Pumpkin Spice Syrup

Pumpkin Spice Syrup‘Tis the season for cozy sweaters, tall boots, and of course, pumpkin spice lattes!

This year, why not skip the Starbucks line, save a few (or a lot of) dollars, and make a healthier choice by whipping up your own batch of natural pumpkin spice syrup?

I like to mix about a tablespoon to a tablespoon and a half of this syrup with one espresso shot in a standard sized mug, and top that off with steamed milk. Delicious!

I make this syrup regularly for work, therefore I need it in fairly large quantities. As a result, the recipe yields approximately 3 cups of syrup! I did not scale down the ingredient amounts for this post, as it would have made for some annoying measurements. With that said, feel free to do the math yourself, or just share the love and give some #psl syrup away to your friends!


Pumpkin Spice Syrup

Ingredients:Pumpkin Spice Syrup

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice*

Method:

  1. Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir constantly, until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Reduce heat to low, add pumpkin and spices, and whisk until combined. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until mixture is thickened and coats the spatula.
  3. Allow mixture to cool completely, pour into a resealable container, and store in the refrigerator.

*to make my own pumpkin pie spice, I combine 4 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp cloves and 1/2 tsp allspice.

Advertisements

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

In honor of St. Patty’s Day today, I have made something green! Okay, sure, this ice cream is barely green, but for what it lacks in colour, it makes up for in taste! Trust me when I tell you, this is better than the frozen aisle variety!Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Mint chocolate chip ice cream has always been my favourite flavour, so I guess it is no surprise that it is the first thing I attempted when I bought myself an ice cream attachment for my Kitchen Aid.

The best part about this ice cream is that it has no artificial flavouring or colouring, and I made it with fresh mint leaves from the backyard!
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

As we’ve already begun enjoying beautiful Spring weather in Vancouver, I can’t think of a more refreshing treat to enjoy on a sunny afternoon!Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Source: adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups fresh mint leaves, chopped and/or muddled
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 5 ounces good quality dark chocolate, chopped

Method:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium, heat the milk, sugar, 1 cup of cream and salt until the mixture begins to steam. Stir in the mint leaves, cover, and let steep for an hour.
  2. Once steeped, strain the mixture into a medium saucepan, pressing the mint leaves against the side of the sieve.. Discard the mint leaves, and rinse the sieve for reuse.
  3. Rewarm the mint-mixture over medium heat until it begins to steam, and then remove from heat. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until combined, and smooth. Continue to gently whisk the yolks, as you slowly add the warm mint-mixture to the bowl. Return this mixture to the saucepan, and cook over medium heat until it thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Note: stir the mixture & scrape the bottom constantly, so to avoid cooking the eggs to a solid state.
  4. Pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into a large bowl and place your sieve on top. Slowly pour the egg mixture through the sieve (to remove any solid bits of egg), and the stir the mixture until incorporated.
  5. Place the bowl in an ice bath, and stir until cooled. Refrigerate until completely cool (overnight works best!).
  6. Once chilled, pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. In the final minute of churning, add the chopped chocolate.

Homemade Conversation Hearts

One of my favourite things about Valentine’s Day has to be conversation hearts! I’ll admit, there’s nothing special about the way that they taste, but there’s always been something about the texture, and of course the little sayings on them that I love!

Conversation Hearts

Conversation hearts were never a candy I thought about making…I never really considered what went into them. However, when searching on Pinterest for Valentine’s Day inspiration, I came across a recipe for the dough and decided to give it a try! I even ordered this amazing stamp kit from Amazon.ca…now I just need to find another use for it!DIY Conversation Hearts

In addition to custom phrases, I also used different flavours for my homemade version of the beauties:
Yellow = vanilla
Pink = cinnamon
White = peppermint
Orange = Bergamot
Blue = Rootbeer

Conversation Hearts

You can find and follow the recipe here. I followed it without any modifications to the ingredients, and the results were lovely!

