Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pumpkin Whoopee Pies

Pumpkin Whoopee Pies
Servings: 18
From Cook's Illustrated

For the cookies:
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt

For the filling:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened but still cool
4 ounces cream cheese (1/2 package), at room temperature
3/4 cup Marshmallow Fluff (3 1/2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar , sifted

For the cookies:
Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18 by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stir pumpkin, eggs, oil, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in large bowl until well blended. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl. Stir dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture until well incorporated.

Using small ice cream scoop (#30 is the perfect size) or tablespoon measure, drop 2 tablespoons of dough on prepared baking sheet. (You should fit nine scoops of dough on each sheet.) Spread dough into 2-inch rounds about 1/2 inch thick and spaced 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies are just set and bottoms are lightly browned, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. Slide cookies, still on parchment, to cooling racks. Cool baking sheets, line with fresh parchment paper, and repeat with remaining dough.

For the filling:
With electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until no lumps remain, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Add Marshmallow Fluff and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 60 seconds. Beat in salt and vanilla until well blended, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl. Reduce speed to low and gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth, about 1 minute.

Spread 2 tablespoons filling on center of flat side of one cookie. Place flat side of second cookie on filling and press cookies together to bring filling to edges. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling. (Cookies can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 4 days).

NOTES: Hot damn, these are delicious. Like pumpkin Suzie Q's. Perfect for parties!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Squares

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Squares
Servings: 18 squares

For the crust:
1 cake mix yellow, spice or white flavored
1 egg
1 teaspoon cinnamon omit if using spice cake
2 tablespoons butter, melted

For the filling:
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 eggs
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cream cheese frosting to drizzle over the top
18 pecan halves

For the icing:
4 oz. (1/4 c.) cream cheese
3/4 c. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13x9-inch pan with parchment paper or use a non-stick spray.

In a large mixing bowl, on low speed, combine cake mix, 1 egg, butter, and cinnamon until it forms a dough. Press onto bottom of prepared pan.

Clean the bowl for your electric mixer, then beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add in the sweetened condensed milk, remaining eggs, pumpkin, spices and salt, mixing till evenly blended. Pour over crust. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until the middle is set.

Let cool completely, the drizzle with frosting (recipe below). Cut into squares, and put one pecan half on each square.

For the frosting:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth and creamy. Drizzle over bars before serving.

NOTES: We haven't tried this recipe yet.

Cranberry Coconut Squares

Cranberry Coconut Squares
Servings: 18 squares

For the crust:
1/4 c. butter — softened (or use coconut butter)
1/4 c. sugar
1 c. flour
1 pinch salt

For the topping:
1 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 pinch salt
1 egg
1 egg white
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) cranberries
1/2 c. shredded sweetened coconut
powdered sugar for sprinkling — optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust:
In a medium bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy. On low, beat in flour and salt and mix until well combined and crumbly.

Press into bottom of an 8 inch square pan that has been sprayed with Pam. Bake for 12 minutes, until just barely golden around the edges. (It doesn’t really get brown)

For the topping:
In the same bowl, combine sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Add egg, egg white, and lemon juice and stir until well blended and smooth.

Sprinkle cranberries and coconut evenly over the crust. Pour lemon filling over the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden and set. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Store in fridge.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if using, before cutting into squares.

NOTES: We haven't tried this recipe yet.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lynn's Best Blueberry Muffins

Lynn's Best Blueberry Muffins
Servings: 12 muffins
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

For the Lemon-Sugar Topping:
1/3 c. sugar (2 1/3 ounces)
1 1/2 tsp. finely grated zest from 1 lemon

For the Muffins:
1 c. fresh blueberries (about 10 ounces), plus 1 Tbsp.
1 c. Trader Joe's Blueberry Preserves
1 1/8 c. sugar (8 ounces)
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. table salt
2 large eggs
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
1/4 c. Canola oil
1 c. buttermilk (see note)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the topping:
Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined; set aside.

For the muffins:
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Bring 1 cup blueberry preserves and 1 Tbsp. blueberries to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened slightly, about 5 mi. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining cup blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not overmix.)

Use a large spoon to divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly). Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion. Sprinkle lemon sugar evenly over muffins.

Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

NOTES: These are the most delicious blueberry muffins. Hands down. For reals.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Red Wine and Onion Reduction

Red Wine and Onion Reduction
Servings: 4

1 bottle red Zinfandel wine
1 medium red onion, diced
1/2 c. sugar

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and continuing boiling until little liquid remains and mixture is thick and syrupy, about 30 minutes.

Serve on steak or chicken.

NOTES: Oh my... this is just wonderful. Best steak "sauce" ever.