Pumpkin Chiffon Pie + 5 Unique Pie Links!

pcp1675She wore bright blue eye shadow and velour track suits.  She sprayed so much Aqua Net on her silver-white hair that she more than likely contributed to the hole in the ozone layer.  Quick with a joke that would make a priest blush, as frugal as an old Yankee, though hailing from the mid-west, Gram was…loved.

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I don’t remember much about her cooking.  Many miles kept us from seeing her much.  However, I do remember her introducing us to pumpkin chiffon pie despite our initial protests.  Sitting at the dinning room table stuffed with my mother’s delicious Thanksgiving feast, we sampled her pie.  Bite after bite quickly dissolved in my mouth leaving me wanting more.  I’m sure I ate too much.  My sweet tooth is usually more than my gut can handle. But, I was hooked.

 

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie with Graham Cracker Crust

Serves 8

Crust recipe adapted from Yankee Magazine Nov/Dec 2015

Filling recipe barely adapted from, Gourmet Nov 1995

**This pie requires 24 hours of chilling time.**

Ingredients for Crust:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 packed light-brown sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

pinch of kosher salt

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Using a food processor grind 16 graham-crackers (full cracker) into crumbs.  Add sugar and pulse a few more times.  Pour in melted butter and pulse again.  Dump the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and press evenly on the bottom and up the sides.

Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes.  Cool and set aside.

Ingredients for Filling:

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

2 tablespoons of rum

1 cup of milk

3/4 cup of packed light brown sugar

4 large egg yolks

1- 15 ounce can of pure pumpkin

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup heavy cream

Optional but delicious- fresh whipped cream

Directions:

Grab a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of rum.  Sprinkle gelatin over the rum and let stand.

Using a heavy saucepan whisk together milk, brown sugar, yolks, pumpkin, spices and salt.  Cook over low heat, whisking constantly until a candy thermometer registers 160F.  Remove from heat and immediately add gelatin mixture.  Whisk until gelatin is completely dissolved.

Transfer filling to bowl set inside a larger bowl of ice water.  Cool and stir for a few minutes.  Remove from ice water.

Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment (or an electric mixer) beat cream until it forms stiff peaks.  Whisk one fourth of the whipped cream into the filling.  Gently fold in remaining whipped cream until it is completely incorporated.  Pour filling into prepared crust and refrigerate uncovered for 1 hour.  After an hour, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 24 hours.

Slice and serve with fresh whipped cream.  Enjoy!

5 Unique Pie Links

Gotta have pumpkin pie on the dessert table? Switch up this year and try David Lebovitz pumpkin pie with toasted marshmallow topping.

Your aunt  wants to bring her famous apple pie, again, this year.  You can’t stomach another apple pie. What to do? Kindly suggest she branch out and make Fix Feast Flair’s pear and nutmeg pie.  Better yet, make it yourself!

Go rogue and bring Adventure in Cooking’s butterscotch pie to your host this Thanksgiving.

Need a bright and slightly tangy pie to cut through all that heavy food? Food 52 has a recipe for a lemon chess pie that looks delicious.

My favorite pie might just be ricotta pie.  I don’t usually have it on Thanksgiving, but that may change this year.  If your on same page head to Buttercream Bakehouse for their chocolate chip ricotta pie recipe.

 

Carrot Tea Cake + 5 Tea Cakes for Spring

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A much-needed new car battery triggered the anti-theft code for the radio in my car.  Silence.  No NPR, no music.  I made a few good guesses for the code, but none of them worked.  We were left with just the sound of the windshield wipers moving robotically back and forth.  The kids were oddly quiet on the way to school.  Maybe the lack of sunshine was getting to them or maybe like a newly discovered old toy, they enjoyed the silence.  I can’t say.

I finished the drop-offs and headed home; the baby now asleep in the back seat.  The resounding silence overwhelmed me.  Thoughts drifted in and receded like the tide.  Thoughts fell like spring snow and melted away just as quickly.   No, they didn’t do any of that.  My thoughts in that long, loud moment of silence were too much to hear.  I wasn’t prepared, so I brushed them aside.

I pulled into our driveway, relieved the silence would end once I transferred the baby from the car-seat to his crib.  But it didn’t.  He slept peacefully in my arms as I unlocked the door and carried him up the stairs into his room.  Once downstairs, I checked my email, my phone, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook; all those place you check when you can’t be alone with your thoughts.  Checking into my online world didn’t make me feel any better.  I set my phone down and turned on the oven.

ctcCKIn silence, I whisked the dry ingredients, beat the butter and sugar, mixed in the eggs.  I grated the carrots and tossed them into the wet ingredients along with a few tablespoons of Greek yogurt.  I folded the dry ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture.  I spread the batter into my prepared loaf pan and popped it into the oven.  All in silence, all the while thoughts, welcomed and, some not, came and went.

Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger permeated the house and forty minutes later my carrot tea cake was ready.  After some cooling time, I topped the cake with a thick layer of maple cream cheese frosting.  And during the baking, then cooling and frosting, my sweet boy woke from his nap.  The silence, now gone, left me wondering: what’s next?

Carrot Tea Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

A moist and dense tea cake full of grated carrots and topped with a large, delicious dollop of maple cream cheese frosting.  This a perfect sweet treat for your next spring brunch.

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

serves 8

Ingredients:

1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature and a bit more for the pan

1 cup white whole wheat flour (This flour will make the cake a bit more dense.  If you prefer a lighter cake, stick with all-purpose flour only.)

1/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour and a bit more for the pan

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 tablespoons Greek yogurt ( I used Fage 2% because that is what I had on hand.)

1 cup packed grated carrots (from about 2 carrots)

1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Butter and flour a 5×9 inch loaf pan and set aside.   In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla.  Beat in carrots and Greek yogurt.  Turn your mixer to low and add the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  The batter will be thick, almost like cookie dough and that’s ok!

Spread batter into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.  Start checking at 35 minutes. The bread should be golden brown and spring back in the center when lightly touched or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  Then turn the cake onto a wire rack and cool completely.

While your cake is cooling, make the frosting.  Using a clean mixer, beat the cream cheese confectioners’ sugar and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup until very fluffy.  Spread on top of cooled cake.  Serve or store at room temperature in an air tight container for a couple of days.  I think this cake tests best on the second day.  Enjoy!

5 Tea Cakes for Spring!

If you love Nutella, check out Zoe Bake’s recipe for Nutella swirled banana bread.  My kids will go nuts for this, if I share. 😉

Apple pie disguised as a quick bread?  Yes, it exists and I can’t wait to try it this fall with fresh, local apples.  Head to My Baking Addiction for her apple pie bread recipe.

My mom makes an amazing lemon tea bread that is very similar to Paper & Birch’s glazed lemon bread recipe.  Yum!

Summer will come eventually and when it does use up extra zucchini for my zucchini bread recipe. So good especially with a little cream cheese.

Looking for a whole-grain quick bread recipe?  Check out Babble’s whole grain strawberry banana bread!

Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake + My 5 Most Loved Recipes of 2014

lrc023“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.” T.S. Eliot 

Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake

serves 8-10

recipe slightly adapted from Epicurious Italy

Ingredients:

2-15oz. containers of whole milk ricotta cheese

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon + 1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons unseasoned dry breadcrumbs

2 8-0z. packages of cream cheese, at room temperature and cut into cubes

2 large eggs

2 tablespoon finely crushed water crackers or salt-free matzo meal

zest of 1 and 1/2 lemons

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of kosher salt

confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Directions:

First place your ricotta cheese in a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl and drain for about 30 minutes.

Next, arrange oven racks so they are in the lower third of your oven.  Pre-heat your oven to 350F and coat your 9 inch spring-form pan with butter.  In a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon of sugar with the breadcrumbs.  Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the greased pan and shake out the excess crumbs.

Using a food processor, puree the ricotta for about 15 seconds.  Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and puree until smooth.   Add softened and cut cream cheese and puree until smooth.   Add the sugar, eggs, crushed water crackers, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract and salt; puree until very smooth.  Scrape down the sides and puree for another 30 seconds.  Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake cheesecake until golden brown and just set, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. (It should wiggle a bit, but will firm up as it cools.) Check it at an hour and then every 5 minutes after, until finished.

Transfer to a wire rack and cool in pan. Your cake will fall slightly and that is ok!  Refrigerate uncovered until cool, about 3 hours or so.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.

When ready to serve, remove ring from spring-form pan and dust with confectioners’ sugar.  The cake will last covered and chilled for 3 days.  Enjoy!

My 5 Most Loved Recipes of 2014!

Thanks to everyone who pinned my lemon ricotta cookie recipe.  If you have not tried them, you should in 2015!

When strawberries and rhubarb are back in season, try my roasted strawberry and rhubarb frappe.  It is delicious!

