Valerie’s Rockin’ Cinnamon Rolls

Valerie Bertinelli's Cinnamon Rolls 4 arrCinnamon rolls, anyone? Surely, many love a well-made cinnamon bun. And, there’s good reason why: its soft pull apart dough, that signature spice swirl, and let’s not forget it’s distinctly sweet and hynotic aroma – the perfect indulgence.

Valerie Bertinelli's Cinnamon Rolls 5 arrCleary, stating the obvious, cinnamon rolls are everything you would want a carb-loaded treat to be. But, the real question remains: to buy or to make? Attempting a first – myself – homemade cinnamon rolls are pleasantly achievable thanks to our celebrity friend Valerie. That’s right, Valerie Bertinelli’s recipe for cinnamon buns are a hit! So much so, in fact, anyone can be rocking and rolling dough.

Following easy to master instructions, I heed Valerie’s steps – click link – and ultimately see myself creating cinnamon rolls in no time. Using precise measurements, as with any dessert recipe, first prepare the dough and allow ample time for it rise. Once ready to use, roll out the dough and layer the rectangualar surface with butter and filling. Adding suggested ‘extras’ including pecans and raisins, I begin to tightly roll, cut and arrange the 12 bundles for a second ‘rising’. Now ready to bake, I leave the rolls in the oven for the required time of 25 minutes, and then some – mine needed about 12 minutes additional baking time. Needless to say, every oven is diffferent so use your judgment and bake until golden brown. Valerie Bertinelli's Cinnamon Rolls 6 arr

End result is nothing short of magic! Drizzling icing over my baked batch of success, these warm homemade rolls are reminders of the fall season, the holidays, and all things warm and cozy. Seriously good, this recipe is worth keeping and will easily become the “must-have” item for breakfast, brunch or any excuse of simply having bites of delicious around the kitchen. So while I’ll leave you to tear into a freshly baked cinnamon roll of my own, here’s to happy baking and VALERIE – THANK YOU!!!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2018. All Rights Reserved.

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Shortcut to Successful Strudel

‘Pâte feuilletée’ is magic! More commonly known as ‘puff pastry,’ this laminated dough has infinite uses and – savoury or sweet – they’re all delicious.

Almond Raspberry Strudel 6 arrKeeping my icebox well stocked, ready-made puff pastry will soon be your next ‘staple’ item. And, here’s why: ‘mille feuille’, turnovers, cheese or cinnamon twists, beef wellington, ‘pithivier’, chocolate dipped ‘palmiers’, and the list goes on. Clearly used to elevate any appetizer, dinner or dessert spread, who can live without layers of buttered dough? Truly making my life easier, I know I can’t!

Having tackled a few the of the aforementioned puff-based pastries – please find via the link, ‘chez-moi’ – this time I have my eyes set on almond raspberry strudel. Sounds complicated but, the making of this originally Austrian confection is easy as 1 puff pastry sheet and the following 2 fillings: almond frangipane and premium quality raspberry jam.

Almond Raspberry Strudel 4 arrTaking out a frozen package of ‘puff,’ I leave it aside to slightly defrost. In the meantime, I prepare almond frangipane – combination of finely ground almonds, butter, sugar, almond extract, flour, and eggs – and sieve the fruit preserve, as I prefer no seeds. Success being inarguably sweet, a shortcut to successful soon-to-be dessert is inevitably sweeter.

Oven preheated and baking sheet lined with parchment, now unfold the malleable dough. Visualizing three columns, cut horizontal strips along the first and third imagined sections. From here, continue by spreading the velvety almond cream filling along the middle or second column – lengthwise – and, then, also using an off-set spatula, smooth over a layer of raspberry jam. Almost braiding, fold over one strip of dough over the other until complete. Nearly done, brush over the filled log with egg wash or heavy cream and, for a final touch, sprinkle some sugar and sliced almonds over its surface. Being sure to bake until golden brown, allow the strudel to cool prior to slicing.Almond Raspberry Strudel 5 arr

Tried and tasted, the end result is clear: perfection! Flaky, buttery, sweet and creamy – all of the above – this morning/midday/night dessert might as well be an all day treat. Happy to use frozen puff pastry, this dough is ‘ready-made’ so you don’t have to and it cuts preparation time. Ultimately, it’s the shortcut to successful strudel.

