Pumpkin Cookies

pumpkin cookies

So, I am not the type that likes pumpkin pie. Weird right? I like other pumpkin things, like these cookies, but not pie. My husband is the same way. I thought that since we are not big pumpkin pie lovers, there might be others out there with similar feelings. These cookies are a great alternative pumpkin dessert for Thanksgiving day. And who doesn’t love the simplicity of a cookie? They are virtually mess free and easy to grab!

These cookies are bursting with flavor. They are soft and cake-like with a smear of cream cheese frosting over the top. I made my cookies large, but you can definitely make them smaller with a shorter baking time. These would be a welcome addition at any Thanksgiving table!

Pumpkin Cookies

Yield: About 18 large cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs and brown sugar until light and smooth (about 2 minutes).  Beat in the oil, vanilla extract, and pumpkin puree. On low speed, add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated. Using a large cookie dough scoop (for smaller cookies, use a small scoop), place mounds of batter onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake in the preheated oven for about 18 minutes (shorter cooking time for smaller cookies), or until springy to the touch. Let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

For the cream cheese frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter until soft and creamy in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until the frosting is soft and creamy, about 4 minutes. Spread small dollops over each cookie.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 4 days.

Source: Adapted from Joy of Baking

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Honey Yeast Rolls

honey yeast rolls

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is next week! Yesterday, there was a super cute Thanksgiving celebration in my daughter’s kindergarten class. Each parent brought in a different dish and we all sat down and ate together after the kids sang a Thanksgiving song. So cute. I contributed the sweet potato and butternut squash mash that we all love so much. We have quite a few butternut squash left from our garden harvest this year, so it worked out perfectly!

Having an early Thanksgiving made me start thinking of recipes to share before the big day that you all might be interested in. We are celebrating our own little Thanksgiving tomorrow. Of course, my husband has requested his favorite blueberry pie. I will also be whipping up the beloved mashed potatoes, and several other delicious things. What is your favorite dish for Thanksgiving? Is it something traditional? Or something totally out of the ordinary?

These rolls are something that you may want to make as a side for your Thanksgiving. They are my absolute favorite rolls. They are soft, moist, with a hint of sweetness. The addition of sea salt sprinkled over the top right before baking makes them divine. I have been making these rolls for years, and they always get eaten immediately. The perfect compliment to any dish. If you need a make-ahead option for these rolls (to make Thanksgiving day less stressful), head over to Annie’s Eats to see how she recommends doing it.

Honey Yeast Rolls
Yield: about 10-12 rolls

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (105-115˚ F)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 1/2-4 cups bread flour
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons honey

Directions

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast and warm water.  Add the honey, oil, salt, and egg and mix well.  Add 3 cups of the flour and mix just until the dough comes together in a sticky mass. Switch the paddle for the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, incorporate the remaining 1/2 to 1 cup of flour a few tablespoons at a time. Continue kneading on low speed for about 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with oiled plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 30 seconds. Cover with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes.  Punch the dough down and divide into 10-12 equal size pieces.  Shape each piece into a smooth ball and place into a round, lightly greased 9- or 10-inch round baking dish, spacing evenly. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 20-30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Mix together the melted butter and honey, and brush the tops of the rolls with the mixture. Sprinkle lightly with coarse salt.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown.  Cover loosely with foil and continue to bake about 10 minutes more, or until the the center of the rolls registers 190˚ F on an instant-read thermometer.  Let cool slightly before serving.

Source: Annie’s Eats, originally from A Cookie a Day

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie

Has anyone else been getting winter-like weather? We got hit with a big storm this past weekend, knocking out power to 150,000 people in downeast Maine. We lost power for two days, while some friends that live elsewhere on the island lost it for 5+ days! We got 6-8 inches of snow and 50 mph winds. Trees and power lines were (and still are) down everywhere. Many roads were impassable. Pretty crazy for our first winter storm. And now it’s 50 degrees out and most of the snow is already gone. Weird weather! The storm made us all sort of rush into winter mode. We hurried to get all the lawn furniture in the barn for the winter, drain all the hoses and drain the pipes to the outdoor shower. And now all we have left is to get our winters supply of wood loaded onto the covered porch. Whew, I am going to need a slice of this pie when I am done with all of that!

Speaking of this pie… It is beyond amazing. Seriously.

Some weeks back, my brother’s girlfriend and her parents were visiting and decided to host a Canadian Thanksgiving for my whole family. Super cute. I, of course, offered to bring a dessert. This pie came in mind immediately. I made it a few years back for Thanksgiving at my parent’s house, but haven’t had the opportunity to make it again. This pie is epic. Let me layer it for you. First, there is a graham cracker crust, then a delicious layer of caramel sauce (homemade of course), a sprinkling of pecans, a thick layer of sweet, sautéed apples, a layer of cheesecake filling which is then baked to perfection. Then, because all that isn’t enough, dollops of sweetened whipped cream are spread over the cheesecake, then caramel is swirled in with another sprinkling of pecans. Epic. Enough said.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie

Yield: 1 9-inch pie crust

For the crust

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 1/3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling

  • 1/2-3/4 cup caramel sauce
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5-6 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 large egg

For the topping

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3-4 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 cup caramel sauce
  • Additional chopped pecans, for garnish

Directions

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 375° F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment paper. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Toss with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened and the ingredients are evenly mixed. Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform pan and press the crumbs in an even layer over the pan bottom and about half to two-thirds of the way up the sides of the pan. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until golden in color. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Pour a layer of caramel into the bottom of the crust and sprinkle evenly with the chopped pecans. Refrigerate the crust while you prepare the filling.

To make the apple filling, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Mix in the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute, until bubbling. Mix in the apple slices and toss well to coat. Cook over medium to medium-high heat until tender and most of the liquid has been reduced, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and pour into the prepared pie shell. Set aside.

Reduce the heat of the oven to 350° F. To make the cheesecake layer, combine the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Mix in the vanilla, egg and lemon juice until fully incorporated and smooth, 1-2 minutes. Spread the cheesecake filling into an even layer over the top of the cooked apples in the crust. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

To serve, carefully remove the sides of the springform pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form (being careful not to overbeat.) Spread gently over the top of the chilled cheesecake layer. Top with dollops of caramel sauce and swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle with a handful of chopped pecans if desired. Slice with a long, thin knife to serve.

Source: Annie’s Eats, originally from Mimi Hodges, the winner of Good Morning, America’s “Pie of Emeril’s Eye” Contest, 2000

Chocolate Cream Pie

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I can’t believe Thanksgiving is tomorrow! I am sure all of you are scrambling in getting everything ready for the big day, whether you are hosting or bringing a dish. I don’t dare bake today since we are experiencing a big rain/wind storm. The power keeps flickering, so I am expecting it to go out anytime.

I wanted to share this absolutely amazing pie with you today. My little family celebrated our Thanksgiving this past weekend and this is the dessert my husband requested. He kept on saying how it was the best pie he’s ever had every time he took a bite. I am pretty sure that he ate the majority of the pie. This pie is really simple and will knock the socks off your guests! I would definitely recommend making it. The greatest part is you can make it the day before! I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Chocolate Cream Pie

For the Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Pie

  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, broken into chunks
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

For the crust, grease a 9 inch pie plate or tart plan and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter with a fork until all the the crumbs are moistened. Press the mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pie plate. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill until ready to use.

For the pie, in a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. In a medium bowl, beat the milk and egg yolks until smooth. Gradually stir the eggs into the sugar mixture. Stir constantly over medium heat until the mixture thickens and comes to a full boil. Boil and constantly stir for 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, chocolate and vanilla extract. Stir until melted and thoroughly combined. Pour into the prepared pie dish. Place plastic wrap over the filling to prevent a skin from forming. Place in the refrigerator and chill for several hours before serving. Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Source: Barely adapted from Joy of Baking

Crumbly Apple Pie

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Fall is upon us! The leaves are turning and blowing off the trees, the mornings are brisk, and the heater is on constantly (until it gets cold enough to start the woodstove!). This morning I actually had ice on the windshield of my car. I am loving it. I love the smell of the air in the mornings when it’s chilly (benefits of living in the country). Even though the mornings are chilly enough to wear a hat and mittens, my daughter is still begging to wear dresses. Thank goodness tights were invented!

When I was still in the single digit age, my parents used to get these recipe cards in the mail. I used to love to drool over the photos and dream of being a baker when I was older. Reminder: this was long before I was brave enough to make anything more than ramen in the kitchen. Amazingly enough, my mom has held on to those recipe cards (she still has them today!). This pie was one of the first recipes I tried from the cards when I first started out in the kitchen. To this day, I don’t remember how it turned out. But, it must have been good enough to try again!

So now that is officially fall, I have totally gotten into the mood for fall baking. Apple, pumpkin, soups and casseroles. Woot woot! Since my two kids are in two different school programs, I have gotten to go apple picking twice this season. Benefits of living in the middle of nowhere, there are plenty of apple orchards around! To kick off fall baking, I am sharing with you today, my all-time favorite apple “pie”. I have loved this since I was a kid. I prefer it over a regular apple pie any day. This crumble is sweet, with the wonderful crunch. Served alongside whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and you are in business!

Crumbly Apple Pie

For the crust*

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, chilled
  • 1/4 cup ice water

For the filling

  • 7 medium apples, peeled, cored and very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the topping

  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

Directions

To prepare the crust, mix together the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender, or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until coarse crumbs form. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork, until a dough forms. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Once the dough has been chilled, lightly flour a surface and roll the dough out into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Trim excess and decorate edge if desired.

To prepare the filling, mix together the apples, sugar, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and salt until the apples are well coated. Spoon into the prepared crust.

To prepare the topping, mix together the brown sugar, flour, nutmeg and cinnamon in a small bowl. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples.

Place the pie on a cookie sheet to prevent overflow on the bottom of the oven. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until the topping is light brown and the filling is bubbly. If the pie is over browning, cover loosely with tin foil. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

* Store bought crust works fine, or your favorite recipe for a single crust works great too!

Source: Adatped from Great American Home Baking

Blueberry Pie

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This time in the summer is one of my favorite times of year. My all-time favorite fruits are berries. And this is when so many different kinds are in season! I just love it. Luckily, my parents have plenty of raspberry and blackberry bushes that I can ravage. My kids and I could probably sit there all day and just eat berries. Why bother picking when they can directly go into your mouth? Ha. My parent’s dog likes to come picking with us too. Unfortunately, she is about the same level that my kids pick at, they so they have to compete!

Living in rural Maine, fresh berries are not difficult to come by. I like to take full advantage of all the crops. I can a lot of jam (posts to come!) and freeze fruit for smoothies, ice cream toppers or pies during the winter. To me, there is nothing better than going to your freezer in the middle of winter to find fresh summer berries!

Pies are one of the best ways to consume fruit in my opinion. A little vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on the side, and I am in heaven! This is my favorite blueberry pie recipe. It is also one of my favorite pie crusts. So easy to throw together and roll out. I hope everyone is enjoying their last days of summer, or their first days back to school!

Blueberry Pie

For the crust (store bought is optional)

Yield: two crusts, enough for 1 pie

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 5-6 Tablespoons ice water

Directions

In the bowl of a food processor, place the flour, sugar and salt. Process for a few seconds to blend. Scatter the pieces of the butter over the flour mixture and process until it resembles coarse meal. With the machine running, add 5 tablespoons of water and process until the dough just starts to come together. Add 1 more tablespoon if it is too dry.

Remove the dough from the machine and gently roll into a ball. Divide the dough in half and flatten into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling out.

For the blueberry pie

  • 4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon water

Directions

Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate with one of the rolled out dough rounds. Set dish in the refrigerator while preparing the pie.

To make the filling, place the blueberries in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Toss to coat evenly.

In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, salt and cinnamon. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the blueberries and toss to coat. Transfer the blueberry mixture to the dough-lined pie plate. Dot with the butter pieces.

Place the remaining dough piece on the top (or cut strips to create a lattice crust). Cut slits in the top to allow steam to escape, trim excess dough around the edges and crimp together to seal top and bottom dough pieces. Place in the refrigerator while oven preheats to allow dough to cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Gently brush the top of the pie crust with the eggwash just before baking.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. If the crust is browning too quickly, place a sheet of tin foil over the top to prevent burning. Let cool before serving.

Source: Pie crust adapted from Lily’s Café Cookbook, Revised Edition by Kyra Alex, Filling from Annie’s Eats