Tag Archives: sweet

Cranberry bliss bars on cooling rack

Whip up Those Popular Coffee Shop Cranberry Bliss Bars in Less Than 1 Hour

You know those popular coffee shop cranberry bliss bars that come out every holiday season? Buttery shortbread dotted with dried cranberries, topped with a sweet cream cheese icing — and sometimes are just a little too sweet? Well, these Baking Therapy cranberry bars are inspired by those, but even better! This soft and buttery pistachio shortbread is topped with fresh, tart, in-season cranberries that are bursting with flavour. Finished with a sweet and addictive white chocolate, cream cheese icing. Need I say more?

Cranberry bliss bars on cooling rack

Cranberry Bliss Bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 35 to 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 to 55 minutes
Servings: 12 bars

Ingredients:

Shortbread
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup icing sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup crushed pistachios
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp lemon zest

Filling
2 cups fresh cranberries
½ cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract

Icing
⅓ cup (60g) white chocolate, chopped
¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
¾ cup icing sugar
3 Tbsp milk

Cranberry bliss bar ingredients on kitchen counter

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line and grease 9×9 square pan. Set aside.

2. First, whip up the shortbread. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, pistachios, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Beat on low until just combined, texture will be crumbly. Reserve 1 cup of mixture for the crumble, press remaining dough firmly into bottom of pan.

Cranberry bliss bars base

3. Now for the filling: in a medium bowl, toss together cranberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Evenly distribute the cranberries onto the cookie layer. Top with the reserved cookie dough and pack down firmly.

Cranberry bliss bars cranberry layer

4. Bake in oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is golden brown. Let cool completely in the pan before slicing.

Cranberry bliss bars cooling on rack

5. For the icing: place the chopped white chocolate or chips in a small bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals until melted, stirring often. Set aside to cool slightly.

Related: 12 Coffee and Hot Chocolate Recipes to Warm Your Belly This Fall

6. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, cream together the butter and cream cheese. Gradually add in the icing sugar and whisk on high to combine. Add the melted white chocolate and milk and whisk on high for another 30 seconds. Transfer to a piping bag and drizzle over top.

Piping bag icing top of cranberry bliss bars

Like Sabrina’s cranberry bliss bars? Try her sticky toffee pudding and pumpkin pie squares with candied pecans.

This Spooky S’mores Bars Recipe is the Perfect Halloween Treat

Whether you’re hosting a small get together or looking for a sweet activity to make with the kids, these Baking Therapy spooky s’mores bars are the perfect Halloween treat. They are sure to satisfy any sugar craving with the delicious layers of graham cracker cookie, crunchy meringue, rich chocolate and cute, but scary marshmallow ghosts. Have a boo-tiful and safe Halloween!

Sppoky s'mores bars on table

Spooky S’mores Bars

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Bake Time: 26-28 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 8 minutes
Servings: 12-16 bars

Ingredients:

Marshmallow Meringue
2 egg whites
½ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp vanilla extract

S’mores Bars
1 ½ sticks brown butter
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
¾ cup brown sugar
1 egg
½ cup milk chocolate chips
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp cocoa powder

Sppoky s'mores bars ingredients on table

Directions:

1. For the marshmallow meringue: in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the egg whites and sugar and place over a double boiler. Whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot to the touch, about 5-8 minutes.

2. Remove from heat, mix in the cream of tartar and vanilla. Place in stand mixer with the whisk attachment and whisk on high for 8-10 minutes until the mixture is light, glossy and the bottom of the bowl has cooled to room temperature. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Related: Celebrate Halloween at Home This Year With This Gourmet Miso Caramel Corn

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 9×9 square pan.

4. In a heavy bottom saucepan, melt the brown butter on medium-high. Cook the butter, swirling occasionally until it turns golden brown and nutty, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer the brown butter to a glass bowl and set aside to cool slightly.

5. Whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Related: 12 Dead-Easy Halloween Cocktails You Need to Try This Year

6. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, cream together the brown butter and brown sugar. Add the egg and whisk on medium-high for 5-10 minutes until light and airy. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Transfer half the dough to the pan and with your fingers press the dough firmly into the bottom.

