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.

Estuaire

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The tides of autumn are flowing into winter;
great gusts of wind mix and swirl leaves and snow as waves do river and sea.

The glory of fall has long since faded,
the embers that set fires to hearts gone out;
tamped down by wind and rain and snow.

Trees stand, tall and stolid, bare branches creaking and cracking,
old men straightening their backs.

Creeping ivy creeps no more, its grip on wind whipped walls failing;
stripped bare, its leaves float forgotten, the last whispers of a season.

The wind breathes deep

and the trees sleep as deeply.

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It is here, in this seasonal limbo, that I am floating
waiting
for Thanksgiving.

Y’aaaaaalll I am so excited to go home home home.  You have no idea!! I’ve finalized my menu, typed out time tables, recipes, and shopping lists.
The entire document is 10 or so pages.

(Why can’t it be so easy to write a 10 page paper?  Hmm.)

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Everyone’s gearing up for Thanksgiving.
Do some clicking around the blogs and you’ll see gorgeous, tempting foods that make me want to restart my entire menu (I won’t) or make it a meal comprised entirely of pie (I might.)

I’m sharing some of the most tempting (and hopefully inspiring!) Thanksgiving-worthy posts/recipes I’ve seen thus far.

First of all, Pie Week.  Done.  Get me into Adrianna’s kitchen.  Let me live there forever eating her lovely, inventive pies.  Please.

I fainted at the thought of cornbread+biscuit stuffing.  Also, I want to move to Tennessee/see the world through Beth’s lens.  Gorgeous.

Brown butter crumbs.  On top of cauliflower.  Glory be.  Can you imagine eating this with a poached egg?!?!

Green beans with pomelo (I so did not know what the inside of a pomelo looked like, so thanks, Heidi!).  Vegan green beans.  Vegan spinach.

This stop motion video stopped my heart.  PUMPKIN.

Speaking of pumpkin, pie.

Cranberries are among my favorite fruits.  These adorable pâte des fruits confirmed that for me.

Good luck planning your Thanksgiving menus!

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Cranberries and pumpkin are both emblematic of their respective seasons, at least for me: I associate pumpkin with fall and cranberries with winter.

Perfect for Thanksgiving, which lies along the seasonal lines in my mind.

This cake boasts the best of both.
A soft, tender pumpkin cake, fragrant with brown butter and spice, is baked on top of bubbling, jammy cranberries.

The whole thing is inverted, resulting in gorgeous ruby gems lining the top of a sweet little cake.

If you don’t like cranberries, at least promise you’ll bake the pumpkin cake.
It’s the best pumpkin cake I’ve ever tasted!  So subtly sweet and soft, and not overwhelmingly spiced or dense.  It’s light and fluffy and buttery.
Best of all, it only requires a pan, a bowl, and a whisk!  Quick and easy clean-up, which is crucial when you’re in the midst of hectic holiday cooking, I know!

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This is ~maybe~ the last pumpkin recipe of the season. I’m making something pumpkin for Thanksgiving, though, and if my calculations are correct all goes as planned, I will make, shoot, and share the 3 (three!) desserts I’m making for the hollyday, and maybe even the 8 (eight!) savory dishes I’ll be preparing.
Which would mean one more pumpkin recipe.

Sorry!

notsorryboutitpumpkingangfolyfe.

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Brown Butter Pumpkin and Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

cranberry portion adapted from Zoe Bakes
makes 1 6×3 inch cake; could be doubled for a 2.5×9 inch cake

ingredients:
for the cranberries:
340 grams (3 cups) cranberries, picked over
100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
for the pumpkin cake:
25 grams (2 tablespoons) oil
115 grams (1/2 cup, 8 tablespoons) butter, browned
50 grams (1/4 cup) brown sugar
100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
200 grams (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) pumpkin purée
180 grams (1 1/2 cups) flour
pinch kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 heaping teaspoon pumpkin spice

directions:
Butter and flour your pan very well.
In a large pot, place cranberries and first measure of sugar.
Cook over medium heat until many of the cranberries pop and the sugar melts.
Pour cranberries into pan and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk oil into browned butter, then whisk in sugars and pumpkin.
Whisk the flour, salt, baking soda and powder, and spices together.
Whisk them into the butter mixture; batter will be very thick and soft.
Spread the batter over the cranberries, being careful not to mix them too much; smooth the top.
Bake for 35-40 minute, until a tester comes out completely clean.
Allow to cool almost completely before turning upside down and unmolding.
Serve with powdered sugar.

