How speculoos changed my life (and other birthday treats)

Yesterday was my 22nd birthday. I know, I’m so old! I’m constantly given a look of shock when I say I’m turning 22 (and now can simply say am 22) as opposed to the classic 21 that most of my friends are turning this year. I like to think it makes me wiser this new age of 22. Seriously, 18 is great, 21 is obviously great, but then 22….well, 22 you’re just old now. Obviously I shouldn’t be complaining – I’m not really that old, I live in Paris and after an awful 21st year filled with chemotherapy, PET scans, and the loss of sushi in my life for over 6 months, I think I can pretty safely say 22 will have to be a better year. One of the reasons I know it’s going to be better is because of this little gem of a discovery….

Yes, speculoos spread has changed my life. The way I like to describe it to people is think of those little biscoff cookies on Delta flights. You know? The ones I can never get enough of. Well, speculoos is pretty much biscoff cookies in spread form. Seriously, if it doesn’t surpass nutella and peanut butter on the amazing spread scale, it’s right up with it. It goes on any bread or cracker, or my personal favorite – right on a spoon out of the jar. I have found a lot of pretty spectacular food items here in France, but speculoos tops them all, so far at least. (I have been told that you can find biscoff spread in a jar back in the states, but I have never seen it – have you?)

Knowing my new found obsession, my lovely friend Audrey not only bought me a fresh bottle of speculoos (I’ve gone through one and half in the past 10 days alone) but she also got me the next best thing to speculoos itself – A SPECULOOS COOKBOOK!

It’s so awesome. Not only does it have recipes for sweets, like speculoos cheesecake and speculoos twills, but it has savory dishes as well, like chicken! I’m most looking forward to making baked apples stuffed with mascarpone cheese swirled with speculoos and topped with some speculoos crumble. I promise to update once I delve into some speculoos baking adventures. Got to hand it to Audrey, it was a pretty perfect gift. As you can tell, my other gifts didn’t fall far behind in the food category. Finally, blessed baking soda!!!! 

In the end, I’m now a year a older, but have more baking supplies than I did yesterday, so I can’t really complain. In going with the whole food theme, my best friend Charlotte, who was sadly was over 3000 miles away from me this year, still knew how to pull off all the stops on her gift. She got me a gift certificate to go out to brunch here in Paris!! I think I’m going to hold out on going for just a bit until it gets a bit warmer and I can sit outside, but after dessert, brunch is definitely my favorite meal in the entire world! Thank you so much to everyone who didn’t make me feel so old this year 🙂 Lots more baking to come this year!

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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!

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake

French baking is delicious. The croissants, the chocolate, the bread, etc…. That being said, it’s a different kind of baking than in what I’m used to in America. After making a list of all the things I was going to need for this cake and some other things goodies I plan on baking over my stay here, we realized that there were going to have to be a few changes to the recipes.

The idea of using baking soda in food was completely foreign to everyone I said it to. All of Charlotte’s family members said they might have some for cleaning or brushing their teeth with, but never for baking. After that, I realized that buttermilk was going to pretty hard to come by as well. But perhaps the most impossible of all was molasses. Even trying to describe it was difficult – brown, gooey, syrupy substance that is used in gingerbread (not the appetizing when you think about it in those words). Needless to say, I didn’t even bother looking for it and decided to substitute honey instead.

Being the “professional chef” that I am, I brought my own cake pans and measuring cups all the way from America! Some might make fun of me, but it was a good choice as they might have been hard to come by here, as everyone measures in grams and have my favorite cake pans in the world that I would bring with me anywhere if I knew I needed to make cake. I also brought some canned pumpkin with me to make the cake as Charlotte had all but guaranteed me that we would not find that here. Baking in a kitchen that is not familiar is always a challenge, but I was able to find everything I needed and I think the cake came out just as it would have had it been made on the other side of the Atlantic. I’ve made this cake three times before and I have finally decided that brown butter makes everything better and I shall now make it with every dessert I make in the future.

BROWN BUTTER PUMPKIN LAYER CAKE

(Adapted from Fine Cooking)

INGREDIENTS:

For the cake 

  • 6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter; more for the pans
  • 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pans
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1-1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk

For the topping

  • 1-1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, raw, hulled pepitas (I used walnuts instead)
  • 2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. chopped crystallized ginger

For the frosting 

  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 5 oz. (1-1/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar

DIRECTIONS: 

For the cake

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans with removable bottoms (or butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, butter the parchment, and flour the pans).
  3. Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until cool but not set, about 15 minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk 1-1/2 cups of the pumpkin purée with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and buttermilk until very well blended.
  6. With a rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Gently whisk in the brown butter until completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
  7. Bake the cakes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto racks, remove the pan bottoms or parchment, and cool completely.

