lime explosion!

Jenna and I  are obsessed.

YES.

O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D … with lime.

After bon appétit joined our band wagon and proclaimed that lime juice is the new salt”  Jenna and I agreed it was time to bake up a lime storm.

And that is exactly what we’ve been doing.

It’s as though limes exploded in the little red kitsch’n (does over 2 cases of limes in a kitchen constitute an explosion???).

Yesterday was day one of baking/ prep for the weekend market (Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market).

My prep list kept me busy until well after midnight (don’t worry … it’s not all work and no play  .. you should see our dance moves in the kitchen)

-snicker brownies  (the classic layered brownie : flourless brownie, peanut nougat, topped with a smooth chocolate ganache)

 -lemon-lime curd … for a ridiculous cranberry lemon-lime & white chocolate bar cookie on graham cracker crust  … graham cracker crust (Jenna said my crust was EPIC!!!) … white chocolate cream and cranberry topping … all done and assembled (I’ll be sharing this one with y’all too).

-lime curd … for the most sinfully delicious lime raspberry meringue tarts (our twist on the recipe on the front of bon appétit magazine … both of us saw the picture and just KNEW we had to make the tart).

-peanut butter cookie dough brownie (recipe to follow … but whomever sampled my first attempt a few weeks ago are going to be shocked at my new update … I twisted this up even more)

caramel snicker brownie gelato … I have big plans for this sweet treat … :0)

and then these … sweetly irresistible (at least we hope)

blueberry – lime cheesecake cupcakes with an oatmeal crust

Seriously adorable.

Incredibly easy to make.

Addictive.

Oh yeah … and a crispy, crunchy, granola type base is pretty insanely perfect when paired with a smooth lime cream cheese batter and blueberries.

Sigh.

The original recipe called for a graham cracker cookie base.  We decided not to do that.  Nope.  Jenna has a recipe for an oatmeal  crust – chalk full of oats, a dash of nutmeg, and plenty of butter.

If I’d been at home I probably would have made a lemon-cookie crust … or … even a chocolate oreo cookie base.

Just have fun with it!  The beauty of this type of dessert is that you can combine some of your favourite flavour profiles and just make it 100% YOURS and not your standard Martha recipe (fyi – the filling is from Martha Stewart).

blueberry – lime cheesecake cupcakes

ingredients:

base:

1 ½ c. cookie base (use your imagination … graham crackers, lemon cookies, oreo cookies, spicy cookies, ginger cookies, etc), finely ground

¼ c. butter, melted

filling:

2 c. blueberries, cooked over medium heat until soft (no need to add sugar or water to this… just toss in a small saucepan and heat, stirring from time to time)

2 lb. cream cheese, room temperature, cubed

1 ½ c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla (or lime juice)

zest of 1 lime

4 eggs, room temperature

Two things you should know about cheesecakes (yes … I seem to have become a tad obsessed with baking mini cheesecakes, so I feel I have some street cred) …

1. ROOM TEMPERATURE.  If your ingredients are at room temp before you get started, that helps with ensuring that the tops don’t crack when baking.

2.  FOOD PROCESSOR.  I use only my food processor to mix all my ingredients together …  it doesn’t matter which cheesecake recipe I follow – I pulse it all the way to smooth … from base to filling.

Now that you know my two top tips … time to get baking.

Preheat your oven to 325 F.  Line each of your muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Grab your chosen cookie base, and pulse it until it’s finely ground in your food processor.  While it’s still running, slowly add the melted butter – in this case, since we made the oatmeal crust from scratch (it’s texture is very similar to a crumble topping – also another good option), I skipped this step.

If you need more than the ¼ c. of butter to ensure that the mixture holds when pinched together, melt a little more, and add it.  Slowly.  It’s always easier to add more than to fix a recipe when you’ve added too much ;0)

Once the base is made, grab a little handful and gently press it into the base of the cupcake liner.

When all your liners are ready – blind bake the base until set – anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes (or as Jenna reminds me – “it’s done when it’s done”).

Set aside.

Clean your food processor and toss in your cream cheese – puree until smooth.  Add the sugar – keep that processor running … once incorporated, turn it off and scrape the sides with a spatula.

Turn it back on and add the vanilla (or lime juice),the eggs, and the lime zest.  Process the mixture until everything is smooth and well incorporated.

Done.  Simple eh?

I poured the filling into a piping bag in order to fill the liners, but I would also recommend a large measuring cup (with a lip), and pouring the filling into each liner that way.

Once you have the liners filled to ¾ of a way full – take your blueberry mixture and a teaspoon of blueberries to each cupcake.  It’ll look like a blog of blue in the centre of each cupcake.

