Oh Sweet Day!

12 Holiday Pies/Tarts

November 19, 2014 by Fanny | 8 Comments

Check out 12 Holiday Pies/Tarts

by Oh Sweet Day! at Foodie.com

It’s pie season now. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year. All these celebrations come with lots of good food. Lots of it. Interestingly yet, no matter how much we eat and drink, we always have room for dessert, especially pies.

We all love pies. They are cozy, heart-warming, loving…they are for family celebrations. Buttery, flaky, crispy pie crust filled with scrumptious, flavourful, almost-you-can-do-whatever-you-want pie filling. And I am saying that because I’ve made a lot of pies – fruits, chocolate, nuts, mousse, cream, cool pies, warm pies… My family has been very happy!

And mostly I am the happiest one. The moment you are able to roll out and line a pie dough in the pie pan. The moment you see a beautiful pie freshly baked from the oven. The moment you successful release the pie from the pie pan without breaking the pie in half. Those are the moments that make you the proudest person on earth!

Pies are also great to bring to pot-luck parties. Pack a cute pie in an adorable paper or wooden box, and it becomes a very special gift that everyone loves. And how important it is to give a gift that no one will forget!

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First Row

Apple Shortbread Pie

Mini Cherry Shortbread Pie

Chocolate Strawberry Mousse Tartlet

Second Row

Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie

Strawberry and Chocolate Cream Pie

Chocolate Ganache Tart

Third Row

Easy Cherry Puff Pastry Tart

Espresso Cream Pie

Lemon  Shortbread Tartlet

Fourth Row

Strawberry and Rhubarb Lattice Pie

S’mores Tartlet

Coconut Cream Pie

This post is brought to you by Foodie.com.

Black Forest Cake

November 16, 2014 by Fanny | 12 Comments

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I’ve mentioned before that I am thankful for being able to do what I am doing now – be a mother and a baker and be able to write and share about it here. At this point I don’t know what else I want to do more than this. And that makes me so happy!

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Being said that, sometimes I still nag about the fact that I have to make the same cake three times in a week. Boring! I know. But it also means that my cakes are good. People love them. And I will go ahead and make them and be happy no matter what.

I am proud to say that this black forest cake is one of my best sellers. It’s relatively less sweet thanks to the less sugary whipped cream. And I highly recommend Ed. Smith Light and Fruity Cherry for the syrup and filling. The cherries really taste light and fruity, not the traditional maraschino cherries, which I refrain from using because they taste too sweet and cough-syrupy. Yuck!

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Ingredients (8-inch 3-layer cake):

Chocolate Devil’s Food Layer Cake
3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup boiling water
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Whipped Cream Frosting
3 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Others
1 can Ed. Smith cherries (light and fruity)
1 cup dark chocolate shavings
 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl, whisk the boiling water and cocoa powder until smooth.

Beat butter and sugar together on medium speed in a bowl of a standing mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in buttermilk and vanilla extract.

Reduce the speed to low and beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by half of the chocolate mixture. Repeat with another 1/3 of the flour mixture and the remaining chocolate mixture. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated.

Divide the batter and pour into the prepared pans, smoothing the surface with a spatula. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Place the cakes (in the pans) on a wire rack to cool. Then invert the cakes onto a greased rack.  Cool completely.

Strain the syrup from the cherries. Set aside.

Use a pastry brush to brush a light layer of syrup on top of each cake layer. Set aside.

To prepare whipped cream frosting, whisk all the ingredients on low speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Increase the mixer speed to medium high and continue to whisking until the mixture forms stiff peak, 2 to 3 minutes.

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on your serving plate and spread with about 1/2 cup of whipped cream. then cover with about 15 pieces of cherries. Place another cake layer on top, followed by 1/2 cup whipped cream and cherries. Place the remaining cake layer on top and press lightly to adhere. Frost the entire cake with the whipped cream.

Gently press the chocolate shavings into the sides of the cake.

Using a large star tip to pipe a decorative border with the frosting on the top edge of the cake. Place cherries on top, and sprinkle some more chocolate.

Cover and refrigerate the cake before serving.

To Ethan – It’s official

November 13, 2014 by Fanny | 4 Comments

Dear Ethan,

Class photos are in, and you look perfect. It reflects how ready you are for your age and grade. After a year at kindergarten, you’re so confident in your skin right now, and this photo flawlessly captures that determination.

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Soak it in. Ethan. School years are priceless!

Love,
Mommy

Categories: Son

Lemon Yogurt Apple Cake

November 12, 2014 by Fanny | 6 Comments

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When it comes to making an apple cake, there are tons of ways to do it. Most of them are pretty simple. In fact you can easily come up with one even without a recipe, because apple cakes are forgiving.

