Baking: Cherry-Chocolate Pie

I’m finally back to baking!! Who’s missed it over here since a few years back when it was a normal segment that occurred? I know that I have but the last few years, my mindset hasn’t quite been there yet. However, we’ll skip the frilly things and get right down to it.

I’ve been craving a cherry pie forever and can’t seem to find one so my solution, pick up some tart shells and cherry pie filling (because cherries aren’t in season now) and then add a little something to give it a fun little twist.

Its nothing sophisticated or difficult to this one but I needed to get back to baking and this was something that I’ve wanted to do quickly so here we are as a quick solution. We’ll get fancier baked goods to come!

Cherry-Chocolate Pie

Cherry Chocolate Pie

Inspired by this recipe: https://food52.com/recipes/33749-heartbreak-pie-aka-black-bottom-cherry-pie

Ingredients

  • Pre-made Tart Shells (I used Tenderbake Pie Shells not deep dish)
  • 1 can Cherry Pie Filling (I used E.D. Smith)
  • Dark Chocolate Chips (Selection brand)

What I did:

  1. Thaw the tart shells for however long the package says, in my case, it was 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven at 425C.
  3. Layer one of the pie shells with the dark chocolate chips.
  4. Carefully pour or scoop the cherry pie filling as a layer on top of the dark chocolate chips.
  5. Put the second tart shell over the top of the first to cover it up. Use a fork to carefully seal up the sides. Cut some slits on top to release steam while in the oven.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes.

The final product looked like that above and a slice looked like this:

Cherry-Chocolate Pie

I did a few modifications to the recipe above as well as some things I’d have done differently.

  • The major one is that I didn’t make a ganache and just pour in the chocolate chips to melt on their own which I thought gave it a little more texture because a part of it melted and the other part had some bites of chocolate chips.
  • You can make your own cherry pie filling or your own tart shells. I would have made the cherry pie filling if cherries were in season but they aren’t unfortunately.
  • For this particular recipe, if I were to do it again, I’d do probably 400C at 45 minutes instead, mostly because this time, it was a little over-browned on the side. Not yet burnt but on its way, so lower temp would probably be better.
  • You can use any type of chocolate chip that you desire. For lactose-free concerns, this was my choice.

Final thoughts:

Now my usual baking endeavours, for sure. I haven’t baked in a long time so we’re starting off with some easy and simple recipe to just get back into the mood. This pie is actually quite good for quick solutions as the chocolate balances the very tart cherry pie filling without haven’t to add in more sugar than what is already there from this brand at least.  It turned out actually rather good and layered as I had hope with the chocolate forming a layer at the bottom and a tart cherry pie filling on the top.

What types of pies do you like to make (or to eat)?

TV Binge: Sugar Rush Christmas (Season 1, 2019)

You can also check out:

Sugar Rush (Season 1, 2018)
Sugar Rush (Season 2, 2019)

Sugar Rush Christmas (Season 1, 2019)

sugar rush christmas

Host: Hunter March

Judge: Adriano Zumbo, Candace Nelson

Sugar Rush is finding its own slice of fun on Netflix and this year, they released their Christmas edition, Sugar Rush Christmas which uses the same system and concept as pretty much the changes they made in Season 2 (you can see what I mean from the review linked above) and implementing it to a Christmas scenario whether its Christmas spirit, Wintery themes like polar bears and North Pole or Santa Claus, etc. The themes inspire some of these bakers to make some great desserts.

Sugar Rush Christmas

Sugar Rush is the more professional baking side of baking competition and it has its own viewers because there is a really nice element of strategy and how some of these teams play for more time in their final round. The time element is what makes this fun and definitely inspires to open up a lot of creative baking themes as well. The variety leaves room to see where different bakers will do their own versions of desserts and this season’s competitors are rather fun, bringing in variety with a few bringing something new like gluten-free teams, etc.