Sppoky s'mores bars dough

7. Spread on half the marshmallow meringue, sprinkle with milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips. To the remaining dough, add cocoa powder and toss to mix. Layer the dough on top of the chocolate chips and pack it lightly into the pan.

Sppoky s'mores bars in process of being made

Sppoky s'mores bars chocolate layer

8. Bake for 26-28 minutes. Remove and let cool completely before removing from the pan.

9. Transfer the remaining marshmallow meringue to a piping bag with a round tip. Once the cookie bar has cooled, pipe on the ghosts. Pipe a ball shape for the head and pull out for the body, tapering off the end as you gradually decrease pressure. Melt a few chocolate chips and using a toothpick, draw on the eyes.

Sppoky s'mores bars marshmallow meringue being piped on bars

10. With a blow torch, lightly toast the meringue for a smoky campfire taste.

Sppoky s'mores bars on table

Like Sabrina’s spooky s’mores bars? Check out her ginger molasses cookiessticky toffee pudding and pumpkin pie squares with candied pecans.

You Can Make These Mixed Berry Galettes With Easy Pantry and Fridge Staples

Galettes were my introduction to the world of pastry and are still one of my favourite things to make. These single-crust pies are so easy that most kids can make them with very little supervision — and the fact that they are supposed to look rustic is a bonus for those who don’t feel confident making a pie crust. The possibilities for filling a fruit galette are endless, but I’ve chosen mixed berries because they bake up so well and are so pretty. Added bonus? You can bake these galettes with fridge and pantry staples you likely already have on hand: frozen berries are great and the pastry just uses a few items. Once you’ve made one galette, you’ll be hooked!

Mixed Berry Galettes

Prep Time: 50 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Servings: 8 galettes

Ingredients:

Pastry
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp fine sea salt
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp heavy (35%) cream

Filling
2 cups mixed berries (fresh or frozen) such as raspberries, blackberries and blueberries
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (not needed if you use frozen berries)
1 Tbsp lemon zest (1 lemon)

Assembly
1 large egg, lightly beaten for egg wash
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling

To Serve
Vanilla ice cream or Chantilly cream (optional)

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Most Popular Cake and Pie Recipes

Directions:

1. Whisk the flour, salt and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the cubed butter and using your fingertips, lightly rub the butter into the flour until it resembles large breadcrumbs with some pieces the size of small peas. You can also use a pastry blender for this job. Make a well in the middle of the flour mix and add the egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix the egg into the flour until they are completely combined.

2. Add the cream and mix until the dough is firm enough to form a ball when you press the mixture together with your fingers. It might be a little crumbly, but form the dough into a ball and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.

3. Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 3 days, in the fridge. You can also freeze the dough, tightly wrapped in plastic, for up to 3 months. Thaw it overnight in the fridge before you roll and bake.

Related: How to Make The Perfect Banana Bread Every Time (Plus Freezing Tips and a Recipe!)

4. Combine the berries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice (if using) and zest in a small bowl. Stir to coat the berries thoroughly and set aside.

Tip: If your berries are quite large, you can cut them in half. If you do that, you might not need as much of the lemon juice, since cut berries may give off more juice.

5. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.

6. Divide the pastry into eight pieces and roll each piece out to a rough circle about 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter. If necessary, trim the rolled-out shapes with a pizza cutter so they are more or less round. Place the circles of dough on the parchment-lined baking trays. They should not be touching.

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

7. Use a ¼ cup measure to divide the berry mixture evenly between the dough circles. Place the berries in the centre of the dough and use the bottom of the measuring cup to flatten them slightly. You should leave a border of about 1 ½ inches around the edge.

8. Working with one circle at a time, fold the uncovered edges of dough up and around the filling, working your way around the circle. You’ll end up with pleated edges that are a little rough and you might need to trim some uneven parts to ensure you don’t end up with a thick area of just crust.

9. Brush the edges of each galette with a little egg wash and sprinkle the pastry with sugar.

10. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the berries are cooked. Remove from the oven and place the galettes on wire racks to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or Chantilly cream.

This is an excellent entry-level dessert for novice bakers. Since the dough circles won’t be perfect and the berries will leak some juice out onto the baking  trays, they will all look a little mismatched, but they are meant to be “rustic” (this is what I call anything I make that doesn’t turn out perfectly!). Whenever I make these with my boys’ cooking club, nobody cares how they look — the boys think they are delicious and the parents are impressed their child made pastry from scratch!

