Tag Archives: chocolate

The Family Sweet Marie Bar recipe (you will love me so much)

Pic 1 Final

When I say “family” I don’t mean this is some sort of East European treat– this I claim as my own though it is truly a Seaborn classic.  I feel that I have eaten enough of them over 17 years to have some ownership.

We are going camping this weekend and I made a batch of these.  The step-by-step is posted her at the foodnetwork.ca blog but here’s the basic recipe.   Takes no time.  You must make it.  Trust me on this one.  (and also– just go with the corn syrup and margarine, don’t screw with perfection.)


makes about 20-25
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 tbsp. butter or margarine
2 cups Rice Krispies
1 cup salted peanuts
1 package real chocolate chips


  1. Heat peanut butter, sugar, corn syrup and butter over low heat until mixture starts to boil.
  2. Remove from heat and add Rice Krispies and peanuts. Mix well.
  3. Press into a greased 8- or 9-inch square pan.
  4. Cover with chocolate chips while hot. As chips melt (give it a couple minutes) spread over the top.
  5. Let cool until chocolate solidifies and cut into squares.  If the chocolate is a little soft it’s ok, but if cut when still melted you will have quite a mess on your hands! (my mother-in law pops the pan into the freezer for 10-15 minutes to speed up the process)

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Scrambling for Valentine’s gifts Toronto? Relax, have some chocolate…cheese..and a saucy cookbook or two.

XocoCava will have you swooning before you even take a bite.

Swoon before you even take a bite.  Xococava’s milk chocolate with espresso bean, candied lemon and fleur de sel.

Remember that old Blondie song “Rapture”?  Well, I think it was written about the above hand-made chocolates from Xoxocava.  (Also, my friend Rina and I won a lip-sync contest in high school singing that song–my hair was big and that was pre-perm.)

Usually when I buy some good chocolate to keep squirreled away in the cupboard I buy a bar of something delicious like the salted dark chocolate from Stubbe (when I can get a west-end friend to pick it up).  Somehow buying individual pieces like this for myself never occurred to me until I was knocking these back……like the lady I am.

And if that wasn't enough to make you drool...

Drool! Dark chocolate with sour cherries, pistachio and candied rose petal. (xococava)

Beautiful, individual chocolates have been fortuitously dropping into my lap lately.  A friend of mine gave us a box of nine caramel-themed chocolates from Soma (Distillery District) which contained morsels such as Fleur de Sel, Caramel Kiss and Pecan Butter Crunch.

Honestly, you cannot ever eat a Smartie again after that kind of delicious.  Now that Xococava and Soma have spoiled me and made me a xoco-snob  I may head to the Belgian Chocolate Shop on Queen East to check out chocolate making in my hood.  (anyone been there?)

chocolate xoxocava bag

The above gorgeous chocolates come delivered in this cute, witty package ($14.75/bag and there are over a dozen pieces)

I think an easy but spectacular finale to a romantic dinner (for those non-bakers) would be a plate of the above chocolates served with a beautiful, creamy cheese.

Neufchatel with red pepper jelly

Neufchatel with red pepper jelly

And if you want to be thematic with your Valentine cheeseboard you’ll grab this heart-shaped Neufchatel from France’s Normandy region.  It’s a Camembert style cheese that’s creamy, decadent and perfect for sharing.

La Sauvagine, QC

La Sauvagine, QC

And there’s the triple cream, La Sauvagine.  (If it rhymes it’s poetry right?)  I just wrote about this guy for The Wedge so here’s the cheat sheet.

Sauvagine and friends...

Sauvagine and friends…

Or you can get a few petit fours to accompany your cheese fetish.

cheese markers knives

If you would like to bring a gift to your cheese lover, I adore my stainless steel cheese markers (you stick them into your cheese to identify them–sometimes I just write “back off” on my favourites).   This set from Lee Valley comes with a set of 6 cheese knives and a cool case.

Cheese Tiles

Cheese Tiles-write on, wipe off

I was also sent an email about this cute little guys.  Same function as the stainless steel markers but they’re called cheese tiles.

Cheese tiles

Cheese tiles

They come in a variety of styles such as Fleur-di-Lis, Shell, Vine and more. Retails for $29.95 for a set of 4, they can be purchased online at www.placetile.com

And finally, what you’ve all been waiting for, give the ultimate in S&M themed foodie gifts….

Fifty Shades of Chicken

I mean, it’s pretty hilarious right?

I got in touch with Toronto’s Cookbook Store and asked what they would recommend and apparently this 50 Shades of Chicken was a hot stocking stuffer for 2012, but if you didn’t grab it then, now is your chance.  (I took this picture from amazon.ca where you can also order it).

