Tag Archives: dessert recipes

These Pumpkin Pie Squares With Candied Pecans is the Fall Dessert You’ve Been Craving

It’s fall! Which means, it’s time to celebrate with a pumpkin dessert. Pumpkin bars, cookies and loaves are among my favourite, but you can’t forget the most important of all — pumpkin pie. These Baking Therapy pumpkin pie bars have a rich and smooth filling blended with warming spices like cinnamon, ginger and clove, as well as a gingery cookie crust. Serve with fresh whipped cream and spiced candied pecans for a little crunch. Once you try these babies, I promise you’ll be hooked!

Pumpkin Pie Squares With Spiced Candied Pecans

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 90 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes
Servings: 12 to 16 squares

Ingredients:

Crust
1 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
1 ⅓ cup (9 full sheets) graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup brown sugar
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
7 Tbsp butter, melted

Filling
⅔ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 can (300 ml) sweetened condensed milk
3 ⅓ cup (796 ml can) pumpkin puree
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt

Pecans
½ egg white
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups whole pecans

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line and grease a 9-inch square pan.

2. Start making the crust. Pulse the gingersnap cookies and graham crackers into a fine crumb in a food processor or use a resealable plastic bag and crush with rolling pin. Add to a bowl with brown sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Mix together until it resembles wet sand. Transfer to pan, press mixture down and bake for 10 minutes.

Related: Our Baking Expert Reveals 10 Baking Supplies You Can’t Live Without

3. While the crust is baking, whip up the filling. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs and egg yolks. Add the condensed milk, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla and salt. Whisk until fully combined.

4. Pour the filling over the crust and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, then lower the oven to 325°F and bake for another 30 minutes. The centre should be firm and the sides will start to pull away from the pan. Let cool completely in pan.

5. Whisk together egg white,  sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and vanilla. Toss in the pecans. Bake at 300°F for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

6. Slice into 12 or 16 squares and serve with fresh whipped cream and candied pecans for crunch.

Like Sabrina’s baking? Check out her ginger molasses cookies and the best ever sticky toffee pudding.

Irresistible Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream and Smoked Salt

The combination of chocolate and peanut butter will forever be a classic, but the addition of smoked salt takes these cupcakes to a new level. A childhood favourite, reinvented. The cupcakes feature a peanut butter base with a rich chocolate buttercream piped mile high. To find the flaked smoked salt, visit the spices section in your grocery store. Biting into one of these decadent beauties just might become the sweetest part of your week.

Related: 25 Sinful Chocolate Desserts That Are Worth the Indulgence

Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream and Smoked Salt

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Bake Time:
20 minutes
Total Time:
45 minutes
Serves: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cake Batter 
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
⅓ cup natural peanut butter, smooth
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp fine salt
¾ cup whole milk

Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar, or to taste
½ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
¼ tsp fine salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ cup whipping cream, cold
Smoked flaked salt, for sprinkling

Related: The Only Oatmeal Cookie Recipes You Need in Your Life

Directions:

Cake Batter
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 12 tin cupcake tray with liners.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, peanut butter and sugar.

3. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until well combined.

4. Sift in the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

5. Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly add the milk. Turn mixture to medium speed and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

6. Using a large ice cream scoop, evenly divide mixture among the prepared cupcake tray.

7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops bounce back to touch. Let cool completely before frosting.

Related: How to Melt and Temper Chocolate for Perfect Candy Making

Frosting
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla. Beat until well combined, about 2 minutes.

2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the whipping cream. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

3. Transfer frosting to a large piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe cupcake as desired and finish with a sprinkle of salt. These are best enjoyed within 24 hours!

For more cakey, frosting goodness try Molly Yeh’s Carrot Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting or Anna Olson’s Very Best Cupcake Recipes.

This Tangy Baked Lemon Tart is The Tastiest Way to Ring in Spring

I say, when life gives you lemons, use ’em! I’ve always loved lemons and gravitate to all lemon-flavoured treats, from lemon meringue pie to lemon bars. My love for lemons continues with this semi-sweet tart that is nothing short of delicious. With its bright yellow filling, it’s also a statement piece, making it the perfect dessert to serve at an Easter meal or any other special occasion. You can eat it on its own, but it also pairs nicely with fresh raspberries and a dollop of whipped cream.

