Breakfast

Panettone French Toast

December 11, 2014

Each year growing up I looked forward to my favourite Italian Christmas treat – Panettone. A festive Italian sweet bread / cake studded with dried fruit and a hint of citrus. It’s one of my favourite memories of Christmas with my dads family. It signified the beginning of the holidays. We would only get to taste the sweet fluffy bread during the holidays – which meant that when I could get my hands on it I would easily devour 4 or 5 pieces. Unlike traditional Christmas fruit cakes, panettone is light and fluffy, with a hint of citrus and a sweet taste much like brioche. I’m not fond of fruitcake, unless it’s panettone.

As soon as I see the beautiful imported boxes of Panettone I get way too excited. I’ve even brought a panettone on an airplane to gift to someone  – yeah, I’m that person who brings a cake on a plane. 

We always did the big Italian Christmas Eve at my Nonnas – and you would always see the famous boxed panettone sitting on the counter waiting to be sliced for dessert. If we were lucky we might get some before dinner – but you wouldn’t want to spoil your appetite before the feast of seven fishes.

As a special treat we would add the faintest dust of icing sugar on top (though you really don’t need it). On Christmas morning my dad would slice the panettone at our house, and present it in star cut slices.

Now, as an adult I buy myself at least two panettone’ during the holidays. I may even buy another one to freeze for the future. While I love panettone on it’s own, I’ve also grown to love it as French toast for breakfast. It’s simply delicious – and easy to prep. I find it’s better than brioche because the bread is so airy light that the pieces of French toast are fluffy like a cloud even when cooked. It’s definitely a Christmas treat and would be an absolute favourite Christmas morning breakfast. Serve with a mimosa, maple syrup and fresh fruit.

T’is the season – so go ahead, eat panettone for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert!

Panettone French Toast
A christmas twist on the traditional favourite - thick slices of sweet panettone dunked in a vanilla-egg mixture and cooked until crisp.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 thick slices Panettone per person
  2. 2 eggs per slice (4 eggs for two people)
  3. dash of vanilla
  4. dash of cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Heat pan on medium heat with cooking spray/coconut oil/butter.
  2. In shallow baking dish whisk together eggs, vanilla and cinnamon.
  3. Add thick slices of panettone, allowing it to soak on each side for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Carefully lift slices out of baking dish and into pre-heated pan. The panettone can be quite 'mushy' at this stage, so I suggest lifting it with a spatula/egg flipper.
  5. Cook each side of the panettone for 3-4 minutes on medium-low. You want the outside to be crisp, and the inside to be cooked but not soggy.
  6. Serve with real maple syrup and fresh fruit.
Notes
  1. Best if eaten the same day.
b a k e a h o l i c http://www.bakeaholic.ca/
Candy, Christmas

Caramel Peanut Butter Cups

December 5, 2014

‘Tis the season for holiday get togethers! And this weekend we have three – three – all of which we’re hosting (or co-hosting). I secretly love having holiday parities. I think it’s because neither Adam or I have a ‘staff party’ of sorts to go to, so I feel like we miss out. Since I’m a teacher on call, though I work everyday, I’m at different schools all the time. I don’t have my ‘own’ school that I belong to, which if fine by me because I love being a substitute right now. With Adam working out of town, there isn’t a staff party for his crew (although I’m not sure they could if they wanted, seeing as how there are a few hundred of them there). 

And hosting a party means I get to bake up a storm – oh, and decorate. The house is wrapped up in decorations.

Tonight we have a neighbourhood party that we’re co-hosting with friends, tomorrow we have another party at our house with friends, and sunday we are having an early Christmas get together with our  family because we will be in BALI for Christmas! I can’t even believe we’re actually going! T-17 days!!!!

These Caramel Peanut Butter Cups are little bites of heaven – a dark chocolate shell, sprinkled with sea salt or crushed peanuts, and filled with a creamy, caramel-y silky peanut butter centre. It’s the grown up version of the beloved peanut butter cup. It’s almost as if a Rolo and a Peanut Butter Cup had a baby – this is what it would be. Only healthier, made with dark chocolate, natural peanut butter and dates as a sweetener. 

I made about 4 dozen of these for a holiday bake exchange last weekend. They’re great because they require no baking, and very little prep. I use a mini muffin tin, which can hold 24 liners at a time. This makes for a fast production line. 

You can also make the other version from last year,  Salted Almond Butter & Pretzel Cups.

 

Caramel Peanut Butter Cups
Yields 24
A decadent grown up version of the peanut butter cup - naturally sweetened with dates, sprinkled with sea salt.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup of dark chocolate chunks/chocolate chips
  2. 1 tsp coconut oil
  3. 1/2 cup natural smooth peanut butter
  4. 4-5 Medjool dates
  5. sea salt (optional)
  6. crushed peanuts (optional)
Instructions
  1. 1. Line a mini muffin tin with mini cupcake liners, set aside.
  2. 2. Melt dark chocolate and coconut oil in doubler boiler, or place in small bowl on top of shallow pot of simmering water, until completely melted, stir.
  3. 3. Drop a teaspoon full of melted chocolate into bottom of mini cupcake liner. Repeat for all liners, tap pan slightly to evenly spread out chocolate. Place in fridge to chill for a few minutes until hardened.
  4. 4. In a food processor add medjool dates along with a Tbs. of water. Pulse until the dates make a paste. Add in the peanut butter and pulse again to mix.
  5. 5. Remove muffin tin from fridge and, using pastry bag, fill the peanut butter mixture into the centre of the chocolate disk. Alternatively you can spoon it in.
  6. 6. Spoon enough of remaining melted chocolate on top of peanut butter centre until completely covered. Sprinkle tops with coarse sea salt. Return finished tray to the fridge to chill completely.
  7. These can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or frozen for late night cravings. They are even better cold.
Notes
  1. Note: if not using medjool dates, soften your dates in hot water for 5 minutes, drain.
b a k e a h o l i c http://www.bakeaholic.ca/
 

Christmas

Holiday Baking Roundup 2014

November 30, 2014

There is something so magical about the first snowfall of the season. 

Friday night while watching a movie with one of my friends, and snacking on our charcuterie board (the best), the soft white flakes began falling down. We took a peak outside and were happily surprised to see how much had accumulated over the past couple hours. 

As a kid it was always so exciting when the first snow fell – waking up to a winter wonderland was everything.  And, if you knew it was supposed to snow, you would leap out of bed and tear open the blinds to see if it really had snowed. You’d race to get your snow gear on and bound out to the fresh mounds of snow to make snowmen and snow angels.

Now, as an adult, I get equally as excited about the first snowfall. However, for much different reasons. First, I’m happy it was on a Friday night so I didn’t have to get up and drive to work the next day because, lets face it, people freak out at the tiniest bit of snow. And second, instead of running out to enjoy the snow, I am happier to stay indoors, cozy up with a warm cup of tea, a good book or show and watch the snow fall around outside. 

What better way to spend a snowy day inside than by baking. I’ve rounded up a few of this past years favourite holiday recipes. Some new, some old and some gluten free and/or vegan! Something to please everyones taste buds :)

1. Italian Pizzelle Cookies – crisp, light and delicately sweet.

2. Vegan Brownies - bake them in a larger pan, cut into smaller squares to please a crowd. 

3. Personalized Gingerbread Cookies - monogrammed cookies means everyone gets one :)

4. Flourless Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars – fluffy and light, gluten free. 

5. Fudgey Raspberry Brownies – dense, and deliciously decadent. 

6. Christmas Toffee Crack(le) – addictive, salty and sweet – amazing 

7. Flourless Almond Brownies – made with almond meal, dense and fudge-like

8.  Almond Butter Blossom Cookies – an almond-butter take on the traditional thumbprint classic

9. Nanaimo Bar Bites – one of my favourite holiday treats, just dressed up a little different

10. Salted Almond Butter & Pretzel Cups – just like their peanut-y partner, these almond butter cups are a bite of heaven.

11. Pumpkin Biscotti – a seasonal twist on another italian classic – drizzle in chocolate for an extra treat.