gingerbread

Do not underestimate this light and fluffy, spicy, gingery Gingerbread due to its simple appearance.
It looks plain and homey, you say. 
I say it needs nothing more than an accompanying cup of hot tea.
Notice the dark square within the larger square of the bread.  The top of the bread is crusty and chewy just removed from the oven.  After resting for a day, the top crust of the Gingerbread become soft and a bit sticky, yet equally as delicious as the chewy version.
Gingerbread Square
(adapted from here)
Ingredients:

  • 1 c butter
  • 1/2 c water
  • 3/4 c molasses (I had mild; use blackstrap if you want a stronger flavor)
  • 3/4 c honey
  • 1 c packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 c all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 t ground ginger
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t allspice
  • 1/8 t ground cloves
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 c whole milk
  • 1 T grated fresh ginger
Mixing:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  2. Place parchment in 9x9x2″ baking pan, allowing overhang on sides for easy removal of baked Gingerbread
  3. Combine first 5 ingredients in pan. Place over low heat; stir until butter is melted; remove from heat to cool
  4. Sift flour, soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon,allspice and cloves into a bowl; sit aside
  5. When butter mixture cools to warm, add eggs one at a time beating after each addition.
  6. Add the milk to the butter/egg mixture
  7. Fold dry ingredients into wet and pour mixture into prepared pan. (This is a very liquid batter and fills the 9×9 pan almost to the top.
  8. Bake for 60 – 70 minutes, until the gingerbread tests done in the center (toothpick inserted in center comes out clean; bread springs back when touched)
  9. Allow to cool in pan 15 minutes then turn out of pan and cool on wire rack
  10. Store at room temperature for 4 days or refrigerated for a week (I wrapped tightly and froze most of the bread; it’s delicious removed from freezer and thawed; serve at room temperature)
  11. Add whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon to serve (or, as I did…serve the bread simply cut into squares)

butternut squash baked oatmeal

I’m enjoying a vacation day today – in the middle of the week-
The air is brisk – the sun is shining-
Later, I have to make the icing for the Thanksgiving cake – stress, stress, stress….later

But, just now, all I have to do is (remembering Paris) sip my Grand Earl Grey from Comptoirs Richard a Paris, listen to the Food Network folks discuss Thanksgiving -
And Enjoy my Butternut Squash Baked Oatmeal, dotted with butter and blueberries, and topped with pecan-brown sugar-butter crumble.

Butternut Squash Baked Oatmeal
(adapted from here)

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz oats (not quick cook)
  • 1 T ground flax
  • 2 1/2 T dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t allspice
  • 1/8 t nutmeg
  • 1/2 t lemon zest
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 3/4 c roasted butternut squash puree
  • 3/4 c whole milk
  • 1 T butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/4 c blueberries
  • 1/4 c pecans chopped
  • 2 t melted butter
  • 1 T dark brown sugar
Mixing:
  1. Combine first 8 ingredients in bowl
  2. Combine vanilla, squash puree, and milk in a separate bowl and mix together well
  3. Add wet ingredients to oat mixture and stir together
  4. Pour into baking dish (my dish is about 1 quart; you could use 4 small fruit jars or 4 ramekins)
  5. Sprinkle blueberries over the top
  6. Toss the 1T (4 pieces) butter over the top
  7. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes
  8. While baking, combine pecans, 2 t melted butter and 1 T brown sugar.
  9. After the first 15 minutes, remove baking oatmeal from oven and sprinkle pecan mixture over top
  10. Return to oven and bake additional 10 minutes
  11. Remove from oven and cool a few minutes before serving
…looks like fall – tastes like fall…

adult Hot Chocolate

or…the Baked boy’s version of  Carette’s le chocolat chaud. I speak from experience and from my table at Carette Paris.

