Bake Club: Nanaimo Bars

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Nanaimo Bar from the Nanaimo Trail BC.

My 50th birthday took me to Vancouver Island with Tofino as the ultimate destination. I had been reading about the Nanaimo Trail and thought Nanaimo might be a great place to stop for lunch. It was. We had great soup and a Nanaimo bar for dessert, because when in Nanaimo… well, you know how the story goes. EAT THE NANAIMO BAR. I really liked it. I never thought Costco made a good one, nor have I liked the ‘variations’ to the classic bar. I never had family who made it and it wasn’t a staple growing up. The hubs loves nanaimo bars. He raved about the one we had on the trail. This year I thought I would do him a solid and make some amongst the Christmas baking.

I did some research and found everyone had their own version. Some used pudding powder, some didn’t, other’s had mint (WTF?) other’s had oats. NONE OF THESE ARE CORRECT! I went to the City of Nanaimo’s page for the Canadian classic treat because I figured this would be the authentic version. I was correct. It had custard powder and almonds. I downloaded this recipe and was preparde for a LOT OF WORK, because that is what people told me….ohhhhhh they are sooooo much work.

Liars. All of you.

These bars were easy and probably the best tasting bars ever. I mean EVER. Look for the recipe here. You are welcome.

When you try this recipe follow all the ingredients as written out. Don’t substitute things and then tell me it was crap. It is not the recipe, it is the recipe follower. There, I said it.

I did make a mistake though – I forgot to add the coconut. You could tell. It was still really good but the bottom wasn’t as thick. I am making new ones and I will not forget the coconut this time.

I made the crust first. I chopped blanched almonds for days. I want a small food processor. The upside is my knife skills are getting pretty darn great. I used parchment with an overhang to pull the squares out in a quick and painless fashion. I recommend that step. Add consider chilling the crust while you make the filling. I think it makes for better definition of the layers.

The filling is basically vanilla custard frosting. It is delicious! I am a Doctor Who fan so I had Birds custard powder for fish fingers and custard party. Sometimes we have custard for desert. It is not the same a Jello vanilla pudding and do not bother telling me it is. Because it’s not. So don’t use that.

Bird's Custard Powder - Original - 340g | London Drugs

You only need two tablespoons of the powder – this is the secret ingredient. Do not skip it and use your stand mixer or hand beaters to get the filling fluffy. I poured this on top of the chilled bottom crust and popped it back into the fridge while I melted the chocolate.

This is where you can elevate the squares. It calls for baking squares of chocolate. Um, no. Have you tasted that stuff? that isn’t chocolate, it is wax flavored baking topping. Ew.

Schitt's Creek: 10 Memes Too Hilarious For Words | ScreenRant

Chop your best chocolate and add 2 tablespoons of butter and melt them together over a double boiler – it won’t burn this way. The microwave will burn your chocolate. If you use terrible chocolate, use the microwave. It doesn’t matter any more…

I tempered the chocolate to get a nice snap – but you don’t have to. It works just fine without. Plus temper gives it a nice gloss.

I cut them into 16 squares because the hubs would have two otherwise. But you could easily get 32 rectangles of the perfect size.

These took maybe 30 minutes to make from start to finish. I am making one more batch this weekend for the freezer and don’t tell the hubs because I need these to last for gifts.

If you try this Canadian classic tell me how it went!

Stay healthy friends!

Bake Club: Gram’s Butter Tarts

There is nothing more polarizing to Canadians – hockey withstanding – than butter tarts. The debate is endless. Do you prefer runny or firm? Nuts or raisins? Frozen or room temperature? I could go on. I think the defining recipe is dependent on the one you grew up with. I made the mistake of not asking for my grandma’s recipes while she was alive. Thankfully my Aunty had the good sense to not only ask, but write them down. She has been my baking angel this fall with family favourite baking dishes. Her recipes come with “Mom Tip” sections and “Memory” sections. I need to do this. I talked before about hand writing recipes and writing the origin, but the mom tip and memory sections add another layer to the specialness of the recipe.