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Fa-la-loving the Holidays!

Xmas Chocolate Bark 2 arr

Christmas and dessert – need I say more? Didn’t think so!

Made for ‘happier holidays,’ a dessert’s table is what I have in mind to fuel a festive evening get-together and one tastier way to end a fab meal. Being sure to create something for everyone, here’s what I include: artisan-inspired chocolate bark, coconut macaroons, buttery shortbread and gingerbread cookies, and orange-raspberry trifle. Clearly baking up plentiful of all that is flavourful and delectable, nothing spells out “holly” and “jolly” more than a sweet buffet of treats. And, if getting on Santa’s ‘nice list’ is your aim, I got you covered!

Xmas Chocolate Bark 1 arrLet’s bake! Starting with a trusted basic shortbread recipe, I double up the ‘necessities’ – flour, salt, sugar, butter and vanilla – and divide the cookie dough. Humble as-is in its original form, the possibilities are endless when it comes to enhancing shortbread. Letting your imagination run wild, simply take any shortbread instruction and add dried fruits and/or nuts of choice. As for my interpretation on a classic, I prepare the following: crystallized ginger stars, pistachio and dried cranberries, nutty almond rounds, fragrant earl grey discs, and lemon and lavender.

Xmas Shortbread Cookies 1 arrPursuing a bright Christmas, the citrus and perfumed profiles found in the lemon and lavender duo remains a surprisingly good pairing. Vibrant and earthy, this combination was so tempting that they didn’t last to see the day – “picture day,” that is!

Sorry, but not sorry?! Really, I wish I saved at least one example of this ‘beauty’ to display, but lesson learned: cookie monsters exist, and doubling up batches are a must. Ultimately falling short of quantity, there’s no doubt there’s something good to be said about melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookies enhanced by tea or flowers. Definitely worth remaking, just be mindful that a little goes a long way when using matcha, finely processed hibiscus tea or other varied floral blends.

Xmas Coconut Macaroons 1 arrMoving on to the next, gingerbread is an all-time wintry favourite. Preferring a naked cookie over a decorated one – no icing, sprinkles or dragées – simplicity found in an undressed molasses and spice cookie is truly my kind of wonderful. Appreciating the nuanced taste of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger, this cookie dough is a breeze to make and just as easy to roll out. Better yet, my “go-to” recipe – courtesy of Martha Stewart – yields delightfully soft gingerbread cookies that will remain such even post baking and cooling periods.

Warm spiced cookies and classic shortbread complete, I pay homage to a white Christmas with the making coconut macaroons. Love it or not, luckily I do! So much so, in fact, that I take a plain recipe and transform these snowy mounds with chocolate. Using milk, dark or white chocolate, melt premium quality of your preferred cocoa over a double-boiler and let magic happen: drizzle, coat, dip and set. This two-bite cookie is so simple to make, and easier to alter that if you only have time to make one cookie, I recommend coconut macaroons.

Xmas Orange Raspberry Trifle arrSaving the best for last, homemade trifle is the proper way to end a triumphant meal. F.Y.I.: you can bake two loaves of orange pound cake in advance and assemble this showstopping dessert the day of – ‘et voilà,’ you’re well on your way to a stress-free holiday dessert. Adhering to Ina Garten’s recipe for this indulgence, I get my ingredients and layer flavours via raspberry jam, orange custard, fresh berries, and sweetened whipped cream. Well worth the time and effort, sharing good food with good company goes hand in hand. On that note, Happy Christmas to you and yours – and to all good eats, cheers!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

INSTA Ice Cream

Insta Ice Cream 13 arrInstantly made for “insta” yum, no-churn ice cream is the answer to all things delicious and frozen.  Essentially, the dessert for summer time.

