Category Archives: Misc. Desserts

Ricotta Peach and Honey Socca Pizza (Socca-Palooza: Chapter 2)

Ricotta peach pizza on blue plateWith perfect late summer peaches, this socca creation is fool proof! The combination of ripe peaches, creamy ricotta and a drizzle of honey is majestic. Fresh mint and a few flakes of fleur de sel take it to the next level of deliciousness.Ricotta Peach socca toppingsIf you have an extra 10 minutes, please make your own ricotta for this. It’s worth it, and really very simple. I love this recipe from This socca would be perfect to serve for brunch, a light lunch or a not too sweet dessert.

Click here to print recipe for Ricotta, Peach and Honey Socca Pizzas.

Ricotta peach pizza have a slice


Baked Apple Spice Donuts with Maple Brown Butter Glaze

yeast donuts with milk 1F 625 sqSometimes, when I’m in the shower, belting out “My Man” from Funny Girl, there’s a little voice inside my head that tells me I could be Barbra’s vocal doppelgänger. But then the steam in the bathroom clears and I realize that, no, I can’t sing like Barbra Streisand. But that’s ok, because you know what I can do? I can bake donuts.

Yes, I said bake donuts, not fry. Who even knew such a thing was possible? Well, as it turns out, lots of people, particularly two of my favourite bloggers, Joy over at joythe baker, created Apple Cinnamon Baked Donuts with Brown Butter Glaze and Naomi over at bakersroyale crafted Baked Apple Donuts with Caramel Drizzle. 

Before I knew it, that bossy little voice in my head, ordered me to go online and get these baked donut pans from Amazon. Never mind that I had recently declared a moratorium on online shopping after my girlfriend Paula whispered to me that she was going cold turkey, especially with shoes. She sensibly pointed out “We only have two feet you know. How many pairs could we possibly wear?” The little voice in my head agreed with her and said, “Yeah, no more online shopping for me anymore either.” However, in my defense, I will say that these pans are way cheaper than my current shoe crush.

The big question was, should I make the yeast style donuts that Naomi crafted or the cake style ones that Joy featured? The Cake vs. Yeast Donut debate can get almost as heated as the New York vs. Montreal Style Bagel debate. Apparently, people are very passionate about their foods with holes in the middle.

Yeast style donuts rely on yeast to do the leavening work. They have a more open crumb structure and a chewier texture. Cake donuts, on the other hand, rely on baking powder and/or baking soda to do the heavy lifting. They result in a donut with a tighter crumb structure, and are denser and more crumbly than yeast donuts. Unable to decide which ones to try, I ended up making both. That way you don’t have to. You’re welcome!

Truthfully, I have no business making any variety of donut this week as there are more pressing matters at hand. Instead of baking donuts, I should be reading Chapter 12 in my Canadian Securities textbook, clearing all the food photography props off my dining room table so I can set it for the Rosh Hashanah lunch I am hosting later this week for 21 people, and watching the season premiere of Big Bang Theory. sifting dry ingredients for cake donutsgrating apples-2diced applesThe cake donut batter is quite loose and can be piped. The yeast donut batter needs to be formed by hand. They are really fun to make.piping cake donuts into panforming yeast donutsBoth varieties were delicious. My friends at yoga inhaled (deeply!) the cake variety and the staff at my hair salon quickly gobbled up the yeast ones. My personal preference was for the yeast donuts. I really liked the chewy heft of the dough. The yeast ones do take longer to make, but it is not hands on time, just dough resting time.

I adapted Naomi’s recipe by adding cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg to the dough and instead of topping them with a caramel drizzle, I crowned them with a Maple Brown Butter Glaze. You can either chop or grate the apples. If you chop them, you end up with little bits of apple poking out from the dough and they look quite rustic. I love it when my baking looks like it didn’t come out of a factory, but rather was made with love in my kitchen. If you prefer a tidier donut, grate the apples so they remain inside the dough.

The topping for the donuts can be made quite thick, so it needs to be spooned on or spread, or thin so you can dip them like a glaze. The main difference is the amount of liquid, in this case, maple syrup, that you add. The other liquid ingredient in the glaze is brown butter. This is a small extra step that makes a huge difference in flavour. If you have never made brown butter, give it a try. It is as simple as melting butter over medium heat until it browns. The nutty aroma and taste will astound you and you will soon be browning butter for everything. One of my favourite restaurants here in Ottawa makes brown butter and then lets it solidify, whips it and serves it with their house made bread. Genius!icing cake donuts 626 sq I don’t want to say goodbye to the summer, but Baked Apple Spice Donuts make saying hello to fall very sweet indeed.

Click here to print recipe for Baked Apple Spice Donuts with Maple Brown Butter Glaze.

The Truth About Chanukah and Pomegranate Sugar-Dusted White Chocolate Doughnuts.

ready to eat 3 625 sqI recently discovered that the “Miracle of Chanukah” story, is just a legend. You know the one I’m taking about, where Judah and his merry band of Maccabees go into the destroyed temple and  discover just enough oil to keep the menorah’s candles burning for a single day. But somehow, miracle of miracles, the oil lasted for eight days and the flames of the menorah burned for eight nights. When I discovered that the long lasting oil is not really at the root of the Chanukah commemoration, I felt gutted. Kind of reminiscent of coming home for winter break in first year university to discover that I was the last one in the family to find out that our dog, Heidi, had died!

