Margarita March has a nice ring to it, don't you think?
This creation was inspired by two lovely people in my life, my brother, and my Auntie Pat. Both of whom I can always count on to have margaritas with me. It's important to have those kind of people in your life. I've made a margarita sorbet before, but then when grapefruit was suggested, I knew this version had to become reality. With a sweet and salty grapefruit-zest rim! Obviously!
This innocent looking pearlescent globe tastes like a deliciously refreshing (and strong) grapefruit margarita. It's sweetness is light and balanced with a big HELLO! sung/shouted by our friend tequila. The thing that I love most about this however is how dang silky smooth and velvety it is! The texture is something divine. That is probably thanks to the high levels of booze in it, preventing it from freezing all the way. So scoop and enjoy immediately! But hey, if you wait too long and it melts, you just end up with a margarita so really you can't loose.
Grapefruit Margarita Sorbet
Recipe adapted from Epicurious
This cookie is inspired by my coworker, who quickly became a dear friend of mine. One of those people who when you see them, you know that the day will be a good day. When we worked together the day would be full of laughing, dancing, and general silliness, but we were also there for each other to have a good rant about whatever was annoying us.
Of course, she had to break my heart by moving back to Victoria. To send her and her boyfriend on her way I made them these cookies. She had told me they really like Skor bars, so I grabbed some of those Skor toffee bits for adding to one of my favourite cookie recipes. The dark not-too-sweet caramel and nutty almond flavour of the cookies complements the toffee bits, and they are crunchy through and through, just like a Skor bar.
For Beth <3
Recipe adapted from Fika
It is about time for some serious dark chocolate business around here.
***RANT WARNING***I have posted a shocking amount (okay, 2) of recipes including white chocolate already... shocking because for a long time I have turned my nose up to white chocolate. I think I have done so because white chocolate is a lie in that it is not technically even chocolate. I have (sometimes too passionately) argued this scientific fact with friends. It does not contain any cocoa solids, only the fat that is pressed out of cocoa nibs to make REAL chocolate. However I suppose you do need to use cocoa beans in order to procure white chocolate, and perhaps if we just consider white chocolate a thing on it's own and not compare it to the wonderful deep dark real-deal chocolate, it is okay, and okay to enjoy.
There, I had to get that off my chest, and I feel better.
But back to my roots and the soul of my very being, which I'm pretty sure is made of dark chocolate. I am a proud chocoholic, lover of all things bittersweet and a true believer that the darker the chocolate, the better.
Join me, if you will, on the dark side.
These cookies invited one of dark chocolate's best friends over for a play-date and they got up to NO GOOD. Luckily for us it's the delicious kind of no good. That's right, peanut butter. When peanut butter and chocolate get together to play, it's hard for it not to be a good day.
Cookies filled with cocoa AND dark chocolate chunks, peanuts AND swirled with peanut butter... HELLO!
These cookies will be as good as the ingredients you use to make them. For me that means using the good dark dark chocolate, salted peanuts, and all-natural peanut butter. Amen.
Prep your milk glasses for dunkin', folks.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
Recipe from Mast Brothers Chocolate
I work at a cafe. But it is no ordinary cafe.
I'm not sure I have ever seen a cafe that is quite like Higher Ground. It is big, but never seems to be big enough for the constant line up to the door, constant crowd of people waiting for their drinks, constant running of food from the kitchen, bran muffins always disappearing within the first hours of business... If you mention Higher Ground to any Calgarian, 90% of them will know about it, and 80% of them will have gone on a first date, or had a meeting with someone there.
Like most people, I spend most of my waking hours at work. This might sound awful, but it is quite the contrary. I love my job. It is just so darn fun. Here's why.
This, my friends, is Higher Ground. This might also explain why we (the staff) are so silly and giggly all the time.
The reason for my rant is this: like I said, we get silly sometimes. This helps the day go by pleasantly. We dance in the kitchen. We tell ridiculous stories. We joke, we invent things. We ask each other questions like, "If you were a cookie, what would you be?" Okay that's actually just me who asks that. But it's something I'd like to know! It really tells a lot about a person.
