Tuesday, September 28, 2010

There is an interesting blog entry on allrecipes.com (the Canadian version) on the difference between cupcakes and muffins. On DifferenceBetween.net you can read more about the differences between the two. Below you will find the main ones:
  • Cupcakes are lighter in texture while muffins are more dense.
  • Cupcakes are pretty much mini cakes where there is more of an emphasis with decor - such as icing, sprinkles, and other edible decor, whereas muffins are like mini breads that are sweet. 
  • Cupcakes tend to stay within the rims of each cupcake pan, while the muffin tops overflow the rims giving them that crunchy texture (which makes it the best part of the muffin!)
  • Cupcakes are generally eaten as a desert, whereas muffins are eaten for breakfast.
This week we're doing Butterscotch Chip Banana Muffins. The banana muffin recipe was taken from Patricia Scarpin beautiful blog, Technicolor Kitchen. Any changes to the recipe are written in italics.

Butterscotch Chip Banana Muffins

4 ripe bananas (We used 3 large ones)
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (Omitted)
1 1/2 cups (210g) all-purpose flour
Small handful of hazelnuts, toasted and peeled (Omitted)
And/or 1 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC) and line muffin pan with muffin paper cups.
Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and mix well. Set aside.
Chop the hazelnuts and reserve 1 tablespoon for sprinkling on top
Place the bananas in a large bowl and mash well. Add the sugar and the melted butter. Mix well. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and then add the butterscotch chips. Mix just enough to bring everything together. Don't overmix. 
Fill muffin cups about 3/4 to the top and sprinkle with the reserved chopped nuts.
Baked for 20 minutes or untill the muffins are golden brown.

Makes 12 muffins.

Ann's Thoughts

This had to be the fastest recipe that we've done so far. It took us like five minutes to mix it all together and scoop the batter into the muffin trays - okay so I'm exaggerating but it felt that fast. We didn't know exactly what to do with ourselves for the next few hours or so after we took the muffins out of the oven. Anyway, these muffins turned out great when we decided to change the recipe up a bit by using butterscotch chips.

In Patrica Scarpin's Banana Muffin recipe, it calls for hazelnuts but because I can't eat nuts we decided to subsitute it with something else. Now, I've seen and tried banana and chocolate chip cakes, but we wanted to do something different so we thought about doing either white chocolate or butterscotch chips. Personally I liked the combination of banana and butterscotch. It tastes.....different - but a good different. Ana was concerned over the oilness of the muffins - probably due to the 1 cup of butterscotch chips, which was a bit much. If we do this recipe again we'll cut the amount of chips to 3/4 cup.

Ana's Thoughts

Super easy, super simple and super yumy muffins. Go make them. Now. Oh, wait....read my thoughts first. ;)

I've made this muffins a thousand times before. And they never failed. They're always fluffy and moist - even the next day! This was the first time that I used the butterscotch chips, though. The verdict? They gave an extra flavour and sweetness to the muffins but I have to say I still prefer them plain. Nothing to compete with the banana.

You can make half plain and half with the chips and then compare. And then tell me which one  is your favorite, okay? See ya next week!

Receita em Português:

Você pode achar essa receita em português clicando aqui.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

For the past few weeks in Toronto, the signs for autumn are ever more present as days get shorter, the air becomes cooler, and leafs turn into a kaleidoscope of colours, we were feeling for baking something that represented the tastes, smells, and sights of fall, and what better recipe than one that has apples. So this week we decided to make Apple Crumb Squares, which can be found on delish.com. Once again any changes that we have made to the recipe are written in italics.
Apple Crumb Squares

Crumb Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped (we omitted)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, slightly softened (If you want crumbs like ours, use cold butter)
1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter or margarine