“Truth” is a word to be avoided when discussing history and religion. Since the victors of a battle often write the history, the facts of what happened in the past depend very much on whom you ask and when it comes to religion, everyone has a different truth.

Chanukah is the only major Jewish holiday not explicitly mentioned in the Torah (Judaism’s written law), since the events that inspired the holiday occurred after it was written. The Rabbis wrote about Chanukah in the Talmud (Jewish oral law and tradition), but that was written over 600 years after the Maccabees revolt. Their version of Chanukah differs markedly from The Books of Maccabees written in the 2nd century B.C.E.

So we have here two versions of the Chanukah story: one from the Book of Maccabees and the other from the Talmud. Both versions agree on the first part of the story. Around 200 B.C.E., Judea (Israel) came under control of the Syrian King, Antiochus III. He was a benevolent fellow and allowed the Jews to continue practicing their religion. Things changed drastically when his son, Antiochus IV, took over.

This evil king outlawed the Jewish religion and ordered the Jews to worship Greek gods. In 168 B.C.E., his soldiers marched into Jerusalem, exterminated thousands of people and desecrated the holy Second Temple by constructing an altar to Zeus and commanded the Jews to sacrifice a pig upon this alter.

The Jewish priest Mattathias and his five sons led a large-scale rebellion against Antiochus and his army. When Mattathias died in 166 B.C.E., his son Judah Maccabee took over. Within two years, the Jews, relying on Guerrilla warfare tactics, defeated the Syrian Greek army and drove them out of Jerusalem.

The Maccabees cleansed the Second Temple, rebuilt the altar, lit its menorah and celebrated the rededication (the word Chanukah means dedication). And thus the eight-day festival of Chanukah was born.  Why eight days? Well, here’s where the story begins to diverge. According to The Book of Maccabee II, while the Maccabees were fighting, they had missed the eight-day holiday of Sukkot, (celebrated in early fall) and so to celebrate the Second Temple rededication, they declared a “better-late-than-never” celebration of Sukkot.

Version 2, as written in the Talmud gives us this spin on the eight-day festival.  Judah Maccabee and his team, who took part in the rededication of the Second Temple, witnessed what they believed to be a miracle. Even though there was only enough oil to keep the menorah’s candles burning for a single day, the flames burned for eight nights. This wondrous event inspired the Rabbis to proclaim a yearly eight-day festival.

The Rabbis barely mentioned the battle between the Maccabees and the Greeks in the Talmud. The reason for this is unclear. Perhaps they did not want to encourage the celebration of a military battle, or perhaps, as pacifists, they did not want to encourage the Jewish people, who at that time, were living under Roman rule, to be inspired by revolt.

Rabbi Andrew Jacobs, on “Blog Shalom” explains the miracle of Chanukah this way,

“…even without the oil, .Chanukah is still a miraculous story. The Maccabees were a tiny group of Jews who should not have been able to defeat the powerful Greeks.  But they did!  And because of this miracle, Judaism survived and did not become consumed by Greek culture.   This story of miraculous survival repeats itself many times throughout Jewish history.  Despite tremendous powers that have raged against us, nothing has stopped the Jewish people.  This is a miracle.”

Although the miraculous oil story may be just a legend, I refuse to give up food fried in oil on Chanukah! To celebrate my newfound knowledge, I am going to go all out this year and celebrate Chanukah with these decadent Pomegranate Sugar-Dusted White Chocolate Doughnuts.ready to eat 2 625 sqThe idea behind these doughnuts comes from the genius mind of Chef Lynn Crawford. However, after discovering that her recipe called for a pound of butter in the doughnut dough, I decided to use her white chocolate filling and pomegranate sugar coating, but looked elsewhere for the actual doughnuts. Anna Olsen‘s recipe used only  a 1/4 pound of butter. So while these doughnuts are not exactly light fare, they are lighter than originally intended by Chef Lynn!

The pomegranate sugar and white chocolate ganache filling can be prepared a day ahead.making pom sugar 1making pom sugar 2

chopping white chocolateganache mixed with whipped creamThese are yeast raised, not cake doughnuts. The dough comes together in about 5 minutes if you have a stand mixer. Thanks to a quarter pound of butter this brioche-like dough has an amazing silky texture.dough with dough hookdough before first risedough after first rise

cutting out doughnutsMy deep fryer, which normally only gets pulled out once a year to make french fries takes all the guess work out of deep frying. You can of course use a deep pot with a candy/oil thermometer to regulate the temperature.frying 1These babies puff up like little pillows. I can not accurately express the joy I experienced watching my own little miracle here in the deep fryer!frying 2Filling the doughnuts with the white chocolate ganache whipped cream is quite simple. A plain piping tip, inserted into the side of the doughnut makes easy work of the job. filling doughnuts 2filling doughnuts 1These doughnuts are really best eaten the same day they are made. I sent 16 of these beauties off with my husband to share with his hockey team after I made them one Sunday afternoon. He said that they were inhaled very quickly and that they actually brought a few of these strong burly hockey players to their knees as they gushed at how good they were.

