Pear Clafoutis

In honor of Queen Ina Garten’s new cookbook Cook Like A Pro, this weekend I pulled out a recipe from another classic, Barefoot In Paris, as it also makes a second appearance in this new cookbook. I’ve made a clafoutis before here, but fall temperatures call for cozy fall flavors, and a custardy, cinnamon-y, pear dessert seemed like the right move. For those who weren’t around last time, a clafoutis is a baked french dish that’s a bit like a cross between a dutch baby and a custard, traditionally made with dark cherries but so delicious with other sturdy fruits as well. It’s incredibly easy to make, requires one bowl and 15 minutes of prep, and can be done within the hour, so really there’s no excuse NOT to make it.

Now let’s talk a little bit about cookbooks. Anyone who knows me knows that I have the most excessive collection of cookbooks. If I see one I like, I can’t stop myself, and suddenly I’m at the checkout counter handing over my card and leaving with another book under my arm. The thing is though, I would probably be nothing without them. I look over my collection of books from some of the people I look up to most and realize how much they’ve taught me, and how much they’ve inspired me to do better, be brave, and trust my instincts. It was countless episodes of Barefoot Contessa that I watched in high school that made me start to see cooking as something other than a chore. It was Ina Garten, who, back when all I was baking were Toll House chocolate chip cookies and some apple pie, taught me about flavors and to never settle for less than the best. Good vanilla is a lifestyle people!!! I love my cookbook collection and here’s to many more years of adding to the pile. But, for now, here are some of my favorites:

  1. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen
  2. Molly on the Range, by Molly Yeh of My Name is Yeh
  3. The Fearless Baker, by Erin McDowell
  4. Foolproof, by Ina Garten
  5. Cooking For Jeffrey, by Ina Garten
  6. Genius Recipes, by Kristen Miglore of Food52
  7. Florentine, by Emiko Davies

 

See? I wasn’t kidding. Now if only I could get to the books at the bottom…

 

Go forth and start cooking, but before you do, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
ONE. Halloween themed TV episodes.

TWO. 
Dinners that you start preparing in the morning and that cook all day, surrounding you and your house with comforting smells.

THREE. 
Crisp walks through the changing leaves.

FOUR. Kraft mac and cheese.

FIVE. Walking through a greenhouse when it’s cold out and feeling warm and refreshed.

Makes: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 35 to 40 minutes

Ingredients
adapted from 
Barefoot In Paris

1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp white sugar, separated
½ tsp cinnamon
3 eggs, room temperature
6 tbsp all purpose flour
1½ cups heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest
¼ tsp kosher salt
2 to 3 ripe but fragrant Bartlett pears
Confectioners’ sugar

Steps

ONE. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. In a small bowl, mix together the 1 tablespoon of sugar and the cinnamon. Using the tablespoon of softened butter, grease a 10 inch round baking dish entirely, and then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar so that it coats the bottom and sides completely, tapping out the excess.

TWO. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the eggs and remaining granulated sugar for 3 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy. Then, with the mixer on low, add the flour, heavy cream, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. Mix until combined, then turn the mixer off and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes while you prepare the pears.

THREE. Peel, halve, core, and slice your pears into thin slices, then fan them out in the bottom of your prepared dish as desired. Pour the batter on top of the pears and place the dish on a baking sheet to catch any spills and make it easier to transfer into the oven.

FOUR. Bake the clafoutis for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden. This dish can be served warm or room temperature, sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Happy Tuesday!!! xoxoxoxD

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Classic Focaccia

If you’re even slightly a food person like myself, you’ve probably seen or heard about the new Netflix show Salt Fat Acid Heat. I admit that since its premiere, I have watched it through at least 3 times, crying, laughing, and planning food for the future. The premise behind the show comes from a cookbook of the same name, written by Samin Nosrat. Salt, Fat, Acid, and Heat, the four elements of good cooking. Master the balance of these, master good cooking. The special is broken into 4, each in a different location and each tackling a different element. Unsurprisingly, the episode that I felt myself watching over and over again centered around Italy. Titled “Fat”, it tackled just what makes Italian food so good, from the olive oil, to the pork fat, to the cows milk cheese.

