Bryan’s Mom’s Chocolate Cake

Miss me yesterday? Normally I post on Wednesdays and join a bunch of blog parties… but I decided to switch things up. Typically, today I would be be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. But… the challenge ingredients didn’t work well with our current dietary habits so I decided to skip out this month. You should stop by and check out the challenge though, there are, as usual, some delicious and fantastic recipes posted!

Today, I’d like to wish my wonderful, loving, best friend and boyfriend Bryan a very Happy Birthday!

Bryan — Thank you for being so wonderful! … and eating all my failed attempts at baking your favourite cake. Love you immensely!

To celebrate his birthday I’ll be making yet another attempt at making his absolute all-time favourite cake (His mom’s recipe). The pictures come from my last, and most successful, attempt at making the cake so far. My brother and I served the cake at a birthday lunch we hosted for Nana back in August. The cake went over really well despite the fudgy texture.

Nana, her sisters, and my brother Matt getting ready to enjoy their chocolate cake! (For Nana’s birthday gift, Matt and I hosted a lunch for these lovely ladies. They all loved it and had a wonderful afternoon!)

The recipe may look simple enough. But you see, I’m a terrible baker. It never seems to come out right.

At first, I tried to make the recipe, but changing some of the directions (I tried to melt/boil ingredients on the stove-top instead of in the microwave). I tried to fiddle with the ingredients (using only lard instead of adding some butter and vice versa). Less sugar maybe? Usually I get the cake right. It should be fluffy (not fudgy, which is what happened last time). The frosting is generally the tough part. It frequently comes out soupy (it should be thick). What I’ve learned… mother knows best when it comes to her own recipe! Stick to it.

What makes this cake so amazing? It’s chocolately (cake and frosting). It’s fluffy. It’s oh so sweet. And when Bryan’s mom makes it, it’s one of my absolute favourite desserts. But most important, this cake reminds me of Bryan’s wonderful and welcoming family and my trips to New Mexico.

Bryan’s Mom’s Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

Cake

  • 2 cups sugar  – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 cups flour  – approximate cost $0.60
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/2 cup lard (Crisco)  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (1/2 milk added to 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice)  – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 eggs  – approximate cost $0.50

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 6 tablespoons milk  – approximate cost $0.20
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 pound or 454 grams icing sugar  – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 cup chopped pecans  – approximate cost $2.00

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the cake batter.
    1. Stir together sugar, flour, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Bring butter (or margarine), lard, cocoa, and water to a boil. (NOTE: Bryan’s mom melts the ingredients in the microwave. She also notes that she uses margarine and butter-flavoured Crisco sticks. I melt the ingredients in a pot on the stove. I have used butter and a generic brand of lard)
    3. Stir butter mixture well.
    4. Slowly add the dry flour mixture to the butter mixture.
    5. Mix well using an electric mixer.
    6. Slowly add (while continuing to mix):
    7. Buttermilk (NOTE: Bryan’s mom notes that you can use milk added to one-half tablespoon of lemon juice as a substitute — I use this recommendation)
    8. Vanilla
    9. Eggs (NOTE: Bryan’s mom notes that she uses one-half cup of egg beaters)
    10. Bake in 11×13 oblong pan for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Prepare the frosting.
    1. Bring butter or margarine, milk, and cocoa to a boil in the microwave. (NOTE: For whatever reason, this direction is a must! I’ve tried melting these ingredients in a pot on the stove many times. Each attempt was unsuccessful, resulting in a liquidy frosting that never stuck to the cake. Use the microwave and the frosting will turn out thick every time.
    2. Mix well with electric mixer.
    3. Add icing sugar, vanilla and chopped pecans.
    4. Mix well with electric mixer.
  4. Pour icing over HOT cake.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 15 servings (approximate cost: $0.52 per serving).

Behind The Curtain Dessert Challenge: Strawberries and Raspberries (Stewed Rhubarb with Strawberries and Raspberries)

Woah, what’s this… two posts in one week?!

I’m posting twice this week so that I can participate in the Behind The Curtain Dessert Challenge hosted by Lady Behind the Curtain (you might remember that I guest posted on Sheryl’s blog back in January). I’ve been on the mailing list for this challenge since it began. I don’t often eat desserts, so it might seem weird that I chose to be on the mailing list at all. However, it’s not that I don’t like desserts, I just dislike foods that are overly sweet.

