Band Making Workshop

Band Making Workshop - Candy Coated Culinista

Band Making Workshop – Candy Coated Culinista

Place: The Den Toronto
Address: 1960 Davenport Road, Toronto, Ontario, M6N 1C2, (647) 479-7336

About 7 years ago I designed my wedding necklace and matching bracelet. It was just simple with Swarovski crystal, but all I could mange was a design as I have no jewelry making skills. I asked a co-worker to make it for me with my design sketches prepared for her and it turned out lovely and sparkly. A little over a year later my mom passed away unexpectedly and I ask my dad if we could not bury my mom with her wedding rings as I would like them for myself. (When I learned the back story of the rings I loved them even more. My dad managed to purchase them from Birks a prestigious jeweler that is still around today in Canada and he even chose white gold as the metal back in the 70’s when plain gold was still very popular as white gold didn’t become popular until the 90’s. I even found the tried and true coloured Birks box that the rings came in when I was going through my mom’s stuff after she passed. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the rings, but I decided to repurpose them but not destroy them in any way. I took the rings and brought all the pieces and sketches I needed for my design and took them to the goldsmith / jeweler we have been going to for many years. He made my idea comes to life and now I have a beautiful Lariat necklace that reminds me of my mom and her rings actually fit my fingers perfectly also. We both have very small hands and fingers it seems)

Having a couple weeks of vacation off from work and me not being one to relax even when I should be I wanted to learn a craft or take a workshop. In the Junction (Weston-Pellam Park) area of Toronto I stumbled upon a band making workshop. The requirements for this class was just a keen interest in jewelry fabrication (which I have), good eye-sight (debatable as I wear glasses 100% of the time) and some hand-eye-foot co-ordination (I got that is spades). This workshop was geared towards the hobbyist and the beginner goldsmith so I signed up as I still have aspiration of being a jewelry maker one day.

Upon arrival we can choose the strip of sterling silver we want to make our ring out of and pay for upgrades with different designs and thickness if desired. It can be either hammered textured or non-texture or if you upgrade to a textured surface. The basics we learned in the workshop was: engraving, basic fold A to B fabrication, proper hand tool usage, basic terms associated with goldsmithing, measuring, sawing piece to desired ring size, using a torch to soften the metal and solder the seam shut, forming into ring shape, filing and cleanup of the ring descending grits of emery paper, basic surface texturing using a polished hammer (optional), polishing using the lathe, application of a matte or oxidized finish and a technique called pickling.

The instructors and everyone was so nice and friendly and we learned a little about how they got into the business. In three and a half hour I have a lovely piece of handmade jewelry. The next time I make something like this I will take into consideration how much pressure to apply when engraving the inside of the ring and also not to polish the engraved portion of the rings. This sounds very simple to not do, but when the polishing machine gets moving it is very easy over polish and loose the engraving. I only have the faintest impression of my initials showing now. Handcrafted jewellery (pendants earrings etc.) was also sold on site for some of the in house goldsmiths.

I had an amazing time learning something new and if I had known there was such a workshop and place available, I would have been in here with Mr. C. making and doing the prep work on a pair of custom rings for our wedding. With the many classes offered I will be visiting them again and learning another skill. I have been thing of taking a jewelry course or going back to school and delving into jewelry making for almost 5 years now, as I know my passion is in the arts as I am very handy. I tend to pick up these tasks and skills so very easily and my instructors always comment on my aptitude for it. My problem is I can’t settle on that one artsy thing I love. This was a great way to give me a small feel for what goes on and I welcomed the little peak. I also have to thank my dad for all those times he needed an assistant to help work on the car with him, and I got to hold a blow torch or use my tiny fingers to help him put the springs into the engine mount in. All these little things sure came in handy I gather.

Band Making Workshop - Candy Coated Culinista

Band Making Workshop – Candy Coated Culinista

Band Making Workshop - Candy Coated Culinista

Band Making Workshop – Candy Coated Culinista

Coconut Pear Banana Bread

Coconut Pear Banana Bread - Candy Coated Culinista

Coconut Pear Banana Bread – Candy Coated Culinista

Mr. C. and myself have been a little under the weather lately and that means we are not eating our fresh produce fast enough. The bananas were black at this point and that meant I needed to make some banana bread.

