chocolate

Lactation cookies: not just for moms

Lactation cookies | Hello Victoria

Yup, you read that correctly. This blog post is all about my recipe for lactation cookies! And no, I am not pregnant or expecting a child anytime soon. I first made these over a year ago for a friend who had just had a baby and was constantly hungry. I can’t recall how I stumbled across the concept of lactation cookies, but Richard is very glad I did. (Jump to Recipe)

For those of you who don’t know what lactation cookies are, it’s pretty simple. No, they do not cause you to lactate. 🤣 They’re just a cookie packed full of really good ingredients that can help sustain you for a long time. They’re called lactation cookies because breastfeeding moms are burning a lot of calories, so it can be handy having something nice like this on hand – kinda like protein balls. Richard and I would often grab one on the way out the house in the morning when we didn’t have time for breakfast. The oats and protein in them help sustain you for a while.

The original recipe that I based my version on is by How Sweet Eats. I converted it to grams and then tweaked the ingredients a bit. Her original recipe called for ‘brewer’s yeast’, which was the only thing I couldn’t find. My local health food store doesn’t stock it, beyond some pricy capsules. It’s not an essential ingredient, but adds some nutritional value (for those of us actually lactating). If you can find it, feel free to add! Oh, and please don’t confuse this with nutritional yeast. They are very different and the latter will make your cookies taste like cheese. 😂

One of my favourite things about this recipe is that it can be tweaked so much. I tend to call this my ‘kitchen sink’ cookie recipe, since I see it as an excuse to use up leftover ingredients. (Hence, everything but the kitchen sink).

Don’t have almond butter? Use peanut! Don’t have enough oats? Substitute some shredded coconut instead! No chia seeds? Throw in some sesame! I’m pretty sure I’ve never made the exact same batch twice. These cookies are pretty darn forgiving, so go nuts. And I mean that literally, add nuts!

Lactation cookies | Hello Victoria

The only thing I definitely use each time (besides some portion of oats) is cranberries. There’s just something about the tangy flavour that helps cut through the sweetness of the other ingredients, which I think is wonderful. I’ve tried other things, but always come back to cranberries.

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No-Churn Honeycomb Ice Cream with Chocolate Ribbons

No-churn honeycomb ice cream | Hello Victoria

One of my very favorite things in the world is ice cream. Well, frozen desserts to be honest – if it’s anything frozen and dessert like, I’m in. I remember the first time I went to Tickleberry’s in Okanagan Falls, BC and saw how many flavours they had (72!)… it was love at first sight. If you’re ever in the area, and like frozen things, you have to go! I remember we didn’t understand that the little pictures near the prices indicated how many scoops each size actually had. I mean, when you order a single, you imagine it’s one scoop, right? Wrong! It’s three! I actually ordered the “large”, thinking it was 4 scoops (6), and was so confused when they kept asking me to choose more flavours! It came in a little bucket!

So for me, one of the saddest things about having to leave my Kitchenaid mixer in Canada, was the lack of the ice cream attachment. It’s kind of hard to make my own ice cream without one 😉

No-churn honeycomb ice cream with chocolate ribbons | Hello Victoria

Enter the no-churn ice cream method! Now, I experimented with this a little last summer, with my No-churn Piña Colada ice cream and the No-churn Strawberries + Cream. But the big problem I have, is that almost all no-churn recipes out there use only double cream and condensed milk. And that, my friends, tastes as rich and heavy as it sounds! It’s waaaay too rich with only double cream, but it’s the only way to whip the mix prior to freezing. You dilute the fat content too much with milk, etc. and not only will it not whip up thick before freezing, but it may even separate in the freezer – ending up with a layer of soft cream on top, and hard frozen milk below.

No-churn honeycomb ice cream | Hello Victoria

So I tried experimenting with some old recipes (that I had made before I got an ice cream maker) – but ended up with the problems described above. That’s when I saw a little video on Pinterest, of a recipe from Co-Op. It was a Balsamic Strawberries + Cream no-churn recipe, that used an ingredient I hadn’t considered before – yogurt! I mean, I use it to make popsicles, but never thought to try and use it in my ice cream mix. So, I made a small batch, with no strawberry or anything in it, just to see what the base flavour tasted like. And it was nice! I mean, you could definitely taste the yogurt, but it wasn’t as rich and heavy, while still being soft. I figured that if you added a strong enough flavour to it, the slight tangy yogurt taste would fade to the background, or you might not even notice it at all!