Related: Our Very Best Lemon Desserts to Make This Spring

Baked Lemon Tart Recipe

Serves 8

Ingredients:

Crust
1½ cups (375 ml) all-purpose flour
⅓ cup (75 ml) icing sugar
½ cup (125 ml) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
½ tsp (2 ml) kosher salt
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp (30 ml) whipping (35%) cream

Filling
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
¾ cup (175 ml) whipping (35%) cream
½ cup (125 ml) granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
½ cup (125 ml) fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons

Directions: 

1. To make the crust, add the flour, icing sugar, butter and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles sand.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and cream. Add to the bowl of the food processor and pulse until the dough just comes together.

3. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and shape it into a disc. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Related: 5 Gorgeous Pastel Cakes to Make Your Spring Table Shine

4. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper until it is about 1/16 inch (2 mm) thick. Place it in a 10-inch (25 cm) tart tin with a removable bottom, pressing it into the bottom and fluted edges. Using a paring knife, remove any dough that sticks out of the tin. Place the tin on a baking sheet and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

6. Crumple up a piece of parchment paper to eliminate any sharp edges that would dig into the dough and line the tart with it. Put either baking weights or dried beans on the parchment paper and blind bake the crust for 15 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and weights or beans and return the crust to the oven to bake for an additional 10 minutes, until golden. Remove the crust from the oven and reduce the temperature to 300°F (150°C).

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Best Spring Recipes For Every Meal

7. To make the filling, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, cream, granulated sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the mixture into a large glass measuring cup with a spout.

8. Place the tart tin back in the oven on the middle rack. Slide the rack out halfway and slowly pour the filling into the tart shell. Gently slide the rack back in. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the centre is almost set (it should still move a bit when you gently shake the pan). It will continue to set once you remove it from the oven. Let cool completely, then cover the tart with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours before serving. Store in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Related: Delightful Easter Desserts That Make Spring Even Sweeter

Excerpted from Gather at Home by Monika Hibbs. Copyright © 2020 by Monika Hibbs. Published by Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

For more creations from Monika Hibbs,  you’ll love these DIY beeswax-covered food wraps (they’re so simple to make!).

Your New Favourite Shortbread: Petits-Beurre (French Butter Cookies)

If you’ve travelled in France, you might be familiar with the ubiquitous Petit-beurre cookie. It has been around since 1886, when it was invented by Louis-Lefèvre Utile in Nantes. The cookies are still imprinted with his initials (LU) and are the best-known product of all the Lefèvre Utile range. This recipe is the closest I can get to my store-bought favourites.

Butter Cookies (Petits-Beurre)

Active Time: 45 minutes
Chilling Time: 1-3 hours
Bake Time: 11- 13 minutes
Servings: 50 cookies (approx.)

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups (225 g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp fine sea salt
½ cup (113 g) cold salted butter, cut into small cubes
¼ cup (60 mL) heavy (35%) cream

Read: 20 Delicious French-Canadian Dishes to Make at Home

Directions:

1. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse a few times to combine.

2. Add the cubed butter and pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

3. Add the cream and continue to pulse until the dough comes together. The dough will be fairly soft.

4. Gather the dough into a ball, divide in half and form each half into a disk. If you don’t want to use it immediately, you can wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days. Roll each disk between two sheets of parchment paper until it’s 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. Keeping the dough flat and between the two sheets of parchment, place it in the fridge for 1 to 3 hours.

Read: These Classic French Dishes Are the Definition of Comfort Food

5. Preheat the oven to 350˚F (175˚C). Line two large baking trays with parchment paper. Remove one of the rolled-out pieces of dough from the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

6. Cut out cookies using a rectangular cookie cutter that measures 2 1/2 x 2 inches (6 x 5 cm). Place the cookies on the parchment-lined baking trays. They will not spread, so you can place them fairly close together—just make sure they are not touching.

7. Repeat with the second sheet of dough.

8. Place one tray in the top third of the oven and the other in the bottom third of the oven, and bake for 11 to 13 minutes, switching the trays from the top to bottom rack and turning them from front to back halfway through the bake, until the cookies are golden around the edges but still pale in the centre.

