Chocolate Sheet Cake with Strawberry Milk Buttercream

HERE WE ARE!! Welcome to Sweet D’s 50th recipe post! I simply can’t believe how quickly time flies, can you? It seems like 5 minutes ago that I was just starting out, wondering if I was going to give up after 2 weeks. I find myself getting bored so easily that a small part of me was worried I would be over it pretty soon, but heck no! 50 recipes later and I’m having just as much fun as when I started, more so even, now that I’ve found a rhythm. I have grown as a cook and a baker, challenged myself, and learned so much.

It seems perfect that this milestone comes the week of Thanksgiving, when I’m reminded of everything that I’m thankful for in this life. I know it’s so cheesy to say, but I’m going to anyway. I am so lucky to have the support of my family and my friends, all of whom push me to do my very best, and who are always there to taste test. I am also thankful for this love of food, and for those bloggers and professionals who have continued to inspire me. And last but not least, I am thankful for each and every person that reads Sweet D, because without you I would just be talking nonsense into the internet void, which would still be fun for sure, but not nearly as fulfilling.

It’s only fitting that I celebrate this little life victory with a cake, because is it really a celebration if you don’t eat one? Today’s cake is equal parts lazy and extra, much like myself. It’s lazy in that I baked a chocolate sheet cake and didn’t want to even remove it from the dish- no sides to frost, no trimming, no stacking! But its extra-ness comes from this glorious frosting. I came across this recipe for German Buttercream on Serious Eats, and I had never heard of it before!! I’ve heard of American, Swiss, and Italian buttercreams, but German? I just had to know.

Upon digging deeper, I learned that to make this style of buttercream, you essentially have to make pudding first, chill it, and then whip it with butter and voila!  What’s cool is that you can infuse the milk with other flavors before you make the pudding, which got me thinking…what if the milk wasn’t just regular milk, but strawberry milk?? That beautiful, millennial pink stuff in the Nesquik bottles, reminiscent of childhood, its flavor a perfect compliment to chocolate cake. And so, an idea was hatched, and here we are.  And, because I had to take it just another level higher, I conquered another fear and that fear is buttercream flowers. I’ll tell you that practice makes perfect for these, but some reference videos and a good set of piping tips surely helps as well. This frosting has 5 sticks of butter in it (trust me, it’s not a typo), so if you find the buttercream starting to get too warm as you pipe, throw it in the fridge for 15 minutes and then go from there!

Here is the video I found helpful from Wilton, just keep going, you can always scrape the flowers off and start again!! It turns out to be very calming; I put on some TV, got comfy, and piped away!

And because it wouldn’t be a Sweet D post without some happys, here are 5 things to be happy about today:
ONE. The first snow of the year.
TWO. Christmas Tree Farms
THREE. Thanksgiving naps after too much turkey.
FOUR. Watching the parade from under a cozy blanket with a nice cup of tea.
FIVE. Early rising and productive mornings.

Makes: One 9 x 13″ sheet cake, serves 12-15, plus 7 cups buttercream
Prep Time: 1 hour
Inactive Time: 2 hours
Bake Time: 35-40 Minutes

Chocolate Sheet Cake Ingredients

2 cups white sugar
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for pan
1½ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
½ cup flavorless oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup boiling water
½ cup very hot brewed coffee

Chocolate Sheet Cake Steps

ONE. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9×13″ baking dish and dust with cocoa powder.

TWO. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder + soda, and salt. Once combined, add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat this mixture on medium speed for 2 minutes. Lastly, add the boiling water and hot coffee, mixing slowly to combine without splashing (the batter will be very thin). Transfer to your baking dish.

THREE. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick/ cake tester comes out clean. For this recipe, I’m leaving the cake in the dish for serving, but if you’d like to remove it, allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes before flipping. Otherwise, allow to cool completely in the baking dish before frosting.

 

Strawberry Milk Buttercream Ingredients

1½ cups strawberry milk (or plain milk with strawberry powder/ syrup)
2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 vanilla bean)
¾ cup white sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
3 eggs, cold
1 tbsp vanilla extract
5 sticks (I KNOW, trust me) unsalted butter, at room temp.

 

Strawberry Milk Buttercream Steps

ONE. Combine the strawberry milk and vanilla bean paste in a heavy bottom saucepan and heat on medium until steaming. Set aside to infuse the vanilla bean flavor for at least 1 hour.

TWO. To make the custard, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Once combined with no cornstarch lumps, whisk in the eggs.

THREE. Return the milk to a simmer. Ladle a rough ½ cup of the heated milk mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs without cooking them. Repeat with 2 more ladles, then transfer the tempered egg mixture to the pot with the milk.

FOUR. Cook on medium heat, whisking constantly, until the custard becomes thick and lumpy, it should be about 3 minutes. As soon as you see the first bubble in the custard (indicating boiling), set a timer for 2 minutes and continue to whisk constantly. Cooking the custard for these 2 minutes at a steady boil temperature neutralizes a starch-dissolving protein in the egg yolks and ensures a better frosting consistency.

