Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin. Cheesecake. Pie. Hold my hand.

Let me ask you a question, dear reader.

What do you do when you have half an opened can of pumpkin puree in your fridge and a smidgen of left over cream cheese from mini-cheesecakes past accompanying it?


This is what you do.

You go crazy and in a frenzy of inspiration and seasonal delusions you make this.

Pumpkin. Cheesecake. Pie.

This isn't just your Mama's pumpkin pie, let me tell you. This baby is chock full of a ton of ingredients that will have your tummy going "Uhm, yes" and your dietician going, "Uhm, share." Yeah, it's that good.

Oh, and by the way -- did I mention it has a sugared almond/ginger crust? No? Well. It does. And don't even think you can get out of this easy by using some store-bought graham cracker crust. Oh no. This pie crust and filling were meant to be, and it's so incredibly easy to
make... Best part about it? Totally easy to make Gluten-Free. Bonus points? I think so.

Really though, this pie is pretty awesome. I got the original recipe from allrecipes double layer pumpkin pie. Admittedly, I've never had pumpkin pie. Ever. But i'm sure i'd like it either way. This was really good though. Perfect balance of sweetness in contrast to the natural flavor of the pumpkin. And the almondy/ginger crust just brought out the best in the cinnamon and nutmeg in the pumpkin itself. You'd think for the amount of sugar this pie has packed in, it would be too sweet. But it's not at all.

So if you happen to have some left-over pumpkin puree sitting in your fridge -- totally make this. If you don't have any cream cheese... go get some. If you don't have any almonds... Well. Okay. If you absolutelyhavetouseapremadecrust... It may be a little time consuming but it's worth it people, really.

Did I mention it's a pumpkin cheesecake pie?

I can't get over this.

Now, I have one more question for you, my lovely reader:

Want a slice?

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie w/Almond Ginger Crust
(Original recipe adapted from allrecipes.com)

Pie Crust Ingredients:
roughly 1 cup of finely chopped almonds
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
5 tablespoons salted butter, divided
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup whole wheat flour (optional, can sub almond meal for gluten-free crust)

Pie Filling Ingredients:
2 8oz packages of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. First, we'll make the pie crust. It's incredibly easy. Take a medium skillet and melt 2 tablespoons of butter in it over low-medium heat. When butter is melted, add almonds, ginger, and sugar. Toss together to coat and let simmer over medium heat, tossing around occasionally to make sure the almonds and ginger are toasted evenly.

2. As soon as they start getting nicely toasted (watch for burning) and fragrant, let them simmer for a minute or two longer before taking them off the skillet and letting them cool on a kitchen towel or a few paper towels piled on top of each other.

3. While almonds are cooling down, melt remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a microwave safe container. Preheat your oven to 350F degrees.

4. Wait until both the almond/ginger mixture and melted butter is cooled completely before proceeding. This is because we are making a crust, not almond butter, and if the almonds are still warm, they will not give a crusty texture.

5. With a food processor or hand blender, grind the almond/ginger mixture until it gets a mealy texture. Then, dump into a separate bowl. Add the melted butter, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, and 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour (or almond meal). Mix together until you have a crumbly crust-like texture. Don't worry if you have left overs -- I did. And if your crust is a little warm, that's okay. Just as long as it still has a mealy feel to it.

6. Press your crust into a 9 in. pie pan and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Let cool on counter while you make your pie filling.

7. To make your pie filling, lower your oven to 325F. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together. Beat until smooth. Blend in eggs one at a time, being careful not to over mix. Reserve 1 cup of this batter and pour evenly into your COOLED pie crust. Set aside.

8. Add your pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to remaining batter and stir gently until well blended. Carefully spread over the batter in the crust.

9. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until center is almost set (it should be a little bit jiggly in the middle). Allow to cool, and then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Garnish with a cookie leaf or whip cream if desired.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pumpkin Blondies

Pumpkin Blondies
I smelled it.

The minute I woke up this morning to a dreary half-lit bedroom.
The minute I attempted to open my tired eyes.

I smelled it.


I don't know about you, but there's one thing that sets off every nerve in my body to scream: WINTER, WINTER, WINTER, CHRISTMAS, PRESENTS, THANKSGIVING, TURKEY, EGG NOG, WINTER, COOKIES, WINTER, WINTER.

And that's the smell of it.
Winter has a particular smell. It is crisp, clean, cool, and every time it rolls around all I feel like doing is getting a huge, fluffy blanket, rolling inside of it and eating fruitloops while watching saturday morning cartoons in my PJ's before running outside and swinging on our swingset for five hours.

