Baileys, Bacon, Chocolate, Marshmallow, Caramel…..

Baileys, Bacon, Chocolate, Marshmallow, Caramel…..

Let me reject the notion of New Years Resolutions for a minute here and talk about Baileys, bacon, chocolate, marshmallow and caramel.

I know, you’re all about salads right now.  Too many shortbreads over the holidays; too much butter, too many turkeys.

But this is Baileys, bacon, chocolate, marshmallow and caramel.  All in the same bite.

I know that you, like me, won’t be able to resist making this.  If anything, it’s just about tasting this unusual mash-up of favourites blended together into an awesome dessert, just to say you did.  This is the kind of food you stand in front of the open fridge in your flannels digging into with your fingers.  Not that I would do that kind of thing…


Here’s what you need:

Main square –

16 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

4 cups mini marshmallows

1/4 cup Baileys Irish Cream liquor

1 cup caramel (ingredients below)

1 cup bacon crumble (ingredients below)

Caramel ingredients –

1 cup white sugar

4 tbsp. water

4 tbsp. butter

7 tbsp. heavy cream

Bacon crumble ingredients –

16 oz. bacon

1/4 cup sugar

4 tbsp water

1 egg white

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/8 tsp. cayenne

Here’s what you do:

Bacon Crumble

Cook bacon in a frying pan until nice and crispy and set aside to cool completely.  Once it’s cool, crumble the bacon into coarse chunks.

Preheat your oven to 300 F.

Place sugar and water in a pot and heat on the stove until the sugar is dissolved.  Toss the crumbled bacon in the syrup to coat, and then strain of the excess syrup.

In a bowl, whisk the egg white until fluffy and foamy.  Throw in the pepper and cayenne, whisk to combine and add in the bacon, tossing to coat the bacon in the egg white mixture.

Spread the bacon on a parchment-lined sheet to bake for 30 minutes.  As a note:  my bacon wasn’t fatty enough after cooking to keep it from sticking to the parchment, so I would recommend spreading the parchment with a thin coat of butter first.  After removing from the oven, let it cool, and crumble again.


Melt the butter in the microwave and whisk in the cream.  Set aside.  Add sugar and water into a saucepan over medium low heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Once sugar has dissolved increase heat to high. Now and then, using the handle, give the pot a swirl to keep the mixture moving (don’t stir it directly). The mixture will start to bubble and then darken to a medium amber colour after approximately 5-7 minutes.  At this point, add the butter and heavy cream to saucepan.  I’m going to stop you right there:  if you’ve never made caramel before, here’s some tips from the girl with the scalded fingertips and hard lump of toffee in a pot of cream.  Add the cream and butter veeeerrrrryyy slowly, whisking constantly while adding.  The mixture will bubble and steam like crazy when you add the cream, so go easy.  Take ‘er cool, as they say.  Once the mixture starts to cool and the cream begins to incorporate, it will just become nice and caramel-y:  no scary steam and bubbles.  Set aside to cool.

Main square

Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper.

Place chocolate in a double boiler (or make your own with a bowl set over a pot of water on the stove) and heat on low until the chocolate is melted.  Pour half of the chocolate in your prepared pan, smooth with a spoon or spatula and place in the freezer to harden.

Place the marshmallows in a saucepan and heat until they just start to melt and adhere together.  Remove from the heat and add the Baileys, stirring to combine fully.  Spread the marshmallow mixture over the hardened chocolate.
Pour caramel over the marshmallow layer, smooth with a spoon or spatula, and put in the freezer again to harden.  Pour the rest of the chocolate over the caramel, sprinkle the bacon over (pressing it into the chocolate a little so it stays put) and return the fully assembled square to the fridge to harden.
To serve, bring the square to almost room temperature and cut.  Enjoy!
Note:  if this square is left at room temperature, the caramel will get quite runny!
Recipe adapted from Endless Simmer blog.

…on bread and food writing

Looking back now, I realise that my adoration of the marriage between food and writing has deep roots.  I have always been a reader and a writer.  I ploughed my way through the Little House on the Prairie series at a young age; on the playground I could not be found playing dodgeball – I was huddled on the steps of the school writing my first novel in a binder full of loose leaf paper.

