Reconnaissant

Pumpkin Meringue Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.

William Cullen Bryant

Pumpkin Meringue Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

The word for grateful in French, reconnaisant, is derived from the verb reconnaître: to recognize or acknowledge.

To be thankful is to share your appreciation.
I have so, so many thanks to give this holiday season, in spite of the fragility of 2016 in the face of so many tragedies, differences, and disagreements. I feel strongly that acknowledging good and allowing our spirits to be lifted by it is just as important and crucial to progress as discussing what we feel is wrong or problematic.

I choose to feel lucky and count my blessings, because there are so many people around the world who have too few.
I am grateful for my family, for my partner, for friends near and far, for my school and the opportunities afforded to me, for clean water and laundry and a quiet bed to sleep in at night.

My life and heart are full, and yet I keep space enough to hope for peace and unity, for universal rights and equality, and an end to the bombings of hospitals and schools in Aleppo.
I pray for women and girls around the globe, for animals losing their homes and environments, or in zoos, shelters, or abusive homes, and I pray for Mother Earth.

Pumpkin Meringue Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

I thought I’d share a few (mostly food) links that have made me smile, or pause and think, or drool lately. I’m thankful for the food blogging community and the creativity that thrives in it.
Inspiration is good for the soul!

Thalia turned 21! She baked herself a glorious chocolate and hazelnut and praline cake (that frosting, omg bye) and also wrote a beautiful post (with pie) about self-transformation.

Michelle wrote some realness about the election and having work to do. So refreshing when so many have just gone on posting about yummy cakes etc. If you didn’t read her 5th blogiversary post either, definitely check it out for some food for thought about what’s really important about being a blogger.

Cindy’s apple + marionberry marzipan crumble with “chewy bits of almond paste throughout the crisp topping” sounds like the best thing, ever. Definitely want to try this over the winter!

Speaking of things I want to try, Jen made an apple rose tart that is perfection embodied. Those swirly slices! I need to try making fruit roses, especially in a dessert, yum.

Adam Ellis is a cartoonist for Buzzfeed and his instagram is guaranteed to make you laugh. Hehe.

Pumpkin Meringue Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

The frosting on Sam’s hazelnut cake, holy cow. So shiny and chocolaty! I love the idea of using sour cream to add a slight contrast to the sweetness. Plus, the post is part of a campaign for No Kid Hungry, which is doubly awesome.

Erica made a beautiful pear bourbon pie and shared a sad story and her own urgings for us all to acknowledge and work together to move forward after a divisive political season. I completely understand her hesitation to say anything about politics in a space usually reserved for happy musings, but I applaud her for being bold and sharing some of her feelings.

Those seeking comfort and solace should turn to Beeta’s classic chocolate chip cookies, which look pillowy and soft and full of chocolate. I could totally go for a warm cookie and cold milk right about now.

Ellen crying while getting a Medal of Freedom from Obama made me tear up, to be honest. She is so wonderful and this was a momentous honor.

Finally, my pictures are in a Belgian magazine!
You can check out the issue from Creacorner here—spot my Yule Stump cake!

Pumpkin Meringue Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

The pie I’m sharing with you guys today comes together in a flash and doesn’t require any rolling of crusts, which is something that I know many people dread.

Instead, this creamy, spicy, sweet pumpkin pie has a brown butter graham cracker and cinnamon cereal crust (you know your inner child wants to try this) and a thick swirl of torched, marshmallow-y Italian meringue.

This comes together in a flash and doesn’t require any ingredients that aren’t already in your pantry.
It’s not an enormous tart/pie, so it’s good as part of a holiday dessert spread.

Pumpkin Meringue Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. I urge you to give your loved ones an extra squeeze and don’t be afraid to share what you’re thankful for this year.

