Sour Cherry Almond Muffins

sour cherry almond muffins - trustinkim.com

Why have I never made an almond and cherry baked good before? My apartment smelled so wonderful after baking these; the almond smell is dreamy! These muffins are a bit more on the mini-cake side, meaning I don’t think they’re the healthiest muffins I’ve ever made. That’s not to say I didn’t have one for breakfast a few times   . . . and they’re really good with tea!

We ate one of these while they were warm, which is when they are at their best, but they were also great the next day. I froze the rest as soon as they were cool, and they were still really good when thawed.

I found the recipe on this site: Pretty Simple Sweet. The original recipe uses sweet cherries, but I used sour cherries, and I think they pair really well with the almond flavour. I tend to like to balance sweetness with tartness.

The recipe calls for baking the muffins for a few minutes at a higher temperature, then lowering the temperature for the rest of the baking. My oven is really finicky; I have to set it for higher than the required temperature, but then I have to lower it once it is at the right temperature or it will get too hot. So for me this was quite challenging. The good news is, by checking for a light brownness, and then using a toothpick to check if they had baked through, they baked successfully. Yay!

What you need:

  • 1 & 3/4 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  •  2 teaspoons baking powder
  •  1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  •  1 large egg, slightly beaten
  •  1 cup yogurt (I use 3.5% fat, my homemade recipe)
  •  1/3 cup (80 mL) canola oil
  •  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  1 teaspoon pure almond extract 
  •  1 & 1/2 cups (300 grams) cherries, halved and pitted 
  •  1/2 cup sliced almonds, plus extra to sprinkle on top

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F/220C. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners; I also sprayed them with baking spray.
  2. Toast the 1/2 cup of almonds in a frying pan or in the oven.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add the sugar and stir to combine.
  4. Mix the egg with the yogurt, oil, and vanilla and almond extracts in a medium bowl.
  5. Pit and cut the cherries in half. If they are really juicy or if you’re using frozen berries, you can toss them in just a bit of flour to prevent bleeding. Prepare the cherries right before you are going to add them to the batter so that your finished product will look pretty.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold the batter with a rubber spatula just until combined. Be careful to not over-mix, which would toughen the final product. We want nice light muffins. You can expect the batter to be thick and lumpy.
  7. Fold in the toasted almonds and cherries.
  8. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with a few un-toasted almonds.
  9. Bake for three minutes, then reduce the temperature of the oven to 375F/190C and bake for 12-17 minutes more. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick; the muffin should be tender but not wet.
  10. Cool the muffins still in the tins for about 10 minutes, then place the muffins on a wire rack to cool.
  11. Allow the muffins to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. They can be stored on the counter for a day or two, or frozen for a few months.
  12. Enjoy!

Vanilla Cake with the best butter icing

Vanilla Birthday Cake - trustinkim

 

If you’re looking for the best, moistest, tastiest vanilla cake, then look no further. This is the one. The cake is so delicious, and my mom’s recipe for the buttery icing is the BEST! By request this one had coconut on it, but you can leave that off if you wish.

To celebrate a “really big birthday” recently I wanted to make an amazing cake that I knew the birthday boy (man) would love. I found the recipe for the vanilla cake on Sally’s Baking Addiction.  During the party I completely forgot to take a good picture of the cake – oh no! So this is the best I could do when it was already half eaten. You can’t see in the photo, but it’s a triple layer cake.

I’ve been enjoying my mom’s vanilla icing for as long as I can remember, so finally I asked her for her “boiling icing” recipe. It’s a little trickier than some, but it’s worth it. I like it best when it’s just come out of the fridge, so the icing is a bit harder, but it’s also nice when it’s sat out for a while and the icing turns creamier.

I only made a few changes to the original recipe: I used a different frosting, and  added the toasted coconut. In the method I made one change, which is what I usually do when adding dry and wet to a batter: I added half the dry, then half the wet, and then repeated the step. I find this makes it easier to mix.

