Cardamom Date Squares

Cardamom Date Squares

These are no culinary school squares, in fact, Cardamom Date Squares are far from the many cakes and pastries I made while attending culinary school.  Truth is, I don’t remember making many squares like this. The focus was all about pastries, cakes, and classics like Peach Melba and Crepes Suzette.  However, at the time as a young adult, I still had to live in the real world, and happily collected an array of home maker popular books such as Company’s Coming, Best of Bridge and Betty Crocker.   

It’s within these dated books that I find some of the best treats, including my favourite recipe for Date Squares.  Being who I am though, left me no alternative but to give the recipe a tweak in Compelled To Cook fashion, and Cardamom Date Squares emerged, buttery and golden from my kitchen. A splash of orange juice and a sprinkle of cardamom gives my favourite date square a hint of something different and delicious. I’m in no way a hoarder, but there are certain books I refuse to get rid of, no matter how old and out dated they are.  Because in my mind they’re a classic in their own right.  

Recipe for Cardamom Date Squares adapted from:  Company’s Coming Matrimonial Squares

Cardamom Date Squares
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
36 squares 40 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
36 squares 40 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Cardamom Date Squares
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
36 squares 40 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
36 squares 40 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: squares
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350℉ and lightly butter a 9"x9" baking pan. Line bottom and two sides with parchment, allowing a slight overhang.
  2. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat combine dates, granulated sugar, orange juice and water. Allow to come to a simmer and cook uncovered for 8-10 until soft and jammy. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, cardamom, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter using your fingers or pastry cutter until well combined and mixture holds together when lightly squeezed.
  4. Evenly press a generous half of oat mixture (about 3 cups) into the bottom of prepared pan. Spread dates evenly over oats. Add remaining oat mixture, pressing slightly. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Remove from pan by lifting the overhanging parchment and cut into desired squares.

Almond Peaches

Almond Peaches

These amazing Almond Peaches are adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Nigel Slater.  Tender peaches with a thick layer of almond crumble, the kind that has enough butter to make it packable.  It’s the best kind, baking up golden and crunchy. I’ve made the recipe with the opt ins that Deb suggests, such as the oatmeal and cinnamon. I enjoy the oatmeal in the mix, and it gives me the rationale I need to eat them for breakfast.  The almonds retain their crunch and provide a wonderful nutty taste that plain oatmeal just can’t deliver.  Almonds, butter and sugar make the most amazing topping, and what better way to enjoy it, than on fresh peaches. I’ve chosen to cook mine in a cast iron skillet on the grill, enjoying a warm dessert without heating up the house during the summer.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, I make the almond topping and bake it over sliced peaches like a fruit crumble and eat it with yogurt for breakfast.  Definitely on the dessert end of the scale for breakfast, but trust me, adding tart yogurt makes one heck of a yummy breakfast. I’ve made the crumble numerous times, using it on both sliced and halved peaches, but almost always, it’s made for myself (I’m selfish that way), for breakfast, with yogurt, vanilla or coconut Greek yogurt to be precise.  Believe me, it’s a breakfast worth getting up for, and you just might become as selfish as me.  But don’t get me wrong, this recipe is a simple, yet delicious dessert with ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!

Recipe for Almond Peaches adapted from Smitten Kitchen, Almond-Crisp Peaches

Almond Peaches
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 peach halves 20-25 minutes
Cook Time
40-50 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 peach halves 20-25 minutes
Cook Time
40-50 minutes
Almond Peaches
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 peach halves 20-25 minutes
Cook Time
40-50 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 peach halves 20-25 minutes
Cook Time
40-50 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: peach halves
Instructions
  1. Preheat grill or oven to 350℉. If using grill, turn on side burners only, cooking peaches in the centre over indirect heat.
  2. Using a food processor, blend almonds, sugar and spices until a course crumb is achieved. Add oatmeal and pulse several times to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture is evenly mixed and crumbly.
  3. Wash peaches, cut in half vertically and remove pit. Lay peach halves cut side up in a cast iron skillet, trimming bottom slightly if needed to make peaches sit flat. Scoop 3tbsp (lightly packed) crumb mixture onto each peach half. Press down mixture until flat and covering entire peach half. Place in centre of grill using indirect heat or alternatively place in oven and cook for 40-50 minutes until peaches are tender and crumble is golden and crisp.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly for warm peaches. Serve with ice cream, sweetened whipped cream or yogurt.

