Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I had a Vietnamese friend whose mother was of Dutch heritage. After dinner, they pulled out two hermetic glass jars, one filled with squares of dark Dutch chocolate and the other with crystallized ginger coins. You ate them together or alternating, while sipping hot, black tea. To me, it was a perfectly memorable way to end a meal.

This combination has blended its way into my gingerbread. With semi-sweet chocolate and minced candied ginger, this cake is dense but oh, so moist and delicious. Sprinkled with sugary snow, it is a wonderful, wintry way to celebrate December and the holidays. You can elevate this into a luscious gingerbread latte cake for a special occasion, topping each slice with coffee whipped cream and grated chocolate. Either way it will be savoured, even at its simplest, perhaps after an effortless meal, with some hot, black tea.

Gingerbread Latte Cake

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground allspice
2 large organic eggs, at room temperature
1 circle crystallized ginger, minced
2 ½ cups organic all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ cup molasses
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup mini pure semi-sweet chocolate chips
icing sugar for sprinkling

Coffee Whipped Cream: In a medium bowl, whip 1 cup heavy cream with 1 Tbsp vanilla sugar and 1 tsp instant coffee granules until soft peaks form.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a large loaf or square pan (here I used a 12"/30cm Kaiser loaf pan). With a mixer, whip butter and sugars together until fluffy. 

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Add the four ground spices and beat until just incorporated. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

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Stir in minced candied ginger.

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In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In another bowl, mix molasses and buttermilk together. Add a third of the flour mixture into the butter mixture and stir until incorporated. Then add half the molasses mixture in with the butter mixture, and keep alternating, making sure to stir in between additions and ending with flour. Stir in mini chocolate chips until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes then gently slide out of the pan. Sprinkle with icing sugar. Serve slices of warm cake topped with coffee whipped cream and grated chocolate or cocoa.

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Inspired by a recipe from The Vineyard Kitchen

Monday, November 26, 2012


It’s been a bumpy November. Instead of dreary details, I divulge a blissful alternative: a bar that may perhaps pardon all that is erroneous in the world. Welcome a newly adapted rocky road bar from Alice Mendrich’s (yes, how dare I) glamorous bakebook: Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies. (

These altered bars- they’re not glamorous. To me, they are actually the opposite of Alice’s sophisticated rocky roads. With only a few changes, Alice’s uptown bars morphed into serious heftiness that even look like they can handle tough roads. The colour of the cookie base reminds me of Harley motorcycle tires, oil, black boots, leather… I know I’m among polite company, but I say this to describe it best: these Biker Bars are bad-ass.

Biker Bars

1 ½ stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup sugar
1 cup walnut halves (try to not miss out on this one)
6 Giant Roaster campfire marshmallows, cut in half
1 cup good-quality semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line an 8-inch square pan with foil. Preheat oven to 350F. Mix butter with both crumbs and sugar until moist. 

Spread mixture into the lined pan and press firmly and evenly to form the crust. Scatter walnuts, then chocolate chips. 

Bake for 8 minutes, then remove from oven and place giant marshmallow halves (flat side down) on top. Bake for 10 minutes or until the marshmallows are puffy golden brown. 

Set on a rack to cool completely. Lift the ends of the foil and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 12 bars. Keep in an airtight container for up to a week. 
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It’s late October and I could be baking anything with apple or pumpkin right now, but I chose bananas. Welcome to Jordana Banana Bakes/Nika Tortilla Travels, featuring the names of our girls who consistently inspire me. Jordana Holiday (now six) was born in October, and how timely as I give blog birth this month. I am eager to share both my kitchen journeys and my real life treks with you.

I love autumn, but as for winter, I love only the first of snows, before the slush, ice and drab set in. I love the winter views, but often while sitting by the warm side of the window. Yes- love the toques, thick coats, holding warm cocoa with mittens and all that, but only for a brief time. You see, I was born on an island, in hot climate, and was not completely winterized growing up. So when December rushes in like a mad woman in the market (and it will soon enough) I do a little internal dance when I see oranges that mound their way above the ubiquitous apples. I'm a locavore, but I'm also a traveller, and it's difficult to overlook those oranges and clementines reminding us of vacation sunsets. Same feeling (if not more so) when I see my favourite, the succulent, ever-sexy yellow-orange mango. And of course the always smiling banana. 

While I very much look forward to baking with the local fruits of the season, banana bread is always comforting, anytime of the year. Topped with a banana chip streusel, this super-moist bread is given an extra wonderful, crunchy, complementary cuddle. 

Jordana Banana Bread with Banana Chip Streusel (Makes 1 loaf)

1 cup organic all-purpose flour
1/2 cup organic whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe organic bananas (about 3)
2 large organic eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water

Streusel: Mix together 2 Tbsp golden brown sugar, 2 Tbsp granola and 4 Tbsp crushed banana chips

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour a large metal loaf pan. Whisk flours, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. 

In a separate bowl, stir together mashed bananas, eggs, oil, honey and water. Add dry ingredients and stir until just blended (batter will be wet).

Transfer batter to pan. Evenly sprinkle streusel on top (do not press down) and bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Cool bread in pan for 30 minutes. Turn the pan on its side and gently slide bread out, being careful not to disturb topping. Cool bread right side up. Serve warm or at room temperature. © 2012

Inspired by a recipe from Bon App├ętit.