Archive for ‘Dessert’

November 6, 2011

Easiest Chocolate Cake

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My internal dialogue was definitely discouraging, while making this cake. No egg, who bakes a cake without eggs – even brownies have eggs, this was certain to be a disaster. And now add lemon juice or vinegar! What was this going to taste like? And really!? I’m going to prepare this cake right in the baking pan! No mixing bowl? No creaming the butter, but melt it? Huh? Where am I!? What is going on? After all of that, the batter was thinner than pancake batter! We were surely headed for thin deflated cupcakes. Certainly, you are asking me why would I even consider this recipe after reading it? Well it comes from the Joy of Baking website, a place I trust and the photo was very enticing. New and different is what I like, new challenges!

Joy of Baking – Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup granulated white sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder(not Dutch-processed), sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 cup warm water

1 tablespoon lemon juice(or vinegar)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven.

In an ungreased 8 inch square cake pan, stir together the flour, sugar, sifted cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the melted butter, water, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. With a fork, mix all the ingredients together until well blended.

Bake in preheated oven for about 35 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

**NOTE: I made these into cupcakes rather than a cake. Fill the baking cups 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 18-22 minutes – or until a toothpick comes out clean.**

In the end, this is a very good simple recipe. It’s a heavier, moist cake. Not a light cake. The best description was somewhere between a brownie and cake. I’m more amazed by how well this cake came out and that it doesn’t have any eggs! (can’t get over that!).

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~Enjoy~

Amanda

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August 18, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup—Cupcakes

This, my friends, will make you weak in the knees if you like chocolate, peanut butter, especially the two combined. Funny enough I know a guy, he doesn’t like peanut butter and chocolate – I think someone needs to check his frontal lobe for injury or maybe his medulla oblongata needs adjusting!

Moving on…this was a fun cupcake to make. I was inspired by Amanda Cupcake (it must be in the name!) who made milky way cupcakes and melted milky way candy bars and added it to her frosting—so many ideas went fleeting through my head, but first this one…Reese’s PB Cups!

 

Chocolate Cake

(makes about 30 cupcakes)

2  cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 package of instant chocolate pudding (only the powder)
1 1/4 c. milk
2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 sticks room temperature butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs

1 bag Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups miniatures

1 bag Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups minis (the smallest of them all)

Preheat oven to 350

Whisk together flour, baking powder, pudding powder and salt. Measure out the milk and add the vanilla to the milk, set aside.

With an electric mixer in a large bowl combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time allowing each to incorporate well before moving on to the next ingredient.

Incorporate the dry ingredients and milk by alternating – 1/3 of the dry ingredients and 1/3 of the milk. Once all the milk and dry ingredients are mixed beat the batter for a minute or two.

Use a small ice cream scoop for the cupcake batter. It makes the perfect size cupcakes. Scoop a heaping scoop of the batter into each cup. Stick one Reese’s miniature peanut butter cup in the middle of the batter in each cup.

Bake for 18 minutes.

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Peanut Butter Ribbon

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Mix ingredients together in a sauce pan. Heat over low heat stirring constantly until peanut butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.  Set and aside and cool, while making the frosting.

Melted PB Cups for Frosting

Melt 1/2 cup of peanut butter cups with a little heavy cream over low heat until completely melted. Set aside and cool while making the frosting.

Peanut Butter Buttercream

1/2 cup shortening (used the Crisco stick because it’s easier to measure)
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) – room temperature
4 cups confectioners sugar
2-4 T. whole milk
1 T. vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter ribbon (recipe below)

In a stand mixer, beat the shortening and butter together, add the vanilla bean and extract.  Incorporate the sugar gradually – 1c. at a time. Once sugar is incorporated (it will look dry) add the peanut butter ribbon and milk 1 T. at a time until you get the consistency you like. It will be about 2-3T for a medium consistency.

At this point you may cover with a wet cloth while not in use, or place the frosting in the fridge if you plan on using it much later.

In your pastry/frosting bag (or Ziploc with the corner cut off) drizzle a little peanut butter ribbon down one side of the bag and a little of the melted peanut butter cups down the other side, just enough coat the side of the bag. Don’t let the two pool at the bottom of the bag or you’ll have a giant glop of the candy without frosting. You want the candy to swirl in the frosting…this is fun!

