Zucchini Lime Cupcakes

Ingredients like zucchini, lime and cream cheese may give off summer vibes, but the reality is that they are available all year round. Sometimes you just want a dessert that tastes like sunshine and warm weather.

Zucchini can blend into almost any dish. Its flavor is versatile and spans from sweet to savory and does so flawlessly.

The truth is zucchini adds no flavor to cakes – but what it does do is add an incredible texture and moisture as well as bulk.

I had never really thought about combining zucchini with lime. It is such a unique but delicious combination. The lime really brightens the flavor and the zucchini, although you really don’t taste it, keeps the cupcakes nice and moist.

When preparing your ingredients however, you do need to be careful not to get too much of the white pith into your cake or frosting. The green outermost layer of your lime is the zest, and this is what you want to grate. The white layer right underneath is the pith, and it can be quite bitter.

Here comes spring with its sunshine and warm weather!

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Zucchini Lime Cupcakes
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Cupcakes
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Cupcakes
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with 12 deep cupcake papers.
  2. In a bowl, beat together vegetable oil & sugar; add eggs & grated zucchini & beat again.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cardamom, baking soda, baking powder & salt.
  4. Add flour mixture alternately with milk then stir in lime zest. Divide batter between the 12 cupcake liners.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean).
  6. Remove from oven, leave in tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Frosting
  1. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese & butter until light & fluffy. While mixing on low, slowly add powdered sugar & lime juice & beat again until fully combined.
  2. When cupcakes are cooled completely, pipe a rosette on each cupcake & sprinkle with lime zest.

Vertical Pumpkin Cheesecake Tarts w/ Cranberry Gelee

There’s something about the presentation of food—it always seems to taste better when it looks great. Plated desserts aren’t quite my passion, but it was still an experience worth learning.

Our eyes are the gateway to our stomachs. When a dessert looks good, it’s like a promise that it’s going to taste amazing. But it’s not just about the looks; there’s actual science behind it! Psychologists believe that visually appealing food also seems tastier. The brain, being the mischievous little thing it is, associates’ beauty with flavor.

Plated desserts are essentially desserts that have multiple textures, flavors, colors and components that are paired together and presented beautifully on a plate, almost looking like a piece of art.

Dessert plating has been around since the Renaissance. The nobility used to have their chefs present their sweets in the most elaborate ways. So basically, when you’re plating, you’re partaking in a historical tradition.

Embracing the seasonality of ingredients not only adds fresh flavors to your desserts but also creates a visual impact on your plate.

These little elegant tarts are made using rings of crisp, sweet shortcrust pastry, a light pumpkin cheesecake and a layer of fresh cranberry orange gelee. Standing upright on a bed of gingersnap crumble, they are decorated with white chocolate fall leaves and candy spheres.

A plated dessert can be simple to strikingly complex and everything in between so you are only limited by your imagination. 

