Bianca Amor I Amor You

Two words:

Liquidation SuperCentre

I was on my way home from the Bulk Barns today (spice project, will tell you about it another time) and happened upon something doing at the old Cabela’s location.  The sign now reads: “Bianca Amor’s Liquidation SuperCentre”.  Ummm, yeah!  Pulling in, I didn’t know what to expect.  I have to admit, I was heading home because it was stinking hot out, and I had to go to the bathroom, and I was hungry.  So had I known what was beyond Bianca’s front doors, I would have been more prepared.  With limited time and bladder patience, I walked into what can only be described as WALL TO WALL DEALS, PEOPLE.

I want props for that comma, by the way.  It could have been “deals people” which would have been wrong… oh never mind.

They have a little bit of absolutely everything.  Rugs, electronics, housewares, clothing, furniture, junk, good stuff, you name it it was in there.

I didn’t last long, I was overwhelmed (and like I said, I had to get to a bathroom), so I found one thing and got out of there.  I will be back though, for sure.

They seemed to be clearing out quite a bit of Chicago Metallic bakeware and equipment.  I really like Chicago Metallic – they make good stuff.  So I picked up one of these:

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What’s that, you say?  A chocolate dipping station?  The thing about Bianca Amor’s is, and @Cookie_Steph put it so perfectly: Bianca Amor has so many things I didn’t even know I needed.  Like a chocolate dipping station.  Am I right or am I right?  And for the low low blowout price of:

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I mean COME ON!  How could you pass up the deal of the century like that?  Ok, so I googled it when I got home, and they typically retail for about $20 so I didn’t get that good of a deal, BUT, it’s a cool thing to add to my arsenal, and I hate melting chocolate.  It can be such a pain, and temperamental, especially when you just need a little bit for dipping.  It’s a really nice quality tool, actually. Very much like a crock pot, but pink.

So…

I dug around in the pantry for some of that leftover brick chocolate I always seem to have lying around.

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And I popped it in.

What’s my plan for it?  Well I’m glad you asked.  You see, I’ve become addicted to this absolutely horrible invention called “snacking chocolate”.  Seriously, who thinks of this stuff?  Sadists.  These sadists called “Ripple” invented something called “Bark Thins” and you can check out their website if you’re into that sort of thing.  My favourite flavour is the sea salt and pumpkin seed.  WHO THINKS OF THIS STUFF.

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I like it so much, I’m going to try to recreate it for myself (which the ripple people probably won’t like, but they have basically ruined my life with their highly addictive product so too bad for them).  I only have milk chocolate on hand, but I also have sea salt and pumpkin seeds, so… we’re going to freestyle this.

I melted the chocolate.

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I stirred in the pumpkin seeds and spread it out in a layer.

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I sprinkled the whole thing with sea salt.

And voila!

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It was horrible.  Well, not horrible, but really the milk chocolate was not doing the pumpkin seeds any favours.  Or the sea salt, for that matter.  I think the bitterness of the dark chocolate really does something with the sea salt and pumpkin seeds.  You’re welcome Ripple Brands Collective, you’re welcome.   I’ve managed to save you gazillions of sales.  I’m just another pusher in your network of of underground sales people.

I’m off to the Costcos to get me some more of that stuff.

k

I’m Back Baby

Most of you know why I’ve been away, but for those of you that don’t – I took a “leave of absence” from blogging to spend a little more time working on a big project for my family.  We undertook a pretty significant renovation to our house these past few months, and it was a huge part of every day.  In order to make it work, I had to give up a few things I like to do, like baking all the time, like blogging, like…living a normal life.

The biggest change in the house (besides the square footage, and the extra, you know, house part) is the kitchen.  I’ll blog about that more in the next few weeks, I promise, but if you’re with me on the Facebooks, you know how many kitchentastrophes we had.  I planned this kitchen, I wanted it to be all my own, from the layout, to the cupboards, to the appliances.  I went and picked every little thing, right down to the cutting boards.  And then, when it came to execution, well, we ran into a few snaggles, but more about that later, as I said.