Pumpkin Meringue Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

Pumpkin Meringue Tart
makes 1 8- or 9-inch tart or pie

ingredients:
for the crust:
300 grams (2 1/4 cups) crushed graham crackers and/or cinnamon cereal
25 grams (2 tablespoons) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
100 grams (7 tablespoons) butter, melted or browned

for the filling:
150 grams (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
pinch nutmeg
40 grams (1/3 cup) dry milk powder (Note: you can sub 7 ounces evaporated milk for the dry milk powder and water)
120 grams (1/2 cup) water
75 grams (5 ounces, 1 small can) evaporated milk
420 grams (15 ounces, 1 regular can) pumpkin purée
2 eggs

for the meringue:
2 egg whites
100 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
60 grams (1/4 cup) water

directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Make the crust: crush the graham crackers and cereal into crumbs, then pour into a bowl.
Stir the sugar and salt into the crumbs, then pour the brown butter over and stir until the mixture will stick together when pressed.
Pour into an 8- or 9-inch tart or pie pan and press into an even layer.
Place the pan on a sheet pan lined with parchment.
Bake for 10 minutes, until fragrant.
Meanwhile, whisk sugar, spices, and dry milk powder together.
Add the evaporated milk and water while whisking, then stir in the pumpkin until homogeneous.
Whisk in the eggs, scraping the bottom of the bowl to ensure that everything has been incorporated.
Pour into the hot crust and place back in the oven.
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 and bake for 20-30 more minutes, or until the center just barely jiggles when you shake the pan a little bit.
Allow to cool completely.
Make the meringue: place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Place sugar and water in a small pot over medium heat, fitted with a candy thermometer.
Begin to whisk egg whites while syrup heats up.
Once syrup reaches 245 degrees F, the egg whites should be at semi-stiff peaks.
Pour the hot syrup into the meringue while beating at high speed.
Whip until the meringue is glossy and cooled to body temp.
Spread the meringue over the pumpkin pie and torch it as desired.

Abóbora

Double Pumpkin Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

“People who love to eat are always the best people.”

—Julia Child

Double Pumpkin Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Happy Thanksgiving!

Double Pumpkin Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Today, I’m crazy busy cooking and baking a feast for my family… I’ve been cooking since I got home on Tuesday night and I won’t stop until dinner tonight!

But nevertheless, I wanted to share this cake with you, since it is so easy and quick and could be a perfect last-minute addition to any holiday table.

Double Pumpkin Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

For any of you who might be curious, the menu I’ve created for today is as follows (and yes, I execute all of these dishes, with great help from my sous chefs Mom, Dad, and Grandma!):

Gougères
Kale and raisin salad
Butternut squash macaroni and cheese
Roasted za’atar root vegetables with dijon aioli
Cauliflower mascarpone mashed potatoes
Mushroom, rosemary, lemon, and chicken sausage dressing
Cranberry-maple sauce
Tarragon and thyme butter roasted turkey
White wine giblet gravy
Seared maple brussels sprouts
Butternut squash snack cake with brown sugar fudge frosting
Maple cream shortbread tart
Butterscotch, poached pear, and apple pie in a cheddar crust

My “manifesto” AKA all of the written out recipes and schedules was a whopping 12 pages long this year.
We don’t play around with Thanksgiving in this household.

Double Pumpkin Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

I’m going to attempt to perhaps photograph some of the desserts, but no promises.  Things can get hectic!

The cake I’m sharing today is seriously, seriously, the best pumpkin cake I have ever tasted.

Even better, it only requires one bowl, comes together in a flash, and keeps like a dream.
It was inspired by a jar of pumpkin butter that Hana brought me from the apple orchard/pumpkin patch where she spent a brisk autumn morning.
She really is the best big ever!

Double Pumpkin Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

This pumpkin cake is dairy-free (and I used lactose-free cream cheese for the frosting), but you’d never know it.

Super moist and spicy, thanks to a double hit of pumpkin: both pumpkin butter and pumpkin purée go into the batter, along with a hit of brown sugar and a mélange of spices.
The frosting is creamy, drippy, and thick—slathered on generously.
I used Green Valley lactose free cream cheese to keep it Nati-friendly—it’s seriously amazing!
You cannot tell the difference in taste or texture whatsoever.

This cake batter comes together in 10 minutes, and then you can sneak it in the oven next to the turkey—a loaf pan is quite svelt, even in a crammed oven.

It would make a fantastic last addition to any menu!
And once again: happy Thanksgiving, all!