Just make sure you leave time to let the cake cool completely before you put the icing on it. Alternatively, you can make the cake ahead of time and freeze it. 

The recipe makes a triple layer cake, so don’t try to fit it into two pans as it won’t bake through. If you don’t have three pans (and I don’t live near you do I can’t loan you mine), you could put 1/3 of the batter into cupcake pans or a loaf pan. Your cake won’t be as tall, but then this is a really big cake, so you could get away with it.

A note about the blending flour: this is also called instant flour, and it works better when used for thickening, like in this boiled icing recipe. My mom uses it, and I didn’t, so I ended up having to run the milk and flour through a fine sieve because I had lumps. So if you don’t have blending/instant flour, you can substitute it with a.p. flour, but just beware that you will need to whisk it really well so it doesn’t get lumpy.

What you need for the cake:

  • 420 grams (3 & 2/3 cup) cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 345 grams (1 & 1/2 cups) unsalted butter – room temperature
  • 400 grams (2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs plus two egg whites – room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 360 mL (1 & 1/2 cups) buttermilk
  • (optional – toasted coconut)

What you need for the icing:

  • 1 & 1/2 cup milk
  • 7 & 1/2 tablespoons blending flour 
  • 1 & 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar

What you do for the cake:

  1. Prepare the cake pans by cutting parchment paper circles to fit in the bottoms of the pans. Grease the pans, then grease the parchment paper.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
  3. Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  4. Beat the butter and sugar together using an electric mixer. Beat on high speed for about three minutes, until it is smooth and creamy. You will need to scrape down the sides from time to time.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, including the extra whites, then beat in the vanilla. The batter may look a bit curdled as you do this, but it will come together.
  6. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter on low speed, mixing until just about combined. Add half of the buttermilk, again mixing until just about combined. Repeat the process, adding flour, then buttermilk, until they are just combined. Make sure you mix to the bottom of the bowl to avoid any lumps; you can do this with a rubber spatula.
  7. Pour the batter into the three pans, equal amounts in each. You can weigh them if you want this to be precise.
  8. Bake for 23-26 minutes, testing for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the centre of the cake to see if it comes out clean.
  9.  Allow the cakes to cool completely – leave them in their pans to do this, and place the pans on a wire rack.

What to do for the icing:

  1. In a saucepan combine the flour and cold milk, stirring until there are no lumps.
  2. Whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a simmer. Continue to whisk it until it becomes thick. Allow this to cool completely.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the cooled milk and flour mixture on medium speed, a little at a time. Continue to beat until it is light and fluffy.
  4. To ice the cake, place one layer of the cake on your serving dish. Using a flat metal spatula, spread a bit less than 1/4 of the icing on that layer, then do the same on the next layer. On the edges of the cake spread a thin layer of icing, then the same on the top. If you have time, refrigerate the cake for about half an hour, then add the final layer of icing to make it look finished. Here’s a video to show the process.
  5. Refrigerate the cake for at least an hour before slicing so that it will hold its shape.

    birthday cake -  trustinkim.com

No-Bake Nut Butter Cookies

no-bake nut butter cookies

A perfect treat when you don’t want to turn on your oven, these chocolate-coated nut butter cookies are simple and tasty. I needed something sweet to bring to a picnic, something that adults and kids would enjoy, and these were perfect. Plus I was happy to not heat my home up with the oven. And also perfect, because . . . well, peanut butter and chocolate are a match made in heaven!

The recipe calls for oat flour. I just whizzed some rolled oats in the food processor until they were finely ground.

This recipe makes about 3 dozen tiny cookies. They are quite rich, so I opted to make them really small rather than the two tablespoons that the original recipe calls for. I made my cookies with peanut butter, but you can use the nut butter of your choice.

If you omit the chocolate these would make a great power cookie for hiking or biking. Unless you’re hiking or biking in cool weather, when the chocolate wouldn’t melt.