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Vertical Pumpkin Cheesecake Tarts w/ Cranberry Gelee
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Servings
Ingredients
Cranberry Gelee
Pastry
Crumb Base
Servings
Ingredients
Cranberry Gelee
Pastry
Crumb Base
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Pumpkin Cheesecake (make a day ahead)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 9 X 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, brown sugar, ground spices, nutmeg and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat at medium speed until smooth. Beat in the pumpkin puree until smooth. Beat in the cream, maple syrup, vanilla and eggs at low speed until blended.
  3. Pour the batter into a prepared baking pan. Spread evenly in the pan. When baked & cooled the cheesecake should be the height of the width of your tart rings. (Mine are about ¾-inch).
  4. Bake 30 - 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cover & refrigerate covered overnight.
Gelee (make a day ahead)
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries with 1/4 cup of water and cook over moderate heat until they begin to pop, about 5 minutes. Let cool. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the puree through a fine sieve. Rinse out the saucepan.
  2. Add the sugar & 2 Tbsp of water to the saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring, until dissolved. Let cool. Stir in the orange juice and cranberry puree.
  3. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1 Tbsp of water and let stand until softened, 5 minutes. Microwave for 10 seconds, or until completely melted. Whisk the gelatin into the cranberry mixture. Line a 6 X 9-inch dish with plastic wrap. Pour the gelée into a prepared pan; shake it gently to even it out. Refrigerate the gelee overnight.
Pastry
  1. Combine the flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, salt, & vanilla in a large bowl. Add the butter and mix with your hands until the butter is broken down into pieces the size of peas and the ingredients are well combined. Add the egg and mix with a fork until the dough is smooth and the egg is fully incorporated. Don’t overmix.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and gently shape it into a ball. Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and flatten it into a disc. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight, until cold but still pliable.
  3. When the dough has chilled, unwrap the dough and place it on a silicone baking mat on your work surface. Roll it out into a rectangle about 1⁄8 inch thick, using a second silicone sheet on top.
  4. Using a sharp knife, slice the dough into strips about 1- inch thick. These strips will make the tart rings. Place cut pastry in freezer until cool. This will make handling the strips much easier.
  5. When chilled, transfer each strip of dough to one of the tart rings and lightly press it to the sides. (I am using 2 sizes of tart rings – 2 ¾-inch & 2 ½-inch diameter and ¾-inch width). Use a small knife to neaten the top edge of the rim on the rings.
  6. Transfer the baking sheet containing the tart rings to the freezer & freeze for at least 20 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  8. Bake tart rings for 15-20 minutes or until light golden in color. Cool on wire racks.
Crumb Base
  1. Place gingersnap cookies in a sealed plastic bag. Using a rolling pin, crush to coarse crumbs. Set aside.
Assembly/Decoration
  1. CHEESECAKE: Using a ring cookie cutter the diameter of the inside of the BAKED pastry rings. Cut out circles. Cut each cheesecake circle in half, so that you have semicircles. Place one semicircle inside each pastry ring so that the curved edge sits flush inside the pastry ring.
  2. GELEE: Cut strips of gelee & place one along each cut side of the cheesecake, so that when you stand the rings of pastry up, it is sitting on top of the cheesecake.
  3. CRUMB BASE: Arrange small piles of gingersnap crumbs on a serving plate & place each tart on top of the crumbs, so they are standing vertically.
  4. DECORATION: Decorate your vertical tarts with whatever you wish. My choice was some tiny white chocolate fall leaves in keeping with an autumn dessert.
Recipe Notes
  • Traditionally the pastry for the rings is made containing almond meal. Since I have a nut allergy, mine is made without but still has a nice crispy texture. 
  • Very often this kind of dessert is made with a chocolate filling but I wanted to do something in the way of a fall dessert. 
  • Using a pumpkin cheesecake filling has two benefits. It definitely says fall & is easy to make it conform to the circular shape.
  • These plated desserts add such an elegant finishing touch to a holiday meal.

Spice Balls w/ Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting

The weather is cooling, and fall baking fills the air with the warm aromas of cinnamon and pumpkin spice. Spice cake recipes from turn-of-the-century cookbooks call for early forms of baking soda, which require an acid and the presence of heat to create a reaction that generates carbon dioxide bubbles. Tomato soup being acidic, provides the acid to make that reaction occur, the same way applesauce does. These spice cake balls are using both applesauce and tomato soup, making them super moist and full of flavor.

Who knew that a can of tomato soup could be turned into a cake? Condensed tomato soup appeared in stores in the late 1890s, and recipes for tomato soup cake began appearing in cookbooks in the late 1920s, early 1930s. This cake gained popularity likely in response to the depression, since the original recipe didn’t contain eggs or milk, which were in short supply during that time. Canned goods were an important staple during the depression, and like mayonnaise, the soup serves to bring moisture and bind the cake together. While it does not leave a tomato flavor in the cake, it does give the cake a lovely reddish color.