Make these grapefruit crinkle cookies now while grapefruits are in season. Save the strawberry summer cake for, well, summer.

Cupcakes, anyone? Head here and try my blackberry shortcake cupcakes!

Need an awesome coffee cake recipe? Try my blueberry buckle!

 

 

Cranberry Maple Breakfast Cake + 5 Quick Breads for Christmas Morning!

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Yellow sticky notes decorate our refrigerator most days; notes to myself, to do lists, don’t forget this, don’t forget that, pick up here, drop off there.  When the holidays come my lists double.  Before I went out last night for dinner with two of my oldest, dearest friends I wrote yet another list and stuck it on the fridge.

“Why so many notes, Mama?” C asked.

“Because I have a lot to remember.” Me.

“You better not forget!” C said as she shoveled another bite of Annie’s mac and cheese into her mouth.

I thought about what she said on my drive into the city.  What about if I did forget my list? What if all the balls I keep juggling in the air came crashing down?  Would they be ok?  Would I be ok? I think so, I hope so.  After all, they are just lists.

cbc015When I feel overwhelmed, I bake. I stop my busy mind and focus on the present.  I accomplish something, sometimes with great results and other times, not so much.  A few days ago, I baked a breakfast cake and it was delicious.  I found a recipe in Joanne Chang’s Flour Cookbook (love her!) and altered it a bit.  Her recipe calls for maple-pecans. I know what you are thinking: why take out maple pecans? They sound amazing.  I agree!  My older boy has a nut allergy, so we are a nut-free house.  I replaced the pecans with dark chocolate chips and orange zest.  The ratio of the dark chocolate and tart cranberries was perfect.  The maple syrup infused the tender, buttery cake and the orange zest just worked, subtly complimenting both the chocolate and cranberries.

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The icing on this holiday cake made me swoon.  A little confectioners’ sugar and a few tablespoons of maple syrup bring this breakfast/anytime of the day cake together in one perfect bite.  Enjoy and happy holidays!

Cranberry Maple Breakfast Cake With Maple Glaze

Makes 3 mini-loaves or 1 9-inch loaf

recipe adapted from Joanna Chang’s Flour

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups cake flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 6 pieces

1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk, at room temperature

2 eggs

1 teaspoons vanilla extract

zest of one medium orange

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/2  cup dark chocolate chips

1 cup of fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped

Maple Glaze:

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 or 3 tablespoons of maple syrup

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Butter and flour mini loaf pans or 9×5 inch loaf pan and set aside.

Using your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or hand-held mixer, beat together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and butter on medium speed for about 3 minutes.  The mixture should look like sand.  (Beat for about 5 minutes if using a hand-held mixer.)

In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, orange zest and 1/3 cup of maple syrup.  Once thoroughly combined, add half of the buttermilk mixture to the flour/butter mixture and beat on medium/high-speed for about 1 minute or until light, fluffy and pale.  Stop the mixer and scrap the sides of the bowl.  On low-speed add the rest of the buttermilk mixture.  Be sure the buttermilk is fully combined with the flour mixture!

Fold the chopped cranberries and chocolate chips into the batter.  Pour the batter into prepared pans and smooth out the top.  Bake the mini-loaf pans for about 35 minutes, but I would start checking them at 25 minutes.  (If using a 9×5 inch pan, bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes.)  Let cool in the pan for about a half hour.  While the bread(s) are cooling, make the maple glaze.

In a small bowl whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and maple syrup.  Spread or pour the glaze over the still warm bread.

The cake will last, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days at room temperature.  I think the cake tastes better the next day because the flavors really soak in!  Make this now and it will be perfect for Christmas morning.  Enjoy!

5 Quick Bread Recipe Links For Christmas!

Need a citrus kick to get you through the holidays?  Check out Two Peas and Their Pod’s recipe for lemon almond bread.  Sounds like the perfect quick bread to make all winter long!

Cranberry season is almost over so grab a bag and make Cake Duchess’s cranberry streusel quick bread.  I love a good streusel topping and this one looks delicious!

Love banana bread? Check out Zoe’s bakes Nutella swirled banana bread, Joy the Baker’s brown butter banana bread and Cookie + Kate’s banana trail mix bread.  Choices, choices…

 

Frosted Red Velvet Cookies + 5 Holiday Cookie Links You Can’t Miss!

