Rum Caramel Apple Cheesecake + 5 Comforting Dessert Links

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A letter to my daughter post 2016 Election

Dear Charlotte,

A few days before the election you asked me to make a cheesecake.  I agreed, deciding on an apple cheesecake that felt both celebratory and as American, as… well, apple pie.  [Your big, beautiful green eyes sparkled with anticipation as you watched me drizzle caramel sauce all over the cheesecake.  Do you know how much I love your eyes, sweet girl?]  The eve before the election while we were eating dinner you excitedly told me your school held a mock election and…

Guess what, Mama?

Before I can say: what?

She won! Hillary Clinton won!  Those eyes, again, so excited, so hopeful.

Do you think she will win Mama?  Yes, goose, I think she will win.  You seemed satisfied with my answer.   And then asked: Can I have the last piece cheesecake?

Like a huntress enjoying every bite of her prey, you devoured the remaining piece of cheesecake, a smile spreading across your face.  You will remember this cheesecake, I thought.

You voted with Daddy on Election Day, which now, more than ever, seems appropriate. You watched a man, a good, kind, intelligent, tolerant man, vote for the first nominated female presidential candidate.

Later that night, we put the three of you to bed, reassuring you and your brothers: yes she will win.  I promised you, no matter how late, I would wake you, so you could watch the celebration.  See the glass ceiling shatter.  See progress.

I felt hopeful watching the returns comes in.  [She can do this, she will do this!]  And then my stomach tightened.  What is happening?  I wanted to scream, cry, throw something at the TV.  I did none of those things.  I went to bed, dismayed by the country I love.

We never fell asleep.  We never woke you.

This can not be happening. 

When I went into your room the next morning to wake you for school, I stumbled over my words.  No she didn’t win.  Yes I am sad, I am angry.  But.  But, it is time to get out of bed and start the day.  [What the hell am I saying?  You can’t run from this one.]

With wild hair and sleep still in your eyes you asked: Mamawhy do they think a girl can’t do the job?   I looked into your pensive, sea green eyes and said: I’m not sure.  I wish I had better words for you.  I’m sorry.  I’m at a loss.   [I hate at just nine years old, you understand some people think girls and women are not as capable.  I will tell you this later.]

The thing is Charlotte there are many reasons why she didn’t win.  Right now, everyone is pointing fingers at one group or another.  I blame myself.  I was lazy and complacent. I should have fought harder, donated, volunteered.  Never again.  Someday there will be a female president.  Maybe it will be you? Or a friend? Or a complete stranger.  She is coming, it is just a matter of time.

Please remember…you matter, you matter, you matter. Kind, capable, brave and smart, you are what this world needs…always.

Love,

Mama

Rum Caramel Apple Cheesecake

recipe adapted from Bobby Flay

Serves 8

Ingredients for crust:

12 whole graham crackers

2 tablespoons sugar

5 tablespoons melted butter

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Add graham crackers and brown sugar to a food processor fitted with a blade attachment.  Pulse until finely ground.  While the motor is running add the melted butter and process until the mixture just comes together.  Spray the bottom and sides on a 9-inch spring form pan with cooking spray.  Pat the mixture evenly across the bottom of the pan.  Place on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.  Once cool, wrap your spring form pan in foil, covering the sides.   (The foil will keep the water bath you create later from seeping into the cheesecake.)

Ingredients for cheesecake filling:

zest of 1 lemon

3 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup lemon sugar (see directions)

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 large vanilla bean, seeds scraped

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Zest 1 lemon.  Combine 1/4 cup of sugar with lemon zest.  Mix with your fingers until wet and well combined.  Using a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, add the cream cheese and beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the lemon sugar, remaining granulated sugar and brown sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, only 1 at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.  Add the vanilla seeds and vanilla extract and beat until combined.  Add the salt and heavy cream and mix until just incorporated.

Pour the mixture over the prepared crust.  Place the spring form pan in a large roasting pan.  Pour hot water into the roasting pan until the water is halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan.   Place in the oven and bake until the cheesecake is puffed and the center still jiggles, about 55 minutes.

