The 2nd Time’s the Charm – Chocolate Snickerdoodle Cookies & Holiday Cookie Baking Fun

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I have eaten an absurd amount of cookies this past week.  One of my vendors gave me a gorgeous jar stuffed with 6 different kinds of homemade cookies (chocolate crackles, shortbread, cranberry biscotti, Italian walnut cookies, iced snowflake sugar cookies and adorable chocolate chip minis) last Wednesday, one of my coworkers happily fed me a smiling gingerbread man shortbread sandwich cookie filled with cream cheese candy cane frosting for dessert during lunch today, and I have eaten at least half a dozen of my own cookies between Sunday afternoon and today.  I’m surprised I haven’t turned INTO a cookie!

The smell of cookies is just intoxicating though and truly one of the happiest, yummiest things to have in your home.  Cookies have always given me a run for my money since I started to seriously bake in 2011 (as you will soon read below), working out only half the time and either burning or tasting blah the other half.  But I love cookies to pieces (eating, baking, photographing and scrapbooking about them) and there’s nothing like the sound of cracking eggs and a whirring mixer, the smell of chocolate, the feeling of cookie dough delicious enough to eat all on its own between your hands and the feeling of mastering a cookie recipe and being rewarded with fresh cookies that are perfect and tasty to boot!

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We are knee-deep into the holiday baking blitz and this is the first of hopefully a handful of new recipes that I’ll be posting in the next little while.  What I have for all of you today: CHOCOLATE SNICKERDOODLES!  A classic cookie (snickerdoodle = cinnamon sugar cookie) made that more more awesome with the addition of chocolate!  While the recipe isn’t exactly brand new (it’s from Food & Wine’s November 2011 issue), it’s a recipe that definitely deserves to be kept in the holiday cookie recipe vault.  It’s gorgeous, it’s delicious and best of all, it uses the most basic of ingredients.  No need to schlep out into the snow to pick up some hard-to-find, expensive ingredient that you’ll only end up using once.  I was so grateful for this when the cookies didn’t work out for me the first time 2 weekends ago.

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I don’t know what it is about my oven.  I can bake cake.  I can bake quick breads.  I can bake muffins and bars and squares without so much as a lick of trouble.  But cookies?  It’s like my oven has a freakin’ mind of its own.  Half the time my cookies work and half the time they don’t and I’m constantly having to course correct as I go.  Which in and of itself is fine!  Baking and cooking are learning experiences and you won’t become a better baker or cook unless you flub up and learn from your mistakes.

But!  It’s so frustrating for me when it doesn’t work because I don’t get to bake all the time.  The whole point is for me to take photos and share recipes that I’ve tried with you all and to post about them, which completely eliminates workdays and weeknights and weekend nights (too dark to take photos).  Add to that the days when I’m out and about gathering content for Ate by Ate and not actually at home.  So my window of time is limited and when a recipe doesn’t work, I have to wait a whole week just to be able to try it out again.  Which I did for this one because I refused to admit defeat and I refused to believe that the recipe was bad.

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What happened the first time was that the bottoms of the cookies burned.  To a crisp.  Black as hockey pucks burnt.  My mom had to frantically shut the oven off earlier than the stated bake time so smoke wouldn’t start billowing out for real.  And I stood there looking at them completely befuddled because I had followed the recipe to a tee.  My heart sunk.  I had promised my dad and brother chocolate cookies and now I had to tell them that they had burned and that they’d have to wait a week before I could try again.  We sadly chucked them all in the green bin garbage and while I sat at the dinner table fuming, I thought about how I was going to change the recipe to make it work: lower the temperature, decrease bake time, and double pan my baking sheet.

The result one week later?  PERFECT Chocolate Snickerdoodle Cookies!  Score one for team Cookie Bitch.

