Strawberry & Balsamic Pops

Don’t be turned off by these pops – balsamic vinegar and fruits are a natural and perfect combination due to the sweetness of the vinegar. The tartness in these pops comes from the strawberries. I would actually suggest using slightly more balsamic in these pops to make the flavour really stand out and give you that sweet tang you are looking for from the balsamic. The balsamic gives the pops a deep maroon colour. I strain every batch of pops I make so it’s just pure juiciness.

I have two pop recipe books and both contain a recipe for these pops. I made the recipe from The People’s Pops which uses a larger amount of balsamic. I am not going to try the recipe from Perfect Pops because I think the recipe could use more balsamic and that recipe uses barely any. Although I am incredibly intrigued by the addition of ground black pepper. I am going to leave you with both recipes and you can decide which recipe to munch on.

Happy munching!

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Homemade Popsicles

My latest summer treat is homemade popsicles. They are sweet, simple to make and don’t require me turning on my oven – perfect for summer. I’ve been using one book for my popsicle recipes, People’s Pops: 55 Recipes for Ice Pops, Shave Ice, and Boozy Pops from Brooklyn’s Coolest Pop Shop. People’s Pops started as a pop-up food vendor in Brooklyn and eventually expended into a store, supplier and even an author of a cookbook. Their recipes are simple, playful, and pair unique ingredients to create brilliant flavour combinations. It also features boozy pops. The cookbook is divided by seasons, and then further into early, mid and late of each of those seasons allowing for the freshest, most in season fruits and vegetables to be used. If you are thinking making popsicles and you are looking for ideas and flavours, definitely pick up this book. I also have Perfect Pops but I don’t find the recipes as unique.

I have made two recipes so far, Cucumber Watermelon Pops and Raspberry Basil Pops

1. The CW pops were cool and refreshing, with the perfect contrast between sweet and a slight tartness. This recipe is also a great way to use up watermelon. As a couple or as a single person, it is hard to eat an entire watermelon over the course of only a few days but this recipe is a solution to that problem.

2. The Raspberry Basil pops were unreal. I have been feeling this combination of berries and savoury this summer and GC’s grandmother’s garden was just calling me to me. The aroma from the basil as it was freshly picked was completely consuming. The basil infuses the simple syrup and adds a warm and peppery note to the pops. I think for aesthetic purposes it would look nice to add roughly chopped basil to the pops, for a splash of contrasting but complimentary colour.

Check out the recipes below and happy munching! Or licking, however you prefer to eat your popsicles!

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Cheesecake

Anna Olson has a new show and it is all sorts of magical. It is called, Bake with Anna Olson. Each episode is dedicated to a common dessert/bakery item, for example, cheesecake, meringue or ganache. She begins with the basic recipe and builds on those to make more complicated dishes. She will start with New York Style Cheesecake and work up to make layered Key Lime Cheesecake. This show is straight forward, informative, eye catching and most importantly, will cause you to salivate.

I first caught this show after my mom had bought me my Kitchen Aid Mixer but it was not yet in my possession and I was trying to determine what to make using it for the first time. I wanted to make something that couldn’t be made by hand or using a hand mixer and would require the power and force of the mixer. After I saw the cheesecake episode of this show, I was sold.

I made Anna Olson’s New York Style Cheesecake.

1. As a rule of thumb, my mom doesn’t make cheesecake using more than 3 packages of cheesecake. This is probably a good rule of thumb but this cheesecake looked so sinfully delicious and creamy that I had to go for it. It used 4 packages of cream cheese.

2. The Kitchen Aid Mixer is literally the best thing in the world. I love it. It is whisper quiet and so powerful and just whipped the cream cheese into submission.

3. The sour cream adds a nice creaminess and rounds out the flavour of the rich cream cheese. The addition of lemon zest to the cake also does this.

4. This is only the second cheesecake I’ve ever made (I made a pumpkin cheesecake a few years ago for Thanksgiving) and it successfully did not crack AND I did so without using a bathwater. Anna’s baking instructions are: bake at a higher temperature for 10 minutes, lower it for 25 minutes, turn off for 30 minutes but leave the cheesecake in the oven, crack the door for 30 minutes (I am simplifying it obviously, but follow the directions). The total baking time is 1 hour and 35 minutes. This seems excessive but I think it might need another five minutes at some point because the middle could have been a little more solid.

5. The cake is topped with a mixture of sour cream, lemon juice and sugar. Light but with a little bit of a bite, this is the perfect way to top this cheesecake. Also, it will hide any unsightly cracks that may have formed.

This is going to be my go to cheesecake recipe so be warned if you have a slice because it is rich, fattening and oh so delicious.

Vanilla Very Berry Cupcakes

For Al’s birthday I made Vanilla Very Berry Cupcakes.

1. These were, I wouldn’t say difficult to make, but more accurately tedious. In theory, it’s very straight forward: make vanilla batter and make a berry coulis of sorts. Now the first berry sauce you make is slightly chunky and goes into the middle of the cupcake, between the vanilla cupcake batter.

Fine. No problem. I can handle that. The issue came when the sauce was supposed to thicken and be piped into the cooled cupcakes. My sauce would not thicken. I put tons of corn starch in the sauce and it coagulated at the bottom of the pot. When I tried to put the sauce in a piping bag it completely dripped out. I had to carve into my cupcakes and slowly spoon the sauce into each cupcake. It was worth it because the cupcakes were moist and fruity.

2. The icing was an entirely different fiasco. Partly this was because my hand mixer broke mid-mix. The right beater randomly stopped spinning and my icing was ridiculously thick. After calling my mother and having a break down, I added more milk and thinned out the icing. Once it was thinner, I was able to mix my icing. In the process of piping out my icing I broke two piping bags.

3. Strawberries do not work well on cupcakes. Or maybe just not the steroid-injected-gargantuan strawberries you buy at the grocery store. I prefer how raspberries and blueberries look toppled ontop of cupcakes.

4. Powdered sugar makes everything look prettier.

5. These were delicious and super fruity. They were a fruit explosion topped with creamy icing. There was so much sweet vanilla flavour – it is always great when you can actually taste the vanilla. When I left my house it smelled wonderfully of vanilla, berries and coconut (I had also made Magic Bars as per Al’s request).

The recipe is below the cut…

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Berries and Cream Tartlets

I have been slacking – I made these tartlets about a week ago for national pie day. Mini pies are more convenient for transport and sharing. This is from a Martha Stewart recipe.

1. Not as beautiful as Martha Stewart’s by any means. This is featured in the Martha Stewart Pies cookbook and in the book there are a variety of diagrams illustrating fruit placement and arrangement. I would love to be able to arrange these berries in tight, little circles or fanned out but frankly, I don’t have the time or the patience.

2. I need to invest in tart tins. I used a muffin pan instead of the suggested 3″-4″ tart tins. Smaller, tighter but more custard filling.

3. This is the first Martha recipe I have made that doesn’t result in more than suggested. The crust only made 22 tart shells and the custard only filled 20 of those. That’s ok but just something to keep in mind.

4. Next time, I would only use blueberries and raspberries. And I think it would be best to make these in August and use fresh berries which would be smaller and tastier.

Anything with custard and berries is going to be delicious.