Category Archives: Breads

Gluten-Free Biscotti

Gluten-free biscotti seems to be one of the few GF baked goods that I have mastered. Biscotti is amazingly simple, and it’s a great little nibbler. As a kid, I didn’t like biscotti – not because of the hardness or anything, but I think it was because most biscotti seems to have anise extract, and I really don’t like the taste of licorice. It makes me vaguely nauseous, for whatever reason. But yeah, I didn’t like it as a kid, though somewhere along the way I decided that it was worth trying to make.

A few years ago I purchased a book called The Dessert Bible by Christopher Kimball. I found it at the UW Tacoma bookstore, of all places, on clearance for four dollars or something, and it looked pretty awesome. It has side-by-side grid comparisons on different ingredients in a particular recipe, showing the results of using x-amount of butter versus margarine, or white sugar versus brown sugar. It’s pretty awesome. And so far, the recipes I have tried in it have been really good, not bland or anything, but definitely a good basis from which to experiment. Awesome stuff.

I made these based on the biscotti recipe in this book, using Gluten Free Mama’s Coconut Blend and some xanthan gum. I had to add a little water to the original recipe because mine turned out a bit dry, even after adding another tbsp of butter to compensate for the generally dryer tendency of the flour. All-in-all, it’s a really awesome recipe to start out with if you’re new to the GF baking thing.

Gluten-Free Biscotti

2 cups Gluten Free Mama’s Coconut Blend
1 tsp xanthan gum
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup almonds (slivered, sliced, or whole)
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 tbsp melted butter
2 tsp anise extract or 1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp water

Adjust a rack to the center position and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nuts in a large bowl and stir to combine. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, butter, and anise or vanilla and whisk to fully combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg mixture. Using a rubber spatula, mix to combine until a rough dough forms.

Turn out the dough onto a work surface and knead a couple of times, or until the dough comes together. (This is where you would add the water if the ingredients aren’t sticking together enough – one tbsp at a time, make sure that all the water is incorporated before adding more.) Start to form the dough into a big, fat cigar and cut it in half. Form each half into a cigar shape or log about 1 inch thick, 2 inches wide, and about 12 inches long. Place logs onto the cookie sheet and press lightly with your fingers to slightly flatten.

Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The bars (cigars) will be firm to the touch and just slightly browned. Remove from the oven and lower the temperature to 300°F. Let the bars cool on the cookie sheet for 15 minutes.

Remove the bars to a cutting board using two spatulas. Using a serrated knife, cut the bars diagonally into slices about 1/2 inch thick to form the biscotti. Lay them back on the cookie sheet with either cut side down and place back in the oven for 15 minutes. Turn each cookie to expose the other cut side and place back in the oven for another 15 minutes. The cookies will take on the slightest bit of color and feel firm and dry. Let cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Store in an airtight container.

I tried one of them, and it was pleasantly sweet from the coconut flour, but it seemed to be missing something, so I did an extra little something to make them all the more special.

20 pieces of Dove dark chocolate (I pretty much always have a couple of bags of Dove chocolate from the holiday bags that go on clearance. Doing the piece kind rather than the bars makes tempering chocolate using the seeding method much easier because you don’t have to worry about weighing things out)
glass or metal bowl
silicone spatula
candy thermometer
sauce pan

Unwrap 16 pieces of Dove dark chocolate and place them in the bowl. Place the bowl over a sauce pan that is just large enough for the bowl to sit on top of without touching the inch of water inside. Turn the water onto medium and stir the chocolate as it melts. As it starts to really melt, stick the thermometer in and keep stirring the chocolate until everything is melted and the thermometer reads 120°F. Remove bowl from the pan, and quickly unwrap the remaining four chocolates (you want a ratio of 1/4 the amount of chocolate you originally put into the bowl for seeding) and add them to the bowl. Stir the chocolate constantly, and as the seeding pieces become incorporated into the melted chocolate, keep an eye on the thermometer. Once it hits 85°F, you should have perfectly tempered chocolate. You’ll notice that it’s getting a bit thick and harder to stir. Go ahead and take the sauce pan with its cooling water off the stove and put the bowl back in it for a minute or so, stir the chocolate until it’s a bit more liquidy. You don’t want to heat it to more than 89°F or else you’ll lose your temper. Take each biscotti and dip the bottom/one end into the chocolate, gently scrape the excess off with the spatula without uncovering any particular spot, and put the biscotti on wax paper or a silicone baking sheet to set. The chocolate should take on a nice shine and set quickly. After that, go ahead and put them in pretty boxes or bags to give to people, or just scarf them down because they’ll make you so much happier than you can imagine.

