The Cure For Sadness

Sometimes, life is a little stressful or even just downright unpleasant. You could have a perfectly sensible reason for feeling grumpy like a break-up, an insect infestation, or a temperamental internet connection. The reason could be also be silly (but understandable) like disagreeable weather or having bills. Whatever the reason, sometimes traditional coping mechanisms of throwing spoons or meditating just won’t quite cut it. If you just need to cut the crap and get the cure for sadness, you’ve come to the right place.

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(In case you somehow didn’t know, the cure for sadness is chocolate chip cookies)

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup unsalted butter (softened)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cornstarch

1 large egg

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup chocolate chips

In a large bowl, beat butter using either an electric mixer or a pastry cutter (I prefer the pastry cutter) until smooth and creamy. Add brown sugar, egg, and vanilla.  In a separate medium size bowl, mix all other ingredients except for chocolate chips. Gradually add the dry ingredients from the medium sized bowl into the wet ingredients in the large bowl until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Eat as much of the cookie dough as desired while watching trash TV (or Parks and Rec because it’s impossible to feel sad while eating cookie dough and watching Parks and Rec).

Chill remaining cookie dough for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350F. Spoon cookie dough onto a baking sheet in approximately golfball sized scoops. Bake 5-8 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.  Share with your co-workers if they’re nice and you’re feeling generous. Otherwise, eat them all with your face and apologize for nothing.

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Fat Banana Bread

This banana bread recipe will not make you fat. In fact, had another blogger created this recipe, there’s a good chance that he or she might have called it “skinny” or “guilt-free” banana bread. But I’m not going to do that because when I see those words in a recipe title, it usually means that the writer took a perfectly good recipe and ruined it by removing everything delicious and replacing it with crap-flavored sadness. Also, the idea that I should feel “guilty” about eating desserts just makes me want to mainline donuts out of spite. So just to be the contrarian that I am, I have called this recipe “Fat Banana Bread” to protest the ideas that:

1. Fat = Unhealthy

2. Healthy = Pretentious and Gross-tasting

This recipe does not contain eggs, dairy, wheat or processed sugar. But it is easy and stupidly delicious.

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup coconut flour (or sub whole-wheat flour if avoiding wheat/gluten isn’t important to you)

3 ripe bananas

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips (Or just cut this chocolate bar into tiny pieces)

1/4 cup chopped dates

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp baking powder

1tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp salt

Mash bananas with a fork in a large bowl. Add all other ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Pour into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350F for 1 hour.

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Eat it and feel no guilt.

Vegan Chocolate Bars

Every now and then, I stumble across a recipe and my only thought is “HOLY CRAP I NEED THAT RIGHT NOW”. This is exactly what happened here.

There I was mindlessly scrolling around the internet when I came across this. It’s a recipe for homemade vegan chocolate bars. They looked so easy and I already had all of the ingredients on hand. The choice was obvious. I had to stop what I was doing and make these.

Of course, as I am often wont to do, I tweaked the recipe just a little bit as my experience with chocolate tells me that coffee and vanilla make the chocolate flavor that much richer and more delicious.

These were very, very easy to make and when I popped them out of the freezer to sample my handiwork, it was revelatory. I haven’t decided yet if being able to make my own chocolate bars is the best or the most dangerous thing to ever happen.

Without further ado, here is the recipe.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

6 Tbs cocoa powder

4 Tbs maple syrup

1 tsp espresso powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp sea salt

Melt coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat. Mix in all other ingredients.

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Pour into a candy mold (I used parchment paper and a loaf pan because I am a savage and do not own a candy mold). Freeze for 15 minutes.

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Eat with your face.

 

4th of July Part 2: Tiny Cheesecakes

As I was rooting around Pinterest looking for another important patriotic dessert to make, I stumbled upon this recipe for miniature cherry cheesecakes from A Helicopter Mom. Upon seeing the picture, I assumed that making tiny cheesecakes had to be some sort of terribly complicated endeavor. I have made cheesecake many times in my life and although it is always delicious, it is also a lot of effort. I was very pleasantly surprised by how easy these were.

Although, of course, I had to make a few slight tweaks. First of all, as much as I love cherries, in the name of my national holiday, I had to make sure these were red, white and blue and not just red and white. So I used a combination of strawberries and blueberries instead of cherries (also, Quebec strawberries and blueberries are famously delicious).  Secondly, I could not find Graham Crackers at the grocery store.  So, instead of making graham cracker crust, I just used a French butter cookie on the bottom of each cheesecake. Vanilla Wafers would work equally well here.

Ingredients:

Cheesecakes:

1 package of butter cookies

16 oz. of cream cheese (softened)

3/4 cup of granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 Tbs of vanilla extract

1 Tbs of lemon juice

Topping:

1/2 cup chopped strawberries

1/2 cup blueberries

Juice from 1/2 of a lemon

1 Tbs of maple syrup

Place a butter cookie at the bottom of well of a muffin pan. Next, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, eggs, and lemon juice until no lumps remain and the mixture is smooth and creamy. Spoon the mixture over each butter cookie until each well is about 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees (Fahrenheit) for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Cheesecakes just out of the oven

Cheesecakes just out of the oven

In a small bowl, mix together the strawberries, blueberries, lemon juice and maple syrup for the topping. Spoon a small amount of this mixture onto each cheesecake and serve.

