Nanaimo Bars: The sweetest slice of Canadiana

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Nanaimo bars have to be Canada's sweetest contribution to the world of food... like, literally.

So, if you're ever craving sugar, and I mean really craving sugar, this recipe is here for you!

Nanaimo bars

Makes 16 bars

For the bottom layer:
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg
1 ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
½ cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup desiccated coconut

For the filling:
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar
3 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the topping:
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
¼ cup unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Prepare a 9x9-inch pan by lining it with parchment paper.

For the bottom layer, set a large heatproof bowl over 1-inch of simmering water and add in the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt.  Melt the mixture together until fully combined.  Beat in the egg and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, about 30­­–45 seconds.  Remove the bowl from the heat and add in the graham cracker crumbs, walnuts, and coconut.  Press this into the bottom of your prepared pan and pop it in the fridge to chill.

For the filling, in a medium bowl, beat together the butter and custard powder.  Slowly add in the icing sugar followed by the milk, vanilla, and salt.  Continue to beat until well combined and light and fluffy.  Spread the filling in an even layer over the base and pop it back in the fridge to allow it to continue to chill.

For the topping, either in a double boiler or in the microwave, melt together the chocolate chips, butter, and salt.  Stir well to combine and allow it to cool just slightly.  Pour the topping over the custard layer and spread into an even layer.  Pop the whole pan back into the fridge to cool completely.  To cut, use a very sharp warm knife and prepare for a sugar crash in approximately 2 hours!

Churros: The french fries of the doughnut world



Churros are, in my humble opinion, the world's most overindulge-able doughnuts.  

I mean, when was the last time you ate just one churro?!

They should always come in servings of at least 3!  Think about it.  Wouldn't you be so jazzed if churros were served in those little fast food french fry cup things with a side of chocolate sauce, caramel, or chocolate hazelnut spread!?  It'd be like dessert fries!  





Serves 8

1 cup water
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoon unsalted butter
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Store bought chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, or chocolate hazelnut spread

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, salt, sugar, and butter.  Bring this mixture to a boil, add the vanilla, and dump in the flour all at once.  Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball.  Remove from the heat and continue to stir for about 30 seconds.

Allow the mixture to cool and heat 3 – 4” of vegetable oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot to 375F.  Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.

Spoon the slightly cooled churro mixture into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe a few churros at a time into the hot oil by piping and snipping with scissors.  Fry the churros until golden and drain on a paper towel lined plate.

While still hot, place the churros in the cinnamon sugar and toss to coat.  Allow them to cool slightly and serve warm with store bought chocolate sauce.

It's January soo... Doughnuts

Vanilla Glaze Cake Doughnuts

Vanilla Glaze Cake Doughnuts

January can pretty much be summed up in one word: blah.  

It's the month when Mopey Mary rears her ugly head to make every day feel drawn out, dull, and dreary.  The holidays are over, the glow of the new year has started to fade, and all I really have to look forward to are the short, chilly days of winter.  Every year I tell myself to plan a holiday for mid-January but, instead, I spend my days drudging through work and my evenings lazing about on the couch watching mainly murder shows because, well, murder shows are pretty great and why the heck not?
(ps how am I only watching Fargo now?!)

In my mind, there is only one thing that can help spurn that grumpy gal to the sidelines and that is doughnuts.  Sure, any sweet would do and I sure have had my fair share of chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, and brownies these past two and a half weeks but doughnuts!  Oh baby, doughnuts are the answer to my forlorn prayers!

Draped with a Simpsons-esque pink glaze and scattered with a few little sprinkles, nothing brings a smile to my face and a spring to my step quite like a classic vanilla dip!  As I tend to be a bit lazy this time of year, these little puppies are a classic cake doughnut rather than a yeast risen because when I want doughnuts, I don't want to have to wait on yeast!

So, what are you waiting for?  Banish those January blues and get to frying!

Vanilla Cake Doughnuts

Makes 12 doughnuts and 12 doughnut holes

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, melted butter, and vanilla.  Pour this wet mixture into the well and mix just until a soft dough forms.  Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.

Remove the dough from the fridge and heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large, deep pot over medium heat until a thermometer registers at 350F.  On a generously floured work surface, roll out your chilled dough to a ½ inch thickness and, using a 3-inch round cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible.  Using a 1-inch round cutter, remove the very centre of each circle, giving you doughnuts and doughnut holes! 

Feel free to bring the remaining dough together to reroll and cut out more doughnuts but only do this once as rerolling the dough a third time might make the doughnuts a bit tough.

Before frying, prepare a draining station for your doughnuts by lining a cookie sheet with paper towel and a cooling rack.

Now, it’s time to fry!  Gently lower four or five doughnuts into the hot oil and cook, flipping once, until all the doughnuts are golden brown and lovely.  Remove the cooked doughnuts to the rack-lined cookie sheet and continue to fry until all of your doughnuts and doughnut holes are done.

When cooled, dunk each doughnut and doughnut hole in classic vanilla or chocolate glaze and leave to set for at least 30 minutes.


Classic Vanilla Dip Glaze

1 ¾ cups icing sugar
2–3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8–12 drops red food colouring
Sprinkles, for decorating

In a small bowl, whisk together the icing sugar, milk, vanilla, and food colouring until smooth.  Dunk your doughnuts into the glaze followed immediately by a scattering of sprinkles and allow the doughnuts to set up for at least 30 minutes.

Cranberry Almond Biscotti: A cookie so nice, they baked it twice

Cranberry Almond Biscotti

Cranberry Almond Biscotti

When I was about 14 years old, I went through a serious biscotti craze.  While other girls my age were starting to get into normal early-teen things like makeup, hair straighteners, and school dances, I was elbow deep in biscotti dough, forming little loafs, baking, slicing, and baking again.  Biscotti are just a little bit more involved than a traditional drop cookie like chocolate chip or oatmeal but they are oh-so totally worth it.  

By twice-baking these delectable little Italian cookies, they become a little crunchy and crumbly making them perfect for dunking into a cup of coffee or tea.  Another bonus?  The double bake allows them to stay fresh in your cupboard for up to a month though I’ve never had a batch last that long!

Cranberry Almond Biscotti

Makes around 30 biscotti

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 ¼ cup All Purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup dried cranberries
¾ cup whole almonds, unsalted
1 cup white chocolate chips

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition followed by the vanilla and almond extracts. 

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt then fold in the dried cranberries and almonds.  Don’t worry about sifting your dry ingredients – these lovely little cookies have a great bite to them and are much more hearty than sifted things like cake.

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet and stir just until combined.  Set the bowl in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350F and line one large or two small cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Once the dough has chilled, divide it in half and form each into approximately a 3x8” rectangle on your parchment lined sheet.  Be sure to leave at least 5 inches of space between your two biscotti loaves as they will rise and spread in the oven.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until lightly golden brown and slightly set.

Remove your biscotti from the oven and allow it to cool slightly on the baking sheet for 10-15 minutes.  Lower your oven to 325F and slice each biscotti loaf into around 15 cookies.  I like to do mine on a bit of an angle – it gives you longer biscotti and a nicer looking cookie.  Place the biscotti cut side down back onto your baking sheet and back for 15 minutes.  Flip the cookies over and bake for an additional 5 minutes.  This flip is not totally necessary but it does give your biscotti a more even colour and texture.

Remove your biscotti from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack while you melt your white chocolate in the microwave.  Once the biscotti are cool, dunk or drizzle each cookie with the white chocolate and allow it to set up on a piece of parchment before digging in!