Sugar Rush Christmas

At the same time, the charm of the show is in its host and guest judges. Hunter March adds a lot to these shows which are normally more serious in nature with bringing in some bad jokes or just simply bringing up the energy. Perhaps its scripted or its not, because unlike Nailed It, they never do seem to have that as a joke so I can only imagine that he does his part improvised and it all lands very naturally and adds a lot of fun. The guests this time also adds some fun as well, even if most of them are fairly unknown to myself because I either don’t watch their Netflix shows or whatever else. They aren’t all comedians or actors but still almost all offer good criticism.

Sugar Rush Christmas is for the audience that is there for more serious baking and creativity with a slight hint of fun on a time-based challenge. Most of the time, the time element really comes into play as something that can get a little tense about in the final challenge and not so much for all the other two challenges in the beginning for Cupcakes and Confections respectively, except for maybe one time in this season. For myself, its fun because I enjoy baking and learning new ideas for baked goods and designs especially for the holidays. With 6 episodes in this season, its very easy to binge if you enjoy this sort of entertainment, if not, its still fun to watch one episode at a time. It does have a lot of Christmas spirit and adds some nice holiday fun.

That’s it for this TV binge! I am curious on what other people feel about Sugar Rush?
Have you seen it? Is it something you like to watch?

TV Binge: Sugar Rush (Season 2, 2019)

Check out the 1st Season of Sugar Rush review HERE.

Sugar Rush (Season 2, 2019)

sugar rush

Host: Hunter March
Judges: Candace Nelson & Adriano Zumbo

A baking competition with 4 teams, 3 rounds, 2 cakes and 1 winner of $10,000. – IMDB

Season 2 of Sugar Rush is here. With a quick 50 mins episode length and 6 episodes for the whole season, Sugar Rush is the perfect type of TV binge. It can be done in a day if you don’t have any other things planned or to do . Just like the previous season and the very on point synopsis on IMDB for the show, this is a professional baking competition which starts with 4 teams who compete in elimination format in 3 rounds to become the final winner of $10,000. Who makes the decision is between the two judges and the guest judge who may or may not be baking saavy but they are eating saavy (meaning they know how to eat and that’s really what is important here since baked goods isn’t only for expert tasting but for normal people too). Some examples of guests this season are Nick and Vanessa Lachey as well as Jacques Torres.

For those who haven’t seen Season 1, here’s a quick little rundown of how the competition is structured. There are 3 rounds to the competition. The first 2 rounds is cupcakes and confections respectively to be completed within 3 hours. Whatever time you save from those three hours adds on to the final cake round which also has 3 hours. The topics for each round is announced as you complete the previous round after the judges taste. The only trick here is that elimination of one team happens after each round as well. What changes in season 2 is two elements. The first is more relevant to the competition structure and that is all round 3 keep going. When Round 2 finishes, the final round topic is given as well as 3 additional hours. In that sense, the clock never stops making it embrace that time element much better and gives less down time where the other team doesn’t stand around waiting for their time to start like in Season 1. The second element is that the judges now all stay in the room while the competition is going on and does commentating which is great compared to the first season where they would leave and come back at the tail end. These little things keeps the process of the competition more engaging.

Other than one or two odd guest choices, Sugar Rush really does a good job in keeping up with the hype of the first season and polishing the structure and concept behind it which works better this time around. It had 2 less episodes from the previous season so its a quick one to binge through. The themes here also are pretty fun from starting with current popular baking trends to more thematic ones like science and love, they choose guests that match their theme while also having focus on both technique and visual appeal. Hopefully, Sugar Rush gets a Season 3 because I’d be down for it.

 

My Weekly Adventures: Fantasia Festival Begins!!!

Welcome to the next Adventures post! The last two weeks has been hectic to say the least. Oh boy, its hard to imagine we’re only a few days into the big festival here so its going to be quite a while before things get back to normal. Right now is still the transition phase or something in my mind. Either way, there’s some little updates and some changes in projects to talk about here.

