October 20, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Bars

My husband is currently on the couch complaining that he is too tired from all of our fall activities. He did not however complain about this fall activity - not at all. This is a deliciously simple twist on the classically addictive pumpkin pie. 

Made into bar form and then topped with a crumb topping, these pumpkin pie bars are just like the pie - absolutely addictive. They're spiced just like the original so they won't fail to bring back the flavors of fall. One bite of these will remind you of how wonderful the changing fall colors look and how refreshing the crisp fall air smells. They are so good and they are so fall!

They smell so good baking in the oven as the crust bakes and gives off that delicious pastry smell. Then when the filling bakes, it gives off that autumnal scent of pumpkins, cinnamon, and soon to be yummy in everyone's belly. As usual, I recommend enjoying with a cup of warmed apple cider.

Yup, in case you can't tell. I'm still in love with fall.

Pumpkin Pie Bars
Adapted from somethewiser

For the crust
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
8 tablespoons butter at room temperature

For the filling
8 oz room temperature cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In your food processor, combine everything for the crust and just pulsate a few times until your mixtures resembles breadcrumbs. Reserve 2/3 of these crumbs for your topping. Take the remaining crumbs and press them evenly into a 8x11 (or around that size) baking dish. Bake this bottom layer for 15 minutes and allow to cool. It should look just slightly browned (and smell completely yummy). 

For the filling, combine all of your ingredients into your food processor and blend until completely smooth. Pour over your baked crust and then use your reserved crust crumbs to sprinkle on top for a crumb topping. Bake again at 350 for another 30-35 minutes or until the filling is firm and will withstand to cutting. 

Let your bars cool at room temperature and then cut into them! They'll be delicious, I promise!



October 13, 2012

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

Well this was adorable.

Sam doesn't like/can't make yeast breads. Elyse loves/is awesome at making yeast breads. So we had a cooking lesson!!! We each donned on our own little aprons and Elyse did some teaching.

...and it was worth it. We'll both be making lots of breads now. Look at this! It was amazing to watch the loaves go through two risings, and fill the inside with sugar and then see the swirls of sugar when we ate them...everyday...for only a few days (because then it was gone).

These loaves were puffy, perfect, sweet, really hit a spot that only homemade bread can hit.

I mean, honestly. Who isn't a sucker for that?

Trust me, in keeping with the name of this blog - this cinnamon raisin bread isn't some wimpy white bread loaf with some raisins in it! It's sweet, it's sugary, it is dessert bread. It is worth making! Dare I say, eat it with a glass of warmed apple cider? Perfect fall snack!

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread
Makes 2 loaves

For the bread
2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
1-1/4 (0.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
2 eggs
1/3 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
5-6 cups flour (half of which should be bread flour)
1 cup raisins

For the cinnamon sugar filling
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Combine 2/3 cup water with yeast and a couple tablespoons of the sugar. Set your remaining sugar aside for later. Set your yeast aside and watch it puff up and grow! This will take about 10 minutes depending on how warm your kitchen is. Meanwhile, combine eggs, 1 cup water, and melted butter. Combine 3 cups of flour, the rest of the sugar and salt. Add in your yeast mixture, which should be nice and frothy by now. Mix in the egg and butter mixture and stir in the rest of your flour until you have a pliable dough.

Knead for 5-10 minutes and allow your dough (which you can divide in two) to rise to about twice it's size in a warm place. Try the microwave! This should take about an hour.

Once your dough has doubled, punch it down and knead the raisins into the dough. This way you get beautiful raisins all throughout the bread, not just in the swirls! Roll dough balls into a rectangle so that the width side of the rectangle matches the length of your bread pan. We went for about 1/2 inch thick and it worked perfectly.

Spread the melted butter onto the rectangles and sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar. If you really like your bread sugary you can always add more! Roll your dough up from the width side until you reach the other end of the rectangle (think like a jelly roll, or a ho ho!). For pictures, see Elyse's post: here

Throw these guys into your bread pans that have been coated with some butter and let them rise one more time!

Finally, bake for about 30-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven until golden brown and sounds hollow! IT IS SO GOOD!!!! If you want you can drizzle with some confectioner's sugar glaze too, as you can see we did (depends on your sweet tooth).


Elyse & Sam

Caramel Apples

Apples smothered with delicious homemade caramel...what could be better on a fall afternoon? The ingredients are quite basic. The only thing that really comes in handy is a digital thermometer, because it takes the guess work out of cooking until "soft ball stage." Just throw all the ingredients in the pan and cook until your thermometer reads 246 F. Add apples and enjoy!

Based on this recipe.

8 apples, washed and dried
8 chopsticks or popsicle sticks
2 cups of packed light brown sugar
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1.5 teaspoons salt

For the caramel:
1. In a heavy pot (I used a copper pot), combine light brown sugar and the rest of the ingredients through the salt.
2. Set heat to medium and cook until it reaches 246 F. A digital thermometer really does work best to monitor the temperature accurately. The mixture will be very bubbly so be careful!
3. Take pot off heat. Skewer your apples with the chopsticks/popsicle sticks. Swirl the apples into the caramel and place on a heat proof plate or baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

4. You could drizzle with chocolate, dip in chocolate chips or chopped nuts...whatever you want!



October 5, 2012

Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Cookies

Sooooo this happened. 

These cookies are amazing. Their butter components are browned and thus giving the dough an uh-maize-ing nutty aroma to it. Seriously, amazing.

Then in goes not one, but two types of chocolate chip. Then they're stuffed.with.nutella. 

Reminiscent of the red velvet cookies of yore, these stuffed cookies are a chocolate-y, nutty, amazing, bite of delight.

And that's not all, then they're topped with sea salt - giving you that sweet and salty combination that we all know and love. So good, they're deliciousness can only be described by taste, words just don't do it justice!

Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Cookies
Adapted from: ambitiouskitchen

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg and 1 egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 jar nutella
sea salt (for sprinkling) - optional

1. Brown the butter: in a small saucepan, heat your 2 sticks of butter on medium heat while constantly whisking. The butter will turn foamy, and then clear. Shortly after, the sides and bottom of your saucepan will start to be coated with a brown colored butter product and your saucepan will start to smell like toasted, nutty, caramel, autumn goodness (I was so happy to smell this smell). As soon as this happens, turn off the heat and pour your butter in a bowl to let it cool for a few minutes.

2. Make the dough: once your butter has cooled a bit, add in your sugars. Then drop in the egg, extract, and yogurt. Mix until well incorporated. Add in your flour, baking soda, and salt. Fold in your two chocolates and chill for 2 hours in the fridge.

3. Stuffing the cookies: once your dough is slightly chilled, take out a whopping tablespoon or so and flatten the dough out into little pancakes into your hand. Then, drop some nutella in the middle. I used a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon to dollop some into the cookie. Carefully fold over the sides of the cookie dough making a little nutella dumpling. The key is to make your cookie pancake nice and big, but not too thin. That way when you roll the dough around the nutella, you'll ensure a good seal.

4. Baking & salting the cookies: bake the cookies about 1 inch apart in a 375 degree oven for about 9 minutes. Take them out even if they don't look quite done and let carry over cooking do the rest. As soon as they are out, sprinkle with a little bit of salt and press down the tops of the cookies to flatten (and pressing in the salt as well!) with the back of a spoon! Let them cool and then...

5. Eating the cookies: just make sure you lick any residual nutella off your fingers.