Last night we had thunder snow during our first substantial snowfall of the season. These snowflakes were not like the fluttery, carefree snowflakes in a snowglobe or Christmas Pageant. They were beautiful, but they were heavy as they fell from the sky, demonstrating the gravity of life on Earth. My heart felt that weight all day long yesterday. Then when the electricity went out, I turned on my battery powered blue star lights and was reminded that you can still be cozy even when you’re blue.
I made fresh cranberry orange sauce this year for Thanksgiving. Though I can eat it by the spoonful, it is no surprise it was the lone leftover of the weekend. Not everyone goes for jiggly, tart, citrusy substances. Today I added the zest of one orange to a little extra sugar cookie dough from a project I was working on in hopes of making a version of jam thumbprints with the leftover sauce. (I soon discovered that there is a reason for the difference in the dough of sugar cookies and thumbprint cookies) the cookies basically flattened out, so I decided to put two dough balls in a mini cupcake paper (sort of looked like these “mallow butts” from one of my favorite sites) and bake away. It worked better, and I made a well in the cookie cup for the cranberry sauce and topped it off with a shard of dark chocolate. These cran-orange cookie cups with chocolate may convert a few to the cranberry side. What’s a leftover?
Special thanks to my Aunt Priscilla and Aunt Susan who both complimented me on my sauce and gave me blog encouragement on Thanksgiving Day. I am fortunate to have such dedicated women (mothers, wives, public school teachers, etc.) in my life – this post is for you!
I like the pumpkin/coffee/chocolate combo and have been working on a pie of that nature for a while now. Here it is! What’s great is the unassuming mocha taste amid the pumpkin custard, and this version also has a hard chocolate layer between it and the decadent chocolate espresso shell. Once baked, the color reminds me of the last crispy brown leaves lingering on the trees this time of year. Pretty simple to make, my steps are recorded below.
preheat oven to 425-degrees
crush 24 chocolate wafers / mix with 2 T sugar, 1/2 t instant espresso, 4 T melted unsalted butter / press into buttered up pie pan / bake 10 minutes
melt 5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (or 1/2 C choco bits) / pour over baked chocolate shell / set in freezer
beat 2 eggs in large bowl / stir in 1 (15 oz.) can of pure pumpkin / add 3/4 C brown sugar, 2 T cocoa, 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t instant espresso powder / slowly add 1 (12 oz.) can of evaporated milk / mix until combined / pour over chocolate shell pan
bake in 425-degree oven for 15 minutes, then reduce oven to 350-degrees and bake about 35 more minutes (or until set and fork inserted in the center comes out clean)
whip up 2 C heavy cream, 1/2 C caster sugar & 1/2 t vanilla
DOLLOP & DEVOUR.
extra notes: Nabisco’s Famous Wafers are best for crust. Any kind of sweetener works for the whipped cream (I just like the minuscule granules of caster sugar). You can use a blender, food processor, or lots of pent up frustration to crumble up the wafers. The butter for the crust can be soft or totally melted. Valrhona unsweetened chocolate is my favorite for the hard choco layer, but use choco bits if you already have them. When storing the pie in the fridge, place a towel or paper towel over the top before covering it with plastic wrap to prevent condensation on top of pie. I think it’s fun to use a cookie scoop for the whipped topping dollop.
I have been practicing my felt-cutting skills intermittently over the past few months. It all started with my niece’s party, a couple of co-worker gifts, and a birthday present for my sister. I just kept cutting out pennants and letters and putting them together (giddy over the idea of a felt swatch collection), and now I have a stack that need homes. So, as a simple sign of gratitude for clicking over to my blog, mail me your postal address at firstname.lastname@example.org (or however it is we normally communicate) and let me know which ones you would like to have for yourself or to give to others. I know that each one will find the perfect place to proclaim YUM or remind LOVE.
We haven’t started decorating for Christmas yet, we just started making the decorations! My sister decided to make new gingerbread ornaments for her tree this year (future post, I think), and we had lots of dough to spare. So I pressed some pomegranate Craisins in the dough and made sandwich cookies with a pistachio cream middle. Lots of festive subtleties rolled together and a pleasant pairing to hot gingerbread spice tea.
I can be a purist when it comes to trends and classics, but in some cases it makes sense to pair a trend with a classic. I think slipping that trend in there adds a little something to indicate that you are not dead yet. I picked up some artisan marshmallows last Saturday morning while visiting the Irvington neighborhood festival. How does one decide between banana cinnamon, thai chili, and passion fruit megamallows (especially when freshly toasted ones are given to you)? I ended up taking home toasted coconut, bacon chocolate chip and pawpaw marshmallows coated in crunchy bourbon barrel aged sugar; they seemed Novemberish. That makes several food trends wrapped up in one, and I introduced them to the classics called hot cocoa and fluffernutter. The bacon chocolate chip mallows were best suited for the grilled peanut butter Wonderbread sandwich. Big warm sweet crispy melty sandwich yum. In the end for me, when it comes to food and fashion, comfort is king.
My sister had a Pampered Chef Bridal Shower about 12 years ago, and one of the activities was writing kitchen advice on an apron with a Sharpie. I have no idea what I wrote back then, but I will always remember my mom’s advice: “Never run out of brown sugar.” My mom is smart. This time of year I cannot get enough of it for sprinkling on Cream of Rice or making caramel corn. I think Molasses is one of my hidden weaknesses. Anyhow, I made caramel corn for thank-you gifts this weekend and added some cinnamon and cashews to make it special. Just a test.