This month’s challenge ingredients called to me… and I couldn’t pass this one up. Strawberries and raspberries!

Strawberries are in season here in Ontario and I can’t get enough of them. Seriously! I bought some last week intending to come up with something for the challenge and ended up just eating them all plain. Yum!

So, this week I made a trip out to the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market to pick up some delicious local produce. My intention was to buy just a few things: fruit for the challenge and something for dinner. I should know better… $50 later I came home with as many groceries as I could possibly carry. I found some lovely local strawberries, rhubarb, and last season’s potatoes, raspberries (though I’m not sure where they came from), turkey hearts, pig tails, and a few other treats. We’ll be eating well this week!

When I came across the rhubarb, I knew I had to somehow work that into my dessert. But what to make… I briefly considered baking a pie. I thought about making a crumble. Another cobbler perhaps? However, I decided to go with a chunky stewed rhubarb. The rhubarb was only sold in large bundles, and stewed rhubarb is really versatile and I thought we would enjoy it because of the numerous ways you can serve it. Stewed rhubarb is great as an ice cream, yogurt, oatmeal, pancake, waffle, or biscuit topping, or as a filling for crepes. I ate my first serving plain. Yum!

Stewed Rhubarb with Strawberries and Raspberries

Inspired by, but much different from, my grandmother’s recipe.

Note: I used fresh produce to make this recipe. It would likely also work well with frozen produce if that’s what is available to you.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups rhubarb, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces – approximate cost $3.00
  • 3/4 cup cane sugar – approximate cost $1.25
  • 2 tablespoons lemon – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup raspberries – approximate cost $2.00
  • 3 cups strawberries – approximate cost $4.00

Method

  1. Combine the rhubarb pieces, cane sugar, lemon, and water in a large pot.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat.
  4. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Add strawberries and raspberries.
  6. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Allow to cool.
  9. Serve on it’s own or with ice cream, yogurt, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, biscuits, crepes.

Makes about 10 servings (approximate cost: $1.05 per serving).

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Improv Challenge: Cinnamon and Sugar (Strawberry Cobbler)

Once again I find myself thinking… it’s been way too long since I’ve posted on my blog! Last post, I had just made it through the exam season. Since then, I’ve been quite busy as usual.

I took a short vacation to visit one of my very best friends and her family in Northern Ontario. I spent 3 wonderful days visiting and relaxing. The time out of the city was much needed.

Waterfall in South River

Waterfall in South River

We made a day-trip to Pickerel River where H’s aunt and uncle own a lovely cottage. It had been about 10 years since my last visit. As children, we visited for a week most summers, not a whole lot has changed (except they finished building the house). We even fit in a short kayaking trip! I wish I had been brave enough to bring my camera along, the was a waterfall down the river that was still frozen.

Pickerel River

Pickerel River

A beaver swimming in the Pickerel River

A beaver swimming in the Pickerel River

I have to admit I didn’t really want to come home. Don’t get me wrong, I missed Bryan and Loki. And I was looking forward to starting my summer classes. But a full week away would have been nice. 🙂

I’m excited to once again be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! This month, the challenge ingredients are cinnamon and sugar. So far, I’ve shared:

This month, my dish is inspired by my trip up north. When we visited Pickerel River, H’s mom made a lovely peach cobbler that we took along for dessert. For the challenge, I made a Strawberry Cobbler!

Strawberry Cobbler

Inspired by S’s Peach Cobbler

Ingredients

Fruit Filling

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 cup COLD water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 cups sliced strawberries – approximate cost $2.00
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon – approximate cost $0.10

Topping

  • 1 cup flour – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 tablespoon cane sugar – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 cup whole milk – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided into 6 – approximate cost $0.30

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the fruit filling.
    1. Combine the cornstarch and cold water in a cup.
    2. Mix well.
    3. Add cornstarch mixture and brown sugar to a sauce pot.
    4. Cook over medium heat until thickened and sugar is dissolved.
    5. Remove from heat.
    6. Add lemon juice.
    7. Add strawberries.
    8. Pour into a 9×13 baking dish.
    9. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  3. Prepare the topping.
    1. Combine flour, cane sugar, baking powder, and sea salt in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Add milk, stirring constantly.
    3. Add water, stirring until well-mixed (no dry flour).
  4. Spoon the topping over the fruit (leaving it in dumpling shapes).
  5. Dot each dumpling with butter.
  6. Bake the cobbler for about 25 minutes (or until topping is cooked through and golden brown).
  7. Cool slightly.
  8. Serve warm and enjoy!

