Chocolate Banana Tart

This is actually a Baked Monday Night instead of a Baked Sunday Morning, but there’s another interesting twist here. See, I kind of cheated. I usually don’t read anyone else’s posts until I’ve written and posted my own, because I don’t want to be influenced by other opinions on whatever we’ve made. But today I broke my rule, because I was a day late and curious to see what my fellow BSM’ers thought of this tart.

Turns out there were some issues with the caramel (too lumpy/grainy), the ganache (too overpowering) and the fresh bananas (some peeps are just not a fan). So I went a bit rogue here, and this is what I ended up with. I made little tartlettes and filled them with caramelized bananas (two sliced bananas sauteed with 2 tbsp butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar and a tbsp of bourbon), and then drizzled them with a bit of melted dark chocolate. I prefer caramelized bananas (or Bananas Foster) poured over vanilla ice cream, so I don’t think I would make these again, but I still think they turned out pretty cute.

So that brings us to the end of the Bananas section of Baked Elements! Here’s a little recap of what I made and my favourite recipe from this section.

  • Recipes made: Bananas Cake, Banana Whoopie Pies, Chocolate Banana Tart, Honey Banana Poppy Seed Bread
  • Favourite Banana recipe: Honey Banana Poppy Seed Bread
  • Recipes I Didn’t Make: Banana Mousse Parfaits (the group made that before I caught up) and I passed on the Banana Caramel Pudding with Meringue Topping and Banana in a Blanket

You can find the recipe for the Chocolate Banana Tart (the way you’re supposed to make it) here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!


Fresh Mint Chocolate Swirl Ice Cream

by byn on August 18, 2014

in Frozen

Fresh Mint Chocolate Swirl Ice Cream

A few summers ago, my friend Danielle and I both got really excited about these ice cream sandwiches on Smitten Kitchen.  I, personally, have some issues with ice cream sandwiches in general, mostly because my teeth are really sensitive and I can’t handle the thought of biting into ice cream. Also, because I hate it when the cookie part is too hard/frozen, but the ice cream is soft, and it comes smooshing out the sides when you take a bite.  Anyway, Danielle went ahead and made that recipe, and declared that they were too much work, and the cookie part wouldn’t roll out properly, and we wrote them off.

But then she came to visit last year, and we went to Bakerbots as part of our mini tour of treats (which also included doughnuts from Glory Hole and various treats from Momofuku Milk Bar), and our interest in ice cream sandwiches was renewed. This is what happens at Bakerbots: customized ice cream sandwiches, where you pick your cookie flavor and your ice cream flavor to create your own masterpiece. But the key is that the cookies are FRESH! Not frozen! So simple! So smart! (You can also order 1/2 a sammie, which is ideal, as you can see below)

Bakerbots Ice Cream Sammie

So when I saw yesterday’s Chewy Chocolate Mint Cookies on our Baked Sunday Morning schedule, I knew they’d be the perfect vehicle for an ice cream sandwich a la Bakerbots, with some homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream. But there’s a twist! This ice cream is flavoured with fresh mint, instead of mint extract! It’s a bit of an acquired taste, but it’s herby and fresh and a fun variation on what your tastebuds expect that mint ice cream will/should taste like. And there’s one more thing. Since frozen chocolate chips are my nemesis in life (I once cracked a tooth on one, which eventually required a root canal and a crown, no joke), I refuse to have them anywhere near ice cream coming out of my kitchen. In this recipe, you drizzle in melted chocolate as the ice cream finishes churning, and it turns into an amazing chocolate crackle that melts in your mouth.

Of course now I want to make 67312654 other cookie/ice cream combos, and because it feels like Fall here, I might just start with these

Fresh Mint Chocolate Swirl Ice Cream

Source: Cook Like a Champion


1 cup milk (I used 2%)