Pipe on the frosting with your favorite tip (or if using a Ziploc cut the tip as big as you prefer for decorating).

Use the new Peanut Butter Cup minis (in the candy isle) to top.

~Enjoy

Amanda

July 30, 2011

S’mores Cupcakes

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That classic summertime, campfire dessert. A gooey mix of melted chocolate, toasty marshmallow and crunchy graham crackers. This is one of the things I most look forward to each camping trip – you cannot camp without eating S’mores! That would be criminal.

As much as I love summer, and S’mores, it’s only natural that I create a special summertime cupcake! I spent a lot of time searching the web, looking at recipes and photos deciding how I thought best to represent S’mores in a cupcake form. I saw everything from a graham cracker crust (similar to a cheesecake) with chocolate cake and a marshmallow on top to a chocolate cupcake with marshmallow crème with graham cracker crumbs sprinkled on top.

I really wanted that graham cracker flavor but the texture of melted chocolate and gooey marshmallow – to stay true to S’mores. So I decided to go with a graham cracker flavored cake, replacing some of the flour with ground graham crackers. Then topping the cake with Nutella (the texture is just like melted chocolate and it tastes so good) and using my favorite Meringue frosting and torching it – which is a good reason on its own to make these cupcakes!

(Note you could also use marshmallow crème in place of the meringue. Pipe the crème on and then torch it)

Graham Cracker Cupcake Recipe

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup ground graham cracker
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 c. milk
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. room temperature butter
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350°

In a food processor, process the graham crackers until you have a fine powder.

Whisk together flour, ground graham cracker , baking powder, and salt.  Separately mix milk and extract, set aside.

Combine butter and sugar in a large bowl or in a stand mixer. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time allowing each one to incorporate well before moving on.

Incorporate the dry ingredients and milk by alternating – half of the dry ingredients and half of the milk.

Use a small ice cream scoop for the cupcake batter, heaping scoops so the cup is about 3/4 of the way full. It makes the perfect size cupcakes.

Bake for 18 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

If I told you that this recipe for Meringue is from chef Thomas Keller, the chef of two 3-star Michelin rated restaurants: The French Laundry and Per Se, you might be inclined to skip the frosting and choose the Marshmallow crème. Please don’t! It is not as difficult as you may think. The recipe is, after all, in Chef Keller’s Ad Hoc at home cookbook – for the home cooks (ambitious cooks). This is a fantastic meringue for frosting, lemon bars, lemon tarts and lemon pies! I highly recommend at least attempting this frosting…then you can say you are able to cook like a 3-star Michelin chef (wink wink).

Meringue Frosting

1 ¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon water

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract (if using for frosting)

Combine 1 1/14 cups of the sugar and the water in a medium sauce pan and heat over medium heat to 220°, stirring at first to dissolve the sugar. (Note the syrup will boil vigorously and become very clear when it reaches this temperature, still use a thermometer).

Meanwhile, in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until they begin to look foamy, then gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip until the whites form soft peaks.

With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar syrup, pouring it down the side of the bowl to avoid the whisk. Add the vanilla, if using, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form and the bowl is cool.

Assembly

Cool the cupcakes. Spread some Nutella onto the cupcakes (while resisting the urge to lick the spatula)

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Pipe the meringue onto the cupcakes, leaving enough of the chocolate showing for the S’mores look. Fire up the torch and toast the tops!

~Enjoy~

Amanda

April 21, 2011

Strawberry-Avocado Salsa with Cinnamon Tortilla Chips

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This recipe came from Cooking Light May 2011 Issue. I don’t know about you but I think Cooking Light always has the prettiest food! Full of color  and rustic backgrounds. I am really starting to like that magazine. Especially after this recipe. (Since I’m not as “healthy” as Cooking Light I added a little more oil (originally 2 teaspoons) and bumped the cinnamon sugar mixture (originally 2 teaspoons of sugar – I don’t know how you are supposed to cover 6 tortillas with that!) At the same time, I did not go overboard and lightly sugared and oiled the tortillas.