Citrouille

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“Impossible, for a plain yellow pumpkin to become a golden carriage.
Impossible, for a plain country bumpkin and a prince to join in marriage.
A slipper made of glass is just a shoe and dreamers never make the dream come true. Impossible!”

-The Fairy Godmother, Cinderella

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You’re probably hoping that your eyes deceive you and that these buns are not, in fact, orange.

That these buns are not, in fact, made of pumpkin.

Another pumpkin recipe on the blogosphere?  Impossible!  It will explode, raining orange, autumnal purée and pepitas over all of us.

Impossible!  Surely!

P.S. Still lolling at that gif.  Like I can’t even.  Hahahahahahahahaaha.

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Okay.  Yes.  Oops.  It might be one pumpkin recipe too many.

I exploded the blogosphere and GET THIS IT GETS WORSE YES I KNOW

 because I still have at least one more pumpkin recipe

(but probably 2)

and then I’ll be done IpromiseI’msorryI’msorryIknowI’mabadblogger.

So let’s all forget that we’re sick of pumpkin.  Let’s pretend it’s a new and exciting medium in which I, as a food blogger, can work. (HA!)

Let’s just enjoy this damn orange vegetable while it’s still kind of fall and semi-acceptable.

Okay?  At least it’s November and not May.  Let’s look on the bright side of this tired squash.

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Bunz.

Let’s talk bunz.

Soft, brown-butter, yeasted and spiced pumpkin dough is folded around a butter, pumpkin spice, and sugar filling into which you will undoubtedly want to faceplant.

Strips are cut, then cut again, then twisted and folded and knotted and topped with heaping amounts of sugars.

The Swedish-inspired buns expand a little, rise a little more, and then get baked to golden perfection.

The bottoms of my buns got a little burned.  (Teehee.) Double up baking sheets so this terrible tragedy doesn’t happen to you.

These are perfect with a hot cup of tea or coffee.  They would be a most marvelous accompaniment for a Swedish fika.

Fika fika.

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Brown Butter Pumpkin Kanelbullens
inspired by Call me Cupcake! (Serious blog admiration/love/drool.)
makes approximately 16 buns

ingredients:
for the dough:
125 grams (approximately 1/2 cup) milk
125 grams (slightly heaping 1/2 cup) pumpkin
7 grams (1 packet, 1/4 ounce, 2 1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast
75 grams (5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) butter, browned
45 grams (scant 1/4 cup) sugar
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice blend
420 grams (3 1/2 cups) flour

for the filling:
85 grams (6 tablespoons) butter, very soft
45 grams (scant 1/4 cup) sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin spice blend

to finish:
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
granulated sugar and Swedish pearl sugar, for decorating

directions:
Place pumpkin and milk in a saucepan and heat to 110 degrees F; sprinkle the yeast over and allow to bloom for 5 minutes.
Whisk the browned butter, sugar, and pumpkin spice together very well.
When the yeast is dissolved and little bubbles are forming in the pumpkin/milk, whisk that mixture into the butter mixture.
Place in the bowl of a stand mixer and dump all the flour on top.
Mix with the dough hook for 7-10 minutes, until the dough is crazy soft and smooth, like a baby’s bottom.
You now have two options: leave the dough for up to 3 nights in the fridge in an oiled bowl with saran wrap pressed lightly against the surface, or let it rise at a warm room temp in the same bowl/wrapping situation until doubled in size, about 2 hours, depending on temperature.
If you refrigerate the dough, let it come to room temp before proceeding, which may take a while depending on the heat of your kitchen.
When you’re ready to finish the buns, roll the dough out into a large rectangle on a floured surface to a thickness of about 1/8 of an inch.
Mash the butter, sugar, and spices together with a fork or spoon (if your butter isn’t soft, use a mixer to soften it).
Spread the butter mixture over the rolled out dough- it should be very thinly spread.
Fold the short edges over, to fold the dough like a letter.
Cut strips of dough, then split them almost all the way up, leaving a small bit at the top still attached as one– like pants!
Twist the pant legs, then knot them together.
Place the buns on a well-insulated baking sheet (my bottoms got burned– I would recommend doubling up) lined with parchment.
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugars.
Allow to rise while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden and the buns are baked all the way through (pull one apart to inspect).
Enjoy warm with tea or coffee!

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!

Giggling

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Actually, these were not giggle-inducing cookies to sort out.  They were kind of a pain in the ass.

Although very worth the headache.
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Lately, all the cookies I’ve been making have been quite annoying.

By all I mean two batches.  One of which you see here.

Delicious, yes.  In the end, worth it, yes.  But testing recipes isn’t always smooth going.
Especially when you make it up as you go.

Sans thermometer, no less!

