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.

Advertisements

baked sunday mornings: double chocolate loaf

bakers note: this recipe is part of the baked sunday mornings group – which means that we (participating bloggers) don’t include the recipe.  I have included the group homepage in a link below – so if you’re tempted – click on it and you’ll be able to make this loaf at home too ;0)

Oh my.  This loaf is YUM.

How can you go wrong when you’re asked to combine chocolate with peanut butter and cream cheese?  You really can’t.  Go wrong that is.

This loaf proves that (in case you were doubting me).

The spread – well it’s more of a frosting – is creamy and a little tangy thanks to the cream cheese.  My only complaint would be that it’s a little too sweet … I think I would omit the added sugar next time … but really – it’s still delicious.

I decided to make this recipe last night – I was meeting up with some friends and had promised to bring along some sort of baked good – kill two birds with one stone: bake my assigned recipe and provide a movie treat for friends.  Perfect!

Since I was short on time, I decided to turn the one 9-by-5-inch loaf into 8 mini loaves.  They wouldn’t require as much baking time, ensuring that I could bake them, cool them slightly, and frost them prior to heading out.

Only … I over baked them.

Note to self – and to anyone interested – bake the mini loaves for 24 minutes.  Not 26 minutes.

Sigh.

The result was still delicious.  The loaves were incredibly moist and crumbly in the centre … just a little over-baked on the base and sides.  Nothing a good smear of peanut butter cream cheese spread doesn’t fix :0)

Oh yes … and since I always end up trying the raw batter – I can attest that this batter is awesome.  It’s nice and thick and super chocolaty rich.  It’s actually pretty divine.

And so my friends … here is my 5th blog entry for baked sunday mornings.  It’s kinda the perfect blog entry since you should do the following after reading it:

– click on the link that leads you to the recipe.

– ensure that you have all the necessary ingredients.

– whip up a loaf (or double it as recommended in the book itself).

– make this next week a very good week by starting every day with a thick slice of the loaf topped with the peanut butter cream cheese spread.

– starting each day in such a manner will ensure the following … you will have a wonderful week.  Or at the very least you’ll look forward to breakfast.

If you still aren’t sure … just scroll down and see how (1) easy this loaf is to make, and (2) how delicious it looks.

Can’t you just picture yourself enjoying this with a nice cup of coffee tomorrow morning?  I bet you can … so do it.  Go out and bake this (I promise, this is a ridiculously simple recipe).

And for the record … I ate that entire mini loaf and loved every single bite (even the over-baked edges).

pear tart

I baked up a Roasted Pear Clafoutis.  Actually that’s incorrect.  I actually baked a roasted pear flaugnarde.  Yes that’s right.  My recipe book led me astray! :0)

I spend quite a bit of time flipping through my recipe books … I can read my cookbooks like I read memoirs – eagerly anticipating the next page, devouring the recipes and ogling the pictures.  I’m totally and completely engaged and entranced.  Then I get to roll up my sleeves and actually make something … awesome.

That is how I ended up with this recipe.

I pulled out my copy of Baking by James Peterson (I heart this book … it’s a brilliant visual aide – highly recommended) and stopped short when I saw this.  It looked stunning.  A roasted pear clafoutis.  The pear halves sticking out of a flan-like base.  It was a thing of beauty.  And I wanted to make it.

I can not tell you how ridiculously easy this recipe is.  It is! It’s simple. It’s beautiful.  And it’s so worth turning on your oven, grabbing your whisk and rolling up your sleeves.

Now … for clarification – it is not an actual clafoutis.  Because (as I learned in my research … because I do tend to research these types of things) a real clafoutis can only be made using cherries.  The flaugnarde is the same idea – using other berries or fruit.  And that is your lesson for the day!

roasted pear flaugnarde

ingredients:

5 underripe pears

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. butter, cubed

3 eggs

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 c. flour, sifted

1 c. milk

2 tsp vanilla

powdered sugar to sprinkle on top

Preheat your oven to 400 F. 

Peel the pears, remove the stem from both ends.  Then cut the pears in half (lengthwise), and remove the cores, including the small strip at the narrow end of the pear.

Place the pear halves, flat side up (cut side), in a heavy bottomed pan – large enough so that the pear halves can be placed in a single layer (no overlap).  I used my large pot – which I can place in my oven.  Sprinkle the sugar on top, and then place the butter cubes over the halves.

Roast the pears for anywhere between 25 to 60 minutes (it depends on the ripeness of the fruit) – you want the butter and sugar mixture to become golden brown and the pears to be soft enough that you can poke through it with a knife.

Remove them from the pan using a slotted spoon, reserving the juices.  If the sugar hadn’t browned – place the pan over medium heat and allow the mixture to brown.

Meanwhile, decrease the oven to 350 F.  Butter your pie pan.  Place the pear halves; this time cut-side down, in the pie pan.  Arrange the pears with the narrow ends towards the centre, and if there is room, place one or two pear halves in the centre.  Set aside.

Put the sifted flour into a medium-sized bowl.  Add the eggs and salt, whisking everything together so that it creates a thick paste.  Whisk until there are no lumps left (add a little milk if you need to thin it just enough to get the lumps out).  At this point, you can stir in the milk and the vanilla.  Grab the butter/sugar mixture and pour that into flour batter … watch out – the syrup smells good.  There you have it – the batter is ready.

Strain the batter into another bowl – you want a really smooth batter.

Pour it over the pear halves – you want it to come almost halfway to the tops of the pears.

Bake for 45 minutes (puffed and golden brown on top). 

I took this out of the oven and literally exclaimed “I am so excited.  This is so amazing.”  And then I waited to taste it.

Oh my goodness.  It’s like the best french toast I have ever tasted.  So light and fluffy.  I couldn’t believe how much I loved it.

To serve – it should be at room temperature, sprinkle some powdered sugar and then cut out wedges – each wedge should include an entire pear half.  You might think that makes a pretty large piece – but it doesn’t  – the flan is so light that the real star of this dessert is the fruit.

Simply amazing.

Now I can’t wait to attempt an actual clafoutis.  Cherries … here I come!

ps.  This would be perfect for tomorrow or Sunday morning.  It’s a great addition to your brunch menu.  Believe me.  So worth it.

oh yes … and it’s pronounced klah-fou-tee in case you were wondering.