The Campbell Soup Company didn’t actually produce a recipe until 1940 and by 1960 it was featured on a Campbell’s soup label, making it the first recipe ever to appear on a soup can.

Tomato soup cake has moved beyond its humble origins. It is truly a recipe for all ages and for all seasons, a recipe that has been revised and modified to suit changing needs and tastes, a recipe that has stood and triumphed over the test of time. Around 1966, a cream cheese–frosted version surfaced, which remains the most popular version to this day.

The pumpkin spice cream cheese frosting is truly the ‘icing on the cake‘.

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Spice Cupcakes w/ Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting
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Servings
OR 12 CUPCAKES
Ingredients
Spice Cake
Cream Cheese Frosting, Divided
Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting
Servings
OR 12 CUPCAKES
Ingredients
Spice Cake
Cream Cheese Frosting, Divided
Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Spice Cake Balls
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. If you are using cake pop pans it is not necessary to grease them. If you are using muffin cups, line with paper cups.
  2. In a large bowl, cream sugar & butter. Mix in applesauce & tomato soup.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking powder & baking soda.
  4. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients along with walnuts or pepitas. Fold together, mixing lightly. Do not overmix batter.
  5. Bake about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Place cream cheese in a bowl & beat with mixer until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar, vanilla & salt. Combine well.
  2. For Pumpkin Spice Frosting: Divide cream cheese mixture (from recipe above) in half. To one half of the mixture add the pumpkin pie spice.
  3. In a piping bag, fitted with a star piping tip, place the white cream cheese frosting on one side & the pumpkin spice frosting on the other side of the bag, Pipe a swirl over each 'spice cake pop'. Decorate with some whole pepitas if desired.

Apricot Couscous Cupcakes

Want an unusual dessert? Try swapping out some of the flour for couscous in a cupcake batter. You’ll be amazed at the result.

A major complaint about couscous sometimes is the lack of flavor but this is where having it as dessert comes in handy. Incorporating apricot puree and spices into the couscous batter gives the cupcakes an amazing flavor and texture.

Couscous, the justly celebrated masterpiece of Moroccan cooking, is actually a pasta, though it`s often mistaken for a grain.

Couscous (pronounced ‘koos-koos‘) is now widely available in packaged form in most supermarkets. Couscous are the yellow granules of semolina made from durum wheat. Durum is the hardest variety of the six classes of wheat and has the highest protein content of all wheat. Because of this, it’s ideal for making high quality pasta and is used by both American and Italian manufacturers. It’s also used to make couscous in America and Latin America. If these pastas were made of the softer white wheat flour that egg noodles use, they would lose their shape.

There are three types of couscous:

  • Moroccan couscous -Fine, used for savory as well as dessert couscous.
  • Israeli couscous – Medium, used for savory dishes also called pearl couscous.
  • Lebanese couscous – Coarse, more difficult to work with, used for savory dishes.

Adding some cream cheese frosting topped with apricot puree and sprinkled with couscous rolled in cinnamon takes this dessert to the next level!

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Apricot Couscous Cupcakes
Instructions
Couscous
  1. In a saucepan, bring 1 cup water & 1/2 tsp salt to boiling. Add couscous, cover & remove from heat. Allow to sit 5 minutes then fluff with a fork & set aside to cool.
Apricot Puree
  1. Place water, sugar & apricots in a saucepan. Bring to a boil & simmer until soft. Place in a food processor & pulse to make a puree.
Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a small bowl, combine 2 cups cooled couscous (reserve a small amount for topping), flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices & salt; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter & sugar. Add 1 cup apricot puree & whip until light & fluffy. Add vanilla & egg yolks; whip well.
  4. Gradually add couscous mixture then buttermilk & combine only until blended. Whip egg whites until frothy, adding a pinch of salt. Using a spatula, blend egg whites into the batter.
  5. Bake 12-15 minutes or until testing with a toothpick & it comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Frosting
  1. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese & butter until completely smooth, about 3 minutes on medium speed. Scrape down sides to ensure that the mixture is mixed evenly.
  2. On low speed, slowly add in powdered sugar. Once combined, scrape down sides of bowl & increase the speed to medium, beating just until well combined & creamy.
Decorating
  1. Place cream cheese topping in a piping bag with a star tip. Pipe a swirl of frosting on top of each cupcake. With another smaller piping bag, using a round tip, drizzle apricot puree then sprinkle with cinnamon coated (cooked) couscous.