This custard smells SO good, and it has the sweetest rosy pink color!

FIVE. After 2 minutes and off heat, stir in vanilla extract, then pour the custard into a large baking dish to speed up the cooling process. Press a sheet of plastic wrap against the surface and refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour. *Tip: take out your butter to soften now, so that when the hour is up your butter is also ready!

Your frosting should be this fluffy and light, that’s when you know it’s done!

SIX. In the bowl of your mixer, beat the softened butter on medium speed until it’s light and fluffy, it should take about five minutes. Meanwhile, begin to “knead” your cooled custard with a rubber spatula. It will be a very thick consistency, and before adding it to the butter it needs to be mixed into a dough-like state. Once it’s properly mixed, add it to the whipped butter a tablespoon at a time, one right after the other, scrape down the bowl, and mix for a few more seconds to fully combine.

SEVEN. At this point, switch to a whisk attachment and whip on medium speed until the buttercream is airy and light.*

 

*Troubleshooting tips: if a buttercream is going to go wrong, it’s either because the mixture is too warm or the mixture is too cold. The good news is that neither of these are unfix-able so there’s no need to start over! Find your solutions below:

Problem: If your buttercream is too cold, it won’t whip up properly, it looks heavy and thick, not light and airy.
Solution: Place the entire bowl in a warm water bath until the sides of the bowl are slick with melting buttercream, then pop back in the mixer and whip as normal.

Problem: The butter was too warm and now the buttercream is soupy and/ or runny.
Solution: Pop the whole bowl in the fridge and chill for 15 to 20 minutes to firm everything up slightly, then try try again!

Love you love you, xoxoxoxoD.

 

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Honeycrisp Apple Fritters

Okay everyone, full disclosure, I made these apple fritters WEEKS ago, and for some reason never got around to writing this down. My bad. Never fear however because it’s always the right time for apple fritters, specifically these ones. I’ll be honest, I’m only recently allowed to fry things in my house, apparently it was thought that I would somehow manage to burn the house down (love you mom!), but I fought for it and here we are, house still standing, fritters warming. This recipe is adapted from America’s Test Kitchen, and what interested me about these originally is that they’re fried in a cast iron skillet. I’ve shied away from other frying projects mainly when they include a huge dutch oven’s worth of oil, it feels wasteful and a little gross if I’m honest. But these beauties fry in only a half an inch of oil, meaning fewer burns for me and less ruined oil, without compromising the flavor and crunch of the fritters themselves.

I haven’t made many adjustments on the original recipe, however I had such a surplus of Honeycrisp apples and I was so in love with their flavor (I still can’t get over how they ACTUALLY taste like honey), and thought that the flavor would fry up nicely. As a result, I cut back some of the sugar, since the original uses Granny Smith apples which are much more tart. Still delicious though, and definitely something I’ll try next time. Also, I’m not the biggest fan of nutmeg, I find the flavor to be overpowering and I think a little goes a long way, so I cut that amount in half, but if nutmeg is your thing, feel free to use a full ½ tsp.

Okay, logistics out of the way, let’s talk about what is approaching. Next week, I’ll somehow be reaching my 50th Sweet D recipe post and I can hardly believe it. How fitting that it comes the week of Thanksgiving, my second favorite holiday! I certainly am thankful for this blog, thankful for anyone who has read since the beginning, for those who have provided me with the inspiration, and for FOOD because without a love of food none of us would be here would we. Anyway, I love everyone and everything and here’s to 50 more Sweet D posts times a hundred.

As is tradition, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
ONE. The Radio City Rockettes.
TWO. Ugly Christmas sweater parties.
THREE. Maple-flavored coffee drinks.
FOUR. Coming home to a package you weren’t expecting.
FIVE. Having exact change.

OKAY it’s fry time!!

Makes: 10-12 fritters
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Fry Time: 30 minutes (total)

Ingredients

2 Honeycrisp Apples, peeled, cored, and cubed
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1½ tsp cinnamon, divided
¼ tsp nutmeg + a pinch (for glaze)
1 cup apple cider
2 eggs
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 cups vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Steps

ONE. Place your oven rack to its middle position and preheat your oven to 200ºF. As you finish frying the fritters, you’ll be transferring them to a cooling rack-lined sheet pan in the oven to drain excess oil and keep them warm. Spread your diced apples out in one layer on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and thoroughly pat them dry.

TWO. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and the ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg. In another bowl, mix ¾ cup of the apple cider (the remaining ¼ cup is for glaze), eggs, and melted butter until smooth. At this point, add the apples to the flour and toss until all apples are coated in flour. Pour the apple cider mixture into the flour and apple mixture and mix until all is incorporated.