Cinnamon rolls!

I keep making recipes that require my hands way too much, which makes it really very hard to take pictures with the very expensive camera. Thus no pictures once again.

I came to a startling realization last week when I was looking for a cinnamon roll recipe: I have absolutely no cinnamon roll recipes in all my cookbooks. None. At all. What’s up with that?! I mean, really? A good cinnamon roll is amazing. Eventually, probably sooner rather than later, I will learn the trick.

Mikal has been encouraging me to look at Cooking Light versions of recipes to get a feel for what methods they use to cut down on the richness of various foods. Since I’m planning on making quite a few of these and freezing them so that I can take them out for breakfast or a snack or something, I decided to make a slightly healthier version and go from there. There are just a couple of things I would change about this recipe to make it a slight bit better for my future batches. First, I stead of brushing melted butter over the inside of the dough so that the filling sticks and melts, I’m going to make a paste of butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. I know that cuts down on the whole “light” idea, but I found that this batch of rolls came out a bit dry. The second thing would be to reserve just enough of the filling spread to put a bit on top of the buns before they cook. Just a very light coating, I think, to give it a bit more oomph. I’ll post my findings as an add-on to this post at a later date.

Cinnamon Rolls

Rolls
1 cup warm fat-free milk (100° to 110°)
6 tablespoons melted butter, divided
1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 package quick-rise yeast
16 22/25 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3 3/4 cups)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Icing
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar

To prepare rolls, combine milk, 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and yeast in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups. Add egg and remaining granulated sugar to bowl. Stir in 4.5 ounces (1 cup) flour; let stand 10 minutes.

Add 11.25 ounces (about 2 1/2 cups) flour and salt to milk mixture; stir until a soft dough forms (dough will be sticky). Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray; turn to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 35 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rise 35 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes.

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; roll dough into an 18 x 11–inch rectangle. Brush remaining 3 tablespoons melted butter over dough; sprinkle evenly with brown sugar mixture. Beginning at one long side, roll up dough tightly, jelly-roll fashion; pinch seam to seal (do not seal ends of roll). Cut dough into 18 (1-inch) slices. Arrange 9 slices, cut sides up, in each of 2 (8-inch) square baking dishes coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 35 minutes or until doubled in size. I put mine into muffin tins to make them easier to store individually, and that worked really well.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Uncover rolls. Bake at 350° for 22 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 10 minutes in dishes on a wire rack. Turn rolls out onto wire rack; cool 5 minutes. Turn rolls over.

To prepare icing, combine 3 tablespoons softened butter and cream; stir with a whisk. Stir in vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar; stir until blended. Spread icing over rolls; serve warm.

Actually, there is another something I don’t really like about this recipe: the icing. If you check out the image in the linked recipe, it really doesn’t look very appetizing…. And that’s how it turns out. I think I’m going to find a different something to put on top… But maybe not. It doesn’t taste bad or anything, it just doesn’t show well, especially if you apply it cold or let it cool too much while eating. Looks kinda funny. >.>

Earl Grey Madeleines

But first, the chocolate chip cookies.

I managed to get a new range, which was a very good thing. And as a way to break it in, I made my favorite cookie recipe. I’ve been using it since some time during high school, and it has never failed me. I realized at some point that I use it to test out new ovens, which does make sense. I’m familiar enough with the recipe that I know what to expect at every turn, and I know how it reacts on certain stoves – if it takes 8 minutes, the stove runs a bit hot; if it takes a straight 10 minutes, that’s pretty good; if it takes 11-12 minutes, then I need to have patience with the poor stove.