Crunchy Streusel Rhubarb Cupcakes

One thing that really makes muffins and coffee cakes of all types extra special good is a sweet and crunchy streusel topping. These fluffy vanilla rhubarb cupcakes are topped with a swirl of cream cheese frosting, drizzled with poached rhubarb and then sprinkled with some crunchy, spicy, baked streusel.

The simple addition of Chinese 5-spice powder makes for a delicious aromatic streusel. Five spice powder combines Chinese cinnamon with anise, cloves, ginger and fennel in a delicious balance that complements rhubarb, coaxing out more of its natural aroma. Adding pepita seeds and baking the crumble separately, creates a special crunchier topping.

The basic streusel is very versatile in that it can be customized to your personal preferences or what you have on hand. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Use 2 cups flour OR 1 cup rolled oats * 3/4 cup whole-grain flour * 3/4 cup cookie or cracker crumbs
  • Use 3/4 cup sugar OR 3/4 cup brown sugar * 1/2 cup raw sugar * 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • Use 1 cup butter OR 1 cup brown butter * 1/2 cup nut/seed butter * 1/4 cup coconut oil * 1/4 cup oil or sesame oil
  • Add-Ins .. 1 cup coconut flakes or nuts * spices & zests * 1/2 cup toasted seeds * 1/2 cup cocoa powder or wheat germ

I realize, this is a lot of steps for just a cupcake, but I think you’ll love them.

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Crunchy Streusel Rhubarb Cupcakes
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Poached Rhubarb
Pepita 5-Spice Streusel
Ginger Cream Frosting
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Poached Rhubarb
Pepita 5-Spice Streusel
Ginger Cream Frosting
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line 9 muffin cups with large paper cups.
  2. Wash rhubarb & trim ends. Cut rhubarb into a 1/4-inch dice. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt & cinnamon. Set aside.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together sugars, eggs, sour cream, melted butter, vanilla & orange zest. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture. Stir until the flour is fully incorporated. Do not over-mix. Fold in rhubarb. The batter will be thick. Scoop the batter into 9 muffin cups, evenly distributing batter.
  5. Bake for 7 minutes. After 7 minutes, decrease the oven temperature to 350 F. & bake for another 12 - 15 minutes or until cupcakes test done. Remove from oven & cool completely on a wire rack.
Poached Rhubarb
  1. Place rhubarb, water, sugar, food coloring (if using) & cardamom in a saucepan. Simmer very gently for about 3-5 minutes or until rhubarb is soft but NOT mushy! Put a strainer on top of a bowl. Pour mixture into strainer & put the rhubarb pieces in another dish to cool. Pour the liquid back into the saucepan & let simmer until slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Pour into a bowl to let cool. Gently combine rhubarb & syrup.
Pepita 5-Spice Streusel
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir until incorporated. Using your fingers, form fine crumbs. Spread the crumbs on a small cookie sheet and bake on a rack in the middle of the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely to room temperature. Crumble with fingers.
Frosting
  1. Beat butter until pale. Add powdered sugar & beat until smooth & pale, about 1 minute. Add softened cream cheese & ginger; beat until smooth.
Assembly
  1. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle with frosting. Top each cupcake with a dollop of frosting then using a spoon, create a well in each dollop. Spoon a bit of poached rhubarb inside of each well. Sprinkle with pepita streusel.

