Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

banana bread no refined sugar

I pulled out my BH&G cookbook for the base recipe for banana bread, then put my spin on it.  An acquaintance once asked if I bake without refined sugar, well this is the first way I can implement coconut sugar successfully without the kids noticing.  It’s moist and has a tender crumb, exactly what good banana bread should be.  While I can’t ingest nuts, I’m sure they would make a swell addition.


  • 2 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.  Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Combine the dry ingredients, including the spices and stir with a whisk.  Set aside.

Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.

Pour the wet into the dry bowl.  Stir and fold the mixture until the flour is incorporated.  Do not over mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 35-55 minutes.  A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.

Immediately remove from the pan and paper to a cooling rack.  Wrap leftovers in plastic, it should keep for up to 3 days at room temperature.



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These simple and delicate sandwiches are perfect to give as gifts around the holidays. Home made goodies have a warming effect on people, one of the reasons why I love to bake. Well, there’s that and I have allergies.

I used the following recipe to make about a dozen raspberry-filled lusikkaleivat and packaged them for a bake sale. Use any jam you like, and for you nut-eaters Nutella would probably rock as a filling.

  • 1 cup soft salted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • raspberry jam (If it’s too thin, reduce in a pan and cool completely. I use a whole fruit jam.)

Cream the butter and sugar. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add the yolk and vanilla to the butter and blend well. Add the flour mixture and mix just until blended together.

Note: Finns will brown the butter to bring out a nutty flavor. I’ve made these both ways and prefer room temperature butter. Using the browned butter will yield a crumbly dough that you spoon onto the pan. I like a flatter cookie because they are easier to eat, remember the thickness of the finished cookie will be twice as thick as one cookie!

Drop tablespoons of the dough on a parchment sheet covered pan, press them flat with your palm. Bake for about 10 minutes at 350ºF, or until the edges just start to brown. You should have enough to make a dozen sandwiched cookies.

The dough:

The cookies, ready to be given to lucky friends:

2013-11-30 09.54.54

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I saw a post on In Search of Bees blog about making dairy-free ice cream.  I’m in the middle of trying to convince Hubby that I want need must have an ice cream maker.  The Thai Tea Ice Cream sounded so good that I had to start experimenting, ice cream machine or not.

The recipe is only three ingredients: coconut milk, tea, sugar.  How could this go wrong, I thought.

Oh, but it did…

The can of coconut milk was not milk at all.  I read the label again after opening the can and seeing something that resembled hair gel.  Coconut Cream?  It didn’t look like cream of any sort!  It was sweet and thick, and the can was already open, so I kept going.

I have a box of Indian Chai in the cupboard waiting to be brewed, steeped and enjoyed.  I made a sachet for the chai and put in the pot of simmering coconut cream.  Nothing happened, there was not a hint of diffusion of the dark spicy tea out to the coconut.  The cream was too thick and did not let any flavour out of the bag.  I opened the stupid bag and poured the chai into the pot.  There.  Now do something!

Instantly you could smell the chai and coconut.  How the heck am I going to get the tea out now?!?  A sieve might work.  Cupboards, drawers, nooks, and crannies did not possess the one tool I needed desperately, and right now.  I only have one wire strainer that was to be my sieve for this experiment, and it’s lost.  So much for mise en place, eh?

I turned to the closest thing in my kitchen with small holes: my cheese grater.  It wasn’t perfect but it managed to catch the bigger clumps of chai as the auburn coconut cream cascaded over it into a bowl.  There’s still chai bits in the bowl.  I picked out the chai, painstakingly, one little piece of crud at a time.  What did remain would stay in the ice cream.

The sticky chai coconut caramel mixture was poured into a freezer bag and plopped into the freezer.  I went to sleep.

This morning I checked on the chai “ice cream”.  It doesn’t look good, it doesn’t look frozen.  I’m afraid to taste it now.  In the spirit of experimentation, I tried it.  It has a caramel overtone and a heavy sweetness, too sweet to be consumed alone.  So I made coffee…

The coffee with the failed ice cream wasn’t all together unpleasant, still on the sweet side though.  Let’s call it the ice-coffee-coconut-chai-escape.  The kids seemed to like this concoction more than I did.

Lesson for today:  coconut cream is not the same as coconut milk.