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Apples are probably one of my kids’ favourite fruits. My house always has apples. We make shortbread pie, puff pasty pie, lattice pie. Yes! A lot of pies. And of course cakes. Crumble cake, coffee cake, and this lemon yogurt apple cake.

This cake was really moist and the citrus flavour from the lemon was nicely incorporated with the sweet cinnamony apples. Seriously, what a cake!

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Ingredients (8-inch cake):

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup plain yogurt
zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large apples, sliced
 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, whisk eggs and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add butter, and continue whisking to combine.

In a separate bowl, mix together yogurt, lemon zest, juice and vanilla. Set aside.

With the mixer on low speed, add half of the flour mixture. Once combined, add the yogurt mixture, mix until just blended. Slowly add the remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.

Pour the cake mixture into the prepared cake pan. Arrange the apple slices on top of the cake. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Garlic Parmesan Fries

November 10, 2014 by Fanny | 12 Comments

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My kids love fries. Who doesn’t! But sometimes you just hate the fact that they can easily finish a whole portion of fast food French fries in a heartbeat. And you wish you could make them at home. You know, just to make the whole thing that little bit healthier.

I cook a lot. And I do make home-made fries. Which means having to contend with the annoying tasks of peeling and cutting potatoes. Not to mention the long baking time it requires in the oven. Sometimes these drawbacks put me off the idea of making fries altogether, with the result that my kids will start hating me – all of a sudden I AM AWFUL!

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I came across with a solution recently – McCain® Superfries! Honestly, if there is a food saviour, this is the one! Imagine your kids start nagging that they want to go to a fast food restaurant, and you are trying to persuade them to stay home because something magical is going to happen, like within 15 minutes. Boom! A bowl of home-made fries freshly emerge from the oven! And I am not even joking, 15 minutes is all it takes. No peeling. No cutting. You don’t have to worry about the fact that you forgot to buy potatoes last week! Cause what you have to do is to take that bag of McCain® Superfries from the freezer, place them on a baking sheet and bake.

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And here’s where home-made fries can be even more fun: You can Modifry Your Superfries. Add a touch of chili powder or paprika for some spice lovers, like myself. Or a sprinkle of Parmesan for my kids. Or add some herbs from your garden, make some dips to go with them… Oh, when it comes to ideas, the sky is the limit!

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Ingredients (serves 4):

1 bag (650 g) McCain®Superfries Crinkle Cut
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
 

Directions:

Prepare McCain®Superfries Crinkle Cut as per packaging directions. Remove from oven 5 minutes before fully cooked.

Toss Superfries® with salt, olive oil, Parmesan and garlic.

Place Superfries® back in the oven for the last 5 minutes, or until fully cooked.

Serve warm.

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Mealtime is made better by the Superfries® everyone loves! Made from specially selected potatoes, canola oil and sea salt, Superfries® transforms any meal by adding an element of fun. Enjoy McCain® Superfries® on their own or as a substitute to your favourite side dish. Spice things up tonight and try our Black Pepper and Lime MODIFRYTM! Check out www.mccain.ca for recipe ideas! 

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by McCain Foods Canada via Mode Media Canada Inc. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of McCain Foods Canada.

To Maya – Only if it was this perfect

November 6, 2014 by Fanny | 6 Comments

Dear Maya,

You came over to my bed early this morning. Normally I would either shove you back to your room or kick you down under my bed. This morning I let you sleep with me for an hour or so before I woke up to this:

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THIS! THIS that made me feel that my life couldn’t be better. Until 20 minutes later when you started doing all the dancing and playing and singing and making noise and messing around…..EVERYTHING except eating your breakfast at the kitchen table, and you spilled that giant glass of milk all over the floor, bench, walls, cabinets…You drowned the kitchen in milk!

I knew it! I knew that look on your face was meant to be something awful.

Still love you though.

Mommy

Chocolate Brownie Cookie

November 5, 2014 by Fanny | 19 Comments

IMG_0624_webI used to be a magazine junkie. When I started packing to move from Hong Kong to Canada, I was looking at my bookshelf filled and stacked with ages-old magazines and thought Holy Crap! Turned out I had come up with over ten ultra-heavy boxes of magazines, and the moving workers was gasping for breath trying to lift them up, wondering what the hack was inside!

Now most of the magazines are gone. I tried to cut lose with a lot of memorabilia starting few years back. Just thought it through and realized I wouldn’t have time to even touch these stuff anymore. What’s the point of wasting space to keep them?! People might think it’s hard to get rid of things. But not for me. I haven’t missed any of them since then! I now get what I need from Internet. I don’t normally read magazines anymore.

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Except Bon Appétit, the very first food related magazine that I have ever subscribed. I write a lot about food here, but have never done so for food magazines. But the truth is I am actually quite interested in the people who work behind the food magazines that I love to read each month, like Bon Appétit.