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Did you ever watch Steal Magnolias?  The Julia Roberts movie that came out in 1989? No? You should put it on your Netflix list.  My sister and I watched it over and over.  We were obsessed with the movie and with Julia Roberts.  If you did watch it you might remember the groom’s cake: a red velvet cake shaped like an armadillo, covered in gray frosting.  This was my first introduction to red velvet.  Many years later when the cupcake craze hit Boston, I ate my first red velvet cupcake.  After taking a single bite I understood the obsession and, well, I became obsessed.  I ordered red velvet anything whenever I got a chance.  At my brother’s wedding two years ago, I stood in my beautiful, pewter colored bridesmaid dress and devoured two red velvet cupcakes during the course of one song.  I’m not ashamed; they were best I ever had!

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The combination of the cream cheese frosting and the cocoa are amazing together, but the thing that gets me every time is the bright, red crumb.  It’s not magic, I know.  The cookies get their vibrant color from red food coloring and natural cocoa powder.  It’s just magical baking science.

Last December, I saw a recipe for frosted red velvet cookies in Cook’s Illustrated.  I dog-eared the page, but never made the cookies.  This year I made sure they were in my holiday cookie rotation.

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Bubba and kids went nuts for them.  C asked, just before she shoved a cookie into her mouth, “Umm, are they red velvet?” My girl is hooked.  I know this is the season of sharing, kindness and generosity, but we didn’t share these cookies.  We ate them as if they were about to vanish.  Before long one cookie and a few crumbs remained.

Frosted Red Velvet Cookies

Recipe barely adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Christmas Cookies

makes about 22 cookies

Ingredients:

1 + 3/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

12 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 tablespoon red food coloring

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup of 2% Greek yogurt

4 ounces of cream cheese, softened

11/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

holiday sprinkles for decorating, optional

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together your flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of softened butter.  Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes or so.  Next add your egg, food coloring and 1 teaspoon of vanilla and beat until combined.

Lower the speed and add half of the flour mixture, then the Greek yogurt and ending with the rest of the flour mixture.

Scoop up 2 tablespoons of dough and drop on prepared baking sheets.  Leave about 2 inches in between each dough mound.  Bake each sheet, separately, for about 16 minutes or until the centers are set.  Be sure to rotate the pan halfway through baking.  Allow the cookies to cool on the sheet pans for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cookies cool, prepare the cream cheese frosting.  Use a clean, dry bowl!  With a paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese, 4 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla on medium speed for about a minute.  Lower the speed and add the confectioners’ sugar.  Mix for a minute.  Increase the speed to medium/high and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Spread a spoonful of frosting on each cookie and decorate with sprinkles, if desired.  The cookies taste best the day they are made, but taste great the next day too!  If you have any left over, store them in an air-tight container at room temperature.  Enjoy!

5 Can’t Miss Holiday Cookie Recipes

Love white chocolate? How about peppermint?  Check out Not Without Salt’s white chocolate peppermint cookies with vanilla salt.  That’s right, vanilla salt. Yum!

My kids love hot cocoa.  Hot cocoa with a handful of marshmallows floating on top is their favorite winter-time drink.  I think I will blow their minds when I make Laura’s, at Fork Knife Swoon, recipe for flourless hot cocoa cookies!

Chocolate, caramel and salt need to happen during the holidays.  Head to Bakers Royale for salted chocolate caramel snickers cookie recipe.  My mouth is watering.

If you love thumbprint cookies, check out mini chocolate thumbprint cookies at Pinch of Yum.  They look like just the dessert to serve at your next holiday gathering!

My most pinned recipe: lemon ricotta cookies.  They will make your family swoon this holiday season!

The Great American Milk Drive is taking place now.  Feeding America will donate a gallon for a gallon until December 31st.  Consider making a donation today!

 

The Best Chocolate Crinkle Cookies + 5 Crinkle Cookie Recipes for the Holidays!

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We got back from our Thanksgiving trip to Philly a day early, thinking we would take a day to recover from all the eating, drinking and socializing we enjoyed days before.  I woke up blurry eyed on Sunday, wanting and needing more sleep.  I walked downstairs to find the kids eating breakfast, full of energy, ready for the next…holiday.  Bubba poured me a giant cup of coffee.

“Want to get the tree today?” Today? Can I go back to bed instead? Can we enjoy the after glow of Thanksgiving for just a minute?

“We are getting our Christmas tree today!” the kids sang, as they did laps around the house.  What did they eat for breakfast? A doughnut and a glass of Red Bull.  Ugh, Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is some of my kids’ energy.

“Sure.”  Bubba’s favorite thing about Christmas is getting the tree. How could I say no?

