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Posts Tagged ‘pumpkin’

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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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Of all four seasons, autumn has the best food. Its like Goldilocks and the three (well, four..) bears: Winter’s food is too heavy, Summer (and Spring) food is too light, and Autumn’s just right. Vegetables and Fruits get the attention they deserve, and the spices are warm without being heavy, simultaneously sweet and savory. It is often a time of indulgence, as people are eager to make desserts with the apples, pears, pumpkins, and even sweet potatoes that crowd the market shelves, but our bodies are pushed back into balance by the amount of nutrients in the available food: brussel sprouts, winter squash, leeks, green beans, and broccoli, are a few that come to mind (in addition to those mentioned above, of course).

Using fruits and vegetables in desserts has always been an interest of mine. I much prefer zucchini breads, banana muffins, sweet potato pies and berry cobblers to cheesecakes, pecan pies, and other (in my opinion) more cloying treats. Produce in desserts adds depth of flavor, texture, color, and boosted nutrition. Its also a great way to help introduce kids to unfamiliar and perhaps intimidating foods.

This recipe for Pumpkin Ginger Bars is special then, in two ways: it’s in tune with the season and it includes some healthy ingredients (like molasses, cinnamon, and pumpkin). It’s also the most addictive baked good I’ve ever made. The lightness of the filling combined with the chewy, crunchy base provides a textural contrast that most desserts lack. For me, when I have pumpkin pie, I find the crust to be superfluous, unnecessary, almost a dilution of the filling’s flavor. Not so with these; the crust is made with ginger snaps, and then covered in a thin layer of caramel, pairing perfectly with the homemade pumpkin filling. The filling is incredible on its own, but you’ll never leave tasteless crust behind when you eat these. So take a little time this afternoon to appreciate and share autumn’s bounty with these Pumpkin Ginger Bars. With two of these warm from the oven, a cup of mulled cider and a good book, you’ll be fully equipped for a cozy afternoon : )

Pumpkin Ginger Bars
Makes 28 bars

For Crust:
30 2″ gingersnap cookies (I like Sweetzels brand), crushed in a food processor
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/8 cup brown sugar

For Caramel layer:
2 bags Werther’s classic chewy caramels
1/2 cup milk
3 tbsp butter

For Pumpkin filling:
1 15oz. can pumpkin puree
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 cup molasses

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease a 13 x 9 in. pan (glass works especially well).

2. Combine the cookie crumbs, butter, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Dump the mixture into the greased pan and distribute evenly over the bottom. The mixture will be very crumbly but don’t worry. Press it down lightly with your hands and make sure the crust extends to the edges of the pan.

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3. Bake the crust blind for 10 minutes in the 425 degree oven to help it firm up. Don’t let it get too brown!

4. Unwrap caramels and place in a bowl over a pot of simmering water to melt. Add 1/2 cup milk and 3 tbsp butter to the bowl. Once caramels have melted, stir the mixture until it is fully incorporated and keep it over the double boiler to remain warm.

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5. When the crust is ready, pour the caramel mixture over the crust and spread delicately to distribute it evenly over the crust’s surface. It will be thin, but there is exactly enough.

6. Combine all remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over the caramel, again distributing the filling evenly.

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E. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 then lower oven to 350 and finish cooking for 35 more minutes. Bars are done when the top feels firm and the filling no longer jiggles in the center.

Note: I recommend letting these cool to room temp before slicing them, and when you do slice them, make sure you use a sharp knife and press down firmly- the bottom crust is very dense. Additionally, I would refridgerate these, or they will be incredibly chewy. The fridge makes the crust crunchy rather than chewy and I tend to find them even better this way.

Enjoy!

-M : )

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