Chocolate Cherry Loaf

Chocolate Cherry Loaf

As much as it pains me to turn my oven on in the summer, giving off unnecessary heat when the goal is to keep the house cool, I just can’t stop baking for months.  I ask myself who could?  I guess as a food blogger the thought astonishes me and as I write this I’m shaking my head and thinking, “nope, it can’t be done”.  Lucky for both you and me that I feel this way, because out of the heat rises the most amazing Chocolate Cherry Loaf.

I’m a big fan of loaves!  Not because they’re moist, tender, buttery, filled with nuts or chocolate, it’s because they’re simple, versatile and generally quite easy to prepare.  I also like the ability to cut the loaf into thick slices, wrap individually and grab and go right from the freezer.  My husband Mark calls them “loafcicles” and sometimes can’t wait long enough to let it thaw completely before munching away.  You could say he’s got a bit of a sweet tooth.  That makes this Chocolate Cherry Loaf right up his alley.  It’s a little indulgent with cream cheese, chunky cherry sauce and chocolate chips, and a small slice is all you need to battle that sweet craving.  You’ll find Chocolate Cherry Loaf a yummy change from banana or lemon and worth turning your oven on for.  Enjoy!

Recipe source for Chocolate Cherry Loaf:  Inspired by Roti n’ Rice Raspberry Swirl Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Chocolate Cherry Loaf
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 loaf 30 minutes
Cook Time
55-65 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 loaf 30 minutes
Cook Time
55-65 minutes
Chocolate Cherry Loaf
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 loaf 30 minutes
Cook Time
55-65 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 loaf 30 minutes
Cook Time
55-65 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: loaf
Instructions
  1. Combine cherries and sugar in a small sauce pan and heat to a simmer over medium heat. Stir water and cornstarch together in a small bowl and add to cherries, stirring constantly until combine and mixture returns to a full simmer. Remove from heat and allow to cool to slightly warm or room temperature. Continue with recipe as cherries cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350℉ and prepare a 9"x5"x3"loaf pan by spraying with non stick spray or lightly greasing with butter and lining with parchment that overhangs the long edges.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt until combined.
  4. Beat together butter, cream cheese and sugar until smooth, scraping the bowl once or twice. Add eggs one at a time, scraping bowl and beating after each until incorporated. Add vanilla and mix to combine. Pour in half the milk and half the flour and beat until just combined. Repeat with remaining milk and flour. Scrape the bowl and add chocolate chips and mix to combine.
  5. Pour half the batter into prepared pan and spread smooth. Top with half the cherry sauce, remaining batter and cherry sauce again on the top. Using a table knife, swirl batter in a figure eight pattern two or three times to create nice swirls of cherry sauce. No need to over swirl.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in pan prior to lifting out and slicing.

Ginger Pear Sorbet

Ginger Pear Sorbet

Ginger Pear Sorbet is cool, refreshing and the most perfect dessert for those hot summer days. To make it even better, there’s no ice cream maker required and only a few ingredients. 

For those who don’t know, I’m a huge fan of Bon Appétit magazine.  Not only for the great recipes, but because it’s a little bit of quiet time that happens when I sit and thumb through a copy.  You might find it odd that I keep every copy when all the recipes can be found on the Epicurious website and/or App. It’s because I definitely prefer to sit quietly with the magazine and a glass of wine.  As a blogger there’s more than enough time already spent on the computer.

The website however, provides reviews on the recipes which I find helpful when making alterations and adaptions.  For this lovely Pear Sorbet many of the reviewers made note that it was on the sweet side and a little flat in flavour even though some found the ginger to be too much.   As luck would have it, I was only able to find pears in light syrup instead of heavy, which in turn helped out with the sweetness problem.  The advice on flavouring was also heeded and I opted for lime juice instead of lemon and added fresh mint.