Apple Filling
4 pounds green cooking apples such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and cut into 1⁄2-inch chunks
4 tablespoon butter or margarine
3/4 cup raisins or dried currants
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  1. Prepare Crumb Topping: In medium bowl, with fingertips, mix all topping ingredients until mixture comes together. Shape into a ball; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate to use later. Our topping was very dry so we couldn't shape into a ball; but it didn't make much difference in the end result.)
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease sides of 15 1/2" by 10 1/2" jelly-roll pan.
  3. Prepare Crust: In large bowl, with fork, mix flour, granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. With pastry blender or 2 knives used scissors-fashion (we used our fingertips), blend butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles fine crumbs. With hand, press crumb mixture evenly into bottom of prepared pan.
  4. Bake crust 20 to 24 minutes or until golden brown (crust may crack slightly).
  5. Meanwhile, prepare Apple Filling: In nonstick 12-inch skillet, cook apples, butter, raisins, brown sugar, and cinnamon over medium heat 25 to 30 minutes or until apples are very tender and most liquid from apples evaporates, stirring occasionally. In cup, mix cornstarch and lemon juice. Stir lemon-juice mixture into apple mixture and cook, stirring, until mixture thickens. Remove skillet from heat.
  6. Spread apple mixture over hot crust. Break Crumb Topping into chunks and scatter over apple mixture. Bake 40 minutes or until topping browns. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. (We baked for only 20 min. because we thought our crust would've  burnt if we'd left longer.)
  7. To serve, cut lengthwise into 4 strips, then cut each strip crosswise into 6 squares.

Ann's Thoughts

I have to admit that apple baked goods are not my favourite. I absolutely love apples, but I find desserts such as apple pie, apple turn over, apple strudel and the like to be rather slimey in texture, which I don't like. Plus, apples are already sweet so adding more sugar makes them too sweet for me. Even though I have reservations about apple based pastries, I was quite insistant on making something with apples this week, afterall we are approaching fall, it just seemed right. I came upon Apple Crumb Squares on Delish, and Ana, who is pretty much cool with doing any recipe, was cool doing this one.

So how did I find it? They weren't bad at all. The squares weren't too slimey, and because we used Granny Smith apples, the squares turned out to be more sour than sweet. When my mother tried a piece, she enjoyed the sour taste, but Ana did not prefer the sourness, and so the only thing that I can advise is for those of you who want sweeter apple squares use Macintosh or Fuji apples, but I wouldn't use Red Delicious apples-they are not as sweet as the previous two.

This recipe is somewhat time-consuming, so plan about two hours in order to make these squares, however just because it takes a long time, does not mean it's hard to make, because it's not....seriously! So if you have a free evening, take the time to make these bars, and fill your home with the natural fragrance of apple and cinnamon- perfect for this season.

Ana's Thoughts

For Ann's happiness, this week's treat we made apples. =) Nothing more appropriate, since Fall is already on its way. Or is it already here? Can't really tell, but for me the last couple of days seems more like winter o.O I mean, Brazilian winter. Can't wait for Canadian winter. Hurray! Not. haha

Now back to the squares. Although we overbaked the crust (Oops, my bad...), and the crumbs weren't exactly what the recipe said it was supposed to look like, ours turned out pretty tasty. The crust was buttery (in a good way) and crunchy and the crumbs were crispy. Nom nom nom. The filling was a bit sour so perhaps next time we should use Fuji apples or one similar to that.

We got 20 medium-size squares so make sure to invite friends over when you make this. ;)

'Til next week!

Receita em Português
Farofa doce
1 xíc. de farinha de trigo
1 xíc. de pecans ou nozes, picadas (nós não usamos)
1/2 xíc. (115g) de manteiga ou margarina, em temperatura ambiente
1/2 xíc de açúcar mascavo (aperte-o na xícara na hora de medir)
1 colher (sopa) de baunilha
1 colher (chá) de canela em pó

Em uma tigela, com a ponta dos dedos, misture todos os ingredientes até formar uma massa. Faça uma bola, enrole em um plástico e leve para gelar. Reserve. (A nossa massa ficou parecida com uma farofa mesmo, então não conseguimos formar uma bola. Mas não fez diferença nenhuma no produto final.)

3 xícs. de farinha
1/3 xíc. de açúcar
3/4 xíc. (170g) de manteiga ou margarina, gelada

Pré-aqueça o forno a 190ºC. Use uma forma retangular com beiradas rasas.
Junte todos os ingredientes em uma tigela e misture com a ponta dos dedos até formar uma farofa úmida. Aperte na forma e leve para assar por 20-24 minutos ou até dourar. (Ela vai rachar um pouco.)