You can store the cookies in the fridge for about 10 days.

What you need:

  • 3/4 cup (188 mL) nut butter
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) honey
  • 1 teaspoon (5mL) pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (750mL) oat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup (188mL) chocolate chips

What you do:

  1. Line a baking pan with parchment paper, or wax paper if that’s all you have.
  2. Heat the nut butter and honey in the microwave or in a pot on the stove. Whisk in the honey.
  3. Add the oat flour and salt, then mix until combined. 
  4. Scoop one tablespoonful of the mixture at a time and use your hands to form each into a ball. Flatten the cookie into a disk and place it on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a fork to make the crosshatch pattern typical of a peanut butter cookie.
  5. Refrigerate the cookies while you prepare the chocolate. I used a double boiler, but you can carefully melt it in the microwave if you prefer.
  6. Dip each cookie in chocolate, then place it on the parchment again. Let the cookies sit until the chocolate has set. I did this in the fridge because it was a hot day when I made them, and also I was running late for my picnic!
  7. Enjoy!
pb & chocolate match made in heaven - trustinkim.com
“Match Made in Heaven”

 

No-Bake Chocolate Date Nut Brownies

 

date nut brownie - trustinkim

This nutty brownie is a no-bake, vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free, raw recipe that also happens to be super tasty. It makes a great energy bar that you can pack for a big bike ride or hike. It contains nuts to give you some protein, and there’s natural sugar in the dates to make it taste good. 

You don’t need an oven, but you will need a food processor for this recipe. It keeps well in the fridge for a few weeks, or the freezer for a few months.

Just know that it is not your typical brownie that is cakey or gooey. You can find some of those recipes here here, and here.

I halved the recipe when I made it, but here is the full recipe version that comes from theminimalistbaker.com.

What you need:

  • 1 cup raw unsalted almonds (roughly chopped)
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 & 2 1/2 cups Medjool dates (pitted)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder or raw cacao 
  • 1-2 tsp espresso powder or finely ground coffee
  • pinch sea salt
  1. Line a cake pan with parchment paper (or loaf pan for 1/2 a recipe)
  2. Place 1 cup of the walnuts along with the almonds in the food processor and process until it is finely ground.
  3. Put the cocoa, espresso powder and sea salt in the processor, then pulse to combine. Place in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Process the dates until soft, then remove to a bowl.
  5. Put the nut and cocoa mixture back in the processor, then slowly add the dates through the spout in the top of the processor. Process until it becomes doughy; I had to add a little bit of water. The mixture should come together when you squeeze it.
  6. Place the mixture into the lined cake pan, then add the chopped walnuts. Combine the walnuts with the brownie mixture, then press it down until it is flat.
  7. Cover and refrigerate for about half an hour before cutting.
  8. Enjoy!

The Best Date Squares

date squares - trustinkim

My mom says these are the best date squares she’s ever had, even better than hers – so that’s all the recommendation I need to give for these. The recipe is from Ricardo’s website, and it is also available en français.

Another name for these is matrimonial cake, or date crumbles. Apparently this is a true Canadian treat!

Using Medjool dates might be one of the factors in the greatness of this recipe, but I also love the buttery goodness of the crumble and crust.

These will keep well if wrapped and stored in the fridge for over a week, or in the freezer for several months. 

