Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

A Very Pretty Thanksgiving: Who’s yer Punkin?

Posted: November 15th, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: A Very Pretty Thanksgiving, Bake-zilla, Johanna, pumpkin | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

Punkin Paaaah!There are some things that are synonymous with Thanksgiving, with the holidays. Turkey. Mashed potatoes. Squash. We’ll get to all of these except the turkey as we help our dear friend Bakezilla work her way through her first Thanksgiving dinner, as well as sharing stories adn tales about our own personal holiday faves.

A big one for me at the holidays has always been Pumpkin Pie. I went through a phase where it was my favorite thing ever. I’ve kind of cooled on it lately, which is odd given my recent love affair with most things pumpkin. I’m more into combining pumpkin with muffins, or brownies, or jello shots.
However, my friend and all around awesome lady, Jackie, brought me back to pumpkin pie. She has an allergy to cinnamon, which means that her fave dessertĀ  has the chance to put her into anaphylactic shock. This is not a cool thing, as you might imagine, because I love Jackie and do not want her to die from dessert. She asked the Pretty Girls via Twitter to try and hack pumpkin pie to produce something she could consume. I promised to try.

A couple days later, while washing the dishes, my mind wandered away from the crusted on remains I was scraping off my casserole dish, and suddenly, I had it. Cumin, and Cayenne, would provide the heat and spice that cinnamon give. Nutmeg and Cardamom would provide warmth and spiciness.

Pie-oh-My.

I had it. And I had to immediately try my theory. I abandoned the dishes and immediately ran to the store to buy pumpkin and evaporated milk.
Pumpkin Pie for Jackie
Preheat oven to 425.
Roll out your pie shells and place into your pie plate. If making 1 pie, make it a deep-dish pie plate.
Combine 3/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, and 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar in a bowl. Reserve.
Beat 2 eggs in a large bowl. Add in 1 can of pumpkin puree and the sugar-and-spice mixture. Once this is combined, add in 1 can of evaporated milk.

Pour the filling into the pie shell, thump it on the counter a fe times to get rid of the air bubbles, and put it in the oven. I baked my 4 mini pies and 1 mini springform for 15 minutes at 425, then reduced the heat to 350, and bakedĀ  them for 35 minutes. For a larger pie, make it 45 minutes at 350.

This pie was 2-boy-approved: Jesse and our friend Steele both decided it was pretty darn good. While you notice the lack of cinnamon, I certainly didn’t miss it. The spices work brilliantly with the pumpkin, creating a general feeling of warmth, and the cayenne provides a nice slow burn at the end.
In fact, you could probably use coconut milk instead of evaporated milk, if you’re lactose intolerant.

But in the end, the best part is that Jackie can have her fave again, without anaphylactic shock. And that’s a win. :)


In which I win

Posted: November 15th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Bake-zilla, Johanna | 1 Comment »

So I just created a recipe. Like, a muffin recipe. I worked it out in my own little brain and I made it and it’s pretty darn delicious.
Shock. Awe. Amazement.

Apple Pecan Muffins, with a Salted Caramel Drizzle.

they didn’t come out perfectly. They’re a bit moister than I’d like, although that can be adjusted either by baking longer or by adding a touch more flours. I’m pretty confident. Plus, I could have created a drier applesauce by not ignoring the author’s indications regarding the right amount of water to go into the saucepan with the apples. I need to not get over-confident. I need to remember that I don’t know how to intuitively make everything. Like applesauce. Also, I should probably research apples to see which ones hang onto themselves a little bit better while cooking, because McIntosh and Gala are went to mush. And I probably should have held out a little longer while making the caramel drizzle. I pulled it before it got the right color, so it just looks shiny atop the muffins, instead of caramel-y. But…. next time.
Howevs. Here is my recipe. Tweak if desired.

Step 1. Applesauce
I borrowed the particulars of this from the recipe in Bon Appetit for Chaussons aux Pommes (apple turnovers).
4 apples. I used 2 Gala and 2 McIntosh, feel free to pick your faves. Peel, core, and chop up into chunks. Put in a saucepot with 1/4cup of water. Bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer until the apples are soft. Mash them with a potato masher. Let the applesauce cool.

Step 2. Pecans
I like roasted pecans. So I put them on a cookie sheet, and toasted them up in a 350 oven for a few minutes, then reserved them and let them cool too.

Step 3. Muffins
Preheat the oven to 350 and grease your muffin cups.
Put the following in your mixer’s bowl:
1 3/4 cup applesauce
1 stick softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
Mix until everything is light and fluffy. If you have little bits of butter showing in the mixture, that’s ok too, I had that.
Once everything is incorporated, add 3 eggs, one at a time. This bit is very wet, and there will be batter flinging all around regardless of how careful you are. Accept it. Scrub your walls.

While the Butter/Applesauce/Sugar are mixing together, in a separate bowl, combine the following:
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix these to combine.

Once all the wet ingredients are combined, take your mixer bowl off the stand, grab a spatula, and start adding in the dry ingredients a little at a time. Don’t over-mix…. once you can’t see the flour in the batter anymore, add some more. When you can stand your spatula up in the batter and it doesn’t tip over, it’s done.
Add the chopped up pecans. I probably added about a cup.

Depending on the type of apples you used, you may not need all the flour, and that’s ok.
I used an ice cream scoop to get my batter into the muffin cups. These don’t rise that much, so you can fill the cups right up to the top. You can totally use the paper liners if you want to, but you don’t have to.

Bake them for 23 minutes, and then test by sticking a toothpick into the center of one. It probably won’t come out clean. These took around 25 minutes for me. Maybe longer. Keep testing and adding on a minute or two. I wasn’t watching the clock, sadly, as much as I was watching my caramel sauce. Cool them in the pans for about 10 minutes, and then take them out and cool them on a rack.

Step 5. Drizzle.
Make the Salted Caramel sauce:
1 cup of sugar
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup.

Put those 3 into a pot, stir until the sugar is dissolved, and then cover and cook for 3 minutes.
Uncover and boil until the caramel is a golden amber color, shaking the pot to make sure it doesn’t burn. When it’s a golden amber color, remove it from the heat and amass the following ingredients:
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt.

After 30 seconds off the heat, add the cream to the caramel. This will bubble up, don’t be scared. Be brave. mix in the cream, then add the butter and salt. It’s delicious. Let it cool.

Once everything is cooled down, drizzle the caramel over the muffins (put the cooling rack over a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet) and let it sit for a few.
Enjoy!!!

They’re so good. I’m pretty satisfied. And I see the potential and it’s infinitel I’m trying it with bananas and walnuts next. GET EXCITED!!!!