a mug of adaptogenic hot chocolate

This Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe Will Blow Your Socks Off

A velvety, delicious beverage to keep you warm and cozy, this is not your average hot chocolate! Featuring adaptogenic spices like superfood chaga and ashwagandha powder, it’ll nourish you with its calming benefits (both are known to reduce stress and anxiety) while also boosting your immune system.  Plus, it’s dairy-free and low in sugar thanks to the use of unsweetened almond milk and monk fruit sweetener. Bottom’s up!

a mug of adaptogenic hot chocolate

Adaptogenic Hot Chocolate

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1-2 squares dark chocolate
2 Tbsp monk fruit sweetener
1 tsp chaga powder
1 tsp ashwagandha powder

Ingredients for adaptogenic hot chocolate

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over high heat and whisk continuously until the hot chocolate starts to bubble. Remove from heat and serve. Top with dairy free whipped cream if desired. 

Related: These Sisters Are Changing the Dessert Game with Their Stunning Gluten and Dairy-Free Vegan Cakes

A pot of adaptogenic hot chocolate

Related: How to Make Oat Milk 5 Ways

Leftover turkey dinner waffles on a plate

Turkey Dinner Waffles Will Be Your Favourite Way to Eat Holiday Leftovers


There’s nothing better than leftovers after a turkey dinner with all the fixings, that is until you remix those leftovers into a Turkey Dinner Waffle. Featuring a light and fluffy potato waffle with bits of stuffing throughout, slices of warm leftover turkey, homemade cranberry maple syrup, and then dipped in gravy, this Menu Mashup might just outdo Ross Geller’s iconic Moist Maker Sandwich.

Leftover turkey dinner waffles on a plate

Turkey Dinner Waffles

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Yield: Serves 4-6

Ingredients
Waffles
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
3 Tbsp butter, melted
¼ cup milk
2 large eggs
2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
½ tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
2 cups leftover stuffing

Cranberry Maple Syrup
½ cup cranberry sauce
¼ cup maple syrup

Assembly
2 cups of leftover turkey, warmed up
½ cup turkey gravy, warmed up
1 green onion, thinly sliced

Ingredients for leftover turkey dinner waffles

Directions
1. Preheat waffle iron.

2. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

Related: Turkey Dinner Hand Pies Are the Leftover Hack You Need

3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together butter, milk and eggs. Mix in the mashed potatoes then sprinkle in the dry ingredients. Season with salt and pepper, then stir until just combined.

Mashed potato waffle batter in a glass bowl

4. Grease the waffle iron with butter (if necessary). Scoop about ½ cup of batter onto the waffle iron and arrange a few spoonfuls of stuffing on top. Close the iron and cook the waffles until golden brown. Keep warm in the oven while making remaining waffles.

Related: This Epic Karaage Chicken and Green Onion Waffles Recipe is Sweet, Spicy and Savoury

A mashed potato and stuffing waffle on a plate

5. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, stir together cranberry sauce and maple syrup until simmering. Set aside to cool.

6. To assemble, top a waffle with a few pieces of leftover turkey. Drizzle with cranberry maple syrup and garnish with green onions. Serve with gravy on the side for dipping.

Leftover turkey dinner waffles on a plate

Love Philip and Mystique’s turkey dinner waffle? Try their cheesy Croque Madame rolls next!

I Tried Ina Garten’s (The Barefoot Contessa’s) Engagement Chicken

If you can’t seem to scroll through social media without seeing proposal pictures and engagement announcements, you’re not alone.

For couples who are talking about marriage, there’s a pretty good chance your significant other might pop the question someone soon. According to Wedding Wire, forty percent of marriage proposals happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. 

And if you’d like to speed up the proposal process, the might be a recipe that can help you.  The secret weapon?  Ina Garten’s Engagement Roast Chicken.

A whole roasted chicken on a vintage plate

Why is it Called Engagement Roast Chicken?

Legend has it that in the 1980s, a fashion editor at a magazine shared Ina Garten’s lemon and garlic roast chicken recipe with her assistant. The assistant made the dish for her boyfriend, and he proposed a few weeks later. The newly engaged assistant shared it with three more of her colleagues, who also got proposed not long after making the roast chicken dish.

Related: Ina Garten’s Best Chicken Recipes

A close up of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry holding hands in their engagement photo

Meghan Markle and Engagement Roast Chicken

The myth of this chicken recipe made headlines again in 2018 when it became the centre of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s engagement story. Prince Harry told the BBC how the proposal happened during “just a standard typical night for us.”  According to Markle, the two were roasting chicken when he got down on one knee and popped the question. 

Related: I Tried Meghan Markle’s “Filthy, Sexy” Zucchini Pasta Sauce — Here’s How It Stacked Up

And since the Duke and Duchess are known to raise their own chickens (who could ever forget the shot of their chicken coop named  “Archie’s Chik Inn” during Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey?) we think it’s a sentimental part of the story for the couple, as well.

Emily Blunt and husband John Krasinski

Meghan and Harry aren’t the only A-listers to find their happily ever after making the famous engagement roast chicken. As reported by CNN, Emily Blunt also spoke up about Ina Garten’s iconic roast chicken in a 2021 in an iHeartMedia podcast interview, saying that it’s the recipe that helped her win John Krasinski’s heart. “Oh my God, it’s divine,” said Blunt. “It’s really sticky and yummy.”

The ingredients to make engagement roast chicken

My Tips for Making Ina Garten’s Famous Engagement Roast Chicken

1) Add Lots of Herbs
I recommend adding thyme and rosemary to the dish, which will add extra flavour to the recipe. 

Related: Ina Garten’s Best Party Dinner Recipes to Impress Guests

2) Use a Meat Thermometer
Yes, I’ve been living without a meat thermometer for this long! Purchasing a digital meat thermometer gave me the confidence that the chicken was cooked perfectly.

3) Chicken Broth is Just Fine
I know homemade chicken stock tastes much better, but premade chicken broth worked well for me. Sorry, Ina!

A closeup of the engagement roast chicken sauce

4) The Sauce is the Best Part
The wine, garlic, butter, and natural juice of the chicken makes for a mouthwatering sauce that is by far the highlight of the dish.

5) Make This Recipe For Your Third Date
Cooking roast chicken for a third date is a great way to impress any potential partner. I find that seeing how a person acts in the kitchen is actually a great insight into how they are as a partner, and what they bring  (or don’t bring) for a side dish or a dessert tells a lot about an individual’s personality. The best part of all? You don’t need to watch the chicken so closely, giving you some extra quality time together.

Related: Ina Garten’s Best Sunday Night Suppers

I Made The Barefoot Contessa’s Engagement Chicken

As someone with both a crush on Prince Harry and John Krasinski, I couldn’t help but wonder: Could Ina Garten’s engagement chicken recipe work for me, too?

Believe it or not, I was able to make the famous engagement chicken without messing it up. And I have to admit, I was really proud of myself (and no tears!).

While the chance of me getting engaged anytime soon is as likely as becoming a NASA astronaut, roasting a whole chicken is actually a lot of fun. The aromatics of the garlic, onions, and extra sprigs of rosemary makes your home smell like a dream. 

Unless you really don’t know your oven settings, I don’t see how this is a meal you can mess up, even if you’re really nervous. I also love how the recipe is easy to memorize, and the ingredients are all staples you likely already have in your kitchen.

Whether you’re looking for a love like Ina and Jeffery, who have been married for fifty-two years, or you just want to impress your date who may look a Prince Harry in your eyes, engagement chicken is must-try dish for every beginner chef and hostess.

Watch the video


For more inspiring recipes, watch Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Images Courtesy of Getty Images and Angela Serednicki. 

A pot of chicken stock

The Difference Between Broth, Stock and Bouillon, Plus How to Use Them

From creamy risottos to comforting sauces, broth, stock and bouillon are pantry staples for preparing some of our favourite cold-weather recipes. Beyond serving as a liquid base, these ingredients add a subtle element of flavour to your dish without overpowering your chosen seasonings. Given their similar culinary applications, you might wonder: are broth, stock and bouillon essentially all the same thing? Or is it better to choose one over the others when making a particular recipe?

A pot of chicken stock

The difference between bouillon and broth

Let’s start with the simplest of the trio to distinguish: bouillon and broth. ‘Bouillon,’ which is the French word for ‘broth,’ is used to describe broth that has been dehydrated into a powder or cube.

What is bouillon?

Bouillon is typically used as a time-saving substitute for a made-from-scratch liquid broth. The flavour of bouillon can vary significantly depending on the composition of its dehydrated base, which can include meats like chicken, beef or lamb as well as veggies. Bouillon can also be seasoned with a wide variety of spices and herbs.