The recipe that caught my eye for sure was this focaccia, and even though I have a deep-seated fear of bread making, nothing was going to stop me from this. It is SO good, so crisp on the outside and light and airy on the inside, rich and salty and perfect for dipping in coffee (the Ligurian way) or eating straight from the oven. It reminds me so much of the Schiacchiata bread that makes the best sandwiches in Florence, which I’d get on my way home from school and finish eating before even getting to the steps of my apartment. I would give literally anything to be back there right now, but until then, this is pretty close to perfect. By the way, the original recipe can be found here, but I tried to keep this as close to the original as possible!

Before you go become your best bread-making self, here are 5 things to be happy about today:

ONE. Puffy winter coats.
TWO. Keeping your room cold so that you can sleep with two cozy blankets.
THREE. “Flannel Fridays”.
FOUR. Apple cider cocktails.
FIVE. Impromptu photoshoots.

Makes: About 24 pieces of focaccia
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Inactive Time: 12-14 hours
Bake Time: 25-30 minutes

Ingredients

2½ cups warm water
½ tsp active dry yeast
2½ tsp honey
5 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp large crystal kosher salt
¼ cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Salt, for sprinkling
1½ tsp kosher salt (for brine)
1/3 cup warm water (for brine)

Steps

ONE. In a medium sized bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and honey and stir until dissolved. In another large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Add in the dissolved yeast mixture and the olive oil and stir until everything is just combined. At this point, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to ferment overnight or for at least 12-14 hours.

TWO. When the dough has finished fermenting and is more than doubled in size, spread 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil on an 18″ x 13″ baking sheet (a baker’s half sheet) so that the whole sheet is covered. Gently release the dough from the sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula, and carefully add to the baking sheet. Add another tablespoon of oil and gently stretch the dough so that it covers the entire bottom of the sheet evenly. Because the dough will shrink at first, over the course of 30 minutes gently push the dough back to the corners until it stays.

THREE. Press your index, middle and ring fingers into the dough at an angle to make the signature focaccia dimples. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the warm water and salt until the salt has been totally dissolved. Pour this brine over the whole sheet evenly, and then proof for a final 45 minutes.

FOUR. About 30 minutes into this final proof, position your oven rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 450ºF. To bake, either place a baking stone on the oven rack with the baking sheet on top of it, or flip another baking sheet upside down and place the baking sheet with the dough on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is crisp and golden brown.

FIVE. To finish, generously drizzle olive oil over the top (it will sink into the bread), and sprinkle with flaky salt. Serve thick slices warm and try not to eat the entire sheet yourself, but if you do, I won’t judge.

YUM!! xoxoxoxox

Pumpkin Creme Brulee

Yes hello and welcome, I know I bring you another pumpkin recipe this week, but this one is a real showstopper so you won’t be mad for long. I’ll start with a question: what’s better that a creme brûlée? The answer? A PUMPKIN creme brûlée!! There is nothing quite as satisfying as taking your spoon and cracking that top shell before digging in to one of these, but the combination of pumpkin, cinnamon, and caramel waiting for you inside is a close second. I have adapted today’s recipe from this one here, changing around some proportions and things to make eight bigger pots, because who wouldn’t want more?


Creme Brûlée may sound daunting, but it’s actually one of the easiest things to make, the hardest part honestly being separating 12 eggs for the custard. I know, it feels like such a waste of egg whites, but save them for macarons like these or these how about?? You’ll be glad you did. But anyway, I promise you’ll be surprised how well these turn out, and how easily you’ll be able to trick people into thinking you’re a master of french desserts or something.

Before we get started as always, here are 5 things for you to be happy about at this very moment:

ONE. The fact that otters hold hands when they sleep so they don’t float away from each other.
TWO. A hearty stew on a cold night, complete with buttered noodles.
THREE. Finally thinking of a really great Halloween costume.
FOUR. Buying Halloween candy but ending up eating it yourself.
FIVE. Pumpkin beer with the cinnamon sugar on the rim.

Let’s go!!

