Posts Tagged ‘Chocolate’

Today, as I drove home I listened to a tribute to Stuart McLean of the Vinyl Café playing on CBC radio. It was a show about love stories, encounters, and friendships. It was all about companionship. One of the stories was about a couple who had magical chemistry, and they would send each other photos of them eating cookies. It reminded me of what role food plays in many of our lives. Not only is it what sustains us, but it is often something that brings people together. Often it is not necessarily the food itself, but the fact that it is shared, that makes it special.

I can remember even when I was a very small child looking forward to meals with our family in France. It was always special. Meals often took hours, but we didn’t notice the time going by.

When I was in undergrad, meals brought friends together, many of whom are still very near and dear.

When I lived in The Gambia, not a day went by without food being shared. I could never keep up with the enormous generosity of the village where I lived, until one day I learned that I could share the food that was brought for me. We would nurture each other.

These past few weeks I’ve had a lovely time in a clinical rotation, working with a special team dedicating themselves to providing the best possible care for their patients, at a level which I have rarely seen. Witnessing such dedication, I wanted to give back, so I made these delicious cookies to help fuel us through the day. I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as we did, and that it serves as a backdrop to many tea parties, work afternoons, or any other pick-me-ups you might need.


Ingredients – for approximately 40 cookies

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup unsalted and softened butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups oatmeal – I use old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 350, and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or grease them
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. I use a stand mixer but you can also beat it by hand. Add eggs and vanilla and beat for a few more minutes, until pale and well incorporated
  4. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, and mix
  5. Stir in cranberries, coconut and chocolate chips
  6. place spoonfuls of the dough in your hand and roll into a ball. Place on cookie sheet 1.5 inches apart and bake for 13-15 minutes
  7. Cool on wire rack

Hope you enjoy these little treats!


Read Full Post »

I am not a big sweet tooth, but there is something special about Christmas baking – the deluxe ingredients, the warm atmosphere, the special company.  As a child, I always knew Christmas baking season was upon us by the quadrupling of butter quantities in our fridge.  As per tradition, we would make the same six cookies: swedish pastries, candy cane cookies, pecan puffs, icebox, gingersnaps,  and shortbread. I continue to absolutely love these family classics, but for a cookie-exchange I wanted to try something new.

Sitelle came to my rescue and suggested this divine recipe.  It combines two of my favourite flavours – ginger and dark chocolate, in a soft and sparkly cookie. The dark chocolate gives these cookies a richness and the candied ginger gives them spunk.  In one word, amazing!

The recipe comes from the Holiday 2015 LCBO Food & Drink magazine.


Chocolate Ginger Sparkle Cookies

Makes ~40 cookies



8 oz (250 g) dark 70% chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter, softened

2/3  cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

1/2 cup approx. coarse white sugar (or granulated sugar)



Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of hot, not boiling water.  Stir until smooth and let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add cooled chocolate, oil, and vanilla, and beat until well blended.  Stir in flour mixture until blended.  Stir in ginger.  Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Place coarse sugar in a shallow  bowl.

Scoop 1-tbsp sized prices of sough and roll into balls.  Roll in coarse sugar to evenly coat dough and shake off excess. Place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Keep remaining dough and rolled cookies cold while baking the previous batch.

Bake, 1 sheet at a time, for 8 or 9 minutes, or until cookies are puffed, starting to crack and edges are just set (the centres will still be soft).  Let cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Store cookies between layers of parchment paper in a cooking tin at room temperature for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

Read Full Post »

I am a firm believer that the birthday girl should always get to choose her birthday cake. So when my friend Kaitlyn recently celebrated hers, she requested that I make a cake using this recipe, an old family favourite.

I was a little dubious – a gluten-free chocolate cake that claimed to be moist and intensely chocolately.  Boy was I ever proven wrong – this cake is amazingly rich, with one of the best structures I’ve ever tasted for a gluten-free cake.  It’s also super easy to mix up.  I decided to frost it with a White Chocolate Ganache, but the cake is tasty enough to stand on its own if you are in a pinch for time.

Best of all, my friend said that the cake easily converted to lactose-free too – all that’s needed is to substitute the butter for vegetable oil and milk to almond/soy milk.


Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Carson & Rose Chen

Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Carson & Rose Chen

Quinoa Chocolate Cake

(Original recipe from Quinoa 365: the Everyday Superfood)

No one will believe this chocolate cake is made with cooked quinoa —
no flour required. It is kid-friendly and gluten-free.