ALSO, I hate photographing cookies (I’m soooo bad at it someone teach me SOS).  My cookie skills (in all realms) clearly need brushing up.

(Good thing I have 6 rolls of slice and bake cookies in the fridge right now…)
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These cookies struck me in the middle of a autumnal daydream.

Gooey, spicy pumpkin caramel+buttery, soft, cinnamon cookie pillows?

Good grief.

Somehow, I waited days!!!  I had no time.  I longed to make these lil guys.
I gathered my ingredients round, assuring them in hushed whispers, “You will be great.  Magical, even.  Just a little longer now.”

Pumpkin, spices, cream, sugar, butter…

The problem- the caramel was supposed to be stuffed inside the stupid cookies.  But it kept heating up and becoming hot molten lava that burbled and puddled out of the cookies.
Delicious puddles.

But ugly puddles.  I mean, come on… I can’t very well post a picture of an ENTIRE cookie sheet merged into ONE giant mutant cookie and expect people to be attracted, can I?
Yes.  That happened.

So I tried and tried again.  It didn’t work.  I gave up, rolled the snickerdoodles into little puffy balls, and spread gooey caramel in between them.

As I licked my fingers clean of salty-sweet-spicy caramel after biting into one of these little sandwiches, I regretted nothing.

Stuffed cookies are overrated anyways.  Hmph.

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Soft Snickerdoodle Sandwiches with Pumpkin Caramel

cookie portion adapted from Joy of Baking

ingredients:
for the cookies:
360 grams (2 3/4 cups) flour
pinch salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
225 grams (16 tablespoons) butter, cut into pieces
300 grams (1 1/2 cups) sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup granulated sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons cinnamon

for the pumpkin caramel:
110 grams (scant half cup) pumpkin
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
150 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) heavy cream
40 grams (2 tablespoons) butter
225 (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) grams sugar
60 grams (scant 3 tablespoons) corn syrup
45 grams (3 tablespoons) water
7 grams (big, big pinch) salt

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
For the cookies, cream the butter and sugar together for 3 minutes, then scrape the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and vanilla, and beat for 4 more minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk the baking powder, flour, and salt together.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in the flour mixture all at once.
Gently stir to combine, just until a dough forms.
Use a 2 teaspoon cookie scoop to make little balls; roll them between your hands and roll in the cinnamon sugar.
Place on a cookie sheet and freeze for 10 minutes.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until slightly spread out and puffed.
Allow all of the cookies to cool completely before filling them.

For the caramel, whisk pumpkin, spices, and heavy cream together.
Microwave for 30 seconds, until warm but not hot, and set aside.
Place the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water into a small, deep pot.
Heat over medium-low heat until the caramel is a deep tan, about 10 minutes, then remove from heat and whisk in butter (careful!).
Once the butter is melted, whisk in the cream mixture (careful).
Heat over low heat, whisking almost constantly, until the temperature reaches 240 degrees F.
Allow to cool completely before touching the caramel or filling the cookies.

To assemble, place a small spoonful of caramel onto one cookie, and place another one on top.
Easy-peasy!  Enjoy!

More Than Meets the Eye

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The chocolate in these cookies is just the tip of the iceberg.

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These are the kind of cookies best enjoyed with a cold, creamy glass of milk.  They’re deeply chocolaty, but not singularly or overwhelmingly so.
The cinnamon adds a layer of depth and warmth which is pleasantly unexpected.
The candied ginger punctuates the richness with characteristic sharp and spicy kicks.
The entire cookie dough is heavily salted, to play off the richness and sweetness.
Other than caramel (and maybe even more so than caramel), chocolate is my favorite flavor to pair with lots of salt.
Something is truly magical about salt and baked goods.  It can really make or break a dessert.

I’m studying rite na.  Actually, I’m procrastinating. (what’s new?!)
All I want is one of these cookies.  The most difficult part about college has been eating dining hall food, day in and day out.

Yesterday, I made my own *real* food and now I’m craving home-cooked meals.
I made roasted butternut squash with cinnamon, rosemary, and coconut oil with roasted chickpeas and sautéed kale, all served with lemon and Greek yogurt.  It was heavenly.
Of course, I’m already planning my Thanksgiving menu, something which I’m sure you’ll hear all about in the months to come.
I pre-ordered the bird for my family from Shelterbelt farm, in Caroline, NY, 15 minutes from my home.
They go really quickly.  The farm also has amazing honey!

(If you live in the area, check them out!!)

The only thing I want more than a fresh baked cookie right now is maple-roasted, garlicky brussels sprouts with cranberries.
As my friends all now say, I’m a goat.
Sorry bout it!
Have a cookie.