1 Tablespoon Canola oil
6 whole wheat tortillas
Cinnamon and sugar (I always keep this mixture on hand for cinnamon toast or cookies so if you don’t use it all you can save it for something else!)
2 ripe finely chopped and peeled avocados
1 cup finely diced strawberries (all the same size)
2 Tablespoons minced cilantro
1 teaspoon finely diced, seeded jalapenos
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
3/8 teaspoon salt

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • To prepare chips, brush oil evenly over one side of each tortilla. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle a little evenly over the oil-coated sides of the tortillas.
  • Cut each tortilla into 12 wedges (I used a fluted pastry cutter to make the chips more fancy); arrange wedges in a single layer on two baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until crisp.
  • Combine avocado and remaining ingredients; stir gently to combine.

Serve with chips. Enjoy~

March 24, 2011

Birthday Cupcakes

This month was my daughter’s birthday. For her birthday we had a party at Chuck E. Cheese. All the bad things that come to mind, set aside, this was a fun birthday party. The kids had fun, the food was subpar, but the host guided every moment, moving the party along, with very minimal effort on my part . I had no clean up, all kids left with prizes from their ticket winnings and my daughter felt like she was a V.I.P. The attention the hosts pay to your party is worth the cost of this party. I will tell you I cannot throw a kids birthday party at my own house for the price of Chuck E. Cheese and include everything they do, with no clean up and a personal host. My suggestion, definitely do not go there expecting anything even mediocre from their food, bring your own cake and tell the adults to eat before they come. Kids will eat the pizza without complaint or care and really they are there for the games and the cake! All-in-all I was pleased with our experience and am likely to hold another Chuck E. party. My daughter really liked the ticket blaster (as seen on TV), she had a blast.

On with the food. We made cupcakes twice this month for my daughters 5th  birthday (I am blown away that my baby is now 5 – a school age kid – not a toddler, not a preschooler – but a kid!). For school we made marble cupcakes with vanilla frosting. For her party we made vanilla confetti cupcakes with marshmallow flowers.

Marble Cupcakes

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Real easy use my vanilla bean cupcake recipe and frosting excluding the vanilla bean (just use extract the delicate bean will be overpowered by the chocolate so save your money on expensive beans) remove 1 cup of cake batter and stir in 1/8 cup of cocoa powder. Fill each cupcake liner with vanilla batter. Dollop a few teaspoonfulls of chocolate batter into the vanilla batter. Using a toothpick swirl the batters together. Do everything else the same in the vanilla bean recipe.

I just frosted the cakes with vanilla buttercream (in the vanilla bean cupcake recipe) and let my daughter sprinkle on the decorations. Everyone loved them. We walked into school and you would have thought we had mini-paparazzi following us!

Confetti Cupcakes

Again, use the vanilla bean cupcake recipe and frosting (minus the vanilla bean, just use vanilla extract) and stir in some decorative sprinkles – those long skinny, waxy sprinkles work great!

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Bake the cupcakes the same as in the vanilla bean recipe.

Now for the decorating. I used the vanilla buttercream frosting (see vanilla bean recipe, minus the vanilla bean again) and dropped a few drops of red gel food coloring in to make it pink.

On wax paper lay out small piles of different colored decorating sugars. Take a marshmallow – hold it horizontally and cut it into thirds, maybe even in quarters if you want thinner petals. This creates an oval shaped petal, you can press the marshmallows between your hands to flatten them a little and stretch them to make longer petals (I didn’t figure this out until after). Press the cut side into the sugar and set aside.

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Frost the cupcakes with the pink frosting. Set 4-5 marshmallow petals in the frosting on top of the cakes and use a jellybean for the center.

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Hope you enjoy these!

February 2, 2011

Meyer Lemon Curd

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The other day my friend Linda gave me a few Meyer Lemons – my favorite! As a child, one of my closest friends had a neighbor who let us use his pool whenever we wanted. Each summer we would swim almost every day. In the yard was a Meyer lemon tree, but until recently I did not know that these were “Meyer” lemons.  