My dad will reminisce about his mom’s butter tarts and the importance of drippy raisin filled tarts. Every recipe I have tried all tasted fine, but they never were the same from childhood. I heard my Aunty and her family reserve November 11th as official Butter Tart Day. They all get together and make eight dozen tarts. Then divvy them up. I love this idea. So I wrote to her and asked for the recipe. I think the reason I have never found a recipe similar is because there are secret ingredients and methods no professional chef has ever written down. This recipe has honey instead of cornsyrup. It cooks the filling before baking AND it has a pastry recipe I have never experienced before. My grandma always made great pie crust but this recipe goes against everything all pie experts ever taught me. It was the most flavourful and flakiest crust ever.

This recipe needed common knowledge by baking it with someone in the know. The pie dough said it made 8 dozen, I got four dozen. Clearly I didn’t roll the dough thin enough, and honestly, I don’t think I will next time either. I loved the thick flaky crust. I also recommend a circle cutter. I don’t own one. I used a flower cutter and it makes pretty fluted edges but the tart overflows into the divots and the results aren’t pretty. I am sharing this because my grandmas made the best butter tarts ever. Every November 11 my grandma and her mom would bake these with my two aunties. I suspect this recipe was originally my great gram’s, but who knows? I think it is important to share vintage recipes and origin stories.

Pastry

Do NOT substitute any ingredients and be sure to measure carefully!! (These are the instructions – first of all I never heard of baking powder in pie dough and I never have used lard, nor have I added brown sugar. I assure you, this makes the easiest, most flaky and delicious piecrust ever. Suck it Erin McDowell, my gran knew what she was doing!)

5 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp brown sugar

1 lb. (2 1/3 cups) lard (Mom uses Tenderflake)

2 tbsp white vinegar

2/3 cup water

1 egg

Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.  Blend the flour mixture and the lard with a pastry blade until it is equally fine and feels silky.  Make a well in the centre.  In a separate bowl or large measuring cup add the vinegar to the water and beat in the egg with the hand mixer.  Pour this mixture into the well in the dry ingredients.  Mix well and form into a large ball.  This will keep for a week or two in the fridge.

Roll on a lightly floured counter from centre out.  Do not roll back and forth or turn over the dough – this will make your pastry tough.

Will make 6 double pie crusts. Double recipe makes 8 – 81/2 doz. tarts. (Edmonton Tourist Tips: ummm I only made 4 dozen. I ran to the store to buy another pound of lard. I have a quart of filling left so I wanted to use it up. Roll thin to get 8 dozen – or don’t. I am not mad at the thick pie crust. Cut with a sharp circle cutter (Aunty uses 3 7/8 or 98 mm diameter cutter). Flute the shells into the tart pans. Also – this is good snacking dough for those who are inclined to snack on raw dough. I chilled the dough for 30 minutes – I recommend this to give structure and hydrate the flour. This is the easiest and most forgiving dough I have ever made!)

Butter Tart Filling

1 cup raisins (I use Sultanas)

1 kg and 1 cup brown sugar ( I nearly died when I saw this amount but it makes 96 tarts – that made sense while I filling endless tart shells.)

6 tbsp honey (liquid)

2 cups butter (maybe a bit more)

6 eggs (room temperature)

3 tsp vanilla

Put cleaned (check for and remove any stems) raisins into mixing bowl and cover with HOT water. Let soak for a half an hour. In a heavy saucepan , over LOW melt butter and add honey and vanilla. Beat the eggs with hand mixer and add slowly while stirring constantly (you don’t want the egg to cook into little pieces!) – I use my hand blender in the mixture while adding the eggs. Stir regularly until mixture becomes like syrup. Add raisins. (Edmonton Tourist Tip: Don’t add raisins to the liquid – add to unfilled tart shells. They become evenly distributed that way – Or nuts. I made three different tarts, raisin, pecan and plain. I like them all but my kids and definite preferences. The beaters were the secret tip – use them if you have them!)

The mixture should have a butterscotch syrup consistency. Keep warm at on medium low stirring regularly. Half fill with raisin mixture (it will boil up and over the edges if you fill them too full – then they will stick to the pans and you won’t be able to get them out). Edmonton Tourist Tip: Fact! I have non-stick tins that are the best I have ever had. Mine all boiled over so I was fussing with my offset spatula to scrape the syrup away to free the tarts. It also makes them ugleeeeeeey)

These are my Aunty’s – her’s are prettier.

Edmonton Tourist Tip: Do not have holes in your tarts and be carful when cooling. If these suckers spring a leak you will have syrup all over the place. When that happened, sprinkle with pastry crumbs or flour to absorb the stickiness and the use your bench scrapper to remove from the counter.

Verdict? Dad said they were the best. I could give him a shoe to eat and he would tell me it was the best. My dad is the best. But…. It did conjure up childhood memories for him and honestly that was the purpose. That is the number one reason to make these…. and also because they are the best.

Thanks Aunty! I love you to pieces!

Stay healthy friends!

Bake Club: The Plan

This is not a black a white photo. 25 cm expected by the end of the day!

It has been quite the week! Watching the election from across the border has been exciting. There will be HUGE ramifications for my province and I laugh as I imagine our premier squirm a bit. His plans will be crushed. All of this makes me so happy today – you could even call it JOY. I have SO many good things happening right now.

My furnace died last week and we were without heat for a week. But the new furnace is so quiet and efficient, it makes me happy.

Work has been stressful. As an event strategist during a pandemic, you can imagine the challenge BUT – Our philanthropic campaign may be the best one yet because we had to imagine new ways of doing something. Coming together as a team has ensured our best creative ideas will be front and centre. I can’t express how excited I am to be apart of it. Do I feel like I am on fire and my desk is on fire and I am floating down the river in a dumpster while its on fire? Heck ya! But Come December 18, I think it will be feel good to relax and see the campaign success behind me.

My oven died in September. The thermostat didn’t shut off and nearly burned the house down. The new oven has a PROVING SETTING! It has easy clean and the inside is BLUE. It is super pretty AND it has convection bake – I tried it and it baked the best peanut butter sandies.

I AM ON VACATION FOR ONE WEEK! We are expecting 25 cm of snow today. It is really pretty outside and the first snowfall always puts me in a Christmassy mood. I am making a list of Christmas baking I want to do. I don’t know if I will get to it all because I AM ON VACATION but I think I will get to a lot it. Having a list makes shopping easy for future visits. Here is the plan:

  • Grandma’s Butter tarts (I wrote to my aunty and she sent me the recipe. These beauties were always made on November 11 – so the family tradition will continue!) This recipe makes EIGHT DOZEN. Obviously this is for sharing…
  • Shortbread cookies
  • Grandma’s Date Squares/Chews with hot pink frosting
  • Mincemeat Tarts (for those who don’t know – they aren’t made with meat – its fruit and a UK thing)
  • Sugar cookies decorated because that is how my aunty did it.
  • Lassy coos (or rather Ginger Sparklers but Lassy Coos is the family name for them)
  • Honey popcorn – this is my recipe I figured out after testing various combinations because Disneyland sold honey popcorn at Pooh Corner and It was the best thing EVER.
  • Gingerbread people – I make these with ribbon strung through and names written on the bellies. There are a couple of new babies in my life so I will make these for them and their sibs.
  • Brownie Cookies
  • Chocolate Chip cookies
  • Nanaimo bars. I have never made these before but what the heck? I learned to make a ton of things this year. what is one more?
  • Magic bars – my mom made these at Christmas and I always loved them. I have never made these either, never to late to try new things.
  • S’mores – this will be a blog post on its own because I have an idea….

