Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pumpkin Pie with a Graham Cracker Crust

Pumpkin pie is such a traditional fall treat. It makes the apartment smell so wonderful. For my pumpkin pies, I like to use a graham cracker crust. Also, instead of the traditional evaporated milk, I like to use sweetened condensed milk and then omit any other sugar from the recipe. I think the sweetened condensed milk makes the pie fluffier. Even though I'm not adding any sugar to the pie itself, I like to add some brown sugar to the top of the pie, kind of like a streusal topping. A nice addition to the streusal topping could be walnuts. You'll see in the picture to the left that I did not spread the topping all over the pie, but that is definitely something you could do. Also, one last thing, I never measure any of the spices I add; I think that's a bit boring. I also usually only use cinnamon and nutmeg in my pies; I just don't like the taste of ginger. And if you have fine sea salt, use that.

Graham Cracker Crust:

1.5 cups finely ground graham crackers
6 tbs butter- melted
1/3 cup sugar

Use a rolling pin to mash the graham crackers. Put them in a bowl and add the sugar. Finally add the butter to this mixture and blend with spoon until all the dry ingredients are coated with butter.
Press into a 9" pie plate.

Bake this at 375 degrees for 7 minutes. 

Pie Filling:

(Recipe courtesy of username jkaplan86, but with my substitutions)

15 oz pumpkin (not pie filling)
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 425.
Mix all ingredients together. Place in the already baked crust.
Cover the crust with a thin strip of foil so it does not burn.
Bake at this temperature for 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 35-40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
After about 30 minutes in the oven, remove the foil and add the streusal topping. Before doing this, however, stick a knife in the middle, it should look fairly clean. You don't want to take the foil off and put the topping on too early.

Enjoy with whipped cream /or vanilla ice cream!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Apple Crumble Pie

Yesterday we did the quintessential fall picking and pumpkin picking. I even got a mum. So of course I had to make an apple pie. I don't like apple pies with a top and bottom crust so instead I make apple crumble pies with a bottom crust and a streusal topping.

I'm not a master homemade crust maker at all, but I refuse to buy pre-made crusts. My crusts never come out looking pretty, but they always taste alright, so I suggest you try making your own crust because it really isn't that hard.

After much experimentation, this is my recipe for a single crust pie:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup shortening
pinch salt
enough water to form a ball

Combine the flour, salt, and shortening with a pastry blender or your hands:)
Put in a little water at a time while working to form the dough into a ball. Use as little water as possible to form the ball.

After forming the ball, it's a good idea to refrigerate it for a little bit because that makes it easier to roll out, but that's totally up to you.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and transfer to a 9" pie dish leaving a 1" overhang. Make a pretty edge with the overhang if you want.

Here's the pie recipe:

5 cups apples - peeled, cored and thinly sliced- add some lemon juice to prevent browning. Put in a bowl
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup white sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons butter

Here's an alternate topping recipe:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C.) 
  • Mix 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over apples. 
  • Put this mixture in the pie dish
  • Make the topping recipe of your choice. For both recipes, you will combine the dry ingredients and cut in the butter to make a crumbly topping. 
  • Spoon topping over apples. Be sure to cover all the apples.
  • Cut a thin strip of foil. Cover the edges of the pie crust with the foil and bake like this for the first 30-35 mins. Take the foil off and bake for the remaining time (about 5-10 mins). The top should be browned and the apples soft to the touch.
Here's how it should look when it goes in the oven:

You should let the pie cool all the way before serving so the juices soak up. You don't want to freak out when you think you've made a pie that's too liquidy! Don't forget the ice cream!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pumpkin Donut Holes

It's not like we don't already have a huge chocolate cake in the refrigerator already, but I decided to make pumpkin pie donut holes anyway just for fun. I'm sure they'll get eaten ;)

They don't come out perfectly round like the ones at Dunkin Donuts, but that's ok. These are unique and not done by some machine.

The recipe says to use a quart of oil, but that's WAY too much. I'd say to use about 2". Make sure to keep the temperature at a steady 375 degrees or else they might come out heavy and oily.  Otherwise, this is a really easy and fun recipe!