Makes 6 servings (approximate cost: $0.60 per serving).



ALMOST Gluten Free Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last week, I attended a potluck dinner. The theme was St. Patrick’s Day – so green and/or Irish foods were a preferred contribution.

Generally, I contribute a savory food, something that can be a side dish or a main course. However, this time I decided to go with a (green) dessert. I was in class prior to the potluck and needed something that would be easy to transport and didn’t require refrigeration.

I’ve wanted to try making gluten free cookies for a while and decided this was a good opportunity. And it’s a good thing I wasn’t serving the cookies to anyone with an intolerance, because, as it turns out, these cookies did contain gluten. As I was researching gluten-free cookies, I realized the spelt flour (that I had bought in the healthy food section at the grocery store next to the gluten-free flours and cake mixes) contains gluten! According to The Kitchn:

“Spelt has a reputation as a “healthier” grain, but as far as gluten-free cooking goes, it’s out. It is a direct relative of wheat, and while its protein content may be higher and therefore better for those of us without a gluten intolerance, it will cause problems for those with gluten-intolerance. One interesting note, however, is that some people who simply have a mild intolerance say that they can tolerate spelt better than wheat. But you should still avoid it completely when cooking for those with a gluten or wheat intolerance.” (from “Cocoa to Cornstarch: Are These 10 Ingredients Gluten-Free?” on The Kitchn)

A few other things “went wrong” in the process. First, I realized after adding the green food dye that it was also mint-flavoured. This ended up not being an issue because both Bryan and I like mint. And I let my classmates know about the flavour ahead of time. Second, although the dough was green, the cookies turned out golden-brown with a green center. They didn’t look very festive. Next time, I will take them out of the oven sooner so they retain a bit more colour.

So, while these cookies were not, in the end, gluten-free… they were a delicious first attempt. (Bryan asked me to tell my classmates that they were terrible so we could have more at home). However, I promised to make these cookies again soon. However, the next batch will be truly gluten-free, substituting a bit more of each of the other flours to remove the spelt flour.

ALMOST Gluten Free Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup salted butter, softened  – approximate cost $1.50
  • ½ cup brown sugar  – approximate cost $0.25
  • ½ cup cane sugar  – approximate cost $0.45
  • 1 egg  – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract  – approximate cost $0.15
  • 20 drops of mint-flavoured green food dye  – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum  – approximate cost $0.50
  • ½ cup spelt flour  – approximate cost $0.50
  • ½ cup coconut flour  – approximate cost $0.60
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/3 cup almond meal flour  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda  – approximate cost $0.05
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 150 grams semi-sweet chocolate chips  – approximate cost $1.25

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and cane sugar.
  3. Add the egg, vanilla, and mint-flavoured green food dye.
  4. Stir until well blended.
  5. Mix together the xanthan gum, spelt flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, almond meal flour, white rice flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and sea salt.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture ½ cup at a time, mixing well each time you add flour.
  7. Add the chocolate chips when the flour is completely blended with the butter mixture.
  8. Use an ice cream scoop to make spheres of cookie dough.
  9. Place each scoop of dough onto a non-stick baking sheet (about 5 centimeters apart).
  10. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the cookie is golden (the dough on the inside of the cookie will be green).
  11. Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet.
  12. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely.
  13. Enjoy immediately and pack a few cookies away for later!

Makes about 15 cookies (approximate cost: $0.50 per cookie).

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Piparkakut (Finnish Gingerbread) Cookies

I’m excited to once again be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! This month, the challenge ingredients are hearts and flours. So far, I’ve shared:

This month, I’m sharing a gingerbread cookie recipe I got from my friend Kas (with slight modifications).

  • The original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon ground cardamom in addition to the other spices. However, I left this out because I didn’t have the ingredient readily available in my pantry (and it was Family Day, so I couldn’t go to the store to buy some).
  • I used fancy molasses instead of unsulphured molasses.
  • I baked the cookies for 8 1/2 minutes (which made for crunchy cookies, but I would have preferred they turned out soft like Kas’s cookies).
  • I used lactose-free milk instead of regular milk.
  • I used cane sugar instead of white sugar.
  • I used sea salt instead of table salt.