Which brings me around to this recipe! (Finally, right?)

No-churn honeycomb ice cream | Hello Victoria

Richard’s favorite ice cream in the world is Pooh-Bear (now called “Poor Bear” because of some Disney legal woes) from Maud’s Ice Cream in Northern Ireland. It’s literally one of his first stops after getting off the plane in Belfast. It’s a vanilla ice cream with chunks of honeycomb, which partially melt in, creating little ribbons of caramel and crunchy bits. And ever since I started playing around with ice cream recipes – I knew I’d have to make it for him. (more…)

Nanaimo Bars (A Canadian Traybake)

Nanaimo Bars recipe | Hello Victoria

I’m starting to realize that I can’t do everything by hand. And I don’t mean that in the sense of handmade… but that sometimes, you just need machine power when baking. Case in point – these Nanaimo Bars.

When I was studying pastry in Vancouver, our course had us doing almost everything by hand. Whether that was whipping cream, or making meringue, there were few things that we did with our Kitchenaid mixers. One of the few things we did with a machine was an italian meringue – and I resigned myself to not making them while living in this tiny flat. (I also resigned myself to not making marshmallows while here, as it’s pretty much the same process.)

As I couldn’t bring my Kitchenaid mixer from Canada, and had no room to put one here even if I did, I didn’t bother to buy a hand mixer. Maybe it’s because once you go Kitchenaid you never go back? Or perhaps my hand mixing at school had made me cocky? Bah ha ha, you puny machines – look at the strength of my arms!!! Mwah ah ah…

Nanaimo Bars recipe | Hello Victoria

But seriously – if I could whip cream by hand, and make meringues (just not italian), why did I need a hand mixer? Well folks, creaming butter, that’s why! It is easy to do when you’re just softening it for a cookie dough, but trying to incorporate air and make it fluffy?! My upper body strength has its limits. So the next time I need to make a fluffy layer, I may just review my aversion to hand mixers.

For anyone not already aware, Nanaimo bars are something from the West Coast of Canada (named after the city of Nanaimo). They are so ubiquitous that as a child I thought they were as common as chocolate chip cookies. It’s a crust of digestive/coconut/nut/chocolate, covered with a buttery custard layer, and topped with more chocolate. Normally the crust contains graham crackers, but over here I substituted with digestive biscuits.

Nanaimo Bars recipe | Hello Victoria

I personally was never the biggest eater of Nanaimo bars, as I found them too sweet/rich as a child, but homesickness has crept in. Either than or my new Canadian coworker, lamenting the lack of these delectable bars, persuaded me to break out the ol’ wooden spoon.

Maybe you will too? Or do you have one of those fancy hand mixers?

Nanaimo Bars (A Canadian Traybake)

Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Servings 8 x 8" Square Tin

Ingredients
  

  • Base Layer:
  • 0.5 cup unsalted butter
  • 0.25 cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1.25 cups graham cracker/digestive biscuit crumbs
  • 0.5 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1 cup coconut
  • Second Layer:
  • 0.5 C unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp + 2 tsp whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp custard powder
  • 2 C icing sugar
  • Third Layer:
  • 114 g dark chocolate
  • 30 g unsalted butter

Instructions
 

  • Melt first three ingredients over a bain marie*.
  • Add the egg, and stir until it has cooked and thickened.
  • Remove from the heat, and stir in the crumbs, and nuts.
  • Press firmly and evenly into the pan. Chill in the fridge while making the second layer.
  • For the custard layer, cream together the butter, custard powder, and icing sugar, until light and fluffy.
  • Add whipping cream, and whip until light. Spread over first layer, and chill until firm.
  • For the chocolate topping, melt the butter and chocolate together over a bain marie, being careful not to overheat.
  • Remove bowl from the heat, and allow to cool. Once cool, but still pourable, spread over the custard layer, and chill to set.

Notes

*Bain marie is a fancy way of saying hot water bath. It is used to describe cooking items in the oven surrounded by water (to ensure even cooking), or cooking items in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. In our case, it means the latter.

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