Double Pumpkin Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Double Pumpkin Cake 
makes 1 9×5 inch loaf cake
cake portion adapted from Sweet Phi

ingredients:
for the cake:
180 grams ( 1 1/2 cups) flour
55 grams (1/2 cup packed) brown sugar
55 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
pinch cloves
pinch nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
270 grams (1 cup) pumpkin purée
430 grams (1 1/2 cups) pumpkin butter
28 grams (2 tablespoons) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese (I used lactose free)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
480 grams (4 cups) powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk, as needed (I used cashew)

directions:
Make the cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour a loaf pan.
Whisk together flour, sugars, spices, and salt.
Make a well in the center and crack in the eggs; add the pumpkin purée, pumpkin butter, oil, and vanilla to the well also.
Carefully stir the batter together until a rough and mostly homogeneous batter results.
Scrape into prepared pan.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a tester comes out with only a few moist crumbs and the top is springy and golden.
Allow to cool completely before frosting.
To make the cream cheese frosting, whip cream cheese on high speed util creamy and no lumps remain, about 3 minutes.
Add in the salt and powdered sugar and stir until completely incorporated; if mixture is too thick to spread, add the milk until it is of spreadable consistency.
Frost as desired.
Serve at room temperature.

Winter White

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“It comes in winter white/ in holiday disguise…”

-A Fine Frenzy

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Let’s hop aboard the crazed “winter-white” train, people.
Lord knows we’ve got enough crazy to go around in these here parts.

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I’ve certainly hopped aboard the crazy cookie train, more so than ever, I think.

I love gifting cookies!  People love to receive little sweets to celebrate with.
Personally… I eat my weight in cookies every holiday season.  It’s only natural and I won’t have it any other way lalalalala I can’t hear you.

I’ve baked sooo many cookies and packed them all up in pretty little Martha Stewart (God help me, I just wrote Marsha.  Marsha Stewart) cookie boxes, to be given away to fill people with joy and butter and sugar.

All good things.

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Can we talk about sparkles+cookies?
GUYS as if holiday sugar cookies could get any more appealing now we can add glitter and sparkly things.

I’m done for.  Definitely done for.  Look for my body underneath a mountain of luster dust.

I think I’m getting the glitter lung, Pop.

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The cookies hidden underneath all that sparkle and glitter aren’t your regular ol’ Christmas sugar cookies, either.
Nope.  I wanted to jazz that up too.  And so I did!  You will be glad.

I started with my 3-2-1-1-2-3 dough.  Out went the egg, to be replaced with thick maple syrup.
A smattering of nutmeg to heighten the nuttiness of the rye flour.
The resultant cookie is extra crisp and buttery (no eggs will do that) with a depth beyond that of any sugar cookie I’ve tasted.

I iced them with Bridget’s royal icing (1 batch), and since I used Wilton meringue powder, the icing came out just a touch lemony, which was lovely with the cookies.  If your meringue powder doesn’t have lemon extract in it, you may want to add a tiny drop.  If you’re into that kinda thang.

The glitter is white luster dust, the pearls are edible, and the sprinkling of stars are all paper thin sprinkles.

Glittery cookies!  They match my glittery ornaments!!
*stereotypical girl alert*

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Maple, Nutmeg, and Rye Sugar Cookies
ingredients:
16 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
2 pinches kosher salt (1 scant teaspoon)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
splash vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup rye flour

directions:
Whip the butter for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.
Scrape the bowl and add in the sugar and salt and beat for 3 more minutes, until there is no grit left.
Scrape the bowl and add the maple syrup, nutmeg, and vanilla; beat for 1 more minute.
Scrape the bowl and add the flour in all at once; stir until a dough forms.
Knead once or twice before turning out onto a floured surface.
Roll out to a thickness of 1/4 inch, then cut the shapes you desire.
Freeze the shapes for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days before baking in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 10-12 minutes, or until golden and fragrant.
Decorate as desired: I used 1 batch of Bridget’s royal icing, left pure white, some luster dust and star sparkles, as well as some edible pearls; I used number 1 and number 4 Ateco tips.

감사합니다

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I’m thankful for home.

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I’m grateful to be surrounded by love and warmth and family.

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This brief respite has been much needed, and much appreciated.

It saddens me to leave (tomorrow), but I am comforted with the knowledge that I will be back in just a few short weeks.

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I love my home: my house, my friends, my family, my town.

I love this place.

I was dearly missing this place.

