2017 Year in Review

2017 Year in Review

I’m on a train travelling through rural Ontario as I write this, and staring out the window at the snowy country side is making me increasingly excited for the holidays. It has been quite the year and an admittedly absent one from this space. Mainly because I’ve been writing for other publications, but also because admittedly, I’ve lost my vision for what I want my own site to be about. Maybe that will change in 2018. Frankly, I’m not sure yet. In my other life as a PhD student in psychology, I spend the majority of my time researching, discussing, and trying to elucidate around topics pertaining to emotional eating and weight. I’d like to write about what I do in that field in a more informal way in this space (after all, the name “Because I Like Chocolate” always came from a place of wanting to help people have healthier relationships with food). Now that I actually do that in my day to day, it feels appropriate to have an online outlet to share about it. What do you think? Is that something that would interest you?

Because I like chocolate..I made Sarah Kieffer’s pan bang cookies (multiple times)

I did do a bit of food/psychology writing this year, like this piece for Eat North on emotional eating. Actually I did a lot for Eat North. I was super proud to be a part of this piece in celebration of Canada’s 150. Through the process of putting it together, I got to chat with some pretty cool Canadian figures, which lead to interviews with people like Gail Simmons and Jay Onrait. Interviewing is one of my favourite parts of what I do. I love chatting with people and learning about their stories. It’s fascinating and I only want to do more of it in 2018! You can check out everything I wrote for Eat North here (PS there’s a lot of it, 52 articles to be exact).

Probably my best meal of 2017 at Montreal’s Candide

I also began contributing more regularly to Eater Montreal, mostly putting together maps of local restaurants in certain areas or with specific offerings, like this one showcasing some of the best bakeries for bread in Montreal. Plus I had the opportunity to compile this map of the 18 Essential Calgary restaurants, which allowed me to showcase the ever-expanding food scene in my home town (I’m getting sappy now given that I haven’t been home in awhile and am clearly starting to miss it).

Beautiful bread from boulangerie Merci La Vie in the Laurentians

What else, what else? There was the usual writing for Culinaire (I always love getting to do their “Spice it Up” column, like this one from earlier in the year). And in between that, a trip to Japan happened (still figuring out how to write about that from a food perspective, because boy was there a lot of food), many weekends were spent up at the cottage, I wrote my doctoral comprehensive exam, and before I knew it, the year was almost over.

Japanese whisky tasting – the only sad part is that you can’t find most of it in Canada

Wishing you all the best this holiday season, with plenty of festive food and drink to be shared with those you love of course! I plan on making too many baked goods, roasting a turkey, and drinking all the BC wine I can get my hands on! If I can find a bottle of this, that would be the icing on the cake. Happy holidays!

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Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies

Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies

Fall desserts often involve pumpkin and warming spices, but who says you can’t work a little chocolate into the mix? These Green & Black’s Organic chocolate brownies topped with pumpkin almond butter are the perfect blend of two favourite desserts, pumpkin pie and brownies. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, there’s no better time to try them out than for your holiday meal!

*Recipe courtesy of Regina Braun in collaboration with Green & Black’s

Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies
 
Ingredients
  • 4 ounces Green & Black’s Organic 85% Dark Chocolate
  • ⅓ cup butter or coconut oil
  • 1-1/2 cups coconut sugar or unrefined sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup white whole wheat flour (or regular whole wheat flour)
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Pumpkin Almond Butter Frosting:
  • ¼ cup almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1-3 tablespoons almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F. Line an 8 or 9-inch square pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a sauce pan melt Green & Black’s Organic 85% Dark Chocolate and butter/coconut oil on low heat while stirring regularly.
  3. Once melted, stir in the sugar and pumpkin puree, then eggs and vanilla extract.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, and sea salt. Add the dry to the wet ingredients and fold in without over mixing.
  5. Pour the brownie batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes. For fudgy brownies a toothpick inserted into the centre should come out with just a few wet crumbs attached.
  6. Let the brownies cool before frosting and cutting.
  7. For the frosting, stir together all ingredients in a small bowl. Add more milk to achieve desired consistency. Thicker frosting has to be spread, while thinner icing can be drizzled.