Two hours later we are on the road, again, heading to a Christmas tree farm.  We arrive at the farm only mildly annoyed with each other.  A man in jeans and a barn coat directs us to a hill.  “If you have 4 wheel drive, head up the hill.”  The hill is more like a small ski slope and we wonder if our Pilot can make it up.  Bubba guns it and before long we are looking down at a hill-side sporadically covered with Douglas and Fraser Firs.

“Is this it?” The kids.

“Yup.” We say unknowingly. Bubba steps out of the car and grabs the saw from the back.  The kids follow him. I grab the baby and we are on the hunt for the perfect tree.  I point to a sad little Charlie Brown tree. “What about this one?”

“No way Mama!”  I guess they don’t share my love for the unloved trees, yet.

The trees start to all look the same, my feet are cold and the baby has a giant snot sliding towards his lips.  I search my pockets for a tissue, but find nothing, so I use my fleece mitten. It’s laundry day.

I point to a tall, skinny tree not far from us.  We walk over to take closer look.

“Looks good!” Bubba.

Before I can record the cutting of the tree or even ceremoniously say timber, the tree is lying down in the snow.  I put the kids in the car and we hoist our skinny Douglas fir to the roof of the car.  Bubba realizes we don’t have any rope to tie the tree down, so with an Exacto knife, he slices an old bicycle tube in half and secures the tree.  I married MacGyver.

Excitement fills the car as we head home.  “My favorite thing about Christmas is unwrapping presents!” G. C nods and agrees.  “I like decorating too.”

“I love getting the tree.” Bubba. Ok my turn.

“I love making Christmas cookies.”  There it is: making Christmas cookies gets me through the holidays, especially when little hands help.  I’m not sure if it is the copious amounts of butter sugar that make me smile or taste testing each batch; either way I love it.

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ccc0012I am starting this season off with Chocolate Crinkle Cookies.  I found a recipe in the most recent addition of Cook’s Illustrated.  This recipe promised moist and tender cookies with a rich chocolate flavor and plenty of tiny, irregular cracks.  I adapted the recipe only slightly by adding both natural unsweetened cocoa and Dutch-processed cocoa powder.  Why? Because I didn’t have enough natural cocoa powder in the house.  I bet all of one powder or the other will taste just as good.  I like to think maybe the combination of cocoa added more depth of flavor to the cookies.  Maybe…

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The thing that excites me most about these cookies are the tiny powder sugar-coated fissures covering the surface.  Turns out it is all about science. Imagine that!  To learn more about the science behind crinkly cookies head here.  Enjoy the day they are made with a cold glass of milk!

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Makes about 22 cookies

Recipe slightly adapted from Cook’s Illustrated November & December 2014

Ingredients:

1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder ( I used Hershey’s.)

1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa ( I used Guittard.)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

3 large eggs

4 teaspoons instant espresso powder (Optional but I used it.)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

4 tablespoons of unsalted butter

For Coating:

1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 325F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoas, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, espresso powder and vanilla.  Make sure it is well combined!  Next, melt the chocolate and butter together in a microwave safe bowl.  (I checked and stirred the chocolate/butter mixture every minute for 3 minutes.  You could also melt the chocolate and butter using a double boiler.)

Allow the chocolate to cool a bit and then whisk into the egg mixture until combined.  Fold the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until well combined and no flour streaks remain.

Now let the dough rest, alone, at room temperature for about 10 minutes.   While your dough is relaxing, pour the granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar in two separate bowls.

Using a #30 scoop or 2 tablespoons of dough, roll into balls.  Place the dough ball in the granulated sugar, coat, and then drop it into the confectioners’ sugar; roll and coat evenly.  Place coated dough balls on prepared sheets and bake one sheet at time for about 12 minutes, rotating the sheet pan halfway through baking time.  **The cookies are done when they looked puffed, edges are set but centers are still soft.  The cookies will seem underdone between the cracks. That is a good thing!** Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet.  The cookies taste best the day they are made, but still taste great a couple of days later.  If you have any leftover, store in air-tight container at room temperature.

5 Must Make Crinkle Cookie Recipe Links!

If you love lemon flavored cookies, check out Cooking Classy’s lemon crinkle cookie recipe.  Red velvet nut? Cooking Classy also has a red velvet crinkle cookie recipe for you. Yum!

Looking for a decadent, fudgy yet flourless chocolate crinkle cookie? Head to Reclaiming Provincial for the recipe.  Sounds interesting and Carey’s photos are beautiful!