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I thought I’d share some snapshots of home with you; the first photo is of my beloved bed, where I haven’t been spending enough time this break. (Too many things to do!  People to see!  Places to go!)

You get a preview of our holiday cards (blech) and some cute photos of my kitten and pup.

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Also, THANKS GUYS, for being awesome and reading these stupid posts of mine on this silly little blog.

You rock.  Thanks for that.  I sure do appreciate you.

Now, food.

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Thanksgiving Menu 2013:

Roasted roots: herbed sweet potatoes, parsnips, and carrots with honey mustard aioli (GF)

Roasted brown butter and maple Brussels sprouts (GF)

Honey glazed turkey with giblet gravy (GF)

Maple and apple cranberry sauce (GF)

Cornbread stuffing with spiced sausages, pecans, sage, and celery (GF)

Goat cheese, buttermilk, and olive oil mashed potatoes (GF)

Whole wheat butternut squash mac and cheese

Mixed green salad with pomegranates, walnuts, shaved fennel, apples, and Parmesan with pomegranate dressing (GF)

Butterscotch and thyme apple pie (GF)

Maple kefir brûlée tart (GF)

Pumpkin roll with Frangelico and mascarpone whipped cream, brown butter glaze, chopped pecans (GF)

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Yes, I made all of that myself.  Boy, was it a marathon.  A very, very, very, long and delicious haul.

My photos were all very rushed and poorly lit; I had hoped to show you pictures of all the gluten free goodies I made, but no such luck.

At least I got a picture of the pumpkin roll cake… So I can torture you with yet another pumpkin recipe!

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This will be the last pumpkin recipe of the year.

It’s one to remember: light, fluffy pumpkin sponge cake rolled around mascarpone and maple whipped cream, topped with brown butter and Frangelico glaze and chopped pecans.

You might just be inspired to pull out one last can of pumpkin.

Happy Thanksgiving (weekend), y’all.

Thanksgiving (scaled)

 Pumpkin Roll Cake

ingredients:
for the cake:
powdered sugar, for sprinkling on towel
90 grams (3/4 cup) flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, pepper, coriander
pinch salt
3 large eggs
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
for the filling:
1 cup whipped cream
1 cup mascarpone
¼ cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
pinch salt

for the glaze:
4 tablespoons butter, browned
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup powdered milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons Frangelico (optional)

For garnish:
Chopped pecans

Directions:
For the cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a sheet pan very well; line with parchment paper.
Sprinkle a dishtowel with powdered sugar.
Whisk the flour, leaveners, spices, and salt together.
Beat the yolks and ¼ cup of the sugar very well, then stir in pumpkin.
Sift the flour mixture over the yolks and fold in gently.
Whip the egg whites and remaining sugar to stiff peaks.
Fold into the pumpkin mixture, then spread the batter out onto your prepared pan.
Bake for 15 minutes, until set.
Flip over onto towel and let cool for 5 minutes.
Gently roll up the cake and set aside to cool completely.
For the filling, beat the whipped cream to soft peaks, then gently beat in the other ingredients.
Spread onto the cooled, unrolled cake, then reroll the cake.
For the glaze, mix everything together until no lumps remain; drizzle over the rolled cake.
Garnish with chopped pecans.

Brass Monkey

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Winter is coming.

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Note.

Sidenote: I cannot wait for February 2014.  I’m dying with anticipation for Season 4 of what is arguably the best television series ever made.
And yes, I’m willing to make that argument.

My dad and I good-naturedly disagree about this all the time.

Speaking of my dad, he’s here in Chicago visiting me and giving a talk at the Booth school.  I’m sitting here writing this while he works next to me at the Quad Club.

We just had dinner at the Green Zebra…

Life is good.

Edit: Sitting in Harper Memorial.  Just ate breakfast at the dining hall.  Wish I were at the QC.  Wish I had just eaten at the Green Zebra.

Sigh.

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One thing I miss most about home is the leisure time spent watching my favorite shows avec mon papa.

I’m going through serious withdrawals, because while we have a Slingbox, I just don’t have enough time to sit down and watch the many hours of TV that have racked up.  I wish I did, but I don’t.  For a period of time, he was in London, and that didn’t help either.  Oh well.

