Baking: Caramel Fudge Macadamia Squares

Caramel Fudge Macadamia Squares

In case the title of the dessert didn’t give it away: these are not healthy squares. These are a special treat. We have some friends coming over tonight and we’ve placed a ridiculously enormous sushi order in from our favorite place here in Calgary. I’ve managed to not have to cook hardly at all this week so I thought I should bake a little something, just so I don’t forget how! It was all a little bit of an experiment, and after sampling one or two(or five) of these squares, I can assure you…delish. Totally over the top, totally decadent, perfect for cutting into little pieces.

Caramel Fudge Macadamia Squares

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 can eagle brand sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1 tbs cocoa powder

2 tbs unsalted butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup whipping cream

handful or two each of macadamia nuts and shredded coconut

Directions: Preheat oven to 375. Butter a 8×8 glass baking dish. In a food processor, combine first 3 ingredients. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press into pan and bake for 15 minutes. Meanwhile in a small saucepan, over medium heat, stir eagle brand, chocolate chips and cocoa powder until melted and smooth, just a couple of minutes. Set aside. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine butter and sugar. Stir until smooth and combined and then let simmer until the whole top of the caramel is frothy with bubbles(3 minutes of boiling or so). Remove from heat and stir in cream. Pour chocolate ganache mixture over the crust, sprinkle coconut and nuts over the chocolate and drizzle caramel over the top. Bake for about 20 minutes more. Remove from heat and cool completely until set. Cut into squares and serve!

Brown Sugar Caramel

Baking: Vanilla Coconut Cake with Coconut Rum Buttercream

the only piece that lasted long enough to photograph

Listen up friends. This is, and always will be a HEALTHY food blog. Except for around Christmas. No just kidding. While I make and eat and create healthy dishes almost all the time, there are definitely special occasions where some treats are included in our lives. Some purists out there might not like that, but that’s ok I can handle it. This is the balance to find I suppose. I can make a pretty cake and have a small piece. I can go to a cookie exchange, eat an embarrassing amount, go to hot yoga, forgive myself and move on. These things happen. And they seem to happen more frequently in party season, of course.

ANYWAY, yesterday was one of my dearest friends birthday. If ever there is a reason for a particularly beautiful and decadent cake, it’s when beautiful and decadent friends get together to celebrate each other. This little adjustment to a very typical cake recipe made it…spectacular. I could tell it was good because my health and weight conscious girlfriends had two pieces each.

Here’s how you do it. Make a vanilla/white cake in two 8inch round cake pans. You can use any recipe you like (or gasp…a box, I will never tell). This Martha Stewart recipe is my go to. When the two rounds are done, I turn them out onto a cutting board. Then I used about 1/2 a can of coconut milk and drizzled it over the cakes to soak in. I made regular buttercream icing, you know, butter and icing sugar, but I added in 3(ish) oz of coconut rum. The icing was too good to even really speak of. I iced the first layer, stacked the second and iced all around, topping it off with some fancy flake coconut and voila.

I apologize for the poor picture. The cake was gone, minus the last piece, before I remembered to take a pic.

Thus the latest baking adventure.

Baking: Brown Sugar Shortbread

brown sugar shortbread

Today is a dear friend of mine’s birthday. Reason enough to start some pre-Christmas baking experiments! I also got Martha’s Holiday Cookie Magazine the other day which provided me with some new cookie inspiration. Baking is good for the soul on many levels. It is one of my absolute favorite things to do with my girls. Picky Princess is a great helper and it’s good quality time. Foodie Baby, who finally has decided to start walking, does laps around the kitchen, throwing herself into the backs of my legs, making us all laugh. Baking = treats for my friends and a tangible way for me to show them I love them. It makes the house smell delicious. The result is usually beautiful, and if not beautiful, then delicious.

Tomorrow it is supposed to snow, dramatically, and be super cold for the rest of the week. I love Christmas and I’ll wait until the end of November to get into full swing Christmas mode, but I’m going to enjoy the gentle onset of winter, cuddle my babies in the warm kitchen, bake, give and love.

Happy Birthday Jacqui!

Brown Sugar Shortbread

**this recipe has been (largely) modified from Martha’s recipe for classic shortbread in Holiday Cookies 2010**

makes about 4 dozen small cookies, depending on cookie cutter size

2 cups spelt flour (of course you can use white)

1 tsp salt

1 cup butter, room temperature

1/4 cup confectioners sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 bag of dark chocolate chips

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt, set aside. Beat butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add sugars and beat 2 more minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Add in flour and stir until just combined. Separate dough into two disks, wrap in plastic and chill 20 mins. Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut out small hearts(or whatever shape you like) and place on parchment lined baking sheets. Chill hearts while you preheat the oven to 300. Bake for about 15 minutes, until edges are turning slightly golden. Allow to cool completely. Melt chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave, or over a double boiler. Dip cooled cookies into chocolate and place on wax paper until chocolate is set. You can speed up the setting by putting cookies in the freezer. Enjoy!

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