The Sweetest Crumb

Archive of ‘Recipes and Food Adventures’ category

Chocolate Chia Pudding

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

This week I’m on vacation and let me tell you, it is glorious! I decided to just stay in Edmonton and use the time to relax and catch up on life. It’s my first stay-cation and I’m loving it! There has been a lot of cooking, gardening and yoga so far.

I started the week off by making a batch of healthy chia pudding for breakfasts. Yes, that’s right – a pudding made of the same seeds that brought you the Chia Pet! Chia seeds have some great health benefits. I’m not a nutritionalist by any means but have heard that Chia seeds are high in fibre, protein, Omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, potassium, etc.

They are easy to sneak into your diet by adding to smoothies, sprinkling on oatmeal or adding to juice or water.

Or you can make chia pudding!

When mixed with a liquid, chia seeds expand a lot! They absorb the liquid, swell up and take on a gelatine-like consistency. This quality makes chia pudding possibly the easiest thing to make :)

To make the pudding, you simply combine the chia seeds with the milk of your choice (I used cow milk but almond or soy would work great too), add sweetener and any flavourings you like such as cocoa and vanilla. Stir well and let sit overnight in the fridge to thicken. I like to use a large mason jar so I can shake it up easily. I served my chia pudding with coconut whipped cream which was both as delicious and easy to make as Angela from Oh She Glows promised. If served for dessert, you can sprinkle with chocolate shavings too.

The pudding is chocolatey and will satisfy your sweet tooth while still being incredibly healthy. You can tailor the consistency and sweetness to your own tastes by adding more or less milk and sweetener. However, this pudding will not have the consistency of a typical pudding. Some people love the consistency right away and others find it a bit strange and an acquired taste. Either way, I think it’s definitely worth a try!

Chocolate Chia Pudding

IMG_2502

By Genia Rodnyansky Published: May 20, 2013

  • Yield: makes about 4 cups

Happy Wednesday, everyone! This week I'm on vacation and let me tell you, it is glorious! I decided to just stay in Edmonton and …

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar or other sweetener of your choice
  • 3 cups milk cow, almond or soy
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Combine chia seeds, coconut sugar and cocoa in a medium bowl and mix together. Use the back of the spoon to blend, making sure there are no cocoa clumps left.
  2. Combine chia seed mixture with milk in a large bowl or mason jar. Add vanilla extract and mix thoroughly.
  3. Cover and allow to sit overnight in the fridge to thicken. Serve with whipped coconut cream, chocolate shavings or fresh fruit.

     

    Grenadine – who knew it was so easy?

    Happy mothers day to all the mamas out there! I will keep this post nice and quick since I am making dinner for my parents tonight and need to get started with prep.

    I promised you guys the grenadine recipe I used for these Shirley temple cupcakes so that’s what I’m going to share today!

    Store bought grenadine is essentially a chemically-filled, red sweet syrup – high up on the ingredient list are high fructose corn syrup and red dye #40. I don’t really find that this syrup has anything to offer other than its bright red colour.

    Real grenadine is a syrup made from reduced pomegranate juice. A good quality pomegranate juice is quite easy to find these days and fairly inexpensive if you look in the right place (my recommendation for fellow Edmontonians is to try the Italian Centre Shop). To sweeten the juice you can either use granulated sugar or a brown sugar which will result in a caramel-like flavour. You can also add lemon juice or other fruits (mango, pineapple, pear etc.) to the juice to help your grenadine develop a more complex flavour. The variation I made has mango, pineapple and brown sugar but feel free to experiment and tailer to your own tastes.

    The pomegrate juice is reduced over a constant simmer until it thickens and you have a nice concentrated syrup. I reduced mine by about 2/3 of the initial volume and the result was a very thick, almost molasses-like syrup – perfect for using in baking. You may want to keep yours a bit less concentrated and less thick depending on what you are using it for. For cocktails, reduce by about one half the original volume (20 minutes of simmering). And remember, the syrup thickens as it cools.

    So what are some common uses of grenadine? It can be used in cocktails (alcoholic and not) such as Tequila Sunrise and Shirley Temples. Of course, it can be used in baking these cute Shirley Temple cupcakes, but is also delicious just drizzled on ice cream or sorbet.

