It’s hard to avoid hearing about what’s going on with our neighbours to the south. I went to my local coffee shop this morning, and almost every single person was talking about it. I was in line at the grocery store and my cashier struck up a conversation with me about it. She told me how Robert de Niro compared the situation to Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver, and how he ominously concluded with, “God help us.”
Lunar New Year in our family is just another excuse to get together to eat copious amounts of food. Typically we go to my mom’s home, where she cooks up lavish Korean dishes and the entire family eats like gluttons for both lunch and dinner.
Taking this into consideration I skipped on groceries today and figured I’d scrounge something up from the cupboards for breakfast. Maybe cold cereal?
Who doesn’t love a good deep fried donut hole? Especially if it’s filled with ripe sweet pear and the ever-so-pricey, silky Italian cream cheese (that we North Americans covet)mascarpone, then deep fried to a golden ball and tossed with some cinnamon and sugar. Pure bliss.
- 300 g/ 2 1/2 cups AP flour
- 90g/ 3/4 cup hulled and roasted white sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 170 g/ 3/4 cup butter softened
- 2 eggs
- 110 g/ 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
- 100 g/ 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup 100% maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or extract
- 100g/ 1 cup Cocoa powder unsweetened
- 1 cup 100% maple syrup
- 90g/ 3/4 cup hulled and roasted white sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
- Sift flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl and set aside
- Take food processor/Kitchen Aid/Ninja and process all the sesame seeds until it is nicely ground.
- Take about half of the ground sesame seeds, add to the flour mixture, put aside the remaining sesame seeds to be used later for the chocolate filling
- In stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and white sugar for about a minute on low speed until they're well blended
- Add the maple syrup in slowly until just combined.
- Beat in egg, one at a time. Scrape bottom and sides
- Add the vanilla and beat for a few seconds
- Add flour and mix on low speed, scraping sides and bottom until flour has been fully incorporated - about half a minute or so
- Dough consistency should be moist and ever so slightly tacky...not sticky or gummy
- Take dough and make into a ball and double wrap with plastic wrap
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight
- Place rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350F
- Take cookie dough out of fridge and let it come to room temperature about 10 minutes
- Roll out about 1/4 inch thick on lightly floured surface and cut out with desired cookie cookies
- Remember you need pairs to make the bottom and tops for cookie sandwiches!!
- Bake for 10 minutes until the shine on the cookies has disappeared.
- Allow to cool about 5 minutes on tray, then transfer to cookie rack
- Repeat for the remaining cookies
- Take the remaining ground sesame seeds and add the maple syrup and blend with your food processing gadget (I used my NINJA) until it looks like tahini paste about 1 minute (depends on the gadget you're using)
- Add the vanilla bean paste or extract and blend
- Then add the cocoa powder and blend for another half minute
- Consistency should be like very thick paste
- After the cookies have cooled either pipe or spread the paste on one half of the cookie sandwich
- Put the other cookie on top of paste and give them a soft squeeze
- I used 1", 2" and 3" heart shaped cookie cutters which made approximately 24 cookie sandwiches.
- Store in air tight container for up to one week.
It’s not often that I come up with my own recipe. Typically I adapt someone else’s. Why reinvent the wheel if it works, right? Wrong. Cooking/baking is truly an art. A perishable, consumable art form that has evolved so much since humans began to eat (so since forever). In every culture and society, food is one of the most tangible elements that defines us. Without the innate need to push the envelope or evolve our culinary creativity, humans wouldn’t have invented sous-vide cooking or Cronuts, (the latter, which I still haven’t tried). But enough of sliding down this sociological slope.
With in-laws living in Waterloo, Belgium we usually spend a couple weeks in the summer to visit so my husband Pierre can get his fix of Belgian cuisine whilst the in-laws enjoy their grandkids. Pierre has now been living in Toronto for 12 years and gets home-sick every now and then. Well, its mainly the food he misses. As do I. Once there, he easily eats the tomate aux crevettes grises (small, grey, flavour-packed shrimps prepared in a hollowed tomato), or Américain préparé (Belgian version of steak tartare) daily for lunch. Then of course there’s Belgian street food – frites with so many different sauces (Samurai and Américaine sauce are our faves), Mitraillette (a baguette with meat or sausage, topped with, grated carrots, lettuce and French fries smothered with Andalouse sauce) and my daughter’s favourite, Belgian waffles.
For those of you who haven’t been to Belgium, its one of those countries where the majority of the restaurants and street foods are consistently excellent. There are way more hits than misses. After personally experiencing the food and culture, its easy to understand why a Belgian expat would become home sick. I often find myself craving certain restaurants or dishes from Belgium. Not to mention even basic groceries such as their high fat butter and fresh eggs with sunset hued yolks.
I recall when my husband Pierre immigrated here (Canada) in 2005 from Europe, he was fascinated by the Canadian obsession with Tim Hortons. He would without fail, cry out, “Quelle horreur!” every time we’d pass one. He couldn’t understand why Canadians would line up 24/7 for a large water-downed coffee and deep-fried, saccharin-drenched, yeast-leavened rings known as the donut.
Coming from Belgium he is definitely a food snob. Delicious and perfect Croissants and eclairs can be found on every street corner in Brussels. Here in Toronto, there are only a small handful of authentic Patiserrie/boulanger. Sure I get it. Tim Hortons looks and tastes nothing like Herman van Dender or Pierre Herme, but Tim Hortons is not bad. It’s consistent and for me it’s “comfort pastries” and an iconic Canadian experience.
In fact my love for “pastries” started probably in kindergarten when my mother bought me my first chocolate walnut cruller at Mister Donut (now Dunkin Donuts). I still remember that donut to this day. I was standing in line twirling around in my brown floral dress feeling like Liesel from The Sound of Music, when my mom passed me what I thought looked like feces. Of course being 4 years old I immediately said no. That’s when my dad firmly told me to at least try. The donut was bliss. The glaze, the crunch, and the soft chocolate dough whirled around in my mouth like a beautiful symphony.