Fresh out of the oven.
I am not a huge fan of rhubarb, but I keep trying. Everyone else seems to like it – in muffins or crumbles or.. whatevers. This recipe called to me, and I had exactly 1 pound of rhubarb in my fridge, so I made some quick changes and popped this into the oven.
I am now fully in love with rhubarb. Or, at least, this recipe. Be forewarned: it’s really sweet and really tart!
Sweet Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake.
- 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick) and 6 tablespoons butter, cold.
- Zest of one lemon + save the juice (you need 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 2eggs, lightly beaten
- Heat oven to 375° F.
- Heat a 10″ cast iron skillet over medium. Add in 1 cup of sugar, 4 tablespoons butter (room temp), lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Stir gently while things melt and get goopy.
- When the butter and sugar have melted together, add the rhubarb pieces and cook, stirring occasionally. The rhubarb will give off quite a bit of moisture – that’s okay! Cook until the rhubarb is tender (approx 6 to 8 minutes). Allow to simmer while you complete the next steps.
- In a small bowl, whisk together remaining sugar and salt, plus flour and baking powder in a bowl. Add the cold butter, and use your fingers to rub the flour and butter together to form coarse pea-size chunks.
- Add milk and eggs and stir until a soft, sticky dough forms.
- Turn off the heat underneath the skillet (it’s okay to leave the skillet on the burner, though). Take pieces of dough and stretch them gently – and place over the hot rhubarb mixture. Try to cover the entire surface. It’s okay for dough chunks to overlap – it’s a bit like making rhubarb cobbler! I ended up using only about 2/3rds of the dough because I wanted a bit less cake – if you’d like a thicker cake, use the full amount.
- Put the skillet onto a baking sheet (just in case of overflow!) and put into the centre of the pre-heated oven. Bake until the cake is golden – for a 2/3rds dough, this will be about 25 minutes. For the full dough recipe, expect between 30 and 35 minutes.
- Remove baking sheet and skillet from the oven and let the cake rest for about 10 minutes.
- Place a platter or plate on top of the skillet and invert quickly and carefully. The rhubarb will be gooey and sticky on top. Yay!
- Serve warm or at room temperature!
So Good. So Many.
My husband loves this recipe because it contains some of his all-time favourite things: cinnamon, raisins, and oatmeal. I like this recipe because it makes at least 5 dozen (or more, if you’re careful about your sizing as you’re putting the dough onto the cookie sheets) and the baking time is short. Also, I will admit that they’re really good cookies – chewy, soft, but substantial.
The key thing here is to NOT over-bake them. You will want to bake them longer because they don’t quite look fully cooked when they come out of the oven, but I need you to resist that urge. Resist! They’ll bake a bit more as they’re cooling on the tray. I promise.
Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Makes about 5 dozen cookies
- 1 cup raisins
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons cinnamon (more/less to taste)
- 1 cup butter, softened
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups large flake oats (not instant oats)
- Put the raisins in a small pot (ideally with a lid) and cover them with water by about 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil, covered if possible, and let the raisins ‘cook’ for 10 minutes in the boiling water. When they finish boiling, drain them in a colander and set aside. This step will make the raisins soft and juicy and lovely in the cookies.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375° F. Grab a bunch of cookie trays (enough for 5 dozen cookies, if you have enough) and put down parchment paper. (If you don’t have parchment paper, use non-stick trays – don’t grease or spray them.)
- In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
- In a larger bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until everything is mixed together and creamy.
- While beating, add eggs one at a time. Gradually add in flour mixture.
- Check that the raisins are cooled to room temperature – if not, give them a quick rinse under cold water. Drain again.
- Stir in the raisins and oats.
- Drop by rounded tablespoon onto baking sheets.
- Bake for about 8 minutes or until a very light golden brown. The edges will be a bit darker, and if you carefully lift one up you’ll see that the bottom is fully cooked and browned (but still not too dark!)
- Cool completely before removing them from the sheets.
Bananay Banana Bread!
