Sunday, May 18, 2014

Lemon Lavender Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting.

This is a very light and delicate cupcake.   I recently made this for a wedding and made mini-cupcakes.  For every large cupcake I was able to make 3 bitsize cupcakes.   Instead of actual vanilla bean (which can be very expensive) I used Vanilla Bean paste (which you can buy on which has all the bits of vanilla bean and the same taste.

Yield: 12 Cupcakes
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp dried edible lavender
  • Zest of 3 meyer or regular lemons
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/3 cups (158 g) cake flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Vanilla Bean Frosting
  • 1/2 cup salted butter*
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • seeds of 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp. of fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor combine milk and lavender and pulse about 1 - 1 1/2 minutes until lavender is well chopped, scrapping down inside of processor once during processing. Pour into liquid measuring cup (be sure to scrape out all of milk and lavender from sides and lid), set aside and allow to rest.
  • In a mixing bowl whisk together cake flour, baking powder and salt for 30 seconds, set aside. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, whip butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Blend in honey. Add eggs one at a time and mix just until combined after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Working in 3 separate batches beginning and ending with flour mixture, add dry ingredients alternating with milk mixture, mixing just until combined after each addition. Fill paper lined muffin cups 2/3 full and bake in preheated oven 19 - 21 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Allow to cool several minutes in muffin tin before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Cool completely then frost with Vanilla Bean Frosting. Store in an airtight container.
  • For the Vanilla Bean Frosting:
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter and vanilla bean seeds (or vanilla bean paste) on medium-high speed until nearly white and very fluffy, about 7 - 8 minutes, frequently scrapping down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add in powdered sugar, heavy cream and vanilla extract and mix on low speed until blended, then increase speed to medium and beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 - 6 minutes, frequently scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Pipe or spread over cupcakes. For best results use the day prepared.
  • *I recommend using a salted butter containing no more than 100 mg sodium per 1 Tbsp serving.
** I put the bowl of my kitchenaid in the freezer for 10 minutes before I start whipping the butter.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Salted caramel chocolate chip cookie bar

Salted caramel chocolate chip cookie bar

This was the third item that Thea and I made for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution bake sale.  They, like the other two previous items, are addictive.

Salted caramel chocolate chip cookie bars
 Makes 16 bars

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a 9 inch square pan and line withe parchment paper allowing one inch to hang over sides. *

2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 tbls melted and cooled unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup home made caramel sauce or 10 ounces caramel candy squares melted
3 tbls heavy cream **
Fleur de sel for sprinkling over caramel and top

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and set aside.

Using a stand mixer cream the melted butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the egg, egg yolk and the vanilla and mix until smooth.  Placing the mixer on low gradually add the dry ingredients.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

If you are using the caramel squares place in a bowl with the cream and microwave until melted and smooth.

Press half the cookie dough into the prepared pan making sure that it is even.  Pour the melted caramel sauce over the cookie dough and spread into an even layer.  Sprinkle the caramel with the sea salt.  Drop the remaining cookie dough over the caramel.  Do not worry if the caramel is not completely covered as it will spread when it bakes.  Sprinkle the cookie dough with additional sea salt.

Bake the cookie bars for 25-30 minutes or until the top of the bars are golden brown.

Baked Salted caramel chip cookie bars
Place the pan on a wire rack until cool and then place in the refigerator until the caramel is set.  Cut into squares and serve.

 *You will notice that I did not line my pan with parchment paper - that was a mistake.  It made the removal of the bars very difficult which is why I encorporated it into the recipe.
** If you are using homemade caramel sauce you will not need the additional 3 tbls of heavy cream.

Serve with a cold glass of milk and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Homemade snickers bars

This is the second item that Thea and I made for the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution bake sale in Montreal.  These homemade snickers bars are outrageously sinful and delicious.  They are chewy, chocolaty (is that a word?) and decadent.  I am so glad that we packaged them up and got them out of the house quickly as I would have eaten the entire pan myself.  Talk about addictive.

This is a long process.  There are four steps.  But believe me when I tell you - this is definitely worth it.

Homemade snickers bars
  Makes 36 bars
Line a 9X13 inch plan with parchement paper and set aside.

For the bottom chocolate layer
1 1/4 cups either milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter

Melt the chocolate in the microwave and stir in the peanut butter until smooth.  Make sure that the mixture is fully melted and runny.  Pour into the prepared pan, spread until even and place in the refrigerator until hardened.

Nougat layer
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 1/12 cups of marshmallow fluff
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the sugar and milk until fully dissolved and bring to a boil.  Let cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the marshmallow fluff, peanut butter and vanilla, stirring until smooth.  Turn off the heat and fold in peanuts.  Pour over the cooled bottom chocolate layer.  Place in the refrigerator and allow to harden.

Nougat layer

Caramel Layer
2 cups of homemade caramel sauce or a 14 ounce bag of caramels
1/4 cup whipping cream

Combine the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat.  Let melt, stirring occasionally until smooth.   Pour over nougat layer and let cool completely.

Caramel layer

Top Chocolate Layer
1 1/4 cups of milk or smei-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter

Melt ingredients in a saucepan or the microwave.  Pour over the caramel layer and spead until even.  Refrigerate for at least one hour until hardened and cut into squares.  You can leave them at room temperature but they tend to get gooey.

Snickers bars ready to eat

Monday, May 21, 2012

Almond joy bars made for Food Revolution bake sale

Almond joy bars

Thea and I baked for two days for the Bake Sale at Appetite for Books in Montreal.  We made four different baked items and they totaled over 100 bags of scrumptious treats!  They all sold out in very short order and we were able to contribute to a very worthy cause.
Smoores in the kitchen items for bake sale

We baked my Oatmeal, Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies - first blogged about in March 2010 - Oatmeal Cookie; Almond Joy Bars, Snicker Bars and Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.  The  results were delicious - but all these recipes are time consuming.  So be sure that you are nice and relaxed and have adequate time on your hands for baking them!  The one thing that I can promise you is that they are worth it.

Almond Joy Bars
 makes 36 bars

10 tbs unsalted butter
3/4 cup of brown sugar (light or dark)
2 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
28 ounces sweetened condensed milk
28 oz. shredded coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or you can use bittersweet chocolate)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 13X9 inch pan with aluminum foil (allowing the foil to extend beyond the pan for easy removal) and spray with Pam.  Set the pan aside.

Cream the butter and the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add the flour and salt and combine until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Transfer to the prepared pan and pat down evenly. Bake for 8 minutes or until slightly brown.  Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.  While the pan is cooling prepare the coconut layer.   In a large bowl combine the condensed milk, coconut and vanilla. Spread over the cooled crust and bake for 20-26 minutes or until golden brown.

Almond Joy Bars after second baking

Melt the chocolate and spread evenly cooked coconut bars and allow to cool.  Refrigerate for at least an hour or until hardened.  Cut into 36 even squares.

Tomorrow I will post the recipe for the Snickers Bars and Wednesday I will post the recipe for the Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.

Finished Almond joy bars

Monday, May 14, 2012

Food Revolution Day in Montreal-Saturday, May 19th

Hungry children and unhealthy children have always tugged at my heart strings.  We have this amazing book store in Montreal that is dedicated to cook books.  This weekend they are having a bake sale - with contributions from both professional bakers and amateur bakers alike.  This is in support of Jamie Oliver's Foundations "Food Revolution Day".    Stay tuned for the fabulous new recipes that I am trying out and will be contributing to the sale.  We are hopeful that we can raise awareness for this wonderful cause!  Come by and try out the new offerings from Smoores.  Appetite for Books is located at 388 Victoria Avenue in Westmount, Montreal, Canada.

 See you Saturday!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Oatmeal fudge bars

This is the second of the desserts that I made for my ladies luncheon.  This is a decadent, rich, fudgy bar with an oatmeal brownie/cookie base.  It is a bit time consuming but definitely worth it.  I would make this again but next time double the batch and freeze the bars individually wrapped so that I could have one whenever I wanted!