Recheio de maçã
1,8 kg de maçã Granny Smith, sem casca, sem sementes e cortadas em cubos de 1cm  (Substitua por Fuji se preferir um recheio mais doce.)
4 col. (sopa) de manteiga ou margarina
3/4 xíc. de uvas passas
1/2 xíc. de açúcar mascavo (Aperte-o na xícara na hora de medir)
3/4 col. (chá) de canela em pó
1 col. (sopa) + 2 col.(chá) de amido de milho
3 col. (sopa) de suco de limão

Enquanto a base estiver assando, faça o recheio. Coloque todos os ingredientes, menos o amido e o suco de limão, numa panela e cozinhe, mexendo de vez em quando, por 20-30 minutos ou até que as maçãs estejam macias e quase toda a água das maçãs tenha evaporado.
Em um copo, misture o amido de milho e o suco de limão e junte às maçãs. Misture até engrossar. Retire do fogo.
Despeje as maçãs sobre a base ainda quente. Espalhe a farofa por cima e leve ao forno por 40 minutos ou até dourar. (Nós deixamos somente por 20 min.)

Monday, September 13, 2010

This week's special is two for one! Two great cookie recipes in one amazing entry. One of our goals in creating this blog was to make desserts from different countries around the world. Well this week, we've decided to make Greek Almond cookies. According to Nancy Gaifyllia from about.com, these shortbread cookies, known in Greek as Kourabiethes, are usually made for special occasions or religious holidays. These cookies are not only super easy, but more importantly super quick to make, and will surely be a hit at any special event.
The second set of cookies are Jam Drops. There really isn't any special background info on Jam Drops but the reason why this recipe was chosen for this week is because the ingredients are very similar to Greek Almond cookies, and the finished product is an array of button shaped cookies that look like they are embedded with gems. Both recipes were taken from Donna Hay's book Modern Classics 2. Any changes to the recipes are written in italics. Happy Baking!
Greek Almond Cookies
250g (8oz) butter, softened
3/4 cup icing (confectioner's) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
100g (3 1/2 oz) chopped toasted almonds
Icing sugar to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC (325ºF).
2. Place the butter, icing sugar and vanilla in a bowl and beat with electric beaters until light and creamy.
3. Add the flour and almonds and mix to form a smooth dough. Refrigerate for 10 minutes or until the dough is firm.
4. Roll tablespoonfuls of the dough into a crescent shape and place on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper.
5. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks. To serve, sprinkle liberally with icing sugar. Makes 35.

Jam Drops
180g (6oz) butter, softened
1 cup caster (superfine) sugar
1 egg
2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Jam/Jelly to decorate

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
  2. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy.
  3. Add the egg and beat well.
  4. Stir through the flour and baking powder and mix to a dough.
  5. Roll 2 teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls. Place on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper, allowing room for the biscuits to spread, and flatten slightly (Oops, we forgot this step.).
  6. Press a finger into the middle of the dough to make an indent.(We used the back of a 1/8 teaspoon measuring spoon) Fill the hole with jam.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Add a little more jam to the holes while the biscuits are hot (Ours had a lot of jam, so we skipped this step.). Cool on racks. Makes 60.

Ann's Thoughts

When I was checking out info on the almond cookies, I noticed from the images shown on google search pages, the Greek almond cookies took on multiple forms, from your typical circular cookie, to s-shaped biscuits. Although in Ms. Hay's recipe she instructs her readers to form the cookies into little crescents, you can shape them in whichever way you desire - as long as they look good, kay?

Between the two cookies that we baked, I preferred the Jam Drops. The Greek cookies were tasty, but being allergic to nuts - horrible but true - we made a batch of almond cookies sans almonds. Because this part of the ingredient was missing, they technically weren't almond cookies. Oddly enough I'm not allergic to almond extracts. So now I'm wondering how these cookies would taste by replacing vanilla extract with almond extract. It's something worth trying in the future.

The Jam Drops were so pretty they kind of remind me of Fruit Creme cookies from Peak Frean, minus the cream filling in the middle. Ana and I used mix berry and strawberry jams, but if you have a ton of different types of jam then use 'em for this recipe and you'll end up with a batch of jewelled cookies, which your family and friends will enjoy.