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. Photographs Copyright © Kyla Zanardi.

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

Craving the perfect morning breakfast treat? These fluffy, chewy, golden brown Baking Therapy cinnamon buns, smothered in the most addictive brown butter cream cheese icing will surely do the trick. This is an overnight dough, which means you can make these tonight to enjoy tomorrow. What are you waiting for?

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls With Brown Butter Cream Cheese Icing

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Resting Time: 12 hours
Bake Time: 38 minutes
Total Time: 13 hours, 18 minutes
Servings: 8 cinnamon rolls

Ingredients:

Dough
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm milk
¼ cup white sugar, divided
3 ½ cup bread flour
¾ tsp kosher salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, beaten

Filling
¾ cup brown sugar
1 ½ Tbsp ground cinnamon
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Icing
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 ¼ cup icing sugar
Pinch kosher salt
1 Tbsp heavy cream
½ tsp vanilla extract

Related: No Fresh Fruit? Bake These Tasty Sweet Treats With Jam and Jelly

Directions:

Dough
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yeast, milk and 1 Tbsp of white sugar. Cover with a kitchen towel and let proof for 5-10 minutes until foamy.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the bread flour, remaining white sugar and salt.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the milk mixture and dry ingredients. On low, slowly stream in the butter and eggs. Once the dough starts to come together, switch to the dough attachment and knead on low for 10 minutes until soft and smooth. Form the dough into a round ball, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let proof overnight.

Filling
1. In a medium bowl, mix together the brown sugar and ground cinnamon. In another bowl, melt the butter and set aside to cool.

Assembly
1. Butter a 10-inch round pan or any pan of your choice and set aside.

2. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, lightly flour your rolling pin and roll out into a rectangle (about 17 x 14 inches).

3. Brush the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle generously with the brown sugar cinnamon mixture. Leave about a 1 cm border to allow the dough to adhere to each other when rolled.

4. Start with the longest edge nearest to you, tightly roll the dough away from you into a firm log. Pinch the seams together and set the log seam side down.

5. With a serrated knife or unflavoured dental floss, trim off the ends and cut the dough into 2-inch rolls — you should get about 7-8 rolls. Transfer the rolls to the greased pan, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for another 15-20 minutes, until they’ve doubled in size.

6. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake for 35-38 minute until golden brown and bubbly.

Related: Overnight French Toast, Plus More Easy Breakfast Casserole Recipes

Icing
1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and cook over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until it gets foamy and turns a beautiful golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set in the fridge to cool and slightly solidify.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the cream cheese and brown butter. Add the icing sugar, salt, heavy cream and vanilla and whip for 30 seconds until light and fluffy.

3. Spread the brown butter icing on the cinnamon buns as soon as it comes out of the oven. Serve warm.

Like Sabrina’s baking? Check out her easy recipe for soft rolls.

Watch out for Sabrina’s baking videos on the Food Network Canada Instagram account.


 

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Maple Cinnamon Rolls

There’s nothing better than waking up to the smell of fresh, warm cinnamon rolls on the weekend. Setting these homemade rolls apart from the rest is the addition of sweet maple flavour, making them an instant hit. Maple extract is added to the dough, along with pure maple syrup to the buttery glaze for a tasty Canadian twist. These buns get topped with the sticky maple glaze while still warm, infusing them with maple goodness from top to bottom.

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 20 minutes
Rising Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes plus rising time
Makes: 12 rolls

Ingredients:

Dough:
3/4 cup warm milk
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp + 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp maple extract
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 egg

Filling:
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Glaze:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup 35% cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup brown sugar

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Directions:

Dough:
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine warm milk, yeast and 1 tsp brown sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes until the mixture is frothy.
2. In a separate bowl combine flour, remaining sugar, salt and cinnamon. To the yeast mixture add the egg, butter and maple extract. Mix well to combine.
3. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture. Mix well until dough is smooth and pulls cleanly away from the bottom and sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes.
4. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave dough to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Filling:
1. While the dough is rising, make the filling. In a small bowl combine sugar, cinnamon, salt and melted butter.
2. After 1 hour, punch down dough. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into an 18 x 12-inch rectangle. Spread filling mixture evenly over dough.
3. With the long edge facing you, tightly roll up dough in jelly roll fashion. Cut roll crosswise into 12 equal sized pieces.
4. Place rolls in a lightly oiled 12-inch cast iron pan. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in size, 30 to 40 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove damp cloth and bake until golden brown and baked through, about 30-45 minutes.
6. In a small pot over medium heat combine all glaze ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, until glaze is sticky and thickened. Pour over warm rolls.