Okay, that is a long list. But I am not spending time with friends and family this year for Christmas. I will fill some tins and do a drive by porch visit.

I have a whole week ahead of me to do ONLY FUN THINGS. I can’t wait. I will let you know how the baking goes and tell me what your Christmas plans are going to be.

Meanwhile, things are looking up. Stay healthy everyone!

Bake Club: Pie Crust

Canadian Thanksgiving has past. It was delicious. I didn’t have my parents over this year because of the pandemic. We wanted to still share food. We each make things that taste good and like to contribute to the larger meal. My mom made our family’s traditional style cabbage rolls, I love these. They are a hybrid of Ukrainian and German. Not sour, stuffed with rice and bacon, topped with a sweetish tomato sauce and cloves. I traded two pumpkin pies.

Making pies is typically my super power but somehow this year the crust turned out terrible. I know why but it was still terrible. At least the filling was excellent. I thought I would write out the recipe and share it with you. Only this one will talk about the mistakes and why it went so wrong so future us will do better.

This is the only pie crust I ever make. It is made with butter and when I follow the rules it is tender and flakey.

Double Butter Pie Crust

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes – I use salted butter
  • 1 cup  ice water, or more as needed

That is it. Simple but complicated. You can half it to make a single crust. This recipe can make a covered pie or two open pies. Things you need:

  • 2 9″ pie plates. Not deep dish – regular pie plates
  • Pie weights. You can buy special pie weights or use dried beans, lentils or rice.

I keep my butter in the freezer and put it in the fridge the night before. I cut it up into cubes when it is cold and store it in the fridge until I need it. Cold it important, especially if you have hot hands. Fill a two cup measure with ice. Add one cup of cold water to the ice and let it chill for a few minutes.

Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl.

Add the cubed butter. Working quickly you need to rub the butter into the flour. I toss the butter in the flour to coat it first then I rub it in with my thumb and first two fingers. You can use a pastry cutter if you like but like but I like to feel the mixture. If you like a flakey crust you want to have larger bits of butter. If you want only a tender crust, rub it until it looks like sand.

I turn the crumbles on to a board or counter. Make a well in the centre and add water a few tablespoons at a time while folding the dough together. You don’t want your dough to be sticky nor do you want it dry. As you kneed it together it will form a ball. Too dry and you get cracks, to wet and it sticks to your fingers. You can add water or flour as needed. (no pun intended). The perfect consistency is when you squeeze it and it holds together (even when the bowl still looks like crumbs).

Form the dough into a ball. Cut in half and fold it onto iself a few times. This is how you get the layers of a flakey crust like the ones you see on Crisco commercials. Then pat into a circle. This is important. It helps the gluten strands develop and it is easier to roll out a circle. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or an air tight container and chill at least 30 minutes.

I will often make the dough in the morning or the night before. I pull them out of the fridge, unwrap and place on a floured surface. I bang on it with my rolling pie. This loosens up the crust making it easier to roll out.

When I roll the dough, I start in the centre and roll forward once, lift the dough and make a quarter turn and repeat the process. This does a couple of things. It ensures I get a round crust, the crust does not stick to the surface and I can control the size and thickness better.

I keep checking the diameter with the pie plate. I want at least two inches larger than the plate. Then I fold it in half and centre it in the plate and unfold it. I gently hold the sides and I fit it into the plate being carful not to tear the sides. If you do – just pinch together.

Fold the edges under itself. This gives a thicker crust edge and allows for a pretty crimp. You can do whatever you like, I use my two fingers and thumb to create the zigzag pattern. My grandma used a fork for the crimp. Do what every you like best.

Now you fill it. If it will be a custard filling, like pumpkin, you will need to blind bake it.

Blind Bake:

Dock the pie with a fork (poke holes all over it) and bush on an egg wash. This prevents the crust from absorbing the custard filling.

