Thank you for the amazing 8 years here at A Baked Creation, we can't thank you enough for the memories! But we've decided to move over to a new site - Sincerely, Syl. Please join us there for future posts on all the things you loved here!


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pistachio Cake

[Insert nutty joke here.]
I just don't have an appropriate joke to start off this post with. Then again, there's no reason as to why I have to lighten the mood with laughter. Pistachio cake is very serious business. But if you want to know what is funny, it's that I can't trim cakes. Did I plan on making tiny little cakelettes? No. I wanted to make a loaf-sized cake glazed in chocolate and cut into pieces like a pound cake. It turns out that cutting three identical straight edged layers was beyond my talent. So I kept trimming and trimming until what became tiny towers of cake.
Pistachio Cake
(Makes enough to fill one loaf pan and a 8 x 8 square pan)

3/4 cups of shelled pistachio nuts
1 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
5 eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and spread the shelled pistachio nuts on a baking pan. Toast in the oven for 7-9 minutes. When finished, let it cool completely.
  2. Line the bottom of your cake pans with parchment paper.
  3. Using food processor or blender with a chopping blade, grind the toasted pistachio until it becomes a flour.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine the pistachio flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Give it a good whisk, about 30 seconds.
  5. Add in the milk, vanilla extract, and eggs. Mix until combined and the batter is nice and smooth.
  6. Divide the batter into your parchment-lined baking pans and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean from the center.
  7. Peel off the parchment paper and allow the cakes to cool on wire racks.
When you're ready to assemble the cake (cakes in my case), trim them to size. Spread raspberry jam (or strawberry jam, but the tartness of the raspberry is just fantastic here) on the top of the cake. Sandwich the jam with another cake layer.
Using a double boiler, make chocolate ganache (chocolate chips and heavy cream) to glaze the cakes. A spatula helps spread the chocolate over the edges. This part gets a little messy. Don't worry if they don't look perfect. I'm not sure who would resist a chocolate covered pistachio cake.
Chop up some pistachios and crumble on top as decoration.
Let the glaze cool and set.
Or just eat it. Why wait? It makes a lovely breakfast, healthy in my opinion! The cake itself isn't too sweet (hence the chocolate) and the raspberry jam really brightens up the flavours.
Disclaimer: We received product samples from Diamond of California. The shelled pistachios are new to their line and we also received chopped walnuts and chopped pecans. There was no requirement to produce a positive review of their products. All opinions are our own.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cook the Cover: Canadian Living June 2014

Wow! We've been getting much warmer weather lately in Toronto, it's almost enough to forgive and forget the icy cold winter we just had. T-shirts! Shorts! Ballet flats! Dresses and skirts! I am all for the summer wardrobe.

How was the past month for you? Did you celebrate Mother's Day by cooking?

I don't know if many of you have gardening, but Howard and I have decked out our balcony. We bought bright teal patio chairs and built our first planter. Looking at all the blooming flowers and green leaves make me so happy. We even started an ambitious herb trolley in the living room. The hope is that we can stop buying bunches of herbs that we can never finish.

And have you started your grill yet? We found the rib sauce in this month's cover recipe to be tasty and easy to make!

Char Siu-Style Ribs
Shopping List: pork back ribs, shallots, hoisin sauce, garlic, grenadine, honey, ginger, Chinese cooking wine, soy sauce, pepper, and five-space powder.
When I say that the rib sauce is easy to make, I'm not kidding. You just have to put everything in a blender. Purée the shallots, hoisin sauce, garlic, grenadine, honey, ginger, cooking wine, soy sauce, pepper and five-spice powder.
See? All done. You can even make this ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for up to two days.
I had Howard come help remove the membrane from the underside of ribs. For the first rib, we scored it and peeled the membrane off. By the second rib, Howard was a confident membrane remover and just yanked the whole thing off.
Next, you take the sauce and rub 1⁄2 cup all over ribs. We thought that it might not be enough marinade so we poured all of the sauce in. Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. I made another batch of the sauce (because we used it all and because it was easy to do) to be saved for the grill.
Mmm saucy! Place the ribs, bone side down, in a roasting pan (we thought ahead and marinated the ribs in the roasting pan - no need to perform a messy transfer). Cover pan with foil and roast at 350°F (180°C) in the oven until the meat is tender, about 1-3⁄4 hours. Brush with pan drippings.
This step should not be skipped! It really helps give the ribs a nice finish and flavour. Place the ribs on a greased grill over medium heat. Grill the ribs while brushing the sauce on it. It'll start to caramelized in about about 5 to 8 minutes.
When everyone's ready to eat, slice the ribs and serve!

