Monday, October 24, 2016

Pumpkin Gingerdoodles

We always do a Halloween lunch party at work, and I feel this (nonexistent) pressure to bring something new every day. I've already done pumpkin cheesecake, candy corn cookies, pumpkin praline cake, apple cake, etc., etc. I found this recipe from the blog formerly known as "Culinary Concoctions by Peabody" and is now known as Sweet Recipeas. She pumpkinized and otherwise modified a recipe she got from Bakergirl, called Gingerdoodles or Snickersnaps.

I'm still reeling from realizing I had to make two different doughs, but whatever, I had let two sticks of butter come to room temperature and just made half batches of each dough. This was only a test anyway. And after my fingers were covered in soft sticky dough after the first tray (and after I dropped the back three into the bottom of the oven on their way into it, prompting a smoky oven fire, a new use of grill tongs, and managing a german shepherd mix who is terrified of kitchen fans), I decided that although neither recipe instructs you to, I would chill both doughs a few hours. It made a world of difference. I wouldn't attempt this recipe again without some chill time.  

I'm not tasting much in the pumpkin cookies. Perhaps they need more spices. I would bake the gingersnap dough on its own and be perfectly content. They are perfect. The pumpkin snickerdoodle needs work, perhaps it could be slightly less cakey and slightly more flavorful. Maybe some vanilla extract even. But this is a good start.

Pumpkin Gingerdoodles
(from Sweet Recipeas)

Dough 1:  Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Dough

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs
¾ cup pumpkin puree
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Mix 1 1/2 cups sugar, the butter, pumpkin, and eggs in a stand mixer with paddle attachment.
Add in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt and mix on low until fully combined. Set aside.*

Dough 2: Gingersnap Dough

3/4 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ginger

Cream together butter and sugar. Add molasses and egg and continue beating. Add flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger and mix until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.*

Mixture to roll cookies in:

1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and set aside for rolling dough in.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease baking sheets with no-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Roll a small amount of gingersnap dough into a ball and a small amount of snickerdoodle dough and place them together and gently roll or squeeze together.

Roll in cinnamon sugar.

Place on baking sheets and bake for 9-11 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes before moving to cooling racks.

*JennyBakes says - make it easier on yourself and chill the mixed doughs for a few hours before trying to mash them together and bake them.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Custardy Apple Squares

This is a recipe I have been meaning to try. I needed something I could whip up quickly after a hectic week and knew that this was a recipe Dorie Greenspan keeps on hand for last-minute guests, somewhat of a pantry dish. (I think I see it most often posted on Dorie's own Instagram feed!)

The recipe can be found in Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere by Dorie Greenspan. I recommend all of her baking cookbooks; they are staples in my house. This one I snagged one day when it was a Kindle deal, and while I'm still not a huge fan of eCookbooks, this one seems to have a lot of good stuff to try.

The only change I made to the recipe was to bake it in a narrower dish than specified. She says 8" square pan, but only had a 9" square pan, and had read that it was "awfully shallow." I used a pan that is probably 8"x6" and still felt it was a bit shallow. But definitely tasty. The proportions are almost the same as an oven pancake, only with less milk and less butter. The apples, when sliced thinly, settle into lovely layers on their own. I baked mine for 40 of the recommended 40-50 minutes and it was browning around the edges. I'd like to try this again with some of her ideas - adding some kind of liqueur to the batter might be nice!

Custardy Apple Squares
(seriously, buy Dorie's books.... this recipe comes from her, although I've rewritten the instructions a bit)

3 medium juicy, sweet apples, such as Gala or Fuji, peeled
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
pinch of fine sea salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp whole milk, room temperature
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Beat the eggs, sugar and salt together for about 2 minutes, until the sugar just about dissolves and the eggs are pale. Whisk in the vanilla, followed by the milk and melted butter. Add the flour and baking powder to the bowl and stir with the whisk until the batter is smooth.

Peel and slice the apples thinly (she recommends tools, I just used a knife!). Add the apples to the batter and fold gently, until every thin slice is coated. Scrape into the pan and smooth until reasonable.

Bake 40-50 minutes, or until golden brown, uniformly puffed - make sure the middle of the cake has risen - and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.

Cut the cake into squares and dust with confectioners' sugar before serving, if desired.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Coffee Chocolate Chip No-Churn Ice Cream

I saw this idea of no-churn ice cream and had to try it. Will it be like no-knead bread, something I tried once and never did again?