Canada Day Tarts

I debated on putting up the recipe by memory but there’s no way that I can replicate this since I did it by trial and error and just my instincts with one taste in the middle to adjust. The ingredients I used here were the basic except I did add a drizzle of honey on the top before popping it in the oven on each tart. I think it helped balance the tartness a little. Overall success 🙂

Montreal Comiccon 2019

Montreal Comiccon 2019

Montreal Comiccon has come and gone. It was a hectic weekend and one that felt like I finally found my rhythm and everything was done efficiently. Things became more flexible to work with and it just felt more prepared in general. You can check out all the posts below:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Gaming Recap
Shopping Haul

Fantasia Film Festival 2019

After a bit of a media pass delay, since it wasn’t ready on Day 1, I ended up skipping my first movie and started the festival on Day 2. However, things did have a nice turn in the end so the movies so far watched are the following:

Little Monsters
Vivarium
Extreme Job
The Wonderland
Paradise Hills
1BR (Press screening…review up after world premiere)

I’ve never had the chance to make it to any press screenings in the past few years covering the festival so it was super awesome to do it, even if it was an early start to a Sunday morning but then I also got to check out the screening room and catch up on movies I didn’t get to see in their showings. Its definitely convenient especially since it opens up options to add some more movies to the already too long list.

Game Warp – Changes

Lots of changes these days. After some That Moment In change, Game Warp is only running on WordPress now. We have also decided to go to an audio format on Anchor. You can find us HERE.

We uploaded the last episode to go up for E3 Conference Recap. More episodes to come as we work out our schedule. Youtube will now be more of a supporting platform when gameplay is something we want to do or whatnot. While it won’t be as plentiful especially due to the festival season, I do still want to do some videos when I have time.

Gardening Update

After this picture, I’ve been working on getting rid of some of the grass and weeds growing around the plants. However, the vegetable garden is doing pretty well.

As is the flower garden, which was taken last week so the campanulas are now in bloom and things are really filling in the spaces, making it look full.

Cute Kitty Pic

cat

Thats it for this Adventures recap!
Are there any cool festivals going on near where you are?

Overview of 2018 & What’s Happening in 2019!

Welcome to the annual overview post. I didn’t get a chance to get to it yesterday so I’m doing a quick one with the look forward to 2019. We could do two posts but I’m honestly not really in the mood to overload anyone with these posts. Its more of a reminder of what I’ve achieved in 2018 and new or adjusted plans to work with for 2019!

OVERVIEW OF 2018

2018 was a rough year in general. I had some PC issues in the beginning of the year which caused a whole lot of crazy as I had to get another PC built which put a lot of stuff behind. We had some other personal issues that caused a lot of worries and issues. However, 2018 is over now and as I look back, there were some really nice achievements and that is what matters. I started Tranquil Dreams to focus on the positives in the first place so that is what we’re going to do right now.

How about some stats to start? I haven’t done those in a while, it feels like at least.

Total Posts in 2018: 374 posts
Total Views: 69,450
Top 5 Countries: USA, India, Canada, UK & Hong Kong SAR
Top 5 posts published in 2018

And then for some achievements:

  • Goodreads Challenge – 30 Books
  • Fantasia Festival coverage of 20 films
  • Festival du Nouveau Cinema coverage of 9 films
  • Blood in the Snow Festival – remote coverage of 8 films
  • Montreal Comiccon coverage for Game Warp Podcast
  • Ultimate Decades Blogathon co-hosted with Drew’s Movie Reviews
  • Started up and co-host Movies and Tea Podcast with Elwood
  • Set Up the Facebook page for Tranquil Dreams
  • What’s Up segment on Youtube
  • Set Up a Weibo social media account

What to Expect in 2019!

2019 is here! A lot was done last year when I look back so I’m hoping to keep up and polish some social media skills and hopefully promote the blog a little better. Its all about working on the content right now. A lot of my issues this past year when I look back is procrastination and that sprouted from lack of organization or following through with tentative schedules and just not having the motivation from all the garbage that life threw at me. Then I added on a few segments as well (probably should of mentioned in the above section).

