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Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Dessert Countdown: Fast

Happy Monday! We are in the Thanksgiving week frenzy: supermarkets are packed, traffic is bad, and you get that last minute phone call that crazy Uncle Sal is joining you for the holiday (and your dessert table is lacking!). Here are a few recipes that take less than 30 min to prep, you can toss in the oven, and present on your beautiful table.

Apple-Molasses Spice Cake
 Real Simple


  • 1/2cup vegetable oil, plus more for the pan 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for the pan
  • 1 1/2teaspoons baking soda
  • 1teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 Granny Smith apples—peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • confectioners’ sugar, for serving

  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Oil a 9-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with a parchment circle, oil again, and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, molasses, brown sugar, egg, ginger, and ½ cup boiling water. Add to the flour mixture and whisk until just combined (do not overmix). Fold in the apples.
  3. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. Before serving, dust with the confectioners’ sugar.

Chocolate-Bread Parfaits
Lidia Bastianich

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup hot brewed espresso or very strong coffee
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1/2 pound white Pullman bread—crust removed, bread cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup sliced almonds (4 ounces)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 8 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring frequently, until smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the espresso with the sugar until dissolved. Whisk in the rum. Stir this mixture into the melted chocolate and fold in the bread cubes; let stand for 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, whip the cream until soft peaks form.
  5. Spoon half of the soaked bread cubes and any excess chocolate into 6 parfait glasses. Top with half of the whipped cream and half of the almonds. Repeat with the remaining bread and chocolate, whipped cream and almonds. Serve at once.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Thanksgiving Dessert Countdown: Pecans

Happy Wednesday! Today let's talk about a southern Thanksgiving tradition, but often overlooked in the north: pecans. Whether you say peCANs or peCAHNs, these little nuts give you an option besides the usual pumpkins and cranberries. Hide the kids with allergies, and let's dig in:

Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie
Andrea Albin

  • Pastry dough
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups pecan halves (1/2 pound)
  • Accompaniment: whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with a baking sheet on middle rack.
  2. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round and fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold overhang under and lightly press against rim of pie plate, then crimp decoratively. Lightly prick bottom all over with a fork. Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes (or freeze 10 minutes).
  3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in corn syrup, vanilla, zest, and salt. Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl, then whisk in corn syrup mixture.
  4. Put pecans in pie shell and pour corn syrup mixture evenly over them. Bake on hot baking sheet until filling is set, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool completely.
Cooks’ note: Pie can be baked 1 day ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Chocolate-Toffee Pecan Tart
Food Network Kitchens

For the Dough:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large egg, beaten
For the Filling:
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  1. Make the dough: Pulse the flour, cocoa, confectioners' sugar and salt in a food processor until combined. Add the butter; pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal with pea-size bits of butter. Add the egg and pulse once or twice. (Stop before the dough gathers into a ball.) Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a disk. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
  2. Place the dough on a large sheet of lightly floured parchment paper. Roll into a 12-inch round, no more than 1/8 inch thick. Invert the dough over a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and peel off the parchment; press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan. (If the dough tears, just pat it back together.) Trim the excess dough. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour.
  3. Position racks in the middle and lower third of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees F. Line the crust with foil, then fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake on the middle rack, 20 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and continue baking until crisp, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  4. Prepare the filling: Coarsely chop 1 cup pecans. Combine the butter, granulated sugar, vanilla and kosher salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the mixture turns dark amber, 6 to 8 minutes. Immediately stir in the chopped pecans and cook 1 to 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the corn syrup and brown sugar until dissolved. Cool until lukewarm, then whisk in the eggs and bourbon until combined. (The tart can be made 1 day ahead up to this point; cover and refrigerate the filling and wrap the cooled crust in plastic wrap.)
  5. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Place the tart shell on a baking sheet and pour in the filling up to the brim. Arrange the remaining 1/2 cup pecan halves on top. Bake on the lower oven rack until the tart is evenly browned and slightly domed in the center, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Maple Pecan Cookies
Gerry Moss

  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups pecans, coarsely chopped (4 1/2 ounces)
  1. In a medium bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Gradually beat in the sugar until well blended.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk with the maple syrup and vanilla. Drizzle the egg-yolk mixture into the butter, beating at low speed until incorporated.
  3. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and pecans. Divide the dough in half and shape into 2 disks. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or overnight. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before rolling it out.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325°. Roll out each disk of dough 1/4 inch thick between 2 sheets of wax paper. Cut the dough into 2-inch rounds and transfer to baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool.
MAKE AHEAD: The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month. The cookies will keep for up to 1 week in tightly sealed tins.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Thanksgiving Dessert Countdown: Cranberries

Just a little photo to get you in the
giving mood.
Happy Tuesday! We're talking about nature's sweet tarts today; let's talk cranberries! Not just for sauce (or centerpieces!), cranberries make a grown up and elegant addition to the dessert table. I'm always saddened by the number of people who won't eat the pumpkin pie (who doesn't love pumpkin?!), and apple pie can get a little blah no matter how many times you add a twist with a cheddar cheese crust. Cranberry appeals to a different audience - perhaps those who prefer citrus cakes and curds. Enter the little red berry! Let's see some of our options:

For the aforementioned citrus lovers.
Lemon-Cranberry Pie Bars
Sarah Jordan

  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • Baked Press-In Crust
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a saucepan, simmer the cranberries with 1/4 cup of the sugar, the cloves and water over moderately low heat until the berries pop and the liquid thickens, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain and press the puree through a fine sieve set over a bowl and let cool completely.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the remaining 2 1/2 cups of sugar with the eggs, egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice and flour.
  3. Mix 1 cup of the lemon filling into the cranberry puree; pour the rest of the lemon filling into the crust. Swirl in the cranberry-lemon mixture. Bake for 35 minutes, or until set. Transfer the pan to a rack; let cool. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve.
MAKE AHEAD: The bars can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

A combo for the crowd that can't wait for Christmas.
Sticky Cranberry Gingerbread
Melissa Clark

  • 2 cups/8 ounces/266 grams fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar
  • 1 stick/4 ounces/113 gramsunsalted butter
  • ⅔ cup/133 grams dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup/120 milliliters whole milk
  • ½ cup/120 milliliters maple syrup
  • ¼ cup/60 milliliters molasses
  • 1 ½ cups/185 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon/5 grams ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon/1 gram groundcinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon/3 grams baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon/3 grams kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon/1 gram baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon/14 grams grated fresh ginger (from 1-inch piece)
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9-inch square or round baking pan with parchment.
  2. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir together cranberries, granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon water. Stir the cranberries over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and cranberries form a sauce that is syrupy and bubbling thickly, about 10 minutes. Aim to have about half the cranberries broken down, with the remainder more or less whole.
  3. In a separate saucepan, stir together the butter, brown sugar, milk, maple syrup and molasses over medium heat. Bring it to just barely a simmer and then remove it from the heat. Do not let it come to a boil, or the mixture may curdle.
  4. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, baking soda and black pepper. Beat in the butter-maple syrup mixture and then beat in the eggs. Stir in the ginger.
  5. Scrape the batter into the pan. Drop fat dollops of cranberry sauce onto the surface of the cake batter. Drag a long, slender knife through the batter in a swirly design, as if you are marbling a cake. Transfer the cake to the oven and bake it until the top is firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire baking rack and let the cake cool completely before eating it.

For shortbread lovers (like my dad).
Cranberry Shortbread
Mary-Frances Heck

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1 10-ounce bag fresh (or frozen, thawed) cranberries
  • 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated grapefruit zest
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8x2" pan with parchment, leaving a 2" overhang on 2 opposite sides. Whisk flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Using your fingertips, rub butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  2. Transfer to prepared pan; press evenly onto bottom of pan (using the bottom of a flat measuring cup works well). Prick dough all over with a fork.
  3. Bake shortbread until cooked through and pale golden, 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely in pan. DO AHEAD: Shortbread can be made 3 days ahead. Cover pan tightly with plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
  4. Bring remaining 1/2 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cups cranberries, and grapefruit juice to a simmer in a small saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, until cranberries burst and mixture is syrupy, about 8 minutes. Stir in remaining cranberries and cook until skins begin to split, about 3 minutes. Let cool. DO AHEAD: Cranberry topping can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.
  5. Spread cooled cranberry topping over shortbread. Scatter zest over. Using paper overhang, lift shortbread from pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut shortbread.
Happy baking!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Thanksgiving Dessert Countdown: Atypical Sweets

Happy Monday everyone! Now that Halloween is behind us, and people are already discussing Christmas decorations, now seems like a great time to discuss the holiday that actually comes next - Thanksgiving! These recipes are different for a traditional holiday table, for those of us tired of the "same old, same old."