I definitely found the reviews helpful and rather liked reading the views from people who have actually made the dish. I was very pleased with the results from my modifications and find that it’s quite lovely with the changes. Easy to prepare, which is nice for those hot summer days when nobody wants to be working in a hot kitchen. It’s not too sweet and has a hint of ginger and mint for a refreshing finish to your meal. Enjoy!

Recipe for Ginger Pear Sorbet adapted from: Epicurious Ginger Pear Sorbet

Ginger Pear Sorbet
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 people 20-25 minutes
Passive Time
7+ hours
Servings Prep Time
4 people 20-25 minutes
Passive Time
7+ hours
Ginger Pear Sorbet
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 people 20-25 minutes
Passive Time
7+ hours
Servings Prep Time
4 people 20-25 minutes
Passive Time
7+ hours
Instructions
  1. Line a shallow dish or pie plate with plastic wrap. Strain the juice off the pears and to the juice add sugar, ginger, lime zest and lime juice. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Spread pear pieces in a single layer in pie plate. Pour juice over pears and freeze for at least 6 hours.
  2. Flip over pie plate onto a cutting board to remove pears and remove plastic wrap. Cut into large chunks and place in a food processor. Puree until smooth. Add chopped mint and pulse until combined. Spread pureed pears into a clean container and freeze for at least an hour. Scoop into dishes and garnish with additional mint leaves if desired. Serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

Puree can be made and frozen covered for up to two days in advance.

Raspberry Swirl Cake

Raspberry Swirl Cake

Where does the time go?  It seems like yesterday that I ventured into the world of food blogging, yet April 24, 2018 marks two years of being “Compelled To Cook”.  To celebrate, I’ve whipped up a super easy and rather delicious Raspberry Swirl Cake.  It’s topped with mascarpone whipped cream and so lovely served with fresh raspberries and a drizzle of the extra raspberry sauce.  

Only after two years do I feel like I’m just starting to get the hang of this hobby of food blogging.   By that I’m referring to the basics of food photography, writing and posting. I’ve yet to delve into video, monetizing, pod casts etc.  There’s still so much to learn and do, but I couldn’t be more excited about it. It’s been a great journey so far and I’m excited for what the next couple of years will bring when I can hone my current skills and learn new ones.  In the meantime, I hope you join me in enjoying this beautiful Raspberry Swirl Cake in celebration of my blog’s 2nd birthday.  Happy Birthday to me!!

Recipe source for Raspberry Swirl Cake:  Inspired from Live Love and Sugar, Berry Mascarpone Layer Cake

Raspberry Swirl Cake
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
12-16 people 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
50-60 minutes 3 hours
Servings Prep Time
12-16 people 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
50-60 minutes 3 hours
Raspberry Swirl Cake
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
12-16 people 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
50-60 minutes 3 hours
Servings Prep Time
12-16 people 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
50-60 minutes 3 hours
Ingredients
Raspberry Sauce
Cake
Mascarpone Whipped Cream
Servings: people
Instructions
Raspberry Sauce
  1. Combine raspberries and sugar in a small sauce pan and heat on medium until berries have cooked down and mixture is bubbling, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Whisk together water and cornstarch. Add to berries, stirring until combined and mixture returns to a boil. Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve, pressing on solids to extract as much sauce as possible. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Yields approximately 3/4 cup.
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350℉ and position rack in centre of oven. Prepare a 9" x 2" or 9" x 3" cake pan by spraying with non stick spray and lining bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Beat sugar and oil together using a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment or an electric hand mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, whisking after each. Beat until light, about 1 minute. Add milk, vanilla and flour mixture. Whisk on medium/high until smooth, scraping bowl once, about 1 minute. With mixer running on low, slowly add water. Increase speed and mix until water is incorporated, scraping the bowl once.
  3. Pour half the batter into prepared pan and drizzle with 3 tbsp of raspberry sauce. Pour on remaining batter and repeat with another 3 tbsp of raspberry sauce. Using a small knife pushed to the bottom of the pan, make several figure 8's in the batter to swirl the raspberry sauce. Do not swirl or stir in excess as it will muddle the batter. You will have some raspberry sauce remaining on the top of the cake.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove to cooling rack and allow to cool completely prior to removing from pan. When cool, invert cake and remove parchment paper, turn back upright and top with mascarpone whipped cream. Serve with extra raspberry sauce and fresh raspberries.
Mascarpone Whipped Cream
  1. Using a stand mixer fitted with a whip or electric hand held mixer, whip cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Add mascarpone and vanilla and continue to whip on high until combined and stiff peaks form.
Recipe Notes

Be sure to use a 9" x 2" or 9" x 3" pan.

