DECADENT DOUBLE CHOCOLATE FLEUR DE SEL COOKIES . . . a rich, dark, salty and sweet treat.

French bakers have always known a whisper of salt brings out the very best in dark, rich chocolate.

This decadent little cookie is a riff on the fleur de sel double chocolate cookies created by my favourite bakery in Toronto – Bobbette and Belle.

It has a quiet, unassuming almost old-fashioned appearance that ends with the first delicious, crumbly addictive bit. This is not your mother’s chocolate cookie. It rather reminds one of a rich shortbread cookie. The first nibble of double layers of chocolate and the exquisite drift of sea salt takes you to the moon and back.

This superb cookie benefits from baking a day or so in advance of serving. The chocolate flavour intensifies as it rests quietly in the cookie jar. Its unique salt sweet flavour is the perfect ending for any dinner party especially when you add a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

The recipe and and some baking tips for DOUBLE CHOCOLATE FLEUR DE SEL COOKIE awaits you in my kitchen. MRS.BUTTERFINGERS.

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THE JEWELLED FRUIT TARTS OF PARIS . . . CARAMELIZED PLUM TART

It is at this time of year when the days shorten and dusk creeps quietly into our lives.  When we put away the warm whispers of summer.  When we scuff through fallen leaves removing the silver dust of Paris.  This is my favourite season in the city of light.

 It is at this time of year my thoughts return to my little house in Paris to pack away the summer memories.  To take down the linen  curtains that dance at my windows and replace them with  enveloping rich, dark green velvet.  To cover the worn stone pavers of my kitchen floor with a faded and warm carpet.

And it is this time of year, market basket under my arm, I raise very early and head for the markets.   I am abroad even before the street cleaners.  Searching for the last stoned fruit of the season to make just one last plum tart.

The Paris pastry shops beguile us with dazzling displays of fruit tarts.  They are perfectly imperfect with simply arranged seasonal fresh fruits made even more irresistible with sugar-studded , heavily caramelized, crunchy rims.   This is pie perfection!  Honest pies that promise you everything and deliver.   My alter ego happily shares her dreams of Paris and her recipes with you.  Bon Appetit, dear friends.   The recipe for plum tart awaits you at MRS BUTTERFINGERS

(a reposting – plums are so abundant at this time of a year )

RHUBARB CRUMB CAKE WITH SUMAC CRUMBLE happiness in a cake

“Happiness . . .

not in another place but this place,

not for another hour

but this hour.”

I walk to the garden past hedges heavy with fragrant with wild roses and awash with cow parsley. Blackbirds, wrens, robins and song thrushes fill the air with glorious song. The early morning sun catches glittering drops of dew suspended in fragile spiderwebs turning grass into a field of diamonds. A walk of happiness to the garden to gather rhubarb.

This Rhubarb cake is one you make with pleasurable ease. The tactile pleasure of combining the crumble by hand. The lemony perfume of adding the sumac. The sharp tang of grating the lemon into brown sugar then rubbing the zest through the sugar with your finger tips. A whip of eggs. An easy pour of melted butter. A gently folding of flour and a delicate hand with the rhubarb. All is happiness in this hour.

This is a cake that sits often under a glass dome in my kitchen. As the season changes the cake takes on a different persona. Sometimes chopped pears with a dash of almond flavouring. The stone fruit comes into season I add peaches, apricots or deep purple plums and serve the cake with whipped cream. Apples and cinnamon cake generously presented with a wedge of crumbly wedge of old cheddar cheese; the flavour of autumn.

“Happiness . . . not in another place, but this place, not for another hour, but this hour.” (Walt Whitman)

The printable recipe resides in the kitchen of MRS.BUTTERFINGERS.

Bon Appetit my dear friends.

CHOCOLATEY CHOCOLATE CAKE . . . WITH FLUFFY BUTTERCREAM CHOCOLATE FROSTING

This rich,dense, spectacularly chocolate cake is my absolute favourite of all cakes.    It has a delicate moist crumb and the dream-like chocolate buttercream frosting stays light and fluffy to the very last slice .   This is the cake I make for any and every occasion. 

  For every day snacking I make it as a one layer cake or loaf cake.    You can double the recipe for a two layer cake or a sheet cake.   I have made a magnificent three layer birthday cake using this recipe.  Baking is a science and one can not always double a recipe successfully.    This sweetheart of a cake does allow you to double the ingredients ( but no further).  For a three layer cake I bake a double cake and then the single cake.  All this belies that fact that it is incredibly easy to make. 

