Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hamburger and Hot dog Cookies!

Perfect BBQ cookies!

The unofficial start of summer is about to be kicked off for most North Americans- Canada Day (July 1st) and Independence Day (July 4th)! Fireworks, picnics, BBQs, parades will all be had by millions of us over the coming few days. The fireworks and parades I may not be able to help with but I do have something to share for the BBQs and picnics - cookies! And not just any cookies but cookies that go with the summer BBQ theme - hamburgers and hotdogs!  I think they are adorable! I made them for my kids to share at the last day of school and everyone loved them. The hamburgers don't require actual baking - just a little melting of chocolate and the hotdogs are a sugar cookie recipe that I add some food gel to for that good 'ol processed meat colour ;) I've also made successful dogs with a shortbread dough just in case sugar cookies aren't your thing.

I hope everyone enjoys their respective holidays!

And just in case you need some random facts to spice up your holiday BBQs read these:

United States

  • Almost 1 in 3 hot dogs and pork sausages consumed on the Fourth of July originated in Iowa. The Hawkeye State was home to 19.7 million hogs and pigs on March 1, 2012.
  •  Chances are good that the beef hot dogs, steaks and burgers on your backyard grill came from the Lone Star State, which accounted for about one-sixth of the nation’s total production.
  •  Potato salad and potato chips are popular food items at Fourth of July barbecues. Approximately half of the nation’s spuds were produced in Idaho or Washington state in 2011. 


  • More than 75% of the world's maple syrup comes from Canada.
  • The world’s first chocolate bar was made at Ganong’s candy factory in St. StephenNew Brunswick.
  • Canadians eat more salt than any other country in the world.
  • Canadians eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, more frozen fruits and vegetables, more flour, more fish, more nuts, more pulses and drinks more tea and 2% milk than Americans.
  • Alberta is responsible for 60% of Canada’s beef production.
  • 73% of Canada’s seafood comes from Atlantic Canada.

No-bake Hamburger Cookies


A box of nilla wafers.
One bag of chocolate candy melts.
Red and yellow decorating icing (I used premade to save time)
1/2 c coconut
a few drops of green food colouring

What to do

If using coconut for "lettuce" , place the coconut in a ziploc and add a couple drops of green food colouring. Seal the bag, shake and mix until the coconut is the desired colour.

To make sure my patties were the right size, I first cut a piece of parchment paper to match the size of a cookie sheet. Then I traced the outline of a nilla wafer many times on the sheet leaving about 2 inches between each circle. Turn the paper over so any ink doesn't transfer to the chocolate. 

Melt about a cup of chocolate candy melts in the microwave according to the bags directions.

Using a teaspoon, drop chocolate on the pre-traced circles and spread to match the circles.

Take one wafer and gently press the flat side of the cookie into each melted chocolate circle. Repeat to fill each traced circle.

Place the cookie sheet in the fridge to set the chocolate. It will take about 20 minutes unless your chocolate in very thick.

Remove from fridge and flip over your bun/burger. You can now dress your burgers with "ketchup" or "mustard" icings. Sprinkle a little coconut on the edges for "lettuce".

Place another nilla wafer on top to complete your burger! Let set (I left mine over night but it shouldn't take too long).


Hot Dog Sugar Cookies


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • red food colouring
  • green food colouring
  • black food colouring (optional)
  • red and yellow icing (store bought might be the easiest)

What to do

  • In bowl; whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to combine. Set aside.
  • In another large bowl beat butter and shortening.
  • Beat in sugars until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in egg and vanilla.
  • Mix in flour mixture.
  • Take 2/3 dough and place in separate bowl.
  • To the other 1/3 of dough, add no taste red food colouring and a little green food colouring - you'll probably need to add 3x the amount of red to green - add sparingly as it's easier to add more colour than take it out!! This combo of colours should give you the pinky/browny colour of a hotdog! 
  • Make the buns first - Using approx 2 tbsp or 30 grams of "bun" dough, shape it into bun. Either use your finger or perhaps a chopstick or other skinny cylindrical item to make space for the hot dog. Repeat leaving about 2 inches between each cookie on your baking sheet.
  • Now take about a tbsp (maybe a bit less) of hotdog dough and roll into a weiner. Carefully, place it into the "bun".
  • If desired, dip a toothpick into some brown or black food colouring and add"char" marks to the dog.
  • Refrigerate your hotdogs at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  • Bake in the centre of your oven for 12-15 minutes or until light golden brown on the bottom and edges.
  • Let cool for 5 minutes on tray.
  • Transfer to racks; let cool completely.
  • Add red/yellow icing as condiments!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Trio of Battenberg Cakes - Daring Bakers

