Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pumpkin x 2.

So listen, for as much as I say I hate fall, and I really do, I really love pumpkin. I love pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cake. I think it's a fantastic ingredient that's easy to work with coming out of a can and it makes everything so lovely to eat. Especially since it's associated with the holidays, it gets combined with my favourite spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves very often.

This past Sunday for brunch I made the pumpkin scones here on seven spoons. They were fantastic. I didn't change a thing about the recipe and neither should you. (I did however top them with half and half and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Why not?)

Pumpkin Scones. (raw)

Today I decided to use up the rest of the pumpkin from that recipe (it freezes great, just thaw it overnight) and make a pumpkin cake. This cake is so easy peasy you won't believe it. It's from Elinor Klivan's The Essential Chocolate Chip Book and the only thing I did differently was increase the amount of spices used. (PS if you haven't heard of her yet, get everything she's written - ASAP.)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 1/2 cups AP flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips

Start off by preheating the oven to 325 degrees F. and greasing a 9x9 inch baking dish.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and soda, salt and the spices. I like to use a piece of wax paper so I don't have another bowl to wash.

Then in a mixing bowl combine the pumpkin, sugar and oil. Then mix in the eggs one at a time until everything is combined. Stir in the dry ingredients thoroughly and then the chocolate chips until they're just mixed through.

Pour into the baking dish and pop it in the oven for 40 minutes. Mine literally took just 40 minutes until a toothpick came out clean.

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese with the salt and vanilla until everything is creamy. Then add the sugar and beat slowly until incorporated, and then at a higher speed to lighten the frosting.

When the cake is cool, you can either take it out of the pan or leave it in and ice it with the frosting. I like lots of swirls on my cakes. This is supposed to make 12 squares or probably more like 8.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

More apples, apples, apples.

Szarlotka (Polish Apple Tart).

Sometimes after a week of many hours at work, you just feel like doing some cozy things in the kitchen. Obviously one of my favourite things to do is read cookbooks so as I was going through one of the best - Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax. I first came across a picture for Polish Apple Tart, which was lovely and gorgeous. So I flipped to the recipe to find that it seemed rather feasible for 9 PM on a Saturday night. So here it is. This pastry is not flaky, but it's delicious and supports the chunky apple puree very nicely.

Szarlotka (Polish Apple Tart).

Szarlotka (Polish Apple Tart), recipe adapted from Richard Sax's Classic Home Desserts

1 2/3 cup AP flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 tablespoons butter melted or oil
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, and then make a well in the middle of them. Combine the egg, butter or oil, milk and vanilla into a small bowl and then pour this into the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork until a soft dough comes together. Refrigerate this for at least an hour.

6 large apples - I used all McIntosh and it turned out just lovely. I think you could use any nice cooking apple here or as the author suggests, 3 McIntosh and 3 Granny Smiths. So balance tart and sweet apples.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (not called for originally but I figured what could it hurt? ;)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spices - I used 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon ginger

Place the apples and butter in a large saute pan over medium heat, and cover until the apples start to sizzle. Then increase the heat slightly and stirring frequently, cook the apples until they are very tender, about 20 minutes. Add the sugar and spices and then smoosh the apples with the back of the spoon. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch tart pan and pat about 2/3 of the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Spread the filling over the dough.

Using either parchment or wax paper, place the dough on a floured surface and pat it out until about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Cut 3/4 inch wide strips and carefully lift the strips of dough with a spatula and arrange them in a lattice pattern on top of the filling.

If you want, you can sprinkle the tart with some granulated sugar and then pop it into the oven to bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, until the dough is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and then sprinkle with confectioner's sugar before serving.

Fantastic with coffeeeee.

Szarlotka (Polish Apple Tart).

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Baking cravings.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies.

As much as I hate on fall, I think most of my fondest baking memories occur around this time. On my days off from work in the fall, I always have the strongest desire to bake. I don't know if it's because I need comfort from the fact that it's not summer or because in the summer I don't necessarily crave to eat as much. Anyway, sometimes it's the most difficult thing in the world for me to decide on what to bake. I can look at cookbooks and websites all day long but still nothing will appeal to me. So today I was going through my favourite blogs, some I haven't been to in a while and I came across this recipe on Orangette. It was perfect. I had all the ingredients already, and even some of the additions Molly suggests.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Therefore, I followed her recipe pretty much as is, but I added about 1/4 cup toasted walnuts and 1/4 cup dried cherries to the batter along with the chocolate chips, and I made them perhaps just a bit smaller because I came out with 24 cookies instead of 20.

My adaptation:
1 cup AP flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt (yes I upped this)
1/2 stick of butter (4 tablespoons)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
7 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/3 cup sour cream (I don't really have yogurt ever, so sour cream it is)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
1/4 cup dried cherries

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. These are snappy so you want to make sure this is the first thing you do.

Then sift the flour, baking soda and salt together in a small bowl and set aside. Put the butter in a large microwaveable bowl and zap until it's just about melted. Add the sugars and cocoa powder, then the sour cream or yogurt and extract. Then I dumped the dry ingredients and the additions (chips, nuts etc.) in all at once and stir until everything is incorporated evenly. Scoop by tablespoons-full onto a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes. Mine didn't take more than 8, probably because they were a bit smaller.

Let cool on the sheet for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. I ate three while still warm though. Perfect with milk or coffee or tea.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies.  (&Milk!)