Sunday, March 18, 2018

Matcha White Chocolate Lemon Squares

Easter is coming!

I've always loved this holiday maybe even more than Christmas. It's the pretty pastel colours, the sign of new beginnings, the start of Spring, and the CHOCOLATE.

Mostly it's all about dark chocolate and I am more than fine with that, but this recipe showcases white chocolate paired with bright and earthy flavours.

It's a matcha-infused white chocolate cream cheese ganache atop a simple brown sugar base and a thin layer of tangy lemon curd.

The white chocolate layer is a cross between cheesecake and ganache in that it has as much chocolate as it has cheese, and it also includes an egg to set it into this thick, dense, luscious, velvety smooth texture.

The chocolate I've used is a white chocolate block infused with matcha green tea and rose crystals from River Layne Chocolate, but of course you can use pure white chocolate with just 1/2 teaspoon of matcha green tea powder. The matcha is optional as this recipe would still be equally delicious without it! (I know this because I made it both ways so I could eat it twice - Uh huh!)

I adore this combination of lemon and white chocolate and I use it often. There's the White Chocolate Lemon Curd Tarts in my book, and then there is this lovely recipe for Creamy White Chocolate Lemon Tart that hides a layer of bitter dark chocolate.

The tangy, fresh flavours from lemon curd contrast the creamy sweetness of white chocolate and it just marries perfectly on the palate.

I really recommend that you use a food processor for this recipe as I did because it will ensure a very smooth and silky filling. Adding the egg to the white chocolate mixture will turn it from thick to fluid, and the friction from a food processor will help emulsify all of the liquid from the egg into the dense mixture.

I hope you love it as much as I do!
Big love,

White Chocolate Lemon Curd Bars
makes 9-12 servings

For the base:
¾ cup (105g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (55g) packed light brown sugar
1/8 tsp baking soda
5 tbsp (70g) salted butter, melted

For the filling:
4 ½ oz (125g) cream cheese, softened
¼ cup (50g) sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1 large egg, at room temperature
4 ½ oz (125g) white chocolate, melted
1 tsp all-purpose flour

For the topping:
¼ cup (50g) sugar
1 tsp corn starch
1 tsp lemon zest
4 tbsp (60ml) lemon juice
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tbsp (14g) salted butter

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

To make the crust, combine flour, brown sugar and baking soda in a medium bowl and rub together to remove any lumps of sugar. Add melted butter and begin stirring it in and then blend it with your fingers until well blended and the mixture resembles damp sand. Tip the crumbly mixture into an 8-inch square baking pan and press it evenly into the bottom. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

Place cream cheese, sugar and lemon zest in a small food processor and blitz until very smooth and glossy. Scrape down the bowl and blitz again. Add the egg and process until very smooth – the mixture will be loose and runny at this point. Add the melted white chocolate and mix until thick and creamy. Blend in the flour.  Scrape this mixture over the cooled base and spread it out evenly. Place it back into the low oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until it is dull and slightly puffed around the edges and just set in the middle with a bit of sheen still. It will continue to set as it cools and cooking it just right like this will leave you with the most utterly silky texture. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool and then refrigerate to set.

Meanwhile make the lemon curd topping. Combine sugar and cornstarch well in a medium heatproof bowl. Add lemon zest and juice and whisk until smooth. Whisk in egg, add butter and place the bowl over a saucepan with ½ inch of simmering water. Continue to whisk until the mixture thickens right up and feels hot. Press it through a sieve to remove any lumps of cooked egg white and into a clean bowl. Let it cool completely and then spread evenly over the cooled slab. Chill until ready to serve.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Loaded Oat White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

There's plenty of good reason to pack more oats into your diet, and what better way to do it through cookies? (There is no better way.)

Rolled oats are whole grains made from steaming and then rolling oat groats until they are flat. As they are a whole grain, they are with their bran and germ intact. That's good news because that's where the nutrition lives ;)

This recipe packs in plenty of oats that are ready and willing to do good things inside of you. That's because they are quick oats - quick meaning that they are "quick-cooking" and they get that way by simply being cut up into smaller pieces to help them cook faster through increased surface area. It's simple: smaller = faster.

The heart healthy compounds in oats are called beta-glucans and these are a type of soluble fiber that absorbs water and helps lower cholesterol as well as reduce the risk of diabetes. As these beta-glucans absorb water they create a type of gel that helps carry bile acids through your digestive system and out of your body. To make new bile acids, your body breaks down cholesterol and that will lower your cholesterol levesls! Oats also contain insoluble fibers which add bulk to your gut and keeps you feeling full and regular and promotes good digestive health.

Cutting them up to make "quick" oats means that their insides are exposed so that the cholesterol-busting fibers can leach out faster. This leads to a thicker cookie dough and thicker cookies that will keep you feeling satisfied, and frankly feel good about eating cookies for breakfast (if you even need an excuse...).

I feel like there is this idea floating around that whole rolled oats are healthier than quick oats, when really they are compositionally and nutritionally the same. The difference is only in the size.

To pack all those oats into one batch of cookies, we need to add just a bit of milk to loosen up the mixture since quick oats will do really great work of sucking up any moisture coming from the egg. Without the milk they will be just a tad on the drier side.

Honey adds a floral sweetness, keeps them extra chewy and promotes browning so don't skip out on that either!

Have a great week friends. Stay satisfied ;)

Loaded Oat White Choc Macadamia Nut Cookies
Makes about 20 cookies

½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup (110g) packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 tbsp (15ml) honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tbsp milk
1 cup (142g) all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 ¼ cups (125g) quick oats
¾ cup (100g) chopped roasted macadamia nuts
3.5 oz (100g) chopped white chocolate

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together butter and both sugars until smooth and a bit fluffy. Beat honey and vanilla. Then beat in egg and milk until well combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and oats. Add this to the butter mixture and fold it in until mostly combined but a few streaks of flour remain. Add nuts and white chocolate chunks and fold through until evenly distributed.

Use a 1.5-oz ice cream scoop to drop mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 3 inches apart.

Flatten each cookie slightly using the bottom of a drinking glass or dry measuring cup and bake until golden brown around the edges, about 10-12 minutes.

Let cookies cool on the pan for about 1 minute before transferring them individually to a wire rack to cool completely.

These stay soft and chewy for days in an airtight container!
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