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How to Make Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

It is funny how we make friends as adults.

As someone who didn’t make my friends as a kid, almost all of my relationships and friendships have happened as an adult. While I sometimes feel like I missed out on having those people around me that I’ve known since I was 3 years old, or those people that I went to every level of school with, I feel really happy and blessed that I’ve been able to build a group of people around me who I not only feel like I chose to have there, but have also chosen to have me be a part of their lives.

One of those people is my friend Liz. I met Liz about six years ago at my first apartment in Toronto. I moved to midtown Toronto after living in a more suburban part of the city with my parents. I had a fantastic apartment which I likely would have still been in today had I not wanted to live alone (ah, roommates, right)? Liz and I didn’t meet through friends or even at a party, we met at her work! I needed a new hair salon and a place down the street from my office and my apartment were taking clients. I walked in and was paired with Liz. A few haircuts later and we were talking all the time. We went from just seeing each other once every few weeks, to her coming over, hanging out, and on numerous occasions, bleaching and dying my hair on my bed using a grocery bag as a cap (glamorous, I know).

Anyways, fast forward a fair bit into the future and Liz and I are still great friends. Although we don’t see each other every week, when we do catch up, we laugh until we can’t breathe and it feels like we haven’t missed a beat.

This week she came over in the evening and we planned to bake. Knowing that she tries to eat Keto, I wanted something she could enjoy- so we settled on these peanut butter cups! They are dark chocolate, all-natural peanut butter, and we used coconut flour and coconut sugar so they’re gluten-free and nearly sugar-free. These don’t really require any prep time, just require a bit of time to free in between steps. You can whip these up with barely any notice and they’re a crowd-pleaser.

Ingredients:

1 2/3 Cups All Natural Peanut Butter, melted (plus more for drizzling)

1 1/4 Cup Coconut Flour

1/3 Cup Coconut Sugar (or Erythritol)

1 1/4 Tsp Madagascar Vanilla Extract

1/4 Tsp Kosher Salt

2 1/4 Cup Dark Chocolate, melted

1 Tbsp + 1/2 Tsp Coconut Oil

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter, coconut flour, sugar, vanilla and salt. Mix well until everything is smooth.

Roll the peanut butter mixture into balls roughly 1 Tbsp in size. Flatten slightly and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze for 30 minutes or until firm.

Once the mix is nearly frozen, melt the coconut oil and chocolate together in a microwave in 20 second bursts on high. Stir in between bursts in the microwave.

Remove the frozen peanut butter mix and using a fork, dip each disk into the melted chocolate until coated and place back onto the parchment paper. Put disks back into the freezer and let firm for another 30 minutes.

Melt some additional peanut butter. Remove the disks from the freezer and drizzle with the melted peanut butter. Salt with flaky sea salt and freeze again for 10 minutes.

Serve these cold to best enjoy them.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did, and if you make them, please tag me on Instagram at @JackDHarding

Sprinkle Donut Holes

If you’re an American friend, the term “TimBit” isn’t going to mean much to you which is why this recipe was called “Sprinkle Donut Holes” instead of what any Canadian would call it “Sprinkle Timbits.” If you grew up in Canada you’ll know that the term donut hole never caught on because the chain Tim Hortons sold “TimBits” (their version and branded with their name) and heavily marketed them for years. Now you can tell a Canadian traveller quite easy when they step into a bakery and ask for one. I’m really excited to have created a great recipe for these that not only fries well, but has a great mouth feel and are delicious! I guarantee that you’re going to love these!

Ingredients:

Donuts:
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 Cup Milk
1 Large Egg
1 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/4 Cup Salted Butter, melted
1/3 Cup Sprinkles

Glaze: 
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1/3 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Sprinkles (for coating)

Instructions:

  1. Whisk flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt together in a large bowl, make sure it’s well mixed.
  2. Combine the milk, egg and vanilla extract in a smaller bowl and add into the flour mix. Add in the melted butter and the sprinkles and mix until a dough starts to form.
  3. In a large heavy bottom pot, heat at least 2″ of vegetable oil to 350F. Aside, line a wire rack with paper towel.
  4. Using an two spoons, spoon the dough into the hot oil. Fry until they’re golden brown (about 1-2 minutes per side) depending on how quickly your oil starts to cool. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the rack andlet cool. 
  5. Once the donuts have cooked and are cooling: whisk powdered sugar, sprinkles, lemon juice, milk, vanilla extract, and salt together in a bowl to make the glaze. It should be smooth.
  6. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet. Dip each donut hole (one at a time) into the glaze and place on the rack; allow excess glaze to drip off before serving. (I add some extra sprinkles while they’re drying, but this is totally up to you).

