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24 October 2020

Halloween Brown Sugar Breakfast Tarts


I think there are two groups of Halloween people – those who like the actual horror aspect of the holiday and will embark on scary-movie-marathons and voluntarily venture inside a haunted house and those who like the idea of super themed holiday but can only handle minimal Halloween motifs and will use any opportunity to turn scary Halloween characters into something cuter and more approachable. I am obviously in the latter.

Once I left the age bracket of what is socially acceptable to go trick or treating, I stopped celebrating Halloween. I do not love scary movies (the jump scares from Beetlejuice is the most I could handle) and there is no way I will voluntarily enter a haunted house attraction or a corn maze. The only way you can get me to do any Halloween-related activity is if Halloween-themed baking. I will never pass up any opportunity to make something look a bit cuter.



For Halloween this year, I am partnering with Williams Sonoma to make these spooky breakfast tarts with a simple brown sugar filling. I am sharing my favourite all-butter pie dough recipe for these breakfast tarts but you can always use store-bought pie dough in a pinch. I baked these breakfast tarts on the Goldtouch® Nonstick cookie sheet, which is truly -nonstick-. You can bake your little hand pies directly on the cookie sheet or you can line the baking sheet with a piece of parchment to make clean up even easier. Some of the brown sugar filling in the first batch escaped off the parchment and baked onto the cookie sheet but it came off easily with a wet paper towel.


What makes these Halloween breakfast tarts so fun is the decorating. I used a simple royal icing coloured with gel food colour to ice these pies and decorated with some fun candy eyeballs and sprinkles. I highly recommend decorating in a cooling rack with sheet pan underneath so any excess sprinkles will collect at the bottom and not get stuck to the sides of your breakfast tarts. Scroll to the end of the recipe to see some decorating ideas.





Halloween Brown Sugar Breakfast Tarts
Makes 14 – 16 breakfast tarts


What You Will Need:
1 batch all-butter pie dough
1 batch brown sugar filling
Cookie cutters of choice
Royal icing, to decorate
Sprinkles and candy eyeballs, to decorate 

All-Butter Pie Dough
2 1⁄2 cups (300 g) all-purpose flour 
1 tbsp (13 g) granulated sugar 
1 tsp salt 
1 cup (227 g) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces 
1⁄2 cup (120 ml) cold water
1⁄2 cup (110 g) ice cubes
1 tbsp (15 ml) apple cider vinegar or white vinegar

Make the all-butter pie crust. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar, and salt. Add the butter. With a pastry cutter or a fork, quickly cut the butter into the flour mixture until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are okay). 
In a large measuring cup or a small bowl, combine the water, ice, and vinegar. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons (15 ml) of the ice-water mixture over the flour mixture and mix with a spatula until the water is fully incorporated. Add more of the ice-water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 ml) at a time.

Using the spatula or your hands, mix until the dough comes together in a ball with some dry, shaggy bits remaining. Squeeze and pinch the dough with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 ml) of the ice-water mixture, if necessary, to combine. 

Divide the dough into 2 portions. Shape each portion of dough into a flat disk, wrap each disk in plastic, and refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour (or overnight), to give the dough time to rest. 

Egg Wash
1 large egg
1 tbsp (15 ml) whole milk 

In a small bowl, whisk together egg and milk. Set side.

Brown Sugar Filling
2/3 (134g) cup brown sugar
1 tbsp (6g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the filling. Set aside.

To assemble:
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. The Goldtouch® Nonstick cookie sheet is super nonstick, but I like to still use a piece of parchment for easier clean up.

On a floured work surface, roll out the disk of dough until it reaches 1⁄4 inch in thickness. Using cookie cutters of choice, stamp out an even number of shapes. Transfer half of the shapes to the cookie sheet.

Using a pastry brush, brush a thin layer of egg wash to the cut outs on the cookie sheet. This will help seal the edges of the pies when baking.

Place a spoonful of the brown sugar filling in the centers of half of the cut outs, about 2 teaspoons for smaller cut outs and 1 tablespoon for larger cut outs. Take a second cut out of the same shape and gently lay it on top of a filled cut out. Using the tines of a fork, press down on the edges to seal the hand pie. Once all the hand pies have been sealed, use the fork to prick holes in the tops to allow steam to escape during baking. 

Apply a thin layer of egg wash to the tops of each pie.

Bake the hand pies for 24 to 28 minutes, until they are golden brown. Remove the hand pies from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Transfer the hand pies to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating

Royal Icing
2 cups (240 g) powdered sugar
2 tbsp (15 ml) whole milk or water
Gel food coloring, as needed (optional)
Make the royal icing glaze. In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and milk/water. Add more milk if too thick or more icing sugar if too runny. You want the consistency to be similar to honey. Divide the royal icing into smaller bowls and colour the icing to desired colours.

Using the back of a small spoon or with royal icing transferred to a piping bag, spread a thin layer of the royal icing glaze on each cooled hand pie. To garnish the hand pies, add sprinkles and candy eyes on top of the glaze before it sets.

Some decorating ideas:

1. Cute ghosts

2. Mummies

3. Classic Jack-o-lantern

4. Spooky slime


Happy baking!