Also, I just miss spending time with him and my mama and mes animaux.

I’m so grateful that he is here this weekend, and I’m incredibly excited to go home for Thanksgiving, which is already my favorite hollyday.

Incredibly. Excited.

Likeyoudon’tevenknow.

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It has been pretty bracingly cold in Chicago over the last few days.
I can’t say I’m surprised or unused to this type of weather, since Ithaca has very similar weather patterns (it generally lags 1 or 2 days behind Chicago weather, but is temperature-wise very similar), but it sure came on fast.

Supposedly, it will be 64 on Sunday…  Again, can’t say I’m surprised.

But three short days ago, it was 27 degrees F with the sun out, not including the windchill.

Edit: It’s around 45-50 degrees out today.  Gorgeous.  Perfect.  My kind of weather.  Cool enough to be comfortable.  Warm enough to be pleasant.  

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Enter: bread pudd’n.
Hot, crunchy, citrusy, and custard-like, it’s a great comfort dessert.
The bread pieces on top are crunchy and crispy from the almonds and extra sugar which caramelizes in the oven.
Those on bottom are soft and gooey, bathed in custard redolent of citrus and butter.
It’s an eggy delight, and so simple!

I would love to be curled up on a couch right now, wrapped in blankets, with a steaming bowl full of bread pudding topped with a great mound of softly whipped cream and powdered sugar, watching Game of Thrones.

Can someone come make that happen?

Like, now?

Guys?

Anyone?

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Orange and Lemon Bread Pudding
ingredients:
5 eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch kosher salt
2 1/3 cups milk
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1 batch orange curd, fully cooled (recipe below)
1 1/2 loaves soft Italian bread
turbinado and granulated sugar, for sprinkling
handful almond slices, for garnish
powdered sugar and softly whipped cream, for serving

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter a 12-inch round pan (or other pan of comparable size).
Slice your bread into slices between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick.
Whisk eggs, milk, lemon zest and juice, sugar, and salt together.
Spread each of the sides of each of your slices of bread with orange curd, then arrange them in your pan.
Pour the milk and egg mixture over the slices of bread, making sure that they all get at least partially covered.
Sprinkle heavily with turbinado and granulated sugar.
Bake for 30 minutes, turning halfway through, until custard is set but slightly wobbly.
Garnish with lots of almonds and stick back in the oven for 5 minutes, to let the almonds toast up a little bit.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly, then dust with powdered sugar and serve.
Bread pudding and whipped cream or ice cream are a match made in the heavens above.  Do it.

Orange Curd:
ingredients:
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
zest of 2 oranges
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
pinch salt
1 egg plus 2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice
8 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

directions:
Whisk sugar, juice, zest, cornstarch, salt, and eggs together in a pot.
Begin to heat over low-medium heat until it comes to a boil; allow to cook until thick.
Remove from heat and whisk in vinegar or lemon juice.
Either transfer to a stand blender or use a hand blender: blend in the chunks of butter until the curd is very smooth and silky.
Allow to cool, then transfer to the fridge with a piece of clingfilm placed directly on the surface of the curd to cool completely.

Superstar

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Who wants to be a millionaire Thanksgiving superstar?

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Cause, like, this pie, yo.

GodDAMN.

Good gracious gravy!

Sorry.  I got excited.

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This pie… There’s just so much good stuff going on!  Yummy, delicious stuff.

First, let’s talk crust.  I know.  It’s the scariest part for most people.  But crust is your friend!

Buttery, flaky, tender crust.  How could it NOT be your friend?

The trick to a good pie crust is not a food processor, I’ve decided.

YesokokIknow, the food processor revolutionized pie crust because it shaved 5 minutes off the preparation time and allowed people to keep their hands clean.
Newsflash: you’re cooking and baking, your hands are going to get dirty sometime.  Pie crust is a good excuse to play around in flour and butter.
(BUTTER.  Not shortening.  As you can see in this pie, I’ve swapped my usual buttermilk for water to give a more sturdy crust, since it’s a custard pie that will not have par-baking.  That said, I could have swapped butter for shortening.  But why, oh why, would I want to sacrifice that flavor?  Oh, right.  I wouldn’t.  And neither would you.  I won’t have it any other way.)

