Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Baking Therapy 101

I never thought that when I lost my job last year that I'd turn to baking for solace.  I'd never really been into baking. Sure I'd made the odd birthday cake, batch of cookies or apple pie, but baking as a coping mechanism? Not my cup of tea. Or so I thought, until I picked up a book at the library based on the title alone. It was called "The Happy Baker: a girl's guide to emotional baking"  written by a fellow Canadian, Erin Bolger.  I know the saying says you should never judge a book by its cover, but this one had a pretty pink one with a delicious looking cupcake on it that caught my eye. I checked it out, took it home and the rest, as they say, is history.

I started my foray into Betty Crocker's world simply, with a basic batch of cookies.  I used to only make the requisite chocolate chip cookie for my kids. I had no idea that there were so many variations out there! In no time at all I was making cookies with all kinds of interesting ingredients: toffee bits, almonds, chunks of dark chocolate and even cream of tartar! My kids would come home each day from school to find a freshly baked batch of cookies on the kitchen counter. I had become a 1950's housewife and I was loving it!

I quickly moved on from cookies to cupcakes. It didn't take long for me to discover that I loved to find new and creative ways to decorate them. Halloween called for cupcakes that looked like mummies:

Birthday cupcakes were baked by special request. My daughter loves penguins so of course I just had to make her these:

Word got out about my baking and before I knew it, I had become the class baker. Not a holiday went by without baking at least one class set of cupcakes.

It didn't take long for me to become fully addicted to emotional baking. I found it soothing and comforting to follow a recipe from start to finish and be rewarded with a delicious result. I found joy in finding new recipes and creative ways to  tweak them and make them my own.  Being in the kitchen was a way for me to focus on something other than feeling sorry for myself and thinking about the job that I lost that I loved so dearly.  It became a way to say thank you to my friends and family, my wonderful husband and my 3 great kids. Food for the soul, lovin' from the oven.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss

It's Sunday. The sun is out, but it's much to chilly to dig in the garden (believe me, I've tried!). The Stanley Cup playoffs are on which means that my family is glued to the t.v. This means that if I ignore the housework, I have been left to my own devices.  Today is a great day to give my family some lovin' from the oven!  What better way to do that than with a freshly baked batch of cookies served warm from the oven? Today's recipe calls for two of my most favourite ingredients ... chocolate and peanut butter. Quite easy to make, and very impressive looking, these cookies are one of my new favourites to bake. Simply follow the instructions below and enjoy!

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Approx. 1/4 cup Nutella
  • 1/2 cup chocolate or peanut butter baking chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Cream together butter, peanut butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Gradually add the flour, baking soda and salt. Drizzle Nutella on top of the dough then swirl it through the dough with a butter knife.
  3. Refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes. Roll the dough into tablespoon sized balls and use a fork to gently flatten the balls and create a criss-cross pattern.
  4. Bake for 7-10 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 3 minutes to set.