Better Late

Dairy Free Pumpkin Bundt | La Pêche Fraîche

“Your problem is you are too busy holding onto your unworthiness.”

Ram Dass

Dairy Free Pumpkin Bundt | La Pêche Fraîche

It must seem as if I’ve fallen off the face of the earth, or dived to the depths of the sweet, cold ocean only to resurface, gurgling and apologetic, every fortnight.

Autumn has blown right past this blog.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner, WHAT!?
It’s not that I don’t have things to complain about, good lord you know it’s not, but that I don’t have time to type up my complaints.

Far easier to light a few million candles and wallow about when given a moment of free time.
Actually, most of my free time is spent doing more work. (Note: this definition of “free time” only applies to UChicago students.)
Yes. Yes indeed, I’m ready for Thanksgiving, people.

Dairy Free Pumpkin Bundt | La Pêche Fraîche

Sometimes I feel guilty for setting certain things aside while my life continues on its hectic hurricane path.
Plenty of people juggle it all, balancing this or that on all ten fingers and their nose, too. (see: This poor puppy.)

But I’m not them. And for me, trying to stay on top of things in one part of my life means sacrificing in other places.
I promise this space will never be my sacrificial lamb.
I will always come back.
I promise to bring good food and real talk and always, always love.

As life changes, so does my relationship with my family, my friends, my readership.
But they are always constants.  I know that.

Big hugs and kisses!  Thank you for reading my blog.  Thank you for your appreciation for this space.

Dairy Free Pumpkin Bundt | La Pêche Fraîche

Big bundt!
I’m jumping back on the pumpkin bandwagon.
It’s been far too long, and I’ve been eating pumpkin pancakes too often to not share a treat here of the same nature.

This is a great cake for the hollydaze.
It’s easy easy easy, and saves marvelously.
It’s chockfull of spices, reminiscent of gingerbread, with a punchy lemon glaze to awaken your tastebuds from the sugar- and fat-overload that is soon to come.

Dairy Free Pumpkin Bundt | La Pêche Fraîche

The cake itself is moist, spicy, and perfect for nibbling on with a cup of tea.
Lemon and gingerbread are one of my favorite combinations.
Lemon and anything, but you know that already!

P.S. it has been snowing here.
Winter is coming.

(What, that’s not an appropriately cheery way to sign off?)

Dairy Free Pumpkin Bundt | La Pêche Fraîche

Dairy Free Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze
cake portion adapted from Taste of Home
makes 1 10-cup bundt plus 3-4 muffins

ingredients:
for the cake:
170 grams (1 1/2 sticks, 6 ounces) Earth Balance butter
60 grams (1/4 cup) coconut oil
500 grams (2 1/2 cups) sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3 eggs
420 grams (15 ounces,1 standard can) pureed pumpkin
360 grams (3 cups) flour
2 teaspoons baking soda

for the glaze:
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon (~3 tablespoons of juice)
tiny pinch salt (1/16 of a teaspoon)
1-2 cups confectioner’s sugar, or as needed

directions:
Make the cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour a 10-cup bundt pan very well (you may want to have some muffin liners in a muffin tin as well, for extra batter).
Place Earth Balance and coconut oil in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high for 3 minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add sugar, salt, molasses, and spices.
Beat for a full 5 minutes on high speed.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the eggs.
Beat for 3 more minutes, until very fluffy, light colored, and smooth and shiny.
Stir in the pumpkin part-way (leave some unmixed).
Place the flour on top of the batter, then the baking soda on top of the flour; mix on low speed to combine.
Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure the batter is homogeneous, then mix for 1 more minute.
Pour into prepared pan, scooping extra batter into the muffin tin.
Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a tester comes out completely clean (the muffins will be done in 18-20 minutes, so check on them early).
Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out of its pan onto a cooling rack.
Meanwhile, make the glaze.
Zest a lemon into a bowl, then get all the juice out of it that you can.
Add the salt and begin adding the powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time, while whisking to prevent lumps.
The glaze should have a thick consistency, similar to honey or molasses.
Add powdered sugar as necessary to reach this consistency (if you go too far, add 1 tablespoon very hot water and whisk), then use a spoon to pour over the barely-warm cake.
Allow cake to fully cool and glaze to set.
Serve at room temperature.

