Tag Archives: baking

Lemon poppy seed buns on countertop

Brighten Your Day With These Easy Lemon Poppy Seed Coconut Buns

Baking bread (or buns) may seem a little intimidating with kneading and proofing, but it doesn’t have to be! These Baking Therapy lemon poppy seed buns come together really easily — in less than two hours. They’re soft, fluffy and filled with a sweet coconut filling. Similar to making cinnamon rolls, but the dough is knotted, so you get lemon, poppy seed and coconut in every single bite. Yum yum!

Lemon poppy seed buns on countertop

Lemon Poppy Seed Coconut Buns

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Rest Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Bake Time: 20-25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
Servings: 8 buns

Ingredients:

Lemon Poppy Seed Buns
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp instant yeast
¼ tsp salt
3 tsp poppy seeds
2 tsp lemon zest
1 cup milk, warm
4 Tbsp butter, melted
1 egg, beaten

Coconut Filling
½ cup shredded coconut
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup sugar
Pinch salt
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Egg Wash
1 egg

Lemon Glaze
2 cups icing sugar
4-5 Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp lemon zest

Lemon poppy seed bun ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, sugar, instant yeast, salt, poppy seeds and lemon zest. Whisk to combine. Add the warm milk, butter, egg and give it a quick mix with a fork to get the dough going. Attach the dough hook and mix for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to a clean, large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to proof for 35-45 minutes, until doubled in size.

Lemon poppy seed bun dough on countertop

2. Prepare the filling: in a bowl, mix together the coconut, cornstarch, sugar, salt, lemon juice, egg yolk and vanilla. Mix to combine and set aside.

3. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Related: Healthy Baking Recipes for When You’re Bored at Home

4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle, about 16 x 14 inches. Spread the filling evenly over top. Fold the dough over onto itself, you should have roughly 8 x 14-inch rectangle. With the folded edge closest to you, cut the dough into 8 equal portions, using a knife, pizza or pastry cutter. Grab one strip of dough, hold the ends and twist them in opposite directions and tie into a knot. Place the knotted buns 2-inches apart on baking sheets.

Lemon poppy seed bun dough on countertop

Lemon poppy seed buns being formed by hand

5. Cover with plastic and let rise for 20-30 minutes until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 350°F.

6. Whisk 1 egg and brush the tops of the buns. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

7. Prepare the glaze: whisk together the icing sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and lemon zest. Drizzle over top and enjoy!

Lemon poppy seed buns on countertop

Like Sabrina’s lemon poppy seed coconut buns? Try her key lime pie cupcakes or her rhubarb and sour cream streusel muffins.

The Perfect Pastry Butter Hack, Plus 9 Golden Baking Rules to Always Follow

The weather is turning, the days are growing longer, and creativity is at an all-time high. And with so many fresh springtime ingredients ready to be transformed, who wouldn’t want to hop in the kitchen and put that extra creativity to good use? Whether you’re baking up some fresh cookies or homemade butter tarts to cheer up friends, following an easy chocolate cake recipe for a special occasion, or kneading a loaf of crusty bread to go with that seasonal salad for dinner, there are a few golden baking rules you’ll want to follow the next time you’re getting your batter on.

But First—The Perfect Pastry Butter Hack

Cubed butter in a bowl

Whether you’re a seasoned baker like those on The Big Bake or someone who’s just beginning to dabble in the world of all-butter pie crusts, short crust pastry, puff pastry and other offerings, getting your butter to that perfect consistency and temperature can make or break your bake. If you’re working on a pastry in which you need air pockets between the layers to rise up in order to create those fabulous flakes, freeze the amount of butter you need for your recipe beforehand. Then, rather than cubing or cutting it and pinching it into your flour, use your cheese grater to grate the butter directly in. The result is an easier dough to work with, since the grated butter is much more forgiving.

But wait—what if you actually need room temperature butter for your recipe, and your butter is in the fridge or freezer? You should still grate it. Doing so increases the surface area, allowing your beurre to warm up and soften quickly. In other words, a grater is the perfect tool to hack all kinds of buttery bakes. And now onto the other golden rules of baking…

Related: Brown Butter Recipes You Won’t Be Able to Resist

Always Read Over Your Entire Recipe Before You Start

Flat lay of cookbook and coffee

This rule applies to all kinds of cooking and baking, but to baking in particular where exact measurements are required and substitutions can throw off your whole game. Read over your recipe from start to finish so that you know exactly how much of each ingredient you need. But don’t just read over the ingredient list—have a good look at the method too. It can be easy to miss simple steps like resting time, sifted flour versus poured flour, or creaming your butter and sugar before mixing. With that last step for example, creaming your butter and sugar together beats air into the butter and helps the sugar to hold that air, giving your baked goods structure. If you just mix or pour butter and sugar in without adding that vital step, you could end up with a dense, flat product.

See More: Flour 101 – Your Guide to Baking

Remember the Quality of Your Ingredients Matters

Flat lay of baking ingredients including nuts, sugars and butter

When you’re shopping for a special recipe, the quality of ingredients will help dictate the quality of your final product. Sure, you can grab artificial vanilla extract, but will it taste the same as the real stuff? Of course not. The same can be said for the type of chocolate, nuts, maple syrup and honey you use—fresh, good quality ingredients will always transform your bake. Butter is another big one. In France, some of the world’s top pastry chefs only use butter that’s high in milk fat—at least 82 per cent. In Canada, our butter is typically only churned to 80 per cent milk fat, and that two per cent drop makes a world of difference. If you really want to create the flakiest of pastries and crispiest of cookies, grab Gay Lea’s new Bakers Gold butter, which is churned to an impressive, chef-grade, 84 per cent milk fat.

Never Overbeat Batter

A stand mixer or even the handheld variety can be a wrist saver for sure, but when you’re talking about mixing together ingredients for a bake there’s a slippery slope. More often than not recipes for baked goods always come with the disclaimer, “don’t overmix.” And for good reason. When you overmix cakes, cookies, muffins, bread or even pancakes you run the risk of injecting too much air into the batter and developing extra gluten. While some gluten is key when it comes to chewy baked goods, too much of it will just make your offerings gummy and dense. In other words, when a recipe says “mix until just combined,” take the step seriously and don’t walk away from a mixer that’s having a party in the mixing bowl.

Related: Harry Eastwood’s Healthy Baking Substitutes

Stop Confusing Wax Paper and Parchment Paper

Blueberry cookies on way paper with fresh flowers and ingredients

Hands up if you’ve charred a recipe or two by accidentally putting wax paper instead of parchment paper in the oven. Baking with wax paper is never really advisable. The stuff is water-resistant, which means it’s great to lay down for cool things when you don’t want them to stick, but it’s definitely not heat-resistant. A good rule of thumb is to remember that for anything cold, you want wax paper. And for anything hot you want parchment paper, which is typically safe in the oven up to 450°F. (But check your packaging.) If you have both and you keep confusing them however, maybe consider investing in a silicon mat or liners. Depending on the brand they’re great for all things hot and cold, and they wash up easily in your sink to cut down on waste, too.

Always Blind-Bake Pie Crusts

Blind baked pie crust with raw ingredients nearby on the table

No, you don’t need a blindfold to pull off the best pie crust of your life. Instead, all you need is a blind bake and some high quality butter, like the aforementioned high milk-fat butter that is Gay Lea’s new Bakers Gold butter. Blind baking means that you bake the crust in full before putting in any kind of filling, so that you know the crust is cooked all the way through. Otherwise you run the risk of adding filling to an uncooked crust and creating a soggy mess. What’s the other benefit of blind baking a pie crust with a butter that’s high in milk fat? Higher butterfat means less water and a softer texture, resulting in butter that easily melts into those pastry layers. There’s nothing like the flavourful, flaky crust that you get as a result. One bite can basically transport you back into your grandmother’s kitchen, where your mouth waters in anticipation of that freshly baked pie sitting in the windowsill.

See More: The Best Summer Pies and Tarts

Don’t Substitute Baking Powder for Baking Soda

…and vice versa. Although it’s easy to confuse baking powder with baking soda, they each do different things in the chemistry that is baking. Baking soda, AKA the one some people keep in the fridge to help deodorize all of those food smells, is sodium bicarbonate. In order for sodium bicarbonate to activate and help your baked goods rise, it needs an acid (brown sugar, lemon, vinegar, chocolate etc.) and a liquid. Baking powder, however, is baking soda that already has an acid (cream of tartar), and sometimes a bit of corn starch. In order to activate its equally awesome rising properties, all you need is a liquid.

Browning Butter is a Baking Superpower

Would you consider this one a rule, or a hack? Either way, nothing beats the deep, rich flavour of browned butter—especially in baking. Brown butter cookies, brown butter brownies… even a cake with brown butter frosting is enough to make you hungry. If you want to execute perfectly browned butter for use in your baked goods, slowly melt it in a pan over medium heat. You want even heat distribution so that the butter cooks evenly, but be sure to constantly stir it so that it doesn’t burn (brown butter can turn to burnt butter before you can say “browning burnt butter” three times fast). When the butter is a nice brown hue and the edges begin to sizzle and foam, you’re ready to remove it from the heat. All in all, the entire process should only take about 5-8 minutes, but it makes a huge difference in your final flavour profile.

Related: Anna Olson’s Guide to Buttercream Icing

Chill Your Cookie Dough Before Baking

Chocolate chip cookies baking on a baking sheet

If you’re going through all of that effort to make cookies from scratch, don’t you want to make the best possible batch? Of course you do! So if you aren’t already chilling your cookie dough before baking it, we have to ask, why not? As a general rule of thumb, once your dough has come together you should chill it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so that the butter can harden again. That way the butter doesn’t disperse too quickly and flatten out the cookie. If you find it tough to work with chilled dough, scoop out your balls beforehand and then chill them on a baking sheet in the fridge. Or, flash-freeze them in the freezer, throw them into a freezer-friendly bag, and bake them up anytime you want fresh cookies.

Chilling cookie dough is a golden rule to be sure, but there are exceptions. If you’re going for a thin cookie that spreads out or you have a delicate dough like macron or madeleine, those are the instances where you’ll want to bake your cookies at room temperature instead.

Weigh Your Ingredients Whenever You Can

Recipes come in all kinds of measurements, but when it comes to baking, many of the pros prefer weighing their ingredients as opposed to counting cups and tablespoons. One reason is that a recipe is easier to half or double when you’re talking about weight over volume. But more importantly, there is less room for error when you’re using a kitchen scale versus the human eye. Baking is an exact science. And while there’s tons of room for creativity and innovation, the science at the base of those recipes remains the same. Whenever you have the opportunity to weigh your ingredients definitely do so, because the better you can get at precise ingredient measurements, the better those buttery baked goods will wind up tasting.

Watch The Big Bake Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. 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.

Photos courtesy of Unsplash.

Anna Olson Chocolate Recipes for Every Skill Level

Anna Olson’s Chocolate Recipes for Every Skill Level: Easy to Advanced

Has Great Chocolate Showdown inspired you to try out some new skills in your kitchen? Not all chocolate recipes are created equal, so we asked Canada’s most beloved baker and Great Chocolate Showdown host Anna Olson to help us break down which of her recipes would be best suited to your skills.

Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned pro, here are Anna Olson’s best chocolate recipes for bakers of all levels.

Related: Expert Chocolate Techniques to Master Now

Easy Chocolate Recipes for Baking Beginners

If you’re not sure where to start your chocolate baking journey, look no further than this classic bake — cookies. “Chocolate chip cookies are a great basic because it gets you into the chocolate world,” recommended Anna.

Anna Olson's classic chocolate chip cookies cooling on a wooden trayGet the recipe for Anna Olson’s Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

For a serious sweet tooth, fudgy brownies are another great option for new home bakers, and as a bonus, they use items you probably already have in your kitchen. “Brownies take minimal equipment. If you’ve got a pot, a pan, and a whisk, you can make brownies,” said Anna.

See More: Anna Olson’s Top Baking Tools

Anna Olson's fudge brownies studded with a pecanGet the recipe for Anna Olson’s Fudge Brownies

Intermediate Chocolate Recipes if You Have a Few Baking Skills Under Your Belt

For home bakers who have the basic chocolate skills down and want to give themselves a challenge, Anna provided some delightful options.

“You can get into fun things like chocolate crinkle cookies, a good, rich chocolate cake, a flourless chocolate torte, or vegan chocolate cupcakes with fudge frosting,” Anna shared.

Anna Olson's 6-layer chocolate fudge cake with one slice on a plateGet the recipe for Anna Olson’s Chocolate Fudge Cake

Advanced Chocolate Recipes for Baking Masters

If you’re ready to face the ultimate home baking challenge and show off your chocolate technique, Anna had a couple of ideas.

“I have a delicious chocolate mousse cake: chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, and it’s got a dark chocolate mirror glaze, which is really hot right now,” she divulged.

Related: Cynthia Stroud’s Expert Decorating Tips

A slice of Anna Olson's rich chocolate mousse cakeGet the recipe for Anna Olson’s Rich Chocolate Mousse Cake

“[My] chocolate souffle is another very challenging recipe,” she also shared. “It takes confidence, and you have to feel positive that you know how to get it just right.”

Anna Olson's chocolate souffle in a ramekinGet the recipe for Anna Olson’s Chocolate Souffles with Salted Caramel Sauce

Tune into Great Chocolate Showdown on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT. 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

Easter egg hot chocolate bombs

These Easy 6-Ingredient Easter Egg Hot Chocolate Bombs Are Almost Too Pretty to Eat

Swap out those mini chocolate eggs for these beautiful Baking Therapy Easter egg hot chocolate bombs! They are filled with a sweet homemade cocoa mix and fluffy marshmallows. Pour warm milk over them and watch them “explode” with chocolatey goodness. Because you can’t celebrate Easter without lots of chocolate, right?

Easter egg hot chocolate bombs

Easter Egg Hot Chocolate Bombs

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Rest Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

¾ cup icing sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
1 cup instant skim milk powder
¼ tsp salt
4 cups melting chocolate wafers, in various colours
2 cups mini marshmallows

Equipment: 

Semi-Sphere Silicone Chocolate Silicone Mold, Amazon, $23.

Easter egg hot chocolate bomb ingredients

Directions:

1. For the hot cocoa mix: in a bowl, sift the cocoa powder and icing sugar. Whisk in the instant skim milk powder and salt. Set aside.

2. For the chocolate bombs: add the melting wafers to separate bowls and melt either using a double boiler or in the microwave in 30 second intervals, be careful not to overheat. Dip a clean paint brush into the melted chocolate and create designs in each mold. Place in the freezer for 5 minutes to set.

Easter egg hot chocolate bomb in silicone mold

3. Add about 2 Tbsp of melted chocolate to each cavity and using the back of a small spoon help guide the chocolate up the sides. Place back in the freezer for 5-10 minutes until set. Carefully remove from the chocolate molds and set aside.

Related: Delightfully Easy Easter Desserts That You Can Enjoy All Spring

4. To assemble, warm a non-stick saucepan over low heat. Fill half the molds with 2 Tbsp hot cocoa mix and 1 Tbsp mini marshmallows. To seal, place one half sphere, seam side down on the non-stick pan for 2 seconds to melt slightly. Cover the bottom halves with the top halves to create one complete sphere. Place the chocolate bombs in a mug and pour 2 cups of hot milk over the egg. Stir and enjoy!