Poinsettia Cookie Wreath

There are certain plants that play important and often mysterious roles in holiday traditions and celebrations all over the world. From the Egyptians who decorated trees during the winter solstice, to the Pagans and Druids who used mistletoe in their winter customs, stories of ritualized plant use span continents and history and have become infused into the mythologies that span generations. I’ve always wondered how poinsettias and Christmas became intertwined. After a bit of research this is what I found.

It seems the story behind poinsettias is rich in history and lore. The vibrant plants are native to the rocky canyons of Guatemala and Mexico. Poinsettias were cultivated by the Mayans and Aztecs, who valued the red bracts as a colorful, reddish-purple fabric dye, and the sap for its many medicinal qualities.  The poinsettia was first associated with Christmas in southern Mexico in the 1600s, when Franciscan priests used the colorful leaves and bracts to adorn extravagant nativity scenes.

There is an old Mexican legend about how Poinsettias and Christmas come together, it goes like this:

There was once a poor Mexican girl called Pepita who had no present to give the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve services. As Pepita walked to the chapel, sadly, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up.
‘Pepita’, he said, ‘I’m sure that even the smallest gift, given by someone who loves him will make Jesus happy.’

Pepita didn’t know what she could give, so she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a small bouquet. She felt embarrassed because she could only give this small present to Jesus. As she walked through the chapel to the altar, she remembered what Pedro had said. She began to feel better, knelt down and put the bouquet at the bottom of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them were sure they had seen a miracle. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the ‘Flores de Noche Buena’, or ‘Flowers of the Holy Night’.

The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity.

Although it doesn’t pre-date Christianity like its Christmas counterparts, the holiday season wouldn’t be the same without the reds and greens of the poinsettia.

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Poinsettia Cookie Wreath
Instructions
Poinsettia Cookies
  1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, sugar & flavorings with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  2. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the flour & salt until combined. Divide the dough between 2 large pieces of plastic wrap. Flatten each into a 1/2-inch-thick disk and wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  3. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  4. Roll out 1 disk of dough between 2 heavy sheets of plastic wrap into a square about 1/8 inch thick. You should be able to cut (9) 3-inch squares from it as well as have some edges left for making about 18 leaves. Re-wrap & refrigerate dough scraps while you shape the poinsettias.
  5. Cut a 1 1/2-inch slit in all four corners of each dough square to form 8 points. Fold over every other point, moisten tip with egg white & press into the center of the square. Arrange cookies on prepared cookie sheet. Refrigerate while you repeat the same procedure with the other disk of dough. 
  6. Cut enough leaves out of the scraps using a sharp knife or a leaf-shaped cutter, making 2 leaves for each poinsettia. Arrange the leaves on plate & lightly brush with egg white, then sprinkle with green sanding sugar. Set aside in the refrigerator.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  8. Lightly brush the poinsettias with egg white & sprinkle half with red sanding sugar & half with white sanding sugar. Brush the ends of 2 leaves & tuck underneath each poinsettia on opposite sides. (No need to press the dough; it will meld together as it bakes.) 
  9. Bake, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until the cookies are puffed and the edges are golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Immediately press a yellow (chocolate) candy in the center of each warm cookie. Let cool 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Assembly
  1. Using a bit of gel paste from a purchased tube, anchor each cookie in place on top of wreath base to form 'poinsettia wreath'. Finish with adding a ribbon or some holly leaves & pinecones or personalize to your own taste.
Recipe Notes
  • I like to save the heavy plastic wrap from frozen puff pastry for recipes like this. When you roll the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap as opposed to using flour on your board, it really keeps the dough from becoming so dry.
  • I found if I took the poinsettia cookies out of the oven about 5 minutes before they were finished baking & pressed the candy center in then returned them to the oven, the candies stuck to the cookies better.