I started using this recipe purely as a fluke, but I have completely fallen in love with it. It’s rich (a lot of butter – but anything worth doing is worth doing well), it has the perfect blend of white and brown sugar to make it melt just enough… so good! Very much my comfort food when I’m feeling too lazy to bake other things.

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

10 ounce(s) 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
2 1/4 cup(s) unsifted flour
1 teaspoon(s) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon(s) teaspoon salt
1 cup(s) (2 sticks) butter
3/4 cup(s) sugar
3/4 cup(s) packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoon(s) vanilla

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Stir flour with baking soda and salt; set aside. In large mixer bowl, cream butter with sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

If this seems like there’s a lot in the mixer, it’s because there is. I made a double batch so I could freeze some. 

Drop 1 tablespoon of dough per cookie onto ungreased cookie sheets.

When I first started making these cookies, I was still very much not a fan of getting my hands icky with sticky-gooey-greasy stuff. I would scoop with one spoon, and scrape off the scooped dough with another. It resulted in flatter, more oddly-shaped cookies. I liked them, frankly. They had nicely crisped edges. Then one day I baked with my bestest friend Lysandra, and she was rolling the dough into balls. I kinda thought it was funny, but I noticed that hers came out much more uniformly, and I liked that. I’ve been trying to perfect the way I do the cookies since then. I found that if I refrigerate them then roll them, they’re much easier to roll and don’t stick to my hands as much, but they don’t flatten out as much, tend to be much more normal-cookie-ish. If I don’t refrigerate, I get dough all over my hands. I’ve recently turned to cookie scoops, but the last one I had disappointed me by breaking. I got a new one that seems like it might actually hold up, but with these I refrigerated the dough, not thinking too much about it. I had to bake them for a slight bit longer to get the same sort of effect (about three minutes longer) as far as the browning, but even so they’re still more… thick than I’m accustomed to. But! using a cookie scoop makes it much easier to pack them onto a cookie tray for freezing 🙂 

Bake at 375ºF for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.

 


So, this is the third week that I have tried to make madeleines. Luckily, there was success! Finally! Of course, I’m not entirely sure how successful, since I’m pretty sure I haven’t had any other madeleines than one from Starbucks in those little packages. Yes, I went to France and didn’t have madeleines. I was busy with many other delights.

I let my mother know I was going to be posting about madeleines, and she said, “Are you going to mention Proust? You can’t mention madeleines without talking about Proust.” Strangely, I had never read Proust’s materials on madeleines, so I looked it up. The excerpt comes from Remembrance of Things Past. I won’t go into depth on it, but the link I read is here. Proust talks about going home and his mother feeding him madeleines and coffee, and from the first bite of the madeleine he is thrown back into some wonderful memory from an earlier time. The phenomenon is called involuntary memory. It tends to hit as suddenly as déjà vu, and is nearly as elusive in recapturing, but pertains to memory rather than your neurons chasing their own tails. It’s an interesting little read. I really haven’t read much Proust, but this makes me want to read more.

Anyway, Mikal keeps complaining that there aren’t as many tea-oriented pastries as there are coffee: coffee cake, espresso mousse, etc. So I found Earl Grey Madeleines with Honey.

Earl Grey Madeleines with Honey

5 tablespoons unsalted butter plus additional for molds, room temperature
2 tablespoons loose tea or tea from 2 tea bags (preferably Earl Grey)

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon (packed) finely grated lemon peel

Line small sieve with 2 layers of damp cheesecloth and set sieve over small bowl. Melt 5 tablespoons butter in saucepan over low heat. Mix in tea. Let stand 10 minutes, then pour into sieve. Twist cheesecloth tightly around tea mixture, releasing tea-flavored butter into bowl.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in large bowl until thick, about 4 minutes. Add honey, vanilla, and lemon peel; beat 1 minute longer. Gently fold in dry ingredients, then tea-flavored butter. Press plastic wrap onto surface of batter; chill batter at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.

Just an fyi on the fridge time thing: if you leave it in too long, it will deflate. That’s the one thing I noticed from the failed batch when my stove died. 