To-do list: Buy coconut milk and a wire mesh strainer.  Don’t forget the ice cream maker.

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There’s something to be said about tradition.

For one, I never thought my family recipes would share a common thread with friends in Texas, over 2000 miles away from where I’m from in Canada. Turns out at least one person here knows what Yorkshire Pudding is and how to serve it. That is to say, with a proper roast beef and brown gravy made from pan drippings.

I treated my friends to a Canadian dinner, including Yorkshire, roast beef with carrots and mushrooms, corn on the cob, a fresh cucumber salad, rye caraway bread, and rhubarb crisp with vanilla ice cream for dessert! Sadly I didn’t take dish-by-dish photos, my guests were not the food blogger sort and probably would have looked at me funny, plus it kind of detracts from the ambiance of dinner (I can sympathize with some chefs who do not allow photos to be taken in their restaurants).
However, having the kids run around doesn’t affect dinner parties AT ALL. (Insert sarcastic grin here)

I did snag a couple photos, the table setting and dessert.

Rye caraway bread midnitechef.com

rhubarb crisp midnitechef.com

Rhubarb grew like weeds at my childhood home, a small farm outside of Westlock, AB. Tradition to me means meat and veggie dinners, growing enough produce to last several months into the harsh winter, canning tomatoes, baking bread, taking cookies to the wheat fields and flagging down my father for their delivery, stealing sips of his coffee from a thermos, Indian Summers, skating on the frozen dugout, and the absolute quiet of my soul knowing I was in a safe place with my family. It’s amazing what a few traditional recipes can conjure up inside of you. New traditions will be added and some of the old will be amended to fit this fast-paced modern life. But sometimes you have to take the time to do things right and pass along that knowledge and love. I’ve always wanted to cook for people, do I have the heart of a chef? Or a Grandmother who stuffs you to the brim with her traditional dishes and treats, with an extra serving for the road in case you didn’t get your fill (and you never did)?

I wish this dinner was shared with my family, tucked away in a quiet farm-house in the middle of nowhere. Instead, I opened my home and heart to friends who are becoming a part of the family. And I stuffed them to the brim. They were as happy to eat my food as I was to host them. It certainly won’t be the last time.

Rhubarb Crisp

This dessert is one that can be made by sight/feel/smell and doesn’t need much measuring, I’ll give you a guide:

In a baking dish mix the following:

  • 3 stalks fresh rhubarb, trimmed of all leaves, diced
  • 1 Green Apple, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, recommend freshly ground for Savory Spice Shop
  • 1 teaspoon tapioca starch
  • 1 cup sugar

In a separate bowl combine:

  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons butter cut into cubes, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar

The oats should be distributed well with the other ingredients, it may be a bit clumpy and that’s perfect. It will bake on top like granola chunks.

Sprinkle the oat topping over the rhubarb and apple filling. Do not press flat. Bake at 350 F for at least 45 minutes or until the top is golden and crispy with the filling bubbling around the edge.

The crisp is best served the day you bake it as the oats absorb the juices of the rhubarb quite quickly. I recommend letting it cool to room temperature, maybe 90 degrees, then serving it with vanilla ice cream.

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Blueberry Trifle

It’s stupid hot again in Texas. Summer has its grip on Austin. Welcome to the muggy buggy sweltering summer.

Who wants to fire up the oven to bake when you can barely keep the house at a reasonable temperature to begin with? Well, I do, but that’s because some people pay me to bake. Others gleefully accept my fairy cake mother gifts on their birthdays.

To avoid the oven, you may want to try a trifle. Mom used to make these layered desserts quite often for Lion’s Club Potlucks in Vimy, Alberta (the nearest town to my rural home). Mom used either Jell-O or vanilla pudding and sliced banana and strawberries in her layers, topping it with a good amount of whipped cream.

My version is chock full of short cuts, unlike most of my baking that is done from scratch. This is a good thing to pull together quickly and can be adjusted to feed more people, just add more ingredients!

blueberry triffle midnitechef.com

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 a container of Cool Whip (you can make whipped cream, but this is shortcut #1)
  • 1 cup Frozen organic Canadian Wild Blueberries (shortcut #2, frozen keeps longer, and they don’t have to be Canadian)
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • Lady Fingers
  • Fresh Raspberries (if you happen to have some, they’re a nice touch)


Let the Cool Whip thaw so it can be spooned into a bowl, or whip whipping cream until soft peaks form.
In a small bowl, add the blueberries and vanilla. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute to release the juices from the berries.
In a serving dish, place lady fingers, breaking them in half as needed, to make a single layer.
Spoon half the blueberries and juice over the cookies.
Spoon half the Cool Whip over this.
Repeat another sequence of lady fingers, blueberries, Cool Whip.
Top with fresh raspberries (optional).


This makes a small batch of triffle, a perfect to sharing size. Keep it in the fridge until ready to serve. The lady fingers will absorb the juices and turn a beautiful violet, while the whip stays crisp white. Until you dive in, of course.

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While mailing berries would be difficult, instead I have coupons for you to win.  I have three $5 coupons for three lucky readers!  To enter, you must live in the continental USA (otherwise you could not use your prize!).  Contest closes June 5, 2013 at 11:59pm.

What to make with those berries?  Here’s an idea for you!

Raspberry Quinoa Bars

 vegan raspberry bars

1 cup rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 cup shredded coconut (toasted)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups quinoa flakes
3 Tbsp cane sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2/3 c coconut oil

3 cup Driscoll’s raspberries
1-2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Toast the shredded coconut as the oven warms up, just until lightly golden, about 5-10 minutes. Wash the berries and pat dry with paper towel. Mash the raspberries and set them in a fine mesh strainer to let any excess liquid drip out, don’t force the juices just let gravity work.  Line a square (preferably metal) 8×8″ pan with parchment paper, this will make it super easy to get the bars out later.

Combine the dry ingredients of the crumb mixture with a whisk. Add about 1/2 cup of the coconut oil and work it into the flours and spices. Using your hands, rub and mash the mixture until it resembles a coarse damp sand. Add a tablespoon of the coconut oil at a time until you like the texture of the crumb.

Pat about 2/3rds of the crumb into the pan. You want it to stick together but hold yourself back from compressing the bottom layer too much.

Take the raspberries to a bowl, keep the juices collected in a clean jar in your fridge until you can make something with it. Don’t waste anything! Stir in the other filling ingredients. Spread the berry filling evenly over the bottom crust in the pan.

(option: add a bit more cinnamon to the remaining crumb mixture and some honey) Lightly sprinkle the remaining crumb on top of the filling. Bake for 30 – 45 minutes (it will depend on the type of pan and your oven).

Let it cool completely before removing it from the pan, you can put the whole pan in the fridge to cool the pan before picking up the parchment ends to remove the bars. Cut into squares or bars and keep refrigerated up to 3 days (if they last that long!). Best served the day you make them.

Chef’s Notes: With the quantities of quinoa and coconut listed in this version, it seemed like there wasn’t enough of the crumb to go around. Next time, I will use 2 cups of quinoa flakes and 2/3 cup shredded coconut. The toasted bits of coconut give hints of a nutty flavor and crunch that is missing due to the absent oats.


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Big Brother was in kindergarten last year and his teacher commented on how much she liked the home-made cookies and breads I’ve sent for snack time.  I offered to bake heart-shaped cookies for Valentine’s Day and she jumped at the chance.  She explained that they should be plain so the students can add frosting and decorations during the class party.  No problem!

I chose a recipe from one of my recent additions to the kitchen library.  This was a previously untested recipe so I was risking complete failure by doing this and not sticking to my recipe for Christmas cutouts.  I held my breath and went ahead.

The recipe only made about a dozen large hearts and I needed to bake at least 27 cookies for the party. After the first pan was cleared off to the cooling racks Little Sister helped herself to a cookie the size of her head. I heard the faint noise of munching behind me and realized what just happened. I couldn’t get mad. I knew another batch would have to be made to make my quota anyways. Pleading with her, I scooted her out of the kitchen and looked for a distraction in the form of a cute fuzzy animated panda. “Panna!” Little Sister plunked herself on the couch with her cookie. The rest were safe for the next 98 minutes.

Heart Cookies for a Decorating Party

Adapted from Sugar Cookies by Martha Stewart Living Magazine (COOKIES cookbook)

  • original recipe, plus
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (added)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (added)

I chilled the dough for an hour, then rolled it thicker than the recipe calls for.  I put the giant hearts on parchment paper lined cookie sheets and baked until firm but not browned.  This is a great recipe for any shape of cookie to suit the holiday.