Serendipitous

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Hey there, Autumn.

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I thought I’d share some things that I’m loving and coveting right now.  Some hover on the edge of the seasons, some I share with autumnal intent, and some for plain old adoration.

First off, I cannot stop listening to “I’m Not the Only One.”
It’s been on repeat for 2 full days.
Sam Smith gets me and my current life mood, and this song is soothing but oh-so-sad.
It’s incredibly refreshing to hear his beautiful Adele-man-voice singing something other than “Stay With Me” or “Latch.”

I finally (!) read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Oh!!!!
It was utterly fantastic. I picked it up and didn’t put it down until I finished, 24 hours later.
The attention she pays to details, her nuanced plot implications, and realistic emotional touch add up to quite an addictive read.
And OMG I can’t wait for the movie.

I reallyreallyreallyreallyreally want to read The Hedge Knight (AKA the tales of Dunk and Egg) by GRRM to bide my time until the next GoT book (2015?!?! REALLY?!) but have discovered that it costs $100+ dollars to buy a new copy.
I may have to settle for the kindle version, which is inferior in my humble opinion. Give me a crackling spine and sweet, faintly musty paper pages any day.

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I love the Hunter “Iconic Red” collection, but I really have my eye on some tall black wellingtons.  I have the olive green ones and absolutely adore them, and I think black can only be more versatile!
(Although since I intend to buy these gorgeous black boots in the next few weeks, red wellingtons could be just the ticket to keep my boot collection from looking too monotonous…)

I bought a pair of Lululemon 4-way stretch running shorts about a month ago, and I am about ready to throw out all my “norts” and invest in 4 more pairs of these babies.
They’re fitted without being clingy, so they don’t ride up or stick to you in weird places; they’re stretchy and comfortable, lightweight, and don’t cut in at all at the hips.
I hate having to adjust my clothing in the middle of a workout, which is the main reason why I fell for lulu leggings.  Now, I fear also been converted to their sport shorts…

This bag shall be mine, as soon as it goes back on sale (as Jessica pointed out, Rebecca Minkoff is always on sale).
I have a similar bag (white python, gold hardware) but it’s irritatingly large and due to its poor quality, stained from my blue jeans.  Can’t wait to get rid of it and replace it with a mini Mac!

In the realm of bags, I am coveting this Céline.
Sigh. One day.

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I have more links to share, but I don’t want my varied obsessions to be too long-winded, so I’ll save them for another link love post.
(Although by then I’ll inevitably have racked up another impressive list of randoms…)

Let’s chat about this here cake, y’all.

It started out as a spiced applesauce cake with a heaping ton of streusel on top, but in the heat of the oven, the top of the cake buckled in and ate much of the streusel—when I pulled out the loaf, the top sported an eighth of the original amount of streusel.
I figured it would mostly just melt into the batter, no big deal.

However, something far, far better happened:
a pocket of molten streusel, basically a little river of caramelized sugar and butter with a heavy hit of salt, aka the stuff of dreams aka pinch-me-am-I-dreaming-deliciousness, formed right in the center of the cake.

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The parts of the cake that retained their streuseled top (mostly the edges) were, just as expected, pleasantly moist with a lovely crunch on top.
So, if your streusel doesn’t sink through the cake, don’t worry.  Either way produces a gently spiced, super moist cake that offers a faint suggestion of apples and fall.
Either way, however, you neeeeed to add this glaze.
It’s my go-to: maple syrup, brown butter, salt, a touch of cream. UGH. Could eat with a spoon.