Ana's Thoughts

This week on OSSD we have cookies. Delicious cookies. Melt- in- your- mouth cookies. And not just one kind of cookie, but two. Double yumy-ness! They are both super easy to make and, with the exception of the almonds - which you can ommit - with day-to-day ingredients.

As I said, the process of making these cookies is pretty simple and straight forward. Even if you don't have a mixer, which is our case, you still can make them. And they will taste as good, I can assure you. The Greek almond cookies were my favorites. The icing sugar sprinkled on top melts in your mouth and it gives a hint of sweetness to the cookie; the toasted almonds gave them a crunch-crunch. Hmmmm I could eat them all if I could. hehe

The Jam Drops were very good, too. Not too sweet, very light and smells wonderful before, during and after baking. I didn't taste the jam, though, so it tasted just like a plain shortbread cookie. Ann told me she did, so maybe it's just me. It was good, nonetheless, so try it, you won't regret. ;)

See ya!

Receitas em Português

Biscoitinhos Gregos de Amêndoas
250g de manteiga, em temperatura ambiente
3/4 xíc. de açúcar de confeiteiro
1 colher (chá) de baunilha
2 1/4 xíc. de farinha de trigo
100g de amêndoas tostadas e trituradas
Açúcar de confeiteiro para decorar

Modo de Preparo
Pré-aqueça o forno a 160ºC
Bata a manteiga, o açúcar e a baunilha até ficar cremosa. Nós não usamos a batedeira.
Acrescente a farinha e as amêndoas. Leve à geladeira por 10 minutos, ou até que a massa esteja firme.
Enrole 1 colher (sopa) de massa em formato de meia lua. Asse por 15 min. ou até dourar. Deixe esfriar e espalhe açúcar de confeiteiro por cima. Rende 35.

Biscoitinhos de geléia (Goiabinhas)
180g de manteiga, em temperatura ambiente
1 xíc. de açúcar
1 ovo
2 xíc. de farinha de trigo
1/2 colher (chá) de fermento em pó
geléia ou goiabada para decorar

Modo de Preparo
Pré-aqueça o forno a 180ºC.
Bata a manteiga e o açúcar até formar um creme claro e cremoso. Adicione o ovo e bata bem.
Acrescente a farinha e o fermento e bata até obter uma massa.
Enrole 2 colheres (chá) de massa para formar bolinhas e coloque na assadeira. Achate um pouco com a palma da mão e faça um buraquinho com o dedo. Encha com geléia ou goiabada.
Asse por 10 minutos ou até que esteja dourado. Acrescente mais geléia se necessário, após retirar do forno. Rende 60 biscoitinhos.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Okay, so two out of the last three posts we've done is a chocolate based recipe, and we wanted to change it up a bit, hence the raspberry swirl lemon cake last week. We were also planning to bake a non-chocolate recipe, but when Ana stumbled up David Lebovitz's Dulce de Leche brownie recipe we just had to make this.

Although Dulce de Leche is very common in South America, afterall it was invented in Argentina, in my (Ann's) humble opinion this sweet, caramel spread is just gaining popularity in Canada. Currently only one brand carries the spread in major grocery stores in Toronto, but for those of you who can't buy Dulce de Leche, it's totally easy to make. All you really need is a pressure cooker and a can of sweet condensed milk. Fill the pot with water and place the can of milk inside. Cover the pot and cook for 45-50 minutes. Take out the can from the pan and let it cool completely. Don't open the can while it's hot! Once its cooled down, open it and you've got yourself a can of sweet, sticky, gooey Dulce de Leche ready to spread on pancakes, maria biscuits, or to use in this delectable recipe below.

Don't have a pressure cooker or are absolutely terrified of using one? Not a problem! Remove label from sweetened condensed milk, put in a pan and cover with water. It's important that the can is throughly covered with water - 2 or 3 inches above the can. Add more water during the cooking if the level goes down. Cook for 2 and a half hours. Drain the water and let it cool completely. You can also go here and learn how to make Dulce de Leche in the oven.