Sometimes, if my brain needs to think about cookies (which is most of the time) and there is no one around to ask, I'll make up cookies. One of my favourite pass times if I'm doing a repetitive job such as polishing glasses and cutlery, or hand-tying tea bags, is to dream up fantastic (sometimes themed) cookies.
Working at Higher Ground with its GIANT menu gives one lots of inspiration to work from. We have a whole menu dedicated to Specialty Coffee and Tea drinks. FUN! Drinks that make us, us... and not just any other cafe. They have pretty fun names too, like the SNOW DRAGON and BANANA MAGIC to name a couple.
I could seriously go on and on talking about working at Higher Ground, or HG LYFE as I fondly refer to it.
But, I am here today to talk about a certain Tea Misto called the WHITE CHOCOLATE CHAI.
It is steeped chai tea, mixed with white chocolate syrup and steamed milk.
It also rhymes with whoopie pie.
And if you make a funny voice, and over enunciate each word, "White Chocolate Chai Whoopie Pie" becomes a hilarious thing. A thing that once I invented it in my head, I knew I had to bring it to life!! My co-workers would agree.
I do think that white chocolate and chai actually make a fantastic combo. So here is the White Chocolate Chai Whoopie Pie:
A chai-spiced, soft, cakey cookie, hugging a sweet, creamy buttercream filling enriched with white chocolate.
We don't sell these at Higher Ground, it is just something I invented, inspired from Higher Ground. I brought these into work the other day to share with my friends/co-workers. If anything, it was just an excuse to make everyone hear me say "White Chocolate Chai Whoopie Pie" over and over. The good news is they had rave reviews! One girl even confessed that she just wanted to mix them into milk and eat it like cereal. I like her.
Make these, then go to HG to get it's matching Tea Misto, and you'll be living the dream. While you're at it, get a ginger cream to take home. I made those ;)
White Chocolate Chai Whoopie Pies
Fun Fact: these cookies are also great just on their own without the frosting if you so desire. Alternatively, the frosting would taste delicious on cupcakes too.
For the Cookies:
Spread the frosting on the flat side of a cooled cookie. Sandwich with another cookie. Pour yourself a mug of tea and enjoy.
Presenting... Ice Cream of the Month for February!
Ah February the month of love. Here we unite two ingredients, banana, and white chocolate, together blended harmoniously into one of the most tastiest ice creams you may ever have the pleasure of trying. A beautiful relationship they have. Hope you all had a wonderful February!
I made this, fully unsure of if it even appealed to my tastes or not. But I was intrigued!
I do love bananas. Sliced over bowls of yogurt and granola, on top of toast, blended into creamy smoothies... growing up my mom would even sometimes make a lunch that I have NEVER heard anyone else speak of before: Toast topped with banana, bacon bits, and cheddar cheese (the orange stuff), then broiled in the oven to melt the cheese. Has anyone else done this?? Please tell me. I think it is kinda super weird but also kinda delicious too...?
Banana muffins! Banana cookies! Banana loaf! I LUV IT. If our family doesn't have bananas in the house, its time to go grocery shopping. That's just life.
Buuuut, this recipe claimed that the ice cream is similar in taste to banana pudding... Hmmm. The only time I have had banana pudding was an unfortunate experience back in the day at BAND CAMP (ha) when I was 13. I found a BLACK HAIR in my banana pudding. I've been turned off ever since. But it has been a long time since then, and I think I'm ready to give this a whirl...
OMG YUP so glad that I did.
A cool thing we do here in this recipe is make "ice cream freckles". The term alone is cute enough to spark the desire to try it out. Basically, you take chocolate of any kind and melt it down with coconut oil. This makes the chocolate melted at room temperature, but once in contact with the ice cream it will re-solidify instantly, and most importantly, melt easily in your mouth when you are eating the ice cream. You can use any type of chocolate, dark, milk or white.
Here is my game changer: caramelized white chocolate.
