Yield: 6 individual crème caramels
“Back to Baking”, pp. 197
Last weekend I had several egg yolks leftover from making Swiss buttercream for a birthday cake, so I decided to take the opportunity to make this crème caramel recipe to use them up. It was an interesting dessert to make and not too complicated. I really enjoyed making the caramel, letting it harden and topping it with the egg and green tea-infused milk mixture. These little green tea ginger crème caramel were pretty and very flavourful. The green tea flavour really came through and was just perfect, and I suspect that the strength of this flavour could really be dampened or heightened based on how long the green tea soaks in the milk. My mixture was set to medium-low so it took longer to get to a simmer and thus infused for longer. I did not detect the ginger flavour that much, but that is probably because I forgot to buy fresh ginger and used ground ginger instead. I used ¼ teaspoon to substitute the 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger, but I guess it was not sufficient. I would thus strongly advise to use fresh ginger for this recipe, if you have it!
Although I did like the flavour a lot, the texture of a crème caramel or flan is something that I do not enjoy. It is for the same reason that I do not like jello. It is not quite liquid but not solid either, and the mushy feeling as I eat it does not sit well with me. But that is more of a personal preference rather than something negative about the dessert. My boyfriend who has no such problem over textures really enjoyed this dessert. I must also say that I really struggled to get the crème caramel out of the ramekin, especially the caramel part, so I would advise making sure that you grease the sides of the ramekin really well. I still don’t know what the best trick would be to unmold the hardened caramel. If you like caramel, green tea, or both, I strongly suggest making this lovely dessert, especially if you find yourself with an excess of egg yolks to use up.
- 3 tablespoons water
- ¾ cup + ⅓ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 ½ cups milk
- 2 bags green tea or 1 tablespoon loose green tea
- 2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 eggs
- 3 egg yolks
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a saucepot, bring the water, ¾ cup of the sugar and cream of tartar up to a boil. Boil over high heat without stirring, but occasionally brushing the sides of the pot with water until the sugar caramelizes and becomes a nice amber colour, about 3 minutes.
Carefully pour the hot sugar into six 6-ounce (180 mL) ramekins and swirl to coat the bottom of the dishes. After the sugar has cooled, lightly grease the surface of the ramekins that is not coated with the caramel and place them into a larger pan that has sides that come up to at least the height of the ramekins.
- Heat the milk with the green tea and ginger until just below a simmer. Remove the tea bags, or, if using loose tea, strain out the tea.
- In a bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, yolks, remaining ⅓ cup of sugar and the vanilla extract. While still whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk. Ladle this mixture into the ramekins.
- Pour boiling water around the ramekins and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the custards are set but still have a little jiggle in the centre. Remove the ramekins from the water after they have cooled for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then chill until set, about 3 hours.
To serve, run a knife or palette knife around the inside of each dish, place a plate over each and invert, watching out for the caramel syrup that may run out. Serve on their own or with fresh berries. The custards will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Yield: about 5 dozen cookies
“Back to Baking”, pp. 48
I have actually (and surprisingly!) never made gingerbread cookies, so I thought that there would be no better dessert to bring at work for the last day before the holidays than these cute gingerbread cookies. The recipe was easy to follow and I took pleasure in rolling out the dough and cutting out cute shapes to make the cookies – I had gingerbread man, tree and snowman cookie cutters. I had never used royal icing to frost any cookies or cakes, and I thoroughly enjoyed decorating the cookies with icing and sugar pieces. Decorating anything, whether it be cakes, cupcakes and now cookies, has always been my favourite part of making dessert! At first try I found that these cookies were mild and did not taste a lot like maple or even ginger, but after the second and third cookies I realized that these are simply a milder-tasting version of the traditional molasses gingerbread cookies but still taste good. These cute gingerbread cookies would please anyone during this merry time of the year. Happy holidays and happy baking!
