Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Speculoos Cookie Muffins

Speculoos Cookie Muffins

Long before the cookie butter craze, there were speculoos, the crunchy caramelized spiced cookies which is the main ingredient the cookie butter.

Speculoos are special in themselves, my local London Drugs used to carry the Belgian ones around Christmas time; crispy and thin with punchy flavours, they are so good with tea.

A while back, I discovered a package of speculoos lost underneath my stash of nuts, broken in pieces, looking forlorn and perfect for these muffins.

IMG_0060 Speculoos Cookie Muffins
Speculoos Cookie Muffins Speculoos Cookie Muffins

I can’t recall where I found this recipe, I really wish I could, because it takes the humble speculoos to new heights, I guess it’s similar to the cookie spread in that way

One idle grey morning, we watched the rain pour down the windows, and made these muffins, then we made coffee, sat down and relished the wonderful aroma of the muffins baking.

We ate them warm, right out of the oven with coffee and good company.

These speculoos cookie muffins aren’t the healthiest, but they have a delicious specialness and comfort that makes them perfectly suited for cold rainy days.

I really like how they turned out – wonderfully spiced, moist and cakey with a delightful crunchy streusel topping.

Speculoos Cookie Muffins
Speculoos Cookie Muffins by Elsa Brobbey

Speculoos Cookie Muffins

Almond Chickpea Flour Cookies

Almond and Chickpea Flour Cookies Almond and Chickpea Flour Cookies

I really like these cookies! I think about them sometimes in the most inopportune times – like while walking through the fog this morning.

We were awoken by foghorns today; it went off persistently every few minutes until it forced me out of bed, and as the sun shone through the fog on my way to work I figured we were in for the most perfect of winter days; sunny, bright with crisp chilly air and brilliant blue skies.

I thought of how much I’d love to have a winter picnic… perhaps of hot cocoa and cookies, and how ideal these almond chickpea flour cookies would be.

Almond and Chickpea Flour Cookies Almond and Chickpea Flour Cookies by Elsa Brobbey

This is probably the first cookie recipe I ever pinned, yet I only started making them quite recently, and I’ve made them several times since.

It’s delicate and crunchy, the kind of cookie you would crumble over ice cream – if you were into that sort of thing.

I like these cookies a lot!

The first time I made them was an experiment of sorts; I substituted fine-ground white cornmeal for semolina because that was what I had around at the moment, it worked so perfectly I haven’t yet used semolina like the original recipe called for.


They are a lot like these almond butter cookies, another favourite… both are almond based, gluten free and of course vegan – these however are a little airier with a subtle fragrance of cardamom.

Chickpea flour also adds sweet nuttiness and a good boost of protein, which isn’t typical of cookies.

The cookies in the photos are from a month ago when we were in the throes of the holiday season, I was eager to use my new Christmas present, a cookie press. It was a trying endeavour… some shapes more so than others but they turned out well (I think).

I feel I should caution against the temptation to taste the dough before it’s baked as raw chickpeas tastes not too pleasant.

Something wonderful happens when they’re baked though, and you can’t really tell that these cookies have chickpeas in them.

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Gold Kiwi Custard Tart

Gold Kiwi Custard Tart

It’s summer.
Outside, I spy grey clouds hanging over the mountains, and there’s a certain chill in the air reminiscent of an April day.
It’s officially summer, and with that thought comes a slight panic; I have a 101 things planned for the season… it’s here and so far the weather isn’t very summerlike.

I have a list of sorts; of ordinarily splendid things I want to do in the next few months… from catching 5AM sunrises to hosting a special houseguest.

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I’m hoping we’ll get a shipment kiwis (and apples) this summer from New Zealand soon; it’s become a part of our summer now, and just like the fireworks in July, our summers wouldn’t feel quite the same without it.

The pies, cakes and tarts and other pastries we make from our bounty of fruits keep us going, in a sweet sunny haze all season long…

I tried this gold kiwi custard tart on a late summer afternoon last year when our box of kiwis arrived, it seemed like the perfect way to use up my remaining custard powder before it expired.

Golden kiwis tend to be bigger and sweeter than the green variety, it’s more fragrant and has a softer pulp. The kiwifruit is rich in vitamins C, K, and E and antioxidants.


I loved this tart so much I wanted to have it everyday for dessert all summer long.