5 Tips on Becoming a Better Baker

Spring Baking Championship season two has only just begun, but we’ve already learned a lot from the contestants and judges. Here are some of the best baking lessons we’ve picked up so far:

Spring Baking Championship Host and Judges

1. Set creative limits.

Spring shortcakes are almost always garnished with fresh seasonal berries, but when our Spring Baking Championship contestants were tasked with creating their own, there was only one rule: no berries. The result was a medley of cool and creative cakes, from cardamom and honey biscuits with caramelized fig to cherry pistachio shortcake with micro basil to peach and mascarpone shortcake with Italian genoise. In fact, some of the most interesting creations we’ve seen on our Baking Championship series come from the limitations imposed by the show’s challenges. The next time you set out to bake a favourite recipe, set your own challenge: choosing an ingredient you must or mustn’t use, using a new tool, or styling your dish in a way you’ve never tried before.  You might be surprised by how much creative freedom comes from adding a constraint.

2. Be bold.

A sprinkle of black salt here, a sprig of micro basil there — our contestants prove that these bold touches aren’t just beautiful, they’re flavourful too. Think beyond the standard sweets in your pantry the next time you set out to bake a dessert. The baby greens in your garden could add spring colours to a cake, while the smoker can infuse fresh fruit and compotes with exotic depth. Unlike our contestants, you’ve got time to experiment, so work in small batches to avoid wasting ingredients while you discover which funky combinations you like best.

3. Remember: sometimes less is more.

In a single episode of Spring Baking Championship, two contestants managed to raise our judges’ ire by including too much almond extract in their cakes. Even the contestant that only used a few drops because, in her words, “It’s a very, very strong flavour,” got flak. Judge Lorraine Pascale says, “Almond extract should be in one thing only, and that is in the garbage because it’s just so overpowering.” Judges also criticized another contestant for using too much tequila in her margarita-inspired cake.

4. Seek novel tools.

Acetate strips, available in baking stores and online, can help form a perfect layer cake, a smoker gun infuses fruit with a hint of campfire, and a marble slab tempers chocolate, Belgian-style. These are just three of the cool tools our contestants used in their creations. Hit up your local cooking store and ask staff to bring out a tool you’ve never seen before — who knows what it will inspire you to create!

5. Budget your time.

Let’s be real: it’s fun watching contestants scramble to complete their creations on time, but it’s an absolute drag doing the same at home. Judges reward bold experiments — when they turn out — but we suggest testing out new ingredients and techniques well in advance of big events. The day of a party is not the time to try smoking cherries.

Catch new episodes of Spring Baking Championship Sundays at 9 E/P.

How to Make Mini French Crullers

When it comes to working with pastries and ratios and the basics of the science behind it all, I’m a newb. But the next day after committing to making no more doughnuts, I resigned myself to make a new batch using science-based recipes. So I went to my handy iPhone and looked at Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio App that I’ve used successfully before.

You need to try these delightfully fluffy French Crullers, based Ruhlman’s Pâte à Choux recipe. They were perfect, puffy little balls of deliciousness and they take no time at all. The app is great for all kinds of baking too, pies, cookies, muffins, etc. I can’t wait to see what else I can create using these amazing science-based ratios. Hurray for Science!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 30 balls

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Ingredients:

For the Crullers:
To make about 30 balls, you’ll need the following ratio (derived from Michael Ruhlman’s “Ratio” App):

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 cup eggs (4 large eggs)

You’ll also need about 1 Tbsp granulated sugar and 1/4 tsp fine sea salt for every 1 cup of water.

For the Glaze:
1 cup icing sugar
1 Tbsp honey
2 tsp whole milk

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Directions:

For the Glaze:
Stir all ingredients until smooth.

