Tags: baking, dessert, pie
I’ve noticed this Depths-of-Fall Butternut Squash Pie many times while flipping through the book. Or, I should say that I noticed the title and thought it sounded good. It wasn’t until this weekend that I actually read it and realized it is not a smoothly puréed, single crust pie similar to pumpkin. Nope, this is a pie with real character….lumpy and bumpy under the top crust because everything inside is chunky and retains its texture. It’s stuffed with a hearty combo of butternut squash, apples (or pears, which I didn’t have on hand), nuts and dried fruit. The filling reminded me of mincemeat pie, with its mix of fruit and spices (but sans the suet, thank goodness). The pie is slightly earthy, not too sweet, and totally great with vanilla ice cream!
For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also on The Splendid Table’s site) or read Valerie’s lovely blog, Une Gamine dans la Cuisine. And see Di’s Kitchen Notebook for Mini Madeleines, this week’s other recipe (which I did make and will show you later in the week). Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, cake, chocolate, dessert
When did weekends become all about errands and housekeeping? This weekend, in addition to the usual vacuuming, laundry and trips to the market and bank, I did some grout touch-ups to the bathroom (how do I even know how to do that??), removed and cleaned up the couple of A/C units we still had dangling out the windows and did a rather ghetto weatherproofing job to the hatch that leads from our backyard into the basement (it involved a blue tarp and some bricks). Carving out a little baking time on the weekends is a must. For me, even though there are always dishes to wash afterward, it’s pure fun.
While I’ve never been one for most fruit and chocolate combos, I can do pears and chocolate together…Poire Belle Hélène is good stuff, afterall. While I was flipping through the very sweet little book Rustic Fruit Desserts, this recipe for Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cake caught my eye as a good and unusual way to use up the last of my CSA pears. Making an upside-down cake is always exciting. There’s the big revel– what’s going to happen when you turn it out of the pan?? Here’s what I got with this one: a perfectly moist and caramel-soaked chocolate cake with pears that turned a translucent, shimmering gold. I must say though, that just from tasting the raw cake batter, I knew we were in for a treat. I love the way the pears glisten in the light…this one might show up again for Christmas dinner.
Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cake- makes a 9-inch cake
adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson
Steph’s Note: Regarding the caramel for the fruit topping– if you have another method of making caramel that you prefer (a dry caramel, for example), feel free to use it here, keeping the amount of sugar the same. This one worked perfectly for me, but do what you are comfortable with.
for the fruit topping:
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (4 oz) water
3 firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored, and each cut into 12 slices (1 pound prepped)
for the cake:
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (1 ounce) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
-Preheat the oven to 350° F and butter a 9-inch round cake pan (preferably not a springform one).
-To make the fruit topping, put the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan (one with a tight-fitting lid) and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then cover and cook for 2 minutes. (Covering in this way allows the steam to wash down the sides of pan, which will prevent any sugar crystals from forming.) Uncover the saucepan and continue to boil the sugar, gently and slowly swirling the pan as needed to cook the caramel evenly, until it becomes a dark amber color. Occasionally wash down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, if necessary. Carefully pour the caramel into the prepared pan and allow it to harden. The pan will be very hot from the sugar, so take care in moving it if you need to. Fan the pear slices on top of the caramel in a circle around the perimeter, filling in the center with the remaining slices.
-To make the cake, place the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat and melt, stirring occasionally. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl. Transfer the melted chocolate to a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and add the sugar. Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the milk in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
-Tip the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to move it to the edges and cover the fruit. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cake bounces back slightly when touched. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a knife or small offset around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a plate, leaving the pan on top of the cake for 5 minutes before you remove it. If any pear slices stick to the pan, just lift them out and place them on top of the cake. Serve the cake warm or room temperature.
-Wrapped in plastic wrap, this cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.
Tags: baking, cake, dessert
It’s hard to believe, but TWD is coming close to the end of the book! There are two recipes a week from now till the end of the year, but I think I’ll only be able to choose one because I can’t do much baking at home during the work week. This week, I’m making the Far Breton, chosen by Nicole of Cookies on Friday (Jeannette of The Whimsical Cupcake chose Honey Nut Scones as the other recipe). I’ve been intrigued by this one for a long time…just the name sounds so classy. And there are Armagnac-soaked prunes–yum! Falling somewhere between custard and cake, it’s made from a no-brainer batter that gets whizzed up in the blender, crêpe-style. The finished dessert actually reminded me a lot of an unmolded clafoutis. I like eggy desserts, so this was just the ticket. I also like easy desserts that are totally dinner party worthy, and this one fits that bill, too. Next time I’ll add a splash more booze.
Tags: baking, cupcakes, dessert
Yes, Halloween is all about candy, and I’m psyching myself up to sit on my stoop for hours tomorrow passing out Milky Ways and M&M’S to the neighborhood zombies and trolls. (Unless I am bitten by a vampire, I plan to hoard the Reese’s Cups for myself, btw.) Every year, though, I force myself to make Halloween cupcakes in an effort to use up my ghost cupcake liners and my orange and black sprinkles. I think I have one year left on the liners, but probably ten on the sprinkles…maybe I should “accidentally” spill them!