Easy to Make: Salted Caramel Chocolate Cups

This is going to become a new household favourite for you once you’ve had it. It definitely has for me! These are not only easy to make, but they’re really easy to eat (hah). I was excited to make use of the Sea Salt Flakes I got at an event celebrating Windsor Salt’s 125 Year Anniversary! 

On August 16th, Windsor Salt hosted Table for 125, an exclusive culinary celebration with Canada’s cultural and community leaders, held around a single communal table. Hosted by celebrity chef Eden Grinshpan, more than 125 guests shared an inspired, curated meal featuring signature dishes created by Grinshpan to celebrate all Canadians who bring joy and positive change to their local communities. At the event, Windsor Salt also honored their first-ever Joy Squad, a group of ten local heroes and role models who are making a difference in their communities.

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 1/2 cups caramels, chopped, unwrapped
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons milk 
  • Course Salt/Flake Salt

Instructions:

  1. Place cupcake wrappers in muffin tins (these are going to be big cups, not small like a traditional chocolate cup (think Reese’s)).
  2. In a large microwave safe bowl, add your chocolate chips and microwave at full power in 30-second intervals, stirring between blasts until smooth.
  3. Scoop an ice cream scoop worth of chocolate (~2tbsp) into each liner. You want to make sure about 1/4-3/8 of the chocolate is left for the top. Use a brush (pastry brush is best) to then spread and brush the chocolate up to the top of the liners. This will be a bit tricky so be patient. Place in freezer.
  4. In a medium sized microwave safe bowl, combine the caramels and milk and microwave on high for 120 seconds. Stir. Blast at 30 second intervals after that stirring each time until smooth.
  5. Remove muffin tin from freezer. Pour caramel into chocolate cups until about 2/3 full. Return to the freezer for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove muffin tin from freezer and use the pastry brush to brush the remaining melted chocolate over the top of the caramel being sure to cover all of the caramel (you don’t want any gaps). Sprinkle the salt on each cup and freeze for about 20 minutes.
  7. Remove muffin tin from freezer and peel away the cupcake wrappers from the chocolate cups (don’t put too much pressure on the cup- you don’t want to break them). Store in an airtight container or in the fridge for up to a week.

Let me know if you make these and if you do, tag me @JackDHarding and let me know if you made any changes.

Sweet Potato Pie with Quinoa Crust

I LOVED pumpkin pie when I was younger. The spices, the consistency, the crust, it was everything for me! As I’ve grown older it’s taken me quite some time to find that perfect flavour and I never would have thought it wouldn’t have had pumpkin at all. This sweet potato pie checks a number of boxes for me, gluten free, vegan, and nut free! 

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups Organic White Royal Quinoa, cooked and cooled to room temperature
1⁄2 cup Brown Rice Flour
2 heaping tablespoons Ground Flax
4 tablespoons Vegan Butter, room temperature
4 tablespoons Maple Syrup
3 1/2 cups Sweet Potato (approx 2 medium sweet potatoes)
3/4 cup Vanilla Soy Milk
3⁄4 cup Cane Sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon Ground Cloves
1⁄4 teaspoon Ground Ginger
Flax Eggs (2 Tbsp ground flax + 6 Tbsp warm water)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F (do this well before you plan on baking to ensure a consistent heat).
  2. In a large bowl, stir together quinoa, brown rice flour, flax and maple syrup.
  3. Using a fork, fold in the butter and combine evenly.
  4. Then, use a fork to fold in the room-temperature butter. Be sure to combine evenly.
  5. Grease a pie plate with coconut oil or cooking spray and press the quinoa mixture into the plate to form the crust.
  6. Bake the empty crust for 10 minutes.
  7. Peel, chop and boil the sweet potatoes to soften them for about 20-25 minutes.
  8. Drain the water from the potatoes and put the softened potatoes into a medium mixing bowl.
  9. Add the soy milk and use an immersion blender to make smooth and then add in the remaining ingredients.
  10. Pour the mixture into the pre-baked crust- do not overfill, the filling will rise when baking but set when it is nearly done.
  11. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the centre.

