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Bringing Home the Bakin'

bake my cake and eat it, too

I’m so unapologetically turned off by the traditional marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes served on Thanksgiving.  Sweet potatoes are sweet enough as it is, and adding gelatinous sugar to the top seems entirely unnecessary.  These potatoes, while slightly sweetened, have much more of a “spiced” feel, letting the natural sweetness of the potatoes shine through.

Southern Candied Yams – Lawfully Wedded Wife

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 6 c. cubed sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 1 T. molasses
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. ginger
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring 1/2 c. water to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  3. Once the water is boiling, add in the sweet potato cubes and put the lid on. Allow the potatoes to steam for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes turn bright orange in color.
  4. While the potatoes are steaming, bring the oil, sugar, and spices to a simmer in a skillet over medium-low heat. Whisk together over the heat just until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture thickens.
  5. Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in the molasses. Set aside.
  6. Drain the potatoes and place them in a large bowl.
  7. Pour the hot sauce over the drained potatoes. Gently mix with a spatula to coat the potatoes in sauce.
  8. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and brown.
  9. Cool and serve.
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Forgive me for neglecting to photograph the most important process: the marbling.  This tart really was a stand out, though — such a fun and unique twist to the traditional pumpkin pie.

Marbled Pumpkin Gingersnap Tart – Deb Perelman, of Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

Crust
4 ounces (115 grams) gingersnap cookies (about 16 cookies), coarsely broken
3 ounces (85 grams) graham crackers (five and a half 2 1/2 x 4 7/8-inch graham cracker sheets)
4 Tablespoons (55 grams or ½ stick) salted butter, melted

Cheesecake Batter
4 ounces (115 grams) cream cheese, well softened
3 Tablespoons (40 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk

Pumpkin Batter
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 1/4 cups (10½ ounces or 300 grams, about 1/2-3/4 of a 15-ounce can) pumpkin purée
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
few fresh gratings of nutmeg
1 cup (235 ml) heavy cream

Directions:

Make crust
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Remove any children sensitive to loud noises from the premises, and finely grind the gingersnaps and graham crackers in a food processor (yielding 1½ cups). Add the melted butter, and process until the cookie- crumb mixture is moistened. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9- inch- diameter tart pan with removable bottom. (I like to use the bottom and outer side of a measuring cup to help pack the crumbs into the base and neatly up the walls of my crumb crusts.) Place pan on rimmed baking sheet.

Make Cheesecake Batter
Mix together the ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.

Make Pumpkin Batter
Beat the egg and the egg white lightly in a large bowl. Whisk in the pumpkin, sugars, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Gradually whisk in the cream.

Assemble Tart
Pour the pumpkin batter into gingersnap-graham crust. Dollop the cheesecake batter over pumpkin batter, then marble the two together decoratively with a knife. Try not to pierce the bottom crust as you do. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

To Serve
Cool the tart completely on a rack, or in the fridge if you, like me, prefer it cold. Serve immediately, and refrigerate any leftovers. Theoretically, it keeps for several days, but the crumb crust will get a little soft on the bottom after day one.

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Looks definitely do not do this cookie justice.  True to their name, they are the perfect mix between a cookie and a brownie (fudgy, crispy, AND chewy, all at the same time), and the deep chocolate flavor really comes through.  If you’re planning to make these (which you should be),  make sure to keep in mind that you MUST freeze the dough for an hour before baking.

Chocolate Brownie Cookies – Belinda Leong (Food and Wine Magazine)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • One 12-ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chopped chocolate with the butter, stirring a few times, until smooth, about 7 minutes.
  2. In another large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar at medium speed until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and salt. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the melted chocolate, then fold in the flour and baking powder. Stir in the chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into a shallow baking dish, cover and freeze until well chilled and firm, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Working in batches, scoop 2-tablespoon-size mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the cookies are dry around the edges and cracked on top. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely before serving.

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This is easily one of the best apple desserts I’ve ever made.  It was tart, but not sour; spiced, but not spicy; soft, but not mushy; in other words, it was near perfect.  Food and Wine recommends serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but I opted to serve it with a generous scoop of Jeni’s ‘Salty Caramel’ ice cream instead — it was a fantastic addition.

Apple Crisp with Sweet Ginger and Macadamia Nuts – Food and Wine Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 3/4 cup macadamia nuts, finely chopped
  • 3 1/2 pounds large Granny Smith apples (about 7)—peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger (2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° and position a rack in the lower third. In a food processor, pulse the flour with the brown sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas. Add the macadamia nuts and pulse twice, just until combined.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the crystallized ginger, granulated sugar, lime zest, lime juice and a pinch of salt. Spread the apples in a shallow 3-quart baking dish. Sprinkle the topping over the apples and press gently. Bake the crisp for 50 minutes, until bubbling and the top is golden. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving with ice cream.
MAKE AHEAD The crisp can be refrigerated overnight. Rewarm before serving

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My mom and I are constantly searching for new recipes, and coincidentally, we both sought out the same side salad last week.  I took that as a sign that it would be delicious, and I was right — this salad is not only delicious, but also it’s a beautiful, colorful addition to any plate (and it’s perfect for fall, as the colors of the salad mimic the colors of the changing fall leaves)!

Beet and Pomegranate Salad – LA Times

serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 medium beets
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate concentrate or molasses
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 small, dried red chile peppers, crushed
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup lightly flavored olive oil

Directions:

1. Cook the beets in a covered medium saucepan of boiling water until tender, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool, peel and cut into very small dice. Place in a medium bowl.

2. Add the pomegranate concentrate, lemon juice, peppers, one-eighth teaspoon sea salt, or to taste, and combine. Set aside for about 15 minutes.

3. Toss the beets with the cilantro leaves and pomegranate seeds, drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Each serving: 118 calories; 1 gram protein; 9 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 9 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat;0 cholesterol; 24 mg. sodium.

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A long time ago, I posted a recipe for biscotti.  I raved about how good they were, and encouraged all of my readers to make them, as well.  The guilt has been eating me up, and I think it’s finally time for me to come clean — they were terrible.  I was VERY new to blogging at the time, and I was so embarrassed by what a catastrophe they were (my mom swears she almost broke a tooth) so I did what any immature teenager would do: lie.  Thankfully, I’ve come a long way since that post.

When I was home for fall break last week, it was only natural for me to bake something, and this time I knew exactly what it was I was meant to bake.  I re-attempted the biscotti (albeit a different recipe), and this time, I can assure you that they were FANTASTIC!  My family could not stop raving about these delightful coffee dunkers… so much so that I had to make a second batch (in the same day).  These were MUCH easier to make than I expected, and I know I will be making these again soon.

Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti – Gourmet Magazine, 1994

yield: 30

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (I omitted these)
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate for more of a flavor contrast)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. and butter and flour a large baking sheet.

In a bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until combined well. Stir in flour mixture to form a stiff dough. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.

On prepared baking sheet with floured hands form dough into two slightly flattened logs, each 12 inches long and 2 inches wide, and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Bake logs 35 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. Cool biscotti on baking sheet 5 minutes.

On a cutting board cut biscotti diagonally into 3/4-inch slices. Arrange biscotti, cut sides down, on baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool biscotti on a rack. Biscotti keep in airtight containers 1 week and frozen, 1 month.

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I was convinced that I was the only person (apart from maybe my parents) that really, truly tracked the progress of my blog.  I wrongly assumed that no one really followed my culinary escapades; much to my surprise and excitement, these past few months, I have received SO many requests for new posts from so many different people.  I apologize for the unnecessarily long hiatus, but I’m back (for now) with some great recipes to share.  I’d highly recommend this cake — it’s delicious, easy-ish, and really impressive.

Rich Chocolate Cake with Salty Dulce de Leche & Hazelnut Brittle – One Girl Cookies (via Epicurious)

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon table salt

Hazelnut Brittle

  • 1/2 cup whole unsalted hazelnuts, skins removed
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt

Salty Dulce de Leche

  • 1/2 cup dulce de leche
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Preparation:

Cake

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 10-inch round cake pan by greasing it with cooking spray and then lining the bottom with parchment paper.

2. To make the cake, pour the hot coffee into a medium bowl and stir in the cocoa powder until it dissolves. Stir in the brown sugar, followed by the yogurt and the vanilla. Stir thoroughly to ensure that all of the ingredients are incorporated.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light-yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs and mix for 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer running on low speed, mix in a third of the flour mixture and half of the coffee mixture. Scrape down the bowl. Add another third of the flour mixture and all the remaining coffee mixture. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining flour mixture until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.

5. Bake for 25 minutes. Rotate the pan in the oven and bake for 20 more minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Then turn the cake out onto a clean plate, remove the parchment, and turn the cake back over onto a wire rack. Let the cake cool completely.

Brittle

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Put the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 15 minutes until browned and fragrant. Let cool.

Prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium heat. Whisk in the sugar and corn syrup, and bring to a boil. Continue whisking constantly until the syrup is a rich amber color, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully whisk in the baking soda and salt. Stir in the hazelnuts and then pour the contents of the pan onto the prepared baking sheet and spread it out into a thin layer. Let the brittle cool completely.

Break the brittle into 2-inch pieces. The brittle will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Composition:

6. In a food processor, pulse the brittle pieces 3 to 4 times until the brittle is powdery.

7. Put the cooled cake on a serving dish. In a microwave-safe dish, heat the dulce de leche on high power for 30 seconds, or until it is just liquid. Spoon the dulce de leche over the cake, and then sprinkle the kosher salt over the dulce de leche. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the ground brittle around the outer edge of the cake as a delicious decoration.

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