Conversation Hearts

Conversation Hearts

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

I’ve been looking for an excuse to make crème brûlée for quite a while now. One reason is due to it being a delicious dessert. The other is the fact that it requires the act of torching–something I have discovered is quite a lot of fun!Pumpkin Crème brûlée

A few days ago, the opportunity presented itself as I had some pumpkin puree to use up, and not a clue what to do with it. After conducting a little bit of research on Pinterest, the decision to make pumpkin crème brûlée was born! Pumpkin Crème brûlée

I really thought this dessert would be way more complicated to make than it actually was, probably because the sugar shell on the top always seems so impressive. I am happy to announce the while there is a little bit of a time commitment when preparing crème brûlée, there are thankfully no daunting techniques (unless egg separation is your achilles heel!).  IMG_3882

The best part is, there are so many flavour combinations and seasonal variations that could be used for the custard! With that said, this may be my first crème brûlée post but I am quite sure it will not be my last! (Consider yourself warned 🙂 )

anigif

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Pumpkin Crème BrûléeIMG_3882

Source: adapted from williams-sonoma.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated or dried ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp firmly packed brown sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Boil a kettle full of water.
  2. In a small saucepan, whisk cream, cinnamon, allspice, ginger and nutmeg over medium-low heat, until the mixture begins to bubble at the edges and steam (approximately 3 minutes). Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks, salt, pumpkin, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar.
  4. Slowly pour cream mixture into egg mixture, gently whisking until blended.
  5. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve, over a large measuring cup. Divide custard evenly among four ramekins and place them all into an 8×8 baking pan.
  6. Pour boiling water into the baking pan, and fill until it is halfway up the outside of the ramekins. Cover the pan loosely with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes (custards should be set around the edges of the ramekins).
  7. Cool ramekins on a wire rack, and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours before eating.
  8. Prior to serving, sprinkle 1-2 tsp granulated sugar on top of the custard, and torch in small circular motions until the sugar melts and browns.

Peach Crumble Ice Cream

Peach Crumble Ice CreamThere are a few things that always make me sad about the start of fall:

  • school and it’s evil 8 am classes are back
  • the days quickly get shorter,
  • the weather gets colder and wetter, and
  • all of the beautiful local fruits and berries disappear from the produce aisle

Last week I stocked up on some Okanagan peaches to make this delicious Peach Crumble Ice Cream! I adapted a recipe that I found online by removing a few ingredients, and coming up with a makeshift crumble mixture to churn in at the end. “Unreal” was just one of the words my sister used to describe this dish, and who would I be to disagree with someone of such discerning taste?

Peach Crumble Ice CreamThis recipe involves a few different steps and requires cooling time in the fridge at various points. Therefore the earlier in the day that you get started on this, the earlier to you get to enjoy it!
Peach Crumble Ice CreamPeach Crumble Ice Cream

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Peach Crumble Ice Cream

Source: adapted from She Wears Many Hats

Ingredients:Peach Crumble Ice Cream

Ice Cream:

  • 1 ½ pounds fresh peaches, peeled, pitted, and cubed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 cups whipping cream, divided
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Crumble:

  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup oats
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 Tbsp cold butter

Method:Peach Crumble Ice Cream

Ice Cream: 

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, simmer the peaches, brown sugar, and cinnamon until the peaches soften and the mixture reduces (approximately 15 minutes). Transfer to a glass bowl and chill in the refrigerator until cool.
  2. In a small sauce pan, heat 1 cup of whipping cream, sugar, and salt over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved (stirring regularly). Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool in fridge for about 10 minutes.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, add remaining whipping cream, milk, and vanilla. Add the cooled cream and sugar mixture, half of the peaches and whisk to combine.
  4. Refrigerate mixture until absolutely cooled (the colder the better!).
  5. Add chilled mixture to ice cream maker and churn according to the directions (I used my Kitchen Aid ice cream maker attachment and churned for about 20 minutes).
  6. During the last minute of churning, add ¼ of the crumble mixture, and the remaining peaches.
  7. Transfer to a container, spreading a thick layer of ice cream and sprinkling with the remaining crumble. Repeat this process until all of your ice cream is in the container. This will give a nice rippled effect when scooped.

Crumble:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl, whisking to combine.
  3. Work the butter in with your fingers, breaking it up, until the mixture is crumbly, but cohesive.
  4. Bake until the mixture is browned and crisped (10-15 minutes), keeping an eye on it to prevent over-baking.
  5. Once cooled, break apart by hand.