Makes: 8 (9oz.) creme brûlées (4 oz. pots will yield about double)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 40-45 minutes
Inactive Time: 2 hours

Ingredients

12 egg yolks
3 cups heavy cream
9 tablespoons brown sugar (a little over ½ cup)
½ tsp kosher salt
3 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
1½ tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp ground allspice
1 cup pumpkin puree
White sugar, for brûléeing

Steps

ONE. Preheat your oven to 300ºF. Since my ramekins are large, I used a 9×13″ baking dish plus another 8×8″ baking dish to fit all 8 pots, but whatever you can fit is fine, as long as the dish is deep enough that the top of the ramekin is about flush with the top of the baking dish. Line your dishes with a folded dish towel and place the ramekins inside. They can be touching, but just make sure they all fit straight, otherwise some custards will bake up lopsided.

TWO. Add all your egg yolks to a large mixing bowl and set aside. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the heavy cream, brown sugar, and salt until just simmering. Remove from the heat and add in your spices and vanilla, then allow to steep for 5-10 minutes.

THREE. Whisking constantly, add a little of the warm cream to your egg yolks to temper them (this will prevent the heat of the cream from cooking the eggs). After this is done, continue to add the cream in a slow drizzle until it has all been added to the yolks and everything is combined.

FOUR. Whisk in the pumpkin puree until smooth, then pour the whole mixture into a large measuring cup or something with a spout to easily pour. Evenly pour the custard into each pot, making sure to leave some room on the top.

FIVE. Place the dishes side by side in the oven and, while they’re on the racks, create a bain-marie by pouring boiling water into the large baking dishes so that they’re filled 2/3 of the way up the side of the ramekins, avoiding spilling any water into the custards themselves. This makes sure the custards steam and cook properly, and putting them in the oven before you do this means you don’t have to carry a heavy dish filled with hot water across your kitchen!

SIX. Bake the custards for 40-45 minutes, until set but still slightly jiggly. Cool the ramekins in the fridge for at least 2 hours before brûléeing.

SEVEN. To brûlée, sprinkle about a teaspoon of white sugar onto the top of each custard and gently shake so that the entire top is evenly covered. Using a kitchen torch, heat the sugar so that it caramelizes and spreads, until the top is one unified sheet of solid, caramel colored sugar. If you don’t have a kitchen torch, you can use the broiler in your oven, but watch very carefully because it can go from toasted to burnt very quickly.

ENJOY!! xoxoxoxD

Pumpkin Biscuits with Bacon and Hot Honey Butter

Well well well, another Tuesday is here, and boy do I have another fall recipe for you. This week, Pumpkin biscuits, but not JUST pumpkin biscuits. These babies are studded with crisp, salty bacon, AND just when you thought it couldn’t be better, I give you two words. Hot. Honey. Yes, honey infused with chiles, aka the best combination of sweet and spicy and an excellent addition to the softened butter you’ll be slathering on these guys as soon as they leave the oven. That’s right, hot honey butter is also included in this deal, and it is a MUST. Borrowed from a similar recipe in Southern Living and tweaked until just right, prepare for these biscuits to be your multi-purpose treat for soups, breakfast sandwiches, or anything else you can think of!

Don’t we look cute!!

This weekend, we tried to jam all the fall activities into three days and it was just lovely. With my sisters home for the long weekend, we did an Apple Festival on Saturday, where I stocked up on apples for some life-changing apple fritters (recipe coming soon!). Then on Sunday, we drove out to the South Fork of Long Island to the Hamptons and Montauk to window shop, eat food, and just all around enjoy the fall atmosphere. Columbus Day was saved for the decorating of our house, breaking out the bins of Halloween knick knacks and venturing to the garden center for mums, corn stalks, and pumpkins. A pot of Bolognese and the aforementioned fritters were also on the menu, so all ingredients for a good day.

But now with all this talk of good days, here are 5 things to be happy about to make your today a little better:

ONE. Finding that perfect pumpkin.
TWO. Long weekends, making Sunday night less terrible.
THREE. Hand pies.
FOUR. Dogs with food names.
FIVE. Bed and breakfasts.

Anyway, enough from me, let’s bake!