Yield/Serving: 8
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour & 20 minutes
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• Non-stick cooking spray
• 8 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
• ¾ cup golden brown sugar
• 2 eggs
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• ¾ cup self-rising flour
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 2/3 cup vanilla rice milk
• 4 medium very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
• 1 bosc pear, peeled and mashed
• 1 cup shredded coconut
• ½ tbsp coconut extract
• 1 yellow banana to decorate

Assembly/Method
1. Preheat oven to 350°F
2. Spray loaf pan with cooking spray.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer until smooth.
4. Add one egg and beat in until it is well combined, then add the second egg and continue to beat.
5. Sift in half the flour with baking soda and mix well.
6. Add the rice milk and the remaining flour.
7. Fold in the mashed bananas, pear and shredded coconut into the batter along with the coconut extract.
8. Pour into greased loaf pan.
9. Slice the yellow banana and place over bread dough in the loaf pan.
10. Bake for 80 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
11. Let cool for 20 minutes and then take out of pan.
12. Cut into thick slices and serve.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I received some resistance when I said I wasn’t sure what I was going to add to the banana bread, as I can never keep a recipe simple. All Mr. C. wanted was plain old banana bread without nuts; and I did keep my promise of no nuts. This was my best banana bread yet, and it reminded me of the Caribbean coconut sweet bread I’d have all the time as a child. Moist, dense with just enough sweetness and I could taste the coconut and banana.

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons - Candy Coated Culinista

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons – Candy Coated Culinista

Location: 709 The Queensway, Etobicoke , Ontario, 647-977-3030
Hours: Mon: Closed, Tues & Wed: 12 – 7pm, Thurs & Fri: 12-8pm Sat: 11-6pm, Sub: 11-4pm

I have seen and tried AG Macarons at the Delicious Food Show and the Christmas Pop up Shop near Yonge Dundas Square. I have enjoyed there macs oh let’s face it I wouldn’t be on my third testing if I didn’t right. When I was walking on the Queensway I saw a French Macaron Tower in the window and realized I had found the bricks & mortar storefront and I made a quick detour.

I went in and looked at some of their other offerings before I went in today for the main show. Meringues, Belgian and dark chocolate fused chocolate candy, Aprons, boxed gourmet teas and cards were also for sale here. If I needed a quick last minute hostess gift or an impromptu present this would be the perfect spot. Everything you need is right there. After a quick look around I went to the macs and the flavours we tested were Salted Caramel, Blackberry Cassis, Chocolate Peanut butter, Mint Chocolate, Birthday Cake, Red Velvet and Cinnamon Heart as the Flavour of the Month. A box of 6 will cost $13 and the only downside is that only types tender they take are cash or credit is. Thank goodness I had a twenty on me or I would have had to change my order as I’m not one to use a credit card for things so tiny like this, especially when it’s a treat. That aside the macs tasted the same as every time I have encountered them, which shows some consistency which I like to see.
I tasted the Mint chocolate – I wasn’t a fan of the chocolate inside as it was a bit too hard for my liking, but the birthday cake, salted caramel and the February Valentines Themed Cinnamon heart tasted as it should. The shell was hard when I tapped it but once I bit into it, it crumbled and the feet on the macs were perfect. Mr. C. of course enjoyed his three; but these aren’t in my top three I would say in Toronto – my top 4 for sure. French Macaron classes are also offered and if my next attempt turns out poorly I may just consider enrolling in the class.

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons - Candy Coated Culinista

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons – Candy Coated Culinista

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons - Candy Coated Culinista

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons – Candy Coated Culinista

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons - Candy Coated Culinista

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons – Candy Coated Culinista

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons - Candy Coated Culinista

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons – Candy Coated Culinista

M&M Cookie Bars

M&M Cookie Bars - Candy Coated Culinista

M&M Cookie Bars – Candy Coated Culinista

Sometimes I have leftover candy. This doesn’t usually happen at home but when I have leftovers I like to incorporate them into a recipe.

From Rustic Joyful Food Blog

Ingredients
• 1 cup soft butter
• 1 cup white sugar
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1 tsp. kosher salt
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 tsp. baking soda
• 2 – 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
• 2 cups M&M’s candies

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Line a 9” x 13” baking dish with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
3. Using a mixer with the whisk attachment cream butter, salt and eggs one at a time.
4. Now add the flour, baking soda and M&M’s until just combined.
5. Spread mixture onto pan and bake for 18-22 minutes. (Per instructions these will be a little underbaked, as that’s the way she like them.)

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
For me these were way too under baked so I baked them for a little longer. These would be perfect for the kids and this is such an easy recipe they could be little sous chef.

Half Batch Valentine’s Day Cupcakes

Half Batch Valentine’s Day Cupcakes- Candy Coated Culinista

Half Batch Valentine’s Day Cupcakes- Candy Coated Culinista

An easy, special no fuss treats for Valentine’s Day for your household. You won’t even have to pull out the stand or hand mixer. Now that’s what I call a Happy Valentine’s day for you also.

