Schmoo Torte

Makes 1 gateau, serves 8-12

Ingredients

Cake

  • 12 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/3 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 ½ cups ground, toasted pecans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Frosting & Filling

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Caramel Sauce

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To Assemble

  • ½ cup ground toasted pecans
  • Toasted pecans for garnish

Method

Cake

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Add the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar to the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment
  3. Whip on low speed until combined and then turn the mixer to high and whip until stiff peaks form
  4. Turn the mixer to medium and mix in the vanilla extract and sugar (adding only 1/4 the sugar at a time), just until combined
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the ground pecans, cake flour and baking powder. Whisk until well combined and remove any large lumps of pecans
  6. Fold in the pecan mixture very carefully with a rubber spatula in two or three additions. Work carefully so as not to deflate the mix
  7. Add the batter to an Angel Food Cake pan and bake at 350 degree F for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean
  8. Cool upside-down until completely cool, and slice into three even layers, horizontally, with a serrated knife

Frosting & Filling

  1. Whip the cream, powdered sugar and vanilla on high speed until stiff peaks form. Set aside
  2. Spread the frosting between the layers of the cake and after you stack the layers, spread the remainder of the frosting over the whole cake

Caramel Sauce

  1. Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat
  2. Add the brown sugar and heavy whipping cream, whisking over the heat until smooth and until the mixture reaches a boil
  3. Boil for 2 minutes, whisking constantly
  4. Add the vanilla and remove from the heat, allowing it to cool completely before drizzling it over the top of the cake

To Assemble

  1. Press the ground pecans into the side of the cake, all the way around
  2. Add pecans to the top of the cake in a circular design
  3. Refrigerate the cake in the fridge for 2 hours before serving
  4. Remove and let come to room temperature for 20 minutes. Drizzle with the caramel sauce before slicing. Any additional caramel sauce may be served over individual slices

Brown Butter & Tonka Bean Pumpkin Madeleines 

with Chai Caramel Dipping Sauce

Makes 24

Ingredients

Madeleines

  • 12/ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon mixed spice
  • 1 Tonka bean, grated
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree

Caramel Dipping Sauce

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon chai spice mixture

Method

Madeleines

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 12-shell madeleine pans with baking spray or cake release. (Or brush with melted butter and coat with flour, tapping out the excess flour)
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until it is a brown color, It will now start to have a “nutty” smell. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool (You’ll notice small brown/black particles. Don’t worry these are all part of brown butter!)
  3. In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, mixed spice and tonka bean. Whisk., to combine and set aside until needed
  4. In a stand mixer bowl add the eggs and sugar and with the whisk attachment mix on medium-high until the mixture is light in color, thick, and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin puree and mix on slow until combined
  5. After removing the bowl from the mixer, fold in the flour mixture gently by hand. Once the flour is completely added, gently pour in the cooled melted butter and fold it into the mixture until completely incorporated. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure no pockets of unmixed ingredients
  6. Pour the madeleine batter into a large piping bag (fitted with plain circular nozzle, or snip the end of the bag off)
  7. Fill the prepared trays with batter in each mould to 3/4 depth
  8. Bake the madeleines for 10-12 minutes or until puffed and golden
  9. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes and then move to a wire rack

*Keep in an airtight container for up to for 2-3 days. The madeleines can also be frozen for up to 2 months and then reheated in the microwave or in a 350F oven before serving.

Caramel Dipping Sauce

  1. In a heavy-based saucepan combine the brown sugar and water. Heat until the sugar dissolves
  2. Increase the heat and allow the sugar mixture to deepen in color, approximately 240F (Soft Crack on sugar thermometer)

*exercise care in these next few steps!

  1. Remove the saucepan with the melted sugar from the heat and add in the salted butter. Whisk briskly and carefully so that it melts and becomes incorporated into the sugar mixture. It may hiss and spit so please take care!
  2. Next add the cream in a steady stream and stir to fully incorporate. Again take care at this point.
  3. Stir in the chai spice mixture
  4. Pour into the small ramekins or mini-milk bottles to serve with the pumpkin madeleines

**The final caramel sauce will keep for up to 2 weeks in your refrigerator. I find it’s best if removed from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving to allow it the return to full “saucy goodness”. If you prefer it warmed, heat in a microwavable container in 10-15 second bursts until it at desired temperature

Banana & Prune Sticky Toffee Cakes

Makes 6

Ingredients

Banana & Prune Cakes

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup pitted prunes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 3 medium-size overripe bananas, mashed (1 cup)

Rum Toffee Sauce

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons Rum (or omit for a kiddy-friendly version)

Method

Banana & Prune Cakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease, or spray with baking spray, 6 mini-savarin or Bundt tins
  2. In a small heatproof bowl, pour orange juice followed by the boiling water over the chopped prunes; stir in the baking soda. Stir together to combine and set aside to soak for about 15-2 0minutes
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt. Set aside until needed
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 9-10 minutes
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until combined, followed by the honey
  6. Reduce speed to low, beat in the flour mixture until just combined
  7. Add the date mixture (including liquid) and bananas, and beat at low speed until just combined
  8. Divide the batter into the prepared mini-pans, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes

Rum Toffee Sauce

  1. With about 10 minutes left on the pudding baking time, in a small saucepan, combine the heavy cream, the butter, the brown sugar, and the rum.
  2. Bring to a gentle boil over moderate heat, stirring to melt the butter and sugar, cooking until slightly thickened and deep golden, about 3 minutes.
  3. Keep warm until serving

To finish

  1. Once you remove the cakes from the oven, using a skewer or toothpick, poke holes all over the exposed surface
  2. Spoon 4-5 teaspoons of the warm sauce over the cakes, and let stand until absorbed, about 10 minutes
  3. Serve warm*, turned out onto plates (they may take some gentle persuasion!) with the remaining sauce spooned over

*If your sauce sets or becomes too thick to pour, gently warm over a low heat until pourable and warm again.

Millionaire’s Shortbread

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“Millionaire’s Shortbread”, “Caramel Slice”, “Millionaire’s Slice”…call them what you will these caramel laden shortbread bites remain hugely popular from many a childhood memory. Investigation would point to it’s origin’s thanks to our Antipodean friends in the ’70s and as such the initial recipe remains unchanged- buttery shortbread, sweet caramel and luxurious chocolate.

Yes it may seem like such a chore laboring to make each of those individual layers but the end result is surely worth it? None of the intrinsic layers require any great skill in the kitchen, but with some attention and patience a batch of delicious Millionaire’s Shortbread is pretty much a cinch. 

The shortbread layer is first out of the starting block. The pale, crumbly dough that you’ll press into you pan will be baked to a golden, buttery slab of goodness. I mention in the recipe below a handy trick that I’ve used over time and in addition have seen cited in a few other recipes. Using a measuring cup or spoon to compact the freshly baked biscuit layer helps avoid surplus crumbling when slicing the baked shortbread. Simply press the back of the measuring cup (I find 1/3 cup a good size) or spoon gently but firmly on to the shortbread surface in it’s entirety, taking can not to drag it lest you pull some of still-setting crumbs with you. Once this is done you can leave to cool (or pop it in the fridge as I do) and carry on. See- that wasn’t so hard was it? 

And now for the infamous caramel layer! Yes, boiling sugar in a pan and the resulting caramel can sound daunting but with some care and a good candy thermometer on hand those fears will soon be waylaid. I have two pointers here a) constant gentle stirring is a lifesaver in order to avoid the molten mixture catching at the bottom of the pan and charring b) adding in heavy cream to the caramel mixture not only adds a luxurious touch but also keeps the mixture emulsified and avoiding separation which can occur due to heating the condensed milk. The last thing you want ruining your hard work is a gluey, grainy approximation of caramel. 

As for the final finishing chocolate layer, the one that always gets me salivating, there is one common pitfall. One that I can admit to making more than a few times. Don’t forget to add butter to your chocolate for the finishing coating. Practice has taught me that just melting the chocolate and slathering it on in it’s virgin state leads to a brittle layer that frustratingly cracks at every cut and bite. Including the butter incorporates enough yield into the final set surface that you can achieve those insta-worthy cut pieces and decedent mouthfuls without covering yourself in chocolate splinters.

If you do venture to make these you’ll see (and taste) just why they have proven so popular again and again, and indeed traveled the world over. Just remember to share!

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Ingredients

Shortbread Base

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 sticks salted butter, melted

Caramel Filling

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup golden corn syrup
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Topping

  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter

Method

Shortbread Base

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 325°F. Grease and line a 13×9″ baking pan with parchment paper leaving some hanging over edges of pan to lift out after baking
  2. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, and kosher salt. Add melted butter and stir until flour is mixed and dough is crumbly
  3. Transfer to your prepared baking pan and press evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Using fork, pierce dough at regular intervals all over. Bake for 30 minutes, or until light golden brown and firm to touch
  4. Remove from oven. While still warm, use a the back of a measuring cup and press surface of shortbread slightly to compress. Although this part is optional it helps when cutting later. Set aside until needed later

Caramel Filling

  1. Combine the caramel ingredients together in large saucepan. Cook over medium to low heat, stirring frequently to avoid any scorching on bottom for 20 minutes, or until mixture reaches 240°F (Soft Ball stage on candy thermometer)
  2. Carefully pour over shortbread while hot and spread to even thickness. Let cool completely for 1 1/2 hours, or until caramel is firm to the touch