I snuck one two pieces of this cake before I wrapped it up and gave it to my bestfriendinthewholeworld, Gwen.
It’s perfectly comforting, well-suited for stressed out students!
Like a hug in cake form.
It’s a bomb way to start off fall baking—warm and spicy, but decidedly not pumpkin.

(I’m so not ready for that yet.)

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Brown Butter Applesauce Cake
cake portion adapted from Averie
streusel portion adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes 1 9×5 loaf

ingredients:
for the streusel:
5 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

for the cake:
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup sour cream
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

for the brown butter maple glaze:
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 – 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
Make the streusel: combine all of the ingredients and pinch with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, set aside.
Make the cake: place the sugars, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Brown the butter in a skillet, then pour it over the sugar mixture.
While whisking, add in the eggs and vanilla extract; whisk until combined, then stir in the applesauce and sour cream.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder, then stir into the batter until homogeneous.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, then sprinkle the streusel on top.
Bake for 55-65 minutes, until a toothpick comes out completely clean (you can tent it with foil if the top browns too quickly).
Remove from the oven; while the cake is cooling, make the glaze.
Place butter in a small skillet and brown; remove from the heat and add stir in the salt and maple syrup.
While whisking, add in the powdered sugar, then add heavy cream to thin it to a pouring consistency (if you add too much cream, you can add in a little more sugar to balance it out).
Pour/drizzle the warm glaze over the slightly warm cake, then leave to cool completely.
Serve in thick slices with strong coffee.

Mango Tango

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 Current mood: pain.

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I just got my wisdom teeth out.
Boy, was I glad that there were a few of these popsicles in reserve.
I am so doped out on Vicodin that I don’t have the energy to type up a whole post.
I’m pretty much utterly miserable, eating popsicles and mashed sweet potatoes and yogurt and hating life.

All I want is a good crunchy kale salad. URgh.

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Mango lassi popsicles, however, are a sunshiney way to nurse my poor, poor teeth back to health.

Sweet mangoes and thick, creamy skyr—Icelandic yogurt—are blitzed to the high heavens with a touch of honey and tumeric (both good for anti-inflammation) adding, respectively, a floral roundness and a spicy, mustardy complexity.  Salt and sugar to balance out all the flavors, and a touch of cream to keep the pops from being too icy.

These are so refreshing and perfect for a summer afternoon, even for the non-chipmunk people among us.

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Mango Lassi Popsicles
makes 6-8 popsicles

ingredients:
2 cups frozen mango
3/4 cup nonfat yogurt
1/3 cup sugar (depends on how sweet your mangoes are)
2 tablespoons honey
heaping teaspoon tumeric
2 pinches kosher salt
1/3 cup cream or half-and-half

directions:
Place all ingredients in a blender in the order listed and process on high until completely smooth, about 5 minutes.
The mixture will be thick but pourable; pour it into a popsicle mold and freeze for 15 minutes, then stick popsicle sticks in and freeze completely, at least 2 hours.
Run the mold under hot water to unmold the popsicles.

Tårta

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O, Pivoine

From verdant buds they did erupt;
from tight globes came flowers flush.
O, the peonies blossomed,
fat and full,
on a day that promised rain.
A hundred thousand petals unfurled
as a misty dawn hid the moon away.
Their silken scent clung to the breeze;
the honeyed air wound in my hair
and the sultry day perfumed.
Now they droop under heat and sun
and wish they were not troubled so.
But I still love their burdened blooms
and kneel to smell them all.

–6/9/2014

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A poem shared for spring, for summer, as the seasons transition like sand slipping twixt our fingers.

Flowers have bloomed and trees have greened; buds become fruits slowly but surely.
The bounty of summer prostrates itself beneath our greedy, hungry fingers as a fat, juicy, sprawling spread.
I mean, have you seen the peaches coming in right now?

To market, to market, to pick the reddest fruits.
To market, to market, for armfuls of darkest greens.
Here’s to fresh produce and to the beginning of a fruitful (vegetal?) summer.