This hot chocolate is for the chocolate lover.  The red-brown color confirms that this is not the water-thin, pre-packaged powder we Americans know as hot chocolate. The velvet smooth texture, and the slow, molten flow of the liquid across the thin china cup and onto the taste buds assures one that this cup of hot chocolate was made with premium ingredients resulting in premium satisfaction.
The original recipe yield states two servings.  I divided the recipe in half, expecting to make one serving.  I suggest that half the original recipe is a ‘three-moderate serving portion’ or a ‘two extravagant serving portion.’  After storing the left-over hot chocolate in a glass jar in the refrigerator overnight,  I reheated it in the microwave stirring after 20 seconds; three 20 second cycles heated the hot chocolate nicely. 
Do not skimp on quality ingredients.  You will be rewarded.  Do not shy away after reading the ingredient list and amaretto.  Though not prominent in flavor, the amaretto seems to bind the overall flavor combination. 
Adult Hot Chocolate
(adapted from the Baked cookbook)
Ingredients:
  • 1 oz milk chocolate (I used 34% cacao)
  • 2 1/2 oz dark chocolate (I used 70% cacao)
  • 2 fl oz boiling water
  • 3 1/8 fl oz whole milk
  • 1 1/8 fl oz heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 T Amaretto liqueur
  • whipped cream and crushed amaretti cookies if desired
Mixing:
  1. Chop both chocolates and place in shallow bowl
  2. Pour boiling water over chocolate and let sit for 1 minute
  3. Gently stir chocolate/water until chocolate melts; sit aside
  4. Combine milk, cream, and syrup in pan and heat to simmer on top of stove.
  5. Add melted chocolate and whisk constantly until the mixture is almost ready to boil.  ( I didn’t allow my mixture to boil.)
  6. Remove from heat;  add amaretto and stir lightly to combine
  7. Pour into mugs or dainty tea cups or short mason jars
  8. Top with whipped cream and crushed amaretti cookies if desired
  9. ENJOY!!!!  Savor each sip…
…and don’t leave any chocolate in the cup!

fall spice coffee

Let me begin by saying I am not a coffee drinker.  Coffee, with it’s many roasts and blends can be as intoxicating (or confusing) as chocolate, wine or cheese.  They all offer varied colors, tastes, textures and aromas.

During a class at CIA, I did taste a wonderful French Press coffee along with a rich, buttery, chocolate croissant.  At that point, I decided that maybe I do like coffee…

Crisp morning air, cloudy days, and leaves falling – who could resist a drink named ‘fall spice coffee?’

I wasn’t sure about the coffee, but the spices and zest……yes!

stir dry ingredients and add zest

waiting for 200 degree water
dripping for 6 minutes

 waiting for the 6 minutes to pass
(The coffee mug belonged to my Grandfather; remembering him on Veteran’s day weekend.)

reflecting the morning sunlight

 cream or sugar?

cream

The spices added depth to the warm morning mug of fall spice coffee.  I think the water dripped to quickly, leaving behind some of the flavorful oils of the coffee bean.  Also, even though the water boiled in the tea kettle, it only registered about 170 degrees on the instant read thermometer.  And, since the mug is not heated, the coffee cooled somewhat quickly.

Thus…opportunities to improve upon the drink when I brew my next cup of fall spice coffee.

Fall Spice Coffee
(adapted from Dessert First)

Ingredients:
(yield: one 6 oz cup of coffee)

  • 2T ground coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 6 ounces boiling water
  • sugar and cream as desired (or sweetened whipped cream topped with a dusting of cinnamon and a spiral of orange rind-how festive that sounds!)

Mixing:

  1. I used the unscientific/’what I had in the kitchen’ method of brewing this cup of coffee.
  2. I doubled the coffee filter, hoping to slow the drip
  3. My antique funnel had too large of an opening; a smaller opening would have slowed the drip.
  4. Stir together all ingredients except water
  5. Pour into coffee filter
  6. Add boiling water and allow to drip brew.
  7. I added 1 teaspoon of cream and no sugar. (For variation/research, next time, I’ll skip the cream and add raw sugar-smokey, brown crystals of sweetness.)
I found a funnel with a smaller opening that I will use in the future.
The picture below is simply comparing the variety of funnels….really….

