Saturday, 15 February 2014


Salted Caramel Cashew Cookies

It's Valentine's weekend and chocolate is not hard to find, and even easier to eat.  Don't get me wrong, I love me some chocolate.  But butterscotch and caramel have their good qualities too, you know.  Chewy, sweet and rich, just to name a few.

If you want a crowd pleaser, look no further.  I could barely get these out of the house intact, and I'm not blaming anyone for that.  This is one recipe that I know I will be making over and over again, and that is really saying something considering that I hate making the same thing twice!

Salted Caramel Cashew Cookies

The first thing I love about these cookies is the way they look.  They say you eat with your eyes first, and these are definitely drool worthy.  They are supremely thick and chunky.  No slim wafers here!  And you know that means they are going to be deliciously chewy with a burst of flavour in every bite.  Then of course there is the drizzle.  Completely unnecessary, but it really classes it up a notch.  It's like adding accessories to a great outfit.  Just makes it that much better.

Of course, they taste pretty damn good too.  You would never know they are gluten free, in fact I think that would be the last thought on your mind.  The cashew butter lends a beautiful richness to the consistency as well as the flavour, and then adding in more chopped nuts later, just keeps things interesting.  Sold yet?  You should be.  Make them.  Now.

Salted Caramel Cashew Cookies

Salted Caramel Cashew Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewarts Cookies

1 2/3 cups gluten free flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup roasted salted cashews
3/4 cup raw unsalted cashews, roughly chopped
3/4 cups toffee / skor bits
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

24 soft caramel candy cubes
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 - 1 teaspoon sea salt

Sift together the flour and salt, and set aside.

Blend the roasted salted cashews in a high speed food processor until dessicated.  Pour in the oil, and continue blending until it comes to a smooth buttery consistency.  Place the cashew butter, butter, and sugars in a large bowl and mix with a beater on medium speed for about two minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix again.  While mixing on low speed, slowly add in the flour and salt until just combined.  Stir in the chopped cashews and toffee bits.

Drop large scoops of batter onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes, then lightly flatten the tops of the cookies, and return to the oven.  Bake for another 7-10 minutes, until the bottoms are golden.  Let cool completely.

For the sauce, melt the caramels and cream together in a saucepan or microwave, stirring frequently.  When smooth, stir in the sea salt adding more or less to taste.  Use a spoon to drizzle over the cookies, and then let them sit until completely set.

Eat all of them, and consider it a day well spent.

Sunday, 9 February 2014


brazilian fudge balls

I've got a couple Brazilian recipes happening in my kitchen lately, but these fudge balls are definitely the most important ones for any chocoholics out there.  They are INTENSE.  Like if ooey, gooey, chocolate attacked your face, and started multiplying itself into millions of bite sized balls. becoming more and more densely chocolately by the second, until you thought you would just die and be reincarnated as chocolate yourself - that is what these are like.  So.  Consider yourself warned.

brazilian fudge balls

Going by the name Brigadeiros in their native land, these chocolate sweets are a very common party snack in Brazil.  Similar to truffles or fudge, but oh so simple to make, these rich balls are most commonly coated in chocolate sprinkles as I've done here. However, you could modify this to suit the occasion, perhaps some pink sprinkles for the upcoming day of love?  Orange and black for Halloween?  Or get really crazy and expand your horizons into some dessicated coconut.  Throw caution to the wind and dip a few in some melted white chocolate.  Sprinkle some crushed pistachios over the top.  Roll them in vanilla sugar.  I could go on.  But you get the idea.

There are dozens of recipes out there, but most are identical.  The great part about these treats is that they have stayed pretty true to their original recipe - so you know it must be good to start with.  I went with a recipe from the trusted Saveur website, which recreates them in their original form with the added benefit of a few tablespoons of heavy cream.  I know, it's probably unnecessary, but life happens.  Chocolate happens, people.

brazilian fudge balls

Brazilian Fudge Balls
Recipe from Saveur

4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
28 oz sweetened condensed milk
3 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
Chocolate sprinkles

Bring butter, cream, and milk to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the chocolate and cocoa, and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is a dense, fudgy batter.  It will take about 16 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and let cool.  Chill for at least 4 hours.

When completely set and chilled, use a tablespoon to scoop out the fudge and roll into balls.  Roll each ball in chocolate sprinkles until coated.  Chill until ready to serve.

