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Archive for the ‘Cakes’ Category

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Some people like crunchy cookies, other likes soft, chewy cookies- I like both, but today I’m standing up for cakey cookies. Perhaps these would be better named as cake bites, since the dough is looser than normal cookie dough and the resulting texture is more like a cakey pumpkin blondie than a cookie, but the shape and size beckon me to continue to refer to them as cookies. The fact is, in order to make the cookies taste enough like pumpkin to merit their title, you have to moisten the batter with so much pumpkin puree that there’s no way this cookie could come out chewy, let alone crunchy.

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pumpkin cookie innards

Since the recipe calls for 1 cup of pumpkin puree and most cans are over 14 oz, use the extra for mini pie fillings, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin muffins, or freeze it in a ziplock bag to defrost when you want to make these cookies again- it won’t be long. Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Cake Bites (Soft Pumpkin Cookies)

Makes 40 small cookies

  • 2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup white or milk chocolate chips (or both)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silpat or lightly grease it.

2. Mix first seven ingredients (the dry ingredients) in a small bowl and set aside. Combine butter and sugar in another bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy and lightened in color, about 5 minutes.

3. Beat in egg, then stir in pumpkin puree. Add dry ingredient mixture all at once and stir until just combined. At this point you can fold in white or milk chocolate chips if you;re making drop cookies, or if you;re piping the cookies, add the cookie dough to a pastry bag fitted with a tip at least 1/2” wide. Drop or pipe cookies onto baking sheet and if you piped the cookies, place one chip, white or milk, in the center of each cookie.

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4. Bake in the center of the oven for 10-12 minutes. Cookies should be fairly firm to the touch, but not dry, and they should only be barely browned on the top and bottom. Move to a rack, cool, and enjoy! Cookies keep in an air tight container for up to 5 days.

-M : )

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There are some no-brainer food combinations that come to mind when I think of things to make for dessert: chocolate and mint, chocolate and cherry, chocolate and coconut, chocolate and almond, chocolate and peanut butter, white chocolate and berries, hmm…chocolate, white, milk, or dark, seems to compliment an inexhaustible list of flavors, huh? However, chocolate desserts, even when they contain fruit, can be quite heavy. The solution? Use the chocolate as a background flavor, as I’ve done in this take on a napoleon, using pate a choux (cream puff) disks in place of the traditional puff pastry rectangles, and pumpkin white chocolate puree in place of the heavy pastry cream filling. The result is a light, texturally interesting, and visually impressive dessert. And, of course, it’s delish- would I post the recipe if it wasn’t? Be assured, its a winner. Enjoy! : )

Pumpkin White Chocolate Pate a Choux “Napoleon”

Pate a Choux Dough (adapted from Nick Malgieri’s “How to Bake“)

Makes 30 3” rounds

1 cup water

6 tablespoons butter (I actually prefer salted butter, here)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup all purpose flour

4 large eggs

2/3 cup coarse white sugar, for sprinkling (coarse brown sugar is a fine substitute- look for demerara sugar)

pastry bag with 1/4 inch round tip

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a large baking sheet, or place a spat mat on the baking sheet. Arrange racks so that they are in the center of the oven.

2. Combine water, butter, and salt in a medium size saucepan or pot over medium high heat and bring to a boil. When mixture boils, turn off heat, add flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon until incorporated and mixture leaves the sides of the pot cleanly.

3. Transfer paste to a bowl and spread the paste up the sides of the bowl to quicken cooling process. Let cool for 1 minute, then add eggs, one at a time, stirring until each is absorbed before adding the next.

4. Spoon mixture into pastry bag fitted with 1/4 inch wide round tip and pipe 3” pinwheels onto the baking sheet, keeping 1” between each puff. Pipe pinwheels by starting in the center first and coiling the dough around the center. When you’ve made a 3” pinwheel, release pressure on the bag and pull the tip away to the side (don’t pull the tip up) in a quick motion. Sprinkle tops of pinwheels liberally with coarse sugar. Don’t worry about shaking excess sugar off the baking sheet or mat, it will just caramelize in the oven and add extra crunch to the pinwheels.

4. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden and fully cooked through. Puffs should retain their shape out of the oven. If they collapse on themselves, bake for an extra minute or two.
Pumpkin White Chocolate Puree

Makes enough for 4 Napoleons

1 small can pumpkin puree

1/4 cup real maple syrup

2 tsp molasses

1 tsp cinnamon

pinch nutmeg

1 cup white chocolate chips, melted in the microwave

Method:

1. Mix 1/2 pumpkin puree (1 of the two parts) with the rest of the ingredients, except for the white chocolate, together in a bowl. Divide in half. Add melted white chocolate chips to one of the halves, mix and set both bowls aside.

Construction of the “Napoleon”

Pate a Choux Pinwheels

Pumpkin Puree

White Chocolate Pumpkin Puree

white chocolate chips, about 1/8 cup per person

1. Place a pinwheel cream puff in the center of a plate. Spoon or pipe about 1 tbsp of the non-white chocolate pumpkin puree onto the pinwheel and repeat layering process until you have used 3 pinwheels. Repeat with other plates.

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on top: the recipe; on bottom: a variation

2. Drizzle white chocolate pumpkin puree over each stack and sprinkle with white chocolate chips so your guests know the components of the dessert. Enjoy!

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-M : )

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I used to work at this company where a few of my friends who like to cook would get together every Wednesday and one person would make lunch for the rest of the group. People in the group called it the “lunch club”, while people who wished they were in the group called it the “finer things club” because it reminded them of the club by the same name in The Office. While we didn’t sit around reading poetry and sipping tea from fine china the way they do in The Office, we were very lucky to have incredibly good food one day a week. Needless to say, while they were excited to have a culinary school grad a part of their club, I felt honored to be included. To shake things up for the holidays, we decided to have a potluck last week instead of burdening one person with cooking an entire holiday meal.

Now I choose to bring dessert for one reason and one reason only- it was an excuse to make my mom’s chocolate bourbon walnut pie. Now I know what you’re thinking- that’s not the title of the post! You promised Chocolate Pecan Pie and who said anything about Bourbon?? Well, us girls on a budget can’t buy bourbon just to add 1/4 cup in a pie, and we also can’t go searching around town for walnuts when there aren’t any at the supermarket. Thankfully, pecans are a great subsitute, and despite being non-alcoholic, its still going to be your new favorite Chocolate Pecan Pie. And if you don’t have an old favorite, you’re really in for a treat!

Now before I go into the recipe, I’ve got to say, corn syrup is not my favorite ingredient. It has no nutritional value, it spikes your blood sugar, and it can be substituted with honey when an invert sugar is called for in a recipe (such as in fudge making). However, I have found that in pecan pie, corn syrup lends the perfect texture to the finished product; the pie remains moist, the nuts distribute evenly, and there’s never a grainy feel in your mouth from crystallized sugar. So if you’re opposed to nutritionally devoid ingredients like corn syrup, feel free to substitute honey here, but if you’re willing to loosen the reigns this once, use corn syrup.

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Mmm..don’t you love it when the top gets golden and caramelized?

Your New Favorite Chocolate Pecan Pie

Serves 8

  • 1 (9 inch) pie shell
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. In a bowl over simmering water, combine sugar, corn syrup, and butter. Stir over medium-low heat until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Take off the heat and cool slightly.

3. While the sugar mixture cools, sprinkle chocolate chips over the pie shell.

4. In a large bowl combine eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. Whisking constantly, slowly pour sugar mixture into egg mixture. Stir in pecans. Pour mixture into pie shell, over the chocolate chips.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the center is just set and the top is golden. The pie is great warm, but I prefer it at room temperature, once the texture has fully set. Serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or even creme fraiche, which counters its sweetness. Enjoy!

-M : )

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