This most chocolate of cakes uses unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder in the cake and the frosting. It has a smoother, more mellow flavour than cocoa but you can use either.  Buttermilk adds a suggestion of tangy flavour and a small amount of coffee brings a deeper note of richness to the cake.  If you don’t have a mixer you a generous sized whip will do the trick.   The icing does require a mixer so the chocolate glaze would be the answer.

The recipe for my favourite chocolate cake, fluffy icing and chocolate glaze can be found in the kitchen of

MRS.BUTTERFINGERS.  Bon Appetit dear friends.

(this recipe adapted from Snacking Cakes Yossy Arefi)

 

 

THE DELICIOUS UBIQUITOUS ITALIAN TART … SPICED BLUEBERRY CROSTATA

If I could make only one type of pie a crostata would be my choice. It is spectacular in presentation with a sublime choice of fillings. Its professional appearance belies the simplicity of its construction. A dessert to swoon over at the end of dinner.

A crostata is a tart filled with fruit or cream or even both. A crostata is shallower than a pie but has more structure than a galette. It is made with pasta frolla, a sweet, buttery, forgivable pastry, The sweet pastry dough is typically enriched with butter and egg yolk. The dough is easy to roll out and easily patched together if it tears. The dough is so forgiving and tender that I rolled out leftover scraps of pasty and cut out rounds for miniature fruits tarts. The much handled dough baked beautifully tender.

In Italy the basic crostata is made with a thick layer of good jam, preferably homemade, sandwiched between the bottom crust and a lattice top. Summer is a delicious season for crostatas. One can use fresh fruit cooked down a bit with sugar to make a quick jam. Almost any fruit, fresh or frozen, from strawberries, peaches and blueberries to figs can be used for the fillings. The jam for the filling can be stored in an airtight container for up to two 2 weeks. I like to make the pastry the day before and refrigerate it overnight night. This is a very accommodating recipe. A joy to make. The perfect dessert.

MRS.BUTTERFINGERS has the print recipe. Bon Appetit dear friends.

( recipe Domenica Marchetti from Fine Cooking )

SHE TAMED THE WOLF WITH CAKE . . . Apple, Cinnamon and Cardamon Cake

A wind like wolves prowling across the fields. Growling at windows and doors. Snarling down the fireplace chimney. The kind of rainy, dark, dismal day that cried out for a kitchen perfumed with the fragrance of exotic spices. A cake! A cake to be consumed still warm from the oven. A cake with a bold presence. A cake to keep the wolf from the door.

When I lived in Amsterdam I shopped daily at the Albert Cupt Street Market. And every day I would stop at a near by cafe to enjoy coffee with a slice of Apple Cinnamon Cardamon Cake, and watch boats travelling the canals. I’ve adapted this recipe from Luthra Vedika’s cookbook “52 Weeks, 52 Sweets”. It’s a delightfully easy cake to make. The streusel topping is crunchy, rich and flavoured with cinnamon and cardamon. You hand -mix the cake batter in one bowl. Fold in a generous amount of chopped apples and top it with the streusel

This cake is divine warm from the oven. It’s tricky. It can be done if you let the cake cool for a few minutes then run a knife around the edges to loosen it, unmold it from the pan and slide it on to a plate. Or let your cake come to room temperature for serving. Be brave – it’s your call. You’ll serve a cake that will keep the wolves from the door.

MRS.BUTTERFINGERS has the printable recipe. Bon Appetit dear friends.

SPICED PUMPKIN AND WALNUT TART . . . aromatic spices and a sweet walnut pastry

The perfect Thanksgiving dinner always ends with pumpkin pie. The delicious aroma of aromatic spices fill your kitchen as you take this delicate creamy textured tart out of the oven. Pumpkin is one of those marvellous vegetables that can be used in both sweet and savoury recipes. It attains a glorious height of wonderfulness when it is encased in a sweet walnut pastry.

It is traditional that every Thanksgiving I make a new recipe for pumpkin pie. And every Thanksgiving I think that perhaps this is the best recipe. It is the creamy pumpkin filling redolent with exotic spices that we look forward to and expect each year. That cannot be changed. However, the pastry gives one a great opportunity to visit uncharted waters.

I discovered this tantalizing recipe in an old copy of the UK version of Country Living. I have used ground almonds in pastry and the combination of walnuts and pumpkins in the traditional pumpkin pie was intriguing. I nibbled the test pastry. Its sweet, walnut flavoured texture was both sophisticated and delicious. The printable recipe awaits you in MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen. Happy Thanksgiving dear friends. With love, Virginia.