Easter egg hot chocolate bombs being made

Easter egg hot chocolate bombs being made

Easter egg hot chocolate bomb in cup with milk being poured on top

Like Sabrina’s Easter egg hot chocolate bombs?  Try her rhubarb and sour cream streusel muffins or her gluten-free quinoa chocolate cake.

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.

Save That Leftover Pie Dough and Make These Cinnamon Pinwheel Cookies!

Several pie crust recipes yield enough dough for the top and bottom of a pie, but not all pies require both. When you find yourself with leftover pie dough, don’t let it go to waste. Turn it into a new dessert with this Love Your Leftovers cinnamon pinwheel cookie recipe. They’re simple to make and are so good that you might just find yourself going out of your way to have “leftover” pie dough. We’ve forever changed your what to do with leftover pie crust dilemma.

Leftover Pie Dough Cinnamon Pinwheel Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 12 to 15 minutes
Total Time: 27 to 30 minutes
Servings: 12 pinwheel cookies

Ingredients:

½ batch pie crust, chilled
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch fine salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll pie dough into a 12 by 8 inch rectangle.

3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt until well blended.

Related: Start Your Morning on a Sweet Note With These Gooey Cinnamon Buns

4. Spread the prepared filling evenly over dough. Tightly roll the dough, beginning from the 12 inch side. Press the seam to seal. Trim and discard the ends, about ½ inch on each side. Cut log into ¼ inch thick slices and transfer to prepared baking sheet.

5. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to chill. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until edges begin to brown.

Like Marcella’s cinnamon pinwheel cookies? Try her leftover turkey pizza recipe or her pink beet pancakes.

Published April 30, 2020, Updated March 23, 2021

rhubarb and sour cream muffins in pan

Celebrate Spring With These Sweet Rhubarb and Sour Cream Streusel Muffins

You know spring is near with the first sight of rhubarb. These Baking Therapy rhubarb sour cream muffins are soft, sweet and studded with tangy rhubarb. The sour cream adds to the tender crumb and the brown sugar streusel lends the perfect crunchy texture. This recipe comes together easily (just 35 minutes!) — and if you’re not a fan of rhubarb, simply swap in for your favourite springtime fruit.

rhubarb sour cream muffins in pan

Rhubarb and Sour Cream Streusel Muffins

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 25-35 minutes
Total time: 35-45 minutes
Servings: 8 large or 16 regular muffins

Ingredients:

Streusel
½ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup flour
⅓ cup rolled oats
Pinch salt
4 Tbsp butter, room temperature, but still cool

Muffins
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup rolled oats
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 large egg
6 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
½ cup sour cream
⅓ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
1 cup rhubarb, diced into small chunks

rhubarb sour cream muffin ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line large or regular muffin tins with paper cups.

2. For the streusel: in a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, roll oats and salt. Work the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers until it’s incorporated and crumbly. Set aside.

Related: These Muffin Recipes Will Turn You Into a Baking Person

3. For the muffins: whisk together the flour, rolled oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, melted butter, sour cream, milk and vanilla.

4. Create a well in the centre of dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Using a spatula, fold the batter together until it’s just combined, the batter will be very thick. Add the chopped rhubarb and fold to combine.

rhubarb sour cream muffin batter

5. Using a cookie scoop, fill the muffin cups about half full. Spoon about 1 Tbsp of the streusel overtop of each. Bake for 25-35 minutes until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

rhubarb sour cream muffins before baking

three rhubarb sour cream muffins

Like Sabrina’s rhubarb and sour cream muffin recipe? Try her key lime pie cupcakes or her gluten-free quinoa chocolate cake.

Cynthia Stroud's trio of cakes with drip technique, chocolate transfer sheet and hand painted chocolate designs

Cynthia Stroud’s Expert Tips to Master 3 Beautiful Chocolate Decorating Trends

It’s easier than you might think to create show-stopping desserts with these three chocolate decorating ideas seen in Great Chocolate Showdown. From a simple chocolate drip technique to hand painting and transfer sheet designs, open your desserts up to a world of delicious decorating possibilities that taste as good as they look.

See More: Here’s What You Need to Know About Cynthia Stroud

How To Paint With Chocolate (Cocoa Butter)

Painting with cocoa butter is different to painting with water-based food colour and edible alcohol. The former is like oil painting and the latter is more like water colour painting. Keep this in mind when creating your designs with cocoa butter.

To create cocoa butter colours, melt cocoa butter and mix in edible food colour powder or dust. If a colour is too deep, you can add white edible food colour dust. Be sure to keep your cocoa butter warm and liquid the whole time you are painting otherwise it will coagulate and make it difficult to achieve the spread you want. To do this, whilst painting, balance your painting palette or a plate you are using over a bowl of warm water.

Cynthia Stroud hand painting with cocoa butter

Tips for Painting With Chocolate:

It is important that your paint brush is dry and free of water otherwise it will cause the cocoa butter to coagulate into clumps.

To create shades in your cocoa butter painting, layer over an area with white cocoa butter.

• To create texture, brush over any painted areas with dry brushes.

• To achieve colours true to type, it is worth painting a layer of white first

• You cannot use water-based food colouring to colour cocoa butter as the moisture in the water-based food colouring will cause it to seize up.

See More: Expert Chocolate Techniques to Master Now

How to Decorate With Chocolate Transfer Sheets

When painting on transfer sheet, paint on the details first. You ought to paint in reverse to the way you’d paint on a piece of paper. On a piece of paper or canvas you’d normally paint the background first and add details after, but for transfer sheets, paint the details first then the background after. To get a good idea of whether your painting is coming along the way you intend, lift the sheet from time to time and crane your neck to look at the unpainted side. That will tell you how your painted cake will look.

Cynthia Stroud's trio of cakes with drip technique, chocolate transfer sheet and hand painted chocolate designs

Tips for Creating Chocolate Transfer Sheets:

• When spreading the melted tempered chocolate, ensure it is not too warm & runny (or it will melt your painting) and don’t overwork the chocolate whilst spreading it on the painted transfer sheet or it will dislodge the painted details.

• Ensure the transfer sheet is covered from edge to edge or this will result in gaps in the transfer collar

Related: How to Temper Chocolate Like a Pro for Perfect Candy Making

How to Create a Chocolate Drip Cake Technique

Use tempered chocolate and allow it to drip down the side of your cake, creating a lovely and simple finish. Tempered white chocolate can be coloured with oil-based food colouring before pouring/dripping for a colourful look or drips can be embellished with gold leaf, dragees (also known as a Jordan amond) or flowers whilst still wet before setting.

Cynthia Stroud demonstrating a chocolate drip technique on a cake

Tips for Creating a Chocolate Drip Cake:

• It is important to cover your cake with a smooth coating of buttercream or ganache and chill the cake till firm/solid to the touch before attempting a drip pour.

• The tempered chocolate should be runny enough to run down the edge of a mug. Always do this test before attempting to drip straight onto the cake!

• It is important to ensure the tempered chocolate is fairly liquid. You can thin it down with some cocoa butter or coconut oil.

Watch Great Chocolate Showdown Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. 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.

Anna Olson with Her Mirror Glaze Cake

Anna Olson’s Perfect Mirror Glaze Technique (Plus Tips!)

I love a mirror glaze cake and to be honest, while I find that entremet style of cake, mousse and fruit filling delightful to eat, it’s the making, assembling and glazing of the dessert that I love the most. Here are some tips so that you can dive right into this fun, reflective world of mirror glazing.

