12. 11. 2012

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I had high hopes for baking this November.

At the end of last month, I sat down at the kitchen table (a mistake, as I crushed the wooden chair with the weight of my stainless steel frame) and wrote out a Master November Baking Plan. Yes, in caps.

This was going to be a month of fall-themed desserts. Cranberries, cobblers, pumpkin… well, we all know I’ve got the pumpkin category covered. But despite my meticulous planning, all I’ve done this month is make the Opposite of Thanksgiving Themed Desserts.

Yes, in caps.

So I would like to apologize to you, dear humans, because this is probably the only fall-ish dessert you will see on here for a while. I would also like to apologize to the other humans in my life for cruelly depriving them of seasonally appropriate desserts.

Because it’s basically straight up sugar from here on out.

Pumpkin White Chocolate Cookies
makes 4 dozen
adapted from Fabulously Smitten

1/2 (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or Silpat!).

2. In a large bowl, cream together butter, both sugars, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, and eggs.

3. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Gradually add this dry mixture to the pumpkin batter, mixing until just combined. Fold in white chocolate chips and chopped pecans.

4. Scoop cookie dough onto your prepared cookie sheet (they won’t flatten much). Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges and firm. Let set on cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

06. 11. 2012

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Good news, everybody! This is the greatest ice cream in the world!

I know I’ve got a pumpkin problem, and I know I’ve got a pumpkin pie problem, but I’m really not exaggerating this time. It tastes just like pumpkin, apple, and pecan pie, and all three of those pies just so happen to taste super awesome together, and also it’s almost Thanksgiving! Good timing, robot, thanks for having our backs.

You probably just said that last part out loud.

But I do. Have your backs, I mean. Not literally or anything though. Might be uncomfortable for you. Okay.

The only flaw is this ice cream is serious work. We’re talking major time commitment. First you gotta make the pumpkin ice cream and let that chill for a few hours. Then you have to cook your apples, and after that you need to caramelize your pecans. And bake the pie crust. And you still haven’t even made the actual ice cream yet!

But I promise I promise I promise that it’s worth it. This ice cream is crazy impressive! Tell your friends and family “Nobody bring any pies, I’ve got you all covered this year” and then when you show up to Thanksgiving dinner with only ice cream they will be very angry and say “I’m thankful for everything in the world except ice cream” while side-eyeing you when everyone is gathered around the table sharing what they appreciate but when they experience their first bite of this ice cream…

Side note: I have a run-on sentence problem. I’ll work on that while you make this ice cream.

Pumpkin Apple Pecan Pie Ice Cream
adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, Serious Eats, and Simple Comfort Food

for the apples:
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 medium Granny Smith apples, finely chopped (I didn’t peel mine but feel free to peel yours!)
1 tsp cinnamon

for the pecans:
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup pecans

for the ice cream:
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp salt
1 pie crust (store bought or homemade), baked and chopped into coarse crumbs

to make the ice cream:

1.  In a large saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, brown sugar, and pumpkin. Stir in whipping cream and milk until combined. Add pumpkin spice and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in salt and refrigerate until completely chilled.

to cook the apples:

1. In a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, combine butter and brown sugar. When the butter has melted, add chopped apples and cinnamon, stirring constantly. Cook the apples until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and let cool.

to caramelize the pecans:

1. In a medium-sized skillet over low heat, combine butter and both sugars. When butter has melted, add the pecans and cook until the sugars dissolve. Remove from heat and transfer to parchment paper to cool. When pecans have completely cooled, pulse in a food processor until they are coarse crumbs.

to assemble:

1. Freeze the pumpkin ice cream in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Fold in apples, pecans, and pie crust. Freeze overnight before serving. Especially delicious in waffle cones.

17. 04. 2012

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Hello, my human friends! I’m afraid my post today reflects a rather sticky situation.

In the form of sticky buns!

Humans, it is not exaggeration to say that these are sticky. It’s like coating your mouth with glue covered cotton candy flavored floam!

Really, really delicious glue covered cotton candy flavored floam.