Pumpkin Donut Holes

(recipe courtesy of
1 1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. canned pumpkin
1/4 c. milk- I used skim
2 tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Oil for deep frying

In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg; blend well. Combine pumpkin, milk, oil, vanilla and egg.
Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.In deep fat fryer or heavy saucepan, heat 1 quart oil to 375 degrees.
Drop by teaspoonfuls into hot oil, 5-6 at a time.
Fry doughnut drops 1-1 1/2 minutes on each side until brown.
Drain on paper towel.

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon; roll warm doughnuts in mixture.
Makes 30-36 doughnut drops.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Chocolate Cake with Ganache Topping and Whipped Ganache Filling

I made the Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake once and it came out so good, but I thought I would try a different recipe this round, so I chose this one from I added the frosting recipe to this entry in case frosting is more your style, but I used ganache instead, which is basically a smooth mixture of cream and chocolate. How can you go wrong there? Ganache was either invented in France or Switzerland, nobody knows for sure. The Swiss have great chocolate and the French have great bakers, so who really knows. Anyway, all of this happened in the year 1850. Anyway, I digress.

The ganache recipe below makes just enough for the top of the cake and the middle layer. If you're putting ganache in the middle layer, you'll want to whip it, so after it comes off the stove, take some out of the bowl and transfer it to another bowl to whip. Do this until it is a fluffy texture. The remaining can be poured over the cake. Smooth it with a metal spatula so it looks nice and smooth. I don't have a metal spatula, so mine did not come out as nice and smooth as I would have liked. Also, the recipe below calls for butter, which is a nice addition because it makes the ganache look super shiny. You can also add light corn syrup instead of the butter. Ganache should be poured over a cooled cake. Maybe even refrigerate the layers for about half an hour.

Anyway, here are the recipes:


Stern, Bonnie. 'Desserts'. Random House of Canada Limited. Toronto: 1988.
Yockelson, Lisa. 'Chocolate'. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. New Jersey: 2005

Chocolate Cake:
4 ounces (120 grams) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup (28 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
1 cup (240 ml) boiling water
2 1/4 cups (315 grams) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (400 grams) granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) milk

5 ounces (140 grams) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup (80 ml) milk
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
4 cups (1 pound) (454 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted to remove lumps
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

8 ounces (227 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter
1 tablespoons cognac or brandy (optional)

Cake Recipe:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter, or spray with a nonstick vegetable spray, and line with parchment paper, two - 9 x 2 inch deep (23 x 5 cm) round baking pans. Set aside.
In a stainless steel or heatproof bowl place the chopped unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder. Pour the boiling water over the chocolate and cocoa powder and stir until they have melted. Set aside to cool while you make the batter.

In a separate bowl, whisk to combine, the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is fluffy (this will take about 3-5 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and melted chocolate mixture and beat to combine.
Add the milk and flour mixtures in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat only until the ingredients are incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for about 35 - 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Butter or lightly spray a wire rack with Pam before inverting the cakes onto the rack to prevent the cakes from sticking. Cool the cakes completely before frosting.

Ganache Recipe:  
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream and butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil.  Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth. If desired, add the liqueur.
Makes enough ganache to cover a 9 inch (23 cm) cake or torte

Frosting Recipe:

Melt the chopped chocolate in a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool. Then place the melted chocolate, milk, confectioners sugar, salt, and vanilla extract in the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, you can use a hand mixer.) Add the pieces of softened butter and beat on low speed for about 2 minutes. When the frosting starts to come together increase the speed to medium and beat for about 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the speed to high and beat the frosting for 1 - 2 minutes more or until it is of spreading consistency. If necessary, add more milk or sugar.
To Assemble: Place one layer of cake, top side down, on your serving plate and cover with a layer of frosting. Then place the second layer of cake, top side down, onto the first cake layer and then frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Can garnish with fresh fruit or shaved chocolate.
Serves 8 - 10 people. 

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Black Bottom Cupcakes

What can beat a chocolate cupcake with a cheesecake filling?! These are like little chocolate cheesecakes, but without all the work of a regular cheesecake! They're not very sweet, which can either be a good or bad thing! Bad because you can pop a million of these little things. You can make them in the full size, but I prefer mini just because they are such an easy snack to just grab.

Here are some ideas that seemed to work as I was making them:

When pouring the chocolate batter into the muffin cups, only fill to half. Use a tablespoon measure to measure out the appropriate amount of cream cheese to ensure you have enough. Be generous with it! This picture is dark, but they should look like this when you go to put them in the oven:

You'll notice the recipe calls for cocoa, I used regular Nestlea cocoa, nothing fancy. Also, the recipe calls for semi-sweet chocolate, but I happened to have a bag of regular chocolate morsels already open, so I used that instead.

The recipe says it yields 30 mini cupcakes, which is quite accurate. The second time around, I put a little too much batter in the muffin cups, so they were a little bigger than I wanted them to be. So make sure, like I said, to only fill half way with the chocolate batter. Also, if doing mini cupcakes, bake only about 15 minutes depending on your oven.

Black-Bottom Cupcakes
The Great Book of Chocolate, David Lebovitz
Yield: 12 full-size or approximately 30 mini cupcakes

For the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, regular or reduced fat, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup unflavored vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the filling: Beat together the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in the chopped chocolate pieces. Set aside.

Make the cupcakes:
1. Adjust the rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F (175°C). Butter, or use non-stick spray, a 12-cup muffin tin, or line the tin with paper muffin cups. Or use a mini cupcake tray instead.
2. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla.
3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients, stirring until just smooth. Stir any longer and you will over mix the batter and end up with less-than-tender cupcakes.
4. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Spoon a few tablespoons* of the filling into the center of each cupcake, dividing the filling evenly. This will fill the cups almost completely,** which is fine.
5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown and the cupcakes feel springy when gently pressed. These moist treats will keep well unrefrigerated for 2 to 3 days if stored in an airtight container.

Don't worry if the cream cheese isn't centered; that's what makes each one unique!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Coffeehouse Buttermilk Scones....again

I decided to make the same scone recipe this morning as I did yesterday because they came out so good. This time I used more non-stick spray on the foil and they didn't stick at all.

Tonight, or sometime this week because there are so many scones to eat, hopefully I will make some cupcakes or those Apple Cider donuts from Food Network Magazine I talked about.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Coffeehouse Buttermilk Scones

I had a ton of buttermilk leftover from making the Apple Cider donuts last weekend, so I needed to find a recipe that used buttermilk. I never made scones before, so I decided to give this recipe from a try. They came out perfectly. I really like the flavor they have. I didn't have parchment paper home, so I used foil and I sprayed it with a very little bit of non-stick spray. They stuck ALOT, but I think using more non-stick spray would have worked well. I baked them for 15 minutes and left them in the broiler for a little more than a few seconds on each side of the pan (I rotated it once). But timing all depends on your oven/broiler.

(recipe courtesy of as adapted from Sara Foster's The Foster's Market Cookbook and Ina Garten's The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook)

2 cups (280 grams) all purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (113 grams) (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
2/3 cup (160 ml) buttermilk
Egg mixture for brushing tops of scones:
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and place rack in middle of oven. Stack two baking sheets together and line the top baking sheet with parchment paper. (This prevents the bottoms of the scones from over browning during baking.)
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Add the buttermilk to the flour mixture and stir just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix the dough.
Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead dough gently four or five times and then pat, or roll, the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches (18 cm) round and about 11/2 inches (3.75 cm) thick. Cut this circle in half, then cut each half into 3 pie-shaped wedges (triangles). Place the scones on the baking sheet. Make an egg wash of one well-beaten egg mixed with 1 tablespoon milk and brush the tops of the scones with this mixture.
Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and then turn your broiler on high. Sift confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar heavily over the tops of the scones and place them under the broiler. Broil for just a few seconds, turning the pan as necessary, until the sugar has melted and turns golden brown. Make sure to watch the scones carefully as the sugar will burn very quickly. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Makes 6 scones.