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Yes! The summer solstice has come and gone.  It’s officially summer!
It’s sunny and hot and green!
(Can I be tanned yet?!)

I have no real responsibilities (Scary that I’m feeling a little… bored?) and am able to spend the day daydreaming about pastries and makeup and shoes and big salads.
I can get my nails done, oh luxury of luxuries, and–soon–my hair cut.

It will be my first time getting a real haircut in so so long.  I’m scared to cut off too much!  I recently took off an inch and half (thanks to my mama), so I’ll probably take off another inch and a half and call it quits.
My mermaid hair is definitely my security blanket– anyone else feel this way?

I’ve also been watching the World Cup and really enjoying it.
This is my first time seriously following along.
Fuuuutbol, y’all.

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This luscious tart was inspired by a great trio of flavors: strawberry, lemon, and black pepper.

I originally wanted to garnish with candied celery leaves, but decided against it when they came out a little wonky and far too sugar-coated.  Celery+strawberry+black pepper is a bomb-ass combination though, so keep it in mind.

I also played with the idea of a lemon-ricotta filling, which would be marvelous if you want to give it a try, but I didn’t want to bake twice–it’s summer, after all, and my kitchen is hot as hell as is.

One tip that I wish I had foreseen: add a few extra grinds of black pepper to your crust than you think are necessary.
That way, you ensure that you’ll get a burst of gentle heat in each bite.
It’s a perfect foil to the sweet strawbs and tart lemon.

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In the end, the tart is made up of a black pepper crust, buttery and a hint spicy, filled with a rich, round lemon curd filling and topped with as many of the season’s reddest, juiciest strawberries as can possibly fit. 

The whole thing is utterly divine, each mouthful embodying the fresh, bold flavors of summer.
Tart, sweet, spicy, buttery, crisp, lush, juicy.
(Adjective addict.)

This tart is, quite possibly, my ideal.
You know I prefer fruit over chocolate, and citrus is arguably my favorite.
While it’s often showcased in the winter, with the addition of summer-sweet strawberries, lemon launches fully into the appropriate season.
It lasted <24 hours in my household– always a good sign!

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“In case you ever foolishly forget, I am never not thinking of you.”

–Virginia Woolf

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Strawberry, Lemon, and Black Pepper Tart
makes 1 14×4 inch tart

ingredients:
for the black pepper shell:
8 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8-1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk
1 cup flour

for the lemon curd filling:
2 lemons
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
pinch kosher salt
1 teaspoon corn starch
4 tablespoons butter

to assemble:
27 small to medium strawberries
lemon marmalade, optional

directions:
Make the tart crust: beat butter on high speed in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 2 minutes.
Stream in the sugar and salt slowly, then beat for another 2 minutes.
Add in the black pepper and egg yolk, scrape the sides of the bowl, and beat for 2 more minutes.
Scrape the bowl, add in the flour, and mix on low until the dough forms– it should be clumpy but not 1 cohesive mass.
Press clumps evenly into tart pan; prick all over with a fork.
Freeze for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line the tart shell with aluminum foil, then fill it with pie weights or beans.
Bake for 15 minutes, until set, then remove the foil and pie weights carefully.
Return to oven for 5-7 minutes, until lightly golden.
Remove tart shell from oven and let cool.
Meanwhile, make the filling: zest 1 of the lemons and set the zest aside.
Juice both of the lemons to obtain 1/4 cup juice.
Place juice, eggs, sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a sauce pot.
Whisk vigorously to combine, then cook over low heat for 15 minutes, or until thickened enough that a finger dragged along a spatula leaves a trail.
Remove from heat and whisk in butter and zest.
Place hot curd in a food processor and pulse for 30-45 seconds, until lightened in color and slightly cooler.
Pour warm curd into warm tart shell, smoothing the top.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to one night.
To assemble the tart, hull the strawberries.
Line them up next to the tart shell to judge how they will fit.
Cut off small slices from the strawberries on the side if they will not fit, then snuggle them into the center strawberry.
Heat up a few tablespoons of lemon marmalade, then brush over strawberries if desired.
Best if enjoyed the day it is made, but it will save reasonably well overnight in the fridge.