For the Crullers:
1. In a small saucepan, bring the water, butter, sugar and salt to a simmer over medium-high heat.
2. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until it turns into a thick paste and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the saucepan.
3. Remove from the heat and either transfer to a bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low for a minute or so to allow to cool slightly.
4. Add the first egg and beat on medium speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides and add the remaining eggs one at a time, stirring till each egg is incorporated.
5. When dough is glossy and smooth, spoon rounded teaspoonfuls into 360°F oil (in a deep fryer or at least 2-3 inches in a pot over medium-low heat).
6. Balls will float to the surface and turn themselves over. Allow to fry for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. (Do not remove too soon as undercooked crullers will deflate and be very sad.)
7. Dip or brush on glaze while still warm and enjoy!

Anna Olson

Anna Olson’s Top 10 Baking Questions Answered

From correct cooking times to over-whipped egg whites, culinary expert Anna Olson answers the most asked-about questions about baking.

Anna Olson

1. What size eggs do I use when baking?
Most baking recipes, if not stated outright, want you to bake using large eggs. What bakers like about large size eggs is that they have an easy standard measure by weight. A large egg is 2 oz – the yolk is an ounce and the white is an ounce.

2. Why do baking recipes call for unsalted butter?
Using unsalted butter means YOU are in charge of the salt, especially because salt requirements vary depending on the recipe and, when using salted butter, you really don’t know how much salt you are adding. Also unsalted butter is sweeter and fresher tasting.

3. Why do dessert recipes call for salt? Do I really need to add it?
Salt is used in baking for the same reason we use it in cooking: to season. Salt tempers sweetness and elevates other flavours, like chocolate, balancing the tastes on our palate. You can omit salt in baking without compromising the chemistry in baking, except for yeast doughs. Salt slows fermentation, which is a good thing, since it allows flavour and texture to develop gradually.

4. What’s the difference between Dutch process and regular cocoa powder?
Dutch process cocoa undergoes an alkalizing treatment that removes some of the acidity, resulting in a cocoa powder that has a rich, dark colour and deep chocolate flavour. The reason some recipes specify one or the other is because of how the cocoa interacts with the leaveners (baking powder/baking soda). If a recipe doesn’t specify, then you can presume it’s fine to use either type.

5. What’s the secret to a good meringue?
Egg whites whip to a fuller volume at room temperature, and the addition of acidity (a little lemon juice or vinegar) allows the proteins in meringue to stretch, again promoting a greater volume. And guess what? You don’t need to whip your egg whites on high speed. One speed slower buys you time, so you can reach that soft, medium or stiff peak perfectly with time to judge that you got it right (lift your beaters – a big curl = soft peak, a gentle curl = medium peaks, and upright = stiff peaks)

6. What can I do if I’ve over-whipped my egg whites? Can I still use them?
You don’t want to use over-whipped egg whites because they have been stretched to their biggest volume, so when they hit the heat of the oven they will expand further and the bubbles will burst, collapsing your cake, or if in a mousse, they will collapse under the weight of the ingredients.

But you don’t have to throw away your whites and start again. Give the over-whipped whites a good 15 minutes (about the time it takes to have a cup of tea….ahhh). In that time the meringue will start to collapse and a pool of liquid will form at the bottom. Now you can re-whip the whites on MEDIUM speed (even if you’ve added sugar) to the point you missed the first time around.

7. When I whip cream and then store it, it collapses after an hour. How can I prevent this?
To stabilize whipped cream, so that it doesn’t liquefy (and so you can use it on cakes and other desserts), stir in 1 Tbsp (15 ml) of instant skim milk powder into the liquid cream when you start to whip it. It won’t change the taste or texture, but will hold every swirl and swish in place.

8. When a recipe calls for couverture or baking chocolate, can I use chocolate chips?
Unfortunately not. Chocolate chips are meant to be stirred into cookies, brownies and cakes as the last step, and are manufactured so that they hold their “chip” shape. They are not meant to be melted and then folded into cake batters, mousses or frostings. Couverture or baking chocolate is designed just for that purpose. You can find baking squares in grocery stores, but if you have a chance to buy good quality chocolate (it will specify it’s percentage of cocoa on its label), do so.