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Salted Cinnamon and Ginger Double Chocolate Cookies
adapted from Beth of the kick-ass Local Milk
makes 15 large cookies

ingredients:
195 grams (1 1/2 cups) AP flour
110 grams (1 cup) cocoa powder
10 grams (2 teaspoons) kosher salt
4 grams (3/4 teaspoon) baking powder
4 grams (3/4 teaspoon) baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
218 grams (1 cup packed) light brown sugar
150 grams (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
165 grams (3/4 cup) butter, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 cup chopped candied ginger (I used candied ginger that my chem TA made for the class!!)

directions:
Whisk flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and soda, and cinnamon together.  Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, place the butter.
Beat butter until softened, about 1 minute, then stream in sugars all at once.
Increase speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and beat for 3 more minutes on medium-high speed.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in the dry ingredients all at once.
Stir the batter together on low speed, then stir in the chocolate and ginger.
Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator, and up to overnight. (You will have to let it warm up a bit the next day if you refrigerate it all night.)
When ready to bake, line 2 baking sheets with parchment and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Scoop out large portions of dough with a large cookie/ice cream scoop (about 1/3 cup), and roll into balls.
Place 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets.
Bake for 4 minutes, then pull them out of the oven and flatten to about 1/3 inch height with a flat spatula.  (This will give soft centers and nice craggy outsides.)
Return to the oven and bake for approximately 6 more minutes, until the tops are cracked but the centers are still soft.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly; enjoy warm with a glass of milk!

Subpar

 
It was my dad’s birthday today!
 
My dad is not your average father… So, obviously, I made him a not so average birthday cake.
It’s birthday cake… with a twist.
Actually, a few twists.
Or a few kicks.  However you want to say it.
 
I’m very tired while writing this post (on Sundays, the credits of Breaking Bad pretty much signal bedtime to me), so I’ll keep it short and hopefully sweet.
 
My dad is a wonderful human being.  Just superb.  I mean, really.
I could not ask for a more supportive, caring, and understanding father.
He is truly the rock to which I am tethered.
I could not have weathered any storms without him keeping me from blowing away.
 
He’s watching golf, now that we’ve finished Breaking Bad, which is maybe his only bad habit.
Watching golf.  Or maybe playing golf.
He just loves golf so much… I guess I forgive him for it.  Depending on my mood, that is.
BUT I should clarify the title of this post: I mean subpar in a golf way, not in a real world way.
Even though it’s not a term they use, I don’t think.
What I mean is that he’s better than average.
Or something like that.
I don’t know.  Stop looking at me like that.
So this cake… It’s spicy.
Spicy, sweet, and over-the-top.
It’s a rich chocolate cake with a silky cheesecake in the center, sandwiched with spicy strawberry-cayenne jam, frosted with a super smooth Italian meringue buttercream, and topped with cayenne-gianduja macarons.
 
Everything balances out very nicely:
deep, smoky chocolate
slightly sour, rich, thick cheesecake
spicy and tart strawberry
silkier than silky IMBC, which is super buttery and offsets the intense flavors well
slightly crispy, chewy macs with a hint of spice and gianduja (AKA nutella).
This is truly a celebration cake.  You can expect to see more macaron-topped cakes from me in the future.
Once I get my macs down perfectly, that is.
Happy birthday, Daddy!  I love you!
Kickin’ Chocolate Birthday Cake
 
Cayenne Gianduja Macarons
adapted from Jo the Tart Queen
ingredients:
for the first mixture:
70 grams egg whites
130 grams hazelnut flour
25 grams cocoa powder
150 grams powdered sugar
A few pinches cayenne pepper, depending how spicy you want the cookies
for the second mixture:
60 grams egg whites
Pinch cream of tartar
150 grams granulated sugar
30 grams water
directions:
Preheat oven to 320 degrees.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Process hazelnut flour, confectioners sugar, cocoa powder, and cayenne together in a food processor until all lumps are gone.
Place in a bowl and fold in the first measure of egg whites until the mixture is mostly combined; it will look crumbly and dry.
Make the second mixture.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with the cream of tartar.
Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan.
Heat the sugar and water over medium heat while the egg whites are whipping.
When the sugar syrup reaches 320 degrees F, the egg whites should be at soft peaks.
Heat the syrup until it reaches 340 degrees F.
With the mixer running, slowly pour the syrup over the meringue.
Allow to whip until the meringue has cooled and is stiff.
Fold the first and second mixtures together until the batter is like lava.
Pipe out circles and leave to dry for 15 minutes.
Bake for 12 minutes, or until cookies lift cleanly off the parchment.

