Tag Archives: baking

Easter Bunny Approved: Mini Egg Cookies

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

The delightfully pastel Cadbury Mini Eggs are one of my favourite Easter time treats. I was trying to figure out how I could enjoy them even more and then I thought, cookies! Dark Chocolate Mini Egg cookies to be specific.

I started with one of my favourite chocolate cookie recipes and tweaked it slightly to make a cookie that is ultra-chocolatey and packed with candy eggs, perfect for a holiday get together or an egg dyeing party. They are also a cinch to make so even younger bakers can help out. The only challenge will be trying not to eat all the candy before it can make its way into the cookies.

Dark Chocolate Mini Egg Cookies

makes aprox. 36 cookies

¾  cups of all purpose flour

¾ cups of high quality cocoa

½ teaspoon of baking soda

½ teaspoon of salt

¾ cups (1 ½ sticks) of unsalted butter

½ cup of packed brown sugar

½ cup of white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 medium sized package of mini eggs (crushed into large pieces)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

1. Put one medium sized package of mini eggs in a ziploc bag and give them a few whacks with a rolling pin or mallet. You don’t want your eggs to be pulverised, just roughly broken into largish pieces.

2. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl.

3. Beat butter and sugar until creamed and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and continue beating until well combined.

4. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in most of the mini eggs, saving a handful for decorating the tops of your cookies.

5. I recommend putting your cookie batter in the fridge for thirty minutes to an hour to make sure they don’t spread too much, but if you’re in a rush feel free to skip this step.

6. Drop dough by tablespoon on a parchment lined cookie sheet and place a few extra egg pices on top for some colour. Place sheet of cookies on middle rack and bake for ten-twelve minutes. Watch your time carefully so the bottoms don’t burn.

7. Cool cookies on a rack.

I hope you enjoy the recipe!  The three batches I made were nibbled up before I had a chance to say Easter Bunny.

Do you have a favourite cookie recipe? I’d love to hear what it is. I’m on the search for a perfect oatmeal chocolate chip recipe, so if you have one you’d like to share please let me know.

Photos by Eric Cator

Nothing Rivals Sans Rival

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

One of the desserts that people used to beg my Mom to make was Sans Rival. It’s this sinfully rich confection that’s made up of crunchy meringue and cashew layers, smothered in a creamy egg yolk butter cream. It’s so terribly fattening, but when I’m immersed in its heady melt-in-your-mouth awesomeness, I just forget to care.

Before this week, I didn’t know that this dessert was a Filipino invention. It has a French name, after all (it means “without rival”, by the way). But a quick Google search reveals that it is indeed a product of this part of the world.

So I decided to make this recipe for a friend who loves Sans Rival and is celebrating her birthday tomorrow. I’ve only done this once before, and that time my mom was there coaching me. Today, I flew solo, and I braced myself for a whole bunch of mistakes and mishaps. It was a learning experience that will benefit my future attempts, and I hope your first foray into Sans Rival heaven. So here’s it is, straight from my mom’s recipe book, with additional instructions from me.

Sans Rival

7 egg whites
1½  teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
1½ cups chopped cashews

1 cup sugar
½ cup water
7 egg yolks
2 sticks (8 oz) salted butter

½ c chopped cashews for topping
butter or margarine for greasing
flour for dusting

Prepare four 9 x 13 inch baking sheets by greasing them generously with butter or margarine, then lining them with baking paper, and greasing them again and dusting with flour. At first this seemed like an overkill to me, but trust me, you have to do this, or else the meringue will stick to the paper, and even the pan.

Make frosting. Beat the egg yolks on high speed. Boil sugar and water to make syrup. When the egg yolks are pale yellow and form soft peaks, gradually add the syrup which by now should form a soft ball when dropped in a bowl of cold water. Cover and chill.

Cream the butter and add egg yolk mixture gradually. Use this as filling between meringue layers, and frosting on top, and on the sides. Sprinkle chopped cashews on top and on the sides. Cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Make meringue layers. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar. Add sugar gradually and beat until stiff but not dry. Spread meringue evenly onto prepared pans and sprinkle chopped cashews on top.

Bake in the slow oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until it’s a light toasty brown. Ease the parchment from the pan and transfer the layers onto a cooling rack. Wait a few moments until the meringue has cooled enough slightly so that it’s not so soft anymore. Turn the layers over and very carefully and delicately peel off the parchment. Frost them as soon as they cool and hard and dry to the touch. Wait longer and the meringue layers will soften, and you don’t want that. Stack the meringue layers, spreading the egg yolk and butter frosting in between, and on the top and sides. Chill before serving.