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter with the brown sugar and maple syrup until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the egg, ginger and lemon zest. Mix well.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, allspice, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three separate additions while mixing at low speed. Separate the dough in three balls and wrap them in plastic wrap to form three discs. Chill until firm, about 2 hours. Note: The dough will be very soft.
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the first piece of cookie dough to 1/8 inch thick and cut with a cookie cutter of any desired shape. Arrange the cookies on the prepared baking trays, leaving a gap of ½ inch between them. Repeat rolling and cutting the remaining two discs. Leftover scraps from cutting out the cookies can be wrapped up and chilled in the fridge for another 10 minutes before being rerolled.
- Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool the cookies on the trays before transferring them to an airtight container. The cookies can be decorated with icing or simply dusted with icing sugar, as desired.
Notes from Anna:
- The maple adds some sweetness to the cookies, which are milder than traditional molasses gingerbread cookies.
Yield: about 25 large cookies
“Back to Baking”, pp. 24
I guess August is the month of the ginger! After the gingerbread cream pie, I followed with this recipe for cookies with a double dose of ginger: fresh and candied! The result was quite satisfying. The cookies were soft and chewy and had a very pronounced ginger taste. If you do not like ginger, these are not the cookies for you. However, if you happen to like ginger, these little treat are marvellous. They did not last very long at the office and received only positive feedback. Go try them!
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Prepare the first step of the Basic White Sugar Cookie Dough recipe. Add the fresh ginger and mix well.
- Complete steps 2 to 5 of the recipe.
- Add the candied ginger and mix well to combine.
- Using two teaspoons, spoon out a full teaspoon of dough into a small bowl containing the 1/3 cup sugar. Roll the dough in the sugar and form a ball, then place on the prepared baking sheet while pressing down gently with your fingers to flatten the dough ball. Repeat until there is no more dough and make sure to leave one inch between each cookie.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes. Let cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a rack to cool down completely.
Yield: one 9-inch pie
“Back to Baking”, pp. 95
It had been some time since I had made a pie, so I decided to try this recipe for a gingerbread cream pie, mostly because it sounded so scrumptious! I did not have any problems make the dough or the filling and everything seemed to be going as planned. I left the filling to set overnight and prepared the topping only the following day. The filling was delicious and the topping was just as tasty. However, for some reason when I cut the first slice of pie after having let everything set for a couple of hours, the pie essentially collapsed. It’s almost as if the topping was too heavy for the filling, and this led to the filing becoming more liquid and dispersing everywhere. Perhaps the filling had not set enough or maybe the topping was in fact too dense (I may inadvertently have went a little past the soft peak stage when beating the cream). Although the pie was not very pretty-looking, it was excellent and had a very present yet not overwhelming gingerbread taste. I will definitely attempt this again again to try to have a pie that retains its composition!
Ingredients for filling:
- 1 recipe Double-Crust Pie Dough
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1/2 cup fancy molasses
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cups milk
Ingredients for topping:
- 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons instant skim milk powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pull the chilled dough from the fridge 30 minutes before rolling. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thick and line a 9-inch pie shell with the dough. Trim and pinch the edges and chill the pie shell for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line the pie shell with aluminium foil and weight down with pie weights, rice or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and the weights and bake for 10-12 more minutes until the centre of the pie shell is dry and the edges are lightly browned. Allow the pie shell to cool while preparing the filling.
- To prepare the filling, heat the butter and brown sugar in a saucepot over medium heat, stirring until bubbling.
- Whisk in the whipping cream and the molasses, and stir until just below a simmer.
- In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, fresh ginger, spices, salt and milk.
- Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly until homogeneously blended. Return the mixture to the saucepot and whisk over medium heat until thickened and just beginning to bubble, about 4 minutes.
- Strain into a bowl and pour into the cooled pie shell. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the filling and chill until set, about 6 hours.
- For the topping, whip the cream to soft peaks using a stand or hand mixer. Fold in the sugar, instant skim milk powder, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Spread generously over the gingerbread filling and chill until ready to serve.