Truly no fuss and easy to make, anyone can whip up their very own batch of homemade frozen confection. For the start of your own, all you need are three ingredients – heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla essence.

To prepare humble vanilla ice cream – also the base to future flavourful variations – first pour the ‘necessities’ into a mixing bowl, whip the combined trio until soft peaks form and then set contents into the ice box to fully solidify. Et voilà! You’ve mastered no-churn ice cream.

From here, the possibilies are endless. You can create a menu of delectable dairy rich frozen treats. To start, mix-in palatable additions of choice whether via fruit compote, crushed cookies or biscuits, chocolate chunks, chopped almonds or walnuts, and even broken pieces of your preferred candy bar.

Insta Ice Cream 2 arrHaving fun with the making of several ice creams, I couldn’t stop at one or two. Essentially setting up my own ice cream parlour – if only for a day – going for gold is the aim. And so, when a couple flavours just don’t cut it, I set my eyes on building a dream team of flavour pairings to include mine, yours, and everyone’s favourites: mint chip, mocha almond fudge, cherry cheesecake, caramel macchiato crunch, Oreos ‘n’ cream, and a peachy-esque spin resulting in ‘nouveau’ nectarines and cream. Likewise, candy coated cones with sprinkles and the works are a must – a match-made winning combo for the otherwise already beautified real cream scoops.

Made in an instant and ‘flash’ frozen, personalizing your ice cream to create a range of tastes is a cinch. To do so, simply remember the magic of three: three items and three steps – combine, whip and freeze. Word to the wise: for mint chip, I omit vanilla essence and replace it with pure mint extract. Alternatively, deconstructed banana split ice cream can made by using banana flavouring as well. Once again, the sky’s the limit when creating your very own plain or fusion ice cream, especially when starting with the original no-churn base. Rocky road or what ever route you take your ice cream, there’s one ultimate certainty: no-churn ice cream is an “insta” success.

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved. 

A Marble to Behold

Chocolate Marble Banana Bread 4 arrA while ago, homey banana bread was made and devoured by yours truly – ‘moi,’ of course! The sweet memories of what once was – yester-bake – now leaves me with this thought: I do believe it’s time for a remake. Just as before, I’ve come across the very old yet same predicament – as past recipes would reveal – and, a very delicious answer for an almost forgotten bunch of ripened bananas. Some never learn, I suppose – or do they?

Chocolate Marble Banana Bread 1 arrSpeaking of myself, I’ve definitely love to salvage overripe fruit in baked goods. Without getting overly ‘mushy’ about the subject, I equally attest that banana bread is best made when this fruit does in fact start to brown and spot on its exterior but, remains soft and explosively flavourful.

Wasting no more time, let’s get baking! Starting with a trusted recipe, I decide on marbled banana bread. Like the original, this variety simply requires one to divide the dry ingredients initially suggested for the making of one loaf in multiple bowls. Taking things step-by-step, measure halved amount of the ‘necessities’ – flour , sugar, salt, and baking powder – into two different bowls where the chocolate variation takes less flour, thus being certain to replace the omitted amount of a.p.f. with cocoa powder. Chocolate Marble Banana Bread 2 arrFrom here, divide and pour the already mixed wet contents – butter, vanilla, bananas and eggs – into each ‘dry’ bowl. And for an even more decadent chocolatey twist, add dark or semi-sweet chocolate chunks to each bowl. Once both batters are well combined, introduce spoonfuls of each into a well-greased and parchment-lined loaf pan.

Vanilla and chocolate contents now acquainted, insert a knife or wooden skewer into the batter-filled pan and make swirl motions to create the classic marbled pattern. Finally, top your edible art with extra chocolate chunks – if your heart desires – and get that marbled slab into a preheated oven.