Well, it's cold, and creamy. But the flavor isn't very intense, and it isn't as dense as the high-quality expensive ice cream we buy if we're going to bother. I'll probably still eat it. I can see many flavor combinations with this basic idea, though, and it is a heck of a lot easier than pulling out the ice cream maker (and planning ahead to freeze the bowl.)

Coffee Chocolate Chip No-Churn Ice Cream
(recipe from Baked by an Introvert)
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, cold*
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Combine the condensed milk and coffee in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth. Add the heavy cream to a large bowl. Using an electric mixer set to medium speed, beat until stiff peaks form. Turn the speed to low and slowly pour in the condensed milk and coffee mixture. Turn the speed back up to medium and beat until thickened. Using a silicone spatula, gently fold in the chocolate chips. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 6 hours.

*I used cold brew because I tend to have it on hand!

Monday, October 03, 2016

Apple Cider Cream Pie

I've had this recipe marked to try for years now, and intentionally bought extra apple cider at the orchards in North Carolina. I wish I hadn't made so many mistakes... I decided to use my favorite all-butter crust and then in following the directions originally at Food & Wine resulted in overbaking it. I also don't have the fancy pie weights and crust covers so the foil came off and... yeah, the crust was just baked too much. The custard is interesting and not too sweet, but it takes some time to prepare since first you have to boil down cider and let that cool.

Summary: don't make the mistakes I did and you should have a great pie! I think this would be great for Halloween or Thanksgiving.

Apple Cider Cream Pie

(from Food & Wine November 2011)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice and chilled
  • 3 tablespoons cold milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
filling and topping
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

How to make this recipe

  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Add the butter and pulse in 1-second bursts until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine the milk and vinegar and drizzle it on top. Pulse in 1-second bursts until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather up any crumbs and pat into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
  2. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to an 11-inch round, a scant 1/4 inch thick; ease it into a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate. Trim the overhanging dough to 1 inch and fold it under itself. Crimp decoratively and chill the crust until firm, about 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425°. Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake in the lower third of the oven for about 15 minutes, until the crust is barely set. Remove the parchment and pie weights. Cover the edge of the crust with strips of foil and bake for about 15 minutes longer, until the crust is just set but not browned. Press the bottom of the crust lightly to deflate it as it puffs; let cool. Lower the oven temperature to 350°.
  4. In a medium saucepan, boil the cider until it's reduced to 1/2 cup, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Whisk in 3/4 cup of the sugar, the sour cream and salt, then whisk in the eggs.
  5. Pour the custard into the pie shell without removing the foil strips. Bake the pie in the lower third of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custard is set around the edge but the center is slightly jiggly. Let the pie cool completely.
  6. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and the cinnamon until firmly whipped. Mound the cream on the pie, cut into wedges and serve.

Make Ahead

The recipe can be prepared through Step 5 and refrigerated for 2 days.

Serve With

Baked apple slices.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Cold Chocolate Snacking Cake

What is a "snacking cake," exactly? As far as I can figure it, it is a simple cake, one that can be frosted in the pan and served directly from it. No layers, no decorations, no fuss. This one has been on my to-make list for a while because of the cold factor, and when I desperately needed to make something to post to the blog in time, this was a great pick because everything is a pantry ingredient.

Cold Chocolate Snacking Cake
(recipe from The View from Great Island blog)

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • for the frosting
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6 oz good semi sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup dark cocoa powder, sifted 
  1. Set oven to 350F
  2. Spray an 7 1/2 x 11 1/2 brownie pan with cooking spray (you could substitute a 9x9 square pan, but the cooking time will be slightly longer and the cake will be taller)
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture alternating with sour cream, starting and ending with the flour mixture.
  5. Spread batter into prepared pan. Tap pan firmly on counter top several times to force out large air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Don't over bake.
  6. To make the frosting: Heat the cream in a 2 cup glass measuring cup in the microwave until simmering. Add in the chocolate and let sit for 10 minutes, and then stir until smooth and glossy and the chocolate is all melted. If the chocolate isn't completely melted and smooth, zap it for another 15-30 seconds in the microwave.
  7. Add the sugar and cocoa powder and whisk until completely smooth. Pour over the cooled cake. Put the cake in the refrigerator to chill and set the frosting. I like to leave it there for a couple of hours. Serve cold, and store in the fridge. 
Notes from JennyBakes:
-I used a 9x9 square pyrex and ended up baking it for 40 minutes. It probably only really needed 35.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Nigella Lawson Flourless Chocolate Orange Cake

As mentioned in my previous blog post, my reading friend adapted this cake to a orange coconut cake, but once she'd mentioned it I couldn't get it out of my head I had to make the original. I used coconut sugar instead of regular to make it a bit lower on the glycemic index, but otherwise kept it the same.

