A Photo Spotlight on Luxurious Macaron Bites & Gourmet French Eats at Nadège Patisserie

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Nadège Patisserie is a gourmet food boutique and patisserie specializing in Parisian macarons, French pastries and cakes, and fine chocolates.  They serve two locations in Toronto: 1) 780 Queen Street West beside Trinity Bellwoods Park and 2) 1099 Yonge Street several blocks away from Summerhill subway station, where these particular photos were taken on a rainy Sunday afternoon!  They are open 7 days a week: 8am-8pm Monday to Wednesday, 8am-9pm Thursday and Friday, 8am-8pm Saturday, and 8am-7pm Sunday.

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Raising the Baking Bar – New Recipes, New Loves & *NEW* Cranberry Chocolcate Pecan Oat Squares!

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I’m on cloud nine.  I just had one of the best baking experiences EVER over the weekend and I’m so excited to share the goods with you all!  Ate by Ate has been starving for some baking love for a few months now and while I’ve been collecting recipes and thinking of new ideas, I haven’t put on oven mitts in goodness knows how long.  And if I have, it’s only been to open and shut my beloved George Foreman grill!  It feels SO good to bake.  I’ve missed it and even though it’s really only been a few months, it feels like an eternity to me.  And it felt so fabulous trying something new! 

Everyone knows I love cookies and cupcakes, but for the first time in my life, I took a crack at baking squares and bars!  It sounds ridiculous, I know.  “You’ve never made brownies?!  You’ve never used a 9×13 pan?!”  Sad, but true.  But there’s a first time for many things in life and this is mine.  I used my brand new 9×13 pan to make cranberry chocolate pecan oat bars and squares and they turned out amazing! 

I got the recipe from Kraft Foods ‘What’s Cooking’ magazine (Festive 2007) and I fell in love with the recipe the second I saw it.  And for those of you who might be unfamiliar with Kraft’s magazine, ‘What’s Cooking’ is a quarterly publication available through subscription only.  Not to fret though because all of these magazine recipes are also available online on their website at kraftcanada.com.  There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of recipes of all kinds on their website (dinner ideas, sandwiches, desserts, pasta, meats, barbeque, you name it!) so if you’re interested in online recipe surfing, that’s your way to go.  But you know me – hard copy rules my heart!  

After making these, I am so in love with making bars and squares.  They are so incredibly easy to make and they’re almost like one of my favourite cookies, cranberry white & dark chocolate chip cookies, only in square form!  Beware if you’re allergic to nuts though; these have pecans in them so if you omit them you can substitute them with different dried fruit.  Or, you know, some more chocolate!  

Recipe for Chocolate, Cranberry & Oat Bars (makes 32 squares or 16 bars):

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (*Deb’s Note: I actually omitted the orange juice from the recipe because I ran out of it.  My brother, um, kind of drank it all.  So I didn’t use it!)
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1-1/2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 tsp. Magic Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (*Deb’s Note: I used butter because I prefer it over margarine and the squares turned out fabulous, so use whatever you feel most comfortable with.  3/4 cup butter equals 1-1/2 sticks of butter, just for reference.  And make sure it’s at room temperature!)
  • 1-1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 squares Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.  Combine cranberries and orange juice in microwaveable bowl.  Microwave on HIGH 30 sec.  Let stand 10 minutes.  (*Deb’s Note: remember, I didn’t use orange juice so if you find yourself in my shoes, just measure out the cranberries and put them aside for later).
  • Meanwhile, combine flour, oats, baking powder and salt; set aside.  Beat margarine and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  (*Deb’s Note: I used a handheld mixer and I also used butter as opposed to margarine).
  • Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition.  Gradually add flour mixture, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in cranberries (and orange juice if you’re using), chocoate and pecans.
  • Spread dough firmly into 9×13-inch baking pan sprayed with cooking cooking spray (*Deb’s Note: I lined my baking pan with parchment paper and had “handles” hanging off the sides so it would be easy to lift out the giant baked bar after cooling).
  • Bake 20 to 22 min. or until centre is set.  Cool completely on wire rack before cutting to serve (*Deb’s Note: mine took 21 minutes and I left mine to cool for an hour before cutting.  Cooling is absolutely necessary because it will literally crumble if you try to take it out too soon).

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Recipe taken from Kraft Foods Canada ‘What’s Cooking’ magazine, Festive 2007, page 23.

Operation Chocolate Ganache! Macaron Piping Fun at Le Dolci Studio, Part II

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The frosting and piping adventures at Le Dolci continue on!  After successfully piping frosting on a set of mini vanilla cupcakes, it was time for a little decadent chocolate fun: piping chocolate ganache onto macarons!  You read right.  Luscious, luxurious, airy, crispy, melt-in-your-mouth macarons.  Even though Le Dolci’s studio specialty and hallmark is – and always be – cupcakes, we do lots of different sweets and the studio hosts plenty of different themed classes: cookie decorating, truffle making, fun with fondant, cake pops, and macarons, among others! 

Just recently on September 30th, the studio hosted a marvelous macaron class led by the equally marvelous Mardi of Eat.Live.Travel.Write.  Le Dolci secured a cozy spot on Toronto’s macaron map and macarons were daintily placed on ours.  Even though I couldn’t attend the wonderful class that took place that evening (a night class + living in the suburbs don’t mix, unfortunately.  Sigh.), all was not lost.  We had some already-made macarons that needed to be filled, so we put the yummy vanilla buttercream frosting away (only for a little while) and took on Operation Chocolate Ganache for an afternoon of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry macaron piping and filling.

Even though I’ve made several posts about macarons on the blog already (Old Firehall Confectionery on Main Street Unionville, Daniel & Daniel in Cabbagetown, and La Bamboche on Avenue Rd. and also by Yonge & Eglinton, just to name a few), I’ll go through the nuts and bolts of what macarons are comprised of.  In a nutshell, macarons are sweet and delicate Parisian confections made primarily from egg whites, icing sugar, and almond flour, with the variables being the food colourings and flavourings used for the meringue cookie shells.  Then comes the filling which can take the form of a ganache, frosting, jam, or any number of other fillings you wish to sandwich between the macaron shells.  Operation Macaron at Le Dolci called for chocolate ganache, so chocolate ganache it was.

Ganache is a smooth, rich, velvety mixture of cream and chocolate.  Dark chocolate, semisweet, and bittersweet chocolate are the most common types of chocolate used for making ganache and the way to make it is to heat the cream until it just reaches its boiling point, and then pouring the cream over chocolate squares or chopped chocolate.  Using a whisk, you then combine the chocolate and cream until the chocolate becomes nice and syrupy.  The desired consistency will depend on what you’re using the ganache for, so if you’re using the ganache as a filling (for either truffles or macarons, for instance), you’ll want it nice and thick to the point where it does drip off the whisk anymore.  This requires chilling, which you can easily do in the refrigerator.

Lisa heated up the cream and poured it over the chocolate, while I whisked the chocolate and cream together afterward.  I chilled and whisked it until it was thick enough to be piped and Miya helped me pour the ganache into a piping bag.  With the macaron shells sitting daintily on the wire rack workspace, I was ready to give those shells some delightful chocolate ganache kisses!  It was sucking down saliva as I was doing it.  I mean, seriously, unless you’re allergic to chocolate (the way my best friend is), I don’t know a darn person on this planet who wouldn’t salivate at the sight of thick, rich poofs of chocolate. 

They looked like tiny puddles of chocolate goodness and it was such a satifying feeling sandwiching the macaron shells together.  I had to be careful not to pipe too much (which would cause the chocolate ganache to squish out) or too little (you want the ganache to reach the edges because otherwise the macarons look like there’s nothing in them) and I also had to be careful how I sandwiched the shells.  I wanted the top shell to “sit” on the filling, so I had to apply enough pressure to make sure the top shell “stuck” but not so much pressure that it would make the filling ooze out.  The ganache gets goopy if you make try to fix a mistake of sandwiching them crooked, so I had to center them and press down on them just right.  After reading about the mixing and baking process and piping them, macarons are quite the science!  But a very delicious one.  YUM.

I made one or two not-so-perfect ones (a little too much in one and not enough in the other), but other than that, I was so giddy with what I had done!  We made a few extras and packaged them up in a little cellophane baggy and they were good to go.  I ate my macaron mistakes.  Oh shucks, what a terrible thing to have to do, right? 😉

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Le Dolci is a private studio located at 75 Portland St., just east of Bathurst near King St. West.  The studio hosts cupcake decorating classes and handles catering for both corporate and personal events.  For more information on classes, schedules, rates, and more, visit their official website here and their Facebook page here.

Happy September! Starting the Month Off on a Sweet Note: Old Firehall Confectionery in Unionville, Part I

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Happy first day of September everyone!  I know summer is far from over, but I have to say, I am SO excited for the upcoming fall and harvest season!  I am in conniptions at the thought of fall tea and drinks, baking apple desserts (because of my allergies, I can’t eat apples raw anyway so it’s win-win here), scoping out the best places to buy canned pumpkin, and indulging in those awesome traditional foods and dishes I love so much for Thanksgiving.  You know, the turkey, the gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, the whole North American bit.  I’m a total sucker for all of it, but I also know it’s not exactly the easiest foodie occasion for vegetarians and vegans to get around so I’m determined to find some delicious veggie Thanksgiving stuff for myself and my friends to enjoy in and around the city.  I actually started a bit of research on that last fall and I’m excited to see what options there are this time around. 

Oh!  And the farmers’ markets.  My camera is raring to go and I am so looking forward to snapping photos of squash and pumpkins and apples (thankfully it’s not lethal to touch or look!) and maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to visit an apple orchard, just for fun.  September also marks a month filled with foodie events and festivals around the city and you can bet the whole city will be out for the Vegetarian Food Festival and Canada’s Baking and Sweets Show, among many others, later on this month.  I have so much planned for the blog for the upcoming fall season and I hope you all like what I have in store.

I want to start the month off on a sweet note, so let me ask you a question: if you could create your very own sweet tooth world, what would your ideal dessert haven consist of?  Would you have candies and chocolates?  Enough fudge to put you in a blissful sugar coma?  How about ice cream with a gazillion different types of cones and flavours and styles of regular ice cream and soft serve?  Or maybe your dessert universe would be filled with frosted cupcakes?  Oh, and of course we can’t forget the luxurious sweet nibbles such as macarons and truffles. 

Now that I have you daydreaming and drooling (and possibly wanting to run out the door to the nearest dessert-whatever), you can stop.  Because your dreams have come true.  What if I told you that this sugary utopia existed right under your nose (or at the very least in the GTA) and that EVERYTHING I just dangled in front of you exists under one roof?  Oh yes.  It’s a candy store, chocolatier, ice cream parlour, and cupcakery, and patisserie all in one amazing world of happiness.  Located in one of my favourite neighbourhoods and especially a favourite for me during the fall, I paid my first visit this summer and if I could, I would live here.  Assume your mouth in the position of jaw-dropping awe.  I present to you, Old Firehall Confectionery on Main Street Unionville in Markham:

Where are the macarons and cupcakes, you ask?  Oh, they’re there.  That’s what Part II and Part III are for 😉  Enjoy!

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Old Firehall Confectionery is located at 170 Main Street in the historic Main Street Unionville neighbourhood between Carlton Rd. and Hwy 7.  The dessert haven is located between Carlton Rd. and Fred Varley Drive.  Main Street is located just east of Kennedy Rd.

Easter Just Isn’t Easter Without Chocolate – Chocolate & Bunnies at Teuscher Chocolates

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It’s been a loooong day so although I don’t have a thorough post for you guys tonight, I have something awesome for you all tomorrow to make up for it 😀  My mum and I spent tonight mixing up a delicious smelling bowl of cookie dough to chill overnight and I can’t wait to share the pictures and recipe with everyone for Easter!  In the meantime, here are some photos I took of some cute Easter bunnies and fancy schmancy chocolates in Teuscher Chocolates’s storefront display located in The Manulife Centre at Bloor St. West and Bay St.  I have a TON of fab stuff to share with you guys over the next little while and I’m really looking forward to whipping up some new scrapbook pages.  I hope everyone is having a great long weekend!

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Teuscher Chocolates is located at 55 Bloor St. West inside the Manulife Centre in William Ashley China.

OMG, Marshmallows! Chocolatey, Ooey Gooey Rocky Road Cupcakes

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Who doesn’t get giddy over marshmallows, especially mini ones??  They’re adorable and really, marshmallows bring back a lot of childhood (and even adult!) memories for a lot of people, including myself.  Memories of watching them float in a mug of warm hot chocolate, roasting them over a fire and letting the toasty, ooey gooeyness melt in your mouth, using them to make Rice Krispy square treats, playing Chubby Bunny with them (oh man are there ever hilarious memories of this!  haha!), and just plain popping the white pillowy squishies in your mouth.  Those are reasons why marshmallows kick serious ass and why they continue to tug on our heartstrings and our tastebuds. 

And they’re irresistible in these chocolatey Rocky Road cupcakes.  The white chocolate and marshmallows make the chocolate cake super moist and melty, mmmm.  My apologies for the lack of frosting again; family is weird and does not like it.  That however did not stop me from topping mine with chocolate chip and marshmallow goodies.  Enjoy! 😀

Ingredients (Makes 12 cupcakes)

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons milk (*I used 1% milk)
  • 1 oz. white chocolate chips (or 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds or brazil nuts (*I didn’t use them in mine, but it’s up to you!)

Frosting to Decorate

  • 3 ⅟₂oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (approx. 100 grams)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons slivered almonds or brazil nuts
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • mini marshmallows

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, then line cupcake/muffin pan with 12 paper liners.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the mixture and fold in.  Stir in the milk, followed by the white chocolate chips, marshmallows, and if using, nuts.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the cups and bake for about 18 minutes until risen and the tops spring back when lightly pressed.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  4. For the frosting/topping: put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Heat the cream in a saucepan until almost boiling, then pour over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes.  Stir until smooth and creamy, then let cool for about 30 minutes until thick and glossy.
  5. Spread the chocolate mixture over the cupcakes and sprinkles with nuts, chocolate chips, and marshmallows.

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Recipe from Cupcakes by Susannah Blake, 2007.  Photographs taken by me.