Oh Sweet Day!

Chocolate Espresso Meringue Cookies

September 22, 2014 by Fanny | 0 comments

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Like making macarons, meringue cookies are good to make when the weather is dry and airy. Although you can totally do it on a hot and humid day, my advise is to do it fast and get them in the oven right away. Once the egg whites are whipped, it’s a bad idea to let it sit around for too long because it will flop. And you will start crying.

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Once you get a hang of making meringues, you will start loving to make it over and over again. Because it’s genuinely easy, and it only requires a few ingredients that you will normally have in your kitchen. Sugar, egg whites and vinegar are the key things. Anything additional is totally your improvisation.

I put a little Espresso powder in my meringue cookies here. And they are awesome. Just a taste of Espresso, but not over-powering the chocolate flavour. Simply perfect!

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Ingredients (around 25 cookies):

3 large egg whites
1 tablespoon Espresso powder
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
100 grams dark chocolate, melted and cooled
 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 275F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add in Espresso powder, cocoa powder, both sugars and vinegar. Increase speed and continue whipping until stiff and glossy peaks form.

Pipe or spoon mixture onto the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the bases of the meringues are firm and are easily peeled away from the parchment paper. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Drizzle melted chocolate on top of the meringues before serving.

To Ethan and Maya – Forty

September 17, 2014 by Fanny | 12 Comments

Dear Ethan and Maya,

Today I turn 40. Don’t worry, I am not going to get all weird about age or wax nostalgic or try to say something profound about getting older. I will say that when I came across someone who would drive very slowly on highways or wait too long at a stop sign, I used to have a tendency to cut him off, roll down my window and yell, “Get off the road, Granny!” That was before I had kids. Now I drive very slowly on highways and wait too long at a stop sign. Ok, here, let me wax nostalgic: I miss the days when I looked all cool and ass-kicking.

Now I have a natural ability to stay calm in really chaotic situations, whereas when I was in my 20s, if the wind changed direction my entire head would burst into flames. I think my reckless yet unregrettable 20s and 30s have made my upcoming 40s wiser, and believe it or not, younger. I know my being 40 means catching breath running laps with you both, but it doesn’t affect the fact that I enjoyed Ed Sheeran’s show with an ocean of teenagers.

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That show was a rare yet very pleasant surprise from your father who would normally get me a giftcard for my birthday. He was paying very close attention this year and took me to see one of my recent favourite artists. I had no idea until we got to the park. When I knew we were going to see Ed Sheeran, I was floored. It was a perfect summer afternoon. We were lying on the bed of grass, breathing deeply to the smell of green. There were almost no clouds in the sky, and the air felt like a warm bath complete with a foot rub and French fries. Ed Sheeran played all the fan favourites. Thousands of voices singing the words he wrote, all of his fans pumping their arms and fists in the air to emphasize how much they loved being there listening to him. I was one of them.

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That night, most of the blood in my body pooled into my calves thanks to the 3-hour standing. And the insidious teens blowing weed smoke in my face. And the eye-rolling I had to do over the beach ball throwing around in the crowd. We didn’t get to bed until after 2am. But when I look back at that Saturday evening the thing I remember most, the thing that stands out so vividly and what I will carry with me is the astonishment of one of my favourite artists who looked out at the sea of people gathering around the stage and singing along to every word in total disbelief. Surprisingly wonderful and totally unhip disbelief.

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I used to love seeing artists performing music. Now I love them more for recognizing and validating that connection with their fans. I love being a witness to that emotion, that success. Music makes me so happy in a new perspective.

Kids, being 40 is not old. Being 40 is how you look back your 20s and realize that you are as young but more fulfilled.

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Love,
Mommy

Easy Nutella Cheesecake Square

September 15, 2014 by Fanny | 16 Comments

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Another easy-breezy dessert to serve on a weekday dinner, bring over to a friend or potluck party. It’s a fun yet very simple way to dress up your cheesecake base – pop out a jar of Nutella, swirl a little on top, and bake!

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Of course there are tons of other options. Swirl in some dark chocolate instead. Or you can go fancy and do salted caramel or strawberry basil sauce.

But never give up the crust. The nutty, crumbly and buttery shortbread crust is my go-to crust for cheesecake now. Way tastier and more decadent than graham cracker crust.

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Ingredients (about 16 2-inch sqaures):

Shortbread Crust
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Cheesecake
2 packages of Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Nutella
 

Directions:

Preheat oven at 350F. Grease and line an 8-inch square baking tin.

Make the crust by mixing all the crust ingredients in a food processor, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Press the mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake crust for 15 to 18 minutes. Set aside to cool. Turn down oven temperature to 300F.

In the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, mix cream cheese and sugar until combined. Add eggs, one at a time. Then add vanilla and salt. Blend until well combined.

Pour the filling in the prepare pan. Tap the pan on counter a few times to release all the air in the batter.