For the topping

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the pecans and pepitas and cook until the pecans brown slightly and the pepitas begin to pop, about 2 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle in the brown sugar and salt and stir until the sugar melts and the nuts are glazed, about 2 minutes. Stir in the ginger.
  4. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool in the skillet.

For the frosting

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown.
  2. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until the solids settle at the bottom of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Carefully transfer the bowl to the freezer and chill until just firm, about 18 minutes.
  3. Using a spoon, carefully scrape the butter from bowl, leaving the browned solids at the bottom; discard the solids.
  4. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light in color and the brown sugar has dissolved, 2 minutes.
  5. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

Assemble the cake

  1. Put one cake layer on a cake plate.
  2. Spread 1/2 cup of the frosting on the layer. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the nut mixture over the frosting and top with the second layer.
  3. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.
  4. Arrange the remaining topping in a ring 1-1/2 inches in from the edge of the cake and serve.

Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins

Have I ever mentioned that I like pumpkin 😉 I think it goes without saying that ever since getting this cookbook for my birthday last month, I have been dying to make these muffins! It saddens me so much to think, that while you can buy canned pumpkin anytime of the year, it’s really a fall season flavor. I have decided that I will not let this pumpkin stereotype hinder me and I shall continue to bake with pumpkin all year long, no matter the weather!

These were super easy to make and would be the perfect breakfast muffin if one decided to wake up just 3o minutes early. Once all the wet and dry ingredients have been added together, the dough may seem a little dry, but not worry, as this is normal. Be sure to add some pepitas and extra cheese on top to give it that last boost of yumminess. These are definitely a little bit on the spicy side, but I’m sure one could leave out the cayenne and black pepper and they would still be quite enjoyable.

PUMPKIN CHEDDAR MUFFINS

Adapted from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Revisited

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups (about 4 ounces) grated sharp cheddar
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, optional

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a 12-cup muffin pan.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and sour cream. Add the eggs and butter and whisk until combined.

3) In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper and brown sugar.

4) Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well, and fold until just combined. Fold in three-quarters of the cheese.

5) Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar and the pumpkin sees on top of the muffins. Bake them for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

6) Let the muffin pan cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out the muffins. Serve them warm. Makes 12 muffins.

7) Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

It’s snowing once again in New York. I don’t think it snowed last year for the first time until February and now it only the beginning of January and we’ve already gotten almost 30 inches of snow this winter. Crazy! It’s a good thing I don’t have anywhere to be today, because I don’t plan on leaving the house.

I would love to say that I plan on staying tucked in my bed all day, but given the extreme heater that I have no control over, my room is actually boiling hot, making it necessary that I get out of bed. It’s insane how hot my room gets. It used to be an actual sauna, but the steam seems to have been turned off, thank goodness! No matter the heat in my room, as the idea of cold snow outside still makes me just want to bake.

These cookies pack in a few of my favorite ingredients – pumpkin, oatmeal, and dried cranberries. With the addition of both regular and white chocolate chips, these cookies are a sure crowd pleaser for every taste bud. I didn’t actually have enough of either dark or white chocolate chips, so I just decided to mix them both in instead of just white. I’d say it was a good idea. These were the perfect treat to make on a day stuck indoors. I almost thought I was going to run out of sugar, but luckily had enough, as I would not have been a happy camper going outside just for a cup of sugar.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN OATMEAL COOKIES

(Adapted from Annie’s Eats)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
  • Dash of allspice
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1½ cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

2) In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, spices and salt.  Whisk to blend.

3) In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Blend in the egg and vanilla.  Beat in the pumpkin puree until well incorporated.

4) With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Beat in the oats until combined.  With a rubber spatula, fold in the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries until evenly mixed.

5) Drop in small scoops (about 1½-2 tablespoons) onto prepared baking sheets, spaced 2-3 inches apart.

6) Bake 12-14 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned, rotating the sheets halfway through baking.

7) Allow to cool on the sheets about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

8) Enjoy 🙂

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!

Thanksgiving Recipes

It’s that time of year again, perhaps my favorite time of year, THANKSGIVING! I myself have been planning what I’m going to make for Thanksgiving dessert probably since I left the table last year 😉 This year I’m headed upstate to my uncle’s house where we’re having big ol’ family get together. I’d say about 20 of us will be in and out of the house throughout the course of the weekend, including my roommate, a friend from elementary school and of course all the cousins, uncles, aunts and Poppa.

Now, most Thanksgiving family reunions are not complete without copious amounts of food and my family is no exception. There is always something to eat during a family event of mine, no matter the time of day. The items that we will have on the dinner table are too many to count, but all I know for sure right now is that I’ll be making an epic menu for dessert. Just a few ideas that have popped into my head so far are pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin flan, pecan shortbread and cranberry upside down cake. I’ll probably have to narrow down my choices a bit so I don’t spend all my time baking, but then again, I don’t think I’d mind 😉 I’ll be sure to update once I’ve made up my mind!

Here are just a few recipe ideas that can accompany any Thanksgiving weekend celebration:

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies – A fun treat for kids, adults and everyone in between.

Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies –  A classic cookie with a pumpkin twist.

Pumpkin Muffins – Perfect breakfast for a cool fall day.

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes – Turning pie into cake!

Butternut Squash Soup in a Pumpkin

I tend to write about my baking adventures here on my blog, but after professing my undying love for pumpkin, I just have to tell you about this amazing soup that I made last week. When I saw the cover of Food Network Magazine with a pumpkin on the cover, I bought the magazine without even really noticing what the recipe was, knowing that it was probably going to be something amazing. I was not disappointed. What the photo was showing was actually a small sugar pumpkin, cut open and baked, and then filled with some homemade butternut squash soup.

I purchased all the components for the soup at the farmers’ market around the corner and, the other night, when both my roommate and I were home, I made it. Let me just say once again – I LOVE PUMPKIN! The soup was easy to make, although bear in mind that butternut squash can be rather difficult to cut through, so be careful of your fingers! I probably shouldn’t have baked the lids of the pumpkins as they started to wilt and will probably add some more sugar when they bake next time so they’re a little sweeter when you’re eating the soup.

I love butternut squash and now that I know how easy it is to make I going to have to make it all the time. I think I’m going to stock up on the butternut squash that is always front and center at the farmers’ market so that I can have it all year. A dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream goes a long way and having an immersion blender makes the whole process much easier.

Butternut Squash Soup in a Pumpkin

Adapted from the Food Network Magazine

INGREDIENTS:

for the bowls:

  • 4 small baking pumpkins (such as hooligan or sugar pie),acorn squash or sweet dumpling squash
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Kosher salt

for the soup:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 medium butternut or kuri squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons
  • heavy cream (optional)
  • Freshly groundpepper

optional toppings:

  • pepitas (hulled green pumpkin seeds)
  • sourdough and/or pumpernickelcroutons
  • paprika, chili powder or Spanish pimenton
  • fried onions
  • fried sage or parsley leaves

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2) Use a paring knife to cut a large circle around the stem of each pumpkin (make a zigzag cut, if desired). Remove the lid and scoop out the seeds and fibers.

3) Sprinkle the inside of each with 1/2 teaspoon each sugar and salt. Place the pumpkins and lids on a baking sheet; roast until tender, 20 to 35 minutes, depending on their size.

4) Meanwhile, make the soup: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt.

5) Strip the thyme leaves into the pot, increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the squash and sugar and cook, stirring, until glazed, 3 to 4 minutes.

6) Add 5 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the squash is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

7) Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender, crack the lid to let steam escape and puree until smooth; return to the saucepan (or puree directly in the pan with an immersion blender).

8) Stir in the heavy cream, if desired. Season with salt and pepper, and top as desired.

 

Pumpkin Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s officially fall and you know what that means? PUMPKIN SEASON! There are few things I enjoy more in life than pumpkin-inspired baked goods so you can imagine my delight when stores start stocking pumpkin purée and farmers’ markets have baskets full of sugar pumpkins and assorted squash! I decided to kick off my pumpkin habit this year with some pumpkin cookies that have a kick of chocolate and butterscotch in them.

These are pretty basic chewy pumpkin cookies that have butterscotch and chocolate. According to my roommate, the butterscotch and pumpkin go really well together – or as she put it “it’s like they’re copulating in my mouth”. Pumpkin cookies tend to be a little moist because pumpkin purée is so wet, so I highly recommend spreading them out on a large plate rather then trying to stack them as they will stick to each other.

This is only the first of what I imagine will be many many pumpkin related recipes that I expect to bake in the coming fall months. Today, I went to the local farmers market and bought mini-pumpkins to hopefully bake tomorrow with some squash soup. I also bought some indian corn to add to my the cornucopia-esque center piece in our living room. I’m big into the fall decorations 😉

PUMPKIN BUTTERSCOTCH CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

(Adapted from Joy The Baker)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola or corn oil
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

1) Position a rack in the middle of the oven . Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and butter the paper.

2) Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together in a medium bowl and set aside.

3) In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute.  Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing.

4) On low speed, mix the oil, pumpkin, and vanilla until blended.  Mix in the flour mixture to incorporate it.  Mix in the chips.

5) Using an ice cream scoop with a 1/4-cup capacity, scoop mounds of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies at least 2 1/2-inches apart.

6) Bake the  cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, about 16 minutes.

7) Cool them on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

8) Enjoy!

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.