All images by Nathalie Mariano

Posted in Culture, Food | Tagged , , ,

Mango Madness

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

We used to have a mango tree in our backyard when I was growing up. In my high school, we had three mango trees, each one more than a hundred years old. And just yesterday, I passed by a gas station that had a mango tree standing next to it–incongruous, but proof that in the Philippines, mangoes truly are as ubiquitous as air.

Mangoes are found everywhere here, and everybody loves them! Their bright and cheerful yellow-orange is just so wonderful to look at, and their skin so lovely to touch. And the eating is just as heavenly–sweet and fragrant, and so smooth, silky, and juicy in the mouth.

They’re sold everywhere–from big supermarkets to small street side stalls–and eaten every which way–cut up and spooned oh-so-properly from the skin, or peeled by hand and devoured directly from the fibrous stone. (The latter method is immensely messy and quite undignified, but the payoff is sweet sensational bliss.) They can be dried to fabulous chewiness, or made made into jams, or put in salads, in ice creams, smoothies, cocktails, and in an entire galaxy of stellar desserts.

They are not only enjoyed when they’re golden and ripe and sweet, but also when green and tart–usually paired with something salty, like shrimp paste, soy sauce, or even just plain salt. And yes, there is also such a thing as a green mango shake.

Did I mention that the mango has been anointed National Fruit?

Here’s a rich and sinful dessert from my mom’s treasure trove of recipes. She usually baked this in an 8×12 pan so the layers are spread up a bit more and cut it up into brownie sized pieces. But I thought I’d see how it goes if I made this in a 10-inch round pan.

Mango Meringue Torte

Crust Layer:
1/2 c. butter
1 c. powdered sugar
3 egg yolks
1 c. all purpose flour

Curd Layer:
1 can condensed milk (300 ml), mixed with
1/4 c. lemon juice

Mango Layer:
3 mangoes, around 1 kg, cut in 3 to 5 mm slices

Meringue Layer:
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 c. sugar

Slice mangoes and place them in a rack or strainer to allow the juices to drip.

Cream the butter and add sugar gradually. Add egg yolks one at a time. Add flour. Spread on the bottom of  a 10-inch greased and floured round pan. Bake for 20 minutes in a 320ºF preheated oven.

Meanwhile, mix together the lemon juice and the condensed milk, and see how the condensed milk magically sets!

Make the meringue by beating together the egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed, until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, and beat a few more minutes.

When the crust is done, take it out of the oven and spread the curd over it. then layer the mango slices on top of that. Finally, glop the meringue on and spread it out. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the meringue browns a little, around 10 minutes.

Take it out of the oven and release the sides. Enjoy!

I love the buttery richness of the crust, which works gloriously as a backdrop to the sweet fruit and the rich tartness of the citrus-y curd. The meringue is the light, fluffy, mallow-y cloud that lightens and lifts up the tasty mouthful.

All images by Nathalie Mariano

Chocolate, better than…

It’s Foodie Tuesday!  This week it’s all about chocolate for your Valentine.

Pierre Marcolini, one of the world's top chocolatiers, his violet chocolate truffle is easily the best thing I've ever tasted.

People, women especially, can be passionate about their chocolate.  Long considered an aphrodisiac, there’s mounting evidence that it is indeed a panacea for the heart and soul. So it’s no wonder chocolate has become part of the courtship ritual and a perfect food for Valentine’s Day, whether presented to your beloved,  or a sweet treat for your kids, office mates or your special self.

Here are some easy chocolate recipes, a few ideas to personalize store bought creations; and, as though you need more convincing, the good news science about chocolate’s health benefits thrown in.

No time to bake, but still want to lend your gift a personal touch?  Here are a few sweet ideas:

Make Your Own Chocolate Wrapper

The internet seems crazy for personalized candy bar wrappers.  You can order them singly or in bulk from places like WhimsyWraps.com, personalizing with your own note, even photos.

Or get in touch with the craftier you and go with Martha Stewart’s handmade version (she has a free template!), which includes your handwritten love note on the inside.  Sweet to send in your kid’s school lunch, for some lighthearted embarrassment (you know they secretly love it!)

Personalize a Box of Truffles

The only thing better than chocolate are the lovely notes you'll include beneath

Add a note of affection under each truffle.  Or make it a lottery: each truffle eaten will reveal a romantic promissory like, uh, “sleep in, I’ll get the baby”.

To Do:  Cut rounds (or squares) of a pretty card stock paper that can be hidden beneath each truffle and address as appropriate (hint: it you’re worried that the chocolate may melt and ruin your love notes, just top each note with the same shape cutout of wax or parchment paper).

