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Stirling Butter and Shortbread

Thanks to Mary Luz Mejia (@MaryLuzOnFood) and Sizzling Communications, I was sent 3 250g blocks of 84% butterfat European style Stirling butter to use and then blog about.  Having missed a previous event where the all the types of their butter were showcased, I was excited to try it out.  From living in France when I was younger, I miss that rich, creamy butter that is so good.

I thought about making croissants, but as it is the holiday season, I went with shortbread instead; dried cherry, dark chocolate chip shortbread.   Then I gave it to my colleagues to taste test and give me feedback.  I did not tell them which shortbread had which butter until after they tasted both.


I also used my new Cuisinart 13 cup food processor, thinking that it would help the process.  I am not sure it did though.  Both doughs were crumbly and did not form into a ball to flatten out easily.  I (personally) want to refine the recipe as well.  I had about 5 different ones to choose from in my recipe collection, all vastly different.  I feel that there was something missing, though I was told by everyone that it was tasty.

So the comparison: Gay Lea unsalted butter vs. Stirling 84% butterfat.


From the Gay Lea website

From the Stirling Website

From the Stirling Website

Gay Lea: It seemed to mix better with the dry ingredients in the food processor. It was not as crumbly when rolled out but it did not easily form into a ball either.  I baked this version in round pans so I could cut them into triangles.  I found that the bottom of the pans were very greasy after, even through the parchment paper, which was not the case with the Stirling butter.

From my colleagues:

  • Dense
  • Lacking a ‘sandy’ quality of shortbread
  • Texture not as crumbly
  • Liked it best
  • Yummy

Stirling: It stayed in chunks within the processor, and there were even chunks of butter after baking. It was very crumbly when trying to roll out to be baked in a rectangular pan, which then could be cut into squares.  The parchment was noticeably less greasy after baking.

From my colleagues:

  • Light and crumbly
  • More of a ‘sandy’ texture
  • Tastes better, creamy
  • Tasted more like shortbread
  • More like traditional shortbread, crumbly and buttery
  • Very rich
  • Could taste the butter


From the opinions of my colleagues, I would conclude that the Stirling butter was the better butter in this recipe.  Ironically, when asked which they thought was the higher fat butter cookie, they choose the Gay Lea one.

I found that the Gay Lea slice was indeed dense and not that buttery in flavour.  The Stirling was less dense and had a very different flavour; not exactly buttery, almost nutty. It did taste less like a shortbread but had the better texture of the two and was much richer overall.  So my summary would be that for a better texture, I would go with Stirling and will use it again for any of my baking

I do have 1 stick left over and will try it out with a warm baguette and some raspberry jam over the holidays.

Thanks again to Mary Luz, Sizzling Communications and Stirling Creamery for the butter.  All thoughts and opinions are my own (and my colleagues).



Easter: then and now

When I lived in France, Easter meant a trip.  Off to Ile Ouessant we went!  The trip wasn’t so great. I got sick on the ferry ride and it rained the whole weekend.  It also became a scary trip for me personally.  You see, cars are not allowed on the island, so we rode bicycles everywhere.  That wasn’t the scary part: the rain and lack of streetlights were.  My bicycle brakes almost failed as I was riding downhill, and I fell off rather than hit a wall.  I survived, but unbeknownst to me, my host family thought it would be funny to hijack my postcard to my parents and draw out me actually hitting a wall!  A panicked phone call the next week ensued to explain that I was in fact fine.   On the upside, I played with spring lambs in the fields any chance I could 🙂

What I do (fondly) remember about France and Easter is the great chocolate I was given.  Coloured, dark, milk, all in great seashell shapes and creamy.  Oh, and Belgian! Mmmmm.  I hoarded that chocolate for a month, doling out small amounts every day as a treat, it was so good.  That was about the only similarity between Easter there and here, because here there are egg hunts, hard-boiled coloured eggs, more chocolate (but not as good) and family dinners.

To celebrate this year, I decided to be baker-ly.  Hot cross buns (2 flavours) and some cute M&M cupcakes were to be made.  And for Passover, meringues with lemon curd filling.

Hot Cross Buns

I cut this recipe out from the now defunct President’s Choice Food magazine they published years ago, hoping one day to have a kitchen big enough to make these in.  Ironically, I now do, but ended up making them at my parents’.  WineGuyTo wanted chocolate chips (like Cobs Bakery), so the dough got divided up; one traditional, one chocolate chip.

Recipe (its long!)


1/3 (75ml) cup plus 1 tsp (5ml) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (125 ml) warm water

1 tbsp (15ml) dry active yeast

2 1/2 cups (625ml) all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp (2ml) ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp (2ml) mixed ground spices (such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice) ***I cheated here and just did cloves, adding a little more cinnamon and nutmeg overall

1/4 tsp (1ml) freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp (1ml) ground ginger

1/3 cup (75ml) milk

2 tbsp (25ml) melted butter

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup (125 ml) currants ** I used raisins

3 tbsp (45ml) candied mixed peel

2 tbsp (25ml) each milk, water and granulated sugar

In a small bowl, dissolve 1 tsp (5ml) granulated sugar in warm water. Sprinkle in yeast.  Let stand 10 minutes until frothy.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour, 1/3 cup (75ml) sugar and all the spices.  Make a well in the middle.  Add yeast, milk, melted butter and egg.  Combine well.  If dough is sticky, add a little more flour **If dividing, do it as it is JUST combining.  Stir in currants and mixed peel (or chocolate chips|).  On a lightly floured surface, knead 10 minutes or until dough is smooth, shiny and slightly elastic.  Place dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

***Side-note, my mother tells me that as a child they would leave the bowl on the radiator.  We put ours in the oven at 125° F.

Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead 1 minute.  Roll into a long cylinder, then cut into 12 equal pieces.  Shape each piece into a small bun: Bring together the tips of your thumb and forefinger in the shape of an O.  Using your other hand, push a piece of the dough up through the hole to make a smooth ball.  Pinch together the bottom of the ball to seal.  Place pinched side down on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Repeat with all dough pieces.  For soft-sided buns place 1/2 inch (1cm) apart.  For crusty buns, place 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) apart.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425° F( 220° C).  Just before baking, remove plastic and use a sharp knife to slash a cross into each bun, if desired.  Wait until the crosses open slightly, then place pan in oven and bake buns 15-20 minutes or until browned.  Remove the buns to a wire cooling rack.

Prepare Glaze: in a small saucepan over medium heat, heat 2 tbsp (25ml) each milk, water and sugar.  Stir until sugar has dissolved and glaze is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.  Brush glaze over still warm buns.

Chocolate on left, traditional on right

Unfortunately I don’t think the yeast was quite fresh enough (was borrowed) and they didn’t rise to the consistency I wanted.  Will still enjoy them though!

M&M cupcakes

I totally went quick on this.  Saw the recipe from my M&M newsletter (yes I get one, those who know me well know I LOVE M&Ms) and decided to make for the family dinner.  Box of french vanilla cake mix, some green dye in vanilla pre-made icing, and voilà!

so cute!

Meringues with Lemon Curd

I hate eggs.  An allergy as a child meant that I really never acquired a taste, so no scrambled, hard-boiled, over easy eggs for this girl.  But meringue; meringue I love.  So the Jewish connection: those who know Passover, know that there isn’t anything leavened allowed.  So out goes a traditional lemon meringue pie and in comes meringue with lemon curd!

Everyone has their own meringue recipe.  I found that piping out into a cup shape worked, or using a wet finger to make a well is just as good.  I used a lemon curd recipe from Alton Brown, and I don’t put it in until almost ready to serve, or the meringue gets too soft.  I did use the modification in the comments by MRubenzahl and it turned out great!

At the mushy stage, but so delish!

Frosting For the Cause: Chocolate Chip and Double Chip Vanilla Iced Cookies

I heard about Frosting for the Cause, like many people, through Twitter.  I had decided that I wanted to do more baking and cooking in the new year, and had seen a post with the hashtag #frostingforthecause.  A little searching later, and I was signed up!  I have enjoyed reading all the posts and learning some great recipes in the first three months and look forward to more! Thank you so much to Paula for organising the website and coming up with the idea.


The finished product, all 200!



I was a fortunate person that Cancer did not really strike my family until just recently.   My aunt has now had both a partial and full mastectomy, the second after being in remission.  She is doing well and we are hoping that it goes back into remission.  Around the same time as her first bout, my grandmother discovered she had bowel cancer.  She died during an operation to remove the cancer, within months of being diagnosed.  It was such a quick tragedy, it hit all of us hard.  I asked to be in March because of her birthday.  My grandmother baked annually at Christmas with my cousin, and gave more to charity than anyone else I know.  She would have loved to help with this event.

During the day, I am a high school teacher, so when I first signed up I thought that maybe my students could get involved.  Community service is part of the Ontario curriculum and I hoped that they would understand it can involve more than just volunteering.  Two of my Family Studies teachers on board who loved the idea (because unfortunately, Cancer touches us all) and the students happily made cookies.  They got a little creative with their decorating, but used pink for Breast Cancer and grey for Brain Cancer (my uncle died of latter the same year as my grandmother).  We donated 200 cookies to a local hospice, Evergreen Hospice , who were very happy to have them for their drop-in meetings.  The students were more than happy to do something to help others and gave up their cookies with no complaints!

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Thanks to Shalan Bishop for the recipes)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup margarine/butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 3/4  cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 375°
  • Combine butter, white sugar and brown sugar.  Beat until the mixture is creamy.
  • Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix well.
  • In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside for a minute.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips (and nuts).
  • Drop the cookie mixture by the tablespoonful on an ungreased cookie sheets.
  • Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown.

Yield:  3 dozen 2 1/4″ cookies.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup margarine/butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 375°.  Grease cookie sheets.
  • Cream together the margarine, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth.
  • Add in the eggs and vanilla, mix well.
  • In a medium sized bowl, sift the flour and cocoa powder.  Add the baking soda and salt to this mixture.  Set aside.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips (and nuts).
  • Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and place them onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing.

Yield:  3 dozen cookies.

Vanilla Icing


3 cups confectioners sugar

1/3 cup of butter, softened
1 ½  teaspoons vanilla

2 tablespoons milk

**add a few drops of food coloring for other flavours**


  • In a medium bowl, beat butter and confectioners sugar until smooth and blended.
  • Stir in vanilla and milk and beat until you reach the right consistency.
  • Stir in a few drops of food coloring until you reach your desired color.

Many thanks to Shalan Bishop, Head of Family Studies and Social Sciences, and Amanda Todd-Mierzynski and their classes for making the cookies and being supportive of this event.

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