3/4 cup sugar

2 cups whipping cream, divided

pinch salt

2 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves

5 egg yolks

5 oz dark chocolate, melted + green food colouring if you want


  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the cream and salt until just before it bubbles. Remove from heat, add the mint leaves and stir. Cover the pan, and let steep for one hour.
  2. While that’s steeping, get a few things organized: a)  add the egg yolks to a medium bowl, whisk to combine, and cover with plastic wrap b) pour the remaining cup of cream into a large liquid measuring cup (at least 4 cup).
  3. Strain the mint mixture into a bowl, pressing on the the mint to extract all of the liquid. Pour the mint-infused cream back into the saucepan and heat until just before it bubbles. Slowly pour over the egg yolks, a little bit at a time, whisking constantly, then return to the saucepan and heat until the mixture reaches 170 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and pour through a strainer into the cream, and whisk to combine. If you want to add green food colouring, now’s your chance.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the liquid, and chill overnight.
  5. Churn in your ice cream maker, and when the ice cream reaches soft serve consistency, drizzle in the chocolate (I used a squeeze bottle, but you could just use a measuring cup with a spout).
  6. Add the ice cream to a storage container and freeze overnight until firm.


Chewy Chocolate Mint Cookies

Last summer when I was recipe testing for Baked Occasions, one of my assignments was a Wintermint Cake. This was a triple layer chocolate cake, layered with chocolate mint ganache and peppermint buttercream. I made it on a scorching hot August afternoon, and I had to blast my air conditioning to keep everything cool. It felt strange to be making a chocolate mint dessert in the middle of the summer, but the cake was absolutely delicious, and I was questioning why I always save the chocolate/mint pairing for the holidays. It should truly be celebrated year-round.

Which is why I was very excited to make these Chewy Chocolate Mint Cookies this week. In contrast to last August, it’s honestly been feeling a lot like Fall around here lately (I’ve had to physically restrain myself from cracking open a can of pumpkin), so I made these cookies on a cool night with all the windows open. Love that. These cookies are pretty straightforward to make, and include a liberal pour of peppermint extract, and a hefty dose of corn syrup, which keeps the cookies very chewy. They’re also rolled in sugar before baking, which gives them a bit of sparkle and crunch, which I love. My only recipe notes are that:

  • I scooped the dough prior to chilling it. I’m done with recipes that ask me to chill the dough, and then scoop it to bake, because this is usually impossible when the dough is rock hard after a few hours in the fridge. I’m so in on the method I followed when making these Compost Cookies – scoop or roll the dough after mixing, then chill on a baking sheet wrapped in plastic wrap.
  • My cookies took closer to 15 minutes to bake, rather than the recommended 10 minutes.

Check back tomorrow, to see what I sandwiched between these suckers, because it was pretty amazing. You can find the recipe here! More Baked Sunday Mornings here!


Vanilla Bean Malt Cake

Move over Poppy Seed Pound Cake, there’s a new favourite in town! This Vanilla Bean Malt Cake is hands-down the best thing I’ve made from Baked Elements so far. Is it the malt powder? The liberal pour of vanilla bean paste?  The bourbon? Yes, yes and yes. But one more thing: it was so FLUFFY! Like I could not get over how FLUFFY this cake was. I could have eaten the entire thing.

Although the recipe calls for some special ingredients (the aforementioned malt powder, vanilla bean paste and bourbon), the rest of the recipe is very straightforward. It’s supposed to make a mini-bundt cake, but I just used my regular sized bundt pan, and it turned out to be so cute. My glaze was pretty runny and started to soak into the cake right away, but it just made it more delicious.

So that brings us to the end of the Malt section of Baked Elements! Here’s a little recap of what I made, and my favourite recipe from this section.

  • Recipes made: Malted Vanilla Milkshake, Vanilla Bean Malt Cake
  • Favourite Malt Recipe: Vanilla Bean Malt Cake
  • Recipes I Didn’t Make: Devil Dogs with Malted Buttercream Filling, Malted Milk Chocolate Pot de Creme, Malted Madeleines (the group made all of these before I caught up), and I passed on last week’s Milk Chocolate Malt Semifreddo

You can find the recipe for the Vanilla Bean Malt Cake here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!


Engagement Brunch

Our Gastropost Mission this week was The Art of Hospitality, which perfectly coincided with having my friends Nicole & Geoff over for brunch to toast their engagement. I thought this would be a perfect chance to make a bunch of recipes from the breakfast chapter of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, especially with Deb’s recent announcement that she’s writing another book! I have to get crackin’ on all the things I still want to make from the first one! I narrowed it down to three: Cinnamon Toast French Toast, Potato Frittata with Feta & Scallions and Cheddar Swirl Buns. I rounded it out with some fresh berries, yogurt, granola and some heart shaped Strawberry Rhubarb Scones (not from the book). Everything was delicious and while I was nervous about mixing all the sweet and savoury elements, my friends reinforced to me that this is totally encouraged.