Chocolate Marble Banana Bread 3 arrSensing a banana-rich sweetness in the air, I know my marbled loaf is ready – about 50 minutes or so. Leaving this beauty to cool prior to slicing, getting my dose of potassium courtesy of this banana bread-ish ‘healthy’ cake is my kind of rescued dessert. Hoping you’ll show ripened fruit some TLC – via the kitchen – treating bruised fruit is not so ‘bananas’ after all. Clearly enjoying the fruits of my labour, reinvented banana bread is simply marvellous. Whether you enjoy it as a mid-day snack or for a quick breakfast on the go, this moist loaf satisfies in both its classic state, embedded with nuts or rippled with melted chocolate flavours – naturally, it’s a ‘marble’ to be behold!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved. 

Spring Bake


Bon Appetit Ricotta Cake 2 arrPatio all set and spring cleaning complete, are you thinking what I’m thinking: sun’s out, bundt’s out! Always finding a reason to celebrate, there’s no better time to reward a seasonal mission well accomplished than with cake – al fresco, of course! And given my love of baking, I gladly make use of springform pans and vibrant fruit for a refreshing duo: lemony fruit-filled and almond peach ricotta cakes.

Bon Appetit Ricotta Cake 4 arrFirst intrigued by Bon Appétit’s Raspberry-Ricotta Cake, a glimpse of this cake looked too tempting not to recreate. Doing just that, I use Alison Roman’s simple instructions and get ambitious. Doubling the amounts of specified ingredients, I yield twice the batter for two variations on this light and fluffy cake. Clearly, the perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea or any java pick-me-up.

Bon Appetit Ricotta Cake 5 arrAttesting to its simplicity, this ricotta cake is easy to make and tweak. Certain to add bright flavour, the original recipe calls for raspberries. While keeping with the necessities – flour, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, baking powder, salt and ricotta – is a must, this ricotta-inspired cake is not exclusive to raspberries alone. Forgoing the suggested listing, I follow most steps and include my preferred choice of berries, stone fruit and citrus for an end result that’s peachy-keen.


Bon Appetit Ricotta Cake 3 arrChanged but not compromised, my take is quite delicious and still attune with the desired moist consistency of Bon App
étit’s Ricotta Cake. Likewise, the almond topping adds texture to the mildly fragrant peach-infused cake. Equally fresh and clean on the palette, inclusion of lemon zest coupled with pockets of tart blackberries, blueberries and cherries appropriately lift the otherwise plain cake structure with bursts of bold flavour. Pleased with the overall outcome of my ricotta cakes, this duo looks prime and tastes divine as-is though can be made ultra indulgent with a dollop of whipped cream.
A piece of cake to make – and eat, once cooled – here’s a final note on any leftover fruit: blushing Bellinis, anyone?

Strawberry Peach Bellinis arrWasting not, blend equal parts of any remaining peach slices with frozen strawberries to create a fruit-fusion. From here, fill a wine glass with fruit purée – about 1/3 high – and top the amalgamated contents with sparkling wine. Feeling peachy with abundance, elevated lounging is meant to be decked out with juicy refreshments – Bon Appétit!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Red Velvet That Will Please

 

beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-8-arrWant a Valentine’s dessert that will make your special someone blush beet red? Saying “YES” to all things homemade, I have the perfect baked treat in mind. For your sweet – or sweet tooth – I’m thinking: Red Velvet Cupcakes. Satisfying for more than its V-Day symbolic hints of love – chocolate and heart-red hue – this cocoa-rich yet moist bite-size indulgence is made extra irresistible thanks to a generous smothering of cream cheese frosting. As scrumptious as it sounds, red velvet is not for everyone but, when made right, is sure to leave you with a smile.

beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-4-arrEnticed, yet? Love it or hate it, I’m in the mood to whip up a batch of red velvet cupcakes. Still tempting to some, red velvet persists to be a sought-after southern delight since its revival on the big screen – watch the retro hit, Steel Magnolias. Movie buff or not, however, others find nothing delectable about consuming a piece of red-dye cake that’s, too, criticized for being bland. Honestly, I can’t blame them! Also choosing to forgo the Texas band-waggon – sorry, Adams Extract – a little research is all it took to find the ‘one.’ Clearly convinced that ‘red’ can be made right, I’ve found a non-greasy red velvet cake instruction that’s highly flavourful all the while omitting oil and food colouring.

beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-6-arrGetting back to the basics, the start to producing a genuine ‘rouge’ cake batter is as simple as this: just ‘beet’ it! Truly, the inclusion of beetroot veg will evoke desired vibrancy without emptying an entire bottle of food colour – L-O-V-E this! Further match-made for more reasons than one, I use Pamela Moxley’s Red Velvet Cake recipe that calls on butter, equally appeasing to my desire for an oil-free batter. And as if things couldn’t get any better, directions ask that you purée the cooked and peeled beets so you’re solely left with smooth – ‘au naturel’ red – velvety liquid texture. As for the taste, this cake is not intended to be overly chocolatey nor are you left with a strong beet flavour.  In contrast, these cupcakes are mildly sweet and are all about a ‘chemical romance.’ Explanation provided: the appearance of reddish earth tones should result upon combining neutralized Dutch-process cocoa powder with buttermilk, and acids such as white vinegar and the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon, as Moxley’s steps indicate.

beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-11-arrAs for my experiment, I can attest to a fairly ‘reactive’ outcome in the test kitchen. From burgundy to crimson, the looks of lovely red are pleasantly evident and ever-changing between baking stages. A chameleon cake of sorts, that’s exactly what you want to see when attempting this vegetable-infused dessert recipe. Be bold, then, and prepare to welcome variations of red that doesn’t include lipstick or candy apple – any other shade, mind you, wouldn’t reflect an authentic beet cake.

Ultimately doing all things in love, I hope you try a scratch recipe of choice or cake mix – no judgement here – and, when the little cakes are cooled, begin to decorate with frosting: butter-cream, cream cheese or ‘roux’ icing. beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-13-arrCreating cream cheese frosting for my individual ‘reds,’ all I do is combine the following in a bowl: softened unsalted butter and cream cheese – both left out, at room temperature – icing sugar, plus a final dash of Madagascar vanilla essence. Once fluffy and ready to go, I divide the frosting into separate containers, get a piping bag and tip assembled, and do the unexpected: I use food colouring gel. It’s true but, only a few drops – promise! All in the name of happy baking, I couldn’t resist arranging a bed of edible roses. Seriously worth the addition of colour, who would deny wanting these thorn-free flowers for V-Day? Admittedly beautiful, lush, and fragrantly sweet, red velvet rosette frosted cupcakes are for the making, baking, and taking – by the dozens!

© DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Let’s Get Started!

prima-pavlova-2-arrNew year, new dessert? Right on – my sentiments exact! Paving 2017 with all that is light, sweet and timeless, I’m resolute in making a classic dessert that echoes effortless sophistication. And for this “must-indulge” endeavour, whipping up divine pavlova is nothing short of pav-u-lous.

Originally made to honour ballerina Anna Pavlova, this delicate meringue topped with heavy cream and fruit promises an impressionable display upon presentation. For my dessert stage, then, here’s two ovation-worthy variations to prepare: soft and chewy vanilla pavlova embellished with whipped cream and seasonal berries, in addition to a two-tier chocolate and raspberry layered pavlova cake.prima-pavlova-3-arr

Instructions abound, pursuing any pavlova recipe is a cinch. While I’m a Martha Stewart loyalist – surprise, surprise – be confident that ingredients and steps for the making of meringues are pleasingly similar. Tried, tested, and happily achieved – thanks to Ms. Stewart – here’s a sum of what you’ll need for the meringue base: egg whites, salt, sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla extract. For the chocolate alternative, omit vinegar and cornstarch but add premium quality unsweetened cocoa powder and brown sugar accordingly. Once the ingredients are mixed to a glossy stiff consistency, continue to bake and cool the meringue discs in the oven. Finally, proceed to add finishing touches to the domed base. prima-pavlova-4-arr