Mandy of What The Fruitcake?! came to our rescue last minute to present us with the Battenberg Cake challenge!  She highlighted Mary Berry’s techniques and recipes to allow us to create this unique little cake with ease.
Have you ever tasted a Battenberg cake? Ever even heard of it before? I wouldn't be surprised if the answer to both questions is "no". Battenberg is uniquely English.

Apparently, the first Battenberg cake was made to celebrate the marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Victoria, to husband Prince Louis of Battenberg.

It’s traditionally flavoured with almond and has the signature Battenberg markings, that is, the yellow and pink squares (said to represent the four princes of Battenberg). The strips of sponge are glued together using jam (normally apricot) and the whole cake is covered in marzipan. Sometimes the edges are crimped and the top is patterned with a knife.

It is certainly stunning visually and the classic cake is delicious to taste as well. 

I made three versions of the Battenberg - traditional pink/yellow with almond flavouring, a walnut/coffee version and finally a chocolate/orange Battenberg. All were fantastic but I think the classic version was my favorite. The classic version is especially moist thanks to the jam. That said, the coffee/walnut Battenberg is great too - anything coffee is a hit in my books!

I do find the marzipan a little finicky so if you are worried about that you could use fondant instead as I did in my coffee/walnut and chocolate/orange versions. You'll need about the same amount of fondant or perhaps 1/4c more if you like it a bit thicker.

I have included the coffee/walnut version below and click here if you prefer the traditional version.

For the chocolate Battenberg I added two tbsp of cocoa to half the classic version and left out the almond flavouring. In the other half I added orange flavouring instead of almond. I also used a homemade chocolate ganache but any chocolate icing will do!

Recipe Source:

Great video of Mary Berry making this cake at end of post.
Coffee and Walnut Battenberg is also from Mary Berry on the BBC Food website

Coffee and Walnut Battenberg

Servings: +- 8


100gm /3.5 oz Unsalted Butter, softened & cut in cubes
100gm /3.5 oz Caster Sugar
100gm /3.5 oz Self-Raising Flour
2 Large Eggs, room temp
50gm /1-3/4 oz Ground Almonds (Can be substituted with ground rice)
½ tsp Baking Powder
3 tsp (15 ml) Milk
½ tsp (2½ ml) Vanilla Extract
1½ tsp (7½ ml) 7 gm Instant Coffee Powder or Granules
3 Tbsp / 25gm/1 oz Walnuts, roughly chopped


100g/3½oz icing sugar
40g/1½oz butter, softened
½ tsp instant coffee powder
1½ tsp milk

1 cup / 225gm /8 oz Marzipan, natural or yellow

What to do

1. Preheat oven to moderate 325°F/180°C/160°C Fan Assisted/Gas Mark 4

2. Grease an 8”/20cm square baking tin with butter

3.Cut out a piece of parchment paper that is 7.5cm/3in longer than the length of the tin. Fold the paper in half widthways. Open out the paper and push up the centre fold to make a 4cm/1½in pleat. Line the base of the tin with this, making any adjustments to ensure the pleat runs down the centre of the tin making in effect two rectangular 'tins' within the tin.