I only just now realized that you can’t really even see the actual cupcake in this photo…my bad…but they look, you know, like cupcakes. I’ve made this recipe a couple of times now because it real flavor from the sour cream and vanilla. Also, they are soft and moist, but they’re sturdy…they don’t have a messy, fall-to-pieces-when-you-bite-them crumb. I think they’d make perfect birthday cupcakes. When I make cupcakes, I often use them as an excuse to clear out the bits and pieces from the fridge, and the frosting here is just a little leftover dark chocolate ganache.
I’m kepping this short and sweet because a car alarm has been going off outside my window for the past fifteen minutes. Ahh, city living…I can hardly hear myself think. Happy Halloween!
Sour Cream Cupcakes- makes about 18
from a recipe by Anne Burrell
Steph’s Note: The original recipe claims this makes 12 cupcakes…maybe that’s for a jumbo tin(?), because it really yields about 18 standard size cupcakes. Here, I made a 1/3 recipe and got six.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup sour cream
-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper cups.
-Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
-In the bowl of a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy. Turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
-Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Slowly add the vanilla, milk and sour cream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, as needed. With the mixer on medium speed, gradually mix in the flour.
-Fill the prepared muffin cups about 2/3 of the way, dividing the batter evenly among the lined cups.
-Put in the preheated oven and bake for about 20-22 minutes. Rotate the tin about halfway through.
-The cupcakes are done when a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of a cake. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack, then frost and decorate.
Tags: baking, dessert, fruit
I do bake all day at work, but when this time of year rolls around, I’m also more than happy to dial up the oven when I get home. The kitchen is the coziest place in this old house on a chilly day (we really need to get our front windows replaced!). When a new book called All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art by Molly Stevens found its way into my hands, I immediately began plotting out a Sunday roast-fest!
The book goes into great detail about how to perfectly roast meat and fish, the science behind it and how to get the most out of the technique, but there are also recipes for gorgeous roasted veggies and fruits. Steven’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Capers and Lemony Browned Butter will for sure be on my Thanksgiving table, and maybe I’ll show you those later, but that I assume you are here for the sweet stuff. My CSA has given me four bags of apples in two weeks, so I’m just searching out things to do with them. Then my eyes hit this recipe for Maple-Roasted Apples with Candied Nuts, and I knew it would be the first one I’d try. This has the same warm, sweet flavors of baked and stuffed apples, but they are so much easier to prepare…no tedious hollowing out or accidentally ripped skins. Here, I followed the author’s suggestion to sever these apples warm over vanilla ice cream, but I can tell you that they are also great over waffles (that’s what I did with the leftovers) or pancakes, and I can’t think of a better topping for oatmeal.
Maple-Roasted Apples with Candied Nuts- makes 4 to 5 servings
adapted from All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art by Molly Stevens
Steph’s Note: Prefer your apples with cinnamon or vanilla? Feel free to switch out the nutmeg and ginger for whatever spices you’d like.
4 large tart, crisp apples (1 1/2 to 2 lbs), like Gravenstein, Cortland or Braeburn
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon maple syrup
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
salt to taste
3/4 cup nuts (any you like…I used walnuts and pecans)
-Position racks in the top and lower thirds of the oven and heat to 400°F (or 3754°F if you are using convection). Line a large heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet and a smaller sheet (like a quarter sheet tray) with foil, parchment or Silpats.
-Cut the apples into quarters (it’s up to you if you want to peel them first…the skin does look pretty and helps the pieces hold shape). Remove the cores/seeds and cut the quarters into 1/2-inch cubes. Pile the apples onto the larger baking sheet. In a measuring cup or small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup maple syrup, 3 tablespoons melted butter and the nutmeg, ginger and a pinch of salt. Pour the mixture over the apples, toss to combine and arrange in a loose single layer.
-Roast the apples on the bottom rack, tossing after 15 minutes and every ten minutes thereafter so they roast evenly, until soft and slightly caramelized, but not completely collapsed. This took me 25 minutes here, but may take as long as 40 minutes.
-Meanwhile, pile the nuts on the smaller sheet and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 tablespoon melted butter and a pinch of salt. Toss to coat and spread out in a single layer. Roast on the top rack above the apples, stirring once or twice until they are toasty brown, about 10 minutes. Let the nuts cool before serving, and they will become crisp.
-Serve the fruit warm as a topping for ice cream, oatmeal or whatever you choose, and drizzle any juices from the pan over top. Scatter with candied nuts and serve. If you are storing this, keep the fruit and juices in a covered container in the refrigerator, and reheat at 350°F for about 10-15 minutes to warm slightly. Keep the nuts in a separate continued at room temperature.
Please note that the publisher, W.W. Norton, sent me a copy of this book…but I just bought another copy for a friend!
Tags: baking, cake, dessert, fruit
No big story here…some apricots that needed using up led me to rifle through my cookbook collection for inspiration. I found this Apricot and Cinnamon Cake in Bill Granger’s Every Day. When we lived in Sydney, visiting one of the bill’s restaurants was always a special treat, and I think he is a master of simple cakes and baked goods (and he makes the best pancakes!).