 

Valentine’s Day Cookie Boxes

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The past two evenings have been super busy as I’ve been baking up a storm over here!  Here’s a look at what I’ve been up to:

Valentine's Day

 

For the sugar cookie boxes I cut out 5 large hearts, and then used a smaller heart to cut out the middles of three of them. Once baked, I stacked them using royal icing and connected them to a base piece.

Sugar Cookie Treat Boxes

For the chocolates, I made peanut butter filled milk chocolate hearts, and peppermint filled dark chocolate hearts.

Valentine's Chocolates

And finally, my newest creation: cookie confetti! It’s a great way to use up cookie dough, and you only have to bake them for 5 minutes 🙂

Cookie Confetti

Hope everyone has a wonderful day!

Valentines Day Treat Boxes

Sugar Cookie Confetti

What did the boy octopus say to the girl octopus?
I wanna hold your hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand? 

2013 Holiday Baking

I promise this is the final post in my 3 day posting binge! I had an extremely jam-packed holiday schedule this year (last year..?) and as a result, haven’t had time to write posts until now…as it is already two weeks into 2014 I figured I would just publish them all at once before it is too late! Don’t worry, knowing me, I probably won’t get around to another post for at least 2 months :).

The night that I finished writing my last exam, I started a baking marathon that involved 14 dozen sugar cookies for my Dad’s work. 14 dozen might not sound so bad (or maybe it does), but I can assure you this was a very time-consuming endeavor! Keep in mind I used a standard sized oven, and decorating was a multi-step process. In the end, the effort was worth it, as everything came together on time, and my “clients” were happy with the result!

On a whim I decided to make some last minute mini cupcakes on Christmas Eve. The flavours were chocolate and gingerbread, and the icing was ginger-cinnamon. Delicious! All of the toppers were made out of fondant and decorated with edible markers.

Christmas Mini Cupcakes

I also made 3 different kinds of chocolate bark this year: Peppermint, Dark chocolate with pistachio and cranberry, and milk chocolate with mango, papaya and coconut. I failed to temper the chocolate, so the bark was in perfect condition as long as it was in the fridge, but had some unfortunate blooming if left out at room temperature too long. Lesson learned!

Eggnog Pancakes

The last few days of eggnog are upon us! If your family is like mine, you can’t get enough of this stuff and are sad to see it go at the end of the Holidays. I know that you can make this stuff yourself, but the whole concept of the raw eggs creeps me out, so there I go feigning ignorance and picking up a carton or two (or three).Eggnog Pancakes

So here’s a funny story for you. I was intending to make vegan pancakes the other day as I got a new book for Christmas that I wanted to try out; but when I went to the fridge to grab soy milk, the eggnog was pretty much screaming at me. So my pancakes went from being vegan to non-vegan in the span of seconds.

Eggnog Pancakes

I stuck with the vegan baking method, using eggnog and vinegar as an egg substitute (yes, i realize that there are eggs in eggnog, just work with me here), but other than that, I ended up improvising the rest of the recipe. The best part about this is since you don’t have to worry about dividing eggs, you can make this recipe as small (or as large) as you want.Eggnog Pancakes

In the end these were delicious and had an unmistakable eggnog flavour! So now you have something to do with those last few drops of eggnog in your fridge before it leaves stores in a few days! Enjoy!

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Eggnog Pancakes 

Makes 6

Source: Cake for Thought

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup eggnog
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup AP flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

Method:

  1. Combine eggnog and vinegar in a small mixing bowl and allow to curdle. Stir in yogurt and sugar.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk until combined (a few lumps are okay).
  4. Heat a pan or griddle over medium heat. Coat pan in oil, and scoop on 1/3 cup of batter.
  5. When the pancake is bubbling (after 4-5 minutes), flip it over and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes.
  6. Serve with icing sugar and maple syrup.

