Tag Archives: cookbook

Whitewater Cooks with Friends: Review and giveaway!

I’m thankful that I was contacted to see if I could review Whitewater Cooks with Friends. I had never heard of the series, but I was intrigued how an originally self-published book turned into a huge following. At this time, Whitewater Cooks with Friends is number 1 on the BC Books bestsellers list. The author, Shelly Adams, is from Nelson, BC which about a 10 hour drive from Vancouver.

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A Zombie Ate My Cupcake!: Review

Shattered Glass

Looking for something spooky to make this Halloween? These cupcakes will fit the bill.

I was excited to receiver my copy courtesy of Thomas Allen & Son. These recipes are from Lily Vanilli who sells her wares in London. The book is full of awesome ideas that range from not-so-spooky to creepy (bleeding hearts anyone?).

I got a chance to try the Undead Gingerbread (which you will see in an upcoming post of Test Kitchen on SweetHome) and Shattered Glass.

Making the cupcakes was pretty straight forward with one exception: some of the ingredients were hard to come by. This is most likely due to being a UK book. I also had to go to a couple of different grocery stores to find canned cherries. I bought cherry pie filling as a stand by, but I didn’t end up using it although I’m sure it would work. I used canned bing cherries and it gave a nice dark colour. Being a UK book, the recipes come with weights for precise measurements and more accurate baking.

I thought making the “shattered glass” would be a challenge because I can never make candy right on the first attempt, but it went smoothly despite me finding a broken candy thermometer and having to judge the temperature manually. Here is the site I used on how to tell the different sugar stages. It worked and the candy was edible. Whew!

Pointers on making the “shattered glass”
– Be very careful making the candy. Sugar burns are incredibly painful with scorching temperatures of 300F. Long sleeves and your full attention is a must.
– I used the end of a rolling pin to shatter the sugar. There were a few pieces that went flying. I’m the accident prone type so I kept my distance and turned my head to avoid getting flying candy in the eye. If I were to make this again I would probably wear safety goggles just in case (yes I’m that accident prone).
– I couldn’t be bothered getting clear corn syrup so I used the golden syrup that was in my pantry. This gives the glass more of an amber colour. Maybe the shattered glass was from a bar fight gone wrong?

My kitchen was a sticky mess afterwards, but so worth it! The chocolate cupcake recipe is killer (no pun intended) and dense with a hint of coffee flavour. I felt the vanilla frosting was too sweet for my tastes, but my co-workers who love their sweets didn’t mind it one bit.

This is a fun book to have and you don’t have to wait until Halloween to try out the recipes.

I have an extra copy of this book, so here is my first giveaway!

What is your favourite Halloween treat? Mine are those yummy chewy caramels. Comment below by October 22 midnight EST. Contest is open to residents of Canada.

Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 12

1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (140g) superfine (caster) sugar
1 extra-large (US) or large (UK) egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (115g) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted twice
1/4 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 (80ml) sour cream
4 tablespoons strong espresso, cooled

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases.
2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the egg vanilla extract, and beat until thoroughly incorporated.
3. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl.
4. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with sour cream. Then slowly add the cooled coffee.
5. Using an ice-cream scoop, spoon the batter into the paper cases, filling them three-quarters full. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
6. Cool in the muffin pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

Vanilla Frosting

1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons full-fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (360g) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
2 tablespoons heavy (double) cream Note: I used whipping cream

1. Using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter in a bowl until smooth.
2. Add the milk, vanilla extract, two-thirds of the sugar, and the double cream, and blend until smooth.
3. Slowly add the remaining sugar, beating constantly until smooth.

Cherry Sauce
1 cup (125g) black cherries, very ripe and de-stoned or canned
1/4 cup (50g) superfine (caster) sugar
1/2 cup (120ml) water or juice from the canned cherries, if using
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch (cornflour) or arrowroot

1. To make the cherry sauce, blend the cherries in a bowl using an electric hand blender, then place in a medium-sized heavy-based pan with the sugar, water, lime juice, and cornstarch or arrowroot. Heat on medium until the cherries begin to release their liquid, and then slowly bring, stirring constantly. Reduce to a simmer and heat until the cherry mixture has thickened to the desired consistency (runny enough to pipe but thick enough to prevent bleeding into the frosting). Allow to cool.

Shattered Glass

oil spray
2 cups (500ml) water
3 1/2 cups (785g) granulated sugar
1 cup (250ml) light corn syrup (liquid glucose)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar.