This cake has one strange technique and a few strange ingredients - you must boil oranges a few hours (and then you use the entire thing, peel and all.) Since the "flour" is all almonds, you can see some nobbly bits. The end result is not overly chocolatey but reminded me more of a gingerbread in texture.

Flourless Chocolate Orange Cake
(recipe from Nigella Lawson as seen on

2 small thin-skinned oranges, approx 375g total weight (or 1 large)*
6 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
200 g ground almonds**
250 g caster sugar***
50 g cocoa****
  1. Put the whole orange or oranges in a pan with some cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 2 hours or until soft.
  2. Drain, and when cool, cut the oranges in half and remove any big pips.
  3. Then pulp everything - pith, peel and all - in a food processor.
  4. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C (350F). Butter and line a 20cm springform tin.
  5. Add the eggs, baking powder, baking soda, almonds, sugar and cocoa to the orange in the food processor. Run the motor until you have a cohesive cake mixture, but slightly knobbly with the flecks of puréed orange.
  6. Pour and scrape into the cake tin and bake for an hour, by which time a cake tester should come out pretty well clean. Check after 45 minutes because you may have to cover with foil to prevent the cake burning before it is cooked through, or indeed it may need a little less than an hour; it all depends on your oven.
  7. Leave the cake to get cool in the tin, on a cooling rack. When the cake is cold you can take it out of the tin. Decorate with strips of orange peel or coarsely grated zest if you so wish, but it is darkly beautiful in its plain, unadorned state.
*I used two navel oranges
**I used 2 cups almond flour
***I used 3/4 cup coconut sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar
****1/2 cup

Monday, September 12, 2016

Did You Ever Have a Coconut Orange Cake?

I recently read Did You Ever Have a Family? by Bill Clegg, a novel that was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award in 2015. The story revolves around a tragic event, a family dying the night before a wedding is to occur. But some of the characters, who narrate their own chapters, talk about the cake that was requested for the wedding. It seemed unusual, so of course I had to make it. Another reading friend was reading the book at the same time, and also tried a version which I hope to at least link to below.

"My mom made Lolly Reid's wedding cake. She got the recipe from a Brazilian restaurant in the city where she went one night after going in with her friends to see a show. It was a coconut cake made with fresh oranges. She prepared for days. It didn't have any pillars or platforms or fancy decorations; just a big sheet cake with a scattering of those tiny, silver edible balls...."
All I knew, since Clegg has not made the recipe he had in mind available anywhere, was that it had coconut and orange, should be a sheet (as opposed to a layer cake or bundt), and that I could add some of the tiny edible balls. I found two recipes I was considering. Both were in tube or bundt pans, but I knew that would roughly fill a 9x13 pan. One recipe that had the central ingredients and also identified as Brazilian was the Brazilian Flair Orange Cake with Coconut, but it seemed to be orange with coconut as a garnish, and I read the focus as being on coconut. I put that one aside for the Brazilian Cold Coconut Orange Cake, since it seemed to have the right flavor focus. It is assembled somewhat like a tres leche cake, where you pour a mixture of milks over the warm cake after poking holes in it. This is where the recipe went wrong for me, though, because it became too moist. I didn't end up taking it for coworkers to eat or anything! I suspect their "can" is a different size than my (14 oz) "can," but didn't think about it when mixing everything together. The cake as it was, with a simple glaze, would have been a delight. I also think the pictures accompanying that recipe don't look like they followed the end of the recipe, just made the cake part.

My reading friend Trudie liked the book less than I did but made a better cake. She started with Nigella Lawson's Flourless Chocolate Orange Cake, replacing the cocoa gram to gram with coconut. The color was so vivid, and the cake looked more like a cake and less like a pudding.  So beautiful, thanks Trudie!

More notes from Trudie:

1. Boiling up the oranges is critical as I have made this before and took a short cut with the boiling time and the oranges are too bitter, (however I have seen mention of microwaving them, to save time). The rest of the cake takes about 10mins to assemble - so it is just this stage needs planning.

2. Ground Almonds = Almond Meal, I am pretty sure you would have this, mine looks like this

3. For my coconut version of this cake I omitted the 50g of cocoa and put in 50g of shredded coconut instead