Note: Keep an eye on the crust while baking, if it starts to brown too quickly, add aluminum foil around the edges to keep it from burning.

Let me know if you make this and make sure to tag me @JackDHarding if you do!

How to Make Homemade Biscuits

There is something really fulfilling about making your own bread. Watching your creation go from a bunch of flour and sugar and salt to rising in the oven, and finally something delightfully warm and delicious you can have for breakfast, lunch or dinner is amazing.  However, the thought of spending a day of your time to *hopefully* have a loaf of bread turn out is something most people aren’t ready for (I mean, honestly, I’m not ready for that most of the time and I LOVE baking).

So what’s the next best thing? Homemade biscuits! No yeast needed, simple and easy to make, and devour-able for a few days with jams, jellies and spreads.

Ingredients:
3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1  cups cold milk (plus up to 3 Tbsp) (whole milk while make your biscuits more tender, I made mine with skim milk which made them  a bit more dense)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F with a rack in the upper portion. Get out a baking sheet and line with parchment paper.
  2. Measure your flour by adding it spoonful by spoonful into a measuring cup and adding to a large bowl.
  3. Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar.
  4. Add the butter to the flour mixture using a food processor (you can use a fork or pastry blender as well, but I find the even consistency from the food processor is best) until has a bread crumb like consistency.
  5. Start to add the milk, table spoon by table spoon, over the flour mixture. You’ll want to do this quickly for about 10-15 seconds until a dough has formed. If the texture is dry and won’t come together, keep working it (and add up to the other 2 Tbsp of milk if it needs it to be cohesive).
  6. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Pat it into a rough rectangle about 3/4″ thick. Fold it into thirds like a letter and roll gently with a floured rolling pin until the dough is 3/4″ thick again.
  7. Using a biscuit cutter, or the rim of a glass, cut the dough into circles (I like round biscuits) or if you’re scared of waste, cut the dough into squares with a sharp knife.
  8. Place the biscuits with the bottom side up onto the baking sheet and brush them with a bit of milk to help them brown nicely in the oven.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes (keep an eye out, they’ll go from lightly browned to burnt fairly quickly).
  10. These will keep for 2-3 days if wrapped and stored at room temperature. You can also freeze for longer periods of time.
  11. Bake the biscuits for 15 to 20 minutes, until they’re lightly browned. Remove them from the oven, and serve warm.

I hope you enjoy these! If you decide to make them, feel free to tag me at @JackDHarding and let me know how they turned out!

Baking with Goat Butter

I have always liked experimenting with my baking. Taking old family recipes and making them new or taking cookies I’ve found in a cookbook and turning them into something entirely different and one hundred percent my own is something I love to do. I’ve switched up spices (Chinese Five Spice Holiday Bars for example) and even created better fillings for pastry desserts (Powdered peanut butter and jam pop tarts)! So when I got the opportunity to try baking with goat butter, I was excited to say the least. Woolwich Dairy sent me some of their Mornington Goat Butter to bake with and I’m excited to share what I was able to come up with!

Zucchini Bread

This is a favourite of mine and is a recipe I’ve made multiple times in the last few weeks. You can whip this entire thing up in about an hour and 15 minutes (including baking time) and you have a fragrant, delicious loaf to have at home, or to bring with you to friends and family. This recipe will give you enough for (2) loaves in a regular loaf pan.

Ingredients:
12cups sugar (cane or regular)
eggs (at room temperature)
cups all purpose flour
teaspoons vanilla
cup softened Unsalted Goat Butter
cups zucchini, grated
1teaspoon salt
teaspoon baking soda
1teaspoon baking powder
teaspoons cinnamon
1 heaping teaspoon nutmeg
1 heaping teaspoon ginger
3/4 tsp cloves

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine all ingredients
Pour into two greased loaf pans
Bake for one hour
Remove from heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes and bang pan against counter to loosen loaf before removing from pan

Campfire S’Mores Cookies

What’s better than a day spent camping? Well, honestly, a lot of things if you’re asking me. (Why lay on the ground when you can lay in your bed, right?) If you’re like me and prefer the luxuries of living in your day-to-day home, these cookies will give you the camping feel with none of the mosquitoes.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted goat butter, cold
1/3 cup granulated sugar (plus more for rolling)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg (cold)
2 Tablespoons milk (cold)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 large marshmallows (cut in half)
24 chocolate squares or chocolate drops

Instructions:

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and both sugars until light and creamy, about 2-3 minutes (shorter if you’re using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.

