Pumpkin Pudding

Yes, I know it’s January, but as I’ve said before, I think pumpkin really should be enjoyed all year round. It’s just so good! And yes, I did bring two cans of pumpkin with me to France (I know, I’m crazy). One I used back in Marseille for my pumpkin cake that I made for Christmas and I was saving my second can for something super special. I saw this recipe and realized this indeed was a special recipe. 

I had actually seen this pudding back around Thanksgiving, but over Thanksgiving I was so dead set on only have pies for desserts that I looked past anything that wasn’t in a pie shell. In retrospect, this would have been a wonderful addition to the dessert feast and I am certainly already thinking about making it next year. 

Ya, it’s a pretty basic recipe, but the results are delicious. It’s like eating straight from the inside of a pumpkin pie, skipping the crust completely. Heating of the ingredients gives it a silky smooth texture and although you’re supposed to let them cool to room temperature before you serve, I snagged one right off the pan and it was pretty tasty warm as well. I bet if you added some stiff egg whites to this, it would be even more mousse like and equally as delicious. As usual, I doubled the spices, and actually used more nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice instead of the ginger and cloves as I didn’t have any of those my limited spice collection. The pudding sinks a little bit in the ramekins after a few minutes out of the oven, but topping them with some whipped cream makes up for the lost space in the ramekin. Speaking of whipped cream, beating whipped cream by hand is a PAIN IN MY BUTT! I think I spent 15 minutes whipping before my arm basically gave out and I still didn’t have anything resembling whipped cream (I was too depressed to take a picture, but you’ll have to believe me).

PUMPKIN PUDDING

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 3/4 cups (from a 15-ounce can) pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Whisk together pumpkin, sugar, salt and spices in a saucepan.
  3. Heat over medium-high. Once glurping and simmering in the pot, cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. The mixture will thicken and get a bit darker. Reduce heat slightly and whisk in milk and cream. Off the heat, slowly whisk in eggs.
  5. Divide between 7 to 8 ovenproof 6-ounce pudding cups or ramekins on a baking sheet (I used 4 ramekins and 3 mini espresso cups)
  6.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until puddings barely jiggle when shimmied and/or a knife tip inserted into the center of puddings comes out clean. Try not to overbake.
  7. Top with whipped cream!
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November Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Crostata

In addition to all the baking I had in-store for Thanksgiving, I also had to complete my Daring Bakers’ challenge for the month. I decided to wait until the end of the month,  so I could use the crust for a pumpkin pie, given the necessity of pumpkin pie at any Thanksgiving table. Some people think that pumpkin pie isn’t a necessary item on a Thanksgiving dessert menu. I on the other hand, think it’s the only dessert worth having. I wait all year for it!

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

The crostata was really quite simple to make – just like most other pie doughs with the addition of an egg. It was a little dense the following day out of the fridge, so I made sure to let it warm up a bit before it rolled out. After all the baking of the weekend, we only had a pie tin left, so it was not exactly a tart per-se as the recipe wanted it to be, but I still think it was delicious nonetheless. I was worried the crostata wouldn’t cover the whole pan given how big it was, but my worries were not needed, as it fit perfectly.

Of course, I find it almost impossible to bake a pie without burning it, especially pumpkin, which has to stay in the oven for so long. After 40 minutes, my friend said to me “Oh right, we should have tented it!” Oh well. The side was a little burnt, but the inside still tasted yummy. I love pumpkin pie, I wait for it every year, and with the addition of a new pie crust, it was better than ever. I just followed the recipe off the side of a can for the filling, and voila! A perfect (albeit little bit burnt) pumpkin crostata pie.

Head over to http://thedaringkitchen.com/ to see the recipe and other daring adventures!

Lemon Meringue Pie

This past weekend, there were two birthdays in my suite. One on Friday and my roommates on Sunday. As joint venture between the two, we had a lovely little party on Saturday night. Since they are both known to like a little lemon, I decided to try a lemon meringue pie since I have never made one and I bought a tart pan weeks ago that I have been dying to use.