Kas’s Piparkakut cookies are amazing. She tends to make them around Christmas and, if you’re lucky, you get a pack of cookies as a gift. this year, I had the privileged of making a double-batch of cookies with her during a visit. I’m not great at baking, so it was nice to go through the process with a pro (it is her family’s recipe after all!). The ones we made over the holiday were decorated with sprinkles and divided between the two of us. I gave a few away, but Bryan and I kept most of that batch for ourselves.

So, after getting the stand mixer a few weeks back, I decided it was about time that I try making these cookies at home. So on Family Day (this past Monday), I enlisted Bryan’s help with some cookie making. One thing I must point out is that the cookie dough is just as delicious as the cookies themselves. As we were rolling out the cookies, Bryan and I enjoyed many tastes of the dough before it even made it into the oven! We just got our first set of cookie cutters and made several shapes: hearts (as per the Improv Challenge), stars, multi-pointed stars and a shape we cannot agree on (I think it’s candy — Bryan thinks it’s a bone). At the end of the night, we’d sampled so much dough that we were too full to sample the finished cookies! I may have had cookies for breakfast on Tuesday morning, just to make sure they tasted ok.

A single batch, we found, was wayyyyy too many cookies for the two of us. So I’ve given a few to friends as taste testers of my first batch.

Kas and her partner got half a dozen. I was upfront with her about the changes I’d made. Their verdict? Not bad for the first batch! And they didn’t miss the cardamom too much, They only complaint was that I’d left them in the oven a touch too long and they were a bit crispier than they should be. I was already aware of this.

Another half dozen went to my childhood best friend and her sister. Our visit was unplanned, but I was glad to have a few cookies to share with them. They had also tasted a few that I had made with Kas over the holiday and had a point of comparison. They too thought the cookies were pretty good!

Finally, I gave another half dozen to my friend and her four-year old son when I went to babysit last night. She, as far as I know, hasn’t tried a cookie yet, but they also seem to be kid-approved! I allowed him to have one cookie during my visit last night and he savored it over about half an hour.

Hooray for a successful batch of cookies!

Piparkakut (Finnish Gingerbread) Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salted butter – approximate cost $2.50
  • 1 ¼ cups cane sugar – approximate cost $1.00
  • ¼ cup fancy molasses – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 large egg – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 tablespoons lactose-free milk – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (and a bit extra for rolling the cookies) – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon – approximate cost $0.15
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger – approximate cost $0.10
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves – approximate cost $0.05
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.03

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together the butter, sugar, and molasses until well mixed and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and lactose-free milk and stir until well mixed.
  4. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves, sea salt and pepper in a separate large mixing bowl.
  5. Slowly add the flour and spice mixture (1/2 cup at a time) into the butter and molasses mixture, mixing constantly until the two are well-combined.
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface (the dough should be about 1cm thick).
  7. Use cookie cutters to cut out cookies.
  8. Gently peel away the unused dough.
  9. Work the unused dough into a ball.
  10. Place cookies on a cookie sheet.
  11. Bake cookies for 7 1/2 minutes (until golden brown but still soft).
  12. Remove cookies to a wire rack.
  13. Repeat steps 6-12 until you use up all of the dough.
  14. Cool cookies completely before packaging or enjoy warm.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the cookie-cutter shapes (approximate cost: $0.15 per cookie).



Improv Challenge: Bananas and Nutmeg (Fried Bananas with Brown Sugar Sauce)

I’m excited to once again be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! This month, the challenge ingredients are bananas and nutmeg. Yum! So far, I’ve shared:

Today, I’m sharing a recipe that my dad used to make for me when I was younger. I’ve been trying for years to replicate his recipe but, for some reason, even though I started out using the same ingredients it’s just never the same… so I changed things up a bit and made it my own (Dad leaves out the nutmeg and the vanilla).

Fried Bananas with Brown Sugar Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 bananas – approximate cost $0.50
  • 2 heaping tablespoons brown sugar – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1/4 cup butter – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla – approximate cost $0.20

Method

  1. Slice the banana in half lengthwise and then horizontally (you should have four long and thin pieces).
  2. Melt half of the butter (1/8 cup) in a frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the banana slices to the frying pan.
  4. Cook until the banana begins to turn golden brown.
  5. Flip and cook until the banana begins to turn golden brown.
  6. Remove to a plate.
  7. Add the remaining butter, and brown sugar.
  8. Cook until sugar is melted.
  9. Remove from heat and add vanilla to sauce.
  10. Stir well.
  11. Pour sauce over fried banana pieces.
  12. Sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon.
  13. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Makes 2 servings (approximate cost: $0.85 per serving).