By making your pie crust by hand, you get a good feel for the texture.  In a food processor, an extra 3 pulses gives you a gummy crust that will be tough and shrink during baking.  (Insert sad face here.)

Let’s take this chance to play with our food, no?  It’ll be fun.

Dump your flour, salt, and a pinch of sugar into a big bowl.
Cube your butter into little chunky chunks, then throw it back in the fridge for 5 minutes to re-chill.
Meanwhile, fill a small bowl with cold water, and chuck 2 ice cubes in it.  Keep a tablespoon near the ice water.
Stir the flour n’ stuff around with your hands.
Take your butter chunks and place them all in the flour, all snuggly and nested down in there.
Now, with your fingers and palms, start to smash the cubes into flat sheets.  Rub about half between your hands to create a coarse meal.  The others, leave as small, flattened chunks, the size of peas.
You should have a rough mish-mash of butter and flour and butter-flour meal.
Here comes the fun: dunk the tablespoon measure in the ice water and put 2 measures into your butter/flour.
Using your hands, gently stir the mixture together.  Some will stick to your hands.  Just scrape it off and put it back in the mix.
If there are still a lot of dry chunks at the bottom of your bowl, add up to 2 more tablespoons of water, but go slow.
When your crust is done, it will hold together and all of the flour will be hydrated, but it won’t be very sticky or gooey.  It should be smooth.
Give it a couple kneads, a little massage, and wrap it up nice and snug in some plastic wrap.
Back in the fridge she goes!

To roll the crust out, liberally sprinkle a clean countertop with flour, then place your crust in the middle.
Sprinkle the top with flour, and gently, starting from the middle, roll towards the edges, creating a rough circle shape.
Once it’s 3 inches larger in all directions than the bottom of your pie dish, roll it up on your rolling pin (like a roll of paper towels) and place it in the dish.  Crimp the edges by rolling the excess up underneath, then pinching to create pretty little ruffles.
Back to the fridge!  Keep it COLD, y’all!

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So you’ve got your awesome all-butter pie crust made and ready and chilling.

Let’s fill it with heavenly goodies.

Start with brown sugar and a friendly pinch of salt, and add the ambrosia of the gods nutty brown butter.

Whisk whisk whisk in warm, autumnal spices and six (6!) egg yolks to ensure a silky, custard-like texture.

Stir in 70% bittersweet chocolate, melted and luxurious.

Finish with a sprinkling of pecans and turbinado sugar.

You’ll smell this pie long before it emerges from the oven.  It’s fragrant with the best things in life: butter, spices, and chocolate.
Once it’s partially cooled, you’ll stick it in the freezer and it will thicken into a custard-y pie, the smooth and gooey chocolate interrupted only by crisp pecans.

Serve this pie sprinkled with a touch of powdered sugar, and unsweetened whipped cream or barely sweetened vanilla ice cream.

I might have to make this again for Thanksgiving.

It is among the 3 best pies I’ve ever made.

It is that good, people.

tl;dr: MAKE THIS.

P.S. I posted this on 11/11 at 11:11.  My wish is for you to make this (JK! Then it wouldn’t come true!!)

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Pumpkin Spice Brown Butter Chocolate Pecan Pie

ingredients:
for the crust:
165 grams (1 1/2 cups)flour
8 grams (2 teaspoons) sugar
pinch salt
113 grams (8 tablespoons) butter, cut into small pieces and cold
45 grams (3 tablespoons ice water, or as needed)

for the filling:
140 grams (scant cup) bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips
220 grams (1 cup plus 2 scant tablespoons) sugar
150 grams (1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons) brown sugar
17 grams (2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons) nonfat dry milk powder
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, or a big pinch each cloves, nutmeg, and star anise, plus 2 pinches each cinnamon and ginger
big pinch kosher salt
180 grams (13 tablespoons) butter, browned
120 grams (1/2 cup) milk
6 egg yolks
approximately 300 grams (2 1/2 cups) pecan halves, the pretty ones saved for garnish and the rest chopped roughly
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling, if desired