What to Glaze

Anna Olson mirror glaze
Photo courtesy of Janis Nicolay

Pick a dessert that has a smooth outside finish and a pleasing shape. Most mirror-glazed desserts are mousse based and are assembled in individual or full-size molds and then frozen to set them.  Silicone molds come in countless shapes and they are flexible and peel away from the mousse easily. You can also assemble a mousse cake in a regular metal springform pan.  You can use a heat gun on a low setting to gently warm the metal a little so that it lifts away from the cake easily.

Related: Anna Olson’s Chocolate Recipes for Every Skill Level

Mixing Your Mirror Glaze Colours

Anna Olson mixing mirror glaze colours
Photo courtesy of Janis Nicolay

A mirror glaze is composed of white chocolate, condensed milk, sugar, water and gelatine. When mixing, blend your glaze on low speed to avoid air bubbles and strain the glaze before tinting it.   Because white chocolate has a natural yellow hue to it, you will want to neutralize that by adding white food colouring to the glaze.  Then you can divide the glaze into separate pitchers to be tinted as you wish. Once made, the glaze can take 20 minutes or so to cool to the ideal pouring temperature, between 80-86°F (27-30°C), so be patient.

See More: Chocolate Animals DIY

How to Pour a Mirror Glaze

You have a few choices here. You can pour each colour onto your cake separately, making sure to cover the cake completely.  Drawing an offset palette knife over the top of the cake will blend the colours a little and can give you that “galaxy” look.  Or, if you’re feeling daring, you can go for the “tie-dye” effect and layer the colours before you pour.  Select your base colour and slowly pour in all of the other colours, one at a time, into the base, pouring carefully in a thin stream.  These colours will remain distinct in the pitcher (do not stir!) so that when you pour the glaze over the cake, the colours will create ripples and ribbons of colours that look like they are moving, even once set.

Remember that no two mirror glaze cakes look exactly the same, so just go for it. Before you pour, elevate the cake on a dish or stand that is smaller than the width of the cake, so that the excess glaze can run off easily and place a baking tray and rack underneath to catch that glaze.  The extra glaze can be reheated and reused again, but the colours will blend.

Anna Olson pouring a mirror glaze
Photo courtesy of Janis Nicolay

You can pour onto the centre of the cake and let gravity do its bit, or if the cake is on a wheel, you can spin the cake as you pour in the centre, creating a spiral effect.  You can also pour back-&-forth.  Regardless of the pouring technique, try to pour evenly and steadily and without disruption.  Take a moment to look at all sides of the cake to make sure it is completely covered.

See More: Anna Olson’s Best Chocolate Recipes

The glaze sets quickly, so after you see that the glaze pattern stops moving and dripping, use a palette knife to scrape away excess glaze from the base of the cake (or if you miss that window of time, use scissors or a paring knife to trim it away).  Resist the temptation to touch or move the glaze after the first minute or so – every mark will show.  But now you can add extra garnish – splatters of edible sparkle dust or top with piping detail, fruit or other chocolate decor. Remove the cake to a plate and chill until ready to serve.

Be prepared for “ooh’s” and “aaah’s” as you amaze your family or friends and impress yourself.

Watch Great Chocolate Showdown Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. 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.

key lime pie cupcakes on serving tray

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Home With These Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

These Baking Therapy key lime pie cupcakes are the perfect little treat to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! Sweet and tangy flavours of key lime pie topped with a fluffy cream cheese frosting. Did I mention they’re also stuffed with a luxurious lime curd? These cupcakes are guaranteed to satisfy any sweet tooth. OK, now let’s get baking!

key lime pie cupcakes on serving tray

Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Rest Time: 2 hours
Bake Time: 30-40 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours, 10 minutes
Servings: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Lime Curd
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes)
Pinch salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
Green food gel colouring

Cupcakes
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 egg white
¼ cup sour cream
⅓ cup milk
¼ cup lime juice
2 tsp lime zest
1 tsp vanilla extract

Frosting
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
5 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp lime juice
Gel food colouring (optional)

Equipment:

Muffin Pan, Amazon, $35.

Baking Cups, Amazon, $6.

key lime pie cupcake ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. First, you’ll make the lime curd. In a medium saucepan on medium-high heat, whisk together the sugar, eggs, egg yolk, lime juice and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. When the mixture starts to bubble, whisk in the butter, one Tbsp at a time. Bring the mixture to a boil again and let it bubble for 1 minute.

2. Remove from heat and strain the lemon curd. Mix in gel food colouring (if using) — it’ll make the curd brighter. Place plastic wrap directly on the curd and refrigerate until it sets, at least 2 hours.

Related: Anna Olson’s Very Best Cupcake Recipes

3. Now, for the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners, set aside.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the butter and mix until the mixture resembles wet sand, make sure not to over-mix. Add the egg, egg white, sour cream, milk, lime juice, zest and vanilla. Mix until the batter just comes together. Scrape down the sides and mix for another 10 seconds.

Related: Classic Irish Eats That’ll Bring the Emerald Isle to Your Kitchen

5. Divide the batter among the 12 cups, filling until ⅔ of the way full. Bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes until the edges are just golden and a toothpick when inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

key lime pie curd next to baked cupcakes

6. Now for the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Gradually add the icing sugar and cream until smooth. Add the vanilla extract, lime juice and food colouring (if using), mix for 1 minute. Transfer to a piping bag.

7. Use a paring knife to scoop out the centres of the cooled cupcakes. Spoon about 1 Tbsp of the lime curd into the centre of each cupcake. Ice the cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting. Pipe on four-leaf clovers or add sprinkles to make it festive. Enjoy!

key lime pie cupcakes being filled with curd on wire rack

key lime pie cupcakes on wire rack

Like Sabrina’s key lime pie cupcakes? Try her no-bake key lime pie icebox cake or her easy gluten-free quinoa chocolate cake.

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.

How to Melt and Temper Chocolate for Perfect Candy Making

Dreaming of divine chocolate decorations but terrified of losing your temper? For many baked items, such as fluffy frosting or creamy cake fillings, you can get away with simply melting chocolate to take it from a solid to liquid form like in these Chocolate Divinity Candies. When you get into the world of bonbons and confectionary, however, that’s another matter entirely. Tempering chocolate is a mandatory step if you want both the shiny gloss and the distinctive snap of a well-made candy or decoration like in Anna Olson’s Chocolate Dipped Marzipan — and that’s where you have to pay some attention to technique in order to achieve success.


L-R: Anna Olson’s Chocolate Divinity Candy and Chocolate Dipped Marzipan

Related: Chocolate Making Tools Every Home Chocolatier Needs

If the thought of working with molten chocolate (and even worse, the dangers of it seizing or splitting) has you clutching your (baking) pearls, we’ve got you covered. Read on to find out the best, and easiest, ways to work with chocolate, even if you’re a novice chocolatier.

How to Properly Melt Chocolate

For melting chocolate, each method has its advocates: some cooks prefer the double boiler method (or just setting a glass bowl on top of barely simmering water), while others turn to the microwave for an easy fix. Both methods involve the same basic principle: chopping chocolate into chunks for faster, more even melting, and applying gentle heat until most of the distinct shapes have disappeared.

If the unthinkable happens and your chocolate separates into a greasy, gritty mess, due to over-vigorous stirring or too-high heat, you can try Anna Olson’s ingenious trick to add moisture to return the mixture to molten glossiness (note: this fix is only for melting — even a single drop of water is the enemy of well-tempered chocolate).

See More: Desserts That Prove Peanut Butter and Chocolate Are a Perfect Match

How to Properly Temper Chocolate

For this technique, you’ll need to pull out a few items, namely a candy thermometer, a sturdy glass bowl and a silicon spatula that can handle some heat without melting. Depending on the method you use, you may also need a few more pieces of equipment, such as a marble board and wax paper.