Beat in the egg, milk, and vanilla. Gradually add in flour mixture. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. (This is important or the cookies will spread extremely thin when baking).

Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Line 2-4 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Pour some sugar into a small bowl. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls, roll them in the sugar, then place them on the trays. Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Once removed from oven, place the half marshmallow cut-side down into the centre of each cookie (not hard enough to make the cookie spread though). After 5 minutes, move to a cooling rack.

Turn the oven to broil. Place the cookies back onto the cookie sheets and broil until toasted. (Be careful, most ovens don’t have consistent heat so you may need to turn your tray). Otherwise, you can use a kitchen torch to toast each marshmallow). Once toasted place the chocolate on top and serve!

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed these! Thanks again to Woolwich Dairy for sending me their amazing products!

 

Homemade Peanut Butter and Jam “Poptarts”

I used to LOVE Poptarts as a kid. There wasn’t really a flavour that I didn’t like. Sprinkles? Great. Raspberry? Perfect. Chocolate? Even better. Now, even though I haven’t had one in years (not really something you pick up at the grocery store in between your frozen greens and chicken breasts) when I started seeing a lot of people trying their hand at making their own, I was like “I can do that!” Challenged by a friend of mine via DM to make some different flavoured ones, I came up with these- Peanut Butter and Jam PopTarts.

Ingredients:
Pastry:
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 Cup unsalted butter, cold, cubed
1 Egg
2 Tbsp Milk

Filling:
3/4 cup raspberry jam (roughly one medium sized jar)
1 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 Tbsp Water
2-3 Tbsp Powdered Peanut Butter

Glaze: 
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1.5 Tbsp Milk
1/4 Tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

Filling: 

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water, and then combine with the jam in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool. Once this has cooled, add in your powdered peanut butter 1Tbsp at a time. Taste as you go, and that will determine how much you’ll want to add.

Pastry:

  1. In a large bowl (trust me, you’ll want the room) whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender (or a fork) cut in the butter until it is the size of peas and when you squeeze the mixture it holds together. (A good trick for this is to cut the butter into small enough cubes and mix them in slow so you get the thorough mix). In a smaller bowl, mix together the egg and milk and then add it to your dough. Combine with a fork until everything is evenly mixed and moist. On a floured countered, knead it briefly until the dough is perfectly together.
  2. Divide the dough in half (if you’d like, you can wrap these in plastic and store in fridge for 2-3 days) and roll out one of these pieces to about 1/8″ thick and about 9″x 12″ (think like a big piece of paper). Using a very sharp knife or pastry wheel,  trim the edges and then divide the dough into 3×4 rectangles. Transfer these (with a spatula, you want to avoid introducing them to your body heat) to a lined baking sheet.
  3. Brush an egg wash (egg and milk) on each of the rectangles and spoon a tablespoon or so of filling into the centre of each rectangle (make sure there is a border of about 1/2″ around the edges).
  4. Roll out and cut your second piece of dough just like you did the first and place a second rectangle of dough onto each of the already assembled ones. Using your fingers to press around the edges to seal then, Use a fork to then crimp the edges and poke small holes in the top to allow air to escape.
  5. Refrigerate the pan with the pastries (you don’t need to cover them) for 30-45 minutes (You want them to get hard).
  6. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  7. Bake the pastries for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. If you’re not planning on using the icing, you can eat them fairly warm (just be careful not to burn yourself). If you’re using the glaze, I toss these into the fridge for 30 minutes to cool down. Once cooled, combine all the glaze ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle the glaze over the poptarts (sitting them on a wire rack and doing it this way gives them a really pretty glaze).

I hope you enjoy these! The peanut butter was a lucky surprise when I was making these and I hope you’ll come to love them as much as I do.