Fork me, Spoon Me

And they also recommended these two options……(it’s going to be a long winter right?)


So, I think you’re set for gifts and food for this coming February 14th.  (FYI, the xoco cava chocolates are great bites while you wait for toast to brown in the morning, just sayin’)

 How is that lady pigging out at the fridge so skinny?


Filed under Local and Community Toronto, Restaurants and Products, Uncategorized

Kick-Ass Mother’s Day Breakfast in 10 minutes (I timed it)

Simple can be phenomenal.  The thought of  perfect soft-boiled egg ( runny, rich yolk,  sea salt) and generously buttered toast makes my shoulders relax and my mouth water.    Relaxation, pleasure and fun (dipping toast into your yolk is fun after all) can be delivered to mom in 10 minutes.  Best of all, no clanging pots to wake her from her sleep and barely a dish to find “soaking” in the sink when she finally comes downstairs.

But the key word for soft-boiled egg heaven is “perfect”. Not too loose, not too firm.  Let me, soft-boiled egg fanatic, give you the inside scoop.

Take the eggs out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature before cooking them.  This helps prevent cracking (less shock of a cold egg hitting hot water).

I  never remember to take the eggs out of the fridge in advance, so I put them into a bowl of warm water while I bring a small pot of water to a boil.

Using a pin (a safety-pin from your dry cleaning hanger will work just fine) make a small hole in the bottom of the egg to relieve some of the pressure when it goes into the hot water (another trick to prevent cracking).  I admit to skipping this step on regular days but–come on—it’s an occasion.

When your water is boiling add your egg(s) and keep the water at a gentle simmer.  You want some bubbles still breaking the top.

Water should cover the whole egg. Do as I say not as I do.

Now set your time for 5 minutes (6 minutes if you want the yolk slightly firming at the edges) and go to work on getting the toast into the toaster (don’t toast it yet though) and butter at ready.

When the timer goes off, drop the eggs into a bowl of cold water to stop their cooking.  NOW press the toast down.  When done, butter the toast, cut the cap off your egg (be confident with the knife to make the first crack and then gently slide the knife through to the other side, turning the egg upright fast for fear of losing any of the runny yolk.).  Sprinkle  sea salt on the egg and the toast.  Tad-ah!  Done.

Bring directly up to mom with a little spoon and a napkin.

Garnish with good coffee.

And gild the lily with a bar of sea salt chocolate.  (yes, kind of cliché yet kind of genius at the same time).

Bring it all up, allow for a quick kiss and thank you and then leave her the hell alone.


Filed under All Recipes, Blogs with cooking tips, Uncategorized

Supernatural Brownies still Supernatural after 5 years in drawer

I had offered to bring a dessert to a friend’s house this weekend (she was making dinner) and needed something that was both adult and kid friendly.  In my drawer of recipes I rediscovered this one for “Supernatural Brownies” clipped from the New York Times in 2007.  I  made them many times in 2007 and then kind of forgot about them (either that or I’ve been in a chocolate coma and just woke up in 2012).  Other than the fact that they’re not dairy-free (my friend Meredith can’t eat dairy–and I totally forgot that too) they seemed perfect.

To avoid being a total dessert jerk I brought Meredith some Mango Gelato from Ed’s Real Scoop (I know a pretty feeble gesture) while the rest of us enjoyed these brownies which turned out as moist, chewy and chocolatey as I remembered them.  So I thought I would share the recipe or rekindle your memories of it if you too had once loved–and lost– it.

This recipe originally come from a piece in the New York Time by Julia Moskin  which included 3 brownie recipes (French Chocolate Brownies and New Classic Brownies).  I stopped trying alternate recipes after I tried the Supernatural recipe as it seemed there was no point in exploring further.

This is the NYT’s recipe, as adapted from “Chocolate: From Simple Cookies to Extravagant Showstoppers,” by Nick Malgieri (Morrow Cookbooks, 1998).

I got chocolate on the dish. Messy picture. Sorry!

1. You need to butter a 9 x 13 ” pan and then line the bottom with parchment, and butter that.  Now preheat the oven to 350 °F.

2. In a double boiler or a stainless steel bowl set over a wide pot, melt 8 oz bittersweet chocolate with 2 sticks of unsalted butter.  You can give it a stir once in a while. then  when melted and combined set aside to cool slightly.  (you can melt theses  in the microwave as well)

3. Now you’re going to put your eggs in a large bowl and whisk them lightly with a hand blender and then add in 1 cup white sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 tsp salt and 2 tsp vanilla.

4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg batter and whisk the two until combined.

Brownie worlds collide.