I am not the biggest white chocolate fan. Once I came to accept the fact that it is not technically chocolate, but still a tasty treat unto itself, I don't feel so bad about it.
Here's a cool thing: if you melt white chocolate, and keep cooking it (stirring all da time) it will begin to brown and caramelize. MIND BLOWN. It's like BROWN BUTTER!
It tastes like caramel, but also like white chocolate, but also like nothing you've ever tasted before? And luckily it makes best friends with this banana ice cream.
Make it. Share it with all your friends so they know how awesome you are.
Banana Ice Cream with Caramelized White Chocolate Freckles
Recipe from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
(Makes about 1 quart)
For the Banana Ice Cream:
At least once I day I get a craving for something like chewy chocolate chip cookies, or a nutty chocolate bar. I think everyone does though really. If they say they don't, they are obviously lying. Something chewy, chunky, sweet but a little bit salty, don't forget the chocolate please. Enter these crowd pleasers.
A cross between a cookie and a chewy caramel-y nut loaded chocolate bar, these are AMAZING! And addictive. I have to seriously practice my self control. HOLD ME BACK, BRO, HOLD ME BACK!
Caramel Nut Bars
Recipe adapted from Georgia Annis
For the Cookie Base:
Biscuits were one of the first things I ever learned to make on my own. If my parents would let me take care of one aspect of dinner on my own, it could be biscuits. For me they are hard to mess up, but they are so impressive by how delicious they taste. There is little that is better than a fresh homemade biscuit, with warm melty butter. :) I'LL TAKE TEN, THANKS.
I once went on a backpacking trip, and the only thing that I wanted during the long hours of hiking was to eat a fresh homemade biscuit. Yes, I got through that journey all thanks to daydreaming about biscuits, no shame. I made them immediately when we got back into civilization. It was nothing short of euphoric.
I've made biscuits at home, in the homes of friends, and even across the Atlantic ocean when I lived Glasgow. I made them to feel at home, even when I was not. They are my staple comfort food!
BUT WAIT A TWIST!
I've been known to play around with biscuits by making variations with whole wheat flour, cheese, nuts and seeds... but now a new first, featuring like only my favourite ingredient, SWEET POTATO. Gosh, I just love em.
These are good for breakfast. And lunch. And of course dinner. Sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar and call it dessert. Call it, my new favourite biscuit.
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Recipe from Martha Stewart
Time to channel my inner Italian Grandmother.
(There is a part of me that wishes I could channel my inner Italian Sexy Woman, however the odds are far more likely that it is "Grandma Status" that I will successfully relate to. One can dream.)
However "Grandma Status" to me often means cookies, so really I see nothing wrong here.
I am lucky to say that I have had the opportunity to visit the beautiful delicious county that is Italy. It was more than fantastic. I could go on and on about the lemon trees, the old buildings, the gelato, the accents and beautiful people of any and all ages... but for now I just really want to talk about cookies. Is that okay?
If you have also been to Italy you would remember how these simple almond biscotti cookies are EVERYWHERE. Grocery stores, gift shops, corner stores, cafes, at restaurants, etc etc. They are everywhere! And yes I totally fell in love with them. I should have eaten more I really should have. Crisp, hard and crunchy, they are not what I normally strive for in the cookie game. However these are an exception. And exceptionally delicious to dip into your cappuccino while you sit outside, sheltered under the awning of a tiny cafe in the Cinque Terre waiting for the rain to pass. Wow can I go back?
These also remind me of a certain fancy pants dinner that I had in Italy with my friends. It was a four or five course meal, in a lovely restaurant overlooking the Tuscan country side juuuust outside of Florence. #treatyoself. There was a serious amount of wine (red and white, all at once) and a serious amount of laughter and flirting with the waiter coming from our table. (Sorry to that poor man.) The food was probably some of the best I've ever tasted. Pasta Putanesca that made my tastebuds sing in ways they never had before. I couldn't wait for dessert, typical me. When all they brought out was a basket of biscotti, I thought it was a cop out. What? This is it? But then I ate like 10 of them and took it all back. SO DANG GOOD. I knew I needed to recreate them at home.
These, my friends, are it! A biscotti any Nona would be proud of.
Recipe slightly adapted from Epicurious
January, you're great. You're full of hopeful resolutions for the future, snowy days, and feelings of fresh starts. You know what you deserve? ICE CREAM. Good thing my resolutions this year have nothing to do with eating healthy. Instead, they have to do with the making and eating of many a fine ice cream.
2016... in my own little world shall be known as the year of homemade ice cream! I do love a good challenge, especially one that challenges me to get creative in the kitchen. Hence, I am commencing the 12 Months of Ice Cream Project!
It is fairly self-explanatory, there are 12 months of the year, so I will make 12 new flavours of homemade ice cream. It can't be that hard, right?
If in the ever evolving case of my life I happen to be abroad or busy or forgetful, I will make up for a month by making two ice creams another time. It's okay, I just get more ice cream. There are no rules really, I AM IN CHARGE! Basically, my goal is to try as many recipes as possible from THIS BOOK which was a gift to me from my parents. They know me well. They also just want me to make them ice cream. I'm definitely cool with that.
I am a big fan of Jeni's Splendid ice creams. Although I have never actually set foot in one of her shops, let alone taste any of her creations, I have used her recipes to make my own homemade ice creams. I can say that they are my favourite recipes to use! They are simple to follow, always turn out amazing, and do not leave me with with half a dozen egg whites to deal with. I am a fan. One day, ONE DAY I will visit a Jeni's shop, and what a splendid day that will be. The only downside will be having to choose which flavour...
As for January, I decided to go for something simple, a classic: Milk Chocolate. You might be saying, BORING! PREDICTABLE! I did too at first. But I had to. Choco Ice Cream and I go way back. It's my go-to. Fail safe. Can't go wrong. Etc etc. Also, If I can make a good chocolate ice cream, then I think I have succeeded at life.
My mother often tells me the story of when she was pregnant with me, and how she would crave chocolate ice cream. The night before I was born, my mother woke up in the night, crept downstairs, and savoured a bowl of chocolate ice cream. Mere hours later, I entered the world... (probably ravenous for more chocolate). Like I said, chocolate ice cream and I? We have a special thing.
Milk Chocolate Ice Cream
Recipe from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
We're off to a grand start. Here's to more homemade ice creams!
Forever I shall remain a fan of the humble chocolate chip cookie. And forever I will be trying all of the variations on said cookie. The chocolate chip cookie: a simple phenomena, yet there are a zillion different variations out there, and everyone claiming that THIS is the BEST, or their ULTIMATE FAVOURITE SUPREME DREAM cookie. Well I apologize, but I love them all. Whenever I see a new recipe for chocolate chip cookies, no matter how awesome the ones I have made previously were, I want to try this new recipe. I want them ALL!
And so when I found a recipe for "Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies" which claimed that the use of whole wheat flour had not a thing to do with healthiness, but all the things to do with depth of flavour, I was sold. Think about a slice of bread. There is white bread, which holds a certain nostalgia and blank canvas for other ingredients. However there is also multigrain bread which, in most cases, can add a lot of flavour. Don't think about trying to be healthy, think about flavour.
Anyways these cookies are not shy on butter and sugar, so yeah healthy is not the point here. Not the point guys. But it does make me feel better about wanting to eat cookies for breakfast... (a thing that I do quite frequently)
As I was daydreaming about how whole wheat flour could change the chocolate chip cookie game, I thought, why not double-deepen the flavour by also using brown butter too? Nutty browned butter + whole wheat flavour ... must equal greatness. Am I right? We have already learned about my love of brown butter in the last post. You knew this was going to happen.
Because of the brown butter and the fact that you must chill the dough overnight, these cookies require a small amount of planning ahead. But they are oh so worth it! Also, if one does not plan for anything else, one must always plan for cookies ;)
Whole Wheat Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe slightly adapted from Jessica Fechtor
found in her amazing book, Stir
Happy baking :)