This cookie recipe from Bon Appétit has become one of my go-tos. Such a simple one-bowl recipe that gives you a bunch of heavenly chocolatey goodies! Like what it says on the magazine, if a fudgy brownie and chewy chocolate chip cookie had a baby, it would be this decadent creation.

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Ingredients (around 24 cookies):

3 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk powdered sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk in egg whites and egg. Then fold in chopped chocolate.

Spoon batter by the tablespoon on to the prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart.

Bake for 14 to 16 minutes until cookies are puffed, cracked and set just around the edges. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Ferrero Rocher Cake

November 3, 2014 by Fanny | 15 Comments

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Sometimes my job as a baker is not necessarily as fun as people might think. Imagine making three exactly same cakes in a week. Or packing hundreds of macarons or cupcakes for a wedding. Being said that, I still love my job. Because I genuinely believe repetitiveness is part of every job! And no job is more repetitive as being a mother. So I think being a baker has given me some sort of balance on a daily basis. And I am thankful for that!

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I would’ve never thought about incorporating Ferrero Rocher into a cake if not for a new client’s order. And I think the reason why I wouldn’t is because I am never a big fan of Ferrero Rocher despite the fact that I love both hazelnuts and chocolate. Right. I can’t explain that!

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This cake was more based on those two major ingredients, hazelnuts and chocolate. And it’s natural to match chocolate devil’s food cake with Nutella buttercream. A little sprinkle of chopped Ferrero Rocher and hazelnuts between the cake layers gave this cake the very essence that it needed – a Ferrero Rocher cake. Don’t you already feel a little excited about Christmas looking at the cake top decoration?!

Ingredients (8-inch 3-layer cake):

Chocolate Devil’s Food Layer Cake
3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup boiling water
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Nutella Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup Nutella
4 sticks unsalted butter, soften
1 cup cocoa powder
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Others
4 pieces Ferrero Rocher, roughly chopped
6 pieces Ferrero Rocher
2 cups hazelnut, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl, whisk the boiling water and cocoa powder until smooth.

Beat butter and sugar together on medium speed in a bowl of a standing mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in buttermilk and vanilla extract.

Reduce the speed to low and beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by half of the chocolate mixture. Repeat with another 1/3 of the flour mixture and the remaining chocolate mixture. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated.

Divide the batter and pour into the prepared pans, smoothing the surface with a spatula. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Place the cakes (in the pans) on a wire rack to cool. Then invert the cakes onto a greased rack.  Cool completely before frosting.

To prepare the frosting, in a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, beat Nutella and butter for a few minutes on medium speed.  Add cooca powder and powdered sugar and beat until incorporated and you get to the right consistency.

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on your serving plate and spread with 1/3 cup frosting. Sprinkle half of the chopped Ferrero Rocher and 1 tablespoon of chopped hazelnut. Place another cake layer on top, and gently press down a little bit. Spread with another 1/3 cup frosting, and sprinkle the same amount of Ferrero Rocher and hazelnut. Place the last layer of cake on top, smear frosting on the top and sides of the cake.

Gently press the hazelnuts into the sides of the cake.

Using a large star tip to pipe a decorative border with the frosting on the top edge of the cake. Place whole Ferrero Rocher on top, and sprinkle some more hazelnuts.

Cover and refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator an hour before serving.

To Ethan and Maya – The very first kids party

October 29, 2014 by Fanny | 8 Comments

Dear Ethan and Maya,

A week ago we threw a kids Halloween birthday party for you. All along we called it a kids party because one, it’s A KIDS PARTY, your very first KIDS BIRTHDAY PARTY! Two, we have another 400 parties to celebrate your birthday. Each one deserves a name for easy recognition.

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We invited your buddies from school, the usual cast of kids who are in and out of our house, and also our neighbours’ kids. Speaking of our neighbours, I will have to say that we wouldn’t get to know them if not for you guys, especially for those who live 20 houses away. So thank you! Sometimes we wonder how amazing it is that you know all our neighbours who have kids, but they don’t know each other. Like the whole neighbourhood is fully aware of our two kids who bike and scooter to their houses asking for a playdate, and they love it! But they still have a hard time remembering the names of the kids living next to them! If kids had to carry around a resume, yours would mostly include “have successfully befriended the 400 families living miles away that no one even cares to do.”

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October in Vancouver is notoriously cold and wet. This year we were lucky to have a warm Sunday afternoon that we could move the party to our backyard. We set out finger food, sweet treats, games, props, decoration, cake and of course PIÑATA – our main event.

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Like last time, I made one from scratch. And in order to have it in good shape for keepsake, I refrained from the idea of whacking the piñata, but worked out a mechanism to pull the opening underneath it so the candies would fall out. To make sure it would work as planned, we had it tested by your father. He spent one whole afternoon tying and taping the piñata, filling it up with candies in different weights and pulling it at different heights. And of course yelling in different decibel levels. Couldn’t he just have me hold it while he pulls? Let’s just say that this is your father’s interpretation of a minor computer-cleaning. I asked him to make sure the piñata would work and HE WAS GOING TO MAKE SURE IT WOULD WORK. Just like a normal geeky MBA holder would do!