How to Make Tim Tams

“What’s your favourite cookie?”

I asked that to someone I was just getting to know recently.
Don’t ask me why, but it seems to be something that comes up with most people that I meet. Part of it is a weird fascination with wanting to know what people actually enjoy vs. what they think they should enjoy (the amount of times I have had people tell me they love stale oatmeal cookies, or undercooked chocolate chip cookies instead of saying a more “acceptable” answer like “fresh baked chocolate chip cookies with a crispy outside and gooey inside” has led me to believe that I am not the only one who is okay with a dessert or cookie that could be considered “wrong” from a traditional baking point of view). So when “TIM TAMS!” was blurted out with excitement I was surprised! I knew it was some sort of Australian dessert, but wasn’t entirely sure what it was. So always up for a challenge, I said I’d make him some homemade ones and he could tell me if they were better than store bought.

I realized quickly I should probably figure out exactly what it is. Wikipedia has this great description on them with their history here. But basically: “Tim Tam is a brand of chocolate biscuit made by the Australian biscuit company Arnott’s. It consists of two malted biscuits separated by a light chocolate cream filling and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate.”

After searching for a few tips and tricks on how people made these, I headed into the kitchen and decided take a swing at these my way. I have shared these with not only the person who loves Tim Tams (who LOVED these) but also a few work partners of mine and friends and family. Every single one of them has come back asking for more. That’s always the best result!

Ingredients:
For the cookies:

1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter  (Do not try and sub in salted butter in this recipe)
1 Cup Icing Sugar
1 Egg at Room Temperature
1/3 Cup (Heaping) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
Small Pinch of Salt

  1. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, or a hand mixer and a large bowl, combine your room temperature butter, and powdered sugar and cream until it is nice and fluffy (it will likely become quite a pale colour, that is exactly what you want). Once that’s done, add in your egg and beat until it is incorporated. The colour should lighten a bit. Now add your cocoa powder and beat until smooth (you don’t want lumps). Now fold in your flour and salt (mix these together first) until everything is incorporated. Your dough should be soft and almost sticky.
  2. Layout a large sheet of wax/parchment paper and scrape out your dough onto this. Take a second sheet and place on top of your dough. Carefully, roll out the dough between these sheets making sure you are shaping it into a rectangle. You don’t want your dough too thick- roughly 1/4-1/3″ thick (remember, you’ll be stacking cookies on top of each other so you don’t want them too thick). Move this carefully onto a tray and place it in your freezer for 30-45 minutes until firm. (This way it won’t stick to the paper when you remove it).
  3. Preheat oven to 350F (if your oven tends to vary in temperature quite a bit, pump this to 370F. Now line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Remove your dough from the freezer and with a sharp knife (or pizza cutter) and cut it into small squares (traditional Tim Tams are rectangles, but I found the square shape made for a much more pleasant eating experience). You should end up with roughly 22 or 24 squares (enough for 11-12 Tim Tams). Place these evenly on the baking trays and bake them for 10-12 minutes (you know they’re done when they almost have the look of a brownie on top. Don’t overcook them or they’ll be very dry). Leave them out to cool completely.

For the filling: 

1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter
1-1/4 Cup Icing Sugar
1 Heaping Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Heaping Tbsp Ovaltine (if you don’t love malted drink powder, hot chocolate mix works well too)

  1. Using either a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Sift in your cocoa powder and ovaltine. Using ~1Tbsp of icing per cooking, spread or pipe an even layer of filling on half of the cookies and top with the other cookies. Refrigerate.

For the Coating/Final Step:

1 Bag Chocolate Chips or 8oz Chocolate Squares (Milk or Dark Chocolate)
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil

  1. To make the coating, you can melt the chocolate on stove top (not my favourite) or in the easier (and really the only reason I use it) microwave. Combining the chocolate and oil, microwave on high in 30-second intervals, stirring between. After your second melt, you’re likely ready to go. (Should be smooth)
  2. Using a fork, dip the cookies into the melted chocolate and place them onto a cooling wrack (if you place them back onto the baking sheet I find the chocolate sticks to the pan). Once you’ve done this with all the cookies, place them back in the fridge until solid.

    Enjoy!