The initial stage of tempering looks much like the melting process — use a glass bowl set over barely simmering water (not a rolling boil; there shouldn’t be any bubbles) to melt the chocolate chunks, or place the bowl in the microwave and use short bursts, checking often.

Where tempering differs, however, is the next step, where the chocolate mixture is cooled and warmed within precise ranges of temperature in order to achieve a smooth, shiny surface when it hardens (the temperature you need to hit depends on the type of chocolate you plan to use).


Anna Olson’s Chocolate Covered Caramel Bars

See More: Easy Chocolate Garnishes With Steve Hodge

This varying of temperature can be accomplished in a couple of ways: by adding other ingredients such as more chocolate (seeding) or cocoa butter to the mixture, or by pouring two-thirds of the hot chocolate mixture onto a marble board and mixing it with putty knives to cool it manually (see Anna Olson’s step-by-step description for more on this method).

Inquiring scientific minds among us may be intrigued by more gear-driven approaches, including Alton Brown’s combination of the friction of a food processor’s blades plus liberal use of a hair dryer to create heat, or J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s sous-vide circulator method over at Serious Eats.

Decoding Seed Tempering

For the easiest method using the least equipment, however, seeding chocolate is probably the best approach for a chocolate novice (for a visual demonstration, check out the video below from Great Chocolate Showdown judge Steve Hodge, pastry chef and chocolatier at Temper Pastry in West Vancouver.) With a few simple steps, this process can be achieved without too much stress (on both the chocolate and the cook).


 

Using the glass bowl over simmering water method, melt chunks of chocolate to the desired temperature (remember that they vary depending on the chocolate and are very narrow ranges, so use that candy thermometer.) We’ll use dark chocolate for this example, which should be heated to 45 to 48 degrees — milk and white chocolate, with higher milk and sugar contents, may react differently. 

Take the chocolate off the heat (leave the burner on…you’ll need it again shortly) and add prepared small pieces of chocolate (the “seeds”), which will help cool the mixture down quickly as they melt into the warmed chocolate.

Stir with a spatula until the overall temperature comes down to about 27 degrees Celsius (again, there may be some variation depending on the type of chocolate you use).

Next, quickly warm the chocolate back up by putting it into the double boiler until it hits 32 degrees Celsius and a thick and glossy texture — perfect for piping into a pretty design on waxed paper that will set up beautifully. If you aren’t sure if you’ve tempered the chocolate correctly, you can test it out by piping a small bit onto the waxed paper (or a metal sheet pan set over an ice pack).

Working quickly, swirl and create chocolate garnishes to your heart’s content: the designs should set up to a delicate decoration with the signature snap when you bite into it (try and leave a few decorations for dessert!)

Watch Great Chocolate Showdown Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. 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.

Molly Yeh’s Pretty Almond Tarts Are the Perfect Spring Dessert

Many of us have turned to at-home baking projects in recent months, finding comfort in the nostalgia that comes with revisiting classic desserts – and, with spring around the corner, we’re craving bright, bold treats that’ll satisfy our sweet tooth. Enter: Molly Yeh.

Almond meal, granulated sugar, fresh raspberries and colourful sprinkles with sliced almonds come together beautifully in this gorgeous, mouth-watering dessert you can enjoy year-round.

Related: Molly Yeh’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake is a Birthday Treat to Remember

Molly Yeh’s Almond Tarts

Total Time: 3 hours, 25 minutes (includes chilling and cooling time)
Yields: 12 servings

Ingredients

1/3 cup (67 grams) granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups (228 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup (168 grams) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 large eggs, separated
Nonstick cooking spray, for the pan

Filling:
1 cup (120 grams) almond meal
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 Tbsp (85 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp almond extract
1 large egg

Glaze:
About 1 cup (120 grams) powdered sugar, or more as needed
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) heavy cream, or more as needed, or 2 ounces fresh raspberries
1/4 tsp almond extract
To decorate: sprinkles, sliced almonds

Related: Molly Yeh’s Carrot Cake With Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting is Simply Show-Stopping

Directions

1. For the shells: Pulse together the granulated sugar, flour and salt in a food processor to combine. Add the butter and continue to pulse until mealy. Add the egg yolks (reserve the egg whites for the filling) and pulse until the dough comes together. Press the dough into a disc, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to overnight.

2. To mold the shells, grease a muffin tin with nonstick spray. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 1/4-inch-thick, dusting with more flour as needed. Cut out 3-inch circles and press them into the muffin cups so that the dough comes all the way up the sides. (No worries if the dough tears; just patch it up with additional dough.) Freeze the shells for 15 minutes.

3. For the filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

4. Combine the almond meal, granulated sugar, salt, and butter, either by blending it in the food processor (no need to clean it out after making the dough, you can just use it immediately for this step), or by stirring it together in a large bowl (I find it’s easiest to get in there with my hands). Add the almond extract, egg and the reserved egg whites from the shells, and continue to blend/stir until smooth and combined.

5. Fill the frozen shells with the filling so that it comes up about 1/4-inch from the top. Bake until the tops and edges are lightly browned; begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then use a small offset spatula or a knife to remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. For the glaze: If making the glaze with heavy cream, combine the powdered sugar, heavy cream and almond extract in a bowl until smooth. Add additional powdered sugar or liquid to thicken it up or thin it out so that you get the consistency of a thick glue.

7. To make the glaze with the raspberries, place the raspberries in a fine-mesh sieve and give them a rinse. Place the sieve over a bowl and use a stiff rubber spatula or wooden spoon to smash them through the sieve into the bowl until you’re just left with seeds in the sieve. Be sure to scrape the underside of the sieve to get the stuff that’s sticking to it. (You should be left with about 2 tablespoons seedless puree. If it’s a tiny bit more or a tiny bit less, that’s fine.) Add the powdered sugar and almond extract and mix to make a thick glaze. If it’s too thick, add a few drops of water to thin it out, and if it’s too thin, add a few more spoonfuls of powdered sugar. It should be the consistency of a thick glue.

8. Spread the glaze over the cooled tarts and decorate with sprinkles, almonds and anything else you’d like! These will keep for several days at room temperature or in the fridge.

Related: These Gorgeous Desserts From Molly Yeh Deserve a Standing Ovation

Watch Girl Meets Farm and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

Watch the how-to video here:


quinoa chocolate cake icing

This Easy Gluten-Free Quinoa Chocolate Cake Recipe Requires Just 10 Ingredients

If you’re looking for a gluten-free dessert that’s rich, moist and chocolatey, look no further! This Baking Therapy quinoa chocolate cake checks all the boxes. It has the texture of a classic chocolate cake and it’s made without any special flours. It might seem strange to add quinoa in a cake, but it is so delicious and adds to the perfect tender cake. It’s the perfect birthday dessert. All you need is a food processor or blender and you are on your way to chocolate heaven.

quinoa chocolate cake with icing

Gluten-Free Quinoa Chocolate Cake

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Bake Time: 25-35 minutes
Rest Time: 2-4 hours
Total time: 3-5 hours
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

Cake
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ cup whole milk
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Frosting
2 cups heavy cream, divided
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Equipment:

Food Processor, Amazon, $100.

quinoa chocolate cake ingredients

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line and grease two 9×9-inch round pans, set aside.

2. Cook the quinoa to package directions, set aside to cool. Melt the butter and chocolate chips either in a double boiler or in the microwave and set aside to cool slightly.