And if we still had a swingset around, and fruitloops, I'd probably be doing that instead of writing this post. Sans the saturday morning cartoons. That would probably be replaced with 3 hours of Good Eats (which, by the way, anyone else notice that Alton looks kind of like a zombie now-a-days? I hope he's feeling alright).

Now, for the past few hours i've been awake (tightly snugged inside a warm jacket), I am having rushes of nostalgia and craving gingerbread men.

Does anyone else get these?
Am I the only one?

I know it won't last long. This is the south, afterall. The sun will warm us over nice and soon, I'm sure. But for today and tomorrow, things will be much cooler around here, and I have a feeling that my urge to bake every single warm, fuzzy, homey dessert I can think of will surface violently and I will find myself passed out at 3A.M. in my kitchen covered in flour and pumpkin pie spice.

They should really have a name for a condition like this.

Like P.I.S, Pumpkin Insanity Syndrome.

Or P.G.M.O.O.T.K.B.I.B.F.T.C.S (Please Get Me Out Of This Kitchen Before I Bake Five Thousand Cookies Syndrome).

I don't know. I'm out of it and I need an afternoon nap and some hot chai tea. This is what winter does to me. It makes me babble. And ramble. And talk insanity.

But if there is one thing you can get out of this whole post, it's this: Pumpkin Blondies.

They are pumpkiny.
They are octobery.
They are butterscotchy.
They are cakey.
And they are best eaten out of the refrigerator after a day of being made.
If you can wait that long. If you're me, and have no patience, you probably can't. But try anyways.

Definitely make these sometimes. I should've baked mine longer so they came out a little... eh, fudgy, for blondies, but they are stilll very good. Don't hesitate to leave them in the oven for a little longer if you're not sure if they are done or not. AND PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE add the butterscotch morsels. You have to. You do. Don't argue. Just do it. It's worth the store trip. I swear.

Now please excuse me while I go look through five hundred christmas cookies recipes.

Pumpkin Blondies
(Adapted from Annie Eats who adapted it from Martha Stewart)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup chopped, toasted nuts (optional)
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with foil.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. Stir together and set aside.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, sugar and applesauce on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined. Mix in the pumpkin puree.

With the mixer on low speed add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.

Fold in the white chocolate and butterscotch chips (and nuts/oats, if using) with a rubber spatula.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs, about 35-40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting.

To serve, lift the cake from the pan using the foil and transfer to a cutting board. Peel off the foil and using a sharp knife, cut into 24 squares.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Peanut Butter Ice-Cream Pie with Pretzel Crust

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Pie with Pretzel Crust

I have done it.

I have finally made the pie.

I know what you must be thinking right now.

1. Why are there pretzels on the pie?
2. Why are you making a FROZEN pie in October?
3. What do you mean by "The" pie?
4. Is it some secret formulated pie that will end world hunger?
5. Will you be giving me this hunger-ending pie recipe anytime soon?
6. Why am I even reading this list?
7. Seriously. What the heck. Pretzels.

While this isn't the pie that will end world hunger, or really any special kind of pie; it is, in a way, special to me. You see, my mother isn't a dessert person. She has a savory tooth. She's more of a double cheese omelet with bacon bits and mushrooms kind of person for breakfast. The kind of chick that likes to sit down in a big leather chair with a white fuzzy robe on watching reality t.v. while munching on BBQ chips and cream cheese. She does not, needless to say, have much of a desire for anything sweet.

Except today.

I went out on a mission to find a dessert my mom would love. Even though she isn't a sweet person, I knew there had to be something I could make that she would literally love. Sure, she's eaten my sweets before. Cookies, apple pie, etc... but nothing she's gone back to second helpings for. Well, whatdya know. The day has finally come.

With peanut butter pie and pretzels.

The peanut butter pie is nothing special. You got peanut butter, cream cheese, sugar, butter, and whipped cream which is folded in. Then you got the mystery ingredient: pretzels. A crust made with crushed pretzels, brown sugar, and butter. The contrast in sweet/salty is amazing. Almost too good.

I got the idea when my mom told me about a year ago that one of her favorite things is pretzels dipped in peanut butter. I thought this was the weirdest thing ever (and showed so by saying "ewewewewewewewewewewewewEW" for an hour) until I actually tried it. And then I realized that yes: Pretzels and Peanut Butter. They were meant to be. They were bffl. They were soul mates.