Turn off the heat and prop open the oven door with a wooden spoon.  Allow the cake to cook like this for 60 minutes.  Remove cake and allow to cool for 2 hours.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Next make apple mixture and rum caramel sauce!  Keep going it is worth it!

Ingredients for Apple Mixture:

2 cups apple juice (unsweetened)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 vanilla bean (leftover from cheesecake)

1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter

3 Granny Smith apple, peeled and thinly sliced

3 Fuji apples, peeled, thinly sliced

1/4 cup rum

Directions:

Combine apple juice, sugar and vanilla bean in a large sauté pan.  Bring to a boil.  Add butter and stir until melted.  Add the apple slices and cook until soft and caramelized, about 10 minutes.  Add the rum and continue to cook over medium heat until reduced by 1/2.  Using a slotted spoon remove the apples, place in a bowl and allow to cool a bit.  Set aside.

Ingredients for Rum Caramel Sauce:

1 + 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup heavy cream

generous pinch of salt

3 tablespoons of rum

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat without stirring.  Swirl the pot once or twice and continue to cook until it turns amber, about 12 minutes.

When the caramel is a rich amber, remove from heat.  Slowly and carefully whisk in the heavy cream.  Add the salt and whisk until smooth.  Stir in the rum and vanilla extract.  Keep warm until ready to use or gently reheat on the stove, if necessary.

Assembly!

Remove the ring of the spring form pan surrounding the cheesecake.  Top the cheesecake with the warm apple mixture, drizzle with rum caramel sauce.  Save extra sauce and serve on the side.  Enjoy!

**The cheesecake can be made two days ahead.  Keep covered and refrigerated.  The apple mixture and rum caramel sauce can be made one day ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.  When ready to use, gently reheat in the microwave or on the stove.**

5 Comforting Dessert Links

A warm, gooey, freshly baked chocolate chip helps mend a broken heart.  Head to Smitten Kitchen for Deb’s consummate chocolate chip cookie recipe.

A pan of brownies and a glass of milk will aid in curing whatever ails you.  Head to the Crepes of Wrath for Ina Garten’s outrageous brownies with 2 kinds of chocolate.

Chocolate not your thing? How about a crisp pate a choux shell filled with a silky vanilla rum custard.  Eats Well With Others has the recipe for you.

A warm citrus pudding cake may add a little brightness even on the darkest days.  Food 52 has the recipe for you.

Is cheesecake your go to when your not sure where to go from here?  Check out my recipe for blueberry cheesecake bars.

 

 

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.

 

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting + 5 New Pumpkin Desserts!

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“Mama will you sing me a lullaby?” G.

“Sure buddy.” Me.  The lyrics to You Are My Sunshine come imperfectly out of my mouth.  I hear Johnny Cash in my head. He hears my exhausted, grating voice attempting to coax him to sleep.  Unconsciously, I rub his back.  His eyes are heavy, any minute now he will be dreaming. Dreaming of home?  Perhaps.  For now he makes his nest in a sterile hospital bed, his blankies, froggy and me, little bits of home, remain with him.  

I stare at his sweet, peaceful face, more obvious to me now with his head tightly wrapped in gauze. Beneath the gauze, a constellation of small metal probes stick securely to his head, a rainbow-colored array of wires spill from the top of his head, all connecting to small a computer, recording his brainwaves.  Where do you go when you disappear, buddy?  Maybe this test will tell us.  

I attempt to sleep in the tiny bed/chair they provide.  I can’t get comfortable, my mind races and morning can’t come soon enough.

Morning breaks.  The sky turns from gun-metal gray to overcast ocean blue.  Lights in the building across from us become less obvious as the sky brightens.  I stare out the window, not fully awake, despite nursing my second cup of hospital coffee. I gaze 9 stories down to the Healing Garden, a small bit of nature growing between two buildings, providing a bit of respite for the sick and their caregivers.  A mother and son play with a soccer ball.  The boy, maybe 7, no hair, runs for a bit, but he tires quickly.  Mom picks him up.  He finds the perfect spot on her lap and snuggles.  Her body sways gently back and forth like a cradle.  They attempt normalcy.