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mango chile lime cupcakes
In case you were wanting the recipe for these little gems from the New Member Mixer at Savory Spice Shop on 6th Street, here it is! 

Mango Chile Lime Cupcakes

9 key limes, zest and juice
1 mango, diced (about 1 cup)
1 tsp Peruvian Chile Lime seasoning
1 cup coconut milk
5 large eggs
1 cup oil
1 1/2 cups coconut sugar
1/2 cup cane sugar
2 cups organic unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Pre-heat oven to 325ºF and line a mini cupcake pan with paper cups.
Cook the mango with a tablespoon of water until soft.  Use an immersion blender to puree the mango.  To reduce the fibers, push through a wire strainer and squeeze and juices from the fibrous pulp.
Combine the wet ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.  Add the wet to the dry and mix well.  Pour about a tablespoon of batter in each mini cupcake liner.  Bake for 12 – 14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
The frosting is vanilla cream cheese buttercream.
8 oz soft cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 cup Crisco
2 tbsp meringue powder
2 tbsp vanilla extract (Pro tip from Savory Spice Shop: don’t put your vanilla in the fridge!)
enough water to make the consistency you like (about 2-4 tbsp)
16 oz confectioner’s sugar
Whip until incorporated.  Keep chilled until ready to use.

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Not a perfect roll because it was baked slightly too long, however it was delicious.  I started with Paula Deen’s blackberry jelly roll recipe and changes it to suit the flavors I wanted.  Instead of vanilla extract I used my Heilala Ground Vanilla
bean paste and I added about a quarter cup of milk steeped with chai.  The goal was to make a chai jelly roll but the chai wasn’t pronounced enough, so I’ll name it after the most expensive ingredient in the cake, the vanilla bean.

Otherwise this is a very light sponge cake filled with a frosting that is half buttercream, half whipped ganache.

A few chocolate dipped strawberries can’t hurt either.  I used a scant teaspoon of coconut oil in 4 oz. 60% cocoa squares melted in the microwave in 30-second intervals.  Stir to cool the melted chocolate then dip the berries.  I chilled them in the freezer for a few minutes.

Now, I will go drink my chai with this slice of birthday cake, good nite!

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Maybe I’m selfish.

I like to buy myself a birthday gift as a reminder to be good to oneself.  There’s a particular birthday in high school that has stuck with me, it became clearer since the fog of hormones, exams, and band recitals has vanished.  That memorable day was my sweet sixteen.  Mom made an apple pie and I wanted black forest cake.  Being that age, you don’t see or comprehend all that is happening around you.  I didn’t know how the family finances were not that great.  I didn’t know my parents would be getting divorced.  Heck, could it have happened?  Did she forget my birthday in the super storm of life breaking away from itself?  It was a long time ago.  That day, or the emotional imprint of it, will always stay with me.  Now I have a maelstrom of my own to get through, but a birthday shall not go forgotten, unnoticed, or snuffed out.  This year my gift to me is that divine vanilla in the photo above.  It caught my eye in the virtual Food52 shop window and I thought  Hey, why not?  It’s my birthday!

I feel older.

My body aches.  Bones crack.  I’m tired.  I won’t say “I’m old” because that would just offend those who are older than me.  Let’s just leave it as an incremental step and one more candle on the (black forest) cake.

I feel wiser.

I see what I have done before and learn from it.  I’m more confident in doing what is right, good, truthful, or scary because I know what waits on the other side of those actions.  That’s what life is about for me at 32.

I feel hopeful.

With all the injustices in the world I am hopeful for a better future.  We can’t reverse the entire industrial revolution without massive sacrifices, however if we destroy the only home we have there’s no point.  Pollution.  War.  GMOs.  They all need to go away.  I’m grateful for those of us who sacrifice towards gaining momentum to end what will end us all.  I wish I could hug the world to bring peace, a clean planet, and organic food.  That would be a good start, eh?


Note: This is not a sponsored post.  The link to the Food52 shop will get you a discounted offer on this vanilla.  That is all.

More Birthday Posts:

Read about my thoughts on turning 30.

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