Generously topping my vanilla meringue with sweetened whipped cream, strawberries and blackberries, fear not if your baked structure slightly cracks or deflates, even post cooling. Instead, remember: this show-stopping beauty is not done until it’s fully dressed via flavourful cream, berries, other fruits – kiwi, banana, raspberry, blueberries, etc. – chocolate shavings, ganache, and even caramel sauce. Garnishes being optional, I brighten the already vibrant fruit pavlova with fresh sprigs of mint, and do so for extra colour and taste. prima-pavlova-1-arrEqually, and like the vanilla pav, the cocoa-rich-lo-va incorporates both fruit and sweetened whipped cream. To ensure even levels – between the first and second floors of cake – simply spoonful proportionate amounts of whipped cream onto the surface of each chocolate meringue. Getting the tiniest bit technical, carefully spread the filling from the center outward – an offset spatula works like a charm – and proceed by topping one cream-laden round with the other. Finding no swan song here, a bountiful shower of lush red raspberries and dusting of dark chocolate shavings is all you require for this adorned ‘prima’. So, there you have it! Dramatically ‘made-up’ and ready for a close reveal, wowing guests is as easy as gracing them with front-row standing to their very own slice of cloud cake – PAV-tastico!

© DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Legends of a Fall Haul

cranberry-orange-walnut-tart-5-arrFall harvests are in, and I’m going for the season’s best – C-R-A-N-B-E-R-R-I-E-S! Between beverages, sauces or jarred condiments, this fruit – when available – is conveniently within reach at the local grocers. So, why all the excitement? Clearly, resisting not – to test a new recipe – a baker’s gonna bake! And this time, use of these fresh and vibrant ruby red crops call for the making of a zingy orange and cranberry walnut-crusted tart.

Like most pie and tart recipes, you can pair various fillings with your preferred crust recipe.  Choice is yours, and for this baking endeavour I – somewhat – follow Martha Stewart’s instructions. Similar to the original, my take on the filling uses fresh cranberries, sugar, water, and gelatin. Also calling for a cup of currant jelly and two tablespoons of cognac, I decide to do things differently and cater to my palette – I swap the currant jelly for cranberry jelly to maintain consistency, and incorporate the zest of one orange plus its juice in place of liqueur.

Yay or nay, to making changes? Well, I usually don’t like to mess with a “good thing.” cranberry-orange-walnut-tart-2-arrBut, as in this case, orange citrus is the right substitution to elevate the sharpness of cranberries and to yield an ultimate jamming filling. Being sure to use precise measurements of juice in combination with fruit peel, you can even try making a zesty lemon cranberry version like the orange variation for an ultra-tart take on this delicious recipe. Definitely worth re-making, I also recommend simmering another batch to preserve in a mason jar. Versatile in its uses, this alcohol-free orange cranberry filling is not just a filling anymore. Think of it this way: it’s a cross between fruit compote and jam that can be topped on your breakfast ‘favourite’ – toast, waffles, pancakes, yoghurt/yogurt – or as an appetizing accompaniment to Brie, Camembert or other soft cheeses. Needless to say, the enhanced cranberry filling recipe is a winning YAY!

As for the nutty crust counterpart, Martha Stewart’s listed ingredients include: finely chopped walnuts, unsalted butter, flour, salt, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla essence and ice water. cranberry-orange-walnut-tart-3-arrFrom here, and using Martha’s recipe or your own, evenly spread out the dough mixture onto the tart dish and freeze it for thirty minutes. Now ready for the oven, bake the crust at 375°F for about 40 minutes or until the shell is revealing of a golden brown colour. Wishing fellow bakers optimal results – and happy baking – here’s a helpful hint: keep a watchful eye on the cooking time for both the crust and filling or otherwise risk yielding a burnt crust, and watery – ocean spray – content of burst cranberries. Being careful – myself – this rewarding cranberry orange walnut-crusted tart wins crowds on texture and appeal. It look goods, tastes good, and remains a seasonal fruit dessert befitting of the fall season.

