Friday, October 13, 2017

Pumpkin Cheesecake Filled Brownies

It’s fall, and the world becomes crazy for pumpkin. If you read this blog regularly, you might remember that I don’t like pumpkin very much. Yet I feel compelled to make a couple of pumpkin things each year. I don’t like that pumpkin tends to lend a sticky feel to anything you bake with it, so my goal is to find recipes where that sticky texture in minimized. I’ve found a couple of recipes that I think will be great.

This recipe only calls for ½ cup of pumpkin, so I figured that it would lend the flavor of pumpkin without the strange texture. You mix the pumpkin with cream cheese and pumpkin pie spice, which then becomes the filling of a lovely brownie. Pumpkin pie spice is simply a combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. I thought I had some on hand, but I didn’t so I was able to just use my own combination of spices. I sometimes also use Chinese five spice powder, which I find to be very interesting in recipes.

These bars take some time, as you need to allow them to cool completely before topping with ganache and cutting into bars. I made the bars one day, put them in the refrigerator, and then finished them the next. This was very convenient, and worked the best for me as I had other plans the night I typically bake. These cut beautifully (use a warm knife so that the cuts are clean). The spicy flavor of the filling pairs so well with dark chocolate brownie. As someone who doesn’t like pumpkin all that much, these are so good and I can’t wait to make them again!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Filled Brownies
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter, shortening, sugar, and brown sugar on medium until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix again to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa powder. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture and stir just until combined.

Divide the dough in halves. Press half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Make the filling: in a large mixer bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium until smooth. Add the egg, pumpkin puree and pie spice and mix on medium until smooth. Spread the filling over the dough in the pan. Top with the remaining dough, covering the pumpkin filling as much as possible. The top layer won’t be perfect.

Bake for 30 minutes. Allow the bars to cool for 2 hours before topping.

Make the ganache topping. Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Microwave the cream for 45-60 seconds, just before it boils. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Whisk the mixture, until it becomes dark and shiny. Pour the ganache over the cooled bars. Allow the chocolate to set for about 2 hours before cutting into bars. Store in the refrigerator.

Recipe from Inside BruCrew Life

Friday, October 6, 2017

Apple Cider Cookies

Last weekend, my husband and I went to a local farm. It was a lovely fall day and it was fun to explore their produce. This farm is most known for its frozen fruits and pies, but they have a wealth of other products. We were hoping that they would have local apple cider, because there’s nothing better than fresh cider in the fall. While they didn’t make their own cider, they had some other local cider for sale.

We don’t normally drink a lot of juice at home, so I figured that if I could find a recipe that used some cider, that would be great. I came across this recipe, and while it didn’t use all that much cider, the combination of flavors was fabulous. Nothing is better than cinnamon and nutmeg. You can add other mix-ins, such as nuts, dried fruit. I didn’t add anything additional, and even omitted the diced apple that the original recipe included.

This recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies. I made them slightly larger than I typically do. Mine spread a lot, perhaps too much, so I added some additional flour to the recipe as written here. These cookies do brown a lot, darker than I usually like. They aren’t over baked, and they are super soft when they come out of the oven. They crisp up as they cool and become a thin, lovely cookie. They are very buttery with a hint of the cider flavor. While these turned out differently than expected, they are very tasty.

Apple Cider Cookies
2-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ cup butter, room temperature
1⅓ c. packed brown sugar
1 egg
¼ c. apple cider

2 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup apple cider

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium until smooth. Add the egg and mix to combine. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture. When the flour is almost fully incorporated, add the apple cider and stir on low until mixed.

Scoop the dough onto the baking sheets, creating 1-1/4-inch mounds. The cookies spread while baking, so ensure there is enough room between the cookies.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until darker golden brown. The cookies will be very soft but set as they cool. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Cool completely before adding the icing.

Once the cookies are cool, make the icing. In a small bowl whisk together the powdered sugar and apple cider, until a drizzling consistency. Drizzle the icing over the cooled cookies.

Recipe from The Farmwife Feeds

Friday, September 29, 2017

Apple Butter Bars

I’m a librarian, and you may find it strange that I don’t go to bookstores all that often. I’m not sure why, but it seems like I go for long stretches without visiting one. When I do go to a bookstore, I take lots of photos of books that sound interesting, do my research, and place holds on the books at the public library. I read too quickly to buy books unless it’s an unusual situation.

I do often look at the magazines, especially this time of year when they start having specialty fall and holiday baking magazines. I find most of my recipes online, so I question myself when I buy a cookbook or baking magazine, wondering if it’s worth it. I’ll usually look and make sure there are at least two recipes that I will certainly make. This particular magazine had a date and hazelnut caramel cake on the cover, and this recipe, apple butter bars.

This recipe had you make your own applesauce/apple butter. I used store bought apple butter, for the convenience. The crumble comes together easily, mixing all of the ingredients at once. Same for the base, you mix all the ingredients in one step. I used the same mixer bowl for both the topping and the base. Be careful when spreading the apple butter, don’t get it too close to the edges or it will slightly burn when baking. These have great fall flavors; perhaps I would add some cinnamon, but they are lovely. They cut best when refrigerated, but I think they taste better at room temperature.

Apple Butter Bars
¾ cup slivered almonds, toasted
½ cup flour
½ cup almond flour
½ cup oats
½ cup butter, cold, cut in small pieces
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt

½ cup flour
½ cup almond flour
½ cup oats
6 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon allspice
¾ cup apple butter

Make the crumble: in a large mixer bowl, combine all of the topping ingredients. Mix on medium the butter is cut in and the mixture comes together. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate the crumble for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8-inch square baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixer bowl, combine the base ingredients. Mix on medium until crumbly. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press the dough into an even layer. Spread the apple butter on top of the base and then top with the refrigerated crumble.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the crumble is golden brown. Refrigerate for at least an hour before cutting into bars. Lift the bars from the pan and peel away the foil. Cut into bars.

Recipe from bake from scratch magazine