Flourless Dark Chocolate Cookie Bites {Gluten Free}

Claudia's Cookbook - Healthier Dark Chocolate Flourless Cookie Bites cover

You are looking at a hockey champion. That’s right, my hockey team won our divisional championship last weekend! Considering we didn’t win a single game until January (season started in October), being division champs is HUGE feat for us. I couldn’t be prouder of my team, which is made up of the best group of ladies ever. I honestly don’t think we could have grown as a team as much as we did without the positivity and sportsmanship everyone exuded each game. Even the ones where we lost 10-0. Yes, that happened more than once!

Goal Diggers: ASHL Hockey Champs

 (I’m second from the left in the front row!)

I am on a month hiatus until our spring/summer hockey league starts. Not only will I miss the ladies I play with, I will also miss the exercise each Sunday. I have started a really awesome workout regime thanks to my teammate Danelle, who is also a personal trainer. For the first time in a few years, I’m actually enjoying going to the gym and working out with her. I have also found that when I get into a solid workout routine, my diet naturally gets better. It’s probably because when I’m laying on the floor in utter exhaustion, the last thing I want is for all that hard work to go to waste by eating terrible.  But don’t get me wrong – I still crave my favourites, including my beloved chocolate. That’s where these cookie bites come in. They are a healthier version of a dark chocolate cookie, but without all the guilt. They are not only flourless, but they are also made with egg whites and bittersweet/dark chocolate (which has less sugar). Not only do they totally fulfill my chocolate cravings with their delicious flavour, but they also have an amazing merengue-like texture with a fudge centre. Not bad for 80 calories a cookie bite!

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Chocolate Porter Fudge Cookies

Claudia's Cookbook - Chocolate Porter Fudge Cookies cover

I am a huge craft beer fan. My love affair started about 6 years ago. Before that, I was a Gin girl. Give me a bottle of Bombay Sapphire for my birthday and we would be best friends forever. That is until that one fateful party bus night for my friends bachelorette party, where we consumed a little too much good cheer and can no longer handle the taste let alone the smell of the stuff. We may also not be allowed on that party bus again either. But I digress…(sorry Mom!)

There are many definitions of what constitutes “craft beer”.  To put it simply, craft beer is created by a brewery that is local, traditional and most importantly – independent. The industry is growing, with new craft breweries opening every day around the world. When I was in Arizona a couple weeks ago, I was astonished by the amount of craft beer in the aisles. At one point I almost fell to my knees from the glorious site – true story.  In Canada, we have several amazing breweries. However our liquor laws are ancient here in Manitoba, and the amount of craft beer brought into our stores is few and far between. I was so happy with the selection in Arizona that I had to pay an additional $50 to the airline I was flying on because my suitcase was too heavy from the bottles I was bringing back. Totally worth it. In hindsight, I should have brought back more since I had to pay.

You would think that my love of cooking/baking and craft beer would come together more often on this blog. The sad thing is, I don’t cook or bake with beer a lot. That is up until recently when I discovered one of my all-time favourite food blogs – The Beeroness. Jackie Dodd is the creative genius behind this blog and all things beer and food related. I have a serious girl crush on her. Jackie recently came out with the most amazing cookbook that now sits on my shelf. These cookies are from her cookbook. I have to say, they are probably one of the best cookies I have ever tasted. If you love a dense, fudgy chocolate cookie, you will fall in love with these.  Not to mention, they are also very simple to make. I used a chocolate porter beer from a Canadian craft brewery located in Victoria, British Columbia – Phillips Brewery. The beer is delicious on its own, and I thought the sweet chocolate hints in the beer would pair wonderfully with this cookie recipe. I was correct. Don’t worry – if you aren’t a beer fan, you can’t taste the beer in it at all. At least my friend couldn’t, and she hates beer and loved these cookies. I know, I’m friends with people who hate beer. Good thing she cooks for me every now and then or else our friendship would be in serious jeopardy.

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Honey Drizzled Blueberry Bannock…and my evening at with Manitoba Canola Growers

Claudia's Cookbook - Honey Drizzled Baked Blueberry Bannock cover

Last weekend, I attended a wonderful culinary event in Brandon, Manitoba hosted by Manitoba Canola Growers. Brandon is about a 2 hour drive west of Winnipeg. Although it isn’t very far from where I live, I hadn’t been to the city in over 15 years. I was very excited to get reacquainted with Brandon and learn more about a wonderful local agricultural association.

This particular event that I was invited to was located at the Grey Owl Restaurant, which is organized by Manitoba Institute of Culinary Arts program. The Grey Owl Restaurant is actually only open for a four-week period where students from Assiniboine Community College’s Culinary Arts program create a delicious fine dining experience and menu to the public. After learning that reservations to the Grey Owl sell out in minutes, I felt extremely lucky and honoured to be a part of this event. I also felt a sense of nostalgia as well. When I went back to school about 10 years ago to take Hospitality and Tourism Management, I too experienced working in a fine dining restaurant with the Culinary Arts students at Red River College. It was such a fun experience, and seeing the students in Brandon hosting us brought back a lot of fabulous memories of my own.