9. Remove the cookies from the oven and, using an offset spatula, immediately place them on wire racks and allow to cool completely. You can store these in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

For more irresistible baked goods, check out these 20 make-ahead options for your holiday bash, Anna Olson’s very best cookie recipes, or our most popular cookies of all-time.

Excerpted from In the French Kitchen with Kids by Mardi Michels. Copyright © 2018 Mardi Michels. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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

Stacked anywhere from four to 14 cookies high, these Christmas Gingerbread Trees are festive and fun. Their 3D shape allows them to stand tall on any dessert table, or could be used to decorate individual place settings at your holiday feast. Much quicker and way less complicated that assembling an entire gingerbread house, these cookie trees come together rather easily during this busy time of year. Featuring homemade gingerbread cookies, the festive treats taste just as good as they look, too!

Gingerbread Christmas Cookie Trees

Bake Time: 8 to 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 2 dozen, 4 to 5 cookies per tree (depending on size)

Ingredients:

Gingerbread Cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cloves
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1 to 2 Tbsp water

Royal Icing
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ Tbsp meringue powder
3 Tbsp water, plus more to thin
1/2 Tbsp light corn syrup
¼ tsp vanilla extract or lemon juice (optional)

Directions:

Gingerbread Cookies
1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and all of the spices together. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and brown sugar until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the corn syrup and molasses and mix until combined.

3. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in two additions. Mix until combined. If the dough seems dry, add in the water and mix until the dough comes together to form a ball.

4. Gather the dough and form into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

5. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature until it is soft enough to roll out (5 to 10 minutes). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or non-stick baking mats. Set aside.

6. Dust a clean work surface lightly with flour. Roll out the dough until about ¼-inch thick and cut out with various sizes of star cookies cutters.

7. Baked the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges turn slightly golden. Repeat with the remaining dough.

8. Completely cool the cookies on a wire rack before decorating.

Royal Icing

1. Place the confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Gently stir to combine. Add the water and mix on medium-low until combined. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and continue to mix until stiff peaks form, 5 to 8 minutes.

2. Add the corn syrup and vanilla or lemon (if using) and mix to combine. If the icing is still rather thick and clumps together, add more water (a teaspoon or two at a time), until the icing holds stiff peaks.

Assembly
1. Thin the royal icing with water until the desired consistency is reached (for piping, it should resemble the same consistency as toothpaste). Decorate the tops of the cookies, as desired.

2. While the icing is still wet, build the Christmas Gingerbread Trees by stacking the smaller stars on top of the larger stars. Use a dab of icing in-between cookies to secure as needed. Attach a small star to the tops of each tree.

For more holiday baking inspiration, these watercolour snowflake sugar cookies are here to dazzle, along with our top 100 holiday cookie and square recipes (bring on the sugar rush!).

How to Make Glistening Watercolour Snowflake Sugar Cookies

Are you ready for the holiday season? We sure are, and these watercolour snowflake sugar cookies are bringing the shine and shimmer for a dose of festive magic. Whether served at a cookie exchange or dessert buffet, the elegant treat’s marble-like icing and glistening edges are unique, while still being incredibly delicious. The best part? Just like a snowflake, each cookie design is quite literally one-of-a-kind. To simplify the recipe you can also skip the glitter; the watercolour effect is sufficiently stunning on its own.

Watercolour Snowflake Sugar Cookies

Bake Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 to 6 hours

Ingredients:

1 recipe sugar cookies – cut and baked into snowflakes
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 Tbsp meringue powder
6 Tbsp water, plus more to thin
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract or lemon juice (optional)
gel food colouring
sanding sugar, sprinkles, or sugar pearls (optional)


Directions:

Icing
1. Place the confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Gently stir to combine. Add the water and mix on medium-low until combined. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and continue to mix until stiff peaks form, 7 to 10 minutes.

2. Add the corn syrup and vanilla or lemon (if using) and mix to combine. If the icing is still rather thick and clumps together, add more water (a teaspoon or two at a time), until the icing holds stiff peaks. Use immediately, or cover by pressing a piece of plastic wrap directly to the surface of the icing.