4. OR Prepare Battenberg tin by brushing the tin with melted butter and flouring

5. Whisk together dry ingredients (except walnuts and coffee) and combine with the wet ingredients in a large bowl (except vanilla and milk) and beat together just until the ingredients are combined and the batter is smooth

6. Spoon half the mixture into a separate bowl and stir in the vanilla, 1½ teaspoons milk and chopped walnuts

7. Spoon the walnut mixture into the one side of the prepared baking tin

8. Dissolve the coffee in the remaining 1½ teaspoon milk and add to the remaining batter, stir until just combined

9. Spoon the coffee batter into the other half of the prepared baking tin

10. Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula, making sure batter is in each corner

11. Bake for 25-30mins until the cake is well risen, springs back when lightly touched and a
toothpick comes out clean (it should shrink away from the sides of the pan)

12. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack

13. Once completely cool, trim the edges of the cake with a long serrated knife

14. Cut each sponge in half lengthways so that you are left with four long strips of sponge

15. Neaten the strips and trim as necessary so that your checkered pattern is as neat and even as possible

16. Combine the buttercream ingredients together and mix until combined

17. Spread a thin layer of buttercream onto the strips of cake to stick the cake together in a checkered pattern

18. Dust a large flat surface with icing sugar then roll the marzipan in an oblong shape that is wide enough to cover the length of the cake and long enough to completely wrap the cake 

19. Spread the top of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream

20. Place the cake on the marzipan, buttercream side down

21. Spread buttercream onto the remaining three sides

22. Press the marzipan around the cake, making sure the join is either neatly in the one corner, or will be underneath the cake once turned over

23. Carefully flip the cake over so that the seam is under the cake and score the top of the cake with a knife, you can also crimp the top corners with your fingers to decorate

24. Neaten the ends of the cake and remove excess marzipan by trimming off a small bit of cake on both ends to reveal the pattern.

This is the video of Mary Berry making this cake. Watch it before you make it!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie

So this season I've shared strawberry pie, strawberry-rhubarb crumble bars and strawberry-rhubarb cobbler...the only left to do is combine some of these things into a strawberry-rhubarb crumble pie! I promise, this will be the last rhubarb recipe of the year! 

Fresh, local ingredients make all the difference in truly great pies!


use your own favorite or try my fave pie crust (it will make enough for two 9-inch single crusts)

Pie Crust
2 1/2 c flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 c unsalted butter, frozen 
12 tbsp ice cold water

Fruit Filling
4 c rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch chunks
3 c strawberries, halve or quartered depending on size
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 c sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)

2/3 c flour
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c butter, unsalted and melted

What to do:

(If using your own dough, make it and skip to "preheat oven" - #8.)

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and salt.

2. Grate the frozen butter into the flour. (this is a pain but essential)

3. Gently toss the butter and flour until the flour coats the grated butter.

4. Sprinkle the ice water over the mixture and mix with your fingers. In the bowl, knead the dough until it comes together into a ball.

5. Divide the dough into two pieces and place in plastic wrap or a ziploc.

6. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

7. Remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit for 10 minutes to make rolling easier.

8. Preheat your oven to 400° F.

9. Roll out dough to fit a 9-inch pie plate and trim and pinch edges. Place in pie pan and place in refrigerator until fruit is ready.

10. In a large bowl, combine and toss rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, spices, salt and lemon juice if using.

11. Remove pie pan from fridge and fill with fruit mixture.

12. For crumble topping, mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl. 
13. Stir in melted butter and mix until everything is damp and crumbly.
14. Using your hands, sprinkle the crumble mixture over top of fruit.

15. Place a baking tray under the pie pan and place in oven for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° F and bake for 40 minutes more, or until fruit filling is bubbling (the pan will catch any runaway juices!). If crust edge is browning too quickly, cover edges with a thin strip of tin foil.

16. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Feeds 8.

A little browner on top than I would like but still delicious!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Rhubarb Strawberry Squares

I may not have baked with rhubarb before this season, but I'm sure making up for it now! These squares are simply amazing. I love the flavour, especially after adding the orange blossom water - the orange flavour combines so well with the fruit. In fact, everyone in the family adored these treats. The coconut shortbread-like base stays firm and is a lovely compliment to the rhubarb/strawberry layer.