    Enjoy!

     

    Grenadine Syrup

    grenadine drinks

    By Genia Rodnyansky Published: May 12, 2013

      Happy mothers day to all the mamas out there! I will keep this post nice and quick since I am making dinner for my parents tonight and …

      Ingredients

      • 1 bottle unsweetened pomegranate juice about 1 litre
      • 1/2 cup mango chopped
      • 1/2 cup pineapple chopped
      • 1 cup sugar granulated or brown

      Instructions

      1. Pour the pomegranate juice into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add mango and pineapple. Over low-medium heat bring just to a simmer and reduce by about one quarter. Stir occasionally to make sure fruits don't stick to the bottom but do not stir constantly.
      2. Add the sugar and reduce a bit more - until reduced by about one half of the original volume. If you want a thicker syrup, continue simmering for 5 more minutes. Let cool before using in baking or cocktails. Grenadine will last for at least 2 weeks in the fridge.

        Grenadine – who knew it was so easy?

        Happy mothers day to all the mamas out there! I will keep this post nice and quick since I am making dinner for my parents tonight and need to get started with prep.

        I promised you guys the grenadine recipe I used for these Shirley temple cupcakes so that’s what I’m going to share today!

        Store bought grenadine is essentially a chemically-filled, red sweet syrup – high up on the ingredient list are high fructose corn syrup and red dye #40. I don’t really find that this syrup has anything to offer other than its bright red colour.

        Real grenadine is a syrup made from reduced pomegranate juice. A good quality pomegranate juice is quite easy to find these days and fairly inexpensive if you look in the right place (my recommendation for fellow Edmontonians is to try the Italian Centre Shop). To sweeten the juice you can either use granulated sugar or a brown sugar which will result in a caramel-like flavour. You can also add lemon juice or other fruits (mango, pineapple, pear etc.) to the juice to help your grenadine develop a more complex flavour. The variation I made has mango, pineapple and brown sugar but feel free to experiment and tailer to your own tastes.

        The pomegrate juice is reduced over a constant simmer until it thickens and you have a nice concentrated syrup. I reduced mine by about 2/3 of the initial volume and the result was a very thick, almost molasses-like syrup – perfect for using in baking. You may want to keep yours a bit less concentrated and less thick depending on what you are using it for. For cocktails, reduce by about one half the original volume (20 minutes of simmering). And remember, the syrup thickens as it cools.

        So what are some common uses of grenadine? It can be used in cocktails (alcoholic and not) such as Tequila Sunrise and Shirley Temples. Of course, it can be used in baking these cute Shirley Temple cupcakes, but is also delicious just drizzled on ice cream or sorbet.

        Enjoy!

         

        Grenadine Syrup

        grenadine drinks

        By Genia Rodnyansky Published: May 12, 2013

          Happy mothers day to all the mamas out there! I will keep this post nice and quick since I am making dinner for my parents tonight and …

          Ingredients

          • 1 bottle unsweetened pomegranate juice about 1 litre
          • 1/2 cup mango chopped
          • 1/2 cup pineapple chopped
          • 1 cup sugar granulated or brown

          Instructions

          1. Pour the pomegranate juice into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add mango and pineapple. Over low-medium heat bring just to a simmer and reduce by about one quarter. Stir occasionally to make sure fruits don't stick to the bottom but do not stir constantly.
          2. Add the sugar and reduce a bit more - until reduced by about one half of the original volume. If you want a thicker syrup, continue simmering for 5 more minutes. Let cool before using in baking or cocktails. Grenadine will last for at least 2 weeks in the fridge.

            Shirley Temple Cupcakes

            Hi friends!

            Lately I’ve been feeling that this year has been crazy for big changes. It seems like everyone around me has something big going on in their life – they’re either getting married, buying houses, changing careers or popping out babies. I guess it’s natural since most of the people I know are in their mid twenties. But sometimes I just don’t want to feel like an adult, with adult responsibilities and these expected major life changes. Sometimes all I really want to do is pencil roll down a grassy hill and blow some soap bubbles. And you know what else goes great with being a care-free kid rolling down a hill? These Shirley Temple inspired cupcakes!