What’s bugging me today, and what I wanted to write about, is the creative roadblock I have had since moving back in.  We came home two and a half weeks ago and despite having this gorgeous space that I am ridiculously proud of, I was not inspired to bake.  Anything.  We had been living in a townhouse temporarily during construction, and my excuse during that time was, well, time, and also, I didn’t pack and bring over any of my baking tools.  I thought the break would be good for me.  It wasn’t.  After coming home and cleaning the heck out of this place, I have stood in this kitchen countless times, just looking at it, but never compelled to preheat the oven.

Then this weekend happened.

In a bizarre series of events, pretty much every single person related to me left town.  Literally, every person who has ever been an emergency contact of mine is outside the province.  The house was all mine.  Obviously there were house-y things to do (we’ll be doing those for a while, don’t even get me started on the state of our yard or basement) but I also had the time to really think about what I should bake, and think about getting back to the blog.

I just needed some inspiration.

Inspiration comes in the strangest forms sometime.  Every once and a while a co-worker will request something and I’ll go on the ultimate research hunt to find just the right recipe.  Sometimes I’ll find a product in a store and think, “I can totally make this myself”.  The odd time I will be inspired by a magazine or TV article, and the most often of all, I get my inspiration from others blog posts.

This was kind of different (but not really).

I was in my favourite kitchen shop, d.a. Neils, with no particular shopping agenda.  I just happened to be nearby and thought, I’ll take a peek and see what they have.  I even commented to the salesperson that I was without family that day and just enjoying my day (and I was!).  When I saw it.

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Inspired.

I wanted to make these cookies RIGHT NOW.  And I wanted them to be pink (please tell me you get it).  I had everything I needed at home, so I bought it and headed there.  Creative block disintegrated!  My next challenge was finding a roll out cookie recipe that would work for me.  All of my roll out cookies require chilling, but I wanted to roll with my new-found inspiration (see what I did there), and I wanted to do it RIGHT NOW.  A little research brought me to a blog that I’ve never visited before: In Katrina’s Kitchen.  Katrina has what she is touting as the “Best Sugar Cookie Recipe” and it requires no chilling.  Wonderful.  Even if it’s the worst sugar cookie recipe (spoiler alert: it wasn’t, it is a great recipe), I was in.

I am giving this recipe a win.  The only thing I would have done differently, honestly, is popped the cookies in the fridge after cutting them out, and before baking.  They didn’t come out very bubbly, but I think this would result in a flatter, easier to decorate cookie in the end.

But enough criticism, honestly, I will absolutely make these guys again.  So simple, and extremely tasty.

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That was last night.  This morning, I whipped up some 7-minute icing, and got to work frosting them.  I considered turning them into an imperial cookie, but changed my mind.  These are stand-alone good, they don’t need jam.

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Please, I’m begging you, tell me you get it.  You get it, right?

It’s a house key.  It’s pink.  Anyone?

k

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

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We like to use acronyms here at Tickled Pink, but there’s one thing that just shouldn’t be acronized (?), and that is Valentine’s Day (you know what I mean).

Very much like the purple penguin-tastrophe I blogged about here, last night the Blond texted me (yes, that happens), to ask if we could make cookies for his class in lieu of handing out Valentines.  Of course we can.  And we did.  With limited time I converted my favourite go-to Imperial Cookie recipe which did not require overnight refrigeration (or eggs, which I also did not have) prior to rolling out and baking, and we made 22 beautiful heart shaped cookies.

Have you seen this red thing before?  I picked it up at Williams-Sonoma a few years ago and I always forget about it.

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It has a little grid, and comes with letters, like this:

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I forgot I had these and decided to dust them off for these heart-shaped cookies.  The problem is the Imperial Cookie base I was making doesn’t lend itself to the lettering.  So they got a little puffy:

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But good enough for grade 5 and I’m happy to report that the Blond made nearly everything himself. He’s a talented little baker.

The cookies he made turned out pretty good too:

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That’s one lucky class today.  I’m also pretty lucky – since we’re on the topic of acronyms: the ECBF has nicely transitioned to the ECF. . .

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

xo

DOUGHNUT WEEK: Top Secret Finale

Warning: the images you are about to see here may be graphic in nature and may be unsuitable for some readers.

