Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pumpkin Pot de Crème

Oh fall baking, how I've missed you. Nothing is better than the leaves changing color, the weather getting cooler, apple and pumpkin picking, and the aromas of fall baking. Now there are only really two seasons in Northern Virginia - summer and winter. There really isn't a fall or a spring here. It's the end of September and we're still having days in the low 80's. But pumpkin is out and since in our house the men only like it from September until the end of November it's time to bake it up with pumpkin.

Earlier this week BP was on Facebook and came across '25 Pumpkin Desserts To Bake This Fall'. Of course we looked at it and BP asked for these to be the first thing I make.  We all know how much I love requests from people, I can't really say no to it sometimes. 

Even though today was rather warm (low 80's again here), these were getting made. And they are pretty simple too. Make the custard and let it chill. Total time about 30 minutes of your time for a delicious dessert that is easily summers up as "pumpkin pie without the crust". 

Yep - a hit in our house. And way easier than worrying about making a pie crust look good - something I'm still working on. 

Pumpkin Pots De Crème

2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup pumpkin purée
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract


Pot de Creme:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring heavy cream and sugar to a boil, whisking constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Put aside and let cool for five minutes.
  2. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks.  Add ¼ cup of heated cream mixture to egg mixture and whisk to combine. Continue adding cream mixture in ¼ cup increments to eggs until the two are fully combined. Place fully combined mixture back in to a pot and cook over moderate heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the custard coats the back of the spoon, about 4 minutes. Add in pumpkin puree, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and vanilla and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until very smooth, about 1 minute. Pour the finished custard through a strainer.
  3. Refrigerate until chilled about 2 hours.
  4. Serve topped with whipped cream and favorite toppings.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Banana Bread

There were no more excuses today. Vacations were over, all the laundry was done - it was time to clean the house. It needed it. It had been a while since I'd last cleaned. I had every intention of cleaning before we left for our cruise, but being sidelined in a walking boot threw me a curve I wasn't fully expecting. So cleaning had to wait and resting and staying off my foot took top priority. 

After going to the doctor for a follow up, I was cleared to not wear my boot and should only wear it if I'm having a lot of pain. So I knew cleaning the house would be the first thing I needed to do. Wishing I had a hazmat suit to wear (I seriously would wear one while I clean - if anyone has one send it my way), I donned my rubber gloves and off I went. 

When I got to the kitchen all I could smell was the bananas. I took one look at them and saw that they were turning brown and slightly smooshy. I knew BP and his dad weren't going to eat them, I knew this was my time to make Banana Bread. 

If you are a fan of the Quickbread mixes, trust me you need to stop. In about the same amount of time using a boxed mix, you can have a from scratch batter. And once you do this you will never make a box mix again. Plus the smell of it baking is just intoxicating.  I love fall scents in the house - and yes it's still summer and in the 90's here in Northern Virginia, but part of me can't wait for fall baking. 

BP came home and saw the loaves cooling and his eyes lit up. I knew he was excited. I cut him a piece and he was hooked. Later his dad had a piece and he said the bread was a winner.  Let's just say this makes two loaves and both are staying inside this house. :) 

Banana Bread
Makes two 9x5" loaves

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3 eggs 
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
2 tbsp vanilla extract 
4 medium ripe bananas, mashed up (if you want to mix things up, leave some chunks of banana while mashing to add a little something extra to the bread)
1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside. 

2.  In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking sida and salt. Set aside.

3.  In the bowl of an electric mixer or large bowl with handheld mixer, beat eggs, sugar and vegetable oil together until combined. Slowly add in flour mixture; mix until combined. Add vanilla, bananas, milk and nuts and mix until combined. 

4. Divide batter evenly between prepared loaf pans. Bake, rotating halfway through, 60-65 minutes. Check to see if they are fully baked by sticking a cake tester or toothpick halfway through the middle of the loaf.  Let cool for 20 minutes, remove from pans and let cool completely. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Twix Truffle Brownies

I am a lover of caramel. Rolo's Milky Ways and Twix are among my favorite candy bars. And dessert wise I usually order anything that has caramel in it. What can I say, it's just too good to pass up. If you throw some chocolate in with that, I'm in. 

After a fantastic 8 day cruise with BP and his dad we had little time to rest. A weekend getaway with our friends for the holiday weekend was planned. And honestly, it couldn't if come at a better time. We had a very stressful week and needed the time with friends away. So of course, it was time to bake. 

Mallowmores were requested by them and I was going to make something else as well because there was going to be 8 of us. And these bars were going to be made. 

Let me just say that this picture doesn't do them any justice. Flat out amazing. Seriously. Amazingly decadent and a tad bit addicting. These were a huge hot with everyone. I know I have a hit on my hands when BP tries something and looks at me and says "These are no good. We shouldn't give them to anyone". And he smiles afterwards - I know he's hooked on it. And this is saying something about how great they are because BP isn't a fan of things with caramel in it. 

So if you are a Twix lover or a lover of anything with caramel in it, these are a must make.  Trust me you will be sure to wow anyone with these.

Twix Truffle Brownies
Makes one 13x9 pan 


Favorite homemade or boxed brand brownies - use ingredient called for 

Shortbread Truffle Layer
1 (10 oz.) box Lorna Doone's 
Shortbread Cookies
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ cup sugar

Caramel Layer
14 oz. bag of caramel cubes, unwrapped
2 Tablespoons milk

Chocolate Layer
2 cups semi-sweet milk chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon shortening



Make your favorite homemade or boxed brownies. Follow directions and let cool completely.

Shortbread Truffle Layer

Place cookies in a food processor until fine powder. Mash in cream cheese and sugar until mixture is well combined.
Gently press shortbread truffle evenly over cooled brownies.

Caramel Layer

Place caramel cubes and milk in a medium microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments until melted, stirring in between each increment until melted and smooth.
Evenly pour over shortbread truffle layer.
Place in fridge to let it cool.

Chocolate Layer

Combine chocolate chips and shortening together in a medium microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between each increment until melted and smooth.
Evenly spread over the top of cooled caramel layer.
Let set up in fridge before cutting into.