in 3 months… Best of all, it’s an indication that Spring is around the corner 🙂 In order to celebrate, I decided to make a really bright and citrusy dessert to reflect the spring colors that are popping up everywhere — Lemon Bars!
I was first introduced to these yummy lemon bars at a Christmas dinner I had with my friends last year. One of them brought these lemon bars that their mom made and everyone was raving about them. Of course we hounded them for the recipe but despite getting the recipe, I just never got around to making it.. until today!