Chocolate Desserts Cookbook Series by UrbnSpice

 

Chocolate Desserts Cookbook Series – by UrbnSpice 

Hello, there!  Did you know that Urb’n’Spice has written four books called the Chocolate Desserts Cookbook Series?  The books are all about Chocolate Desserts and have just about every dessert imaginable.  

Book One – Cakes

Book Two – Cookies, Brownies and Squares

Book Three – Pies and Tarts

Book Four – Gluten Free Chocolate Desserts

This post will provide you with more detailed information about the series, “Chocolate Desserts Made Easy and Delicious.”  I am quite proud of these books – it was a bucket list goal to write a cookbook after slowing down a bit from an amazing career as a pastry chef and chef.  

 

Urbnspice Chocolate Desserts Cookbook Series | urbnspice.com

Pan roasted sweet potato with lime

Pan Roasted Sweet Potato with Lime

What do you think of sweet potatoes?  Growing up, sweet potatoes were not something that I remember eating as a child.  Nowadays, sweet potatoes –  particularly pan or oven roasted sweet potatoes, appear on our table once or twice a week in one way or another.  We love them!  You must try them simply baked or microwaved, whole, skin on until tender; split open and eaten with a pat of butter, salt and pepper.  So delicious!  Sweet potatoes are a super food and known as one of the world’s healthiest foods with sources of Vitamin A, C, B6, B3, B1, B2, potassium, fibre and many other healthful properties.

This recipe for Pan Roasted Sweet Potato with Lime is one of our personal family favourite side dishes. We have served it with breakfast with eggs and sausage as well as brunch, lunch or dinner. It is just one of those dishes that seems to fit on any menu plan.  We have been known to happily devour the entire dish between the two of us.

 

Pan Roasted Diced Sweet Potato with Lime | urbnspice.com

Pan Roasted Diced Sweet Potato with Lime | urbnspice.com

Pan Roasted Sweet Potato with Lime

CHEF TALK: The sweet potatoes are cut into ½ inch to 1 inch dice. I use a large frying pan so that the diced sweet potato fit in a single layer. Over low to medium heat, allow the sweet potato to caramelize. The paprika plays an important role in helping to achieve a gorgeous golden colour. The juice of the lime is drizzled onto the sweet potato at the end – it adds such a refreshing brightness to this side dish. This recipe was adapted from Anna Olson’s Sweet Potato Home Fries.

 

Sweet Potato: dicing into cubes | urbnspice.com

Sweet Potato: dicing into cubes | urbnspice.com

 


Sweet Potato: mise en place | urbnspice.com

 

Pan Roasted Sweet Potato with Lime

Makes 4 – 6 servings

 INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lb. sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • Zest and juice of one lime (about 1 – 2 tablespoons of lime juice)
Sweet Potato Caramelizing | urbnspice.com

Sweet Potato Caramelizing | urbnspice.com

METHOD:

  1. Zest the lime and juice the lime.  Set them aside in a small bowl.
  2. Combine the spices and set aside.
  3. Peel the sweet potatoes and dice into 1/4 to 1/2 inch dice. CHEF TIP: Peeling the sweet potato is optional. Nutritionally, I prefer the peel left on.
  4. Heat a large skillet (non-stick pan) over low to medium heat and then add the oil and the butter.
  5. Add the sweet potatoes and the spices. Toss to coat the sweet potatoes evenly with oil and butter. Press the sweet potatoes into a single layer to achieve a nice even colour.
  6. Fry the diced sweet potato. Over low to medium heat, allow the sweet potato time to caramelize. Keep turning so that all the diced sweet potato pieces are nicely browned.
  7. Toss the cooked sweet potato with the reserved lime zest and the lime juice.
  8. Adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper, if necessary.

 

Pan Roasted Diced Sweet Potato with Lime | urbnspice.com

 

Vegetables are so much fun to play with in the kitchen.  There are endless possibilities for their preparation, cooking and eating.  My goal is to re-introduce vegetables to you in a whole new and different way so that you are also inspired to try new recipes.  I have had so many people tell me that they really fall short in the vegetable department when planning a menu or even eating trying vegetables.  My sister told me that she gets so bored making the same vegetable dishes over and over again.  I want to inspire you to try different ways to enjoy veggies.