One bouillon cube or a teaspoon of bouillon powder can be dissolved in one cup of boiling water to make one cup of broth. You can also melt bouillon cubes or powder directly into soups, stews, sauces and curries to enhance their flavour and create a thicker consistency. Some chefs also like to use bouillon powder (or grated bouillon cubes) as a seasoning salt, sprinkling it over foods to add a boost of umami-driven flavour.

Bouillon cubes on a marble countertop

The difference between broth and stock

The terminology gets a little more blurry when it comes to stock versus broth, with some chefs using the words interchangeably or defining them slightly differently. ‘Stock’ and ‘broth’ both refer to liquid that has been simmered slowly with meat and veggies. The distinction between the two can generally be made based on whether bones and seasoning are also added to the liquid.

Related: This Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup is Brothy, Slurpy Perfection

What is broth?

Most chefs agree that seasoning is one of the key differences between broth and stock. The addition of seasoning makes broth flavourful enough to sip solo. Many of us know the soothing feeling of warm broth slurped straight from a mug when nursing a cold or flu. Stock, by contrast, has a more neutral taste and isn’t often consumed on its own.

Although broth can be enjoyed by itself, you can also use it in cooking. Broth typically has a lighter consistency than stock, making it an ideal base for deliberately simple dishes like chicken noodle soup, as well as for meals that already have plenty of body like risotto, stuffing or casseroles.

Immune-boosting soup in a bowl
Get the recipe: Immune-Boosting Chicken Soup

What is stock?

Stock is traditionally made by simmering liquid with bones, such as chicken, beef, pork or fish. The bones release collagen and marrow into the liquid, giving stock a heartier consistency than broth. Stock is also cooked for longer than broth to give the bones and cartilage time to break down. In recipes, you’ll usually see stock used to create a richer mouthfeel, such as in sauces, gravies and stews.

You can think of stock as the best choice for texture and broth as your go-to for flavour, but this is a loose rule with many exceptions. For example, some chefs choose to add seasonings, mirepoix or other aromatic ingredients to their stock in order to give it more flavour.

Related: How to Make Fast Homemade Turkey Stock with Your Instant Pot

The bottom line

Although broth, stock and bouillon are not exactly the same, they can generally be used interchangeably in cooking. If you have the option, go for broth or bouillon when the flavour of the liquid is a key element of your recipe, and reach for stock to add new depths to a well-seasoned dish.

Images courtesy of Getty Images and Pexels.

A plate of shucked oysters on ice

How to Shuck Oysters Like A Pro This New Year’s Eve

Shucking oysters is a delicate process and at first glance, may seem intimidating. But once you learn to break through their tough exterior, you’ll relish the sweet and savory mouthful inside. To get the best tips and tricks, we turned to the pros at the BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival in Comox Valley.

With over 22 years of experience at Fanny Bay Oysters, Ray Silvey and oyster shucking Guinness World Record holder, Patrick “Shucker Paddy” McMurray share their best techniques to help you shuck like a pro at your New Year’s Eve soiree.

A plate of shucked oysters on ice

What You’ll Need:

Oysters
Oyster knife
Damp tea towel or stainless steel glove
Serving tray (with ice, lemon wedges and condiments)

Directions

1. Make sure the oysters are clean of any grit or debris that may still be attached from their time in the ocean and on the beach. A quick rinse in the sink will do.

2. A stainless steel glove and damp tea towel are interchangeable. A stainless steel glove is highly protective and will save you from any unwanted slips and cuts from the very sharp oyster knife. Alternatively, use a damp tea towel that has been folded into a small square, creating at least eight layers of protection to avoid slipping.

how-to-shuck-oyster-technique
3. To begin shucking, hold your oyster knife in your dominant hand. Place your other hand around the towel covered oyster.

4. You will enter the oyster at the hinge (the back) where the top and bottom shell meet. Here there is a natural opening perfect for the tip of your knife.

how-to-shuck-oyster-technique-2
5. Apply pressure with the knife in this sweet spot and turn the knife 1/4 turn like a key in a lock (do not jam it or pry it like wedging open a paint can). With this slight wiggle you will feel it crack open.

Related: Vegan Spinach and Artichoke Dip is the Perfect Appetizer

6. The top shell will still be attached by the adduction muscle. Scrape your knife along the top of the shell to detach.

how-to-shuck-oyster-protect-hand
7. Now that your oyster is open, take a moment to wipe out any debris that may have made its way into the shell. You’ll then have to cut the adductor muscle away from the shell, which is about 2/3 of the way up from the hinge on the right hand side.

how-to-shuck-oyster-main
8. Repeat these steps until all your oysters are open. Serve on a bed of ice with fresh lemon. Enjoy!

Related: Swanky Cocktail Ideas for New Year’s Eve

how-to-shuck-oyster-serve

Fun Party Tip: Shucker Paddy likes to serve up a shot of Canadian whisky as an oyster chaser. Have your guests slurp back their oyster and pour some whisky into the empty shell while they’re enjoying. The salt water and whisky compliment each other perfectly. Try serving oysters with Shelter Point Distillery Single Malt Whiskey, both from the beautiful Comox Valley.

how-to-get-jar-stuck

6 Simple Ways to Open a Stubborn Stuck Jar Lid

It’s dinnertime: you’ve got a pot of spaghetti boiling on the stove and a pan of onions and ground beef simmering beside it. You grab a jar of tomato sauce from the pantry, but when you try to unscrew the lid, it feels awfully tight. Maybe it’s because your hands aren’t completely dry? You place the jar down, wipe your palms on a kitchen towel and try again. No luck. What are you supposed to do now?

Cancelling dinner plans due to a stuck jar lid might sound a little dramatic, but we’ve all had that thought after minutes of struggling to get a stubborn lid open. The truth is, jars can be hard to open for a variety of reasons and it’s not necessarily because you’re not strong enough. Here, we offer some tried and true tips on how to get that just-won’t-budge jar open, every single time.

Related: 5 Ways to Fix Over-Salted Food

open jar pickles

Add Traction

Glass jars can be slippery, so something that could help is added traction. Try wrapping a small towel around the lid to twist it open. If the towel moves while you’re trying to open the lid, wet the towel with water and then wrap it around the lid. Rubber dish gloves and rubber bands also work well to create traction. Put on those gloves to grip the lid or try wrapping a thick rubber band around the lid before you give it a go.

Related: Here’s How to Organize Your Tupperware Drawer Once and for All

Break the Seal

New jars often have a tight vacuum seal and by breaking that seal, it takes less force to open the jar. Some people swear by the “baby bum” pat. Turn the jar on its side, then with the palm of one hand, give the bottom of the jar a few strong pats. You may hear a pop, which indicates the vacuum seal has been broken. Another method for breaking the vacuum seal is by targeting the lid. Use an object with some weight to it, such as the back of a heavy kitchen knife or a wooden rolling pin and give the sides of the lids a few taps, rotating the jar as you go. This might help break the seal, making it much easier to twist open the jar.

Run it Under Hot Water

You’ve tried adding some traction and breaking the vacuum seal, but the lid is still stuck. Now, you’ll want to try running the lid under hot water. Depending on the contents of the jar, you may want to be careful not to place the entire jar under hot water (after all, nobody likes warm pickles). Let the hot water run from the tap until it’s piping hot and then turn the jar on its side and carefully dip the lid under water. Rotate the jar so that all sides of the lid get wet. The hot water helps the metal expand, therefore loosening the lid and making it easier to unscrew.

Related: Can I Freeze This? How to Freeze Fruit, Cheese, Leftovers and More

tomato sauce jar

Tap the Lid

This method is more useful for jars that have already been open before. Perhaps there’s some food trapped around the rim of the jar, or a sticky sauce causing the lid to get stuck on the jar. Tapping the lid on top and around the edges, again using a heavier object such as the back of a chef’s knife or wooden rolling pin, can help dislodge the food, eventually loosening the jar.

Break out the Tools

Believe it or not, there are tools you can buy that are made specifically for opening jars. New technology enables these tools to grip, twist and open stubborn jar lids with the simple press of a button. You can purchase them at most kitchen stores and online. You may feel silly for using one, but it will undoubtedly save you time, pain and future frustration!

Related: The Top 5 Kitchen Utensils Every Home Cook Needs

Brute Force

Sometimes, it’s really a matter of strength. It’s tough to wrap your hands around jar lids depending on the size, and jars themselves can be awkward to hold in one hand. If you have another person around, ask them to hold the jar with both hands, then use both hands to twist the lid open. If you’re alone at home, opening the jar may simply require a few tries, with breaks in between to rest your hands. As a last resort, you might want to visit a neighbour’s home for assistance.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Your Ultimate Guide to Cooking and Baking Conversions

It is a good time to cook. Thanks to the Internet and more cookbooks than ever, there are countless recipes available to the home cook to choose from. These days you can travel the globe and get a taste of history without leaving your kitchen.

