Tag Archives: holiday

holiday catch up: thanksmas leftovers

After stuffing my face for the past two months with cakes, pies, cookies, crumbles, crisps and cheesecakes, I seem to have come away with very few pictures to show for it (and all too many pounds..dammit). What follows are the only souvenirs I could find of some memorable bakes served at a ‘Thanksmas’ dinner we hosted for friends (on Dec 12th, hence the name..otherwise it was my 4th annual Thanksgiving do here in the UK) and at my family’s Christmas Day meal.  First up, a beautifully moorish sour cream pumpkin pie from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking, followed by a sweet & gooey pecan pie made with Lyle’s Golden Syrup.  I can only offer the ‘before’ picture for that one because unfortunately I didn’t manage to snap the finished product before it was devoured.  Next up is an adaptation of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Gascon Apple Pie from the Pie & Pastry Bible.  This boozy treat is actually my You Want Pies With That? entry for December.  I got to choose the theme this time, woohoo!!! So please have a look at what the other lovely piemakers have offered up as their ‘holiday spirit‘ pies.  And the final picture is really the only  snap I’ve got of two phenomenal cheesecakes: my celebration stalwart, a luscious White Chocolate (Orange-) Cranberry Swirl number, and the Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake from the Sweet Melissa Baking Book (with an oreo cookie crust, whipped cream piping and a gorgeous blackberry compote topping).

i suggest adding any leafy embellishments before you've got just 10 mins left on the timer.. ahem

pecan pie beginnings


Boozy Cran-Apple Pie

chocolate espresso cheesecake & white chocolate cranberry swirl cheesecake ...and another duck face pose.. i need a new look

You can find the recipe for the pumpkin pie here – this is the fourth time I’ve made it, and it won’t be the last.  Rose’s Pecan Pie can be found on page 302 of the P&P Bible and I think it’s earned it’s place as my new Go2, although (as I always find with pecan pies) I had to bake it about 20 mins longer than recommended.  Luckily my pie shield saved the crust from overbrowning.  The Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake was a recent SMS bake and you can find the recipe here on Shandy’s lovely site.  It cratered on me the first time around so I didn’t post in time (shame on me).  The one pictured above also cracked and fell slightly (I covered that up with piping and blackberry compote), but I think I figured out the culprit – I love crumb crusts so much that I always do enough to coat the sides of the tin too and that’s never been a problem with my stalwart.  But I’m pretty sure thatcheesecakes (without side crusts) usually pull away a bit from the tin, so I’m betting that with a crust and without the *give* offered by a fruit swirl for example, the poor cheesecake could do nothing but crack.  At least, that’s my guess…  I promise to post the YWPWT apple pie recipe after we get back from Dorset, as  I made some changes to Rose’s original based on what my liquour cabinet (haha, I wish) had to offer and what the holiday season called for – cranberries.

*RECIPE UPDATE*

Boozy Cran-Apple Pie

Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Gascon Apple Pie

4 medium apples – peeled, cored and sliced 1/8 inch thick

1 cup cranberries

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

5 tablespoons light brown sugar

1/8 tsp salt

1/3 cup brandy (or cognac)

1/2 tsp orange extract

3/4 cups walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped

7 tbs unsalted butter, melted

12 sheets of filo

powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:

In a large bowl, gently toss the apples and cranberries with the sugars, salt and alcohol.  Cover tightly and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 2 hrs (or overnight – in which case, refrigerate them).  Drain the fruit, reserving the juice.  You should have about 1 cup.  Using a small saucepan, reduce the liquid until you have approximately 4 tablespoons.  Add the orange extract then pour the liquid over the fruit and mix in the walnuts.

Preheat the oven to 375F.  With a pastry brush, lightly coat the bottom of the pie pan with some of the melted butter.  Place the filo sheets between two sheets of plastic wrap and cover with a damp towel – re-cover each time you remove a sheet to stop the rest from drying out.  Remove 1 sheet and quickly brush it with unsalted butter (don’t worry about coating every inch, too much butter will just result in a greasy texture anyway).  Drape the filo sheet in the pan, molding it to fit and letting the excess drape over the sides.  Repeat with 7 more buttered sheets.  Empty the fruit mixture into the filo-lined pan, bringing the overhanging bits up and over to enclose the filling partially.  Brush another 2 sheets with butter and fold them crosswise in half.  Butter them again on both sides, then place them on top of the filling, covering it completely, and tuck the ends into the sides of the pie pan.  There will be a depression in the center.  Butter another sheet of filo and cut it in half.  Gather up each piece in loose ruffles and arrange it toward the centre of the pie to partially fill the depression. Butter the final piece of filo and fold it in the long way into thirds.  Coil it loosely to form a rose and place it in the center.  Bake the pie for 50 to 60 mins or until the filo is golden and a skewer inserted into the fruit filling meets with little resistance.  Allow the pie to cool to room temp as the moistened pastry can be a bit tough when warm.  Dust lightly with powdered sugar before serving.

This was the perfect end to my family’s Christmas Day meal. Biting into the crisp pastry to find deliciously caramelized apples & cranberries made for a lovely treat – and the boozy kick made things all the more merry. Enjoy!

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Filed under cheesecake, chocolate, fruit, holidays, pies & tarts, sweet melissa sundays, You Want Pies With That

ginger v maple

Christmas means gingerbread. That’s a given. There was no way around it.

But my fridge demanded a clear out before I could get down & dirty with any more holiday baking…  and it seemed a crime to waste a bowl full of fluffy maple cream cheese frosting… So I went wild.  Gingerbread + Maple Frosting.  Yep, that’s right, I dared to pair two such mighty flavours… and while others might balk, I think it tasted divine.

Gingerbread Cupcakes (from Crazy About Cupcakes by Kristina Castella)
Makes 20-24

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2/3 cup light molasses
2 teaspoons lemon zest (I omitted this)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup sour cream (I used yoghurt instead, as that was what I had on hand)
* I also added 2 tablespoons of chopped crystallized ginger for an extra spicy kick

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F (350 F for dark pans). Insert liners into a medium cupcake pan.
2. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugars together with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add the egg, molasses, and lemon zest to creamed mixture. Beat well.
3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.
4. Add portions of the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with portions of the sour cream, until they are completely integrated, about 30 seconds.
5. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan on a wire rack.

*To be completely honest, I found these just a wee bit dense, slightly more muffin than cupcake-like, but the spices were perfect and I ended up gobbling 4 anyway..so give ’em a go and let me know what you think.  Ironically, I used this recipe instead of this month’s MSC pick because so many of my lovely bakemates found that one dense and dry. doh. I thought the sour cream / yoghurt would offer more moisture and a lighter texture, but perhaps not.  That’ll teach me to shirk my monthly duties. Although I wasn’t enamoured with the cupcakes themselves, I think the recipe works beautifully for whoopie pies.  To make whoopies (hyuk hyuk), line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and use a piping bag to pipe out 2 inch rounds of dough.  Bake them for about 5 minutes until puffy and golden at the edges (sorry, can’t remember exactly how long they took).  Fill with maple cream cheese frosting and enjoy xx

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

12 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. unsalted butter (cut into small chunks)
5-7 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbs. maple syrup
1 tsp. maple extract (if you’re lucky enough to have it!)

Bung the cream cheese and butter in the food processor and whizz til combined.  Add 3 cups of the powdered sugar along with the maple syrup and maple extract, then whizz again.  Add the rest of the powdered sugar cup by cup, processing after each addition, until you get the desired consistency

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Filed under cupcakes, frosting, holidays, Uncategorized, whoopie pie