Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cherry Bakewell Tarts

It's Day 6 of the Olympics. Bring. it. on.

I am a SERIOUS Olympic junkie, especially Summer. I could sit and watch for hours if it was acceptable to do so - and if my children were old enough to at least make themselves, and me, a sandwich. And a cup of tea.

It's even more exciting, because this year, it's in London. I'm missing the UK more than one could imagine, so during some events, like bicycling, where they ride through the streets and small villages that attach to London, it is that much harder to watch. My heart pines for it. 

I am a nervous wreck when I watch any of the events. It's nail biting excitement for 3 weeks. To make matters worse, I'm an emotional eater. I always have been. When I'm tired, I eat. When I'm bored, I eat, but when nervous situations warrant it, like sports, dramatic movies, or the Real Housewives series, forget it. I'm like Henry the VIII at his last meal. Mind you, the RH's is popcorn mandatory, so it doesn't really count. And it certainly doesn't make me nervous. If anything, it's cat-fight deliciousness.

Speaking of popcorn, since the Olympics started, I have been stuffing my gob by the fistfuls, screaming at the TV like a banshee for the athletes to move their tails, getting all sorts of red in the face, while kernels fly through the air. My house looks like the aftermath of the Super Bowl party pretty much every night. However, I tow the line at the double can hat with built-in straw. That's just loutish.

Can I just say that if I was ever in the Olympics and won a medal, especially a gold, I would be an absolute mess on the podium. My composure would fly out the window and I would be sobbing like a toddler that just lost their balloon. Unless they add a cupcake eating contest, I won't be competing in one in my lifetime, so we won't need to see the blubbering fool I would turn into.

Of course, popcorn decorating the air isn't in proper British form. One should stop and enjoy a proper cup of tea with a delicious British confection.

Bakewell tarts are fabulous on their own, but brilliant with a cuppa. However, I tow the line with the pinky extended in the air.

Unless you attach a foam finger onto it. 

That's about as proper as I get.


For the crust:
Please see my Grandma's Rhubarb Tarts for instructions:

2¼ cups cake flour
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, COLD and cut into cubes
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

For the filling:

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup ground almonds
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda 
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract 
½ cup cherry or strawberry jam 

For the icing: 

1½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk 
12 maraschino cherries 

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with flour. Roll out and cut dough into 24 disks, a size slightly larger than the muffin cup. Form to shape the cup and set aside.  

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Blend in almond extract, ground almonds, flour, baking soda, and salt. 

Spoon about a tablespoon of jam into the bottom of cup. 

Spoon about a tablespoon of almond mixture on top. For some reason, these look really full, but they weren't.

Top with remaining disks. 

Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes and transfer to a rack.

To make the icing:

In a small bowl, combine sugar and milk until well blended.  Drizzle over top of tarts and immediately place a cherry on top. 

Yields: 12 Bakewell Tarts.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Bars

Costco is a beautiful, but terrifying place.

It's also the only place I can justify spending $130 on 6 bottles of ketchup, 4 industrial-sized jars of strawberry jam, 160 rolls of 3-ply toilet paper, and 18 pounds of romaine lettuce.

Plus, you can practically get a free lunch out of it just for stopping by -  that is if you don't get run down by the fifty million shoppers first. And don't even THINK about waiting in line for the goods to be dished out. You'll have serious cart dents on the ankles and end up limping out of the warehouse.

As I was perusing the produce section, I was listening in on an older couple having this deep and consuming conversation about whether or not they needed a 4-pack container of hummus. I picked up what I needed and headed over to the laundry and juice aisles. Once I got there, I realized I forgot lemons, which was the thing I went there for in the first place, headed back to produce and found they were still at it.

Here's a tip: With the exceptions of shoes, clothing, and desserts, if it takes you 15 minutes to decide whether you need something, you probably don't need it.

On my way to the checkout, I made a quick detour into the cookie aisle due to the serious congestion in the cereal aisle and scored a box of club-sized Oreo Cookies for $5.99. That's one heck of a deal. 

And yes, before you ask, I did need 450 Oreo cookies. Who needs cereal when you can have Oreos? The breakfast of champions.

I ended up having a few on the ride home. Just a few. Rows, maybe. Oops. Since my cookie jar is filled to capacity, I had to use up the opened package to avoid them going stale or soft in this weather. It would be an absolute travesty to let these beautiful cookies go to waste. It would be a travesty to let any cookie go to waste for that matter.

So I made these. What a beautiful thing it is to pair up Oreos with even more chocolate and peanut butter. 

My club-sized cookie purchase has completely been justified. 


1 package chocolate sandwich cookies, like Oreo Cookies, finely ground 
¾ cup melted butter
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup mini chocolate chips
½ cup peanut butter chips
½ cup white chocolate chips
½ cup coarsely crushed chocolate sandwich cookies, about 8
Combine cookie crumbs and butter; pat onto the bottom of a 13"x9" baking pan. 