THREE. Place a wire cooling rack in a rimmed baking sheet and line with paper towels. In a cast iron skillet or other pan suitable for frying, add the oil until it’s about ½ inch deep in the pan, and heat on medium until it reaches 325ºF. It’s pretty crucial to use some kind of candy thermometer here, as the oil temperature fluctuates as you fry and you’ll need to keep track to adjust as necessary.

FOUR. Using a 1/3 measuring cup, scoop and drop the batter in rounds into the oil, frying around 4 at a time depending on how large your skillet is. Flatten slightly with your spatula or a spoon and fry for 6 to 8 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remember, you can always cook for longer but can never take back cooking time, so start with three minutes on each side and then add more time if needed. Transfer finished fritters to the paper-towel lined sheet in the oven and repeat batches until all the batter is used.

Processed with VSCO with al1 preset

FIVE. In a separate bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, remaining ¼ cup of cider, remaining ½ tsp of cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg until smooth. Drizzle about a tablespoon of the glaze over each fritter, and allow to set for 5 minutes (if you can bear it) before eating.

ENJOY!! xoxoxoxox

Bourbon-Vanilla Bean Challah Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise

Wow this is a mouthful. Both phonetically and literally, huh? This week’s recipe is brought to you accidentally by Ina Garten again. I promise this isn’t a Barefoot Contessa-only blog all of a sudden, I’ve just been in such a mood and this bread pudding looked like exactly what I needed and I couldn’t get the thought out of my head once it was in there. Classic D.

This is the simplest of bread pudding recipes, altered slightly from Ina’s brioche to use challah from a local bakery, and because I like to give myself more work whenever possible, a side of Creme Anglaise to go with it. That sounds much fancier than it actually is, to be honest it’s really just vanilla custard, but for some reason it takes this dish to the absolute next level. I really don’t think you can ever have too much vanilla, and it makes me sad when people say it’s a boring flavor. Vanilla is my favorite, there, I said it!! Vanilla ice cream? I’ll take that any day. Vanilla tootsie rolls were clearly the best ones, vanilla cake is classic for a REASON people! Anyway, now that we’re all hungry, let’s get down to business. This recipe is really easy, although waiting an hour and a half to eat it will be the most difficult thing you do all day. While you’re waiting, might I suggest doing a face mask or some other form of self-care, watch an episode of your favorite show, and then make some Creme Anglaise (but not too early, otherwise you’ll want to drink all of it before the pudding is done).

Another fun thing to do while you wait is think of some things to be happy about, and speaking of which, here are your first five. I apologize in advance, I am my fullest form in the Christmas season and it begins NOW:
ONE. The first Christmas song of the season.
TWO. Drinking iced coffee long after it gets too cold to be acceptable.
THREE. Peppermint hot chocolate.
FOURStaying in for a movie night.
FIVE. Half-priced Halloween candy on November 1st

Serves: 8 to 10 people
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Bread Pudding Ingredients
adapted from Cooking Like A Pro

1 Challah loaf plus another half loaf
3 whole eggs
8 egg yolks
4 cups half-and-half
1 cup whole milk
1¼ cups white sugar
2 tsp bourbon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp vanilla bean paste/ seeds from 1 vanilla bean
Confectioners’ sugar; for serving
Crème Anglaise; for serving (recipe below)

Steps

ONE. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Cut the half loaf of challah into roughly five slices ¾” thick and lay them on a sheet pan. Trim the crust off the full loaf and dice into roughly 1-inch cubes. Spread the cubes on a second sheet pan and toast both pans in the oven for 5 minutes.

TWO. To make the custard, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, milk, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean paste/ seeds in a large bowl. Set aside.

THREE. Line a 10 x 12 inch baking dish with the toasted slices of challah, trimming as necessary so that they fit neatly and cover the bottom of the dish entirely. Evenly distribute the cubed bread pieces on top. Pour the custard over the whole thing and gently press down so that the mixture is absorbed. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

FOUR. Place the baking dish in a roasting pan large enough that the dish fits flat, and add an inch of boiling water to the roasting pan (avoid getting water in the pudding). Cover the whole thing with tin foil, poking a few holes here and there to allow steam to escape. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes. Remove the tin foil and bake for an additional 45 minutes, until the custard is set.

FIVE. Serve warm, with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar and a generous drizzle of Crème Anglaise.


Crème Anglaise Ingredients

1 cup milk
¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp bourbon (optional)
2 tsp vanilla bean paste/ seeds from 1 vanilla bean
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup white sugar

Crème Anglaise Steps

ONE. Add the milk, cream, bourbon, and vanilla bean to a saucepan and heat on medium until small bubbles appear around the edges and steam begins to rise. Separately, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and combined.

TWO. While whisking continuously, slowly drizzle the hot milk mixture into the eggs, a little at a time so as not to scramble the eggs, until all is incorporated. Then, transfer this mixture back to the saucepan.

FOUR. Cook this mixture on low heat. whisking constantly, until it becomes slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Strain the thickened mixture through a sieve and then allow to cool before serving.

YAY!! xoxoxoxo

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

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