Resolutions: Less Procrastination (because none would be impossible) & Better Organization

BOOKS

  • Goodreads Challenge: 40 Books (might increase to 50 depending on what happens)
  • More focus on Graphic Novels and Comics
  • Getting back to reading Classics
  • Other TBR books that I own, outstanding book requests and blog tours

MOVIES & TV

  • What stays the same: Most movies and TV from Netflix and rentals and Web series on Youtube as well as film festival coverages
  • Adding in focus on Chinese language Asian movies and TV series (could be China, Hong Kong SAR, Taiwan, Singapore)

FOOD & DINING

  • Battle of Ingredients, Goodfood recap, Food Festivals and Restaurants
  • Baking Through Disney revival (whether its Disney reviews and conceptualizing baking projects)

WEEKLY/MONTHLY SEGMENTS

  • Music Obsessions (first weekend of each month)
  • Wine Recap (10th of each month)
  • Weekly Adventures (15th and 30/31 of each month)
  • What’s Up (everyday Wednesday – possibly back to video format)
  • Sunday Lists (biweekly to monthly frequency)

The main shift this year is the focus on Chinese language Movies, TV and possibly books since I’ve been meaning to get back to some Chinese reading. I’ve felt like a part of what started off a lot of my interests in the first place so when I moved into blogging and gave up a lot of it, its been always something that I’ve been trying to get back to. Its a risky move because no one really reads those posts but this space is about my interests and I do want to share those interests with you especially since a lot of it is now moved to more modern platforms like Netflix and Youtube having access.

Other than that, after some thought, I’m also heading back to more food-oriented content. It might be a slow start but I have changed my approach on the Baking Through Disney project and will start on reviewing Disney films while figuring out how to approach the design for baking. That way the project doesn’t get held up and ends up falling apart again.

As for What’s Up, as I’ve mentioned before, will end up going back to a video and written format. Both formats are fun to do so depending on time, I will work on trying to have both of them  paired up.

Its kind of long but quite a bit of the same going on!
A lot of the repeat for those new to the blog to see where you can navigate.

TV Binge: Sugar Rush (Season 1, 2018)

Sugar Rush (Season 1, 2018)

sugar rush

Host: Hunter March
Judges: Candace Nelson & Adriano Zumbo

A baking competition with 4 teams, 3 rounds, 2 cakes and 1 winner of $10,000. – IMDB

Netflix seems to be having all those cooking shows covered with it having focus on chef’s via Chef’s Table (review), food culture documentary with Ugly Delicious, then amateur baking competition with Nailed It! (review) and professional cooking global competition with The Final Table (review) and during the summer, it covered some professional baking competition with Sugar Rush.

This show is all about time being the biggest factor where the first two rounds done in a quick way will save up time to add to the final round for the cake round. The setup goes as such where 4 teams of two start the competition. The judges give the first two rounds theme and requirements at the beginning over a 3 hour cooking time. The first is a cupcake, the second is a confection. When all four teams have completed the cupcake, the judges deliberate on who gets eliminated while the teams make the confections. After the confection round, the judges share who gets eliminated and the final two teams hear the theme of their cake round as well as how much total time they have. The team with more time starts first whereas the second team watches and waits for their cue to start.

Looking at the structure of Sugar Rush, it sure seems like a brutal feeling for the teams especially in the first two rounds. Mostly because sometimes a team can be fast and be almost even done their confection but then be eliminated. Its quite sad to see but then the teams all do show a great deal of creativity and skills and that is best showed off in a restrained time frame. It is about finding a balance and weighing the risks with each creation. For that, the structure is solid and possibly one of the competitions that I don’t have many issues in that regards as it feels engaging to watch especially with time as the element which, bar a few baking technical issues, the teams fate was related to their own ambitiousness and how much time they had left.