Having grown up eating char siu pork, we were pleasantly surprised. The char siu flavor wasn't super strong, but it was there! This was a nice subtle homage to one of the most popular take-out dishes at food courts and butcher shops. The consensus was that this would be a recipe to keep and maybe we can use the sauce for other types of meat as well.

We served our ribs with a garden salad, garlic bread, and quinoa - we were full to the max! Not to mention, we had cookie bark and ice cream for dessert. I always feel that ribs are associated with a feast-like spread. The only thing missing was grilled corn, the best summer treat!

See what other bloggers thought about the recipe here.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Canadian Living and I received compensation for it. There was no requirement to produce a positive review of this recipe. All opinions are our own.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

S'more Ice Cream Sandwiches

Time to think of summer, we've been having some wonky weather here in Toronto, but it's bound to remain sunny and warm soon. And when it does, it's time to bring out the cool treats!

Always be prepared when you're trying a new recipe. Decide what kind of ice cream sandwich you're going to make. Read through the instructions, I've taken photos each step of the way, and if you're going for that gold star, watch this video featuring Canadian Living Test Kitchen Specialist Irene Fong.

I decided on the s'more ice cream sandwiches because they remind me of fun camping trips and hilarious visits to the cottage with friends. There's something mesmerizing about roasting a marshmallow over a fire pit. Before it catches on fire and creates a torch, you squish it between graham crackers and chocolate. Yum! There's no camping or cottage trips on the horizon, but our new home does have a fire pit. So who knows? Maybe we'll relive those good times this summer.

S'more Ice Cream Sandwiches
Shopping List: unsalted butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, chocolate chips, graham crackers, mini marshmallows, and vanilla ice cream.
First, we have to make the chocolate sandwich cookies. In a large bowl, beat the softened butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy. It should resemble a coarse buttercream frosting.
Beat in eggs, one at a time. Then add in the vanilla extract. This makes the batter nice and smooth.
Gather all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together. This will help mix everything together and get rid of any lumps.
Mix into the butter mixture until combined. Scrape the sides of your bowl as needed. Be careful not to over mix. You can do this part with a spatula if you want.
Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
Scoop one tablespoon of batter and place two inches (five centimetres) apart onto baking sheets (line with silicone mat or parchment paper). The batter spreads quite a bit while baking, so make sure you stick to one tablespoon or less. Unless you want gigantic ice cream sandwiches - then who am I to judge?
Bake until sides are just firm to the touch, about eleven minutes. They'll be soft, but you do want them a little bit under baked because they'll be softer and chewier. Let the cookies cool for ten minutes.
Transfer to racks and let the cookies cool completely. If you make these ahead of time, layer waxed paper between the cookies in airtight container and store at room temperature for up to five days.
To prepare the s'more, halve the mini marshmallows. Howard laughed at me for making something mini even smaller! But it's all about having the right proportions.
I used a blender to grind the graham crackers instead of chopping them.
Just a few pulses and it was a nice graham crumb.
In a bowl, combine the chocolate chips, graham crackers, and mini marshmallows.
Scoop about 1/4-1/3 cup of ice cream onto the bottom of a cookie. Top with a second cookie and gently press to adhere. You want the ice cream to almost reach the edge of the cookies. Dip the ice cream edge in the bowl, making sure that the chocolate chips, graham crackers, and marshmallows stick. Wrap with a double layer of plastic wrap and freeze until ice cream hardens, about 1 hour.
If you're like me, sometimes you need instant gratification. I tried the s'more ice cream sandwich right after I assembled it (no freezer time) and enjoyed the gooey, melty mess!

If you're looking for more ice cream sandwich ideas, visit the Test Kitchen Blog over at Canadian Living to see what other bloggers made! Strawberry White Chocolate Sprinkle or Chocolate Toffee and Nuts anyone? You really can't go wrong. Maybe even try mixing the toppings into the ice cream before you sandwich it!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Canadian Living and I received compensation for it. There was no requirement to produce a positive review of this recipe. All opinions are our own.