But sometimes a recipe from across the pond or from your grandmother’s recipe collection can leave you scratching your head, wondering how many tablespoons are in a cup. Some countries use imperial measurements, others use the metric system, some use weight as a unit, while others volume. Chances are you don’t often consider how many litres are in a gallon and that’s OK.

Related: What is Bread Flour and 14 Other Baking Questions Answered

To help, we’ve created this handy converter chart with some of the most common ingredients and conversions including oz to ml and grams to cups. Bookmark it or print it and stick it on your fridge so you can cook with ease, no matter which measurement system your recipe uses.

Common Baking and Cooking Conversions

Cups Tablespoons Ounces Grams
Butter 1/4 cup 4 Tbsp 2 oz 57g
1/3 cup 5 Tbsp + 1 tsp 2.67 oz 76g
1 cup 16 Tbsp 8 oz 227g
Flour/Sifted 1/4 cup 4 Tbsp 1.06oz/0.95oz 30g/27g
1/3 cup 5 Tbsp + 1 tsp 1.41oz/1.23oz 40g/35g
1/2 cup 8 Tbsp 2.12oz/1.94oz 60g/55g
1 cup 16 Tbsp 4.24oz/3.88oz 120g/110g
Granulated Sugar 1/4 cup 4 Tbsp 1.76oz 50g
1/3 cup 5 Tbsp + 1 tsp 2.29oz 65g
1/2 cup 8 Tbsp 3.5oz 100g
1 cup 16 Tbsp 7oz 200g
Brown Sugar/ Firmly Packed 1/4 cup 4 Tbsp 1.59oz 45g
1/3 cup 5 Tbsp + 1 tsp 2.12oz 60g
1/2 cup 8 Tbsp 3.2oz 90g
1 cup 16 Tbsp 6.4oz 180g
Water 1/4 cup 4 Tbsp 2 oz 57g
1/3 cup 5 Tbsp + 1 tsp 2.67 oz 76g
1/2 cup 8 Tbsp 4 oz 114g
1 cup 16 Tbsp 8 oz 227g

 

6 Common Conversions You Need to Know

1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons
4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup
1 cup = 250 mL
1 pint = 500 mL
1 quart = 0.95 L
1 gallon = 3.8 L

Common Weight Conversions

1 ounce = 28 g
4 ounces or 1/4 pound = 113 g
1/3 pound = 150 g
8 ounces or 1/2 pound = 230 g
2/3 pound = 300 g
12 ounces or 3/4 pound = 340 g
1 pound or 16 ounces = 450 g
2 pounds = 900 g

Common Metric Conversions

1 teaspoon = 5 mL
1 tablespoon or 1/2 fluid ounce = 15 mL
1 fluid ounce or 1/8 cup = 30 mL
1/4 cup or 2 fluid ounces = 60 mL
1/3 cup = 80 mL
1/2 cup or 4 fluid ounces =120 mL
2/3 cup = 160 mL
3/4 cup or 6 fluid ounces = 180 mL
1 cup or 8 fluid ounces or half a pint = 240 mL
2 cups or 1 pint or 16 fluid ounces = 475 mL
4 cups or 2 pints or 1 quart = 950 mL
4 quarts or 1 gallon = 3.8 L

Looking for more handy cooking tips? Learn how to make your own butter and buttermilk, how to cook eggs perfectly every time and even five clever ways to fix over-salted food!

Close-up of Arty Holiday Bread , as seen on The Pioneer Woman, Season 26.

Colourful and Fragrant, The Pioneer Woman’s Arty Holiday Bread is What the Holidays are All About


This store-bought frozen bread dough makes the perfect base for this arty bread that plays on a version of a focaccia. Topped with veggies and a generous shaving of Parmesan cheese, it’s not only pretty but makes prepping for the holidays that much easier! 

Close-up of Arty Holiday Bread , as seen on The Pioneer Woman, Season 26.

Arty Holiday Bread

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes  (includes rising time)
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. frozen white bread dough, thawed
½ cup red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup olives, pitted
2 Tbsp fresh sage leaves
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
2 tsp flaky sea salt
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan 

Directions

1. Oil a quarter sheet pan with 1 Tbsp of the oil and stretch out the bread dough to the edges. Allow the dough to rest and rise for 15 minutes.

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Best Holiday Recipes

2. Preheat the oven to 450 F.

3. Brush the surface of the bread with another Tbsp of the olive oil. Decorate the bread with the tomatoes, olives, sage and rosemary, pressing them into the bread. Brush on the remaining olive oil; this will make it shiny and stop the vegetables burning. Sprinkle on the salt and Parmesan.

4. Bake until it is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Easiest Holiday Appetizers

Recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond.

Watch  The Pioneer Woman and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Neale's Sweet N' Nice Black Cake on a pedestal

For Caribbean Families, Black Cake is So Much More Than a Holiday Dessert

When it comes to holiday desserts, it doesn’t get much more controversial than fruit cake. Often dismissed because of its dry texture and garish chunks of red and green “fruit”, it’s easy to brush off the sweet as a relic of the past. That is, unless you’ve tried Black Cake, a confection hailing from the Caribbean that takes notes from fruit cake and plum puddings, but offers a moister, denser, smoother alternative. Made with liquor-soaked dried fruits blended into a smooth batter along with a mix of earthy spices and burnt sugar that gives the cake its signature dark hue, Black Cake is a labour of love – many bakers begin soaking their fruits in January for the following December!

Neale's Sweet N' Nice Black Cake on a pedestal

“For me, Black Cake symbolizes the spirit of Caribbean people and islanders,” says Latisha Brown, head baker and product innovator for Neale’s Sweet N’ Nice, a Canadian dessert company that’s proudly Caribbean-owned. “It’s believed that Black Cake is evolved from British colonizer’s plum pudding – we added dried fruit, spices, and of course rum, and created something special and unique to us.” Despite its problematic history, Black Cake has been embraced as a symbol of the creativity and resourcefulness of Caribbean people.

Related: These Sisters Are Changing the Dessert Game with Their Stunning Gluten and Dairy-Free Vegan Cakes

It’s this very resourcefulness that makes it so special – Caribbean families have been making their own variations for generations based on what was available, whether in the Caribbean or abroad. “It’s quite personal for me to remember my mom purchasing a slew of dried fruits, placing them in a jar and then emptying a bottle of rum into the jar and sealing it off,” says Chef Suzanne Barr. “It went into the bottom cabinet in our kitchen and would stay there until December rolled around. Then she would start gathering all of the ingredients to make the Black Cake and the process would begin. It is truly the essence of what I think has everything to do with the Caribbean: slow, slow cooking.” Today, Barr experiments with putting her own spin on her family’s Black Cake recipe, adding spices like star anise and fresh ginger, baking it in a Bundt pan and even adding decorative touches like gold flakes.

Every family’s Black Cake is different: “from island to island and from home to home, the recipe can change. That’s something that makes black cake really special – people take their own pride over it,” says Brown. While Jamaicans typically douse their dried fruit with rum, Trinidadians are partial to sherry wine and extra cherries. Still, the essential ingredient is always a generous pour of booze (and then another, and another) – Brown recommends adding a shot of rum on top of the cake each day until it’s finished – “Don’t be afraid to add more rum or liquor on top of your cake after it’s come out of the oven or box – it’s good luck!” she laughs. “It’ll last until New Year’s, and you can cheers with a slice of cake.”

Related: This Gingerbread Martini is the Perfect Holiday Cocktail

As for how to serve that Black Cake? While you can certainly enjoy it plain (most Caribbeans do), Brown loves to serve hers with a generous scoop of Sweet N’ Nice Rum Raisin Ice Cream: “You don’t know what real dessert decadence is until you’ve tried this pairing. It’s the perfect combination of fruit, rummy, warming spice.”

While it’s a tad too late to bake your own Black Cake for this holiday season, Barr has some advice for anyone looking to make one for next year: “Get started soon!” she laughs. “No, just think about the intention that you want to put into the cake, whether it’s for your first time or have a friend that really loves it and you want to make something special. Then, make sure you have a safe place in your home where you can soak the fruit where no one will bother it. Pick the dried fruits you love and be patient – don’t peek at it, let it do its thing! Don’t worry about it spoiling. It’s got enough sugar preserving it to last a lifetime.”

