Category Archives: Pastries

Dutch Baby with Spiced Peaches

On a totally irrelephant note: I hate my dishwasher. It beeps about once a minute or so when it’s open. Mikal doesn’t seem to be bothered by it, but it annoys the buttons out of me. Seriously.

Anyway….

I’ve been attempting to make a little something to bring to work on Thursdays, since we start an hour later than the rest of the week. It’s a good little idea, it’s a way to get my baked goods eaten by someone other than myself and Mikal, and it’s fun. I like it.

I totally forgot I was starting this little breakfasty-thing until around 6:45 this morning when my alarm went off. I was trying to think of something, anything to make, while fighting off the sluggishness of sleeeeeeeeeepies. Snooze was hit twice. By the time the alarm went off the third time, I had two ideas: I could attempt to make a peach-filled crêpe for each person, or I could utilize the one-inch square cavity silicone pan I have to make brownies. I could even top each brownie bite with either an almond, peanut butter, or nothing. It was a good idea…until I remembered that I still haven’t figured out a good homemade brownie recipe, and I really don’t have anything outside of powdered cocoa in the house for chocolate. The crêpes were still in the running, but I wasn’t sure the peaches were up to it. I had let them sit in the fridge for a bit to ripen, but they were still not quite there, or at least the last batch hadn’t been.

I made some coffee and sat with Mr. Ginger and Baking at Home with the CIA and tried to figure out what I could pull together at the last minute. I could have tried the zucchini bread recipe again, but I did that just last week and wasn’t too excited by it – definitely needs some tweaking. I had also made the peach galette in the book, but the dough had turned out a bit meh, same with the peaches. Not great, though a good idea. And then I came across the dutch baby. Easy, you cook the peaches a bit before using them as a filling, I have all the ingredients, and it’s something that would probably be light enough for everyone: instant winner.

This batch of peaches has so far proven to be more ripe than the last, so I can hope that the peachy flavor will come through a bit more. The filling for the galette didn’t seem quite sweet enough for the under-ripened ones, so it turned out kind of tart and meh. But, as with all of the CIA recipes I have so far encountered, the instructions are straightforward and nicely easy.

Dutch Baby with Spiced Peaches

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole or low-fat milk
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

Spiced Peaches
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 peaches, peeled and sliced
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp lightly packed light brown sugar

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Place a 1-inch cast-iron skillet or ovenproof sauté pan in the oven and preheat to 450°F. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and set aside.

While the pan heats, put the eggs in a blender and blend at low speed. Add the flour mixture and the milk alternately, in 3 additions. Scrape down the sides of the blender and continue to blend until smooth, 15-20 seconds. Blend in the melted butter. Brush the hot skillet with additional melted butter and pour in the batter. Bake for 10 minutes without opening the oven. Reduce the heat to 350°F and bake until the Dutch baby is very puffy and the edges are starting to pull away from the edges of the pan, 15-20 minutes more.

Meanwhile, prepare the spiced peaches: Melt the butter in a medium sauté pan over high heat. Add the peaches, cinnamon and brown sugar. Reduce the heat to medium and stir until the fruit is just heated through, about 5 minutes.

Remove the Dutch baby from the oven. Drizzle with the lemon juice and dust with the confectioners’ sugar. Fill the center of the Dutch baby with the hot fruit mixture. Serve immediately.


I have to say, this is an amazing recipe. Pretty simple, straightforward, and doesn’t take a whole lot of time. I have a feeling the blender helps things go quickly, otherwise one would have to whisk a lot.

These were so good my boss, who usually won’t take terribly much of my sweets, grabbed a second helping right after scarfing the first. Granted she had to leave right away, but still – that’s a pretty good endorsement.

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. >.>

Filled Hearts

Love it or hate it, Valentine’s day is here again. I’m pretty neutral about the whole idea behind the holiday, but any day that gives me an excuse to bake is my kind of day.

I really hadn’t thought of doing too much specifically for V-Day, but Mikal and I were roaming around Target a couple of weeks ago and he gave me a wonderful idea. We were looking at the baking items in the seasonal section, and I made a comment about kinda wanting to do something, but really hating the traditional stuff. Mikal mentioned it would be really cool to make human heart-heart shaped chocolate and hand those out, possibly filled with some red syrup of some sort. An amazing idea, of course, though I let myself sit on it a few days before I actually sat down and ordered a mold on amazon.

