Tag Archives: Easter

These Banoffee Tartlets = Our New Favourite Spring Baking Project

Inspired by the classic banana and toffee-filled pie, these banoffee tartlets combine all of our favourite flavours into individual desserts. Plunge your spoon past the fluffy whipped cream and through the ripe bananas and chewy toffee before shattering the crisp yet buttery crust on the bottom. Each bite is full of brown sugary goodness and tons of fresh banana. We would never pass up a slice of the classic variation, but these single-serving individual tartlets get us all the more excited for spring baking at home.

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

How to Make Banoffee Tartlets


Bake Time:
25 to 30 minutes
Total Time: 90 minutes
Serves: 7 to 8

Ingredients:

Crust
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour (or equivalent all-purpose flour)
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
½ tsp salt
9 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold and diced
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp cold water

Toffee
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
Pinch salt

Assembly
4 ripe bananas
Sweetened whipped cream for topping (about 2 cups)

Related: The Most Brilliant Ways to Use Overripe Bananas

Directions:

Crust
1. Combine the flours, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and use a pastry cutter, a pair of forks, or your fingers to cut it into the flour mixture. The mixture should look sandy and the butter pieces the size of peas.

2. Stir together the egg yolk and water. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir to combine. The dough will be rather shaggy at first, but should stick together when given a tight squeeze.

Related: 50 Best Muffin Recipes That Will Make You Love Baking

3. Gently gather the dough and divide evenly into 7 or 8 portions (depending on the size of your tart pans).

4. Press each portion into sides and bottoms of the tart pans. Use the flat bottom of a small measuring cup to press in the corners and flatten out the bottoms until smooth. Trim the tops of the tart shells by running a paring knife around the top edge of the tart pans. Prick the bottoms of the tart shells with a fork and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, pre-heat then oven to 375°F. Once chilled, line the tart shells with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights (dry beans or uncooked rice will also do). Place the filled tart shells on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and carefully remove the parchment/foil and pie weights. Return the tart shells to the oven and continue to bake for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the edges start to brown and the bottoms are dry to the touch. Cool completely before filling.

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

Toffee
1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the brown sugar and cream. While whisking continuously, bring to a slow boil and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until the toffee coats the back of a spoon.

2. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt. Pour the toffee into a heat-safe container or glass jar, then chill in the refrigerator to cool and thicken slightly (don’t let the toffee completely set or it will be difficult to pour into the tart shells).

Related: Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream and Smoked Salt

Assembly
1. Once the tart shells and toffee have cooled, evenly distribute the toffee into the shells (leaving at least ¼ inch gap from the top). Slice the bananas into ¼ to ½ inch coins and place on top of the toffee filling. Top the banana slices with whipped cream.

2. Serve immediately.

3. Tart shells may be baked and cooled in advance. Leftover may be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days, but they are best consumed on the day of assembly.

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

For more inspiration, try our most popular cookie recipes of all time and crave-worthy carrot cake recipes.

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

Your carrot cake game will never be the same once you try Molly Yeh’s sensational spring recipe. The secret ingredient that sets this dessert apart from the other carrot cake recipes you’ve tried in the past? Cardamom-forward hawaij, a warm spice blend from Yemen that Molly adds to both the cake and the creamy frosting. The simple (read: genius!) rainbow carrot rosettes adorning the cake also lend a touch of whimsy. Don’t be surprised if your friends and family ask for a second slice… it really does, dare we say, take the cake as the recipe to bake this season.

Related: Carrot Cake Recipes in Every Form, From Cupcakes to Cookies

Molly Yeh’s Carrot Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Serves:
6-8

Ingredients:

Carrot Cake
Nonstick cooking spray, for the cake pans
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp hawaij (see Cook’s Note)
1 ½ cups neutral oil, such as canola
1 cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste or extract
2 cups shredded carrots
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

Spiced Frosting
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1 Tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp hawaij
Pinch of kosher salt
Rainbow carrots, peeled into ribbons with a peeler, to decorate
1 rosemary sprig, leaves picked, to decorate

Cook’s Note: Hawaij is a Yemeni warm spice blend that’s heavy on the cardamom and can be used to flavour baked goods, frosting or even sprinkled in coffee! You can make a substitute by mixing 1 Tbsp ground ginger, 1 Tbsp ground cardamom, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground cloves and 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon.

Related: Carrot Cake and Cheesecake Combine Into One Glorious Dessert

Directions:

Carrot Cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch cake pans with non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment. Set aside.

2. Combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda and hawaij in a large bowl. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Whisk in the vanilla.

Related: Bright and Beautiful Breakfasts to Get You Excited for Spring

3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, and mix until about 90 per cent incorporated. Add the carrots and sesame seeds, and mix to incorporate (by this time, all of the flour mixture should be incorporated as well).

4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans, and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Related: Simple Spring Dinners Ready in 30 Minutes or Less

Spiced Frosting
1. Add the butter and cream cheese to a large bowl. Mix with a hand mixer until smooth and combined. Add the powdered sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Then add the heavy cream, vanilla, hawaij and salt. Mix until combined and smooth.

2. Cover the cakes with frosting and stack. Use the carrot ribbons to roll into rose shapes and place on top of the cake. Decorate with the rosemary, and serve!

Looking for more standout dishes from the celebrated food blogger and Girl Meets Farm star? Start your day the Molly Yeh way with these breakfast 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!).

Anna Olson’s 10 Secrets to Mastering Meringue Make Lemon Pie That Much Better

The perfect meringue is a lofty, yet very attainable, goal for any baker. Achieving that crowning glory of pillowy softness inside and browned exterior is no easy task — but professional baker Anna Olson has you covered with a few tips and tricks to make sure your next meringue attempt doesn’t fall flat.

Let’s start by breaking down meringue by type. Depending on the stability required, meringue techniques can vary from a simple whip and serve to a more complicated cooked syrup version:


Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Lemon Meringue Cheesecake

Common Meringue

This is simply egg whites with granulated sugar, sometimes with cream of tartar or lemon juice added for stability. The whites are whipped to a medium peak, which Anna describes as “peaks with a curve, but not a full curl when the beaters are lifted”. This method is used for the pretty swirls you see atop lemon meringue or other pies, and is often browned once frosted.

Swiss Meringue 

A method that takes the simple meringue one step further by heating the egg whites and sugar over a water bath until gently warmed (for those reluctant to pull out a double boiler, a bowl placed over a pot of boiling water will also work). The warmed egg white mixture is then put into a mixer and whipped into a meringue, which sets as it cools. You’ll see this technique used for pavlovas, meringue cookies or anywhere you want a little more stability and firmness once baked.

Italian Meringue

This is the zenith of meringue firmness — Anna calls it “the magical combination of whipping hot sugar syrup into softly whipped egg whites.” By melting sugar (and sometimes honey) to a specific temperature, then whipping it with egg whites, this extra thick meringue can be used for marshmallows and other candy (Anna makes torrone, a type of Italian nougat candy with pistachios, almonds and citrus zest). You can also use this method for key lime pie, a cousin to the ubiquitous lemon meringue.


Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Key Lime Meringue Pie

Ready to get started? Here are Anna’s 10 secrets to achieving the perfect meringue for lemon pie.

1. Don’t Over-Whip

One of the hardest things for novice bakers (and even some pros) to judge is how much is too much when it comes to whipping egg whites. Over-whipped egg whites look kind of craggy, says Anna, and when you touch them, they start to collapse. You don’t want to bake with over-whipped eggs, because whatever you bake will fall once it hits the heat of the oven.

A quick fix? A little bit of time: let the eggs sit, and after about 10 minutes, the mixture will start separating. Even if you’ve added sugar, you can whip those egg whites on medium speed back to the point you missed the first time.

 2. Keep Thing Hot

When topping a pie, make sure your filling is hot when you’re ready to put on your meringue, says Anna. The reason you don’t want to put a layer of meringue on a cold filling is to prevent condensation — that layer of dew in between the lemon filling and the meringue. Keeping the filling hot when spreading on the meringue ensures a nice even layer without gaps or weeping (either from the pie or the cook).


Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Lemon Meringue Pie

3. Pretty Peaks

Want to get the same Instagram-worthy swirls and flourishes you see in the bakery window? In her recipe for lemon meringue pie (above), Anna recommends adding half the meringue and using a bamboo skewer or paring knife to swirl and secure it to the lemon curd. Then, dollop the remaining meringue onto the pie and use the back of your spatula to lift up the meringue and create spikes.

 4. Stir, Stir, Stir

If you’re making an Italian meringue, you’ll be standing by the stove for a bit: Anna advises that you stir the sugar mixture constantly when you’re bringing it up to the initial stage of 280°F to prevent it from boiling over. Between 280°F and 315°F (the final stage), you can take a break and ease off the stirring — the danger of an overflowing pot is past.