A box of Neale's Sweet N' Nice Black Cake

If you’re not up to the task of baking your own Black Cake, “there’s usually one person in the community making it,” says Barr. “It’s beautiful knowing that this tradition is never going to stop. Being in a Caribbean community, you can always find someone that’s selling Black Cakes.” Sweet N’ Nice has taken that tradition one step further – their Black Cakes are currently available for delivery across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area and Durham Region every Thursday through to the holidays, with an order deadline of Tuesday that same week. Starting in February of 2022 (just in time for Black History Month), their cakes will be available at select Metro and Sobeys locations across the country, so regardless of where you are, you can pick one up to try for yourself. Just don’t forget to add an extra shot of rum on top for good luck!

Looking for more holiday dessert ideas? This Gingerbread Spiced Pound Cake is perfect for holiday snacking!

The winner of this year's Holiday Baking Championship

This Year’s Holiday Baking Championship Winner May Be The Most Inspiring Yet

When Adam Monette stepped into the Holiday Baking Championship kitchen, his love of the holidays was pretty obvious. This is, after all, the guy whose father keeps his Christmas tree up year-round. But Adam wasn’t just passionate, he was also able to execute week after week.

From somehow whipping up an impressive Ambrosia salad (and does anyone actually like Ambrosia salad?) to impressing the judges out of the gate with his pumpkin-butter filled donuts, it seemed like this competition was Adam’s to lose.

Thankfully, the St. Albans, Vermont native kept it together and pulled off the big W on Monday night’s supersized finale to take his place among the Holiday Baking Championship winners. Oh, and did we mention he also gets a cool $25,000 for beating out 11 other contestants over these past eight weeks?

In honour of Adam’s sweet, sweet victory, we wanted to dig in and take a look back at his inspiring journey.

He comes from humble roots

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Adam Monette (@chefamonet)

Growing up, making time to sit down together and breaking bread was important to Adam’s family. They specifically loved cooking and eating dishes inspired by French-Canadian cuisine (like Tourtiere), and they learned how to make meals stretch so that everyone could enjoy. “There were always lots of mouths to feed,” he previously told the Saint Albans Messenger. “The food was humble, but always very, very good.”

He did this competition for his wife and daughters

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Adam Monette (@chefamonet)

Adam frequently talked about his wife and kids on the show, and explained how he was really doing this for them (he actually hates seeing himself on camera!). So we thought it was beyond sweet that he not only baked his final cake in his daughters’ honour (they love peanut butter and chocolate), but he also added their names to the final “present-cake” décor.

He stayed calm and cool under pressure

Everyone knows this is a show that loves to throw extra challenges at the contestants, yet Adam never really seemed to stumble… much. If he was stressing you couldn’t ever really tell, except for maybe that brief moment in the finale where he took a giant gulp of sparkling wine before accepting the dessert charcuterie challenge. Staying calm, cool and collected tends to get you far in life, and it’s a trait that we definitely appreciate when it comes to being a chef in a hot kitchen.

He just really enjoyed the experience

 

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A post shared by Adam Monette (@chefamonet)

They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. Well, Adam’s love for baking definitely shone through, to the point where we can’t help but be pumped for the guy. “If you love to bake, it’s a dream come true,” Monette previously told the Messenger about how cool doing the show was. “You’ve got an unlimited pantry, so as long as you keep it under the guidelines, you can make whatever you want, and that’s so fun.”

But he also showed us exactly how to get his aggression out

 

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A post shared by Adam Monette (@chefamonet)

Look, sometimes things get stressful, and you need to find an outlet. But with tight timelines, the cameras watching and a big job at hand, it’s not like the contestants can just go pound it out at the gym or take a relaxing walk. So Adam took his stress out in more creative ways, like enthusiastically stabbing a fork into shortbread to create air holes, or beating certain batters by hand. Cathartic, right?

Of course his top-notch stirring skills definitely helped

 

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A post shared by Adam Monette (@chefamonet)

We’d be remiss if we didn’t take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate Adam’s multitasking skills. There are only about a billion components that go into making most of these desserts, and the fact that he was always able to stay on top of everything is downright impressive. From double-fisting those wooden spoons and churning out multiple stovetop sauces at once, to baking and butter-creaming at the same time, Adam’s process is very much streamlined.

He kept his eye on the prize

 

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A post shared by Adam Monette (@chefamonet)

Was Adam’s game perfect? Of course not. He too had some stumbles along the way, but he didn’t let that deter him. In each episode he came up with a game plan, executed that plan to the best of his ability, and pivoted when necessary. Like in the finale, when he ran out of butter cream? Rather than stressing, he knew the only thing to do was to make more, even if it put him behind. Or when host Jesse Palmer told the contestants they had to incorporate lights into their cakes? No big deal. What “present-cake” is complete without a light show anyway?

Offscreen, he works with kids

Adam Monette and Jesse Palmer

We love that by the end of the series, Adam was throwing the dad jokes right back at Jesse. Well as it turns out, Adam has had a bit of experience perfecting his own version of that craft as a culinary instructor at the Northwest Career & Technical Center in Vermont. There, young students get a taste of culinary training under Adam’s watchful eye, learning everything from knife skills to how to manage a restaurant. No wonder Adam is so good at multitasking!

Adam knows this show inspires others who speak through food

 

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A post shared by Adam Monette (@chefamonet)

Adam might not have applied to be on the show himself (he was nominated by a former student), but he acknowledges that it’s a really special thing to do. “It’s one of those shows that touches a lot of families, and I think that’s what’s really cool and special,” he explained to the Messenger. “It’s very communal. Everybody gets together and they watch it, they share something and you know, it’s a real positive experience.”

You can’t help but be pumped for this guy’s win

No matter which contestant you were initially rooting for, it’s hard not to be happy for Adam after seeing how focused and passionate he was throughout this entire experience. Not only is it inspiring, but it just makes us happy.

“Oh my god, I can’t believe it. I’ve never won anything in my life,” Adam said after learning he is the next Holiday Baking Championship winner. “I can’t wait to tell my wife and my daughters, I know they’re going to be proud of me and that means everything. This is going to be the best Christmas they’ve ever had.”

Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Holiday decor in Team Buddy's bakery, as seen on Buddy vs Duff Holiday, Season 4.

The Winner of Buddy vs. Duff Holiday is… Plus the 5 Best Moments!

The friendly rivalry between these west and east coast bakers takes on a new sweetness in this season of Buddy vs. Duff Holiday: both Buddy Valastro (Carlo’s Bakery) and Duff Goldman (Charm City Cakes) are playing for a  $25,000 donation to their favourite charity (Buddy chooses Toys for Tots and Duff picks Off Their Plate).

Host Buddy Valastro checks in with Team Duff before working on their "Nutcracker"-themed cake, as seen on Buddy vs Duff Holiday, Season 4.

Judges Elizabeth Faulkner and Gesine Prado are in New York, and pastry chef Stephanie Boswell and chocolatier Valerie Gordon are in Los Angeles to help judge the festive creations. Although Duff’s team ends up winning 145 to 139, Buddy still gets $10,000 to donate to his charity, in the full spirit of the holidays.

Both teams pull out all the stops in this four-episode battle, trying new chemistry experiments with isomalt and poured epoxy resin, crafting goofy and realistic animals and generally having a lot of fun along the way. In the true spirit of the holidays, let’s take a look at the five best moments that embodied festive-fun (tinged with a little bit of stress).

Host Duff Goldman shaves cake for table top, as seen on Buddy vs Duff, Season 4.

Double Take

Skating into the finale, Duff’s team leads by only one point, so the stakes are high. When Buddy proposes a winter wonderland theme, both teams immediately think of an Arctic scene with penguins and polar bears, meaning that they are both making essentially the same cake a fact that they discover mid-way through the 20-hour bake. “We’ve already started, and it’s too late to change our design, so we’ve got to go with it,” says  Buddy ruefully.  Happily, the cakes couldn’t look more different: Duff’s team plays to their strengths in sculpting with hyper-realistic looking animals and birds, while Buddy takes a more whimsical and cartoonish approach to their critters. “I don’t want to give the feeling like he’s going to start chowing down on penguins,” says Buddy’s cake artist Anna Puchalski when creating her goofy looking polar bear. “It’s the holidays, it’s not winter wonder murder.”

Moving Parts

Already hard at work making Charm City Cake’s massive five-foot polar bear, cake artists Sonny Robinson and Natalie Sideserf are challenged even further when Duff decides that the 64 square foot cake base needs more animals. The team ends up adding three seals and another bear (the more the merrier, after all).

The Carlo’s Bakery team gets ambitious with a moving bear coming out of the water with a fish in its mouth: a piece of machinery head sculptor Ralph Attanasia  has great fun testing. “It’s definitely scientific and not because it’s fun,” he jokes, as he hops onto the platform and poses in his best bear imitation. “I’ve got a fishy in my mouth!” he roars.

