Pumpkin Sandwich Treats

We were in NYC not too long ago and happily spent some time doing nothing in Sweet Melissa’s Patisserie. One of my favorite spots in the city, this laid back bakery and cafe has pastries, ice cream, light meals, and lots of interesting hot drinks (complete with homemade marshmallows.) Melissa’s baking book is one of the treasures of my collection and a book that I think any baker should have on her shelf. Every recipe is reliable, a little unique, and solidly delicious. The directions are always clear and uncomplicated, so you can have confidence that even a beginning baker will find success.

On the search for a new pumpkin dessert that would use up some of the pumpkin I’ve roasted for Thanksgiving pies, I decided to make Sweet Melissa’s Pumpkin Cookie Cakes.  I was curious to see molasses in the ingredients list and was afraid that it might overpower my sweet, fresh pumpkin. Having faith in the book paid off, of course, and the cookie cakes turned out to be a lovely balance of flavors. My homespun variation on the recipe was to add some yogurt cheese to the filling.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies, 2 dozen sandwiches
(You’ll want to serve 2 per person.)

Filling:
6 tbls. homemade yogurt cheese
6 tbls. unsalted butter, room temperature

I usually have a cheese hanging hook installed under my cabinets but haven’t done that yet in this new kitchen. Here’s my improvisation: small skillet as hook, large skillet as weight. Worked!

3/4 c. confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Sandwich cookies:
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
8 tbls. unsalted butter

3/8 c. molasses
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin puree

2 c. AP
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. fresh nutmeg, ground
3/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 c. milk

  1. To make yogurt cheese:
    Place a large piece of cheesecloth over a bowl and scoop the yogurt into it. Tie or rubber band the ends and hang for about 10-12 hours, letting the whey drip into the bowl. (You will know that it is done when it no longer looks wet.)
  2. Cream the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the molasses, egg, and pumpkin. Mix until smooth.
  3. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add, alternating with milk, to the pumpkin mixture.
  4. Using a 1 1/2 inch cookie scoop, drop carefully onto a baking sheet covered with parchment.
  5. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes. Cool.
  6. To make the filling:
    Be sure that your butter is at room temperature. Beat with confectioners’ sugar. Then, beat in yogurt cheese and vanilla. (If your filling appears lumpy, it is because your butter was not quite right. Fix this by blending it in the food processor just until smooth.)
  7. Sandwich a small dollop of frosting between two cookies and serve!

Notes:

  • These cookies could certainly be eaten as a breakfast treat.
  • They are pretty sticky, once cooled. Be sure to place the bottom of the cookie on the cooling rack. Tops stick. When packaging, add a layer of parchment between cookies or they are likely to stick together.

Just Pumpkin Pie

pumpkinsThere’s a lot of ways that you can dress up pumpkin pie. Recipes are always trying to entice you with odd ingredients. But, on Thanksgiving, what’s really needed is just plain and simple tradition. Here’s a pumpkin pie that is exactly that – fullproof, reliable, and delicious.

Makes 1 9-inch pie, about 8-10 slices.

sugar pumpkin, about 2 pounds (about 1 1/2 c. puree)
your favorite pie crust recipe, one crust

Filling:
2 eggs, plus 2 more yolks
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 c. milk
3/4 c. cream

  1. To make pumpkin puree:
    Rinse pumpkin. Remove stem. Cut it in half. Remove seeds and filaments. Turn the halves cut side down onto a baking sheet. Bake for about an hour at 350F or until the flesh is tender. Cool. Puree.
  2. Roll out your crust and place in a buttered, 9-inch pie plate.
  3. Whisk eggs into the pumpkin puree. Whisk remaining ingredients in, until smooth.
  4. Pour the filling into the crust.
  5. Bake at 350F for 1 hour in the center of the oven.
  6. Cool and refrigerate until dessert time.

Notes:

  • Save your pumpkin seeds for a crunchy snack.
  • Pumpkin puree can keep for several days, stored in the fridge.
  • Serve with sweetened whipped cream, of course.

Blackberry Pie

Summer around here smells like blackberries. Due to the heat, they’re out a little earlier than usual. The first step for this pie is picking a large  bowl of fresh berries. Have fun!

You’ll find a recipe for Blackberry Crisp and Blackberry Roly Poly on our new recipes page. Both are yummy but quicker to make up than a pie.blackberry pie

two 9-inch pie crusts

1 large bowl of blackberries (about 6-7 cups)
3/4 cup sugar
4 tbls. AP flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3 tbls. butter, diced

  1. Thinly roll out one pie crust. (Invert your pie plate on the dough to take a measurement. You should roll your dough into a circle that is about 2 inches larger than the lip of your pie plate.)  Butter your pie plate and lay in the dough. Let the excess hang over the edge. (You will use this to seal the top crust.) Chill the second piece of dough until you are finished with the filling and ready to roll out the top dough.
  2. Prepare berries by gently rinsing and laying out on an old dishtowel to dry.
  3. Mix dry ingredients with berries. Gently fold with a spoon to mix.
  4. Pour berry mixture into pie plate and dot with butter.
  5. Roll out the top crust between two sheets of plastic wrap or two silpats. If you would like shapes in your top crust, use cookie cutters to cut them out. Carefully remove without stretching the dough. Flip the top crust over onto the berry filling. Peel off wrap or silpat.
  6. Fold the bottom crust over the top and seal by pressing gently down onto the lip of the plate. Use your knuckles and thumb to crease, or mark in a cross-hatch pattern with a fork. If you have not cut shapes into your crust, cut at least four vents in the top with a sharp knife.
  7. Bake your pie at 400F for 30-40 minutes. If your pie is bubbling, it will set. Watch it carefully at the end. You want to take it past bubbly, but you do not want it to over-brown.
  8. Cool. Serve alone or with ice cream.