G eats breakfast in bed while watching TV.  This is, by far, his favorite part of this visit.  Today we go home with no real answers.  Today after a short drive home, fingers crossed, we attempt normalcy, again. pcccf1119pcccf1169

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Shortly, after our hospital stay I made these pumpkin cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting because it felt good to bake.  It felt good to give Bubba and kids cupcakes for no reason at all.  After a long few days, we all needed to feel normal, less stressed.  This cupcake brought us back.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

A moist pumpkin cupcake with subtle hints of ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon topped with a rich chocolate cream cheese frosting makes a perfect dessert for fall.

Makes 12

Cupcake recipe barely adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Frosting recipe adapted from the Cupcake Project

Ingredients for Cupcakes:

1⅓ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Pinch of ground cloves

Pinch of ground ginger

¾ cup canned pumpkin

½ cup sugar

½ cup dark brown sugar

½ cup canola oil

2 eggs

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Line a muffin pan with paper cupcake liners and set aside.

Using a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.  Set aside.

Using a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, sugars and oil until well combined.  Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition.  Pour half of your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients and fold gently.  Add the remaining dry ingredients and fold gently until no flour streaks remain.  Do not over mix!

Fill each lined muffin cup with batter, about two-thirds to three-quarters the way full.  Place the muffin pan on the center rack of your oven.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, but check at 18 minutes.  The cupcakes are done when the centers spring back when lightly touched or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to cool for a minute in the pan and then dump them on a wire rack to cool completely.  Once cool, frost the cupcakes and store in an air-tight container until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

**The cupcakes taste best the day they are made.  If you need to make them a day early, store them in air-tight container in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature before serving.**

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

makes about 3 cups

Ingredients for Frosting:

8 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 cups of sifted confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder (Use good quality cocoa powder here.  You will taste the difference!)

pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon orange zest (optional but delicious)

Directions for Frosting:

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or a hand-held mixer), beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy or several minutes.  Reduce the speed to low and add the confectioners’ sugar.  Next add the cocoa powder, salt, vanilla extract and orange zest.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth.  Use frosting immediately or store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

**If you refrigerate the frosting be sure to bring it to room temperature and beat for a couple of minutes before using.**

5 New Pumpkin Desserts!

If you love cheesecake check out Baker By Nature’s pumpkin ricotta cheesecake and Jelly Toast’s mini pumpkin goat cheese cheesecakes.  Such creative riffs on a classic dessert!

Halloween is coming up.  Try making a classic candy with a healthy twist this year!  Check out Edible Perspectives chocolate pumpkin almond butter cups.  I want to eat ten of them now!

Craving a s’more?  Head to How Sweet It Is for Jessica’s pumpkin s’mores tart recipe.  Wow!

If you need a gluten-free pumpkin cake recipe, Alice Medrich has the recipe for you on Food 52.  She rocks.

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!

 

 

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Icing + 5 Easy Halloween Dessert Links!

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“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I’ve ended up where I needed to be.” Douglas Adams

Happy accident. Serendipity. Stroke of luck.  This is how my pumpkin oatmeal cake came to be.  Like so many other things in my life I chose a path hoping for a certain outcome, made a couple of gut feeling choices and luckily the result turned out great.  We received a sugar pumpkin in our CSA last week.  What the hell am I going to do with this thing?  I’ve never roasted a pumpkin before because the can stuff suits me just fine.  Why mess with easy and delicious?  Choices are tough.  I could put the pumpkin on our porch and let the squirrels have it, use a can of pumpkin puree that’s been sitting in my pantry for two years or roast a farm fresh sugar pumpkin.  I went for it and roasted the pumpkin. You never know where one decision might lead.