1. Line a shallow tray with aluminum foil, ensuring there are no gaps (any gaps between sheets can be sealed using spray oil). Spray the mold all over with oil spray at least 30 minutes before using.
2. Mix together the water, sugar, corn syrup, and cream of tartar in an old saucepan and bring to the boil with a candy thermometer inserted. Let the mixture boil, stirring continuously, until it reaches 300F/150C. Pour the mixture very quickly and carefully into the oiled mold and let it cool.
3. Pop the mixture carefully out of the mold when it has cooled completely. I used a meat tenderizer to tap it in the center and it cracked into perfect shards.
4. Cover the top of your cakes with frosting, then insert a shard of “glass” into the center of each cake. Using a pipette or spoon, drop some cherry sauce onto the glass as fake blood.

A Zombie Ate My Cupcake! by Lily Vanilli. CICO Books, $19.95. Buy now. Recipe reprinted with permission.

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The Art & Soul of Baking: Review

For some strange reason I resisted getting The Art & Soul of Baking (do I really need another baking book?), but I’m glad I got a chance to use this book. It’s a great beginner book and for those more experienced. There’s a croissant recipe in there that I’d like to try one day.

I’ve made several of the recipes and most have turned out. The Lemon Mascarpone Cake didn’t turn out too well. The cake layers were thin and felt like frisbees. The recipe required a 9″ baking pan, but I have a feeling if I used an 8″ things would have worked out nicely. All the other recipes turned out fabulous.

Cheddar Cheese-Mustard loaf? This would make any plain chicken sandwich sing.

Cheddar Mustard Loaf

And you can’t go wrong with the caramelized onion and blue cheese pizza.

Caramelized onion and blue cheese pizza

But the brownies…

Classic fudgy brownies

These were decadent, fudgy, and so good. It’s the kind of thing I’d bake on a cool and crisp day. So comforting.

The Art & Soul of Baking is a book that’s not to be missed. I can think of at least 10 things off the top of my head that I’d like to try my hand at.

And the brownie recipe? You can get the low down on those (and the recipe) over at SweetHome.

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Rose’s Heavenly Cakes: Review

I’m not too sure how many more reviews I’ll be doing. Partly because I’m busier now and don’t have as much time to test out more complicated recipes during a weeknight and partly because I don’t know if some books really need a review (e.g. Rachael Ray books).

Rose’s Heavenly Cakes is a follow up to The Cake Bible. This book is laid out much differently and I have to say I prefer The Cake Bible’s layout where cakes and frostings were separate because I could mix and match. Here, the frosting is with the cake that it’s supposed to go with. What I do like about this book is all the gorgeous pictures and this really brings the book alive. There’s also mini cakes and cupcakes section for those who love all things petite. Also missing from this book is the finished height measurements and storage/keep instructions that go with every recipe. Beranbaum decided to have the storage instructions near the front for the cakes instead. I prefer the instructions being with the recipe for easy reference.

I’m a big fan of measuring by weight which is another reason why I like this book. The recipes here are just as stellar as the original. The luxury lemon cake that I made for R’s 30th? It was a lot of work but turned out amazing.

Woody's Luxury Lemon Cake

The yellow butter cupcakes are some of the best cupcakes I have ever had and I highly recommend you try them.

If the original Cake Bible seemed intimidating, this is would be a better book. The approach is more simple and has a lot of visuals so you can see how the product is supposed to turn out.

If you’re looking to really get into complex cakes, buttercreams, and preserves, I would get The Cake Bible. Both books are good and they’re not really meant to replace the other.

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Martha Stewart's Cookies: Review

Up for review is Martha Stewart’s Cookies. I like Martha Stewart and use her Baking Handbook frequently so I picked this one up. I love the way the way the book is laid out. Every recipe has a photo and the table of contents is broken into textures such as light and delicate, chunky and nutty, cakey and tender, etc. So whatever you’re in the mood for you can find a cookie (and photo) to match. Each recipe takes up a single page so there’s no need to flip pages with batter all over your hands.

I used this book to make some of my Christmas cookies. The sesame cookies are definitely repeat worthy.

Sesame cookies

The pecan bars that I thought tasted too much like honey and was going to write off forever ended up being a huge hit with my family. It goes to show what one person doesn’t like, another may love.

Pecan Bars

With 175 recipes, I’ll be looking to this book again for next Christmas.

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