Decorating
1. Split the icing in half. Place half in a mixing bowl and cover the remaining icing tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside.

2. Thin the icing in the mixing bowl with water, a tablespoon or two at a time. Mix the icing and water together until smooth and the icing becomes a consistency that is slightly thicker than honey. It should be fairly thin, but still thick enough to cling to the cookies. More water may be added as needed if the icing does not settle smoothly on the cookies.

3. Dip a toothpick (or the tip of a knife) into the gel food colouring, then swirl the colour on top of the thinned icing. You may mix multiple colours together, if desired.

4. Dip the entire top of a snowflake cookie into the surface of the icing. Give the cookie a small twist, then lift. Gently shake the cookie to allow some of the excess icing to fall back into the bowl. Turn the cookie right-side-up and place on a piece of parchment paper or wire cooling rack. Gently tap the bottom of the cookie to release any air bubbles and/or to help the icing settle. Allow the icing to completely dry, at least 4 hours.

5. Continue with the remaining cookies, adding more swirls of food colouring as needed. The more you dip and swirl, the more the colours will blend together.

6. To add the sprinkle border, thin reserved icing with water until it is the consistency of toothpaste. Place sanding sugar or sprinkles in a shallow bowl. Fill a piping bag (or a zip-top bag with the corner snipped off) with the icing and pipe around the edges of the dried watercolour cookies. Flip and dip the cookie upside down into the bowl of sprinkles. Gently press so that the sprinkles stick to the icing. Allow the cookies to dry right-side-up. Note that it is important for the watercolour icing to be completely dried first, or the sprinkles will stick to the surface of the cookie.

7. Once dried, store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week or so.

For more show-stopping holiday baking recipes, make these stunning stained glass sugar cookies or try your hand at these double-decker chocolate cherry snickerdoodles!

Make-Ahead Gory White Chocolate Truffles for Your Halloween Bash

Playfully gory, these adorable crafty treats are just a cake box away from impressing your Halloween enthusiasts, with just the right amount of fun and horror. Make these bite-sized desserts ahead and freeze them for up to one week. You have the choice of serving them cold with a crunchy coating, or at room temperature for a soft, cakey texture. That’s what we call frightful meets delightful!

Make-Ahead Gory White Chocolate Halloween Truffles

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour + 45 minutes (includes cooling, rolling, dipping, decorating and refrigeration times)
Servings: 48 cake pop truffles

Ingredients:

1 box yellow or white cake mix, prepared according to package directions in a 9-by-13-inch cake pan and cooled
3/4 cup prepared vanilla frosting (approx)
48 candied cherries (optional)
450g (16 oz) white chocolate, finely chopped
2 Tbsp coconut oil (optional)
1 tube red decorating gel
Red food colouring or paste (optional)
Mini royal icing decorative knives (optional)

Directions:

1. Divide the cake into six equal portions. Working with one portion, finely crumble cake into a large bowl (large bits will give you lumpy cake truffles). Repeat with remaining cake.

2. Add frosting and stir into cake using the back of a spoon until evenly combined. Don’t be tempted to add more frosting, it will be too soft to shape into balls.

3. Using a generous tablespoon for each, shape the cake batter into rounds and place on a baking sheet to give you 48 portions. Gently roll each to form balls. If using cherries, open the centre to add, then cover with cake, rolling to shape. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

4. Melt chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 25-30 seconds, stir in coconut oil (if using). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Working with a fork, dip each cake ball into chocolate, tapping fork on edge of bowl to remove excess; transfer to prepared pan. Repeat with remaining cake balls (refrigerating cake if softening and reheating chocolate if firming up to evenly coat). Refrigerate truffles until chocolate is hardened, about 15 minutes.

Tip: The melted white chocolate will coat and firm up without the addition of coconut oil, but will not be as solid.

5. For the bloody decoration, gently squeeze decorating gel on top of truffle and spread using toothpick. For a deeper red colour, stir decorating gel with red food colouring to desired tint and decorate using toothpick. If using royal icing knives, poke top of truffle with tip of paring knife and gently wedge in cleaver.

For more fang-tastic desserts, make these easy chocolate witches’ cauldron cupcakes and get inspired by these 50 killer Halloween party recipes.