Related: Birthday Cake Recipes That Will Make You a Dessert Person

3. In a food processor, blend the quinoa, milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and chocolate-butter mixture until the quinoa has broken down and the mixture is smooth, about 1-2 minutes.

quinoa chocolate cake batter

4. In a large bowl, sift the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Create a well in the centre and pour in the wet ingredients. Whisk until fully combined. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth out the tops. Bake for 25-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, a few crumbs are OK.

5. Let cool in the pan for 20-30 minutes then invert and let cool completely on a wire rack.

quinoa chocolate cake in pan

6. For the frosting, heat 1 cup heavy cream on the stove until it just comes to a boil. Pour directly over the chocolate chips, let sit for 1 minute, then stir to combine. Mix in the remaining 1 cup heavy cream, cover and chill for 2-3 hours. Dividing the cream helps chill the mixture quicker. When ready to serve, whip the cream on high until stiff peaks form. Spread between cake layers and on top. Enjoy!

quinoa chocolate cake being iced

Like Sabrina’s quinoa chocolate cake? Try her matcha and raspberry mochi doughnuts or her 7-ingredient Basque cheesecake.

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.

Beautiful shot of fresh pastries

5 Expert Food Photography Tips to Show Off Your Baked Goods

The true hero of every food photo is, without a doubt, the food itself. Since you’ve nailed creating the perfect baked goodies, here are my five tips to take the most enticing photos of them, whether you wield a camera or a mobile phone!

Related: Steve Hodge’s Best Tips for a Successful Bakery

Good Light or Bust

This is my first tip for good reason! The light you shoot your subject in is the biggest determinant between a flat, mediocre photo and a stellar one.

• Natural Light: The good news is, natural sunlight is a great light source for food photos and costs nothing—but you must know how to use it right. Study the light available in your home, bakery or studio and observe how the light looks at different times of day, including intensity, colour temperature (cool versus warm) and shadows. If you have windows facing different directions, compare how the light looks next to each of those too.

• Direct Light:  Strong, direct light can be edgy and dramatic, but it’s trickier to master.

• Diffused Light: Indirect light is the easiest to make food appealing. What is “diffused indirect light”?  Think of the light that comes in through your window mid-morning before the sun’s position and intensity casts shadows inside, or an overcast day when clouds disperse its rays. Another element of light is the direction from which it hits the subject: from the side, behind or above. In general, the most forgiving natural light for a beginner photographer is diffused indirect sunlight coming from the side of the subject i.e. placing your subject at or near table-height beside a window where there are no shadows or harsh sunlight.  A north-facing window, if you have one, is favoured by food photographers because of the softer, bluer light.

• Artificial Light: Be sure to turn off every artificial indoor light. No food looks good with even the faintest bit of icky yellow cast.

Related: Explore Bakeries From Project Bakeover

Gotta Hit Them Angles

There are three commonly-used angles to shoot food:  straight-on from the front, three-quarter downward angle, or overhead.  A good exercise is to look through your camera lens or screen as you move around the subject to figure out which angle showcases the attributes you want to highlight. Below are general rules with practical examples, but be sure to explore all three (and angles in between) to find the best one.

• Straight-On: Ideal to showcase height and/or interesting layers for cupcakes, layered cakes, stack of cookies or bars.

• Three-Quarter: Best for showing off items with layers or fillings in bars, macarons, filled tarts, profiteroles, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls.

• Overhead: Perfect for flat foods or foods with interesting shapes, surfaces or toppings e.g. pizzas, galettes, pop tarts, cookies, doughnuts, macarons, cinnamon rolls.

Overhead shot of a cauliflower pizza
Photo courtesy of Sonia Wong

See More: Here Are Our Favourite Bakeries Across Canada

Bring Images to Life

Composition: How elements are arranged in your shot to be aesthetically pleasing. Keep in mind:

Rule of Thirds: Imagine overlaying a grid of nine boxes over your image, then place your points of interest at the four intersecting points of the grid.

Leading Lines: Use lines to lead a viewer’s eye to the focal point e.g. a cake knife pointing toward the confection.

Repetition: Place multiples of the same item or items of similar shape. Grouping in odd numbers is ideal.  

Symmetry and Asymmetry: There is beauty and balance in symmetry, but be careful it doesn’t look boring or manufactured. Asymmetry can evoke interest. Try using negative space as well, in practicing asymmetrical composition.

Layers: Photos are two dimensional. Introducing layers creates depth and texture. Layers can take the form of the backdrop, linens, plate, cooling rack, a sprig of mint atop a cupcake or a sprinkling of powdered sugar on a tart.

Shot of a cupcake with pink buttercream icing on a plate with a mint green
Cupcake from Bluegrass & Buttercream bakery. Photo courtesy of Project Bakeover

• Colour: Different hues evoke different emotions or impressions. Blue feels calm, orange feels warm, green feels fresh and brown feels earthy. There’s also established guidance for mixing colours in visually appealing ways such as complementary, monochromatic and analogous combinations. Complementary tones sit opposite on the colour wheel i.e. pink cupcake set on a green surface. Monochromatic combos use hues, tints and shades of the same colour i.e. red strawberries on pink frosting. Analogous combo involves three adjacent colours i.e. red, orange and yellow heirloom tomato slices arranged on a vegetable tart. Think about the impression you want your food to make and choose your colours intentionally for the props and elements in the frame.

• Props: Anything that helps your image tell a complete story is a prop. You may use glassware, napkins, plates, pinch bowls, baking tins, cake stands, cutlery, etc. to add interest by way of texture, shape and height. You can also use raw ingredients from the recipe as a prop to convey freshness, such as juicy berries, vibrant herbs, a dribble of maple syrup or a dusting of flour on the table. Scatter bits of the food around it to hint at its texture, such as streusel crumbs or bits of chopped nuts. You can place utensils used in preparation, serving or enjoyment of the food to make the viewer feel part of the experience, such as a used whisk or spoon shattered through the sugary crust of a crème brulée tart. Be sure the prop makes sense and relates to the hero food.

Capture Food At Its Freshest

With some exception, many baked goods look their best when freshly prepared. Think about the shine of chocolate chips on a just-baked cookie, the glisten of freshly dripped glaze on a cake or gooey cheese on a hot pizza. These details make them inherently more drool-worthy! This means you should prepare as much of your set up as possible before the food is ready. Pull the table next to the window, set up any surfaces or backdrops, grab all the props you might need, fire up your playlist, and if you’re using one, have the tripod set up with the camera. Arrange props (sans the hero food) in a way you think will look good, and once the hero food hits the scene, ideally you only need to make a few final adjustments before you click away.

Beautiful shot of various pastries
Photo courtesy of Sonia Wong

Editing Magic

Brightness, colour saturation, white balance, contrast, shadows: these are some of the basic adjustments you can tweak in editing software to create a more professional and polished result. You don’t need to be an expert photographer or to shell out big money for software. There are powerful mobile editing apps available, some free to download (Lightroom and Snapseed for example). Taking an excellent photo straight out of camera is always #goals, but that rarely happens. Image editing can save a photo or enhance an already strong one. That said, I caution the impulse to over-edit. It’s easy to get carried away and end up with harsh, fake-looking results, so use a gentle touch!

Tune into Project Bakeover Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. 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.

Carrot cake cinnamon rolls with icing

Two Popular Desserts Join Forces to Make the Ultimate Sweet Treat: Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls!

Carrot cake lovers, we’ve got you. These Baking Therapy carrot cake cinnamon rolls combine all the delicious flavours we love in a classic carrot cake: carrots, pecans, coconut (and don’t forget the cream cheese icing!) all rolled up to make the ultimate cinnamon roll. They’re made with bread flour — which gives it that pillowy, but chewy texture — but it can be easily swapped with all-purpose for a cakier treat. Make this any day of the week! You’ll thank us later.

