Category Archives: Jewish Holidays

On the 8th night of Chanukah: Chocolate Pretzel Peanut Butter Squares

On the eighth, and final night of Chanukah I gave my true love Chocolate Pretzel Peanut Butter Squares. Reminiscent of peanut butter cups, but way better because of the crunchy, salty pretzel crust. And, the best part is that they don’t have to be baked!stacked upThis recipe was given to me by my friend Mrs. Dolphin. I’ve granted her this nickname because she shares numerous traits with porpoises. Dolphins are very social animals and excellent communicators. They are friendly, clever and natural performers. Mrs. Dolphin enjoys a very busy and complicated social life. She is charismatic, fun loving and was born to be on the stage. She is very organized and excels in creative problem solving. squares on white boardMrs. Dolphin found this recipe in the food section of the Ottawa Citizen. It was inspired by Trisha Yearwood’s No-Bake Chocolate-Pretzel-Peanut Butter Squares. (Yes, the country singer Trisha Yearwood. Did you know she has a show on The Food Network?)  I took the recipe one step further and made the top layer more lavish, with a marbleized bittersweet and white chocolate topping, because really, we all need more fancy in our lives!what you'll need

making crustpressing crust into panchocolate toppingMarbleizing looks very impressive but it’s simple to do. Here is a video showing you the technique. The video is from my The Ultimate S’mores post, but the method of creating a marble pattern is still the same.

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Click here to print recipe for Mrs. Dolphin’s Chocolate Pretzel Peanut Butter Squares.

Perfect with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee. The awesome drip coffee stand is from Restoration Hardware. I bought it for my husband because his plastic Melita cone offends my aesthetic sensibilities. with drip coffee

On the 7th night of Chanukah: Florentines

On the 7th night of Chanukah I baked my true love Florentines. Thin, crispy, lacy, delicate and just drop dead gorgeous! I will warn you that these cookies are a bit of a pain in the ass to make. They require a candy thermometer and you will need to temper the chocolate for them, but they are so pretty (and delicious), that I think they’re worth the effort. on wire dish 5 x 5Ever since I watched Anna create these on her show “Bake with Anna Olsen,” I became obsessed with making them. I have made similar lacy cookies with oats , but these are something totally different.what you'll needThese are essentially an almond cookie. Sliced almonds get coarsely crushed. rolling almondsHoney, cream and sugar are cooked until they reach 244°F.cooking batterThe almonds get mixed into the batter and then the cookies are formed and baked. flattening cookiesmaking perfect circlesThe baked cookies are quite fragile, so they get a coating of melted chocolate on one side, to give them some extra strength. brushing florentines with chocolateThe cookies can then be embellished further, by placing the wet chocolate side of the cookie onto a chocolate transfer sheet. This is an acetate sheet embossed with cocoa butter and powdered food colouring. Once the chocolate hardens, you peel the cookie off the sheet and the design transfers to the chocolate, producing a stunning pattern. They come in a wide variety of designs. There are many different online sources for them.peeling florentine off chocolate transfer sheet

Click here to print recipe for Florentine Cookies.

florentines on slate tile with wire dishThe possibilities are endless with Florentine cookies.

Emily, at a counter space created Potato Chip Florentines.

Sarah at strawberryplum made Pistachio, Orange and Honey Florentines.

Stella over at bravetart crafted Cocoa Nib Florentines,

On the 6th night of Chanukah: Broccoli Brussels Sprouts Slaw

On the 6th night of Chanukah, my true love asked me if I was trying to kill him with all that butter and sugar I’d been force feeding him. What??? Pecan Toffee Squares, Oat Pistachio Cookies, Macadamia Coconut White Chocolate Shortbread, Perfect Chocolate Chunk Cookies and Chocolate Crunch too much? OK, point taken. Perhaps it’s time for some salad.close up in white bowlI’ve been on a bit of a raw Brussels sprouts bender lately. But really, can you blame me? Would you be able to resist buying these Brussels sprouts? Who knew Brussels sprouts grow on a stalk? So cool. I think I actually squealed when I saw them.what you'll need cropped  These giant bright green olives are Castelvetrano olives. I was introduced to them this summer, and was astounded at how different they are from the typical salty heavily brined green olives we normally buy. They have a crunchy bite and a mild buttery flavour. They somehow manage to be sweet and salty at the same time. Mild and not at all overpowering, they are the perfect olive for this salad. I found them at Whole Foods. Castelvetrano olivesI discovered this recipe in the November 2015 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine. A food processor makes quick work of shredding the Brussels sprouts. slicing sproutsslicing broccoliAs we crunched through this salad, my true love said he could feel his arteries unclogging. A fresh lemon vinaigrette dressing gets additional punch from a bit of anchovy paste. Rather than make the dressing taste fishy, it just adds a rich, savory background flavour. A generous shaving of Parmesan cheese, fresh corn and some chopped toasted almonds round out this addictive slaw.