Nutella Fudge

During my recent stint in Quebec, Nutella and I became the best of friends. I hesitate to tell you how many jars I consumed, partly because it’s an expensive habit, and also because it’s just plain embarrassing. Let’s just say that there were numerous occasions when friends observed an open jar of Nutella with a spoon sitting in it on my desk. I’m going to blame this one on dorm life.DSCN5937-horz

Since Nutella has such a presence in Quebec, it would’t have been right leaving without some recipes so a bought this cute little book: Nutella-les 30 recettes culte written by Sandra Mahut. It’s an awesome little recipe book with everything from lava cake to lollipops. page

First up on my to-make list was the Nutella fudge. It is a super easy recipe with only 5 ingredients in it. Here is all you will need:

Nutella Fudge Ingredients

It is decadent and creamy; just try to eat only one piece, I dare you! DSCN5960-horz

And don’t worry, I (google) translated the recipe into English for you 🙂

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Fudge au Nutella et à la guimauve (Nutella & Marshmallow Fudge)page1

Source: Nutella-les 30 recettes culte 

Ingredients:

  • 115 g softened butter
  • 200 g Nutella
  • 400 g powdered sugar
  • 140 grams unsweetened evaporated milk
  • 50 small marshmallows

Method:

  1. In a small bowl, combine Nutella and butter. Set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the sugar in the milk until dissolved; add the marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Keep on low heat for 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add Nutella & butter mixture, mixing gently until completely combined with marshmallow mixture.
  4. Pour mixture into an 8×8 inch pan lined with parchment paper.
  5. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, then cut, serve, and enjoy!

___________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Side note: the other day at Costco, I found a 5 kg jar of Nutella! I would have bought it and made all 30 recipes from the book, but the thought of spending $40.00 on Nutella kind of ruined it for me 🙂 

Happy Nutella baking!

Les Aventures Québécois

DSCN5557Bonjour mes amis! I have just returned from la belle province, Québec, where I was staying at l’Université Laval for a 5 week french immersion program. Don’t be fooled, this trip wasn’t all books and studying (shocking right?). I got to meet the coolest people from all across Canada (and the US) and had the chance to explore the landscape, culture and food that the city has to offer.

Here are just a few of the things that I will miss about Québec:

  1. Vieux-Québec! There’s something very special about the old part of the city! Feels just like walking through any beautiful city in Europe.DSCN5543-horz
  2. Crêpes! I think I could probably eat a crêpe every day and not get bored. I don’t care if they’re sweet or savoury, I just think they are one of the greatest culinary inventions. My best find on this trip was the crêpe au marron, or chestnut crêpe. If you ever see one on a menu, don’t hesitate to order it!DSCN5857-horz
  3. Poutine! I know that you can get poutine in Vancouver and probably every other Canadian city too these days, but let’s face it, the Québécois kind of own the rights to this one, and they seem to be doing it right. I can’t think of many restaurants I encountered that didn’t have some version of poutine on their menu. I tried a lot of different kinds of poutine, and even tried squeaky cheese (yes, the curds actually make a squeak noise when you bite them), but my favourite was the one I tried at the Chic Shack in Vieux-Québec.DSCN5896-horz
  4. Bakeries! Since Québec City is so much like Europe, it is filled with fabulous bakeries boasting all sorts of delicious pastries, ice creams, macarons, croissants, etc. Among some of the memorable treats I tried were croissants filled with marzipan, carrot cake macarons, and geranium black currant macarons.DSCN5872-tile
  5. Ice Cream! I’m not normally a huge ice cream kind of gal, but I definitely had my fair share of crème glacée on this trip, and for good reason. There are a number of little ice cream shops that do the most amazing chocolate-dipped cones. Just think Dairy Queen on steroids. The best place was “Chocolats Favoris” in the town of Lévis. They had about half a dozen ice cream flavours and 12 different chocolate fondues. I had to make a second trip there just so I could try out another flavour.DSCN5864-horz
  6. Maple! The Québécois are extremely proud of what their maple trees produce and rightfully so! Maple syrup, maple butter, maple candies, maple ice cream, maple cookies, the list goes on and on…I think I will have to make some maple cupcakes again soon!DSCN5923-horz
  7. Mes Amis! I was so lucky to meet the coolest group of people participating in the Explore program avec moi. Right off the bat it felt as if we had known each other for years. Thank you all for the many laughs and “bon temps,” and of course the incentive to travel across Canada to visit you all in the future! Let’s not wait too long for a reunion! A bientôt!page