So, let’s fall in love with vegetables together all over again, shall we? If you have any suggestions for vegetable recipes that you have always wanted to try but do not know where to start, leave me a comment.  I promise you that I will in turn show you a way to enjoy it.

Happy Veggie Cooking, everyone!

Denise Pare-Watson - The Urb'n'Spice Chef | urbnspice.com

 

 

Denise Paré-Watson

The UrbnSpice Chef

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Sweet Potatoes – One of the World’s Healthiest Foods

More Like This:

How to Cut a Butternut Squash

Roasted Butternut Squash & Caramelized Pear Soup

Rooting for Rutababa

Roasted Butternut Squash and Caramelized Pear Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash and Caramelized Pear Soup

I am excited to share this recipe with you for Roasted Butternut Squash and Caramelized Pear Soup.  I love this soup!  It has just a few lovely ingredients that pair together in a magnificent way.  It is fancy enough to serve to company. It is delicate in taste and silky in texture, and is excellent served either hot or room temperature, which also makes this an excellent make ahead soup.

 

Butternut Squash soup is the choice that my students ask for each time I set up a soup class.  I ask my prospective students if there is any soup in particular that they would like to cover in my class.  This is always on top of their list.  That makes me happy because it is one of my favourite soups.

But, first things first. Do you know how to cut and peel a butternut squash?  It can be quite intimidating tackling such a roly-poly vegetable.

If you are not sure how to cut a Butternut Squash, I cover it step by step using photos in this post.  Then, come back here and learn how to make this delicious soup.  Roasting the diced butternut squash and pear really does amazing things to the flavour of these ingredients.  Let’s do this!

 

 

Roasted Butternut Squash & Caramelized Pear Soup | urbnspice.com

Roasted Butternut Squash & Caramelized Pear Soup | urbnspice.com

White Chocolate and Lemon Curd Tart

WHITE CHOCOLATE AND LEMON CURD TART

White Chocolate and citrus is something most people have not considered when looking for something a little different using chocolate as an ingredient. The combination of sweet white chocolate and lemon is a combination that pairs so beautifully together in perfect harmony.   This is a decadent and impressive dessert.  The curd is so silky and smooth and can be used on its own in a parfait or mixed into Greek yogurt.  The tart shells are pre-baked, so it really is a convenient make ahead dessert.  

 

White Chocolate Lemon Curd Tart | urbnspice.com

White Chocolate Lemon Curd Tart | urbnspice.com

 

Vinarterta – A Vintage Recipe

Vinarterta - Sliced into dainty pieces | urbnspice.com

 

 

 

Vínarterta – A Vintage Recipe

Vínarterta:  what is it?  It is a very flavourful, seven layered Icelandic cake – a vintage recipe from the 1800s. The cake consists of thin layers cookie-like dough, rolled out, docked and baked just until it starts to take on a bit of colour on the edges. The traditional filling is made from prunes.  For many folks, using dried prunes is a surprising filling, but you have to trust me – this stuff is good!  The prunes are infused with what is known as the warming spices cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. These spices elevate the taste of the filling to something that you just know will be wonderful.  The colour of the pureed prune is such a rich hue of black-brown that it makes a spectacular show in between the layers of the cake.

 

Vinarterta cut into dainty pieces | urbnspice.com

Vinarterta cut into dainty pieces | urbnspice.com

Many other fillings can be used, including seasonal apricot filling and raspberry filling. My daughter and I were discussing making a version with all three fillings in one cake.  I think that this could be my next cake challenge.  I would be tempted to make the layers even thinner so that I could experiment with the different coloured fillings.

 

Vinarterta with Apricot Filling | urbnspice.com

Vinarterta with Apricot Filling | urbnspice.com

 

In culinary training, we were introduced to many cultural desserts in Baking and Pastry Arts, and this cake was one of the classic cakes we discussed during our lessons. It is delicious! I had forgotten all about this cake until my neighbour mentioned to me that she had in her possession her grandma’s vintage recipe for Vínarterta and that she had always wanted to try making it.    

