Granola babka with brown sugar and walnut butter

Granola babka with brown sugar and walnut butter

I don’t eat a lot of bread, but when I do, it tends to be the focus of the meal. Enter this granola babka, the perfect breakfast treat. I was lucky to be gifted some Oatbox granola over the holidays. Inspired by their recipe for cinnamon rolls, I decided to use the granola in a same-same-but-different form, babka. Who can’t get on board with sweet, swirled bread dough?

Now the kicker here is that this dough isn’t swirled with just anything. Babka is typically filled with chocolate, but this one rather has layers of walnut butter, brown sugar, and granola. The granola is key because it adds a much-needed element of crispy, crunchy texture. As I mentioned, said granola comes from a Montreal-based company called Oatbox. They are basically a “granola of the month” club. Monthly subscriptions cost $20 and get you two bags of granola. Flavours change from month to month. I used their banana molasses variety in this granola babka. The two flavours for January are buckwheat, almond, and honey, and matcha, coconut, and mulberries. An Oatbox subscription is a great idea for the New Year to help ensure you always have some healthy breakfast (and baking!) options on hand.

As for this granola babka, it’s surprisingly good for you despite its apparent decadence. Walnut butter replaces the butter you’d find in traditional cinnamon rolls. Given the sweetness in the nut butter and the granola, there’s not a ton of extra brown sugar. Otherwise, it’s just a basic white bread dough. You could totally use whole wheat flour instead or throw some bran in if you’re looking for the extra fibre. Pureed dates would also make a great substitution for the brown sugar in the filling.

Whether you need to feed a crowd of people for a holiday gathering, or just want to treat yourself on a cold winter morning, this granola babka will warm you up from the inside out!

*Oatbox supplied the granola for this post but the words and recipe here are my own.

Granola babka with brown sugar and walnut butter
 
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It's easiest to prep this recipe the night before you want to eat the babka. It's a great breakfast treat for the holidays!
Author:
Serves: 1 loaf
Ingredients
  • ½ package dry active yeast (just over 1 tsp. or about 4 grams)
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. fine salt
  • 2 tbsp. oil (neutral-flavoured)
  • ⅓ cup walnut butter (or other nut butter of your choice)
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup banana molasses Oatbox granola
Instructions
  1. Bloom the yeast with ¼ cup of warm water and 1 tbsp. of brown sugar.
  2. Once it has activated, add in the remaining ¼ cup of water, flour, salt, and oil.
  3. Mix in a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment or by hand, kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes depending on what method you use.
  4. Let the dough rest for about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Roll it out into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick.
  6. Smear the walnut butter evenly over the rolled dough and sprinkle on layers of both brown sugar and granola.
  7. Roll the dough up tightly into a log, as if you were making cinnamon buns.
  8. Slice the roll longitudinally right down the middle, dividing it into two even halves.
  9. Twist these halves together, forming a spiralled loaf.
  10. Place the babka into a well-oiled loaf pan, cover, and rest it in the fridge overnight. Alternately, if you want to move ahead with baking it right away, leave it at room temperature and let it rise until doubled.
  11. Once the loaf has risen (whether that was in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for about an hour) bake at 350F for about 30 minutes. It should be golden and slightly crusty.
  12. Cool slightly and enjoy. Fresh bread is always best eaten warm!

Jakeman’s Maple Syrup

Jakeman’s Maple Syrup

Jakeman's maple syrup

If there is one way in which living in Montreal has changed me, it’s through the development of an undying love for maple syrup. I’ve always liked the stuff, but now it’s pushing the boundaries of an obsession. I put maple syrup on everything. It’s my coffee-sweetener of choice, I use it to flavour oats, and most recently, I discovered that it blends superbly with tomatoes, peaches, and duck confit.

It’s no surprise that when I was offered a sample of Jakeman’s maple syrup, I jumped pounced on it.

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Before using it in any specific application, a taste test was in order. A spoonful of maple syrup helps the medicine go down as they say, right? Voted Canada’s best tasting maple syrup, Jakeman’s tastes like what you’d expect maple syrup to taste like. It sounds like a no-brainer, but it tastes like pure maple. There are no notes of burned sugar, or caramelization, rather it’s light, and sweet, with just the right balance of mapleness (making up words here, I’m sorry). It makes Jakeman’s especially versatile because you don’t have to worry about the maple syrup over-powering other ingredients in whatever recipe you are making. Or, you can just pour it onto fresh, piping hot pancakes, crepes, or waffles and call it a day.

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I opted for a somewhat eclectic Saturday brunch comprised of a Dutch baby pancake, topped with Quebec heirloom tomatoes, Ontario peaches, duck confit, and of course, Jakeman’s maple syrup. I didn’t think I was going to want the additional sweetness on top of the already candy-like tomatoes and peaches, but it brought everything together with salty, savoury duck confit. Sometimes weird can be good.

dutch baby with Jakeman's maple syrup

So whether you are looking for an everyday sweetener that’s a bit more decadent than sugar, or you want to experiment with maple syrup in your sweet and savoury recipes, try Jakeman’s the next time you want to celebrate some pure Canadiana.

**The maple syrup reviewed in this post was suppled by Canada the Store, however the opinions expressed here are my own.

The Best Cookies Ever, Period.

The Best Cookies Ever, Period.

Stop and appreciate this for a moment.

This is the image of the perfect cookie. These are the best cookies ever. Period. Full stop. I’m saying it with confidence and am willing to take full responsibility for my actions, whatever the repercussions may be.

I’d say that in general, people have a fairly high tolerance for truly terrible cookies. Not all cookies are going to be good, that’s the reality of life. Just because someone went out of their way to bake them for the office and came by your desk to offer you one doesn’t mean you have to fawn over it. It’s a cookie, but that doesn’t make it a great cookie, or even a remotely mediocre cookie. I’d estimate that 99% of the cookies that we eat suck. We’re just too nice to admit it.

