Grandma's Fudge Brownies

 
Fudge Brownies

For the last couple of years I've been tackling a series of my Grandma's handwritten recipes and photographing the results to include in a family cookbook. It's been both fun and challenging. See my Grandma had a sweet tooth, I do not. So I've been putting off making lots of the desserts. It's also challenging in the sense that I constantly think I'm not making the recipes correct, often wishing she was still here to ask for advice or tips to ensure they'll turn out just right.  

That feeling of uneasiness was here as I made these fudge brownies for the first time (yes first). Something felt incorrect as I was mixing them. The ratio of butter and sugar to flour felt off. But I stuck to the recipe. Trusted it will turn out, if not, telling myself I could always make another batch. To my delight, they turned out on the first go! Super chewy, not too heavy on the chocolate side, and a little crunch from the nuts. 

I think the sweets might even be growing on me now. 

Grandma's Fudge Brownies

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 x 1oz unsweeted bakers chocolate, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325°. Beat together butter, sugar, melted chocolate and vanilla. Add eggs and beat until mixed. Stir in flour. Fold in walnuts. Bake in a greased 8x8 inch pan for 35 min.

Optional, but likely a must for those who love a bit of chocolate drama, I melted an ounce of dark baking chocolate and drizzled on top before serving.

Fudge Brownies
Fudge Brownies
Fudge Brownies
Brownies
Brownies
Brownies
Brownies
 

Chocolate Hazelnut Energy Balls with Lion’s Mane and Chaga Mushrooms

 
Chocolate Hazelnut Energy Balls

The incredible health benefits of edible mushrooms
Fungus has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine. Lion’s mane mushroom is best known for their benefits of improved cognitive health and reduced inflammation. It’s great for supporting short-term and visual recognition memory.  Chaga is known for boosting the immune system, being a potent antioxidant, and lowering cholesterol. It contains melanin, which helps fights radiation and tumors. Chaga is also good at helping the body adapt and respond to stress.

Chocolate Hazelnut Energy Balls

Chocolate Hazelnut Energy Balls with Lion’s Mane and Chaga Mushrooms
Makes 20-24

1 cup hazelnut meal (ground fresh hazelnuts or purchase as a meal)
1 ½ cup medjool date, pits removed
1/3 cup cocoa powder
½ cup shredded coconut flakes
4 tbs coconut oil, melted
3 tbs protein powder
2 tbs powdered lion’s mane mushroom
1 tbs powdered chaga mushroom
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp salt

Powdered mushrooms
I find the best way to get powdered mushrooms is to purchase them in their dehydrated state and pulse into a powder using a spice grinder. You can usually find dehydrated lion’s mane and chaga mushrooms at your local Asian supermarket.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the batter comes together and sticks. If you find the batter is still loose, add a tablespoon of water and pulse. Form the batter into small balls. If you wanted to be extra fancy, you could coat the energy balls in some melted chocolate and sprinkle with some fun toppings. I like to use bee pollen, pistachios, wild rose petals, coconut flakes, or some falvoured salt like raspberry.

Chocolate Hazelnut Energy Balls
Chocolate Hazelnut Energy Balls
Chocolate Hazelnut Energy Balls
 

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns

 
Hot cross buns

I think I might have started my own personal Easter tradition. I didn't grow up with hot cross buns being made in our house, or even purchased around Easter. However, with my ever increasing love for making bread, this is second year in a row I've made them. I'm sure I will make them again next year, or perhaps a second batch for Easter weekend! 

This year I wanted to make something a little different than the traditional bun made with raisin. I had some amazing whole wheat flour from a local Alberta farm, Gold Forest Grains,  I've been wanting to bake with. They grow heirloom and heritage wheat, stoned milled in small batches. Trust me when I say, you can feel the difference when you touch and smell this flour. 

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns
Makes 12

Yeast Mixture & Dough
1 tbs dry active yeast
½ cup sugar, plus 2 tbs
1 ½ cups lukewarm milk
1 ¼ cups (two apples) of chopped apple
4 ½ cups whole wheat all-purpose flour
1 ½ tbs cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ginger powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
50g(1 ½ oz) melted butter

Mixture for Crosses
½ cup plain all-purpose flour
1/3 cup water

Glaze
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water, plus more for blooming the gelatin
2 tsp powdered unflavoured gelatin

Add the yeast, milk and 2 tbs of sugar in a large bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes. The mixture should start to form bubbles (activating the yeast). Add the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, egg, melted butter, remaining sugar, and apples to the yeast mixture. Mix until it forms a workable ball. Place the dough on a floured surface and kneed for 5-10 minutes, until the dough feels elastic. Let the dough rise in a lightly oiled bowl for 1 hour; covered with a damp cloth. The dough should double in size.

Grease a 9 x 12 inch pan and line with parchment paper. Form the dough into 12 evenly sized balls and place in the pan. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F. To make the dough for the cross; mix the remaining flour and water in a small bowl until it forms a loose paste. It shouldn’t be too runny, or too thick. Place the mixture in a piping bag, or plastic bag and cut off one corner. Pipe the mixture in a cross pattern over the buns. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a deep golden brown.

To make the glaze, sprinkle the gelatin over ½ cup cold water until it “blooms” (has absorbed the water ~10 minutes).  In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water on low to medium heat and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the gelatin and heat for 1 minute. Glaze buns while they are still hot out of the oven.

Serve buns warm, with butter and honey.

Hot cross buns
Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns
 

Cloudberry Salted Caramels with A Canadian Foodie

 

Valerie Lugonja, from  a Canadian Foodie, spent time showing Emily Mardell from Get Joyfull, and myself how to make cloudberry salted caramels. I attempted to make a batch of caramels in the summer, and it was an epic fail. So I was pretty excited to give these a go under the watchful eye of an experienced baker. We made two batches, using three thermometers to keep track of the most accurate temperature. It turns out my thermometer wasn't good at all. Likely the culprit of the first failed attempt. 

The end result of these batches, however, were soft, chew caramels with a subtle cloudberry flavour. A real treat! They were finished with some of Valerie's exquisite Atlantic salt. A perfect pairing for these Eastern Canadian berries.   

For a link to the full recipe, visit Valerie's blog at https://www.acanadianfoodie.com/2018/03/02/cloudberry-caramels/

Cloudberry Salted Caramels
Cloudberry Salted Caramels
Cloudberry Salted Caramels
Cloudberry Salted Caramels
Cloudberry Salted Caramels
Cloudberry Salted Caramels
 

Cloudberry Puree with A Canadian Foodie

 

I spent an amazing day in the kitchen of Valerie Lugonja's from  a Canadian Foodie in February, along with Emily Mardell from Get Joyfull, baking with a remarkable Canadian berry Emily brought back from a trip to Newfoundland. These cloudberries, or bakedapples, were a treat for me. They don't grow where I live, and I was told they are pretty hard to get your hands on. I can only imagine if they did, I would be out foraging for them all the time! 

We spent the afternoon making a few different recipes. Most of which used a puree as the base. From caramels, to tarts, and cloudberry whipped cream. For the recipe we used for the cloudberry puree, visit Valerie's blog at https://www.acanadianfoodie.com/2018/02/23/cloudberry-puree/.  

Cloudberry Puree
Cloudberry Puree
Cloudberry Puree
 

Hamburger & Cabbage Soup

 
Hamburger & Cabbage Soup

I remember this soup fondly growing up. It’s perfect on those days where you need something warm and comforting, but don’t want to comprise on a cheat meal. Loaded with lots of veggies, this is a hearty meal for a chilly winter day.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 med onion, diced
  • 3 cups diced cabbage 
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups stock or water
  • 1 can beef consommé
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup barley 
  • parsley, thyme, salt and pepper

Brown meat and onions, drain. Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Simmer for 2 hours.