THE COMPATIBILITY OF CAKES . . . an easy to make MOCHA CHOCOLATE CAKE

This is a cake recipe that is compatibility with the baker. I have two sisters. My older sister is 91 years old. She is a fabulous baker but she find the time it requires very tiring. My younger sister’s health is not the best and she also finds it difficult to indulge in her love of baking. They both enjoy a slice of cake or a cookie with their afternoon cup of tea. Store bought cookies or cake simply do not make the cut. I have made it my mandate to adept some recipes that will allow them continue to enjoy baking. Recipes that are considerate and compatible for my sisters.

This cake recipe has a delicious chocolate flavour and a whisper of coffee in the Mocha glaze. One can assemble and measure out the ingredients the day before. This takes about ten minutes or so. Then next day, in the morning when you are not tired you mix the cake and pour it into the pan. Another ten minutes. When the cake is cool mix the glaze and give it a quick stir and pour it over the cake. That’s it. You’re done You are not standing for long periods of time and one can rest in between each process.

As for clean up. Before one starts the mixing process a sink full of hot soapy water allows you to clean as you go. It is all about doing a bit at a time.

The ingredients of this cake are ones normally found in ones pantry or refrigerator. My sisters order their groceries on line so I have considered accessibility to ingredients in this cake. They don’t enjoy cake mixes or store bought baking. This is a recipe is quick and easy to make and has a rich, soul satisfying chocolate flavour. A treat with tea or anytime a treat is called for.

Recipes such as this one would also be helpful for those who have little time to spend in the kitchen, but would love to have a home made cake. It would be an excellent cake for children to bake with a little adult help. Pop into MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen for the printable recipe. Bon Appetit dear friends.

CHERRY STREUSEL . . . THE DESSERT THAT SINGS OF SUMMER

This is a sublime riff on a fruit crumble.  An almond flavoured rich cookie base.  Juicy, dark cherries.  Then a streusel topping whispering the same cookie taste.  A cake that is not a cake but a crumble.  A decadent dessert that sings of summer.

Once you’ve pitted the cherries the cake goes together in just ten minutes.   If you don’t have a cherry pitter it is easy to remove pits with a chop-stick or the pointed end of a decorating pastry tip.  Hold the cherry between two fingers and position it on a cutting board.    Push the chop stick or pastry tip through the centre of the stem.

The crumble is a combination of ground almonds, flour and butter.  A quick whirl in your food processor.  Press half the mixture into a cake base with a removable base.  Sprinkle with cherries.  Then top with the remaining streusel and pop in the oven.   This is the perfect summer cake for a picnic.   Just transport the cake in its tin.

Dust this sweetheart of a cherry crumble with a little icing sugar. Or indulge with a spoon of clotted cream or a generous drift of whipped cream. The cherry season is a brief so do indulge in this delicious fresh cherry dessert.

The recipe is to be found awaiting you on MRS.BUTTERFINGERS.

T

THE POLITE CLASSIC PEANUT BUTTER CRISPY COOKIES

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When someone lists their favourite cookies this cookie is almost always on their list.  It is a classic and I collect classics.  I call it a polite peanut butter cookie.   It is at once crisp and chewy.   There’s a whisper of a crunch and then a murmuring of sweet, closely followed by an exclamation of salt.  This polite cookie does not have an aggressive peanut butter flavour.  Your know the kind of cookie.  The peanut butter cookie that clings to and overpowers your taste buds.  This peanut butter cookie can be kept simple.  Or, you can adorn it with chocolate.  A little cocoa powder and a sprinkle of finely chopped of  your-very-best chocolate and you have a winner.  Then you sign your cookie creations with the traditional  classic crisscrosses.

When you’re whipping up this cookie creation refrain from using all-natural peanut butter.  As with most peanut butter recipes you won’t get the texture you want with this type of peanut butter. 

This is a generous recipe.  If you allow a level tablespoonful of dough for each cookie the recipe will give you four to five dozen cookies.  Wrapped well or in a cookie jar(graciously separating the layers with parchment paper) they will keep for about five days at room temperature.  You can freeze these cookies.  They’re good for about two months.

This recipe is from the fabulous book BAKING FROM MY HOME TO YOURS by Dorie Greenspan.   The recipe awaits you in the kitchen of    MRS.BUTTERFINGERS.