Fool Proof Caramel Sauce

Who doesn’t love caramel sauce?

Believe it or not it’s not hard to make your own, and this fool proof recipe doesn’t take long to make and will last for about a month in the fridge - that’s if you can keep it that long!!

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Caramel Sauce is a nice treat to have around the house and it’s such a versatile topping to spruce up any sweet.  You can drizzle it over ice cream sundaes, apple pies, chocolate cake sprinkled with sea salt, or add it to a cheese plate with fresh apples, nuts and cinnamon, yum!!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
  • 1/4 Cup White Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Stirling Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Cup Whipping Cream
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Rum

Directions:

  • In a small bowl mix together the cornstarch and sugars
  • In a medium sauce pan melt butter
  • Add sugar and cornstarch to the melted butter, stir with a wooden spoon
  • Add whipping cream, stir well and bring to a boil.
  • Boil for approx. 30 seconds, while stirring
  • Remove from the heat, stir in Rum

Serve immediately or let cool and transfer to a glass jar with lid and store in the fridge for 1 month. Reheat as needed.  

Enjoy!

A love for Tea.. Africa!

Tea is the most drank beverage in the world other than water!  Every culture in the world has there own take on ‘tea’ but one thing is for sure the health benefits that follow tea are incredible.  It’s said that in order to benefit from any health properties you need to drink tea for a long period of time, a daily ritual is perhaps a good idea!  But more on the benefits and types of tea for another time, today I want to talk about the beauty and what attracted me to the wonderful world of tea. 

Africa! A very much loved country that I have spent a lot of time travelling, working and living. It’s beauty captivates me, there is always something to learn, to see and to grow.  The country is large and differs from North to South, but two of my favourite parts of Africa when discovering tea.

South Africa - Cape Town - Rooibos Tea

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Rooibos literally means ‘red bush’ in Africans, and it isn’t actually tea! It is know as a tisane or herbal tea because it doesn’t contain the Camellia sinensis plant with it’s caffeine properties.  It has a sweet yet earthy notes, and it’s a bright red/brown in colour when steeped.  The people of Africa drink it every way possible, with milk and sugar, with lemon, they even drink it as lattes, cappuccinos (called ‘red expresso’), and of course ice tea.  You will also find is every product possible from soaps, shampoo’s, beauty products and of course infused into food. When it comes to this plant, the people here believe in it strongly and it is a great source of exports for their country, as the plant can only grow and thrive in the South and West of Africa.  

I drank this tea everyday if not more while I was on the African soil.  Today it brings good memories of friends and adventures when I brew a cup here in Canada.

North Africa - Morocco - Mint Tea

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An exotic place and a tea to match its beauty! Sweet and fresh it’s guaranteed that anyone will love this tea.  Mint leaves are infused into a pot of  green tea (gunpowder tea) with lots of sugar. The colour of a brewed cup is pale yellow, and the notes are mostly minty and sweet, it’s hard to taste any green tea properties as the sugar and mint over powers.  Tea in the north is a sign of hospitality, friendship and is very much a tradition.  It is drank all day long and after most meals.  It would be very rude to turn down a cup of tea.   There is an art to Moroccan tea, how it’s brewed and prepared, served and poured and of course the exquisite tea pots and cups. Every Moroccan will tell you they have the best cup of tea, and this I can not argue with! 

Once while shopping  in the Marrakech markets (which can be very over whelming) I had my eye on a particular pair of traditional babouches shoes, although I was not willing to pay the outrageous price the vendor was asking.  So, in the store over tea we discussed prices until we could both agree on  a price. I really wanted those shoes, and the tea was perfect!

Butter in my Coffee…

I know it seems a little weird or even unhealthy to be putting butter in your morning coffee, but I’ve been hearing such great things that I just had to try it myself.  The concept behind adding butter to your morning coffee isn’t a new idea, in fact it’s a ritual practiced by the Tibetans for centuries. Butter tea also known as Po cha in Tibet is made from churning tea, yak butter and salt together.  Butter tea is consumed several times a day and is said to provide great benefits, especially in the high altitude areas like Tibet. It is high in calories, which helps keep energy levels up. The butter helps prevent chapped lips, which is an extremely valuable benefit on Tibet’s windy mountains. And it’s believed that the tea helps keeps the mind focused, aid digestion, and promotes a healthy cardiovascular system.

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So, that brings us to the west; why put butter in our coffee? It’s said to have similar effects like help energize your body and mind for the day ahead. Adding sugar and dairy to your coffee doesn’t seem to have the same effects, in fact your caffeine high crashes faster. There has been a lot of talk about ”bulletproof coffee”, and how the combination of this particular coffee, butter (grass-fed) and Octane Oil is the best way to reach these benefits. You can read more about this on their site, http://www.bulletproofexec.com.   

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I decided to give this ‘butter and coffee’ deal a shot and tested it for one week.  Every morning for 7 days I started my day with a cup of coffee and added high quality unsalted butter (Stirling Butter) to it.

Here are my findings..

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Taste:

Surprisingly I found it delicious, although you are talking to a butter lover here!  I normally add milk to my coffee, and enjoy a slight bitterness to it.  I was surprised that the coffee still tasted creamy with only the butter in it.  The texture was silky and smooth, I found the cup of coffee overall very enjoyable.

Effects:

In all honesty, I didn’t see much of an improvement throughout the day with energy levels or being more focussed during the 7 days.  But the following week, I felt great!! I was motivated, energized and overall feeling good.  

Conclusion:

I enjoyed the coffee with butter but I don’t think I’d make it my morning ritual.  I love my tea in the morning and prefer my coffee in the afternoon.  I definitely have no problem adding butter to it though!

It was a fun little experiment and I suggest trying it for yourself, although I would stay clear of using poor quality ingredients as there are only a few ingredients and the flavours are what is the important.  Make sure you don’t use salted butter either, I used Stirling Whey Butter, because it’s one of my favourites in flavour.

Anonymous: Allie you're baking looks so delicious and unique! What temp do you cook your puff pastry and how long?

Thank you :) bake at 400F for 15-18 minutes, just until golden brown on the bottom. Happy baking :)

Puff Pastry : Cinnamon Sticks

A baker’s best friend is butter!!

Butter and baker - you say the words in the same breath.  They just go together, like bacon and eggs.  There is no substitute when it comes to butter, margarine just won’t do (is that stuff even real? No, no it’s not!), sure oils can be nice, but you’ll never achieve the same results that butter can.  I love baking and cooking with butter, I’ve probably consumed my fair share of the stuff! I’ve melted, sautéed, baked, rolled, crumbled, creamed, cubed, and smeared the stuff.

I love the rich full flavours it brings to recipes and the smooth velvety textures to work with.  Today, I have the all time best puff pastry recipe using Stirling’s Churn 84 Butter…the results are TO DIE FOR!! 

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When it comes to puff pastry butter is the key to making everything come together.  It brings a the light flaky consistency to croissants, your turnovers and tarts, because of the layers of stacked butter. Yum! I’m using the recipe to make cinnamon sticks for my friends to enjoy this weekend. They are going to love, love, love them!!

Making Puff Pastry takes time and patience, and let’s be honest we all don’t have time to play in the kitchen all day. You can easily buy the frozen puff pastry in the grocery store, but there is something about understanding and learning how to create your own that is so satisfying.

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This recipe is fairly easy and quick (what a bonus!) for you to try yourself, and you won’t need to spend the entire day in the kitchen baking, leaving more time to spend with friends and enjoying your hot fresh cinnamon sticks!

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Ingredients;

Puff Pastry:

For Cinnamon Twists:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup white sugar

Puff Pastry Directions:

  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder.
  • Add the cubes of butter into the flour mixture, lightly flattening each piece with your fingers or palm
  • Add the sour cream, and gently mix into the dough. It won’t be cohesive at this point.
  • Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and bring it together with a few kneads. Pat the dough into a square and roll it into an 8x10 rectangle- using flour as needed to prevent sticking.
  • Dust off any excess flour from the surface of the dough, and fold in three. (like a letter)
  • Flip the dough over, rotate it 90 degrees, and repeat the process. (Rolling to an 8x10 rectangle and then folding.) Wrap dough and chill for 30-60 minutes before using.
Cinnamon Twists Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a baking sheet with quality parchment paper (cheaper parchment will burn at higher temperatures). Set aside
  • Roll chilled dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with about half the cinnamon sugar. Press sugar mixture into the dough, flip it over and repeat with another brush of butter and cinnamon sugar topping.
  • Cut dough into 1 inch strips. Pick up each strip and twist the ends into opposite directions until dough is spiralled.
  • Place twists onto your parchment-lined baking sheet, pressing the ends down as you arrange them. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and dust with additional cinnamon sugar if desired.

If this recipe feels challenging for you, I’ve made a little video to show how easy it really is.  I hope it’s helpful and you enjoy watching, I certain had fun making it.  Click the image below to watch the video.

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By the way, these would be perfect to bake for your loved one this Valentines Day.. I promise they will feel loved once they take their first bite!

My Love for Butter - Buttercream Icing Recipe

My love affair with butter began from a simple brownie covered in my Mom’s chocolate buttercream icing. Ever since I can remember, home made desserts were always at hand, mostly after you finished your dinner! The best part always involved a dessert with buttercream icing. Whether it was my Mom’s baking, my Grandmother or my Babba, they all loved being in the kitchen, and this is where I found myself time after time.. the kitchen is my home, it’s where I feel happiest, it runs in my blood!

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As a child I always remembered how special my parents made holidays, particularly Valentines! It involved the kitchen table decorated with sweet candies and blooming flowers, and of course my mom’s special meal for the day, breakfast, lunch or dinner, they were always made with such love and care.  We always felt so special and loved!  

I only hope that I can someday pass along what truly is important on holidays like Valentines day: To give Love innocently from the heart.  To bring the family and loved ones together and shower them with excitement that surrounds the table, enjoying good food and good company.

This Valentines Day, I challenge you to step into the kitchen and create a special treat for your loved ones.  There is nothing sweeter than having someone spend their day prepping, cooking and baking just for you!

Here you can find the best buttercream recipe around! It has evolved from the hands of the ones I love and put so much love into their baking.

Buttercream is so versatile, you can sandwich it between cookies like the french macaron, layer it on a cake, top it on a brownies, or smother it over breakfast loaves.

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Then there are the flavours.. oh the flavours you can create, cinnamon, maple, raspberry, almond, cream cheese, lemon, chocolate, peppermint, strawberry, and so much more.

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You can also freeze your leftover buttercream! It’s hard to always make the right amount for your recipe. Often there is extra that gets thrown out.  I’m not a fan of waste, so I started freezing my extra icing for a rainy day ;) It keep 3-4 months in a air tight container in the freezer and about 4 days in the fridge.  When defrosting, let it come to room temperature on its own, don’t microwave it.

The Perfect Butter Cream Icing

  • 5 cups sifted icing sugar
  • 1 cup Stirling Unsalted butter
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup Whipping cream
  • 1 tsp pure Vanilla extract ( or any flavouring)

Making icing can be a bit of an experiment.  I normally just go by feel, this recipe is a guideline for you to follow. Start with 1/2 cup of the butter and cream it with your icing sugar in a mixer on low, slowly add the whipping cream and the rest of the butter and vanilla, raise the speed to high and beat until fluffy and light.  If your icing is still too thick than add more cream, if it’s too runny/soft add more sugar, if it’s too sweet add more butter.

Note: you can change out the vanilla for any flavouring like lemon, mint, or use juicy fruit like frozen raspberries or strawberries. And don’t forget about melted chocolate too!

Pair with your favourite cupcake, cookies, or brownies recipe.

You may like these recipes using Simply Sweets Buttercream Icing

image Buttery Cinnamon Cookies using cinnamon icing

image Mini Pumpkin Cupcakes using cream cheese icing

image Cupcake turned Cookie using strawberry icing

Happy Valentines Day Friends

Love Simply Sweet

xo

Cake or Cookie?

Can you believe it’s almost Valentines Day?  Which means spring is right around the corner, wishful thinking I know but a girl can dream!

For some reason when it comes to Valentines I always think of cupcakes; red velvet, chocolate with raspberry icing, filled with hugs and kisses.  Okay a little cheesy, but doesn’t Valentines feel a little cheesy at times?

I wanted to try something different this year, but my brain kept going back to light fluffy cupcakes.  I recently had a customer order mini vanilla cupcakes with strawberry icing, and I couldn’t stop thinking about them. How could I make this work for Valentines without repeating recent blogs and using the ‘over’ popular cupcake?  If you haven’t figured it out yet, well I didn’t do much but scrap the cupcake tins and wrappers, pull out the cookie sheet and drop the batter into spoonfuls, leaving light, soft and airy cookies iced with sweet strawberry buttercream.

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They turned out great! At first, my brain was a little confused..they looked like cookies, but they didn’t exactly taste like cookies.  It didn’t take long before the cookies were gone and my brain no longer had to worry about it!!

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You can have fun with these cookies, stack them on top of each other filled with icing and create your own mini cakes, you can leave them ‘naked’ or ice the entire cake. Top them with flowers, sugared hearts, or ‘I Love You’ banners.  

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Be creative and have fun in the kitchen.. isn’t that what it’s all about?

Baking with love ;)

Cupcake Recipe

  • 1/2 Stirling unsalted Butter at room temperature 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350˚F . Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and set a side.  In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla extract.  Mix well to combine.  In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Add dry mixture in two batches to the sugar mixture, alternating with the milk.  Mix just until combined on medium speed.  Do not over mix.  Spoon the batter onto the prepared baking sheet, approx. 1 tablespoon (size) of the batter, leaving 2 inches between, as the batter spreads easily. Bake just until golden brown on the bottom, 10-12minutes. Let cool on racks. Once cool ice cookies.

Strawberry Butter cream Icing

  • 1/4 cup Stirling unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • 3 cups icing sugar (approx.)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large frozen strawberries, thawed  (if using fresh strawberries, use the oldest and juiciest berries) 
  • 3-4 Tablespoons whipping cream

Mix the butter,vanilla and strawberries with an electric beater. Slowly add the icing sugar and whipping cream until you reach your desired consistency.  Ice cooled cookies.

Raspberry Coconut Muffins

Its been a cold snowy winter, and it seems like we’ve been trapped indoors for most of it, and it’s only January! These are the cold, wintery days that I like to fire up the oven and enjoy some warm baked goods!

I found my inspiration for these scrumptious little guys from the freezer! I’m not big on throwing food out and being wasteful.  So when I have food that I can’t finish before it goes bad, I package it in clear bags/containers and toss them into the freezer.  I’ve had these local raspberries in my freezer for sometime now and today I finally put them to good use.  Honestly, I didn’t feel like leaving the house (in this cold) to buy ingredients so whatever I had in my fridge I made do..plain greek yogurt, shredded coconut, and frozen berries, yum!! And they turned out scrumptious!!!  To make them even better I made a cinnamon crumble topping with stirling’s whey butter for a nutty crunch!

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Simply Sweets Raspberry Coconut Muffins

makes approx. 18 large muffins

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup stirling unsalted butter, melted and at room temp.
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 cups frozen raspberries (approx.)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs

Cinnamon Crumble

  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup stirling whey butter, cooled to room temperature 
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Prepare muffin tins with paper baking cups, set aside.  Melt butter slowly, let it cool to room temperature.  In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and coconut. Mix well to combine.  In a separate bowl whisk together milk, yogurt, eggs, and cooled melted butter.  With a wooden spoon, mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the frozen berries near the end of the mixing, do not over mix!! Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

For the Crumble

In a bowl combine flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Mix well.  Cut butter into cubes and mix into the dry ingredients with your fingers, until you have  large buttery crumbs. Sprinkle crumbles over the tops of the batter filled muffin cups.  Top with shredded coconut.

Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the centre of the muffin comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allows the muffins to cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack.

Enjoy with a warm cup of tea! Take that winter!!