Chocolate Ganache Layer Cake

Mmmm.... Photo via Grant Miller Media

This is a great no fail recipe from Epicurious. Doesn’t need altering, though some of the many reviewers comment an extra egg yolk gives you a moister end result.

For cake layers
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process, preferably Ghirardelli)
1 teaspoon instant-espresso powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
4 large eggs

For ganache filling and glaze
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
20 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped in a food processor

Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 3 (7- or 8-inch, 2-inch-deep) round cake pans and line bottoms with rounds of wax or parchment paper. Butter paper and dust pans with flour.

Whisk together water, cocoa, and espresso powder until smooth, then whisk in milk and vanilla.  In separate bowl sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.

Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy, then add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and cocoa mixture in batches, beginning and ending with flour and mixing at low speed until just combined.

Divide batter among pans (about 2 1/3 cups per pan), smoothing tops. Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes for 7-inch pans or 20 to 25 minutes for 8-inch. Cool in pans on a rack 30 minutes, then invert onto racks, remove paper, and cool completely.

Make ganache while cakes bake:
Bring cream to a simmer in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in chocolate until smooth. Transfer ganache to a bowl and chill, covered, stirring occasionally, until thickened but spreadable, about 4 hours. (If ganache becomes too thick, let stand at room temperature until slightly softened.)

Assemble cake:
Arrange 1 layer on a cake stand or plate and spread 2/3 cup ganache evenly over it. Top with another cake layer and 2/3 cup ganache, spreading evenly, then third cake layer. (Chill ganache if necessary to keep at a spreadable consistency.) Chill cake until ganache filling is firm, about 1 hour. Keep remaining ganache at a spreadable consistency, chilling when necessary.

Spread a thin layer of ganache over top and sides of cake to seal in crumbs, then chill 30 minutes. Spread remaining ganache evenly over top and sides of cake.

Mini Heart Shaped Chocolate Banana Cakes

Image via ThisNext.com

I love the marriage of chocolate and banana.  I’ve been turning a simple banana chocolate bread/cake recipe into mini layer cakes and topping it with a dark chocolate ganache.  This recipe will make 2 layer cakes (depends on the size of your heart pans though)  and the a banana loaf:

For the cake
3 cups flour – 2 cups unbleached all-purpose, 1 cup cake and pastry
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
1 cup butter/vegetable oil (I usually do half of each)
2 1/2 cups coarsely mashed bananas (using a fork works well)
1/3 cup of sour cream (or creme fraiche)
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup dark chocolate – chips or baking chocolate chopped, fair trade preferred

Use the Dark Chocolate Ganache recipe from above.

Preheat oven to 350F and butter and dust your pans with flour.

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.  With your electric mixer beat eggs and sugar on medium-high speed until thick and pale; reduce speed to low and add butter/oil, then bananas, sour cream and vanilla. Fold in chocolate gently.

You’ll have to keep an eye on these in the oven.  The loaf bakes in about an hour (tester should come out clean, save for the melted chocolate); the mini cakes will take much less time given smaller pan size.  Check on these periodically after 25 minutes.

Once they are ready, let cool completely.  Remove heart shaped cakes from pan and shave flat using a knife or dandy cake shaver.  Layer cakes using thin layer of ganache as glue and then cover entire cake with a layer of ganache. Voila!

My Chocolate Oatmeal Coconut Cookies

Photo courtesy Tim Bourgette

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar (I mix half each of granulated and brown)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup dark chocolate chips, fair trade preferred
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened)

Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk dry ingredients together.  With your electric mixer cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add flour mixture and beat till just combined.  Add oats, chocolate, and coconut and mix till just combined.

Drop dough rounds onto prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies and bake about 15  minutes (check them at 15 minutes.  Time will vary based on cookie size and your oven).

And Finally the Science

While the recipes above aren’t exactly diet foods, you can feel great about the fact chocolate’s good for the heart – studies show that it may lower cholesterol and blood pressure and decreases your chances of developing heart disease generally.

So evidence is stacking up that chocolate – the dark unprocessed stuff – can be part of a healthy diet, thanks to the antioxidant properties of its flavonoids (also found in red wine and berries and green tea)

Additionally, the BBC recently reported on a study that melting chocolate in your mouth produced an increase in brain activity and heart rate that was more intense than that associated with passionate kissing.  The effects also lasted four times longer once the activity ended.  So if you’re away from your valentine this year, sending along a box of chocolate can be an intimate act itself.