A little Russian treat...
Apple Sharlotka
Matt Danko

  • 4 Granny Smith apples—peeled, cored, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease the bottom and side of an 8-inch springform pan.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the sugar and let stand for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the flour with the cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the almond extract and the remaining 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar at medium-high speed until thick and pale yellow and a ribbon forms when the beaters are lifted, 8 to 10 minutes. Gently fold in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.
  4. Spread the apples in the prepared pan in an even layer, then pour the batter evenly over them. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow the batter to sink in a little.
  5. Bake the sharlotka for about 1 hour, until it is golden and crisp on top and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack and let rest for 15 minutes. Unmold and transfer to a serving platter. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve warm.
MAKE AHEAD: The sharlotka can be made up to 4 hours ahead.

Unusual Americana...
New England Cinnamon Sugar-Cider Donuts

  • 1 3⁄4 cups (7 3⁄4 oz.) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1⁄4 cup (1 1⁄8 oz.) whole wheat graham flour
  • 3 1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 1⁄2 cups sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1⁄4 cup apple cider
  • 1⁄4 cup buttermilk
  • Canola oil, for forming and frying
  1. Whisk flours, 2 tsp. cinnamon, baking powder, soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and 1⁄2 cup sugar until fluffy. Add yolks, vanilla, cider, and buttermilk; mix until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add dry ingredients and mix until a soft, sticky dough forms.
  2. Combine remaining cinnamon and sugar in a bowl; set aside. Heat 2" oil in a 6-qt. saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°. Using lightly oiled hands, roll about 1⁄4 cup batter into a loose, sticky ball; pat gently into a disk. With your thumb, make a 1 1⁄2" hole in the center of dough; carefully slide into oil and fry, flipping once, until golden, 3–4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a baking sheet with a wire rack; repeat with remaining dough. Let donuts cool completely; toss in cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Pie no more!
Pumpkin Bread Puddings Brulee
Ella Brennan, Bon Appetit, October 1999

  • 1 3/4 cups half and half
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 slices cinnamon raisin bread (each about 3 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches)
  • 3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon amaretto or Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 6 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
  1. Stir half and half and 3/4 cup sugar in medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove saucepan from heat; cool mixture to lukewarm.
  2. Spread butter over 1 side of each bread slice. Cut bread into 3/4-inch pieces. Divide among six 1 1/4-cup soufflé dishes or custard cups.
  3. Whisk pumpkin, yolks, egg, liqueur, vanilla, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl until blended. Add half and half mixture; whisk until smooth. Pour pumpkin custard over bread in dishes, dividing equally. Let stand 30 minutes, occasionally pressing on bread to submerge.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place soufflé dishes in large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of soufflé dishes; tent loosely with foil. Place roasting pan in oven. Bake puddings until knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Transfer puddings to rack and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
  5. Preheat broiler. Spoon 1 tablespoon whipping cream over top of each pudding. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon brown sugar over each. Broil puddings until tops are bubbly and golden brown, watching closely to avoid burning, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Happy baking!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Halloween for Kids and Adults

Happy Thursday everyone! We are in the Halloween countdown here people! There's STILL time to make your desserts, and this year the kids can get involved (in some, not all) of the fun...

The family that bakes together...makes a mess together...
Peanut Butter Spider Cookies
Rosanna Pansino

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 36 small chocolate-coated peanut butter cups, unwrapped
  • 72 candy eyes
Special equipment: one number 2 round pastry tip
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar, the peanut butter, brown sugar, butter and oil until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix until the dough starts to come away from the bowl. Scoop portions of the dough onto a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
  4. Roll the cookies in the remaining 1 cup sugar to coat, then place them onto a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet approximately 1-inch apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and carefully place your thumb in the center of each cookie. Return the baking sheet back to the oven and continue baking until the cookies are still soft to the touch and just a touch golden, 2 to 4 minutes. Be careful to avoid over-baking, as the cookies can become dry and tough. Cool the cookies completely.
  5. Melt the milk chocolate chips in the microwave and then place in a small pastry bag fitted with a very small round tip.
  6. Place the peanut butter cups upside-down into the indent of each cookie to create the spider bodies. Pipe a dot of chocolate onto the back of each candy eye and place in the center of the peanut buttercup right next to each other. Pipe 4 chocolate legs on each side of the body. Use the tip of a toothpick to smooth out the legs of the spiders.
  7. Allow the spider legs to set for 5 minutes, and then serve!
Notes: You can make these cookies ahead of time and store in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.