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Well my choice lead me to Alton Brown’s recipe for pumpkin puree.  I cut the sweet little pumpkin in half with my best knife.  (He suggests using a cleaver, but I don’t own one, I’m not there…yet.)  I scooped out the seeds and let the kids play with the goo.  They loved it and they made a huge mess, but they were occupied.  Hooray!  I sprinkled the flesh with kosher salt and roasted each half, flesh side down, for about 30 minutes.  My house smelled like pure, earthy pumpkin.  Once the pumpkin was fork tender, I removed it from the oven and allowed it to cool for an hour.  After a quick hour, I scooped up the flesh and spooned it into my food processor; minutes later I had fresh pumpkin puree. Easy!

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I set out to make Martha’s Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing.  Her recipe called for canned, solid pumpkin puree, and my puree was anything but solid.  It was more like stage 2 baby food, a little thick, but not solid.  Once I noticed how watery the batter was, I decided to add 2 cups of oatmeal for a little health and chewiness; still planning on cookies not a cake.  Then I noticed the time.  The kids were getting restless and the baby would be up from his nap soon.  Bars! The quick version of a cookie!  I had a ton of batter so I chose a 9×13 pan.  I poured the batter into my prepared pan and popped it in the oven. Fifteen minutes later, I peeked through the oven door and saw the batter rising higher than expected, slowly forming a golden brown pumpkin cake.   I expected bars.  I wanted moist, perfectly spiced, slightly chewy pumpkin bars.  My choices lead to a new dessert, a new plan.

Once the cake cooked and cooled, I took a little piece from the corner.  Moist, sweet and nicely spiced…it was good?!  Cake needs frosting or icing.  I love maple and pumpkin together, so I made an easy maple cream cheese icing.  I attempted to artistically drizzle the icing all over the cake, but it looked more like my 4-year-old got a hold of the icing.  I smoothed over the icing and sprinkled it with a bit of cinnamon.  I cut myself a piece of cake, took a big bite and enjoyed my happy accident.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

This cake is moist, dense and perfectly sweet.  The fresh pumpkin makes a difference you can taste: earthy and subtly sweet.  The oatmeal adds a surprising texture to the cake.  The maple cream cheese icing pairs well with the pumpkin and can be easily doubled if you want a thick layer of icing.  This is an easy dessert for the upcoming holiday season. Enjoy!

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart and Epicurious

serves 10-12

Ingredients for Cake:

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

3/4 cups white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

pinch of ground cloves

2 cups of old fashion oats

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups packed light-brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

3/4 cup evaporated milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions for cake:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Line a 13×9 metal baking pan with parchment paper.  Lightly, grease and flour the parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and oatmeal; set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl half way through. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.  Reduce the speed to low and add the pumpkin, evaporated milk and vanilla.  Mix until well combined.  (**The batter may separate at this point, but don’t worry it will be fine once you add the dry ingredients.**)

Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and smooth out the top.  Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean or the cake springs back when lightly touched.  Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.  Once cool, carefully remove the cake.  Remove the parchment paper and decorate the cake with maple cream cheese icing and serve.  The cake is best the day it is made, but tastes great the next day too.  If you have any cake left, store it at room temperature in an air-tight container.  Enjoy!

Maple Cream Cheese Icing

makes about 2 cups but can easily be doubled

Ingredients:

1 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

pinch of salt

Directions:

Using a stand mixer beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the sifted sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and pinch of salt.  Beat until very smooth and decorate your cake.

5 Easy Halloween Dessert Links!

Need a quick and easy finger food dessert for your Halloween party? Head to Willow Bird baking for her maple cream snickerdoodle bars.  I must make these!

Offer some nut-free Halloween treats this year!  The kitchen has a list of 5 nut-free Halloween treats that both kids and adults will love. Check it out!

If you love Halloween Oreos try making your own!  Better yet, try my recipe.  So good!

I love caramel.  Two Red Bowl’s recipe for apple cider crème fraiche caramels has me motivated to attempt candy making again!

Have time to make candy and want to keep it sorta healthy on Halloween?  Head to Edible Perspective for chocolate pumpkin almond butter cups.  Yes please!