There are probably 990 kabillion banana bread recipes on the internet and in every grandmother’s cookbook. The problem, according to my husband, is that none of those recipes contain enough bananas. A lot of them tell you to use an overly ripe banana, or maybe two, but depending on the size of your bananas, this one can take as many as 6.
It should not surprise you that this is really banana-y banana bread.
Bananay Banana Bread.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture – stir just until moistened.
- Pour batter into loaf pan.
- Bake for 60-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into centre of the loaf comes out clean.
- Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack.
This banana bread is dense and .. well, there are a lot of bananas in it. You can adjust the cinnamon to your preference – we often use closer to a tablespoon because it compliments the banana flavour (and because we like cinnamon).
For some reason, this recipe didn’t make it here – so I am posting it now, even though there are no delicious éclairs in my kitchen right now. I wish there were, and I would definitely be making some now if I had the ingredients handy, but it is ridiculous cold outside and I can’t bring myself to put on pants.
From my notes:
SO EASY! It was like magic watching them puff up. They really DO seem super-duper fancy and they really ARE super-duper easy to make. This looks like a really complicated recipe, given all the ingredients and steps, but it’s way easy. For real. Trust me.
Makes about 10 éclairs.
For the choux pastry:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs
For the custard filling:
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
For the mocha frosting:
1 stick butter, softened
2.5 cups icing sugar (make it in your blender!)
1/8 cup cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup strong coffee, cooled
Make the pastry:
- Preheat oven to 450F. Place a silpat mat on a large cookie sheet and grease lightly.
- In medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of butter and water. Bring to a boil, stirring, until butter is melted.
- Reduce the heat to low and stir in flour and salt with a wooden spoon until the mixture begins to form a stiff ball of dough. Remove from heat and move into the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition to ensure they are incorporated. Work quickly so the eggs don’t cook before they’re mixed in!
- With a pastry bag fitted with a large tip, pipe the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet into 10 strips that are approximately 1.5 inches wide and about 4 inches long.
- Bake at 450F for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 and bake for another 20 minutes. They’re ready when they’re puffy and golden and sound hollow when lightly tapped on the bottom.
- Remove them from the oven and immediately push a butter knife through the end, almost all the way through. This will let out steam and moisture – it’s also where you’ll be piping the custard in, so make sure the hole is large enough for that.
- Let cool completely.
Make the filling:
- Combine pudding and milk and mix according to package directions (easy!).
- In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream with a handheld mixer until soft peaks form.
- Beat in 1/4 cup of icing sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1/4 tsp salt.
- Gently fold the whipped cream into the pudding.
- Scoop the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a medium tip – you may need to enlarge the holes in the éclairs to fit the tip.
- Pipe the filling mixture into the éclairs until each one is full. You will likely have filling left over.
Make the frosting:
- Combine the butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla.
- Mix until slightly combined, then add 1/4 cup of the coffee.
- Whip until the icing is light and fluffy.
- Smear onto the top of the eclairs. Or, if you’re fancy, do something fancy with a piping bag or, y’know, whatever.
Store in the fridge. These get soggy after a day, though, so don’t expect to be able to make them too far in advance of eating (which sucks, because once people try them they really want you to make them for all occasions!) Even though the recipe makes about 10, they will disappear really quickly.
Oh yeah. 1970s-style goodness.
You will have to forgive the photo, above. It does not do justice to this cake. But I made this recipe rather late in the evening, just as the kids were heading to bed, and so the photo was taken close to 10pm after a very busy weekend. I am totally just phoning it in here, is what I’m saying, when it comes to this picture.
See, I had promised myself – and my husband – that I was going to make this cake during the holidays. And I was quickly running out of holidays in which to live up to my promise. I’ve been craving it for weeks!
This is a really easy recipe to make and was really, really tasty when we finally got to eat some at 10:30-ish on Sunday night.
Skillet Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
3/4 cup, packed, of light brown sugar
1 can of pineapple chunks, reserve the juice for the batter
as many little red maraschino cherries as you like
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup of white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of unsweetened pineapple juice (from above)
- Preheat oven to 350F
- In a 10″ cast-iron pan, make the topping. Melt the butter over medium heat and add in the brown sugar.