Krispy Chocolate ‘Eyeballs’/ Halloween Brownie Bites

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

While trick-or-treating has been a tried and true modern Halloween tradition, historians say the origins of kids begging their neighbors for food may date back to ancient Celtic celebrations or even a long-lost Christmas custom. Halloween customs, such as wearing disguises to ward off ghosts and offering food to appease malevolent spirits, were brought to Canada in the mid-to-late 1800s by Irish and Scottish immigrants. North America’s first recorded instance of dressing in disguise on Halloween was in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1898, while the first recorded use of the term trick or treat was in Lethbridge, Alberta, in 1927.

Every Halloween, children on the hunt for candy dress up in costumes, knock on doors and ask homeowners the infamous question: ‘Trick or Treat?’

Lethbridge historian Belinda Crowson said research has confirmed the term ‘Trick or Treat’ was first documented in the Lethbridge Herald on Nov. 4. 1927.

Hallowe’en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc., much of which decorated the front street. The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word ‘trick or treat’ to which the homeowners gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.

Crowson says Oct. 31 in Lethbridge used to be a big night of pranks, saying kids would take part in ‘gate night’ where they’d remove gates from yards and hide them around the city. The occasional outhouse was also moved on Halloween night, sometimes onto a streetcar track for it to be pushed down the route by the unknowing driver.

Alberta’s known for many things: the Rocky Mountains, the oil industry, the Calgary Stampede. But you wouldn’t think that it’s also home to one of the most beloved Halloween traditions, that is, trick-or-treating.

Having lived in Lethbridge years ago, for about 25 years, I was not aware that the term trick or treat had originated there until I stumbled on it when I was doing some research … who knew!!

Nevertheless, Halloween has rolled around again so here’s a few treats to enjoy.

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Krispy Chocolate 'Eyeballs'/ Halloween Brownie Bites
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Servings
Ingredients
Shortbread Crumbs for 'Eyeballs'
Caramel / Chocolate & Rice Crispies
Halloween Brownie Bites
Servings
Ingredients
Shortbread Crumbs for 'Eyeballs'
Caramel / Chocolate & Rice Crispies
Halloween Brownie Bites
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Shortbread Crumbs
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, cream together the butter & sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour; using your fingers, work together to a crumbly but moist dough. Place mixture in baking pan and press down with the back of a spoon until firm and smooth. Bake shortbread until cooked but not browned, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven, lift out of pan with parchment paper & cool. When cooled, break into pieces & place in a food processor. Pulse to create shortbread crumbs. Set aside.
Caramel / Chocolate
  1. Place a heavy bottomed, non-stick pot, over a larger pot of boiling water. To the top pot add condensed milk, butter & brown sugar. Stir until combined, bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring continuously for a full 5 minutes. Add the milk & white chocolate & continue stirring until melted.
  2. Turn off heat under the boiling water. To the caramel/chocolate add shortbread crumbs & rice crispy cereal. With a rubber spatula, combine mixture.
  3. Keeping the pot over the hot water so the mixture doesn't harden to fast, scoop into small balls to form 'eyeballs. Place on a parchment paper lined tray. The scoop I used made about 44 balls. Press candy eyeballs into chocolate balls. If they aren't sticking well, dip them into a bit of white corn syrup first.
Halloween Brownie Bites
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line 30 mini cupcake tins with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch & salt. Set aside.
  3. Using a mixer, beat sugar & eggs on high speed for 5 minutes, until it becomes light & pale in color. Melt the butter & add it along with oil & vanilla. Mix on low until combined. Slowly add dry ingredients, continuing to mix on low speed until combined. Put aside about a 1/4 of a cup of the brownie batter to use for decorating. Place a small scoop of brownie batter in each of the mini muffin cups.
Cheesecake Layer
  1. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar & vanilla extract on high speed for 1 minute. Add the orange food gel & mix until desired color. Then add the egg & mix on low speed. Place a Tbsp of cheesecake batter on top of the brownie batter. Add the 1 1/2 Tbsp HOT water to the remaining 1/4 cup of brownie batter & whisk until combined.
  2. Drizzle the brownie batter over the cheesecake batter in 2 circles (per brownie). With a toothpick draw lines from the center to the outside edge, creating a spider web effect.
  3. Bake for about 20 minutes or until not a lot of batter remains on a toothpick when tested. Cool on a cooling rack completely. Decorate with Halloween spiders, cats, ladybugs etc. These are nice when wrapped in foil & chilled overnight.