Carrot cake cinnamon rolls with icing

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Rest Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 30 to 40 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Servings: 8 cinnamon rolls

Ingredients:

Cinnamon Rolls
1 cup milk
¼ cup granulated sugar, divided
2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
4 cups bread flour
¾ tsp salt
2 large eggs, beaten
6 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 cup grated carrots

Filling
¾ cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
6 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
½ cup chopped pecans
⅓ cup shredded coconut

Cream Cheese Icing
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
6 oz cream cheese, softened
1 ½ cup icing sugar
1 Tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch salt

Equipment:

Quarter Sheet Pan, Amazon, $34

Stand Mixer, Amazon, $400

Carrot cake cinnamon rolls ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. Start by making the cinnamon roll dough: warm the milk in the microwave or on the stove until warm to the touch. Stir in 1 Tbsp sugar and the active dry yeast. Cover loosely with kitchen towel and set aside for 5-10 minutes.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the hook attachment, combine flour, remaining sugar and salt. Add the proofed yeast mixture, beaten eggs and butter. Work the dough until it just begins to come together, about 5 minutes. Add the grated carrots and continue on medium speed for another 5-8 minutes until the dough is smooth and has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer to a large clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise and double in size, about 45 minutes.

Carrot cake cinnamon rolls dough

3. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a casserole dish or quarter sheet pan with melted butter and set aside.

4. Now for the filling: in a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger.

Related: The Ultimate Dessert Mashup: Caramel Apple Cheesecake Meets Chinese Fried Wontons

5. Put the dough on a lightly floured surface, lightly flour your rolling pin and roll out to about 1/8-inch thick rectangle, about 17 x 14 inches.

6. Brush the top of the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle evenly the filling mixture and sprinkle the pecans and coconut overtop. Leave about a 1 cm border to allow the dough to adhere to each other when rolled. Start with the longest edge nearest to you, tightly roll the dough away from you into a firm log. Pinch the seams together and set the log seam side down.

Carrot cake cinnamon roll dough before being rolled up

7. With a serrated knife trim off the ends and divide the dough into 8 pieces. Transfer the rolls to the prepared pan, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for another 15-20 minutes, until doubled in size.

Carrot cake cinnamon rolls before being baked in the oven

8. Bake for 30-38 minute until golden brown and bubbly.

9. For the cream cheese icing: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream both butter and cream cheese until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add the icing sugar, cream, vanilla and salt and beat for 1 minute on medium-high speed.

10. Spread the cream cheese icing over top while the rolls are still warm and enjoy!

Carrot cake cinnamon rolls

Like Sabrina’s carrot cake cinnamon rolls? Try her matcha and raspberry mochi doughnuts or her 7-ingredient Basque cheesecake.

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.

Vietnamese coffee creme brulee in white ramekins on countertop

This Easy Make-Ahead Vietnamese Coffee Creme Brulee is the Dessert You Need

Coffee + condensed milk + creme brulee — need we say more? This Baking Therapy dessert combines the sweet delicious flavours of Vietnamese coffee with the silky smooth creme brulee we all know and love. An easy make-ahead dessert you’ll make again and again!

Vietnamese coffee creme brulee in white ramekins on countertop

Vietnamese Coffee Creme Brulee

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Rest Time: 2 hours or overnight
Bake Time: 30 to 35 minutes
Total Rime: 2 hours, 55 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half
¼ cup dark roast coffee, coarsely ground
4 large egg yolks
1 (300 ml) can sweetened condensed milk
Pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup granulated sugar for tops

Vietnamese coffee creme brulee ingredients on kitchen countertop

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Place 6 (3 ½ oz) ramekins in a baking dish. Set aside.

2. In a heavy bottom saucepan on medium-high heat, heat the heavy cream, half-and-half and coarsely ground coffee. As soon as the mixture begins to simmer, remove from the heat. Steep for 15 minutes then strain through a fine sieve.

Vietnamese coffee creme brulee ingredients steeping in pot

3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and condensed milk until pale yellow in colour, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the salt and vanilla extract. Slowly add one ladle of the hot cream to the egg mixture, whisk to combine so the eggs don’t scramble. Continue adding and whisking until well incorporated. Pass through a fine sieve again to ensure a smooth mixture.

Related: Tropical Desserts That’ll Make You Forget It’s Still Winter

4. Ladle evenly into the 6 ramekins. Carefully fill the baking pan with about ½ inch of boiling water and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the edges are set, but the centre is still jiggly. Remove and let cool completely on a wire rack. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.

Vietnamese coffee creme brulee on cooling rack

5. When ready to serve, working with one creme brulee at a time, sprinkle about 1 Tbsp of sugar over the top. Using a kitchen blowtorch, melt the sugar until it gets golden and bubbly. Let sit for 1 minute so that it hardens. Enjoy immediately!

Like Sabrina’s Vietnamese coffee creme brulee? Try her matcha and raspberry mochi doughnuts or her 7-ingredient Basque cheesecake.

Basque burnt cheesecake with raspberries on top

This 7-Ingredient Basque Burnt Cheesecake Recipe is Totally Foolproof

This Baking Therapy Basque burnt cheesecake is a no-fuss, foolproof dessert that requires only seven ingredients and is super easy to make. Yes, it’s intentionally burnt, which gives it a slightly bitter caramelized flavour that pairs perfectly with the creamy interior. The texture is lighter and less rich than traditional cheesecake, ensuring you can have more than a single slice in one sitting.

Basque burnt cheesecake with raspberries on top

Basque Burnt Cheesecake Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 50 to 60 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Servings: 10 to 12

Ingredients:

3 ½ cups (875 g) cream cheese, room temperature
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste
½ tsp salt
⅓ cup + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Equipment:

Round Springform Cake Tin, Amazon, $32.

Basque burnt cheesecake ingredients


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with 2 15×18-inch sheets of parchment paper, making sure the parchment comes up the sides all the way around the pan.

Related: Best Baking Recipes From Food Network Canada’s Sweet Treat Queen

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese until light and smooth, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium-low, stream in the granulated sugar. Cream until the sugar has dissolved, another 1-2 minutes. Scrape down the sides.

Basque burnt cheesecake batter

3. Increase the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, making sure it’s fully incorporated and scraping down the sides of the bowl before adding the next.

4. Reduce the speed to medium-low and stream in the heavy cream. Add the vanilla and salt and scrape down the sides of the bowl again. Mix until smooth and creamy, another 10-15 seconds. Remove from the mixer and sift in the flour over top. Use a spatula to fold in the flour until just combined.

Making Basque burnt cheesecake batter

5. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes until the top is deeply golden (resembling a burnt top), the cake has puffed up and the centre is still jiggly.

6. Let cool in the pan for 40 minutes then remove from the springform pan and let cool completely on a wire. Carefully peel off the parchment paper, cut into slices and enjoy!

Basque burnt cheesecake

Like Sabrina’s Basque burnt cheesecake? Try her matcha and raspberry mochi doughnuts or chocolate PB skillet cookie.

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.

Mochi doughnuts on wire cooling rack

These Vibrant Matcha and Raspberry Mochi Doughnuts Require Just 10 Ingredients

These Baking Therapy matcha and raspberry mochi doughnuts are fun, playful and super easy to make. They’re made with glutinous rice flour (also called sweet rice flour) which gives them their unique texture: crispy on the outside and soft and chewy inside. Dip them in your favourite glaze (matcha or raspberry!) or toss them in sugar.

Mochi doughnuts on wire cooling rack

Matcha and Raspberry Mochi Doughnuts

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Rest Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 to 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Servings: 8 doughnuts

Ingredients:

Doughnuts
2 cups glutinous rice flour
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 egg
½ cup + 2 Tbsp warm water
Vegetable oil for frying

Matcha Glaze
1 cup icing sugar
½ tsp matcha
2 Tbsp milk

Raspberry Glaze
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup icing sugar

Mochi doughnuts ingredients on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, whisk together glutinous rice flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Create a well in the centre and set aside.