As a teen, I discovered the wonder of books with recipes included.  These novels were often written in the style of magic realism, where the author creates a world that is mostly like reality, but with a few touches of the surreal involved.  Gail Anderson Dargatz, Alice Hoffman, and perhaps most famously, Gabriel Garcia Marquez embody this style of writing.  Somehow, in magic realism, there is always something brewing in the kitchen.  Perhaps it’s a roast chicken known to mend broken hearts, or a loaf of bread that, when baked at midnight, will ensure your lover’s safe return.  It’s a romantic, fantastical way to think about the world.

Reading about what a character eats and then having the recipe for the food makes a novel come alive, blurring the lines between one’s own reality and that of the book.  It was upon reading this recipe for Neil’s Harbour bread in an old cookbook of my mother’s that I realised that the effect could work both ways:  bringing a little bit of context into the description of a recipe could make it jump from the page.  You could picture someone else stirring together ingredients, or, in the best recipes, imagine yourself doing the same.  In the original version of this recipe, the author suggests that the ten minutes that it takes to proof the yeast is just enough time to have a cup of tea.

It’s a simple suggestion, and yet indelible in my mind.  For me, it transforms this recipe from words on a page into a fantasy about an entire lifestyle where I bake fresh bread several times a week, sitting in my sunny kitchen with a cup of hot tea and perhaps a crossword, waiting until the next phase of baking.  My house always wafts a yeasty warmth, and there is fresh bread and tea served to everyone who stops by.

In current cookbooks and food blogs, many of the recipes include a little story about their origin.  I guess chefs and authors have caught on to the appeal of storytelling about food.  In honour of that, here’s the bread recipe that inspired it all.

Here’s what you need:

 2 packages/tablespoons traditional yeast

1 tsp + 1/2 cup white sugar

3 cups warm water

1 heaping tsp salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use olive oil)

9 cups bread flour

Here’s what you do:

In a bowl, dissolve one teaspoon of sugar in a cup of warm water.  Sprinkle two tablespoons of yeast over the water and let it sit (or, proof) for ten minutes (this is where you can make your cup of tea).


Once the yeast has proofed (it should look foamy after ten minutes), add in the rest of the sugar, water, salt and vegetable oil.  Now add about half the flour and stir until your arms ache.  Take a sip of your tea and stir it again.  This helps to develop the gluten in the flour, which makes for a nice fluffy, soft bread.


You’ll know the gluten is developed when the dough starts to look elastic-y, like this.

Add the rest of the flour and stir until the dough is formed enough to turn out onto a lightly floured counter for kneading.  Knead the dough for at least ten minutes, until the dough is one cohesive unit and starts  firming up enough to “resist” your kneading a little.  Place the dough in a lightly floured bowl, cover with a tea towel and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise.

Once the dough has doubled in volume (usually 1-1.5 hours, but this depends on the warmth/humidity etc. of the location in which it rose), punch it down, and divide into two loaves.  Place the loaves in lightly greased loaf pans and cover with the tea towel again, letting the bread rise for another hour, or until, well, until the loaves are about the size you want them to be.

IMG_4262 IMG_4275

Preheat your oven to 325F and after the second rising, bake bread for 25-30 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the centre of the loaf reads 180F.


Note: if you want to make whole wheat bread, be sure to use whole wheat bread flour.  Also, to ensure your loaf has good loft, you may consider adding 1 tablespoon of gluten flour (available at Bulk Barn) for each cup of whole wheat flour. 

Recipe adapted from a Canadian cookbook of my mother’s!


Welcome one and all to Purple House Cafe!

This is my purple house.

This is my purple house.

I always wanted to own a cafe.  Or at least, I really like the idea of owning a cafe.  Perhaps doing payroll while on the phone with the repairman about the broken espresso machine after slinging cappucinos for twelve hours is not exactly what I have in mind.  BUT!  Making good food and sharing it with others and providing a quiet space to sit with a hot caffeinated beverage is totally up my alley.

Enter this blog.

I hope you enjoy the recipes, stories and photos in this little place as much as I do.

This is where I do my thing.

This is where I do my thing.


This is what it REALLY looks like.

This is in my kitchen too.  It makes me feel peaceful.

This is in my kitchen too. It makes me feel peaceful.

My hubby gave me this for Christmas.  It's by Daina Scarola at Ocean Art studio is my FAVORITE artist!

My hubby gave me this for Christmas. It’s by Daina Scarola at Ocean Art studio.
She is my FAVORITE artist!