Dulce de Leche Brownies

*Any changes we've made to the recipe are in italics.
8 tablespoons (115g) salted or unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 ounces (170g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (Milk chocolate works just as well too)
1/4 cup (25g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (We just used regular cocoa powder)
3 large eggs
1 cup (200g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (140g) flour
1 cup Dulce de Leche

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (175 C).
Line a 8-inch (20 cm) square pan with a long sheet of aluminium foil that covers the bottom and reaches up the sides. Grease the bottom and sides of the foil with a bit of butter or non-stick spray.

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the chocolate pieces and stir constantly over very low heat until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the sugar, vanilla, and then the flour.

Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan. Drop one-third of the Dulce de Leche, evenly over the brownie batter, then drag a knife through to swirl it slightly. Spread the remaining brownie batter over, then drip spoonfuls of the remaining Dulce de Leche in dollops over the top of the brownie batter. Use a knife to swirl the Dulce de Leche slightly.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The brownies are done when the center feels just-slightly firm. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Ours took less then 35 min. Keep an eye on them after 20 minutes.

Storage: These brownies actually become better the second day, and will keep for up to 3 days.

Ann's Thoughts

I just want to declare that these are the best brownies ever. Lemme repeat that, these are the best brownies that I have ever had. You know when it comes to food there are certain combinations that work so well, that it's unimaginable how things somone can eat one item without the other, like milk and cookies, spaghetti and meatballs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, just to name a few. This is especially true for Dulce de Leche and brownies. Lebovitz is a total genius in combining the two ingredients, these brownies are absolutely amazing.

When Ana was taking shots of the brownies, it was so hard to resist eating it, especially when the Dulce de Leche was slowly oozing out of the brownies. It's funny how in all recipes, one of the last instructions is to wait until whatever has been baked or cooked should be cooled before eating, but seriously, who waits? Ana and I are always scorching our tongues because we just have to have that piece of cake or cookie right out of the oven. So we've suffered from first or second degree burns but who cares?! Eating these baked goods are totally worth it!

Ana's Thoughts

This brownies totally represent our blog. They are so sinfully delicious. Really, they are so good that it's a sin........not to eat them. Despite the sweetness of the Dulce de Leche and the milk chocolate, this brownies weren't too sweet, and eating them right out of the oven with the Dulce de Leche still oozing and gooey is one of the best things in the world! I have one complaint, though: I thought the brownies were a little overbaked. The edges were too cake-y like for me. I prefer them more fudgy. Next time (oh yeah, you bet there will be a next time) I'll keep them a little less in the oven.

I have one piece of advice for you: Don't make them when you're alone. Make them when you have friends around (more than two, if possible), so you can share the calories with them, and you won't be tempted to eat the whole pan by yourself. Trust me, it will be hard to resist eating just one piece. ;)

See you next week!

Receita em Português:

8 colheres (sopa) de manteiga (115g)
170g de chocolate meio amargo (usamos ao leite)
1/4 xíc. de cacau em pó (25g)
3 ovos
1 xíc. açúcar (200g)
1 colher (chá) de baunilha
1 xíc. de farinha de trigo (140g)
1 xíc. de doce de leite

Modo de Preparo

Pré-aqueça o forno a 175ºC.
Forre uma forma pequena (20x20 cm) com papel alumínio e unte com manteiga.
Derreta a manteiga em uma panelinha em fogo baixo. Acrescente o chocolate e misture até derreter. Retire do fogo e acrescente o cacau em pó, misturando até ficar homogêneo. Adicione os ovos, um por vez, misturando bem após cada adição. Acresecente o açúcar, a baunilha e a farinha. Misture até incorporar tudo.

Despeje metade da massa na forma e espalhe 1/3 do doce de leite. Com a ajuda de uma faca faça movimentos de vai-e-vem para mesclar. Repita o processo com o restante da massa e doce de leite.
Leve ao forno por 35-40 minutos. Os brownies estão prontos quando o centro estiver firme, mas que, quando um palito for inserido no centro, este saia com algumas migalhas de bolo. O nosso assou em 35 minutos, então fique de olho no seu após 20 minutos. Cuidado para não assar demais.