Great Canadian Ketchup Cupcakes

July 1: Canada Day

Canadians seem to have an affinity for ketchup. Ketchup-flavored potato chips are a wildly popular snack—and ketchup cupcakes are a relatively new novelty from our northern neighbors. We made the latter to share with Highlander’s co-workers and proudly observe the national holiday of his birth country.

At first, he did not reveal what the “secret/special” ingredient (ketchup) was in the cupcakes, which look a lot like red velvet flavor. So it was a surprise when his co-workers tasted a tangy yet sweetly spiced cupcake. Canadian flag colors of white and red complete this confection; it is topped with white maple syrup-infused cream cheese frosting and red candy maple leaves.

The Great Canadian Ketchup Cake was introduced by the Heinz company to mark its centennial year in Canada in 2009. Curious cooks like us wanted to try the recipe (in cupcake form) and post the experience appropriately on Canada Day. It is a decent dessert from a creative advertising campaign!

Recipe

(Adapted from Heinz via Kraft Canada)

For the ketchup cupcakes

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup tomato ketchup (we used Heinz organic)
  • 2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, stir together the water, ketchup and red food coloring. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar until fluffy.

Beat in the eggs. Gradually add some of the flour mixture, alternating with the ketchup mixture and blend until smooth.

Scoop into red paper cupcake liners. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely on wire racks.

For the maple syrup-infused cream cheese frosting and maple leaf candy toppers

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (see Notes)
  • red candy melts (we used Wilton brand)

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with the cream cheese. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Stir in the maple syrup and blend well. Use a spatula to frost the tops of the cupcakes.

Melt the red candy melts according to the package directions. Spoon into mini maple leaf molds. Let set, unmold and place the candy maple leaves in the center of the cupcakes. Chill in the refrigerator and let the cupcakes come to room temperature for serving. Yield: Approximately 20 cupcakes.

Notes

  • Instead of maple syrup, substitute with a teaspoon of maple extract for a more pronounced maple flavor.
  • We bought our fall leaves candy mold when it was in season at our local craft store. The particular mold we used can be ordered online at Amazon.com. 
  • Search our blog for more Canadian recipes (see our Theme Menus). 

 

Butter Tart Squares

Butter Tart Squares

July 1: Canada Day

Visiting some of Highlander’s relatives in Canada is always a treat—literally—especially when they serve treats from his country of birth. They want to remind him of his roots and share cultural cuisine with us since we are foodies. One distinctive dessert from Canada is butter tarts, a pastry invented in the pioneer era. We transformed the traditional tarts into squares for a sweet stacked snack to celebrate Canada Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Robin Hood)

For the base crust

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour

Directions

Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment or waxed paper, leaving a little overhang as the “handles” to lift the dessert out of the pan later. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar. Mix in the flour until it sticks together.

Butter Tarts Squares

Press into prepared pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Make the topping.

Butter Tart Squares

For the topping

  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar. Mix in the corn syrup, eggs and vanilla.

Butter Tart Squares

Blend in the flour and baking powder. Sprinkle the raisins and chopped walnuts over the base crust. 

Butter Tart Squares

Pour the filling over the raisins and nuts. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Lift the dessert out of the pan using the parchment or waxed paper “handles”. Cut into 16 squares.

Butter Tart Squares

Notes

  • The raisins and walnuts are optional but we added them to the recipe. The raisins add a nice chewy texture and the walnuts counter the sweetness of this dessert.

Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Bars

July 1: Canada Day

Highlander was happy when a fellow Canadian, Joseph N., from Manitoba, came to live on the college campus of Islander’s brother where he ministers and teaches in South Texas. Joseph got homesick at times, so we would make him the “dainty dessert” known as Nanaimo bars to cheer him up.

Nanaimo is a city in Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Although we have visited Highlander’s aunt on B.C.’s west end in Port Hardy and missed a stop in Nanaimo when we were on the island, we actually got to taste our first bar back in Nova Scotia on another trip to Highlander’s country of birth!

The origins of the recipe are unknown, but the beloved bar is so popular in Canada that, in 1985, Nanaimo Mayor Graeme Roberts held a contest to find the definitive recipe. Various versions were submitted, but Joyce Hardcastle’s recipe won!

Nosh on a Nanaimo bar now! Happy Canada Day to our relatives and neighbors from the north.

Recipe

(By Joyce Hardcastle)

For the base

  • ½ cup butter, European-style cultured, unsalted
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1 cup coconut, flaked

Directions

In a double boiler over the stovetop, melt the butter, sugar and cocoa powder. Stir in the beaten egg and cook to thicken. Remove from the stovetop.

Nanaimo Bars

Mix in the graham cracker crumbs, almonds and coconut flakes. Press onto the bottom of an ungreased 8×8-inch pan.

Nanaimo Bars

For the filling

  • ½ cup butter, unsalted, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (see Notes for substitution)

Directions

In a bowl, beat the butter with the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla custard powder until light. Spread over the bottom layer.

Nanaimo Bars

For the topping

  • 4 ounces/squares semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoon butter, unsalted

Directions

In a bowl, melt the chocolate with the butter. Let the mixture cool but remain slightly liquid. Pour over the filling and spread to cover. Refrigerate to set. Cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Nanaimo Bars

Notes

Beaver Tail (Cocktail Drink)

Beaver Tail Cocktail Drink

July 1: Canada Day

Highlander’s relatives in Halifax were very hospitable when we visited them one summer. Ivan G. and family showed us the sites, fed us fresh seafood from the Halifax Harbour and gave us gifts with the iconic red maple leaf and the Nova Scotia tartan on them. We admired their patriotism and pride and they encouraged Highlander to remember his roots and celebrate the national holiday of his birth country with festive food and drink. So to get into the “spirit” we mixed maple syrup with Canadian whiskey. Commemorate Canada Day with a cocktail drink called the “Beaver Tail.” Cheers!

Recipe

(Adapted from Super Cocktails)

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Canadian whiskey
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup

Directions

Pour the whiskey and maple syrup in a shot glass.

Beaver Tail Cocktail Drink