Brownie Bites from The Vegetarian’s Complete Quinoa Cookbook

Here’s the recipe for Brownie Bites which CTV co-anchor Nancy Richards and I prepared during the noon news show on CTV Kitchener today.

This recipe is one of my contributions to the brand spanking new cookbook, The Vegetarian’s Complete Quinoa Cookbook, which was edited by the incomparable Mairlyn Smith. This just-released book (which is already into its second printing!) is from the Ontario Home Economics Assocation. All the recipes come from Ontario professional home economists and students.

You’ll find recipes for two other dishes I had on display (Autumn Apple Crepes from Deb Campbell and Mexi Meatless Shepherd’s Pie from Amy Snider Whitson) here.

Brownie Bites
Make 24 mini muffin-size brownies

½ cup (125 mL) quinoa flour
1/3 cup (75 mL) natural cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
2 omega-3 eggs
2/3 cup (150 mL) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (75 mL) canola oil
1 tsp (5 mL) pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). Lightly spray 24 mini muffin cups well with canola oil spray.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together quinoa flour, cocoa powder and baking powder until well mixed.
  3. In a large bowl whisk eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla until blended.
  4. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, whisking until blended.
  5. Divide batter between muffin cups, filling each with about 1 tbsp (15 mL) batter. Cups should be about 2/3 full.
  6. Bake until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted into a brownie comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it, 13 to 15 minutes. Don’t overbake.
  7. Remove from oven; let cool in pan on a wire rack for 2 minutes, then turn muffin pan over. After a minute or two, lift up pan. Brownie Bites should have released from pan onto wire rack. Carefully turn each brownie over to finish cooling on rack.

* To serve, plate brownies and sprinkle with icing sugar and cocoa powder or serve on a puddle of raspberry coulee.
* For an extra special treat, press a chocolate macaroon or mini Rolo into the centre of each Brownie Bite before baking.
* If you are gluten-free use gluten-free baking powder.

Per serving: 3 brownies (without chocolate macaroons or mini Rolos!): 202 calories, 12 g fat, 0 g sat. fat, 48 mg cholesterol, 17 mg sodium,  24 g carbohydrates, 2 g fibre, 17 g sugars, 3 g protein.

Chocolate Crepes

Want a decadent brunch or dessert recipe? Perhaps something to serve this Easter weekend?

At the Chocolate class I taught at Thyme to Cook in Guelph a couple weeks ago, one of the recipes I made was Chocolate Crepes with Cream Cheese Filling.

You could easily use another filling of your choice for these crepes: chopped fruit, caramelized bananas, ice cream, sherbet, frozen yogurt, pudding, or ????  What do you suggest?

Or, you could simply roll up the crepes and drizzle them with fruit syrup, maple syrup or chocolate sauce.

Chocolate crepes filled with chocolate ice cream and topped with strawberries and a sprinkle of icing sugar

Chocolate Crepes with Cream Cheese Filling

(Makes about 18 small crepes or 10 large crepes)

2 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp (45 mL) sugar
2 tbsp (30 mL) cocoa
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
1-1/4 cups (300 mL) milk
2 tbsp (30 mL) melted butter
Vegetable oil
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Bad Late Night Habits

I’ve developed a bad habit. Well, it’s kind of a good bad habit. Or should that be a bad good habit?

Most week days my husband, a hockey scout for the Kitchener Rangers, doesn’t get home until 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. Often he leaves for the evening before I got home from work, or we have a lightening speed supper together before he dashes off to a hockey arena somewhere to assess the on-ice talent.

Late night tea with Pain Au Chocolat.....and milk bones

But when he walks in the door later that evening, a little ritual ensues. I put the kettle on, ask him what kind of tea he wants, and the two of us sit down with our cups of tea and maybe a cookie or a piece of chocolate, and we talk over the day’s events or anything else on our minds. (Sorry, make that the three of us. Cocoa, our poodle, snuggles in beside us – after he’s enjoyed his own snack!)

While it’s a good thing to take a few minutes each day to spend together, by 11 p.m., the lights in the rest of the houses on our street have long since been turned off and most people have been in their beds and sound asleep for awhile.

Driving home the other day I heard a ‘sleep specialist’ talk about the importance of sleep. You don’t expect to get through the day on only half the food your body needs, she said. So why do people think they can exist on half the amount of sleep their bodies need. Good point, I thought guiltily.

And never mind all the sleep I’m missing out on! How about the effect of snacking at that late hour? Sure, sometimes there’s no snack, or maybe just a digestive cookie, but often it’s something a little more, uh, how to put this…..calorie-laden?

Recently I brought home a box of Caramilk Snack Cakes. Not something I typically buy, but I like Caramilk chocolate bars and I was curious to try these little cakes with my evening tea.

The verdict? Well, I liked the oozing caramel centre but I wasn’t really crazy about the flavour of the chocolate sponge cakes or chocolate coating.

Then there are the chewy chocolate cookies Murray likes – Little Debbie Caramel Rings (cookie rings made with caramel and coconut) and Caramel Treats (cookies made with caramel and crisp rice). I like them too. Probably a little too much.