Molasses and ginger scream holidays to me. So wow your friends at your next cookie swap with Averie Cook’s Soft Molasses Coconut Oil Crinkle Cookies.  Amazing!

I made grapefruit crinkle cookies last year and Bubba’s co-workers went nuts for them.  Head to Cups + Spoonfuls for the recipe.

 

 

 

Pumpkin Pie Bars + 5 Not A Pie Desserts For Thanksgiving!

 

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We threw a “pre-holiday” party last weekend.  Local friends came over for drinks and conversation sans children.  Chatting and drinking with friends we only see at soccer games, school pick-ups/drop offs and fundraisers felt like a luxury.  A luxury? Yes.  Most of the time we see each other harried, running off to the next activity, chatting briefly before a little person tugs on our arm, it’s time to go…again.  As if we are on a treadmill without a stop button, we just keep going.  Saturday night we stopped.  We drank and laughed and ate.

Before long friends left to relieve sitters.  We happily enjoyed our final sips and bites before taking on the mess in our kitchen.  I didn’t mind cleaning up this mess.  There is something beautiful about a post party mess, as if, bits of people are left behind, their energy still enveloping the room.  After we cleaned the last glass, swept the last crumb and recycled the final beer bottle; we collapsed into bed.  It was a perfectly unusual Saturday night for me and Bubba.

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Pumpkin Pie Bars with Baked Press In Chocolate Crust

I made these bars for our “pre-holiday” party. The bars are similar to a traditional pumpkin pie, spicy and comforting, but with a slight twist: the crust is chocolate and requires no rolling!  This simple, press-in chocolate crust is much easier to make than a traditional pie crust, so you won’t feel inclined to tear your hair out or chug a bottle of Malbec!  Also, the whole dessert can be made up to two days in advance! 

Makes 12 large bars or 24 mini bars

recipe adapted from Food & Wine

Ingredients for Baked Pressed In Chocolate Crust

2 1/2 sticks of cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1 tablespoon of water

Directions For Crust:

Pre-heat your oven to 350°F. Line a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper, leaving about 2 inches of overhang on the long sides. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars at medium speed for a few minutes, 2-3.   With the mixer on low-speed, beat in the sifted flour, unsweetened cocoa powder and salt.

Place the dough in your prepared pan and press it evenly over the bottom.  (The original recipe suggests covering the dough with plastic wrap and pressing with the bottom of a measuring cup.  This sounds like a great idea, but I forgot to do it. Your fingers will work well too!)  Refrigerate the dough in the pan until firm.

Bake the crust for about 30 minutes.   The cocoa powder will make it difficult to tell if it is cooked perfectly, so be sure to remove the pan from the oven at 30 minutes or when the surface looks dry.  Allow to cool completely before filling.  While the crust cools, prepare your pumpkin pie filling.

Ingredients for Pumpkin Pie Filling

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon + more for dusting

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs

One 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree

One 12-ounce can evaporated milk

Prepared whipped cream

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 425F.  In a small bowl whisk together the sugars, all of the spices and salt. Set aside.  In a medium bowl whisk together your eggs.  Whisk the sugar mixture into the egg mixture.  Next, add your pumpkin puree, evaporated milk and vanilla extract.  Whisk until very smooth.

Pour the filling into the crust and bake for about 10 minutes.  Lower the temperature to 350F and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until the filling is set.  It should not jiggle!

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.  Cut into bars, large or mini, and serve with whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon.

I suggest making the bars a day head and storing them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.  The flavors are more pronounced a day later.  Serve them chilled or at room temperature.  Also, add the whipped cream just before serving or have guests add their own whipped cream.  Enjoy!

5 Not Pie Desserts For Thanksgiving

Looking for a lighter pumpkin cake to serve after the big holiday meal?  Head to Food 52 for Alice Medrich’s Lighter Pumpkin Cake recipe.

Tired of pies and cakes?  Try a crisp.  A pumpkin pear crisp! Bon Appetit has the recipe for you.  Check it out!

Not worried about eating all the calories you need for a week in a day?  Then head to Sacramento Street for Amanda Fredrickson’s Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting.  Wow!  I must make these!

After a big, heavy meal it is nice to have a light and refreshing dessert…sometimes.  Martha has a recipe for cranberry-port sorbet that sounds like the perfect palate cleanser.

I’ve mentioned Zoe’s maple cream snickerdoodle bars before and I am mentioning them again.  I am obsessed and need to make them asap!