I on the other hand, am a terrible person who has zero tolerance for bad cookies. Life is too short to eat crappy cookies. That’s my motto. So make these, the best cookies ever, and share with your friends. Or don’t. Your call. You never know, it might just encourage them to up their cookie game in future. And hey, the more truly excellent cookies we have in the world, the better.

The Best Cookies Ever, Period.
 
Just make them, eat them, and don't ask questions.
Author:
Serves: Makes 7 fairly massive cookies
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cup (280g) unsalted butter
  • 1¼ cup (240g) brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. (225g) white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. (10ml) vanilla
  • 1¼ tsp. baking soda
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • 3½ cups plus 2 tbsp. (445g) all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ lb. (565g) dark chocolate, roughly chopped (you want the chunks to be pretty large so they melt into giant pools of chocolate)
Instructions
  1. Cream together the butter and both sugars.
  2. Add in the eggs and vanilla, stirring until combined.
  3. Add the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir until well incorporated.
  4. Add the flour and stir. Once it is almost incorporated, add in the chocolate. Stir until just combined but don't overwork it.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24h (it holds well for up to 5 days).
  6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F.
  7. Portion dough into 120g balls and place on a parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden. You want the cookies to be nicely browned around the edges but still underbaked and doughy in the centre.
  9. Cool for about 10 minutes before shoving in your face hole (seriously, do this, otherwise you will burn your mouth on scalding hot chocolate. Trust me, I speak from experience).

Best Cookies Ever 2Best Cookies Ever 1

Double Chocolate Mint Cookies

Double Chocolate Mint Cookies

double chocolate mint cookies

Ask anyone and they will tell you I’m not a huge fan of mint chocolate. More often than not it ends up tasting like cheap chocolate mixed with toothpaste, and I just can’t endorse that. However, I do like cookies. Especially chewy double chocolate cookies laden with an almost overwhelming amount of chocolate chunks. And if said chocolate chunks happen to have a subtle, natural (read: non-toothpastey) mint flavour, then I can be ok with that. Green & Black’s Organic Mint Dark Chocolate is ideal in this situation. It has just a hint of real peppermint oil so that the chocolate doesn’t get lost in the mix. Plus, if you’re ok with the fact that it *may contain* dairy, but milk isn’t listed as one of the ingredients, then these double chocolate mint cookies are totally vegan as well. I’m not sure you can call me a convert quite yet but these cookies make a convincing case for the viability of GOOD mint chocolate.

Double Chocolate Mint Cookies
 
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Serves: 9-12 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • 1 bar Green & Black's Organic Mint Dark Chocolate, chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp. water, as needed
Instructions
  1. Cream together the brown sugar and coconut oil until smooth.
  2. Add in the flour, cocoa power, salt, and baking powder. Mix to combine. If the dough is too dry and doesn't hold together when you squeeze a clump of it in your hands, add water to reach the desired consistency.
  3. Lastly, mix in the Green & Black's Organic Mint Dark Chocolate.
  4. Portion onto a parchment or Silpat lined sheet tray and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. The tops of the cookies will lose their sheen once cooked.
  5. Cool and enjoy.

double chocolate mint cookies 2

Vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes and a birthday dedication

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I’m a planner. If I could pencil in where I’m going to be this afternoon, tomorrow, the day after that, 5 years from now, I would probably do it. I live my life by setting goals and accomplishing them, sometimes at the expense of neglecting to see opportunities that are staring me right in the face, or realizing that the path I’ve set out on isn’t even what I want. Over time I’ve gotten better at adapting to the unknowns that life throws at you, but “going with the flow” is still something I will always have to work on. It’s an ongoing process but I’ve figured out how to balance my “J” qualities with a little bit of “P”, such that I can survive when things don’t work out quite as planned.

After all, sometimes the best things in life are the ones that happen to be the most unexpected. Like reconnecting with someone you haven’t seen in a long time who also happens to reside a world away. Someone who was the most important person in my life for the better part of a year and then gone. Having disappeared as quickly as it fell into my lap, I spent awhile trying to reconcile the fact that maybe fate put him there for a reason, in that place, at that time, but that was all it was ever going to be. It was a reality I tried to accept, and for the most part, succeeded in doing so. But every now and then I would have a random dream, thought, intuition that there was more. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that if your gut is telling you something, it’s probably right. And thankfully, it was.

I’m still as much of a planner as ever, but when life hands you beautiful brown eyes and a smile belonging to someone who is smart, witty, caring, and a continuation of adjectives that will never do the real person justice, you embrace the welcome detour that takes you from Point A, to B, to C, rather than the original journey from Point A to C, and never look back. And when cette individual’s favourite cake is carrot cake, and it just so happens to be his birthday, you dedicate your carrot cake recipe to him. Because what else would you do?

J, whatever serendipitous stroke of luck, fate, or kismet brought you back into the centre of my universe, I thank it every day. You challenge me and make me want to be a better person day in and day out, for you, for me, and for us. You’re right, there’s no earthly way of knowing which direction we are going, but there are 360 degrees of possibility from whatever angle I look at it. I couldn’t have planned it better even if I tried. Happy birthday.

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes
 
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tbsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¾ cup shredded coconut
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 bar Green & Black's Organic Ginger Chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups grated carrots
Instructions
  1. Line 12 muffin cups with muffin liners and heat your oven to 325F.
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients, from the flour to the chocolate.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, whisking or stirring to blend.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated.
  5. Portion the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake at 325F for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  6. Cool and top with the frosting of your choice (or just eat as-is).

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