I think that’s part of the fun with these pecan buns. After you’ve eaten the bun, you still have after-dessert dessert on your fingers!

But please wash your hands before feasting.

Sticky Pecan Buns
from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey

Pecan Sauce
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups pecans, chopped

4 cups flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold or frozen
1-1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

2. For the sauce: melt over low heat the brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter. Once the butter has melted, increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Cook (uncovered) for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Stir in the pecans. Pour mixture into prepared baking pan, spreading evenly across the bottom. Set aside.

3. For the biscuits: In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut the butter into tablespoon-sized chunks and blend it into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

4. Make a shallow well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in 1-1/2 cups of the buttermilk. Blend it in with a fork until a soft dough forms. (If the dough seems too dry, add the remaining 1/2 cup buttermilk.) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times. Pat the dough into a 3/4-inch thick rectangle. Cut the dough into 12 square biscuits.

5. For the topping: in a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter and sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar on top. Transfer the biscuits cinnamon-sugar side down to the pecan-syrup lined pan. Brush the tops with butter and sprinkle with more cinnamon-sugar.

6. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden-brown and puffy and the pecan sauce is bubbling. Allow to cool slightly before inverting the baking pan over a serving platter. Serve immediately.

15. 03. 2012

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Hello, humans.  I feel as though I should elucidate my absence.

A few weeks ago I explained that I had a minor surgery, similar to human wisdom teeth removal, and that I was experiencing symptoms similar to dry socket. Unfortunately, my “dry socket” has spiraled out of control. I don’t yet have it under control – hopefully within the next week or so I will be back to my normal metal self.

Since my operation, I haven’t felt well enough to get back in the kitchen and bake. Which means the Watsons have been without dessert for two weeks! I feel awful about not baking lately, because I had so many awesome St. Patrick’s recipes to share with you!

Rest assured, I’ll be back next week, resuming normal robot schedule. I guess you’ll just have to stick around until next year for those St. Paddy’s Day recipes…!

Minties with Chocolate
(Or, Brownies with More Mint Than Chocolate)
from Better Homes & Gardens Homemade Cookies Cook Book

3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened; +1 tbsp
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 unsweetened chocolate
1/2 tsp mint extract
green food coloring
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×9 baking dish with baking spray. Melt 1/8 cup of the chocolate and set aside.

2. Cream together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, and sugar. Mix in eggs, one at a time, until fully combined.

3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture, mixing until just combined.

4. Spoon half of the mixture into a separate bowl. Add the melted chocolate and pecans.

5. To the remaining batter, stir in extract and food coloring (to desired color).  Drop the chocolate and mint batters into the baking pan in a checkerboard pattern. Swirl the batters together with a spatula or knife. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer to wire rack and allow to cool completely.

6. For the glaze, melt the remaining 1/8 cup chocolate and 1 tablespoon butter in a sauce pan over low heat, stirring constantly. Stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. It should look clumpy and crumbly. Mix in the boiling water and stir until it reaches a pouring consistency. Pour over cooled brownies and garnish with sprinkles.  (Note: the sprinkle step is not optional.)

21. 12. 2011

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If you are like me, you’ve recently made these Cupcakes for Two and these Pop Rock Cookies.

Which means you have an abundance of cinnamon chips, pecans, and some delicious cream cheese filling. What’s a baker to do?

If you’re like me, you are going to make the following recipe with those ingredients and because you always have an incurable addiction to baking with pumpkin.

And in the same vein as bread cakes, you are going to realize these are “muffcakes,” as they are, at their core, muffins with frosting.

If you are like me, it is impossible to resist frosting any baked good. And then dousing in sprinkles.

Of course, if you’re like me, you are a robot.

Pumpkin Cupcakes
makes 12
adapted from allrecipes 

1-3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/2 cup cinnamon chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake tin with baking liners.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, pumpkin, oil, honey, and water. Stir into dry ingredients just until combined. Fold in pecans and cinnamon chips.

3. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean, rotating halfway through. Let cool for 10 minutes in cupcake tin before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost. Sprinkle.

(Frosting recipe here.)

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