Cooking with Alison

Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

Birthday Cake Chocolate Bark Recipe

In Desserts, Other Desserts on May 25, 2016 at am

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This is a fun and easy-to-make alternative (or addition) to birthday cake for casual or last-minute celebrations. It’s convenient for cottage or ski chalet getaways, classroom or office celebrations, dessert tables, etc.

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Addictive ‘100 Good Cookies’ Recipe

In Cookies on May 4, 2016 at am

100 good cookies

One Christmas, many years ago, when I was volunteering for Camp Trillium, the coordinator made small cookies for all of the volunteers. I have to admit, being the pickiest cookie eater you may ever meet, I almost didn’t try one. They looked like ugly, over baked, firm mounds. I usually prefer thin, chewy cookies. Luckily, I talked myself out of my cookie snobbishness and tried one. They were absolutely addictive! After eating the entire bag within a few minutes, I emailed the coordinator and begged her to share the recipe with me. She said they were called ‘100 good cookies’. I never forgot them, but I didn’t make them until now.

After putting my first batch in the oven, I worried that maybe my palette had changed and that I wouldn’t like them anymore. You’d think I would have learned not to doubt these cookies again. They made it to John’s top 3 favourite cookies list. Several of his co-workers and my sister used the word “addictive” after trying these cookies. John’s manager even said, “Your wife is evil.” as he left his office for the third time to get more. 🙂

These cookies have a bit of everything in them: oats, coconut, Rice Krispies cereal, and toffee bits. But the flavours are so well balanced, that you almost can’t tell what’s in them. The texture is just as varied: crispy, light, and crumbly with chewy specks. Finally, this recipe actually makes 100 cookies, so it’s perfect for bake sales, large parties, pot lucks, cookie exchanges, and holiday gifts. You also have the option of freezing them.

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Cream of Tartar Substitution

In Desserts, How-To, Other Desserts on May 1, 2016 at am

I very seldomly use cream of tartar, so one box has lasted me several years. Whenever I clean out my pantry, I’m tempted to throw it away, because storage space in my home is literally that precious. I recently made a batch of cookies that, surprisingly, required cream of tartar. I didn’t have any on hand and didn’t have time to buy more. Luckily, I found a website that provided a simple and effective substitute for cream of tartar. I also finally learned what it does. It turns out that cream of tartar is an acid that reacts with baking soda to create carbon dioxide gas, thus acting as a leavener. Cream of tartar can also stabilize whipped egg whites (by maintaining the air bubbles) and prevent crystals from forming in simple syrup.

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Birds Nest Soup Recipe

In Asian, Asian Desserts, Other Asian Foods on February 1, 2015 at am

Cooking with Alison’s Mom (Part 6)

Dried birds’ nests (also known as swallows’ nests) are considered a Chinese delicacy.  Bird’s nests are believed to have many health benefits, including improving overall health and combating signs of aging.  There are 3 different types of bird’s nest and they can be distinguished by their differing colours.  The colours are, in order of increasing price, white, yellow (shown in the photos below), and red.  Some people say that drinking a few spoonfuls of birds’ nest each day will keep you looking young and feeling healthy.

Bird’s nest is most commonly used to make a Chinese sweet dessert soup.  After being boiled, bird’s nest becomes gelatinous in texture.  It is pretty much flavourless.  Here is my mom’s simple recipe for bird’s nest soup.  Alternatively, we also make the birds’ nest without the rock sugar and then mix a few spoonfuls of it into a bowl of warm milk.  I love drinking it with milk just before bed.

Inside view of a dried bird’s nest

Outside view of a dried bird’s nest

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Steamed Cranberry Pudding with Warm Vanilla Butter Sauce (A Traditional Christmas Dessert)

In Cakes, Other Desserts on December 21, 2014 at am

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I was first introduced to this traditional Christmas dessert at a craft show where I sampled Cranberry Creek Baking Co.‘s cranberry pudding.  I immediately fell in love with it, because it is dense, moist, slightly chewy, and almost savoury.  The tartness of the cranberries in the pudding, which is more cake-like in texture, is contrasted nicely with the sweet and warm butter sauce.  Also, I like that this dessert uses molasses instead of more processed sugars.  Since this dessert is steamed, it was perfect for our Christmas meal in 2013 when our oven was broken.

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Crisp and Crunchy Gingerbread Cookies Recipe (and DIY Gingerbread Decorations)

In Cookie Decorating, Cookies, Desserts, DIY and Crafts on December 7, 2014 at am

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I hated gingerbread until two years ago, when my friend Allan made delicious chewy gingerbread cookies for his naughty cookie decorating party (see the photos of our x-rated cookies here).  Last year, I fell even harder for gingerbread when I discovered this recipe for wonderfully crisp and crunchy gingerbread cookies.  They were addictive!  I made more batches of mini gingerbread men than I could count and turned some of them into decorations for my family’s Christmas tree (see below for how to make gingerbread ornaments and garland).  They made the tree smell delicious.  Thank you to the White family for sharing this recipe with me.  For an even better gingerbread idea, see not martha’s gingerbread mug decorations here.  They are mini gingerbread houses that perch on the edge of mugs!!!  I can’t wait to make these next year!

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Naughty Gingerbread People

In Cookie Decorating, Cookies, Desserts on December 2, 2014 at am

WARNING:  The following material contains photos of sexual nature that are intended for mature audiences only.  Reader and viewer discretion is advised.

Two years ago, my friend Allan threw a cookie decorating party where we cut out (freehand using a small, sharp knife), baked, and decorated gingerbread people doing naughty things.  I’m not talking about the typical gum drop boobies, I’m talking about The Cookie Sutra.  It was a lot of fun.  Luckily, I can’t take credit for all of them. 🙂  Decorations aside, the chewy gingerbread cookie dough that Allan made was so delicious that it converted me into a gingerbread fan!  I ate more gingerbread cookies that day than I ever had in my entire life.  That is, until last Christmas when I discovered my new favourite recipe for making crisp and crunchy gingerbread cookies (see here).  (See my gingerbread house here.)

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Delicious Rhubarb Cake Recipe

In Cakes, Desserts on September 7, 2014 at am

I made this rhubarb cake for a friend’s birthday camping trip and everyone loved it.  This is my new go-to rhubarb cake recipe.  It’s easy to make, it’s moist and delicious, and the tart rhubarb contrasts the slightly sweet cake perfectly.  This recipe makes a lot of cake, but don’t worry, because the cake is freezer friendly.

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Best Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe

In Cookies, Desserts on July 19, 2014 at am
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Salted Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Cookies Recipe

I started my search for the best peanut butter cookie recipe years ago.  I decided to take a break (i.e. give up) after making more than a dozen “okay” batches.  Luckily, John encouraged me to try again (peanut butter cookies are his favourite), or else I might never have discovered two great recipes.  Both recipes make cookies that are crispy on the outside, beautifully chewy on the inside, and full of peanut butter flavour.  Personally, I like the flavour of the first recipe more, because it’s not as sweet (I don’t really like sweets).  But the second recipe posted below is great too, because you get a texture that is even chewier than the first.  Normally, I prefer peanut butter cookies plain, but these cookies are perfect with chocolate chunks/chips. Read the rest of this entry »

Best Maple Butter Tart Recipe

In Desserts, Pies & Tarts on June 23, 2014 at am

As much as I love the butter tart recipe here, I am so happy that I’ve finally found a delicious butter tart recipe that doesn’t use corn syrup and that, in the true Canadian spirit, uses maple syrup.  In case you didn’t already know, butter tarts are a Canadian dessert.  This pastry was beautifully flaky and airy, but it was a bit too delicate for my taste.  I prefer the still flaky yet slightly sturdier crust of my other butter tarts (recipe here).

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Ingredients That Freeze Beautifully

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, Asian, Breads, Breakfast, Desserts, How-To, Indian, Main Course on June 1, 2014 at am

Whenever I cook with ingredients that I don’t use regularly, I almost always end up with extra ingredients that I can’t find the time or purpose for.  I hate to waste food.  So, very early on, I learned how to make the freezer my best friend.  Below I’ve shared a list of fresh and canned ingredients that freeze beautifully for months to a year, without a change in texture or taste.  Let me know if you can think of anything else!  I will add to this list as I discover new freezer friendly ingredients.  Also, I’ve posted many many freezer friendly recipes throughout the years.  Just look to the end of each recipe for freezing instructions, as applicable.

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My Absolute Favourite Fruit: Mangosteen

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, Asian, Breakfast, Desserts, How-To on May 22, 2014 at am

I love almost all fruit, and mangosteen is, by far, my favourite.  If you haven’t tried purple mangosteen yet, I highly recommend that you do as soon as the opportunity presents itself.  When I was in Malaysia, I ate an entire bag and every day that I’ve been back, I regret not eating more.  That was a year ago!!!  Mangosteen are grown mainly in Southeast Asia and the best ones that I’ve ever had were from Malaysia. Disappointingly, in North America, mangosteen can be quite expensive and often not very fresh.  So be sure to choose ones with a fresh and green coloured stem, because there are such things as bad and so-so mangosteen.

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The purple fruit shown in the middle are the mangosteen

The purple outer shell is inedible.  To open a mangosteen, crush the purple shell between the palms of your hands and then pull it apart to open it.  But be very careful not to stain your clothes, because the purple dye is almost impossible to wash out.  In fact, many hotels in Southeast Asia ban their guests from bringing mangosteen into their rooms.  The white flesh on the inside of the fruit is soft, moist, juicy and refreshing and light tasting.  Also, there are large seeds within each lobe of the white flesh.

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If you get the chance to try a mangosteen, let me know what you think!

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