Browsing Tag

Cream Cheese


Award Winning Pecan Tart

September 20, 2011

This past weekend I entered a baking contest! It was the Second Annual Great BC Bake-Off held in Langely, hosted by Well Seasoned. It was a small part of a larger event, the BBQ on the Bypass. It is an all-day barbeque competition. There were free samples of every type of pork BBQ you could think of. It was delicious! I most definitely came home that day smelling of BBQ and smoke.

We were entertained by the wonderful Karen Lee Batten, a country singer from BC who was a finalist on the first season of Canadian Idol. Mom and I even got a picture with her between her show.

I had woken up early Sunday morning to prepare. I had made the tart dough the night before so that I would be ready to go in the morning, without having to wait for it to chill. I rolled out the dough, placed it carefully in my new rectangle tart pan(!), and began making the filling. It was only 8 am, and the kitchen already smelled of browned butter pecans and orange zest. It was wonderful. I even had a small amount left over to make a ‘mini’ tart, so I could taste test it 😉 That was breakfast. Adam got up a little after me, I made him taste the tart (hard life!) and then we made our way out to Langley. Entries had to be submitted before noon.

There were about 30 pies in total entered in the contest. There were three categories, Fruit Pie, Open (anything goes), and Butter Tarts (of course). When I went to drop mine off, I did notice a few other Pecan pies/tarts that were also submitted. All of the pies looked very delicious! There were several judges, one of which was Follow Me Foodie.

We made our way around the BBQ tents, tasting what each had to offer. Adam was in BBQ heaven. By the second loop, I was pretty full! Adam’s mom and my mom met us there as well, so each time we took them around to the tents we had another sample. There was also homemade Perogies, and vegetarian Borscht. I can safely say no one was leaving the event hungry.

Adam and I had to stay until the awards ceremony, which said online, and on the entry form, was to be held at 4 pm. We had gone across the street for a little bit to shop, and returned around 3 to wait for the ceremony. As 4 o’clock passed, we began to wonder if it was going to begin soon. After asking an event coordinator, we were told it was actually at 5 pm. So, we sat down for another hour and listened to some more songs by Karen-Lee. If we had known earlier, I may have gone home for a few hours and perhaps done some homework.. but oh well. We also had a family dinner to get to at 5 pm.

However, the wait was worth it! My entry came in Second place! I was secretly hoping I would make some placement, after waiting around all day it would have been a little dissapointing if I did not. But, they did call my name! I came in second place for my Pecan tart! I was awarded a lovely ribbon (my first!) and a $100 gift certificate to the gourmet kitchen store, Well Seasoned. I thought only first place was going to receive a gift cetificate, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out I was going to be winning one as well! I have already begun thinking about what I may purchase with it..

I had only found out about the contest on the Tuesday before. So, I had to get moving! I made a whole pecan tart the next night, trying out a few new ideas and flavours. Then, the day before I made some mini tarts, using frozen dough just so I could try an idea I had after tweaking the filling recipe. That was it! I believe I had created something quite delicious.. !

me and the organizer Angie, photo from the flickr stream

So, here is my Award Winning recipe! The addition of the orange zest adds a lot of flavour to the filling! After making these brownies a few times before, I also decided to brown the butter instead of melting it in the microwave (because it also keeps exploding when I do that! anyone else have this problem of exploding butter..). I also wanted to do a tart dough with cream cheese, as I’ve heard of it before and thought it would be soft and prevent from an overly-hard crust that could be difficult to cut. I based mine off of this recipe I found.

This will definitely be making an appearance at our thanksgiving table this year :)

Royal Pecan Tart

Made with Crown Royal, Browned Butter Pecans & Orange Zest

Recipe by Bakeaholic 


         For the Crust

  • 1/2 cup chilled cream cheese, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup organic cane sugar

 To make the dough:

  1. Place the cream cheese, butter, flour and sugar in a food processor. Process until dough starts to form.
  2. Pour onto a piece of plastic wrap, and shape into a ball.
  3. Flatten into a disk, and cover tightly with plastic wrap, being sure to seal all edges tightly.
  4. Refrigerate at least 1 hour, or may be made and refrigerated for one night, or 24 hours in advance.

For the Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Zest from 2 oranges
  • 1 cups chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Just under 1/2 cup golden corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons organic blue agave syrup
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons Crown Royal Liquor

To Assemble:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Roll out tart dough to ¼ inch thickness on slightly floured countertop.

    I roll the dough over top of the rolling pin, and then unroll it over top of the pan. If using a round tart dish or pie plate, you would roll it in more of a circle, then fold it in half and then in a quarter, and place point in middle of pan and unfold. 
    Place over lightly buttered pan, and press down on sides and bottom lightly.
  3. Discard extra dough.
  4. Melt butter in a small pot over medium heat; cook two minutes, whisking until butter browns. Stir in pecans and cook a couple more minutes, continue stirring. Remove pan from heat.
  5.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs. Add orange zest, brown sugar, corn syrup, agave, Crown Royal and vanilla until well combined. Stir in pecans.
  6. Pour filling onto crust ¾ way full. Bake 20-25 minutes or until dough is golden brown and filling is set. Cool completely on wire rack. Best if  served same day. Can be stored for 1-2 days.
Have you ever entered any baking or cooking contests!?

You can also make it in a round tart pan!


Zucchini Banana Muffins

August 17, 2011

I can’t decide at which point a muffin becomes a cupcake. Lots of times someone will call it a muffin, but really that’s just an excuse to not feel bad while eating a ‘muffin’ topped with delicious frosting. Like those GIANT ‘muffins’ from Costco, that are the size of a small cake. Seriosuly. Somehow calling it a muffin feels healthier and we can justify eating a ‘muffin’ for breakfast at 9 am. Not that I’ve done that or anything… (PS. warmed up chocolate costco muffins = dessert)

So these are muffins or cupcakes, whatever you need to tell yourself so you can eat them. And you should, cause they’re good. Damn good.

I made these this week to send along with Adam and my brother (they work together, in case you didn’t know. They’re cool like that.) They went to the Island for a few days to do some work so I thought, being the good sister & girlfriend that I am that I would make something for them to bring along. Actually, I just wanted an excuse to use the large zucchini and browned bananas in my house and make this recipe again.

Zucchini and banana are the perfect combination. Growing up I would wait impatiently for my Nonna to bake zucchini bread. I wonder now how popular this kind of dessert was among my non-Italian friends. It was a staple growing up, along with nutella on French bread. Or nutella straight out of the bottle with a spoon, after sneaking it from the ktichen cupboard. My Nonna’s zucchini bread was always perfectly baked and moist. I love zucchini in all forms, but baked into a loaf or muffins (cupcakes?) is always a treat.

I made this recipe as a bundt cake last year and remembered how good it was.  I was given the thumbs up by Adam and the boys, so if grown journeymen say it’s good, it’s gotta be true.

I am FINALLY finished summer classes. And what a long summer it has been. Although, the weather has been less than stellar here in Vancouver. It’s finally starting to look and feel like summer, just in time for the fall. I get two and half weeks off before classes start again! Adam and I are heading to the states this weekend, near Seattle. And next week were going to Sin City! VEGAS baby. Third time, cannot wait!!!

— These can be made without the icing and they are just as delicious!! —

Zucchini & Banana Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting (let’s be serious, they’re totally cupcakes)

Makes about 20


  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup organic raw cane sugar ( can use  regular)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups raw zucchini, grated
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup cream cheese
2-3 cups icing sugar (depending on consistency)


1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grate zucchini and set aside.  Mash bananas and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat eggs, oil, and sugar.
4. Slowly add flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, & vanilla extract.  Thoroughly combine.
5. Add zucchini and bananas until well blended.
6. Pour 1/4 cup into lined muffin tins, about 3/4 full and bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes in pans on wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely.

To make frosting:

In mixer, cream butter and cream cheese together. Slowly add icing sugar until you reach the right consistency.

You can use a spoon or knife, or small metal spatula to frost the tops, or use a piping bag with round tip.

*Optional* You can top it with a banana chip if you like =)

I just love the flecks of zucchini and banana. Yum.

Bars & Squares, Canada Day

Canada Day, July 1

June 30, 2011

Don’t mind the slightly bright, and non-pretty looking dessert photos. This dish is just not photogenic lol. Every year I want to make a special dessert to celebrate Canada Day. Last year, I made a simple maple cake/loaf. It was pretty delicious. But this year, I wanted to do something to incorporate our national colours. Although, I kinda wished we had a little more colour in our flag! It’s limited with what you can make, besides cupcakes and cake with strawberries to make a maple leaf. Adam and I are also headed up to Osoyoos today so we can celebrate tomorrow! Thankfully the HWY has been cleared up, because yesterday there was a giant mudslide that stopped traffic in all directions! But I heard on the radio that we are good to go! It would be a major bummer to not be able to go out of town on the long weekend!

I just hope the dessert makes it on the 4-5 hour road trip! We had to borrow a cooler, cause A. we don’t own one, and B. we have no room to store one even if we bought it! Seeing as how it is a cool dessert, I froze a giant ice pack to put into the cooler with it, and we can always stop for ice if we need to refresh it! I’ve actually made this dessert several times before, and it is so delicious. It’s from Kraft Canada, and is sort of like a cheesecake with jello on top. Yup. It’s delicious. The original calls for a pretzel crust, but I’ve never been a fan of that so I just make it with graham cracker crumbs like a regular cheesecake.

You could totally sub other fruits for it, like a melon one, or raspberries, blueberries, blackberries etc. Or even a lemon one, and leave out the fruit completely. That would be delicious!

I let the Jell-O set a little too long this time, so it didn’t have a ‘smooth’ finish to the topping, but I’m fairly confident it will taste just as good, whether or not it’s pretty.

I also make it at least the night before, or morning of, so as to let it set up firm for more than a couple hours so it is easy to cut!

Strawberry Jell-O Cheesecake Squares
slightly adapted from Kraft Canada – Strawberry Pretzel Squares

2 cups Graham cracker crumbs
just about 2/3 cup butter, melted
1-1/2 pkg. (250 g each) Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping
3 tbs. Sugar
2 cups boiling water
2 pkg. (85 g each) Jell-O Strawberry Jelly Powder
1-1/2 cups cold water
4 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix Graham cracker crumbs, and butter in bowl, press (using the back of a spoon) onto bottom of 13×9-inch pan. Bake 10 min.; cool.

Beat cream cheese, in medium bowl with mixer until well blended. StirSugar and  Cool Whip, add more/less sugar depending on how sweet you would like it; spread over crust. Refrigerate until ready to use.

In another bowl, add boiling water to jelly powders; stir 2 min. until completely dissolved. Stir in cold water. Refrigerate 1-1/2 hours or until thickened. Now, you don’t want it fully set, but enough when you drag a spoon through it, it will leave a mark. Stir in strawberries until incorporated; spoon over cream cheese layer.

Refrigerate minimum 3 hours or until firm.

Keep in fridge until ready to serve, otherwise it will become too mushy to cut!

Hope everyone has a nice long weekend!!! Happy Canada Day!