Take a piece of parchment and cover the bottom of the pie. Ensure it is long enough to cover the sides. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. DO NOT MISS THIS STEP. I couldn’t find my pie weights so baked without. BIG MISTAKE. The crust folded on itself and shrank. I couldn’t bake it fully because it was melting into itself. It was a disaster.

Bake at 350F for 30 – 45 minutes. Shorter if you need to bake the filling in the pie, longer if you are putting a cooked filling in the finished pie shell.

The crust should be lightly brown and not translucent. (like mine was because I didn’t use pie weights.)

I have no idea what I was thinking but I will never make that mistake again. At least the crust tasted good – although it was a little under done. Don’t do that either.

Double Crust:

Place the bottom crust in the centre of the pie plate. Unfold it.

Add filling.

Place to the top crust over the filling. Fold the top crust under the bottom crust. Then crimp. Crimping here keeps the pie filling from spilling out. it isn’t just decorative. Cut a pie vent in the centre of the pie to let steam escape. Otherwise it will explode in your oven and that is just sad for everyone, especially the person who cleans the oven.

Brush with egg wash for a golden crust, milk for a pale crust.

Bake at 450F for 15 – 30 minutes and then drop the heat to 350F for about 45 minutes. Bake until golden brown.

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Bake Club: Pumpkin Bourbon Bread

Back in the spring when I was buying squash seeds, I purchased butternut squash. When they came from the online shop they were actually kobocha squash. This was a happy accident. I had no idea what to do with them but after a little research, I learned they taste like pumpkin and sweet potato. Libby’s uses these to make their canned pumpkin – this could be a lie because I hear Libby genetically created their own special squash. Doesn’t matter – the kobocha squash tasted exactly like canned pumpkin only… fresher if that makes sense.

I harvested them, cut them up, seeded and roasted them for about an hour at 400F – until fork tender. I had 5lbs of squash and that should yield about 2-2.5 cups of puree. I pushed the roasted pulp through a sieve and was very pleased with the result.

The puree was smooth and tasty.

I followed Melissa Clark’s Pumpkin Bourbon Bread recipe. I had a some bourbon leftover from making vanilla extract and I had 1 3/4 of squash left aft I ran it through the sieve so it work out perfectly! You can use canned pumpkin but my garden squash was next level!

Her method for making brown butter was the easiest method. The key is to use a skillet. That way you can actually see when the solids turn. Big foam – then brown solids. Perfect.

I added all the wet ingredients into the squash except the sugar. That was weird. The sugar needed to be whisked into the flour. I had never done that before.

The 1/4 cup of whisky smelled amazing. Don’t leave it out. It makes this bread.

Then combine everything together and fill two 8″ loaf pans. I have 9″ so they were a bit shallow.

This made two loaves and I think pistachios would be great in this. I used fresh and fragrant ground cardamom – It is worth doing that as well. I am learning fresh spices not purchased in bulk at Costco is worth it. The flavour intensity is amazing.

These were simple to make and Melissa Clarks instructions are always easy to follow. I added this recipe to my hand written recipe book because I will always make this version.

Stay healthy friends!

Bake Club: Vanilla Extract

Has anyone else notice how expensive vanilla extract is? The price keeps rising because of how labour intensive it is to grow them and how rare they are. 80% of the worlds supply comes from Madagascar. I spend – roughly on average – $204 for twelve cups of pure vanilla extract. I think I go through about one and a half cups a year. This year is a bit more because of the pandemic but maybe it is my regular life now, who knows? But even at $25 a year – that gets expensive. It also isn’t always the best quality. My mom brought me 2L of Mexican vanilla once. It was wonderful and lasted a couple of years. Last year I went to Trader Joe’s and brought home bourbon vanilla extract, 1/2 cup for $9 usd. It was good. I mean, reeeeeaaaaalllyyyy good. I wanted that flavour on a regular basis.

So I did the research.