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Recipe for Chocolate Snickerdoodles (taken from November 2011 issue of Food & Wine magazine)

Makes 36 small cookies or 24 medium cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons), softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar, divided (*Deb’s Note: you really don’t need this much, 1-1/4 cups is enough)
  • 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted, cooled (*Deb’s Note: I didn’t have unsweetened so I just used Baker’s Bittersweet)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

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Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F (*Deb’s Note: to make this recipe work for me, I lowered it to 375°F the first time since I knew my oven ran hot.  When that still didn’t work, I lowered it to 350°F for the 2nd time)
  • In a bowl, sift the flour with the baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • In another bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with 1 cup of the sugar until creamy (*Deb’s Note: seriously, beat the heck out of it.  Don’t stop beating until it’s literally almost white).  Add the melted chocolate and the egg and beat until smooth.  (*Deb’s Note: because it’s winter and it’s cold, I found it was better to melt the chocolate after creaming the butter and sugar and just stirring until slightly cooled.  I melted it before creaming the butter and sugar the first time and by the time I was ready to use it, it had hardened again).  Beat in the dry ingredients until incorporated.
  • In a shallow bowl, mix the remaining sugar with the cinnamon.  Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and roll in the cinnamon sugar.  Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets and flatten to 2-inch rounds (*Deb’s Note: I did this the first time and didn’t like the way they turned out so what I did the 2nd time was roll them into balls, place them on the baking sheet, flatten them with my palm, THEN dip one side in the cinnamon sugar, placing them back on the baking sheets with the sugar side facing up.  I found that rolling them and then flattening them removed some of the sugar as it stuck to my palm and just made a mess out of the baking sheets)
  • Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the cookies are puffed and cracked (*Deb’s Note: I decreased the bake time for mine by a lot.  Mine were perfect and done in 8 minutes).  Transfer to racks and let cool.
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The Holiday Cupcake Blitz Begins! Fudgy Candy Cane Lane & Sweet Vanilla Confetti from The Cupcake Shoppe!

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I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy running across the street from The Cupcake Shoppe with a box of 2 cupcakes to take photos of them in all 3 years of blogging and Cupcake Shoppe cupcake eating.  There I was by the cement seating block in front of the Canada Post building across the street from The Cupcake Shoppe clicking away with my camera with my bare hands in the cold, all the while making sure my cupcake box didn’t blow away from the wind and grinning from ear to ear.  Was it cold?  Yes.  Was my mum waiting for me inside the David’s Tea across the street while I was snapping away?  Yes.  Am I a crazy nut?  Just a little.  But I don’t care.  Because you’d feel the same way if you were in my shoes. This moment was 3 years in the making.  3 YEARS!  The moment me and The Cupcake Shoppe’s seasonal holiday cupcake, Candy Cane Lane, exchanged pleasantries and shared cupcake hugs had finally arrived.  I was so full of jubilance I almost starting squealing mid-snap.

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It was a scrapbook moment.

I’ve been eating cupcakes from The Cupcake Shoppe for over 3 years now.  And each and every single year I missed out on their beloved fudgy Candy Cane Lane during the holiday season.  And every time I did I wanted to shake my fists over my ridiculously poor planning and timing.  I just couldn’t get to it.  I either wasn’t in the Yonge & Eglinton neighbourhood (before and after the holiday blitz, yes, during, no.  I don’t know why!) or I was visiting another cupcake shop or bakery.  Or I was just preoccupied with family, school or work.  I know, it sounds like the dumbest thing in the world.  If I want a cupcake, I should just go out and get it.  All I can say is that every holiday season passes by in a dizzying whirlwind of activity and at times it feels over before it even begins and I’ve missed my window of opportunity on a number of things.  That and my stomach could only hold so many different cupcakes and sweets and hot chocolate on any given day so something had to give.  And that something was Candy Cane Lane for the last 3 years.

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NOT ANYMORE, WEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!

The chocolate cake was as fudgy as chocolate fudge could be and the buttercream, adorned with a cute little candy cane piece, was white as snow with flecks of candy cane peppermint strewn throughout it.  The buttercream was soft and whippy with both vanilla and candy cane peppermint flavours mixed together.  The flavour is subtle as opposed to in-your-face (or in this case, in-your-mouth) so it’s great for those who enjoy a little pepperminty freshness without the abrasiveness of full on peppermint (i.e. mouthwash.  Because that’s so not sexy).  I kind of liken it to a peppermint hot chocolate in cupcake form!  The peppermint doesn’t overpower the chocolate and I think they actually complement each other pretty well.  And if I could make a cutesy suggestion, take the candy cane piece and roll it in the fudgy chocolate crumbs on the cupcake wrapper.  It will taste SO yummy!

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Seeing that I couldn’t possibly leave The Cupcake Shoppe with only one cupcake, I had to choose a 2nd to enjoy for the next day so I jumped on the super pretty, super fun and super cute-as-a-button Confetti!  It’s one of their newer ones and it has quickly become a favourite of mine from The Cupcake Shoppe.  It’s simple but truly delicious.  It’s one of their sweeter ones and it’s everything you love about birthday cake in a cupcake.  The vanilla cake and blue vanilla frosting are sweet and rich and deliciously yummy, the cake is studded with specks of rainbow sprinkles and the frosting is topped with a smattering of rainbow funfetti.

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While it might not scream Christmas, it does scream celebration and fun and that’s what the holidays should be all about so I think it’s a fabulous one to have alongside the Candy Cane Lane.  And if you’re looking for tea and cupcake pairings, try the Candy Cane Lane with David’s Tea White Chocolate Frost (one of their new Winter 2013 teas) or Read My Lips and definitely try the Confetti cupcake with David’s Tea Birthday Cake tea!  You’ll be glad you did.

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*****

The Cupcake Shoppe is located in the Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood at 2417 Yonge St., north of Eglinton on the east side of Yonge St.  Their second location in Vaughan is located by Bathurst St. and Rutherford Road at 9340 Bathurst.  Hurray for more cupcake options in York Region!

They have a rotating menu of cupcake flavours each day and each cupcake is priced at $2.85.  For more Cupcake Shoppe goodness on Ate by Ate, click HERE!  There are write-ups, scrapbook layouts, and tons of photos on The Cupcake Shoppe’s following flavours: Cookie Dough, Eh? (maple), Lemon Drop & Lov’n Lemon (the first one is one of the most amazing lemon cupcakes you will ever eat and the latter, not so much), Red Velvet, Naughty n’ Spice (fall seasonal), After Ate (mint chocolate), Pretty in Pink (raspberry cupcake with raspberry buttercream), Triple Chocolate Fudge (chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate chips), Sleepless in Toronto (coffee), and the delicious summer seasonal Lime n’ Licious.

Eggnog, Gingerbread Candy Cane and More – Magical Christmas & Holiday Macarons at Petit Thuet!

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What’s better than sweet and delicious Christmas and holiday themed cupcakes?  Christmas and holiday themed cupcakes AND macarons!  For years cupcakes were my be all and end all.  Nothing could come between us.  Not pie, not candy, not donuts, sometimes not even ice cream!  It was rare, but it happened.  For the past year and a half though I’ve been loving macarons more and more and I’ve been enjoying them just as much as cupcakes, especially over the last few months.  I started hitting up a ton of patisseries and bakeries I had never been to before to try their macarons – Butter Avenue, Cake Opera, Nadege Patisserie and even Yorkville Espresso Bar for their strawberry marshmallow ones among a few other spots.  Some I loved to itty bitty pieces, some were so-so, and some were, well, awful.  Which ones were awful?  I can’t say.  I promised myself and all of you that I’d never bash anything here unless I had something else positive to redeem the situation.  If you’re really curious I’d tell you straight up but only privately, so all you’ll see here are the ones I loved and the ones I liked.

Every spot has their standouts and the ones you can live without, so out of those 4 recent visits and sweet spots, here are the ones I loved the most: Yorkville Espresso Bar’s strawberry marshmallow, Nadege Patisserie’s pumpkin, Cake Opera’s vanilla-orange blossom (even though their retail section is no longer around, definitely keep them in mind for catering orders and sweet tables!), and Butter Avenue’s walnut matcha green tea and cafe au lait.  Now it’s time to add some sweet and lickably delicious Christmas and holiday macarons from Petit Thuet to the mix!

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Now, you all know how deeply in love I am with Petit Thuet’s cookies n’ cream macaron.  And if you don’t, you do now!  I didn’t think any other flavour of theirs could compare.

I was wrong.

There are 3 others.  And two of them are Christmas ones!  *cue excited squeals*  During my most recent visit to Petit Thuet on King and Yonge Street, I picked up a box of half a dozen macarons and was absolutely beside myself when I found out they had holiday flavours!  I was truly happy with all 5 flavours I chose (I duplicated one of them so my boyfriend could try): eggnog (bright yellow shells with eggnog cream), gingerbread candy cane (OH.MY.GOD – gingerbread brown shells with candy cane cream), white chocolate wasabi (crazy, I know!  White shells with wasabi powder sprinkled on top and white chocolate cream mixed with a hint of wasabi mixed in), my beloved cookies n’ cream (cookie shells with Oreo cream), and the luscious mint chocolate with its bright green shells and rich chocolate ganache.

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Honestly, out of all the times I’ve bought a selection of macarons, this was the first time I truly loved all the flavours I chose.  While there are flavours I’d jump on more quickly, I can truly say I’d go back for any and all of them.  However, I know everyone likes to know which ones are the shining stars out of the ones I hadn’t tried yet so I’m going to say that you need to stuff your face with the eggnog, gingerbread candy cane, and the mint chocolate ones.  I know.  That doesn’t really help.  But it’s only because they’re so delicious!  The eggnog is so creamy, the gingerbread candy cane is an insanely adorable, fun mix of gingerbread spice and crunchy, pepperminty candy cane bits and cream (that’s right, it’s not just candy cane cream in the middle, you get the crunch from actual crushed candy cane!), and the mint chocolate is decadent, rich, thick, and deliciously chocolatey smorsgabord of your favourite peppermint patty, After Ate chocolate thin mints, and Girl Scout cookies.

So if you can get to Petit Thuet sometime, take advantage of the holiday and Christmas flavours!

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*****

Petite Thuet serves 3 locations in downtown/midtown Toronto:

  1. 1162 Yonge St. (between Summerhill and Rosedale subway stations, on the west side of Yonge St.)
  2. 1 King St. West (at the corner of Yonge and King St.)
  3. 244 King St. East (between Sherbourne and Princess St.)

Deck the Hall with Boughs of Mini Cupcakes! Chocolate, Peppermint Frosting & More at Prairie Girl Bakery, Part II!

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Not the most flattering photo of me, but it’s with cupcakes so it’s all good!

Even the bitter cold won’t keep me away from cupcakes!  I’m no winter warrior (after living in my homeland of Canada for 27 years, I’ve come to the conclusion that each year does not get easier and that I am, in fact, a wuss during both summer and winter seasons), but if I’m armed with a hat and super thick mitts and a scarf, there’s not much that will drive me away from the cake and frosting.  I even poo-pooed the weather forecast back in February during one of the worst storms of the season and frolicked (well, more like stomped and sloshed) around town in the snow and slush making cake pops at Le Dolci, having lunch at Mela Cafe, and stuffing my face with a strawberry Valentine’s cupcake at Short & Sweet on the way home.  Us cupcake fans know: when you love cupcakes you LOVE cupcakes, icky weather and all.

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I know I say this every year, but I am truly so excited for Christmas and the month of December!  I have plans with friends and family and my boyfriend, I have my Christmas presents ready to go, I’ve been taking advantage of some ridiculously fabulous sales (I’m nothing if not a fantastic shopper!), some desperately-needed scrapbook downtime is just a few weeks away, and for the first time in months, I feel calm, cool, collected and very content with the blog content I have planned for the rest of the month.  Last year I was really disappointed in myself for not taking advantage of more holiday shenanigans and while, in hindsight, the circumstances I faced that prevented me from doing what I wanted to do for the blog were uncontrollable and unavoidable, I still feel like I could have done more to make Christmas and the holidays on Ate by Ate really great.  And the way to make anything extra great is with cupcakes!

Introducing the marvelous minis from Prairie Girl Bakery!  I’ve only ever posted about their full-size ones so this is special.  Prairie Girl’s mini cupcakes ($1.75 each, $9.95 for half a dozen, and $18.95 for one dozen) come in all their permanent menu flavours and the bakery’s two Treats of the Week flavours.  Honestly though, even though they’re mini in comparison to the full-size ones, they are by no means teeny-tiny.  When I think of mini cupcakes, I think of a 4:1 ratio, bite-size morsels, and morsels you could easily pop in your mouth in one swift motion.  Let me tell you, Prairie Girl’s minis will give you MULTIPLE heavenly bites and I’d say they’re comparable to half a cupcake.  Two will truly hit the spot.  Hell, I think even one could given how rich and creamy and thick the frosting is!

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What I am loving about Prairie Girl’s flavours these days (aside from the thick, creamy, scrumptious frosting) is how they’re wonderfully subtle in holiday spirit.  Aside from the dark cocoa chocolate cake with creamy vanilla peppermint frosting and crushed peppermint candies (pictured), the holiday flavours they’ve been doling out have come from their Treats of the Week line-up.  What you see here are mini golden buttermilk cupcakes with sweet, creamy cinnamon frosting topped with a hot cinnamon jelly bean!  Last week’s Treat of the Week?  Pumpkin on vanilla.  And this week?  Almond on chocolate and vanilla cranberry on golden buttermilk.

OH.MY.GOD.  I want everything!  And I only wish these flavours were around permanently and not only for a week!  What I love is that even though these flavours don’t necessarily scream “holiday” or “Christmas” necessarily, they touch on all the things we love about the festive season: the sights and smells of spices, nuts, and winter fruits.  I mean really, when was the last time you came across a CRANBERRY frosted cupcake?!  In my book?  NEVER.  Even though nothing beats lemon and coconut (and lemon and coconut meshed together!) in my heart, I love cranberry like you wouldn’t believe and I’ve always wished for a cranberry cupcake.  I really don’t think I’ll be able to get my sweet teeth on any before the week is over and while that makes me so sad, I’m so happy knowing this is a flavour on their rotating Treats of the Week menu.  If I’m patient enough, I’ll get to it the next time around!

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Prairie Girl Bakery also offers a number of adorable decorative cupcake toppers that you can purchase up by the cash and they have almost type of cupcake box known to foodies!  All of their fab boxes have inserts in them, keeping all your cupcakes neat and tidy and smush-free!  What’s great is that they have so many different combinations.  If you want a regular-sized cupcake plus two minis, there’s a box for that.  If you want 4 minis (pictured), 4 inserts are waiting for those little cakes to be plunked down.  And if you want 2 little ones, you’ll get the cutest cupcake purse box ever!  My boyfriend is currently gaga over Prairie Girl’s chocolate cream cheese icing on golden buttermilk (which I still haven’t tried – foreshame!) and I am loving the chocolate peppermint.  It’s like a chocolate peppermint patty with frosting!

I had myself a jolly good time taking these photos (hello mini cupcake models!) and I’m hoping this is just the beginning of the wonderful and delicious Christmas cupcake season!

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The Prairie Girl cupcake car!

*****

Prairie Girl Bakery is located at Suite 106, 18 King St. East off King St. E and Victoria St.  The cupcake shop itself actually faces Victoria St., so it’s just a smidge north of King on Victoria St.  They are open 6 days a week from 10am-6pm from Monday-Saturday.  They are closed on Sundays and statutory holidays.  Their new 2nd location is located in the underground PATH in First Canadian Place in the Marketplace food concourse.  The FCP location is open from 8am-6pm, Monday-Friday.

Cupcakes for the Holidays – A Photo Spotlight on Mini Cupcake Mania at Prairie Girl Bakery, Part I!

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If you think this is mouthwatering cupcake porn, wait till you see what I have in store for y’all tomorrow and for the rest of the month!  Cream cheese frosting, sprinkles, holiday decorations, crushed candy canes, gingerbread, marshmallows and plenty of decadent chocolate – THIS is what cupcakes are all about during the crazy, whirlwind month of December!  This is a photo spotlight sneak peek of the holiday cupcake blitz that’s about to unleash on Ate by Ate!  My goal this holiday season is to feature some shops I haven’t posted about, to showcase as many special holiday flavours as possible, and to finally get around to some of the seasonal ones that I’ve missed out on over the past few years.  With so many cupcake shops dishing out the limited time holiday menus and lineups, it’s hard to come keep up so I’ll be doing some new Cupcake Connections to keep everyone in the delicious loop and a special holiday Macaron Mania edition as well!  I have stumbled on some fantastic goodies so I’m so excited to show you all what the season has in store for us.  So, first up: mini cupcake mania at Prairie Girl Bakery, Part I!

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*****

Prairie Girl Bakery is located at Suite 106, 18 King St. East off King St. E and Victoria St.  The cupcake shop itself actually faces Victoria St., so it’s just a smidge north of King on Victoria St.  They are open 6 days a week from 10am-6pm from Monday-Saturday.  They are closed on Sundays and statutory holidays.  Their new 2nd location is located in the underground PATH in First Canadian Place in the Marketplace food concourse.  The FCP location is open from 8am-6pm, Monday-Friday.

What’s New, What Hot – What’s New: Tim Hortons’ Foodie Christmas Tree Ornaments!

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Do you love foodie accessories and adorable food-related items as much as I do?  If you’re a die-hard foodie you know exactly what I’m referring to.  You know, things like colourful tote bags with prints of apples on them or pretty stationery adorned with cupcakes and baking supplies, or kitchen accessories in the shape of food.  I have snack containers in the shape of Pop Tarts and Goldfish crackers, cupcake carriers and stationery, Junk Food themed tin lunch boxes (why hello there Tootsie Roll!), and even a collection of cute dessert-themed jewelry!  And this love for everything food certainly extends to seasonal goodies, probably even more so!  So, if you have a soft spot for all things foodie(and I really do mean all things!), you need these achingly adorable, cute-as-a-button Tim Hortons foodie Christmas tree ornaments!

I remember seeing a few of these last year but never got around to getting any so when I saw them again last week, I knew I couldn’t pass them up again.  Even though my family and I don’t put our tree up every year (we put up minis and our door wreaths and lights and things, but not the whole kit and caboodle every year), I love Christmas tree ornaments and love the traditions some families have of making cookie ornaments or having the little ones make cute ones out of a pasta.  I know off the top of my head we have a gingerbread man and glass candy cane and in my own personal collection I have a few M&M chocolate themed ones, but that’s all that comes to mind at the moment so I’m really happy I have these little guys here to plump things up!

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If I’m not mistaken, I believe there are 5 ornaments in the collection, but it’s possible I could have misunderstood or misheard the nice girl who served me so to be on the safe side, these 4 are definitely available.What we have here: 1) the Tim Hortons mug, 2) the Tim Hortons coffee and tea cup, 3) the Tim Hortons Timbit on a sled sporting winter goggles and a little yellow Tim Hortons toque, and finally 4) a beautiful, darling little replica of a Tim Hortons coffee shop!  These are SO cute!  I am head over heels in love with the cutie-patootie Timbit on a sled ornament and think the coffee shop one is so, so pretty.

Each ornament is $5.95 a piece and there might be a 5th ornament available in the form of a Timbit snowman, but I’m only going by what one of the girls at Tim Hortons told me so ask around if you want to know for sure the next time you’re there.  Part of me wants to open them to hang on our mini tree in the living room and the other part thinks that’s crazy talk and wants to leave them in mint condition just the way they are because you never mess with the packaging of a collectible.  Oh, the trials and tribulations of a foodie.