- Cook for 4 minutes on medium, stirring constantly. The sugar and butter will turn into a thick caramel that will make you feel tingly just looking at it.
- After 4 minutes, remove the skillet from the heat. Arrange your pineapple chunks and cherries (if you’re using them) in a delightful pattern. I went with concentric circles. You can do whatever you want. Set aside to cool.
- In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a bigger bowl, cream the butter and sugar together – I used my stand mixer for this step.
- Add the eggs in, one at a time, mixing well after each one. Add the vanilla extract and mix again.
- Add half of the flour mixture, stir well.
- Add pineapple juice, stir well.
- Add the rest of the flour mixture and stir until it’s mixed. Don’t get crazy with this step.
- Gently pour/spoon/scrape the mixture out of the bowl and onto the carefully arranged pineapple (and cherries) in the cast iron pan. Smooth it a bit if needed. Don’t worry much.
- Bake for 45 minutes – until the top is golden. Check it with a toothpick or a cake tester – it should come out clean.
- Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then invert onto a plate so everyone can see your beautiful pineapple arrangement. You might have to put a few pineapples or cherries back in place – use a fork because they are ridiculously hot and covered in melty sugar.
- Cool until room temperature-ish (if you can wait that long) and then serve! Yay!
.. tasty, chewy, golden..
I had a few extra bananas sitting around and wanted to try something other than the usual loaf of banana bread (even though I have an amazing banana bread recipe). Browsing around, I stumbled across a recipe for “snack cake”. Following some of the modifications suggested by other bakers in the comment section, I whipped up this recipe. They turned out more like bars than cake but oh, they’re good.
Be forewarned – they’re really sweet, chewy, a bit crispy on the edges, and are absolutely not a healthy sort of snack.
Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Snack Bars
2 ripe bananas
2 large eggs
2 cups white sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup of shredded coconut (sweetened)
- Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper (including the sides). Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, or in your stand mixer (if you’re lazy), mash up the bananas. Add in the eggs, sugar, molasses, vanilla, and coconut oil. Stir it all up well.
- Combine the flour and salt in a small bowl. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Stir until everything is nicely combined. Don’t get crazy with this.
- Add chocolate chips and coconut and stir, again, just until mixed together.
- Pour batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 45 to 55 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean).
- Cool fully before slicing.
My friend Alice took this recipe and made mini muffins – she baked them for about 25 minutes, or just until the top wasn’t mushy. I’m definitely going to try that next time because it was much neater and tidier and way easier to eat.
Sweet and tasty!
I am 38 years old and I still love Cadbury Easter Creme Eggs. I am also a huge life-long fan of Laura Secord Easter Eggs. This recipe is basically a combination of the two.
I found the recipe here.
For my own records, here’s how I adapted it slightly (and, below, some notes on what I’d do differently next time).
Makes about 15 eggs.
1/2 cup Lyle’s golden syrup
6 tablespoons butter, softened
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
small blob of yellow gel food colouring
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 ounces milk chocolate chips
- Cream together butter, golden syrup, salt, vanilla bean paste, and vanilla extract in stand mixer.
- Mix on medium and make sure to scrape down the sides repeatedly.
- Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the powdered sugar. Mix until completely smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Place 1/4 of the mixture into a small bowl and add enough yellow food coloring gel to obtain your desired color. Cover both bowls with plastic wrap and put into the freezer for at least 15 minutes; your mixture must be very cold while you work with it.
- When the sugar mixture is thoroughly chilled, remove from the freezer. Make small balls out of the yellow mixture. Place them on a bit of parchment paper, on a cookie tray, and put them in the freezer.
- Scoop out blobs of your “whites” and roll them into balls.
- Remove the yolks from the freezer. Place a white in the palm of your hand and gently flatten it a bit. Press a yolk into the centre and carefully mush the white around to hide the yolk.
- Continue this process until all your eggs are complete. Return them to the freezer.
- Microwave the chocolate chips in a large bowl in 30 second intervals, stirring very well in between.