This is a cinnamon-spiced cake with halves of juicy apricots baked in. A crumb topping with more cinnamon gives it a perfect morning coffee cake vibe, but if you add a scoop of ice cream, it suddenly seems more like dessert. I used small apricots, but I think peaches or nectarines would be equally delicious (if they are large, they may need to be cut into thick slices, rather than simply halved, though). This cake smells wonderful in the oven.
Apricot and Cinnamon Cake– makes one 8″ cake
adapted from Every Day by Bill Granger
Steph’s Notes: The cinnamon is front and center in this cake. If you’d rather have it little more subtly spiced, I’d suggest leaving the cinnamon amount as-is in the cake portion and reducing it by half in the topping. If you don’t have self-raising flour to make the cake, you can use 140 grams of all-purpose flour combined with 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/8 teaspoon of salt.
for the cake:
140 g (5 oz) self-raising flour
1/2 t ground cinnamon
50 g (1 3/4 oz) sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 T milk (or 3 T Australian)
1 t vanilla extract
85 g (3 oz) unsalted butter, melted
350 g (12 oz) apricot halves
for the topping:
40 g (1 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
1 t ground cinnamon
35 g (1 1/4 oz) sugar
pinch of salt
35 g (1 1/4 oz) unsalted butter, chilled and diced
-Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
-To the topping, put the flour, cinnamon, sugar and pinch of salt in a bowl. Rub the butter with your fingertips until crumbs form. Chill while you assemble the rest of the cake.
-Grease and line the base of an 8″ (20 cm) round springform pan. (You can use a regular 8″ cake pan, greased and lined with parchment, instead, but you will need to flip the cake out and reinvert it if you want to serve it out of the pan.)
-Sift flour and cinnamon into a large bowl and stir in the sugar.
-Make a well in the center and pour in the egg, milk, vanilla and melted butter. Mix with a wooden spoon until the batter is smooth, then spoon into the cake pan.
-Arrange the apricots, cut-side up, evenly over the batter and then press gently down. Scatter the topping evenly over the apricots.
-Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is light golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave on a rack to cool before removing from the pan.
Tags: baking, dessert, fruit
This was supposed to be a Tropical Crumble with mangoes and bananas, but like I mentioned when I made jam, I have apricots and plums up the wazoo right now. So this became a Stonefruit Crumble instead, with apricots and yellow plums (look, I kept the colors similar!), and a little red plum ice cream for good measure. I tried to keep my version along the same lines as the original, flavoring the fruit with ginger and citrus, but since my fruits were small and soft, I didn’t pre-cook my filling before baking the crumble and I added a sprinkling of flour to the fruit mix to help thicken the juices.
Does anyone know if theree’s technically a difference between a crisp and a crumble?? Maybe there is, because my topping wasn’t as crunchy as I thought it would be. It had pecans, brown sugar and butter (cut back from the original recipe by a couple of tablespoons), so it wasn’t bad, but it did just kind of meld into the smooshiness of the baked fruit.
Tags: dessert, sorbet
Yes–my week to pick again for TWD!! I am crazy-excited! My first turn came way back in March of ’08, when I chose Caramel-Topped Flan. I think a lot of folks skipped that week. Turns out flan is a love-it-or-hate-it thing (I’m a lover, btw). We’ve made sooo many good things in the three+ years since then, and I’ve only missed out on a handful of them. There are still a lot of good things left, which made my choice this month a hard one, but I hoped Dorie’s Creamy Dark Chocolate Sorbet would be a hit with most everyone (sorry, Kayte!!).
This sorbet really is creamy and intensely chocolaty. It’s also super-melty. Like, don’t blink or you’ll have a chocolate puddle where your sorbet once stood. Of course, that can more than possibly be chalked up to triple-digit temps in NYC and no A/C in my house! No matter…eaten with a spoon or just slurped up out of a bowl, it’s delicious. And so freakin’ easy. I have a plan to work around the meltiness with the rest of my batch, and it looks something like this…
Creamy Dark Chocolate Sorbet- makes about 1 1/2 pints
recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours
Steph’s Note: I added a pinch of salt to the mix. Milk with any fat content will work.
1 cup milk
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
-Stir all the ingredients together in a 3- to 4-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan. Put the pan over medium heat and bring the ingredients to a boil, stirring frequently.
-Lower the temperature and boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and keeping a close eye on the pan- as the ingredients bubble and roll, the potential for boil over is high.
-Pour mixture into a heatproof bowl and refrigerate until chilled before churning the sorbet.
-Scrape the chilled sorbet mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Pack the sorbet into a container and freeze for at least 2 hours, until it is firm enough to scoop.
Serving: Unlike ice cream, with could be served as soft custard straight from the churn, this sorbet needs time in the freezer to firm.
Storing: Packed tightly in a covered container, the sorbet will keep in the freezer for up to two weeks.
Playing Around: 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract added to the cooled base will give you chocolate-peppermint sorbet. You can even add crushed candy canes a couple of minutes before churning is complete.