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Gingerbread Spice Cookies

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Forgiveness is important, especially in baking. I love this cookie dough because it lets me get away  with a LOT: flavouring, tearing, re-rolling, flour substitutions, over baking. I’ve never made a bad batch and that’s why I’ll keep using this recipe until there are Food Replicators in every kitchen (then I’ll program it in).

The most recent variation was for a Kids Cooking Class featuring Festive Treats, so I amped up the cheer with Epicure Gingerbread Spices. You can keep it plain vanilla (as long as you use the good stuff) or add your favourite spice blend.

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Gingerbread Brown Sugar Thins

Ingredients

2 1/4 Cups (270g) all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 Cup (226 g) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup (213 g) packed dark brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 TBS Epicure Gingerbread Spices

Method

Preheat oven to 300F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment or reusable non-stick baking mats.

Mix flour, salt and spices together

Beat butter, brown sugar and vanilla until light in colour and texture (about 3 minutes in a stand mixer with paddle attachment on medium speed). Then add flour mixture gradually to make a smooth dough. Press dough into a smooth flat disc.

Break the dough into 4 roughly equal pieces and roll each one out on a lightly floured surface until 1/8 inch thick.

Dip cookie cutters into flour and cut out shapes. Arrange cookies at least 1 inch apart on the sheets. Scraps can be gathered, rested for 5 minutes and re-rolled.

Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes (lift one up and check that it’s firm). Cool on sheets for 3 minutes then move to cooling racks until room temperature.

Baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days unrefrigerated.

The dough can also be kept in the fridge, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 5 days. Let it warm up before rolling out.

Decorate if you desire or keep them plain! Do you have a favourite cookie cutter shape? I love heart-shaped cookies any time of year.

 

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Kids Cooking Class: Festive Treats

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eabb56f7-4b6d-4fc7-8767-2ef78e81d1deOne of my favourite parts of the holidays is baking! I like to use tried-and-true family recipes AND also get creative by trying new concepts and ideas.

The only way to make baking more fun, is to have enthusiastic helpers, so I put together a Festive Treats Cooking Class for 5 to 10 year olds and it was a cosy good time! We made:

  • Eggnog Pudding
  • Candy Cane Brownies (Gluten Free)
  • Gingerbread Spice Cookies
  • Cranapple Fruit Dip

While the young chefs made the sweet snacks, they learned about following recipes, adapting recipes, kitchen safety and the importance of trying new flavours BEFORE deciding if you like it.

I’ll be sharing the recipes (links will be added above), but would love to bring a class to YOUR kitchen and cook with your kids and their friends so they can measure, mix and make it themselves! Enter your name, email and time options below to find out more:

What is your favourite festive treat?

 

Brownie Brouhaha

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IMG_2581Brownies can be controversial, at least when it comes to my friends and family. Some factions say there needs to be frosting, others are in the cakey camp, while a few are stuck in the fudgey side. There is often heated debate about how Butterscotch Brownies (blondies) and Black Bean Brownies are not acceptable options at all. But, when I’m the one donning the apron I say nay to frosting and go for my tried and true One Pot Brownie recipe (please note: no pot is IN the brownies, they are mixed IN a pot).

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I have been using the same recipe since I started baking when I was eight (out of desperation as my mother wouldn’t bake or buy sweets as often as I wanted them). It has never failed me, though I have failed it on occasion. A couple of times, I MAY have over-baked the brownies until they were dried out. My problem solving brain and thrifty heart turned this loss into a win by making ice cream sandwiches with them!

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Kitchenette Brownies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup creamed honey

2/3 cup cocoa powder

3 eggs

1 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon Epicure Baking Powder

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Kosher Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan on the stove
  3. Mix sugar, honey and cocoa powder into melted butter
  4. Add eggs and and mix with a whisk
  5. Add flour, baking powder and salt and gently combine
  6. Stir in vanilla extract
  7. Pour into a greased 8-9″ pan or the Epicure Perfect Petites for 30 lovely little loaves
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean or just a bit crumby)

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Serve with fresh fruit (I had grapes, mango and raspberries) and a dollop of whipped cream (try not to over whip it like I did).

Which side of the brownie battle do you take or will you just take any brownie that’s available?