13 October 2020

Apple Puff Pastry Rose Tarts


I met Kelsey almost five years ago when we bonded online over rustic cakes and lattice pie tops. We bonded so much online that I invited a stranger into my apartment for a baking and sleepover date. Surprisingly, Kelsey said yes. Unsurprisingly, we connected in person right away. After that first baking date (back when I did not own a camera), we had many more dates where we made confetti cakesa big cake spread that almost gave us both nervous breakdowns, and many more buttercream-coated treats. I even got to visit her on her family's farm, where we made brown butter apple cakes and many pies that we styled between the rows of apple trees right before sunset. Between all those baking dates, we would text regularly to talk about recipes we are working, to daydream about travelling to Paris together, and plan when we would see each other next. I wish I met Kelsey sooner, perhaps when we both attended UBC at the same time, but I am so happy that I know her now. Not only is she an amazing baker, she is almost an amazing friend.

Kelsey has been working really hard on her cookbook, The Farmer's Daughter Bakes, and I am so happy that she can finally share it with the world today. The book shares many stories and recipes from the farm and each recipe transports to the farm where apples, plums, and squash are in abundance. I have had the pleasure of visiting Willow View Farms several times and I know these recipes will take you right there even if you cannot visit in person. I have so many recipes already bookmarked but I knew I had to make these apple tarts first.







Apple Puff Pastry Rose Tarts
Makes 12 puff pastry roses
Recipe from The Farmer's Daughter Bakes by Kelsey Siemens (Page Street Publishing) - shared with permission

Chai Spice Blend
1 tbsp (8g) ground cinnamon
1 tbsp (5g) ground ginger
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Tarts
4 medium tart baking apples (Kelsey recommends Pink Lady)
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed 2 hours before use
3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened, divided
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar)
1/2 tbsp (4g) chai spice blend, divided
Powdered sugar, for serving

To make the chai spice blend, in a small bowl, mix together cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a muffin tin with butter or cooking spray and set aside. Heat a large, wide saucepan filled with several inches of water over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Cut each apple in half and carefully carve out the core with a pairing knife. Place the flat aide down, and starting at the stem's edge, slice the apple horizontally into the thinnest slices you can manage. Sine the apple slices will be rolled up in the pastry, the thinner the better. Work quickly to avoiding browning and move all the apple slices into the pot of simmering water. Cook for 2 - 4 minutes or until the apples bend instead of breaking when you curve them into a circle. Remove from the heat, carefully straining and place onto a towel to dry.

To make the tart, keep one sheet of puff pastry in the fridge as you start to work with the other. Roll out one sheet of puff pastry to a 12 x 10 inch rectangle, leaving it on the the parchment it comes on for easy transfer. With the 12-inch side closest to you, use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut 6 equal strips, each 2 inches wide. Spread 1/4 cup of softened butter onto the entire sheet in a thin layer.

In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 tablespoon of chai spice and sugar and sprinkle a generous amount over the softened butter. 

Start the first strip with the thinnest apple slice, as it will form the middle of the rose and will need to be the most flexible. Place the apple about halfway down the puff pastry strip with the skin side poking up over the dough.

Place a second apple slice over the first, overlapping about a quarter of a slice. Repeat until you reach the end of the dough.

Carefully fold the half of the strip without apple slices on it over top of the apples.

Melt 1/4 cup of butter. Once the dough has been folded up, brush the edge with some melted butter.

Roll the strip up as tightly as you can.

Press the end of the strip firmly to the rest of the dough and transfer the rose to the prepared muffin tin. Repeat with the remaining 5 strips of dough.

Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden. Rotate the muffin tin halfway through baking and place a sheet of aluminum foil on top if the apples are cooking too quickly. Cool on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes, and carefully remove roses from muffin tin. Top with powdered sugar and serve. The apple tarts are best served the first day.

Congratulations, Kelsey!

13 September 2020

My Favourite Chocolate Chip Cookies

I refrained from naming this recipe 'the best chocolate chip cookie' or some other title containing a superlative because there are so many amazing chocolate chip/chunk cookies out there and each one is special in its own way. I could never claim mine is the best because there are so many other cookie recipes that I truly love. I love Tara O'Brady's chocolate chip cookie recipe that calls for melted butter and it is my go-to when I do not have room temperature butter handy. I always make Thalia's recipe whenever I want a cookie with lots of 'chocolate puddles,' which is a term I learned from her. I love the brown butter toffee cookies by Kate Davis on the Bon Appetit website and I always have Skor bars in the pantry reserved for those cookies. And Sarah Kieffer's pan-banging technique takes any cookie to a whole new level. I actually love everyone else's recipe so much that I never really cared to share my own cookie recipe.

I developed the original version of this recipe for my cookbook, and that floral version is studded with white and dark chocolate and has culinary lavender incorporated into the dough. This one I am sharing today is more of a classic – no floral elements – but still has everything I love about that original cookie — crispy edges, chewy centres, and large pools of chocolate. This cookie dough is a really good canvas for whatever mix-ins or chocolates you like. I usually use a mixture of dark and milk chocolates, but will also fold in some blond or caramelized white chocolate to make them extra special. I love using Valrhona chocolates for my cookies but any good quality chocolate will work. To get the largest chocolate 'puddles,' refrain from using chocolate chips and opt for a chocolate bar that you can coarsely chop up yourself. I also save larger pieces of chocolate to top each dough ball before baking.