Related: Cake Boss Buddy Valastro is Bringing a Bakery to Toronto

Chemistry Experiments

A big part of Team Duff’s cake is the water element. Deciding that the massive cake base is too large to use isomalt, lead cake decorator Geof Manthorne plays mad scientist with poured epoxy resin. The first attempt causes a chemical reaction with the silver dust and turns into a foam monstrosity spewing a toxic cloud that requires everyone including the film crew, to evacuate the premises. Geof’s further adventures in resin actually melt the foam board, requiring the base to be constructed again. Eventually, Duff suggests that they paint the board blue and tint 20 gallons of corn syrup a similar hue before carefully pouring it on the day of construction, which results in a spectacular effect.

 

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A post shared by Duff Goldman (@duffgoldman)

Team Buddy runs into similar challenges using isomalt for the first time on such a massive scale. Buddy, along with pastry chef Chad Durkin, and pastry chef and cake artist Mauro Castano, spend a gruelling day cooking and applying 300 pounds of isomalt to the cake base (a dangerous task, as the sugar reaches 300°F and literally melts the spatula Chad is using to stir it). As more isomalt gets applied in layers, the heavier it gets and starts falling off and shattering as it cools. Eventually, through patience and a lot of repair, the base is lit from behind with flickering lights, evoking the shimmer of the northern lights.

 

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A post shared by Buddy Valastro (@buddyvalastro)

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Hidden Talents

Both teams get to bust out some secret moves this season. There’s the startling reveal that Ralph was in a production of the Nutcracker when he was 16, playing the rat king. Geof, when presented with his secret Santa present of pre-lit spheres, gives a quick demonstration of his juggling prowess.  Duff also gets to play with chainsaws, showing off his ice sculpting skills he honed at the Vail Cascade Hotel. “I used to carve ice in a previous life I haven’t done this since 1999, so we’ll see,” he says.

The Gifts That Keep Giving

Although the bake days are challenging and work-filled, both teams also take a little bit of a break to share in some holiday spirit. Natalie’s secret Santa present is a full “grandpa ensemble,” complete with cane, fake eyebrows and pipe, playing on her nickname and reputation as a cranky octogenarian.

The teams also send presents across the country to cheer each other up: Duff sends a basket of crab cakes, chowder and dips that Buddy pronounces “off the charts,” while Buddy sends a care package of his wife’s Eggplant Parmesan and a bunch of pastries and cake.

Related: The Evolution of Buddy Valastro: From Cake Boss to Buddy vs. Duff

“The pastries were gone in about 15 minutes, then we heated the eggplant parmesan, which was gone in about 12 minutes. And then everybody wanted to nap, because were all full of cheese,” laughs Duff. “Well played, Buddy. Well played.”

For more fun moments, watch Buddy vs. Duff Holiday. Stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Non-alcoholic ginger-rosemary Christmas cocktail against a Christmas tree backdrop

Not Drinking This Holiday? Try This Alcohol-Free Ginger-Rosemary Christmas Cocktail

Whether you’re going alcohol-free, are sober-curious, or soberish over the holidays, this aromatic non-alcoholic spritz cocktail is the perfect sip. The zero-proof cocktail brings fresh seasonal and herbal aromas of rosemary, white cranberry and ginger, without compromising on the complexity of traditional boozy cocktails. 

It’s a light, refreshing drink you’ll want to sip all night long for any festive occasion this December. No alcohol (or hangover) required. 

Related: This Vegan Eggnog Recipe is So Good It’ll Impress All the Non-Vegans Too

Non-alcoholic ginger-rosemary Christmas cocktail against a Christmas tree backdrop

Alcohol-Free Ginger-Rosemary Christmas Cocktail

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1  hour
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

For the ginger-infused water:
2½ inch ginger root
2 cups water

For the rosemary simple syrup:
2-3 rosemary sprigs
½ cup sugar
½ cup water

For the Christmas cocktail:
1 lime
2 oz rosemary simple syrup or to taste
6 oz ginger-infused water
6 oz white cranberry juice
Splash of soda
Handful pomegranate arils
1 rosemary sprig

Related: Meet Justin Hall, Estate Winemaker and North America’s First Indigenous Winery

Non-alcoholic ginger-rosemary Christmas cocktail ingredients

Directions:

1. For the ginger-infused water, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, add 2 cups of water. 

2. In the meantime, grate or peel ginger using the back of a teaspoon or a pairing knife, chopping it into small cubes. When the water is about to simmer, add in the ginger. 

Non-acoholic ginger-rosemary Christmas Cocktail ginger-infused water

3. Leave water and ginger to gently simmer, until it reduces to half its volume, about 15-20 minutes. 

4. Strain the ginger water into a glass or small mason jar, and set aside, leaving to chill in the fridge for about an hour before preparing your cocktail.

Note: if you have a carbonator device, we recommend you can also carbonate the ginger water, for extra fizz.

Related: Cooking With Tea: 15 Sweet and Savoury Recipes for Every Meal

5. For the rosemary simple syrup, coarsely chop 2-3 sprigs of rosemary. 

Non-alcoholic ginger-rosemary Christmas cocktail rosemary simple syrup

6. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add water, ½ cup sugar and chopped rosemary.

7. Bring to a simmer, stirring with a whisk until all the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. 

8. Strain using a sieve into a reusable container, leave to cool completely. Cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before making the rest of the cocktail (the simple syrup keeps in the fridge for about two weeks).

Related: Passionfruit and Coconut Linzer Cookies Will Be the Star of Your Cookie Swap

9. To assemble the Christmas cocktail, in a shaker with ice, add juice of 1 lime, 2 ounces of chilled simple syrup, 6 ounces of chilled ginger-infused water, 6 ounces of white high quality cranberry juice. 

Non-alcoholic ginger-rosemary Christmas cocktail featuring lime, lemon squeezer and a tin shaker

10. Shake until the sound of the ice makes a lighter, higher-pitched clinking sound, about 10-15 seconds. 

11. Fill highball glass halfway with ice cubes, and strain shaker mix into it. 

12. Add splash of soda and stir.

Related: Kick Off Cozy Season With This Apple Cider Moscow Mule

Non-alcoholic ginger-rosemary Christmas cocktail with pomegranate arils

13. To garnish the cocktail, slap a rosemary sprig against the palm of your hand a few times to release aromatic oils. 

14. Add the sprig to the cocktail and top with pomegranate arils. Serve and enjoy. 

Modifications: You can also prepare this as a pitcher drink. Just multiply ingredients by five or more and stir in a pitcher, in place of a shaker. If you’re pressed for time, simply swap out the ginger-infused water with high quality ginger beer, such as Fever-Tree Premium Ginger Beer. Just be sure to half the sugar in the rosemary simple syrup. For a boozy option, you can also add in spiced rum or vodka.  

Related: These Cranberry, Camembert and Pomegranate Bites Will Be Devoured in Minutes

Marcella DiLonardo's gingerbread martini

This Gingerbread Martini is the Perfect Holiday Cocktail

A creamy dessert-style That’s the Spirit martini inspired by my favourite holiday cookie: This gingerbread martini features a vodka spirit base with Irish cream and a homemade gingerbread simple syrup.

The simple syrup will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, making this drink the perfect festive cocktail to enjoy all holiday season long! 

Related: Kick Off Cozy Season With This Apple Cider Moscow Mule

Marcella DiLonardo

Gingerbread Martini

Prep: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients:

For the simple syrup:

½ cup water
½ cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
1-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced

For the martini:

1 ½ oz vodka
1 oz Irish cream liqueur
½ oz coffee liqueur
½ oz gingerbread syrup, or to taste
Gingersnap crumbs, for serving & rimming
Caramel sauce, for serving
Whipped cream, for serving

Related: Kickstart the Holidays With This Easy White Russian and Eggnog Cocktail

Marcella DiLonardo gingerbread martini mise en place

Directions:

1. For the simple syrup, in a saucepan over medium heat add the water, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and ginger.

Marcella DiLonardo's gingerbread martini

2. Bring to a boil and cook until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes before straining.
4. Strain mixture & refrigerate until ready to use.

Related: Travel Back in ‘Thyme’ With This Seasonal Twist on a Classic Aperol Spritz

5. For the martini, to a cocktail glass filled with ice, add the vodka, Irish cream, coffee liqueur and gingerbread syrup.

Marcella DiLonardo's gingerbread martini

6. Stir until well combined.
7. Rim glass with gingersnap crumbs and drizzle with caramel sauce.

Marcella DiLonardo's gingerbread martini

8. Strain martini mixture into glass.
9. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and additional gingersnap crumbs if desired.