And how about my own baking? Tonight I made a super easy version of Pain Au Chocolat. (I’ll share the recipe in the next weeks. I’m teaching a Chocolate Class at Thyme to Cook in Guelph on March 24th and I don’t want to post the recipe until after the class.)

Murray should be home soon and then we’ll try them with a cup of tea. Or maybe we’ll just share one. And, just maybe, tonight we’ll drink our tea quickly, keep the conversation brief, and get to bed a little earlier than normal.

One can dream.

One can dream even more comfortably if one is in bed……

A basic chocolate cake recipe, with variations

For Valentine’s Day – a basic chocolate cake with lots of variations (see below)….in case you’d rather have cupcakes, or a different size or shape of cake.

Chocolate Cake

(Makes 10 to 12 servings)

2 cups (500 mL) sugar
1-3/4 cups (425 mL) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (175 mL) cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) baking powder
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) baking soda
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
2 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) milk
½ cup (125 mL) vegetable oil
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
1 cup (250 mL) boiling water
Chocolate Icing (recipe below)

Grease and flour two 9-inch (23 cm) round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water. (The batter will be thin.) Pour batter into prepared pans.

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Cranberry Cereal Crisps

Cranberry Cereal Crisps

If you didn’t OD on baking or eating sweets over the holidays, or you just like to keep your cookie jar full, here’s a great cookie recipe that can be made easily and is really tasty. And, it’s a good way to use up the last couple servings of crisp rice cereal (i.e. Rice Krispies) languishing in the bottom of the box.

The texture of these cookies is also really pleasing: melt-in-your-mouth tender, yet crisp – all at the same time!

This recipe makes a big batch (about 5 dozen), so to be fair to your waist, hips, thighs, and all those other body parts where excess weight tends to migrate, enjoy a few, then freeze the rest to eat over the next while!

Cranberry Cereal Crisps
(Makes about 60 cookies)

1 cup (250 mL) butter, softened
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup (250 mL) vegetable oil
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
3-1/2 cups (875 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) large flake oats
2 cups (500 mL) crisp rice cereal
1 cup (250 mL) dried cranberries (or chopped dried apricots)

Beat butter, sugars and egg on medium speed of electric mixer until light and creamy. Stir in oil and vanilla.

Stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture along with oats, mixing on low speed until well blended. Stir in cereal and cranberries or apricots.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls (about 20 mL), about 2 inches (5 cm) apart, onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

I like to use this handy cookie batter scoop. (It's the clear acrylic utensil with blue-bottomed scoop.) It allows you to easily measure out a specific quantity of batter.

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New York City is Cupcake Crazy!

The cupcake craze has been in full swing for a few years but I still did a double take when I saw a mobile cupcake shop on a New York City street recently.

I didn’t stop to check out the confections at the Cupcake Stop as I’d just come from a day of classes at the French Culinary Institute and couldn’t possibly have eaten another bite. And besides, it was cool, windy and raining, although that didn’t seem to deter others from choosing from an assortment of cupcake flavours. (View the full menu of cupcake flavours online).

The Cupcake Stop has been roaming the streets of the Big Apple since June of this year. You can find out where the truck will be by checking the CupcakeStop web site and Twitter.

If you’re a cupcake lover and plan to visit NYC, check out this list of where to get cupcakes in New York City from the Carroll County Times.

Or you can hop across the river into New Jersey and visit Carlo’s Bakery (of TLC’s Cake Boss fame) for cupcakes, as we did on a trip to NYC this summer.

Cupcakes from Carlo's Bakery in New Jersey

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream

I think Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream may be the best ice cream I’ve made so far.

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream

If you like Nutella and ice cream, I’m quite sure you’ll like this ice cream too! Seriously. Who wouldn’t??

It’s so easy to make, and it just sings with chocolate hazelnut flavour. It’s texture is more creamy than other ice creams I’ve made. I often find that “ripening” homemade ice cream in the freezer tends to make it harden to an extreme and form large crystals that make for a really granular texture in your mouth. I’ve had this Chocolate Hazelnut ice cream in the freezer for almost 3 days now, and although there’s not much left, what there is is firm, but scoop-able.

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream2

So here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream
(Makes 8 cups/2 L)

2 cups (500 mL) whipping cream (35%)
2 cups (500 mL) homogenized milk (3.5%)
1 cup (500 mL) chocolate hazelnut spread
1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped dark chocolate* (optional)
1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped hazelnuts (optional)

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, bring cream and milk to a simmer.

In a large bowl, combine hazelnut spread and sugar; stir until smooth. Whisk 1/4 cup (50 mL) of the cream mixture into the sugar mixture; whisk until blended. Whisk in remaining cream mixture until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled or overnight.

Stir cream mixture. Transfer to an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions, adding chopped chocolate and hazelnuts a few minutes before the ice cream has finished churning.