I found kraft caramels in chip form at Target recently so I added a handful to the squares. Although not necessary they did add another nice texture to this dessert.

Full on strawberry season has not arrived yet so we still haven't gone strawberry picking but I'm hoping to make a day of it before the end of the month!

Fruit mixture
3 c rhubarb, diced
1-1/2 c strawberries, sliced
1-1/4 c granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water
1 tsp orange blossom water (optional)
1/2 c cut up caramels (optional)

Base and topping
2 c flour
1-1/2c unsweetened medium coconut
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 cup cold unsalted butter, diced

What to do
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  1. On low heat, cook the rhubarb, strawberries, 1-1/4c sugar, spices, cornstarch, water and orange flavour, if using. Heat until rhubarb is tender but not mush - about 10 minutes. Cool.
  2. Mix in caramels.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, coconut, baking powder, and sugar.
  4. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut in the butter until a rough sand like consistency is reached.
  5. Press half of the base mixture into the bottom of a 8 x 12 inch pan.
  6. Add the rhubarb mixture and smooth if needed.
  7. Scatter the remaining half of base mixture on top of the fruit.
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  9. Cool.
Chill before serving and store in fridge.
They can also be frozen.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chickpea Salad with spinach, cucumber, pear and feta recipe

I love this amazing salad because of the slightly spicy chickpeas. I love that they are warm - sometimes a cold salad just doesn't feel like a meal to me. This one is definitely a meal. I've even made the chickpeas as a side dish without the spinach, cucumber and pear (I still add the feta).

You could substitute goat cheese for the feta and I bet it would also work with parmesan. If I don't have the sundried tomates on hand, I have successfully substitute roasted red peppers - it is delicious.

Serves 2 as a meal; 4 as a side.
Adapted from a recipe in the
London Telegraph.


175g (6oz) dry chickpeas or 400g (14oz) cooked, drained chickpeas
1 small red onion,  diced
1 large bay leaf
1 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed
¼ tsp salt
100g (3½oz)  finely chopped sundried tomatoes or roasted pepper
1 tsp honey
½ tsp smoked paprika (I prefer a hot variety) 
¼ tsp chipotle
¼ tsp crushed coriander (I use dry)
1½ tbsp sherry vinegar or orange muscat vinegar
2-3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 english cucumber
1 large ripe pear
4-5 c baby spinach
juice of ½ lemon
75g (2¾oz) feta, cubed or crumbled
fresh pepper to taste

What to do

Soak the chickpeas overnight. Drain and cover with 2 litres water. Boil  for five minutes, skimming off the foam. Add bay leaf and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes. If you are using ready-cooked canned chickpeas, rinse them off to remove salt and gently reheat, covered in water, for 10 minutes with the bay leaf.

In a small fry pan, sautee the onions until translucent.

Mash the garlic clove and salt in a pestle and mortar (or in a bowl using the back of a spoon). Add the sundried tomatoes and coriander and continue hammering it into a paste. Add the honey, paprika and vinegar. Slowly add 2-3 tbsp of olive oil until everything is well blended. (if needed you can transfer the mixture to a bowl before you add the oil.)

Drain the chickpeas, add the dressing and onions. Leave them to absorb the flavours while you prepare the rest of salad.

Cut the cucumber into long strips using a vegetable peeler. Peel, core and thinly slice the pear - squeeze the lemon juice over the pears to avoid discolouration. Mix the cucumber and pear with the spinach leaves or arrange them on the side of the dished like the photos. 

The chickpeas should still be warm: spoon them over the salad. Crumble the feta on top. Sprinkle with pepper.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pie Crust Cream Horns

Pie Crust Cream Horns
When the heat of summer finally arrives in town (it hasn't yet but I am keeping optimistic that we will skip spring and go right to summer), I generally like to stay out of the kitchen as much as possible and enjoy the sunshine. But of course I can't give up the kitchen entirely! I just turn to simpler dishes and desserts - preferably ones that don't take much time to complete and ones that don't require hours of oven time that warm up the kitchen. This little dessert fits the bill perfectly - it's just pie crust wrapped around a "horn", baked, dipped in chocolate and sprinkles and then filled with simple whipped cream. You  could even skip the chocolate and sprinkles if you wanted to shorten kitchen time even further.  

Enjoy the sunshine while it's here but don't forget dessert!

This will make at least 28 horns depending on how thin you roll your dough. The pie crust can also be used to make a two-crust pie.

Special equipment required: cream horn moulds


Pie Crust
2 1/2 c flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 c unsalted butter, frozen 
12 tbsp ice cold water

1 egg 
1 tsp water

1 package chocolate chips
What to do

  • Grease metal cream horns with a bit of butter of cooking spray.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and salt. 
  • Grate the frozen butter into the flour. (this is a pain but essential)
  • Gently toss the butter and flour until the flour coats the grated butter. 
  • Sprinkle the ice water over the mixture and mix with your fingers. In the bowl, knead the dough until it comes together into a ball. 
  • Divide the dough into two pieces and place in plastic wrap or a ziploc.
  • Chill for at least 30 minutes. 
  • Remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit for 10 minutes to make rolling easier.  
  • Roll out one half of the dough into a rectangle about 8 inches x 14 inches. 
  • Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut one inch by 8 inch strips.
  • Starting at the point of the cone, wind a strip of dough around it, overlapping the layers slightly to cover the cone. Repeat for all your horns. If the dough is too short for larger horns just add an additional piece of dough and press ends together to seal.
  • If desired, brush with egg wash.
  • Place on cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees F for 18-20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and cool.

  • Melt chocolate and place sprinkles in a separate bowl.
  • Dip one end of horn in chocolate and then sprinkles, if desired.
  • Let the chocolate/sprinkles set for at least 15 minutes.

Whipped Cream
1 c whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla

What to do
Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Pipe the whipped cream into the pastry horn. I use either a pastry bag or a ziploc with a little triangle end snipped off. (Don't tell anyone but I've also used whipped cream and cool whip in a can when I'm in a rush or just don't feel like whipping it myself! The little nozzles are the perfect size to fit into the pastry horns.
Cut your dough into 12-14 one inch strips.

Starting at the small end of the cone, wind a strip of dough around it, overlapping the layers slightly to cover the cone.

I left an opening at each end but if desired you could pinch the small end closed.
If the dough is too short for larger horns just add an additional piece of dough and press ends together to seal.

Melt chocolate and place sprinkles in a separate bowl.

Dip one end of horn in chocolate and then sprinkles, if desired.

Let set for 15 minutes of so.

 Pipe the whipped cream into the pastry horn.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Super simple strawberry Pie

I have only picked my own strawberries once when a was a little kid... to be honest I barely remember it other than having a basket and trying to fill it with as many sweet strawberries as possible. And I'm pretty sure I ate more than I ended putting in the basket! I hope to take my own kids strawberry picking this season...and I would bet more would end up in their bellies  than in their baskets too!

This is such a simple pie, it really lets the strawberries shine so it's important to use the sweetest most beautiful strawberries you can buy or pick!

A beautiful way to end a meal ... or start a day!

Super simple strawberry Pie


• 1 Pie Crust
• 5 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch
• Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
• juice of one lemon
• 1 tsp orange blossom water (optional)


1. On a floured surface, roll the dough into a thin disc that is at least 12 inch wide. Line a 23-cm (9-inch) pie plate. Do not cut overhang.
2. In a bowl, combine the strawberries, sugar, corn starch, and lemon zest and juice. Spoon the filling into the pie shell. Gently lift overhang and place on top of the strawberries.
3. Place pie in freezer for 20 minutes.
4. With the rack in the bottom position, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
5. Place the cold pie on a baking sheet to catch any messy drips.
6. Bake until golden brown, about 75 minutes. (ps Baking time for an unfrozen pie is about 45 minutes.) Serve warm or cold. (personally, I like this one cold!)


So lucious!

Just fold the pie crust over the fruit - so easy and rustic!