If we look at the judges and the host along with its guests throughout the eight episodes in the first season, they have quite a few known names. Probably not related to baking directly but more “everyday” people instead of the judges who are experts in their own fields whether in baking or cupcakes or confections or sweets in general. Of course, “everyday” because who would call Betsy Johnson an everyday person, right? Just a quick example. However, it adds this normalcy to the show making it focusing not only on the taste but also the creativity behind the projects feeling like there is this well-rounded look at each baking creation. Candace Nelson and Adriano Zumbo also complement each other well enough. At the same time, I personally thought Hunter March did a great job at being an energetic and dynamic host for the show. I went away remembering the unique way he emphasized “ten thousand dollars” so that was really fun.

Overall, Sugar Rush is a fun baking competition. There are some great pieces made here. These are professional bakers with most of them having their own business or working in the industry one way or another. The judges are experts in their fields whereas the guests are also quite good with their critiques and comments and had a good mix of being part of the industry and some more celebrity and different fields. Its a nice balance of each human element. In terms of structure, it truly embraces the time element being its biggest factor and keeps that in mind. Time also adds this nerve wracking element to any competition as its always present but this one also gives a bit of control to how much time is saved in the hands of its competitors which is a nice twist.

Definitely looking forward to a second season of Sugar Rush and hoping it happens although I don’t recall seeing any news as of yet. If you do know whether its happening that I missed, do tell me in the comments. 🙂

Christmas 2018 & TV Binge: Nailed It! Holiday! (Mini-series, 2018)

You can see reviews for the main seasons here:

Season 1
Season 2

Nailed It! Holiday! (2018)

nailed it holiday

Host: Nicole Byer & Jacques Torres

There are shows that talk about refined baking competitions and such but there is also a great joy in watching amateurs bake because its a learning curve and everyone has to start somewhere. Nailed It! has taken that concept and really excelled with it. Sure, Season 2 had its odd moments where it forgot what it was trying to do but overall, it still brought a lot of joy and laughter to some of the odd baking things that came out of some of these episodes. With that said, I was excited to see that Nailed It Holiday is now a thing. It keeps the same format, very much like the first one which focuses its first round on Baker’s Choice and its making smaller baking things like cookies, cake pops and cupcakes while its second round is the money maker, literally, because you can win $10,000 with  making a cake creation. This time we also see a hint of what might be potential new extension or a new direction for the show in the 7th episode as it escapes the baking realm and jumps into the DIY crafts realm. I’ll talk about that a little later as a final wrap-up discussion point.

Nailed It Holiday

Nailed It! Holiday! definitely did do exactly that. Its hilarious and a ton of fun. It themes itself around the different holidays during this winter season from a good few Christmas to simply winter themes to Hanukkah and takes us straight to a countdown to New Year’s. I’m guessing if you do watch this one or two episodes a week, you might actually reach New Year’s Eve to watch the countdown. The creations themselves are super nice. Its still very much difficulty but its always the how the choice of candidates in the competition that brings a lot of fun because of just how ridiculous some times these things turn out to be. At the same time, they add on a different special button in each one episode themed also around the holidays from unwrapping presents or untangling lights which also makes it fair because if they finish it during the 3 minutes, they can get back to their baking right away. Its a nice twist to the freeze button in the second round.

Nailed It Holiday

Nailed It has always seemed to want to divert away from its baking competition formula. And doing the DIY crafts route is a good one for sure. It might eventually also run out of topics at some point but it has its potential also. The one episode we had was definitely just a taste or maybe a market test in their own right to see how well received it is. I thought it was a fairly fun episode. I like to do DIY crafts as well so this was right up my alley. Crafts have the potential to go horribly wrong and they can also be pretty entertaining to watch as well. I would be down to see if they do a season of this especially of Nicole Byer continues to host.

Talking about that, the reason that Nailed It works despite whatever content they have is in part all the good creative things they do and finding the right type of participants and having a good angle, like this Holiday theme mini series. But the biggest reason is Nicole Byer. She is just the heart and life of this show. While Jacques Torres is a fun match for her, the crafts episode proves that she really can have the same dynamic with another host as well. Its her personality that makes it so fun to watch. Nailed It Holiday is a really fun season and I hope that they continue with this show, whether it be in baking (which I probably would prefer as it works well) or even if they expand to crafts.