Sugar Cookie Table Settings

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For all of you hostesses out there…there are many ways to personalize your table to make your party even more special.  Flowers and candles are the main pics but why not try something a little different?  If you’d like to attempt a little sweet spin on setting your New Year's
 Dinner Table; I’ve got just the thing!  Why not have an individual sparkling star tree set at each person’s table setting?  You could even have little cellophane bag with each person’s name on it so each guest can take the treat home, or if they can’t wait, let them enjoy!  

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Sugar Cookie Star Tree Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup stirling unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons full milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Icing:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 cups sifted icing sugar (approx.)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup large coarse sugar crystals (approx.)

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl; set aside.  Cream butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add egg, milk and vanilla; mix until well combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.  Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Shape into 2 discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut star shapes out, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool. When cool ice cookies by either using a piping bag or with a small spoon , while icing cookies, let them dry a little before stacking; sprinkle with coarse sugar once icing is almost set.

To make Royal Icing

Beat egg whites until frothy, add the lemon juice and continue to beat.  Slowly add sifted icing sugar until you reach the consistency you are looking for.  Note: you want the icing to be a little soft so it will run a little but not too soft and runny that it doesn’t take form.  With your spoon, dip into your icing and see how it falls off the spoon and lands back into the bowl, if it loses its form right away then you need to add more icing sugar.

Tips:

  • You should have an assortment of different size starts.  Bake the same size sugar cookie stars on one cookie sheet, and so on, that way the the smaller stars don’t over bake
  • Be patient: while icing the stars. Wait a few minutes to stack them or they may slide causing them to be lopsided and messy looking
  • Sprinkle the the coarse sugar crystals when the icing is almost dry, that way they don’t sink into the icing
  • make ahead and freeze in an airtight container for 1 week
  • The thicker the star the better!
  • Make sure you have the right sizes of cookie cutters to build a star tree from large to small

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Happy New Years!

The Perfect Christmas Gift made with Love

Every Christmas my brother asks me to make my chocolate chip cookie dough which is rolled, packaged and frozen. He likes to give his friends a small gift every year and he thinks the flexibility of having his friends baking their own cookies when they want to is great!  This year I suggested a few other ideas and he declined once again and said this to me ” I love the idea that my friends can bake the cookies themselves, who doesn’t love warm cookies straight out of the oven?”  For some reason it put a smile on my face, maybe it’s that my brother, who doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, sees the same simple joys in baking that I do.  He’s right though, we often get bombarded with gifts that we don’t really care for, and don’t need.  We can be guilty of wasting money and over consuming in general. With a thoughtful and simple gift like this, you can freeze the dough and pull it out any time you’d like to have warm gooey cookies, straight out of the oven on a cold Canadian winter day! 

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Here’s a free template (by Lia Girffitth) and my favourite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe to create your own Christmas Cookie Gifts.  You can use almost any recipe that you’d like so don’t be afraid to use your own.  You just might want to test it out first; meaning freeze the dough, defrost it and bake.. this way you know exactly what happens to the cookies after being frozen and then deforested  :) 

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Simply Sweet’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Recipe

  • 3/4  Cup (180g) Stirling unsalted butter, cubed and softened
  • 3/4  Cup (140g) Packed brown sugar
  • 1/2  Cup (110g) sugar
  • 2 eggs room temp. lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 Cups (280g) plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Cup (150g) dark chocolate chips
  • 1 Cup (150g) milk chocolate chips

Cream the butter and sugars with electric beater until light and fluffy.  Gradually add eggs, beating well after each addition then the vanilla, In a separate bowl mix flour and baking soda.  Slowly add flour mixture to sugar  mixture, then add chocolate chips. Chill dough so you can easily roll into logs, about 30 minutes. Divide dough evenly and roll into desired length and thickness.  Wrap in waxed paper, freeze. After frozen decorate with cellophane wrap and labels.

On your label put baking directions.

Defrost Dough. Preheat Oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice dough into 1/2 inch thick slices. place on prepared cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Enjoy!

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Happy Holiday Baking Friends !!

Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

It’s that time of year … and one of my favourite times for baking.  There hasn’t been a Christmas that’s gone by that my Mom and I aren’t in the kitchen together baking our favourite cookies and trying a few new recipes too.  Sometimes even my brother steps in, and then things get competitive on the decorating side and I have to admit he normally wins and it kills me to say that!

image Photo Credit: mpdrolet 

Here’s a classic gingerbread recipe full of warm spices that you can have fun decorating with your family.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup  Stirling unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup fancy molasses
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • tsp  ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Royal Icing:

  • 1 egg, using only the whites
  • 1 cup Icing Sugar (approx.)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

For the Cookie Dough:  

In large bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy; beat in egg, fancy molasses and blackstrap molasses until combined. 
Whisk flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda and salt; stir into butter mixture, using hands if necessary to knead dough. 
Divide in half; flatten into two discs. Wrap each in plastic wrap; refrigerate for half an hour
On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using about 2-1/2-inch tall gingerbread man cutters; cut out shapes, re-rolling and cutting scraps.
Arrange cookies, about 1 inch apart on parchment paper–lined baking sheets. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, in 325ºF (160ºC) oven until firm to the touch, about 12 minutes. Transfer to rack; let cool completely.

For the Icing:

In a clean bowl lightly beat egg white until it froths, add lemon juice. Slowly add icing sugar until you reach a thickness that is easy to pipe but stable to set.  Pipe designs onto cooled Gingerbread men.

Happy Baking!!

Simply Sweet’s Baking Tips!

A lot of people tell me that they just can’t bake!! They love to cook but when it comes to baking it never turns out!  My first reply is you need to have patience, you can’t rush baking! The second is using the right ingredients and equipment, which are key to the success of baking.  

I want to take a moment and let you in on a few important ingredients that make a difference and a couple of tricks.

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1.  Butter

When it comes to butter, don’t cheap out!! Butter is where a lot of your flavour comes from, especially in something as simple as butter cream icing. There’s nothing worse then having a delicious cake or cupcake and topping it off with weak tasting icing, eww!  Also cheap butter breaks down poorly causing insufficient and uneven baking.  I use Stirling butter in all my baking; not only is it made here in Ontario, but the company has a lot of different varieties to choose from, all of the highest quality. Check their website out for more details.  My favourite is Stirling’s Whey Butter!!

2.  Chocolate 

Chocolate can be expensive, but you get what you pay for.  I use Lindt in all my baking, from truffles to brownies to icing.  I buy Lindt’s milk, white and 70% dark chocolate. It has a nice finish and is easy to work with. Be careful when buying chocolate and cocoa powder that you are actually buying ‘chocolate’ there are a lot of chocolate ‘melts’ out there which aren’t really chocolate but more like a wax.  

3.  Milk and Cream

Always remember full fat is better!! Use full milk, cream’s and of course buttermilk.  Let’s face it, if you’re eating sweets, enjoy them!! Less fat at this point isn’t going to make a big difference in calories- only in the quality of the dessert!

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4. Stand Mixer

This can be a big investment, but you won’t regret it, I promise! A good quality mixer will last you a long time and will make your life much easier in the kitchen.  My favourite is the Kitchen Aid line.  There are certain recipes that just won’t compare when using a weak mixer (or hand held), like meringues! My Kitchen Aid mixer helps whip up my egg whites light and fluffy in no time! 

5. Ice Cream Scoops

Hit your local kitchen shop and invest in at least one large and one small ice cream scoop.  This will help with making all your batches of cupcakes, cookies, and dough consistent in size, resulting in even baking and for a more professional finish.

6. Parchment Paper

It’s a simply product but don’t underestimate it!! It helps cookies, brownies and cakes from sticking to pans, plus makes for an easy clean up.  Using parchment paper is great so you don’t have to use extra fat to line pans.  Depending on what you’re baking you can also reuse the paper. Also you can easily fold the paper to make a piping bag!

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There is a lot more we can talk about, but for now we’ll start here.  Soon I’ll post a few more tips to help make baking a stress free and fun past time.  And before you’ll now it you be saying I love baking and I’m pretty good at it too!!