Banana-y Banana Bread.

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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.

Ingredients:

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 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan.
  2. 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.
  3. Pour batter into loaf pan.
  4. Bake for 60-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into centre of the loaf comes out clean.
  5. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack.

Notes:

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).

Carrot Cake!

Carrot Cake!

Carrot Cake!

This carrot cake would have tasted better if I had pulled together a home made frosting for it – but, instead, I used some “cream cheese flavour” frosting from a can. I’m not going to lie – even with subpar frosting, this cake totally hit the spot.  It’s SO carrot-y that it’s a bizarre shade of orange and brown (from the cinnamon and nutmeg) and so incredibly moist!

Carrot Cake

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups canola or vegetable oil
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4.5 cups grated carrots

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line a 9”x 13” sheet pan (or two 9″ pans) with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour,baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  3. In a large bowl (or in your stand mixer bowl) mix together eggs, oil, sugars, and vanilla until well combined.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix until well-combined.
  5. Stir in the grated carrots.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for approx. 45 to 50 minutes.
  7. Cake is done when a skewer in the middle is not goopy.
  8. Cool fully before frosting.

Notes:

You could add a cup of nuts and/or a cup of raisins to this if you felt like getting crazy with things. I am not a huge fan of raisins and was totally not surprised when I discovered that mine had expired a year ago – and decided not to use them.

This cake is really, really moist because it is full of oil. If you’re the sort of person who prefers to eat a bit lighter in the calorie department, consider swapping out some of the oil for some applesauce.

Éclairs.

Mmmmm.

Mmmmm.

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.

Chocolate Éclairs

Makes about 10 éclairs.

Ingredients:

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


Directions:

Make the pastry:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F. Place a silpat mat on a large cookie sheet and grease lightly.
  2. In medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of butter and water. Bring to a boil, stirring, until butter is melted.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Let cool completely.

Make the filling:

  1. Combine pudding and milk and mix according to package directions (easy!).
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream with a handheld mixer until soft peaks form.
  3. Beat in 1/4 cup of icing sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1/4 tsp salt.
  4. Gently fold the whipped cream into the pudding.
  5. 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.
  6. Pipe the filling mixture into the éclairs until each one is full. You will likely have filling left over.

Make the frosting:

  1. Combine the butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla.
  2. Mix until slightly combined, then add 1/4 cup of the coffee.
  3. Whip until the icing is light and fluffy.
  4. Smear onto the top of the eclairs. Or, if you’re fancy, do something fancy with a piping bag or, y’know, whatever.

Notes:

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.

Skillet Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.

Oh yeah.

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

Ingredients:

Topping:
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

Cake batter:
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)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. In a 10″ cast-iron pan, make the topping. Melt the butter over medium heat and add in the brown sugar.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  6. In a bigger bowl, cream the butter and sugar together – I used my stand mixer for this step.
  7. Add the eggs in, one at a time, mixing well after each one. Add the vanilla extract and mix again.
  8. Add half of the flour mixture, stir well.
  9. Add pineapple juice, stir well.
  10. Add the rest of the flour mixture and stir until it’s mixed. Don’t get crazy with this step.
  11. 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.
  12. Bake for 45 minutes – until the top is golden. Check it with a toothpick or a cake tester – it should come out clean.
  13. 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.
  14. Cool until room temperature-ish (if you can wait that long) and then serve! Yay!

Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Snack Bars.

.. more like rectangles.

.. 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

Ingredients:

ripe bananas
large eggs
cups white sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons coconut oil
cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup of shredded coconut (sweetened)

Directions:

  1. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper (including the sides). Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Add chocolate chips and coconut and stir, again, just until mixed together.
  5. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean).
  7. Cool fully before slicing.

Note:
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.

Creme Eggs.

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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).

Creme Eggs

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

Directions:

  1. Cream together butter, golden syrup, salt, vanilla bean paste, and vanilla extract in stand mixer.
  2. Mix on medium and make sure to scrape down the sides repeatedly.
  3. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the powdered sugar. Mix until completely smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Scoop out blobs of your “whites” and roll them into balls.
  7. 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.
  8. Continue this process until all your eggs are complete. Return them to the freezer.
  9. Microwave the chocolate chips in a large bowl  in 30 second intervals, stirring very well in between.
  10. 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.

 

Notes:
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.

 

T-Rex Cookies.

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.

SO CUTE.

SO CUTE.

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

Ingredients
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)
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a stand mixer,  cream together the butter and sugar. Scrape down the sides frequently.
  3. Once everything is light and fluffy, add the egg yolk and extracts. Mix well.
  4. 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.
  5. Mix until no visible flour remains (don’t over-mix!)
  6. 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.
  7. Place the shapes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  8. Gather the dough scraps,  re-roll, and cut out the rest of the shapes. Put them on the cookie sheet too!
  9. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer and start heating your oven to 350F.
  10. When the oven reaches temperature, remove the cookies from the freezer and put them into the oven.
  11. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies just start to turn brown.
  12. Let the cookies rest on the pan for a few minutes and then move them a wire rack to cool completely.
  13. 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

Directions:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.