9. I have a convection oven – should I bake using the convection fan?
The function of a convection fan is to move around hot air, so that things brown evenly. This is great when you are roasting a chicken or potatoes, but not always the case with baking.

Generally I prefer to bake with the fan off, for consistent results. If you want to run the fan for things like crisps, pies and cookies, turn the thermostat 15-25°F lower to compensate. For delicate recipes like cakes, cheesecakes and custards, I always bake with the fan off.

10. When I bake, sometimes my items take longer/less time than the recipe states. Why is that?
While baking is certainly seen as a precise area of the cooking world, baking times are a bit of a variable. Ovens themselves vary dramatically, and the size of your oven, how it heats and how well it holds the temperature can greatly impact a recipe. Small ovens lose heat quickly once the oven door has opened, and other ovens can have an erratic airflow when more than one pan or tray is baking. Even my oven has “hot spots” that I have come to know over time. If baking with a convection oven, set the temperature to about 25°F cooler than the called-for temperature.

I recommend keeping a thermometer inside your oven and monitor it. Setting the oven to 350°F does not always mean it stays or reaches 350°F (or it can go above). Any wide temperature fluctuations (25°F or more) can often be fixed by calling for a service person to calibrate it. If you find that your cakes sink in the middle on a regular basis, this could be a sign that your oven temperature is fluctuating as your cakes bake – this often can be fixed with a calibration.

Many recipes, mine included, call for a temperature range because of this variability of ovens. When baking cakes, do follow the timing guidelines but also use a tester inserted into the centre of the cake to check for doneness, use colour/browning as your guide with cookies and squares and use the “jiggle” test to check cheesecakes and custards (they should still jiggle in the centre when gently moved).

Watch all new episodes of Bake with Anna Olson Sundays at 12 E/P. Click here for full schedule.

10 Crowd-Pleasing Cupcake Shops from Coast to Coast

While the macaron craze is beginning to run its course, cupcakes are here to stay. Check out this roundup of sweet shops from coast to coast that are doing this nostalgic treat proud.

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Cake-ology 

Cake-ology (Winnipeg, MB)

Stroll into the Exchange District in downtown Winnipeg and follow the scent of freshly baked goods until your nose leads you to Cake-ology (you can’t miss the big cake jutting out from the building’s exterior either). Of course you’ll find a variety of cakes including “cakettes” (think stickless cake pop) and cookies. Like any good bake shop, they can customize too, so ask ahead and your flavour-combination wish is their command.

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Crave Cookies and Cupcakes

Crave Cookies and Cupcakes (Calgary, Edmonton, AB and Saskatoon, SK)

One of the original upscale cupcake shops in Canada, Crave just turned 10 years old earlier this year and has significantly updated their concept since it first opened. Now, instead of simply rows and rows of cupcakes, you’ll find all sorts of delicious treats like red velvet sugar cookies, amazing cakes (try the ice box cake right now — summer-approved!) and pies.

The Cupcake Conspiracy (Saskatoon, SK)

Saskatoon’s first gourmet cupcake shop keeps things concise but tasty with their offerings here, baking up a short list of sweets that include chocolate banana, vanilla and rum buttercream, vanilla and coconut, and more.

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The Cupcake Lounge 

The Cupcake Lounge (Ottawa, ON)

There’s a lot of eating and drinking to be done in the ByWard Market in the heart of Ottawa. But what about dessert? This sweet little cupcake shop offers the regular suspects, seven days a week as well as daily specials like ginger lemon on Thursdays, butterscotch bourbon on Saturdays and banana peanut butter on Sundays.

The Cupcake Shoppe (Toronto, ON)

This popular sweet spot was arguably the first upscale cupcake shop in the country (opened in 2003) and always aims to impress. As many cupcake options as there are colours in the rainbow, expect a vast selection of flavours from the popular carrot cake, to margarita and many more.

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Jenna Rae Cakes (Winnipeg, MB)

When you’re noted by Martha Stewart as a place that makes beautiful cakes and cupcakes, you know you’re in for a spike in business, which is exactly what happened to Jenna Rae’s shop in Winnipeg. People line up out the door to get their hands on the pretty baked goods inside.