I also must mention that the food was to die for! These students are extremely talented. Here are a few pictures that I captured from the awesome event:

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The gorgeous building where the Grey Owl restaurant resides.

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Before we headed into the dining room, we experienced the Manitoba Canola Growers Culinary Theatre. It is a cutting edge facility that combines media production and culinary classes to for college students. I would kill for this kitchen!

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We then took a tour of the actual kitchen facility.

This student is working with sugar to create gorgeous accents for our dessert!

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We were also able to nibble on some delicious homemade bread and infused oils before we made our way into the dining area.

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This was my appetizer – Charcuterie and Cheese Board. There was a delicious assortment of cured meats, fine cheeses, preserves, chutney and pickled vegetables.

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I also have to say that I was at the “fun table”. I dined with 5 fascinating and fun individuals. One of which ordered Pan Seared Scallops and Tiger Prawns, which of course they came to our table to flambé.

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I ordered the Manitoba Beef Monter au Beurre, which was an 8 oz. flame broiled classic center cut tenderloin, topped with shiraz thyme butter and served with beets and asparagus.

It was absolutely delicious! I had to remind myself that students, clearly younger than me, were making all this amazing food! I was so impressed.

image-4  And of course I had to have dessert. This was the best cheesecake I have ever had. It was a Turtle Cheesecake with pecans, gooey caramel and sinful chocolate. I was so full that I was only able to eat half and took the rest home with me.

Also, remember the sugar that the student was working on in the earlier picture? That piece on top of my cheesecake is his finished product. Just gorgeous.

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The Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake with Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

Claudia's Cookbook - Chocolate Cupcakes with Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. I loved going to school as a kid knowing it was Valentine’s Day. We would tape our brown paper bags to our desks, walk around the room and hand out little Valentine’s cards to everyone in the class. It was such a fun ‘holiday’ growing up. Not to mention, the abundance of cinnamon hearts and heart shaped foil wrapped chocolates!

As an adult, Valentine’s Day has become just another day for the most part. This year, I was asked to incorporate “love” into a blog post and express what it means to me. After some careful thought and consideration, I figured the best way to speak to this is to create a top 10 list of the things I love in my life. Here is what I came up with (in no particular order):

  1. My beautiful friends and family. That is clearly a given if you read my blog on a regular basis.
  2. My 3 crazy cats that I share my home with. They drive me insane, but they’re amazing.
  3. Sleep. If you know me well, you know I will sleep until Noon every day if given the chance.
  4. Travelling anywhere and everywhere. I am truly obsessed.
  5. Baking on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. It is more relaxing than yoga to me.
  6. The smell of hockey rinks. Playing hockey is the most natural feeling I have ever experienced, even after a 15 year hiatus. Amateur hockey rinks have this distinctive smell of frozen ice and hockey equipment. It’s not a particularly amazing smell, but it reminds me of my childhood and I just cannot get enough of it.
  7. Marathons of Dateline on TV. I clearly was a detective in a previous life.
  8. The first 3 Star Wars movies. I’ve seen them all literally over 100 times and I still watch them to this day.
  9. Sharks. Yes, you read that right. I’m fascinated with them and watched Shark Week on Discovery Channel before it become ‘cool’. My dream is to cage dive with Great Whites. I will do this – mark my words.
  10. Chocolate. I’m addicted. I can’t get enough.

Because Valentine’s Day is so synonomous with chocolate, I decided to feature The Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake recipe on the blog. It is seriously delicious. It is rich with chocolate flavour and very moist. You also cannot go wrong with Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Frosting! It has the perfect amount of sweetness yet doesn’t have that artificial strawberry flavour that most icings have.

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Cadbury Mini Egg Fudge

Claudia's Cookbook - Cadbury Mini Egg Fudge cover

Remember the time I decided to go on a Smoothie Diet? Yeah. Let’s pretend that never happened. I blame drinking smoothies 3 times a day for the lack of posts over the past few weeks. It actually wasn’t all bad. I lost a few pounds and learned that I could drink spinach and not gag. It actually tasted pretty darn good! But boy, did I miss chocolate (and pretty much any food that wasn’t in liquid form). At one point, I was even craving a salad. A SALAD! The world works in mysterious ways, my friends.

Well, I survived and I decided to make my triumphant return to you by featuring the most decadent, rich, chocolaty dessert on the face of the earth. That’s right, screw you smoothies! This recipe is an adaptation from a recipe my future Mother-in-Law gave me over Christmas. It was given to her a few years ago by her friend who sadly is no longer with us. My future Mother-in-Law was nice enough to give us some fudge over the holidays and I quickly fell in love (with the fudge…well, and I guess with her too!). She was kind enough to give me the recipe and I had to adapt it to include one of my favourite candy’s ever – Cadbury Mini Eggs! The original recipe called for chopped nuts, but I figured Mini Eggs were crunchy too – so why the heck not? I cannot begin to describe how unbelievable this fudge is. It’s seriously the best fudge I’ve ever tasted. Like, EVER. And that’s not the 2 week smoothie diet talking. It’s soft, sweet and oh, so rich. A little square goes a long way. Topped with the fact that there are delicious morsels of Mini Eggs inside, well my taste buds simply can’t handle it! I actually went into a mini chocolate coma yesterday. Truth.