 

Vinarterta Cake Slab | urbnspice.com

 

We spent a lovely morning making the cake together using the vintage recipe. As far as she knew, her grandmother’s recipe had sadly not been made by anyone in the family since her passing in 1978. She told me that her grandmother’s parents came to Canada in the 1800s and her grandmother was born in Canada. I am sure that there are great stories about baking this Icelandic recipe and many more dishes in their kitchen – I would have loved to be a part of that.  I felt that making this cake using her recipe was a great way of honouring her grandmother.  And besides, I love baking using vintage recipes.  

How to Make a Meringue Nest

Blackberry Lime Curd in Crispy Meringue Nests | urbnspice.com

 

 

How to Make a Meringue Nest

It is an excellent idea in the pastry kitchen to have a resource for desserts using egg whites.  The reason for that is because there are so many egg yolks utilized in the kitchen for crème brûlée, custards, sauces, Hollandaise and Béarnaise sauce, to name a few.  We often had buckets of egg whites within a day or two of kitchen activities.  Since there are only so many egg white omelettes you can make for the spa menu, using egg whites in cookies or desserts was popular – and fun!  I had quite a repertoire of recipes at the ready to use them and I will share some ideas with you to use in your own kitchen.

 

Blackberry Lime Curd in Crispy Meringue Nests | urbnspice.com

Blackberry Lime Curd in Crispy Meringue Nests | urbnspice.com

 

In this article, I will give you some ideas how you can use extra egg whites as well giving you as a recipe for meringue nests.  On this blog, you will find recipes for Italian Almond Macaroons, Rice Flour Tuile Cookies, Earl Grey Chiffon Mini Cakes, Colourful Meringue Cookies, Chocolate Financier Cookies and many more.  Making meringues are another way to use egg whites to create all kinds of excellent dessert options. 

Versatile Dried Apricot Paste

Versatile Dried Apricot Paste

If you have followed my blog for a while, you know that enjoy making UrbnSpice confitures, chutneys and compotes and that this is a fun part of what I create in the UrbnSpice kitchen.  Every once in a while, when inspired by an idea for a condiment to accompany a particular cheese, main dish or dessert, working with seasonal ingredients is rather challenging.  

 

Seasonal Apricots, ready for freezer storage | urbnspice.com

Seasonal Apricots, ready for freezer storage | urbnspice.com

 

So, what do you do when that idea Will.Not.Leave.Your.Head? You come up with an alternative – in this case, dried apricots. Dried apricots are one of those lovely pantry products that I think are sadly underrated.  Did you know that dried apricots provide substantial health benefits?  They are excellent sources of: soluble fiber, potassium (helps maintain healthy blood pressure, and balance of cellular water levels) and antioxidant carotenoids (Vitamin A, which functions as an antioxidant and helps with cell growth, immune system, and eye health), as well as providing a source of iron.  

 

Dried Apricot Paste | urbnspice.com

Dried Apricots as a seasonal substitute with wonderful results | urbnspice.com

 

In my pretty UrbnSpice Confetti Pepper Jelly, I use dried apricots as a base, which in turn helps to keep the medley of colourful peppers beautifully suspended in the jelly.  I also use dried apricots in many savoury dishes, such as stuffings, cauliflower rice tabbouleh, chicken tagine, rice pilaf, or as a baking ingredient.  

Cauliflower Tabbouleh | urbnspice.com

A lovely garnish of pomegranate seeds and diced dried apricot with a sprinkling of pistachios on a bed of cauliflower rice tabbouleh

 

In the kitchen, I use the prepared Dried Apricot Paste as a compote with pork dishes, as a glaze for ham, or as a filling for cakes, pastries and cookies, and even on my cheese platter to serve with Brie or Cream Cheese.  On charcuterie platters, I often serve the apricot paste with rillettes de porc or country paté.  The balance of tangy apricot with creamy cheeses and rich meat is absolutely epic.  