Guest Posting on Ginger Bakes

Today, I’m guest posting on Ginger Bakes. I’m very excited that Mel invited me to post on her blog as well!

You may remember that, a few weeks ago, Mel from Ginger Bakes guest posted on this blog and shared her delicious Chocolate Drizzled Mocha Cookies (Bryan has been asking me to make these cookies ever since)!

So head on over and check out my Banana Bread recipe! It’s not exactly festive, but a delicious and easy to make treat that you can take along to any holiday party!

Improv Challenge: Chocolate and Marshmallows

It’s been way too long! It’s hard to believe it’s been an entire month since I posted. But I’m back, and ready to take on blogging once again! Over the last month I’ve been swamped with school work. Between essays, projects and presentations, the deadlines kept me busy. However, I’m glad to have made it through my first term as a PhD student and can’t wait to start all over again after the holiday!

That said, what better way to get back into blogging than participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker?! I was disappointed to miss a few months of the challenge, but happy to be participating today. So far, I’ve shared:

This month, the challenge ingredients are chocolate and marshmallows. Yum!

I wasn’t going to have an evening at home to prepare my recipe, so, last night I enlisted the help from my friend’s 4-year-old (who I was babysitting). That is, I made making a delicious dessert using chocolate and marshmallows our activity for the evening. And it went over surprisingly well! The little one was super excited to help me cook, loved decorating his own dessert, and devoured the tasty treat just before bedtime. It made a great activity!

What did we make? Crispy rice squares!

Crispy Rice Squares with Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter – approximate cost $0.50
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows – approximate cost $0.90
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla – approximate cost $0.10
  • 6 cups crispy rice cereal – approximate cost $1.60
  • Chocolate sauce for decorating – approximate cost $0.50
  • Chocolate and Rainbow sprinkles for decorating (optional) – approximate cost $0.30

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a large, non-stick pot.
  2. Add the marshmallows, stirring constantly until melted.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Add the vanilla.
  5. Continue stirring.
  6. Add the cereal, 1 cup at a time, and stirring constantly until well-coated in marshmallows.
  7. Place in a 9×13 baking pan
  8. Cover with a piece of waxed paper.
  9. Press the cereal mixture into an even layer that is the shape of the baking pan.
  10. Remove waxed paper.
  11. Decorate with chocolate sauce (and other edible treats such as chocolate or rainbow sprinkles).
  12. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to set.
  13. Slice and enjoy!

Makes one 9 x 13 tray of crispy rice treats, about 12 servings (approximate cost: $3.90 or $0.33 per serving).



Guest Post from Ginger Bakes: Chocolate Drizzled Mocha Cookies

Today, I’m very excited to introduce the very first ever guest post on The Cook’s Sister! Welcome Mel from Ginger Bakes!

Sound familiar? That’s because I nominated Mel’s blog for the One Lovely Blog Award back in October!

Mel and I are both participants in the monthly Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker, which is how we met. We both visit each other’s blogs regularly now. And we both own some very cute kitties that like to check out the tasty treats we share on our blogs.

Mel is a fantastic baker and I’m always amazed with her creations, they’re both delicious and beautiful! Check out a few of my favourites:

Now, the part you’ve all been waiting for… the guest post and Mel’s fantastic cookie recipe that she’s sharing with us today! Take it away Mel!


Hi! I’m Mel and I’m the one behind Ginger Bakes. I found Amber’s blog on my first Improv challenge and have been following her ever since. Especially when I discovered she is a fellow Ontarioan! So when she was looking for a guest poster I jumped at the chance!

I am an avid baker, and it’s no secret that one of my favourite things to bake are cookies. They are also the perfect goodies to share. Our neighbor and friend is moving out of province and sent me home with some baking supplies saying that she would never use them up before she left.  For me it was the perfect excuse to bake something up to send her way. Since she is driving out, I needed it to be portable and travel friendly (to last the three day drive!), but also still super delicious.

Enter these slice-and-bake cookies. Easy to put together, drive friendly, and still indulgent with the chocolate drizzle. Also the hint of espresso makes it a justifiable treat for breakfast. 😉 It also makes a small batch, so it’s perfectly sized to stretch out over a long drive or if there is only a couple people in the house and you don’t want cookies sticking around for all eternity. Having said that, these also freeze beautifully and the recipe doubles wonderfully.