Around this same time, I saw this amazing dohicky in the actual kitchen section of Target – it is a pot-pie mold!

I love pot pies, and my first thought when I saw this was, “Holy crap! Hand-held chicken pies!” I find chicken pot pies one of the best ways to stave off the cold and sucky, so this made me happy. Honestly, it wasn’t completely the first time I had come across the idea of non-pot pies; some days when I’m exceedingly braindead I peruse websites and recipes and see what strikes my fancy, and one day while planning a halloween celebration I came across this.

Suddenly I had a V-Day yummage extravaganza planned. My only regret is that I couldn’t do more, but these two experiments proved to eat up the whole day.

Heart Pies

Dough

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup ice water, or as needed

Stir together flour and salt with fork to blend. Cut the fat into the flour using a food processor, pastry blender, or two knives. (For pies with liquid fillings like custard or cooked fruit fillings that are thickened with cornstarch or tapioca, the bits of fat should be evenly small, and the mixture should resemble coarse meal. This will result in a mealy pie crust, which is less likely to become soggy as the crust bakes. For pies to be filled with fruit or another nonliquid filling, leave some bits of fat in larger pieces, about the size of a small pea, for a crisp and flaky texture in the baked crust.) This is the reason I love the CIA cookbooks – it tells you a lot of the little things to think about as you’re preparing the food.

Drizzle a few tablespoons of the ice water over the surface of the flour mixture and quickly rub the water into the flour. Continue to add the water, a tablespoon or so at a time, just until it holds together when you press a handful of it into a ball. The dough should be evenly mouse, not wet, and shaggy or rough in appearance.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gather and press the dough into a ball. Divide the dough into 2 roughly equal pieces. Pat each ball into an even disk, wrap well, and let chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Filling

1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, cubed or half-rounds
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (if only I hadn’t completely forgotten to put those in ><)
2 chicken thighs (or an equivalent amount of meat)
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup white wine
1/4-1/2 cup flour
sage, salt, pepper, thyme, brown sugar to taste

Remove the meat from the chicken thighs and slice into smallish bite-size pieces. Toss in a pan with some olive oil or butter and cook until just barely done. Set aside.

Put water in small pan and bring to a boil. Add carrot bits and simmer for a couple of minutes until just cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Repeat process for peas. Sauté onions in skillet until fragrant and slightly browning, then add mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are just done. (By not cooking the life out of the veggies, you ensure that your filling has some texture other than gravy, meat, and those other squishy things.)

In larger skillet, add broth and wine, bring to a simmer. Add flour a little bit at a time until the liquid has the consistency you want. (Keep in mind you might want to keep it a bit wetter than you would like, as you’ll be cooking everything together a bit and the liquid will reduce.) Add the vegetables and meat, then add a sprinkling of sage and some thyme and let the concoction simmer for 5-10 minutes, until flavors have melded and gravy has reduced a bit more. At this point, salt and pepper to taste, and add however much brown sugar you feel necessary to balance the very savory flavors in the dish. Place the filling in a bowl and set in fridge while cutting out the pie crusts. (If you don’t refrigerate the filling before you put it into the molds, it ends up melting the dough a bit, rendering it annoying to get out of the mold.)

Take the pie dough out of the fridge and let sit for about ten minutes or so, until it’s pliable without being too soft. Roll out dough to anywhere between 1/16th and 1/8th inch thick. (These little things are -amazing- for rolling things out evenly D: Before I discovered these, I used a couple of 1/8″ pieces of wood I had lying around for rolling pin guides. These are perhaps the most awesome thing to happen to rolling things out since the invention of the rolling pin.) The thickness of the dough does matter: 1/16″ results in a baked crust that is pretty much perfect as far as ratio of starch to filling, but is more difficult to handle during assembly. The 1/8″ dough is easier to manipulate, but because this mold is on the small side, there isn’t quite enough filling to satisfy all the crust.

Then you open your heart-shaped thinger-doober package up, unclamp it, and use the backs of the mold to cut the shape of the hearts at approximately the size you want them.

(I ended up using the rolling pin on my heart-shapes a bit more because they don’t really leave enough dough for a satisfactory lip around the pocket.)

