Nanaimo Bars

My finished product last weekend
Standing in front of the House of Parliament in Victoria, BC

My mom was born in Canada. She moved to San Francisco and met my dad in her twenties. I was born and raised in California. However, I definitely consider myself a Canadian along with my USA roots. My mom and dad moved back to Canada 19 years ago. Tragically, we lost my dad a few years ago but mom still lives in Canada, on the beautiful Vancouver Island, British Columbia. She lives 30 minutes from Nanaimo. For that reason, I felt it was important that I learned to make the Nanaimo bar and post it on this site. I made them last weekend. It is very sweet and my children endorse this recipe. This recipe was found on Canadianliving.com.

Ingredients:

For the crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 egg, lightly beaten

For the filling:

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 TBS custard powder (you can substitute vanilla pudding mix if you cannot find this)

1/2 tsp vanille extract

1 cups powdered sugar

2 TBS milk

For the topping:

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 TBS butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare a 9X9 or 8X8 pan by lining with parchment paper, assure it is covering all sides so that you can pull up on the bars when complete.

Mix graham cracker crumbs with coconut, walnuts, cocoa powder, and sugar. Add butter and egg and combine. Press into crumb mixture into prepared pan. Bake until firm, about 10 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack.

Beat together butter, custard powder, and vanilla. Mix in powdered sugar by adding in increments with milk as needed. Spread over cooled crust and refrigerate until firm, about an hour.

In heatproof bowl over saucepan filled with water, melt chocolate with butter and spread over filling. Refrigerate for 30 minutes until it is almost set then score the chocolate top with the tip of a knife so that the chocolate does not break when bars are removed.

Once completely set and cool, cut all the bars and serve or wrap. They last for 4 days if refrigerated.

Classic Trattoria Tiramisu

 


I was super lucky to get the opportunity to take my children to Italy in 2017 for my son’s senior year. My son ordered Tiramisu at many of the restaurants we ate at and he discovered all sorts of different versions. Picture above is my children in the Caffe Rivoire in Florence (opened in 1872) and enjoying their famous la cioccolata caldo (hot chocolate). 

This dessert is one of the main reasons I picked the online cooking class I attended yesterday. I tried to make Tiramisu last month and it was an epic fail. Yesterday I discovered that the reason the Tiramisu did not taste right to me the last time I made it is because I did not let it set for an appropriate time. A Tiramisu needs to set in the fridge for 4-12 hours before serving (preferably 12 hours).

One of the participants in the class yesterday asked why there is no alcohol in this version of the recipe and the chef said that alcohol is not traditionally used in a true Italian Tiramisu.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 TBS white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 package ladyfinger cookies (24)
  • 1-2 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups of coffee, cooled and preferably espresso (if the coffee is not cool the cookie will fall apart)

Directions:

Separate the yolks and whites of all eggs and place them in two separate bowls. Using a mixer, beat the egg whites until fluffy.

Then, add the sugar and vanilla to the egg yolks and beat the egg yolks until pale yellow and creamy. Mix in the mascarpone cheese with the egg yolks and beat until smooth.

Fold the fluffy egg white mixture into the egg yolks gently.

Using a 8X8 or 9X9 cake pan, completely submerge each ladyfinger into the cooled coffee for 5 seconds and let the extra drip off then layer the coffee soaked cookies in the pan. If you have to break them to create a single layer on the bottom of the pan that is perfectly acceptable.

Spread half of your egg and mascarpone mixture over the single layer of cookies. Repeat another coffee soaked layer of cookies and spread the rest of the creamy mixture over the second layer.

Dust the cocoa powder on top, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to set.

 

 

Joy’s Zucchini Bread

 

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas! Do I have a treat for you. My BF has given me his mom’s zucchini bread recipe and I have the green light to get it on my site. So with out any further ado, here it is. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups zucchini (unpeeled, grated, and uncooked)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup walnuts (optional)

Directions:

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix all dry ingredients. Add eggs, oil, and zucchini to dry mixture. Pour into a greased bread loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes.

 

 

Butter Coffee Cake by Hazel

Georgette and I grew up together. She is one of my closest and bestest friends. I met her in Junior High School back before they called it Middle School. We had some crazy times together. Memories of her mom’s delicious food are nostalgic and wonderful. This is one of Georgette’s mom, Hazel, recipes. Hazel was from the South so do not be surprised by the high calorie ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • 1 small package vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp butter extract flavor (see pic below, this is an ingredient I did not even know existed)

Filling ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Frosting ingredients:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp butter extract flavor
  • Milk to thin

Directions:

Butter a bundt cake or angel food pan. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place all ingredients other than filling into a mixer and mix for 8 minutes.

Mix filling ingredients in a separate bowl, save some nuts for cake topping.

Starting with wet cake ingredients begin layering cake mix, then filling, alternate until finished.

Bake for 55 minutes.

Remove from pan onto a plate and pour frosting over cake, sprinkle with remaining nuts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lemon Cupcakes

 

Time for some quarantine baking. This pandemic is no laughing matter. Although, making the best of it by baking some delicious lemon cupcakes may make you feel better. This recipe was found on the website tasteandtell.com. I scored some Meyer lemons from my boyfriend’s neighbor and was really craving lemon cupcakes. I like how these are glazed instead of covered with frosting; makes them a little lighter.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup + 1 TBS unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs

Glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use the 1 TBS butter to grease the insides of each muffin tin.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside. In another bowl mix together buttermilk, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice.

In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar then add the eggs one at a time. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, 1/2 the buttermilk mixture, 1/3 flour mixture, remaining buttermilk and flour until well mixed.

Place in prepared muffin tins and bake in center of oven for 20-25 minutes. Cool before glazing.

Place some parchment paper under the cooling racks, or something equivalent to avoid the big mess when glazing. Whisk the powdered sugar and lemon juice together and pour over the cupcakes. Let the cakes sit for 30 minutes before serving.

Poached Pear Phyllo Triangles

 

Merry almost Christmas. I wanted to share another dessert, because it is the season to eat desserts after all. The funny thing about this recipe is I accidentally bought Phyllo dough instead of puff pastry when I made it. The original recipe called for puff pastry and was pretty difficult. I ended up making poached pears wrapped in phyllo dough and worked with what I had. It was delicious. This is the version I created:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle dry white wine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 1 star-anise pad
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, scrap out seed and reserve
  • 4 to 5 Bosc pears, peeled and halved and cored
  • 1 package phyllo dough, thawed
  • Butter, 1/2 cup (1 stick), melted

Directions:

Combine first 6 ingredients and heat over high heat until sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes. Add pears and assure they are completely covered in liquid. If not, add a bit of water until covered. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low. Cover with a piece of parchment paper, pressing it directly on top of pears. Simmer until tender when you pierce with a fork (20-30 minutes). Transfer pears to a bowl and set aside. Heat liquid to high and boil until reduced to 2 cups. Pour liquid over pears, refrigerate until cool (30 minutes).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Once pears are cool, work with the phyllo dough by taking 2-3 sheets at a time, cut into 4 equal strips and butter the surface. Place approximately 2 TBS  pears 1 inch from the end of each strip. Fold into a triangle by placing one end over and over until complete. Lightly butter top of triangle. Place seam side down on baking sheet and bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice-cream.

 

 

 

 

 

Spiced Apple Cake

 

Christmas is upon us. It is my favorite holiday. I love everything about Christmas; family gatherings, decorations and especially delicious food. I decided to start baking some new desserts and this cake was first on my list. Found in Martha Stewart’s Living magazine and on marthastewart.com, it is delicious and could be a great sweet side to accompany Christmas breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butted, melted and cooled slightly, plus more at room temperature for brushing
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch rounds, seeds removed
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup apricot jam

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush a 9 X 13 inch baking dish with butter. Line bottom and 2 long sides with parchment paper, leaving a 2 inch overhang. Butter parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, all the spices, set aside. Whisk eggs until pale and foamy. Whisk sugar and vanilla into egg mixture until combined. Add 1/2 of flour mixture, then 1/2 of butter and sour cream, repeat with remaining until all combined (do not over mix). Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top with spatula.

Toss apples with lemon juice and place on top of batter evenly.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. Apples should be tender and toothpick inserted should come out clean.

Warm jam in saucepan until brush-able consistency, immediately brush on top of cake when it comes out the oven. Let cool completely on wire rack. Lift cake form pan when cooled.

 

 

 

Bananas Foster

It makes complete sense that Bananas Fosters is the dessert we made at the cooking class I attended in New Orleans. After all, it was invented at Brennan’s in New Orleans. Born from the once booming banana trade in New Orleans, this dish was invented by Ella Brennan in 1950. Her brother, then owner of the famous Brennan’s on Bourbon Street, Owen Brennan, asked Ella to invent a dessert that would honor the New Orleans Crime Commission Chairman, Richard Foster. Inspired by the Baked Alaska, Ella caramelized bananas with brown sugar, butter and liquor, set it aflame and served it over ice-cream. It was instantly a hit and is still served to this day at Brennan’s in New Orleans. if you get a chance to visit NOLA, pay this place a visit and try this delicious dessert. In the meantime, here is the recipe so you can make it on your own.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 oz. banana liqueur
  • 4 oz. dark rum
  • ground cinnamon
  • ice cream

Directions:

Melt butter and add brown sugar to form a creamy paste. Let this mixture caramelize over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes.

Stir in the banana liqueur, bananas and rum. Heat and ignite. Agitate to keep flame burning and add a few pinches of cinnamon to the flame.

Let flame go out and serve over ice cream.

 

 

 

 

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

My daughter and I love the Great British Baking Show. We love how there is no drama and it is such a light show. I always want to bake something after I watch it and now I call cake “sponge.” The sponge on this cake is delicious. Who am I kidding, the entire cake is delicious and it helped that I used the best candied cherries I could find. This recipe was found in: Firehouse Food; Cooking with San Francisco’s Firefighters and was written by Lt. Lou Bacciocco.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 can (20 ounces) pineapple slices in heavy syrup
  • 6 maraschino cherries, cut in half
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups granulated sugar

Directions:

Adjust the oven rack to the center and pre-heat to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9 X 13 inch pan. Cover the bottom of the baking pan with brown sugar, pour the melted butter over the sugar. Drain the pineapple slices reserving 1/2 cup plus 2 TBS of the syrup. Place the pineapple slices over the brown sugar in even rows. Place a cherry half in each of the pineapple slice holes, facing up.

Sift together the flour and baking powder and set aside. In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat the egg yolks on medium speed with the granulated sugar for 3 minutes. Add the reserved syrup and beat for 1 more minute. Stir in the flour mixture until well incorporated.

Wash and dry the mixer and beat the egg whites until stiff peaks develop (3-4 minutes on high). Using a rubber spatula, lightly fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 45 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed.

While the cake is still hot, run a knife around the edges to loosen it from the pan, place on a platter by inverting onto the surface you will be serving the cake on. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy!