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This feels like a bit of a copout, but I’ve been meaning to mix up a batch of puffed wheat squares (a very prairie thing) and eat the whole pan myself for awhile now. And I think if anyone came across a plate of these on the kitchen counter, they’d eat them. I’d like to say I grew up eating puffed wheat squares, but I didn’t – hopefully W will not suffer the same fate. I’d make them more often if puffed wheat was a thing I normally kept in the house, but when I think to buy a bag, I remember that a panful takes about ten minutes to stir together. Well worth it.

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OK, we normally just call these “Mom’s nut balls”, which sounds a little like an old SNL sketch, so let’s go with shortbread balls – although these are more commonly known as Russian Tea Cakes or Mexican Wedding Cakes. Regardless, they’re a must every Christmas. I like that they’re lower in sugar than other cookies – 1/2 cup powdered sugar is equal to about 1/4 cup of regular granulated sugar – they’re not enormous, are easy to “decorate”, and taste like Christmas. It’s one of those recipes that comes out once a year, and I’d never dream of making in May or August.

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*I’ve partnered with Lindt to bring you this buttery shortbread, topped with squares of Lindt dark chocolate. Doesn’t it seem like a great idea? It really was. It’s perfectly reasonable to eat shortbread for breakfast with (Bailey’s-spiked) coffee at this time of year, right? And then to keep nibbling from a stash on your kitchen counter throughout the day, like a slow dose of butter and sugar and Christmas joy? It seems as if I’ve been on a bit of a cookie bender since the calendar struck December – two cookie exchanges in the first week, and two back to back cookie baking classes to raise money for the food bank. There’s no shortage of new ideas at this time of year, but what I really want is a good butter shortbread – and something chocolate. My dad has, for at least the past decade, kept a stash of Lindt Excellence 70% cacao bars on hand, and the stack rarely dips below half a dozen.Continue reading

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Hey, remember these? I made them exactly a year ago, but never shared – and now on the eve of Rogue One coming out in theatres (big excitement in this house – it’s like pre-Christmas) it seems timely again. Also – these are far more interesting than a straight-up gingerbread dude, aren’t they? You could, of course, use any rolled gingerbread cookie formula and squish them with the back of a fork to make them look like shaggy wookies – extra Chewie.

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I can’t remember the first time I made these. I make them every year – and now, on the verge of cookie month, when I went to look up the recipe here, I couldn’t believe I haven’t shared it yet. Sorry, guys. For fans of the sweet-tart, these are it – a double whammy of pucker, with a layer of cranberries suspended in lemon filling. A smattering of coconut adds some sweet chewiness. I like that I can make them ahead of time and stack them in the freezer – in fact, freezing them first makes it easy to cut them cleanly, and they thaw nicely while sitting out on a plate. All they need is a shake of icing sugar.

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When there’s nothing else you can do, bake. I feel like baking the world a batch of cookies. Is Halloween far enough in the rear-view mirror to warrant a chewy peanut butter-chocolate chunk cookie? Related: If I add some oatmeal, does it classify more as lunchbox/afternoon snack than holiday cookie platter fare? We’re about to embark on cookie season, but although this is the very friendliest kind of cookie, it’s not particularly festive. (Or is it? For the record, a stack of these would be well received by me any time of year.) Peanut butter and chocolate are two of my favourite things, together even better. Chewy in the middle, with a crispy edge and big puddles of chocolate. This is the type of workhorse cookie I bake when I need a good stash of something to have on hand for the hungry and sad, for lunches (W’s school has no nut allergies), and to freeze for another day when we might need more ofContinue reading

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I thought I had figured out the ideal chocolate chip cookie, that the perfect formula had been squared away and would never need revisiting. I made a batch to bring to CBC earlier this week, and since we were discussing the science behind chocolate chip cookies, I decided to make a thinner, chewier batch to contrast my thick, chewy portraits of perfection. For the sake of radio conversation. Guess which plate most everyone in the studio and newsroom went for? The thin ones with the rumpled edge. It’s like everyone had been replaced by thin cookie loving aliens who just didn’t know any better. It turns out there is no one true chocolate chip cookie – just a few favourites you can keep tucked away in your wardrobe of chocolate chip cookies. My current favourite, a mash-up of recipes (sometimes I just alternate) by Anna and Ashley, has been in such heavy rotation that it hasn’t occurred to me to this version in years. IContinue reading

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We’ve had a lot of jam this summer. Cherry to start, and peach and apricot, moving on to blackberry and combinations of such. Blackberries haven’t been in season early enough for the past ten years or so we’ve been spending a chunk of middle summer in Tofino, but this year and last we’ve been spending a chunk of every day picking them. My typical routine involves walking down the road for a (locally-roasted) coffee, drinking it on the log out front, and then filling my empty cup to the brim with ripe blackberries on the way home. My favourite jams are made with berries and stone fruits, all of which get along splendidly together in whatever ratio you happen to have attracting fruit flies on your countertop. The beauty of jam is that you can toss all that fruit into your pot, or slice it, or squish it, and add half or so as much sugar as there is fruit (a more typical ratio isContinue reading

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I’m a sucker for pecan pie in bar form – but particularly when someone else makes them, uses birch syrup, then brings them along, right in the pan, with a knife to cut them into squares on the dock, on a fishing trip on Great Slave Lake. Birch syrup is something you likely don’t have on your shelf – but yes, you can go ahead and use (real!) maple syrup instead. Birch is similar, made with the sap of birch trees rather than maple – its flavour tends to be more complex, and some say not as sweet. And because it requires 100-150 L of sap to produce 1 L of birch syrup (vs about 40 L of sap to make 1 L of maple syrup) and the tapping window is shorter than the opportunity to harvest maple, it’s pretty pricey. But if you live up north rather than out east, it’s more likely what you’re pouring over your pancakes.

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