Put one heart-shape on one side of the mold, spreading the dough a little to make sure it comes around onto the edges a bit. Scoop approximately 1/8th cup filling into the cavity, leaving out as much juice as possible if it’s more liquidy than not. Spread filling around, then place second heart-shape atop the first, close the mold, and press together. (Note: if you use 1/8″ dough, you will occasionally snap the mold apart; that’s ok, because it’s plastic, and goes right back together. Try to not be too hard on it, though.)

Cocofancy20120214composite

Remove the pie from the mold, and you have a wonderful heart-shaped pocket pie of awesomeness! Repeat process with remaining dough and filling. Remember to refrigerate the dough periodically so it doesn’t completely come to room temperature – if you let it come to room temp, the dough becomes soggy and you’ll lose a lot of the flake.

Bake pies for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Let sit on rack for a few minutes, then enjoy. If you opted for the thicker crust, drizzle some of the sauce from the pan over your pot pie to give it a bit more liquid for the crust to play with.

 


 

I have attempted to make things with chocolate once before, only last time it was truffles. Strangely, it was the ones with a tempered chocolate shell that turned out the best. Strange, considering it was my first time attempting to temper chocolate. At that time, I found this page, which really helped me figure out the process. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure it out for the first batch of chocolate, and I couldn’t replicate the success of the second batch in the third. I’m not sure exactly how I’m screwing up, and perhaps if I had hundreds of dollars worth of chocolate to use I could figure it out. Unfortunately I don’t, but I do have proof of my success.

Molded Chocolates

Filling

3/8 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup (I used agave and it worked wonderfully)
2 jumbo egg yolks
3/4 cups (1.5 sticks) butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature (cut while cold – makes it easier)
3 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), melted and cooled but still pourable
1/8 cup dark rum

Stir sugar and corn syrum in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil 1 minutes. Meanwhile, using electric mixer, beat egg yolks in medium bowl until pale and thick. Gradually beat in hot sugar syrup; continue beating until completely cool, about 5 minutes. (Do yourself a favor: add the hot sugar syrup in small doses while beater is off – you’ll avoid a very pretty but very messy sugar drizzle fiasco around the sides of your bowl.) Beat in butter 1 piece at a time, incorporating each piece completely before adding the next. Blend in melted chocolate, then rum. (If buttercream looks broken or curdled, place bowl with buttercream over medium heat on stove burner and whisk 5-10 seconds to warm mixture slightly, then remove from heat and beat mixture again on medium speed. Repeat warming and beating as many times as needed until buttercream is smooth. (Before adding the rum, I halved my buttercream into two bowls, added raspberry liqueur to one, Grand Marnier to the other. Wonderful flavor combinations, especially if you should decided to make the cake this buttercream recipe comes from.)
Tempering Chocolate

For my successful batch, I used about a pound of dark chocolate. The actual amount isn’t so important, it’s more the ratio of melted chocolate to seeding chocolate. There are two methods for tempering chocolate: you can melt it to between 105°F and 120°F, then slather 2/3 of it on a large marble slab and spread it and mix it back into itself until it is a uniform 82°F, then add that back into the chocolate that remained, and bring it to around 88-89°F; or you can melt the chocolate to 105-120°F, remove from heat, and add the seeding chocolate to it and wait for it to cool to 88-89°F. I don’t know about you, but as much as I would love one, I don’t have a giant marble slab, so I seed. The ratio of melted chocolate to seeding chocolate is 4:1. If you want all the technical information, look here. I’m pretty sure I’d butcher the details.

Fully melt the larger amount of chocolate in a water bath (I do this the same way I double-boil things. I can’t tell if it’s actually supposed to be different, but I know it works. Also, if you cut the chocolate into smaller pieces, they melt more quickly and uniformly.) Remove the bowl of melted chocolate from the heat. The chocolate should be at 120°F for dark chocolate or 110°F for milk or white chocolate. (Cooking for Engineers states that as long as the temperature is over 105°F, the crystalline structure of the chocolate has completely dissolved, which is what is needed for tempering: tempering is the controlled restructuring of those crystals to create a crisp shell.)

Add the smaller amount of unmelted chocolate to the melted chocolate. This is called the seed; it will cool the melted chocolate and cause it to set the way you want.

Stir the melted chocolate gently and constantly until the temperature falls to 85°F for dark chocolate or 83°F for milk or white chocolate. This will take 15-20 minutes, and most or all of the seeds should have melted by the end of this time.