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Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

Claudia's Cookbook - Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies cover

It’s amazing how fast my mind switches from preparing for Christmas to preparing for New Years Eve. I can’t believe 2014 is just around the corner and Christmas is over. It all happened so fast. I mean, I’m still eating leftovers!

We are staying in and hosting a friend for New Years Eve this year. I have already started my mad search on Pinterest for some fun and festive appetizers and treats to ring in 2014. If you haven’t already noticed – I kinda love red velvet. I also really love sandwich cookies. I mean, you really cannot go wrong with slathering cream cheese icing in between two deliciously moist cookies. These are super simple to make and took me no time at all. I thought the sprinkles were also a very cute festive touch as well. I highly recommend you give these a try for your New Years Eve!

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Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls

Claudia's Cookbook - Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls 26

Bring on Christmas! I am ready….I am so ready. Purchase presents for loved ones – check. Spend the last two weeks at the gym to prepare for the carbo-loading onslaught of delicious food – check. Complete all baking to share with others – double check. Purchase the best Christmas sweater ever – triple check with a gold star!

I’ve made so many cookies, bars, and cake balls over the last couple weeks that I wanted to do something different. I’ve seen so many amazing recipes lately of cinnamon buns. Therefore, I figured I’d join the party and bake some too. These are absolutely perfect in every way. They are so easy and require minimal time to make. They also have a delicious hint of gingerbread, which I love this time of year.

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Cousin Linda’s Poppycock

Claudia's Cookbook - Poppycock cover

Soooo….it’s -43 celsius here in Winnipeg. How are you?! Yeah, it’s cold. I know I talk about the weather a lot, but how can’t you with these temperatures? And…it’s not even officially winter yet. To chase away the winter blues, I decided to book a flight to Arizona again this year to visit Claudia and my Dad in February. I figured with this snow and cold, I will be needing warmth and sunshine by then. Here’s hoping I don’t get the flu this time around!

I also cannot believe that Christmas is 2 weeks away. I am really enjoying all the holiday recipes that are floating around out there. A couple weeks ago when I asked what everyone was baking for the holidays on our Facebook Page, I had a request (I love requests!) from a loyal follower (Hi Bon!) for a recipe for Poppycock. I had never made it before, but soon learned that my Cousin Linda had one that she was famous for. She was kind enough to share the recipe with me and I tried it immediately. I can see why it’s so popular in her house – her granddaughter actually sneaks some into her room at night to munch on. This recipe is delicious!

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Butter Tarts

Claudia's Cookbook - Butter Tarts cover

I watched my first Christmas movie of the season today. How the Grinch Stole Christmas was on TV this afternoon. Not the original animated one, but the Jim Carrey/Ron Howard reboot. I’ve actually never seen the original. Or A Christmas Story. I may have seen It’s a Wonderful Life once…but I can’t be 100% sure. Please don’t judge me. As a kid, I grew up watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer during summer vacation – that’s how much I loved that movie. There was really nothing else in my holiday movie repertoire. Well, I guess National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but only because my Dad loved that movie. What are your favourite holiday movies? Feel free to tell me in the comments section!

One thing I am absolutely sure of – I love Claudia’s Butter Tarts at Christmas time! They are seriously delicious. She always makes the dough from scratch, and it’s always flaky and buttery. The filling is sweet and syrupy. I didn’t realize how easy they were to make until Claudia came over a couple weeks ago to show me. I am so glad she did.

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Soft Gingersnap Cookies

Gingersnap Cookies 13

I don’t know if it’s the snow on the ground, the cold temperatures or Target having the cutest holiday items in the entire world in their stores right now, but I am super excited for Christmas this year. I’ve been doing my best not to put on the Christmas tunes, put up my Christmas tree, and watch my favourite Christmas movies like Elf and Home Alone. After all, it’s still only November. I’ve always been a firm traditionalist and start these activities no earlier than December 1. I may have to break my rules this year – starting with featuring my first holiday baking item – these delicious Gingersnap Cookies!

Claudia came over this week to teach me how to make more of her holiday baking family favourites. These Gingersnap Cookies were high on her list to share with me. She actually adapted the recipe from her coworker (Linda), as they were a total hit at their workplace not too long ago. When I told Claudia that I wasn’t a huge Gingersnap cookie fan, she reassured me that these cookies would be worthy of my daily caloric intake. I have to admit Claudia was right (but really, when isn’t she?). These, my friends, are the perfect combination of all my Gingersnap Cookie wishes – chewy, soft, and not too heavy on the ginger or molasses flavour. I highly recommend these delicious beauties for your holiday baking line up.

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