This Sweet Honeycomb Cake Involves a Genius Decorating Technique

This un-bee-lievably cute cake is a total show-stopper, and is actually easy to execute, whether served at a birthday party, summer backyard bash (like afternoon tea!) or even a baby shower. The secret decorating tool this cake requires? Bubble wrap! It’s used to create the playful honeycomb decor that embellishes the dessert.

Melted yellow candy or coating chocolate is transferred to a sheet of bubble wrap to cool, creating a large sheet of chocolate with little pockets. Once the “honeycomb” has set, a hexagonal cookie cutter is used to punch out each honeycomb before adorning the cake. This technique can be applied to any cake of your choice, but it’s especially fitting for a tender lemon almond version with honey cream cheese frosting. Trust us when we say this darling dessert will be the buzz of any occasion.

Lemon Almond Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

Lemon Almond Cake
1 ½ cup granulated sugar
Zest of one lemon
¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 eggs, room temperature
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup almond flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¾ cup sour cream
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
12 Tbsp cream cheese, room temperature
¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4-5 cups confectioners sugar
¼ cup honey
1-2 Tbsp whole milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Honeycomb Candy Decor
1 cup yellow candy melts/coating chocolate
Oil-based food colouring (optional)
Bubble wrap

Directions:

Honeycomb Candy Decor
1. Melt candy melts as directed but instructions on packaging in a microwave-safe bowl.

2. While the melted candy melts are still warm, use a spatula or spoon to carefully spread a thick even layer of the candy onto the textured side of the bubble wrap.

3. Let candy layer harden before using a hexagonal cookie cutter to cut out the honeycomb pieces. Alternatively, you can break the honeycomb pieces into shards by hand.

Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
1. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. With the mixer on low, mix in the remaining ingredients until just combined. Beat on high until fluffy. Add more or less milk until desired consistency is reached.

Lemon Almond Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease three 6-inch cake pans.
2. In a medium sized bowl, rub together the lemon zest and sugar with your hands, until sugar becomes fragrant. Set aside.
3. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until mixture becomes light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and mix until well-combined.
4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together.

5. In large measuring cup, combine the sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla extract.
6. Add half the dry ingredients and half of the wet ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture. Mix together lightly. Add the remainder of the ingredients and mix until combined.
7. Bake the 3 separate cake layers for 33–35 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle of each comes out clean.
8. Allow cake layers to cool completely before assembling, frosting and decorating. Then slice, and serve!

Don’t let your cake baking skills stop there. Try your hand at this easy berry, lemon & tahini pound cake or master one of these 25 summer desserts from The Pioneer Woman.

Middle Eastern Halva Ice Cream Cake with a Waffle Cone Crust

Halva (halawa) is a bitter-sweet Middle Eastern tahini confection with the rich flavours of sesame seeds and vanilla, sometimes jazzed up with rose water, pistachios, almonds, melted chocolate and more. Its crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth texture makes it the ultimate addition to this sophisticated ice cream pie with a buttery waffle cone and oat crust.

The gently bitter notes of the halva, along with a few generous pinches of salt in the recipe’s crust and chocolate topping, balance this dessert’s sweetness for a sliceable ice cream cone that both adults and children will love.

Find halva in Middle Eastern grocery stores, in most international sections of large supermarkets or online.

Middle Eastern Halva and Chocolate Ice Cream Cone Cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Chill Time: 7 hours
Total Time: 7 hours 20 minutes
Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients:

Halva Ice Cream Filling
1.5L vanilla ice cream
400g (from a 454g pkg) halva, any flavour, roughly chopped, divided  

Waffle Cone Crust
1 (199g) box waffle cones (approx. 8 large cones)
½ cup rolled oats
½ unsalted butter, melted
¼ tsp fine-grain salt

Chocolate Shell
125g dark chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp coconut oil
⅛ tsp fine-grain salt

Directions:

Waffle Cone Crust
1. Remove ice cream from freezer and allow to soften slightly (not melt) while you prepare the crust.
2. Line an 8- or 9-inch springform pan with a round of parchment paper on the bottom.
3. Break up waffle cones into a food processor. Add oats and pulverize until finely ground. Add melted butter and salt and blend until combined.
4. Press waffle cone mixture into the prepared springform pan and freeze while you prepare the filling.