Ironic

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It’s Spring!  That’s spring with a capital S, because it was official as of March 20th.

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And yet here I am sharing a treat that’s chock full of fall fruit.
While in the tropics, feasting on pineapple and papaya.

Bad blogger!  Bad, unseasonal blogger!

Are you really surprised?  Remember when I gave you candy canes in January?  That was cruel.

To make up for it, I’m sharing some spring-y things that I’ve been diggin’ lately.
Yay for links!  Click ’em.  You know you want to.

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First, this cake!  Lemon is top on my list of favorite, fresh flavors.  I love the edible flowers that Jen used to decorate, as well.  Totally spring-appropriate.
(And that pup!  Oh, those photos of Kaweah make me miss Ginger so much.)

In the vein of flowery cakes, I think I pinned every. single. one. of these photos.  OHMYGOD. I can’t describe how obsessed I am.  Wow.

It’s like Laura is in my brainthese heavenly, spiced falafels accompanied by tons of fresh veggies look like the definition of a perfect, light lunch.  Currently craving.

And helloooo another winner from Annie.  This gorgeous tart is so simple, and the accompanying story is quite heartwarming.  Raspberries + pistachio for life.  One of my favorite combinations.

How cute are these little cakelets!  Mini cakes for life! Molly has won me over.  I give in, I think they are the cutest thing to ever happen to the planet.  Feed me, Molly.

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Thanks to this board, I am becoming obsessed with floral arrangements… Oh Pinterest, you do me wrong.

Linda’s amazing instagram feed satisfies me when her posts are far between.  All those flowers and sunsets make me dizzy with envy!  And so many breakfast bowls.  Gah.

When can I move into this beautiful loft-to-be? ASAP, please.

I want to be here. Spring rooftop dinner party.  Wait, why is this not my life again?  (Pinterest, you devil.)

What is inspiring you this spring?  Share your photos, links, and love–I’d love to see!
I’m quite excited for the change of seasons, though, to be honest, I will be less than glad to leave México.

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You can’t tell that I’m very excited for spring based on these muffins, but let me explain myself.
There were quite a few lonely, leftover pears and apples in the house fridge, just calling to be folded into a spicy batter and baked into muffins.

These muffins are soft, with lovely chunks of sweet pear and apple, the buttery batter made with nutty whole wheat flour and 5-spice and cinnamon for a kick.  It’s topped with a crunchy streusel with a touch more of the numbing, warming spices.

The recipe would be equally wonderful with fresh blackberries or even blueberries, and I could see peaches eventually making their way in.  For now, I made due with what I had on hand.

These are a perfect breakfast treat– they are not too sweet, and feel wholesome while still being a treat.

They’re splendid with a good strong cup of tea.

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Whole Wheat 5-Spice Pear Muffins 
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes 12 muffins

ingredients:
for the muffins:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons 5-spice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 small pears, peeled and chopped
1 small apple, peeled and chopped

for the streusel:
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons turbinado sugar
pinch of cinnamon and 5-spice
2 tablespoons butter, cold

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a muffin tin with papers.
Make the streusel: whisk the flour and sugar together with the spices.
Using a fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is clumpy.
Make the muffins: cream butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add sugars, salt, and spices and beat for 3 more minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add the egg.
Beat for 4 more minutes; mixture should be very fluffy and not gritty at all.
Whisk the milk and vinegar together.
Scrape the bowl and add the flour and baking powder and baking soda on top of the butter.
Begin to slowly mix the batter as you pour in the milk/vinegar mixture.
Batter will be thick; gently stir in the chopped pears and apples.
Scoop batter into muffin tin, then top with streusel.
Bake for 20-24 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.

Slump, Grunt, Buckle

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Snorfle, sniffle, slurp.