Pick your favorite cupcake recipe before you pipe on this cutie...
Purple Monster
Good Housekeeping

Bake your favorite cupcakes and turn your favorite frosting PURPLE!

Spoon purple frosting into a decorating bag fitted with a small star tip. Starting at the outer edge of the cupcake, pipe spikes of frosting in concentric circles to completely cover the top. Attach round white candies for eyes and mini M&M's for pupils, small red candy for the nose, and black shoestring licorice for hair.

For the mamas and the papas...and the annoying neighborhood kid that keeps bothering you (just kidding!)
Cinnamon Fireball Candies
Amanda Hesser

  • Vegetable spray
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon extract or oil
  • 1 teaspoon red food coloring
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and coat with vegetable spray. Stir together the sugar and corn syrup and 1/2 cup water in a medium heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat until it reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer.
  2. Remove from the heat, allow the bubbles to subside and then, with oven mitts on, stir in the cinnamon oil and food coloring. Pour the mixture onto the parchment paper and cool. Break into pieces.

Happy Halloween baking!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Pumpkin On My Mind

Wednesday's here and we're a few days away from my pumpkin picking weekend extravaganza! I'm looking forward to getting back to the farm, picking some pumpkins, and purchasing fresh apples (there's a big difference between what ends up in the store and what you buy at the farm!). How about fresh pumpkin ice cream? Yes, please! I've got so much pumpkin on the brain, I need to channel it into good use, i.e. baking. Love it or hate it, in the fall it always seems to come back to the pumpkin. With that, I give you pumpkin deliciousness!

Easy, peasy...
Pumpkin Parfaits
Justin Chapple

  • Two 15-ounce cans pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups mascarpone cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed chocolate wafer cookies (6 ounces)
  1. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the pumpkin puree with the pumpkin pie spice, salt, 2 cups of the mascarpone and 1 1/2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar until thick.
  2. In another large bowl, beat the heavy cream with the remaining 2 cups of mascarpone and 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form.
  3. Spoon half of the pumpkin mixture into 12 glasses and top with half of the mascarpone mixture and half of the crushed wafers. Repeat the layering once more. Refrigerate the parfaits until well-chilled, at least 1 hour, before serving.
MAKE AHEAD: The parfaits can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Great for lunch...
Pumpkin Cheesecake Crumble Squares
Jeanne Thiel Kelley

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 cup pecan halves (about 4 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
For crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter 9x9x2-inch metal baking pan. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Using on/off turns, blend first 4 ingredients in processor until coarse meal forms. Add pecans; using on/off turns, process until nuts are chopped. Add oats; process using on/off turns until mixture is moistened but not clumping. Press 3 1/2 cups crumbs onto bottom of prepared square pan (do not clean processor). Transfer remaining crumbs to lined baking sheet. Bake crumbs on sheet until golden, stirring once, about 12 minutes. Cool crumbs. Bake crust until golden, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven while preparing filling. Maintain oven temperature.
For filling:
  1. Blend all ingredients in same processor until smooth. Spread filling over warm crust; bake until set, dry in center, and beginning to rise at edges, about 20 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.
For topping:
  1. Mix all ingredients in small bowl. Spread evenly over hot filling. Bake until topping sets and bubbles at edges, about 5 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack. Sprinkle crumbs over topping; gently press into topping. Cover; chill until cold, about 2 hours. 
Do ahead: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Cut into squares.

Fancy Shmancy...
Maple Pumpkin Brulee Pie


  • Flour, for dusting
  • 1⁄2 recipe Flaky Butter Pie Dough
  • 1⁄4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1⁄4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 1⁄2 tbsp. potato starch
  • 2 1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1⁄2 tsp. ground clove
  • 1⁄2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 cup Demerara sugar


  1. Heat oven to 375°. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12″ round. Fit into a 9″ pie plate. Trim edges and crimp; chill 30 minutes.
  2. Whisk sugars and eggs in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add pumpkin, cream, syrup, potato starch, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, and salt; whisk until smooth. Pour filling over dough; using a spatula, spread into an even layer. Bake until just set in the center, 45–50 minutes. Transfer pie to a rack; let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.
  3. Sprinkle Demerara sugar evenly over surface of pie. Guide the flame of a blowtorch back and forth over surface until sugar caramelizes. Serve immediately.