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Much sweeter and a with a darker peel, these are the kind of lemons you can eat like an orange (they are tart).  With a fragrance that is intense and nothing like other lemon varieties, the fragrant floral/lemony smell fills my house instantly. My daughter explained that they smell like lemon flowers.  A Meyer lemon smell is so distinct that you will know it’s different than a typical grocery store lemon immediately. Most lemon trees in people’s yards in California are Meyer lemons. It’s the smell of summer to me! I only wish we could grow citrus here in Nevada just so I can have a Meyer lemon tree.  

Here is an excellent recipe I got from Linda. At first taste I was blown away.

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MEYER LEMON CURD

4 teaspoons finely grated Meyer lemon zest (about 3 lemons)

1 cup Meyer lemon juice (about 4 lemons)

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

1. Wisk together zest, juice, sugar and eggs in a metal bowl and add butter.

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2. Set a bowl on a saucepan of simmering water (or use double boiler) and cook, whisking until thickened and smooth and a thermometer registers 160 about 6 to 8 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and force curd through a fine mesh sieve set over another bowl.

4. Serve warm or cover surface of curd with wax paper and cool completely.

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(NOTE: If substituting regular lemons increase sugar to 3/4 cup.)

January 23, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies (w/Browned Butter)

While watching the Famous Amos cookie story on Food Network (awhile back) it became apparent to me that you can use brown sugar in place of granulated sugar in cookies. There may have been more interesting useful tips but since it’s been months, and I didn’t write anything down, all I remember was the use of brown sugar. Since then I have been trying recipes substituting brown sugar for some or all of the granulated sugar. Brown sugar makes a softer cookie and adds a nutty, caramel flavor and that is what we all want out of a cookie – soft chewy and flavorful. Next time I will try this recipe with all brown sugar (just to see what happens). And, really, who doesn’t like brown sugar! My daughter calls it “chocolate sugar” and I thought that was just about right – I love brown sugar just about as much as I love chocolate! Any recipe with brown sugar in the title sells it to me. Speaking of, a friend of mine gave me her extra copy of The Breakfast Book, by Marion Cunningham and this is such a great book – so much inspiration for breakfast! Anyway, there is a Chewy Brown Sugar Muffins recipe in that book – they are on the “to make” list. I drool just thinking of “chewy brown sugar.” 

Also in this recipe, I used what is called Fiori di Sicilia in place of vanilla and the orange zest. Fiori di sicilia is a mixture of citrus and vanilla.  You can get fiori di sicilia from King Arthur flour or google it. Of course if you want classic chocolate chip cookies use only vanilla and the recipe won’t be affect except for flavor.

(adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts book, classic chocolate chip cookie recipe)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ tsp grated orange zest (I used ½ teaspoon of fiori di sicilia)
2 large eggs
2 cups of milk chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375° F.

1. In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

2. Beat butter, sugars and extract in large bowl until creamy.

3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Gradually stir in the flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

5. I use my small ice cream scoop and scoop dough onto an ungreased baking sheet.

6. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.

7. Cool on wire racks.

Brown Butter:

Brown butter seems to be a new trend for desserts; my recent Bon Appetit magazine has a browned butter brownie recipe.  I have been seeing brown butter in lots of recipes lately. Brown butter smells so good and tastes just as good. You know “color adds flavor” and that is definitely true with brown butter. I usually brown my butter and then fry my eggs in it – Mmmm. You can use it in sweet and savory dishes – pasta, eggs, meat, fish, cookies, brownies, cakes – and more!

Technique: Brown the butter until the butter is foamy and starts to brown. You will see little brown bits in the butter and it will smell so heavenly!  Cool in the freezer or fridge until the butter until it is the consistency of softened butter so you can cream it with the sugar.  (see Chow’s how to brown butter)

(sorry for the lack of photos – I didn’t actually intend on posting this recipe when I made it – don’t ask me why)

January 1, 2011

Brownies

Ah, New Years Day! Another year begins and another fresh start. Seems this year is getting off to a great start for me – although it could just be that last year is ending on a good note. One day, I know, doesn’t make all the difference, but I think that it really gets everyone motivated – I hope you all keep your motivations! There will be lots of change this year for my daughter and I – all good of course. We will be moving and she will start Kindergarten. Last year was a bit bipolar with some terrible things happening in my family, but personally some really great things ending the last part of my year. So I hope for a better year with less of the bad stuff and more of the good stuff. I hope that all you reading and following my blog have terrific years as well, and I hope you continue following me here – and putting in your suggestions!