Halva Ice Cream Filling
1. Working quickly, in a stand-mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon, mix ice cream until soft enough (but not melted) to fold in two-thirds of the chopped halva.

2. Remove crust from the freezer and spread ice cream mixture on top, smoothing out. Transfer back to the freezer and freeze until firm, about 3 hours, before working on the chocolate topping.

Chocolate Shell and Serving
1. While making the chocolate shell, remove the ice cream cake from the freezer.
2. For the chocolate shell, in a small saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate, coconut oil and salt until liquefied.
3. When the springform pan has warmed enough to release, unhinge the pan and then place cake on a plate that you can fit in your freezer.
4. Working quickly, pour or drizzle over chocolate shell in a rustic pattern, allowing some of the chocolate to drip off the sides.

5. Before the chocolate sets, dot the top with the remaining one-third of the halva pieces.
6. Transfer to the freezer and freeze until very firm, about 4 hours. If not eating immediately, wrap frozen cake in foil to avoid freezer burn and store for up to 2 weeks.
7. To serve, slice cake using a very sharp chef’s knife and place on serving plates. Serve immediately.

Don’t stop there. We’ve rounded up 15 healthy Middle Eastern recipes you’ll make on repeat along with the top 10 Middle Eastern restaurants in Toronto right now.

5 Gorgeous Pastel Cakes That Will Make Your Spring Table Shine

It’s been a long, drawn-out winter. The upside? Spring’s arrival is all the more deserving of celebration! We’re paying tribute to perfect temperatures, fresh blooms and heaps of sunshine with five show-stopping pastel cakes from professional baker and food blogger Tessa Huff’s latest cookbook, Icing on the Cake. From her rainbow no-bake cheesecake to a blueberry galaxy cake, these eye-catching desserts promise to brighten spirits (and plates) everywhere.

1. Lavender Blackberry Cake

This stunning buttercream cake is the epitome of spring: not only does it feature a brilliant flower crown, the batter is subtly infused with lavender milk and simple syrup, which is complemented by thin layers of blackberry jam and tangy cream cheese frosting. While the flower wreath is completely optional, Tessa provides helpful step-by-step instructions in her book on how to pipe them to perfection. Get the cake recipe here!

2. Rainbow No-Bake Cheesecake

Rainbow No-Bake Cheesecake

The fact that this pastel-happy cake doesn’t require an oven is already a win. Even better is the cheesecake’s light, mousse-like texture and warm-weather flavours (think strawberry, mango and lime). Prepare it for Easter dessert, or simply make it on the weekend to welcome spring in style. Get the cake recipe here!

3. Blueberry Galaxy Cake

This isn’t your average galaxy cake. Instead of being coated in a shimmering mirror glaze (see here for instructions on this technique), this version features a delicate watercolour frosting that resembles a starry galaxy just the same. The cake is lemon poppy seed, iced with vanilla and blueberry buttercream. We love how Tessa adorned the berries with gold and silver luster dust before arranging on the cake. After all, creating a delicious and dazzling dessert is all in the details. Get the cake recipe here!

4. Blackberry Elderflower Vertical Cake

This vertically layered dessert turns traditional cake filling on its head (and looks mighty fine while doing so). The technique is also easier to achieve than you might think. The sugary secret? Cutting the cake lengthwise to create four long strips, then rolling one strip to create a spiral before wrapping the remaining strips around it. The vanilla sponge cake is also infused with an elderflower syrup, which perfectly complements the blackberry buttercream. Be sure to slice this dessert before serving to show off your baking acumen. Get the cake recipe here!

5. Orange Salted Honey Cake

While each of these spring-inspired cakes are almost too pretty to eat, the good news is they taste just as scrumptious as they look. This decadent butter cake combines citrus with salted honey for an unexpected, zesty flavour pairing that hits all the right notes. The ruffle petal piping technique is certainly worth a try, too! Bake this show-stopper for an upcoming baby shower, Mother’s Day brunch or as a DIY wedding cake. Your guests will be happy you did. Get the cake recipe here! 