Appetizer Pate with UrbnSpice Jelly | urbnspice.com

Appetizer Pate with UrbnSpice Jelly | urbnspice.com

On bistro menus, I have noticed apricot paste accompanying foie gras in a small plate or appetizer offering.   I have always wanted to duplicate that dish as a starter.  I even imagine how I would serve it – a luscious little slice of freshly seared foie gras with a gorgeous spoon of dried apricot paste beside it, together with crunchy crostini and a glass of crisp Sauternes or Pinot Gris.  I must try that soon.

 

CHEF TALK:  The recipe for my Versatile Dried Apricot Paste is very versatile.  It is easy to make and it stores very well in the refrigerator in a sealed container for several weeks.  This recipe makes about 1 litre of apricot paste.  Typically, I double the recipe to preserve it for pantry storage (I ladle the paste into small jars and process them in a water bath) so that I can use the paste all year around.   

 

Dried Apricot Paste | urbnspice.com

Dried Apricot Paste – adding white wine | urbnspice.com

 

Versatile Dried Apricot Paste

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups dried apricots, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup white wine or apple juice
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar or maple syrup
  • pinch of fine salt
  • Zest of 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoon lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Brandy

METHOD:

  1. In a heavy saucepan, bring the apricots, wine, water, sugar, salt, zest to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Lower the heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the liquid reduces and starts to looks more like syrup. The apricots will start to break down and become soft.  This will take about 20 minutes.  Add more water, if necessary.
  3. Remove from the heat and add the brandy. Cool slightly.
  4. With an immersion blender (or a food processor), puree the fruit mixture until it is very smooth. Add more water if necessary to achieve a nice paste.
  5. At this point, you have two choices.  Either ladle the mixture into small sterilized jars and process for longer storage, or place into containers with a sealed lid and store in the refrigerator for several weeks or freeze the containers for up to three months.
  6. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

 

Dried Apricot Paste | urbnspice.com

Dried Apricot Paste | urbnspice.com

 

Try your hand at making this very easy Dried Apricot Paste – you will find a multitude of uses for it.  My granddaughter and I spread the very same paste as a filling in between baked cookie-like disks of Vinarterta layers (this lovely vintage cake recipe will be a future post).  If you make this recipe for Versatile Dried Apricot Paste, please leave a comment – I want to hear how you used it.

 

Dried Apricot Paste as a cake filling

Dried Apricot Paste as a cake filling

 

Other Urb’n’Spice Recipes you might enjoy:

UrbnSpice Confitures, Compotes and Jellies

Urbnspice Mulling Spices and Confitures | urbnspice.com

 

How to Pair Cheese and Charcuterie with UrbnSpice Confitures

Urb'n'Spice Golden Plum Pate | urbnspice.com

 

The Story behind UrbnSpice Confitures

Caramelized Onion and Roasted Garlic Confiture | urbnspice.com

Urb’n’Spice Books:

Urb’n’Spice Chocolate Desserts Cookbook Series

UrbnSpice Chocolate Desserts Series | urbnspice.com

The Reflection of a VIP Dessert Menu

The Reflection of a VIP Dessert Menu

(From a pastry chef’s point of view)

In my career as a pastry chef in a private golf and country club, VIP Dessert Menus were one of the interesting and intriguing items that frequently became an add-on to my task list at the last minute.   When Chef came up to my pastry station and informed me that there was a VIP event and he needed ideas following a particular theme to pull together a special menu, I had to be quick on my feet.  

White Chocolate Crème Brûlée with a nutmeg tuile nest & lace cookie garnish | urbnspice.com

White Chocolate Crème Brûlée with a nutmeg tuile nest & lace cookie garnish | urbnspice.com

 

There was often not a great deal of time to reflect or ponder this menu and the pride I felt when presented and trusted with this task was very important to me.   VIP events often meant a celebrity was arriving in town and it was all quite hush, hush until the very last moment before announcing that they would be dinner guests at the club that very evening or the next.  After a couple of these events, I strived to be pro-active and have a ready source of special dessert components ready in what I called my “Recipe Bible.”  In that way, I could pull together a spectacular dessert with minimal time allowances.  

