Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Gingersnap Crust

Every year my little bro makes pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, but for some reason my mom still asks me to bring a dessert...maybe just so I feel useful because everyone would be happy with just the pumpkin.

This year I was asked to bring pumpkin cheesecakes, one Splenda-rized version (top photo) for my dad, and one regular (bottom photo) for everyone else.

Gingersnap Pumpkin Cheesecake ~ Splenda.com
Marble Pumpkin Cheesecake ~ Epicurious.com

Both cheesecakes got rave reviews and will find a permanent place in my cook book. The amazing crusts were both made with old fashioned gingersnaps & graham crackers, one with real sugar and one with granulated splenda, I tried to steal my honey's crust but he wouldn't fall for it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Pies

Over at Tuesdays with Dorie its Twofer Pie week chosen by Vivi at La Casserole Carree but I had to make a Threefer with a Tart chaser. All in all seven pies for the folks at work nice enough to contribute to my holiday fund by buying their Thanksgiving pies from moi.

Double Crust Apple Pie~ Fresh Granny Smiths from the farmers market this weekend. Tossed with sugar & spices, surrounded by flaky pie crust a la Martha.
Pumpkin Chiffon~ Fluffy pumpkin filling, way better than the traditional pumpkin pie. I hated making this pie when I was in school because I would always get a crap grade...mastered by making this every year since graduating.
Chocolate Cream Pie~ Chocolatie goodness in a buttery chocolate crust. Sadly we had extra filling leftover, my honey has to eat the leftover, I had to twist his arm but he's gonna do it. Way to take one for the team baby!
Lemon Meringue Tart~ Pate Sucree filled with tart lemony custard, topped with swirls of French Meringue.

I got a little carried away and put meringue on everything because I figure it might hold up better than whipped cream, its fricken tasty and I was having way to much fun torching things. I think I better hit the hay, the leaves on the pies are starting to look like turkeys to me.....

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Banana Butterscotch Muffins

Redemption from the last two TWD episodes is necessary and what better to wipe away the memories of Garlic Kugelhopf and Chocolatey Rice Soup than a recipe from Nigela Express.

I saw this recipe over the weekend when I was browsing my vastly underused cookbook collection but for once in my life I didn't have any super ripe bananas in the house...go figure. I bought some bananas on Sunday, they were super green but two days is all I could wait. I suggest that you let them get riper if you make this recipe. It was good, don't get me wrong, we almost ate them all already... but riper bananas would make them that much better.

Banana Butterscotch Muffins ~Nigela Express Page 262

  • 1/2 c. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 e. Whole Eggs
  • 1 2/3 c. AP Flour
  • 1/2 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 1/4 c. Mashed Bananas
  • 1 c. Butterscotch Chips

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a 12 cup muffin pan. Measure the oil into a large glass measuring cup and beat in the eggs. Put the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix in the oil/egg mixture. Mash in the bananas and fold in the butterscotch chips. Scoop into the muffin tins and bake for 15/20 minutes.

Monday, November 17, 2008

TWD: Arborio Rice....Soup?

Isabelle over at Les Gourmandises d' Isa gave us the opportunity to transform some pearly Arborio Rice into rice pudding.

Uh yeah this didn't turn out as expected..... I got a bowl of chocolately ricey soup. My honey said it smelled like horchata.... hehe. I couldn't even bring myself to post the soupage, it was truly gross to look at so I will spare you.

Even though I managed to wreck this simple recipe there were many over at Tuesday's with Dorie that created rice pudding bliss.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

TWD: Pain in the Kugelhopf

I thought this Kugelhopf was meant to be... really I did. See I was at the thrift store looking for teacup sets for a project and I happened to find a beautiful kugelhopf pan so I thought it was destiny. Of course a regular bunt pan would suffice but the kugelhopf pan has more swirly decorative bits so I couldn't pass it up for $5 bucks now could I?