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A Month of Holiday & Christmas Cooking & Baking Around the City! Truffles, Cookies, Traditional Treats & More

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Tis the season for the holiday baking, cooking, and edible gift creating!  There are TONS of fun cooking and baking classes going on as well as some holiday themed workshops so whether you love truffles, pie, cupcakes, or a mix of holiday sweets, there’s definitely something for you here!  My personal picks?  The holiday cookie classes at Aphrodite Cooks and Evergreen Brick Works, the regional and seasonal Niagara-inspired cooking class at EBW, pie-making at Le Dolci, and the Christmas treats baking at Nella Cucina.

I won’t be able to attend any of these but if I could I’d be ALL OVER these like ribbon on wrapping paper.  I’m still plowing away at updating the December Food Calendar so you’ll see some new stuff from The Depanneur and others added to the calendar really soon!  In the meantime, click around the menu bar up top and check out the December Food Calendar, the tastings and classes at Evergreen Brick Works, and all of Le Dolci’s fabulous holiday and Christmas-themed classes!  Oh, and admire the new Christmas photos I took at La Merceria.  Just try not to drool over all the drop-dead gorgeous kitchen accessories and linens.  I know I am.

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Simple Healthy Meals in 30 Minutes at The Chef Upstairs, December 3.  6:30pm-9:30pm.  615 Mount Pleasant Rd.  $99 +HST/person OR $149.50 +HST for two.  Combine fresh and seasonal with fast and quick with these recipes: winter green salad with pine nuts, radicchio, and pear, penne pasta with sausage, fennel, and Pecorino cheese, and fresh fish with tomato sauce with cherry tomato couscous!  http://www.thechefupstairs.com/cooking_classes.html

Introduction to Pie Making at Le Dolci, December 5.  7pm-9pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $55 +HST/person.  Don’t be intimidated by the art of the homemade pie and pie crust – Michelle from the Parkdale Pie Princess teams up with Le Dolci to show you how at this introduction to pie making class!  Learn how to make the a great pie crust from scratch, use fresh fruit to make filling, and take home a pie and recipes!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

PA Day Fun!  Introduction to Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, December 7.  1pm-3pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $40 +HST/person.  What better way to enjoy a Friday off from school than to get the creative juices and sweet teeth going as you decorate a dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes to take home!  Use fondant, buttercream frosting, and special cutters and professional tools to create flowers, animals, swirls, and whatever your heart desires!  It’s December, so go for a winter, Christmas or holiday theme with snowflakes, snowmen, candy canes, holly, trees, gingerbread men and more!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

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Christmas/Winter Themed – Introduction to Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, December 8.  10am-12pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Get the creative juices and sweet teeth going as you decorate a dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes to take home!  Use fondant, buttercream frosting, and special cutters and professional tools to create wreaths, stockings, snowmen, snowflakes, present gift boxes and more!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Designer Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, December 8.  2pm-4pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Walk the runway in true fashionable cupcake style!  In this introduction to cupcake decorating class, learn how to make stylish Louis Vuitton and Chanel handbags, Tiffany jewelry, and more with professional cupcake decorating tools, fondant, and frosting.  Be the sweetest, most stylish fashionista when you walk out of the student with 12 beautifully decorated vanilla cupcakes!  http://ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Christmas Themed – Learn to Make Cake Pops at Le Dolci, December 9.  2pm-4pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Use moist, delicious balls of cake and frosting to make holiday inspired cake pops using melted candy melts, sprinkles, icing, and more!  Sprinkle snowflakes and trees and even make reindeer, ornaments, and Christmas tree cake pops!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

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Holiday Cookies at Aphrodite Cooks, December 9.  1pm-4pm. 201 Weston Rd., Suite 101.  $65 +HST/person.  This class requires participants to bring piping tips and couplers (Wilton’s #2, #4, or #6 tips and two couplers) which are available at Michaels, Bulk Barn, Wal-Mart, and baking supply stores.  Aphrodite Cooking classes mix both pleasure and education as classes provide participants with an atmosphere to socialize and mingle with others while at the same time enjoying food and obtaining and sharpening cooking skills.