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Now if you wonder how we made these group pictures possible, we dangled the piñata and threatened to kill it and bury all the candies.

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Now tell me how many Elsas do you see? Hundreds! Each one you see here contains at least 100 in their heart.

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I let you all indulge in a few pieces of candy, but not too many because the main course was up next.

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First time you saw the cake, your eyeballs plopped out of your skulls. In fact you had seen everything before the party, you know, the approval! So when you saw all the cake pops and cupcakes that I made for the party, you were like, “IMAGINE NOT HAVING TO EAT DINNER! IMAGINE NOT HAVING TO EAT DINNER!” Yep! That’s right. Dessert that does not require eating anything containing nutritional value beforehand. I didn’t have the heart to tell you that when you are old enough to be in charge of your own meals, you will have the opportunity to do this EVERY SINGLE DAY.

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I know I know you are extremely proud of your mother at this point. What’s more? You know I normally dress up as “that woman who blogs” for Halloween. This year I decided to change a little bit.

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Same as your father who decided to dress up as an auto worker named Mike who loves to chase kids around with a knight mask…

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Turned out you thought this was the best three hours of your lives. And even though we threw this party not as a prize for hard work or as a celebration of some breakthrough, it was just as meaningful to witness your reaction, to watch childhood play out in front of us, to hold your innocence in our hands for a couple of hours and relish in how it made us all feel a little less jaded and preoccupied with useless noise.

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Love,
Mommy

Halloween Monster Cake Pop

October 29, 2014 by Fanny | 9 Comments

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Kids love cake pops. Like crazy! My son doesn’t like to eat cakes in general. You convert them into a form of cake pops, he will easily finish a dozen in a heart beat. I’ve made cake pops for his school events all the time. His friends are always amazed, and that makes him happy. And I would say there is nothing to make myself prouder than this.

Last year I did these cake pops for Halloween. And I realized I’m not a big fan of edible decorating pen. The major reason is that the “ink” seems to be fading very soon after you use it for a while. I would suspect that maybe the candy on the cake pop starts to coat the tip of the pen, and it kind of blocks the “ink” from coming out. Also the tip is not thin/sharp enough to create finer graphics on the cake pop. I’ve started to go with piping melted candy with a very tiny round tip.

These monster cake pops are relatively easy to make. Pick one or two bright colors. Put on the dramatic eyeballs. Add a little hair. You are done. I know it might be easy said than done. But if you’ve been making cake pops like myself, you know what I mean when I said EASY!

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Ingredients (about 45 pops): 

Chocolate Cake
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water
Chocolate Buttercream
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
Others
1 bag candy melts of your preferred color (for body)
half bag candy melts of your preferred color (for hair)
candy eyeballs
 

Directions:

To prepare the cake, preheat oven to 350F. Grease and line an 8-inch square cake pan.

In a large bowl, mix together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Crack in the egg, spoon in the sour cream, and pour in the oil and the vanilla. Mix with a wooden spoon until just combined.

Pour in the boiling water, and slowly mix until smooth and liquidy.

Pour batter in the prepared pan, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan for 15 minutes. Then invert it onto a greased rack. Let cool completely.

To prepare buttercream, beat butter for a few minutes in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add powdered sugar and turn the mixer on low, beat until the sugar incorporates with the butter. Add vanilla, heavy cream and cocoa powder, beat on medium speed for another 3 minutes, or until buttercream becomes light and fluffy.

To assemble cake pops, prepare two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.

Break the cooled cake into a few big trunks by hand, place them into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until the big pieces turn into crumbs.

Add frosting gradually into the cake crumbs and blend until the mixture becomes a dough, about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of frosting.

Use a small cookie scoop, roll dough into evenly sized balls and place them on the prepared cookie sheets. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Melt small amount of candy melts (body color) in the microwave gradually, 10 second intervals and stirring in-between. Dip one end of a lollipop stick in the melted candy and insert into the cake ball. Repeat until you are done. Refrigerate again for 15 minutes.

Remove the cake pops from the refrigerator. Melt all the candy melts (body color) in the microwave. Dip each cake pop in the candy melt and gently tap off excess. Carefully place one or two candy eyeballs on the cake pop. Place cake pop onto a piece of wax paper. Let it dry completely. Repeat with the remaining cake pops.

Place the other batch of candy melts (hair color) in a microwavable Ziploc bag. Microwave on high for 20 to 30 seconds to completely melt the candy melts. Push the melted candy toward one corner of the bag. With a pair of scissors, snip off a very small opening, and start piping the candy on the top part as hair.

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