Warm Nutella in microwave on high for 10 to 20 seconds. Spoon Nutella on top of the batter, and gently swirl with a toothpick.

Bake the cheesecake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the edge of the cheesecake is puffed but the center is still wobbly and wet looking.

Turn off the oven with the door slightly opened, let the cheesecake sit in the oven to cool completely, at least an hour.

Remove from the oven. Chill for overnight.

When ready to serve, cut into squares using a sharp knife dipped in hot water.

Boston Cream Pie

September 12, 2014 by Fanny | 17 Comments

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Yesterday was my husband’s 40th birthday. When I started brainstorming about his cake, this cake topper was already on my mind. All of my ideas were around the cake topper. I knew this would make the cake look chic and unique. Most importantly it would be very him!

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There is nothing more appropriate to describe my husband except he is genuinely a geek. And maybe that’s one of the reasons I decided to marry him, cause it makes my life so much easier considered how low-tech I am.

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The cake is a Boston cream pie. I heard that it’s called a pie because it was created way before when no one knew what cakes were. Layers of sponge cake with vanilla pastry cream and a top layer of chocolate ganache. A very simple yet delicious dessert to put together. Just double up the portion of the recipe, and you can easily have an 8-inch 3-layer cake. I literally had it done when my kids was doing it for their father.

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Ingredients (one 5-inch layered cake): 

Cake Topper
1 cup candy melts, color of your choice
1 tablespoon canola oil (if melted candy is too thick to pipe)
Cake
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla Pastry Cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Chocolate Ganache
50 grams dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon corn syrup
 

Directions:

To make cake topper, outline a template of GEEK in a relatively thick font on a paper. Place a parchment paper over it.

Place candy melts in a microwaveable Ziploc bag. Microwave on high for 20 to 30 seconds to completely melt the candy melts. Add oil if it’s too thick to pipe. Push the melted candy toward one corner of the bag. With a pair of scissors, snip off a very small opening.

Start piping the candy over the template, starting with the outline. Then fill with zigzags inside the outline.

Let it dry completely before peeling the cake topper off the parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease three 5-inch cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk eggs and sugar on high speed for 5 minutes, until light and triple in volume.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture on low speed, and mix until just incorporated.

Spoon about 1/2 cup of the cake batter into a bowl, and stir in the melted butter and vanilla. Add the mixture back to the cake batter and gently fold with a spatula until blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans evenly and smooth the top. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the centre of the cakes spring back when gently pressed. Let cool completely in the pans.

Run a pairing knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Peel off the parchment paper circles.

To prepare pastry cream, cook milk, vanilla and salt in a saucepan over medium heat to bring the mixture just to a boil. Stir occasionally.

While the milk is cooking, in a bowl whisk together egg and sugar until the mixture becomes pale. Add cornstarch and mix until smooth.

Slowly add 1/3 of milk mixture to egg mixture, whisking continuously. Pour the milk-egg mixture back to the saucepan. Cook over low heat and whisk continuously until the custard is thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Pour the custard through the sieve and into a bowl to make it super smooth.

Let cool for 15 minutes. Put a plastic wrap right on top of the cream to prevent skin forming. Refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.

To prepare ganache, place the chocolate, heavy cream and corn syrup in a medium heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir the mixture using a wooden spoon until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes.

To assemble the cake, sandwich each cake layer with a thick layer of pastry cream. Top with a final layer of chocolate ganache.

Gently slice an opening on the top cake layer, but not too deep, just enough to hold the cake topper. Carefully place the cake topper on the cake.

Chill in refrigerator. Leave it in room temperature for 15 minutes to soften the ganache before serving.

To Ethan and Maya – The glory of your geeky father

September 11, 2014 by Fanny | 4 Comments

Dear Ethan and Maya,

Today is your father’s 40th birthday. He has to work today, but if he didn’t I would make him eggs and bacon all day long and let him talk about golf without interruption.

I am so grateful for the relationship I have forged in with your father who loves me despite all my many glaring flaws. He makes me feel safe, and I don’t have to worry about being ignorant of something he considers “life skills” that I refuse to learn or pay attention to, like how to manoeuvre a 700-button remote control or upgrade Java on my computer. He’s always behind my back, ready to walk his six-foot blaze of geek glory into the line of fire to make things safe for me.

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He’s got his golf time and a family who loves him. I think he’s pretty much set.

Love,
Mommy

Blueberry Lemon Curd Shortbread Tart

September 8, 2014 by Fanny | 10 Comments

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Just trying to breath that last blueberry scent as the summer is drawing close. Weather is getting less warmer, that’s for sure. But I have no complain at all. I am in love with that early morning autumn breeze. So fresh and crisp. The kind of breeze I love the most.

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Honestly this tart is nothing special, as in you could throw in one of your many other combinations. Pastry cream, whipped cream, cranberry curd, mousse. With strawberries, raspberries, peach, cherries… Oh the choices!

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Ingredients (one 7″x 11″ tart):

Shortbread Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Lemon Curd
zest of 3 lemons
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
4 eggs
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Others
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
 

Directions:

To prepare crust, sift the flour and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

Cream butter and powdered sugar in a bowl of a standing mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla.

Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until just incorporated.

Gather dough and form a dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to chill.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a tart pan with a removable bottom.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Line the prepared pan with the rolled dough. Leave a tiny overhand of dough. Use a small kitchen knife to trim the excess and to score the tops of the tart.

Bake the crust for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the edge is lightly browned.

Remove from oven and let the crust cool completely before removing from the pan.

To prepare lemon curd, mix lemon zest and sugar with a fork.

In a large bowl, cream the butter.  Add the sugar mixture and beat together.  Add the eggs, lemon juice and salt and mix together until thoroughly combined.

Pour the mixture into a pan and cook over low heat while stirring constantly for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the curd starts to thicken and coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Remove from heat. Push the lemon curd through the sieve and into a bowl to make it super smooth. Pour the lemon curd into the cooled tart shell, and place it in refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.

Top with blueberries. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

To Ethan – Not back to school

September 4, 2014 by Fanny | 2 Comments

Dear Ethan,

Kids around the world have gone back to school, except kids in BC Canada, thanks to the teachers’ strike. Kids here are all screwed up because of the extended summer holidays that they have to ENDURE. And after weeks of biking and park and more biking and even more park plus a bit more biking, I’ve become a wreck.

Thank God it was raining yesterday, and we had to stay home….running laps! For a moment, I found you doing this with Maya. Best hour of my life in months.

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Love,
Mommy

Categories: Son

Lamingtons

September 3, 2014 by Fanny | 7 Comments

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I hadn’t heard about lamingtons until one of my clients called to place an order. She is an Australian, and she wanted to order these Australian speciality cakes for her family over the weekend.

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After some googling, I realized that lamingtons, originated in Australia, are considered the “national cake of Australia”. They consist of everything that we love – a small square of sponge cake or butter cake or white cake with raspberry jam, dipped in chocolate icing before rolling in shredded coconut. Definitely one of the most beautifully created desserts in the world.

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I wasn’t very sure if my version was authentic enough. So I tested the recipe and let my friend’s Australian neighbour to taste it. And here was her comment, “It tastes just like I remember. With the exception that I like it now, and didn’t then. Maybe yours was just better!”

Ingredients (about 16 squares):

Vanilla Cake
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
Chocolate Icing
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
Others
1/4 cup raspberry or strawberry jam
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and line the bottom of two 8-inch square pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix eggs and sugar until well combined. Gradually add oil and vanilla, mix until just blended.

With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the buttermilk, mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.

Divide batter evenly among the prepared pans. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack and let cakes cool completely.

To prepare the chocolate icing, melt the butter and mix with milk. Whisk in cocoa powder until completely dissolved. Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, and whisk slowly until thickened. Set aside.

To assemble, spread the jam over the top of one cake layer. Top it with another cake layer. Cut into 2-inch cake squares.

Put the coconut in a bowl and set aside.

Use forks to dip and turn a cake square into the chocolate icing to coat all sides. Allow excess icing to drip off. Then place the square in coconut. Sprinkle coconut on the top, then start turning in coconut to coat other sides. Place the square on a wire rack and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes to set. Repeat with all of the remaining squares.

12 After-School Snack Recipes

September 1, 2014 by Fanny | 4 Comments

Check out 12 After School Snack Recipes

by Oh Sweet Day! at Foodie.com

Our house is constantly filled with baked goods. Cookies, muffins, cupcakes… My kids are lucky. When they crave for something sweets, instead of candies, they will be given home made treats. Being said that, there is a limitation on how much they are allowed to consume. You don’t want your kids loaded with sugar and running laps in your house all day long.

After-school is always the embarrassing time where you know your kids are hungry (Look at that untouched lunch box!), yet you don’t want to feed them too much so they don’t have appetite for dinner. I find that the perfect trick is to feed them snacks in small bites. Try to cook or bake anything from savory to sweet into petite sizes. Mini cupcakes, mini donuts, cake pops, mini frittata… Let your kids have one or two to satisfy the hunger, yet not too filled up for dinner later.

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Blueberry Crumble Bar

Brownie Pop

Chocolate Hazelnut Shortbread Ice Cream Sandwich

Dried Cranberry Shortbread Cookie

Fresh Strawberry and Mango Popsicle

Mini Baked Donut

Mini Frittata

Mini Victoria Sponge Cake

My Beloved Chocolate Chip Cookie

Rice Krispies Treat Cupcake

Sticky Lemon, Thyme and Honey Chicken Drumsticks

Strawberry Jam Breadstick

This post is brought to you by Foodie.com.

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