What you need for the date filling:

  • 2 & 1/2 cups (625 ml) Medjool dates, lightly packed, pitted and chopped 
  • 1 cup (250ml) water
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) baking soda

What you need for the crumble and crust:

  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (250 ml) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 3/4 cups (430 ml) quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) baking powder

What you do:

  1. Bring the chopped dates, water, lemon juice and brown sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Add the baking soda and allow to simmer while stirring for about 5 minutes. The dates should have fallen apart. Mine didn’t really fall apart enough, so I gave them a whizz with my immersion blender. Allow this mixture to cool.
  2. Prepare a square baking pan (20 cm/8 inch) by lining it with a strip of parchment paper; allow the edges to hang over two sides. Butter the exposed sides of the pan. (When I make this again I will also butter the parchment paper to make it easier to remove.)
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), positioning the rack in the middle.
  4. In a large bowl cream the butter using a wooden spoon, then add the oats, flour, brown sugar and baking powder. Stir to combine. You might need to get in there with your hands to make this a little bit easier.
  5. Spread half of the oats mixture into the pan, then add the date mixture. Sprinkle on the rest of the crumble and press it down a little.
  6. Bake for about 55 minutes, or until golden brown. Let it cool on a wire rack – this will take a number of hours.
  7. When cooled, gently pull up on the parchment paper strips to remove the date squares from the pan.
  8. Enjoy! 

 

Aniseed Pound Cake

anise pound cake - trustinkim.com

This aniseed pound cake is awesome with a coffee or cuppa tea. I happen to love the flavour of anise, so I was eager to make this recipe from Bijoux.com. The recipe calls for confectioners sugar (I call it icing sugar) to be sprinkled on top, but although that looks pretty, I’m not a fan of the metallic taste of the sugar.

The cake was really good even four or five days after baking! I put some of it in the freezer, and it was awesome to be able to pull it out when I had company coming for afternoon tea.

Of course, being Canadian I should have changed the name to ‘slightly less than half a kilogram’ cake, but that sounds a bit pedantic. And in this recipe no ingredient is a pound anyways, unlike the traditional pound cake that has a pound each of butter, sugar, egg and flour. So maybe I should call it pound-ish cake . . .

The only planning ahead you have to do is taking the butter and eggs out of the fridge early so that they can come to room temperature.

This recipe makes one 8-inch/20 cm loaf, or four small loaves.

What you need:

  • 1 cup (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 & 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 & 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons anise seed

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/165°C. Butter the bottom of a loaf pan, then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Butter and flour the parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar using an electric mixer, beating on high for about 10 minutes until it becomes light and fluffy.
  3. Beat the eggs in one at a time on medium-low speed.
  4. Stir the flour, salt and anise seeds in by hand just until it is combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the tops a little. Tapping the pans down on the counter will help to settle the batter. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Place the loaf pan on a rack and let it cool before removing it from the pan. 
  7. To store, wrap the loaf tightly in plastic wrap. You may freeze it if you wish.

Cranberry Coffee Cake

cranberry coffee cake - trustinkim

This coffee cake is a classic that everyone seems to appreciate eating, and one of the recipes I make more than any other. It makes a large cake or two smaller ones, so it’s great to make when baking for a crowd. I like to bring it to the staffroom for goodie day, or to a picnic. 

The sweetness of the nutty topping is a nice balance for the tartness of the cranberries, and the cake is moist and delicious. It is still great a few days after baking, but of course is the very best the day it’s made . . . especially when it’s still a little warm. 

Store in an airtight counter for a few days. Serve at room temperature.

What you need for the cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 & 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (not non-fat)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups cranberries, frozen or fresh

What you need for the topping:

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (pecans are good for this too)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F, then spray or butter and flour a 9 x 13 inch pan (or two round or square 9-inch pans – springform would be great).
  2. To make the topping, melt the butter, then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Set this aside.
  3. Cream the butter along with the brown sugar, then blend in the egg.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  5. Mix one-third of the flour mixture into the batter with a wooden spoon. Add half the yogurt and mix it until just it is incorporated. Mix in one-third more of the flour, then the rest of the yogurt, finishing with the rest of the flour.  Mix until just combined.
  6. Gently fold in the cranberries, then pour into the baking pan. It is quite a thick batter, so you’ll have to smooth it a bit. Don’t worry too much about getting into all the corners, as it will fill in as it bakes.
  7. Sprinkle on the nut-sugar topping.
  8. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.