Chocolate Topping

  1. In a small microwave safe bowl melt the chocolate and butter in microwave for 30 second intervals on high, stirring in between until melted. Stir to incorporate the butter until smooth. I find that 2 blasts in the microwave is usually enough
  2. Pour the chocolate over the cooled caramel layer and tilt pan to cover to edges and look smooth or use a spatula or knife and spread back and forth across the surface. Refrigerate the finished shortbread for a couple of hours or until the chocolate topping is set
  3. Lift out of pan using parchment overhang onto a cutting board. Slice into bars*. For the size of tin I use here, I cut so I have 3 by 8 rectangular “bars” (2 cuts x 7)

*I’ve found the best way to slice the shortbread so that you get neat, clean bars is as so- Remove the fully cooled shortbread traybake from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before you want to slice. Fill a tall heat-proof jug full of boiling water so that it covers the blade of a sharp knife. Let the knife stand in the jug for 2 minutes. CAREFULLY wipe the knife off of any water and make your cut into your shortbread. Slice once- quickly and smoothly, then stand the knife back in the jug of boiling again. You don’t need to leave it for long this time, a simple full plunge of the blade will do. Again CAREFULLY wipe the blade clean of any water or chocolate residue. Carry on cutting, plunging and wiping until all the traybake is cut to your required size. Leave for a few minutes so the cur bar edges firm up then serve.

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#Recipe Rum Salted Caramel Stardust

 

all-change

It seems a lifetime ago that I posted my last post bidding you all farewell before I flew off into the maple colored sunsets of Toronto. So here I am, almost 2 months to the day of that post, typing amidst the glow of christmas tree lights and festive smells of cinnamon  & maple, typing from my kitchen in Toronto. As is typical of this time of year (and no doubt like so many others amongst you) I get to reflecting on how MUCH has actually happened in 2016. It’s pretty much like we’ve well and truly stepped through the looking glass. I mean serioulsy….WTF has happened!?!?

Let’s face it folks this past year has hardly been note-worthy for the right reasons. I can’t exactly see Richard Curtis penning his next movie as an ode to this past time. But I’m not going to sit here though and drag up all the mishaps, tragedies and losses of 2016- we’re all well aware of them. Christmas as well as a time of reflection is also a time of giving, in whatever shape or form.

 

As part of last year’s festivities I decided to try out the whole “Homemade Gifts” approach to the festive season.This went from filling stockings to bundle boxes to arranging hampers all with the common theme -any of the foodie gifts enclosed were made by  my own fair hands in Mr. Mom’s Kitchen. The Christmas season has a way of side-blinding me with a hearty dose of nostalgia. One waft of pine, or shimmer of tinsel and it’s “Hey-ho, here we go down Memory Lane”, a sucker punch from the Ghost of Christmas Past indeed! Amongst the goodies made last year were my (by now) family favourite Christmas Cookies, laced with sweet heady spices and spritzed with orange water; a deeply rich and moist cake combining the flavours of festive fruit, chocolate and Port; mincemeat laced with port, rum and studded with almonds and pecans. Last, but by no means least, I also included bottles of rum-spiked salted caramel sauce, in which edible gold stars floated, winking enticingly from the sweet, velvety liquor.

All of these evoked a certain memory of the festive season for me, from childhood days to feature occasions of later years, each a sensory landmark in my Yuletide roadmap. The last of those mentioned, otherwise known as my “Rum Salted Caramel Stardust”, is an homage to a particularly potent chewy caramel sweet from the Christmas sweet boxes of  my childhood. It an absolute doddle to make, taking no time at all and the effects and beaming smiles will linger long after it’s been scoffed, licked and spooned.

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Rum Salted Caramel Stardust

200g brown sugar

2 tablespoons dark rum

50g salted butter

200ml double cream

100ml single cream

1/2 tsp- 1 tsp Maldon sea-salt (to taste)

Edible star glitter, Wilton

You’ll also need up to 6 x 250ml “retro” milk bottles (clean these in a hot cycle in your dishwasher first to ensure sterilisation)

caramel-sauce

  • Combine the double and single creams in a jug and set aside for later.
  • In a heavybase saucepan combine the brown sugar and rum and heat until the sugar dissolves.
  • Increase the heat and allow the sugar mixture to deepen to an amber color.
  • *Excercise care in these next few steps!
  • Remove the saucepan with the melted sugar from the heat and add in the salted butter. Whisk briskly and carefully so that it melts and becomes incorporated into the sugar mixture. It may hiss and spit so please take care.
  • Next add in he combined creams and stir to fully incorporate. Again take care at this point.
  • Stir in the sea-salt, to taste.
  • Finally stir in a couple of teaspoons of edible stars. The amount is to your personal preference for the final look.
  • Pour into the individual milk bottles and seal with the caps. 
  • And that’s it! The final caramel sauce will keep for up to 2 weeks in your refrigerator. I find it’s best if removed from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving to allow it the return to full “saucy goodness”.  Serve it over ice-cream, brownies, pecan pies…you name it!

 

This post came about from reflection and giving and so there would seem no better way to wrap it up than with this…

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,’ returned the nephew. ‘Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

And with that I’d like to wish you all a very warm, safe, and Merry Christmas.