Cornmeal-Anise Guava Cookies

Sweet guava paste paired with savory corn makes the perfect combo, even if it sounds a little weird, it couldn’t be better.

Guava paste is an ingredient that is used in many Cuban, Caribbean and South American recipes. This specialty ingredient, also known as goiabada or pasta de guayaba, is basically candied guava puree. It is made by cooking together guava fruit and sugar until it is very, very thick and then leaving the mixture to dry to remove excess moisture. This results in a paste that keeps well and is very flavorful. While the exact consistency of guava paste can vary from brand to brand – some are very dry and similar in texture to fruit leather, while others are more moist and slightly more jam-like, they are all thick enough to slice and serve. Guava paste, with its distinct and tropical flavor, is equally good in desserts as well as savory dishes.

If you like corn, chances are you are also a big fan of cornbread in its many interesting forms. I used to think that cornbread was so good it didn’t need anything extra thrown in the ‘mix’.

The beauty of cornbread is that it can take on so many different flavors. It can be sweet, savory or as spicy as you would like. Thanks to its simplicity, there are very few food items it wouldn’t pair with, so its limits of culinary creations are endless.

I can’t remember if there was ever a time I didn’t like corn. I love everything about it … the taste, the smell, how beautiful it looks growing in the garden and of course the memory of my mother’s cornbread straight from the oven. While these cookies aren’t necessarily a classic cornbread, they make a very interesting ‘dessert’.

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Cornmeal-Anise Guava Cookies
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Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
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Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, cream butter, cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk, orange juice & extract with an electric mixer.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, anise seed, baking powder & salt. Using a spatula, add to wet mixture & mix well. Cover with plastic wrap; chill 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Shape dough into 1-inch balls & arrange on baking sheet, leaving about 2-3-inches between cookies. Flour the end of the handle of a wooden spoon & make a well in the center of each cookie. Cut a few slices from the guava paste, about 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into cubes. Place a piece of guava in the center of each cookie.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes or until very light golden. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Rhubarb Cheesecake

I guess I’ll have to take the blame for Brion’s love of dessert. When we were first married years ago, he really didn’t care much about sweets. I, on the other hand, had grown up in a German family where every meal was finished with something sweet. It didn’t have to consist of anything more than a dish of vanilla pudding, but it was sweet and that’s what mattered. Funny how something like that can become so ingrained in your life. Of course, over time Brion has come to like dessert as much as I do, not really a good thing now that we are getting older … hmmm!

But I need to explain today’s decadent blog dessert. I just happens, we are celebrating Brion’s birthday so we are pulling out all the stops and having cheesecake! Of course, some of it will probably end up in the freezer but that works to.

Brion and I have never been much on giving each other ‘gifts’ for special occasions. Our time spent together ‘just living’, whether its at home or on a vacation has always been the best gift. Throughout our married life Brion has always gone above and beyond to look after us. I’m grateful to have the privilege of such a loving and caring husband.

So here we are, celebrating you, my love with rhubarb cheesecake and all the trimmings. Life is good!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY WITH LOVE!

