Chocolate Desserts Cookbook Series by Urbnspice

Chocolate Desserts Cookbook Series – by Urbnspice 

Hello, there!  Did you know that Urb’n’Spice has a series of cookbooks?  The books are all about Chocolate Desserts and include Book One – Cakes; Book Two – Cookies, Brownies and Squares; Book Three – Pies and Tarts, and due to popular request, Book Four – Gluten Free Chocolate Desserts!

The purpose of this page is to provide you with more detailed information about my books in 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.

These recipes have been created, collected and treasured from my career.  They have been lovingly tested and retested until they were perfect – for you, my reader.  I have a group of special folks that I call my taste testers – they enjoyed their ‘work’ throughout my process of baking, testing, tasting and writing these books.  I hope you enjoy reading them too!

 

Urbnspice Chocolate Desserts Cookbook Series | urbnspice.com

 

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

White Chocolate Vanilla Bean Mini Cheesecakes with Gluten Free Crust

White Chocolate Mini Cheesecakes | urbnspice.com

I love cheesecake, don’t you? Just about everyone in my circle of family and friends will answer “cheesecake” when asked what their favourite dessert is (that, and Crème brûlée).    I like to make sure that no one is left out due to dietary restrictions, so I developed this recipe for White Chocolate Vanilla Bean Mini Cheesecakes with Gluten Free Crust. Even the folks that could eat gluten foods loved this cheesecake.  I know you will enjoy it, too!  

Although this delicious white chocolate cheesecake recipe will feed a crowd (9 inch springform pan),  I prefer to divide the cheesecake custard to make mini cheesecakes (18 – 24 mini cheesecakes). The crust I like to use in this particular cheesecake is a gluten free rice flour crust (from my gluten free book)  that is pre-baked for just a few minutes before the custard is poured in. For these dainty little cheesecakes, a simple garnish is all that is required. Top each mini cheesecake with a quarter wedge of strawberry or other perfect berry and you will have an impressive dessert for a buffet or dessert tray. 

 

Fun with Pomegranates

Fun with Pomegranates

The Urb’n’Spice Confident Kitchen Series

What is the best way to eat and/or use a pomegranate?  I have heard many versions and most people talk about struggling to get to the juicy gems (called arils) well hidden inside the dry pithy fruit.   I thought it might be a great idea to tell you about one of the easiest (and neater) ways of tackling this unusual fruit.

A beautiful pomegranate | urbnspice.com

A beautiful pomegranate

Did you know that Pomegranates are considered a Super Food?  They have sources of Vitamins A, D and B-12, and Calcium, Protein, Potassium and fiber, as well as being a powerful antioxidant. And, they are delicious!

CHEF TALK :  The two common methods of extracting the arils from the pomegranate is to score the outside of the pomegranate as shown in the first photo.  Pry the fruit in half.  Using a medium to Largesize bowl, hold the pomegranate half (or pieces) over the bowl and use the back of a wooden spoon to tap firmly against the fruit and the arils will fall into the bowl.  

The second method, which is a technique that I prefer, is as follows.  If you try this technique, you will have a minimum of pink speckles all over your kitchen (and little faces if your children or grandchildren are helping you).

 

Ok, then!  Here is your “How-To:”

 

With a small paring knife, score carefully, cutting shallowly around the outside of the pomegranate without damaging the seeds within.  Pry it apart with your fingers and tear it into manageable pieces. Drop the pieces into a bowl of cool water.  

Scoring the outside rind of the Pomegranate | urbnspice.com

Scoring the outside rind of the Pomegranate

The Pomegranate pieces float in a bowl of cool water. The arils will drop to the bottom of the bowl.

Fun with Pomegranates | urbnspice.com

Pomegranate pieces float in a bowl of cool water.

When you look at the pieces as shown below, you will easily be able to remove the seeds that are clinging tightly to the peel.  The seeds drop down into the bowl and the peel and pith float to the top.  Aren’t they gorgeous?

Fun with Pomegranates | urbnspice.com

Pomegranate Arils clinging to the peel

And this is what you end up with – lovely handfuls of fresh (and undamaged) pomegranate arils.  Do they remind you of lovely little rubies!

Pomegranate Techniques

Lovely handfuls of pomegranate arils

Okay, now that you have all released from the pomegranate peel, drain the bowl of water and lay the arils on a towel lined baking sheet to dry out a bit.  Then,  place them in a container and refrigerate to use within a few days or for longer storage, place the arils into a zipper bag and freeze them for future use. CHEF TIP:  Fold a piece of paper towel into quarters and place it inside the zipper bag to absorb any lingering moisture.

