Sugar and Spice Drops

Unlike last year, when I went on a Christmas baking frenzy, I’m only doing a handful of things this year. I’ve already made a batch of crack (a.k.a sugar coated pecans), and I’m planning on making at least one batch of those cranberry-apricot chocolate chews that I keep talking about.

I am making one new kind of cookie this year though. After making those chews last year, I got really interested in the book that it came from, King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking. It got great reviews so I took a risk and bought a copy online, which is rather unusual for me because  I generally prefer to flip through a hard copy of a cookbook before making a purchase.

I love gingerbread cookies, but sometimes you want something that’s a little more simple to make and is lighter in flavour. And so, when I saw this Sugar and Spice Drops recipe I knew I had to try it out. They have a light gingerbread-style flavour – just enough to give you some spice but not enough to overwhelm. They are more crispy and the flavour is lighter than the ginger cookies I made last year.

Sugar and Spice Drops
Sugar and Spice Drops
Adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains by King Arthur Flour
Makes approximately 4 1/2 dozen cookies.

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup fancy molasses
1 large egg
2 cups traditional whole wheat flour

Cream together the butter, sugar, baking soda, salt and spices in a bowl until smooth. Beat in the molasses, and then the egg, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the flour and beat until all the ingredients are incorporated. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes. (The original recipe said it could also be refrigerated overnight, but when I did that for a second batch of cookies I found that the dough dried out a bit and was harder to work with, so I personally wouldn’t recommend leaving it for that long.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line them with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and use a teaspoon to scoop out a piece. Lightly roll it in your hands to make a small ball, and drop it onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake the cookies until they’ve flattened out and started to brown slightly, about 10-12 minutes depending on your oven. Be careful of overcooking them as you could potentially burn the bottom of the cookies without realizing it. Remove them from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Don’t worry if the cookies seem a bit soft or uncooked inside – they’ll finish cooking off as they cool down.

Once cool, the cookies will be crispy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside.

Pharos Pizza & Spaghetti

Pharos Pizza & Spaghetti, an Edmonton institution, is closing soon. Opened in 1970, Pharos Pizza has fed generations of university students and Edmontonians. Their pizza is the kind that is loaded with cheese and fresh, simple ingredients. And they featured whole wheat crust long before it was popular for healthy eating reasons.

The decor is old, but in good shape – no ripped seats or broken tables to be found. It’s so old that it’s retro now. And they have a jukebox where you can play a range of newer and older hits.

Pharos Pizza & Spaghetti counter

Pharos Pizza & Spaghetti counter

Their Popeye pizza is a popular choice but for nostalgia’s sake I wanted to eat the kind that I had during my very first time eating at the restaurant. I ordered a Pharos special piza on a whole wheat crust, filled with lots and lots of cheese, olives, shrimp, green peppers and ham. Pharos serves the kind of pizza that has strings of cheese dripping off each piece when you lift it from the rest of the pie.

Pharos pizza special

Pharos pizza special

My favourite part of eating pizza from this place, other than the whole wheat crust, is the tomato sauce. It’s slightly spicy and has lots of herbs in the flavour, and it perfectly compliments the crust and all the cheese. Did I mention the huge amount of cheese? There’s a lot. I have to say it more than once because there was so much of it.

You have until June 21st to enjoy their pizza, lasanga, cheese toast and Dixie cup ice cream. Hurry before it’s gone for good. (And if you’re a fan of classical music, jazz or world music, you may want to stop by their neighbour The Gramaphone as well. They’re moving over by Planet Organic and Greenwood’s Bookshoppe around the same time, and you can get 20% and 30% off of CDs and DVDs before they pack everything up.)

Pharos Pizza & Spaghetti
8708-109 Street
Edmonton, Alberta

*UPDATE, January 26, 2011*

Pharos has reopened over on Stony Plain Road. More details can be found at

Pharos Pizza & Spaghetti House on Urbanspoon

Cranberry Apple Bran Muffins

I felt like baking over the long weekend, so I whipped up some muffins to take for this week’s breakfast. They’re a great way to get some bran into your diet if you’re looking for more fibre.

Cranberry apple bran muffins

Cranberry apple bran muffins

Cranberry apple bran muffins
Adapted from a Kelloggs All-Bran recipe.
Makes 12 muffins.

1 cup/250 ml All-Bran Buds or Original cereal
1 cup/250 ml light plain soy milk or skim milk
1 egg
1/4 cup/50 ml vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup/300 ml whole wheat or all-purpose flour
2/3 cup/150 ml granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp/12 ml baking powder
1/4 tsp/1 ml salt
5 ml/1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp/pinch of ground nutmeg
3/4 cup/175 ml chopped fresh or frozen cranberries, or dried cranberries
1/2 cup/125 ml peeled and diced apples

Optional topping:
1 tbsp/15 ml granulated sugar
1/4 tsp/1 ml ground cinnamon

Mix the cereal and milk together and let it sit for a few minutes until the cereal has absorbed as much liquid as possible. Beat the egg and add it and the oil to the mixture and stir.

In another bowl, take the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix throughly. Add this to the cereal mixture and stir until combined. Add your cranberries and diced apples. (If you use fresh or frozen cranberries, your muffins will be moist. If you use dry cranberries the muffins won’t be dry, but you may want to eat them with a glass of milk to wash everything down.)

Preheat your oven to 400 °F (200 °C). Mix the sugar and cinnamon for the topping and temporarily set aside.

Grease or line your muffin pans and fill with the batter. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar topping if desired.

Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes or until firm.

Cranberry-Apricot Chocolate Chews

This is the very last cookie in my never-ending Christmas cookie adventure. Hooray!

I’ve saved the best one for last. After few successes and a whole bunch of failures, I decided to make this recipe. And oh boy do they taste fantastic! Designed to use whole wheat flour and chock full of dried fruits, nuts, and chocolate, this cookie disappeared quickly. I only managed to grab a small handful of them for one of the cookie tins. If I wasn’t on this strict diet I would make these ones again in a heartbeat.

Cranberry-Apricot Chocolate Chews

Cranberry-Apricot Chocolate Chews

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