cranberry-orange-walnut-tart-7-arrPucker your lips sour, this cranberry-based recipe is obviously not as sweet as many other treats. With that in mind, you may choose to add more sugar to the filling mixture as you see fit. Equally packed with a load of acidity, I initially wasn’t sure if I would win-over family members with this slightly acidic ‘after,’ especially as an end to a hearty Thanksgiving meal. But, truth be told: they loved it! Serving a humble portioned square pleasantly complemented an otherwise bountiful plate. Word to the wise, then, the following might be worth remembering: heavy meals pair well with lighter desserts, and lighter meals allow room for more rich and dense cakes or pastries. With one notable day of thanks past, and another upcoming in November – American Thanksgiving – this delectable tart is not overbearing and one possible dessert route to pursue as a finale to an epic holiday meal. Above all else, those who love cranberries need not wait for a calendar event to enjoy a piece of cranberry tart – afternoon snack times are occasion enough!

© DISHFUL, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Keep Calm & Panda On

Pandaron 1 arrIt’s panda bear pandemonium! Rightfully so, everyone loves these adorably playful creatures. But if you don’t get why, here are two cute and cuddly reasons to explain: Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue. Literally translating to Canadian Hope and Canadian Joy, the aforementioned Canadian born male and female pandas cubs are recent additions to the Toronto Zoo. Beyond endearing – not to mention G.T.A.-close – I, like many other animal lovers, couldn’t miss the chance to gain a glimpse of these cuties while they’re still small-ish and in these part of the woods.

Ooh’s” and “awes” in full effect, lucky visitors get to see not one or two pandas but, the whole family. Sighting mama bear, papa bear and the twins, it’s no wonder why this rare viewing is worth the lineup. Bearing witness to panda-style habits – eating, sleeping, and repeating – I learn the charms of living the simple life. Clearly, as in this case, less is more – more pampering of the senses, that is. Pandaron 6 arr

Similarly catering to one’s desire to see and explore further, other ‘mini’ sights to admire include: the polar bear cub, white lion cubs, a couple of Canadian Lynx kittens, and Nandu the Indian Rhino calf. Observing as much as time allows, I leave this excursion with both appreciation for nature’s four-legged beauties and inspiration to re-create baked replicas of my own.

Pandaron 8 arrDusting off a reliable French Macaron recipe, anyone can make their very own ‘pandaron’ – panda macaron. Irresistibly sweet and soft – to the palette and eyes – these round delights are sure to please any panda or cookie lover. Doubling down, those who like both – fans of pandas and cookies – are definitely in for a twin-of-a-treat.

Getting my hands on the necessary ingredients coupled with elbow grease, there’s no pampering or ‘spaw’ treatment involved for this tedious task. Pandaron 7 arrMeasuring, sieving, whisking, folding, piping, and the list goes on, I feel taking a panda nap – almost, only after the cookies are done. Like the cubs’ namesake, I’m both hoping for a blotch-free outcome and joyful upon glance of completed baking sheets of bashful faces – no hot messes here, thankfully.

Pandaron 10 arrGrateful that my interpretation of the Canadian born panda cubs turned out right, I’m left as elated as the showing of the real cubs. Truly mirroring the characteristics of genuine macarons – round with a smooth domed top, and standing tall on ‘feet’ – these sugary ‘pandaron’ babies don’t fall short nor flat. Ideal in taste, size and texture, it goes to show that a trusted recipe and precision is all you need to render quality macarons. To finish my display, I couldn’t resist but to keep my ‘pandarons’ company with matcha green tea biscuit sticks – the perfect snack to complement this cookie round table.

Pandaron 9 arrFor those who are adventurous, try making other animal-inspired macarons. For the creation of lions, tigers, bears or other, simply use your imagination and follow your preferred recipe. From here, add a few drops of food colouring gels and design your cookies accordingly. Ideally, detailing is best using a contrasting colour to reveal and highlight signature lines, spots or markings of your favourite zoo animal. Though the making of macarons measure higher in difficultly than the average chocolate chip cookie, they are undeniably fun to make- for this baker, at least. All the same, the choice to buy or make is yours. Staying zen about the issue, there’s no debating what everyone will do ‘chez-moi’  all can keep calm and eat ‘pandarons.’

© DISHFUL, 2016. All Rights Reserved.