It’s pretty easy and simple (I love simple foods!), yet the taste was luscious and decadent, and it looks like I spent quite a bit of time making it.

Using my patented (not really!) coconut oil crust and the traditional egg-free Bird’s Custard Powder the result is a sweet cookie-like crust with rich and creamy custard filling topped with the fresh fruit.

Yes, summer is here. It may not feel like it right now, but I’m dreaming of all the juicy and sweet ‘summer fruits’ that’ll soon become scrumptious, simple yet elegant desserts to take down to the beach or for a sunny picnic in the park.



Apple Hand Pies

Apple Hand Pies

We’re waiting with delicious anticipation for the start of summer fruit season here in BC.
The season is short and sweet, just like the fruits but plentiful; luscious and fragrantly ripened fruits with vibrant colours; from delicate shades of peach, rich golden apricots to deep ruby hues of cherries.

In the meantime we have apples, which are practically year round in these parts, and when the sunshine has us craving fruit, we turn to apples.

Apples are awesome! Rich in disease-fighting antioxidants and soluble fibre, they’re a staple on my weekly grocery list – sometimes we buy a lot and don’t eat them fast enough, and in the summers, fortune occasionally smiles on us with a shipment of Envy apples from New Zealand.

IMG_7811 Apples

Our over-abundant apples usually go into making these apple hand pies, or some other delicious apple filled pastry.
I love these portable and old fashioned pies! They’re adorable and make a delightful snack.

Chopped apples cooked gently in cinnamon, vanilla and sugar, stuffed into flaky pastry dough and baked – they’re aromatic, warm and comforting.

The sweet flavours of apples and cinnamon, with the hint of lemon, the buttery crust… absolutely addictive.

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Spiced Strawberry Pie with Crumble Topping


There are certain movies that stay with you long after you’ve watched them, they aren’t necessarily the best, or your typical Oscar-worthy movies; sometimes it’s just because the themes in the movies are relatable.

I watched Higher Ground last year, a 2011 movie starring Vera Farmiga as a woman who suffers a crisis of faith in her tight-knit born-again Christian community.

Coming from an insanely religious culture, I connected with the heroine’s struggle with religion, faith, identity and doubt – I’ve been where she’s been, and basically came to the same realizations.
Every once in a while, something happens that makes me think back on this movie.

There’s also the song from which the movie gets its title, which brings back so many memories… there was a version sung in Twi that my dad played all the time, I can almost hear the singer’s raspy voice hauntingly sing of longing for a ‘higher ground’ – a far better place than she’s found; it made me dream then.

The reason why I’m bringing up the movie is because there’s a scene in it where the women gather for bible study, one of the ‘sisters’ is very excited that someone brought home-made carob-chip cookies to share.

Corrine, our heroine asks her friend; “Do you know what carob tastes like?”
“Chocolate?” her friend asks
“Disappointment” Corrine answers.

I thought about that scene when I started looking into making pie crust without the traditional animal fats (butter, lard) or vegetable shortening that contain trans fat.
I googled ‘vegan pie crust’ and coconut oil came up as an alternative. The challenge was to make a buttery and flaky crust that didn’t taste like disappointment, using coconut oil.

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I love coconut oil, I use it in everything – from soups to conditioning my hair, and I’ve used it for baking with great results. Coconut oil stays solid at certain temperatures (76 degrees F. melting point) and can be cut into flour in its solid state just like conventional shortening.

I chill mine in the fridge for a few minutes, cut it into pieces and whirl it with my flour and salt in the food processor for a few seconds, add apple cider vinegar and a few tablespoons of water.

The dough comes together much like any other pie dough, bakes flawlessly and tastes… buttery and flaky.

I made apple hand pies for work using the coconut oil dough, it got high praise, and no one could tell it had coconut oil in it.

This strawberry pie is what I do with the strawberries that are just coming in from California; I wish I knew how to resist them – they’re pretty tempting but not as tasty as BC strawberries in the summer.

There are so many delicious facets to this pie; the crust, perfect textured crumble topping, and the strawberry filling generously spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cardamom for a rustic and flavourful taste – the warm spices and strawberries are perfect together; delightfully so, I love it especially during this time when we’re transitioning into warmer temperatures.

IMG_5197 Spiced Strawberry Pie


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