Grab a wooden skewer and gently swirl the blueberries around … it’ll create a super fun marble effect.

When ready, place the cupcake pans into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes – rotating halfway through baking.  You’ll see that the centres will puff up when they are ready.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the cupcake pans on a wire rack.

These cupcakes do need to be refrigerated if not eaten immediately.  But really … don’t you just want to have one.  Right. This. Instant!?! (the neighbours did … Jenna brought over a couple as soon as they heard I had baked these up!)

I only made half of the recipe … I have some extra oatmeal crust bases already cooked off and ready to be filled tomorrow night ready to make an appearance on Sunday at the market… so be warned … 1 batch (if recipe is followed as directed below) will make 3 dozen cheesecakes.

Makes you want to stop by little red kitsch’n this weekend doesn’t it?

Or maybe it has just inspired you to use some lime.  It is the new salt after all ;00

sprinkles are my new favourite thing

Remember when you were a kid and the best thing in the whole wide world was a cupcake, with heaps of frosting and then topped a million sprinkles? 

Well… Jenna remembers, and at her table in the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market, she reminds all of us exactly what we loved as kids, and want as adults … a tasty, moist cupcake, covered in creamy, smooth cream cheese frosting and then decorated with sprinkles.  Lots and lots of sprinkles.

I LOVE IT!

Maybe I should backtrack eh?

Remember Jenna from the Whalesbone?  Well … she gave up life in the city and moved back to the East Coast … Prospect Village to be exact … to a charming 200 year old home (her grandparents place): she set up a commercial kitchen, and started her own business – little red kitsch’n – prepared take-home food (savoury and sweet), with some catering on the side.

That’s where I come in.  As soon as she told me her plans I offered to join her down east; spending my summer vacation lending a hand in her kitchen: baking, learning tricks of the trade … and just having some fun.  A much needed break from my everyday.

It’s been awesome.

In less than a week, we’ve catered an event, gone to an arcade fire concert, spent two full days cooking and baking (taking breaks jumping in the ocean), spent the weekend at the market (well… I spent Saturday, Jenna did both days), been to a pig roast, I’ve been biking towards (but haven’t quite made it yetPeggy’s Cove … gone for hikes, gone rock jumping … so far, so good!

This is the view from Jenna’s backyard.  For reals.  Who wouldn’t love to vacation at a place like this?  And I get to bake?  Holy mother of pearl!!! DREAM vacation.

But let’s get back to last weekend.

I spent Friday baking cupcakes – hundreds of mini and regular sized cupcakes:  chocolate, vanilla, red velvet (the most overrated cupcake in my opinion), rhubarb (yum) and carrot.

I prepped a whole lot of rhubarb.  I am so impressed with my knife skills.

While I did that, Jenna finished off her pulled pork with pineapple bbq sauce (addictively delicious), made some mashed potato salad (I could have eaten an entire tub of that), traditional slaw, baked beans, fennel radish slaw (my idea), salted cod fish cakes, quinoa salad,  and a roasted red pepper tomato salad (I made that too actually).

Yeah.  That girl works her little butt off.

And look at how good her table looks?

Saturday was a super fun day – we pumped out the cupcakes (Jenna pipes and decorates them as she displays them… we were both frantically piping and sprinkling at several points in the day) and sold a huge amount of them …

The best part of the entire experience … it’s when people buy one mini cupcake, eat it, and come back for another one.  That … that’s the best compliment a baker can get.

My recommendation for BEST IN SHOW would have been the rhubarb cupcake with strawberry cream cheese frosting.

Amazing?

Yes.

Although … my twist would have been to fill it with lemon curd first.  But … that’s just me.  We can see I still enjoyed eating it.

I can’t wait for this week’s baking extravaganza.  Jenna and I spend most of out time discussing what we’re going to make.

Just you wait.  You’ll all wish you were at the Halifax Seaport Market on Saturday and Sunday tasting our baked goods too!

falling in love…

I fell in love.

Yep.

Over Easter weekend, I fell - hook, line and sinker.

I fell in love with wonderful, beautiful, lovely… London.  :0)

My first visit to London was in December 2000 – New Years Eve in the big city.  It was cold… bitterly cold, rainy, and damp (oh so very damp)…  there was no falling in love on that visit.

Nor did I fall in love over the course of the last 10 years… every visit reinforced that I would never be a Londoner.  Nor did I want to be.  That is… until this last visit.

It was sunny.  And warm… actually, it was hot (25 degrees + every single day!!!!).  And it glowed in the pre-royal wedding festivities (I didn’t stick around for the wedding, but it sure was fun to see the city prep for it).  Plus I got to spend the weekend with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Elina (and her younger sisters, who are like my younger sisters).  It was the PERFECT mini break from reality.

Especially because we went to one of my favourite places on earth.

We spent Easter Sunday (also my 32nd birthday) at  The hummingbird bakery.  Giddy doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt as we set out that morning… 

I heart the hummingbird bakery.  At least… I have loved it through its recipes (The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook).  I’ve blogged about some of my hummingbird baking experiences… their carrot cake , black bottom cupcakes , and the peaches & cream cupcakes .  Simple and delicious recipes.

But actually getting to eat hummingbird treats on site?!

holy mother of pearl.  I was in baked good heaven.

The carrot cake: devine.  brilliant.  gorgeous.  bloody amazing.  best thing I have EVER eaten.  EVER.  And it wasn’t just because it was moist and flavourful.  The icing… so much cream cheese frosting – fluffy and lovely and… satisfying.

And then the lemon cheesecake.  oh. my. gawd.  seriously!  I have never enjoyed cheesecake as much as I did that afternoon… smooth and creamy.  Not dense or heavy… just super fluffy.  And the base?  AMAZING.  It wasn’t overly thick or overbaked.  It was light and crumbly.  My mouth was in love.

I couldn’t leave without buying a copy of their newest recipe book hummingbird bakery cake days.  Anything that says “recipes to make every day special” is worth purchasing… and so purchase it I did!

And thank goodness I did.

You’ve already seen those amazing lemon meringue cupcakes that I made last week.  And then I made this.

It’s a peanut butter and chocolate pie.

Intense?  Just a little.

Addictive?  Completely.

Worth trying? Absolutely… without a doubt.  This will make your day extra special.  Especially when you do as I say… and replace the original cookie base with an oreo cookie base.  Yep.  Follow my recipe and you will be in peanut butter and chocolate pie heaven.

peanut butter chocolate (oreo cookie) pie

ingredients:

base:

1 entire box, oreo cookies, pulsed

1/2 c. butter, melted

chocolate ganache filling & whipped topping:

3 tbsp cornstarch

160g sugar

550 mL milk

3 egg yolks

180g peanut butter

80g dark chocolate, chopped

250 mL heavy cream

handful of salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Start with the base.  Use your food processor to pulse the oreo cookies until they are a nice fine crumble. 

Toss the crushed cookies into a bowl, and, using a wooden spoon, slowly add the melted butter – you don’t want to add so much butter that it becomes too moist – you just want the crumbs to stick together when you pinch them together.

Once you get it to that texture (you might not need the entire half cup of melted butter… or you might need more) – tip the cookie crumble into your greased 9 -inch springform pan (I sprayed mine with non-stick spray).  Press the crumbs into the base, and up the sides of the pan – you need this to hold your ganache filling and whipped cream peanut butter topping.  Allow it to cool in the fridge for about 40 minutes.

Take that time to make the chocolate ganahce filling…

Combine the cornstarch with the sugar in a small saucepan.  Then whisk together the milk with the egg yolks in a large measuring cup: pouring this mixture into the pan and place the pan over low heat, cooking until thickened, WHISKING CONTINUOUSLY.  You don’t want clumps :0)  Once the mixture has thickened, remove it from the heat and stir in the peanut butter.

Place your chocolate in a large bowl and pour about one third of the peanut butter mixture on top.  Mix well – ensuring that the chocolate melts and the filling becomes smooth and even.

Pour your chocolate ganache filling over your chilled oreo cookie base.  Cover with plastic wrap (touching the ganache directly) and place the pie in your fridge for 30 – 40 minutes (it should set).  Cover the remaining two thirds of your peanut butter mixture with plastic wrap and set aside to cool.

When you’re about ready to take your unfinished pie out of the fridge, start on your topping.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, using your whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream.  You want it to get thick and to have soft peaks.  My mistake at this point was that I didn’t allow it to get thick enough… and so when I cut into the pie, this topping just collapsed on itself – making it messy, while still delicious :0)

Once you have whipped your cream, grab your peanut butter mixture and fold it in:

Once it is well mixed, remove your pie from the fridge and top the chocolate peanut butter ganache with this whipped cream peanut butter topping.  Return your pie to the fridge for another 40 – 50 minutes.  I know… you still have to wait before you can tuck right in!

Once you’re done waiting, grab your roughly chopped salted peanuts and sprinkle them over the top.  That’s it.  Now you can cut into it.  See… doesn’t it just look amazing?  It is.  And it’s yet another reason why I heart the hummingbird bakery.