Since it’s still Passover, I decided to make a tart crust with cake meal, so that I would be able to eat it as well. After much research, and finally discovering that the cake meal box itself gave me the answer, I ventured into tart making territory knowing that I could subsititute 5/8 cup of cake meal for every 1 cup of regular flour. I found that the cake meal made the crust much more crumbly, so I wasn’t able to roll it out, but had to press it into the tart pan bit by bit. I know that this is a big no-no when making pie dough as it can cause shrinkage, but I had no choice.

Making lemon meringue pie is definitely a two day process unless you have ALL DAY to make it. On Friday I made the crust and curd and refrigerated it over night. I made the meringue the next afternoon, but it in the fridge again and it was perfect for serving later that evening. 10 minutes gave me the perfect brown over the meringue, but make sure the meringue stretches all the way to crust, or else it will start to shrink. I think it was a big hit for both the birthday girls and all the guests. I am definitely going to try it again after Passover with an actual flour crust, but it still makes an excellent Pesach treat 🙂

LEMON MERINGUE PIE

(Adapted from joyofbaking.com and ME)

DIRECTIONS:

crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I substituted 1 cup of cake meal)
  • 1/8-teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

lemon curd:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons) (do not use the bottled lemon juice)
  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

meringue:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

INSTRUCTIONS:

crust:

1) In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together the flour and salt.  Set aside.

2) Place the butter in your mixer and beat until softened.  Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg, beating just until incorporated.  Don’t over mix or the butter will separate and lighten in color.

3) Add flour mixture all at once and mix just until it forms a ball.  Don’t overwork or pastry will be hard when baked.

4) Flatten dough into disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until firm.

5) Have ready an 8 – 9 inch (20 – 23 cm) tart pan with removable bottom.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into an 11 – 12 inch (28 – 30 cm) circle that is about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick.  To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards to get uniform thickness). To make sure it is the right size, take your tart pan, flip it over, and place it on the rolled out pastry.  The pastry should be about an inch larger than pan. (I had much issue with using cake flour. If you do use cake flour, you can try using cake flour, otherwise, I just pressed pieces into the tart pan)

6) When the pastry is rolled to the desired size, lightly roll pastry around your rolling pin, dusting off any excess flour as you roll.  Unroll onto top of tart pan.  Never pull pastry or you will get shrinkage (shrinkage is caused by too much pulling of the pastry when placing it in the pan).

7) Gently lay in pan and with a small floured piece of pastry, lightly press pastry into bottom and up sides of pan.  Roll your rolling pin over top of pan to get rid of excess pastry.  With a thumb up movement, again press dough into pan.  Roll rolling pin over top again to get rid of any extra pastry.

8 ) Prick bottom of dough (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes).

9) Cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes to chill the butter and to rest the gluten in the flour.

10) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and place rack in center of oven.  Line unbaked pastry shell with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

11) Fill tart pan with pie weights, rice or beans, making sure the weights are to the top of the pan and evenly distributed over the entire surface.

12) Bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes or until the crust is dry and lightly golden brown.

lemon curd:

1) While the crust is baking make the Lemon Curd.

2) In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended.  Cook, whisking constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes pale in color and quite thick. This will take about 10 minutes.

3) Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps.

4) Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted.

5) Add the lemon zest.  Immediately pour the lemon curd into the baked crust and smooth the top.

6) Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

7) Bake the tart for about 10 minutes or until the lemon curd is firm but still a little wobbly in the center.  Do not let it brown or burn.

meringue:

1) In a clean bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form.

2) Gradually add the sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.

3) Using a spoon, place dollops of the meringue over the entire surface of the hot lemon curd, starting at the outside edge of the tart.  (Make sure the meringue comes right up to the crust and there are no gaps between the crust and the lemon curd.)

4) Then, with the back of your spoon, gently press down on the meringue to get rid of any air pockets and to make sure all the lemon curd is covered with the meringue.  If desired, swirl the meringue making a few decorative peaks.