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Can we take a moment to appreciate the ridiculous names bestowed upon cobblers, crisps, and the like?

Betty, buckle, cobbler, crisp, crumble, grunt, pandowdy, slump, zonker(????).

whaaaaaaaaa why why why why

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Despite their stupid names, these kind of desserts are delicious, and what’s more, crazy easy and fast.
Perfect when you need a quick fix of warm, cozy dessert. (Which, in my case, is 24/7.)

Chop up seasonal, fresh fruit (it can even be a little underripe.  We don’t judge here.) and toss it with some sugar, salt and flour/cornstarch.
No need to measure, just go with your heart by taste.
Top it off with buttery cookie crumbs (I wish my whole life were topped with buttery cookie crumbs) and bake it.
SO EASY GUYS WHY AREN’T WE ALL DOING IT?!

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This is the best crisp I have ever tasted. Ever.
I’ve made it a few times, in a few different forms.
The first time, about 3 years ago (is 2011 really 3 years ago?! Have mercy.), I baked it in a big heavy dish, and served it with vanilla ice cream.  I was blown away.
In fact, I was so impressed that I then made it into a crumble pie (think dutch apple pie).  The pie was good, but, can I be honest, people?  It was more work.  And the best part was the filling and topping anyways.  So I do not advocate the pie version.  It’s fussier and not worth it.  Keep it simple, stooopid.
And now, I’ve made it into tiny little individual crisps, so you don’t have to think twice about eating four.

For once in my life, I’m not exaggerating.  Seriously. Best crisp I have EVER. HAD.
Sweet and juicy from the pears, tart and punchy from the cranberries, and spicy and rich from the buttery gingersnaps.  
I’ll never look at plain pear crisps the same way.  There’s no going back once you try this combo.
Read: try this combination.  For your own sake.

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Okay, time for an explanation about these mini crisps/crumbles/whatever you want to call them.

Other than being delicious, they are dead simple.

I didn’t use a recipe.  Here’s what I did:

peel, core, and dice a couple d’anjou pears
toss ’em with lemon juice, a couple tablespoons of sugar and flour, and some fresh cranberries
throw a bunch of gingersnaps into my food processor and grind them into crumbs
add a hefty pinch of pepper, ginger, brown sugar, and salt
melt some butter and pour it in until the crumbs get clumpy
dump the fruit into serving vessels, top with a shit ton of gingersnap crumb stuff
bake until bubbling and burbling
eat
eat
eat.

If you want more solidified measurements and directions, check out Deb’s (AWESOME) recipe.  Seriously thankyouthankyou Deb for leading me to this delicious flavor combination.  Heaven.

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Peppy Pip

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“That morning Pippi was busy making pepparkakor–a kind of Swedish cookie. She had made an enormous amount of dough and rolled it out on the kitchen floor.
Because, said Pippi to her little monkey, what earthly use is a baking board when one plans to make at least five hundred cookies?

-Astrid Lindgren

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I feel as if I’ve made five hundred cookies, y’all.
It’s more like 200 or so. (Good god.)

This beautifully written post describes how I feel.  Hilarious and insightful.

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This is the fourth part of our updated cookie platter.  Forget what the other parts were?  I’ve got you covered.

Part I: nutmeg, maple, and rye sugar cookies
Part II: Linzer cookies
Part III: chocolate and peppermint macarons
Part IV: pepparkakor!

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Pepparkakor are Swedish ginger cookies, kin to gingersnaps.
They’re traditional Christmas cookies, and are actually popular all over northern Europe.

They’re crispy, crunchy, and lightly spiced.
Made with sweet, sticky golden syrup, plenty of ginger and cloves, a touch of black pepper, and heaps of butter.

The ideal Christmas cookie!
Here, I’ve decorated them with lemony royal icing in a variety of patterns.
The traditional shapes for pepparkakor are pigs, hearts, and men and women (little gingerbread men!).
Unfortunately, of these I only had hearts.  (And two donkeys?!? Didn’t think that was quite appropriate…)

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These are perfect for fika.
A little treat to be served alongside tea or coffee.
Shared with friends and loved ones.
Lingered over.
Laughed over.
Enjoyed.

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Leave some for Santa; you’re sure to get extra pressies.

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Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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Classic Pepparkakor
adapted from Cottage in the Oaks
ingredients:
3/4 cup (6 ounces) butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch allspice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (6 ounces) golden syrup
2 cups bread flour
1 cup all-purpose flour

directions:
Cream butter for 2 minutes to soften.
Add in the spices and sugar and cream for 3 more minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add the egg and vanilla and cream for 2 more minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add the golden syrup.
Beat until well combined, about 1 minute.
Scrape the bowl and add the flours.
Mix on low speed until a dough forms.
Knead once or twice, then wrap well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a well-floured surface and cut shapes as desired.
Place on baking sheets and refrigerate for 15 more minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake cookies for 7-10 minutes, depending on desired level of crispness.
Let cool, then ice with lemon royal icing, recipe below.

Lemon Royal Icing
adapted from Bridget of Bake at 350
ingredients:
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons cold water
4 tablespoons meringue powder
1 teaspoon corn syrup
12 ounces (3/4 pound) powdered sugar

directions:
Place lemon juice, water, and meringue powder in the bowl of a stand mixer; whip on high until stiff peaks form.
Add the corn syrup and beat until incorporated.
Sift the powdered sugar over the meringue and beat until a uniform frosting forms.
Add water a teaspoon at a time to thin to desired piping/flooding consistency.

5-Star

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Let’s pretend to be sophisticated and make grown-up candies this holiday season.

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Here’s something funny annoying that I know I’m going to end up doing this winter.

I’ve had many no-bake things that are gift-worthy (fudge, chocolate, candies, etc.) on my mind due to my current situation.
I’ve been trying to pretend that I actually want to be making candies instead of baking cakes and cookies.
In reality, I can’t wait to get back to an oven and stove.

However, and here’s the annoying part, I know that when I get home I’ll have so many no-bake ideas built up that I will continue to neglect my oven and rely instead on my refrigerator.

I know.  Eye roll.  Let’s hope that it won’t happen.

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For now, I have these grown-up chocolate cups to share.

70% bittersweet chocolate cups filled with dulce de leche spiked with salt and chinese 5-spice.

Spicy, salty, warm, and rotund, these candies are an experience: the crisp shell, after a quick bite, melts and luxuriously coats your tongue with a myriad of flavors.

I love the kick of spice and burn from the pepper and the warmth from the cloves and star anise.
I was inspired by a small canister of Dean and Deluca 5-spice I picked up at the grocery store.

I don’t have a stove, so I used a store-bought can of dulce de leche, which is a great substitute iff you add a lot of salt.
Alternately, make your own dulce de leche.  Don’t forget the salt!  It is ultra-super-critical.

This flavor combination is coming back.  Soon.
Consider yourself warned.

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Five Spice and Dulce de Leche Chocolates
makes about 24 candies

ingredients:
1.5 lbs 70% bittersweet chocolate
1 14-ounce can of dulce de leche (or make your own)
2 pinches kosher salt
2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice

directions:
Set out 24 mini cupcake liners (the aluminum and paper ones) on a sheet pan.
Chop and melt your chocolate slowly to avoid burning; carefully paint a thin layer of chocolate on the bottom and sides of your cupcake liners.
Place in a fridge or freezer for 5-10 minutes to set.
Stir the dulce de leche, salt, and spice together.
Place 2 teaspoons of dulce de leche in the chocolate cups.
Rap the sheet pan a few times to even out the dulce de leche layer.
Top off with melted chocolate until the edges lay flush with the chocolate; rap the sheet pan on a counter, hard, to even the chocolate layer out and remove any air bubbles.
Return to the fridge/freezer until the top layer of chocolate has set.
Remove from the wrappers, if desired, and enjoy!

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.