On Saturday laundry loomed in great heaping piles and the weeks collection of Tivo called my name so I started the dough fairly late in the day. I opted for the overnight rest in the fridge and turned my microwave into a mini proofer in the morning to let the dough take on its final rise. This dough being very airy baked up fairly quick. The new (though slightly used) kugelhopf pan did not disappoint. Out of the oven and on with the melted butter and liberal dusting of powdered sugar. I cut a few slices for me and my honey to taste test. I think it was OK- nothing to waste two days of prep on. My honey says it tastes "old." I immediately think, could my slightly used pan make an old slice of bread, dang I scrubbed that thing twice!? "Yeah old, kinda like garlic?" Eh? What the heck? Thinking he's just addle brained on a Sunday afternoon I slice another piece and take a good whiff. Yup GARLIC! Apparently even though you don't smell garlic on your pastry brush it still could be lingering and ruin your two days of baking... oh well at least it wasn't the pan.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dimply Pluot Cake

Years ago when they started pushing this funky looking fruit as dinosaur eggs I brushed them off as a marketing ploy to get moms to buy weird genetically mutated fruit that probably didn't taste very good. Turns out that pluots are sorta strange but oh so fantastic and tasty if you know where to get them. Not at your local overpriced megamarket where almost every fruit takes on a mealy tasteless pallor but at the farmers market.

You have to literally elbow your way past the old guy that thinks he's entitled to man handle every last luscious pluot before you get any, but its worth it and if your smart enough you will wake up earlier the next weekend to get first dibs....ha! Take that old dude! Sadly enough I think pluot season is over, I used the last few we had to make this tasty cake. The made this over at Tuesdays with Dorie back in September, before I was a member of the group.

I can imagine making this cake with just about any fruit to top it off, it was delicious with the pluots. I would also make it with a crumb topping like a coffee cake too. Its quick to whip up and stays moist with crispy buttery edges and the cardamom gives it a nice interesting kick. Its not to sweet so it was good for dessert and for breakfast.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

TWD: Rugelach

Its about 7:45pm on a Tuesday, this is the latest I've gotten done with my Tuesdays with Dorie recipe so far. I usually bake on Saturday or Sunday, when I'm happy and not burdened by the usual mess, stress and unpredictability of work. In my opinion work stress makes me a crap baker so I almost skipped this week. But I had to fight the urge and try the Rugelach chosen by Grace over at Piggy's Cooking Journal because they sound too good to miss.

I came home during lunch to whip up the dough that has to chill for at least 2 hours before you roll up these little guys. The dough is a beautifully smooth pastry that baked up in crispy layers and from what I read on other TWDers blogs its pretty versatile too. I filled mine with seedless Boysenberry preserves, walnuts and bittersweet chocolate. The preserves mixed with chocolate create this extra bitter flavor that lingers along the sides of your tongue in a very good way. Definitely worth the effort. Oh yeah I forgot to say last night, if you try this recipe yourself head over to Piggy's Cooking Journal, she has it posted there, thanks Grace!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

YWP: Pies as a Fashion Statement!

In my ignorance of blog baking challenges, I though that the first challenge over at You Want Pies With That? was a hard one until I saw challenge two, Pies as a Fashion Statement! Honestly I almost skipped it because in my life, fashion statements stop at what's clean in the dryer.

Like most girls I do have a penchant for shoes.....from cool tennies to high heels, but how does that translate to pie? Besides no one would ever call my shoe choices fashionable, they teeters more on the far side of strange. I love patterns and colors and usually have to stop myself from buying shoes that couldn't possibly go with anything in my closet. Still shoes and pies don't go no matter how I tried to spin it. So I threw out the shoes or more like hid them in the back of my closet with the others and applied my love of patterns and colors to the crust.

I wanted to create sort of a batik fabric look, so I used patchwork cutters to pattern the crust and then painted it with food coloring. I was surprised at how bright the crust remained, I imagined it fading while baking, I might try this technique to gussy up my holiday pies. For the inside we found some beautiful Arkansas Black Apples at the farmers market on Saturday. I had high hopes because the apples, before baking they were so good, but when baked up they had a weird texture that I didn't care for. I think if I ever find them around for purchase again, I would rather eat them fresh from the core than bake them up again. Either way the pies were more beauty that substance and isn't that sorta fashiony?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream

When I saw this recipe for Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream in an early October edition of Gourmet I took it as my chance to use up a box of Ibarra Mexican Chocolate in my cupboard for quite awhile now. I love the interesting flavor but its a pain in the arse to be honest. The chopping of the chocolate and digging out a sauce pan to warm the milk.... it's all a messy process, especially when you grew up making watery instant hot cocoa with the dehydrated little marshmallows inside. However much hot chocolate is not worth my time, home made ice cream is always worth the effort, so I got to work early this morning to make sure we had it all frozen for dessert.

Of course I had to tweek the recipe a little to accommodate what I had in the house. I used only 3 disks of chocolate when it asked for 3 1/2 and instead of half & half I used 2 cups whole milk plus 1 3/4 cup cream. Not a rebellious change of course and it came out fantastic. It's got a bit of a gritty texture and a mellow chocolate taste.