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pumpkin spice espresso muffins

…feels like fall
…looks like fall
…smells like fall

The cinnamon was a gift, brought to me from Estonia.  Thanks LP!

The muffins are moist, melding the flavors and leaving a lingering spice on the palate.  Pumpkin and espresso support the overall flavor, yet are not prominent in taste. Delicious!
Pumpkin Spice Espresso Muffins
(adapted from here)
Ingredients:
  • 2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 T espresso powder
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 stick cinnamon, ground fine (or 1 t ground cinnamon)
  • 1/8 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 t ground cloves
  • 1 t salt
  • 15 oz pumpkin puree (I used fresh pumpkin, roasted in the oven until tender)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
Mixing:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Line 24 muffin wells with paper liners
  3. Combine the first 8 (dry) ingredients in a mixing bowl
  4. In a mixer bowl, combine the pumpkin, sugars, and oil.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  6. Add dry ingredients, and mix only until the dry ingredients are incorporated
  7. Divide batter evenly between the 24 muffin liners
  8. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, or until the muffins test done.
I glazed the muffins with 1/3 cup white chocolate chips, melted and a few teaspoons of whipping cream added until of drizzling consistency.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts

A google search revealed that pop tarts were introduced in 1963/1964 – I was in the first grade. I like pop tarts; they are addictive like Coke and peanuts, Moon Pie, and crunchy crust cornbread – all the things that were part of my childhood.

We didn’t have a toaster in our rural farm home; we ate our pop tarts ‘straight out of the box.’

All that to say, these pop tarts are not anything like the pop tarts of my youth.  These are buttery, and crunchy, and flaky and rich and filled with a brown sugar cinnamon goodness.

flecks of cinnamon and vanilla beans in the unbaked top pastry of the soon-to-be pop tart

 brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts baking; oozing of butter

 just out of the oven; beautiful golden brown around the edges

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts
(adapted from here)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (8 1/2 oz) all purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (vanilla sugar if possible)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks / 8 oz) unsalted cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons sweet milk
  • 1 additional egg used to brush bottom pastry prior to addition of filling
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (for filling)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (for filling)
  • 4 teaspoons all purpose flour (for filling)
Mixing:
  1. Mix together flour, sugar, and salt (first three ingredients) in large bowl
  2. Add butter pieces and toss to cover with flour
  3. Using your fingertips, rub the cold butter into the flour, tossing the flour lightly while mixing (or your preferred method of combining butter and flour)
  4. Whisk together 1 egg and 2 T milk in small bowl.  Add to butter/flour mixture; gently combine
  5. Form pastry into a ball; divide pastry into two equal pieces
  6. Cover each pastry half with cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes (up to 2 days if necessary)
  7. Roll each pastry half into 9″ x 12″ rectangle; cut each into 9-3″ x 4″ pieces (18 total pieces)
  8. Place 9 – 3″x4″ rectangles on a baking sheet; brush entire surface with egg wash
  9. In a separate bowl, combine filling ingredients (brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour)
  10. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling ingredients in the center of each egg-washed pastry piece; leave 1/2″ border around filling (will allow top pastry to adhere to bottom pastry)
  11. Prick remaining 9 pastry pieces with fork; lay top pastry over brown sugar and press gently around edges
  12. Using a fork, flour the tines and gently press all around the edge of each brown sugar cinnamon pop tart to adhere the top to the bottom
  13. Refrigerate the prepared pop tarts for 30 minutes (freeze pop tarts at this point for later baking if desired); preheat oven to 350 degrees
  14. After refrigeration, bake pop tarts for 20-25 minutes; they will ooze of butter and become golden brown 
  15. Remove from oven and cool
  16. I glazed mine with a mixture of powdered sugar, milk, a tablespoon of honey, a teaspoon of coconut oil, and a pinch of cinnamon (mixed to a pourable consistency)
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