Yay! I finally learned this trick! Funny how once I kinda sorta knew how to do it, I worried a lot less >.>;

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Brush twelve 3×2-inch madeleine molds with butter. Dust with flour; tap out excess. Place pan on baking sheet. Drop 1 scant tablespoon batter into each mold (batter will spread while baking, filling molds completely).

Yeah… When the recipe called for a scant tablespoon, I took it at its word, and immediately thought, “Wait, that looks like a lot. But they must know what they’re talking about, right? C_C” And I eventually remembered that I opted for the mini-madeleine pan, which means that I need about half of what they were saying. So Mikal has a bunch of oversized madeleines for his nomming pleasure. 

Bake madeleines until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 10 minutes. Sharply rap pan on work surface to loosen madeleines, then turn out onto rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

As I said, I really haven’t had much in the way of madeleines, but I think I will be making some normal ones at some point. These have a good flavor, but I remember the ones from Starbucks having a much lighter/gentler flavor. For me, these taste too much like tea, or rather that the mixture of the tea, vanilla, and the type of honey we used was just all a bit loud for this. Mikal wants to try creating an ultra-concentrated earl grey, and substituting the vanilla for that, and see how it makes it taste. All in all, these are pretty easy to make, as long as you remember to put the eggs on high speed when making them fluffy. I may also invest in a silicone mold… I had forgotten how much dark pans effect baking. :/

A very pumpkiny day

This was the view that greeted me this morning out my kitchen window. Wonderful view while making coffee 😀

I had a completely different recipe planned for today (it will likely appear next week), but I found that we still had a couple of jars of pumpkin puree that were (surprisingly) still good. So I decided to figure out what I could do to use all the puree. I spent most of my day on five pumpkiny recipes. In each of the recipes, I used my puréed pumpkin in place of canned.

Pumpkin Flapjacks

2 cups all-purpose flour
(I used 1/2 wheat flour 1/2 white because I have more wheat flour than I know what to do with)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups milk (I used soy milk because I had a lot of that to get rid of)
1 cup canned pumpkin
4 large eggs separated
1/4 cup butter, melted

In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In another bowl, beat milk, pumpkin, egg yolks, and butter to blend. Stir into flour mixture until evenly moistened.In another bowl, with a mixer on high speed, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into batter just until incorporated.

Around 40% of the time I set my mind on a particular recipe, I get in trouble for not reading the whole thing through. Either I’ll be missing some necessary ingredient, a pan or tool, the dough will need to set overnight, or, as in the case of this recipe, it uses a technique I have managed to completely fail to master in previous attempts. I have made two cakes that require whipped egg whites folded into the batter. Each time, the cake has literally fallen flat. I finally figured out that the reason for it is I haven’t started the egg whites whipping at a high enough speed. I tend to do too many things at once, so I was starting the whipping off at a lower speed so I wouldn’t overdo what I was attempting. Underdoing is just as bad as overdoing, it turns out.

Place a nonstick griddle or 12-inch nonstick frying pan over medium heat; when hot, coat lightly with oil and wipe dry with a paper towel. (I tend to use cast-iron skillets for pancakes, because they heat evenly.) Pour batter in 1/2 cup portions on to griddle, spreading slightly with the back of a spoon, and cook until pancakes are browned on the bottom and edges begin to look dry, about 3 minutes; turn with a wide spatula and brown other side, 2-3 minutes longer. Adjust heat as needed to maintain even temperature. (Again, if I had read the directions all the way through, I’d have seen the “spreading slightly with the back of a spoon” bit. As it was, I used a 1/3 cup measure, and the flapjacks were rather poofy.)

Serve immediately or keep warm on baking sheets at 200°F for 15 minutes.

These had a rather light flavor, and great texture, for all the fluffyness. But if you’re going to be like me and not spread them, you do have to cook them at a lower heat a bit longer to make sure they cook all the way through without starting to burn. The batch made 11 1/3 cup flapjacks.