Recipes excerpted from Icing on the Cake by Tessa Huff, reprinted by permission of Abrams Books. Photographs by Tessa Huff.

Carrot Cake and Cheesecake Combine Into One Glorious Dessert

Moist carrot cake topped with rich cream cheese icing is one of life’s sweetest delights. Cheesecake just happens to be another. Here, we’ve created a super fun and easy dessert recipe that combines the two classic cakes. Squares of creamy cheesecake atop tender, spiced carrot cake will have you reaching for another taste – because when you’re offered two desserts in one, second helpings are encouraged.

Carrot Cake Cheesecake Squares

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour (plus cooling time)
Servings: 16 squares

Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt, divided
4 eggs, divided, room temperature
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup canola oil
1 cup grated carrots
2 tsp vanilla, divided
2 bricks (250 g each) cream cheese, room temperature
⅔ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup sour cream, room temperature

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment so the paper comes up an inch above pan edges. Set aside.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, baking soda and ¼ tsp salt in a small bowl.
3. Whisk together two eggs and brown sugar in a large bowl. Add oil and whisk to combine. Stir in flour mixture until combined. Stir in carrots and 1 tsp vanilla. Spread mixture into prepared pan. Set aside.
4. Beat together cream cheese and granulated sugar in a large bowl with a hand mixer on high until well combined and fluffy, scraping down bowl occasionally. Add remaining eggs, one at a time, on low speed, scraping bowl between additions. Stir in sour cream along with remaining salt and vanilla.

5. Pour mixture gently over carrot mixture, spreading evenly to edges of pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the centre jiggles slightly when gently shaken.
6. Turn oven off and prop door ajar with a wooden spoon for 1 hour. 7. Remove pan to a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.
8. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Lift from pan by parchment edges and cut into squares to serve.
9. Tip: If you like your carrot cake with some crunch or tender sweetness, add a half cup of chopped walnuts or raisins with the carrots to add another dimension of taste and texture.

For more show-stopping dessert creations, learn to make this Spectacular Spring Carrot Cupcake Bouquet along with this Rhubarb Raspberry Cheesecake For Your Easter Table.

These Comforting Sweet Potato Blondies Will Defeat Your Winter Blues

Traditional blondies get a comforting, cold-weather twist with the addition of sweet potato.  The fudgy squares are made with a rich brown butter along with chopped pecans to 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’re craving. Tip: Serve warm to keep you toasty during blustery nights – because come winter, there’s simply nothing sweeter.

Sweet Potato Blondies

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

Ingredients:

Blondie Base:
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup of pecans (optional)

Sweet Potato Top:
1 small sweet potato
3 Tbsp condensed milk
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)

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. You’ll be able to smell the nutty and fragrant butter as it begins to brown. Stir continuously, and once the butter has reached a golden brown colour, remove and sift into a large bowl.
3. Once the butter has cooled to room temperature, add the light brown sugar and combine. Then add the large 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.
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, vanilla and pumpkin spice and mix until all ingredients are evenly combined.

6. Pour the sweet potato mixture on top of the blondie batter in the baking dish. Add a few more crushed pecans to top it off. The blondie batter is much thicker than the sweet potato mixture, so it will be difficult to swirl in. Instead, spread it on top as an even layer.
7. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. Cut into the squares and serve warm.

See here for 25 Comforting Desserts to Battle Cold Winters

Sugar and Spice is Everything Nice: How to Make Desserts With Fragrant Spices

You may be familiar with your spice cabinet when it comes to savoury cooking, making curries, soups, burgers and salads with a confident hand. But desserts, from classic cookies to show-stopping sweet centrepieces can also benefit tremendously from a smack of fragrant spices you may not have usually considered. It was Top Chef Canada’s competitors that inspired us, as they were put to the test in the fifth episode’s Quickfire Challenge, being asked to create desserts with an eyebrow-raising twist using blindly chosen herbs and spices from the McCormick spice rack. The winning dish – Jalapeño and Sriracha Beignets, Burnt Orange Jalapeño Ice Cream and Caramelized Banana with Bone Marrow Caramel – wowed judges, rousing us to perhaps be a bit more adventurous in our dessert making at home.


