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I woke up yesterday morning thinking about macaroons. As one does. (You know the difference between macaroons and macarons, right? Macaroons are those chewy mounds of coconut and sugar, bound together by egg whites. Macarons are those fancy $2-per-pop French filled sandwich cookies made with ground almonds.) Macaroons and chocolate are pals – as a kid, I’d beg my mom to buy those Ruffles, which would last approximately five minutes in our house. I realize there aren’t a whole lot of Easter recipes on this site, and it occurred to me that macaroons come with an added holiday bonus: when pressed into tart shells, they resemble nests. And that little space in the middle provides an ideal chocolate delivery service. AmIright?

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Shells: 2 cups flaked or shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened 1/4 cup sugar 2 egg whites Filling: 3/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream 1 cup chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate chocolate eggs (optional) Preheat the oven to 350F. In a small bowl, stir together the coconut, sugar and egg whites. Spray a small tart pan or mini muffin pan with nonstick spray and press about a tablespoon of the coconut mixture into each, gently pressing into the bottom and up the sides. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden. Set aside to cool, but use a thin knife to run around the edge of each and remove it from the pan while it’s still warm. To make the ganache, warm the cream in a small saucepan until steaming. Add the chocolate and let sit for a few minutes, then whisk until smooth. Spoon into the cooled tart shells and refrigerate until it firms up – top each with a chocolate egg. Makes about 2 dozenContinue reading

Here’s a delicious way to ring out 2012. I adore profiteroles – I used to choose chocolate-covered cream puffs instead of a birthday cake. I sometimes succumb to the frozen tubs at the grocery store (perfect for chocolate fondue, by the way), but they’re not at all hard to make from scratch. My friend Shaina’s new book, Desserts in Jars, has a recipe for profiteroles in jars, which is kind of a fun presentation. I still have a plethora of jars in the basement. Fill the cooled profiteroles with cream or ice cream – peppermint ice cream would be pretty fab, no? – then top with warm chocolate or hot fudge sauce. I’ve taken to making a quick ganache by simmering a cup of cream, then adding 8 oz. chopped dark chocolate, letting it sit, then stirring until smooth.

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I brought a cake to the office this week. (I don’t usually work in an office, as most of you know, but out of our spare room. But sometimes I get to hang out in a cubicle outside the studio when I’m taking over traffic at CBC, and feel very Mary Tyler Moore-ish.) I happened to be subbing in on David‘s birthday, and so I baked a cake. Peanut butter, because he loves it and so do I. I’ve rarely met a person who doesn’t practically jump up and down with glee at the sight of a peanut butter cake, especially when the layers are sandwiched with chocolate ganache and the whole thing is topped with creamy peanut butter frosting, made with cream cheese. Not that I’ve ever actually made a peanut butter cake, that I can remember, but that was the unanimous reaction I got to this one. Because I didn’t plan ahead and made ganache just a few hours before I had toContinue reading

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Aw, I’m all verklempt. I’m so glad to have you guys here, cheering me on, balancing things out, telling me what I need to hear when I can’t see past my thighs. (Especially my right one, which is inexplicably two inches bigger than my left one.) It’s silly, isn’t it? The hungry part of my brain easily convinces the part that controls my hands and mouth that life is too short to worry about aesthetics, that I shouldn’t waste my time caring about my hair or what I can or can’t wear and who might see me, but rather seize the day (and the donut) and appreciate what I have. Which is all true. Especially when news comes of the death of someone close to many friends and colleagues, and another old friend is suddenly admitted to the ICU. What better salve than a comforting meal shared with people you love? To obsess about that extra piece of buttered toast with tea before bed seemsContinue reading

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My craving for pizza has not been satiated since the disappointing pizza I brought home last week.  A few days ago I mixed up a batch of no-knead bread dough with the intention of making a pizza. Yesterday, when the dough had already been sitting patiently on the counter for 24 hours when it became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to use it, I put it in the fridge – this slows the yeast-rising process, so it was fine to use today and hadn’t morphed into some form of sourdough. I sauteed some mushrooms and wilted some spinach, and turned out our usual big rectangular pizza on one of my rimmed cookie sheets. Happily, I did need to test a recipe for an article on honey I’m working on for City Palate, so we made Chocolate-Honey Cupcakes with Honey Ganache. They turned out incredibly well; not overly sweet despite their name, with a fine, dense texture. Although I’ve never been one to turn downContinue reading

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Ganache is just a fancy word for chocolate melted with cream, and in this case, honey. It’s the same mixture you’d use to make truffles, only more liquidy. It’s actually easier to make than frosting.

So yeah, it’s been a crazy week. A week ago tonight I was making pasta with Jamie Oliver in London – and shared a plate of the pasta he made with him, even – and I need to tell you about it. How, everyone asks, did I come to be in London on an otherwise regular Monday night, wilting stinging nettles to mix with ricotta and mascarpone and stuff into fresh ravioli, alongside one Jamie O? He has a partnership with Sobeys, who as part of their Better Food for All campaign launched a healthy eating/living challenge for which the grand prize was a trip to London to do a private cooking class with Jamie himself. They chose two winners from across Canada (both from out east), and then asked me to come along for the trip, just to tweet and Instagram and generally report on it all. Which, of course, I was thrilled to do. I hadn’t been to London since I was twenty-one,Continue reading

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I realize that 90% of the chocolate cakes you see here are bundt cakes. There are two reasons for this: 1) I like dense, damp, not-too-sweet (even squidgy) chocolate cakes best. And 2) I’m pretty lazy; I’d rather not deal with the layers, which require to be dressed with frosting, and I like the sort of cake you can eat by the wedge – it’s easier to shave off a nibble here and there. And so last Sunday, having just made a round of smoothies, I decided that while the blender was out I’d fast-track the batter for a chocolate cake I had decided to bring my mother in law, who likes a wedge of cake to nibble every night before bed. My standard chocolate cake has a very thin batter anyway; I figured it could be blitzed up like a smoothie and poured into the pan. Right? I was being so lazy about it all that I didn’t even go upstairs to get myContinue reading

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