 


 

My mother didn’t bake a whole lot when I was younger, I believe mostly because she worked a lot and was getting her PsyD, which really doesn’t leave a lot of time for such things. When we moved up to Washington state and I entered high school, though, the first couple of summers saw Mom doing a lot of baking. I have a very vivid memory of the first time I saw Mom make scones. I was intrigued when she got out a couple of butter knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients. And then I was a bit grossed out when she added the rest of the wet ingredients and was working with her hands and the dough was all gooey and sticky… I really don’t like sticky stuff on my hands. The first time I tried making scones myself I tried to do it with a wooden spatula, but it just didn’t work. Over the years I have gradually become more comfortable having various cooking ingredients on my hands, though I still have issues with slimy things like egg white and raw chicken.

This second recipe is the one I had planned to make all along, ever since I bought the pumpkins. Life just kept getting in the way, until I decided to not let it by doing this blog. Once the scones were done, I decided to add a Maple glaze I had seen somewhere, because the tops looked a little on the dry side.

Pumpkin Scones

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (Again, I used 1/2 wheat)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp milk (Again, I used soy milk)
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp granulated sugar

In a bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and salt. Add 1/2 cup butter and, with a pastry blender or your fingers, cut or rub in until pea-size crumbs form.

In a small bowl, whisk pumpkin and 1/2 cup milk until well-blended. Add to flour mixture and stir just until dough is evenly moistened.

Scrape onto a lightly floured board, turn over to coat, and gently knead just until dough comes together, 5-6 turns. (Really, don’t go more than this. I forgot how much just a little kneading will effect scones >< ) Pat dough into a 6-inch round 1 1/2 inches thick; cut into 6 equal wedges.

Separate wedges and place on a lightly buttered 12×15 inch baking sheet. In a small bowl, beat egg yolk and 1 tbsp milk to blend; brush lightly over tops of scones and discard any remaining egg wash. In another small bowl, mix granulated sugar and remaining 1/4 tsp cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over scones.

Bake at 375°F until scones are golden brown, 25-30mins. Transfer to a rack; serve warm or cool.

Mine needed the full 30mins, but I have yet to invest in a nifty oven thermometer, so my oven temp may be a bit off.

 


 

After I did the flapjacks and the scones, I still had -tons- of pumpkin purée left, so I went a bit farther in my search for pumpkin recipes.

Pumpkin Chai Pots de Crème

1 cup whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup canned cooked pumpkin
1/3 cup chai tea concentrate or strong brewed chai tea
2 tsp grated orange peel or Meyer lemon peel
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a 2-3 quart pan over medium heat, stir cream, milk, and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved, 2-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a bowl, whisk egg yolks until light yellow. Add granulated sugar and whisk until blended. Gradually whisk a fourth of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture. Then slowly whisk in remaining cream mixture as well as the pumpkin, chai, orange peel, and vanilla.

Set six ramekins in a 12×16 inch glass pan at least 2 inches deep. Divide mixture among ramekins (I managed eight, but I think most of mine are a bit smaller than the average ramekin). Set pan in oven and pour in boiling water halfway up sides of ramekins.

Bake until custards barely jiggle when gently shaken, 45-50 minutes. Lift ramekins out of water and let cool on racks for 30 minutes, then chill until cold, at least 1hr. Cover when cold.

I have made chocolate pots de crème before, and I have made crème brulée a few times. This reminded me more of crème brulée, so I attempted to brulée. I looked in one of my recently acquired Culinary Institute of America books to see what method they use for bruléeing, and found that they use white sugar. I had previously used brown sugar, which is ok, but it tends to clump when trying to spread it out. So I tried the white sugar…. not as good. It didn’t melt and yummify the way the brown sugar did, but the jury is still out on that. If you have any experience experimenting between the two sugars in bruléeing, let me know. I’d love to hear what other people have done. Additionally, this had a less-smooth texture than I’m used to with crème brulée or chocolate pots de crème, which seems to be due to the pumpkin purée? A little unexpected, though understandable once I thought about it.