I watched numerous videos and read articles about making your own. I learned that the more vanilla bean you use, the faster it is ready. One gal used 1 bean per four cups and it took a year before she could use it. Ina Gartner uses 10 beans per four cups and it was read in less than 4 weeks. Regardless of quantity, the process is incredibly simple.

Next I did the research looking for vanillla bean. Sobeys rarely has any and often it is one in a glass test tube for $8. Bulk Barn didn’t have any – but they cary paste. Cool to know, but not what I am looking for. I googled a local source and found Silk Road Spice Merchant on Whyte Avenue. The original shop is in Calgary. They recently reopened here in Edmonton. There was a bit of a wait to enter the shop. The limit the number of people allowed in at one time. They have sanitized baskets, hand sanitizer at the entrance and pleanty of staff on hand to help.

THIS WAS A COOL SHOP!

It felt like an old timey apothecary. There were jars of various spices lined on shelves. You could purchase in jars or they would weigh out amounts for you an put it in a bag. All of it was cool.

I went in looking for whole nutmeg for my pumpkin pies and 10 Tahitian vanilla beans (the lesser expensive to Madagascar bean). I came away with black volcanic salt from Hawaii, and very fragrant cardamom. The smells and pungency of these spices are incredible compared to Bulk Barn. Fresh is best apparently.

The vanilla bean was the freshest I have ever experienced. They were soft and fragrant.

I cut them in half. My kitchen and I smelled like vanilla for the rest of the day and I wasn’t mad about that.

I bought the cheapest bourbon available to me. $25 for 750 ml of Jim Bean Kentucky Bourbon, I bought two. I filled three 2-cup jars with the bourbon. and divided up the twenty pieces. When it got down to the last two, I chopped them in thirds and popped them into the jars.

I have left them on my counter so I remember to shake them up about three-four times a day for a week. Then once in the pantry, they will get a shake about once every four to five days. In 4-6 weeks it should be ready to use and will last indefinitely.

Once the jar has about a quarter left, I can refill it with bourbon for one more use. That doubles the value of those beans or I can squeeze the the beans and get a paste out and stick the empty pod in to a jar of sugar to make vanilla sugar. Either way, excellent value because six cups of vanilla bourbon extract cost me $99. I saved $105. Maybe I will buy myself some new cake pans, a new rolling pin and a set of circle cutters. OR I could buy new electric beaters. OR maybe just put it away for something else.

When these beauties are ready they will be dark – just like the stuff you buy from the grocery store. I will let you know how it turns out.

Stay healthy everyone!

Bake Club: Scones

A couple of years ago I received a jar of flour, sugar, baking powder and freeze dried raspberries as a gift. I made them and thought freeze dried raspberries are the greatest thing ever. I still think highly of them, but the greatest thing ever is actually the magic of buttermilk. I tried to recreate this scone recipe several times and each time it was good. Once it even tasted just like that jar of scone mix. Recently, I decided to make them again, except I decided to use buttermilk, because I had it in the fridge and I like how fluffy it makes cake and biscuits. I accidentally made the best scones ever.

When you bake with buttermilk, you need to add baking powder so it has something to react to. I found if I use 1 cup of flour, then I need 1 tsp of baking powder. If I use 1 1/2 cups of flour I need 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder – see where I am going here? Baking soda reacts immediately with the buttermilk causing the dough to rise and baking powder gives the dough lift and keeps it elevated or a slow continued rise with the heat. These two ingredients are key to a fluffy scone.

I bet you are wondering the difference between a scone and a biscuit? A scone has egg in it. It also tends to be drier and needs support from fruit, jam and nuts, or other flavourings like herbs and onions. Scones tend to be a bit denser, something I like with tea for breakfast or as an afternoon snack to help me last until dinner.

Messing around with proportions I think I came up with a version I really like. It was soft and luscious and perfect for breakfast. This recipe is not sweet. If you like a sweeter bread, add an additional 1/2 cup of sugar. If you need more sweetness, think about jam or honey as a condiment, or make a compound butter. Honey butter is nice.