Marcella DiLonardo's gingerbread martini

Like Marcella’s Moscow mule? Try her refreshing Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Spritzer

Cranberry, Camembert and Pomegranate Bites on a white plate

These Cranberry, Camembert and Pomegranate Bites Will Be Devoured in Minutes

Turn up the glam while hosting your holiday gatherings by serving these festive Cranberry, Camembert and Pomegranate Bites. Not only are they easy to put together, you can prepare the cranberry sauce in advance, or use whatever leftovers you may have from the holidays.

Cranberry, Camembert and Pomegranate Bites on a white plate

Cranberry, Camembert and Pomegranate Bites

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients
For the Sage Cranberry Sauce
12 oz (340 g) fresh cranberries
1 medium orange, zested and juiced
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup water
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2-3 fresh sage leaves, chopped
A pinch of pink himalayan or sea salt

For the Camembert Bites
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (thawed in the refrigerator overnight)
4 oz (113 g) camembert cheese
1 cup homemade cranberry sauce
2 Tbsp fresh pomegranate arils
Fresh rosemary sprigs, for garnish

Ingredients for Cranberry, Camembert and Pomegranate Bites

Directions:
1. To make the cranberry sauce, combine cranberries, orange zest and juice, maple syrup, water, cloves, cinnamon, sage leaves and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook the cranberries for about 10 minutes or until the cranberries break down and the sauce thickens, stirring continuously. Set aside to cool and reserve one cup for the camembert bites.

Related: Use Leftover Potatoes to Make This Internet-Famous Crispy Potatoes Recipe

Cranberry sauce for Cranberry, Camembert and Pomegranate Bites

2. To make the Pomegranate, Cranberry and Camembert Bites, preheat the oven to 375°F, and coat a 12 cup muffin pan with non-stick spray. Also, line a separate baking sheet with parchment paper.

3. Unroll the puff pastry sheet on a floured surface. Cut the pastry sheet into 16 squares, 3 cuts across and 3 cuts lengthwise. The 4 squares at the bottom will be about an inch shorter than the rest, which will be used to garnish the camembert bites, (this step is optional). Set those squares aside and reserve for later.

Puff pastry for Cranberry, Camembert and Pomegranate Bites

4. Gently separate the remaining squares and press them into the muffin tins to create a pastry cup. Use a fork to poke holes at the bottom of each puff pastry.

Related: Turkey Dinner Hand Pies Are the Leftover Hack You Need

Puff pastry squares in a muffin tin for Cranberry, Camembert and Pomegranate Bites

5. Dice the camembert cheese into 12 pieces, about ½-inch thick. Place each camembert piece in the centre of the puff pastry cups, then top with one tablespoon of cranberry sauce, and a sprinkle of pomegranate arils. Place in the refrigerator.

Cranberry, Camembert and Pomegranate Bites in a muffin tin

6. With the reserved puff pastry sheets, cut out mini circles using the bottom of a piping nozzle, about 1½-inch rounds. Place those rounds on the lined baking sheet.

7. Bake the camembert bites and puff pastry rounds for 18 minutes. Take out the pastry rounds at the 15 minute mark.

8. Let the pans cool for about 10 minutes. Garnish the Cranberry, Camembert and Pomegranate Bites with rosemary and the puff pastry rounds.

Cranberry, Camembert and Pomegranate Bites ready to serve

Love Valerie’s camembert bites recipe? Try her Vegan Spinach and Artichoke Dip next!

slices of nanaimo bar cheesecake on grey plates

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake is a Canadiana Showstopper Dessert


Bringing the ingredients of everyone’s favourite Canadian dessert square into the format of a cheesecake, this Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake is the perfect treat for any time of the year. With a chocolate coconut crust, creamy and rich center, and a layer of chocolate on top, it is not only delicious, but a beautiful cake to serve to family, friends and guests.

slices of nanaimo bar cheesecake on grey plates

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time:1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours 30 minutes
Yield: Serves 10-12

Ingredients
Graham Cracker Crust
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
½ cup almond meal
¾ cup shredded coconut
¼ Tbsp cocoa powder
¼ cup sugar
6 Tbsp butter, melted

Cheesecake
4 cups cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
¼ cup custard powder
1 cup sour cream
3 large eggs

Topping
1¼ cups dark chocolate
3 Tbsp butter

Ingredients for nanaimo bar cheesecake

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. For the Graham Cracker Crust, mix together graham cracker crumbs, almonds, coconut, cocoa powder, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add melted butter and stir until combined. Press firmly into the bottom of a 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan. Bake for 8 minutes at 350°F. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Related: Holly Jolly Peppermint Nanaimo Bars

Graham cracker crust for nanaimo bar cheesecake in a springform pan

3. For the Cheesecake, in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and custard powder for about 2 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Add the sour cream and beat until combined. While mixing on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, until just blended.

4. Pour the cheesecake batter on top of the cooled crust. Use a rubber spatula or spoon to smooth it into an even layer. Bake cheesecake for 55-70 minutes or until the center is almost set. Cool cheesecake uncovered for 1 hour at room temperature. Then cover and refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 2 hours.

Baked cheesecake for nanaimo bar cheesecake

5. For the topping In a small saucepan on low heat, stir together chocolate and butter, until just melted. Pour the chocolate over the cheesecake and smooth into an even layer with a spatula. Return the cheesecake to the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour.

Related: Anna Olson’s Hot Chocolate Nanaimo Bar Recipe

Nanaimo bar cheesecake in a springform pan

6. Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim. Using a clean sharp knife, cut into slices for serving.

Tip: For neat slices, wipe the knife clean and dip into warm water between each slice.

Love Philip and Mystique’s Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake? Try their Pumpkin Spice Pretzels with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Dip next.

A festive holiday dessert board

The Most Festive Holiday Dessert Board You’ve Ever Seen

This cheerful dessert board is the show-stopping centerpiece you need at your next holiday party. Nothing says the holidays like lots of chocolate, gingerbread cookies, candy canes and more chocolate, am I right? Fill your dessert board with all your favourite treats, to make it easy (and less stressful) opt for store-bought cookies, cakes and chocolates you can easily doctor up with sprinkles, frosting and chocolate melts for that festive touch.

If you’re feeling inspired and want to level up your board, add these homemade treats to your dessert board: easy shortbread, chocolate-covered caramel bars, or spicy ginger molasses cookies!

A festive holiday dessert board

Festive Holiday Dessert Board

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 1 16-inch dessert board

Ingredients
6 mini chocolate Swiss rolls
1 container (454 g) chocolate frosting
Handful fresh cranberries
1 Tbsp sugar
1-2 rosemary sprigs, cut into 1-inch pieces
12 marshmallows
Black decorating gel/icing pen
6 orange gummies
½ cup pretzel sticks
1 cup green chocolate melts
Festive sprinkles
1 cup white chocolate melts
6 shortbread cookies
6 gingerbread cookies
1 cup yogurt-covered pretzels
6 Candy canes
1 small gingerbread house (optional)
6 Oreo ornaments
6 reindeer cupcakes
Handful chocolate roll wafers
6 chocolate truffles
6 biscotti
Handful red and green M&M’s

Directions
1. Grab a large circular or rectangular board (like this one!) and set out all your ingredients.

2. For the Chocolate Yule Logs, cover the mini chocolate Swiss rolls with chocolate frosting. With a fork, gently run the tines back and forth to mimic the texture of bark. Roll fresh cranberries in granulated sugar and place three on top of each yule log with a small sprig of rosemary to resemble Christmas holly.

Chocolate yule log cakes on a serving platter

3. For the Marshmallow Snowmen, with a black decorating gel pen, draw two dots for the eyes and five dots for the smile onto a marshmallow. Cut orange gummies into strips to mimic the carrot nose and poke into center of marshmallow.

Related: These Christmas Cookie Trees Are the Prettier (And Easier!) Version of a Gingerbread House

Marshmallow snow men being decorated

4. For the Pretzel Christmas Trees, melt green chocolate melts in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until the chocolate has fully melted. Transfer for a piping bag (no tip necessary), cut a very small slit at the tip. Place pretzel sticks, 2 inches apart on a piece of parchment paper. Starting at one end of the pretzel, pipe the chocolate from left to right moving down the stick, gradually moving outwards to resemble evergreen trees. Sprinkle on decorative sprinkles before the chocolate sets.

Related: Passionfruit and Coconut Linzer Cookies Will Be the Star of Your Cookie Swap

Pretzel Christmas trees being decorated on parchment paper

5. Decorate shortbread cookies, gingerbread cookies and yogurt-covered pretzels with colourful chocolate melts and sprinkle on crushed candy canes or sprinkles to make it extra festive.

6. Build your board starting with the bigger pieces first; chocolate yule logs, gingerbread house, Oreo ornaments, reindeer cupcakes, gingerbread and stacked cookies. Then fill in the smaller spaces with the pretzel trees, chocolate roll wafers, chocolate truffles and biscotti. Finally, finish by filling any space with the marshmallow snowmen, yogurt-covered pretzels, red and green M&Ms , candy canes and other delicious confections.