At this class, join Canadian Living test kitchen manager, Adell Shneer, as she guides you through a wintery fairy wonderland of beautiful and delicious holiday cookies and decorating!  Learn how to make royal icing and master piping and icing techniques including flooding, flocking, marbleizing as you make brown sugar citrus cookie dough, double vanilla cookie dough, and gingerbread cookie dough for beautiful cookies!  https://www.aphroditecooks.com/class.aspx?c_id=c6add328-06cf-48aa-ab6b-8400f1eac6f2

GE Café Chefs Series: Celebrating Niagara at Evergreen Brick Works, December 11.  6pm-9pm.  550 Bayview Ave.  $75 each workshop.  Learn tips and techniques from local Toronto and Ontario chefs, discuss and explore food issues over wine and a great meal with other participants!  Funds raised through the series will help support children’s educational food programs at Evergreen Brick Works.

This fall series focuses on the food culture of southern Ontario.  Join executive chef of Hillebrand Estates’ winery restaurant, Frank Dodd, for an exploration of the bounty of fruit, food, and wine in the beautiful Niagara region.  http://ebw.evergreen.ca/whats-on/food/chefs-series#dec11

Green Bites Cooking Workshops – Holiday Baking at Evergreen Brick Works, December 13.  7pm-9pm.  550 Bayview Ave.  $65/person.  Green Bites workshops are back for another exciting round of seasonal classes!  Join chefs, producers, farmers, and food experts for some hands-on cooking workshops that are sure to expand your breadth of food knowledge and technique.  These cooking workshops will allow participants to explore tastes, flavours, and aromas while engaging in food issues that affect communities.

At this workshop, join chef Joshna Maharaj for holiday baking around the world!  Explore holiday baking traditions, bake 5 different types of cookies, and take home a cookie gift box at the end!  http://ebw.evergreen.ca/whats-on/food/green-bites#dec13

Christmas Treats at Nella Cucina, December 15.  12pm-3pm.  876 Bathurst St.  $95/person.  Get your holiday sweet teeth ready for this sugar n’ spice and everything nice cooking class where you’ll bake the afternoon away!  Learn a wealth of baking and candy making techniques and knowledge as you tackle some classic holiday recipes such as salted caramels, fruit jellies, rum sour cream pound cake, spiced nuts and seeds, and chocolate cranberry and pistachio biscotti!  http://www.nellacucina.ca/component/jevents/icalrepeat.detail/2012/11/29/249/-/-.html

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Gingerbread Decorating at Le Dolci, December 15.  1:30pm-3:30pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $40 +HST/person.  Break out the icing, candies, and chocolates for some holiday inspired gingerbread cookie decorating!  Learn piping techniques to create yummy cookies to take home for yourself or to give as gifts!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Christmas/Winter Themed – Introduction to Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, December 15.  4:30pm-6:30pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Get the creative juices and sweet teeth going as you decorate a dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes to take home!  Use fondant, buttercream frosting, and special cutters and professional tools to create wreaths, stockings, snowmen, snowflakes, present gift boxes and more!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Christmas/Winter Themed – Introduction to Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, December 16.  10:30am-12:30pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Get the creative juices and sweet teeth going as you decorate a dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes to take home!  Use fondant, buttercream frosting, and special cutters and professional tools to create wreaths, stockings, snowmen, snowflakes, present gift boxes and more!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Christmas Themed – Introduction to Truffle Making at Le Dolci, December 16.  2pm-4pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Create rich, decadent chocolate ganache truffles and dust and sprinkle your way through luxurious truffle heaven with Christmas sprinkles and holiday flavours!  Learn how to use proper hand rolling techniques as well as developing your own recipes and flavourings!  Create a set of truffles to take home for yourself or to give  as a gift.  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/