The Reflection of a VIP Dessert Menu

Here is an example of a Canadian Themed VIP Dessert that I created at one of these VIP events.  It is a flash back to 2007 and the event was for some very high profile chefs that were members of an exclusive culinary group from Texas.  I called the menu “A Canadian Reflection.”  

 

VIP LUNCHEON DESSERT MENU

25 people

 

“A Canadian Reflection”

*****

A Duo of Mousse:

Swirled Blueberry Mousse and Maple Mousse

Featuring Ontario Wild Blueberries and Maple Syrup from Quebec

*****

š›Caramelized Macedoine of Okanagan Apple,

A Wine Poached Crabapple or disk of Quince 

nestled in a Tuile Leaf Boat

On a Compote of Prairie Saskatoon Berries

***** 

Sauces of:

Canadian Brandy Crème Anglaise

And a 24-carat Gold Syrup Reduction featuring Alberta Organic Honey

 

Beautiful lacey tuile dessert garnish | urbnspice.com

Beautiful lacey tuile dessert garnish | urbnspice.com

______________________________________

32 Classic Homemade Candy Recipes by Food Bloggers of Canada

32 Classic Homemade Candy Recipes by Food Bloggers of Canada

Time to play in the kitchen with 32 Candy Recipes from Food Bloggers of Canada, including a recipe from UrbnSpice called Dark Chocolate Truffles. Have fun!

32 Homemade Candies by Food Bloggers of Canada

Here is the link to making your own candy today!

32 Classic Homemade Candy Recipes by Food Bloggers of Canada

 

Chocolate Truffles | urbnspice.com

If you would like to try your hand at making some of my easy Dark Chocolate Truffles, here is your link:

Dark Chocolate Truffles by UrbnSpice

Dark Chocolate Truffles | urbnspice.com

 

Holiday Cookie Roundup by Food Bloggers of Canada

Holiday Cookie Roundup by Food Bloggers of Canada

Recently, the Food Bloggers of Canada had a call-out for Holiday Cookies.   I am thrilled to say that one of my cookie recipes was chosen as part of this Holiday Cookie Roundup.  I had a bit of food fun in the kitchen with a very young child and he was thrilled to help out the the colourful Vanilla Bean Poppers – Holiday Food Fun Variation.  I hope you will enjoy browsing through this roundup of amazing cookies from Food Bloggers of Canada and have some fun baking this holiday season.

 

You want cookies? We've got cookies! 40 different kinds in our FBC Holiday Cookie Guide – 40 recipes from classic…

Posted by Food Bloggers of Canada on Saturday, December 10, 2016

 

Here is a photo of the Vanilla Bean Poppers – Holiday Food Fun Variation. Bake with a young helper – believe me, you will have just as much fun as the little one.  I give you step by step details in the recipe.  

 

Vanilla Bean Poppers - Christmas version | urbnspice.com

Lay the cut Vanilla Bean Poppers on their side on a parchment lined tray and bake according to the directions given in the recipe below

Baking Dilemmas and the Fix

Cream Puffs | urbnspice.com

Baking Dilemmas and the Fix

The Confident Kitchen Series

“I love baking, but baking hates me!!” This statement of frustration is frequently expressed to me. Generally, after just a few questions, it quickly becomes clear why they are feeling this way. Typically, there are several key issues which arise over and over. In this “Confident Kitchen” post, I am going to address some oh so necessary fundamentals of baking. For the purposes of this post, I will discuss Baking Dilemmas and apply “The Fix” to an example utilizing a recipe for muffins.

One of the very best things about being a happy kitchen dweller is that I am able to adopt a “pay it forward” approach to statements just like this. There are many barriers that prevent folks from attempting baking or cooking which can be resolved quite easily.

  

Best Ever Banana Muffins | urbnspice.com

This is an example of a perfectly baked muffin | urbnspice.com

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