A closeup of a festive holiday dessert board

Love Sabrina’s festive dessert charcuterie board? Try her Chocolate Eggnog Sandwich Cookies next!

Slices of gingerbread spiced pound cake on white plates

Gingerbread Spiced Pound Cake is Perfect for Holiday Snacking

Vanilla bean pound cake meets classic gingerbread with this warming holiday recipe that’s loaded with swirls of gingerbread spice. Make this ahead of the holidays for an easy lazy day snack that the whole family will love. It’s especially delicious toasted and served with plain Greek yogurt as a simple breakfast – even picky kiddos will love it!

Slices of gingerbread spiced pound cake on white plates

Gingerbread Spiced Pound Cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour
Rest Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients
4 eggs, room temperature
1 ½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup crème fraiche or Greek yogurt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter (melted)
1 tsp gingerbread spice (homemade or store bought)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla pod

Ingredients for gingerbread spiced pound cake

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F and butter a loaf pan. Line the buttered pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, add eggs and sugar. Using an electric mixer, whip on medium speed until pale yellow. Add the crème fraiche or Greek yogurt and melted butter and mix again.

Wet batter for gingerbread spiced pound cake

3. Add the flour and baking powder, mix until combined.

Related: These Chewy Gingerbread Eggnog Sandwich Cookies are a New Christmas Classic

Batter for gingerbread spiced pound cake

4. Equally divide the mixture into two separate bowls. Add the vanilla bean paste into one bowl and the gingerbread spice into the other bowl. Using a spatula, stir the mixtures separately until the spices have combined into the batter thoroughly.

2 mixing bowls, 1 of vanilla bean pound cake batter and 1 of gingerbread spiced pound cake batter

5. Using 2 different spoons, alternate adding the mixtures (one scoop at a time) into the prepared loaf pan. Once all added, using a wooden skewer (or the back of a spoon) swirl the mixtures. By doing this, once baked it will have nice swirls of the two flavors on each slice of pound cake.

A loaf pan filled with swirled gingerbread spiced pound cake batter

6. Bake for 1 hour or until a wooden skewer inserted comes out clean.

Related: An Overnight Gingerbread French Toast Bake for the Perfect Winter Morning

A baked loaf of gingerbread spiced pound cake in the baking pan

7. Let the cake cool for 30 minutes before unmolding it from the loaf pan. Once cooled removed from the loaf pan and serve.

A sliced gingerbread spiced pound cake on a marble serving board

Storage tip: The pound cake is best enjoyed on the same day, but it can be wrapped in a plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Looking for more gingerbread inspired recipes? Try Anna Olson’s gorgeous triple gingerbread bundt cake next!

Our Honest Review of the NinjaFoodi XL Pro Grill & Griddle

Even if you wouldn’t describe yourself as a minimalist, there’s something so alluring about all-in-one appliances that promise to do it all. As someone who’s finally become more confident in the kitchen, I’m always looking for more ways to save time on cooking. And so when the opportunity to review the  NinjaFoodi XL Pro Grill & Griddle came up, I couldn’t resist.  Here’s my honest review of the latest all-in-one appliance.

What’s the NinjaFoodi XL Pro Grill & Griddle?

The latest innovation in the NinjaFoodi series allows you to air crisp (AKA air fry), BBQ griddle, bake, roast, dehydrate and broil a large amount of food at once. The powerful indoor grill is the winning feature of this machine and promises to defrost foods from frozen to perfectly char-grilled in less than half an hour. 

Related: The Top 5 Kitchen Utensils Every Home Cook Needs

The Pros

Meal Prep Made Easy 

Every home cook knows that meal prep is the key to eating well throughout the week. This latest innovation of the NinjaFoodi series makes cooking large quantities of food easy (we’re talking grilling six steaks at once, easy). It’s a total meal solution, and the appliance also includes a four-quart air crisper, meaning there’s more than enough room to make batches of your go-to  side dishes, like crispy air fryer parmesan brussels sprouts

The NinjaFoodi XL Pro Grill & Griddle on a countertop surrounded by different cooked mealsNinjaFoodi XL Pro Grill & Griddle, amazon.ca, $400.

The Smart Thermometer Will Be Your New BFF 

The intelligent thermometer is my favourite part of the NinjaFoodi XL Pro Grill & Griddle. Thanks to the smart thermometer feature, the grill automatically adjusts to 9 customizable doneness levels in just a touch of a button, allowing you to set cook proteins from rare to well with ease. I like that the grill also gives you on-screen prompts from when the appliance is preheated to when it’s time to flip the meat.

Read More: 15 Recipes That Show Bone-In Meat is Better for the Grill

It’s Versatile 

Although I’ve been more than happy doing most of my cooking in my petite air fryer over the past year, the NinjaFoodi XL Pro Grill & Griddle has opened my eyes to what I’ve been missing in my tiny downtown condo kitchen.  In addition to the grill and the air crisper, I didn’t expect to love the griddle as much as I do. 

Pancakes are pretty much my love language, and in my opinion, sharing a stack of flapjacks is the best way to start a slow Sunday morning with a loved one. Making pancakes on a griddle for the first time has been game-changing (I used to make them on a pan one-by-one), and I know now I’ll never look back.  If you appreciate a pancake breakfast as much as I do, be sure to try these easy pink beet pancakes for a festive start to your morning this holiday season. 

Four parts of the Ninja Grill

The Downsides

You Need Space 

As a single twenty-something-year-old living in a 350-square foot studio, I’m more conscious about appliance real estate than most. My unit doesn’t have an oven, and my cozy kitchen stovetop only has two burners (the joys of downtown living). Since I don’t have much counter space, I need to store almost all of my kitchen devices in my cupboards when they’re not in use. The NinjaFoodi XL Pro Grill & Griddle weighs 27 pounds and measures at almost 12 inches high and 17.5 inches wide. It’s a pretty big product and I usually opt for smaller all-in-one products.

Due to its size and weight, it’s the  type of product that you should buy only if you’re confident that you want it out on your countertop long term, since maneuvering it is pretty heavy. That being said, I am moving to a bigger space in 2022, and I’m excited to host more of my family friends with the NinjaFoodi XL Pro Grill & Griddle in a new home that comes with much more room to cook and entertain.   

It’s an Investment 

I’ll never forget how I refused to buy a $15 toaster when I moved into my first “big girl” apartment at 23. I was saving for a toaster oven and money was tight as a new university grad, so I chose to sacrifice warm and toasted bread for a few months until I could invest in a product with multiple uses.

Retailing around $400, the NinjaFoodi XL Pro Grill & Griddle isn’t the most budget-friendly option if you think you might be mainly using the air crisper component or the griddle. That said, it’s worth the cost if you are the type of person that loves to fire up the grill and miss the opportunity to do so during Canada’s long and unpredictable weather. 

There’s a Learning Curve

Using new all-in-one appliances can be intimidating, and the NinjaFoodi XL Pro Grill & Griddle took a while for me to get used to before I felt comfortable using it.

Related: We Tried the Our Place Perfect Pot — Find Out If It’s Worth the Hype

As someone who doesn’t use all-in-one appliances often, I had a hard time quickly switching from the grill component to the air fryer, and since there are a lot of detachable parts to the product, it wasn’t as intuitive to switch functions as I thought it would be. The good news is that it gets better over time. After using the product for a few weeks, I’ve been able to get my sea legs with the NinjaFoodi XL Pro Grill & Griddle, and I’m confident other foodies will, too. 

The Verdict

The NinjaFoodi XL Pro Grill & Griddle was made for home cooks who frequently cook for many people. It makes the perfect gift for the grill master in your life, and anyone cooking for a family will appreciate it if you know that you’ll be using at least two components of the product, such as the grill or the air crisper, or the grill and griddle, regularly. Alternatively, you should consider this product if you’re looking to upgrade your current air fryer, griddle or grill for one product that does it all.  

Overall, the NinjaFoodi XL Pro Grill & Griddle is a win in my books. It saves you so much time in the kitchen, and it takes the guesswork of preparing proteins. 

For more fun gift ideas, be sure to check out these Costco buys for foodies

Images Courtesy of Ninja Kitchen. 

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. For more products handpicked by our editorial team, visit Food Network Canada’s Amazon storefront. However, when you buy through links in this article or on our storefront, we earn an affiliate commission.