Print Recipe
Rhubarb Cheesecake
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Candied Rhubarb Curls
Rhubarb Layer
Cheesecake Layer
Crust/Crumb Layer
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Candied Rhubarb Curls
Rhubarb Layer
Cheesecake Layer
Crust/Crumb Layer
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Candied Rhubarb Curls
  1. Make the simple syrup, combining the sugar & water in a small pot and heating until dissolved. Let the syrup cool to room temperature, add gel food coloring stirring to combine. Using a paring knife (or try a vegetable peeler), slice long, thin strips of rhubarb from the outer stalk. Soak the ribbons in the cooled simple syrup for about 5 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200 F. Line or lightly grease a baking sheet. Lay each ribbon on the baking sheet. Bake until the ribbons have dried out. Note: they will still be sticky and flexible from the heat. If you want to make curls, work with one or two ribbons at a time so the remaining ribbons can stay soft in the oven. Wrap each ribbon loosely around skewers or the handles of cooking utensils, and let dry for around 10 minutes before gently sliding the curled ribbons off.
Rhubarb Layer
  1. Cook rhubarb, sugar & water. Simmer for 8 minutes over medium heat. Add in the cornstarch & cook 2 more minutes. Set aside to cool.
Cheesecake Layer
  1. Beat together the cream cheese with icing sugar until smooth then add eggs. Try not to overmix at this point. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Crust/Crumb Layer
  1. Line a 9-inch springform pan with foil paper. Crumble together butter, flour, oats, brown sugar & salt. Add two thirds of the mixture to springform pan & press firmly. Add walnuts to the remaining crumbs & set aside.
Assembly
  1. If using a silver springform pan, bake at 325 F. If using a dark nonstick springform pan, bake at 300 F. Bake bottom layer of crumbs for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, pour cheesecake mixture over the crust & spread with a spoon, being careful not to disturb the crust layer too much.
  2. Spread the rhubarb mixture on top of the cheesecake.
  3. Crumble the remaining crust/crumb mixture evenly over the top & lightly press down.
  4. Bake until topping is golden brown & cheesecake is set, about 50 minutes.
  5. Cool completely, then decorate with fresh strawberries, rhubarb curls, chocolate malt balls & silver sugar pearls or as you wish.
Recipe Notes
  • You will have extra candied rhubarb to nibble on!

No Bake Mango Cheesecake

No matter how you slice it, cheesecake is truly a dessert that has stood the test of time. From its earliest recorded beginnings to its current iconic status around the world, this creamy cake remains a favorite for dessert lovers of all ages.

The no-bake cheesecake, turned the process of making cheesecake into one that consisted mostly of stirring and chilling. Simply combine cream cheese, milk and Jell-O instant pudding mix, pour into a crust, and chill for an hour or two. The pudding mix sweetens and stabilizes the filling. Essentially foolproof, its a recipe that works every time and tastes custardy and rich with a lighter texture than the traditional cheesecake.

The original recipe for no-bake cheesecake has spawned numerous iterations, many of which were popularized by ‘Jell-O’ itself. The best part about the original formula was that it created harmony between industrialized shortcuts and the real thing. Jell-O eventually launched an entire ‘N0-Bake’ dessert line in 1966.

The simplicity of the recipe makes it endlessly adaptable. Of course, you can use different flavored pudding mixes or add spices or extracts to the filling for extra flavor and variation such as cinnamon, cardamom, lemon zest or almond extract. In addition you can serve the cheesecake with fruit or glaze as I’ve done here .

Print Recipe
No Bake Mango Cheesecake
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Crust
Glaze
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Crust
Glaze
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine crust ingredients, mixing well. Divide between mini cheesecake pan cups & press down firmly. Bake 5-7 minutes; allow to cool completely.
Cheesecake
  1. In a bowl, beat cream cheese 1/2 cup milk until smooth. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk, cardamom & instant pudding mix; beat until smooth. Divide between mini cheesecake pan cups, filling almost to the tops. Allow to chill for at least 2-3 hours.
Glaze
  1. Place all glaze ingredients in saucepan & heat. As it comes to a boil, lower the heat & simmer 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat & allow the glaze to cool slightly. Divide glaze between mini cheesecakes & allow it to set for 3-4 hours. Ensure that the cheesecake is properly set before topping with the glaze.
Recipe Notes
  • For a bit of a different look, I filled my cheesecake cups right to the top. Then I poured my mango glaze into a cake pop pan to set a bit. When the glaze was firm enough I topped each cheesecake with one forming a dome instead of a flat layer.