            For those who might not know what a Shirley Temple is (I only discovered them as an adult and usually end up adding a little vodka to mine), they are a traditional children’s drink (when made without the vodka of course) made with either ginger ale or a citrusy soda, grenadine and topped with a maraschino cherry.

            These cupcakes are made with two different batters. The yellow batter is flavoured with lemon soda, lemon extract and lime zest to mimick the 7-Up or other citrusy carbonated beverage used in a Shirley Temple. The red batter on the bottom is flavoured with grenadine. While you can easily acquire store bought grenadine, making your own is super easy and results in a much tastier, healthier product – the first two ingredients in your homemade grenadine won’t be high fructose corn syrup and red dye #40! (I’ll post the grenadine recipe I used next time.) The frosting was a swiss meringue buttercream, flavoured with cherry syrup and topped with a cherry of course.

            To be honest, the cupcakes did not taste especially like Shirley Temples. However, they were super cute, would definitely satisfy your sweet tooth and would be great for a birthday party or really anytime you want to feel more like a kid!

            Hope you guys like the cupcakes and if anyone is with me on escaping adulthood once in a while, we should arrange a pencil-rolling play date. I’ll bring the cupcakes!

            Shirley Temple Cupcakes

            IMG_2399

            By Genia Rodnyansky Published: May 7, 2013

            • Yield: about 12 cupcakes

            Hi friends! Lately I've been feeling that this year has been crazy for big changes. It seems like everyone around me has something …

            Ingredients

            • 1 1/2 cups, plus 2 tbsp flour
            • 1 tsp baking powder
            • 1/2 tsp salt
            • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick) room temperature
            • 1 cup sugar
            • 2 large eggs room temperature
            • 1/2 cup citrusy soda such as limonada or 7-Up
            • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or paste
            • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
            • 1/2 tsp lime zest
            • 2 tbsp grenadine syrup
            • red food colouring
            • 12 maraschino cherries

            Instructions

            1. Preheat your oven to 350F. In a medium bowl combine 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder and salt.
            2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and sugar. Mix until fluffy on medium high speed.
            3. Add eggs to the butter mixture, one at a time, mixing until combined.
            4. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Alternate with the citrus soda, adding one half of soda at a time. End by adding the remaining third of flour and mix until combined.
            5. Add the vanilla, lemon extract and lime zest to the batter. Mix until combined.
            6. Remove about 3/4 cup of the batter and place into a medium bowl. Add the 2 tbsp of grenadine syrup and the remaining flour to this batter, mixing until uniform. Tint with food colouring until the desired shade of red is achieved.
            7. Line your muffin tins with paper liners and spread the red batter on the bottom of each liner. I used a piping bag to make this step easier and less messy.
            8. Top the red batter with the remaining yellow batter - being careful not to mix the two colours.
            9. Bake for about 20 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Once cupcakes are cooled, frost with cherry swiss meringue buttercream and top with a maraschino cherry.

              To make the cherry swiss meringue buttercream, I made the usual swiss meringue buttercream and added about 3 tbsp of cherry syrup along with the vanilla in step 3. I used a Monin cherry syrup but found that the cherry flavour could have been stronger. Next time, I might look for a flavour extract or try reducing the syrup before adding it into the buttercream.

              Shirley Temple Cupcakes

              Hi friends!

              Lately I’ve been feeling that this year has been crazy for big changes. It seems like everyone around me has something big going on in their life – they’re either getting married, buying houses, changing careers or popping out babies. I guess it’s natural since most of the people I know are in their mid twenties. But sometimes I just don’t want to feel like an adult, with adult responsibilities and these expected major life changes. Sometimes all I really want to do is pencil roll down a grassy hill and blow some soap bubbles. And you know what else goes great with being a care-free kid rolling down a hill? These Shirley Temple inspired cupcakes!

              For those who might not know what a Shirley Temple is (I only discovered them as an adult and usually end up adding a little vodka to mine), they are a traditional children’s drink (when made without the vodka of course) made with either ginger ale or a citrusy soda, grenadine and topped with a maraschino cherry.