In a small saucepan, melt sweetened condensed milk and 1 cup chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Pour over crust. 

Sprinkle with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, and crushed cookies. 

Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until chips begin to melt but do not lose their shape. Allow to cool completely before cutting. 

Yields: About 24-48 cookies, depending on size.

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Grasshopper Cookie Truffles

The outside temperature reached 111ºF this week with the humidity.

I'm beginning to think they are on to something with this global warming situation. The worst part about it was standing outside talking to my neighbor for TWO minutes and I started sweating like the back of a cold toilet.

How attractive.

We could not get the temperature to dip under 83º in the house even with 4 ceiling fans, central air pumping out at maximum capacity, and all the curtains closed. I felt like a sewer rat in my own home. And now I have a cold because of it.

What could make this any more irritating? I wanted cookies. Of course I wanted cookies. When do I not want them? I was not about to turn on the oven. I may be crazy, but I'm not insane.

These are the moments you truly have to be thankful for anything no bake, especially the minty sort that cools down the mouth when you take a bite of it, like these. 

Unfortunately I had to work fast. My truffles started to sweat once I took them out of the fridge to snap a photo.

At least I know it's not only me.

Recipe adapted and slightly modified from Six Sisters

1 package chocolate mint cookies - like Keebler Grasshopper, Girl Scout Thin Mints, or store brand like Great Value, finely ground
½ block cream cheese, at room temperature
2 Aero Mint Chocolate Bars
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup green candy wafers, melted

Using a food processor, pulverize cookies until they resemble crumbs. Pour into a separate bowl and add cream cheese. Mix until combined.

Roll into 2" balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Place in the fridge for a least an hour. This will help firm the balls up for dipping.

Using a double broiler method, melt chocolate in a heatproof dish until smooth and creamy. I found using a skewer was the best way to tackle these. Dip into chocolate and be sure the ball is completely covered. 

Place on cookie sheet until all balls have been dipped. Place in the fridge to allow chocolate to set and firm up. 

Melt wafers in microwave using a microwave safe container. Using a fork or a ziploc bag with the corner cut off, drizzle over truffles. 

Keep refrigerated for best results.

Yields: About 24 Grasshopper Cookie Truffles.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Cookies

Summer has officially made itself known.

It's a hundred billion degrees outside. There is nothing like walking outside and having the humidity getting all up in my business.

I love the hot weather, don't get me wrong, but not the sticky, muggy, swimming in lava with dragons breathing fire down my neck while the sun is shooting mega solar flares right in my face kind of weather.

Yeah, it's freakin hot. 

Thankfully, there are many ways to cool down when one doesn't have the amenities at one's fingertips. Can I just tell you how thankful I am for central air and a finished basement? 

Cool as a cucumber.

Speaking of cucumbers, I love lemons this time of year. (What? When you think of cucumbers, you don't think of lemons?) I will literally suck the life out of them and not feel the least bit guilty doing so. They are such refreshing little buggers.  

But pair them with blueberries? Brilliant. 

These cookies are immense and perfect with a cup of tea or a cold glass of milk, although I'll forgo the cup of tea today. Ya know, with the heat and all. I don't need my insides burning as well.

But not the cookies. 

I will never forgo on the cookies.

Recipe adapted and slightly modified from Hot Polka Dot

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 eggs
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
1 cup fresh blueberries - frozen for about an hour
1 package cream cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line cookie sheets sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper; set aside. 

In a large bowl using a mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Blend in the lemon zest, juice, and eggs, scraping down the bowl as you go. 

 In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together and slowly add into wet ingredients. Gently fold in the blueberries. I used my hands to incorporate them so they didn't burst and make the cookies blue. Refrigerate the dough for about 20 minutes. 

Roll a generous tablespoon of dough into a ball and flatten slightly. According to Hot Polka's post, she placed a cube of cream cheese in the center of the cookie and covered the cookie around it, but I pushed several cubes around the cookie. I love the way cream cheese bakes and tastes when exposed. 

Bake for 10-14 minutes until the edges brown slightly. This time is about right. One batch took 11 minutes, another took 14. Go figure.

Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Hot fruit on lips is not a nice feeling.

Yields: About 3 dozen cookies.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Patriotic Cheesecake Dip - Happy Birthday USA!

Happy Birthday America!

Although I moved to Canada 10 years ago, the USA will always have a very special place in my heart. Always.

Here's to another 236 years of being a great nation. I made you some dip. 

Please, don't all applause at once.


1½ cups fresh cherries, pitted
½ cup fresh blueberries
1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup Cool Whip
5 tablespoons cherry, strawberry or raspberry jam
1 teaspoon water 

Place cherries in one bowl and blueberries in another. Using a microwavable safe dish, warm jam and water in microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Spoon a generous tablespoon of jam over blueberries and the rest over the cherries. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice together. Add in Cool Whip and mix just until incorporated. 