So this is all I have to say about the cookies. I love them. I hope you love them too.



My Favourite Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields 12 - 14 cookies

113g (½ cup) plus 28g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g (½ cup) plus 26g (2 tbsp) brown sugar
100g (½ cup) granulated sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
210g (1¾ cups) plus 10g (2 tbsp) all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
117g (2/3 cup) coarsely chopped dark chocolate
117g (2/3 cup) coarsely chopped milk chocolate (I prefer Valrhona Caramelia 36%)
Optional: 60g (1/3 cup) coarsely chopped blond chocolate (I prefer Valrhona Dulcey 32%)
Maldon sea salt flakes, as needed

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed until they are smooth, about 1 minute.

Add the vanilla and egg to the butter mixture and mix on medium speed until they are fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two batches to the butter mixture, and mix until the ingredients are just combined, about 1 minute.

Separate the chopped chocolates into two portions; I like to reserve the larger pieces to top each cookie dough ball before baking. Add one portion of the chocolates to the bowl, and mix until they are just incorporated with the dough, about 30 seconds. Set second portion of chocolates aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

With a standard ice cream scoop, form balls of dough and place them about 2 inches (5 cm) apart on the baking sheet. Place several pieces of reserved chocolate onto each dough ball.

Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the cookies are browned and caramelized along the edges and the centres are just set. If you would like your cookies to have the crinkled edges, give the pan a few taps on the oven rack before you take them out of the oven.

Top each cookie with a sprinkling of the Maldon sea salt flakes. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: The cookie dough freezes really well. After portioning the dough into dough balls, you can freeze the dough balls to be baked off at a later date. If you feel like you only want six cookies today, save the other six dough balls for next week. Future you will thank the present you.


Happy baking!

20 August 2020

Marbelous Cookie (aka. Triple Chocolate Cookie)


I really loved attending the University of British Columbia. I loved most of my professors and courses I chose, I loved the campus itself, and I loved all the wonderful people I met. Most importantly, I loved Blue Chip Cookie, a small cafe in the Student Union Building (now in The Nest) that offered what I thought then (but probably still holds true now) the best cookies. What made their cookies so memorable? The cookies were the size of my face and Blue Chip was never shy to add even more chocolate to a cookie. The Brazil Nut Cookie they offered was great and some of my friends loved the Ranger Cookie, but everyone would unanimously agree that the Marbelous Cookie is the cookie to get there. So what is the Marbelous? Well let me tell you. It is a chocolate cookie base with an iconic white chocolate slab on top. And when I say slab, I mean SLAB. The cookie is slightly crisp on the outside and extremely soft and tender on the inside. The cookie is quite tall and has a somewhat under-baked centre. The slab of white chocolate adds a lot of creaminess to the dark chocolate cookie base. It is perfection. Am I giving too much praise to a cafeteria cookie? Probably, but the Marbelous deserves it.

My point, the TL;DR, is that of all the things I miss about UBC, the thing I miss most is eating its 10,000 calorie cookie on a weekly basis. I rarely visit the campus so I challenged myself to recreate this cookie in my kitchen. They key to making a Marbelous cookie is to have a generous amount of white chocolate on top of each cookie. To get the iconic look, use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to create a large, thin slice of white chocolate to top each cookie dough ball before baking. I do not recall Blue Chip putting sea salt on top of their cookies, but I add some on mine because salt makes everything better.





Marbelous Cookie (aka. Triple Chocolate Cookie)
Yields 10 cookies

1⁄2 cup (113 g) plus 2 tbsp (28 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
1⁄2 cup (100 g) plus 2 tbsp (26 g) brown sugar 
1⁄2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar 
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract 
1 large egg, at room temperature 
1 1/3 cup (160g) all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup (43g) and 2 tbsp (10g) cocoa powder
3/4 tsp salt 
3/4 tsp baking powder 
1⁄2 tsp baking soda 
3/4 cup (130 g) coarsely chopped dark chocolate 
2/3 cup (110 g) coarsely chopped milk chocolate 
White chocolate pieces, for topping
Maldon sea salt flakes, as needed 

Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed until they are smooth, about 1 minute.

Add the vanilla and egg to the butter mixture and mix on medium speed until they are fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two batches to the butter mixture, and mix until the ingredients are just combined, about 1 minute.

Add the dark chocolate and milk chocolate, and mix until they are just incorporated with the dough, about 30 seconds.

Portion the dough into 10 dough balls of equal size and place them about 2 - 3 inches apart on the baking sheet. Top each dough ball with a big piece of white chocolate. I like using a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to get very thin, large pieces of white chocolate.

Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the cookies are caramelized along the edges and the centres are just set. The white chocolate should start to turn slightly golden.

Remove cookies from oven and top each cookie with a sprinkling of the Maldon sea salt flakes. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.


Happy baking!

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