German chocolate brownies

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Did you know that German chocolate cake isn't actually German in origin? I didn't until I started researching the roots of the recipe. It's actually named for an American, Samuel German, who developed a new flavour of chocolate for Baker's Chocolate Company. German chocolate cake is now known as any chocolate cake that's topped with a creamy frosting studded with pecans and coconut.

This delectable variation uses brownies rather than cake, and tops it with the traditional frosting. I always seem to have a few ounces of unsweetened chocolate sitting in my cupboard, and this is a wonderful way to use it up. Make sure you don't overbake these brownies: a fudgy base is perfect for the sweet frosting that ties it all together.

German Chocolate Brownies
(adapted from My Baking Addiction)


For the brownies:
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

For the frosting:
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup half and half cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk, beaten
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

To make the brownies:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8" x 8" baking pan with parchment paper.

Melt unsweetened chocolate and 3/4 cup butter together over a double boiler. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Once chocolate mixture has cooled slightly, whisk in 1 cup sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt. Add flour and stir just until combined.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 30 - 35 minutes. Don't overbake - these brownies should be fudgy and slightly undercooked. Leave the oven on after you remove the brownies so you can toast the pecans and coconut.

Let brownies cool slightly before frosting.

To make the frosting:

Spread chopped pecans in a loaf pan, and spread coconut in a second loaf pan. Place in preheated oven, toasting the pecans for 8 - 10 minutes and the coconut for 5 - 10 minutes. You'll want to stir them every 2 - 3 minutes so they're evenly browned. (Alternatively, you could just use one loaf pan and toast the pecans and coconut back-to-back.) Remove each from the oven as they're golden brown and let cool.

In a large saucepan, combine half-and-half, 1/2 cup sugar, egg yolk and 4 Tbsp butter. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened (about 5 - 7 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, pecans and coconut. Spread on brownies while still warm.

Cheesy Bacon, Mushroom and Spinach Breakfast Strata

Sunday, October 23, 2016
The days are getting cooler and shorter now, and I'm starting to think about comfort food. And there isn't much that's more comforting than this simple breakfast strata. It always comes back to the cheese, doesn't it? There's enough of it in this recipe to warm you up on the coldest of days. But with both spinach and mushrooms in the recipe, you can convince yourself you're eating healthy, too. And don't let the name "Breakfast Strata" fool you - this is wonderful served any time of day.

Cheesy Bacon, Mushroom and Spinach Breakfast Strata
(adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)


9 - 10 slices bacon, cooked, coarsely chopped, drippings reserved
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped or sliced
1 cup baby spinach, coarsely chopped
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese (first amount)
1 small loaf of bread (about 10 ounces), slightly staled, cut into 3/4" cubes
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup mozzarella cheese (second amount)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Fresh chives, chopped (optional)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Heat 2 Tbsp of the reserved bacon drippings in a 10" skillet and place over medium heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until all the moisture has been released and has evaporated. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and return to the heat.

Add the spinach to the pan and toss, cooking just until slightly wilted but still bright green. Remove from the pan and turn off the heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs until completely blended, seasoning them with salt and fresh black pepper. Add cheddar cheese, 1 cup mozzarella and bread, and fold together with a spatula until all the bread has been moistened.

Turn mixture into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish, pressing down if necessary. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese on top, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the strata is set and the top is golden brown.

Sprinkle with chives (if using) and serve. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge up to 3 days.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

One of the advantages of Canadian Thanksgiving being six weeks earlier than its American counterpart is that I can share my Thanksgiving recipes in time for many of you to use. When I went looking for my pumpkin pie recipe online and realized I hadn't posted it yet, I knew I wouldn't let another year go by without putting it up.

I've made this recipe for years and can't think of a single thing I'd do to improve it. Well, that's not completely true: The filling is exquisite, but in a perfect world I'd be a slightly better pie-crust maker. Although everyone around the table claimed to like it, I felt I could do better. That's why I'm not sharing a pie crust recipe below - use whichever one you like best.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in Canada, and a happy Columbus Day to my American friends!

The Ultimate Pumpkin Pie
Adapted slightly from Bon Appetit

Your favourite pie crust recipe

3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 1/4 cups solid pack pumpkin
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sour cream
3 large eggs, beaten to blend

Make your pie crust according to recipe directions. Freeze for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line crust with foil, pressing firmly, and bake until sides are set, about 10 minutes. Remove foil and bake crust until pale brown, about 10 minutes more. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

To make filling, mix sugar, brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger and salt until no lumps remain. Blend in pumpkin, whipping cream, sour cream and eggs.

Pour filling in partially-baked crust. Bake until filling puffs at edges and centre is almost set, about 55 minutes. Cool on rack. Cover and chill until cold.

Can be made 1 day ahead.

Sweet potato cakes

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Well, hi there.

I can't believe it's been a month since my last post. And while that recipe was for a summer crisp, today - with a chilly, constant rain pounding against our windows - my thoughts are veering to the autumnal.

These Sweet Potato Cakes are the kind of recipe that make you glad for the cooler weather. They're hearty and full of flavour, and pack up beautifully to take to lunch the next day. A little of the accompanying sauce goes a long way, and I thought these savoury cakes were great even on their own.

Happy fall!

Sweet Potato Cakes
(from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi)

1 pound sweet potatoes

1 1/2 Tbsp Greek yogurt
1 1/2 Tbsp sour cream
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp chopped cilantro
salt and black pepper

1 tsp soy sauce
scant 6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped green onion
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

butter for frying

Steam the sweet potatoes until completely soft, then let drain in a colander for at least an hour. Mash and set aside.

To make the sauce, whisk together Greek yogurt, sour cream, olive oil, lemon juice, cilantro, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Place the sweet potatoes in a bowl and add soy sauce, flour, salt, sugar, green onion, and crushed red peppers. Mix thoroughly by hand to prevent overmixing (otherwise the mixture will become gummy).

Melt some butter in a non-stick frying pan. Form sweet potato mixture into 6 - 8 disks. Fry on medium heat until golden, then flip and repeat. Place between two paper towels to blot the excess butter. Serve with sauce on the side.