To start the year off with some inspiration I finally watched Julie and Julia (this I will add to my personal DVD collection). This is such a foodie movie! I can’t believe I waited so long to watch this movie. Everyone has suggested it to me and I don’t know why I didn’t watch it sooner. It’s probably that pre-Wii and Netflix I rarely paid $5 for a pay-per-view and I suck at returning Redbox movies. Either way I am glad I finally watched this movie, because I am more inspired now. I can relate to both of these ladies so much. There is a point in the movie when Julie received her first comment on her blog (granted it was from her mother) she was elated – I felt that same way when the first person (that I didn’t know) commented on my blog. Something interesting happened, right after watching the movie this morning, I received my FIRST pingback! I was SUPER excited – a little silly I know, it’s ONE pingback (link to one of my posts), but that is where it all starts. I have worked hard this past year on my blog and I have been published and now have a regular spot in the food column in the local paper. I must be doing something right! Now I am vowing to spend more time on my blog (one of the #1 blogger rules – blog often!) and more time on my other food writing goals – I am going to be fearless and step out of my comfort zone!

The other part of my new year inspiration came from Tyler Florence’s book Stirring the Pot. After reading it I have become very inspired to ORGANIZE my kitchen (If you know me, you know organization excites me and that I am a little obsessed with it). TF has some great ideas for organizing your kitchen and fridge/freezer by having dinners you can just pull out of the freezer for quick instant meals.  So as I journey through this year organizing, moving and beginning new chapters in my life I hope to share it all with you and hopefully we’ll suck in a few others along the way. So thank you for being a friend and following my blog. The brownie recipe below is the dessert that I finally mastered and my daughter and I rang in the new year with (along with Beef Bourguignon, which I will also be blogging).

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL! Welcome to 2011!

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adaptation from Epicurious.com

  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup espresso powder (optional)
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cold large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips/chunks
  • 2/2 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Line a 9×13 square baking pan with parchment paper overhanging two sides.

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a pot of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.  Remove the bowl from the pot and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.

Stir in the vanilla with a whisk. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with a little batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.

Lift up the ends of the parchment liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

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You can make many variations of brownies I have put caramel on them, white chocolate chunks, dark chocolate chips, walnuts, pecans, dried fruit. We topped these with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream, while they were still warm …. MMMMM!

November 21, 2010

Gluten -free Pumpkin Cheesecake

This year I am going to my grandparents for Thanksgiving. My grandma has a gluten allergy so I wanted to make something she could also enjoy. Gluten is in so many things so making something is challenging. If you have read an Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen you’d know that corn is in things you would never have imagined. Wheat is another item that is in many things we eat. And if it is not specifically included in the food, it could have been processed in a plant that also processes wheat items – thus contamination! Oh the dilemmas of the commercial food industry! (another topic) However, all of that made me extremely conscious of the ingredients and brands I used (and I checked with my grandma on the ingredient list as well, which if you are not a person who is well versed in gluten free cooking, and you are cooking for someone with an allergy do give them your ingredient list with the specific brands you used so they can make sure it is all ok). You can also email the companies and ask about the gluten content of their products.

For this recipe I used my Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe of which the cheesecake filling was already gluten free without alteration. NOTE: some cheesecake recipes call for flour – I never use flour in mine, but that is a gluten no, no (if you didn’t already know). The only thing I had to alter was the crust, I used Trader Joe’s gluten free gingersnaps for this recipe. There are gluten free graham crackers and other cookies out there as well. I use McCormick spices, which I remembered my grandma told me that she contacted McCormick and confirmed no gluten was contained in their spices.  The sound of gingersnaps with the pumpkin sounded very holiday-like and boy was it fantastic. (I substituted half in half for the heavy cream, and Greek yogurt for sour cream. Those substitutions made a slight difference. I realized at the last minute that I didn’t have enough heavy cream and that my sour cream had dip in it instead of sour cream).

CRUST
2 c ground Trader Joes Gluten Free Gingersnaps
2T. brown sugar (or granulated) C&H
5T. melted butter

IN a food processor, process the gingersnaps until they are a fine crumb. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and press into the bottom of a spring form pan or a deep pie dish. Bake @ 375 degrees for 7 minutes or so.