Pumpkin Pie Bars with an Oatmeal Brown Butter Crumb

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We moved into our new house last week. Moving with 2 kids and a dog all while being 24 weeks pregnant is exhausting but I am happy in our new home. I am happy we are out of a state of transition. I am ready to settle again, feel comfortable, feel like we are home. Amidst the boxes and bubble wrap I found my baking supplies and decided to bake something that would make our new house smell less new. I am craving holiday sweets. My internal food clock is telling me it is time for those special pies and cookies, again. So when I came across a recipe for Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal Crumb Bars by the Brown Eyed Baker, I decided to give it a shot. While the bars baked, our house smelled less like fresh paint or more like the holidays. It smelled like home.

These bars taste just like pumpkin pie but with a fantastic brown butter oatmeal crumble on top. The brown butter adds a bit of nuttiness to the oatmeal crumb mixture which pairs nicely with the pure pumpkin puree and spices. The texture of the crumb is a nice contrast to the smoothness of the pumpkin filling. I served the bars chilled because they do need to set up for a couple of hours and they tasted good. The next day I pulled them out while I was making dinner because I didn’t want a cold dessert. Bubba said they tasted even better a day later. The spices really meld together after a day and the bars were closer to room temperature which helped bring out their flavor as well.

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Don’t ya just love a good crumb topping? I do! I browned the butter and then added it to the oatmeal and flour mixture. Brown butter will add a slight nuttiness to baked goods. For tips on browning butter read here.

_KH10009Press half of the crumb mixture evenly into an 8×8 pan and bake on the center rack at 350 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

_KH10012While the crumb bakes, prepare the pumpkin pie filling. Be sure to whisk until very smooth. Once the crumb has finished baking remove it from the oven and pour the pumpkin pie filing over the bottom of it. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove it from the oven and sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture on the top. Bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the crumb is golden brown and the center jiggles slightly. Starting checking it at 20 minutes.

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Once it has finished baking, remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Then transfer pan to refrigerator and allow to chill for at least 2 hours. Cut into squares and serve as is or with fresh whipped cream. Bars can be made a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an air tight container. Bring these to your next holiday gathering and watch your family and friends swoon!

Pumpkin Pie Bars with an Oatmeal Brown Butter Crumb

recipe slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Makes 16 medium size bars

Ingredients:

For the Oatmeal Brown Butter Crumb:

1¼ cups white whole wheat flour (unbleached, all-purpose flour will work as well)

1¼ cups old fashion oats

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup light brown sugar

¾ cup unsalted butter, melted, browned and cooled slightly

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Pumpkin Pie Filling

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1 pinch ground cloves

¼ teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 egg yolk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1¼ cups canned pumpkin

⅓ cup evaporated milk

Directions:

First make the oatmeal crumb. Pre-heat your oven to 350 and adjust racks to center and upper positions. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper, allowing the paper to hang over the sides. Set aside because now it is time to make this delicious crumb topping. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, oats, sugars, baking soda and salt until thoroughly combined. Set aside. Melt your butter and whisk frequently. Once the butter has foamed watch carefully as the brown specks form and the butter turns more brown than yellow. You will know the butter has browned when it has a nutty smell to it. Remove from heat immediately so it doesn’t burn and allow to cool slightly. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract to the crumb mixture and stir until completely moist. It may be easier to stir the mixture with a fork. Press half of the mixture evenly into the prepared pan and bake on the center rack for 15 minutes.

Now make the pumpkin filling. In a medium bowl whisk together the sugars, spices and salt. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Lastly, add the pumpkin and evaporated milk until the mixture is very smooth.

When the crust has finished baking, pour the pumpkin pie filling over the bottom and bake a for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the crumb mixture on top. Place on the upper rack and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes or until the crumb is golden brown and center only jiggles a bit. Start checking the bars after 20 minutes. Once they are baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. After 1 to 2 hours, place the pan in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours. Cut into 16 squares and serve as is or with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. The bars can be made a day in advance and stored for up to 5 days in an air tight container, in the refrigerator. Enjoy!