Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Silky Smooth Pumpkin Pie

My first pumpkin pie! I can't believe I never made one before. That's probably because I always want to make something "different", so I miss out on the basic pies and cakes. ;) The pie turned out well, however, I had some issues. I didn't roll my dough flat enough for the crust...since I don't have a rolling pin! What kind of baker am I?? Therefore, I used less filling and had to adjust the baking time. I actually liked the thick crust though. It could have turned out worse - as I reached for the nutmeg, I accidentally grabbed white pepper and realized it right before I dumped the 1/4 teaspoon into the pot....
A half-recipe of your favorite pie crust, chilled (I used Smitten Kitchen's All-Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough)

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can (regular canned yams can be substituted)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (I used 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground because I didn't have fresh ginger)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon table salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Roll out dough on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to make 12-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang all around pie plate.
Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Using thumb and forefinger, flute edge of dough. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.
Remove pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake on rimmed baking sheet 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate. Bake 5 to 10 more minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp. Remove plate and baking sheet from oven.
Make the filling: While pie shell is baking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove pan from heat. Whisk in cream mixture slowly, until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Re-whisk mixture and transfer to warm pre-baked pie shell. Return pie plate with baking sheet to oven and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees. Continue baking until edges are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees), 20 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. (The pie finishes cooking with resident heat; to ensure the filling sets, cool it at room temperature and not in the refrigerator.)

Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies

I picked up a few bags of Nestle's dark chocolate mint chips for the holidays so was looking for the perfect chocolate cookie to add them to. I believe I found it! These cookies were very chewy and rich. I really liked the mint chips, though I'm sure any type of chip (peanut butter, white chocolate, semi-sweet...) would be great. I definitely need to make these again!

Adapted from: www.traceysculinaryadventures.blogspot.com (originally from Baker's Illustrated)

INGREDIENTS (yields 42 cookies)
2 cups (10 oz.) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz.) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed (10 1/2 oz.) light brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz.) granulated sugar
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (optional - I used dark chocolate mint chips)

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl then set aside.
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water until completely melted and smooth; remove from the heat. (Alternatively, microwave the chocolate in 30 second intervals, mixing thoroughly in between, until melted and smooth.) In a small mixing bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla and instant coffee granules; stir well with a fork to dissolve; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 seconds. Mix in the sugars until well combined, about 45 seconds – the mixture will look granular. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually beat in the egg mixture until incorporated, about 45 seconds. Add the chocolate to the bowl in a steady stream and continue beating until combined, about 40 seconds. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer at low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated, being careful not to overbeat. Fold in the chocolate chips (if using) with a rubber spatula. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until the consistency is scoopable and fudge-like, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets with a 1 3/4-inch cookie dough scoop, spacing the dough balls about 1 1/2 inches apart.
Bake until the edges of the cookies have just began to set but the centers are still very soft, about 10 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking. Cool the cookies on the sheets about 10 minutes, transfer to cooling racks and allow to cool completely.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Apple Blondies with Maple Glaze

These taste like fall! They are so good that I'm adding them to my Thanksgiving dessert menu. I'm making a pumpkin pie (for the first time, can you believe that?) and some sort of chocolate cheesecake, but I love to have some type of bar and/or cookie. These are perfect. They were pretty easy to make too, which will be nice since I will be prepping our house for 17 people on Thanksgiving!

Adapted from: http://www.ellysaysopa.com/

1 cup brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 medium apple, peeled and diced
2/3 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
milk or cream

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease an 8×8 pan.
Mix together the brown sugar and butter. Add the egg, vanilla and almond, whisking until just combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Add that to the butter mixture, folding with a spatula at the end so as not to overmix. Fold in apples and walnuts. Pour the mixture into the baking dish, and smooth the top. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until set in the middle.
To make the glaze, combine the confectioners sugar and maple syrup, and drizzle in milk until you get the consistency you want. Drizzle over slightly cooled blondies.