Peanut Butter Cookie Cavalcade

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Peanut Butter Cookies on Parade

Peanut Butter Cookies on Parade

Twitter told me today that March 1st is Peanut Butter Lovers’ Day, not to be confused with Peanut Butter Day on January 24th. I was planning on making Peanut Butter Cookies anyway, but I decided to include my social networks in the process. I instagrammed, tweeted and facebooked and probably made some people drool in the process. Here are the Instagram photos with the accompanying tweets followed by the normal recipe.

Baking Peanut Butter Cookies for #PeanutButterLoversDay preheating oven to 375 as I tweet

Baking Peanut Butter Cookies for #PeanutButterLoversDay preheating oven to 375 as I tweet

Mixing 1/2 cup each of soft butter, light brown sugar & creamed honey for #PeanutButterLoversDay cookies

Mixing 1/2 cup each of soft butter, light brown sugar & creamed honey for #PeanutButterLoversDay cookies

1 egg, 1 cub pb, 1/2 tsp each bkng soda, vanilla & salt to butter, sugar & honey for #PeanutButterLoversDay

1 egg, 1 cub pb, 1/2 tsp each bkng soda, vanilla & salt to butter, sugar & honey for #PeanutButterLoversDay

Adding 1 cup of ap flour means the #PeanutButterLoversDay cookie dough is almost ready to roll!

Adding 1 cup of ap flour means the #PeanutButterLoversDay cookie dough is almost ready to roll!

Use wet hands to form 1TBS of #PeanutButterLoversDay cookie dough into rough ball shapes

Use wet hands to form 1TBS of #PeanutButterLoversDay cookie dough into rough ball shapes

Press wet fork in a # pattern on the balls of #PeanutButterLoversDay cookie dough. Bake @ 375 for 10-12 minutes

Press wet fork in a # pattern on the balls of #PeanutButterLoversDay cookie dough. Bake @ 375 for 10-12 minutes

#PeanutButterLoversDay cookies cooling. Help yourself to a virtual cookie to celebrate!

#PeanutButterLoversDay cookies cooling. Help yourself to a virtual cookie to celebrate!

Recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies

makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients:

1/2 cup soft butter

1/2 cup brown sugar – packed (I prefer light brown)

1/2 cup honey (the written recipe says 1/2 cup white sugar, but I always use honey)

1 egg

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp vanilla (or to taste)

1 cup all-purpose flour

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2.Cream butter with sugar (and honey if using instead of 1/2 cup sugar).

3. Beat in egg, peanut butter, salt, baking soda and vanilla.

4. Add flour.

5. Roll about 1 Tablespoon of dough into balls with wet hands and place with lots of space between on a cookie sheet.

6. Press a wet fork gently in a cross pattern on the balls of dough.

7. Sprinkle with kosher salt (optional)

8. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown.

What’s your favourite way to use peanut butter?

Icy Huggy Cake

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For our Young Fresh Chef’s birthday we had a skating party with friends and family. There was hot chocolate, marshmallows, chocolate sprinkles and Halloween crafts. There was also cake. For the past few years the deal has been that I make the cakes from scratch and my husband, Exec Chef decorates them. This way, he can take it to the restaurant to work on in his spare seconds and the boy won’t see it until the big reveal at the party.

Since we didn’t have much of a theme to work with this year besides ice and cold, I came up with the concept of making a cake that looked like one of the Papertoy Monsters that our boy had constructed from the book by Brian Castleforte (what a cool last name).

The featured creature on the book cover was one of the first Papertoy Monsters that Young Fresh Chef constructed, Icy Huggy. To my eye, he was the cutest monster and fit well with an ice skating party.

Vanilla cake was requested, so I worked on baking three 9X13″ cakes from scratch, while Exec Chef mulled over our son’s instructions to use as little icing as possible. The boy is known to scrape the majority of icing off any cupcakes or cake slices that come his way, he’s really more of a pie guy. Then he had a brilliant idea, cotton candy. Perfect for the blue fur on Icy Huggy! I remembered seeing blue cotton candy at the candy store at the mall.The cakes were then whisked away to be constructed and decorated for the party.

I tried to capture the birthday boy’s reaction when he saw the cake, but he was just a blur from all the excited jumping up and down. He was surprised, thrilled and impressed. He absolutely LOVED the cotton candy as icing substitute. For once he got have his cake and eat it too (no scraping needed).

What’s the most inventive way you’ve decorated a cake?

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