Miniature Cheesecake
adapted from Miette

ingredients:
1/2 pound (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and put a large kettle on to boil.
Wrap a 6-inch springform pan tightly in aluminum foil and lightly grease the inside; place inside a roasting pan.
Beat cream cheese until soft and fluffy; stream in sugar and beat until well incorporated.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat in the egg, half and half, and vanilla.
Pour into prepared pan.
Carefully pour boiling water around the springform into the roasting pan.
Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, until set and the center jiggles only slightly.
Allow to cool completely, then freeze prior to placing in the cake.

Strawberry Cayenne Jam
ingredients:
1 quart strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pectin (low or no sugar)
Few pinches cayenne pepper
directions:
Chop strawberries finely and place in a wide saucepan with the sugar, pectin, and cayenne.
Cook until thickened and jammy, about 10 minutes.
Purée if desired.


6-inch Chocolate cake
adapted from the back of a Hershey’s cocoa powder
ingredients:
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot coffee
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease 2 6-inch pans.
Whisk dry ingredients together.
Whisk wet ingredients (except coffee) together, then whisk into the dry ingredients.
Whisk in the hot coffee and pour into prepared pans.
Bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Italian Meringue Buttercream
Same as here. 1/2 the recipe.

To assemble:
Place one cake on a cake plate.  
Spread with 3 tablespoons jam, then top with the frozen cheesecake.
Spread 3 tablespoons jam on the underside of the second cake, then place it jam side down onto the cheesecake.
Crumb coat with the buttercream.
Pipe 6 swirls on top of the cake, nestle in macarons that have been sandwiched with a little jam (3/4 teaspoon-1 teaspoon per cookie) or extra buttercream.
Serve at room temperature.

Specific


Well y’all, this has been a long week of speculoos-related goods.  

A long and delicious week.
I’m ready to share some other stuff, though, so this is the last Biscoff post… for a while, anyways.


These little bars are brunettes- not blondies.
That’s because they have too much going on and I cannot possibly describe all of that in a single title.
Thus, brunettes.  They’ve got speculoos and all the accompanying spices, brown butter, maple, white chocolate, butterscotch, and a sinful glaze.
They’re just a little darker and more complex than any run of the mill bar cookie.
They’re a good way to end this lovely week.

Biscoff Brunettes
cookie portion adapted from Picky Palate
ingredients:
for the cookies:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup speculoos spread (make your own!)
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
(optional) 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
for the glaze:
2 tablespoons butter, browned
2 tablespoons maple syrup
big pinch sea salt
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease an 8×8 pan.
Brown the butter in a heavy bottomed pan.
Once it is browned, stir in the chips and maple syrup and continue stirring until they melt.
Add in the salt and speculoos spread and mix until all in combined.
Beating quickly, add in the eggs; continue mixing very quickly so they don’t scramble.
Add in the flour, sugar, and baking powder and mix to combine.
Finally, stir in the white chocolate chips.
Pour into pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.
Right after you take the cookies out of the oven, whisk all of the glaze ingredients together.
Pour over hot bars and allow to cool.
Slice and enjoy!

Spectrum

Remember how I said that people like to shove cookie butter into every dessert imaginable?
 
Well then, this swap of cookie butter for peanut butter should come as no surprise to you.
Cookie butter cups!  
The only problem with these is that the cookie butter mixture for the middle has to be formed into little patties- if it were more liquid and pourable, the little cups would have even tops, just like the peanut butter cups we all know and love.
A lumpy top is but a small price to pay for these.
 
The dark chocolate combines with the spices to give two or three perfectly creamy and balanced bites from each confection. (and then you reach for another… and another…)
Bonus?  They’re super quick and easy to make.
(I tempered my chocolate, which takes a bit longer, but feel free to add a teaspoon of shortening and a teaspoon of corn syrup to melted chocolate to make an approximation!)
This is a peanut butter cup.  This is a peanut butter cup on drugs…

 

Speculoos Cups
makes about 9
adapted from the Little Kitchen
ingredients:
1/4 cup speculoos spread (make your own!)
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
pinch of salt
1/4 cup powdered sugar
about 2 cups dark chocolate, tempered (or see approximation above)
directions:
Put cookie butter and butter in microwave and heat in 30 second bursts until melted.
Stir in salt and powdered sugar until a thick paste forms.

Set out 9 cupcake liners and drop about a teaspoon of chocolate into the bottom of each.
Form small patties of speculoos mixture and nestle them into the chocolate.
Finish each cup by filling it with chocolate until the patty is covered.
Allow to set by placing in the freezer or fridge, then unwrap and enjoy!