Monday, November 28, 2011

Maple Walnut Pie - by Summer

I was pretty excited to make this pie.  I love pecan pie, but have never made it before and this seemed like a variation of that pie.  I figured if I could make this one, then I can make a pecan one!  I had trouble finding Grade B maple syrup and I have a sick toddler.  I didn't feel like dragging him to every store, so we settle for some Grade A.

This recipe calls for a frozen pie crust.  I, however, do not like the taste of frozen pie crusts (yes, I can tell the difference), so I opted to make my own.  This recipe was so easy - I managed to pull it all together right before dinner and then get that ready while the pie was baking in the oven.

I think that the frozen pie crusts must be a little smaller, because even though I used my small pie plate, I felt as though there wasn't enough filling and too many walnuts.  But I loved this pie and my husband liked it too!  In fact, I even had to have seconds.  I would definitely make this again, but maybe use slightly less walnuts.

Chocolate Pumpkin Truffles - by Lisa

My sister hosted Thanksgiving for our side of the family this year, and I jumped on the chance to bring along some dessert! I figured these would be a nice little treat, and they seemed to go over real well! Summer and I were on nearly the same wavelength while making these. I also re-made the gingersnaps from earlier in the month, and she clued me in on the need to chill the mixture for longer than the recipe suggests. Since I had my little one underfoot all afternoon, I got the mix put together and then shoved it in the fridge for a few hours.

As for the ingredients for this recipe, I was doing some shopping at Trader Joe's and decided to see if I could get everything I needed there. I am pleased to report that I could! :) Of course, you really can't go wrong with this much chocolate. :)

I think I chilled the mixture for a little too long, because it was sort of hard to scoop out, and I had to pause for a couple of hand-washings in between since my hands were becoming too much of a sticky mess to be able to make the balls. (I remembered much later that last time I made truffles, I used plastic gloves!) I wound up with 24 truffles.

I thought these were pretty yummy too. I loved the ginger bite that they had. I'm not sure I'd go to the trouble of making them again, but I did enjoy eating them!

Also thought I'd mention that I turned the Pumpkin Mousse into a pie with crumbled gingersnaps on top. It turned out great!! It just might have to become an annual tradition. :)

Chocolate Pumpkin Truffles - by Summer

I was excited to make these because it was an excuse to make the gingersnap cookies again!  Other than that ingredient, I had everything else on hand to make these.  The kids and I were invited to a friend's house for Thanksgiving (husband had to go out of town), so these seemed like the perfect thing to bring to Thanksgiving dinner.

Since my little guy is obsessed with all things in the kitchen lately, I thought maybe his fear of the food processor would be behind him.  Unfortunately that is a big no!  The minute I pulled it out, big tears ensued, so I had to wait until he was done eating and in another room to grind up the gingersnaps.  I used 20 cookies and had more than enough crumbs - way more than the recipe called for, actually.  I was a bit bummed because that meant less cookies for us to eat!

Making these was super easy.  I discovered that the chilling time (10 minutes) way not nearly enough time.  I ended up having the mixture in the fridge for about 25 minutes and then in the freezer for another 6 or so before I could finally roll them into balls.  I got 23 truffles out of the recipe.  I wasn't in love with these which is sort of funny since I love chocolate, pumpkin and gingersnaps.  I guess just not a combination of all three.  However, they were a big hit at Thanksgiving, so I could see making them again for a party or to give away.

I also want to note that the recipe only calls for 1/4 cup of pumpkin.  I didn't know what to do with the rest, so I put it in the fridge and a couple of days later, I found this recipe for pumpkin muffins which was super easy and very yummy!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pumpkin Mousse - by Lisa

While we were living in WA, I didn't get many opportunities to share my baked goods aside from sending in stuff with Hubby to his work. Now that we're back in IL, along with many more social opportunities, I have been thoroughly enjoying spreading the baked goods love. :) This past weekend, our neighborhood got together for an early Thanksgiving meal. I thought this was such a cool idea, and man was there some amazing food there! I also jumped on the opportunity to make something from our recipe list to share. I had already decided to bring the truffles to Thanksgiving at my sister's house, so I opted to make the mousse.

Since I knew there would be a lot of people at our pre-Thanksgiving dinner, I decided to double the recipe and then divide evenly among clear plastic cups. This was super easy to make although it did require a little bit of babysitting while it cooled. Since I can't tolerate nutmeg, I made my own pumpkin pie spice substituting a little more cinnamon in the absence of nutmeg.

Next time, I might try using allspice as a stand in for the nutmeg. I cooked it in a much larger pan (4qt) and cooked it for closer to 7-8 minutes since the volume was much larger. I did have a bit of a challenge folding in the whipped cream since there was just so much.

After it cooled, I spooned it into the aforementioned plastic cups and set them loosely covered in the refrigerator for about two hours. My finishing touch was sticking a fresh baked gingersnap cookie in each cup. (That recipe is seeing A LOT of action this month!)