Yield/Serving: 6
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 10-14 min.
Difficulty level is: ¼ cup

Ingredients
Cupcakes
• ½ cup all purpose flour
• ¼ cup cocoa powder
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• ½ cup sugar
• ¼ cup canola oil
• 1 egg
• 3 tablespoons cold coffee*
• 2 tablespoons milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
Nutella Frosting
• 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
• ¼ cup Nutella
• ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
• ¼ tap vanilla extract
• 1 tsp milk
• Candy lip confections

Assembly
Cupcakes
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, sugar.
3. In a large sized bowl, whisk together canola oil, egg, coffee, milk and vanilla.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
5. Place six cupcake liners in cupcake pan and pour mixture into the liners.
6. Bake for 10-14 minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.
Nutella Frosting
7. In a medium-sized bowl, cream together the butter and nutella until smooth.
8. Add in the confectioners’ sugar until combined.
9. Stir in the vanilla and milk until the frosting consistency is achieved.
10. Pour into a piping bag and decorate once cupcakes have cooled.
11. Add valentines’ day themed confections and serve.

Tips
• Place the liners in the middle six spaces to allow for a more even bake.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts

I am so happy I finally have a half decent recipe that is half batch. Sometimes I really hate making a dozen cupcakes when all I really want is a half-dozen or less. I will never waste them, but sometimes the option for a small batch is appreciated; especially in a family of two. I found these cupcakes to be maybe a tad dry, but I baked them a little too long and have adjusted the recipe accordingly. I will try this again trying to find some more moisture rich ingredients for the recipe. The frosting came together very easily and in less than 30 minutes I had 6 cupcakes baked, decorated and ready for consumption. With them being that easy and not having to pull out the mixer I can make cupcakes whenever I want now and can’t really complain.

Nutella Hot Chocolate

Nutella Hot Chocolate - Candy Coated Culinista

Nutella Hot Chocolate – Candy Coated Culinista

I have been meaning to make this recipe for about a week now, but things just keep getting in the way. I learned last night as I was just about to prepare my drinkable dessert, that February 5th was apparently Nutella Day. Happy belated Nutella day everyone.

Yield/Serving: 2
Prep Time: 5 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
Hot Chocolate
• 3 cups 2% milk
• 1/2 cup nutella
• 2 tbsp chocolate syrup
Whipped Topping
• ½ cup heavy cream
• 2 tsp Kahlua, coffee liqueur
• Bittersweet Chocolate

Assembly
Hot Chocolate
1. In a small saucepan heat up the milk over medium heat.
2. Whisk in the nutella and chocolate syrup and combine until frothy.
Whipped Topping
3. Using an electric mixer, or by hand whip heavy cream along with Kahlua until firm.
4. Top with whipped cream and grate bitter sweet chocolate overtop.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This ended up being dessert as I found this terribly sweet. Mr. C. told me though that it wasn’t sweet at all. For those who find this sweet like me, you can add some boiling water into the mixture to lessen the sweetness. This tasted like the perfect combination of hot chocolate and Nutella. I really liked the addition of my Kahlua Whipped cream with bittersweet chocolate shavings. It really classed up this drink and felt like I bought it from a fancy coffee shop.

Doughnut Diaries: Glory Hole Doughnuts

Doughnuts Diaries: Glory Hole Doughnuts - Candy Coated Culinista

Doughnuts Diaries: Glory Hole Doughnuts – Candy Coated Culinista

Location: 1596 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario, 647-352-4848

I finally found myself in Parkdale and of course when I’m in a new part of the city I check to see what on my Quest list is in a 5 km radius and there it was Glory Hole Doughnuts. Glory Hole Doughnuts are made with natural ingredients, by hand every day. Most of the doughnuts here are yeast doughnuts which go through a time-consuming process of mixing, first proof, rolling, cutting, second proof, and finally garnishing. They also have cake doughnuts and the doughnut holes. The basic menu consists of S’mores, Chai Brulee, Lemon Cheesecake, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Almond Cream, Dark & Stormy, Toast & Butter, PB & J, Buche De Noel, London Fog and a type of Buttermilk doughnut. There was also a gingerbread seasonal doughnut on hand when I visited.

Today I choose the dark & stormy as it was supposed to taste like the drink, PB & J and Chai Brulee. These gourmet doughnuts rival any doughnuts I have had before. They are soft, flavourful and decorated with so much love, it looks like you are eating art. Mr. C. was a huge fan as was I and we both wished I had brought home more. They all tasted exactly as they should and were generously sized. At $3.00 roughly for each doughnut they are well worth visiting time and time again. The lady at the counter was so helpful and willing to explain all the doughnuts to me that I would recommend here to anyone as a must visit. If I lived in Parkdale this would be a daily stop for me personally.

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