Drop onto a square dish, approximately 12x12. Using an offset spatula, spread cream cheese mixture all over plate. You can also use an 8x8 square baking dish for this dip.

Begin layering fruit to resemble Old Glory. Don't worry if the juices ooze onto the 'white stripes'. It's delicious hazards of the job. 

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with graham cracker sticks. 

HAPPY 4th of JULY!

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Irish Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies

A riddle.

What do you get when you cross a bottle of Irish cream liqueur in the pantry, the last day of school, and hankering for a chocolate chip cookie? 

I don't know for sure, but it could very quickly become happy hour in the teachers lounge courtesy of one very delicious cookie.

I think being a teacher is a tough job, but I can imagine, it's a very rewarding one. I don't think they always get the credit they deserve either. Sure, there are some rubbish teachers out there (yeah, I'm talking to you, Mrs. Matthews, my 9th grade Biology teacher with skirts up to there, ALWAYS flirting with the other male teachers and cute boys in class. It was so gross and I learned absolutely nothing that whole year, thankyouverymuch), but for the most part, these scholars inspire our children. You really do have to be a certain kind of person to do that everyday. I know how far my daughter has come since her first day of school, so I have all the respect and admiration in the world for them. 

I'm especially not a fan of those that criticize teacher wages. If I had a dollar for every time I heard, "Well, they make enough money" or "That's why they earn the big bucks", I'd have a lot of money in my possession.

Like $543.28.

Hey, I didn't say I was good at the math, I just said I'd have a lot. This is no reflection on you, Mr. Benson, my awesome 5th Grade Math teacher. I may not be smarter than a 5th Grader anymore, but I can bake better than one, so it evens itself out. 

All I'm trying to say is that teachers earn and deserve their paychecks. Sit down with one and ask them all that they do. You may be surprised.

Show them your love and support. You'll get back so much more than what you give.

Even if it has to be explained by using a Venn Diagram, word problems, or by opening your Calculus book and turning to page 146. 


2¼ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 
1¼ cup packed brown sugar 
1 egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
¾ cup Irish cream Liqueur 
1 teaspoon Irish whiskey, optional
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips 
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts OR ½ cup of both

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare cookie sheets by lining with silicone mats or parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.

Using a mixer, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and Irish cream, and whiskey, if using. Mix in dry ingredients and blend until creamy. STIR in chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop by tablespoons onto cookie sheet or by using an ice scream scoop with a retractable mechanism.

Bake for 10-14 minutes. Please know that times will greatly depend on the size of ice scream scoop you use. I used a large scoop, so my cookies took approximately 13 minutes in the oven. You can probably tell from the lettering on the silicone mats how big my scoops actually are. 

Remove from oven and transfer onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Chocolate Cheesecake Pops

That's right. Chocolate Cheesecake Pops. There are no words.

Wanna know the best part? With my version, you can even eat the stick. Hazardous to the hips, but environment friendly to the landfill. 

All the more you should eat them. 

Waste over waist.


3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla bean paste (extract works fine as well)
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
¼ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon lemon zest

24 Pocky Sticks OR 24 lollipop sticks. Pocky Sticks come in a box of 24, but you'll want extra in case of breakage....and this will happen.

16 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate squares
1 cup graham cracker crumbs

* These can be made gluten-free! Omit graham cracker crumbs and use crushed crispy rice cereal.

Preheat oven at 350ºF.

Using a mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla bean paste, and flour together until creamy. Add eggs, lemon zest, and milk and mix until combined.

Pour into a 10 inch pan with a removable base or a springform pan. Place pan on a cookie sheet and pour hot water into the sheet. This will help to keep the top from cracking.


Bake for 40 minutes. remove from oven and allow cheesecake to cool to room temperature. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Overnight is best. 

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using an ice cream scoop with a retractable mechanism, scoop out balls. You may need to roll them to by hand for a more uniform ball. Don't worry if they look a bit wonky, they will be coated with chocolate. Place on prepared cookie sheet.

I used Pocky sticks in place of lollipop sticks for an extra treat. These are sold in most grocery or convenient stores, so you shouldn't have a problem finding them. If you do use these, it's VERY important that you use extra caution as they will break very easily if you're a bit heavy handed. I placed mine in the refrigerator to keep the chocolate from melting and some added support. 

Place one stick in the center of the cheesecake balls and freeze for several hours, overnight for best results. 


Melt chocolate using a double broiler method. Carefully dip balls into melted chocolate. The chocolate will freeze quite quickly, so you need to work a bit fast so the graham cracker crumbs will adhere to the chocolate.

Dip pops into graham cracker crumbs and place on lined cookie sheet.

Keep refrigerated for best results. 

Yields: 24 Cheesecake Pops.

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