One wonderful way to use pomegranate seeds is in a fresh salad such as the salad shown in the photo below.  This is a lovely salad from  chiffonade of spinach, supreme of oranges, goat cheese crumbles, and a garnish of pomegranate seeds.  A poppy seed dressing is lovely as a dressing and compliments the citrus, goat cheese and pomegranate seeds extremely well.

Uses for pomegranate seeds | urbnspice.com

Pomegranate Seeds used in a Fresh Salad

Another way that we love to use pomegranate seeds is in Cauliflower Tabbouleh.  This version as shown in the photo below has sweet potato, diced 1/4 inch and pan roasted in a bit of olive oil.  Season the sweet potato well and let cool slightly.  Add to the cauliflower mixture.  Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. This particular version has finely shredded mint and parsley, and crushed pistachio.  It is a variation on Jamie Oliver’s recipe using brown rice in his SuperFoods book.   Enjoy!  I made the recipe into version that was gluten free, grain free, and dairy free because of guests dietary restrictions.  

Cauliflower Tabbouleh with Pomegranate Seeds | urbnspice.com

A lovely garnish of pomegranate seeds on a bed of cauliflower tabbouleh

You can also view this quickly on Facebook (including a little video) by clicking on the screen below and scrolling to the right.  Hope you enjoy visiting my page.  Please LIKE if you do!  

LEARNING TIPS:  chiffonade, pomegranate techniques

Frequently Asked Questions on Urb’n’Spice

FAQ

I get asked a host of questions over and over so here is where you will find the answers to the most common ones.  If you have more, let me know!  It was quite fun pulling this together and it brought back tons of memories.

How did you come up with the name of your blog?

Well, that is a story, for sure!  When I was in Culinary School, we were given a huge project by our culinary masters.  Our challenge was to come up with plan for a business, decide what it was we were going to do or make; how we were going to finance this endeavour; and what are specialities would be to place us into a niche market; marketing of the product; and then, present all of this to a panel of my peers and instructors for discussion, feedback and advice.   My “product“, (which I still make to this day) was a spice blend, and variations of that blend.  I pondered over the name of my business for quite some time before my creative husband came up with the name “Urb’n’Spice”, which is a play on the words since we had been toying with herbs and spice and urban spice.  As you can see, the name stuck!  (And I received a great mark for my project! Yay!)

 

Spice Blends | urbnspice.com

 

New Gluten Free CookBook by Nicole Hann

New Gluten Free CookBook by Nicole Hann

Nicole Hann has done it again!

I just reviewed Nicole Hann’s latest cookbook , hot off the press.  It is called, “Gluten-Free Small Bites – Sweet and Savory Hand Held Treats for on the Go Lifestyles and Entertaining.”  From a chef’s perspective, I find all of Nicole’s books excellent, accurate, with informative descriptions and with recipes that I trust for my family, friends and clients.  I am having fun with her latest book and after being chosen by Nicole to be part of her launch team, I have also had fun perusing the book before its publication date of October 25th.   

small-bites-cover-instagram

 

It will be enjoyable to “cook” my way through this cookbook with tastings for family and friends.   I appreciate the fact that she has given options for baking some of the small bites rather than deep-frying; as well as the options for making most of the recipes into recipes suitable for larger appetites.  Even though I seldom eat or make deep fried foods,  Nicole’s newest book has changed my thinking in a big way.  Yesterday, I happily purchased the mini deep fryer that is mentioned in Nicole’s book.  There is something intriguing about making a small batch of crunchy delicious appetizers or small plate items and only using one litre of oil.  One of the first recipes I will try is the Cheddar Hush Puppies (pictured below).  

cheddar-hush-puppies-instagram

I highly recommend this book.   It will be an excellent reference book for my cookbook collection although I know it will be on my kitchen island most of the time  – near at hand.  For more information: http://amzn.to/2erffU2

Chilly Day Soup

CHILLY DAY SOUP

I love this time of year.  There is a chill in the air meaning our daily walks require more of a brisk pace.  Soup is always a menu possibility, and many folks who know me well know that I will likely have my large Dutch oven simmering on the stove with a seasonal potage, chowder or bisque.  Today, it just seems like vegetable soup is in order due to an abundance of gorgeous Okanagan produce from our Naramata trip this week.