Happy baking!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Howling for Halloween

Happy Monday everyone! I am back to the blog while my baby sleeps nearby...and while I know I should be napping (no need to remind me), since the little guy is about to wake up I figure I've got a few minutes to share some recipes! Halloween is only a few weeks away so it's time to start brewing up some treats (see what I did there?). While it's not the holiday for "pretty" cakes, like this one for my husband's birthday:
Almond cake with cannoli cream filling, topped with
classic vanilla buttercream. (local deliveries only!)
...we can still enjoy looking at one, can't we? Ready for dessert yet? Let's do it, Halloween-style!

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Espresso Meringue
Karen Hatfield for Food & Wine

  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 1/4 cups boiling water
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (1/2 pound), softened
  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso, plus more for sprinkling
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. Lightly spray the paper liners with vegetable oil spray. In a small bowl, mix the chocolate and 1/4 cup of cocoa. Add the boiling water and let melt, then whisk until smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla, then slowly beat in the dry ingredients and the chocolate mixture in 3 alternating batches.
  2. Fill the muffin cups three-fourths full with the batter. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, shifting the pans halfway through, until the cupcakes are springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then unmold them and transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  3. Mix the egg whites, confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon of espresso in a medium stainless steel bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and heat the whites, whisking constantly, until hot to the touch (165°). Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a whisk and beat at high speed until the meringue is stiff and glossy, about 5 minutes; if using a handheld mixer, beat for about 8 minutes.
  4. Scoop half of the espresso meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a large (3/4-inch) plain tip and pipe the meringue onto half of the cupcakes. Repeat with the remaining espresso meringue and cupcakes. Lightly sprinkle the meringue with cocoa and espresso powder and serve.
MAKE AHEAD: The frosted devil's food cupcakes can be kept in an airtight container overnight.

"Candy Corn" Pumpkin Blondies
Genevieve Ko

For the blondies:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • One 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin-pie spice
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the icing:
  • One (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Orange and yellow food coloring (preferably gel paste) for decorating
Make the blondies:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9- by 13-inch baking pan, line with parchment paper, and butter again.
  2. In a medium saucepan, cook the pumpkin over medium heat, stirring frequently, until reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes. Add the maple syrup and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pumpkin pie spice and butter until the butter melts. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Let stand until room temperature, about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir the brown sugar into the pumpkin mixture, then stir in the eggs and vanilla until incorporated. Add the flour mixture and stir until smooth. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.
  4. Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
  5. Place a large cutting board on top of the pan of blondies. Invert the pan and cutting board together, then lift off the pan and peel off the parchment paper. Cut the blondies into 3 even strips lengthwise, then cut each strip into 10 triangles with approximately 2-inch bases (you will have 1 smaller triangle on each end). Transfer the triangles to a large serving platter, flat bottom sides up.
Make the icing:
  1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy. Add the confectioners' sugar, maple syrup, lemon juice, and salt. Beat on low speed until well-mixed, then raise the speed to medium-high and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
Decorate the blondies:
  1. Transfer half of the icing to another large bowl and tint with orange. Transfer two thirds of the remaining to another bowl and tint yellow. Divide the orange, yellow, and white icings among 3 piping bags or resealable plastic bags. Snip small holes in the corner of each. Pipe the icings on the blondies in stripes to resemble candy corn: a thin strip of yellow along the wide end, a thick strip of orange in the center, and a small white tip. Let stand until set.
Do ahead:
  1. The blondies can be tightly wrapped and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. The iced blondies can be kept at room temperature for up to 4 hours.

Coconut-and-Almond Candy
Anita Chu

  • 7 fluid ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 14 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted
  • 16 ounces milk chocolate or coating chocolate
  1. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with foil and coat it with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Combine condensed milk, vanilla extract, and salt in a bowl.
  3. Add confectioners' sugar 1 cup at a time and stir with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated.
  4. Add coconut and stir until combined.
  5. Pour the mixture into the baking pan and press it into an even layer. Then press the almonds into the mixture in even rows. Chill candy in refrigerator until firm, about 1 hour.
  6. Using a sharp chef's knife, cut the candy into small rectangles.
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
  8. Melt and temper the chocolate, or simply melt the coating chocolate.
  9. Dip the bars into the chocolate, covering completely, and place them on the prepared sheet.
  10. Refrigerate candy for 30 minutes or until the chocolate has set.
Storage: Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 1 week.

Happy spooky baking!