              These cupcakes are made with two different batters. The yellow batter is flavoured with lemon soda, lemon extract and lime zest to mimick the 7-Up or other citrusy carbonated beverage used in a Shirley Temple. The red batter on the bottom is flavoured with grenadine. While you can easily acquire store bought grenadine, making your own is super easy and results in a much tastier, healthier product – the first two ingredients in your homemade grenadine won’t be high fructose corn syrup and red dye #40! (I’ll post the grenadine recipe I used next time.) The frosting was a swiss meringue buttercream, flavoured with cherry syrup and topped with a cherry of course.

              To be honest, the cupcakes did not taste especially like Shirley Temples. However, they were super cute, would definitely satisfy your sweet tooth and would be great for a birthday party or really anytime you want to feel more like a kid!

              Hope you guys like the cupcakes and if anyone is with me on escaping adulthood once in a while, we should arrange a pencil-rolling play date. I’ll bring the cupcakes!

              Shirley Temple Cupcakes

              IMG_2399

              By Genia Rodnyansky Published: May 7, 2013

              • Yield: about 12 cupcakes

              Hi friends! Lately I've been feeling that this year has been crazy for big changes. It seems like everyone around me has something …

              Ingredients

              • 1 1/2 cups, plus 2 tbsp flour
              • 1 tsp baking powder
              • 1/2 tsp salt
              • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick) room temperature
              • 1 cup sugar
              • 2 large eggs room temperature
              • 1/2 cup citrusy soda such as limonada or 7-Up
              • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or paste
              • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
              • 1/2 tsp lime zest
              • 2 tbsp grenadine syrup
              • red food colouring
              • 12 maraschino cherries

              Instructions

              1. Preheat your oven to 350F. In a medium bowl combine 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder and salt.
              2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and sugar. Mix until fluffy on medium high speed.
              3. Add eggs to the butter mixture, one at a time, mixing until combined.
              4. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Alternate with the citrus soda, adding one half of soda at a time. End by adding the remaining third of flour and mix until combined.
              5. Add the vanilla, lemon extract and lime zest to the batter. Mix until combined.
              6. Remove about 3/4 cup of the batter and place into a medium bowl. Add the 2 tbsp of grenadine syrup and the remaining flour to this batter, mixing until uniform. Tint with food colouring until the desired shade of red is achieved.
              7. Line your muffin tins with paper liners and spread the red batter on the bottom of each liner. I used a piping bag to make this step easier and less messy.
              8. Top the red batter with the remaining yellow batter - being careful not to mix the two colours.
              9. Bake for about 20 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Once cupcakes are cooled, frost with cherry swiss meringue buttercream and top with a maraschino cherry.

                To make the cherry swiss meringue buttercream, I made the usual swiss meringue buttercream and added about 3 tbsp of cherry syrup along with the vanilla in step 3. I used a Monin cherry syrup but found that the cherry flavour could have been stronger. Next time, I might look for a flavour extract or try reducing the syrup before adding it into the buttercream.

                Perfect Lemon Meringue Tarts from Bouchon

                Happy weekend, friends!

                I’ve been writing a lot lately about recipes I’ve tried from my Bouchon Bakery book. What can I say? – I love this book so much! But as I’ve warned before, the recipes in it are generally not the quickest to whip together. They are recipes which need some preparation (you will often require ingredients which are unlikely to be found in the common kitchen cupboard), patience and a large chunk of time. But, they are recipes which are perfect for special occasions such as Sean’s birthday!

                Since Sean loves citrusy desserts, I thought the perfect choice for his birthday was a batch of lemon meringue tarts. While Bouchon’s recipes may not always be simple, the result is always well worth the effort. These lemon meringue tarts turned out perfect. I would not have changed a single thing! The tart crust was sweet and crunchy and filled with a silky, smooth lemon curd. Next, a very thin round of madeleine cake was placed on top of the curd. This cake is used to absorb any liquid from the meringue as well as provide another layer of surprise texture to the tart. Swiss meringue is then piped on top of the tarts and torched until browned – amazing!

                Step one was making pâte sucrée for the tart shells. Pâte sucrée is a sweet dough which is great to use with fillings that are less sweet, or tart and citrusy. The dough had to be made in advance and chilled thoroughly. Much like most other recipes I’ve tried in the Bouchon book, chilling is essential and I found myself transferring the dough to and from the fridge several times to maintain the right temperature and ensure the dough was easy to work with.

                The lemon curd should also be made in advance. I used half Eureka lemons (the standard, grocery store variety) and half Meyer lemons. The choice to use Meyer lemons came partly because of their slightly different flavour and partly because they were on sale at Costco ;) For a twist on the classic lemon meringue tart, you could also make an orange or grapefruit curd instead. The curd turned out great and I would have gladly eaten it in spoonfuls if there had been any left after filling the tarts. To make it flawlessly smooth, I strained it several times through a fine sieve and blended in my Vitamix. The curd should be cooled before filling tarts (and you should also have your madeline cake ready before filling).

                The madeleine cake has a subtle, sweet flavour. It is made by spreading the batter in a thin layer on a baking sheet and baking until cooked through but not browned. The cake layer is then frozen which makes it easier to cut into rounds. The rounds are placed directly on top of the lemon curd.

                The swiss meringue is probably the easiest part of the tarts to prepare – just two ingredients: sugar and egg whites. Once stiff peaks are formed, pipe the meringue onto the tarts and use an offset spatula to make peaks and shape the meringue as desired.

                Now you can pull out your creme brûlée torch (or if you’re like me, your industrial gas torch from Home Depot) and brown the meringue.

                Overall, the tarts were a huge success! If you don’t have the Bouchon Bakery book, the recipe has been published here for anyone looking to give it a try. I recommend making it over a few days and chilling the dough and curd to make the process go smoothly and stress-free. Enjoy!

                 

                Perfect Lemon Meringue Tarts from Bouchon

                Happy weekend, friends!

                I’ve been writing a lot lately about recipes I’ve tried from my Bouchon Bakery book. What can I say? – I love this book so much! But as I’ve warned before, the recipes in it are generally not the quickest to whip together. They are recipes which need some preparation (you will often require ingredients which are unlikely to be found in the common kitchen cupboard), patience and a large chunk of time. But, they are recipes which are perfect for special occasions such as Sean’s birthday!

                Since Sean loves citrusy desserts, I thought the perfect choice for his birthday was a batch of lemon meringue tarts. While Bouchon’s recipes may not always be simple, the result is always well worth the effort. These lemon meringue tarts turned out perfect. I would not have changed a single thing! The tart crust was sweet and crunchy and filled with a silky, smooth lemon curd. Next, a very thin round of madeleine cake was placed on top of the curd. This cake is used to absorb any liquid from the meringue as well as provide another layer of surprise texture to the tart. Swiss meringue is then piped on top of the tarts and torched until browned – amazing!

                Step one was making pâte sucrée for the tart shells. Pâte sucrée is a sweet dough which is great to use with fillings that are less sweet, or tart and citrusy. The dough had to be made in advance and chilled thoroughly. Much like most other recipes I’ve tried in the Bouchon book, chilling is essential and I found myself transferring the dough to and from the fridge several times to maintain the right temperature and ensure the dough was easy to work with.

                The lemon curd should also be made in advance. I used half Eureka lemons (the standard, grocery store variety) and half Meyer lemons. The choice to use Meyer lemons came partly because of their slightly different flavour and partly because they were on sale at Costco ;) For a twist on the classic lemon meringue tart, you could also make an orange or grapefruit curd instead. The curd turned out great and I would have gladly eaten it in spoonfuls if there had been any left after filling the tarts. To make it flawlessly smooth, I strained it several times through a fine sieve and blended in my Vitamix. The curd should be cooled before filling tarts (and you should also have your madeline cake ready before filling).

                The madeleine cake has a subtle, sweet flavour. It is made by spreading the batter in a thin layer on a baking sheet and baking until cooked through but not browned. The cake layer is then frozen which makes it easier to cut into rounds. The rounds are placed directly on top of the lemon curd.

                The swiss meringue is probably the easiest part of the tarts to prepare – just two ingredients: sugar and egg whites. Once stiff peaks are formed, pipe the meringue onto the tarts and use an offset spatula to make peaks and shape the meringue as desired.

                Now you can pull out your creme brûlée torch (or if you’re like me, your industrial gas torch from Home Depot) and brown the meringue.

                Overall, the tarts were a huge success! If you don’t have the Bouchon Bakery book, the recipe has been published here for anyone looking to give it a try. I recommend making it over a few days and chilling the dough and curd to make the process go smoothly and stress-free. Enjoy!

                 

                Black Sesame Lemon Cupcakes

                Is anyone else bored with cupcakes? Lately I’ve been feeling like cupcakes are just old news. Sure they’re great in their individual paper liners and colourful frosting… but they just seem overdone. There are cupcake shops in every part of town, they’re commonly served at weddings and I’ve made them so many times and for so many occasions that I could probably whip up a batch in my sleep. I was just tired of the same old boring cupcakes… until I discovered the Sprinkle Bakes blog a couple weeks ago! Heather is amazing! Her creations are truly artistic and she will revive your baking if you’re in a cupcake rut like me. She has everything from cupcakes made with wine to cupcakes with a flaming strawberry on top and tonnes of non-cupccake recipes if you just can’t stand cupcakes all together ;)

                So when my turn came around to bring in baking to work (we have a rotating pastry schedule) I decided to make these black sesame lemon cupcakes!

                The thing that really intrigued me about them is the beautiful grey colour (they’d be perfect for a 50 Shades of Grey party). And to make them even more awesome, on the inside, they’re filled with delicious lemon curd. I love the contrasts in colour and flavour.

                A lot of effort went into these guys. First off, I couldn’t find any black sesame paste in any Asian market nearby. I decided to make my own using the Sprinkle Bakes recipe. I liked making it myself since I knew exactly what was in it and could keep out any yucky preservatives. If you’re planning on making it yourself, you should know that the paste will taste somewhat bitter(sweet) when it is done. Don’t panic (like I did). The black sesame seeds naturally have a bitter quality to them but when added to the cupcake batter will taste great. I loved the paste so much that I’m thinking of making ice cream with it when the snow melts and ice cream season finally gets here (it’s April and we have a snow storm warning this weekend).

                My batter was a beautiful grey colour just as promised.

                As were the baked cupcakes…

                After these guys cooled, I filled them with lemon curd.

                For the frosting, I strayed from the recipe Heather suggested. I have a super tasty swiss meringue buttercream recipe that I swear by. I altered this recipe slightly by adding 2 tsp of lemon extract instead of vanilla and 1/4 cup of the lemon curd once all the butter had been added. The result was a fantastic lemon buttercream which paired so well with the sesame cupcakes.

                Sprinkled with some extra sesame seeds, these cupcakes were a hit! I would gladly make these again. The cakes were so moist and the lemon curd did not disappoint. My only complaint has to do with black gel food colouring. I had heard that using black gel food colouring is often ineffective because with a bit of time the colour turns purple. Since I didn’t have any black powdered colour, I decided to risk it. Well, let me tell you that all the things I heard were true. By the morning after I iced the cupcakes, they had turned a lovely shade of purple.

                I’m definitely going to acquire some black powdered colour next time! For anyone looking to whip up a batch, the recipe can be found here. Let me know how they turn out!

                Black Sesame Lemon Cupcakes

                Is anyone else bored with cupcakes? Lately I’ve been feeling like cupcakes are just old news. Sure they’re great in their individual paper liners and colourful frosting… but they just seem overdone. There are cupcake shops in every part of town, they’re commonly served at weddings and I’ve made them so many times and for so many occasions that I could probably whip up a batch in my sleep. I was just tired of the same old boring cupcakes… until I discovered the Sprinkle Bakes blog a couple weeks ago! Heather is amazing! Her creations are truly artistic and she will revive your baking if you’re in a cupcake rut like me. She has everything from cupcakes made with wine to cupcakes with a flaming strawberry on top and tonnes of non-cupccake recipes if you just can’t stand cupcakes all together ;)

                So when my turn came around to bring in baking to work (we have a rotating pastry schedule) I decided to make these black sesame lemon cupcakes!

                The thing that really intrigued me about them is the beautiful grey colour (they’d be perfect for a 50 Shades of Grey party). And to make them even more awesome, on the inside, they’re filled with delicious lemon curd. I love the contrasts in colour and flavour.

                A lot of effort went into these guys. First off, I couldn’t find any black sesame paste in any Asian market nearby. I decided to make my own using the Sprinkle Bakes recipe. I liked making it myself since I knew exactly what was in it and could keep out any yucky preservatives. If you’re planning on making it yourself, you should know that the paste will taste somewhat bitter(sweet) when it is done. Don’t panic (like I did). The black sesame seeds naturally have a bitter quality to them but when added to the cupcake batter will taste great. I loved the paste so much that I’m thinking of making ice cream with it when the snow melts and ice cream season finally gets here (it’s April and we have a snow storm warning this weekend).

                My batter was a beautiful grey colour just as promised.

                As were the baked cupcakes…

                After these guys cooled, I filled them with lemon curd.

                For the frosting, I strayed from the recipe Heather suggested. I have a super tasty swiss meringue buttercream recipe that I swear by. I altered this recipe slightly by adding 2 tsp of lemon extract instead of vanilla and 1/4 cup of the lemon curd once all the butter had been added. The result was a fantastic lemon buttercream which paired so well with the sesame cupcakes.

                Sprinkled with some extra sesame seeds, these cupcakes were a hit! I would gladly make these again. The cakes were so moist and the lemon curd did not disappoint. My only complaint has to do with black gel food colouring. I had heard that using black gel food colouring is often ineffective because with a bit of time the colour turns purple. Since I didn’t have any black powdered colour, I decided to risk it. Well, let me tell you that all the things I heard were true. By the morning after I iced the cupcakes, they had turned a lovely shade of purple.

                I’m definitely going to acquire some black powdered colour next time! For anyone looking to whip up a batch, the recipe can be found here. Let me know how they turn out!

                Fig Compote and Goat Cheese Crostinis

                Hi, friends!

                As many of you know, I work in public accounting. By default, that means April is busy. To make things even busier, I am part of our personal tax pool at work – essentially preparing personal taxes for the whole month. This translates to 11 or 12 hour work days all month. I actually really enjoy personal taxes, love the change for a month and interacting closely with clients. However the hours are tiring, especially with 3 months of our busiest season already behind me… So I apologize if my blog posts have not been as frequent lately.

                If you’re as stretched for time as me, you are probably always on the hunt for quick (but delicious) recipes. This fig compote is amazing. Our fantastic instructor, Erin Howe, shared it with us at the NAIT Valentine’s Day cooking class and I have made it for so many people since.

                The compote is so simple to make – you take dried figs, brown sugar, red wine and thyme and reduce the mixture until the majority of the wine has been simmered off and the mixture thickens.

                Once the mixture cools, add a bit of good quality balsamic vinegar. During the class, we used Dark Chocolate balsamic vinegar from Evoolution in Edmonton and it definitely made a strong impression on me. The rich, sweet cocoa flavour pairs perfectly with the figs and goat cheese! When I was re-creating the appetizer on my own, I decided not to skimp out on the balsamic and stopped by Evoolution to pick up a bottle of the chocolate goodness. That was my first time in Evoolution and I was in heaven! This cute boutique store specializes in olive oil, vinegars and salts and carries everything from traditional flavours to exotic ones like coconut, truffle and blackberry ginger. Oh yea, and did I mention they’re a tasting bar? Yup, you can just go in, try a dozen flavours and get inspired for your next food adventure – truly a foodie’s heaven! ;)

                Ok, back to the fig compote… after you add the balsamic, your compote is ready to serve on baguette bread with goat cheese and fresh thyme. It’s so easy and a great appetizer for entertaining or having friends over for a movie night.

                Fig Compote and Goat Cheese Crostinis

                IMG_2069

                By Genia Rodnyansky Published: April 6, 2013

                  Hi, friends! As many of you know, I work in public accounting. By default, that means April is busy. To make things even busier, I …

                  Ingredients

                  • 1/2 cup dried figs chopped
                  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
                  • 1 cup red wine
                  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme plus more for garnish
                  • 1/4 tsp salt
                  • 1 tbsp Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar
                  • goat cheese
                  • baguette
                  • olive oil

                  Instructions

                  1. Combine figs, brown sugar, wine and thyme in a small saucepot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the mixture thickens. The mixture will continue to thicken once it cools.
                  2. Allow the mixture to come to room temperature. Add in the balsamic vinegar.
                  3. Drizzle your baguette with olive oil and bake until light golden. Spread goat cheese on each baguette slice, top with compote and garnish with lots of fresh thyme.