To tie this into the Gastropost Mission, I wrote about my favourite entertaining strategy that I learned from the Barefoot Contessa many years ago, which is to prepare as much as you can in advance. Especially in the case of brunch, no one wants to wake up before the sun rises to start cooking, or to be stuck in the kitchen while everyone else drinks mimosas and has fun. For this brunch I prepared almost everything the night before and all I had to do in the morning was reheat everything, rinse some berries and pop the champagne!

Cheddar Swirl Buns

It’s hard to pick a favourite, but I’m going with the Cheddar Swirl Buns, only because I’ve been meaning to make them for so long. You let the dough rise in the fridge overnight and then in the morning, roll them out, add the filling (cheddar, grated onion, a bit of dill), slice them up and let them rise a bit before baking. Brunch isn’t complete without some carby goodness, and these buns hit the spot.

Cheddar Swirl Buns

Source: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (adapted a tiny bit, only because I used active dry yeast, not instant yeast and dried dill, not fresh)



2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1 cup warm milk, 110-115 degrees

3 cups flour (13 1/4 oz or 375 grams)

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled a bit


1/2 cup (1/2 medium) grated white onion

1 1/2 cups (6 oz or 170 grams) grated cheddar cheese

1/2 tsp dried dill

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

+ 1 tbsp melted butter for brushing on top


  1. For the dough, sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk, and let sit for 5 minutes until bubbly/foamy.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and pepper. Add the yeast/milk mixture and the melted butter, and stir together with a spatula until the dough comes together.
  3. Flour your counter, and dump out the dough. Knead for about 8 minutes until the dough is smooth and a little bit sticky, adding more flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter.
  4. Coat a clean, glass bowl with non-stick spray, and add the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot (I preheat my oven to the lowest setting, then shut it off, and let the dough rise in there) until it doubles in size, about 2 hours. (At this point, you can also put the dough in the fridge and let it rise overnight, and pick up in the morning. Let the dough come to room temperature before rolling out).
  5. For the filling, mix the onion, cheese, dill, salt and pepper.
  6. Roll the dough into a rectangle, roughly 12″x16″, and spread the filling overtop, leaving a 1/2″ border. Roll up the dough as tight as you can, from the shorter end, and use a serrated knife to cut into 12 1″ rolls.
  7. Spray two 8 or 9″ round pans, or one 9×13″ pan with non-stick spray, and arrange the rolls with about an inch or so between them. Brush with a bit of melted butter, cover, and set aside to rise at room temperature until doubled again, about 2 hours.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350 and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and the cheese is bubbling.



Aunt Shirley's Blueberry Coffee Cake

Blueberries have really gotten the short end of the stick here on Planet Byn. I’m not really sure why, as I can remember baking various blueberry cakes over the past few summers, but I haven’t blogged about them, or ever done a blueberry series here. That’s ending this week! It might have something to do with finally, publicly declaring my disinterest in raspberries last year, so I didn’t waste any time this year trying to convince myself otherwise. I think this paved the way for my current blueberry obsession.

And what a welcome obsession it is! I’ve been picking them up at the farmer’s market and mostly been eating them fresh, with granola and greek yogurt, and have plans for blueberry pancakes and scones this weekend. But first, I finally get to share my Aunt Shirley’s Blueberry Coffee Cake recipe. I took my Mom’s copy of the recipe last summer, and have thought I lost it about 85 times over the past year. Luckily I didn’t, and I can finally record it here.

My Aunt Shirley is my Dad’s brother’s wife, and she used to own a little bakery in a small town in Nova Scotia, so you know, she has some street cred with this recipe. I think the story is that she made it once when my parents were staying with them, and then my Mom made it when they were visiting us here, and then I basically begged for it all the time. There’s a heaping cup of sour cream in the mix, which goes a long way to a very, very hydrated cake. The cinnamon brown sugar topping is heavenly, and please take a minute to picture me taking a deep breath over the cinnamon and having a 60 second daydream about pumpkin, boots, scarves, crisp leaves, and other Fall goodness.