I don’t even know where to start with this post.  For a long time I’ve been wanting to blog about the cronut phenomenon.  Unless you’ve been living in a  cave, you know about these delicious inventions that are taking over the baking world, a cross between a croissant and a donut and a little bit of a big deal, with their own black market and knock offs everywhere.

They even (get this) have their own Wikipedia entry (no joke), where they attribute the creation of the cronut to Dominique Ansel of Dominique Ansel bakery and TIME magazine has named the cronut one of the 25 best inventions of 2013.

I was lucky enough to get to try the Bacchanal Buffet knock-off version, in Las Vegas, called the Bacchronut.  Worth every delicious calorie.

So back to the blog – I’ve been thinking about blogging about the cronut for a while now.  It’s delicious, it should be celebrated – that’s what we do here at Tickled Pink after all, but I just didn’t have enough to say.  A friend at the office gave me a copy of her top secret Cronut recipe, believed to be the “real thing” – and I thought about making them, but I’m not going to lie to you – the recipe was three pages long!  Getting up the energy to deal with a three page recipe these days would be a miracle.  And, furthermore, what’s with a THREE PAGE RECIPE??  This is essentially a donut, right?

Well we’ve been celebrating Doughnut Week all week here at Tickled Pink and the Blond has been helping me with all things doughnutty.  We woke up Saturday morning and the Blond suggested croissants might be nice for breakfast (and you can’t argue with logic like that) so I did what every self-respecting step-monster who is an awesome baker does, and I pulled out the can of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls when KAPOW – it hit me.  WE CAN TOTALLY MAKE CRONUTS OURSELVES.

So we did.

I scurried to the computer to see if I could find some information on deep frying Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and a few tap taps on the keyboard and I got to the bottom of things.  Apparently not two days after the Cronut craze hit New York, Pillsbury themselves came out with a recipe for Salted Caramel Crescent Doughnuts.  Hmmmm.  Well I looked at a few more sites, like this one, and even watched a video courtesy of Huffington Post – and guess what?  I can DO THIS.  Easily.  And so can you (what good is power if you can’t share it with people, am I right?).

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Here’s how we changed it (we had limited time):

You take the dough?  You turn it into two (or three) donut-shaped things:

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You fry them for about a minute on each side (I use my frying pan with an inch and a bit of oil):

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For the filling: I had a container of oreo pudding, and a half a bowl of whipping cream.  I mixed these together.  I sliced the fried cronut in half, and I slathered that on there, then I put the two halves together.    THEN?  Then I drizzled it with plain old frosting.

THIS WAS THE BEST FLIPPIN’ THING I’VE EVER TASTED IN MY LIFE.

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I warned you.

You’re welcome.

DOUGHNUT WEEK: Kicking it Old School (?)

I got a mini doughnut pan a couple years ago, used it one, and then never used it again.  Why?  Because the ECBF told me that baked doughnuts were gross and totally not a real thing.

I see.

Doughnuts come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes (and ingredients, for that matter), but let me explain to you the key differences in what you’re stuffing your mouth and washing down with that cup of coffee, courtesy of a very wonderful website called Serious Eats, who have written a comprehensive guide on the subject of doughnuts.  Serious Eats, however, as well as just about every other source on the internet, defines a doughnut as a confection that is fried – not baked (point, ECBF).

The Blond wanted to make mini doughnuts this weekend.  In keeping with our Doughnut Week theme I thought – yes!  Perfect!  I did not, however, want to stick the 10-year old in front of a vat of boiling splattering oil.  I have my own fear of frying, I’m not going to give him one (we have enough to work with).  So, into the basement I went, in the search for the dusty doughnut pan.

If you decide you’d like to try doughnuts, and you would like to bake, not fry them, you need to remember that not every doughnut recipe translates perfectly from frying to baking.  I had to do a little bit of research but I found a recipe that I thought would be easy enough and would make just a small batch of mini doughnuts for us to try, and you can find it here.  Note: we didn’t do the apple part or the glaze part of the recipe, but will next time we make them, for sure.

