Sunday, October 23, 2016

Silky Chocolate Cashew Cookie Squares

A simple Sunday snack here to celebrate sleeping in and cozying up. Maybe you'll get in a walk if the sun is out or maybe you'll decide to curl up on the couch with a blanket watching food shows all day. 

Either way, there's time to make Silky Chocolate Cashew Cookie Squares.

Start with a tender shortbread base that takes only minutes to prepare and less than 20 minutes to bake. Then you are done with the oven.

The topping is pure ganache. You will need plenty of chocolate. That's never a problem.

To make the base you only need a bowl and a wooden spoon. You can use a mixer but it's Sunday and time's on our side and I'd rather listen to the sound of morning birds than a motor. Beat soft butter with sugar and as much elbow grease as you can muster until it is very light and fluffy. Let it turn almost white in colour. Stir in vanilla extract and salt and then sift the flour into the bowl. Now gently fold it in to form a soft dough.

With floured hands, gently press the dough into a lined baking pan to make an even layer and bake until lightly golden. Let it cool completely.

Making the topping is simple. The key is to chop up the chocolate as fine as you can so that it melts quickly and evenly to make a smooth emulsion - that's what making a ganache is, it is an emulsion and emulsions can break if they are not made with love.

Pour honey-sweetened hot cream over the chocolate and let the heat melt it down and bring everything to the same temperature before starting to gently stir from the center out to the edges until it melts into glossy silky smoothness. Stir in a couple tablespoons of butter to give it an even more luscious mouthfeel, and of course, salt!

Arrange cashews as you wish over the top and DO roast them. Roasted cashews taste nothing like raw ones. They are buttery, rich and full of umami. 

I hope you have a delicious Sunday. 

Silky Chocolate Cashew Cookie Squares
makes 16 squares

For the base:
8 tbsp (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (142g) all-purpose flour

For the topping:
8 oz (227g) dark chocolate, at least 60% cocoa 
2/3 cup (150ml) 35% whipping cream
2 tbsp (30ml) honey
2 tbsp (28g) unsalted butter
¼ tsp salt
handful of roasted cashews

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

To make the base, cream together butter, brown sugar and salt in a medium bowl with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until pale and fluffy. Stir in vanilla. Sift flour over the mixture and fold it in until combined. Turn dough out into prepared pan and press it down evenly to form a flat layer. Grab a piece of parchment paper and lay it on top of the crust to help smooth it over or run the back of a spoon over the surface. Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until evenly golden on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly while you prepare the topping.

To make the chocolate ganache, place chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and set aside.

Combine cream and honey in a 2-quart heavy bottomed saucepan and place over medium heat until it comes to a gentle boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour over chocolate in the bowl. Let stand for 2 minutes before gently stirring until completely melted and smooth. Stir in butter and salt. Pour ganache over cooled shortbread base and arrange roasted cashews over top. Sprinkle with extra flaked sea salt if desired. Refrigerate until set, slice and serve. 

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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Pumpkin-Chocolate Marble Cheesecake Squares

Just in time for your Thanksgiving prep, I've got one heck of a festive recipe for your table.
Pumpkin-Chocolate Marble Cheesecake Bars.
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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Banana Caramel Cheesecake Squares

I heard recently on a movie a child explain the world like toast and our lives like butter. It is so big and there are so many things we need to do, so many places to go, so many things to see, that our time ends up being spread so thin. Everyone's saying "pick up the pace", "get a move on", "hurry up"... I could be totally cliché and say that we all need to slow down. But, I feel exactly like that kid - I'm getting old and running out of time! I still want to do so many things but who knows if I'll get to all of them. I got to these cheesecake squares though, that's for sure.
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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Dark Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

What's more worth it? The tart or the couch?

I choose tart.

Working out, then working, then cooking then sleeping. It's a lot of stuff to pack into one day. I wonder if eating those 2 chocolate tarts (one warm from the oven, then another chilled....) is worth waking up before dawn to cardio my butt off. But it's not just the tarts... sometimes there's cookie dough, cupcake batter and pie all in one day. But then when these tarts hit my lips... warm and cold... I'm like, mmmmmm hmmmmm. I want that. But sometimes I really just want to be sitting on that couch. Couch plus tarts + cookie dough + pie does not equal healthy. Treadmill + tarts + cookie dough + pie = kinda healthy? (PS - don't take health advice from a pastry chef)
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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Caramelized White Chocolate

There was this one time in South Korea. My husband and I were waiting for the train to the airport. I waited in line to exchange money at the bank in the train station while he kept watch of our bags. I was waiting for 1.5 hours. After all that time I get told they don't carry the currency I needed - so it was a totally unproductive wait on my part. However, in that time my husband had very precisely hand-sown a pocket into his cloth carry-bag to perfectly hold our tablet. This was the third sewing stint he performed in 3 weeks, including sewing a borrowed zipper onto that same bag and fabricating a protector for my tablet from a laptop cover that we no longer needed. I quickly realized his hidden talent and I looked at him in a whole new light. He is damn good with a needle and thread (and maybe a bit obsessed with organization/electronic protection?), and I no longer need to hem my own pants.

That's how I feel about white chocolate.
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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

3-ingredient PB Banana Ice Cream Dessert

Short and sweet - that's how this recipe goes.

There is one piece of equipment you don't need - an ice cream maker. But there is one you do need - a food processor or very powerful blender.

Short is the ingredients:
1. bananas
2. peanut butter
3. Greek yogurt

Sweet is the craving conquered with bananas and only bananas.

Slicing the bananas before freezing them accomplishes a few things. The smaller size means it will freeze faster. Faster freezing means less ice crystals, smoother texture and it gets this dessert to my mouth sooner. When thoroughly frozen, the banana will be rock hard and impossible to slice anyways. Also, peeling the banana immediately stops the ripening process so you can catch it when its at that sweet spot, which is speckled but not black.
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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Flourless Honey Walnut Brownies

With all the baking and sugar-inhaling that I do week-daily, you might think I couldn't stand the thought of eating any more sweet stuff on the weekend.

When baking becomes your job, maybe it gets redundant and mandatory and sugar becomes the enemy? No. Negative. That never happened. It's like that time my parents introduced my 9-year-old self to the all-you-can-eat ice cream sundae buffet at The Olive Garden. I swore I would "never eat ice cream again". That lasted one day.

I do, however, enjoy treats that are not soooooo sweet once in a while. I still get cravings on Saturday nights and I still love to bake in my free time, but I don't mind something a little softer and subtle.

Right now I'm really into frozen treats and I'll post some of that for you later...
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Monday, May 30, 2016

Buttery Pecan Press-in Shortbread

There are four things about this recipe that you should get really excited about:
1. Buttery - oh yes it is.
2. Pecan - a hell of a nut.
3. Press-in - this means easy!
4. Shortbread.

You need less than 10 minutes prep before this gets in the oven.

You need only one mixing bowl.

You need just 5 ingredients.

You need your hands, but a food processor will work too if you don't mind a bit more clean-up.
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Monday, May 23, 2016

Flourless Crustless Chocolate & Apricot Fudge Tart

Oh man. Long weekends just make me realize how much more fun life is when you're not working.

Long bike rides, a mild sun burn, wind in my hair, late nights, friends, fizzy drinks, lots of ice cubes, movie reviewing (do not EVER watch The Human Centipede - ew), foodie conversations, slow cooking and fast baking. Brunch! I love when there's time for brunch...

How. HOW are we all supposed to go back to work after a long weekend? Chocolate. That's how.

Totally flourless and totally fudgy - this dessert is one meant to be served at the table and on a board. Plates are optional.
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