Walking in, they generated some buzz among the crowd. :) After a fantastic dinner, I served up the cups. They were devoured! Everyone seemed to really enjoy them, and there wasn't much left over! I also found it to be super yummy, and I am generally not a fan of pumpkin! I am looking forward to doing something a little bit different with this recipe this weekend for our final Thanksgiving dinner at my in-laws. :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gingersnaps - by Lisa

Oh man, this recipe started out looking so simple, but yet I wound up with a couple of missteps that made for a frustrating morning! Of course, I was too distracted and a bit hurried which is what lead to me to my mistakes, but luckily, neither issue seemed to affect the final product! Hooray!

I actually had everything I needed for this recipe, well after some hunting I did anyway. My house tends to eat things and spit them back out in unexpected locations. This time it was the ground clove! Luckily I was able to find it without making an emergency run to the store.

So my first error was completely overlooking the part of the recipe that says to mix 1 cup of sugar in with the butter. I dumped in the full 1.5 cups noted in the ingredients totally forgetting I was supposed to reserve the remaining half cup for rolling. By the time I figured that out, it was way too late. Error number two came when I went to dump the flour mixture into the bowl. I usually sift onto a sheet of waxed paper and use that to transfer the flour mixture over. Well, somehow one side of the waxed paper slipped out of my fingers, and I suddenly had a mess all over my counter top.

If it were just flour I would have remeasured the remainder and added what I needed. But this had a bunch of spices, salt and the leavener mixed in, so....I dug out my silicon scraper and put it to work! That sucker did an amazing job of gathering and scooping up the mess!

After getting the flour mix into the bowl, I took a note from Summer, and used the mixer to stir it all together. Next I rolled the dough into balls and debated over rolling them in more sugar since I'd already inadvertently amped up the sugar content. I quickly realized the dough would stick to the glass when flattening them, so I went ahead with the extra sugar.

These baked up super nice and were ready to come out after about 8 min (convection). I ended up with about 4 1/2 dozen cookies. I took some over to a chili party, and they were devoured pretty quickly! I also really like how they taste, and I was relieved to find that the extra sugar didn't cancel out any of the flavor of the ginger and clove. Whew! I will definitely add these into my regular cookie rotation!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pumpkin Mousse - by Summer

I really love all things pumpkin.  I was intrigued by this recipe and I actually made this last week, but haven't been able to get around to posting about it until now.  It's a pretty easy recipe - I just needed to buy the whipping cream, but I had everything else on had.  First you cook up the pumpkin mix and then whip cream, fold together and chill!

I did serve with anything but a little bit of extra whipping cream on top.  I personally needed a little crunch or something with it.  Beth suggests serving with gingersnaps, but sadly we ate all of ours before I made this one.  My husband thought it might be good as a pie with a graham cracker crust.  I think it would be good as a pie with a gingersnap crust!  It was really like a pumpkin pie that was whipped up.  Very tasty!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gingersnaps - by Summer

I picked this recipe because it seemed like a good fall recipe.  I am so glad I picked it.  It's one of those cookies that seemed like it would be hard to make.  But that couldn't be further than the truth.  The only special ingredient that I needed to pick up was the molasses.  I had some blackstrap molasses, but I didn't know if that would work, so I just picked up some regular molasses. 

This dough came together very quickly.  The recipe said to mix the flour with the butter/sugar/molasses mixture by hand.  In hindsight, I would have used the mixer on the stir setting.  The dough was pretty stiff. 

Next up is forming the dough into balls, rolling in sugar, and then flattening into discs.  A funny note - my little guy (who now must ALWAYS help me bake) said they looked like donuts (donut holes more precisely) when I rolled them into balls.

I popped them in the oven and they baked for 11 or 10 minutes depending on the pan I used.  I have 2 air-bake cookie sheets and the cookies baked for 11 minutes on those, but they turned out better.  Next time I will only use those pans.  And believe me, there will be a next time.  I loved this cookie.  We all did in my family.  I baked them on Saturday and by today (Monday), they are all gone!  I definitely will add this cookie to my regular cookie making list!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Maple Walnut Pie - by Lisa

Can I just say how much I love that Beth advocates the use of pre-made pie crusts? It takes so much stress off my shoulders! :) I had to pick up a few extra things for the recipe - the heavy cream, pie crust, and maple syrup. She recommended the grade B maple syrup for its sweeter flavor. I lucked out that my favorite grocer carries quite the variety of maple syrup, and I was actually able to find a bottle of the grade B variety. Before the recipe, I never knew such a thing existed! I had plenty of walnuts hanging out in the freezer from a prior recipe, so I didn't need to worry about picking up any more of those.

Putting this together was fairly straightforward. I had no problems toasting the walnuts, and the filling was easy to assemble.

I was even able to make use of Hubby's bourbon for this recipe. As suggested, I checked the pie every 10 min, and in the final 10 minutes, I added a pie crust ring to prevent the edges from burning. My pie seemed ready at about 38 minutes so I pulled it out to let it cool.

We were too hungry to let it completely cool, so after about 30 min we dug in. I found the texture to be good, but the flavor just didn't grab me. However, Hubby practically devoured his slice and went back for seconds. There isn't much left today! I probably wouldn't make this one again, but I'm glad I got to try it!