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ManCakes via Inside Vancouver

ManCakes (Vancouver, BC)

This bake shop aims to turn dainty cupcakes into a manly three-bite dessert. Look beyond the “masculine” design of the shop and you’ll find some impressive out-of-the-box flavours including red wine and chocolate, whiskey lime — or perhaps the most intriguing, a buffalo wing-inspired cupcake with blue cheese cheesecake mousse, spicy buttercream and crispy chicken crumble.

Susie’s Shortbreads (Halifax, NS)

The name may be slightly misleading, but Susie dishes out an array of gourmet cupcakes in addition to her famous cookies. Bite into a dulce de leche or cookies and cream cupcake and pair it with a melt-in-your-mouth shortbread for a truly satisfying dessert.

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Thimblecakes (Ottawa, ON)

Don’t let the name fool you, Thimblecakes bakes up anything but tiny, bite-size cakes. Custom cakes and cupcakes can be ordered ahead, but pop in during the week to get a mix of cupcakes with flavours ranging from red velvet and chocolate chip cookie dough to salted caramel tiramisu.

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.

How to Make Mini Tiramisu

The perfect ending to any Italian meal, this single serving tiramisu recipe is rich and creamy with a kick of coffee flavour.

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients:
1 cup strong freshly brewed coffee or espresso
3 Tbsp coffee-flavoured liqueur (optional)
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 tub mascarpone cheese, softened
18 crisp ladyfinger cookies, coarsely chopped
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp chocolate shavings or cocoa powder

Directions:
1. Stir coffee with liqueur; set aside. Whisk egg whites with electric beaters on high until soft peaks form. Continue to beat, gradually adding in half the sugar, until stiff peaks form; set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks on high with the remaining sugar. Beat until mixture is pale yellow and tripled in volume. Reduce speed to medium and beat in the mascarpone until smooth. Beat in the 3 Tbsp of the coffee mixture and the vanilla until fully incorporated. Fold in the egg whites; set aside.
3. Divide half the chopped ladyfingers among 8 (4 oz) jars. Drizzle half the remaining coffee mixture among the jars. Then layer in half the mascarpone mixture. Repeat layers.
4. Garnish with chocolate shavings. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Notes: Garnish with fresh berries, if desired.

amanda riva Amanda Riva is the host of The Hot Plate, a free online cooking show dedicated to inspiring culinary confidence in new cooks. The Hot Plate also offers regular cooking tips and advice, how-tos, and information on seasonal ingredients. Amanda Riva is part of the Blog Network family.

Healthy Sweets to Satisfy Your Sugar Craving

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m forever doomed with the irresistible need for sugar as soon as 4 pm comes around. Figures of sugary sweets dance in my head and it’s almost impossible to concentrate on any task at hand, until I get my hands on a treat to satisfy that darn sweet tooth.

To help you fulfill your sugary needs without interfering with your healthy lifestyle, we’re sharing three of our favourite late afternoon snacks that are easy, inexpensive and totally delicious. With only four ingredients or less, these simple treats can be quickly prepped early in the morning before work and enjoyed as an end-of-day power boost.

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Cinnamon Sprinkled Apples and Cocoa Sprinkled Pears 

Ingredients (serves two):
1 apple
1 pear
2 lemon wedges
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp cocoa powder

Directions: 
1. Slice fruits in eights and if not eating right away, squeeze the juice from two lemon wedges on the slices to prevent browning.
2. When ready to eat, sprinkle cinnamon on apple slices, and cocoa on pear slices.

Maple Glazed Walnuts with Sea Salt 

Ingredients (serves two):
2/3 cup walnuts chopped in half
8 Tbsp 100% maple syrup
Pinch of sea salt

Directions:
1. Preheat pan on medium-high heat, and then add walnuts and maple syrup.
2. Cook for about 3 minutes until syrup is caramelized, and sprinkle with sea salt. Let cool.

Banana & Vanilla Cream Graham Cracker Pie 

Ingredients:
2 graham crackers split in fours
4 Tbsp vanilla Greek yogurt
1 banana, sliced
Pinch of flax seed powder

Directions:
Spread vanilla Greek yogurt onto graham crackers then top with banana slices and sprinkle on flax seed powder.

headshot Renée Reardin is a lifestyle writer and stylist living in Toronto. To learn more about her, visit www.reneereardin.com, and follow her on Twitter @reneereardin.