Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Loaf with Cream Cheese Glaze

The fact that October is in 4 days hasn't hit me yet. The fact that Halloween is at hand and I feel like we're still just getting over Easter is bugging me. I've never been one to lose count of the months, or the days. Now it feels like the complete opposite.

And that whole Christmas is in 3 months thing...

Yeah. 3 months. I know everyone reading this just felt their stomach drop.

Even though fall is here it doesn't feel like it yet. Sure, we've put up all our fancy fall specials in the cafe of our store. Canned pumpkin is making its return full blast and Winter Squash is goin' for 69 cents a pound at the store. It should feel like it's Autumn, but where's the cold? Kind of hard to enjoy my butternut squash soup on a chilly night when it's hot enough to still be drinking pink lemonade and eating overpriced strawberries.

Regardless of the humidity, I'm still trying to get into the set of things. I know that as soon as I get that whiff of winter on a chilly, foggy morning here, I'll get the Christmas bug. I like to call it my CCD. Christmas Cookie Disorder. It begins whenever the first smell of winter arrives, and leaves any time after the store stops selling those awesome Danish Butter Cookies that come in the dark blue tins... Dang, those things are good.

This loaf is one of those things helping me remind myself that yes, it is almost October. Yes, there is pumpkin to be eaten. Yes, I do not have any freakin' idea what to get anyone for Christmas and Yes, this Pumpkin Spice Loaf goes great with Coffee or if you're feeling really ambitious, a Pumpkin Spice Latte'. Hey, man, if you're gonna go all the way.... ;)

The bread itself is moist, a little less sweeter than you're normal pumpkin bread just because I went ahead and cut the sugar in half so I wouldn't get a blood rush in the morning when I ate it for breakfast. It's virtually fat-free, replacing all the oil with unsweetened applesauce and only using one whole egg. The bread still stays delicious, though I could've definitely amped up the "spice" part of it, but I feared the end result would be a little too hardcore for my cinnamon-hating other half to handle. I'd say when and if you do make the bread, definitely throw in 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, and maybe even add 1/4 teaspoon of allspice. Or you can just go with a healthy dose of pumpkin pie spice and call it a day. Whatever makes your skirt fly up.

Though the bread part of it is pretty much good for snacking and breakfast, the unsweet undertones of the bread are balanced out completely by the cream cheese frosting.

And yes. It is to die for. You will have leftovers. Use them wisely. As in.... insert spoon into vat of frosting and proceed to put it in your mouth. Don't worry! Even the frosting isn't that bad for you... Or at least that's what we can pretend.

I'm going to keep trying to get my mindset in the Autumn mood. Maybe buy a few fuzzy jackets. Make a few Christmas Cookies ahead of time. Eat some gingersnaps. Eat some gingersnaps in a crust with Pumpkin Pie. Eat some gingersnap in a crust with Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie. Heck, maybe I'll actually carve a pumpkin this year and make it look like Elvis.

And then I'll make another loaf of pumpkin spice bread. And eat all the frosting for breakfast. Yep. That sounds like a plan.

Pumpkin Spice Loaf with Cream Cheese Glaze

Pumpkin Spice Loaf Ingredients:
1 cup of pure canned pumpkin
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg white
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I would up this to 2 teaspoons next time)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (I would up this to 1 teaspoon next time)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (optional, but it wouldn't hurt)

Cream Cheese Glaze
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature (I used I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Light and it tasted fine)
4 oz 1/3 less than fat cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
(yes, you will have leftover glaze. If you do not want leftover glaze, cut the ingredients in half)

Preheat oven to 325F.
2. Combine all wet ingredients, pumpkin through vanilla extract, into a medium bowl. In a larger mixing bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients, flours through allspice.
3. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry until no trace of flour is left
4. Pour the mixture into a well greased 9x5in. loaf pan, making sure the batter is even and flat on the surface.
5. Bake at 325F for 50-60 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Meanwhile, while bread is baking, make the glaze. Mix together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Add powdered sugar by 1/2 cupfuls, waiting until each one is incorporated until adding more. Once you've got the desired consistency, set aside.
7. When bread is finished baked, leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before taking it out and cooling completely on a wire wrack. Once bread is cooled, top off with half of the cream cheese mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep the rest in the fridge for later baking adventures. Or you can go all out and just pour all of that glaze on top of the bread. Whatever strikes your fancy. ;)

Serves 12 generously.
Or just one really ravenous lady at breakfast.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Flourless PB&CC Cookies

Sometimes, a girl just needs to be able to enjoy the specifics of something. You know what I mean, right?