directions:
Make the crust: stir the flour, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl.
Add the butter cubes in and cut them in with a pastry blender or your fingers, flattening some and rubbing others into the flour.
Leave pieces the size of peas; the rest should resemble a coarse meal.
Stir in the water, starting with 2 tablespoons, until the dough comes together; it shouldn’t be sticky or crumbly, but just barely hold together.
Knead gently 3 or 4 times, then pat into a disk and refrigerate.
Meanwhile, make the filling: begin by melting the chocolate, gently; do this in a microwave on partial power or over a double boiler.
When the chocolate is 2/3 melted, remove from heat and stir until all melted; set aside to cool slightly.
Whisk the sugar, brown sugar, milk powder, spices, and salt together until no little lumps remain.
Whisk the brown butter in vigorously. Whisk the yolks and milk together, then vigorously whisk them into the butter/sugar mixture.
Finally, whisk in the melted and cooled chocolate and stir in the chopped pecans.
Set aside to thicken and rest while you finish the crust.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll the crust out, gently, to a 1/8 inch thickness.
Place it in a 9-inch pie pan that is about 2 inches in depth.
Flute or crimp the edges as desired, then place in the freezer until it is hardened, about 10 minutes.
Pour filling into the crust and decorate with the reserved pecan halves.
Top with a little turbinado sugar, then place on a cookie sheet in the oven.
Bake for 40 minutes, until top is shiny and filling is set; you may need to cover the top with aluminum foil to prevent the pecans from burning (mine got a little toasty…).
Remove from oven and allow to cool almost completely, then finish the chilling in the freezer to make the filling extra dense.
Enjoy with unsweetened whipped cream and a little powdered sugar!

La Neige et Le Gingembre

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”” 

― Lewis CarrollAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
Big, fat snowflakes fall onto rosy cheeks, as collars are turned up against the creeping cold and whispering, wintry winds.
 
Winter is coming; there is no denying it.
Granted, she may be a season of malaise, but winter has an undeniably ghostly beauty.
 


Driving through the countryside, the dark allure of this season is illuminated; weak beams of sunlight stream through lavender clouds, lighting upon endless fields of dead crops, standing proud and tall against the frost; upon lustrous evergreens and silvery deciduous trees, between which the ground is laid bare, the soft carpet of needles giving way to hard cold ground only at the edges of the forests.  

 
Pillowy white snowflakes litter the ground, remaining there for only an instant, before melting into the earth.
 
Cet hiver serai beau- de ça je suis sûr; je peux le voir maintenant, même au début.  Même si vous n’aimiez pas la neige, vous pouvez apprécier la beauté de ce saison froid.
These cookies are perfect for cozy winter snacking.  Not that I would know anything about that… 

Actually, I’ve been up to my ears in ginger cookies for the last week.  I’ve been in hot pursuit of ones that were chewy and soft; anti-gingersnaps, as it were.  I ended up with many, many, many gingersnaps.  Delicious? Absolutely.  Soft? No.  Rock hard Crispy.

All the trials boiled down to these cookies.  They are perfection.

They are filled with warm spices, and just enough heat, which has the edge taken off by sweet, mellow molasses.  Their crinkly, sparkly and sugar spangled outsides remind me of ice crystallization.  Soft on the inside, with a slightly crispy, chewy outside, these are a wonderful addition to any winter cookie recipe repertoire.

I may or may not have also added them to my winter breakfasts.  But you didn’t hear that from me.


 

Giant Sparkling Ginger Molasses Cookies
adapted from Chow
ingredients:
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons ginger
pinch cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1/3 cup granulated sugar
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  
Cream butter and brown sugar and salt together until fluffy and no butter chunks remain.  Add in molasses and spices and beat until incorporated.  Beat in egg.  With the mixer off, dump in all of the flour and baking soda.  Pulse the mixer on and off a few times so that flour doesn’t go all over everything, then mix until the dough comes together and everything is homogeneous.  Divide the dough into 14 portions (I use a 3 or 4 tablespoon ice cream scoop), and roll into balls.  Spread 1/3 cup sugar out on a sheet of parchment or wax paper.  Roll the balls in the sugar until coated.  Space them out- 6 per bakers’ 1/2 sheet (standard cookie sheet size) and squish slightly with the heel of your hand.  Bake for 20 minutes, until fragrant and tanned.  Check often once they get close to being done- you want their bellies to remain soft!