A charcuterie plate with Cambozola cheese

Make Blue Cheese the Star of Your Charcuterie Board With These Perfect Pairings

With a creamy mouthfeel laced with the delicate crystalline texture of a light blue cheese, Cambozola is a crowd-pleasing chameleon of the cheese plate and charcuterie board. Cambozola can appeal to both lovers of yielding gooey Camembert and aficionados of the dark veins of nuttiness in Gorgonzola, making it a well-rounded presence on cheese boards and holiday platters alike. Whether you’re new to the world of blue cheese or you’re looking for fresh charcuterie board inspiration, a little extra knowledge about Cambozola can go a long way when serving – read on for our best tips on buying, storing, and pairing to take your charcuterie board to the next level.

A charcuterie plate with Cambozola cheese

What Is Blue Cheese?

Before you start mapping out your charcuterie board, it’s helpful to know a little background: Cambozola draws inspiration from two storied cheeses — French Camembert and Italian Gorgonzola. It has been produced in Allgäu, a region in the south of Germany, for four decades and is a classic soft ripened triple-cream cheese. The cheese is pre-ripened and aged from the outside in by spraying with cultures to produce a white bloom on the edible rind, then wrapped carefully before selling. Streaked sporadically throughout the inside of the cheese are blue veins produced using similar cultures to a Gorgonzola, albeit with a much milder flavour. Some varieties, such as the premium Cambozola Black Label cheese, are matured in cold storage to produce a distinctive grey bloom on the rind and a fuller sweeter flavour with finer blue veins and a more robust aroma.

What to Look for When Buying Cambozola

When you’re looking to buy Cambozola at the grocery store or cheesemonger’s, make sure that the cheese has been stored in a chilled case or display, with its shape and packaging relatively intact. Similar to other soft-rind cheese such as Brie and Camembert, the cheese should not have an ammonia-like odour — a sign that the cheese is past its prime. The interior of the cheese should be creamy white or yellow, with blue veins running throughout. You don’t need to poke at the cheese to check maturity: in fact, soft-ripened cheese matures from the outside inwards, so a yielding exterior isn’t a good indicator of the cheese’s core.

How to Store Blue Cheese

Once you get your cheese home, a little bit of care will really help in preserving the delicate flavours and textures so that it can shine on your charcuterie board. The best place for your Cambozola is the vented airiness of your refrigerator’s vegetable crisper, which allows circulation around the cheese (just be sure not to pile bags of onions or heavy, cheese-flattening produce on top of it by mistake). Resist the urge to store leftovers in sealed, air-tight containers — letting the cheese breathe is essential to maintain its aroma and texture. Either splurge on fancy cheese paper or use waxed or parchment paper for optimal cheese storage.

How to Serve Cambozola

When served cold, cheese hides its beautiful aroma and flavours. The old adage of taking your cheese out of the fridge a half hour before serving holds true here as well: serving Cambozola at room temperature allows its aroma and the silken texture to shine. Don’t forget to take it out of its wrapping as well: just like decanting a fine wine before consuming, the bouquet of cheese needs time to develop in the open air. Make sure you’ve got the right cutting implement to help keep the cheese neat when serving: Cambozola’s clingy texture demands a serrated knife edge (if you own a fancy two-pronged cheese knife, now’s the time to break it out).

Related: Advice From a Cheese Master: How to Buy, Store and Eat Cheese

Building a Better Charcuterie Board

The luscious palate-coating creaminess of Cambozola pairs well with a wide variety of textures and flavours, depending on which side of its double identity you want to take centre stage. The subtle blue elements lend themselves to classic pairings with blue cheese — salty bacon or toasted nuts, sweet, chewy dried or fresh figs or crisp pears. Or, lean into the rich triple-cream notes and smear the soft cheese across crunchy baguette with pieces of cured meats such as spicy Calabrian salami or aged prosciutto as part of a simple, but elegant, charcuterie board (Cambozola serves as an excellent bridge between creamy soft cheeses and deeper blues). Add interesting textures and a variety of salty, sour and sweet elements such as tiny cornichons, jams or fruit spreads, mustard and honey for drizzling. Cambozola’s charcuterie pairing potential is endless, and you can find more great combinations here.

Other Delicious Cambozola Food Pairings

If you’d like to add another element to your lavish spread, Cambozola is also an excellent melting cheese for cooking, lending a gilded backbone to superlative grilled cheese sandwiches, mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese. It can even dress up a better than boring burger (for a slightly different take, lay thick slices across a bison burger just after it comes off the grill). Stir it into a fondue for a mysterious je ne sais quoi, a sauce for steak, or to give an omelette an oozy centre. Consider using its creaminess to full advantage in cheese balls or a ham and cheese quick bread. Don’t forget your vegetables, either: Cambozola makes an excellent garnish to simply steamed asparagus (a mixture of green and white is especially nice).

A bison burger topped with Cambozola blue cheese.

Try this recipe: Bison Burgers with Cambozola Cheese

Best Drinks to Pair with Blue Cheese

The finishing touch on any great charcuterie board is the perfect drink pairing, and when it comes to beverages, Cambozola is also easily dressed up or down. For everyday enjoyment, semi-dry Rieslings and sweet wines such as Sauternes or Gewürztraminers would pair well, or make a splash with an aged port or champagne. Beer lovers could pour a dark stout or strong ale to complement the rich cheese. Sparkling water or carbonated citrus-based beverages would have much of the same palate cleansing effect.

3 desserts decorated with holiday themes

3 Festive (And Kid-Friendly) Holiday Dessert Decorating Ideas Inspired by Baking It

The holidays are one of my favourite times of the year to get baking, but also one of the more stressful times with nonstop family gatherings, get-togethers and holiday parties. This year will be different! I’m sharing three creative ways to transform ordinary, store-bought desserts into festive holiday treats. These whimsical desserts require minimal prep, equipment and ingredients, so you can spend less time planning – and more time with your loved ones! Plus, no one needs to know you weren’t fussing over a hot oven all day.

Vanilla cake decorated with gingerbread men and a gingerbread house

Winter Wonderland Cake

Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients
1 10″ store-bought cake (vanilla, carrot, anything with white frosting)
4-6 fresh rosemary sprigs
¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 Tbsp white sprinkles (we like these!)
2-3 gingerbread cookies
1 Tbsp icing sugar

Overtop view of all the dessert ingredients like cake, cookies and pretzels

Related: Holiday Desserts Made Easy With This 6-Ingredient Mini Apple Tart Recipe

Directions

1. With an offset spatula, carefully remove any decorations off the top of the cake and smooth out the frosting. Generously sprinkle on top shredded coconut to mimic snow, some festive sprinkles, nonpareils and metallic dragées for a bit of sparkle.

2. Grab a few rosemary sprigs, trim off the top and place the sprigs upside-down into the cake to resemble evergreen trees. Create different heights. Place 2-3 gingerbread cookies around the cake.

3. Sift icing sugar overtop to create a winter wonderland.

Food Network Canada Editors’ Pick: Fox Run 5329 Offset Icing Spatula, Amazon, $16

Reindeer Cupcakes

Reindeer Cupcakes

Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients
6 store-bought chocolate cupcakes
1 container chocolate frosting
6 red baking gems or mini M&M’s
12 googly eyes (these are great!)
12 pretzel twists

Chocolate cupcakes, pretzels and candy eyes on a table from an overview shot

Directions

1. With an offset spatula, carefully scrape off the frosting on the store-bought cupcakes. Place the chocolate frosting in a piping bag with a large round tip (we like these!). Re-frost the cupcakes in a swirl pattern.

2. Place on the googly eyes, red M&M’s for the nose and pretzel twists to resemble antlers.

Food Network Canada Editors’ Pick: Ateco #807 SS Plain Pastry Decorating Tip, Amazon, $8

Oreo cookie ornaments decorated with chocolate and sprinkles

Oreo Ornaments

Prep time: 15 minutes

Ingredients
12 Oreos
1 cup white chocolate melts
Black decorating gel/icing pen
12 Reese’s mini peanut butter cups
¼ cup mini M&M’s or baking gems

ingredients to decorate Oreo cookies

Directions

1. Place white chocolate melts in a microwave safe bowl. Melt on high in 30 second intervals, making sure to stir after each burst. Transfer the melted chocolate to a narrow cup or bowl.

2. Insert a toothpick into the creme of the Oreo and dip into the melted chocolate until it is fully covered. Place on a piece of parchment paper, carefully remove the toothpick. Place one Reese’s mini peanut butter cup on each Oreo where the toothpick was removed. Set aside to cool and set.

Oreo cookies painted white on parchment paper

3. Using a black decorating pen, draw zigzag lines from one side of the Oreo to the other, this will be the light string. Add the M&M’s along the black gel to mimic lights and set aside to dry.

Related: Make the Cutest Ugly Christmas Sweater Cookies

Like these decorating ideas from Sabrina? Try her whimsical espresso chocolate yule log next!

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