Recipe Source: 125 Best Ice Cream Recipes by Marilyn Linton and Tanya Linton, Robert Rose Inc., 2003

* If you’re adding chopped chocolate, use a good-quality brand. I used Lindt Madagascar (65%) dark chocolate.
* I have a Cuisinart Flavor Duo (two 1 L/1 quart buckets) ice cream maker. This recipe filled both buckets. The mixture had chilled overnight so only took 15 to 18 minutes to process to a soft creamy consistency.
* The recipe can be halved if you can only make 1 L (1 quart) of ice cream at a time.
* If desired, splash a serving of the finished ice cream with hazelnut liqueur and a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts (instead of adding the hazelnuts to the ice cream).

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream3

Oops, I did it again!

You’d think I was a grocery shopping newbie!

This is the second time in the past few months I’ve bought ice cream without double-checking I was really getting ice cream. Seems weird that you’d actually have to check this, but you can buy something called frozen dessert which, believe me, is not ice cream!

We are never without ice cream in our home. Ice cream is a staple – one of those foods we don’t run out of, or if we do (heaven forbid!), it’s at the top of the list for the next trip to the grocery store.

I was on a mission to buy ice cream recently when I spotted Breyers ice cream on sale and grabbed a carton of vanilla.

A few days later we sat down to enjoy a piece of pie and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. With the first mouthful, I know something was very wrong. I’m not sure how to describe the flavour and the feel of the “ice cream” in my mouth. Artificial? Sticky? Just plain yucky? Certainly it wasn’t the sweet creamy vanilla taste I was expecting. An inspection of the carton provided an explanation. Instead of vanilla ice cream, we were eating vanilla “frozen dessert”. Say what??

Breyers Vanilla Frozen Dessert - not ice cream!

Breyers Vanilla Frozen Dessert - not ice cream!

These ingredient lists show the difference between frozen dessert and ice cream:

Breyers Vanilla Frozen Dessert: Modified milk ingredients, water, sugar, modified palm oil, glucose, mono and diglycerides, natural and artificial flavour, cellulose gum, guar gum, polysorbate 80, carrageenan.

Breyers Naturals Vanilla Ice Cream: Evaporated whole milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks, natural vanilla flavour, pure ground vanilla beans.

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Mini scones make a perfect little dessert or tea time treat

Watch out! These bite-sized scones are more than a little addictive. And since they’re small, it’s easy to pop one, then another,  and another in your mouth without keeping count!

Scones with jam and whipped cream

Scones with jam and whipped cream

That said, they pair perfectly with tea and are great for a party when you want to serve something a little different as a sweet. Just set out a bowl of jam or fruit spread and a bowl of clotted cream, stiffly whipped sweetened heavy cream (35% M.F.) or Cool Whip, along with a couple of knives and watch the mini mountain of sweet little biscuits disappear.

Cream Tea Scones
(Makes about 20 1-3/4 inch (4 cm) scones)

2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour or 1 cup (250 mL) each all-purpose and cake & pastry flours
2 tablespoons (30 mL) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon (15 mL) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, softened
1 egg
2/3 cup (175 mL) milk or light cream

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk egg; reserve 1 tablespoon (15 mL) to brush on tops of scones before baking. Stir together remaining egg and milk.

Using fork, stir egg mixture into flour mixture to make a light, soft dough. If dough seems too sticky, stir in a bit more flour. (I find I usually need a tablespoon or two (15 to 30 mL) less milk than called for so I hold back a little and only add it if necessary.)

Gather dough into a ball; on a lightly floured surface, lightly knead dough a few times until smooth. Gently flatten with hands or a rolling pin to 3/4″ (2 cm) thickness. Cut into 1-3/4 inch (4 cm) rounds with a cookie cutter. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Brush tops with reserved egg. Sprinkle sugar over tops, if desired.

Bake in a preheated 425F (220C) oven until golden brown, about 9 or 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature if scones begin to brown too quickly.

Recipe Source: Prizewinning Preserves by Yvonne Tremblay, Prentice Hall Canada, 2001. Recipe originates with food writer and author Carol Ferguson.)

* Pronounce it “skawn” (like yawn) or “skown” (like groan), as you wish!
* Don’t twist the cookie cutter when cutting out the scones or the edges will be pressed together and the scones won’t rise as high.
* Instead of mini scones, you can use a 2-1/2 inch (7 cm) round cutter or a glass to make approximately 10 larger scones.

The story behind Dairy Queen’s Blizzard

Just got home from a visit to the Dairy Queen where I indulged in a Turtle Pecan Cluster Blizzard. Mmmmm good!

(Don’t know what a Blizzard is? Check out this video to see how the ice cream treat is made and served.)

I learned something new while I was dipping into my smooth, creamy and thick-enough-to-be-turned-upside-down-without-losing-a-drop treat. (I was reading the Blizzard cup between bites.)

Dairy Queen first trademarked the name Blizzard in 1952, but the Blizzard treat as we know it today wasn’t released until 1985! That’s 33 years later! What took so long?

To find out what was going on with the Blizzard for over three decades, check out the history of the Blizzard on Dairy Queen’s website.

If you a real Blizzard lover, you can join the Blizzard Fan Club for coupons, trivia, and more.

And when you’re enjoying your next Blizzard, don’t forget to practice proper Blizzard eating etiquette.