Things were going well until I stupidly over-filled the little doughnut cavities in the pan, ending up with more of a mini bundt cake than anything else, but always on top of his game, the Blond suggested we use that to our advantage – and we did exactly that.

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The best part of this whole story is that the ECBF loved them (and didn’t even realize they had been baked until we told him – so, point, KK).

A tie, which as far as I’m concerned, is a win for KK.

DOUGHNUT WEEK: The Beginnings

Welcome to Doughnut Week here at Tickled Pink.

That’s right – the deliciousness we are celebrating in a week-long bakestravaganza is the Canadian favourite: the doughnut.

Have you ever wondered where the doughnut comes from?  This has plagued me for years.  So I asked our good friends at Wikipedia, and here’s what they had to say:

Doughnuts have a disputed history. One theory suggests they were invented in North America by Dutch settlers,[5] who were responsible for popularizing other American desserts, including cookies, apple and cream pie, and cobbler.[citation needed] Indeed, in the 19th century, doughnuts were sometimes referred to as one kind of oliekoek (a Dutch word literally meaning “oil cake”), a “sweetened cake fried in fat.”[6]

Hanson Gregory, an American, claimed to have invented the ring-shaped doughnut in 1847 aboard a lime-trading ship when he was only 16 years old. Gregory was dissatisfied with the greasiness of doughnuts twisted into various shapes and with the raw center of regular doughnuts. He claimed to have punched a hole in the center of dough with the ship’s tin pepper box, and later taught the technique to his mother.[7]

According to anthropologist Paul R. Mullins, the first cookbook mentioning doughnuts was an 1803 English volume which included doughnuts in an appendix of American recipes. By the mid-19th century, the doughnut looked and tasted like today’s doughnut, and was viewed as a thoroughly American food.[8]

Really?  Because I can think of a few Canadians who would claim the doughnut as a Canadian food, no?  Canada has more doughnut shops per capita than any other country in the world.  Yet, we don’t have a National Doughnut Day as is celebrated in the US, the origins of which I find really interesting (Source: Wikipedia):

National Doughnut Day started on June 7, 1938 when a young military doctor by the name of Morgan Pett was sent to a military base. On his way there he stopped at a bakery and picked up 8 dozen doughnuts. When he arrived at the base he started helping many wounded soldiers, and would give them a free doughnut. One man he helped was a Lieutenant General by the name of Samuel Geary. Samuel Geary greatly appreciated the help on his leg, and the doughnut ( as he was a very comical man) so he decided to make a fund raiser with Morgan Pett to give every wounded solder, and the needy a doughnut. This fund raiser was later joined with the Salvation Army. Soon after the US entrance into World War I in 1917, The Salvation Army sent a fact-finding mission to France. The mission concluded that the needs of US enlisted men could be met by canteens/social centers termed “huts” that could serve baked goods, provide writing supplies and stamps, and provide a clothes-mending service. Typically, six staff members per hut would include four female volunteers who could “mother” the boys. These huts were established by The Salvation Army in the United States near army training centers.

About 250 Salvation Army volunteers went to France. Because of the difficulties of providing freshly baked goods from huts established in abandoned buildings near to the front lines, the two Salvation Army volunteers (Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance) came up with the idea of providing doughnuts. These are reported to have been an “instant hit”, and “soon many soldiers were visiting The Salvation Army huts”. Margaret Sheldon wrote of one busy day: “Today I made 22 pies, 300 doughnuts, 700 cups of coffee.”

Now can we talk about the spelling variation between “donut” and “doughnut”?  That is something that has been bugging me too.  I once wrote a letter to the Minister of Revenue complaining that they used the word “judgement” throughout my Notice of Assessment and it should have been spelled “judgment” (the Canadian variant).  Yes, that happened.  If anyone can explain to me how it happened that we have two spellings (doughnut and donut), I will send you a dozen delicious Tickled Pink donuts.  Err, I mean doughnuts.  And I promise, I will be giving you the answer somehow in the next few posts.  Post your answer in the comments or message me directly.

Listen, doughnuts are delightful and delicious and deserve to be celebrated.  Enjoy Doughnut/Donut Week everyone.