- Remove eggs from the freezer and dunk them in the melted chocolate. Place them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. When they’re all finished, put the tray into the fridge for about 10 minutes to allow the chocolate to set.
I adjusted this recipe for ease of use – no toothpicks! my eggs are sorta’ round! If I were making this as a gift for someone, I’d probably try harder to make them look like actual eggs.
Next time, I’ll make them much smaller. I think you could easily make 30 eggs out of this recipe.
Next time, I’ll try using homemade icing sugar (better flavour)
Put the mixtures in the freezer for a few minutes any time it gets a bit soft – it’s much easier to work with when it’s harder.
Lyle’s Golden Syrup is available in my grocery store and at the Bulk Barn.
I adore T-Rex – for reasons that make for too long of a story to tell here. But for Solstice this year, one of my sons bought me a T-Rex cookie cutter. I waited, patiently, for the holidays to be over so we would have room for snacks – and today I made a trial batch of cut-out, flood-iced cookies.
I’ll be honest – this is the one that turned out the best. It was a learning process to get the eye placed properly and the outline and flooding done reasonably. But I am ridiculously pleased with how they turned out – and sad that I didn’t make more of them (this recipe made 9 cookies).
Here’s the cookie recipe that I used:
1 Dozen Cut-Out Cookies
3/4 cup flour, plus extra for rolling
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon almond extract (I used vanilla again)
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Scrape down the sides frequently.
- Once everything is light and fluffy, add the egg yolk and extracts. Mix well.
- Sprinkle half the flour mixture into the bowl and continue to mix on a low speed until combined. Add the remainder of the flour mixture.
- Mix until no visible flour remains (don’t over-mix!)
- Dump the dough onto a floured surface. Squish the dough into a ball. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough until it’s large enough to make approximately 8 medium-sized cut-outs.
- Place the shapes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Gather the dough scraps, re-roll, and cut out the rest of the shapes. Put them on the cookie sheet too!
- Place the cookie sheet in the freezer and start heating your oven to 350F.
- When the oven reaches temperature, remove the cookies from the freezer and put them into the oven.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies just start to turn brown.
- Let the cookies rest on the pan for a few minutes and then move them a wire rack to cool completely.
- Don’t frost the cookies until they’re fully cooled.
I used this method for doing the outline and flooding. It worked well, but I had to add quite a bit more powdered sugar to my recipe (possibly because I make my own sugar in the blender so it doesn’t contain corn starch?)
For my own records, this is what the recipe looked like for me in the end:
Icing for Border & Flooding
For the border icing:
1.5 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring extract
2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons milk or water
Food coloring, optional
For the flood icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring extract
2 1/2 tablespoons milk or water
Food coloring, optional
- Mix the ingredients together for the border icing. It should be quite thick. Spoon it into a squeeze bottle and then make the outlines. Allow the icing to dry to the touch (about 10 minutes, at most).
- Mix the flood icing. it should be thick but not too much. Spoon it into a squeeze bottle and then use it like a magic marker to colour inside the border icing. FUN. Allow to dry overnight.
This is a guest post from my delightful friend Abby. She made this recipe for our work holiday drop-in; I am pretty sure that all of it was gone into the bellies of our staff before anyone managed to drop in. It’s called “Christmas Crack” but I feel confident that we could rename it “Violet’s Birthday Crack” or “Monday Crack”. Whatever. Here we go. Let’s start with a photo that Abby stole from the internet..
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar (use light probably – dark was kinda weird)
about a half a bag of pretzels (mini ones or square ones are best but in a pinch just rough crush sticks or regular pretzels in your hands)
1 bag chocolate chips (mini work best)
coarse sea salt
- First and foremost – relax! this is kind of a no-brainer type of recipe so don’t freak out about it. don’t go all A-type or freak-out – just make the damn thing. Maybe have a drink to help with the relaxing (this part is optional but recommended).
- Start by lining a medium-size/regular cookie sheet with tinfoil. The thing needs to have sides. Don’t be all Martha Stewart-y and think parchment is better here – it will stick. $.50 dollarstore tin foil will do the job, just make sure it covers the cookie sheet (and up the sides) to make for easy clean-up.
