Monday, August 29, 2011

A Bumper Crop of Zucchini Makes Mean Cake

I have news of an accomplishment. Delicious news. Zucchini news. 
        I love zucchini (that isn't the news). However, the strange word doesn't always bring pleasant thoughts. That's because I don't immediately associate zucchini with food and eating; I instead get the familiar image in my mind of my grandparents shoving bags at me stuffed full of the fresh vegetables they grew in their gardens. Sounds great, right? Sort of. Let me get one thing straight--my grandparents' garden-grown vegetables taste fantastic and better than any from the grocery store. For that reason, I love the veggies and am delighted to take a few bags off their hands. One problem, though. When the veggies are in-season... the bags pile up until our fridge is overflowing. We end up with vegetables coming out the wazoo: tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic, and the most popular of them all… zucchini. 
Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes with Cocoa Meringue

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

When Life Gives You Chocolate, Make Crackle Cookies

        The other day, I spent the night at my cousin Leah's. She's the greatest for many reasons, one of them being the fact that Leah is the only other baker my age I know. Consequently, she's the only person with whom I can discuss one of my life's greatest joys. We spent most of our time that night talking, laughing, and (of course!) baking. It was wonderful to have a baking partner for a change… I almost always have no choice but to fly solo. Even on those rare occasions when I'm able to force some unwilling individual to bake with me, it just isn't the same as having another baker by my side who revels in it every bit as much as I do.
        Now, before we did anything else the pair of us had to choose what to make. We took our time rifling through a few of her baking cookbooks… and finally settled on these teeny and delightful cookies.
Chocolate Crackle Cookies

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Banana Bread (But Moist Only, Please)

        I have a strange relationship with banana bread. I go completely nuts for it, but only sometimes. In order for me to really, really love banana bread, it must meet certain criteria: 

1) It needs to be packed with fabulous banana flavor. I mean, it's banana bread, so that's really not asking for much, is it? 


2) It needs to be moist. I can often find a great-tasting banana bread that is completely ruined by its lack of moisture.

        When I made my very first banana bread as a little girl, I had high expectations and the recipe tasted good. It failed for a different reason: it came out dry. I took one bite, tried to swallow, nearly failed, and wrinkled my face in disgust. The thing was... that bread I made definitely wasn't the banana bread I had grown to love. It wasn't the extra moist, soft, delectable banana treat that on rare occasions I could find at some excellent bakery. So the story goes, on that day I made a promise to myself that I would go on a quest. I would try as many recipes as need be, scrutinizing and tweaking as I needed, until I found the perfect banana bread.
        Finally, after a long and perilous journey full of failures and almost-theres, I'm proud to say that I have done just that.
    The Perfect Moist Banana Bread

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    A Truly Serious Addiction to Butterscotch Cookies

    I'm the kind of person who, if you ask me nicely to make you cookies sometime, will remember and get on it. The way I see it, it's a win-win situation. I'm content to spend my time baking up a storm and you get to eat the fruits... er, cookies... of my labor.  I also receive another bonus: feedback. I'm always hungry for reviews. Hence, the moment my lifeguard older brother David asked me the other day to bake him a batch for a competition at work, I made up my mind to do exactly that.
            At the community centre where he works, they hold a "food day" once a week. I don't know who came up with that idea and I can't fathom its connection in any way to water sports, but I'm really glad they did. The goal is simple: bring in the best food and you win. The challenge sounded to me like a great way to get some honest feedback from a large group of people.
    Chewy Butterscotch Oat Cookies

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Coconut Cream Pie Sent From Heaven

    I love being a baker. I get the most wonderful satisfaction from mixing and stirring and watching my creations transform in the oven... and tasting, of course; tasting is one of the best parts. What I love the most, though, is being able to share my love for baking through other people tasting the treats I labor to create.
    Divine Coconut Cream Pie

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Eat This Chocolate Cake... I Dare You

    The fifth of July was my Mom's birthday. I did something special, of course. Something deliciously special. Something called chocolate cake. Oh, yes. My Mom's favorite. My younger brother Robert's favorite, too, but on July 5th, this baby was all Mom's.
    When I say it's her favourite, I mean she loves, loves, LOVES it. While my Dad raves to people about the coconut cream pie I make, my Mom raves about this chocolate cake. She's a chocoholic to the extreme... and this just so happens to be the most extreme chocolate cake in existence. I wholeheartedly believe that you could scour the entire universe in search and never find a better one. Hence, this was my cake of choice for my Mom's 48th.
    Daredevil's Chocolate Cake