Eat without remorse, and proceed into a chocolate induced coma.

Sunday, 2 February 2014


I am the worst.  This poor blog has felt like a misplaced stepchild lately, and I'm the evil stepmother.  The only resolution?  To post something so delectable, it just can't be ignored.  Something that no one in their right mind can resist.

These little goodies are obviously a take on popular, well known treats, but have the extra valour of being crafted by hand and made with luscious dark chocolate.  It's like Halloween for adults.  It's rich and new but still comforting and familiar.  And if I do say so myself, I think they are pretty damn impressive.  I mean, they just scream love.  So be careful who you gift these to, my friends.  Or perhaps give freely and then see how your social calendar fares?

In all honesty I made these in the crush of holiday baking, for a few parties and also for my freezer.  I know that makes me even more horrendous for not sharing earlier.  Maybe I just needed some time alone with them.  To bond and whatnot.  But hey, now that we're all in the dark winter slump, these could be just the pickup you need.  A dark chocolate and peanut buttery (or coconutty) pick me up.

These recipes comes from Food52, one of my favourite foodie sites.  They do a great job of creating recipes for items you would normally buy (like these chocolates) in a way that lets you control what goes in it and customize it to your tastes.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups
Adapted from Food52 Peanut Butter Cups
1 cup salted peanut butter (I used my homemade peanut butter recipe and it was perfect!)
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup powdered/icing sugar
32 ounces of chocolate (I used about one third extra dark, and one third milk chocolate just to add a bit of creaminess)
Coarse sea salt if desired
*You'll also want to pick up some mini cupcake wrappers

Mix together the peanut butter, butter, and sugars in a bowl and set aside in the fridge or freezer.  Roughly chop the chocolate, and melt it in a saucepan over low heat until smooth.  Put the mini cupcake wrappers on a baking sheet and pour in just enough chocolate to fill the bottom of the wrapper.  I found that putting a small spoonful of chocolate in a row of wrappers, then lifting and dropping the tray to spread each dollop of chocolate out to the edges of the wrapper worked well.  When the bottoms are all done, refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.

Take the peanut butter mixture, and start shaping your filling discs.  Use about a heaping teaspoon to measure, then shape into a disc that's not quite as wide as the cupcake wrappers.  Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and when done put back in the freezer for about 10 minutes.  This will make them easier to handle and get into the cups without sticking to your fingers.

Then start dropping the peanut butter mixture discs into each of the chocolate bottom-filled wrappers.  You may need to warm up the remaining chocolate again to ensure it is smooth and pourable.  Pour another spoonful or two into each wrapper until the peanut butter is completely covered and the tops are flat.  Gently lifting and dropping the tray again as you go will help spread the chocolate to fill all the edges of the wrappers.

If desired, sprinkle the tops with a little coarse sea salt, and place them in the fridge until completely set - about thirty minutes to an hour.  You can serve these cold or let them get soft and melty at room temperature for a few minutes too.  They also freeze amazingly well, so you can stock up your freezer in anticipated of future drop in guests.

Homemade Chocolate Covered Coconut Bars
Adapted from Food52 Almond Joys
1 cup unsweetened medium desiccated coconut
3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons honey / maple syrup / agave
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 ounces dark chocolate

Mix together the shredded coconut, coconut oil, syrup of your choice, vanilla extract and salt.  Once fully combined, place in the freezer for about 20 minutes.  When cold enough that it is easy to form and sticks together, start making logs about 1 inch in length and a half inch in diameter.  Place onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and flatten the sides and top with your fingers to create a rectangular shape.  Place in the freezer for 30 minutes, until firm.

Roughly chop the chocolate and melt in a saucepan over low heat until smooth.  And now for the fun part!  Coat each coconut bar in chocolatey goodness.  This does get a bit messy, I'm not going to lie.  I found it easiest to hold the coconut bar over the chocolate, and using a spoon or spatula pour the chocolate over the bar, letting the excess drip off.  Then I just touched up and bare spots with a spatula when it was back on the baking sheet.  Once you get a rhythm going, it's easy.  I like to go for the "rustic, homemade" look anyways!

Freeze these again until the chocolate has hardened, then you can pack up into a container and store in the fridge or freezer.  Again, it's your choice if you want to serve them cold or at room temperature.