Chocolate Drizzled Mocha Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Chocolate Mocha Cookies - Baked and Photographed by Ginger Bakes (http://gingerbakes.wordpress.com)

Chocolate Mocha Cookies – Baked and Photographed by Ginger Bakes (http://gingerbakes.wordpress.com)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter, softened (approx. $1)
  • ½ cup sugar (approx.  $0.16)
  • 1 egg  ( approx. $0.24)
  • ½ tsp. instant espresso powder ( approx. $0.08)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour  (approx. $0.32)
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder (approx. $0.40)
  • ½ tsp. baking soda (approx. $0.01)
  • ¼ tsp. salt (approx. $0.01)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips, melted (approx. $0.75)
Chocolate Mocha Cookies - Baked and Photographed by Ginger Bakes (http://gingerbakes.wordpress.com)

Chocolate Mocha Cookies – Baked and Photographed by Ginger Bakes (http://gingerbakes.wordpress.com)

Method

  1. In a large bowl, or in the bowl of your mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined.
  2. In another bowl, combine the espresso powder, flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add it to the butter mixture until it’s all combined.
  3. Shape the dough into a log, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour (or if you are impatient like me, 30 minutes in the freezer)
  4. Preheat the oven to 350o F and line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap the chilled dough, and with a sharp knife cut into 2mm/ ½ in slices. Arrange on your prepared sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool a couple minutes on your tray, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  5. Once the cookies are cooled, put the melted chocolate into a disposable piping bag or a heavy duty freezer bag with the corner snipped, and drizzle over the cookies. Let the chocolate set, then enjoy!

Total approximate cost: $2.97 for 24 cookies

-Mel

Chocolate Mocha Cookies - Baked and Photographed by Ginger Bakes (http://gingerbakes.wordpress.com)

Chocolate Mocha Cookies – Baked and Photographed by Ginger Bakes (http://gingerbakes.wordpress.com)

Improv Challenge: Zucchini and Brown Sugar

I’m excited to be participating in another Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! Each month I strive to come up with something a bit more exciting or creative than the last. So far, I’ve shared:

This month, the challenge ingredients are zucchini and brown sugar.

My recipe this month isn’t exactly creative. Instead, I opted for something much more sentimental… my Nana’s Zucchini Bread recipe (with a slight modification). The original recipe calls for white sugar, I’ve substituted brown sugar for the purpose of the challenge, and it worked out great!

Nana’s not sure where the recipe comes from anymore. She thinks she might have got it from one of her sisters, who possibly got it from my Great Grandmother. Either way, it’s been in the family for a while and I enjoyed many many pieces of zucchini bread as a child, especially in the fall when Nana picked the zucchini fresh from the garden.

Growing up, I thought zucchini bread was one of the healthiest treats. Why? Because it’s got vegetable pieces in it. Therefore, it must be healthy. Right? I was a bit surprised going through the recipe when I saw how much sugar it calls for. Not exactly healthy. It won’t kill you to enjoy the bread once in a while either though. Just something I will likely choose to enjoy in moderation instead of abundance, like I did as a child.

I’ll likely experiment with making a healthier version of the recipe at some point. Substituting the white flour for whole wheat, or maybe a gluten-free flour. Try cutting out some of the sugar. But that’s for another day when I’m not scrambling to make something delicious for the Improv Challenge.

Excuse me while I got enjoy some fresh from the oven zucchini bread for breakfast. I just baked it this morning!

Nana’s Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs – approximate cost $0.60
  • 2 cups white sugar (I used brown sugar for the purpose of the Improv Challenge) – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 1/2 cups grated zucchini, skin included – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 cup oil (I used canola oil) – approximate cost $0.40
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla – approximate cost $0.30
  • 3 cups flour – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 teaspoons salt – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 cup walnuts – approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine the eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla, and grated zucchini in a mixing bowl.
  3. Mix until well combined and set aside.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, cinnamon, and walnuts in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Mix until well combined.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  7. Pour the bread mixture into two (greased) loaf pans.
  8. Bake for 1 hour (or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean).
  9. Allow to cool before serving.

Makes 2 loaves, about 16 slices (approximate cost: $3.30 per loaf or $0.41 per slice).


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