I sifted together 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, 2 tbsp of granulated sugar, 2 1/2 tsp of baking powder and 1/2 tsp of baking soda. You could use bread flour but I never have it in the house. Give it a good whisk before adding 1/2 cup of cubed butter. It should be cold but honestly, I never have cold butter. Butter as it melts in the oven creates pockets of steam that add to the flakiness. If you are quick and gentle, room temp is fine.

I tossed the butter pieces into the flour to coat them well. Then I use my thumb and two fingers in a circular rubbing motion to work the butter into the flour until the butter is pea sized. Using a pastry cutter does the same thing. I read once using two knives works too…. two knives? Just get your hands dirty. That is what they are for. Then you get a feel for you baking and you know when to stop.

After the butter is worked in you can stick it in the freezer for about 10 minutes if you wish. I don’t because I think it’s fine. I am not trying to win the GBBO. At this point I add an egg to 1 cup of butter milk and whisk them together. Making a well in the center of the flour, I pour the buttermilk egg mixture in. With a fork, I pull the flour into the center getting everything moist and incorporated.

I added fresh raspberries that had seen better days and a cup of freezed dried raspberries, the last of my visit from Trader Joe’s. You can add anything you like here, nuts and apples, blue berries or rum soaked raisins. The choice is yours and do what you like, but don’t go over 1 1/2 cups of extras because the dough won’t be able to hold it together – chocolate and banana would be nice too!

Gently fold everything together. Now the tricky part. This is a wet dough. Prep a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat lined tray. Four your hands! I did this on a cutting board and regretted it. Do it on the baking sheet. Pat the dough into a large circle about an inch thick. Cut and separate the wedges.

Brush with butter milk and sprinkle sugar over top. I used granulated sugar but any will do. If you dust with icing sugar, wait until they come out of the oven.

Bake for 20 minutes at 400F. I prefer them the next day but some of my family like them warm out of the oven. I freeze these and pull them out as I need them. If you try them, let me know what you think!

They aren’t pretty but they are delicious.

Bake Club: These are not kiddie cookies

I am starting to develop my own baking recipes and adding them to my vintage cookbook if they pass the family. If they like it and want it again, it passes, if they don’t – total fail and it is left out. I cleaned up the pantry and needed to do something with some raw pecans and hard raisins.

I liberated a bottle of spiced rum from my son and poured about 1/8 cup over the rest of the raisins, 1/2 cup. I let the raisins soak for about an hour. It smelled so good.

I melted 1/4 cup of salted butter in a sauce pan and added the rest of my raw pecans. I let the butter foam and I watch it closely because I didn’t want it to burn. It took about 2 minutes on medium heat. Make sure you remove it once you can smell roasty toasty nuts. I poured everything through a sieve and reserved the butter.

Preheat your oven to 350F I whisked together 1 cup of flour, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/8 tsp nutmeg. I then added 2 cups of quick oats. Whisked it together and set it aside.

Pull out your mixer either a stand or hand beaters because you need to whipped the butter and sugars until it looks like frosting. Cream together the reserved 1/4 of browned butter – it has a pecan flavour and smells fantastic. (scrape in those brown solid bits because it adds the best flavour) Add 1/2 cup of salted butter – room temperature, 3/4 cup of packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1 egg , 2 tsp vanilla, 2 Tbsp of maple syrup (the real stuff. If you don’t have it, leave out the fake and carry on) Mix this until it is light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.

Add the flour and mix until almost combined. Add the plumped raisins (I didn’t drain the rum, I added it to the cookie batter – because RUM IS DELICIOUS!) and the buttered pecans. Combine and let it sit for 5 minutes to let the flour hydrate. This makes a huge difference. Take the time.

On a parchment lined or silpat lined baking sheet, drop 1/4 cup or a ice cream scoop of batter on the sheet. My tray holds 6 scoops nicely. Bake for 15 minutes at 350F.