- Dump the pretzels onto the cookie sheet and give’r a shake. Aim for about a single layer – roughly half of the bags I buy. But again, refer back to step 1.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Meanwhile, melt the butter and stir in the sugar in a pot. Again, go back to step one. This isn’t rocket science folks. Melt the butter however you want – hi, medium heat – doesn’t matter. Add in the sugar and stir until the butter is fully incorporated. This takes a few minutes but really, just take a breath (or a drink) and it will happen. Keep stirring til it comes to a pretty decent bubble, then turn down the heat to low. Watch the pretty bubbles and stir for about 2 minutes.
- Pour the bubbly sugar/butter mixture over the pretzels. You guessed it – refer back to #1. Try to pour it over most of the pan but the stuff will spread out in the oven. Promise.
- Pop the pan into the oven for 5 minutes.
- Turn off the oven. Pull out the pan – that delicious goo spread out didn’t it? Evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips over the whole bubbly thing. Pop back into the (now off but still hot) oven for a minute-ish to melt the chocolate. Remove from oven – use a spatula to spread out the chocolate. Some of the pretzels might not be fully covered, some might shift – this ain’t a beauty pageant kids. Relax. Sprinkle with coarse sea-salt – however much you want.
- Let sit for a few minutes while you clean up (one pot. nice.) and then pop in the freezer for about an hour. Remove from tinfoil and break into piece. Done!
Store in a container in the freezer. Best served if it’s sit out at room temp for a little bit but I’ve been known to grab a piece every time I pass by the freezer. Ain’t no shame.
Looks like a lot of steps but to review: Line a pan. Dump pretzels. Shake. Let butter and sugar make pretty bubbles. Pour. Oven. Chocolate. Oven. Salt. Freezer. BAM.
For the holidays, I bought my husband a package of sriracha-flavoured candy canes. He liked them. He likes sriracha on pretty much everything we eat, so it wasn’t much of a surprise – but he did comment that the flavour wasn’t very strong. Then I saw this recipe.
I have never made candy before, but I’m trying very hard not to shy away from making new things – even if I have a pretty strong feeling that it won’t turn out or that it’ll be way harder than I expect.
As it happened, I needed my husband to help me make this recipe – specifically because I was freaking out a bit (unnecessarily) and because I felt like I didn’t have enough hands!
In the end, we learnt some valuable lessons – like “candy sets up pretty fast” and “don’t overfill the molds”. I wouldn’t package these up to give out to people as a gift because they’re a bit messy and wonky, but I would totally make them again and see if I could get them a bit more even next time. We did make a few that were just blobs of candy poured onto parchment paper with sticks added.
Also: sriracha candy is really, really good. And nowhere near as challenging to make as I expected!
Blobs of candy + sticks!
I followed this recipe – with only minimal changes. I’m printing the recipe below, with my slight changes (for my own records). If you want to make these, I recommend going to the original site and using those instructions instead.
Makes about 15-20
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup corn syrup
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons sriracha sauce, divided
1/2 tsp. orange-coloured gel food colouring
- Grease a candy mold with cooking spray or cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a small saucepan. Put a candy thermometer into the mixture.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Heat without stirring until the bubbling mixture reaches 244°F.
- Drop one level tablespoon of sriracha sauce into the bubbling mixture– do not stir! When the mixture reaches the hard crack stage (302-310°F). Remove pan from heat.
- Stir in the remaining 1 tbsp. Sriracha sauce and food coloring. Be extra careful because the mixture will bubble and sputter with these additions.
- When the mixture has stopped bubbling, pour it into molds and let harden. Alternately, spoon onto the parchment-covered tray and place a stick in the middle of the blob. Add more candy on top if you want!
- Wrap the cooled lollipops in cellophane or wax paper and store in an airtight container.
Candy sets up REALLY FAST. Work fast! After everything is done, soak the pot and utensils (and everything else in the kitchen) in really hot water. Scrub. Add more hot water. Scrub again. More hot water. Eventually it’ll all come clean.