Saturday, October 29, 2011

Secret Agent Cookies

Secret Agent Cookies 
These cookies have a funny little story from today, but I can't tell you what it is.

No really.  I mean, I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.

What I can tell you is that this recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod will not disappoint you.  The pumpkin isn't the prominent flavor, but this is a soft, delicious, fall cookie.  They call them gingersnaps, but they aren't that snappy - I'd call them pumpkin ginger cookies. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ginger Cookie Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwiches

Pumpkin Ginger Ice Cream Sandwich
It can't be fall in my house without making big soft ginger cookies.  This year I was looking for new things to try, and decided they would be perfect for ice cream sandwiches.  Their softness would hold up to freezing and still be pliable enough to eat with something cold inside.  I made the pumpkin ice cream from The Craft of Baking, because that is the recipe David Lebovitz cited in his blog post with a pumpkin ice cream recipe, and I own it!  This is the first time I've made ice cream that didn't turn to stone in the freezer, and is pleasantly pliable but not too soft.  It may be the lack of cooking, really.  The egg yolks are tempered but not cooked again on the stove.  Maybe that was a mistake in the recipe, but the taste is delicious and creamy and very very pumpkiny.  I did add a bit of pumpkin powder from the herb store in addition to the canned pumpkin, and I think it added a dimension of flavor.

I hear what you're thinking.  Pumpkin and ginger make sense for fall, but not ice cream sandwiches!  That may be true in most of the world, but here in South Carolina the temperature went back to the upper 80s today, so we are dying for cold treats.  I just wasn't ready to completely let go of fall!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Having finally wrestled a pantry full of canned pumpkin away from the guy who usually beats me to the store to buy it for his dogs, fall baking has been going full force in October!  First were the pumpkin cinnamon roll pancakes, which were amazing.  I made a gluten-free version of harvest muffins after a week of eating no wheat, but most of them were thrown away instead of consumed.  That's all I'll say about that!  I made another half batch of "real" harvest muffins later, which is something we have every year.

Still, I can't just make everything I always make just because we like it.  So I went looking for a recipe similar to the old Starbucks pumpkin cream cheese muffins.  I found this promising recipe on The Girl Who Ate Everything's blog, and these were tasty.  In fact, I think I prefer the pumpkin part to the harvest muffin pumpkin part (it could be the butter vs. oil difference; these have oil and were very tender).  I even skipped her streusel topping, but I'm sure that would add to the decadence.  I also didn't chill the cream cheese part for 2 hours, just mixed it with the powdered sugar and popped it in the freezer until I was scooping batter into the muffin tins.  It worked just fine without the extra time.  Also, I divided the recipe in half, because this recipe makes 24!  Even half made a good 14. 

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Source: Annie's Eats
Makes 24 muffins
Print Recipe

For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar

For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree (see Note)
1¼ cups vegetable oil

For the topping:
½ cup sugar
5 tablespoons flour
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Note: A standard sized can of pumpkin is 15 ounces, just shy of 2 cups (16 ounces). You could open another can if you want and freeze the extra or just use one can which is what I did. The amount is so little I don't think it makes a difference in the final product.

To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter. Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, and reinforce with a piece of foil. Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours. The mixture will still be somewhat soft but firmer.

To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix on medium-low speed until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. I always get inpatient here and mix it together with my hands so that it looks like the texture of wet sand. I know you aren't supposed to do it this way but I'm impatient. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill until ready to use.

To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons). Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. You want to put the cream cheese lower than you think because it will rise a lot during the baking process. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving. I like them warm, cold, and room temperature.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Smitten Kitchen Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Red Wine Chocolate Cake
Here I continue my salivating over Smitten Kitchen - her beautiful pictures and enticing recipes that I'm never sorry I tried! I had just been given a bottle of red wine at work, and knowing how I never drink more than a glass, I came across her recipe for red wine chocolate cake. I knew I had to try it.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake
What does red wine taste like in chocolate cake? Well I think you'll be surprised when you try it (DO try it). Rather than it being winey or adding a fruity twinge to the cake, it creates similar magic to coffee or coke in a chocolate cake - liquid but not dairy, so the chocolate just comes through. It tastes... like chocolate. Unaltered. Delicious.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Pumpkin Cinnamon Bun Pancakes
I've had this recipe bookmarked for a week or so, but that was still TOO LONG TO WAIT for these amazing pancakes. Head on over to RecipeGirl for the recipe and step by step instructions for Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes.  You will not be sorry.  These should be required for fall!