They taste best warm out of the oven, or room temperature or frozen. These are good and yes there is a rum flavour to them. The alcohol bakes off so you don’t need to worry if that is something that concerns you. There is alcohol in vanilla too – that bakes off and you don’t seem to mind that so please refrain from harassing me about alcohol. I like it, now you know.

If you do give the a try, let me know what you think!

Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies with Butter Pecans

  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 browned butter
  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 cup spiced rum
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 1 cup of raw pecans

Freestyle baking

I spent the week (when I wasn’t at work) processing my harvest. There is something very satisfying about seeing bags of fruit and vegetables flat packed in my freezer. Everything was orderly in my fridge freezer and that inspired me to tackle the pantry.

I have a walk-thru pantry. It was the number one reason I bought this house. Number two reason was more than one bathroom and number three reason was the view. Maybe reason number one was the view…whatever.

While in pantry, I found at least a quarter tonnne of David’s Tea, several jars of nuts and a packet of freeze dried raspberries from Trader Joe’s. We don’t have TJ’s here in Canada so that was from my last trip to the USA in May 2019. I repacked the tea and found a better location for it, I sorted the baking items and spices so I had a good idea of what I had and what I needed to replenish. I put the items I needed to use up on my counter. Plus I had some raisins that were a little on the hard side. Can someone please tell me why I have two Costco size jars of cinnamon in my pantry, bags of cinnamon from the Bulk Barn and one glass jar of cinnamon. I don’t even like cinnamon. That honour belongs to my family. They are all about apple pie and cinnamon, cinnamon buns and cookies with cinnamon. I like cardamom. Not the same but similar. No I don’t like all the pumpkin flavoured things out right now. They don’t taste like pumpkin, they taste like cinnamon and nutmeg. I love pumpkin. It tastes like squash because it is squash.

I looked at these things and came up with a plan. I pulled the spiced rum from the liquor shelf and soaked the raisins for about an hour. I took the raw pecans leftover from my birthday cake and deep fried them in browned butter. I would add these to my oatmeal cookie recipe that I love.

I found some nearly expired raspberries in the fridge. They were at the ugly stage where you cook with them and refrain from adding them as a yogurt topping. I added those to the freeze dried raspberries and decided to use up the buttermilk I had and make raspberry scones. I wanted to recreate a dry jar I received as a gift from my son’s girlfriend. One of those jars where you add the dry ingredients to some butter and milk then bake. Those scones were amazing.

Then I had 6lbs of apples that I picked yesterday after work and needed to process them them. So my daughter and I sat, peeled and chopped those, laid them out on a tray and now they are freezing before I bag them. There is nothing that frustrated me more than a bag of fruit that is frozen together in one giant lump. It’s nearly impossible to do anything useful with a brick of macerated fruit or veg. I packed up the scones and tried to freeze them in my fridge freezer. Nope, that was full of rhubarb, carrots, beans, zucchini, green onions and now trays of apples. I went to my deep freezer in my pantry and yikes. Nothing was going in there, so I cleaned that out too. There was expired things int there from 2017. Maybe older. I tossed that and discovered I need to buy meat. I have one steak and some stew meat. I am good for vegetables and fruit from smoothies though! I even have frozen cubed coconut.

The scones went in the freezer along side Grandma’s date squares. The rum raisin oatmeal cookies went in the cookie jar. The daughter made an apple pie that is in the fridge. Baking has gone from a stress reliever to a creative outlet for me. I am developing my own recipes from techniques I learned this spring. I was always a cooking freestyler and rarely follow a recipe for meals. Now my creativity is flying high with baked goods. Later this week I will share my new recipes because they were delicious.

Dang I am tired. I had a full day and should sleep well tonight. Hopefully… sleep has been elusive but now that my kitchen is decluttered, perhaps I will sleep well one again.

Stay healthy everyone!