5) Return the tart to the oven and bake for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the meringue has nicely browned.

6) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool, away from any drafts.  When cool, serve or else cover and refrigerate.

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Am finally back in the lovely city after spending some quality Thanksgiving time in New Mexico. Why was I New Mexico you might ask? Well, my mom has some really good friends out there who she hadn’t seen in ages, so she decided that was where we had to go. Don’t get me wrong, Santa Fe was beautiful – old pueblo houses, lots of open space, and it even snowed! – but I was still the slightest bit bored. I spent a lot of time reading, which was really nice, since I never get to do that anymore. Other than reading and eating an obnoxious amount, I did just about nothing. In retrospect, I guess that’s what having a break is all about, so I can’t really complain. The food we had for our Thanksgiving meal was classic – turkey, gravy, stuffing, veggies, mashed potatoes, and a lovely apple spice pie. A learned a new trick from the pie maker – freeze the butter or shortening and then grate it into the flour to incorperate. I will have to try it next time I make a pie, since testing out different types of dough is one of my favorite things to do. 🙂

Last Sunday, before we all parted our separate ways, my suite-mates and I all decided to have our own Thanksgiving dinner. We all signed up for the classics – turkey, cranberry sauce, yams, green beans, etc. I of course, had to make a dessert. Sadly enough, on the Sunday of our meal, I was required to stay at work for a horrible little meeting to go over holiday sales. It was one of the worst two hours of my life. By the time I got back to the room, everyone was finished eating, but as amazing as they always are, all my suite-mates saved me a bit of everything. And let me just that it was all AMAZING! There was so much food – delicious apple yams, filo dough balls, mixed veggies and more! I gullped everything down in a matter of minutes.

I made pumpkin pie cupcakes, which were exactly as the title puts it – mini pumpkin pies. Thankfully, knowing I was going to be late getting home from work, I made them the night before so they were ready when everyone sat down to eat. They were quite simple to make – just like real pumpkin pie but with a bit of flour and cupcake liners instead of a pie tin. They definitely sink a little bit once they have cooled off, which is why adding a dollop of fresh whipped cream on top is a must. These will definitely go down in my holiday recipe cache for next year.

PUMPKIN PIE CUPCAKES

(Adapted form bakingbites.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or silicone liners.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice

3) In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and evaporated milk until well combined.

4) Add in dry ingredients and whisk until no streaks of flour remain and batter is smooth.

5) Fill each muffin cup with approximately 1/3 cup of batter.

6) Bake for 20 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pan. They will sink as they cool.

7) Chill cupcakes before serving. Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Mixed Berry and Peach Tart

After my recent return from Israel, I immediately went to the library and checked out a dozen baking books, the favorite of which so far has been Baking with Julia Child. I started by making her French apple tart, but decided it could be modified for use with the abundance of berries we had in our freezer. So with a little tinkering with ingredients, some help from my dad, here is what we got.


Crust from Baking with Julia

Filling:

2 pints mixed berries
5 peaches
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch

In a sauce pan, mix together berries, about 2 peaches cut into chunks, the sugar and the cornstarch. Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes until a nice sauce has formed around the berries and peaches. Allow to cool.

Once the berries are cool, pour into pie crust and cover with very thin slices of peaches.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes.

And Voila!

Chocolate Tart

So I made this Chocolate Tart for the pie baking contest we had at my school on Friday. It was actually supposed to be a peppermint tart, but I didn’t realize that we were out of peppermint extract until I was halfway through making it. The original recipe called for a very complicated crust, but I just made a simple oreo crumb crust. It was very dense and chocolaty. It was good, but in the end, I would have loved to have had some peppermint.

Here is the original recipe and crust. I just made a crust of about 20 crushed up oreo wafers and a stick of butter.

The baking contest was so much fun. We had 10 pies which were all so yummy. The strawberry rhubarb was probably my favorite.


Pie Baking Contest!!