Oatmeal fudge bars
 Makes 12 bars

1 cup quick cooking oats
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
10 tbls. unsalted butter
2 tsps. instant expresso coffee or instant cofee
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line an 8X8 with parchement paper allowing the paper to overhang the sides.  Set aside.


Combine the oats, 1 cup of the brown sugar, 3/4 cup of the flour, baking soda, baking powder and a pinch of sale in a bowl and stir to combine.  Melt 8 tbls. of butter and stir into the mixture until just combined.  Reserve 3/4 cup of the mixture for the topping.

Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking pan making sure that it is an even layer.   Bake fore 12 minutes or until the bars turns a pale brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for one hour or until completely cool.

Combine the remaining 1/4 cup of flour, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, the expresso powder and 1/4 tsp. of salt in a bowl, stir to combine and set aside.

Melt the chocolate and remaining 2 tbls. of butter in the microwave.  Start at 30 seconds and stir.  Continue at 15 second intervals until chocolate is completely melted and combined with butter.  Let the mixture cool (stir it with a whisk and that will speed up the process).  Add the egg and whisk until combined.  Fold this intered the waiting flour mixture taking care not to overstir.

Pour the chocolate mixture over the cooled crust.  Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 cup of the remaining flour mixture (that you set aside in the first step) over the top.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. (do not overbake.)

Cool on a wire rack for at least one hour before cutting into bars.

Oatmeal Fudge Bars
Serve with Vanilla or Coffee Ice Cream and you will be in heaven!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Coconut and Caramel Shortbread

A hostess gift from one of girlfriends!
Can you say fantabulous?
For my luncheon this afternoon I made two desserts and served fresh berries which is a departure from my usual trio of baked desserts.  This was a nod to the weather - bathing suit season is almost upon us. This is the first of the two baked desserts.

I tried out a recipe from a new cookbook that I purchased which is all about sugar - deadly to say the least.  I took the concept of the dessert and used my own recipes.  The finished product garnered oohs and aahs from the girls and they suggested that I submit this recipe for my next dessert contest!  Will do ladies.

The recipe is one that has quite a few steps, refrigerating the dough and two bakings so be prepared to take some time with this one.

Coconut and Caramel Shortbread 
 Serves 14-16 for dessert

Ingredients for Shortbread
2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
1 1/4 cup of butter
1/2 cup white sugar 
2 cups of flour
pinch of salt

Ingredients for Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 tbls. butter
Sea salt
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place coconut in pan and put in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until light brown.  Remove from oven and set aside.

In a medium bowl stir flour, sugar and salt.  Add softened butter and mix with your hands until it resembles corn meal.  Add 1 cup of the toasted coconut.  Pat into a 8X13 inch pan that has been lined with parchement paper. (make sure that there is an overhang on the ends - this will facilitate taking the shortbread out)  Place in the refrigerator of at least 30 minutes or until hardened.   Take a fork and dock the shortbread (this will prevent it from bubbling up).

Place in the middle rack of the oven and cook for 24-26 minutes or until the shortbread turns lightly brown around the edges.

To make the caramel sauce:  put the sugar in a heavy non-reactive saucier pan and put the heat on medium high.  Do not stir the sugar at all.  It will start to melt around the edges.  When it starts to melt you can use a wire wisk and stir vigorously until all the sugar is melted.  Cook the sugar until it has turn a golden brown.   When it has gotten to that stage add the heavy cream all at once.  Be careful as it will bubble up.  The mixture will now appear clumpy.   Continue to whisk until the mixture starts to melt again.  Allow it to boil for 3-5 minutes making sure that it does not burn.. Turn off the heat and add the butter, salt and vanilla.  Stir until smooth.  Add the coconut and make sure that it is thoroughly mixed with caramel.

Place the caramel mixture on top of the cooked shortbread and return to the oven for 30 minutes or until the caramel is bubbling uniformley.

Remove from the oven and allow the caramel to set.  I allowed it to set overnight and it was perfect.

Lift the shortbread out of the pan using the over hanging parchement paper.

Cut into 16-20 pieces.

Coconut and Caramel Shortbread
on my grandmother's cake stand