5. Safety First

To prevent spatters when putting hot sugar syrup into a mixer going at high speed, Anna has a safety tip: pour it down the side of the bowl — it will bypass the beaters entirely and go to the bottom without splashing a single drop. You’ll be able to tell when the mixture cools and thickens by the sound of the motor, and by touching the side of the bowl.


Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Lemon Meringue Squares

6. Connect the Dots

When smoothing your meringue over the pie filling, make sure it connects with the crust — that little connection kind of latches the meringue in place, says Anna. Use a spatula and even, long strokes to smooth the thick meringue onto the pie, making sure you don’t press too hard, deflating your meringue and, even worse, staining the pristine white fluffiness with flecks of filling.

 7. Perfect Piping

For pro-level piping to top mini lemon meringue pies, cupcakes, eclairs or even profiteroles, scoop your meringue into a piping bag (be sure to prep your fillings first). Anna’s technique involves piping evenly and in one concentric motion for round desserts, or using a slight back and forth wave for an eclair. Any mistakes can be scraped off for a second attempt — we won’t tell.

Get the recipes for Anna Olson’s Cheerful Lemon Meringue Desserts

 8. Time for the Torch

Although meringue will set on its own, those dramatic dark touches of colour can be added with a butane kitchen torch to brown the meringue. Don’t have a creme brûlée torch? Take a tip from Anna’s recipe for lemon berry meringue cake (below) and turn the desserts out onto a parchment-lined baking tray, pipe and then bake the meringues for two minutes in a 450°F oven.


Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Lemon Berry Meringue Cakes with Bumbleberry Sauce

 9. Cool it Down

Even if you’re tempted to dive right in, it’s very important that once you’ve baked your meringue, you let your pie cool completely before slicing into it. The reward for your patience? Pretty, even slices with distinct meringue and filling layers.

 10. Keep Things Fresh

Sadly, lemon meringue desserts aren’t meant for keeping. Anna advises making the pie the day you plan to serve it in order to show off your perfect meringue at its finest. Don’t worry — with a pie this good, you’ll have no problem indulging in seconds.

Fore more inspiring Anna Olson Dessert recipes, browse her 50+ Most Popular Easter Desserts, Top 20 Lemon Desserts and her Best-Ever Cake Recipes.

Guilt-Free Paleo Carrot Cupcakes with Cashew “Cream Cheese” Frosting

Eating cupcakes is an indulgent treat, but what if your cupcake could also provide your body with healthy fats, protein and beta-carotene? Our nutritious carrot cupcakes are far better for you than their traditional, white flour, sugar-laden cousins, meaning they can double as a snack or even breakfast. We skip the dairy-filled buttercream icing for a “pegan” alternative that blends up cashews, lemon juice and maple syrup for a rich and healthy frosting.

Paleo Carrot Cupcakes with Cashew “Cream Cheese” Frosting

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 9 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcake Batter:
1 ½ cups almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
3 eggs
⅓ cup maple syrup
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups grated carrot

Cashew “Cream Cheese” Frosting:
1 cup cashews, soaked for 2 hours or up to overnight
4 Tbsp unsweetened dairy-free milk
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt

Optional Toppings:
Cacao nibs
Coconut flakes
Lemon zest

Directions:
1. Mix together the dry ingredients (almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg). Ensure the baking soda is mixed in very well, otherwise it can turn the carrots green.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (eggs, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract).
3. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet, and then fold in the grated carrots.
4. Once everything is well combined, scoop ¼ cup of batter into a lined or oiled muffin tin, bake in a 350°F oven for 23-25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
5. As the cupcakes are baking or cooling, prepare the icing by blending all ingredients in a blender or food processor until a smooth and silky texture forms.
6. Once the cupcakes are cool, ice them using an offset spatula or spoon, or with a piping bag (you can make this out of a Ziploc bag).
7. Top with cacao nibs, coconut flakes or lemon zest, or leave them plain.

For more wholesome baked goods, browse these 60 Vegan Desserts Even Non-Vegans Will Love and 12 Healthy Muffin Recipes for Busy On-The-Go Mornings.