I packed up half the cake for my parents, and took the other half to my friend’s cottage this weekend, where it was a very welcome addition to our breakfast table. I guarantee you’ll love it!

Aunt Shirley’s Blueberry Coffee Cake

Source: Aunt Shirley via an old piece of paper in my Mom’s recipe filder



1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried


1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp butter, room temperature


  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line an 8×8″ square baking pan with foil or parchment paper, then spray with non-stick spray.
  2. For cake, cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  4. Stir in the sour cream and vanilla.
  5. Stir in the flour and baking soda.
  6. Fold in the blueberries.
  7. Pour batter into the pan and smooth out with a knife or offset spatula.
  8. For topping, stir together the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl. Use your fingers to rub in the butter until the mixture is crumbly, then sprinkle overtop of the cake.
  9. Bake for an hour (my Mom’s note is 40 minutes, but it took longer in my oven), or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.


Malted Vanilla Milkshake

The rest of the team is making a semifreddo today, which I’m passing on for two reasons:

  1. It contains raw eggs. My friend Carole told me the likelihood of you-know-what contamination is very rare from the eggs we buy/eat from grocery stores, but it still freaks me out a little bit.
  2. My freezer is currently full of two kinds of popsicles, one kind of ice cream and a tub of fro/yo, so space is at a premium.

I still wanted to make something from the Malt chapter of Baked Elements, as it turns out the group made all the other malt recipes before I joined in, with the exception of today’s semifreddo, and one other malt recipe that’s coming up on the schedule next week. I honestly picked the easiest, quickest one, which is this Malted Vanilla Milkshake. It’s a super simple blend of milk (2% in my case), ice cream (fro/yo in my case), malt powder, vanilla bean paste, and some crushed malt balls on top. I liked the experience of this milkshake, because most of the malt recipes in Baked Elements pair it with chocolate, which can easily overpower it. In this case, the malt powder really shines through, and the milkshake is nice and nutty and malt-y. Perhaps a shot of bourbon would be a good addition, like the other milkshake we made?

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!


July on Planet Byn {2014}

by byn on July 31, 2014

in Monthly Recaps

Origin Brunch

I was so happy to realize that this is my one year anniversary of writing these monthly recaps! I think I shall continue to do so. My friend Kathleen told me she loves reading them (Hi Katy!), and I like looking back at my month and seeing what I was up to. Now that I’ve been doing this for a year, I can also see what my 2013 self had going on. I love that last July I met up with Heather, Jenny, Meg and Rhonda for dinner for the first time, and now that happens pretty much on a monthly basis. Case in point, my first entry for this month:

  • Heather, Jenny, Meg and I took a mini-road trip to Dundas, Ontario. Who knew Dundas has a cute little main street with all kinds of foodie-friendly shoppes? (Note: It’s way more posh when you say shoppes, instead of just shops). We went to a chocolate shop, cheese shop, British shop and a few cute little kitchenware stores (will fill in the actual names later). We kicked the whole thing off with brunch at Taylor’s Tea Room, where I had the most refreshing black current iced tea (unsweetened, which I love), French toast, and a gigantic raisin scone with clotted cream and raspberry jam. It was so cute – I felt like I was in Gilmore Girls or something.
  • I met my Those Girls co-chairs at Caren’s Wine & Cheese Bar in Yorkville. Never heard of it? To quote Libby on my Instagram from the night: “Best Hidden Gem”. You can basically create your own cheese board, or order one off the menu and then add on whatever little accompaniments you like i.e. olives, chorizo, grapes, dates etc. Lydia are you reading this? YOU WOULD LOVE THIS! There’s a cozy little patio at the back with these twinkle-y lanterns, and it’s just so cute.
  • The lovely Kelly was in town to attend/shoot a wedding, so a bunch of FBCers met up with her for brunch at Origin. Based on Heather’s “so nice I ate it twice” advice, I had the Tostada Ranchero, which is basically crispy corn tortillas stacked up alternately with black beans, guacamole and bacon, and topped with a sunny side up egg. (pictured above). Holy geez. I needed to be alone with this thing. We also had complementary scones and jam, and Jenny ordered us french toast with rhubarb and strawberries to share. We then brought Kelly over to Momofuku Milk Bar for some Cereal Milk soft serve and cookies. It was so nice to meet you Kelly!
  • One of my friends from my old department was in town from Calgary so we all went over to the Mill Street Beer Hall to wish her well as she moves on to a new job. I’ve been wanting to visit this patio since November when we went on the tour of the brewery and I was daydreaming of hot, sunny days. I tried the Lemon Tea Beer, and it while I didn’t find it overly citrusy or over tea-y, it was perfect for a summery day.
  • I met up with Those Girls again to bid a fond farewell to our co-chair, and we went to Salt Wine Bar on Ossington. We had some amazing red wine and shared a bunch of dishes: charcuterie and cheese, baby kale salad, patatas bravas, grilled calamari (I did not eat this), shellfish paella and lamb sausage. I liked everything we tried, and would like to go back and eat it all again.

Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:

  • Beyonce. Jay Z. On The Run. I could honestly write 5,000 words on the experience of having a VIP seat to this concert, and getting Alexis & Kristine SPONTANEOUSLY UPGRADED TO SIT WITH ME, but let’s just say it was mind-blowing, and that when I made eye contact with Beyonce, I felt it in my soul.
  • I read an awesome book at the beginning of the month that I feel you need to know about: Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead. It’s set in the world of ballet, and that’s all you need to know. I also read The One & Only by Emily Giffin and All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner.
  • BIG NEWS: I’m starting a new Book Club with my friends from Those Girls. We’re so excited. The other Book Club I was in has been dying a slow, painful death for the past year, so the organizer finally put it out of it’s misery. Our first pick is Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, and I just bought a copy today. We’re all going to read it in August and meet to dish about it in September.


Cinnamon Spritz Cookies

I’m pretty picky when it comes to cinnamon. I tend to only really love it in warm, cozy fall recipes with pumpkin and apple (SOON!). I don’t really like it paired with chocolate, I’ll never add it to a savoury recipe, and my most hated cookie of all time is the dreaded Snickerdoodle. So I was prepared to not really be a fan of these Cinnamon Spritz Cookies and I was right. It’s not that they’re bad, they’re just not for me!

I had some major problems with the meringue filling for this cookies; it didn’t firm up enough to pipe, even after whipping far beyond the suggested five minute timeframe. There are lots of reasons this can happen, and this morning I didn’t really have an interest in figuring it out.

So that brings us to the end of the Cinnamon section of Baked Elements! Here’s a little recap of what I made, and my favourite recipe from this section.

You can find the recipe for the Cinnamon Spritz Cookies here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!


Balloon Bouquet

A few months ago, my little niece Charlotte told me she wanted a Penguin Cake for her birthday. I had started to think a little bit about how I would execute this, when my brother asked me a few weeks ago if I would make her cake this month for her birthday party with her friends, instead of for her family party on her actual birthday in August. I was all – sure! – she still wants a penguin, right?

Turns out she changed her mind and wanted a swan cake. Then changed it again and wanted a frog cake. But not just a frog, a frog holding a balloon! And then the final verdict came via an email from my sister-in-law: “Lots of balloons with faces on them and the balloons all different colours”. BOOM.

This was Charlotte’s easiest birthday cake to date! No Wilton pans, no fondant butterflies, nothing 3D. I normally write a lengthy “here’s how I did it” list, but it was truly so simple:

  • I made a dozen of my favourite vanilla cupcakes (recipe from Joy the Baker Cookbook) and a dozen chocolate cupcakes (recipe from Annie’s Eats, as recommended by Danielle, and they were perfect).
  • I made a full batch of My Favourite Buttercream, divided it into six bowls, and used my Americolor gels to tint it. I iced four cupcakes (two vanilla, two chocolate) in each of the six colours.
  • I piped smiley faces on top with a small round tip.

That’s it! I picked up a foam board at the dollar store, brought scissors, tape and ribbon with me, and set the whole thing up at the art studio where her party was held. Charlotte loved it, and she and her little friends could each choose the colour and flavour they wanted.

Charlotte’s Previous Birthday Cakes:

6th (Castle Cake)

5th (Rainbow Cake)

4th (Blue’s Clues)

3rd (Big Greeny-Blue Cake)

2nd (Elmo)