FILLING
3- 8oz. pkgs cream cheese (Philadelphia) (softened)
3/4c granulated sugar (C&H)
1T vanilla (Spice Island)
5 eggs
1/8 cup heavy cream

BEAT cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until combined. Add eggs one at a time and make sure the egg is incorporated well before adding the next egg. Beat in whipping cream.

PUMPKIN MIXTURE
15 oz can pumpkin puree (Libbys)
¼ t. ground ginger (McCormick)
1 ½ t ground cinnamon (McCormick)
¼ t. ground nutmeg (McCormick)
¼ t. ground cloves (McCormick)
1/8 c. sour cream

Whisk the pumpkin mixture together, then fold into cheesecake filling.

BAKE cheesecake at 300-degrees for 1 hour and 5-10 min (or until middle set). I allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven, with the oven off and the door propped open. This helps prevent all those cracks and craters you can get in your cheesecakes when the hot cheesecake hits the cool air outside the oven. I read that slowly cooling a cheesecake can prevent some of that cracking and so far it appears to work for me. Cooking the cheesecake at 300 instead of 325 cooks it slower and more gentle. I have used water baths which makes the cheese cake creamier and without a water bath the cheese cake gets more dry with a crumblier texture – this is all about what you prefer.

November 14, 2010

Caramel Pumpkin Pie

Caramel Pumpkin Pie

This recipe is from Epicurious.com I did not alter the recipe except I used a different pie crust recipe. Today I have been working on Thanksgiving and deciding what desserts I will be making. There is another (but very time consuming) recipe on my “to try list,”  it is a three layered pumpkin custard, whipped cream and mousse pie. Should it turn out I will post that pie as well. As for this caramel pumpkin pie, it came out fantastic! Caramel adds a kick to this pie, if you make this pie and did not tell anyone it is caramel pumpkin everyone would probably just think you make the best tasting pumpkin pie. Just tell them you used a “secret” ingredient!

I had some left over filling because my pie crust shrunk more than I anticipated so I put the rest of the filling into custard dishes and cooked them for 30-35 minutes. You could make the whole recipe into custard dishes rather than a pie. Caramel Pumpkin Custard.

1c. sugar
1/3 c. water
2 c. heavy cream
15oz can 100% pure pumpkin (not pie mix)
1 ¼ tsp. ginger
1 ¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp cloves
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1-pie crust (precooked)

Preheat oven to 375°

Make Caramel:
Stir sugar and water in a heavy saucepan. Over medium heat bring the sugar to a simmer, and cook until the sugar turns to a golden brown color. (do not burn the sugar it will become bitter!) Do not stir during this part just swirl the pan a little and wipe down the sides with a pastry brush dipped in cold water if the sugar sticks to the sides of the pan. Stir in 1 cup of heavy cream and stir the mixture until the caramel is dissolved, it will boil vigourously. Stir in remaining cup of cream and bring the mixture to a simmer, turn off the heat.

Filling:
Whisk together the pumpkin and spices in a large bowl. Whisk in the hot cream mixture, then whisk in the eggs stirring until well combined.

Pour filling into cooled pie crust and cook for 55-60 minutes. The center will look slightly wet but the edges will be puffed and cooked. Allow to cool on a rack for 2 hours, during this time the pie will continue to set.

Apparently pumpkin pie is a “soft crust” pie which means you don’t pre-cook the crust, instead pour the filling into the uncooked crust and bake the pie all at once. While that is ok, I have found I really like the texture and flavor of a pre-cooked pie crust – in pumpkin pie or not.  Apparently the people over at Gourmet feel the same as me as their recipe calls for a pre-cooked crust. BUT if you prefer soft crust then by all means, you do not have to pre-cook the crust in this recipe.

Praline Topping
1/2 stick cold butter
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2T flour
1/2 cup coarsley chopped pecans

Mix the flour and brown sugar, then with a pastry blender or fork cut in the butter. Stir in the coarsely chopped pecans and sprinkle the mixture over the pumpkin pie before baking.

Caramel Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline Streusel