Espresso Chocolate Cheesecake

Happy holidays to all of you lovely readers.

This week has included a heap of festivities with friends and family as well as plenty of downtime to relax. Our new home is proving to be very cozy and every day we’re feeling more settled.

We’re currently snowed in, and since the fridge is still full of leftovers, there’s really no need to do anything else but hibernate – until  New Year’s Eve that is. We’ve been invited to friends for a party on the 31st, so I’m brainstorming what I could contribute.

Since we’re in the middle of the dark days of winter, my mind turned to chocolate…and coffee….and then I remembered this cheesecake.

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Marmalade Pecan Pie with coconut sugar, bourbon and a hint of chocolate

All year long, we bakers turn out a variety of layer cakes, brownies and cookies, not to mention sticky fruity crisps and cobblers, but come November our thoughts turn to pie.

Perhaps we are prompted by the lackluster weather and barren landscape, or maybe it is because November a slower month, and we are able to make time in our busy lives for rolling pie crust and dedicating ourselves to the art of pie.

Pie can’t be slapped together like a loaf of banana bread or a batch of chocolate chip cookies; it requires more effort, yet yields richly rewarding results.

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Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies (gluten-free)

A recent string of blustery, grey days abruptly ended our streak of glorious fall weather, and the pounding of the rain on the window panes sent me scuttling to the kitchen in search of warmth and comfort.

I found solace in a pan of marbled, maple-sweetened pumpkin cheesecake brownies, rich with both chopped chocolate and dark cocoa and lightly spiced with the beloved autumn flavour of my own ‘pumpkin spice’ blend.

If these brownies sound like an irresistible fall dessert, you are absolutely right. They are soft and dense, moist and rich – but what really makes them ideal is that they also contain a secret nutritious ingredient.

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Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Yesterday at the market I passed several large baskets overflowing with plump zucchini and noted that they were being sold for mere pocket change.

Then I remembered this muffin recipe which I had yet to post and made an additional mental note to get it out into your inboxes while zucchini is still cheap and prolific. I resisted bringing home any more zucchini from the market yesterday, but my kids are so crazy about these muffins, I’m know going to need to make a double batch before long.

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins are fantastic for breakfast or school lunches. Their flavour deepens after twenty four hours at room temperature, so they are just as delicious on the second day as they are served up warm from the oven. I’ve been making them in mini format for snacking as well as jumbo size for a filling breakfast-on-the-go.

Are you ready for fall baking? Let’s kick things off with a tray of nourishing muffins.

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Meringue-Topped, Layered Ice Cream Birthday Cake

Our home was a-buzz with birthday excitement last weekend, even if the party planning only started sometime Friday afternoon.

Mere moments after I had seen my parents out the door for their return trip home, I opened my trusty notebook, where I jot down ideas and details for every gathering we host. I wrote ‘Noah’s 11th Birthday’ and drew a line underneath the words, pausing for a moment to take in that number.

Eleven. It’s really teetering on the edge of childhood. There would be no robot cake this year, no pinata-thumping  or eating doughnuts off of string. Treasure hunts are a thing of the past for my 6th grader – and that is all okay; there will always be birthday cake.

Noah’s not into frosting at all, in fact, he wants nothing to do with it. He’s pretty keen on ice cream, however, and with this in mind, an idea for an epic (it must be epic) layered, ice cream cake began to take shape in my little book. A brownie layer would be good, and a chocolate cookie crumb base. He loves crisp meringues, why not work those into the topping.

After one shopping trip, lots of scooping and sculpting and melting and freezing, we had a birthday cake. An epic birthday cake.

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