They were in a pie.
And all was good in the world.

So don't be skeptical. Try it out. It's easy to make. Just make sure to freeze it, not refrigerate, and don't leave it out on the counter for too long... Even though it tastes just as good half-melted. :P

Peanut Butter Ice-Cream Pie with Pretzel Crust

1/4 cup and 2 tablespoon butter, softened*
1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons brown sugar*
1-1/4 cups finely crushed pretzels *

1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup milk
3/4 of a 16oz package of frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 pre-baked pretzel crust

1. To make Pretzel Crust, preheat your oven to 350.
2. Combine butter, brown sugar, and pretzels together in a bowl. Press the mixture in a 9in. pie dish and bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow pie crust to cool.
3. To make the pie, beat together the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar. Mix in peanut butter and milk. Beat until smooth. Using a spatula, fold in whipped topping. (To fold in whipped topping,add the whipped topping and, using your spatula, cut through the middle of the batter, while spinning the bowl around, fold the whipped cream up and over the batter. Do this withall whipped topping until you cannot see any remaining whipped topping.)
4. Spoon into Pretzel Crust. Cover loosely and stick in freezer for up to 1 hour or until firm.

*Additionally, you can garnish like I did above with any left over pretzel crust you may have. Make sure not to overdo it though.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Maple Snickerdoodles


When I was smaller, my mom and I went on a trip to visit my Grandparents who lived in New Jersey at the time. I can't remember if we flew or drove there... but I do remember being in the car with my grandma, driving to her house.

While we were driving, I was in the backseat, swinging my legs back and forth because they were too short to reach the car floor. I was literally faceplanting the window, staring in awe at the autumn trees. Everything was covered in ruby and golden leaves. It was so gorgeous, and I had never seen anything like it before. Back in Florida, we didn't have "fall". Our trees did not change colors and we scarcely saw the transition from summer/fall/winter. Besides the chillier temperatures, we never really got a full blast of autumn like most places did up north.

I remember being totally wide-eyed and captivated by what I saw. As soon as we got back to my grandma's house, I went back outside and played in those very same leaves. Giggling like a schoolgirl. I loved it. I really did. The best part was going back inside to a warm fireplace.

That was fall to me. That was autumn.

Unfortunately, I've only been able to see that beauty once in my entire life... but it did leave a permanent mark on me. I also remember playing around with my grandma's neighbor's little girl. We would sneak down into her basement and play grocery-shopping. And then I'd secretly want to eat the plastic foods.

Don't judge me. They totally looked real.


Anyway. Living down south, the only real feel of autumn we can get is through food and spices. This is the time of the year where we start getting extra snuggly with our blankets in the early morning, and we have to literally get to our local grocery store at 6 in the morning just to get the canned pumpkin puree before anyone else does. It's also the time of the year where the smell of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, can be found wherever you go. Not that I have a problem that ;).

Although nothing can compare to those autumn leaves falling down all around me, these Maple Snickerdoodles come as close as can be. Just the smell of them baking in the oven was enough to tickle my senses. And the taste? Oh baby. Move over Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies. You are gonna have to wait.

They are so ridiculously easy to make -- and so, so good. Soft and extremely chewy. I love it. I seriously do. While you can bake these right after mixing the dough, I prefer to refrigerate my dough because of the humidity. And because I don't like my cookies to spread too much.

Remember though, when making these, you want to use REAL MAPLE SYRUP. Not that fake stuff you put all over pancakes. Although that stuff is good too. But not for these cookies. Trust me on this one. It's worth the splurge. You can find real maple syrup right by the fake stuff in the pancake aisle. If you want, you could definitely use it to replace the fake stuff. So much better. Soooo good.

Do you have any cookies that remind you of fall or maybe just some good autumn memories? Or maybe foods that you particularly tie along with the coming of colder weather? Share your stories! I'd love to hear them. :)

That is, if you can stop trying to maul your screen. :P


Maple Snickerdoodles

2 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 egg

1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
3. In a large bowl, cream the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the maple syrup and egg until combined. Add dry ingredients. Beat until just mixed.
4. Combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 2tbsp of cinnamon in a bowl.
5. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in cinnamon-sugar mix. Arrange balls on cookie sheets, 2 inches apart.
6. Bake until tops are crackly, about 8 to 10 minutes. (Mine took about 7)
7. Remove from oven, and leave cookies on sheets to cool slightly. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

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