Matt’s Jalapeño and Sriracha Beignets, Burnt Orange Jalapeño Ice Cream and Caramelized Banana with Bone Marrow Caramel

Of course, it doesn’t have to be as extravagant as this winning Top Chef Canada creation to be just as delicious. Here’s how you can infuse your desserts with unexpected flavours when baking at home.

How to Add Spices to Desserts

Spices taste best when they’re bloomed or expressed by exposing them to fat, liquid, heat or a combination. If you’re making bread, dough or truffles, steep spices in milk to draw out their full potential. For cooked puddings, like rice pudding, add the spices halfway through the cooking time to infuse your recipe without overpowering it. For cookies, cakes and frostings add your spices when creaming or melting butter or oil instead of with the dry ingredients; you’ll get more bang for your buck and a richer, rounder spice flavour as the fat coaxes out the fragrant oils of the spices.

Add Heat to Your Sweets

Like this week’s Top Chef Canada Quickfire Challenge winner, dessert makers around the world frequently introduce a sizzling kick to desserts with dried hot peppers. Take Mexico, for instance: their chocolate desserts are often pepped up with chili, adding depth to ignite and excite the palate. A stunning example of this is shown in Helloflavour.ca’s recipe for Flourless Chocolate Chili Cake, combining cayenne, cocoa, sugar, eggs, and dark chocolate. It has just a touch of bite, but not too much that it’s overwhelming, and it’s easy to accomplish at home. Click here to get the Helloflavour.ca recipe.

The Dessert Spice Cabinet

You know vanilla bean, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, but there are other ways to spice up your sweets with flavours like star anise, thyme, and black pepper. What’s more, you can use the same black pepper or thyme in dinner as you do dessert, keeping things simple.


Valerie Bertinelli’s Black Pepper Walnut Biscotti

Black Pepper: Black pepper can elevate desserts, adding a gentle warmth and earthy quality to citrusy sweets. A Top Chef Canada competitor paired black peppercorns with sage, making a mango black pepper curd with sage candies, matching sweet and earthy flavours with aplomb. For something a bit more home cook friendly, try black pepper in crusts for lemon meringue pie and grapefruit curd tarts. Or, whip it into cookies, like this recipe from Valerie Bertinelli for Black Pepper Walnut Biscotti.


Valerie Bertinelli’s Mexican Hot Chocolate Layer Cake

Chipotle: For desserts with a real kick and exceptional fortitude, add smoky chipotle chili pepper powder. The spice is outstanding in dark chocolate desserts, like in this recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, but would also work in strawberry shortcake, grilled pineapple sundaes and tiramisu.


Giada De Laurentiis’s Parma-Style Carrot Cake

Fennel Seeds: Fennel seeds make appearances in many Italian and Indian desserts, offering a gentle and welcome anise tang that’s both naturally sweet and digestion promoting, especially after a large meal. This structurally impressive recipe from Giada De Laurentiis for Parma-Style Carrot Cake includes fennel seeds, pine nuts and mascarpone cheese for a comforting Italian dessert.

 


Anna Olson’s Chocolate Spice Cupcake with Chocolate Swirl

Five-Spice Powder: With warming notes of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel and Szechwan peppercorns, Chinese five-spice transitions seamlessly into the realm of desserts. Use it to imbue heavy cream when making truffles, switch up homemade masala chai, roast with rhubarb to top a pavlova or add it to cake batters for a stylish twist. This Chocolate Spice Cupcake with Chocolate “Swirl” Frosting recipe incorporates five-spice in a moist and tender cake base.


Ayesha Curry’s
Easy Saffron Crème Brûlée

Saffron: Impart earthy elegance to your desserts and make them jump off the plate with saffron. In Scandinavia, sweet St. Lucia buns are infused with saffron and dotted with dried fruit during the holidays. In Middle Eastern cuisine, saffron is added to rice pudding, custards, doughnuts, ice cream and cookies. Here, it’s given the French treatment in this 4-ingredient recipe for Easy Saffron Crème Brûlée, proving that crowd-wooing desserts don’t need to take all day.

Sponsored by McCormick. For more great dessert recipes go to helloflavour.ca.