Test the chocolate. Testing chocolate for temper is the only way to know for sure that chocolate is actually tempered. Make sure the chocolate is below 90°F for dark or 87°F for milk or white chocolate. Dip a spoon in the chocolate, place the spoon on the work surface, and leave it undisturbed for 7-8 minutes in the working room at 68°F. Don’t refrigerate – this will throw off the results. (You will know within a few minutes if your chocolate is tempered. It will dull a bit, but still be slightly shiny, and it will look hard/dry in a few minutes. If your chocolate hasn’t set by the 7-8 minute mark, you’re not quite there.) After 8 minutes have passed, look closely at the chocolate on the spoon. If the chocolate has set so that it no longer looks wet, and the surface is uniform and without streaks, the chocolate is tempered.

If the chocolate sets properly, gently warm it over a water bath not exceeding 89°F for dark chocolate or 86°F for milk or white chocolate. Remove any unmelted seeds from the melted chocolate. (I had to shift between having the chocolate on the heat to having it on the counter in order to maintain the general temperature. Other ways to maintain temperature include using a heating pad or nuking it in the microwave.)

Lining the Molds

Pick out your chocolate molds. As I said, I had human hearts, and I even dug up a cutsie-heart mold. You can use anything, really, just make sure it’s clean, has no cracks in the mold, and is free of any debris.

Fill the mold cavities with the tempered chocolate. Use a spoon or ladle and allow the chocolate to fill all the cavities of the mold. Scrape off the excess chocolate. Remove the chocolate from the top of the mold with a scraper, just don’t dip into the mold cavities.

Vibrate the mold on the table. This step will remove any trapped air pockets that could mar the finish of the finished products.

Allow the mold to sit. This allows the shell of chocolate to begin to form. The precise amount of time varies with the chocolate used, the room temperature, and the mold. Usually for small molds, 1-2 minutes is sufficient. (Don’t do multiple molds at once unless you’re really quick about it – I had too much of the chocolate in the first mold set by the time I finished filling the second.)

Pour the excess chocolate out of the mold. Tapping the mold lightly will remove more of the chocolate.

Scrape off excess chocolate. Clean the top of the mold using the scraper again.

Invert the mold. Place the mold upside down, elevated, so that the excess chocolate can drain. Leave inverted for about 5 minutes, or until the chocolate is no longer flowing.

Clean the top of the mold once again. Scrape the top of the mold so that the top edge of each cavity is clean and uniform.

Filling the Mold

Grab the buttercream. The easiest way to get the buttercream into the molds is using a piping bag. Whichever way you do it, there must be 1/8″ between the filling and the top of the mold.

Allow the fillings to firm. If you need to accelerate the process, refrigeration for 15 minutes or so is an acceptable option.

Sealing the Mold

Pipe tempered chocolate over the tops of each cavity in the mold. Allow the chocolate to cover each filled cavity. If the filling is still a bit soft, don’t tilt the mold or you’ll run the risk of mixing the filling and chocolate.

Don’t make the two large mistakes I made: don’t overfill your molds, and immediately smooth the chocolate you pipe over to seal the chocolate if it needs it. Otherwise, you’ll get this: 

Allow the chocolate to set at room temperature for 15 minutes. The chocolate you just applied should set at room temperature.

Refrigerate the mold for approximately 20 minutes. Refrigeration will contract the chocolate and make the finished products easy to release.

Be careful when you try to take the chocolates out of the molds – you could screw up all your hard work. First flex the chilled molds slightly, like you do an ice cube tray. Place a flat pan on top of the mold. Invert the mold and pan together. Tap the pan and mold lightly on the table. Lift the mold off the pan. All or most of the chocolates should have come free from the mold and should be sitting on the pan. If there are reluctant chocolates, don’t beat the mold until they come out – twist a bit more, tap, and if they’re still reluctant stick them back in the refrigerator for another 5-10 minutes and repeat the process.

Mine are still a bit sloppy – this is really the first time I’ve used a mold. These babies are amazingly good, though. Whether you take my route and use the raspberry or Grand Marnier, or just random rum, or none, they’re sooooo good. You can also use peanut butter (if it’s runny, add a bit of powdered sugar to thicken it), peanuts, or even just have solid chocolates. If you go for the solids, skip the filling part and go straight to the sealing without emptying the molds of their liquid tempered chocolate.

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.