Ta da!

Ta da!

Bon Appétit, mes amis!

4th of July Part 1: Harvard Mess

Hello, my dear readers. Last week was the 4th of July (i.e. America’s birthday) so I was obliged, in the name of my homeland, to make some very important patriotic desserts. First up, I have a variation on a popular English dessert called Eaton Mess. Since modifying (and sometimes bastardizing) foods from other countries is something we Americans already love to do, I thought that a small tweak on a favorite dish of our former colonial overlords would be incredibly appropriate and delicious. Normally, Eaton Mess consists of whipped cream, strawberries and meringue cookies. But to make it patriotic-looking, I added blueberries.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

1/2 cup chopped strawberries

1/2 cup blueberries

1 cup crushed meringue cookie

1 tsp vanilla extract

If you have an electric mixer, beat the whipping cream on medium speed until thick. Otherwise, beat it with a whisk (this could take a while). Once the cream has reached the appropriate consistency, add vanilla. Add crushed meringue cookies and fruit. Serve immediately.

Bon Appétit, mes amis!

Reverse Brunch – Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Since I moved to Montreal, my roommate and I have gotten into this wonderful Sunday routine where we go running and then have brunch at one of the many delicious cafes on the Plateau. After running around outdoors in the fresh air, there is really nothing better than digging into some rich, delicious breakfast food. This weekend, we’re going on a little holiday to Quebec City so we decided to go for a run mid-week with one of our friends who lives near the Old Port.

In my opinion, the ideal brunch consists of something rich and savoury (preferably something eggy) along with something sweet (preferably a pastry). Since it was a Wednesday, this run-and-brunch adventure had to happen in the evening. Thus, we dubbed the occasion “reverse brunch”. Since I made both something eggy and something sweet, I’ll have dessert first and write the first of this two-part post about the “something sweet”.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. Good God. Just the name sounds decadent and maybe just a little bit kitschy in its autumnal-ness. But since this recipe was from Smitten Kitchen, I knew that it just HAD to be good. Prior to this undertaking, the only cinnamon rolls I had ever made before were the pre-packaged Pillsbury rolls that come in a can so I knew that I was in for a bit of a challenge. I guessed right. I will forewarn you, dear readers, that this recipe is not for the faint of heart. However, the rewards will be great should you choose to power through with these. Trust me.

I started making these in the afternoon in order to refrigerate them for later. From the beginning, these cinnamon rolls were fighting me. It started with my attempt to make brown butter. I left my melting butter in the saucepan while I attended to other things thinking that it would all be fine and dandy. I returned to find not lovely, flavorful brown butter in my saucepan, but rather, some sort of infernal black ooze that smelled like death. I recoiled in mild horror

FAIL

FAIL

After cleaning up the heinous “black butter”, I started over. Now feeling rather timid, I instead just melted the butter and didn’t bother trying to get it to brown. Then, as I was assembling the dry ingredients, the contents of the shelf above me fell down as if possessed, only just barely missing my head. Feeling extremely flustered, I exasperatedly asked my roommate what half of “2/3” is. Yeah. That bad. Oy.

Then, I was manically mixing my dough and kept adding milk and adding milk, confused as to why it was so dry. I quickly realized it was because I hadn’t added the pumpkin. With all of these manifold incidents, I was seriously concerned that these cinnamon rolls were going to be an epic hot mess.

But somehow, I really don’t even know how, I managed to make an awesome smelling dough that was the right texture and everything. Although, side-note, mixing any dough with yeast without an electric mixer is HARD. The recipe said that it should be mixed with an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Lol. NO. My inspirational phrase for the evening became, “I am my own dough hook”.

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When it came time to assemble the actual rolls, everything started to go very smoothly and my dough made the cutest of little pinwheels!

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Pan of cinnamon rolls in tow, my roommate and I headed to the metro and down into the Old Port. After a beautiful run along Canal de Lachine and a wonderfully savoury egg dish (stay tuned for Part 2!), we popped these babies in the oven.

When my friends took the first bite, it was solid redemption. The looks on their faces said it all. I took a bite and non-ironically declared, “this is the best thing I’ve ever made”.

Really, this is the best thing I’ve ever made. It’s a bit of effort, but seriously guys, it’s worth it. If you make these, you will not be disappointed.

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Without further ado, here is my adaptation of the recipe. Since I did not need such a large quantity of cinnamon rolls, I halved it. Although, I kept the full amount of the spices because I wanted them to have lots of flavor. I also used instant yeast instead of active dry yeast because it is simply easier to find here.

Original: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/10/pumpkin-cinnamon-rolls/

Dough:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup whole milk

1 teaspoon instant yeast

1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons brown sugar

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cardamom

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ cup pumpkin puree (I used the canned stuff, it’s great for baked goods)

1 large egg

Oil for coating the rising bowl (I used coconut oil)

Filling:

1/3 cup brown sugar

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

a dash of salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Glaze:

2 oz of cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon of milk

1 cup powdered sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the butter in a saucepan. If you’re feeling ambitious, go ahead and brown that butter. It’s delicious but not mandatory.

