Archive | October, 2011

Challenge #5: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

27 Oct
Now, for our next challenge, I need something to take to our next-door neighbors’ Halloween shindig on Saturday, and I know the perfect thing: pumpkin whoopie pies. It’s kind of like a cupcake with the frosting in the middle and kind of like an Oreo. One of my coworkers suggested them, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.
For this challenge, I’ve found several recipes and can’t decide which to use yet (some include chocolate, pumpkin, sprinkles, maple, nuts). So I’ll put them all here, and we can decide if we want to use just one or adapt them. There are a lot of recipes out there, but let’s see if we can’t make the best of the best.
2. Bon Apetit pumpkin whoopie pie (marshmallow creme)
4. Brown Eyed Baker pumpkin whoopie pie (maple, cream cheese)
Also, here’s a bonus salted pumpkin caramel recipe, courtesy of my mom.
Happy Halloween!
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Pumpkin Gingerbread Cookies: Portland

27 Oct
When October hits, I go absolutely crazy about pumpkin and it seems like inspiration is around every corner. Especially now that I have time to bake this fall without being in school, I’m putting pumpkin into practically everything. Let’s take a quick look at how pumpkin as figured into my kitchen the past week.
  1. Pumpkin chili with curry (delicious with cilantro and sour cream)
  2. Pumpkin latkes (worked fine, but pumpkin flavor got lost)
  3. Pumpkin gingerbread cookies (amazingly crisp and delicious)
  4. Pumpkin seeds roasted with olive oil and curry powder (homemade, of course)
  5. Pumpkin spice tea (Republic of Tea let me down; wasn’t as good as I thought)
And that’s not even counting another seasonal favorite: apples. In one day, my entire diet consisted of pumpkin and apple-related entrees.
But enough of my pumpkin zealotry. On to the baking.

Can you spot the secret ingredient? (Hint: It’s always Tillamook butter.)

After your standard separate mixing of the dry and wet ingredients, I used my makeshift rolling pin (aka the baking spray can) to roll the dough into a lovely circle. I was amazed at the consistency of this dough. Although it said to chill for 2 hours, I probably went for 1 and it turned out just fine. No doubt, it had to be the pumpkin.
The fun part of cookies is always cutting them out and decorating them, though truth be told, this is also why I rather dislike making cookies except for every once or twice a year. But this time I got to roll out my new Halloween cookie cutters, and I can’t wait to do this same with the giant Christmas set Hannah gave me a couple years ago. Like I said, for me, cookies are seasonal.

This batch made a ton of cookies, and I secretly kept some of the dough in the fridge for me to nibble on (cause it was just as good as the actual cookies). While I let them cool after baking (kudos to me on finally figuring out the gas oven temperature situation and actually devoting enough time to look after my baking), I started on the icing. I also scoped out this set of Halloween/fall sprinkles, which I suspect will last me for years.

Because I took most of the cookies to work, I only frosted the top four in my tupperware, but Eileen helped frost and sprinkle some for the house. We ate many a cookie at home, and at work, all the copy editors (who really love food) goblined them up (yes, a pun).

Pumpkin Gingerbread Cookies: Denver

25 Oct

Whelp, I made these cookies like a week ago and am just now getting around to posting the blog. Is this because I’m busy? Sure isn’t. I don’t have a job. It is just because I am lazy.  These cookies were BUHLICIOUS, though, and I wish they weren’t all eaten.  I would have doubled the pumpkin if I could make them again (and, oh, I will be making them again).

Mix dry, mix wet, combine; pretty simple. I substituted baking soda for baking powder – I never understand why recipes use baking SODA with no base to cause the reaction to make it rise….sure, the soda will decay a little in heat but I prefer the leavening power of baking POWDER.

I made a double batch of dough, because I plan to mail some of the cookies to my friend Drew for his birthday, and want to keep some for myself! I baked a few batches, then put the rest of the dough back in the fridge overnight.  The next morning, I got up and finished baking the rest of the cookies.  I didn’t have any halloween-type cookie cutters, and I am unemployed (read: broke), so I had to make do with what shapes I had. I made some circles, with plans to decorate them like Jack-O-Lanterns, and then I made some SWEET SCIENCE SHAPES.  As a housewarming gift, my friend Chris got me a set of cookie cutter that comprised an erlenmeyer flask, a test tube, a Rutherford model of the atom, and a normal graduated flask. I am stoked about these science cookie cutters and am thrilled to use them for the first time.  Here they are!

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This dough turned out beautifully, with a silky texture and an awesome color:

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So, I rolled it out, cut out my shapes, and popped them in the oven. Wait time!

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Finally, left ’em to cool overnight.

The next morning, I got up, STOKED to decorate. Seriously. I usually hate decorating cookies but I was so excited. I made a double-batch of royal icing, got out my decorator (I use a squeeze-bottle, like one you’d put mustard in), and got to it. I wanted to flood most of my cookies with icing, so I started by outlining all of them with plain white icing. All of them. Like three dozen. About halfway through this process (read: an hour in), I remembered why I hate decorating cookies.

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BUT, once I started doing real decorating, I remembered that decorating cookies is also fun sometimes. I wanted my potions and whatnot to be green, and I thought it would be fun to do purple.  The cookies I sent to Drew were shaped like pumpkins, so I had some orange guys in there, too.

I am so proud of how these turned out! They looked better than my usual homemade, home-decorated cookie (not saying much; they usually look like I got drunk and then tried to decorate them with a fork).  They were also delicious.  Look at how cute they were. Pumpkin cookies! SCIENCE COOKIES! DNA COOKIES! TEST TUBE COOKIES!

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This one had a virus on it.

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The atoms were, however, by far my favorite.

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I also really liked that one with the poison symbol on it. And that test tube that just had “DNA” written on it…like real DNA. They call it that because it forms macromolecules that look like the letters “DNA”. Duh.

Challenge #4: Pumpkin Gingerbread Cookies

13 Oct

Alright, folks. For our next challenge, we’ll be doing pumpkin gingerbread cookies.

Our SOURCE RECIPE decorated its cookies for Christmas, but I challenge us to be creative in whichever shapes we make and however we want to decorate ours.

I have some ideas, and I can’t wait to see what NJ comes up with.

Sucre a la Creme: Denver

12 Oct

Full disclosure: I am dating a French Canadian man.  This provides for a fair amount of joke fodder (think: mooses and Mounties) and he is, overall, a good sport about my Canada teasing. Not that he doesn’t bring it on himself sometimes: this last weekend, I had to wait with my pancake batter for him to go out and get some maple syrup, because we were out of it and powdered sugar simply would not do.  ANYWAY, my personal life is beside the point. The point is: when Nora and I lived together, I always had backup on my Canada jokes, and I miss her sassy style.

Actually, I realized as I was cooking it that Sucre A La Creme is actually the filling of a Québécois dessert that the Boy has made me before: Sugar Pie.  The first time I had sugar pie, I realized that it was basically pecan pie without the pecans – so, basically, the best food ever.  However, based on the Québécois cuisines I’ve eaten so far, it is a mystery to me how French Canadians don’t have the world’s highest rate of heart disease.

My fudge was gooey, and that’s also a mystery, because I was sure to let it boil long and hot enough. I wonder if I added too much evaporated milk – it comes in 12 oz. cans here, and the recipe called for 5 oz, so I eyeballed it.  No matter what it was that went wrong, my Sucre A La Creme was a little goopy. This is not to say that  I am above eating it with a spoon…ha.  It would make a good ice cream topping.  It just didn’t cut into nice, clean, squares the way I wanted it to.

I melted some glorious butter:

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And then I added the rest and let it all boil together. This went smoothly but I forgot to take pictures because I was busy thinking about my brand-spanking-new golden pan that I had just purchased:

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Then, presto! It was ready to go in the pan.

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While it was taking the first fifteen-minute chill, I enjoyed the scalding hot spoils of my whisk, and then decided to start on a pomander, because it just isn’t autumn without these lovlies hanging around the house.

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It’s too bad it didn’t turn out perfectly, but it was still delicious.  Mmm!

Sucre a la Creme: Portland

10 Oct

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to one and all!
And what easier way to celebrate than brown sugar, butter and cream melted into a delicious maple concoction, then mixed with more sugar and left to set.

The most difficult part, and I mean only part where I needed to pay attention, was the stage at which you bring the brown sugar, butter and evaporated milk to a boil — and then boil for almost 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
I’ve never really worked with sugar-butter syrups before, so this was a new consistency of sauce for me. Things got a bit messy, as I sloshed and spilled, inevitably, all over the st
ove, but smelling that syrup come together was worth the time and the cleanup.
And after it’s done boiling, all it needs is to chill out for 15 minutes in the fridge (you can tell it’s fall because everything in my house is pumpkin something or other).
Once again, the French (Canadians) know how to make me happy (hint: it’s with butter).

Challenge #3: Sucre a la Creme

6 Oct

It sounds super fancy, but really, it’s just French Canadian fudge. I’ve always wanted to make fudge, and now I have an occasion: Canadian Thanksgiving.

Instead of celebrating Columbus Day on Monday, we’re having a Canadian Thanksgiving game night, featuring poutine (something Hannah’s already tackled and converted me on) and a Quebecois maple fudge. And I’m assuming LaBoris, in all his French Canadian glory, will enjoy the homage.

With only five ingredients, this fudge seems like a pretty simple sweet tooth satisfier.