Click here to print recipe for Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts Slaw.

On the fifth night of Chanukah: Chocolate Crunch

stacked upOn the fifth night of Chanukah, I made Chocolate Crunch for my true love. Truthfully, this one was for me. My true love is not a huge chocolate lover. This recipe comes from The Mast Brother’s cookbook.

My friends, The Grizzlies, gave me this book as a gift when I broke my foot a few years ago. It kept me greatly entertained while my bones were healing. The recipes are delicious but what I really love best about this book are the deep, dark, exquisite chocolate photos. The book reads like an adventure novel, following the bearded brother’s unusual journey from their home state of Iowa to their factory in Brooklyn. Plus, how could you not love a book whose dedication reads, “To our mother, we love you.”

The Mast Brothers were on the forefront of the bean-to-bar artisan chocolate movement. They source cocoa beans with unique flavour profiles from around the world, roast the beans in small batches to create truly handmade chocolate, one of the very few chocolate makers to do so. And their bars have the coolest packaging.

This is a pretty simple recipe, no baking required. I tinkered with their recipe, ever so slightly by adding some Skor bits to the mix. Rice Krispies add a gentle snap, while the toffee flavoured Skor bits add a firmer crackle and popHere's what you'll need 1

pouring melted chocolate into crunchThe mixture gets poured into a parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerated until set. Sliced into thick slabs, this is the perfect afternoon pick-me-up!sliced

Click here to print recipe for Chocolate Crunch.

On the fourth night of Chanukah: Perfect Chocolate Chunk Cookies

On the fourth night of Chanukah, I baked Perfect Chocolate Chunk Cookies for my true love. Crispy at the edges, chewy in the center, filled with abundant pockets of gooey chocolate and topped with a light sprinkling of coarse sea salt to balance the sweetness. stacked on white cake stand 2I can’t take credit for creating these fabulous cookies. That place of honour goes to Ashley of the wonderful blog “Not Without Salt.” I blogged about these cookies before, when I first made them in 2011. I don’t usually blog about the same recipe twice, but I wanted to share them again, in case you missed them the first time around. (Plus, my original photos did them no justice!) They’re that good! If you’re not a baker, but still want to try them, Ashley sells them in a cookie mix.

Since that time I have tried many other chocolate chunk cookies, but I have yet to find another recipe that is as outstanding as this one. What makes this recipe unique is the use of 3 kinds of sugar. White sugar makes the cookies crisp, brown sugar contributes to their chewy center, and  coarse Turbinado sugar gives them a delicate crunch. Are you still sitting there reading? Let’s bake!what you'll needI have tried making these cookies with regular supermarket chocolate chips, and they are quite good, but if you are making them for someone you really want to impress, thank, or just say, “I love you”, make them with Valrhona Guanaja Feves. (those big chocolate oval discs in the photo above). They are pricey and you need to buy them online, but they are worth it. Slightly bitter, with hints of fruit, coffee and molasses, this is a complex, big flavoured chocolate. mixing doughThe larger chocolate chunks create majestic pockets of gooey chocolate, so if you’re into that sort of pleasure, go for the good chocolate! Personally, I don’t care for warm from the oven cookies. I much prefer them frozen. I have trained my family and friends to love them that way as well, so when they come to visit, everyone heads straight for the freezer to see what’s freshly baked (and frozen!). cooling on parchment paper 2 625 sq

Click here to print recipe for The Perfect Chocolate Chunk Cookie.

stacked on white cake stand 1