Tag Archives: Dessert

Caramel: A cautionary tale


Salted caramels make great gifts. You can churn them out fairly easily and they travel well. It was my recipe of choice for Christmas gifts last year as hundreds of cookies are a no go when you live so far away.

Doing a test run I learned that caramels are sticky and will stick to everything. Everything.

Leaving caramel on a cutting board without greasing it made a big sticky mess. Putting caramel aside on an unlined ungreased baking dish for just a few moments? Stuck like glue.


When you finally remember that this golden substance will glue itself to everything in sight, the process isn’t that bad.

The most time consuming task is wrapping. You’ll want to cut your pieces of wax paper all at once so you can streamline the process.

There is an addictive quality about these, only a slight amount of chewing is necessary before they melt away in your mouth.


I used the Fleur de Sel recipe from the Sugar Baby cook book. Have you been to Gesine’s Facebook page? When I was having trouble with the recipe, she was quick at responding with some trouble shooting tips.


– I took it off the heat a bit earlier (245F) for a softer chew. I found that 257F makes the caramels harder, especially when the temperature continues to rise. An accurate thermometer is a must because it means the difference between “soft” and “syrup”
– I added the salt in with the caramel instead of reserving it for sprinkling on top. I think you can use regular sea salt for the cooking stage and then if you want a little extra, go all out and use the fleur de sel.

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World Peace Cookies

World Peace Cookies

Let me preface this by saying I am not a short bread fan. I don’t understand why people find a texture that’s equivalent to sand in their mouth appealing. It’s just not for me.

That being said, I make shortbread every year. Everyone (including my grandmother) loves it so I always include it in my Christmas cookies.

Despite not being a shortbread fan, I’ve always wanted to make the World Peace Cookies from Dorie Greenspan. Everyone and their mother seems to have made this on the interwebz so it must be good.

The dough was easy to put together. The hardest part was chopping up chocolate, everything else is thrown in the food processor. Perfect for weeknight baking. I let the dough chill overnight so all I had to do the next day was cut it up and bake.

World Peace Cookies

The end result is a slightly sandy chocolatey cookie flecked with salt. The fleur de sel was perfect and rounded out the flavour. I still haven’t been converted to a shortbread or sable lover, but I wouldn’t pass on this cookie if it was there. It’s a great recipe to make when you want something fairly easy that’s sure to be a winner with others.

World Peace Cookies

Recipe at Smitten Kitchen.

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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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Gianduja Gelato

Gianduja gelato

It’s boiling hot outside. All I want is ice cream and I want to make it. This involves turning on my oven and standing over a hot stove. I’ve been wanting to make the Gianduja gelato from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz as this is my go to flavour whenever I order gelato.

There are several steps involved to make this: toast the hazelnuts, try to rub the papery skins off as much as possible (a tea towel helps with this), make the infused hazelnut milk mixture, make the custard, combine the two, refrigerate, and then make ice cream. None too difficult, but I found getting the papery skins off of the hazelnuts to be the most time consuming.

The result was dense and heavenly. Definitely a repeat before this summer ends. Was it worth being in a sweltering kitchen? Yes!

I find homemade ice creams to be much more rich and dense so a small scoop goes a long way.

Recipe here. Note: This recipe calls for milk chocolate, but I think a dark chocolate would also work nicely as well.

P.S. After having this blog for 2.5 years I thought it was time to commit and buy the domain name nervouschef.com. Please change your bookmarks/rss feeders to this one. Thanks!

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Whipped Cream Cake

Whipped cream cake

I love making recipes that involve lengthy processes. It helps me learn patience I guess. My family, however, always requests simple easy to make cakes whenever I offer to bake them up something. My mom’s birthday just passed and wanted something simple and not fussy. As usual, I went to my go to cake book, Heavenly Cakes.

This cake is not fussy or complicated at all. I was able to make the cake without going to the grocery store. You may need to go out and buy some whipping cream if unlike me you don’t have a litre of it in your fridge along with 3 pounds of butter. This is a nice and light cake. It does have a huge helping of whipping cream in it, so don’t go thinking this is diet food.

It’s a very short ingredient list and by the time the oven is done preheating this cake could be in the oven. The hardest part about this recipe is buttering and flouring the pan. I also recommend that you grease the cooling rack like the book suggests. I ignored the instructions and the cake ended up sticking like crazy.

This recipe will be in my arsenal of cakes I can quickly throw together. Definitely give it a try.

Recipe here

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