Lavender White Chocolate Meringues

Lavender White Chocolate Meringues

Crunchy, yet melt in your mouth, Lavender White Chocolate Meringues are a sweet treat to be shared. Conveniently just the right size to pop in your mouth like no one will notice, but with a hint of lavender and creamy white chocolate, you won’t be the only one standing near the cookie plate. These pretty meringues with their gorgeous violet colour and hint of lavender tease us with the thought of spring and Easter and they’re fun for everyone.

Meringue is so versatile, can take on many flavours and most any colour. Once whipped up to a stiff peak they hold up well and are easily piped into desired shapes. Quick and easy to whip up, it’s the baking and decorating that take the time in this recipe. But one can still do many things while they’re baking so time essentially is not lost here.

The goal for meringue is to have a smooth outer shell with no browning and dry interior with a nice crunch. To achieve this, a low and slow baking period is required. I suggest an oven no hotter than 200℉ or the meringue has the tendency to crack. Some recipes will have you place in a hot oven, turn the oven off and allow to sit overnight. I find this is not necessary but they do need enough time to bake to achieve a crunchy lightness. It’s perfectly alright to open the oven and give one a taste to see how they’re coming along when you’re not sure. They won’t fall or flatten just because you opened the door. If need be, bake a little longer till they’re light and hollow sounding, then have fun decorating as desired.

Lavender White Chocolate Meringues inspired by: Bethcakes Lavender Meringues

Lavender White Chocolate Meringues
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6-7 dozen 60 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3 hours 24 hours
Servings Prep Time
6-7 dozen 60 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3 hours 24 hours
Lavender White Chocolate Meringues
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6-7 dozen 60 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3 hours 24 hours
Servings Prep Time
6-7 dozen 60 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3 hours 24 hours
Ingredients
Servings: dozen
Instructions
  1. Combine sugar and lavender in a small bowl. Rub lavender buds and sugar together with your fingers to help infuse the lavender flavour into the sugar. Cover tightly and allow to sit at room temperature, preferably overnight. Sift sugar to remove lavender before using.
  2. Preheat oven to 200℉. Arrange 2 oven racks with one in the middle and the second above it. Whip egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy and starting to thicken. Gradually add sugar with mixer running. Once all sugar has been added, continue to beat until stiff peak stage and meringue is glossy, about 8-10 minutes. Add desired food colouring and flavouring and whip just to combine.
  3. Line 2 large baking trays with parchment. Fill a large piping bag fitted with a 446P (10 cm round) tip with meringue and pipe into 1"-1 1/2" kisses, spacing 1" apart on baking tray. To pipe kisses, hold tip vertically 1/2"- 3/4" above tray and squeeze until filling has created a 1"-1 1/2" circle. Stop squeezing and lift up, creating the tail.
  4. Once all meringue has been piped, place trays in oven and bake for 2 1/2-3 hours, checking meringue for doneness at the 2 1/2 hour mark. Once meringues are dry and light with a hollow sound and feeling, turn off oven and allow meringues to remain in oven until completely cooled.
  5. Melt white chocolate in a double boiler or microwave on 30 second intervals until smooth. Dip or decorate meringues in chocolate then decorate with sprinkles if desired.
Recipe Notes

Alternatively, you can use lavender flavouring instead of the infused sugar which will eliminate that step.

Meringues can be piped into any desired shape using other tips if desired.

I found it difficult to dip the bottom of the meringues into the chocolate without breaking off their tips. I therefore spread an arc of white chocolate onto the side of the meringue and dipped in sprinkles.