Serves 8-16


2/3 cup white or golden quinoa
1 1/3 cups water
1/3 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled

1-1/2 cups white or cane sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt


Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce  to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the  covered saucepan on the burner for another 10 minutes. Fluff with a  fork and allow the quinoa to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease two 8-inch round or square cake  pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.

Combine the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Add  2 cups of cooked quinoa and the butter and continue to blend until  smooth.

Combine sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add the contents of the blender and mix well. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake on the centre rack for 40 to 45  minutes, or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan before serving. Frost if desired.

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week or freeze for up to a month.

Bon appetit!


– Catherine

Read Full Post »

One thing we do not lack for in medicine is exams.  As such, finding ways to make studying more exciting is a constant occupation.  Somehow carrot sticks just don’t aways cut it.  A surefire way to liven up any study session is cupcakes.  Who doesn’t love cupcakes?  They are the perfect sugar boost in anyone’s day – especially when covered in delicious chocolate icing!

This particular study session happened to fall on my cousin’s birthday, so to make them more fun, I decided to add sprinkles to a Martha Stewart Recipe.  The chocolate buttercream icing is a time-tested family recipe.  I suspect the confetti will be a regular addition to my future cupcake baking adventures 🙂


Vanilla Confetti Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Icing

(Makes 24 cupcakes)



Vanilla Confetti Cupcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons (or 3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups milk

Multicoloured sprinkles


Chocolate Buttercream Icing

3ish tablespoons butter, room temperature

3 or 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder

2-3 tablespoons of cold coffee (the stronger, the tastier)

A lot of icing sugar



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated; scrape down sides of bowl, and beat in vanilla.

Add flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl.  Add as many sprinkles as you desire (I used about 1/4 cup).

Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan, and let cool completely on wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the icing. Cream together the butter, cocoa powder, and coffee.  Incorporate icing sugar until chocolate-mocha icing is thick, yet spreadable.

When the cupcakes are cool, generally frost with the chocolate buttercream icing.  Top with a few extra sprinkles.  Delicious with a cold glass of milk!

– Catherine

Read Full Post »

This pie only confirms a universal truth: chocolate and peanut butter are a match made in heaven. Nested between a chocolate crumb crust and a smooth ganache is a peanut butter cheese cake.  It’s hard to imagine a more delicious combination…

This is one of the more ingenious recipes in Joy of Cooking. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

(1 9- or 10-inch pie)



Crumb crust:

1 ½ cups chocolate wafer crumbs

¼ cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of the cookies)

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) of unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Peanut Butter Filling:

8 ounces cream cheese (1 block)

1 cup peanut butter

½ cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup whipping cream


¾ cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon instant coffee granules

8 ounces finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

Crumb crust:

In a bowl, combine crumb crust ingredients. Press into a 10-inch pie or springform pan, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes in a 350°F oven.

Cool the crust before filling (can be done in the fridge/freezer).

Peanut Butter filling:

Beat in a large bowl until smoothly blended the cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form.Using a spatula, fold in half of the whipped cream into the peanut mixture to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining cream.

Spread the mixture into the crust, press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pie and refrigerate until firm, about four hours (or if you are in a rush, throw it in the freezer).
Chocolate Ganache:

Bring the whipping cream to a boil, stirring in the instant coffee.  Remove from heat and add chocolate. Stir until most of the chocolate has melted. Cover and let stand 10 minutes, then stir/whisk gently until completely smooth. Let cool to lukewarm and then pour over the pie and spread evenly.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (again, you can also use the freezer) and up to 3 days.

Serve with masses of whipped cream and salted peanuts for an absolutely delicious dessert.  Eat slowly – you will want to savour each and every bite!
– Catherine

Read Full Post »

Today is a very special day – 3/14 – the best excuse of the year to make pie!

So in honour of pi day, I share below my five favourite pies from last year.  May your days be filled with delicious pie!

– Catherine


Tourtiere – Easily my favourite savoury pie, this traditional Quebecois meat pie is a treat!

White Chocolate Cranberry Tart with Toasted Pistachios  – This combination of tart cranberries, nutty pistachios, and smooth chocolate is elegant and stunning. 

Raspberry Glacee Pie – If you ever need to bribe my mother, look no farther.  This delicate raspberry pie is truly divine served with whipped cream.

Pumpkin Pie – Nothing screams autumn more than impeccably spiced pumpkin pie.

Chocolate Hazelnut Pie –  Whipped hazelnut cream filling topped with chocolate ganache.  Need I say more?

Read Full Post »

I thought I’d perk the mood up a bit with this hot chocolate recipe, with winter approaching. I, however, will be avoiding the snow altogether in my new home in Sénégal. This situation is definitely a bit ironic: I’m one of the small number of Canadians who loves winter, as long as it is a good one, but I will also be part of the group that avoids it. So, I thought I’d share my secret hot chocolate recipe for all of you to come home with a frosted nose and pink cheeks and enjoy a cup for me (and for you, I guess)!

Let me preface this next part by saying I’m quite a chocolate-lover. This past spring I was lucky enough to go to Cacao Fest in Punta Gorda, Belize. For those of you who do not know about this, it is a week-end of festivities surrounding chocolate, from its origins in the Maya culture, to its agricultural production, processing, and finally, to its consumption. Who could refuse such an event?

A Maya woman roasting cacao beans on her stove

I was hoping to be able to eat the fresh flesh from cacao pods this time round like I’d tried in February, but they were already harvested and so I had to make do with only actual chocolate. For those of you who have the chance, I encourage you to try the “food of the gods” as they call it (the white flesh inside cacao pods). It was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tried. At Cacao Fest I visited the Cotton Tree Chocolate Factory where I learned how they make chocolate. This reminded me of when I learned how to make the traditional maya cacao drink in my last trip.

This hot chocolate recipe is absolutely delicious, and its secret is using real, un-powdered chocolate. What surprises most people when I tell them I sometimes make hot chocolate with squares of chocolate is that it takes as much time to make milk-based chocolate with squares or powder! And if you want to celebrate a special occasion or just indulge, add a bit of whipped cream.

Ingredients – Two 1.5 cup servings or three 1 cup servings

-3 cups milk
-80g your favourite chocolate (I like to use 75% for this) + a bit extra for decoration if you like
-granulated sugar (to taste – I actually don’t add any if I use 75% chocolate, but it’s up to your taste!)
-1/2 cup whipping cream
-2 tsp icing sugar (or more to taste)


Place milk in a saucepan and heat gently over medium heat. Break the chocolate up into chunks, and the place in milk. Once the milk begins to warm, begin to whisk the mixture to help dissolve the melted chocolate. Do this until you reach your desired temperature, and then remove it from the heat (if you avoid it boiling over, you avoid the risk of the chocolate forming small granules).

Now for the extra special part: in a bowl, beat (or use electric beaters) the cream until it thickens, then add the icing sugar and whisk a bit more.

Return the hot chocolate to the heat for a few minutes if it is not to your desired temperature and whisk. Pour into your favourite cups and top with a dollop of whipped cream and grated chocolate.





Read Full Post »

My efforts to empty my cupboards and fridge became highly fruitful when I discovered I had dark chocolate squares, pure cacao pieces from my trip to Belize, sugar, pecans, and butter all needing to be used asap. With a bottle of Les Trois Mousquetaires Porter Baltique, apparently “WBA World Beer Awards World’s best porter Baltic” from a friend, and four large farm-fresh eggs from another friend, I was set. Porter brownies? Washed down with a pint? Why not! While I’m definitely no beer connaisseur, I can certainly vouch for this recipe.

My last few excursions into Montréal’s microbrewery scene have shown me how introducing foody flavours into beer might be a good idea. So far, I have enjoyed a chocolate porter, a pumpkin ale, and a currant rousse. While I found the pumpkin ale a tad bitter, and the currant rousse a bit on the sweet side, the chocolate porter went down really well. So why not introduce porter into one of my all-time chocolate-craving fulfilling favourites: rich decadent brownies?

Ingredients – 9-12 brownies

-8 oz semisweet chocolate (or at least 70%)
-2 Tbsp dark chocolate powder (cocoa or even dark hot chocolate powder, if you don’t have cocoa)
-2 Tbsp coarsely ground cacao (you can substitute this for 1 more oz semisweet chocolate)
-3/4 cup butter, unsalted
-1 Tbsp 35% cream
-1 pinch salt
-1 1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar
-2 tsp vanilla
-4 large eggs at room temperature
-3 Tbsp porter
-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
-1 cup chopped toasted pecans


Preheat oven to 350F. Line a brownie tray (rectangle or square, 2-inches deep) with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

In a double-boiler (or a small pot of water on it with a heat-proof bowl over top), melt the chocolate and butter. Add the cream while melting, and the cacao powder. Stir until fully melted and combined. Remove from heat and let cool 10-15 minutes.

Place sugar, vanilla, porter, and eggs into a large bowl. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is even. Pour chocolate mixture in, and then add the salt and flour and stir to combine. Finally, add in the toasted chopped pecans.

Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and cook for 20 minutes (or more, if necessary), until a tooth pick comes out with a few lumps still on it because that means the brownies will be really moist.

This recipe attests to how this autumn spent in Montréal has been full of many wonderful adventures!