2. Whisk the egg with the water and pour into the centre of the flour mixture. With a spatula, mix until a dough forms. Knead with your hands until the dough is soft and slightly tacky, about 5-8 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm area for 30 minutes.

Mochi doughnuts dough in glass bowl

3. In a heavy bottom saucepan, heat 4 inches of oil to about 375°F. Cut and lightly grease 4-inch x 4-inch parchment paper squares.

4. Transfer the dough to a clean surface. Divide into 8 portions, roughly 65 g each and roll into round balls. Further divide each ball into 8 more portions. Roll the dough into round balls.

Mochi doughnut dough cut into eight pieces

5. Arrange the 8 balls in a ring, resembling a doughnut, making sure the balls are touching each other. They will relax and fuse to one another. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Mochi doughnut dough, formed and ready to be fried

6. Using a spider or slotted spoon, carefully place the doughnuts and parchment paper into the hot oil. After about 20-30 seconds, the doughnut will rise, gently remove the parchment paper backing and continue to fry for 4-6 minutes per side until lightly golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Mochi doughnuts on wire cooling rack

7. For the matcha icing, whisk together the icing sugar, matcha and milk until desired consistency. For the raspberry icing, create a puree by cooking down the frozen raspberry over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve. Whisk together the icing sugar and 5-6 tsp of puree until desired consistency.

Related: Best Baking Recipes From Food Network Canada’s Sweet Treat Queen

8. Dip each doughnut into the icing and let set at room temperature.

Mochi doughnuts on wire cooling rack

Like Sabrina’s mochi doughnuts? Try her chocolate peanut butter skillet cookie or her baked Alaskas.

chocolate and PB skillet cookie in cast iron pan

Date Night at Home Isn’t Complete Without This Chocolate Peanut Butter Skillet Cookie

Imagine the perfect cookie. For me it would be crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside and loaded with chocolate. Then take it to the next level with salty, nutty peanut buttery goodness. Decadent chocolate + peanut butter make for the ultimate dream team in this delicious skillet cookie recipe. Don’t forget to top it with a scoop of ice cream! The perfect decadent dessert for a date night at home.

chocolate and PB skillet cookie in cast iron pan

Chocolate Peanut Butter Skillet Cookie

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 20 to 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 to 40 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¾ stick butter, room temperature
¼ cup smooth peanut butter
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp espresso powder
1 tsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or chunks
Flaky sea salt

Equipment:

6 ½ Inch Logic Pre-Seasoned Skillet, Amazon, $23.

chocolate and PB skillet cookie ingredients on kitchen countertop

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar for about 2 minutes. Add the egg and cream until light and airy, about 3-5 minutes. Dissolve the espresso powder with water and add to the stand mixer, along with the vanilla extract.

Related: Our Most Popular Cookie Recipes of All Time

4. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and mix just until the dough comes together. Fold in the chopped chocolate.

chocolate and PB skillet cookie dough

5. Divide the cookie dough amongst two 6.5-inch cast iron skillets or one 10-inch skillet. Sprinkle flaky sea salt on top of the dough. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the edges are golden. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

chocolate and PB skillet cookie in cast iron pan

Like Sabrina’s cast iron cookie recipe? Try her 8-ingredient warm salted caramel lava cakes or caramel apple cheesecake fried wontons.

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.

Two glasses with healthier banana pudding

This Healthier Banana Pudding is the Perfect Make-Ahead Dessert

If you have bananas in your kitchen at this very moment, this recipe is for you. This healthier banana pudding is creamy, rich and delicious without being over sweet. It’s an easy dessert that layers in vanilla wafers (that soften to the perfect cake consistency), sweet bananas and vanilla pudding (which is naturally sweetened with just maple syrup). Seriously, make this now, so you can enjoy it later! And an added bonus? This recipe only requires eight simple ingredients.

Two cups of healthier banana pudding

Healthier Banana Pudding

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Rest Time: 4 hours or overnight
Total Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 ½ cups 2% milk
⅓ cup maple syrup
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 box vanilla wafer cookies
3 bananas, sliced

Healthier banana pudding ingredient on countertop

Directions:

1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together cornstarch, milk, maple syrup and egg yolks, breaking up any clumps. Heat over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract. Strain through a fine sieve, cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

White pot cooking pudding, with bananas next to it

2. Once the pudding has chilled, give it a good whisk to loosen the mix. Add in Greek yogurt and whisk to incorporate.

Related: These Banana Bread Recipes Will Provide All The Comfort You Need

3. At the bottom of a glass, break up a few vanilla wafers, next layer the sliced bananas and finally the vanilla pudding. Repeat the layering until the glass is full. Place back in the fridge for another 2 hours or overnight. The wafers will soften and become cake-like. Enjoy!

One cup of healthier banana pudding

Like Sabrina’s healthier banana pudding? Try her 8-ingredient warm salted caramel lava cakes or her healthy apple oatmeal cookies.

Sweet potato blondies on kitchen counter

These Comforting Sweet Potato Blondies Will Defeat Your Winter Blues

Traditional blondies get a comforting, cold-weather twist with the addition of sweet potato.  These Can You Vegan It? fudgy squares can easily be made vegan-friendly by swapping in a few simple ingredients. And the addition of chopped pecans kick things up a notch, adding a nice crunch and a decadent touch. Feel free to sub in different nuts, toffee bits or anything else you might be craving. Tip: serve warm to keep you toasty during blustery winter nights.

Sweet potato blondies

Sweet Potato Blondies

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 75 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients:

Blondie Base
⅔ cup unsalted butter (or vegan butter)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg (or vegan egg substitute)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
1 cup of pecans (optional)

Sweet Potato Top
1 small sweet potato
3 Tbsp condensed milk (or vegan condensed milk)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ cup chopped pecans (optional)

Sweet potato blondies ingredients on table

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and bake the small sweet potato for 40 minutes. To save time, you can peel and cut the sweet potato into large even pieces, then boil until soft. It will cook faster when boiled, but I suggest baking it instead to maintain all the delicious flavour.

2. As the sweet potato bakes, prepare the batter by browning the butter first. Add the butter to a pot on low-heat. As the butter begins to melt, stir and slowly raise to medium heat. Be careful when you increase the heat, as it’s very easy to burn butter. If possible, use a light-coloured pot so you can see the butter clearly as it begins to brown. Stir continuously — and once the butter has reached a golden brown colour, remove and sift into a large bowl.

Related: Comforting Desserts to Battle Bitter, Cold Winters

3. Once the butter has cooled to room temperature, add the light brown sugar and combine. Then add the egg and stir in the vanilla.

4. Add the dry ingredients (flour, salt and baking powder) to the mix and combine well. Be careful not to over mix. Then fold in the chopped pecans and pour the batter into a buttered baking dish. Set aside.

Sweet potato blondie batter

5. Once the sweet potato is soft and fully baked, remove it from the oven and turn down the heat to 350°F (to bake the blondies). Let the sweet potato cool, then remove its skin and mash it up in a large bowl. Next, add the condensed milk, pumpkin pie spice and pecans. Mix until all ingredients are evenly combined.

6. Pour the sweet potato mixture on top of the blondie batter in the baking dish. Spread it on top as an even layer. Add a few more crushed pecans to top it off.  Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm.

Like Eden’s sweet potato blondies? Try her vegan sloppy Joe sliders or her cardamom teff apple muffins.

Published January 9, 2019, Updated January 2, 2021

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