 

Banana Chocolate Blueberry Muffins

Banana Chocolate Blueberry Muffins

Everyone likes blueberry muffins, almost as much as they do banana chocolate muffins. So combining the two seems like a bit of a no brainer. Banana chocolate blueberry muffins you say? It’s may be a mouthful, but a ridiculously delicious one at that. Complete with not just any blueberries, or any chocolate, but rather Marich chocolate covered blueberries, they’ve got just enough fruit in them to qualify as breakfast, and just enough chocolate to make for a satisfying dessert. That’s all the convincing you need right there.

Banana Chocolate Blueberry Muffins
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 6 large muffins
Ingredients
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • ¾ tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup neutral oil (like canola or grapeseed)
  • ¾ cup Marich chocolate covered blueberries, roughly chopped
  • granola, to garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Mash up the bananas until there aren't any lumps remaining.
  2. Stir in the brown sugar and egg, mixing until incorporated.
  3. Gently fold in the remaining dry ingredients until there are no longer any bits of flour visible. Do not over-mix or you run the risk of the muffins becoming tough and tunnelled.
  4. Pour the batter into lined muffin cups and sprinkle the tops of granola.
  5. Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of them comes out clean.
  6. Cool and enjoy!

**The chocolate used in this recipe was graciously provided by Marich chocolates, however the opinions are my own.

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Miso Blondies

Miso Blondies

I admit, it has been awhile, but these miso blondies are a recipe worth coming back for. Inspired by the current trend toward more savoury desserts (like the miso éclairs at Libertine Bakehouse here in Montreal) and a recent trip to Japan (which I should probably get around to writing about at SOME point), they are the perfect combination of delicious and fool proof. Even chef said that they were some of the best baking he has tasted in a long time, period. Perhaps he knew there would be hell to pay if his review was anything less than positive, but all of that aside, I encourage you to make them and decide for yourself whether or not they are worth adding to your staple baking rotation.

Other than the miso itself, which adds both necessary salt and a touch of je ne sais quoi to these blondies, the real kicker is the addition of Marich Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cashews baked into the batter. I’ve baked with Marich chocolates in the past and they are easily the best chocolate-coated confections I’ve ever tried. They don’t skimp on the coating and they also use good chocolate, not the crappy stuff that tastes and feels like wax. In a recipe with such few ingredients, it really pays to use only the best quality products you can get your hands on. Marich chocolates fit the bill.

I can’t really think of any negatives when it comes to these miso blondies. You only need one bowl, they take less than 45 minutes to make, all in, and they’re loaded with sweet salty decadence in every bite. I guess the only downside is that you’ll eventually run out and have to make more… Is that really such a bad thing?

Miso Blondies
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8 blondies
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. mugi miso
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • pinch salt
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ cup chopped Marich dark chocolate sea salt cashews
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the warm melted butter and miso until incorporated. Whisk in the olive oil. Let stand for about 10 minutes to let all the flavours meld together.
  2. Whisk the egg and brown sugar into the melted butter miso mixture.
  3. Whisk in the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  4. Finally, stir in the chopped chocolate covered cashews.
  5. Pour into a lined or greased loaf pan and bake at 350F for about 25 minutes.
  6. Cool, slice, and enjoy.
Notes
If you make a double batch it is enough to fill a 9X9 pan. You will just have to cook them a bit longer.

**The chocolate used in this recipe was graciously provided by Marich chocolates, however the opinions are my own.

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Ungava Cranberry Negroni

Ungava Cranberry Negroni

I’m a big fan of the Negroni any time of year, but its sweet boozy balance makes it the ideal winter cocktail. This version uses Ungava gin, a Quebec product with botanicals like Nordic Juniper, Wild Rose Hips, Cloudberry, Crowberry, Arctic Blend, and Labrador Tea. Mixing it with another native ingredient, cranberries, makes this cranberry Negroni about as Canadian of a cocktail as they come. Happy sipping.

Ungava Cranberry Negroni
 
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Serves: 1 cocktail
Ingredients
  • 1.5 ounces Ungava gin
  • 1.5 ounces Campari
  • ¾ ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1.5 ounces cranberry juice
  • fresh or frozen cranberries, to garnish
Instructions
  1. Pour everything over ice, stir, and drink.