 


 

I was a bit iffy on the next recipe, just because I’ve never really done any bar cookies. I’ve seen my friend Amber make her famous lemon squares, but that’s not quite the same as doing. This recipe was surprisingly easy, though I did have one hiccough when I was reading the directions for the filling (blend all ingredients together), but looking at the ingredient list for the topping… Somehow I was still doing the right ingredients as far as the cream cheese and pumpkin, though I think I added vanilla. It wasn’t until I had spread the filling in the pan and decided to taste a little out of the bowl and realized it wasn’t nearly sweet enough that I looked back at the recipe and completely facepalmed XD Had to take all the filling back off the crust (no easy task, since it was rather warm and meltingish) and add the rest of the ingredients. All that being done, though, they turned out amazing. It’s a toss-up between this and the flapjacks as to which was the most successful experiment.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Crumble Squares

Crust
1 cup flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter, diced
1 cup pecan halves
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats

Filling
8 oz. cream cheese
3/4 cup pumpkin purée
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger

Topping
1 cup sour cream
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter 9x9x2-inch baking pan. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Pulse the first four ingredients in processor until coarse meal forms. Add pecans; pulse until nuts are chopped. Add oats; pulse until mixture is moistened but not clumping. Press 3 1/2 cups crumbs onto bottom of prepared square pan. Transfer remaining crumbs to the lined baking sheet. Bake crumbs on sheet until golden, stirring once, 12-15mins. Cool crumbs. Bake crust until golden, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven while preparing filling.

For the filling:
Blend all ingredients in same processor until smooth. Spread filling over warm crust; bake until set, dry in center, and beginning to rise at the edges, about 20 minutes. (I had to run to the store really quick, and came back a few minutes after the oven had gone off. It was obvious that the cheesecake was a little overdone, but that really didn’t impact the overall flavor or texture of the squares.)

For the topping:
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 2hrs.

Keep chilled. Cut into squares.

So seriously good. The crust has a similar flavor to a graham cracker crust, but it’s a bit crunchier. I want to do a raspberry one, because that’s what I kept thinking when I ate it. I mean, it tasted like pumpkin, but apparently my memory of bar cookies of this type is strongest relating to raspberry ones, I just can’t remember actually having raspberry bar cookies…

 


 

After all these sweets, I figured a real-food dish would probably be appropriate, especially if I don’t want to have a stomach ache and gain twenty lbs over the next couple of days. I have made a couple of other squash soups that have gone off pretty well… There was a gingery one that was a lot more ginger than I realized, so we ended up using it as a dip for breads rather than a soup. This soup turned out really well – the brown sugar added at the end gives it just the right sweetness to counterpoint the other flavors and bring everything together.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Ginger Browned Butter

2 lbs Sugar Pie or other pumpkin (I used 4-4 1/2 cups puréed pumpkin, which may have been a bit on the light side.)
2 lbs butternut or acorn squash
8 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
7 tbsp butter, divided
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp freshly grated ginger, divided
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut pumpkin and squash in half lengthwise, scoop out strings and seeds. Put flesh-side up in a large roasting pan with 1 cup broth. Cover pan with foil and bake until tender, about 1hr.

Meanwhile, melt 3 tbsp butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and 1 tsp salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and start to look creamy, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low or medium-low and cook onions, stirring every few minutes, until they turn a caramel color and become quite sweet, about 30 minutes. Set aside.

When pumpkin and squash are tender, scoop out flesh and set aside; discard skins. Reserve any liquid from the bottom of pan.

Return pot with onions to medium-high heat. Add garlic and 2 tbsp fresh ginger. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom. Cook, stirring, about 1 minutes. Add remaining broth, the carrots, cooked pumpkin and squash, and reserved liquid from roasting pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.

Whirl vegetables in blender (in batches) until completely smooth. (For silky-smooth soup, you can pour the puréed soup through a strainer.) Return to pot and stir in brown sugar. Season with salt to taste. Keep warm over low heat.

Put a small bowl or measuring cup next to the stove. Melt remaining 4 tbsp butter in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tsp fresh ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter starts to foam. Stir mixture constantly until it starts to brown. Pour mixture into waiting bowl or measuring cup. Divide soup among 8 bowls and serve hot, with a swirl of ginger browned butter in each serving.