Click here to print recipe for Pomegranate Sugar Dusted White Chocolate Doughnuts.

ready to eat 1

Roasted Applesauce and Latkes

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I seem to be a bit out of synch with my Chanukah posts this year. I posted about latkes (with fried eggs and roasted tomatoes) on November 23, almost a full month before the first night of Chanukah. And now, here I am, bringing you latkes with roasted applesauce, on the last night of Chanukah! I meant to bring you this fantastic applesauce recipe a week ago but, I’ve been a bit distracted with this view. so forgive my tardiness!

We are here on a little island, off the coast of Antigua, in the Caribbean. We have rented a house on the ocean for 9 days for a little family holiday. It is so wonderful to have all my children together under the same roof for an extended period of time. It makes me feel contented and complete. My husband’s sister and her family have also come and rented the house 2 doors down from us so all the cousins are together for a mini-family reunion. I say mini, because in addition to a sister, my husband also has 4 brothers. Sadly, they were unable to come down with their families.

There are no cars allowed on the island. The major methods of transportation include bicycles, golf carts and walking. The older kids are loving the golf carts, but my 16-year-old niece is annoyed that she is not allowed to drive the golf carts, as you require a valid driver’s licence and she only has her learner’s permit. She was slightly appeased when she discovered that the legal drinking age on Antigua is 16.

We had a family Chanukah celebration over lunch a few days ago at my sister-in-law’s house. Her kitchen is way better equipped than mine. They had a Cuisinart to grate the potatoes and onions. We just had a box grater! The latke recipe can be found in my Nov 23 post.

The roasted applesauce recipe comes from Food 52. They featured it in their Genius recipes feature. It is the creation of Zuni Cafe owner, Judy Rodgers. I have always made applesauce by just steaming the apples in a pot with a little bit of water and then putting them through a food mill. This takes applesauce to a whole other dimension, by roasting them with a pinch of salt, sugar and butter. Then they are mashed up and finished with a splash of cider vinegar. Genius indeed!

With 17 of us for lunch, there were lots of potatoes to peel and grate. We had 3 frying pans going and within about an hour we had transformed 10 pounds of potatoes into a huge mound of crispy lacy latkes. My sister-in-law has an unusual, and dangerous, method for forming the latkes. She scoops up a small handful of the mixture with her hands, squeezes it to compact the mass and then gently places it in the hot oil! I prefer to use a large spoon, but I have to admit, hers stayed together a bit better than mine. She also had the patience to let them get really brown and crispy.

We had to send my brother-in-law out to forage for sour cream (apparently the way Torontonian’s favour their latkes) and ketchup (an Ottawa thing!). The roasted applesauce was a great unifier, loved by all.

Click here for recipe Roasted Applesauce.

Click here for recipe for Latkes.

A Very Sweet New Year with Caramel Chocolate Dipped Apples


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I know that in my last post, I promised a daily update on “The Best Thing I Ate Today”, while travelling through Umbria, Italy. Unfortunately, the internet service at our villa was knocked out by a tremendous thunderstorm and so I was unable to blog daily. I promise to post about the trip very soon. But in the meantime, a very sweet post!

Tonight at sundown the Jewish New Year  (Rosh Hashanah) begins. On Rosh Hashanah, we traditionally dip apples in honey in order to symbolize our wishes for a sweet year for family, friends and all the Jewish people. While this explanation makes sense, I wondered why specifically apples and honey?  Why not bananas dipped into maple syrup?  (Hmmm, I see a new recipe developing).

In researching this question, I came upon an interesting explanation on the website  The insight they offered, regarding the apple part of the equation, goes like this:  “On most fruit trees the leaves appear before the fruit, thus providing a protective cover for the young fruit.  The apple, however, makes a preemptive move by appearing before the leaves.  The Jewish people are compared to an apple because we are willing to live out our Jewish lives even if this seems to leave us unprotected.  We have confidence that God and the instructions in the Torah could never mislead us.”

They explained the choice of honey with this insight:  “A bee can inflict pain by its sting, yet it also produces delicious honey.  Life has this same duality of potential.  We pray that our choices will result in a sweet year.”

While I love apples, honey has never been a favourite of mine. Honey cake can be found on many Rosh Hashanah dessert tables. But not mine. This year I decided to do a twist on the apples dipped in honey. I dipped my apples in caramel sauce and then melted chocolate. Then I covered some of them in mini m&m’s, some in salted chopped peanuts and the rest in skor bits. A sweet new year indeed!

This caramel sauce contains the usual ingredients of butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. However, where it gets interesting is the addition of small amounts of maple syrup and molasses. These 2 ingredients, while small in quantity add a wonderful dimension and depth of flavour to the caramel. A candy thermometer is needed to make these.

Wishing you all a sweet and healthy new year!

To print the recipe for Caramel Apples Dipped in Chocolate, click here.