Farmer's Market Inspiration | urbnspice.com

Farmer’s Market Inspiration | urbnspice.com

 

 

Milk Chocolate Torte with Almond Praline Crust

MILK CHOCOLATE TORTE WITH ALMOND PRALINE LAYER

I love this cake on so many levels!  It is a gluten free, grain-free and egg-free option.  It is very easy to make, and it is unbaked!  You can make it ahead of time and it freezes beautifully.  It can also be served frozen.  What more can I say, except that you should try it!  This recipe is from my cookbook series, Chocolate Desserts Made Easy and Delicious – Cakes.  If you make it, let me know!  I love hearing from you.  

Milk Chocolate Almond Torte with Praline Layer

 

CHEF TALK: This is one of my favourite cakes to make individually as well as for a crowd.  I have made as few as 4 portions up to several hundred portions.  My favourite way to make any dessert is to make an individual portion using  3 or 4 inch pastry rings and these rings work exceptionally well in this recipe. 

 

Stainless steel rings | urbnspice.com

Stainless Steel 3 inch rings

MILK CHOCOLATE TORTE WITH ALMOND PRALINE LAYER

Makes:  1 – 9 inch spring form pan or 12 generous portions

INGREDIENTS:

THE PRALINE LAYER:

7 oz. natural almonds, sliced (200 g)

2 oz. granulated sugar (55 g)

4 oz. butter, unsalted, melted (115 g)

THE FILLING:

10 oz. good quality milk chocolate, melted (150 g)

¾ cup butter, unsalted (160 g),

4 oz. granulated sugar (170 g)

1 cup whipping cream (250 ml)

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract (5 ml)

METHOD:

  1. Line the bottom of the spring form pan with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the chocolate slowly in a bowl, which is set over a pot with 1 inch of barely simmering water (bain-marie).
  3. Praline Layer:  Toast the almonds and allow them to cool.  Process them in a food processor until there are some fine particles with some coarse particles (for texture).
  4. Mix the ground nuts together with sugar and add the melted butter.  Pour and press this into the bottom of the spring form pan.  (You may reserve a little of this praline layer for the garnish on top of the cake).  Chill the praline crust while you are making the filling.
  5. Filling:  In a mixer, beat the softened (room temperature) butter and sugar until light colored and airy (creaming).  This will take several minutes.
  6. With the mixer on low speed, add the warm chocolate slowly into bowl of the mixer containing the blended butter and sugar.
  7. Slowly pour in the whipping cream (un-whipped) and the vanilla extract.  Pour the filling on top of the chilled praline layer.  If you have reserved some of the praline layer, sprinkle on top of the filling.   Chill until firm.
Milk chocolate Torte with Almond Praline Crust

Milk chocolate Torte with Almond Praline Crust

 

TO SERVE:  Serve with raspberry coulis and fresh berries, if desired.  If you are serving the cake frozen, let it come to room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving.

 

LEARNING TIPS:  Extracts; Toast Your Nuts; Parchment Paper; Bain-marie; Creaming; Cutting the Cakes

Urbnspice Chocolate Desserts Cookbook Series | urbnspice.com

Urbnspice Chocolate Desserts Cookbook Series | urbnspice.com

Urbnspice Confitures, Compotes and Jellies

Urb’n’Spice Confitures, Compotes and Jellies

Let me tell you a little about the Urb’n’Spice kitchen. There is often a gently simmering bone broth, a recipe or two in development stages, a course outline on the writing desk, cookies baking in the oven or jar labels being printed off for Urb’n’Spice jams and jellies. It is a busy place where my background as a chef, pastry chef, administrative and office technology are extremely useful in putting together high quality products and training.

Caramelized Onion and Roasted Garlic Confiture | urbnspice.com 

I have been making confitures (jams), jellies and preserves since I was a little girl helping my Mom preserve food from our market garden. There was something inherently satisfying looking at shelf upon shelf of multi coloured jars brimming with preserved fruit and vegetables, jams, jellies and sauces. I will always fondly remember the spicy fragrances of chilli sauce and apple butter simmering away on the stove.

 

Patio Delights by Urb’n’Spice

Patio Delights by Urb’n’Spice

It is that time of year when everyone seems to be spending more time on the patio or deck enjoying a glass of wine and dining alfresco.  It certainly is a past time that we enjoy very much.  It is also a wonderful opportunity to share appetizers with friends and family.

I had the pleasure of teaching a course at Vom Fas Oils, Vinegars and Spices in Kelowna using their wonderful products.   My teaching challenge was to create recipes using whatever Vom Fas Oils, Vinegars and Spices that I wanted – creating a menu for Patio Delights was fun!

It went something like this:

 

“Patio Delights by Urb’n’Spice”

by

Denise Paré-Watson – Urb’n’Spice Chef/Pastry Chef

 

Fig and Prosciutto Appetizer

Fig and Prosciutto Appetizer

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