5. Now add 1 cup all-purpose flour and gently fold it in with a spatula until just combined.  Don’t over mix.

6. Pour the batter into the greased dish and bake for about 35-40 minutes.  Until the top is just cracking and becoming glossy.   Remove and allow to cool before slicing.

I prefer to cut the pieces smaller as they are very rich.  And it sounds better to allow your self two rather than one, or a dozen rather than just six. (Once you eat more than 6 you should consider it a meal.)

The final brownies will be shiny and cracking on top with a rich, mist and chewy middle.

And here is your shopping list of ingredients:

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, plus extra for greasing pan
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour

Other than the baking and cooling, preparing this is fast and simple.  A good one for potlucks, birthday parties or Apocalypse planning sessions.


Filed under All Recipes, Cookbooks, Magazines (+recipes from), Ruminations on the Edible

Happy Valentine’s Day to Me (and you of course)

Happy Valentine's Day

I hope everyone is having an enjoyable Valentine’s Day–meaning that you’ve been showered in chocolates, furry stuffed bears and wet kisses (if you’ve been hoping for such things), or that you’ve had the satisfaction of hating this horrible, commercial holiday that compete’s only with New Year’s in terms of hollow and impossible expectation settings.

If you’re panicking (from either scenario) remember this:

This was a Valentine’s message from my friend Joanne at fashioninmotion.com, which should actually be cheeseandfashioninmotion, but too late now.

Yet, good or bad, Valentine’s Day always invites one to think about having a special meal–cheesies, Diet Dr. Pepper and gummies in front of Four Weddings and a Funeral  (where you can throw cheesies at the TV whenever Andie McDowell appears) or some fancy schmancy meal–in your house or out on the town.

I had the latter–last night-actually (we live on Australia time).  No, I have a class tonight so my husband made me a delicious dinner on the 13th.

And I will share it with you:

The appetizers came from T&T and were so delicious, I must apologize for my terrible lighting and staging of the plate but I’m not about to set up a light and worry about camera angles in the middle of a romantic meal (though apparently I will think about my blog for at least 10 minutes).

We had fishballs, and veggie gyoza and sweet and sour daikon with some salted mustard greens in the back.

Next we had a surf and turf thing going on with steak and tilapia in a Yuzu sauce with lots of fresh pepper.  The tilapia was tender, sweet and delicate.

And with that a warm mushroom salad.  Mushrooms perfectly cooked–not over cooked–and in a light Hoisin sauce.

Here is a close-up–

wow–I wasn’t kidding when I went close with this–perhaps I was eating straight from the plate with my mouth?  It was lipsmacking delicious.

And finally some fresh papaya and mango tofu.  I am slightly addicted to mango tofu since our babysitter started buying it for our son.  I am sure it is not healthy at all.  But it SOUNDS healthy!

And then, just to top off my perfect night at home–an hour long Valentine’s episode of 30 Rock!!  And, since it was PVR’d, no commericals and Tad even made sure to start the show again at the end of the preceding commercial  (I hate missing even a second of a scene).

Which reminds me, I have some Valentine Day payback to think about….


Filed under Ruminations on the Edible, Uncategorized

Caramels: The Cure for What Ails Ya

Some might recommend antibiotics for pneumonia (those would be the doctors) but us food bloggers like something that is more indulgent.  Like caramels.  If you’re craving caramels, no matter how sick, you know you’re generally OK.  And is it not a bucolic  ideal to be eating bons bons while lounging in bed?  Realistically, no one has time for that –except when taken ill with only enough strength to strip the crinkly, bright wrappers off the naked chocolates .

The caramels look much less 1970s than in this photo.

I recently had the opportunity to curl up with a box of the above. Fortune smiled upon me and said, “hey, get yourself some pneumonia and some bons bons”. The pneumonia arrived courtesy of the devil (I can’t be sure of that,  just a guess) and the chocolates came courtesy of President’s Choice.

It’s actually a chocolate and toffee “collection” (I’m giving up stamps immediatly -what was I thinking?) and the first thing I noticed is that all the 11  flavours on the chocolate map (see below for some blurry details) were tempting.  Not a chocolate brandy cherry in site.  I think I would eat the orange fondant last but my dad would head straight for it.

The chocolates are imported from England and you do feel like you just nipped into Marks and Spencers for a fix.

You can go ahead and buy them for as a hostess gift, but they’ll never make it, particularly if you’re too weak to get out of bed.

See, there’s an upside to congested lungs.  No, actually there’s not.  But eating these caramels will make you forget your woes for a bit.  (Take note Daytime TV).


Filed under Restaurants and Products, Ruminations on the Edible