Makes: Approximately 12-16 biscuits
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 15 minutes

Pumpkin Biscuit Ingredients
adapted from Southern Living magazine

6 oz. bacon, finely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
2½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
6 Tbsp salted butter, grated
¾ cup canned pumpkin
½ cup buttermilk
1½ extra Tbsp salted butter (divided into 1 and ½ Tbsp.)

Hot Honey Butter Ingredients

1 stick salted butter, at room temperature
4 Tbsp. hot honey (or regular honey if spicy isn’t your thing)

Steps

ONE. Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Cook bacon in a cast iron skillet on medium high heat until the bacon is crispy. Drain the bacon on a paper towel lined plate and save the rendered bacon fat in a heat-safe cup or small bowl, we’ll need it in a bit! Wipe down your skillet with a paper towel and then place in the oven to heat.

TWO. Combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the butter and cut into the flour mixture using your hands or a pastry blender. I like to grate my butter for this because I find that a) it’s way easier to break up quickly with my hands without overheating it (warm butter = no flaky biscuits!), and b) the smaller bits are easier to distribute evenly throughout the whole dough. When coarse crumbs of dough begin to form, pop the bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes to chill.

THREE. In a small bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and buttermilk, then add the crisped bacon. Add this mixture to the flour mixture in the large bowl and stir until just combined, it’s very important that you don’t over-mix this or the biscuits will be too tough.

FOUR. On a lightly floured surface, roll out your biscuit dough to about an inch thickness. Using a 2½ inch round cutter, cut the dough into 8 biscuits. Remove your skillet from the oven and melt a ½ Tbsp. of butter with a ½ Tbsp. of the bacon fat from before and swirl to coat the entire pan. Arrange the biscuits in the skillet so that they’re all cozy and the sides are all touching. Brush the tops with another tablespoon of melted butter. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the tops are puffed and golden brown.

FIVE. While the biscuits are baking, combine the stick of butter with the 4 tablespoons of honey. Chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or so if the mixture seems too soft. These biscuits are best eaten fresh out of the oven, halved, and generously buttered.

YUM! xoxoxoxoxD

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

My MY we’ve had some fall weather recently! At least, I have in New York, if you haven’t I am terribly sorry, I really am. In honor of this cozy weather however, here is quite possibly the only fall baking recipe that matters. CINNAMON ROLLS. Cinnamon rolls are the poster child for cozy fall food, but to me, they used to be so daunting. If you’ve been around since the beginning of Sweet D, you’ll know that I’ve said time and time again that making bread scares me. Something always goes wrong and I just could never tell why. That is, until I came across this recipe from Ambitious Kitchen, and my life was changed forever. When I used to make cinnamon rolls, it would mean waking up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday (my least favorite thing to do), and still not getting to eat until noon because, you know, bread takes time to rise. NOT ANYMORE. I give to you, Over. Night. Cinnamon Rolls! The heavy lifting is done the night before, so that the next morning you can pull them out of the fridge and they bake in 20 minutes. TWENTY MINUTES!! Sorry for all the caps, I’m just so excited about this.

The best way that I’ve found to do this is to make the dough in the evening after dinner, since it still has to rise once before you fill it. Also, don’t forget to take out a stick of butter for the filling NOW, so that by the time the dough is finished rising, it’s perfectly soft. While its rising, watch a movie, catch up on some TV, do a face mask, idk. Then, roll it out and fill it, slice it, and put it in the pan, wrap it in tin foil, and go the heck to bed!!! Wake up the next morning feelin fresh, take it out of the fridge to thaw while you brush your teeth and make some coffee, then bake for twenty minutes and before you know it, your house will smell like HEAVEN!!

If this were a live photo, you’d STILL be able to see the filling bubbling omg

I haven’t changed much from the original recipe that I was following since it’s just so solid, but one thing I have done is tweak the frosting since I can’t ever leave things alone. Besides cinnamon, what would you say is the most classically fall flavor? If you said maple, then we are very much alike. So, what’s one way to make cream cheese frosting even more cozy? You got it, add maple syrup! This frosting recipe will make quite a lot, because we all know it’s better to have too much frosting than not enough. Plus, you have to factor in the amount you’ll be eating with a spoon before the rolls are even out of the oven, it’s THAT good.