Combine flour, sugar, salt and spices in a bowl. Use an electric mixer if you have one. Then slowly add about 2/3 of the butter to the mixture and mix until well-combined. Add the yeast, pumpkin and egg. If you’re using an electric mixer with a dough hook, mix it on low speed for five minutes. If you’re using good old fashioned elbow-grease, sweat it out for five minutes. Scoop the mixture into a large bowl that you’ve coated in oil and cover it with either plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Leave it to rise for one hour. It seems like there ought to be something for you to do in this hour, but there really isn’t. You can just sit and ponder your life choices and wonder what it is that compelled you to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls in the first place. Or, you can watch your roommate enthusiastically make hummus with a magic bullet. It was delicious.

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When the dough is done rising, line a 9-inch cake pan with aluminum foil. Scoop the dough onto a well-floured work surface and roll it out into an approximately 8 inch/6 inch rectangle. Then, spread your remaining melted butter onto the surface of the dough. Mix the filling and spoon it onto the dough.

Next, roll the dough into a log. Using a large, cerrated knife, cut it into sections about 1 inch thick. Arrange the adorable pinwheels of dough in the cake pan and spoon some of the filling on top.

When you’re ready to bake them, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 25 minutes.

For the glaze, beat all ingredients together and adjust to your taste.

Then eat it. All of it. With your face.

Bonne Appétit, mes amis!

Autumn For The Win Part 2: Snickerdoodles

Snicker: A subtle kind of evil laugh generally done while making fun of someone/something. No equivalent French word.

Doodle: A small, non-sensical drawing often done in the margins of notebooks. No equivalent French word.

The above definition of a “snickerdoodle” arose during conversation hour with my French class. Of course the only way that “a nonsensical evil laugh drawing” could exist would be in cookie form.

The snickerdoodle, aside from anything gauche like pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, is perhaps the most Autumnal of all cookies. It’s like a sugar cookie but better because it has more butter and is rolled in cinnamon. Yum. They are also super American so I was surprised to realize that I had never attempted to make them before. Last night seemed as good of a time as any for a first attempt.

During my walk home yesterday, I had the sudden urge to make cookies, any sort of cookies. I was initially thinking peanut butter because I have a bunch of it laying around (‘murica) but then Pinterest led me to recipes upon recipes for snickerdoodles. After much deliberation, I ended up going with this one from 30 Handmade Days (http://www.thirtyhandmadedays.com/2014/04/best-snickerdoodle-cookies-ive-ever/).

First of all, I found out that even if you let butter soften for three hours, it is still REALLY hard to mix without an electric mixer. As I had only a sturdy wisk, I’m pretty sure I got my arm work-out for the week making these things.

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Once I had the dough assembled, I found the task of assembling the cookies – rolling the dough into little balls and rolling them in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar – to be quite calming, meditative even.

The recipe suggests that the cookies only need to bake for 12-14 minutes and it would be wrong. So very, very wrong. It’s possible that there may be a typo with the oven temperature, but I doubled the cooking time and they turned out perfectly delicious.

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Also, I ended up with so much dough that I ran out of space on both of my baking sheets and had to refrigerate the rest of the dough to make later. Of course, I made the rest of it tonight. What kind of person just has errant cookie dough in their fridge and doesn’t eat it? (either as actual cookies or in dough form. . .I’m not judging)

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I ended up eating two as soon as they came out of the oven. I also ate a few for breakfast because I am a wonton glutton. They’re kind of extremely delicious dipped into hot coffee. I also brought a bunch to class to share with my wonderful classmates.

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So without further ado, here’s the recipe!

Cookies:

1 cup of butter, softened (seriously, you want it really soft and if you have an electric mixer, do use it)

1 cup of granulated sugar

2/3 cup of brown sugar

2 eggs

1 ½ teaspoon of vanilla (the original recipe had only 1 teaspoon but I added more because vanilla is delicious)

3 cups of all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of baking soda

½ teaspoon of cream of tartar

Topping:

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

(I halved this from the original recipe. It made way too much and now the rest is in a mason jar for decoration)

Preheat the oven to 300 F/150 C.

In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugars together until there are no lumps. If you’re feeling ambitious, put down your dumbells and mix it by hand.

Add eggs and vanilla and mix until it is smooth. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl and slowly combine the wet and dry ingredients. Once everything is well blended, chill the dough for 30 minutes to and hour (the perfect amount of time to make lunch and do homework!).

Combine the ingredients for the topping in a small bowl. Scoop the dough into about 1-inch balls. If you’re fancy and have a cookie scoop or a melon baller, use that. I just used a regular spoon. Roll each ball to smooth the edges and dip into the cinnamon/sugar mixture to coat it all the way around. Place the dough balls about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or tinfoil.

Bake 15-20 minutes.

In theory, you’re supposed to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to let them cool completely. I didn’t do that because I have no self control in the face of baked goods. But do let them cool before storing them. Since this recipe makes A LOT of cookies, I recommend sharing . . . or not.

Bonne Appétit, mes amis!