Conquer Brunch With This Make-Ahead Veggie Strata and Sourdough Bread

You can never go wrong when serving your guests a hearty, veggie-packed breakfast casserole topped with melted, gooey goat cheese. Stratas are usually reserved for birthdays, Mother’s Day or Easter brunches, simply because they easily feed a crowd and can be fully prepped ahead of time; so no fuss, no muss when entertaining guests. Make this the day before and pop it into the oven when it’s go-time. What makes this strata even more special is that it’s made with sourdough bread, an artisan-style loaf that is easy to digest and adds incredible texture and bite.

Make-Ahead Vegetable Strata With Sourdough Bread

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 5 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 zucchini, sliced into thin circles
1 ½ cups chopped kale or baby kale
1 ½ tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh thyme
½ tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper
6 eggs
1 ½ cups dairy-free milk
4 cups sourdough loaf cut into 1 inch cubes
4-6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:

1. Place a skillet on medium heat, coat the bottom with extra virgin olive oil and add the onions. Stir occasionally and allow them to cook for 3 minutes, then add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.
2. Add the cherry tomatoes and zucchini and let them cook for 5 minutes.
3. Add the kale, thyme, sea salt and pepper. Stir until the kale begins to wilt.
4. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and dairy-free milk.
5. In a large casserole dish (9×13), coat the bottom with a little olive oil, spread ½ the bread on the bottom, top with ½ of the veggies, then layer the rest of the bread and veggies on top.

6. Pour the egg and milk mixture over and crumble the goat cheese on top, nestling some pieces underneath the bread cubes.
7. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it. It can be left in the fridge for up to one day.
8. When you’re ready to bake, heat your oven to 350°F, place the uncovered strata in the oven for 45-50 minutes until it starts to bubble up and crisp.

This Make-Ahead Veggie Strata & Sourdough Bread

Still salivating? Here are 25 more crowd-pleasing brunch recipes and 15 sheet pan breakfast bakes that promise to please!

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.

Anna Olson’s Cheerful Lemon Meringue Easter Desserts

Easter marks the time of year when the sun begins to shine a little brighter and warmer, and when garden flowers slowly begin to emerge from the ground. Not only are welcome changes happening outside, but also inside kitchens, with home bakers turning to fresh, vibrant flavours, like zingy lemon, for desserts that offer a treat for both the palate and eyes. Resident pastry pro, Anna Olson showcases a few brilliant ways to bring those good outdoor vibes into the kitchen with her lemon meringue desserts.

Get creative with lemon meringue, and think beyond pie this Easter with Anna Olson’s desserts that delight.

 

Anna Olson uses a bright lemon curd to fill cupcakes, profiteroles and eclairs before giving them the burnished meringue flourish.  Here’s where you can easily find the recipes that Anna references in the above video:
To bake up a lemon-scented cupcake, try Anna’s recipe here.

Get Anna’s lemon curd recipe here.

To make eclairs and profiteroles, use Anna’s recipe here.

Lemon Curd Makes Easter Desserts Shine

Anna Olson’s lemon curd recipe can be used beyond the recipes she features in the video. For instance, for a lemon-lovers Easter dessert, double the citrus by infusing a pound cake with lemon zest, then top each slice with a spoonful of lemon curd and tumble of sliced strawberries. Or, use lemon curd to fill a springtime layer cake or stir into yogurt for an Easter brunch side dish. There are countless ways to get more lemon curd into your springtime sweets.

The Best Meringue for Lemon Desserts

For that must-have snowy white topping, Anna makes a Swiss meringue, which begins by whisking egg whites and sugar together over a water bath until warm. This differs slightly from the raw egg white French meringues many recipes call for. When the sugar is dissolved and the whites are foamy, the mixture is added to a stand mixer where it’s beaten until glossy, thick and cool.

You Can “Lemon Meringue” Any Dessert

Armed with a tangy lemon curd and fluffy meringue, you’re ready to add lemon meringue intrigue to your favourite treats.  Anna adds a bright lemon curd filling and cloudlike meringue topping to cupcakes, profiteroles (cream puffs) and éclairs. Anna’s recipe for Lemon Coconut Cupcakes is a naturally fitting cake base to use for the cupcakes.

For the choux paste, the same base is used for both the round profiteroles and elegantly long éclairs, allowing you to have two seemingly different, French patisserie-level desserts in one. For a failsafe choux paste recipe, try Anna’s Profiteroles and Éclairs, replacing the pastry cream filling with lemon curd, and the chocolate topping with meringue, as shown in the video.

How to Fill Éclairs, Profiteroles and Cupcakes

When filling the choux paste desserts, you’ll feel the lemon curd resist slightly, which is how you know when to stop piping. If you don’t have a pastry bag, try a zip-top bag with a corner snipped out.

The profiteroles and éclairs are naturally airy so you can fill them with the lemon curd right away, but you’ll have to take out a centre portion of the cupcakes before filling (save those scraps for cake pops). That small hole in each cupcake that holds the lemon curd filling is fully concealed when the meringue topper is in place for a very delicious surprise.

The Final Flourish 

With that zippy lemon filling hiding in the treats, it’s time to top with the meringue. If you don’t have a pastry bag for the topping, consider going rustic with the back of a spoon, creating a bit of textural interest on top.

Anna notes you can leave the meringues to set as is, but for that true lemon meringue pie appearance, she gently caramelizes the meringue using a kitchen torch. Along with looking great stylistically, torching adds a rich toasted marshmallow flavour to anchor the juicy lemon filling.

Once you have the hang of it, you’ll be lemon meringue-ing everything.

From chocolate cake to madeleines, explore more springtime sweet inspiration with these Delightful Easter Desserts.

Anna Olson’s Dainty Easter Egg Chocolate Covered Strawberries

This easy and unique dessert is an exciting take on chocolate covered strawberries and dazzles on your spring sweets table.  Anna shows us how to give the time-honoured treat an Easter spin for a play on chocolate eggs that’s fresher, juicier, and prettier, too. It’s the chocolate and strawberry combo we all know and love, presented in a brand new way. There’s not a tastier way to enjoy fruit this Easter.

 

Make Your White Chocolate Eggshell

Whole strawberries with their stems cut off are dipped in melted white chocolate, taking on the appearance of an eggshell and acting as a blank canvas for your Easter egg designs. If you like brown eggs, this would be a great place to melt down some unwrapped chocolate eggs to coat the strawberries in place of, or in addition to, the white chocolate. For ease of dipping, choose firmer strawberries, not overly ripe ones that may bleed or cause the chocolate to split.

Decorating Eggs with Royal Icing

Anna uses royal icing to decorate the white chocolate dipped strawberries. This is simply a mixture of water, icing sugar and meringue powder, and you can get Anna’s royal icing recipe here. The royal icing is neutral base can be tinted in any colour you wish; in this case, it’s delicate springtime pastels. To pipe, Anna uses a parchment cone, which is easy to make – she demonstrates the technique in this quick video.

Add Some Sparkle

The royal icing also acts like glue when soft for a shower of decorator’s sugar (more colour!). This adds texture and vibrancy to really make the chocolate dipped strawberry eggs pop. Head to your local bulk food store and see the Easter-inspired sparkles and sprinkles they have available.

Do-Over Your Design

Anna notes that if you’re not happy with your design, just wipe it off before the royal icing sets. You don’t even need to re-dip the strawberries. As long as the white chocolate is firm, you can remove any unsightly icing squiggles in a pinch.

Have an Egg Decorating Party

For an interactive Easter activity, dip a few pints of strawberries far enough ahead of time so that the white chocolate can set, about 4 hours at room temperature or about 30 minutes if you put them in the refrigerator. Then, lay out sprinkles, tinted royal icing and any other edible decorations at the table for kids to embellish their own eggs.

Double the Chocolate

Easter wouldn’t be the same without mountains of chocolate. So, if you’d like even more chocolate on your white chocolate dipped strawberry eggs, decorate with a contrasting dark chocolate or coloured white chocolate instead of royal icing. This imaginative recipe is versatile and adaptable to your favourite sweet drizzles.

Keep the chocolate and berries theme going this Easter with Anna Olson’s Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Torte, decorating the top with these chocolate dipped strawberry eggs for a real showstopper.

Anna Olson’s Pretty Birds’ Nest Meringues Sing of Spring

Pastry chef Anna Olson adds her whimsical touch to make a springtime or Easter treat that, as she says, “sings of the season.” Meringue nests hold a creamy vanilla buttercream, sweet coconut “grass” and colourful candy eggs. Kids and adults alike will love this treat, and every baker can put their own spin on it. What’s more, this fanciful birds’ nest dessert is easier than it looks, and Anna shows you how to pull it off flawlessly with the following video – and have fun in the process.

 

To assemble these spring-themed meringue birds’ nests,  you’ll need Anna’s simple white Birds’ Nests meringue recipe here.

You can use your favourite buttercream frosting recipe for the filling or try Anna’s vanilla buttercream frosting recipe here.

Meringue 101

For the nests, Anna turns to a French meringue, a straightforward mix of egg whites and sugar. Unlike Swiss meringue, a French meringue doesn’t have you warm or cook the egg whites and sugar together before using; the whites are kept raw, becoming cooked upon baking in a low oven. Be careful not to over-whip your egg whites, but if you do Anna shares her easy fix in this quick video.

No Pastry Bag? No Problem

If you don’t have a pastry bag, prepare the nests as you would a mini pavlova, using a spoon to create rounds and indentations where your filling will sit. There’s no wrong way to go about creating your masterpiece.

This Trick Keeps the Colour Pure Pink

To retain the pink colour (or your preferred pastel shade) in your meringue, a low and slow bake will help to achieve this. Other desserts, like pavlova, where you want to keep the appearance fair,  can also follow this method, with or without food colouring.

Avoid Browning the Meringue

A low oven also helps to avoid browning for a more polished look, creating a crisp exterior and airy interior to boot. After baking, those delicate egg whites have turned into a sturdy base, ready to be filled.

Have Fun with the Filling

rich vanilla cupcake buttercream is the ultimate compliment to those light-as-air nests. You can play around with the flavour of the buttercream, use a thick vanilla bean custard, or using Anna’s recipe for lemon curd mixed with whipped cream for the filling. And, not only does the filling taste great, it acts as “glue” for the decorative toppings to come.


If you’d like a more straightforward interpretation of this springtime treat, try Anna Olson’s elegantly pared down recipe for her meringue birds’ nests here.

Decorating the Birds’ Nests

Anna keeps with the playful feel of the meringue nests, creating green “grass” from shredded coconut and green food colouring. She uses liquid food colouring, not paste, which coats every strand of coconut more evenly to create a bagful of blades ready to decorate with.

Every Nest Needs Eggs

Egg shaped candies are the final touch. Alternatively, small foil-wrapped chocolate eggs will work as well, just be sure to unwrap them before eating. Or, if it’s already sweet enough for you at this point, consider topping your nests with blueberries (like robin’s eggs), raspberries or red currants.

We can’t think of a more fun, family-friendly way to serve up something sweet, special and just a little different this Easter.

After the chocolate egg hunt, serve up a scrumptious Easter Brunch with the help of these morning-making recipes.

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Rhubarb Raspberry Cheesecake Adds a Pop of Spring to Your Easter Table

After months of snow, rain, and grey skies, rhubarb bursts onto the scene with its beautiful colour and tart, refreshing flavour. As soon as we spot those ruby red stalks at the market, we know spring is finally here! A bit sweet, slightly tart and extremely vibrant, rhubarb brightens up all of our favourite desserts and pastries – and this cheesecake is no exception.

Against a canvas of creamy white cheesecake, this jewel-toned rhubarb raspberry coulis pops off the plate. A hint of lemon would pair wonderfully in the cheesecake filling, but we love pure vanilla bean to round out all of the tangy flavours of the rhubarb and raspberry. A classic graham cracker crust and sour cream topping keep the slices clean and elegant for a sweet spring or Easter celebration.

Rhubarb Raspberry Cheesecake

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Cooling Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes
Serves: 10 to 12

Ingredients:

Crust
1¾ cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup granulated sugar
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling
1½ lbs cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp sour cream, room temperature

Cheesecake Topping
1¼ cups sour cream
¼ cup granulated sugar

Rhubarb Raspberry Coulis
1½ cups sliced rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
½ cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
¼ cup granulated sugar, or to taste
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cornstarch

Directions:

Crust:
1. Preheat oven to 325ºF.
2. Add the crumbs to a mixing bowl along with the sugar. Add the melted butter and stir to combine.
3. Pour the crust mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Press the crust into an even layer on the bottom of the pan using your fingers tips or the bottom of a flat measuring cup or drinking glass.
4. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack as you prepare the filling.

Cheesecake Filling:
1. Increase the oven to 350ºF. Bring 4 to 6 cups of water to a boil (enough to halfway fill a large roasting pan) and set aside. Place a large roasting pan on the very bottom rack of your oven. Place a second rack just above the roasting pan.
2. Meanwhile, place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese on medium-low for 4 to 5 minutes, or until completely smooth. Stop and scrape down the bowl every couple of minutes.
3. Add the sugar, salt and vanilla bean seeds or extract into the cream cheese and mix for another 3 to 4 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. Mix for another 30 to 60 seconds to smooth out any lumps.
4. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time. Allow each egg to fully incorporate into the batter before add in the next. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
5. Add the sour cream. Mix on medium-low until the batter is creamy and uniform, about 2 minutes.
6. Pour the batter into the cooled crust. Smooth out the top as needed. Tap the bottom of the cake pan on top of the counter a few times to expel any trapped air bubbles. Wrap the sides of the pan in a double layer of aluminium foil.
7. Very carefully pour the recently boiled water into the roasting pan. Place the baking pan on the rack above the roasting pan and bake for 1 hour. When done, the sides should be puffed and set while the centre should jiggle when the pan is moved. If it is not ready, check again after an additional 10 minutes of baking. Once done, turn the oven off and prop the door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cake to cool inside the humid oven for about 45 minutes. Once cool, remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack.

Cheesecake Topping:
1. Turn the oven back on to 350ºF. As the oven heats back up, combine the sour cream and sugar for topping the cheesecake. Carefully spread the topping over the top of the cheesecake with a small offset spatula. Return the topped cheesecake back to the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
2. Turn off the oven and again prop open the door with a wooden spoon. Allow the cake to cool in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes before placing it on a wire rack. Let cool for an additional 30 minutes then place in the refrigerator. Drape a piece of parchment paper over the top of the cheesecake to prevent condensation from forming and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight (best).

Rhubarb Raspberry Coulis:
1. Place the rhubarb and raspberries in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and cook until the fruit begins to break down and juices begin to simmer about 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, dissolve the cornstarch in the lemon juice. Stir the lemon juice mixture into the rhubarb and cook for a few minutes. Remove the mixture from the stove and blend until smooth. Press the puree through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the raspberry seeds. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Assembly and Serving:
1. To release the cheesecake from the pan, carefully run a thin knife around the edges of the cake before unlocking the springform pan. Warm a metal spatula under hot water, dry, then run it around the edges of the cheesecake to smooth.
2. Slice cheesecake into wedges, cleaning your knife in between slices, and add to plates. Top with a generous drizzle of coulis and serve.

Explore another spectacular spring dessert couple with our best strawberry rhubarb recipes.

John Catucci’s Italian Easter Traditions

If you’ve ever been a guest at an Italian holiday or family celebration, you know Italians cook up the most delizioso feast. Easter is one of the great Italian feasts of the year,  where a spread of savoury meats, cheeses and salumi, a bounty of seasonal vegetables, and rich sweet desserts are devoured to celebrate this important spring holiday.

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You Gotta Eat Here! host John Catucci, whose family hails from southern Italy, told us that an antipasto platter called a Benedetto (John calls it a “pyramid of deliciousness”) is a big part of his family’s Easter feast. This traditional dish is made by layering slices of different savoury cured meats, creamy ricotta, oranges, lemons and hard boiled eggs. John’s family would make a special trip to buy the cured meats and other Easter ingredients at Diana Meat and Grocery, a traditional Italian grocer  in Toronto’s Corso Italia neighbourhood.

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Image credits (from left to right): michelaalicino.it; cucinasuditalia.blogspot.ca; cucchiarando.wordpress.com

A large platter of Italian meats and cheese sounds satisfying enough but that was just the beginning. The feast culminated with John’s dad’s roast lamb, the traditional choice for the Catucci family’s Easter feast. To make your own Easter roast lamb,  check out these great recipes from Food Network Canada chefs:

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For more great Easter ideas and recipes, visit our Easter Guide.

Watch new episodes of You Gotta Eat Here! with John Catucci Fridays at 9 ET/6 PT.

9 Best Brunch Buffets for Easter Weekend

As nice as a beautifully composed plate of food can be, sometimes it’s nice just to grab a plate and fill it up with whatever you want. By no means should buffets be an everyday sort of dining affair, but special occasions call for a little indulgence!

Once the Easter egg hunt is complete, here are nine places to go for an all-you-can-eat meal with anyone from that aunt who never stops pestering you to the little nephew you love so much.

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AURA waterfront restaurant + patio: Brunch Spread (left) and Waffles (right)

AURA waterfront restaurant + patio (Victoria, BC)

Even if you’re not staying in this beautiful hotel on the waterfront, it’s still worth grabbing a table in its restaurant, Aura, to enjoy a good breakfast with a view. Fresh juices, eggs, and vegetable and meat platters are just a few of the things you’ll find ready to be eaten. Opt for a mimosa (or two) as well, since that is just simply the thing to drink when you’re this close to the ocean!

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Craft Beer Market: Sunday Brunch 

Craft Beer Market (Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, BC)

With three locations in Western Canada, this beer-focused eatery can tend to get a little rowdy during the evenings, but their brunch hours are calm as can be and also family-friendly. On holidays like Easter, the gastropubs will put together a big buffet full of anything from prawns and charcuterie to an omelette station and as much chicken and waffles as your heart desires.

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Craft Beer Market: Sunday Brunch

Fairmont Palliser (Calgary, AB)

This historic hotel (over 101 years old!) has been serving extravagant weekend brunches for decades. Here, it’s appropriate to put on a dress shirt and tie and make sure your group is looking extra polished for a morning bite. It may not be the most contemporary space in the city, but there’s something so regal feeling when you’re in one of the Palliser’s historic dining rooms that money just can’t buy. Luckily, money can buy you access to an array of eggs bennys, pastries and more.

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Farmont Palliser: Cakes and Pastries

The Hot House Restaurant & Bar (Toronto, ON)

There’s never really a good strategy when tackling a big brunch spread, aside from starting out with the savoury and ending with the sweet. If you lean more to the savoury side of things, you can fill up on barbecue chicken, Thai beef salad and baked lasagna — hey, buffet offerings don’t have to always make sense! — among other things. If your sweet tooth is tingling, satisfy it with fruit scones, cinnamon buns and pain au chocolats.

Oak Bay Beach Hotel (Victoria, BC)

This local Victoria landmark tucked along the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean is a charming spot for family brunch. Distract any kids in tow with a grilled cheese sandwiches and the cookie-decorating table (just watch for excess icing intake), while you spend time perusing the locally-made cured meats, West Coast mussels and clams, and the ham-carving station. It says the cookie decorating is “for kids”, but I say crash that party anyway.

Old Mill Toronto (Toronto, ON)

Oddly enough, the Fairmont Palliser is not the only 101-years-old establishment serving brunch on this list. The Old Mill ties for the eldest Sunday buffet in Toronto. Expect to bask yourself in succulent roasted pork tenderloin, bacon, sausage, delicious cheeses, pasta, salads…you name it, you’ll likely find it here.

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Fairmont Palliser: Eggs Benny

Saskatoon Inn (Saskatoon, SK)

There aren’t many spots to go for brunch in Saskatoon generally, let alone a grandiose everything-is-on-the table sort of experience. So if you’re looking for a spot that can offer you anything from sliced fruit, muffins and salads all the way up to prime rib, this is your stop. If you don’t leave feeling full, then you haven’t done this buffet justice.

Yellow Door Bistro (Calgary, AB)

Holiday or not, the morning buffet at this restaurant inside Hotel Arts is always on the top of its game. You’ll find mini casserole dishes full of everything from mini pancakes to truffled grits with poached eggs or soft-scrambled eggs. Of course there’s muffins and sweets along the bar too, but don’t overlook the yogurt parfait. Made with compressed fruits and house-made granola, it’s leaps and bounds more delicious than any other yogurt and granola combination you’ll find elsewhere around town.

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Yellow Door Bistro: Brunch Setup (left) and Egg Hash (right)

YEW seafood + bar (Vancouver, BC)

Normally this busy restaurant inside of the Four Seasons Vancouver is all about sustainable seafood and coursed meals, but on special occasions such as Easter, YEW will create an array of plate-filling offerings. A raw bar with freshly shucked oysters and chilled seafood, roast leg of lamb, tuna tacos, mac ‘n cheese and mini apple doughnuts (for the kids, of course!) are just a sampling of all of the tasty things you can sink your teeth into here.

Dan-Clapson-Avatar Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.

Kid-Friendly Easter Menu

If you’re hosting a big Easter gathering for your friends and family, it’s important to keep in mind that any children at the table may not be too eager to experiment with what they put on their plates. Make sure to offer some fun, classic dishes that are sure to please the little ones on your table. Check out our suggestions below.

 

 

Starters and Sides

Apple Brown Rice

Potato Salmon Cakes

Grandma’s Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes

 

Mains

Creamy Macaroni Bake

Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Herbs

Bowtie Pasta with Roast Red Pepper Sauce and Baby Spinach

 

Desserts

Wow Waffles

French Toast Cups

Chocolate Easter Eggs