Okay, examples. You come home from work and your sweetie lover honey muffin offers to give you a foot massage after a long day. He says, "come here my darling oogly-moogly, come take a nap after a long days work, you deserve it!" and you think to yourself: gee, that sure does sound awesome. But then you realize that even though that may sound appeasing, it's totally not what you're craving as a stress reliever. Something
bright to end the day.

I know all you woman are like "yeah right, like I'd pass up a foot massage". But you know what I mean!

Sometimes, a woman needs specifics.

Sometimes, a woman needs... cookies.

And peanut butter. And milk chocolate. And she needs them to be gluten-free. Not because she has a gluten intolerance but because she has no flour and after working 10 hours the last thing she wants to do is haul her butt to Wal-mart (don't even pretend that you don't shop there, bakers) and pick up some flour for cookies.
So what does she do? She exclaims, "I need cookies!" and she makes them. Plain. Simple. Easy. It's no foot massage. It's no walk on the beach. But sometimes, it doesn't have to be any of that. Sometimes it just has to be something simple.

That, and I believe that a cookie a day keeps insanity away.

I think that even if we aren't all entitled to the best things on earth, we should still enjoy the little things we can. Something as simple as a cookie or maybe just a glass of wine before bed is things that we hold dear and near to our hearts. It's our special cool-down time. The part of our day where we can just breathe. Sometimes we share those moments with others. Sometimes we share them with strangers. Sometimes, we share them with God. Whoever it is you're sharing your special moments with, don't forget to take them when the opportunity strikes. You only live once. So even if some kid at your job decides it would be a fun idea to throw all the bouncy balls onto a display of stacked books, or some british guy gives you a hard time at the register because you have to see his ID for something, don't sweat it. Don't let it bring you down. Go home. Make
cookies. Snuggle your sweetie-pie. Heck, do both at the same time (but please be careful not to burn yourself ;) ). Or just go for a walk, enjoy a glass of wine... whatever strikes your fancy

And if you don't have any flour on hand, make these cookies.

Speaking of these cookies, they totally hit the spot a few days ago for me. These are very simply sweet. I used a combination of honey roasted creamy peanut butter and extra crunchy peanut butter to give them a slight salty/sweet taste. Ontop of that, I threw in some MILK chocolate chips (not semi-sweet... I'm not a fan of semi-sweet chocolate chips in my peanut butter cookies), and sprinkled them with salt just before baking. The result? A very, very chewy, but light, peanut butter cookie. Perfect to dunk in milk or eat in itself. Probably a little too perfect. ;) I also added some oats for texture, and ditched the egg yolks since I didn't need the extra density (or fat, admittedly). Even without the yolks, the cookies came out awesome. I did refrigerate these for awhile, though, so just be aware if it's still really humid/hot where you are to stick these in the freezer for a half an hour before baking. It'll save you the headache.

Flourless PB&CC Cookies
1/2 cup extra crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup honey roasted creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 egg whites
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup quick cooking or rolled oats
1/4 tsp salt
fleur de sal for sprinkling (or other coarse salt like sea salt)

1. If baking immediately, preheat oven to 350F degrees.
2. Using a hand mixer, blend the peanut butters, sugars, salt and baking soda together in a bowl until smooth and sugar is completely incorporated.
3. Blend in egg whites until fully combined.
4. Stir in choco chips and oats with a wooden spoon or spatula.
5. Refrigerate for freeze dough if desired for 1-2 hours or overnight.
6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F degrees. Or unless you didn't wait, go ahead and scoop your cookie batter out by tablespoonfuls and drop them on a greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle them on top with fleur de sal or sea salt.
7. Bake 8-15 minutes or until cookies are slightly brown around edges.
8. Stuff into face and enjoy with a big glass o' milk.


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