Before we get started, here are 5 things to be happy about today, and then we’ll get to it!

ONE. Finishing a book you’ve been reading for ages and feeling so accomplished.
TWO. Fall scented candles like apple cinnamon or pumpkin spice.
THREE. Seeing a really good dog on the street.
FOUR. Being the only group in a movie theater, so you can react as loudly as you want.
FIVE. Waking up early enough to see the sun rise for once.

Makes: 9 Cinnamon Rolls
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Time: 2 hours + Overnight rise
Bake Time: 20-25 minutes

Cinnamon Roll Ingredients

¾ cup warm milk (around 110ºF)
2¼ tsp active dry yeast (a single standard package)
¼ cup sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk, at room temp
¼ cup (half stick) unsalted butter, melted (for the dough)
3 cups bread flour
¾ tsp salt
2/3 cup brown sugar
1½ Tbsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup (half stick) unsalted butter, softened (for the filling)

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

8oz. cream cheese (2 blocks), at room temperature
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¼ cup powdered sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract

Cinnamon Roll Steps

ONE. Add warm milk to the bowl of your stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes or until it starts to get foamy. If this doesn’t happen, the milk was either too hot or too cold, or the yeast is no good, so start over here. Once it’s foamy, add in your sugar, egg, egg yolk, and melted butter, then mix to combine. Stir in the flour and salt, then knead the dough with a dough hook attachment of your stand mixer or by hand for 10 minutes. My stand mixer is old and grumpy now, and I’m pretty sure that if I tried to have it knead for 10 minutes straight it would give up on me completely, so I did this by hand. You’ll know it’s ready when you push down in the center of the dough and the indent bounces back into a smooth surface. Put this dough into a well oiled bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Allow to rise for 1½-2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

TWO. Transfer your risen dough to a floured surface and roll out into a large rectangle that is at least 9″ x 14″. I like to roll out on my Silpat since the measurements are printed on both sides for me anyway! Using an offset spatula, spread the softened butter over the rolled out rectangle, leaving a small border around all sides that isn’t buttered.

THREE. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle this mixture generously over the top of your cinnamon rolls, then gently pat down so that the sugar mostly stays put while you roll up the dough. At this point, tightly roll up your dough longways, making sure no filling is spilling out the sides as you go. Using a ruler, measure out 9 even cinnamon rolls not including the very ends of your roll- they never turn out even and always have less filling than the middle ones! I like to trim mine off into little baby cinnamon rolls to bake later. Anyway, once you measure and mark out 9 evenly sized rolls, cut with a serrated bread knife and carefully transfer each roll to a parchment paper-lined 9″ x 9″ square baking dish. At this point, wrap your cinnamon rolls in tin foil and store in the fridge overnight. *If you can’t wait a whole night, allow them to rise again for 30 minutes at room temperature, then bake from there.*

Even these babies got some beauty rest!

FOUR. The next morning, when you wake up refreshed and hungry, remove the rolls from the fridge and allow them to warm up for about 20 minutes. Make your coffee, preheat your oven to 350ºF, or get a head start on the frosting (see below) while you wait! Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the tops are just starting to turn golden- you want these to be a little under-baked so that they’re still soft and squashy! Allow the rolls to cool for 5 minutes (if you can stand it) before frosting. Then, promptly eat all 9 by yourself, who needs to share??


Maple Cream Cheese Frosting Steps

ONE. In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip together the softened cream cheese and butter. Once incorporated, add (carefully!) the powdered sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Beat this frosting on medium speed until smooth. If you find that yours is too thin, add more powdered sugar, if it’s too thick, add a little more maple syrup or whole milk to think it out.

TWO. To serve, spread the frosting generously over all the rolls in the pan, plus maybe some more when you serve yourself a cinnamon roll. The more frosting the better!!

Are you weeping yet because I am

Now get cozy and enjoy your cinnamon roll while wrapped in a blanket, while wearing your PJs, and with a cup of tea. YAY! xoxoxoxD