Read Full Post »

From the moment I saw a picture of this dessert, I could simply not resist. In fact, it was so tempting that today, this was all I ate for dinner. I adapted this recipe from a fantastic book my grandparents sent me for my birthday this year. It’s called Les grosses têtes en cuisine (which literally translates to the largest heads in cooking – I’m sure you get the picture). I made this while having a skype discussion, and I’m sorry because those on the other end were unable to give it a taste, although I’m not complaining about having more for myself!

As soon as they were ready, I decided to run upstairs to my roomie and give her a present, because I didn’t want to eat all alone.

The recipe is simple. 5 ingredients – I’m sure you can guess them. Chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs, and flour (yes, that order probably arranges them by decreasing weight). While did I follow the ingredients, I had to make several changes. Because the recipe is from France, all the quantities are in grams, and in my temporary home I do not have access to a scale or measuring glass, so I approximated the quantities. All I have are cup measures.  I also substituted brown sugar for white since that is all I have. Nevertheless, it was totally delicious – and I encourage you to make these as a special treat!

And if they’re not rich enough for you, feel free to complement them with whipped cream sweetened with honey or maple syrup and garnish with fresh raspberries as I did!

Ingredients – 6 individual chocolate cakes

-200g dark chocolate (I used 7 of the Semisweet Baker’s chocolate squares in the 225 g boxes) + 1 extra square of chocolate, chopped up
– 100g butter (I used just under a quarter-pound)
-3/4 cups unpacked brown sugar
-4 eggs
-1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour


Cut up butter into a few chunks, and place the squares of chocolate (break it up if it is not already broken into squares) in a heat-proof bowl. Place bowl over a pot with a little water in it, and bring the water to a simmer. Carefully warm up chocolate and butter mixture, mixing occasionally. Make sure to use gloves to handle the bowl as it gets hot and sometimes steam comes out. If you have a ‘bain marie’, this is the time to use it.

Preheat oven to 350F.

While you’re waiting for the chocolate and butter to melt, mix the eggs and sugar. Once that is mixed, add the flour, and finally the melted chocolate/butter mixture.

Grease 6 muffin-tin spots with butter (if you’re using a tin with 12, make sure to space them evenly throughout). Spoon the batter into each mould, making sure not to over-fill them beyond 3/4 capacity. If you have extra batter (that you haven’t eaten already), grease up another spot and fill it too. Drop a few extra pieces of chocolate (if you kept them aside this whole time!) into the middle of each.

Cook for 10 minutes, and let cool for 4-5 minutes before serving them. If you over-cook them, they’re still good, but less gooey. While they’re cooking you can whip up some cream with a tiny bit of honey or maple syrup, and wash a few fresh raspberries if that suits your fancy. Try to serve them warm if possible, fresh out of the oven!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I have. They’re delicious and really simple to make.


Read Full Post »

I am a well-known peanut butter lover (case in point: as I type this, I am munching away on a peanut butter cookie). So when my friend’s birthday rolled around, I volunteered to make a birthday cake.  Flipping through an old Joy of Cooking, I came across a recipe for peanut butter cupcakes.  Now, I may have had a hole in my upbringing, but I had never before eaten a peanut butter cake.  So clearly this cake needed to be tried.

unsurprisingly, peanut butter cake is as delicious as it sounds.  Inspired by the flavours of reeces peanut butter cups and leftover icing, I decided to pair the peanut butter cake with chocolate icing.  Served with a glass of cold milk and topped with some raspberries (everything is tastier topped with raspberries), this cake was a hit!

Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting

(serves 12)




1/3 cup butter

1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, divided

Generous 1/2 cup peanut butter

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup milk


3ish tablespoons butter

At least 3 or 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder

2-3 tablespoons of cold coffee (the stronger, the tastier)

A lot of icing sugar


Raspberries, if desired



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl, beat the butter until soft, then add 1 cup of the brown sugar and the peanut butter.  Blend until fluffy.  Add and combine until light the eggs, remaining brown sugar, and vanilla.  Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Add the sifted ingredients in 3 parts alternately with the milk.

Pour into two 8 inch circular pans (or 22 muffin cups), and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool.

To make the icing, cream together the butter, cocoa powder, and coffee.  Incorporate icing sugar until chocolate-mocha icing is thick, yet spreadable.  Adjust cocoa/coffee proportion to your liking!

When cake is coolish, remove from pan.  Place the first round on a plate and smother the top with chocolate-mocha icing.  Place the second round on top and spread the remaining icing over the cake.  Decorate with raspberries. Serve with a large glass of milk!
– Catherine

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »