Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What's cookin'?

Hey! Well, it's a busy day today. With Thanksgiving tomorrow you know I'm cookin'! I'm lucky enough to be having Thanksgiving dinner at my mother-in-law's. Which means I'm just bringing my favorites: the desserts! So what's our dessert menu? I'm glad you asked...

Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie
Dutch Apple Pie
Pumpkin Bread
Double Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies
Baby Chocolate Pie Cookies

So, maybe this is (drastic) overkill for the amount of people who will be there, but there are good reasons, I promise. Or at least good justifications.

Well, pie is a Thanksgiving tradition, right? Especially pumpkin pie. So clearly we had to make Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie, because it's delicious! But not everyone is into pumpkin pie, so we need a second pie. Dutch Apple is Matt's favorite and I have a recipe I love for it (below), so that's our winner. Max said he wanted pumpkin bread, which sounded like a good idea too. And this one's easy because you just swap the bananas out for pumpkin in my Amazing Banana Bread recipe. And finally, I'm an admitted chocoholic and there was a disturbing lack of chocolate on the menu. Matt and Max said I needed to make cookies, so we picked Double Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies and Baby Chocolate Pie Cookies (recipes below). Yum! I'm a few pies in already, and going strong. I hope you try something on the list for your family too!

Today's Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie. It came out really well!

Max's Pumpkin Bread


Dutch Apple Pie
I started with this recipe from Allrecipes.com, and turned it Dutch Apple style with a crumb topping. Here's how to do it:

Ingredients
pie crust (1 if you're doing the crumb topping, 2 if you prefer traditional)
6-8 apples (Granny Smiths are good, but anything on the firmer side will work well)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 Tblsp flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar

topping:
1 cup quick oats
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Line your pie pan with pie crust.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the 1/2 cup of unsalted butter. Stir in the flour until it clumps up into a paste, but don't cook it to brown like you were making a roux. Add the water and sugars and stir. Let it simmer until it's a nice caramel color.
In the meantime, peel, core, and slice your apples and mound into the crust. I love my apple corer for this, but that's just 'cause it's fun - a knife gets the job done too. :)
Pour the sauce over the apples. (Now use some of the apple scraps to taste test the sauce. Cause it's delicious!)
Mix topping ingredients in a separate bowl, then sprinkle gently over apples.
Put the pie in the oven, reduce temperature to 350 degrees, and bake 50-60 minutes. You want the apples to be soft but not goopey,  and the topping to be golden, not burnt. Let cool and enjoy! I like it with vanilla ice cream.
I love my apple peeler! It peels, cores, and slices! And it's fun to use too. Max loves it. If he's getting bored of apples as a snack I can still get him excited with a "slinky apple" treat!
See: slinky apple! It actually solves the pie problem of your apples not cooking at the same rate, because now they're all the same thickness. And so pretty!
The bunnies like to snack on some of the apple skins as a special treat. :)
Mound the apples really high, then pour the sauce all over.
All done and smelling scrumptious!


Double Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies
These are a bit tricky, but they're really good. Beware making them because people will demand you make them again!

Ingredients
3 cups flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
12 oz mini semisweet chocolate chips
~8 oz mini marshmallows, frozen

Directions
First, go toss those marshmallows in the freezer! A little weird, maybe, but it makes it way easier later on.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda. Set aside.
Blend sugars, then cream with butter. Add eggs and vanilla and blend until fluffy.
Add flour mixture and chocolate chips and blend on low until just combined. It's a really hard, stiff dough, so don't despair - you're doing it right!
Ok, now the tricky part; we're going to stuff the cookies with marshmallows. Take a heaping tablespoon of dough and flatten in out into a circle. Now squish 4-5 mini marshmallows into the center of the circle and fold the dough up around them. You want to mold them into a ball. I leave a tiny air vent in the top, then place that spot face up on the cookie sheet. Put the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes.

Here's how you get those cookies stuffed.
They're like amazing chocolate marshmallow volcanoes!


Baby Chocolate Pie Cookies
These are basically a sugar cookie stuffed with chocolate ganache. They will come out best if you let the dough rest for a few hours in the fridge.

Ingredients
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup brown, packed
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour

ganache:
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips

Directions
Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla and blend until fluffy.
Add flour and blend on low until just combined. Gather dough, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least an hour.
For the filling, place cream in a small saucepan and heat until just about to boil. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until smooth. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Ok, now the stuffing. Instead of flour, dust your cutting board and rolling pin with powdered sugar; it works just as well and won't change the flavor of your cookies like flour will. Roll out the dough and cut out circles - I use a drinking glass, but a cookie cutter would certainly be best. About a 2-4 inch diameter works well. Gather and reroll until you've used all the dough. Place a circle on an ungreased cookie sheet, drop 1 teaspoon of ganache on the circle, top with a second circle, then seal the edges by pressing all the way around with a fork.
Bake 15-16 minutes, until golden. Transfer off cookie sheet to cool. You can also dust with powdered sugar for a nice finished look.
These ones are slightly less amazing to look at, which is why I sometimes sugar the tops. They're really good though. They're not oversweet thanks to the semisweet chocolate, but plenty decadent. They remind me a bit of Pepperidge Farm's Milanos.


Whew! I'm going to get back to cooking. I hope your holiday is a good one too!

TTFN!
Cady

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