Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Autumn!

Autumn. You know what that means. Pumpkin spice lattes (don't click that if you don't want to see the nutrition facts), pumpkin pie blizzards (October Blizzard of the month), Pumpkin bread, Jack-o-lanterns and the quintessential pumpkin pie.
Confession. (Taking a deep breath) I don't like pumpkin pie. Gasp! I know, I know. But it's ok. We can get through this together. I do, however love the spices and flavors that accompany pumpkin in all its traditional forms. So yesterday, I decided it was time to overcome my distaste for pumpkin and go for the gusto.

Spiced pecan PUMPKIN cookies.

And let me just tell you now, they are addictive, dangerous, heavenly morsels of Autumnal bliss. Are you drooling yet? Because I am, and I just ate one (or two or... nine)
1 1/2 sticks Butter
2 1/2 C. Flour
3/4 C. Granulated sugar
1/2 C. Brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. Vanilla
1/4 tsp. Ground cloves
2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
1 tsp. Ground ginger
2 eggs
1 15 oz can Pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt (I used salted butted and left this out)
1 C. Spiced pecans, chopped (recipe below)
48 Spiced pecan halfs (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of your mixer, begin by creaming the butter so it becomes light and fluffy. Slowly add the sugars and continue beating. Add eggs, vanilla, baking soda and spices to the mixture. At this point, add the pumpkin to the mixer. When fully incorporated, add the chopped pecans. Begin adding the flour, half a cup at a time until all the flour has been added.
Scoop spoonfuls of dough onto a parchment or silicone mat lined cookie sheet. Place a pecan half on top of each cookie and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let transfer to a cooling rack.

Spiced pecans:
In a dry pan, begin by toasting the pecan halves just until you start smelling the toasty goodness. Once you smell them add 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of Sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the pan. Allow to caramelize, stirring fairly quickly so they don't burn. Transfer to a sheet of waxed paper, parchment, silicone mat etc. to cool.
Use the same process for the chopped pecans. I just do the large pieces first so there isn't stuff left in the pan when I do those :)

Additional note: I though about making a cream cheese frosting to go with this, but I started eating them too fast and I didn't get that far. But I still think it would be delish.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Millionaire's shortbread fail

Ooey gooey caramel atop luscious shortbread and covered in chocolate. Oh yeah that will hit the spot beautifully.
The shortbread came out beautifully. Tender and buttery.
I was patient with the caramel. I let it work itself into a beautiful amber nectar for 45 minutes. I stared at it and didn't touch it like a good girl. The problem came when I added the sweetened condensed milk. I should have let it cook for a while longer, but I was too excited to top the shortbread and get it in the fridge to set. And of course there was the matter of my toddler who had woken up from his nap and wanted to play. So I poured the caramel onto the shortbread and into the fridge it went for a few hours, crossing my fingers the entire time.
I melted some beautiful Guttiard milk chocolate and created the most decadent ganache to finish off the masterpiece to come. Again, into the fridge to set.
Time for a midnight snack! I cut into the bars, anxious for a taste of this labor of lo
ve. But what happens next is a sad sad sight. Hoping against all hope that it is the laws of the universe, "the first piece is always the hardest and ugliest" I tread onward. Cutting, scoring, delicately removing slivers and chunks. With every stroke of the knife and lift of the spatula, more and more of the caramel splorches out. Yes, splorches- it's the only way to describe it.
What did I do with this mess, you ask? Well, what any sane person would do. Ate it. Was it good? Yes. Did it fulfill the decadent treat I so longed for? Yes. Was it ugly? Dear God, yes.
Will I revamp and try again? You betcha.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Almond poppyseed scones

I'll say it now, I'm sorry. These aren't cookies, but I wanted scones tonight. So scones are what you get! Light, fluffy and scrumptious!
1 (12.5oz. can) poppyseed filling
4 3/4 c. Flour
1 Tbs. Baking powder
3/4 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 1/4tsp salt
1 c. + 1Tbsp unsalted butter, cold
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. almond extract

3 Tbsp butter, melted
Large crystal sugar or granulated sugar for sprinkling
sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda. Add sugar and salt. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, set on low and begin mixing. Cut butter into 1/2 inch cubes and add bit by bit, pulsing the mixer. The goal is to end up with a coarse mixture with pea-sized lumps of butter. Add the buttermilk all at once along with the vanilla and almond extracts, lemon zest and poppyseeds. Mix until the dough just comes together. If the dough is too dry you may need to add another splash of buttermilk. You still want to see butter chunks.
Dust your work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Roll the dough out into a rectangle 18 inches long, 5 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches thick. Brush the top with the melted butter and sprinkle with sugar and almonds. Using a pastry scraper, knife, exact-o knife etc. cut the dough into triangles. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned.